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    Two days in Tokyo: the ultimate 48-hour itinerary for independent exploration or on a Tokyo private tour

    By Patrick Reb

    June 19, 2023

    Two days in Tokyo: the ultimate 48-hour itinerary for i

    Hi there! I'm Patrick, your friendly private tour guide from Tokyo, a city I've had the pleasure of calling home for over 23 years. As someone who's deeply rooted here, I've grown to appreciate the extraordinary blend of the ultra-modern and the profoundly traditional that Tokyo so masterfully embodies. I can't wait to share my love for this city with you!

    If you're feeling a little overwhelmed at the prospect of exploring this complex city, don't worry, you're not alone. But trust me, once you start to uncover its secrets, you'll be as enchanted by it as I am. To help you with this, I've designed the perfect 2-day Tokyo itinerary that you can follow, which you can experience on a private tour for a more immersive experience. If you prefer, you can also explore independently, armed with my insider tips.

    Either way, I'm excited to guide you through your journey in Tokyo, making sure you get the most out of every moment you spend in this incredible city.

    Having spent years being fueled by my deep affection for Japanese culture and delicious cuisine, I've traversed every corner of this bustling metropolis through my Tokyo private tours. My explorations have taken me from the colorful and lively streets of Yanaka and Sendagi to the culturally-rich neighborhoods of Asakusa, Ginza, Omotesando, and Yoyogi. Each experience has allowed me to immerse myself in the diverse facets of Tokyo, deepening my understanding of the city beyond its timelines.

    As a passionate Tokyo tour guide, I take great pleasure in discovering hidden gems throughout the city's maze-like streets and guiding travelers on backstreets tours Tokyo. Unearthing quaint restaurants, cozy coffee shops, and tucked-away sites that embody local culture is a thrilling part of my journey. Sharing these unique findings, along with engaging stories that reveal the city's spirit, is a highlight of my Tokyo tours.

    • Day 1: main attractions, authentic food, modern Tokyo, and nightlife
    • Day 2: nature, history, local cuisine, and art

    Day 1: main attractions, authentic food, modern Tokyo, and nightlife

    Visit Tokyos main attractions


    Visit the Skytree

    Start early on a high note with a memorable visit to the iconic Tokyo Skytree, a perfect destination whether you're exploring independently or on a guided tour in Tokyo! As it stands tall against the sky, the tower offers an unparalleled bird's-eye view that will instill you with a sense of awe. On clear days, you might even catch a glimpse of the majestic Mount Fuji! 

    You can see mount fuji

    Visiting the Skytree is an experience you can absolutely enjoy without a guide. However, if you choose to explore with a licensed guide like myself, I can provide context and stories that can further enrich your experience, revealing aspects of Tokyo that you might miss on your own. It's all about adding depth and meaning to your Tokyo exploration.

    Breakfast time!

    Post-Skytree, it's time for a traditional Japanese breakfast at "Asakusa Imahan." Here you'll enjoy comforting flavors like grilled fish and miso soup. It's more than a meal; it's a flavorful introduction to Tokyo's culinary scene.

    Visit Asakusa and Senso-ji Temple

    Serene senso ji

    Essential on all tours in Tokyo, next, we head to Senso-ji temple in Asakusa. As one of Tokyo's oldest Buddhist temples, it's a peaceful sanctuary offering a connection to the city's vibrant cultural heritage. On private guided tours here, you'll gain deeper insights into traditions, but its charm is also fully appreciable on group tours and independent visits.

    Nakamise shopping street

    Nakamise is a fantastic place to explore on your own without needing a guided tour. Nestled just a quick stroll from the temple, this bustling market is brimming with traditional crafts, tantalizing local snacks, and distinctive souvenirs. It's an opportunity to taste authentic local delicacies and find that perfect memento of your Tokyo exploration, all at your own pace.

    Visit Meiji Shrine and Yoyogi Park

    Finally, transition from the city's hustle to the calming aura of the Meiji Shrine, a popular stop on many walking tours. The tranquility of this sacred space, dedicated to Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shoken, envelops you like a warm embrace. It's a place where you can pause, reflect, and appreciate the peaceful atmosphere

    Away from the city's bustle

    Adjacent to the shrine, Yoyogi Park offers a verdant respite from city life. Join in a friendly game with locals, observe martial arts practice, or simply revel in the park's natural beauty. Whether you're following a walking tour or exploring on your own, it's a perfect spot to unwind and connect with Tokyo's serene side.


