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What to do in Tokyo: 10 unique and amazing experiences

Choosing what to do in Tokyo is always a challenging task. Tokyo is a truly special city, filled with a fascinating blend of tradition and modernity. With over 25 million tourists visiting Japan annually (source: Statista), Tokyo is unavoidable for those visiting the country, standing out as one of its main cities. We visited Tokyo on three different occasions – in 2014, 2015, and 2023 – where we always sought to connect with the culture to better understand the country. Therefore, we can confidently say that the city has so much to offer that it never fails to surprise and enchant visitors.

There is an endless array of activities, places to explore, and unique experiences that make Tokyo a must-visit destination on the list of what to do in Tokyo.

Tokyo is a city that impresses from the first moment, with its vibrant energy and harmonious fusion of tradition and modernity. The bustling streets, filled with neon lights, contrast with serene shrines, creating a unique atmosphere. Additionally, the impeccable order and cleanliness of the city, combined with the courtesy of its inhabitants, reflect Japanese cultural values, making it truly special.

When exploring Tokyo, the senses are constantly stimulated by fascinating experiences, from the irresistible smells of street markets to the exotic flavors of Japanese cuisine. Each neighborhood reveals a distinct personality, providing a variety of cultural and gastronomic experiences. With a vast offering and unparalleled hospitality, Tokyo captures the hearts of even the most discerning travelers, proving to be a treasure trove of endless possibilities.

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What to do in Tokyo

Enjoy a unique view of Tokyo

Image of Sky Tree, a must-see attraction on the list of what to do in Tokyo. It offers a stunning view of the city and is a must-do experience for anyone visiting the Japanese capital.

Ascending to the top of the SkyTree Tower to enjoy breathtaking panoramic views of the city of Tokyo is a unique experience that offers an incredible perspective of the metropolis and its surroundings, making it a must-do activity on the list of what to do in Tokyo. We advise purchasing tickets in advance for the Skytree. Tickets have specific entry times, and when we visited, some time slots were already sold out.

Exploring local convenience stores

Uma paragem nas lojas de conveniência, parte essencial do itinerário de quem visita Tóquio.

Convenience stores, known as konbini, are something to do in Tokyo and are an attraction in themselves. Trying out the incredible variety of unique Japanese foods and drinks, from bento boxes to seasonal beverages and delicious snacks, is an experience. It’s an excellent way to immerse yourself in Japanese everyday culture.

Explore the Akihabara district

A must-do experience on the list of activities to explore in Tokyo: Image of Akihabara, vibrant and dynamic, where pop and technological culture merge.

Known as the electronics and pop culture paradise, Akihabara is a place where the past and future meet. Explore shops selling electronics, anime, and games, and immerse yourself in the vibrant energy of this unique neighborhood, making it an essential stop on the list of what to do in Tokyo.

Explore Omoide Yokocho

Photograph of Omoide Yokocho, included in the list of things to do in Tokyo, highlighting the nostalgic atmosphere and authentic flavors of local cuisine.

This narrow street is filled with small bars and traditional restaurants, offering an authentic experience of Japanese street food. It’s a place where you can savor local dishes and interact with locals in a warm and lively atmosphere, making it a must-visit stop on the list of things to do in Tokyo.

Be served by a bear

Photo of Anakuma Cafe, a must-stop on the list of things to do in Tokyo, offering a unique experience of being served by a bear.

The Anakuma is a themed café where customers are served by a bear through a hole in the wall, providing a unique and fun experience. It’s a place that is sure to surprise and delight visitors of all ages, making it a must-stop on the list of things to do in Tokyo.

Visit Tsukiji Market

Photograph of Tsukiji Market, a must-visit on the list of things to do in Tokyo, where Japanese culinary culture comes to life with its variety of fresh products and lively atmosphere.

Exploring Tsukiji, the world’s largest fish market, and savoring a delicious variety of street food and traditional Japanese products is a unique sensory experience that allows visitors to get to know the rich gastronomic culture of Japan, making it an unmissable highlight on the list of things to do in Tokyo.

Explore Asakusa district

Image of Senso-ji Temple, a highlight on the list of things to do in Tokyo, providing a unique spiritual experience and the opportunity to explore Japanese rich history and architecture.

Visiting Senso-ji Temple and strolling through Namakise market to experience the history and traditional atmosphere of Tokyo is a place where you can feel the city’s spiritual essence and learn about its ancestral traditions, making it an enriching and indispensable experience on the list of things to do in Tokyo.

Draw fortune at a traditional temple or shrine

Photograph of a person drawing fortune at a temple in Tokyo, an enriching experience included in the list of things to do in the city, offering unique spiritual and cultural insights.

Experiencing a unique cultural practice by drawing fortune at a traditional temple or shrine is an opportunity to connect with Japanese spirituality and learn about local traditions, providing an enriching and memorable experience on the list of things to do in Tokyo.

Explore the literary culture of Jimbocho

Image of Jimbocho's literary culture, with a person biking past bookshelves on the street. This scene represents a unique experience on the list of things to do in Tokyo, where the passion for literature and the charm of bustling streets meet.

