Last Updated on November 27, 2020 by queenie mak
Located on Kyushu Island, Fukuoka is the 7th biggest city in Japan. Even though Fukuoka is not as well known as other popular Japanese cities like Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto, there are many places to visit in Fukuoka.
Because of its proximity to Asia mainland, Fukuoka is one of the oldest cities in Japan and is an important harbour city. Today, Fukuoka is comprised of the port city of Hakata and the castle town of Fukuoka.
With a strong food culture and many things to do in Fukuoka, it is one of the best places to visit in Japan. Keep reading my Fukuoka travel blog and learn about the city and all the best activities in Fukuoka.
Related Post – Kyushu Island 10 day Itinerary
What you need to know before you visit Fukuoka
Before you start your Fukuoka trip, take a look at my post on everything you need to know before going to Japan. I included a lot of information including how to get around Japan and other travel tips.
Here are additional travel tips that you may find useful for your visit to Fukuoka:
- SUGOCA is the prepaid IC card for Kyushu. It is a rechargeable smartcard where you can take public transportation including train, subway, bus and other transportation. It is useful to have especially if you are taking day trips to Daizaifu, or other places in Kyushu.
- You can see all the attractions in Fukuoka in 3 days
- Fukuoka is an excellent hub for day trips as the city has many fantastic budget accommodations
- Walking is the best way to see most attractions in Fukuoka City
- Fukuoka subway has 2 major lines where it will take you to all the places to visit in Fukuoka. Use your IC Card at any time or purchase 1 or 2-day passes.
- Nishitetsu Railway has several train lines and will take you to many Fukuoka attractions but the one you should know is the Tenjin-Omuta Line where it takes you to Dazaifu. IC card is accepted on Nishitetsu Railway.
And if you want to be prepared for your trip to Japan, take a look at some of these resources before your Fukuoka trip:
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How to travel to Fukuoka
If you are flying to Fukuoka, you will arrive at Fukuoka Airport. Many domestic and international flights fly in out of the busy airport each day.
From Fukuoka Kuko Airport to JR Hakata Station
- Subway on Kuko Line (orange line)
- Time: 5 minutes
- Cost: ¥260
- Check subway timetable and fares here
And if you are taking Japan Railway, you may be coming from cities east of Fukuoka like Osaka, or Tokyo, etc. or cities south of Fukuoka like Kumamoto or Kagoshima. Check Hyperdia for schedules and fares. Here are a few sample routes below.
From Osaka to Fukuoka
- JR Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen: from Shin-Osaka Station to JR Hakata Station
- Time: 2 hours and 30 minutes
- Cost: ¥15,310 (covered by Japan Rail Pass except for Nozomi and Mizuho trains)
From Kumamoto to Fukuoka
- Kyushu Shinkansen: from Kumamoto Station to JR Hakata Station
- Time: 38 minutes
- Cost: ¥5,130 (covered by Japan Rail Pass except for Nozomi and Mizuho trains)
Japan Rail Passes
You can use Japan Rail Pass and JR Kyushu Rail Pass for your journey to Fukuoka.
And there are several kinds of JR Kyushu Rail Passes but you have to purchase the passes before you leave for Japan. Check out the website and see if you can benefit from getting a rail pass for your travel in Kyushu.
Related Post – Things I wish I knew before going to Japan
Where to stay in Fukuoka
Because there are many places to visit in Fukuoka, staying in a central location is important. Luckily for travellers, there are many excellent accommodations plus they are inexpensive.
During my time in Fukuoka, I stayed at several backpacker hostels, and mid-range hotels and they were all excellent in their own ways. They are all near JR Hakata Station and Chuo area of Fukuoka.
Take a look at my suggestions below and find the exact location on the interactive map by following the yellow pins.
- Hostel Stand By Me ($) – The simple and efficient hostel is on the second and third floor of the small building. I like the clean and private bunk beds and spotless bathroom. Plus there is a common area with a kitchenette on the second floor.
- Check prices & reviews: Agoda
- Montan Hakata Hostel ($) – The dorm room is clean and each bunk bed has privacy curtains. I especially like the common area on the ground floor where it has a shared kitchen and plenty of tables and chairs. Enjoy your complimentary breakfast and feel free to use the common space at any time during the day.
