Are you planning a 14-day trip to Japan? You came to the right place. Japan is a fascinating destination that has much to offer. But when you have just 2 weeks in Japan you will have to make choices.
That’s why we compiled this 14 days Japan travel itinerary based on the highlights and the things we loved the most during our Japan itinerary.
We want to inspire you with this 2 week Japan itinerary and hope you will love your Japan trip as much as we did.
Tip: Be sure to become a member of our brand new Japan Travel Planning and Tips Facebook group. The purpose of this group is to help you plan an amazing vacation to Japan. You can ask questions and exchange tips with fellow travelers.
- Here you will find cheap flights to Tokyo or Osaka.
- Don’t lose time upon arrival at the airport and order your Japan travel SIM or portable WiFi device in advance so that it’s ready and waiting for you at the airport when you arrive.
- Having a Japan Rail Pass is often the cheapest way to travel around Japan.
- Japan has a lot of good hotels but you can also stay in an Airbnb. If this is the first time you will be staying in an Airbnb, you can enjoy a great discount by signing up through this link.
- Check out our ultimate Japan travel guide where you can find all our Japan articles.
- Here you find a step-by-step guide on how to plan your Japan vacation.
Our Japan Itinerary For 14 days
Day 1-2: Tokyo
Most international flights will take you to Tokyo so this is where you’re 2 weeks in Japan adventure starts.
Getting from the Airport to Tokyo
When somebody is referring to Tokyo International Airport they refer to Haneda airport but in reality, Tokyo has 2 international airports: Haneda and Narita airport.
Haneda International Airport
Haneda International Airport is located 14 kilometers south of Tokyo Station. It is the oldest of the two airports.
It used to mainly handle domestic flights after Narita airport opened but with the addition of a new international terminal in 2010, it now handles most business routes while Narita focuses more on leisure routes.
The two main ways to reach central Tokyo from Haneda Airport are the Keikyu Line and the Tokyo Monorail. Both require a transfer to the JR Yamanote Line to reach major stations in central Tokyo.
Depending on the location of your hotel and the length of your flight (and the amount of sleep you could get) you might not be looking forward to train and subway rides in your first hours in Tokyo.
After a long flight, a direct transfer from the airport to your hotel will be a lot more comfortable.
Narita is the smallest of the 2 airports but does serve as the international hub of both major Japanese airlines, Japan Airlines, and ANA.
It lies 60 km east of central Tokyo. Although it is located further from central Tokyo than Haneda it is actually better connected to the city.
There are plenty of public transportation options to reach central Tokyo from the airport. You could take the JR Narita Express, the Keisei Skyliner, buses and taxis. Those who like to make a grand entrance can even choose for a helicopter transfer.
The JR Narita Express
The JR Narita Express, abbreviated as N’EX, is covered by the Japan Rail Pass. This makes N’EX your best option if you have a JR Pass.
To use this train with your Japan Rail Pass you need to exchange your voucher for the actual pass at the airport.
Once exchanged you will also need to reserve seats as N’EX is one of the few trains that only has reserved cars.
The Keisei Skyliner
The Keisei Skyliner is a good alternative to N’EX if you have no Japan Rail Pass.
The prices, the comfort and the train schedule of both trains are comparable.
The main difference is that N’EX will take you to Tokyo station, Shinagawa, Shibuya, Shinjuku, Ikebukuro & Yokohama. The Keisei Skyliner heads to Nippori station and Keisei Ueno (close to Ueno station).
As with Haneda, you can also book private or shared transfers from Narita to central Tokyo.
After a long flight, a direct transfer from the airport to your hotel will be a lot more comfortable.
Find more information about a shared transfer here:
or you can opt for a private transfer here:
Getting Around in Tokyo
If You Have a Japan Rail Pass
If you have a Japan Rail Pass you can use this pass on the JR trains that run on the inner-city network in Tokyo, a very extensive network that can be compared with a metro network.
If You Don’t have a Japan Rail Pass
If you don’t have a Japan rail pass or you choose to activate your Japan rail pass after your visit to Tokyo, a Tokyo subway pass might be a good alternative. You can buy this pass at tourist information centers, BIC camera shops, and certain hotels.
There’s a list of selling points on the Tokyo Metro website. Be sure to bring cash as credit or debit cards are usually not accepted.
The pass can also be bought online which is even more convenient.
Click here to read reviews and buy your Tokyo public transportation pass here:
Tokyo Metro Pass
Things to Do in Tokyo
The parks are great but there’s so much more to see and do in Tokyo…
Organized Tours in Tokyo
Here is an overview of the best-organized tours in Tokyo An organized tour saves you time and, moreover, the tour guide will enlighten you about the different sights you visit.
