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Nagoya Day Trip: What to See in Nagoya in One Day

Many first time travellers to Japan do the Tokyo-Kyoto-Osaka route to see all the best highlights of the country. And I’ve done that route many times and ignore all the other places in between. But when I was planning my trip to hike the Nakasendo Trail, I realized I need to be in Nagoya first. So I researched more about the city and spent a few days before starting the hike.

And I’m so glad I finally visited Nagoya. As the capital city of Aichi Prefecture in the Chubu region of Central Japan, Nagoya is the fourth most populous metropolitan cities in Japan. The city has many things to do, unique “Nagoya meshi” cuisine, and is super accessible as Nagoya is linked with Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka by Shinkansen (bullet train).

And if you are also curious about the city, follow my 1 day Nagoya itinerary and see all the best highlights on a day trip in Nagoya. And if you have more time, there are other places to visit outside the city, or you can hike the Nakasendo Trail on your own.

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Day trip in Nagoya: what you need to know

Before you start your Nagoya itinerary, take a look at my post on everything you need to know before going to Japan. I included a lot of tips on how to get around Japan and other travel tips.

Here are a few additional travel tips that you may find useful for your Nagoya day trip:

  • Chubu Centrair International Airport Terminal 1 has ATMs, currency exchange, places to get SIM cards and a Lawson convenience store.
  • Carry cash with you, as many eateries accept cash only.
  • Naoyga is a safe city for solo female travellers. I walked around by myself both day and night and felt completely safe.
  • Plan your trip to Nagoya around these festivals and events:
    • Nagoya Castle Spring Festival (cherry blossom season) – view 1,000 cherry blossoms in full bloom at the castle
    • Atsuta Matsuri (June 5th) – see ancient Shinto rituals to welcome summer. There are also lantern floats, fireworks and performances
    • Kariya Mando Festival (last weekend of July) – see 5m tall warrior dolls made of bamboo and washi paper in the annual performance

How to get to Nagoya, Japan

Plane

Chubu Centrair International Airport is 50km south of Nagoya. If you are travelling from overseas, you will arrive at Terminal 2. Take the shuttle bus to Terminal 1 or walk 10 minutes to Terminal to catch the express train to the city.

There are two train options for getting from the airport to Nagoya:

  • μ Sky Limited Express (28 minutes; ¥1,430 (regular ticket + first class car ticket) – all the seats are first class
  • Meitetsu-Limited Express (37 minutes;¥980) – two first class cars and four ordinary cars

Buy a ticket from the vending machine or ticket counter.

If you are taking the ordinary car, get a ticket for ¥980.

If you are taking the first class car for either train, get a first class ticket ¥450 from a vending machine in front of the train tracks. The first class ticket costs ¥450 which includes a seat reservation.

Train

Nagoya Station is in the centre of the city. The station connects Tokaido Shinkansen (bullet train), Japan Rail Central Lines, Meitetsu Railways and Aonami Line. You can also get on the Nagoya Subway from the station.

How to get around Nagoya on your own

Nagoya is really easy to get around. You can walk to most places around the city and especially if you are following my one day itinerary.

But there are other transportation options if you are staying longer or want to see other places around the city. Nagoya subway and city buses are efficient and they have several ticket options:

  • Nagoya Subway regular ticket from ¥210
  • Nagoya Subway 24-hour ticket ¥760
  • Nagoya City Bus and Subway one-day ticket ¥870
  • Nagoya City Bus one-day ticket ¥620
  • Weekend Eco ticket ¥620

Otherwise, get a Toica or Manaca for taking public transportation. They are both prepaid IC card for the greater Nagoya region. But if you have other IC cards, you can use them in Nagoya too.

Nagoya Day Trip Summary & Attractions Map

Here is the summary for my Nagoya itinerary:

  1. Morning set at a cafe or kissaten
  2. Yanagibashi Central Market 
  3. Nagoya Station
  4. Nagoya Castle 
  5. Kinshachi Yokocho
  6. Mirai Tower
  7. Spaceship-Aqua Observation Deck
  8. Sakae
  9. Osu Kannon Temple
  10. Osu Shotengai Shopping Distirct
  11. Nagoya food for dinner

Below is an interactive map with all the highlights for my Nagoya itinerary. Red pins are all the must-see attractions during your day trip to Nagoya while the blue pins are other things to do in Nagoya if you have more time.

