Are you making a Hakone day trip and wondering what you could do? You came to the right place.
A Hakone day or weekend trip is ideal to escape the hustle and bustle of Tokyo. Hakone is a small town but it has lots to offer to its visitors.
Besides the famous hot springs and the gorgeous views of Mount Fuji, there are plenty of other activities to keep you busy.
Many people visit Hakone as a day trip but if you don’t want to rush through the place we would recommend a visit of 2 or 3 days.
In this Hakone travel blog post we share the best time to visit Hakone, how to get to and around Hakone, the best organized day tours to Hakone, and more.
So definitely keep on reading.
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Where is Hakone?
Hakone is situated in the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park.
It lies less than one hundred kilometers from Tokyo and can be reached in approximately 1h30 minutes by train from Tokyo.
You can also take a bus, the bus will take two hours to reach Hakone.
What’s the best time to visit Hakone
Since Hakone lies only 100 km from Tokyo the climate is similar to this in Tokyo. In general, the temperatures are slightly lower and there is a higher chance of rain.
How many days should you spend in Hakone
The Hakone loop that we describe below can be done in a day.
However, if you want to rush less, go hiking, and relax in an onsen we would recommend you to stay for 2 or 3 days.
Hakone has some charming Ryokans and several Spa resorts.
We will share some recommended Hakone accommodation further in this article.
The Hakone Loop
The so-called Hakone loop brings you along most of the main attractions in one day.
The circuit is quite easy and straightforward to follow.
It’s also very touristy.
You can do the loop clockwise or counterclockwise. Here we briefly describe the counterclockwise circuit which is done by most visitors. Further on in this article, we go into more detail about the different sights you will see. Here we just describe the loop itself.
Most people start at Odawara.
Here you start the loop by hopping in the Hakone Tozan train that will take you to Gora.
In Gora, you continue your way with the Hakone Tozan cable car to Sounzan.
Next, you jump on the Hakone ropeway to Owakudani.
From Owakudani you can continue on the ropeway to Togendai.
In Togendai you can board the pirate ship for a cruise on Lake Ashi.
You can choose to get off the boat at Hakone-machi or you can directly continue to Moto-Hakone.
The Hakone Tozan Bus will bring you back to Odawara or your next destination.
Hakone money-saving tips
If you want to save some money during your trip, check out the below-mentioned pass.
One of the best money-saving tips for your day or weekend trip to Hakone is to get a Hakone Freepass.
What’s a Hakone Freepass?
The Hakone Freepass is a money-saving pass that gives you unlimited access to most of the transportation ( trains, buses, cable cars, and the pirate ship) around Hakone.
All means of transportation that are used in the Hakone loop are included in this discount pass.
With this pass, you also get a discount at over 50 facilities including hot spring resorts, souvenir shops, museums, shrines, etc.
You can identify the places that offer discounts by the stickers on the doors or booking windows. There’s also a complete list of participating locations here.
Types of Hakone Freepasses
The Hakone Freepass comes in several versions:
- 2 or 3 day passes
- Passes that include a round-trip ticket on the Odakyu Lines (between the departing station and Odawara station, eg. from Shinjuku station in Tokyo)
- Passes where no round trip ticket on the Odakyu Lines is included
- Child and adult passes
Which Hakone Freepass should I take
First of all, you should know that these passes work on a calendar day basis.
The choice of a pass with or without a round-trip ticket depends on whether you have an activated JR pass.
If you do you’re better of to use the JR trains to get to Odawara. The JR trains are faster and the trip from Tokyo to Odawara is completely covered by the JR pass.
If you don’t have a Japan Rail pass, or if your vacation is longer than the duration of your JR pass, you should opt for the version of the pass that includes round-trip tickets on the Odakyu line.
Is a Hakone Free pass worth it
Here you can see exactly how much you pay with and without the Hakone Freepass. The prices used in this comparison are what you would pay when you are doing the classic Hakone loop.