    Visit Harajuku and Omotesando

    Harujuku is buzzing with energy

    Next up on your Tokyo tour - whether you're exploring on a private tour or independently, is the lively district of Harajuku. Known for its distinctive fashion boutiques and vibrant street art, Harajuku reflects Tokyo's dynamic youth culture. Don't forget to try the neighborhood's famous crepes for a taste of Tokyo's incredible food scene. From there, head to Omotesando, Tokyo's luxury shopping avenue. Enjoy a mix of high-end stores, striking architecture, and art spaces. This experience is a highlight of the best private tours in Tokyo but can also be enjoyed at your own pace.

    Did you know that Harajuku, located in Tokyo, is not only famous for its fashion and quirky street style but also for its connection to Japanese subcultures? It has been a hub for alternative fashion movements, such as Lolita fashion and cosplay. Harajuku's Takeshita Street has become a gathering place for young fashion enthusiasts, where they express their creativity and individuality through unique clothing styles and accessories.

    Lunch at Maisen

    After an afternoon of exploration, satisfy your hunger at "Maisen," a renowned restaurant in Omotesando famous for its tonkatsu, a breaded and deep-fried pork cutlet. Step into its vintage yet stylish setting and savor the tender and crispy pork cutlets served with a tangy tonkatsu sauce that perfectly complements the dish. This is the ideal spot to enjoy a delicious lunch during your private tour or on your own.

    Visit Ueno Park

    The Tokyo National Museum is situated here

    End your afternoon with a visit to Ueno Park, where you can immerse yourself in art and history. The park is home to several museums, including the Tokyo National Museum, the oldest and largest museum in Japan. Explore its vast exhibitions, showcasing a wide array of art, archaeology, and historical artifacts. From ancient pottery and Buddhist sculptures to samurai armor and traditional ukiyo-e prints, the museum offers a fascinating glimpse into Japan's rich cultural heritage.

    As you explore these iconic neighborhoods and cultural landmarks, you'll witness Tokyo's modern allure, savor its culinary delights, and delve into its deep-rooted traditions. Each stop on your walking tour brings forth a new and vibrant facet of Tokyo, ensuring an afternoon filled with exciting discoveries and cherished memories.



    Shibuya has a hidden observation deck

    First, let's head to the world-famous Shibuya Crossing. It's an iconic sight that you simply can't miss during your time in Tokyo. Watching the mesmerizing hundreds of people crossing from all directions simultaneously is an awe-inspiring moment, offering a true taste of Tokyo's vibrant energy and bustling atmosphere. As evening falls, the city lights up, transforming the skyline into a mesmerizing display of shimmering brilliance. Visiting the Shibuya Sky observation deck is a truly enchanting experience that showcases the beauty of Tokyo at night.


    While you're in Shibuya, I highly recommend visiting the Shibuya Sky observation deck. Located atop the Shibuya Scramble Square building, it offers breathtaking panoramic views of Tokyo.

    Dinner at Gyukatsu Motomura

    Now, let's satisfy your taste buds with a culinary adventure in Shibuya. "Gyukatsu Motomura" is a fantastic dining spot that I highly recommend that may not be included in your Tokyo tour. This renowned restaurant specializes in gyukatsu, delectable breaded and deep-fried beef cutlets. The succulent flavors and crispy texture create a delightful symphony of taste, providing a memorable dining experience.

    Nightlife in Shinjuku

    To wrap up your day, consider visiting the lively Shinjuku district in central Tokyo. A favorite for many tours in Tokyo, it's an area renowned for its bustling nightlife. However, conventional tours might miss out on the true after-dark spirit of this neighborhood. That's where going solo or having a private tour guide can enhance your experience.

    In Shinjuku, having a private tour guide can enhance yo

    In Shinjuku, you'll find everything from karaoke bars, where you can belt out your favorite songs, to late-night eateries offering tasty local bites. This electric neighborhood is the perfect place to immerse yourself in Tokyo's vibrant nightlife, absorb the high-energy ambiance, and create unforgettable moments.

    As your first day of exploration concludes, you might be pondering what's next. Opting for a private tour with a knowledgeable local guide can provide a unique lens into Tokyo's charm, fostering a deeper connection with Japanese culture. Their insider tales and expertise will enhance your journey, helping you uncover the city's hidden gems. But if independent exploration is your style, don't worry - our next section will guide you through day two, whether you choose to explore on a private tour or on your own. So rest up and get ready for another exciting day of discovery!

    Day 2: nature, history, local cuisine, and art

    A day of hidden gems


    Start at Hamarikyu Gardens

    Begin your second day of your Tokyo tour in the heart of the city at Hamarikyu Gardens, a tranquil oasis that contrasts beautifully with the city's hustle. Whether you're exploring independently or on a private custom tour, this stunning location invites you to meander around serene ponds, appreciate the blooming trees, and visit quaint teahouses.