We partnered up with GetYourGuide or Klook for these activities.
We love GetYourGuide because they’re flexible. Sometimes your plans change last minute and then you want to be able to cancel your tickets and get your money back. It’s also good to know that GetYourGuide has your back when the local tour operator doesn’t show up or cancels your trip.
Klook is a trustworthy travel company headquartered in Hong Kong that teams up with local operators to offer all kinds of travel experiences.
We selected 2 excellent tours in Tokyo just for you.
Tokyo Skytree skip the Line Tickets
The Tokyo Skytree is, with a height of 634 meters, the highest building in Japan. It’s also the highest free-standing tower in the world.
The tower houses 2 observation platforms that offer a fantastic view of Tokyo.
They are respectively at a height of 350 and 450 meters and are amongst the highest in Japan.
Here you can enjoy a breathtaking view of Tokyo. An absolute Tokyo must-visit when you want to see Tokyo from above.
Read reviews and book:
Tokyo Skytree Tickets
Make a Day trip to Mount Fuji
This is the perfect excursion if you want to escape the hustle and bustle of Tokyo.
You will travel by coach to enjoy Mount Fuji lake Ashi, the must-do ropeway to Owakudani Valley, and a visit to Subashiri 5th station.
Read reviews and book:
Mount Fuji Day Tour
Where to Stay in Tokyo
When you only have 2 days in Tokyo we recommend that you stay centrally in Shinjuku where the Shinjuku train station offers you quick access to all places in Tokyo and even throughout Japan.
The Tokyo Hilton is situated in lively Shinjuku. From the hotel, it’s about a 15-minutes walk to Shinjuku train station.
You can also make use of the free hotel shuttle which can take you to the station every 20 minutes. The airport limousine bus has a stop at this hotel.
There’re multiple restaurants and supermarkets in this area. Last but not least, after a busy day exploring this vibrant city you can relax in the indoor pool or sauna.
Highly recommended if you are looking for a good hotel in the vicinity of public transport.
or read our where to stay in Tokyo for the first time article. If you are looking for the best Airbnb in Tokyo, click here. If you are traveling with your family take a look at our list of the best Airbnb’s in Tokyo for families. For a list of really cool hotels in Tokyo, click here.
Day 3: Matsumoto
Best Things to do in Matsumoto
We continued our 14-day Japan itinerary in Matsumoto.
There’re many Samurai Castles scattered across Japan and you should visit at least once during your 14 days in Japan.
We opted for the castle in Matsumoto as it is one of the few remaining original castles. Most other castles you will see are reconstructions.
Where to Stay in Matsumoto
This hotel more than exceeded our expectations. Hotel Kagetsu is situated 20 minutes on foot from the train station and really close to Matsumoto Castle and the small but picturesque old town.
The hotel offers free bicycles to explore the area.
The hotel also has a good restaurant but you will also find other restaurants within walking distance.
You get a comfortable and spacious room, certainly by Japanese standards, and your Yukata and slippers will be waiting in your room if you want to use the onsen.
A great option in this charming city.
Check prices and availability on Booking.com:
Day 4-5: Yudanaka
Best Things to Do in Yudanaka
Yudanaka was one of the highlights of our 14 days Japan itinerary.
We visited the snow monkeys and, just like the monkeys, we also took some time ourselves to relax in one of the many local onsens.
Yudanaka is in the countryside.
Here you see a different side of Japan, different from the crowds in the mega-cities.
We spend about half a day with the monkeys. Not because the park was that big, but it was very cute to see the monkey’s doing their thing.
This is a village a few minutes walk from Yudanaka.
In the picturesque car-free high street you will find 9 public onsens that are supplied by the hot springs.
You can wander from one bathhouse to another in your Yukata and on your traditional wooden sandals.
Where to stay in Yudanaka
Shimaya Ryokan is not a hotel that we typically would recommend. To start with it’s not a hotel but a Ryokan which is more like a B&B.
The rooms are very simple, typical for a Ryokan, and look a bit dated. But the hospitable owners of this Ryokan made up for all of this.
The owner picked us up at the train station, offered us a ride to the monkey park and back, and gave us tons to tips about all the places we would visit next during our trip.
Check prices and availability on Booking.com:
Day 6: Kanazawa
Kanazawa charmed us enormously during our 14-day trip to Japan. This city seemed less touristy and that might have something to do with it.
Things to do in Kanazawa
A visit to Kanazawa is not complete without a visit to the Kenrokuen Garden. The garden is regarded as one of the most beautiful in Japan and it is also one of the best places to see cherry blossoms.