But even if you are only in Hakone for a day, you will save a small amount of money when you have this pass. You can see how much below:
|Without Hakone Freepass||Hakone Freepass|
|Adults||Children ( 6-11 years)||Adults||Children ( 6-11 years)|
|With Japan Rail Pass ( JR train to Odawara included in JR Pass)||Odawara-Gora (Train)||670 yen||340 yen||included in the pass||included in the pass|
|Gora-Sounzan (Cablecar)||420 yen||210 yen||included in the pass||included in the pass|
|Sounzan-Owakudani-Togendai (Ropeway)||1.450 yen||730 yen||included in the pass||included in the pass|
|Togendai -Moto Hakone or Hakone Machi (Cruise)||1.000 yen||500 yen||included in the pass||included in the pass|
|Moto-Hakone or Hakone Machi – Odawara (Bus)||1.180 yen||1.470 yen||included in the pass||included in the pass|
|Total||4.720 yen||3.250 yen||4.600 yen||1.000 yen|
|Without Japan Rail Pass ( departure from Shinjuku with express or local train )||6.490 ( 4.720 yen + 1.770 yen)||3.690 yen ( 3.250 yen +440 yen)||5.700 yen||1.500 yen|
|Without Japan Rail Pass- Romancecar ( departure from Shinjuku with limited express train)||7000 yen ( 4.720 yen + 2.280 yen)||3.700 yen (3.250 yen + 450 yen)||6.790 yen||2.045 yen|
Where can I buy the Hakone Freepass?
You can purchase your Hakone Freepass at Odakyu Sightseeing Service Centers in Shinjuku and Odawara. There’s also a center in Hakone-Yumoto.
You can also buy the 2 or 3-day Hakone pass, including a round-trip ticket from Shinjuku, online. You can indicate when you want to use the pass for the first time during the buying process. You will get a voucher and with this voucher, you can pick up the pass at the Odakyu Sightseeing Service Center in Shinjuku.
To find the center just follow the signs for the Odakyu Line.
Read reviews and buy your pass:
Hakone Free Pass Tickets
How to get to Hakone
Taking the bus to Hakone
Buses leave from Shinjuku station for Hakone approximately every half hour. The buses pass by Gotemba where you have the popular premium outlets. The bus journey takes around 2 hours.
Taking the train to Hakone
If you have a Japan Rail Pass
JR has no trains to Hakone itself but there is a Shinkansen to Odawara. If you have a Japan Rail Pass the cheapest way to get to Hakone is to take the Shinkansen from Tokyo or Shinagawa station to Odawara. At Odawara station, you can transfer on the Hakone Tozan Train to Gora.
If you don’t have a Japan Rail Pass
If you don’t have a Japan Rail Pass you can choose to take the Odakyu Line from Shinjuku Station (or any other Odakyu station). Some trains will require a transfer. If you want to save some time you can choose to pay a bit more for a faster ride on the more expensive limited-express Romancecar.
In this table, you can find an overview of the different prices.
|Departure station||Adults: 2 days||Children: 2 days||Adults: 3 days||Children: 3 days|
|Without Japan Rail Pass-Romance Car ( departure from Shinjuku)||6.790 yen (5.700 yen + 1.090 yen supplement)||2045 yen (1500 yen + 545 yen supplement)||7.190 yen ( 6.100 yen + 1.090 yen supplement)||2.295 yen ( 1.750 yen + 545 yen supplement)|
|Without Japan Rail Pass ( departure from Shinjuku with local or express train )||5.700 yen||1.500 yen||6.100 yen||1.750 yen|
|With Japan Rail Pass ( from any JR station with a JR train to Odawara)||4.600 yen||1.000 yen||5.000 yen||1.250 yen|
How to get around Hakone
Odakyu offers 8 different transportation networks in the Hakone area.
All of them are at least partly included in the Hakone Freepass.
This pass is sufficient to take you to all the major sights in this region including to the Gotemba Outlet Mall.