- Check prices & reviews: Agoda
- Hostel & Bar Common de ($) – The newly renovated hostel has contemporary dorm rooms with comfortable bunk beds, simple kitchenette and private bathrooms. There is a common area on the 5th floor and an on-site bar.
- Check prices & reviews: Agoda
- Cost: up to ¥4,000 per day
- There are over 300+ Airbnb listings in Fukuoka. Choose from an entire apartment, private room to hotel room. And many accommodations provide pocket wifi as an added bonus for your stay.
- Before you book your Airbnb accommodation, always read reviews and all the fine print before booking.
- And if you are not part of Airbnb yet, please use this code to claim your $35 Airbnb discount.
Related Post – How to save money by booking Airbnb
What to do in Fukuoka, Japan
There are many places to visit in Fukuoka so I decided to put together a list of the best activities in Fukuoka. Whether you only have one day or a few days, pick and choose from my list of top 25 things to do in Fukuoka and create your own itinerary for your Fukuoka trip!
All the activities in Fukuoka are pinned in the interactive map above. You can find more information about each Fukuoka attraction by clicking on the individual pin.
1. Eat Hakata Ramen aka Tonkotsu Ramen
Tonkotsu ramen is the signature ramen throughout Kyushu where each region has its own twist to the traditional flavour. And in Fukuoka, the capital of Hakata ramen, the ramen features a creamy pork bone broth with thin fresh noodles.
When you visit Fukuoka, you must try the Shiromaru Classic at Ippudo. Go the Ippudo’s original location and order a Shiromaru Classic bowl of ramen where it comes with a few slices of pork, half an egg and bamboo shoots. It costs ¥720. Or try the Akamaru Modern noodles for ¥820. The famous restaurant has many locations in Fukuoka and throughout the globe.
There are many excellent ramen restaurants throughout Fukuoka. Try one or all of them!
- Ichiran – founded in Fukuoka, there 6 locations in Fukuoka and many more locations all over Japan and overseas. If you are lucky, you don’t have to wait in a queue. Once you are at your ramen booth, order your noodles and enjoy.
- Ramen Unari – their unique “Seafood Tonkotsu” Gyokai ramen has a rich broth where it is made with both pork bones and seafood. A bowl of deliciousness costs only ¥720!
- Hakata Ramen Zen – one of the cheapest ramen in Fukuoka costs only ¥280! Get a bowl of Tonkotsu ramen at one of the 4 locations in Fukuoka.
- Ramen Stadium at Canal City Hakata – located on the top floor of the modern shopping centre, the themed food court has 8 popular ramen restaurants for you to choose from.
2. Slurp up a bowl of Fukuoka Udon
Another culinary highlight in Fukuoka is udon, a bowl of thick noodle made with local wheat flour in a mildly sweet broth. After all, udon’s birthplace is right in Hakata!
While you are in Fukuoka City, try a bowl of Goboten udon, a bowl of udon noodles with goboten which is a shredded bogo (burdock root that is battered and fried). You can enjoy the udon at Noko Udon which is a local noodle shop that is affordable and opens 24 hours a day.
3. Try other food that is unique to Fukuoka
Trying local cuisine is one of the best things to do in Fukuoka, Japan! Besides ramen and udon, there are other foods that you can only find in Fukuoka.
- Motsunabe – a winter hot pot of beef or pork offal in a soy sauce and miso broth. You can add rice at the end to make porridge. The hot pot includes cabbage, other vegetables and chives.
- Mizutaki – Kyushu’s native jidori chicken, is cooked in a hot pot, along with green onions and vegetables. Enjoy the rich, silky broth and eat the chicken with the citrus ponzu sauce. Similar to motsunabe, the soup can be used to make porridge or noodles.
- Fresh Squid Sushi – You can find excellent sushi throughout Japan. But while you are in Fukuoka, try their sushi including ika ikizukuri which is fresh squid sushi.
- Kaisendon – a bowl of rice with raw seafood arranged on top
- Tetsunabe Gyoza – the bite-size tetsunabe (iron pan) gyoza is the best in Fukuoka. Full of flavourful meat and vegetables.
- Hakata Amaou Strawberry – when in season (from winter to spring), Fukuoka amaou strawberry is big, shiny and super sweet! It is a known fact that the Hakata region in Kyushu produces the best strawberries in Japan because of its temperate climate.