The weather was a bit disappointing during our visit so we couldn’t fully appreciate the park. We certainly thought it was beautiful, but not better than what we already saw in Tokyo. Still, we could not get enough of the cherry blossoms.
Right next to the Kenrokuen garden is the reconstructed Kanazawa castle. Visits are free and can easily be combined with a visit to the Kenrokuen Garden.
Another highlight of a visit to Kanazawa is a stroll through the old Geisha district Higashi Chaya, often just called: “Old Town”.
The old town of Takayama is more often mentioned but we found the old city in Kanazawa to be much more charming. Besides, it was also a lot less crowded.
You could take a quiet stroll, look around, and enjoy the beautiful old houses.
We also went to take a look at Nagamachi, the old Samurai district. There’re some really spectacular villas in this district, but Higashi Chaya impressed us more.
You can enjoy a nice meal, both lunch and dinner, in the Omicho market.
Where to stay in Kanazawa
Holiday Inn ANA Kanazawa Sky
The Holiday Inn ANA Kanazawa Sky is centrally located within walking distance of the station and just across the Omicho fish market.
The Kanazawa castle and Kenrokuen Garden are just a few minutes’ walk away.
You have spectacular views of Kanazawa from the lobby and the restaurant. We couldn’t have imagined a better hotel in Kanazawa.
Day 7-9: Kyoto
Things to do in Kyoto
The first evening we went to explore this neighborhood together with Guenda, from HihiGuide. We still have fond memories of our hike.
It was cool to spot geishas and it was fun to learn how Europeans who live in Japan look at the difference in culture.
Here you can read the story of our evening walk in the Gion district.
You can go to the park around the Jojakkoji temple from where you have a stunning view. From there, you can walk further north to the Saga-Toriimoto Street.
This is a picturesque street lined with preserved, traditional houses. Best of all, we had the street to ourselves while we were wandering through it.
When you reach the end of the street, you will reach the Adashino Nenbutsuji Temple, and adjacent you will find a bamboo forest that is just as beautiful as the one close to the center where all the tourists are.
When we just got off the train and ended up in the crowd, we were afraid it would be an unpleasant day because of the bustle.
But in the end, we did have a really enjoyable day as we discovered some pleasant quiet spots in and around Arashiyama.
The bus tours seem to limit their visit to the Togetsukyo bridge and the nearby Tenryuji temple and bamboo groves. Other places were not nearly as crowded.
Where to Stay in Kyoto
According to the statistics, Kyoto is the most tourist city in Japan. According to the prices for a hotel room that might be correct.
We were confronted with prices upwards of € 800/night during the cherry blossom season.
Because of these high prices, we started looking at alternatives and we decided to book a stay at the Marriott lake Biwa.
This is a nice hotel that is located 20 minutes outside Kyoto by train, but it meant a serious difference to our wallets.
Marriott Lake Biwa
This Marriott hotel is located alongside the coast of beautiful Lake Biwa, an ideal setting if you want to escape busy Kyoto at night.
The hotel offers a free shuttle service to the train station where you can catch the train to Kyoto station.
As Marriott Rewards Platinum members we enjoyed an upgrade to a suite with a private onsen and a fabulous view of the lake.
As platinum members, we also had access to a lounge area in the lobby where we could enjoy free breakfast, snacks, cocktails, and a small buffet in the evening.
The only drawback of this hotel is that you have to take into account the schedule of the shuttle which only runs once every hour.
But considering what we got in return and the tremendous difference in price this is no big deal.
Royal Park Hotel Kyoto
If you have only 3 days in Kyoto it might be better to stay in the center of Kyoto.
In that case, the Royal Park Hotel Kyoto is an excellent choice.
It is within walking distance of the Gion district, two metro stations, and various temples.
The rooms are neat and the bathroom is fully equipped. You can enjoy a nice breakfast at the bakery next to the hotel.
Check prices and availability on Booking.com :
or read our full guide about the best places to stay in Kyoto. If you prefer staying in Airbnb, take a look at our list of the best Airbnb’s in Kyoto.
Day 10-11: Hiroshima and Miyajima
Best Things to do in Hiroshima and Miyajima
We visited the peace park in Hiroshima and made a small detour to take a peek at the castle.
There is a special atmosphere in the peace park.
In the park, you will find an interesting museum about the atomic bomb and touching stories about how the survivors had to rebuild their city and their lives.
The times of high and low tide are signposted at the entrance of the ferry terminal. The Torii gate is the tourist attraction of the island, but also the colorful Daisyoin Temple is worth a visit.
