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Hakone is by far one of the most popular side trips from Tokyo. A common day trip destination, there is plenty to do here to justify spending two days in Hakone. Our two day Hakone itinerary has everything you need for the perfect trip to this beautiful corner of Japan.
Just a couple of hours south of Tokyo, Hakone has been a popular holiday destination for centuries. If you’re looking to spend a couple of days in Japan at a slower pace surrounded by beautiful nature then Hakone is the place to go.
Absolutely. Hakone is known for its revitalising hot springs and its spectacular scenic beauty, as well as an eclectic mix of art galleries, museums and picturesque gardens.
At the heart of Hakone is beautiful Lake Ashi, while nearby is the bubbling volcanic crater of Owakudani. Throughout Hakone are dozens of onsen, taking advantage of the region’s soothing hot spring waters, along with glorious views of Mount Fuji.
Yes, two days is the perfect amount of time to spend in Hakone. While many people zip around the main sights on a day trip, it’s much better to spend two days in Hakone for several reasons.
Firstly, there’s a lot to see and do in Hakone that can’t really be crammed into a single day.
Plus, Hakone’s main attractions are also quite spread out, meaning that it can take a while to get from A to B.
Finally, getting to Hakone is not entirely straightforward. Doing the return journey from Tokyo in a single day while trying to see all of Hakone’s sights is going to be exhausting.
As our two day Hakone itinerary will show, spending a couple of days here means you’ll get to see all of the town’s major attractions and do so at your own speed.
Plus, staying overnight also means that you can stay at an onsen and enjoy Hakone’s heavenly hot springs.
Assuming that you’re visiting from Tokyo, there are two main ways to get to Hakone, either by train or by bus. The best way to get to Hakone from Tokyo is by train.
There are two train companies that run services at least most of the way to Hakone, Odakyu Railway and JR Railways.
Odakyu Railways runs two services between Tokyo and Hakone.
The easiest and quickest option is the direct limited express Romancecar service from Shinjuku Station to Hakone-Yumoto Station. The journey on the Romancecar costs 2470 yen one way and takes 1 hour and 20 minutes.
From Hakone-Yumoto Station you then need to take a Hakone Tozan Line train to Gora Station in the heart of Hakone. This journey takes around 40 minutes and costs 460 yen.
Odakyu also operates a slower but less expensive Odawara Line rapid express service between Shinjuku Station and Odawara Station.
This option takes around two hours and costs 910 yen one way. From Odawara Station you will need to transfer onto the Hakone Tozan Line to Gora Station via Hakone Yu-moto Station.
If you’d rather travel by Japan Railways (JR) – or if you have a Japan Rail Pass – you can travel directly from Tokyo Station to Odawara Station on the Shinkansen. The journey takes just 40 minutes.
However, the Japan Rail Pass does not cover any of the train lines that you’ll need to take for the rest of the journey to Hakone. If you have a Japan Rail Pass you will also need to pay for tickets for onward trains from Odawara to Gora Station via Hakone-Yumoto.
You can also get a direct bus from Tokyo to Hakone.
Buses depart from Shinjuku Expressway Bus Terminal and take around 2 hours 20 minutes to reach Hakone. The bus calls at several stops in Hakone, usually terminating at Togendai on the northern bank of Lake Ashi.
There are several buses from Tokyo to Hakone a day, usually at least one an hour. Tickets costs around 2,000 yen each way. For more information and timetables for buses to Hakone, click here.
Hakone covers quite a large area, and there are several forms of transport you can use for getting around, including trains on the Hakone Tozan line, local buses, the Hakone Tozan Cable Car and the Hakone Ropeway.
The sightseeing cruises on Lake Ashi are also a good way to get to the attractions located at the southern end of the lake.
There is a very good bus network that connects all of Hakone’s main sights, including all of the main galleries and museums, Lake Ashi and Hakone Shrine. The Hakone Tozan train line is also useful for visiting the The Hakone Open-Air Museum.
There are five stops along the Hakone Tozan Cable Car which connects Gora Station with Sounzan Station for the Hakone Ropeway. The Hakone Ropeway is the best way to travel between Gora and Lake Ashi thanks to the incredible views over Owakudani’s volcanic hot springs.
You can save quite a bit of money with a 2-day Hakone Freepass.
The 2-day Hakone Freepass is a combined discount ticket that includes unlimited travel on most forms of transport as well as discounts on entry to numerous museums, galleries and other attractions.