Taking an organized Hakone day tour
If you are limited in time or don’t like to go independent you can opt for an organized Mount Fuji Day Tour.
Keep in mind that the below-mentioned tours combine the region around Lake Kawaguchiko and Hakone.
Note that since Covid 19 started, most of the group tours are canceled at the moment. This is the only tour that we found that you can book at the moment.
Mt Fuji and Hakone Cruise & Bus Tour
This tour, which you can book with Klook, will bring you to Mt. Fuji 5th station, you will then make a cruise through the waters of Lake Ashi and take the Mt. Komagatake Ropeway from where you can enjoy great views of Mount Fuji on a clear day.
Note that the cruise can be canceled in case of bad weather.
An authentic Japanese lunch is included in your tour package.
Read reviews and book:
Mount Fuji and Hakone Day Tour
Note that this tour isn’t going at the moment.
Mt Fuji & Hakone Day Tour: Lake Ashi & Ropeway Day Trip from Tokyo – Optional Bullet Train
GetYourGuide sells a Mount Fuji day tour that will bring you to Mount Fuji 5th station first. From here you will go to Hakone to take a cruise on Lake Ashi. After the cruise, you will then jump on the Hakone ropeway to Owakudani.
More information and booking:
Mount Fuji and Hakone Day Tour
Note that this tour isn’t going at the moment.
Things to do in Hakone
Here we share an overview of what to do in Hakone.
Enjoy the views of Mount Fuji
Fujisan, which is Mt. Fuji in Japanese, is often covered in clouds.
On good days the mountain can be seen from many different viewpoints.
Here we share some of the best places to enjoy the views of Mount Fuji.
Moto Hakone is a village on the banks of Lake Ashi.
It offers some of the best views of the lake and Mount Fuji.
On a clear day, you’ll be able to spot a scenic view of Mount Fuji as you ride the ropeway.
Note: On October 26, 2019, the Hakone Ropeway resumed service for all routes between Sounzan Station and Togendai Station. However, Owakudani remains off-limits and passengers cannot go out of the Owakudani Station.
Gotemba Premium Outlets
This is without any doubt the best viewing spot for those shopaholics. Here you can shop and at the same time enjoy great views of Mount Fuji.
The Gotemba Premium Outlets are a good destination if you want to go shopping without feeling too guilty about not doing anything touristy. 😉
Go bathing in an Onsen
Hakone is also a good destination if you’re looking for tranquil onsens or hot springs. Historically the onsen were all situated near Hakone-Yumoto.
Today this is still the region that counts most locations but because of the popularity of the Onsen many more have started to appear in the whole Hakone region.
Go hiking around Lake Ashi
Hiking is a good way to escape the crowds and an excellent option to enjoy this green region.
It is possible to hike around Lake Ashi and there are several other trails with various difficulty levels.
Ride the Hakone ropeway
If the weather is on your side you can enjoy amazing views of Lake Ashi, Owakudani and Mount Fuji.
Eat black eggs in Owakudani Valley
Owakudani means “the great Boiling Valley”. By the locals, it’s also known as the “Hell Valley”. The valley was created about 3000 years ago when the Hakone Volcano exploded.
Nowadays it’s a popular tourist spot.
People come here to hike, enjoy the scenic views ( on a clear day, you’ll be able to spot a scenic view of Mount Fuji) and eat the famous black eggs which are said to extend your life for 7 years.
Opening hours: 9 am – 4 pm (determined by the operation hours of the Hakone Ropeway)
How to get there: The easiest way is by taking the Hakone Ropeway.
Take the Komagatake Ropeway
The Komagatake Ropeway brings you from the shore of Lake Ashi to the Komagatake peak of Mount Hakone.
On a clear day, you can enjoy beautiful views of Lake Ashi and Mount Fuji from the top. Several hiking trails start here, leading to the banks of Lake Ashi, to Owakudani and Sounzan station.