- Sake – Fukuoka is among the top 5 prefectures with the most Sake breweries.
4. Dine at a Yatai outdoor food stall along Nakasa River
With over 150 yatai’s all over Fukuoka, you will find an open-air food stall that you want to try. Each yatai serve something different, but you will find ramen, gyoza, house specials, etc. Each yatai has about 10 seats or so. They are open during the evenings and are located primarily in Tenjin, Nakasu, and Nagahama areas.
Don’t be shy if you are travelling alone or be intimidated by the language barrier, most of the yatai food stalls have English menus. And when in doubt, just look at what everyone else is eating and order what they got! Ha!
5. Find Mentaiko and other fresh seafood at Yanagibashi Rengo Market
Look for a Fukuoka specialty, mentaiko, a spicy pollock roe that is wildly popular in Fukuoka. You can sample some at Yangibashi Rengo Market, and you can even bring some home as a souvenir.
But if that’s too adventurous for you, there are other seafood and cooked food in the small local market. Like the one pictured above. Everything is deep-fried and oh-so-delicious!
6. Visit temples and shrines in Hakata Old Town
Stroll through Hakata Old Town where it features many traditional temples and shrines in a historic neighbourhood in Fukuoka.
From Hakata Station, it is a short walk to Hakata Sennen-no-Mon Gate, which is the entrance to Hakata’s temple and shrine area. Along the way, you will find Jotenji, Myorakuji, Shofukuji, Tochoji Temple, and Kushida Shrine. These are some of Fukuoka’s most famous temples, and they can be viewed during a self walking tour of Hakata Old Town.
And if you visit Fukuoka in July, attend one of Fukuoka’s most famous festival, the “Hakata Gion Yamakasa”. It is one of the best festivals in Japan where teams from seven Fukuoka neighbourhoods compete in pushing a decorated float along a 5km course throughout the city.
7. Visit ACROS Fukuoka for art and cultural events
Located next to Tenjin Central Park, the ACROS Fukuoka is the art and cultural centre of Fukuoka. There is a Fukuoka Symphony Hall with various cultural institutions inside. You can also see Fukuoka’s traditional arts and crafts, and there is an observatory deck on the roof but only open to the public on weekends and holidays.
Take a look at the exterior of the building as you leave the ACROS Fukuoka, the building is designed to look like a 15-story hanging garden.
8. Visit all the attractions at Momochi Seaside Park
When you travel to Fukuoka during warmer months, Momochi Seaside Park is worth visiting as it is right by the water and has a beautiful beach.
Part of the reclaimed land along Hakata Bay, the park has modern waterfront facilities along Momochihama Beach. The park was initially developed for the 1989 Asia Pacific Expo where it features futuristic buildings and scenic parks.
Fukuoka Tower, Japan’s tallest seaside tower, is nearby. The 234-metre tower has an observation deck at 123 meters and a panoramic view of Fukuoka.
Fukuoka City Museum and Fukuoka Yafuoku Dome are in the area as well.
9. Stroll through Maizuru Park and look for Fukuoka Castle Ruins
Maizuru Park is a large park just west of the centre of Fukuoka. The extensive park is built around Fukuoka Castle ruins, where it was once a castle back in the Edo Period. While the castle used to be the biggest castle on Kyushu, you will only find a few remaining walls and a few turrets.
It is one of the best places to visit in Fukuoka especially during spring when you can see cherry blossoms in full bloom.
And there are plenty of walking trails in the park and a few lookout points.
10. People watch at Ohori Park and enjoy tea ceremony at the Japanese Garden
Enjoy a leisurely afternoon and hang out at Ohori Park. Walk around the park’s 2km long path around the large pond, where it used to be a moat for Fukuoka Castle. But watch out, many people run along the path including many elderly Japanese people.
But before you leave Ohori Park, look for Ohori Park Japanese Garden and see the manicured Japanese garden for ¥240. There is a teahouse in the garden where you can participate in a traditional tea ceremony (by reservation only). Normally there is a fee for the tea ceremony but it is free of charge the first and third Tuesday of every month.
