20 Best Things To Do In Hakone You’ll Love

If you’ve been craving a mix of nature, culture, and a dash of retail therapy, Hakone is your haven. With so many things to do in Hakone, you’ll never run out of places to explore and experiences to have.

From stunning natural hot springs to breathtaking mountain views, Hakone attractions are a traveler’s dream come true.

Ride Hakone Ropeway

For a view that’s guaranteed to take your breath away, the Hakone Ropeway is a must.

This sky-high journey offers a glimpse of Mount Fuji, Lake Ashinoko, and the smoky Owakudani volcanic valley.

Start your aerial adventure either from Sounzan or Togendai stations.

And hey, don’t forget to munch on those legendary black eggs at Owakudani. Rumor has it, they might just add seven years to your life!

Hakone Ropeway is one of the best things to do in Hakone, Japan.

Tip: Secure a Hakone FreePass for a stress-free exploration. It gives you the freedom to hop on 8 different transport systems, making it the best travel companion in Hakone.

Marvel at Owakudani volcanic zone

Owakudani is where the wild side of Hakone shines. It’s not just one of the top things to do in Hakone but a geological marvel that draws you into Japan’s volcanic history.

Born from a massive eruption 3,000 years ago, today, it presents a landscape of steaming vents and hot springs.

And then there are the hiking trails. If you’re up for a little adventure, the trails provide a unique perspective on the valley, weaving you through some intriguing spots.

Owakudani volcanic zone is one of the best things to do in Hakone, Japan.

Cruise Lake Ashi

Ever sailed on a pirate ship in the middle of a mountain? Here’s your chance!

Cruising Lake Ashi is like stepping into a storybook. The water is calm, the mountains whisper ancient tales, and then there’s that red torii gate, floating as if by magic.

Crusing Lake Ashi is one of the best things to do in Hakone, Japan.

And, if you’re lucky, you’ll catch Mount Fuji’s reflection on the water – it’s like nature’s own selfie moment!

If you find yourself there during autumn, like I once did, the fiery colors of the changing leaves set against the serene lake will make you fall in love with Hakone even more.

Mount Fuji view from Lake Ashi and Torii Gate Hakone Shrine, Japan.
On clear days, the mountain peeks out from the horizon, a sight that never fails to take my breath away.

Soak in Hakone hotsprings

You haven’t really experienced Hakone until you’ve dipped into an onsen.

From chic resort-style spas to cozy baths nestled quietly within the mountains, you’ll be spoilt for choice.

For first-timers, the etiquette might seem daunting, but once you get the hang of it, the onsen experience becomes a cherished memory.

Gora Kansuiro is one of the best ryokans in Hakone, Japan.
After a day of exploring, what could be better than soaking your tired bones in a warm, mineral-infused bath?

Personally, I fell head over heels for the outdoor onsens.

There’s something indescribably serene about bathing in the healing waters while drinking in the awe-inspiring beauty of Hakone’s mountains and forests.

Open-air Onsen at Hakone Suimeisou traditional Japanese inns in Hakone, Japan.

Experience ryokan charm

Treat yourself and stay at a ryokan in Hakone – a traditional Japanese inn that I just can’t get enough of.

It’s the perfect mix of Japanese hospitality and relaxation. And the best part? Most ryokans are just a stone’s throw away from hot springs, meaning you can jump from your comfy tatami mat straight into a hot bath.

Onsen Guest House Tsutaya is one of the best ryokans in Hakone, Japan.

For food lovers, prepare to have your taste buds wowed. Every ryokan offers Kaiseki – a foodie’s dream come true. It’s a multi-course meal that’ll take you on a gastronomic adventure with every bite.

Visit Odawara Castle

Next stop: history! The majestic Odawara Castle, built in the 15th century, is a fascinating snapshot of Japan’s storied past.

The castle was destroyed several times over the centuries. Still, the current structure was rebuilt in the 1960s and is now a popular tourist attraction.

Odawara Castle is one of the best day trips from Hakone, Japan.

The exhibits within these walls are treasure troves of ancient relics and tales from the feudal era.

And you simply can’t miss the view from the top on a clear day. It’s as if Mount Fuji itself is posing for your picture.

Visit the museums

After a refreshing cruise on the iconic Lake Ashi, let’s dive into the world of art and history that Hakone’s museums hold.

From modern art to historical exhibits, there’s something to tickle every kind of art-lovers fancy! Here are my top picks.

Hakone Open-Air Museum

Imagine art meets nature in an unforgettable dance, with incredible sculptures standing amid lush landscapes and stunning views.