    You'll find traditional tea houses and tranquility

    Late breakfast at Tsukiji Outer Market

    Fresh from your peaceful start at Hamarikyu Gardens, your next stop as you explore Tokyo is Tsukiji Outer Market. Now, sushi for breakfast may seem a bit unusual, but when in Tokyo, right? Trust me, this is an experience worth giving a shot. The market is packed with top-notch sushi options – from nigiri to sushi rolls, they've got it all. And it's a brilliant way to start your day of Tokyo exploration on a high note.

    Discover the Kagurazaka district

    Time to discover Kagurazaka, a local favorite that's steeped in history. Once a geisha district, Kagurazaka's charming, narrow alleys echo with stories of Tokyo's past. Traditional Japanese houses mingle with quaint cafes and artisan shops. It's an area perfect for a private walking tour or a relaxed solo stroll, promising a slice of Tokyo's cultural heritage and a genuine feel of its allure.

    A private tour guide can make your visit to Kagurazaka even more memorable. Their expert knowledge of the district's history and culture opens the door to hidden gems that might otherwise be missed. With personalized recommendations, fascinating tales, and help navigating the winding streets, a local guide brings Kagurazaka's charm to life in a unique way.


    Another hidden gem: Yanaka

    Known for its art and nostalgia

    Let's continue your Tokyo exploration with a hidden gem: Yanaka. Often overlooked by many tours in Tokyo, this district offers a nostalgic journey into old Tokyo. With its timeless houses, traditional shops, and tucked-away temples, every corner in Yanaka reveals a preserved slice of Tokyo's history, perfect for both solo adventurers and personalized tours eager to veer off the beaten path. When hunger strikes, head over to "Nodaya," a local secret renowned for its exquisite unagi (eel) dish. Imagine this: eel grilled to perfection served atop fluffy rice. Whether you're navigating the city on your own or on a more personal, tailored tour, this culinary experience is something special.

    A visit to the Nezu Shrine

    Post-lunch, make your way to the Nezu Shrine. This Shinto shrine is a little off the beaten path, and it's often overlooked by traditional tours in Tokyo in favor of more famous shrines. But believe me, it's just as beautiful and worth exploring. Its lush greenery, traditional structures, and iconic red torii gates make it a serene and spiritual place that offers a peaceful break from the city's hustle.
    This itinerary will take you from the nostalgic charm of Yanaka to the delightful taste of unagi at Nodaya, and then to the spiritual tranquility of the Nezu Shrine. Each place has a unique charm that reflects different aspects of Tokyo life


    Dinner at spectacular Gonpachi (Kill Bill restaurant)

    A fantastic dinner spot often featured on the best priv

    For a memorable Tokyo evening, let's head over to "Gonpachi" in Nishi-Azabu, a fantastic dinner spot often featured on the best private tours in Tokyo. This isn't your typical restaurant; it's an izakaya (Japanese pub), known for its vibrant ambiance and exceptional food. From delectable yakitori to fresh sashimi, every dish is a culinary delight, making it a favored stop by both solo explorers and private tour groups alike.

    Late art at Mori Art Museum

    A perfect way to end your Tokyo tour

    Post-dinner, why not immerse yourself in Tokyo's thriving art scene with a late visit to the Mori Art Museum? Situated in Roppongi Hills, this contemporary art hub always promises captivating exhibitions that are a must-see for any art lover. A local guide's insight might even enhance your understanding of the artwork! Lastly, don't miss the trip to Mori Tower's observation deck. The night view of Tokyo from here is something else - it's like seeing a ground-level constellation. It's the perfect way to cap off your day, whether you're exploring independently or experiencing one of the best private tours in Tokyo.

    Wrapping up this two-day itinerary, I hope you're excited about all the great stuff Tokyo has to offer. There's the buzzing Harajuku, the great local food spots, top-notch museums, and of course, the iconic Shibuya Crossing. This itinerary is built to work great as a private tour or just as well if you're out there exploring on your own, hunting for those hidden gems.

    Tourist exploring at night

    The best private tours in Tokyo will offer you the benefit of a local guide's expertise, letting you in on all the secrets and stories of Tokyo. If you prefer to fly solo, don't worry - this itinerary has been designed to make sure you don't miss out on anything. You're all set to explore Tokyo's best, whether you're being led by one of the top Tokyo private tour guides or just following this itinerary independently. Just remember, these two days are just the tip of the iceberg - there's so much more to discover in Tokyo. So, here's to kicking off your adventure and creating lasting memories in a city that always has more to offer. Happy exploring!

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