Make the most of a day out in the mountain town of Hakone, only 1.5 hours from Tokyo, with our Hakone Day Trip Itinerary. We’ve included a second day extension for those who want to stay overnight and explore the area further.
The Peace Shrine Gate viewed from the pirate ship crossing Lake Ashinoko. - image © Florentyna Leow
When it comes to day trips, Hakone is one of the top choices for most visitors to Japan. With its tranquil caldera lake, atmospheric shrines and temples, historical walking trails, and a concentration of great art museums, this mountainous hot spring town has a lot going for it. Our itinerary will help you make the most of your time here.
This itinerary contains the following sections:
- Notes Before You Go
- Overview of the 2-day Hakone Free Pass
- The Full Hakone Day Trip Itinerary
- Day 2 Extension for the Hakone Itinerary
- Hakone Day Trip Map
- Recommended Accommodation in Hakone
A walkway through the Hakone Botanical Gardens. - image © Florentyna Leow
Notes Before You Go To Hakone
- A one-way journey from Shinjuku Station to Hakone-Yumoto Station on the Odakyu Line costs JPY1,190. You ride the rapid express train to Odawara Station, then change to the Hakone-Tozan Line to reach Hakone-Yumoto. You will need to purchase tickets from the machines. The journey is just under two hours. However, if you take the Odakyu Romance Car at certain times – which costs extra – it will take around 1.5 hours.
- We suggest using the 2-day Hakone Free Pass to explore the Hakone area. See the following section for further details.
- We suggest leaving on a reasonably early train from Shinjuku and aiming to arrive at Hakone-Yumoto Station between 8:45am – 9:30am. This will give you a full day there, with ample time to explore at leisurely pace.
- Our itinerary covers a day trip from Shinjuku. Day one includes the majority of the classic tourist highlights in Hakone.
- As there are many great hot spring resorts in Hakone and it makes sense for some to do overnight stays, we’ve included a second day extension for anyone wishing to do just that. It’s also a good alternative to the first day for those who prefer a leisurely, nature-filled day.
- If you are staying overnight, you may want to seriously consider a Japanese-style ryokan with a hot spring bath. See our accommodation recommendations at the end of this itinerary for more information.
- We strongly recommend visiting during off-peak seasons or at least on a weekday.
- Itinerary timings are approximate, particularly as train, bus, funicular, and boat times can vary with the season. Adjust the timings to suit your schedule. It’s an excellent idea to check train or bus times when changing mode of transport to make sure you won’t miss a connection.
- This itinerary is a guideline. Add or subtract places as you like.
- We’ve put in directions at the end of each section to minimise clutter.
- This is mostly a walking itinerary. Although this itinerary takes you on several modes of public transportation, there’s still some walking involved. Put on your most comfortable shoes and give it a shot.
Left: the ticket for the Romance Car. Right: the Hakone Free Pass ticket valid for 2 days. - image © Florentyna Leow
Should you get the 2-day Hakone Free Pass?
In a word, yes. This is by far the most economical way to travel around the Hakone area. It provides you with a return trip from Shinjuku to Odawara Station, and then unlimited travel around the Hakone area on all modes of public transportation, including bus, boat, funicular, and train. Flashing the pass will also net you small discounts at many of the museums and attractions in the area.
Best of all, it minimises all the hassle of travel, saving you the headache of counting change on the bus to pay your fare each time you alight, or buying tickets for each train, funicular, bus, and boat ride.
The Odakyu Romance Car ticket counter at the West Ground Gate - image © Florentyna Leow
You cannot purchase the Hakone Free Pass at most smaller stations along the Odakyu line; it’s also not available as an option at the ticket machines. You can buy the pass at the Odakyu Sightseeing Center at the West Ground Gate of Shinjuku Station. However, the queue can be lengthy at the counter, especially during peak season. Who wants to deal with that first thing in the morning when you’re itching to go?
We suggest minimising your time spent in ticket lines by purchasing the 2-day Hakone Free Pass online from Klook. After that, it’s a simple process of picking it up at the Odakyu Sightseeing Center. We strongly suggest popping by the day before your day trip to pick up your pass. If you’re still on the fence, consider this: purchasing it online from Klook is actually cheaper than buying it from the Odakyu counter. The catch is that you have to be a tourist, so this is not an option open to Japan residents.
