Tokyo is an enormous city with something for every kind of traveler, even the ones on a tight schedule. So if you are short on time, fear not, this packed and effective itinerary will guide you to make sure you visit all the main sights in Tokyo in 2 days.
After living in Tokyo for six months is easy to see why people rave about this city once they have visited, there is just so much to do and see, that I’m sure even a lifetime would not be enough, but we have to start somewhere.
So after having friends and family visit us in Tokyo and helping them organize their days in the city, this 2 day Tokyo itinerary is the revised compilation of all the must-visit spots in Tokyo for the traveler on a tight schedule, including ideas for where to eat in Tokyo and where to have great coffee—very important.
Hope you are ready to complete your step count for the day…
The Ultimate Itinerary To See The Best Of Tokyo In 2 Days
First day of a 2 day Tokyo itinerary: All the Tokyo classics
For our first day in Tokyo, we are covering a lot of ground and ticking off the list all the absolute musts; the historic and religious center of Tokyo, pop-culture street, the most futuristic district, enjoying great ramen, and more.
Efficient and tasty breakfast at 7-eleven
First things first; breakfast. If there’s one thing the Japanese are masters of, is efficient quick meals, and the epitome of this is the Japanese 7-Eleven where you can get all sorts of ready meals all throughout the day, and at incredibly affordable prices.
The 7-Eleven will also be your best friend in Japan when you are out and about ready to explore before 11 a.m., since most coffee shops don’t even open until then, making it hard to find breakfast.
So to begin your packed 2-day Tokyo itinerary head over to the 7-Eleven closest to you for a quick, cheap but delicious breakfast—my favorite breakfast items are the fluffy egg sandwich, and the maple syrup and margarine pancakes.
Spend the morning at the historic Asakusa district
To kickstart this 2-day Tokyo itinerary on a high note, make your way to the renowned Asakusa district, one of the oldest and most historically rich areas in Tokyo.
Here you will want to start your tour of Asakusa at the imposing Kaminarimon Gate, then make your way through the bustling Nakamise Street, lined with all kinds of beautiful artisan shops, tasty street food stalls, and high-quality souvenir shops, and finally arrive at the iconic Senso-ji Temple, the oldest Buddhist temple in Tokyo.
Once you are done exploring the temple grounds, make your way out of the temple through the west gate and dive into the neighboring streets filled with casual eateries, popular street food stands, and great coffee options like Fuglen Asakusa.
Lunch at the iconic ramen chain Ichiran
If you are getting hungry by the end of your Asakusa tour make your way to either one of the two Ichiran locations in Asakusa, and if you are not hungry yet, you could make your way to Shibuya, and go to either of the locations there.
Ichiran Ramen is an immensely popular ramen chain, known for its flavorful pork-based broth, its customizable spicy level, and its unique way of presenting you with the food.
All seating spaces are individual booths, with small walls to block off neighbors and the food is served through a curtain that lifts and falls in front of you as they deliver the food—definitely a very unique Japanese dining experience!
Another factor that puts Ichiran very high on my list is the fact that is one of the few places that is open 24/7, so when in doubt, always look for the Ichiran closest to you.
Explore bustling Shibuya
Before or after lunch, hop on the metro and make your way to Shibuya Station, follow the signs for the Hachiko Statue to exit the station on the correct side to be able to witness the legendary Shibuya Crossing right in front of you.
Shibuya is an iconic and busy area of Tokyo, with many things to do and see, some of the spots that might be interesting to stop by are the popular Pokemon and Nintendo Center, both located inside the Shibuya Parco shopping center.
If that is not really up your alley, you can also visit the overwhelmingly massive Mega Don Quijote, a store that I like to call “Target on drugs”, they have absolutely everything you could want, with no order, and lots and lots of bright decorations— a unique shopping experience for sure.
After exploring either of those options, make your way to Cat Street, one of my favorite shopping streets in Tokyo, lined with popular brands, as well as vintage shops and great coffee shops.
If you are in need of a pick me up I would highly recommend stopping by Matcha Tokyo for a rich and delicious matcha latte, or by Roastery by Nozy, one of the best coffee shops in Tokyo, for the perfect latte.