11. Get cultured at Fukuoka Art Museum
Located in Ohari Park, the Fukuoka Art Museum is a modern art museum that’s over 16,000 pieces of artwork. The museum has interactive exhibits and fine art collection including artwork by Salvador Dali, Joan Miro, Yayoi Kusama, and local Kyushu painters.
12. See art from different parts of Asia at Fukuoka Asian Art Museum (FAAM)
The Fukuoka Asian Art Museum (FAAM) is the only museum in the world that displays Asian modern and contemporary art. The permanent collection at FAAM includes modern and contemporary artwork from various countries in Asia. The display is changed 6 times a year with each display taking a specific theme. The entrance is free for the regular exhibit.
One of the special exhibitions includes the Fukuoka Asian Art Triennale, which is held every 3 years. It introduces the latest artwork from 21 countries in Asia, including installations, sculptures, paintings and other media.
13. Admire art and architecture at Fukuoka Prefectural Art Museum
Located in Tenjin, the Fukuoka Prefectural Art Museum has work by artists connected to Fukuoka City including artwork by Harue Koga, a Japanese surrealist avant-garde painter.
While the exhibits are interesting, the interior and architecture of the building are quite marvellous as well. The building is designed by Takeo Satou, a modernist architect. The exterior has a modern, and functional feel, whereas the interior, has voluminous spaces created by structural elements.
14. Learn about Hakata’s merchant history at Hakata Machiya Furusato-kan (Folk Museum)
The Hakata Machiya Folk Museum is a museum that recreated lifestyle and culture of Hakata’s merchants around the Meiji and Taisho Periods. The entire museum spans over 3 traditional houses in a cultural heritage site.
Inside the museum, displays feature traditional handicrafts like Hakata dolls, Hakata textiles, Hakata tiger figurines and other traditional arts and crafts.
Don’t leave without paying a visit to the souvenir shop as you may want to pick up a unique gift for friends back home.
15. Visit Kyushu’s busiest train station at JR Hakata City
If you travel to Fukuoka by train, you will arrive at Hakata Station, which is part of JR Hakata City. It is the largest train station in Kyushu as it is the main hub for train travel between Kyushu and the rest of mainland Japan. It is Kyushu’s busiest train station.
JR Hakata City is not only a train station, but has 2 department stores, over 230 retail stores and restaurants, and a cinema complex. There is even a rooftop observatory space that allows you to see a panoramic view of Fukuoka.
16. Shop at the traditional Kawabata Shopping Arcade
Many Japanese cities have the old style covered shopping street called shotengai and Fukuoka has a few.
Kawabata Shopping Arcade is most popular one and the oldest one in Fukuoka. It has over 130 retails shops where over 50 of them are mom-and-pop stores selling clothing, food and household items. The 400-metre covered arcade has a community feel to it.
17. Buy traditional crafts and local sweets at a souvenir shop
Food is the best souvenir! Buy some Hiyoko cakes, which are small chicken-shaped cakes with sweet bean paste inside. You can get them almost everywhere in Fukuoka including the local souvenir shops in Kawabata Shopping Arcade, and department stores at JR Hakata City.
18. Shop and watch the dancing water fountain show at Canal City Hakata
Canal City Hakata is another modern building adding to the skyline of Fukuoka City. It has many chic boutiques, department stores, movie theatres, and an amusement arcade.
While there are many restaurants throughout the shopping complex, try a bowl of Hakata Ramen on the top floor at Ramen Stadium (as mentioned in #1 of top things to do in Fukuoka).
And most of all, don’t miss the 180-metre long artificial canal that crisscrosses the buildings. And the dancing water fountain shows (from 10 am to 10 pm) are quite magical.
19. Get lost in Tenjin Chikagai (underground shopping mall) maze
There are over 150 shops and restaurants in the Tenjin Chikagai underground shopping mall, making it the largest underground shopping centre in Kyushu. Over 590 metre of corridors connects all the retail stores, department stores and major buildings in the Tenjin area. There is a lots to see and it is easy to get lost in the maze! But don’t worry, there are many English signages.
If you want to see Fukuoka with a tour, check out some of these tour ideas:
20. Take a day trip to Dazaifu
If you can spare a day from your Fukuoka trip, then you must visit Dazaifu as it is one of the best day trips from Fukuoka. Visit Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine, which has the deity of education, Kyushu National Museum, and the ultra-modern Starbucks. And while you are there, you have to try umegae mochi rice cake, a local sweet dumpling filled with red bean paste.