We took the time to wander around this temple and it seemed like we found a hidden gem on this island.
Where to Stay in Hiroshima
ANA Crowne Plaza Hiroshima
The Ana Crowne Plaza is within walking distance of the peace park and near shops and restaurants. The rooms are not too big but clean and fully equipped. The staff also speak good English.
Day 12-13: Osaka
Back in Osaka, you’re once again in a metropolis. This was probably our favorite city during our 14 days in Japan.
Best Things to do in Osaka
The castle is also a very good spot to witness the beauty of the cherry blossoms.
From here we took a walk along the river to the Kema Sakuranomiya Park, another beautiful park with lots of cherry trees.
In the Todaiji Temple, you will find the largest wooden building in the world, the Daibutsuden (“big Buddha hall”).
As its name says inside the building you will find a gigantic Buddha. Don’t limit yourself to this temple only. Venture up the mountain to “Nigatsu-do” for a breathtaking view.
Nara was the original capital of Japan but once Buddhism became too powerful in the country the government decided to move the capital. You can still see traces of this as Nara is literally littered with temples.
Lastly, a visit to Nara is also fun because of the deer that roam freely in the park and no doubt will come begging for cookies.
Where to Stay in Osaka
Holiday Inn Osaka Namba
This Holiday Inn is close to Namba station and just a few minutes on foot from the famous Glico bridge, probably the most famous sight in Dotonbori.
This neighborhood is alive day and night and as a result, the rooms can be somewhat noisy at night.
The rooms offer all comfort but are rather small. The biggest asset of this hotel is its superb location.
If you want to know more about how to find the best place to stay in Osaka based on your own preferences, then take a look at our detailed where to stay in Osaka article. If you prefer an Airbnb, take a look at our list of the best Airbnbs in Osaka. For a more traditional stay, check out this list of ryokans in Osaka.
Day 14: Tokyo
We end our Japan itinerary back in Tokyo.
This makes a visit to Akihabara much more fun. Foresee enough time. Browsing through the shops like Mandarake is what makes a visit to Akihabara worthwhile but you will quickly spend several hours snooping around these stores, looking at all the curiosities.
The park can be busy at times but it is possible to visit the majority of the attractions in one day by using the Fastpass system.
We visited the park during the “Golden week” and we could do all the major attractions.
If we can do that during the Golden Week, so can you at any other time of the year. 🙂
We loved the design of the park and there were some great attractions. It was also fun to see how some Japanese completely dress up in the Disney magic.
Japan Travel Tips
Here we share our best Japan travel tips that will help you plan your Japan itinerary and have an unforgettable tip.
Our Japan Travel Planner
Best Time to Visit Japan
It is difficult to specify one particular season as the best to visit all of Japan.
The best season will depend on the region you’re going, the activities you want to experience, and the things you want to see.
But in general spring and autumn come to mind for a trip through Japan.
There is little rainfall, overall pleasant temperatures, and clear skies.
The stunning cherry blossoms are a real tourist attraction in spring and the vivid hues of the autumn leaves ensure a colorful experience in autumn.
Here is some more information about the different seasons and some specific regions.
Spring is an excellent season to visit Japan as early in spring the cherry blossoms (Sakura) will start appearing in Southern Japan.
They start blossoming in the South and gradually make their way Northwards.
It is a natural event so the exact blossoming period is different each year but the Japanese tourist board keeps predictions on its website.
Spring is also the most touristy season.
The Sakura not only draws tourists from all over the world but also Japanese go crazy over this yearly event.
Late April and early May also mark the “Golden Week”, a week with 4 Japanese holidays in which many Japanese take a local trip.
Over summer the temperatures can rise up to 35 degrees Celsius but it may feel even hotter due to the humidity.
Big cities like Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka become uncomfortably hot.
June and July is also the rainy season.
The rainy season ends by the end of July but the days continue to be hot and humid and generally unpleasant if you’re not used to this kind of weather.
During August and September, you also have the biggest risk of seeing (part of) your travel plans ruined by a typhoon.
Hokkaido is the only region in Japan that escapes the stifling heat. Here you have mild temperatures all summer long.
Autumn is another lovely option to discover Japan. Colorful autumn leaves, known as Koyo in Japanese, draw just as many visitors in autumn as the cherry blossoms do during spring.
The best time to view the colorful foliage is subject to weather conditions and, as Japan is surprisingly vast, it also differs greatly between the various regions.
It starts to get cooler by the end of September.
October offers pleasant temperatures slightly above 20 degrees Celsius.