- Alternative: Instead of visiting the Pokemon and Nintendo Center, or the Mega Don Quijote, you could go straight through Cat Street and make your way to the lush Yoyogi Park and visit Meiji Jingu, a beautiful Shinto shrine surrounded by forest.
Discover Japanese young and eccentric culture at Harajuku
The idea of walking up Cat Street is to make your way to Harajuku and arrive at the popular Takeshita Street, a pedestrian street known for its young and eccentric vibes, colorful crepe stands, eye-catching street food, and numerous vintage shops.
- Tip: Skip the bright massive cotton candy, it just tastes like food coloring, and try the cheesy coin-shaped pancake instead.
If you are a millennial like me, chances are that Takeshita Street is not really your kind of shopping street, the allure of visiting this street is mostly to people watch and immerse yourself in the younger Japanese culture.
One store worth checking out in Harajuku though, is the 4-story New Balance store which sometimes stocks T-shirts with Harajuku-only designs—I’m a sucker for practical souvenirs.
Get the ultimate Tokyo experience by wandering Shinjuku at night
One of my favorite places to take people to during their first time in Tokyo is the bright and bustling Shinjuku at night—a place that truly screams ‘This is Tokyo’.
Shinjuku at night really embodies every single Tokyo stereotype you could ever imagine; towering skyscrapers everywhere you look, a sea of neon lights, and a constant buzz, with people being out and about at all hours.
After arriving at Shinjuku station, make your way to the historic Omoide Yokocho, a cluster of snug casual restaurants, that barely fit over a handful of people, and the perfect location to grab a quick dinner in a very unique Tokyo fashion.
After indulging in some izakaya make your way to the newest addition to Shinjuku—but one that I believe is worth the visit—the new and shiny Kabukicho Tower, primarily the first and second floor which house an overstimulating food court, and a neon-packed arcade on the second floor.
On your way out of Kabukicho Tower make sure to look up to spot Godzilla on top of the neighboring Shinjuku Toho Tower, if you are lucky you might even hear it roar.
For the last stop on your first day of exploring Tokyo is another Shinjuku gem, the tight alleys of Golden Gai, something similar to Omoide Yokocho but instead of restaurants is all bars, tiny dive-style bars fitting five to ten people.
So find your favorite tiny bar and order some sake to cheer to the perfect first day of a 2-day Tokyo adventure!
The second day of a 2-day Tokyo itinerary:
If you would be doing Tokyo in one day, you would honestly be set with that first part of the itinerary.
You covered the most iconic places in the city, the absolute musts, but luckily you still have a second day which will allow you to add a little bit more context to the city, by visiting other neighborhoods and having some unique Tokyo experiences.
Start the day with at TeamLab Planets
If we are trying to use time efficiently when spending 2 days in Tokyo, it is important to consider opening times, and even though I wouldn’t normally think of TeamLabs as a must in a 2 day Tokyo itinerary, there is not much to do in Tokyo before 11 am, so might as well add an activity to the beginning of the day.
The key here is to book your slot way in advance—at least 2 weeks before—to make sure you can get the earliest slot, which is at 9 a.m.
TeamLab Planets is a modern art museum with a unique immersive art exhibition consisting of a variety of sensory rooms you can walk through.
You might have seen the LED lights room and the flower room already on social media, those are definitely the highlights of the exhibition, I do think however that the whole experience is interesting—except for the weird silver eggs—if you allow yourself to be immersed in it and interact with the art.
Seafood breakfast at Tsujiki Fish Market
When in Japan do as the Japanese do, and have seafood for breakfast—or in our case, brunch— and the best place for seafood in Tokyo is the famous Tsujiki Fish Market.
The Tsujiki Fish Market used to be known for their tuna auctions at the crack of dawn, however, the wholesale side of the market has now been moved to the Toyosu market, so no need to wake up at 5 am this time, however, the outer market remains, lined with delicious food stands and fresh seafood restaurants.
Two of my favorite restaurants in the area are the Tsukiji Yaki Uo Ishikawa, a grill-your-own tuna steak restaurant that took my love for tuna to a whole new level, or if you came all the way here for classic sushi, then the neighboring Tsujiki Sushi Sei (new branch) is the way to go.
