Source: GuwTokyo ashi999 (Flickr)
Best Airbnb in Shimokitazawa: Entire Flat for 3
This Shimokitazawa apartment is located next to the train station, and is easily accessible from the airport. It’s cosy and provides all the basic amenities for three guests, including a TV and cooking wares. There are numerous convenience stores around, and you’ll be ideally situated for exploring the rest of the city.
Best Hostel in Shimokitazawa: The Wardrobe Hostel
This hostel in Shimokitazawa is ideal for travelers looking for a quiet stay in Tokyo. It’s by no means a party hostel, but it’s located close to the lively bars, shops and cafes. It provides relaxing accommodation and a small green oasis in the centre of the city. The hostel is simple overall, but perfect if you’re traveling on a budget.
Best Hotel in Shimokitazawa: Onsen Ryokan Yuen Bettei Tokyo Daita
This awesome ryokan near Shimokitazawa provides authentic accommodation in Tokyo. Featuring free wifi and a hot steam bath, the ryokan also offers an Asian breakfast each morning. It’s within walking distance to Shinganji Temple, Shimokitazawa Garden and the Shoin Shrine.
Things to do in Shimokitazawa:source: TokyoVideoStock (Shutterstock)Go hunting for graffiti.Buy some secondhand clothing at one of the many thrift stores.Get your organic, gluten-free, farm-to-table food here.Walk into one of the many old cinemas, like Tollywood Theater and the Honda Gekijo.Go antique shopping, and by that, we mean window shopping because the prices can be steep.Attend one of the annual flea markets.Get cheap drinks and be sure to drop one of the many music venues in the area. Klook.com 8. Meguro – The Best Place to Stay in Tokyo for Cherry Blossoms
When springtime rolls around, this district goes absolutely nuts as local Tokyoites pile into Meguro to see the blooming cherry blossoms. The Meguro River runs through the middle of the neighborhood and is lined with over 800 of these trees. When they’re in bloom, it’s magical.
If you’d like to see the cherry blossom trees, there is no better area to stay in Tokyo than Meguro. Having a picnic under the trees is one of the best things to do in Tokyo, but, fair-warning, it’s prime real estate.
When the cherry blossoms are over, Meguro is a laid-back residential area. Over the past few years, it’s actually picked up a trendier reputation as lots of art galleries and cafes are opening up. Combine those with an interesting selection of museums, and Meguro offers plenty to keep you occupied.
Best Airbnb in Meguro: Private Room in a Boutique Hotel
This trendy accommodation in Meguro is newly renovated and stunningly detailed. It sleeps Tokyo four guests and includes a kitchen, washing machine and wifi. Shinsen gourmet street is walking distance from the property, as well as other major shopping areas.
Best Hostel in Meguro: Wise Owl Hostels Shibuya
While this hostel is technically located in Shibuya, it skims the northern edge of Maguro and is the only backpacker lodge in the area.
That being said, you can now benefit from the best of both worlds! You can drink and party in Shibuya and then have a chill day in Meguro, Tokyo which is a win-win if you ask me. Given the outstanding reputation of this hostel, we think it’s a good option if you’re looking for budget accommodation in Tokyo when springtime rolls around.
Best Hotel in Tokyo: Tokyu Stay Meguro Yutenji
This hotel is in a quiet area, and is recommended for two travelers. Rooms are bright and modern, and full of amenities to make your stay comfortable. There are a number of supermarkets close to the hotel, as well as museums, parks and shrines.
Things to do in Meguro:Meguro is a must-visit during spring timeVisit Hideki Aoyama’s new art gallery.Marvel at the cherry blossoms.Get your fill of seafood at the Samna Festival in September – samna is a poor man’s fish that is famously grilled in Meguro.See some Art Deco at the Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum.Check out the famous bamboo forest at Suzume-no Oyado Ryokuchi Park this is one of the most Instagrammable places in Tokyo.Have some Japanese comfort food at Tonkatsu Tonki.Have a beer and develop your own photos (in a dark room) at Paper Pool.9. Akihabara and Ueno – Quirkiest Area in Tokyo
Akihabara is ground-zero for all things anime, manga, and video gaming! We’re talking about the cosplayers, the hardcore gamers, the weirdly sexualized maids; everything that we have come to know by in Japanese otaku culture.
Akihabara (aka Electric Town) is a very active place – full of costumed hospitality workers with the sounds of arcades and video games in the background. If you like peace and serenity, this probably isn’t the best location.
If you’re looking for a less bombastic experience, you may do better further north in Ueno. Ueno is an older part of town, known more for its old temples and traditional bars.
Best Airbnb in Ueno: Entire Flat Close to Tokyo Station
This quaint apartment in Tokyo is suitable for two guests and contains all basic amenities. It’s close to the Tokyo and Ueno stations, and Ginza and Asakusa are a short walk away. You’ll have easy access to Ueno Park and zoo, as well as shops and restaurants.
Best Hostel in Akihabara: &and Hostel Akihabara
This hostel provides private rooms and cosy bunks in dorm rooms. It’s modern and clean, and makes for a comfortable and affordable stay. It’s steps away from the train station providing easy connections around Tokyo.