A short walk from the ropeway’s upper station is the Hakone Shrine Mototsumiya. This is the original Hakone Shrine. Today the Hakone Shrine at the lakeshore in Moto Hakone is more popular because it is easier to reach.
Opening hours: 9 am- 4.30 pm ( up) and 4.50 pm ( down)
How to get there:
Take the Odakyu Highway Bus ( covered by the Hakone Free Pass).
Visit The Hakone Open-Air Museum
The Hakone Open-Air Museum is a lovely place to visit. In a beautiful setting, you can enjoy spectacular modern and contemporary sculptures.
There even is a Picasso exhibition.
Entrance fee: adults: 1600 yen, university, and high school students: 1200 yen, middle and elementary school: 800 yen
Opening hours: 9 am-5 pm ( entry until 4.30 pm)
How to get there: Take the Hakone Tozan Railway to Chokoku No Mori Station ( covered by the Hakone Freepass).
Take beautiful pictures of the Hakone Shrine
The Hakone Shrine is one of the most iconic symbols of Hakone.
How to get there:
From Hakone Yumoto, take the Hakone Tozan Bus to Moto-Hakone Boat Pier (35 minutes).
Follow the Hakone Loop and take a sightseeing cruise on Lake Ashi. Get off at Hakone-Machi or Moto-Hakone.
Make a Hakone Sightseeing cruise
Although the pirate ships look ridiculously touristy this cruise is the best way to see the lake.
The cruise passes the famous floating torii gate of the Hakone Shrine.
On a clear day, you will have views of Mount Fuji from the ship. (and for that you don’t need to climb into the crow’s nest 😉)
There’re 3 points where you can start your cruise.
Either at the northern side of the lake in Togendai-ko or at the southern edge of the lake in Hakone-machi or Moto Hakone.
Cost: 1000 yen for a one-way ticket to cross the lake or 1840 yen for a roundtrip ticket.
Visit Hakone Checkpoint
The Hakone Checkpoint is located at the southern end of Lake Ashi.
It is a replica of an Edo era checkpoint that was used to control the traffic along the Tokaido highway in between Kyoto and Tokyo.
It used to be one of the largest and most important checkpoints at its time and was in 2007 restored to its former glory.
You will see the original fences and gates, the officer’s quarters, the prison, and the lookout tower. There is also a small museum attached to it.
You can walk along a small section of the old Tokaido highway that leads to Moto Hakone. The road is lined with more than one hundred-year-old cedar trees.
Those who want can continue to follow the road to Hakone-Yumoto.
A section of the road in between Moto Hakone and Hatajuku still has the original stone pavements but the last section from Hatajuku to Hakone-Yumoto hasn’t been preserved and here you just walk along the main road.
Entrance Fees: 500 yen (400 yen for Hakone Freepass Holders)
Opening Hours: 9 am–5 pm (Closes at 4:30 pm from Dec – Feb)
How to get here:
It’s a short walk from the Hakone-machi boat pier.
You could also take the Hakone Tozan bus in the direction of Hakone-machi and get off at the Hakone Sekishoato bus stop ( covered by the Hakone Free Pass).
Go shopping in Gotemba Premium Outlets
If you love shopping, you should definitely visit the Gotemba Premium Outlets. It’s one of the largest outlets in Japan where you can find most of the US and European premium brands such as Hugo Boss, Gap, Prada, Ralph Lauren, Godiva chocolates, etc.
On a clear day, you will be rewarded with amazing views of Mount Fuji as you’re shopping.
Most of the stores are tax-free for tourists. So don’t forget to take your passport and show it to the cashier when you pay.
Opening Hours: March-November: 10 am-8 pm, December-February: 10 am-7 pm.
Closing Day: once a year on the third Thursday in February.
How to get here:
There are many possibilities to reach the Gotemba Premium Outlets. We decided to only list the quickest ways.