West Ground Gate for the Odakyu Line at Shinjuku Station. - image © Florentyna Leow
Hakone Itinerary: Day 1
7:00am Travel from Shinjuku to Hakone-Yumoto Station
Begin bright and early at Shinjuku Station. You’ll need to find the entrance to the Odakyu Line. If you haven’t picked up your 2-day Hakone Free Pass yet, you can purchase this at the Odakyu Sightseeing Center or Odakyu Romance Car counter. Both are next to each other. Getting to Hakone-Yumoto Station means getting the rapid express bound for Odawara. From there, you’ll change to the Hakone-Tozan line and get off at the final stop.
One of the Odakyu Romance Cars. - image © Florentyna Leow
However, if you’d like to travel on the Romance Car – which essentially is a reserved-seat train with very few stops that goes directly to Hakone-Yumoto Station – you’ll save about half an hour in travel time. Ask the counter staff for a ticket along with your Free Pass. This will cost an additional JPY1,090.
You’ll need to insert both the Free Pass and the special ticket if you’re taking the Romance Car. - image © Florentyna Leow
Is the Romance Car worth it? If you want to travel in a little extra comfort and be able to eat breakfast on the train, definitely.
The earliest direct Romance Car train to Hakone-Yumoto Station leaves at 7:00am. There’s also one available at 7:38am. But, you should always check train times before you go.
Hakone-Yumoto Station. - image © Florentyna Leow
9:20am Hakone-Yumoto Station
If you’ve taken the later train, you’ll arrive around 9:20am. Head towards the exit. If you have luggage or extra bags to leave at the station, there’s a baggage counter that will take care of them for you – they are located outside the ticket barriers. Alternatively, you can use the coin lockers. They are available both inside and outside the ticket barriers.
The entrance to this service area. - image © Florentyna Leow
For those staying overnight, they provide a rather nifty luggage delivery service, sending your suitcases directly to any inn or hotel in the Hakone area. If you’ve dropped off the luggage before 10:00am, they deliver the luggage by 3:00pm on the same day – how’s that for efficiency?
Wrapping a suitcase. - image © Florentyna Leow
Showing them your Free Pass also nets you a JPY100 discount for this service.
The Peace Shrine Gate belonging to Hakone Shrine. - image © Florentyna Leow
10:15am Hakone Shrine and the Peace Shrine Gate
Hakone Shrine is rather beautiful and atmospheric, starting with its lantern-lined path through the forest and ending with the red ‘Peace’ torii gate floating in the water. The latter must be one of the most iconic sights in Hakone. Short of visiting its larger and more famous counterpart at Miyajima Island, this is as atmospheric a Shinto scene as you’re going to find anywhere near Tokyo. It is gorgeous all year, but especially in the rain or when shrouded in mist.
Alight at Hakone-jinja-iriguchi. - image © Florentyna Leow
To get here, head over to buses bound for Hakone. Turn left at the ticket barriers and follow the signs to the bus stops. You need to head for Hakone Shrine – either the Moto-Hakone-ko or Hakone-jinja-iriguchi stop. Buses departing from Stop 4 go to these places. If you’re unsure, your best bet is to ask the bus station attendants hovering around the area. Buses leave frequently. You should aim to leave by 9:40am to arrive around 10:15am. Settle in for a scenic 40-minute bus ride through the mountains.
The entrance to Hakone Shrine. - image © Florentyna Leow
Alight at the bus stop. Turn and cross the road, walking anti-clockwise around Lake Ashinoko, towards the mountains with the lake on your left. You’ll pass an Italian restaurant on your right. Walk through the large red torii gate. The steps to Hakone Shrine are up ahead to your right after a little more walking.
The stairs leading to the floating torii gate. - image © Florentyna Leow
After exploring the shrine, walk back down the steps towards the lake. Keep walking down, crossing the road. You’ll see the floating Peace Shrine Gate at the bottom of the steps – plus some people waiting to take photographs in front of it.
At the start of the Old Tokaido Highway Cedar Avenue. - image © Florentyna Leow
11:00am Old Tokaido Highway Cedar Avenue and Hakone Checkpoint
Hakone was once a major checkpoint along the old Tokaido road, one of five main highways linking Tokyo and Kyoto during the Edo period. Not much remains of the original highway, but there is a pleasant hiking trail along which remains a section of original stone pavement. For this itinerary, you’ll walk along another original section of the Tokaido highway, a 500 metre-long cedar avenue.