– The 2 Day Hakone Freepass costs 6,100 yen and includes:
The Hakone Freepass also gets you discounts on entry into many of Hakone’s most popular attractions, including the POLA Museum of Art, Hakone Open-Air Museum, Hakone Venetian Glass Museum and many more.
There’s a huge variety of accommodation available in Hakone, from comfortable guesthouses to luxurious hot spring resorts.
You can search for accommodation in Hakone here, but if you need some suggestions, here are few places we recommend:
Day one of our two-day Hakone itinerary includes many of the towns most famous spots and activities.
The Hakone Open-Air Art Museum is one of many big and bold art galleries in Hakone. As its name suggests, the majority of the artworks here are modern and contemporary sculptures displayed outdoors within the museum’s open grounds.
Amongst the most famous works at the Hakone Open-Air Museum is the Symphonic Sculpture by Gabriel Loire, a spiral staircase wrapped in beautifully detailed stained glass. Elsewhere there are artworks by such famous artists as Henry Moore, Niki de Saint Phalle and Anthony Gormley.
As well as the outdoor exhibits there is also a main hall with a variety of smaller sculptures on display. The Picasso Pavilion has over 100 works by Picasso, ranging from sketches, paintings, tapestries and ceramics.
The Hakone Ropeway glides above a large section of the Hakone region and is the quickest as well as the most exciting way to travel.
Hakone’s ropeway runs from Sounzan Station just above Gora all the way to Togendai Station at the northern end of Lake Ashi. Along the way you’ll cross the volcanic steam and smoke of Owakudani and enjoy fantastic views of Mount Fuji.
To reach the Hakone Ropeway first take the Hakone Tozan Cable Car from Gora Station. The cable car climbs steadily up the steep hill before arriving at Sounzan Station. Change here onto the Hakone Ropeway and begin the journey up towards Togendai at Lake Ashi. There are two stops along the way, at Owakudani and Ubako.
Before reaching Togendai, get off at Owakudani Station to see the volcanic mountainside and to taste Hakone’s famous black eggs.
The approach into Owakudani Station sails high over Hakone’s famous smouldering valley. The steaming and frankly smelly vapours at Owakudani were caused by a volcanic eruption that took place 3,000 years ago.
Still officially an active volcano, you can venture along a trail that leads down to hot springs and steam vents.
Alternatively, if the smell is a little too much, you can admire the steamy and slightly hellish landscape from the safety of the viewing platforms or from Gokuraku Tea Shop, a small restaurant where you can fill up on classic Japanese dishes, such as ramen, soba noodles and curry rice.
Be sure to try Owakudani’s famous black hard-boiled eggs. A chemical reaction causes the egg shells to turn black when they’re boiled in Owakudani’s spring waters. According to local legend, eating just one of Owakudani’s black eggs is said to add an extra seven years to you life.
No Hakone itinerary would be complete without taking a sightseeing cruise on Lake Ashi.
Sightseeing cruises on Lake Ashi take place on glamorous pirate ships that are elaborately if slightly garishly decked in dazzling gold trim. There are three different cruise ships that sail along Lake Ashi, each modelled on traditional naval sailing ships.
The sightseeing cruises sail between Togendai Port on the northern tip of Lake Ashi and the ports of Hankonemachi and Motohakone at the southern end of the lake. The cruises run between 9.30am to 5.00pm, and the journey from one end of the lake to the other takes around 30 minutes in total.
On days with good weather you can enjoy excellent views from the ship of the lake, the tip of Mount Fuji and Hakone Shrine’s famous torii gate.
Less than a ten minute walk from Moto-hakone Port is one of Hakone’s most famous landmarks, Hakone Shrine’s bright red torii gate.
Officially called Heiwa no Torii, meaning “red gate of peace”, the towering torii gate has become Hakone’s go-to photo spot, planted in Lake Ashi just off the shoreline.
If you plan on taking a selfie under the shrine’s famous gate, be prepared to queue up in a very long line. On busy days you can easily expect to queue for over an hour until you get your turn to stand beneath the gate.
Once you’ve got your photo, don’t skip the rest of Hakone Shrine, a serene site nestled beneath a forest of beautiful soaring cedar trees at the base of Mount Hakone.
A lantern-lined path leads to the shrine from the torii gate among the trees. Hakone Shrine was originally established in the 8th century on the summit of Mount Hakone, with the current complex built here in the 17th century.
Also on the southern bank of Lake Ashi is a portion of the old Tokaido route that once connected Tokyo with Kyoto.