If you have a Japan Rail Pass: Take the JR Tokaido Line or JR Shonan Shinjuku Line from Tokyo or Shinjuku Station to Kozu Station. Transfer here to the JR Gotenba Line to Gotemba Station. From there take the free shuttle bus to the outlets.
If you don’t have a Japan Rail Pass or want to reach the Gotemba mall quicker: Take the Mount Fuji Limited Express Romancecar from Odakyu Shinjuku Station to Gotemba Station. From here take the free shuttle bus to the outlets.
When coming from Hakone. The Odakyu Hakone Highway Bus runs two buses ( bus lines V and W) hourly from Hakone to Gotemba Station. You can board the bus bound for Shinjuku at Togendai Port or Sengoku. You need to get off at Gotemba station. The upcoming stop is always displayed on a screen at the front of the bus. At Gotemba station you can change for the free shuttle bus that will take you to the outlet.
When coming from Hakone-Yumoto. Take a Togendai bound Hakone Tozan Bus on line T to Sengoku. From here you can transfer to the Odakyu Hakone Highway Bus.
When coming from Gora station. Take bus L , M, S to the Gotemba Premium Outlets.
Visit Odawara Castle
There’re many castles in Japan so it would be really odd if there wouldn’t be any in the Hakone region.
The Odawara castle used to be the stronghold of the Hojo clan that used to reign over Tokyo.
Entrance fee: adults: 500 yen, elementary and high school students: 200 yen.
Opening Hours: from 9 am-5 pm (last entry at 4:30 pm)
How to get here: Odawara castle is a 10-minute walk from Odawara station.
Walk over the Mishima Skywalk
The Mishima Skywalk is with a length of 400 meters the longest pedestrian-only suspension bridge in Japan.
It lies about an hour by bus from Hakone.
You can see views of both Mt Fuji and Suruga Bay from the bridge.
Entrance Fee: Adults: 1000 yen, high school, and junior high school students: 500 yen; elementary school students: 200 yen. There is a 10% discount with the Hakone Freepass.
Opening Hours: from 9 am-5 pm
How to get here:
From Hakone-Yumoto Station:
Take the Hakone Tozan bus bound for Hakone Port ( route H) to Moto-Hakone Port. From here take the Tokai Orange Shuttle Bus ( route N) bound for Mishima Station. Exit at Mishima Skywalk.
If you have a Japan Rail Pass the quickest way to Mishima is by shinkansen. At Mishima, you can take the Tokai Orange bus to the skywalk.
Where to stay in Hakone
If we convinced you to stay more than one day in the Hakone area, take a look at the below-mentioned Hakone accommodations.
Since Hakone is famous for its hot springs we picked two hotels with private onsen. Excellent to relax your muscles after a busy day of exploring.
Hakone onsen ryokan
Mount View Hakone Ryokan
Mount View Hakone is centrally located and easily accessible by public transportation. There’re also several dining options as well as a convenience store nearby. This traditional ryokan offers spacious, comfortable rooms. Very friendly and helpful staff. The hotel has a public onsen but if you are shy to go nude in public can use the private onsen.
Hyatt Regency Hakone Resort and Spa
If you prefer the comfort of a regular bed or more extended spa facilities then the Hyatt Regency might be what you’re looking for.
The Hyatt Regency Hakone Resort and Spa is a beautiful hotel with spacious rooms, great views, and excellent service.
The hotel offers a complimentary shuttle to/from Gora Station.
If you aren’t convinced of these hotels, you can find a lot of other hotels in Hakone on booking.com:
Hakone is an excellent destination for a side trip from Tokyo.
The region gained its popularity from the excellent views of Mt. Fuji on a clear day but also has a lot to offer in itself.
The Owakudani valley is nothing but spectacular and a must-see. Lake Ashi is a magnificent lake and the area around the lake has some breathtaking scenery. The icing on the cake is the floating torii gate of the Hakone Shrine.
Lastly, don’t skip a visit to an onsen.
Some outdoor onsen offer great views.