Walking along the cedar avenue. - image © Florentyna Leow
This cedars flanking this forest passage are centuries old, some reaching up to 3 metres high and having a diameter of over 4 metres.
Entrance to Hakone Checkpoint. - image © Florentyna Leow
Those interested in Japanese history should consider a visit around the buildings of the Hakone Checkpoint, if not also the exhibition hall. It’s quite fascinating seeing the various facilities common at checkpoints along these feudal period highways, from foot soldier housing to a prison chamber. You can even climb all the way to the lookout tower. Security was tight during the Edo period!
The Hakone Sekisho Exhibition Hall. - image © Florentyna Leow
Of course, passing through the checkpoint without going inside the buildings won’t cost you a thing.
A view of the lake from Onshi Hakone Park. - image © Florentyna Leow
If you wish, you can stop by Onshi Hakone Park en route – just before the Sekisho Museum – and check out some views of the lake.
The way to Hakone Checkpoint is clearly signposted. - image © Florentyna Leow
To get here, walk back the way you came. Continue onwards, skirting clockwise along and around the lake. You’ll pass Moto-Hakone Port on the way. When you see a large red shrine gate ahead to your left, pass through and continue keeping left. You’ll see an avenue flanked by tall cedar trees ahead of you. This is approximately 500 metres long.
A sign for the Hakone Sekisho Exhibition Hall. - image © Florentyna Leow
Once you’re through the avenue, you’ll see a parking lot to your right, a park, and glimpses of the lake beyond. Essentially, you want to continue skirting along the lake to visit the Hakone Sekisho Exhibition Hall and the Hakone Checkpoint. If you want to walk around more, you could explore Onshi Hakone Park en route. This is right where the parking lot is. The way to the barrier checkpoint and the small museum are clearly signposted.
Sashimi set lunch at Daimasa. - image © Florentyna Leow
It’s time to refuel after a busy morning of exploring. As there are limited options on the other side of the lake at Togendai, we suggest eating around the area just after the Hakone Checkpoint. There are a decent number of restaurants here. Take your pick from udon or soba noodles, curry, seafood rice bowls, and ramen. We’ve marked several of these on the accompanying Google Map towards the end of this post.
Daimasa and its checkerboard awning. - image © Florentyna Leow
Daimasa, located a 3-minute walk from the Hakone Checkpoint, is a decent place for a fresh sashimi set lunch. Portions are generous and there are English-language menus.
Inside Daimasa. - image © Florentyna Leow
To get here, walk straight from the Hakone Checkpoint to the main road. Cross the road and turn right. Walk down the hill. Daimasa will be on your left shortly.
The Queen Ashinoko pirate boat. - image © Florentyna Leow
1:00pm Pirate Ship Cruise from Hakone-machi to Togendai
En route, you will probably have seen colourful ships sailing across the caldera lake. These ‘pirate’ ships are modeled on English battleships of yore, and are operated by the Hakone Sightseeing Boat company. The Hakone Free Pass is valid for these ships. Sure, the pirate ships are a little cheesy, but it’s one way to cross the lake to the other side.
Pedal-operated swan shaped boats on Lake Ashinoko. - image © Florentyna Leow
The white passenger ships, in contrast, are operated by Izuhakone Sightseeing Boats, and you can’t use the Free Pass on them.
On the pirate ship bound for Togendai. - image © Florentyna Leow
It takes about half an hour in total to cross the lake on this ship, passing by Moto-Hakone port on the way. This is also a good time to photograph the floating red torii gate from the other side as the boat passes by.
The boarding area and ticketing office are here. - image © Florentyna Leow
To get here, keep walking along the lake, passing a huge concrete hotel on your right. You’ll see the port on your right after a while. The pirate ships leave twice an hour. We boarded the ship departing at 1:10pm; boarding time begins 10 minutes prior. Departure times can vary with the season, however, so it’s best to check them if you don’t want to be stuck waiting too long.
Along the funicular between Sounzan and Gora Station. - image © Florentyna Leow
1:45pm Togendai Station to Gora Station
At this juncture, we would suggest riding a cable car along the Hakone Ropeway to enjoy stunning views of the volcano below, and exploring Owakudani. However, an increase in volcanic activity led to them suspending the cable car operations and closing off the general area for the time being. We’ll update this if there are any changes.