Best Hotel in Akihabara: Super Hotel Akihabara Suehirocho
This is an all-around excellent hotel that provides awesome service and comfortable rooms for a great price. The style is a bit more old-school, but everything runs very smoothly. It’s also one of best budget hotels in Tokyo, as breakfast is free.
Things to do in Akihabara-Ueno:See the cherry blossoms at Ueno Park.Walk around Akihabara with your best cosplay outfit! (Sunday is when the main street is pedestrian-only.)Hit the sticks in one of Akihabara’s many arcades.See the statue of Saigo Takamori – the man who inspired the fictional character Katsumoto in The Last Samurai – in Ueno.Visit the massive Tokyo National Museum in Ueno.Go to an anime-themed cafe in Akihabara, like the Gundam iteration.Shop for anime memorabilia, fantastic babbles, cheap electronics, and anything else you would’ve loved as a kid.10. Koenji – The Original Cool Tokyo Neighborhood
Source: Aleister Kelman (Flickr)
This is the place where Tokyo punk rock was born! Koenji is one of THE coolest places to stay in Tokyo, and you’ll find some awesome accommodation here.
Suginami – the ward Koenji lies in – is also where you’ll find the highest concentration of anime studios in Tokyo. Picture giant robots fighting in your head while backed by epic guitar chords.
While punk rock may not be as popular as it once was, underground music still reigns supreme in this part of Tokyo. There are clubs and bars everywhere playing all kinds of genres, from Japanese metal to house to electronic.
Best Airbnb in Koenji: Entire Apartment in Koenji
Situated in Koenji, this flat has two bedrooms and sleeps up to five guests. It’s a short walk from the train station providing easy access, and sits in the heart of the best shopping and dining districts. Despite this, the apartment is slightly off the beaten path, so you can rest comfortably.
Best Hostel in Koenji: Top Edge Koenji Hostel
Top Edge is a relatively new hostel in a Tokyo neighborhood. This hostel does everything right – welcoming staff, excellent location, and an onsite bar that does not disappoint. It’s full of quirky decorations and is a great place to meet new travelers.
Best Hotel in Koenji: BnA Art Hotel Koenji
How often do you have the opportunity to sleep inside a piece of art? BnA Art Hotel Koenji provides a unique experience by allowing local artists to paint the inside of guest rooms here. A portion of the room rate goes to supporting the artists, and also provides guests with comfortable accommodation.
Things to do in Koenji:Dance away at the Awa Odori Festival.Check out some Japanese underground psychedelic at U.F.O Club.See which acts are playing at Sound Studio Dom (and BYOB!).See a show at the hallowed 20,000 Den-Atsu, just back from the dead.Geek out over anime and otaku at 44 Sonic.Take a tour of the Suginami Animation Museum.Give your ears a break at the Mabashi Inari Shrine.Shop for all things vintage at the shopping area outside the train station.11. Tsukiji – Best Sushi in Tokyo
If you love sushi, you’ll love staying here
Tsukiji hosts one of the largest and most important fish markets in all of Japan. For almost a century, the enormous Tsukiji Fish Market has provided Tokyo with nearly every kind of seafood product imaginable. You can find just about anything here, from the finest cuts of maguro (bluefin tuna) to live tako (octopus) to creamy hotate (scallops).
Wherever there is seafood being imported, there are shops preparing it as well. The Tokyo Outer Markets of Tsukiji are absolutely jam-packed with sushi stalls and street food vendors. Whether you want your fish fried, fresh, grilled, or crushed, you can definitely find it here.
NOTE: The Inner Market of Tsukiji, where the famous tuna auctions were held, has been moved to a different sight, Toyosu, which is several miles away. This shouldn’t affect your experience much though as tourist entry was heavily restricted in the first place. Even with the relocation of the main operations, Tsukiji is still as bustling as ever.
Best Airbnb in Tsukiji: TSUKIJI INSIDE Flat for Four
This studio flat is bright, modern and stylish. Big windows bring lots of natural light into the living space, which contains a full kitchen and seating area. The host includes small details like free tea and coffee and a handmade guide of the area, so you can enjoy a comfortable stay. Up to four guests can stay here, ideal for groups visiting Tokyo.
Best Hostel in Tsukiji: Imano Tokyo Ginza Hostel
While technically located in nearby Ginza, Iman Tokyo is still very close to the markets (15 mins walk). The hostel itself is very accommodating, not to mention very good looking, and is sure to provide you with an excellent experience.
Best Hotel in Tsukiji: Tokyo Stay Tsukiji
This hotel is literally located in the Outer Market of Tsukiji! That means you can grab some the best sushi in Tokyo simply by walking out the front door. The facilities are excellent and some apartments even come equipped with a kitchenette (just in case you want to prepare your own sushi).
Things to do in Tsukiji:Seafood. Mainly seafood.Find the best street food at the Tsukiji outer markets.Check out the new Toyama Markets nearby.Eat the freshest sashimi of your life.Grab some food to go and have a picnic in the Hamarikyu Gardens.Drop by the Tsukiji Honganji, located very near to the outer markets.12. Kichijoji – Best Local Place to Stay in Tokyo
source: Guilhem Vellut (Flickr)
Located at the far western end of Tokyo, Kichijoji is pretty far off any sort of tourist track. It’s a mostly local neighborhood that sees little in the way of non-Japanese visitors.