During Japan’s Edo period (1603-1867), the Tokaido route was one of five main roads in Japan that connected Tokyo with other significant parts of Japan.
The Tokaido highway was lined with checkpoints manned by foot soldiers who regulated the comings and goings of travellers along the route. A section of the old Tokaido road passed through Hakone.
The Hakone Checkpoint is a replica of an original Tokaido checkpoint that has been constructed on the southern bank of Lake Ashi.
Similar to a modern day border-crossing, the checkpoint features a recreation of the original lookout tower and foot soldier’s quarters, including kitchens and dining rooms.
Nearby is a beautiful section of the original Tokaido highway. Still lined by enormous cedar trees as it would have been during Japan’s feudal era, the route paints a vivid picture of what it would be like to walk the Tokaido road during the Edo period.
The second day of our two day Hakone itinerary is spent in and around the districts of Sengokuhara and Gora.
The Sengokuhara Pampas Grass Field is another of Hakone’s most popular photo spots.
Covering hundreds of metres of sloping hillside, the tall, shimmering pampas grass makes a beautiful backdrop for photos. A long path dissects the pampas grass from which rises up to offer a great view of the gorgeous surrounding scenery.
Sengokuhara Pampas Grass Field is at its most beautiful in autumn and early winter, when the grass is golden in colour.
In summer the grass is a vibrant green colour. In spring the grass is cleared through a process of controlled burning so that it can grow back in time for the autumn free from weeds or other harmful plants.
The Hakone Venetian Glass Museum is one of several fun museums based in Hakone. The museum features beautiful grounds decorated with many stunning examples of glass art, as well as a Venetian-inspired museum which displays stunning pieces of modern and antique glassware.
The glass sculptures and artworks in the museum’s garden are grand statement pieces that gleam and sparkle on sunny days. The grounds include water fountains and a lake which are decorated with dozens of trees made of glass beads and artworks by Dale Chihuly, possibly the world’s most famous glass artist.
The museum holds a collection of over 100 pieces of incredible antique glass artworks from Venice, beautifully displayed in a wonderfully over-the-top recreation of an Italian mansion.
The POLA Museum of Art features a wide range of art by world famous artists such as Van Gogh, Renoir, Picasso, Degas, Matisse, Cezanne, and Monet.
One of Hakone’s biggest attractions, the POLA Museum is an architectural masterpiece, a sprawling complex that is largely hidden underground so that it doesn’t spoil the scenery of the surrounding national park.
The museum’s permanent collection also includes a large collection of works by important Japanese artists, and temporary special exhibitions are held throughout the year. There are several sculptures placed in the museum’s grounds along a 1 kilometre-long nature trail. The trail weaves neatly through some of Hakone’s beautiful dense forest.
At 400 meters in length, Mishima Skywalk is the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in Japan. The main reason to visit Mishima Skywalk is for its wonderful views of Mount Fuji, as well as Suruga Bay to the south.
Located in neighbouring Shizuoka Prefecture, Mishima Skywalk is around 30 minutes by bus from Motohakoneko bus stop at the southern end of Lake Ashi. For the most impressive views of Fujisan the best time to visit Mishima Skywalk is either the early morning or in the afternoon.
If you can tear yourself away from the views then there are plenty of other activities to enjoy at Mishima Skywalk. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can zip-line 70 meters above the ground alongside the bridge on the Long Zip Slide.
On the north side of the bridge are a number of adventure courses that let you clamber amongst the trees of the surrounding forest. You can also take Segway, e-bike or buggy tours that lead through some of the forest’s trails.
There are cafes on both sides of the bridge which specialise in region dishes, including a unique ramen that is made with a tomato base.
Here’s a map showing all of the locations in our two day Hakone itinerary. Markers in orange are for the things to do on day 1, those in purple are day 2.
Here are some more ideas if you need even more inspiration for things to do during your two day stay in Hakone.
• How to spend two days in Tokyo
• When is the best time to visit Tokyo?
• Top tips and travel advice for your first trip to Tokyo
• How to watch a sumo training session in Tokyo
• These are the best day trips from Kyoto
• How to spend 24 hours in Osaka
• What to see on a day trip to Nara
• 35 destinations to explore off the beaten path in Japan
• The perfect two days on Naoshima, Japan’s art island
• Why Koyasan is the most sacred town in Japan
• Why winter is the best time to visit Sapporo
• The complete guide to hiking in Kamikochi
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