Nevertheless, the replacement shuttle bus running between Togendai and Sounzan stations is still the most efficient way to go across this mountain. Follow the signs for the shuttle bus. It’s a short 10+ minute ride to Sounzan Station.
From Sounzan Station, you’ll take the funicular down to Gora Station. The ride is slow but pleasant, with beautiful greenery on either side. It’s especially beautiful in autumn when they turn fiery reds and golds. This is, of course, covered by the Free Pass. After the short bus ride, you’ll alight at Sounzan Station and follow the signs to the cable car station.
If you’ve decided to stay overnight in Hakone, it is likely that your inn will be in the Gora area. Many of them are located on the slopes along this cable car route. There are also a number of attractions in the area. These include the Hakone Museum of Art, Gora Park, and a ninja cafe.
Rainer Kriester’s Weisser Maskierter Kopf at the Hakone Open Air Museum. - image © Florentyna Leow
2:50pm Hakone Open Air Museum
If you visit just one museum in the Hakone area, it should be the Hakone Open Air Museum. This alone is worth a day trip out here – there’s nothing quite like it in Tokyo. Wander around the sprawling, verdant grounds of the Hakone Open Air Museum and take in a superb collection of sculptures.
Entrance to the Hakone Open Air Museum. - image © Florentyna Leow
The museum closes at 5:00pm, and we recommend spending the rest of your afternoon exploring the museum grounds. You could easily spend two to three hours just doing that. With works ranging from the delightful and powerful to the eccentric and surprising, there’s a great deal to see. There’s even an entire exhibition hall showcasing a good collection of Picasso’s paintings and drawings.
Takao Tsuchida’s Surprise with the Glare, 1990. - image © Florentyna Leow
We’d rather not spoil the whole experience, so here are just a few highlights from the museum:
La Pleureuse by Francois-Xavier and Claude Lalanne. - image © Florentyna Leow
One of the more surreal but arresting works here is La Pleureuse by Francois-Xavier and Claude Lalanne. It means ‘the mourner,’ depicting a woman’s head in stone, shedding a tear into the water she lies in.
Peter Pearce's Curved Space – Diamond Structure. - image © Florentyna Leow
The aptly-named ‘Curved Space – Diamond Structure’ is a fantastic gemstone installation by Peter Pearce. Unfortunately, only children below 12 are allowed to climb in and around the structure, but you can still walk around and admire it.
Horiuchi MacAdam’s Knitted Wonder Space 2. - image © Florentyna Leow
Another great installation for children to interact with is Horiuchi MacAdam’s Knitted Wonder Space 2. Created using over 650kg of braided nylon, it’s a colourful and charming structure that’s sure to delight both children and adults alike.
The platform at Gora Station. - image © Florentyna Leow
To get here after riding the funicular, transfer at Gora Station to the train platform. Ride it one stop to Chokunomori Station. Exit the station and walk up the road about 100 metres to the museum. Enjoy.
Gabriel Loire’s Symphonic Structure at the Hakone Open Air Museum. - image © Florentyna Leow
4:45pm Head back to Shinjuku Station
After a full day out in Hakone, it’s time to head back to Tokyo. Hop back on the train and ride it to Hakone-Yumoto Station. From there, you can make your way back to Shinjuku either on the Romance Car, or via Odawara Station. For the latter, you’ll ride the Hakone-Tozan Line to Odawara Station, and change to the Odakyu Line and take the next rapid express or express train to Shinjuku Station. Your Free Pass includes this trip back.
If you’re staying overnight in Hakone, this is a good time to head to your inn to for check-in and a soak in the hot springs before dinner. Check out our list of recommended accommodations in the area at the end of this itinerary.
View from inside the Lalique Museum. - image © Florentyna Leow
Hakone: Day 2 Extension
While the first day alone covers the tourist highlights of the Hakone area, it’s not a bad idea to stay overnight at a Japanese-style inn so that you can continue exploring all that this town has to offer. There’s plenty more in the way of museums, natural attractions, and hiking in the area. This is a good example of how you can do it.