It’s a really cool area to stay in in Tokyo, filled with intimate alleyways, hidden food vendors, vintage shops, and wonderful parklands. Inokashira Park is often the most touted attraction in Kichijoji, it’s one of the most beautiful green spaces in Tokyo and makes for a very easy place to relax.
This park also hosts the official Ghibli Museum, so if you’re a Miyazaki maniac, this is probably going to be the highlight of your trip.
Best Airbnb in Kichijoji: Entire Flat Close to Shops and Restaurants
This studio apartment is situated in one of the best places to stay in Tokyo. It’s within walking distance to numerous restaurants and shops, as well as Kichijoji Station. Up to three guests can stay here, and all basic amenities are provided including a small kitchen and laundry facilities.
Best Hostel in Kichijoji: The Micro Museum Hostel
This hostel provides individual sleeping bunks, so guests can have their privacy in mixed dorms. There’s free wifi throughout the hostel, and free toiletries are also offered. It’s ideally located close to a number of restaurants, as well as parks and the Kichijoji Art Museum.
Best Hotel in Kichijoji: Kichijoji Daiichi Hotel
A large hotel located a bit off the main road. Rooms are cozy but the main atrium is large and offers lots of room to breathe. A unique characteristic of this hotel is that there is a bowling alley on-site, which is free for guests! If you’re looking for where to stay in Tokyo with kids, this is a great option.
Things to do in Kichijoji:Let your inner child run free at the Ghibli Museum.Paddle a swan boat on Inokashira Pond.Visit Tokyo’s own Penny Lane.Shop at the local Sunroad Shotengai.Go bar hopping in the hidden alleys of Harmonica Yokocho.Check out the local jazz bars for which Kichijoji is famous.Getting Around Tokyo
It’s hard to comprehend the utter size of this place. Tokyo is absolutely gargantuan and seems to stretch on forever into the distance. Getting around Tokyo is not going to be a walk in the park.
Crucially, Tokyo has an extremely modern and effective transportation system. Trains are fast, ubiquitous, and can take you to just about any part of the city. You can visit Tokyo without ever having to step inside a car and it’s probably better that way.
The train system in Tokyo is a bit confusing, mostly due to the fact that there is no single agency managing the public transport. In fact, several companies – both private and public – run the show here:
JR East – a private company with the most coverage.Tokyo Metro/Toei Metro – the city subways.9 private companies – that offer various connections.
Note that each individual company requires a different ticket e.g. a JR East ticket will not work on the Toei subways.
So study the Tokyo metro as much as you can (use this guide to Tokyo’s trains). Otherwise, it never hurts to ask for help – the Japanese are crazy friendly and know how confusing their own system is.
Best Time to Visit Tokyo
When to visit Tokyo really comes down to what you want to do while you’re there. Yes, spring is amazing in Japan and autumn ain’t too bad either, but summer and winter also have their merits.
If we’re being honest, spring is definitely the best time to visit Tokyo. During this season, temperatures are pleasant, the weather is lovely, and there aren’t too many tourists. The exception to that last point is when the cherry blossoms bloom. People travel from all over the world to see the magical displays of blossoms and then leave as quickly as the petals fall.
Summer is generally not an ideal time to travel to Tokyo; this is the hottest and most humid time of year as well as the rainy season. Near the end of the summer is when the typhoon season starts, which can lead to downpours of rain. Oddly enough, summer is when most people visit as that is their holiday time. This means higher prices, less availability, and more crowded attractions.
Autumn in Tokyo is beautiful. The typhoons should be over by October and the temperature will remain comfortable until December. The deciduous trees will begin to change color as well – to bright golds and deep reds – and could easily give the cherry blossoms a run for their money.
Winters in Tokyo can be cold but are most often dry. A lot of people don’t like Tokyo in the winter, but this is one of the best times to hit up the izakayas. Nothing beats a cup of sake and the heat of a grill when it’s cold outside.
Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in Tokyo
Tokyo can be overwhelming, but with the help of this guide to choose the best area to stay, it doesn’t have to be. With world-class public transit readily available, you can have the entire city at your fingertips.
If you can’t decide where to stay in Tokyo, you can’t go wrong with Shinjuku. Imano Tokyo Hostel is an amazing place to stay, giving you comfort and convenience in the heart of the city.
For something more upmarket, the Grand Nikko Tokyo Daiba hotel provides stylish and family-friendly accommodation.
And don’t forget to take out Travel Insurance for your trip! I have been using World Nomads for some time now and made a few claims over the years. They’re easy to use, professional and relatively affordable. They may also let you buy or extend a policy once you’ve started your trip and are already abroad which is super handy.
Tokyo is safe to visit, but travel insurance is always good to give you some peace of mind.
Getting an estimate from World Nomads is simple – just click the button or image below, fill out the necessary info, and you’re on your way!
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