November tends to be somewhat cooler but thanks to the clear blue and sunny skies it is still a lovely month to travel.
Winter in Japan is a time for snow sports in Hokkaido but it is low season in most other regions in Japan.
Temperatures range from cool to cold, there may be some snowfall in and around Tokyo in January and February but the snow usually melts as soon as it falls.
Japan Top Sites
Mt. Fuji, one of the most beautiful natural places in Japan and Japan’s highest mountain, can be best viewed on a clear day from Hakone. The cooler months offer the best chance of seeing the volcanic mountain.
The biggest chance to see the mountain in all its glory is from November to February. March, April, and October also offer reasonably good chances of a complete view but during the other months, your chances are slim.
The season to climb Mt. Fuji is July to mid-September when the mountain is generally snow-free.
Yudanaka Snow Monkeys
The Yudanaka Snow Monkeys are so cute if you can see them bathe in their hot springs.
They take these baths to warm up which means you have to plan your visit during the colder months.
Winter is without any doubt the best season but early spring is still OK as long as you make sure you go early in the day.
Okinawa has a subtropical and humid climate.
Summers are hot and wet with temperatures up to 30 degrees Celsius, in the winter months, the day temperature on these islands still reaches a comfortable 20 degrees Celsius.
Often called the Hawaii of Japan this place is popular for snorkeling.
The water temperatures range from about 18 degrees Celsius in winter to 29 degrees during summer.
Cheap Flights to Japan
Both are flight aggregators that compare several hundreds of booking sites and give you an overview of the best flights and the cheapest sites to book them.
Those who are always on the lookout for the best deals should join the Dollar Flight Club. Joining is free and once you’ve joined you will get alerts in your mailbox whenever cheap flights out of your home airport have been found.
Going Independent or Joining an Organized Tour
We found it easy and straightforward to create our own travel itinerary.
It was also fairly easy to travel through Japan independently. Despite the fact that the Japanese don’t always speak English very well, they are enormously helpful.
But if you want the company of a group, don’t have the time to create your own itinerary, or just don’t want to go independent, you could also join an organized tour.
Tourradar is a trustworthy company where you can book an organized tour to Japan to make it easy on yourself.
Here you can find all organized tours to Japan:
Organized Tours Japan
Do I need Travel Insurance for Japan
Travel Insurance is something that can be overlooked when you prepare for your vacation. Certainly when you’re traveling to a safe and civilized country.
We didn’t get travel insurance for our first holidays.
A few years later we both took out new credit cards that came with travel insurance and relied on those. We know better now…
Overall, chances are slim that you will encounter any problems while traveling through a civilized country such as Japan. But when things go wrong in civilized countries, the medical costs can be high.
We learned it the hard way when we once had to visit a hospital in the United States.
The medical care was excellent but we had high out-of-pocket expenses as it turned out the insurance that came without credit cards didn’t cover these costs. It turned out we were underinsured.
Drawing up a travel insurance policy may seem expensive at first but it can potentially save you a significant sum, significantly more than the small insurance fee.
Good travel insurance covers things like medical expenses, trip cancellation, overseas medical costs, evacuation, baggage damage or loss, and theft.
What’s the Best Way to Pay in Japan
We took a little bit of cash with us but most things we paid with our credit card.
Expenses abroad can be seriously inflated by fees from your bank or credit card. That’s why I’m a huge fan of my N26 account.
The account is available to most EU residents.
The checking account is free as well as the associated Mastercard and there’s no exchange rate provision when you use to card for payments abroad.
There’s a 1,7% exchange rate provision when you withdraw money abroad but even that is free with the premium Black Mastercard.
Local SIM card or a Pocket WiFi Device
A local SIM card or pocket WiFI device comes in handy. We have often used Google Maps to find our way around major cities.
When looking for a Japanese SIM card, there are so many options that you cannot see the forest for the trees, therefore we created this useful article so you can choose the best Japanese SIM card for you. If you prefer a pocket WiFi device, you can read our detailed post about the best WiFI pocket device here.
Luggage Forwarding Service
When you’re traveling by train it’s also a good idea to forward your baggage. You can read these tips and much more in our separate article about traveling to Japan for the first time.
Traveling Around Japan
We traveled around Japan by train and could save a few bucks by buying a Japan Rail Pass in advance.
Get more information on the Japan Railpass here:
General Japan Travel Tips
We hope we have inspired you with this 14 day Japan travel itinerary. Japan has a lot to offer and unfortunately, there’re a number of things we had to omit in this Japan in 14 days itinerary but this trip takes you along the highlights and the things we loved most.
Are you ready to discover the best of Japan in 14 days?
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