A path through the marshlands at the botanical gardens of wetlands. - image © Florentyna Leow
9:15am Hakone Botanical Gardens of Wetlands
The Hakone Botanical Garden of Wetlands is a large park showcasing over 1700 varieties of marsh and alpine plants. It’s far more interesting than it might sound at first. Not only will you walk through different types of marshland from fens to bogs, and see dozens of different flowers, a walk through this verdant plant wonderland is just such a great way to begin your morning.
Japanese irises. - image © Florentyna Leow
We visited in early June when the Nikko Kisuge (day lilies) were in full bloom. At this time of the year, you’ll also see beautiful Japanese irises (ayame).
Himalayan blue poppies. - image © Florentyna Leow
They also hold special exhibitions of flowers and plants native to other parts of the world. At the time of our visit, there were dozens of bewitching Himalayan blue poppies.
A seeming sea of basho leaves. - image © Florentyna Leow
The best thing about botanical gardens is that each season brings different plants and flowers. Be warned that this garden is closed during winter.
At the botanical gardens cafe. - image © Florentyna Leow
You’ll want to spend at least an hour slowly soaking in the various plants and enjoying the scenery. Don’t forget to allocate some time to have coffee at the cafe after exploring the botanical gardens. They serve a delicious affogato that’s a great mid-morning pick-me-up. As a plus, the cafe itself is delightfully airy and plant-filled, with plenty of natural light streaming in through the windows.
A note about ticket prices here: at the Botanical Gardens, Lalique Museum, POLA Museum of Art, and other museums in this area, there are combination tickets available that net you a larger discount than if you show your free pass to purchase them separately. (They’re a little pricey if you purchase tickets for each attraction separately too.)
For example, asking for a combination ticket for the Lalique Museum and the POLA Museum of Art costs JPY2700 in total, but that is a discount of around JPY400 compared to purchasing both of them separately. Do note that you can’t use your Free Pass for a further discount in this case.
The sign for the Hakone Botanical Gardens of Wetlands. - image © Florentyna Leow
To get here, begin at Gora Station. Exit and walk straight ahead. The bus stops are clearly signposted – you will want bus stop No. 2, next to the train tracks with a large hotel on your right. Board the S bus headed for Shissei-Kaen-mae and and ride the bus to No. 450, which is the last stop – the botanical gardens. This will take approximately 22 minutes.
Bus Stop 2 near Gora Station. - image © Florentyna Leow
Bus times vary between weekdays and weekends and are subject to change, but the earliest departure is around 8:20am. We suggest being at the bus stop for an approximately 8:50am departure time to make it to the botanical gardens just after their opening time at 9:00am.
Coin-operated lockers at Gora Station. - image © Florentyna Leow
Incidentally, if you have any luggage and you can’t leave it at the inn, there are coin-operated lockers in Gora Station right next to the ticket barriers. This isn’t a bad option if you’ve stayed in the area and don’t necessarily want to head back to your inn – which might be a little out of the way – to pick up your luggage.
Sengokuhara pampas grass fields in autumn. © Seiya Ishibashi
10:30am Sengokuhara Pampas Grass Field
A short 15-minute walk takes you to the Sengokuhara pampas grass (susuki) field on the west slopes of Mount Hakone. Tall grasses blanket the hillside, and change colour across the seasons – from verdant greens in spring to browns in winter. It’s a pleasant and scenic path at any time of the year, but the pampas grass field is most striking during autumn, when the hillside is covered in rolling swathes of silver-gold pampas grass.
The path leading up the hill for the grass field. - image © Florentyna Leow
There is a single walking path through the field, leading up and along the hillside. While you can’t wander off the path – trampling the grasses is disallowed – for half an hour or so, the stunning views will make you feel like you’re walking through Eva Cassidy’s Fields of Gold. If you’re pressed for time or you’re visiting outside autumn, however, skip this and head straight to the Lalique Museum (see below).
Take a left here. - image © Florentyna Leow
To get here, exit the Botanical Gardens. Take the first left and head out to the main road. Turn left and keep walking until you reach a set of traffic lights. There will be a restaurant across the road and you’ll see the fields beyond. Turn right and walk down the road. You’ll see the entrance on the left near the next set of traffic lights. It’s not signposted, but it’ll be obvious where the path is. This is approximately 15 minutes on foot.
The Lalique Museum. - image © Florentyna Leow
11:45am Lalique Museum
The Hakone area is home to a handful of museums, some more worth visiting than others. It can be tricky to decide which one to spend your time on. If you’re an Art Deco and/or Art Nouveau fan, however, visiting the Lalique Museum is a non-negotiable experience.