Plus, there’s a Picasso pavilion that’s a must for any art aficionado! For those who appreciate modern and contemporary art, the indoor galleries are nothing short of a treat.

Hakone Venetian Glass Museum

This is a must-visit for anyone who’s intrigued by glass art.

The collection of the Venetian Glass Museum spans from the 15th to the 20th century, showcasing Venetian glass alongside contemporary Japanese glass art.

Also, the gardens surrounding the museum and its beautiful buildings add to the overall experience.

Pola Museum of Art

Hidden in a gorgeous forested area, the Pola Museum of Art has an eclectic collection of French Impressionist and post-impressionist paintings, Japanese art, ceramics, and glassware.

I have always found the mix of nature and art to be especially calming.

Take a walk along Mishima Skywalk Suspension Bridge

For thrill-seekers, the Mishima Skywalk Suspension Bridge is an absolute must!

As Japan’s longest pedestrian suspension bridge at 400 meters long, it offers unmatched views of Mount Fuji and Suruga Bay.

Mishima Skywalk Suspension Bridge is one of the best activities in Hakone, Japan.

Whether you’re a shutterbug, a nature lover, or simply an adventurer, this place won’t disappoint. And, you might spot people kayaking on the river below.

For added adventure, I recommend trying bungee jumping and ziplining in the area. But remember, even a peaceful stroll across the bridge can be just as rewarding!

Stroll Old Tōkaidō Road Ancient Cedar Avenue

Taking a stroll along the Old Tōkaidō Road Ancient Cedar Avenue is my next recommendation on the best things to do in Hakone.

This beautiful road is lined with over 400 cedar trees, some of which are more than 400 years old! Walking here feels like stepping back into the Edo period, imagining samurais traveling between Tokyo and Kyoto.

What I found most intriguing is that these trees were once used for shipbuilding due to their strength and resilience. There’s something fascinating about touching the bark of a tree and knowing it has witnessed centuries of history.

Peek into History: Hakone Checkpoint

The Hakone Checkpoint is a fascinating historical site from the Edo period.

Easily accessible by train or bus, it offers a fantastic opportunity to learn about Japan’s rich history. As you explore the site, you’ll come across various tools and equipment used by the guards back in the day.

What I love about this spot is that it gives us a sense of the different regulations and procedures travelers had to follow to get through the checkpoint in the past. It’s like a living history lesson!

See Hakone Shrine

If you’re seeking some spiritual solace in Hakone, make sure to visit the Hakone Shrine.

Nestled on the shore of Lake Ashi and surrounded by magnificent natural beauty, the shrine is dedicated to three deities and is believed to date back to the 8th century.

Hakone Shrine is one of the best attractions in Hakone, Japan.

The picturesque setting by the lake and the vermilion-colored buildings create an ambiance of tranquility and reverence that I’ve found to be deeply calming.

Plus, history buffs will be fascinated to know that this shrine played a significant role in the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600.

Ride Hakone Tozan Railway – Japan’s oldest mountain train line

Next, let’s hop on Japan’s oldest mountain railway, the Hakone Tozan Railway. I’ve always loved the slow, winding journey up the steep slopes, passing through tunnels and over bridges.

The breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and valleys are definitely worth the ride!

Getting around Hakone transportation with Hakone Tozan Railway.

If you’re looking to make your trip more budget-friendly, consider the Hakone Free Pass for unlimited rides and discounted admission to popular attractions.

My tip? Grab a seat on the right-hand side of the train as you ascend the mountain for uninterrupted views of the valley!

Stroll Hakone Gora Park

As you continue your Hakone sightseeing adventure, make sure to add a visit to Hakone Gora Park to your list of things to do in Hakone.

This park, opened in 1914, is a refreshing retreat from the busier parts of Hakone, with its blend of Western and Japanese-style gardens.

Hakone Gora Park is one of the best things to do in Hakone, Japan.

Located near Hakone Gora station, the park also houses a museum, a tea house, and a small amusement park.

If you’re visiting in spring, you’re in for a treat as the cherry blossoms bloom; while the autumn months showcase vibrant foliage that never fails to impress.

Take a day trip to Enoshima Island

If you fancy a day trip away from Hakone’s mountainous landscapes and hot springs, I highly recommend Enoshima Island, a small island off Kamakura’s coast.

This charming coastal retreat offers stunning ocean views and is the perfect spot to unwind.

Enoshima island Japan.

While here, make sure to try Shirasu-don, a local delicacy made with tiny fish from Sagami Bay. Trust me, your taste buds will thank you!