And I organized all these attractions into an efficient itinerary. All you have to do is follow the numbered pins and read the description for each attraction.

Nagoya Day Trip Itinerary for first time traveller

1. Morning Service at a Nagoya Cafe or Kissaten

In Nagoya, locals prefer a light breakfast with toast and coffee over traditional Japanese breakfast. Many people visit kissaten (“Japanese-style tearoom” but also a coffee shop), and order a Nagoya morning service. This means that when you order a coffee, the cafe serves a complimentary Ogura Toast, red bean paste and butter on thick toast.

Most kissatens in Nagoya have a variation of morning sets. I selected these cafes because they have morning sets and are close to Nagoya Station and Yanagibashi Central Market (so you can wander around just in case you have to wait for a table).

  • Komeda’s Coffee (7-11am) – try one of three morning sets at the most famous coffee chain originated in Nagoya.
  • Kissa Morning (8am-3pm) – morning toast (toast + butter) set is free or pay a bit more for other upgraded brekkie options. Good cafe option if you don’t want to wait.
  • Cafe Gentiane (7-11am) – it is really a dessert shop but they have a morning set with a Piyorin, the famous chick-shaped pudding dessert. The wait could be very long.
  • Tsubame Bread & Milk (8-11am) – super popular (and busy) cafe with Instagrammable morning sets. Get a number, walk around Yanagibashi Central Market then go back.
  • Coffee House Kako (7-11am) – cute cafe serving several morning sets with a variety of jam.

2. Yanagibashi Central Market

Yanagibashi Central Market is a seafood market in the city centre and is one of the largest private central markets in Japan. This is where you will find local restauranteurs source the freshest seafood and also locals buying produce.

Inside the market, you can buy all kinds of seafood. Plus, there is also fresh produce, pickles, meat and other dried goods like seaweed and bonito flakes.

At the perimeter of the market, small restaurants serve sushi and ramen for breakfast. Other restaurants open either at lunch or dinner.

I went at 9:30am and didn’t see a lot of action. Most seafood outlets were in the process of closing. Perhaps go between 8-8:30am so you can see how busy it can be.

And if you choose one of the kissaten cafe that has a bit of wait, wander around Yanagibashi Central Market first then go back to eat.

Address: 4 Chome-15-2 Meieki, Nakamura Ward, Nagoya | Hours: 4-10am; closed Wednesdays and Sundays | Admission: free

3. Nagoya Station

If you haven’t wander around Nagoya Station yet, make sure to do that before or after getting a morning set. It is the world’s largest train station by square feet, which includes many shops, eateries, and other commercial places.

In the immediate area, there are several shopping centres like JR Central Towers, Midland Square, and Esca Underground Shopping Centre. Department stores like Takashimaya and Meitetsu are also in the area. If there is a specific shop or item you want to find here, make sure you do that in the morning. They all close at 7pm and there won’t be enough time for you to come back at the end of the day.

Before you leave Nagoya Station area, check out Nana Chan Doll, a giant mannequin used for advertising and see what she is wearing for the latest ad campaign.

Address: 1 Chome-1-4 Meieki, Nakamura Ward, Nagoya | Hours: 24 hours | Admission: free

4. Nagoya Castle

Next, check out Nagoya’s best attraction: Nagoya Castle. It has been a symbol of the city since it was built in 1612 and is Japan’s first castle to be designated a National Treasure.

The castle was destroyed and restored over the years. But due to age and earthquake resistance concerns, it is not possible to visit inside of the main tower keep.

But, you can visit Hommaru Palace and see the hinoki cypress wood interior, gold screens, painted partitions inside the former residence building.

Also look out for the pair of golden shachihoko tiger-fish ornaments on the roof of the main tower keep and the greenery and cherry blossom trees at Ninomaru Garden especially if you are visiting during springtime.

Address: 1-1 Honmaru, Naka Ward, Nagoya | Hours: 9am-4pm | Admission: ¥500

5. Kinshachi Yokocho

Just south of Nagoya Castle is Kinshachi Yokocho, an area that is part of the castle premise and it has wooden Japanese-style houses that resembles the merchant houses from the Edo Period.