A page from the museum catalogue. Photographing the exhibits is not allowed. - image © Florentyna Leow
This museum has a remarkable collection of 1,500 pieces – ranging from perfume bottles to ashtrays – designed by René Jules Lalique, a renowned glassmaker and jeweller. The permanent exhibition features approximately 230 artworks, which are rotated twice a year. Many of these incorporate natural motifs into their design and are utterly exquisite. Think necklaces of gold and enamel in the shape of stylized, darting swallows, or a bracelet of women with translucent blue bat wings, adorned with baroque pearls, or a cut-glass perfume bottle covered in ferns.
A view of the museum garden from the inside. - image © Florentyna Leow
There’s also a ‘Butterfly Forest’ just before the museum, which is basically a small section of greenery with a babbling brook running through it. It’s a quick and pleasant walk. If you’re very lucky, you might spot a wild boar bathing in the water, as we did. (Don’t worry – they are usually more frightened of humans than we are of them.)
A view of the garden from above. - image © Florentyna Leow
To get here from the Botanical Gardens, exit and walk back towards the bus stop. Head to the main road and turn right. Keep walking until you see the Lalique Museum on your right, about 7–9 minutes or so.
A green lawn in front of the museum cafe/restaurant. - image © Florentyna Leow
To get here from the Sengokuhara Pampas Grass Field, retrace your steps back the way you came, but keep walking past the Botanical Gardens until you reach the Lalique Museum.
Soba buckwheat noodles with vegetables, simmered chicken and root vegetables, braised butterbur stalks, and a noodle dipping sauce. - image © Florentyna Leow
The area surrounding the Little Prince Museum has a number of restaurants that serve lunch. We’ve marked some of these on the Google map for you.
The entrance to Hanasai. - image © Florentyna Leow
Hanasai is a cheap and cheerful option. This family-run operation serves a variety of rice and noodle bowls for lunch. Think soba with vegetables, whitebait and grated mountain yam on rice, and udon noodles with pork and miso.
Turn here for Hanasai. - image © Florentyna Leow
To get to Hanasai from the Lalique Museum, exit and turn right. Head out to the main road and keep walking straight. You’ll know you’re going the right way when you’ve crossed a river, several hotels, and a Lawson’s. Keep walking until you see the Little Prince Museum ahead on your left across the road. Continue walking along the road until you see a nondescript paved road on your right that looks like this. Walk along until you see the sign for Hanasai.
The entrance to the POLA Museum of Art. - image © Florentyna Leow
2:00pm POLA Museum of Art
Built in 2002 to showcase Suzuki Tsuneshi’s extensive private art collection, the POLA Museum of Art is relatively new. But if you have to visit just one more museum in the Hakone area, this is the one to visit. Set amidst a forest of beech trees, the glass and concrete structure is designed such that it barely looks out of place here. Plus, it has an impressive and eclectic collection of artworks spanning modern and contemporary paintings, ceramics, glassware, and sculptures.
One of Monet’s Waterlilies paintings. - image © Florentyna Leow
Though the exhibits skew mainly towards European art, there’s a good selection of Japanese painting too, with major names like Leonard Foujita and Kuroda Seiki making an appearance.
Landscape by Renoir. - image © Florentyna Leow
The French Impressionists in particular are well-presented here. During our visit, they were showing several works by Monet, Renoir, Cezanne, and Renoir. There was even a beautiful Van Gogh painting depicting a vase of thistles.
Ballet dancers by Edgar Degas. - image © Florentyna Leow
Unlike many museums in Japan, photography is allowed in some of the exhibition spaces.
A glass vase with bitter gourd design by Emile Galle. - image © Florentyna Leow
There’s also a room full of glassware mostly designed by Emile Galle, featuring some truly gorgeous floral motifs on each piece.
Walking through the beech forest surrounding the museum. - image © Florentyna Leow
As you exit the museum, you’ll see a signpost for the nature trail. This is a short, contained route through the beech forest that takes you around and to the other side of the museum. Try not to skip this if you can. It’s just a few hundred metres long in total, and makes a very scenic and pleasant walk on a cool day.
To get to the POLA Museum of Art, head back to the main road. Walk across to the nearest bus stop. You’ll want to take the S bus headed back towards Gora Station. Alight at the stop for the museum – the whole ride is less than 10 minutes.