Exploring the literary culture of this neighborhood by visiting old bookstores and discovering literary treasures is an experience that captivates us every time we go to Tokyo. For us, there’s nothing like getting lost among the bookshelves, breathing in the nostalgic scent of old pages as we search for new stories to immerse ourselves in. Besides the vast selection of books, the bookstores in Jimbocho have a unique and charming atmosphere that makes us feel at home.

Among our favorites are Komiyama, with its shelves filled with classics and rarities, and Isseido, where every visit is a journey through time with its precious collections. When in Tokyo recommends these and other options you can explore. For us, these bookstores are not just places to buy books; they are quiet havens where we can find inspiration and be transported to imaginary worlds. If you’re a book lover like us, you should include a visit to these bookstores on your list of things to do in Tokyo.

Visit a robot cafe

Image of Pepper Parlor, with a person interacting with a robot. This scene represents a captivating experience included in the list of things to do in Tokyo, where technology and hospitality come together to create memorable moments.

At Pepper Parlor and similar cafes, customers can enjoy a futuristic and interactive experience, where they are served by robots. It’s a unique opportunity to experience cutting-edge technology and Japanese hospitality in a completely new way. This is undoubtedly an activity from the list of things to do in Tokyo.

Tips for Planning a Trip to Tokyo

Planning a trip to Tokyo is embarking on a fascinating experience filled with unique opportunities. In this metropolis where tradition and modernity intertwine, travelers find an impressive variety of activities to explore and discover. In this context, we offer some essential tips for visiting the city and creating your list of things to do in Tokyo, ensuring a memorable and enriching experience.

  • Transportation: Tokyo has an efficient and extensive public transportation system, including subways, trains, and buses. It is recommended to purchase a transportation pass to facilitate getting around the city. The rechargeable Pasmo or Suica card has proven to be a convenient option, which can be obtained and digitally loaded for free on the iPhone. Alternatively, you can purchase the physical version at convenience stores. The activated JR Pass also allows you to use JR trains within the city.
  • Etiquette: It is crucial to respect the local culture and customs, such as queuing etiquette and silence on public transportation. The Japan Guide provides many tips on etiquette in Japan. During our interactions in Japan, we observed the friendliness and helpfulness of the people, who, even if they don’t speak the same language, make an effort to communicate. It’s generally not common to eat on the street, and there are no visible trash cans, possibly due to the absence of litter in the streets, as people tend to carry waste in their pockets or backpacks.
  • Crowds: Be prepared for large crowds, especially in popular tourist areas. It’s worth noting that annually 25 million tourists visit Japan, according to Statista. Despite the high number of people, the city seems prepared to accommodate such a flow, with everything functioning effectively. Even to enter public transportation, there are organized lines, often indicated on the ground and respected by citizens.
  • Savings: Try street food and explore local convenience stores, where you can find a wide range of tasty foods at affordable prices.Outros: Certifique-se de ter um adaptador de energia para os seus dispositivos eletrónicos e familiarize-se com a cultura e algumas palavras básicas em japonês, como “obrigado” e “por favor”.

Best time to visit Tokyo

Weather conditions can influence what to do in Tokyo. According to the Japan National Tourism Organization, the best time to visit Tokyo is in spring, when the weather is mild. Summers are hot and humid, with the possibility of typhoons. Autumn in Tokyo is cool and pleasant, followed by cold and dry winters. Although snow is rare, it can occur in the early months of the year.

Best areas to stay

In our last stay in Tokyo, we chose Ginza due to its central location and easy access to major attractions. Ginza is a dynamic and sophisticated area, famous for its luxurious shopping centers, high-quality boutiques, and a variety of exclusive restaurants and bars. Additionally, it’s conveniently close to iconic locations like the Imperial Palace and the Akihabara district, making exploring the city easier.

According to Fora Travel, other neighborhoods can be considered for the next visit to Tokyo. One of them is Shibuya, a popular district known for its famous bustling intersection, considered one of the busiest intersections in the world. This area is ideal for fashion enthusiasts and youth culture, with a wide variety of fashion stores, trendy bars, and vibrant nightlife.

Another neighborhood to consider is Shinjuku, a multifaceted area offering a combination of modern skyscrapers, urban parks, and a wide selection of restaurants and bars. Additionally, it’s one of Tokyo’s main transportation hubs, making travel within and outside the city easier.

Lastly, Asakusa is known for its traditional atmosphere and proximity to historic sites like the Senso-ji Temple and Namakise Market. It’s an excellent choice for those looking for a more authentic and cultural experience during their stay in Tokyo.

Safety tips

Tokyo is widely recognized as a safe city for tourists, with low crime rates. However, it’s essential to remain vigilant and take normal safety precautions, such as keeping belongings secure and avoiding deserted areas at night. Additionally, to be prepared for any eventuality, it’s recommended to purchase travel insurance, ensuring coverage in emergencies during your stay in the city. These are important measures to fully enjoy what to do in Tokyo with peace of mind and security.

Tokyo is truly a unique city, providing a diversity of unique and exciting experiences for its visitors. With the harmonious fusion of tradition and modernity, this metropolis captivates and delights all who explore it. We hope these tips and suggestions have sparked your interest in what to do in Tokyo, inspiring your next trip to this incredible Japanese city.

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Activities at Tokyo

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