There are two main areas. Visit the Yoshinao Zone, which has many well-known established restaurants that specializes “Nagoya meshi“, which is the unique culture of Nagoya cuisine and also known as “Samurai cuisine”.

There are two specific restaurants I recommend for lunch.

Torikai Nagoya Cochin is a specialty restaurant that features cochin (Nagoya chicken). The menu offers chicken and egg oyakodon, chicken wing, chicken miso cutlet, minced chicken cutlet and cochin pudding.

Or try a bowl of Miso Nikomi Udon, a miso-broth udon served in an earthenware pot. The special Nagoya noodle can be found at Yamamotoya.

Address: 1 Chome-2 Sannomaru, Naka Ward, Nagoya | Hours: 10:30am-5:30pm | Admission: free

6 & 7. Mirai Tower and Spaceship-Aqua Observation Deck

Walk up Hisaya Odori Park, a 1km-long park in the middle of Hasaya Odori Street. This is where you will see two famous landmarks in Nagoya.

First, visit the Mirai Tower or Nagoya TV Tower. The steel tower has five floors that houses cafes, restaurants and even a hotel. There is an observation deck if you want to check out the 360 degree view.

To the southeast of the tower is Oasis 21. The futuristic looking complex is actually a highway bus terminal and it also has shops and restaurants. But the most interesting part is the Spaceship-Aqua Observation Deck, a viewing platform on the “water spaceship” roof.

To the south of the futuristic building is a recreation area that has green spaces and a Nagoya sign. This is a great spot to take a photograph of all three highlights.

It is great to see these landmarks in the afternoon. But if you have time after dinner, come back to this spot and see them at night. It has a totally different feel (personally, I prefer the night view).

Mirai Tower Address: 3 Chome-6-15Nishiki, Naka Ward, Nagoya | Hours: 10am-9pm | Admission: ¥1,300

Spaceship-Aqua Observation Deck Address: 1 Chome-11-1 Higashisakura, Higashi Ward, Nagoya | Hours: 10am-9pm | Admission: free

8. Sakae

Sakae is the downtown of Nagoya. It is the retail and entertainment district and it is packed with many things to do.

This is the best place (besides the shops at Nagoya Station) to go shopping. There are several department stores like Matsuzakaya and Mitsukoshi. And there are shopping malls with international retailers. One of the shopping mall even has a 52m tall ferris wheel!

And between all the neon signs and commercial buildings, you can find many local restaurants, bars and clubs. Take note of the places you want to try for dinner because you’ll come back to this area at the end of the day.

Address: Naka Ward, Nagoya | Hours: 24 hours | Admission: free

9. Osu Kannon Temple

When Nagoya Castle was built, many samurai residences and temples were built just south of it. Today, the area is known as the Osu area and one of the most popular site within Osu is the Osu Kannon Temple.

The Buddhist temple was originally built in Gifu Prefecture but was moved to the current site in 1612. There is a wooden statue of Kannon, the goddess of mercy, who is the most worshipped Buddhist saint in Japan. Plus, there are over 15,000 classic Japanese and Chinese books in the Shinpukuji Library, which is part of the temple.

If you are visiting the Osu area on the 18th and 28th, there is a flea market with over 60 stalls selling souvenirs, antiques and other second hand items.

Address: 2 Chome-21-47 Osu, Naka Ward, Nagoya | Hours: 6am-7pm | Admission: free

10. Osu Shotengai Shopping Street

Next to the temple is Osu Shotengai Shopping Street. It is actually a series of old-school covered pedestrian streets lined with shops and restaurants. Over 1,200 shops are found here. From secondhand clothing stores, to electronics and anime stores, you can find many unique things to buy.

If you feel peckish, some vendors selling street food like fried chicken, onigiri and crepes. Or if you are miss other international cuisine, you can find Indian, Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, Taiwanese, Indonesian and Brazilian food within the shopping area. These are just some of the ones I found so there might be more.

This could be a good area to find dinner. But if you want traditional Nagoya food, go back to the main Sakae area, which is next on the itinerary.