Inside the Hakone Botanical Gardens of Wetlands. - image © Florentyna Leow
4:15pm Head back to Shinjuku Station
After two days of exploring Hakone, it’s time to head back to Tokyo. Hop back on the S bus to Gora Station, and from here, transfer to the train back to Hakone-Yumoto Station. You can then either take the Romance Car train back to Shinjuku, or the local Hakone-Tozan Line to Odawara Station, changing to the Odakyu Line for a rapid express train back into town.
Hakone Day Trip Map
View the full size version of our Hakone map which has each of the places discussed above marked on it.
Recommended Accommodation for Hakone
Although Hakone is an easy day trip from Tokyo, you might want to slow down and spend a night there. This will give you a break from the city and allow you to explore the area in more depth. Here are some recommended accommodations.
:: Check availability and pricing on Booking.com or Agoda.com
If it’s luxury you’re looking for, Gora Kadan is by far the best in Hakone. In a former life, this Japanese-style inn was a summer villa for one of the Imperial family members. Rooms here fuse traditional Japanese aesthetics with contemporary design elements. Standard rooms are generously-sized, but the full-sized suites are practically sprawling – like having your own villa! With gorgeous outdoor hot spring baths, exquisite seasonal kaiseki cuisine at dinner and breakfast, and impeccable service, Gora Kadan is an experience of a lifetime. Just be prepared to pay for it.
Gora Kadan - image © Booking.com
Gora Hanougi Madoka no Mori
:: Check availability and pricing on Booking.com or Agoda.com)
Gora Hanaougi Madoka no Mori is a Japanese ryokan providing a luxurious experience without ridiculously astronomical prices. It manages to be cozy and intimate without actually being small. The rooms here feature warm, wooden interiors, and the outdoor hot spring baths are highly rated by guests. Great breakfasts and dinners too.
Gora Hanougi Madoka no Mori - image © Booking.com
:: Check availability and pricing on Booking.com or Agoda.com
Located right on the shores of Lake Ashinoko, this hotel is great if you want to enjoy lakeside views first thing in the morning. Many rooms here are in contemporary Japanese-Western styles, featuring traditional tatami floors and Western-style beds; most have stunning views of the lake. If you can, go all out and book one of the rooms with a private open-air bath.
Ashinoko Hanaori - image © Booking.com
Hakone Highlands Hotel
:: Check availability and pricing on Booking.com or Agoda.com
With rooms set amid sprawling lawns, this is one of the older resorts in the area, but no worse for that! The rooms here are comfortable, and the food is a delicious and accessible fusion of French and Japanese cuisine. Some rooms have their own private hot spring bath attached. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to snag rooms for around $125 a night. Try booking this if you’re visiting during off-peak season. While it’s accessible by bus, it’s a little better if you’ve rented a car.
Hakone Highlands Hotel - image © Booking.com
:: Check availability and pricing on Booking.com or Agoda.com
Located near Kami-Gora Station on the cable car line between Sounzan and Gora stations, this homey inn is a very decent mid-priced option for the Hakone area. The Japanese-style rooms here are fairly basic, but as with many inns the highlight here is the hot spring bath and the food. Soak in the hot onsen before and after dinner. Breakfast and dinner here are a real treat. Alongside the usual melange of delicious small side dishes, rice, and soup, dinner features a giant platter of seafood, beef, and chicken, which you’ll grill to your liking in front of you.
Raku - image © Booking.com
Tokyo Vacation Checklist
- For all the essentials in a brief overview, see my First Time In Tokyo guide
- Check Tokyo accommodation availability and pricing on Booking.com – usually you can reserve a room with no upfront payment. Pay when you check out. Free cancellations too
- Need tips on where to stay? See my one page guide Where To Stay In Tokyo
- You can buy a Japan SIM card online with Klook for collection on arrival at Tokyo Narita or Haneda airports. Or rent an unlimited data pocket wifi router
- See my comprehensive Packing List For Japan
- Compare airline flight prices and timings for the best Japan flight deals.
- If you're visiting more than one city, save a ton of money with a Japan Rail Pass – here's why it's worth it
- A prepaid Suica card makes travelling around Tokyo much easier - here's how
- Get esssential travel insurance for Tokyo – World Nomads is well-regarded (and here's why)