How to travel from Fukuoka to Dazaifu
Take the Nishitetsu Railway from Tenjin Station to Dazaifu Station. The train journey is only 30 minutes. When you leave Dazaifu Station, follow the signs, and they will lead you to all the attractions.
21. Visit Sakurai Futamigaura or “couple rock” at Itoshima Peninsula
If you fancy a day trip from Fukuoka and want to see beaches of northern Kyushu, then you must visit Itoshima Peninsula.
Sitting at Futamigaura Beach, Sakurai Futamigaura or known as “couple rock” is joined together by a shimenawa rope. And in the foreground, there is a giant white torii gate in the turquoise water. Together, they are called the Sakurai Futamigaura of Meotoiwa.
Many travellers visit Itoshima to see the “couple rock” and other beaches along the peninsula. And the sunset there is quite magical.
How to travel from Fukuoka to Samurai Futamigaura
From Hakata Station, take the Kuko subway line (orange line) to Itoshima Station. The train journey takes 40 minutes. Then take a taxi to the beach. Or you can take a taxi or drive from Fukuoka which takes about 30 minutes.
22. Cruise down the picturesque Yanagawa River
Experience Yanagawa, a quaint town with an old castle, Yanagawa Castle, where moats were built around the town to keep the enemies out.
The river cruise takes place in small boats where you will cruise around the moats. The entire river cruise is about 3km long and takes about 70 minutes. During the boat ride, you will see many famous sites and ancient ruins. And if it is during spring, you might even see cherry blossom.
How to travel from Fukuoka to Yanagawa River
Take the Nishitetsu train from Nishitetsu Fukuoka (Tenjin) Station to Nishitetsu-Yanagawa Station on Nishitetsu-Tenjin-Omuta Line. The journey costs ¥80 and takes 50 minutes.
23. Spend a day on Nokonoshima Island
Spend a glorious day on Nokonoshima Island! Nokonoshima Island Park is on the small island in Hakata Bay where the park has beautiful flowers all year round. See different flowers in full bloom such as Scarlet Sage (August to December), Bougainvillea (July to November), Cockspur Coral Tree (September) and Cosmos (early to mid-October).
How to travel from Fukuoka to Nokonoshima Island
From Meinohama Ferry Passenger Terminal in Fukuoka, the ferry ride is only 10 minutes to Nokonoshima Island.
24. Soak in the onsen (hot springs) of Takeo in Saga
Soak in the onsen of Takeo for as little as ¥400! The ancient hot springs date back 1500 years, and the hot alkaline water is excellent for travel fatigue, muscle pain and simply relaxing.
When you are in Takeo, look for the Takeo-Onsen Tower, a two-storied gate, which is also the entrance to the public onsen.
How to travel from Fukuoka to Saga
Take a direct train from Hakata Station to Takeo-Onsen Station on Midori-Huis Ten Bosch Line. The trip costs about ¥3,100 and takes approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes. Then walk 12 minutes to Takeo Onsen Tower and find the onsen entrance.
25. Take a hydrofoil ferry from Fukuoka to Busan, South Korea
If you are planning on visiting South Korea during your Fukuoka trip, you can take a hydrofoil ferry from Fukuoka to Busan, South Korea.
Ferries are operated by JR Kyushu Beetle Ferry (3-hour trip) and Camellia Line (5.5-hour trip), and there are over 23 ferries per week going to Busan, South Korea. The journey can be smooth or choppy depending on the weather. The ferry cost fluctuates, but you can check and purchase tickets here.
What are you going to do in Fukuoka, Japan?
Fukuoka is one of those cities where you can spend many days enjoying the city and eating a ton of good food. That is exactly what I did when I visited Fukuoka as a solo traveller.
Between all the excellent local food and things to do in Fukuoka, I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Fukuoka City and I hope you will too. I also put together a 10 day Kyushu itinerary which includes all the best cities on the island and an itinerary for spending 3 days in Fukuoka.
Let me know in the comments which Fukuoka attractions you are planning on seeing or if I missed any in my Fukuoka travel blog.