Address: 3 Chome Osu, Naka Ward, Nagoya | Hours: 11am-10pm | Admission: free

11. Try other famous Nagoya food for dinner

Sakae is the perfect area to end the day. The area has many restaurants serving typical Nagoya food such as eel, pork cutlet with miso sauce, fried chicken wings and kishimen noodle.

Tip: decide which place you want to go as there will likely be a queue. These restaurants are very popular in Nagoya so don’t go when you are super hungry. The wait can be 10 minutes or more.

  • Hitsumabushi – there are four ways to eat chopped kabayaki eel on rice at Atsuta Houraiken
  • Miso Katsu – try the famous deep-fried pork cutlets with miso sauce and tonkatsu sauce at Misokatsu Yabaton
  • Tebasaki – eat Nagoya-style deep-fried chicken wings at Yamachan or Furaibo
  • Kishimen – pick one of the flat wheat noodles in soup at Sohonke Ebisuya Honten

Other ideas for 1 Day Nagoya Itinerary

There are other things to do in Nagoya besides the attractions mentioned in the itinerary. If you are staying longer than a day in Nagoya or want to switch up the itinerary, here are a few more things to see (see blue pins on the map):

  1. Atsuta Shrine (24 hours; free) – visit the one of the most important Shinto shrine in Japan. The shrine is also famous for the sacred sword Kusanagi (but not on display) but there are other swords and shrine artefacts on display.
  2. Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology (9:30am-5pm closed Mondays; ¥1,000) – since the headquarters of Toyota is located just outside of central Nagoya, it might be worthwhile to see the original factory and learn about the carmaker’s origin.

Day trips and excursions from Nagoya

Besides all the local attractions within central Nagoya, there are several places that are worthwhile for day trips. See my suggestions below.

Also, many people start the famous Nakasendo Trail from Nagoya. If you are considering hiking the ancient trail, stay overnight in Nagoya and start the hike bright and early the next day.

  1. Inuyama Castle – take a half day trip to Inuyama and see Inuyama Castle and Urakuen Japanese Garden. Make sure to eat and shop along Inuyama Castle Town Showa Alley.
  2. Ghibli Park – spend the day in the magical theme park featuring characters from several Studio Ghibli movies. Book your theme park ticket and round trip ticket from Nagoya in advanced for a hassle free trip.
  3. Legoland Japan – Lego fans might want to check this out. Book the one day pass in advanced.
  4. Nakasendo Trail – spend 1 to 3 days hiking the ancient samurai route on your own and see picturesque post towns like Magome, Tsumago and Narai.

Where to stay in Nagoya by yourself

Nagoya has many accommodation options for solo travellers. If you are only staying overnight, find a hotel near Nagoya Station or Sakae or anywhere in between. There are budget options but I found several low to mid-range options that are affordable and comfortable.

I stayed at all three of these Nagoya hotels and would recommend them all.

  1. Lamp Light Books Hotel Nagoya ($$) – new boutique hotel that features books. Even though the hotel doesn’t have any amenities, the single room is very cozy and it has a modern bathroom.
  2. Hotel Androoms Nagoya Fushimi ($$) – clean and modern guest room with a spacious bathroom. I really like the Androoms hotel chain.
  3. Hotel Keihan Nagoya ($$) – a well-known hotel chain in Japan. I found the guest room to be the most comfortable of all three. I enjoyed having a little sitting area by the window.

Is Nagoya worth visiting as a solo traveller

After many solo trips to Japan and missing Nagoya every trip, I’m glad I finally went. Even though Nagoya is not as well known as other cities like Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto, there is so much charm in the little city of Nagoya where you can comfortably see everything in one day.

If you like a quieter city and go off the beaten path, make sure to check out Nagoya. There’s history, modern city centre, excellent shopping and delicious local food.

Let me know if you are following my 1-day Nagoya itinerary or if you found any other attractions that should be part of this itinerary.

Thank you for reading my solo Nagoya itinerary

You might also like these other posts on solo travel in Japan:

Introduction to Japan

Chubu region

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About Author

Hi, my name is Queenie, and I've been a solo traveller for 20+ years and currently based in Hong Kong. Follow me on my adventures through Instagram and my blog!

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