- Caffeine tip: If you need a coffee before or after your sushi breakfast, Kunisuke Coffee is a great coffee option in the area, or if you enjoy Matcha, Matcha Stand Maruni is right in front of the sushi restaurant.
Explore the glamorous Ginza Shopping district
After having your mind blown by all the incredible fresh seafood in the Tsujiki Fish Market, it’s time to get your steps in by wandering the streets and shops of the glamourous Ginza district.
Ginza is known as an entertainment district, with tons of great shopping, upscale restaurants, elegant bars, and entertainment venues such as the traditional Kabuki Theater—enough to keep anyone busy for days.
But we are on a time crunch here, so here are some of my favorite shops to stop by in the area: the 11-story Uniqlo, Shiseido’s flagship store, Tokyo-born Comme des Garçons, the beautiful Tsutsaya book shop inside the G6 shopping center, and if you love stationary, Itoya in Ginza is a dream come true.
- Caffeine tip: Time for a second coffee? There’s a Blue Bottle Coffee—one of the best coffee shops in Tokyo for consistently great coffee—in the basement of the G6 Shopping Center.
The awkward in-between meal of the day
Tokyo can be a funny place in the sense that most things, even coffee shops and brunch places open late, but then they go and have super specific lunch and dinner opening hours, so if you end up hungry in between those two schedules you will struggle to find something open.
Since you had a “late breakfast/early lunch” by the time you get hungry again it might be between meals when lots of things are closed—that tends to happen to me a lot since I am not an early riser.
One option that is open throughout the day in Ginza is the famous Ginza Kagari Main Branch, a mouthwatering chicken ramen, and one of the best ramen in Tokyo, however, this is not a secret, so the line can get long.
If you go in between meal hours, between 4-5 pm you, will probably have a better chance of not having to wait in line forever.
Another great option in the area for a meal between “meal hours” is the Ramen Takahashi, Ichiran in Shimbashi, or when in doubt 7-Eleven.
The Eiffel Tower’s colorful sister: the Tokyo Tower
After fueling up it’s time to hit the next stop in your packed 2-day Tokyo itinerary, the iconic Tokyo Tower—and no you are not crazy, it is a replica of the Eiffel Tower.
The Tokyo Tower might be a newer addition to the city, being just built in 1958, but it has become an undeniable symbol of Tokyo.
This Eiffel Tower twin, however, is bigger and brighter, standing three meters taller than the original, and being a bold red that adds a pop of color to the Tokyo skyline.
When visiting the Tokyo Tower you can go up to the tower’s observation deck, or you can also just enjoy the view of the Tower from the nearby Prince Park.
If you still have some time left before the last stop of the day, you may want to check out Zozoji Temple nearby.
Sake and izakaya at a local spot in the Ebisu neighborhood
The last stop of the day is the lively Ebisu neighborhood—a favorite hang-out spot for locals after work.
As soon as the sun sets and the work day is finished you can see office workers loosening their tie, rolling their sleeves, and heading straight for the numerous casual izakaya and ramen joints in the area.
One of my favorite places in Ebisu has to be Buri Bar, a snug sake bar that offers an extensive sake menu categorized by flavor profile, and a tasty izakaya menu—their chicken breast yakitori is amazing—all in a super chill environment surrounded by tipsy locals.
The only downside is that it is a traditional “standing bar”, so after a whole day of exploring this might sound like your worst nightmare, but there are some thin benches on the tables by the window where you can kind of lean on.
After having lived six months in Tokyo I understand that you could live there your whole life and not see it all, but I don’t think that should put you off from visiting just because you are tight on time.
As you can see from this itinerary, it is possible to visit Tokyo in 2 days and still see most of the main Tokyo sights, while also having some local experiences, the key is to have a well-thought-out plan and know what’s around you to make the trip the most efficient it can be.
I truly hope this 2 day Tokyo itinerary with added tips and meal ideas of where to eat in Tokyo helps you make the absolute best out of your trip, no matter how short or long your visit might be.
If you do end up having a few more days in the city, make sure to check out our more extensive 5-day Tokyo itinerary that will take you through other areas of the city and add even more unique experiences to the mix.