To get to Enoshima Island from Hakone, take the Odakyu Line to Fujisawa Station, then transfer to the Enoshima Electric Railway. Once you arrive, you can explore the island’s many attractions, including Enoshima Shrine, the Sea Candle observation tower, and the Enoshima Aquarium.

Hakone Botanical Garden of Wetlands

If nature had a home in Hakone, I reckon it’d be the Hakone Botanical Garden of Wetlands.

The garden boasts over 1,700 different varieties of plants, specifically those adapted to wet conditions.

As you amble through, the chatter of birds and the soft rustling of leaves become your background music.

What I absolutely love about this place is its seasonal beauty. From azaleas in spring to vibrant autumn foliage, every visit offers a different palette of colors. It’s one of those must-visit spots in Hakone if you’re a fan of tranquil, natural beauty.

Explore Hakone’s Culinary Scene

Food lovers, Hakone won’t disappoint you. After all the sightseeing, pamper your taste buds with some local delicacies.

Dive into a bowl of Hakone soba – these buckwheat noodles have a distinct taste, thanks to the pure river waters they’re made with.

Don’t just stop at the traditional dishes. The fusion cuisine, blending Japanese ingredients with global recipes, is something you shouldn’t miss out on.

Visit Choanji Temple

Hidden away in the mountains, Choanji Temple is a peaceful retreat from Hakone’s bustling tourist spots. The tranquil gardens make for a reflective break amidst serene surroundings.

The temple is also home to a beautiful statue of Kannon, the goddess of mercy, believed to have healing powers.

As you explore the temple, take in the beautiful views of the surrounding mountains and forests. And if you’re lucky, you may even catch a glimpse of the monkeys that live in the area.

Hike to ​​Chisuji Falls

The waterfall, tucked away in Hakone’s lush greenery, is a sight to behold. The walk is not too strenuous and takes around 30 minutes, making it perfect for all ages.

During your hike, you can see the beautiful forest scenery and hear the sound of the stream.

Chisuji Falls is one of the best day trips from Hakone, Japan.

Once you reach Chisuji Falls, you will be rewarded with an incredible view of the waterfall cascading down the rocks. You can also take a refreshing dip in the cool water on a hot summer day.

To make the most of your visit, it is best to plan your visit during autumn, when the leaves turn red and yellow, so your entire hike will be a beautiful experience.

Explore Sengokuhara Susuki Grass Fields

Located in the mountains, these fields are covered with tall golden susuki grass, which sways beautifully in the wind. Isn’t that lovely?

The best time to visit the fields is in autumn when the grass turns golden yellow, and the surrounding trees are painted in hues of red and orange. You can take a walk on the walking trail to enjoy the stunning scenery and take some amazing photos.

Sengokuhara Susuki Grass Fields is one of the best day trips from Hakone, Japan.

Besides the stunning scenery, the Sengokuhara Susuki Grass Fields offer various activities such as horseback riding and picnicking.

So don’t forget to pack some snacks and drinks while soaking in the breathtaking view.

Go shopping at Gotemba Premium Outlets

Now, if you fancy a little retail therapy (who doesn’t after all that relaxation?), the Gotemba Premium Outlets should be on your list.

Picture this: Shopping with Mount Fuji in your peripheral vision!

Gotemba Premium Outlets is one of the best shopping malls in Japan.

This sprawling shopping complex isn’t just one of the top things to do in Hakone; it’s a blend of international luxury brands, local finds, and some unbeatable views.

And it’s not just about the shopping. The outlets are thoughtfully designed with wide boulevards, green spaces, and eateries offering everything from sushi rolls to hearty burgers.

Tip: Time your visit for the late afternoon. The sight of the sun setting over Mount Fuji, while you score some great shopping deals, is something special.

FAQs about things to do in Hakone

How many days should I spend in Hakone?

It really depends on how much you want to see and do. If you just want to see the highlights, you can probably do it in one day. But, if you want to relax and take your time, I’d suggest spending at least two or three days in Hakone.

How to get from Tokyo to Hakone?

One of the most convenient and popular ways to reach Hakone from Tokyo is by taking the Odakyu Romancecar train, which takes about 85 minutes from Shinjuku Station to Hakone-Yumoto Station. Another option is the Shinkansen, Japan’s high-speed train, to Odawara Station, and then a local train or bus to Hakone.

What is the best time of the year to visit Hakone?

While Hakone is beautiful all year round, each season offers a unique experience. Spring (March to May) is perfect for cherry blossom viewing, while autumn (September to November) offers stunning fall foliage. The summer (June to August) is hot but has many festivals, and the winter (December to February), while chilly, offers the chance to enjoy the hot springs amidst the snow.

What is the food like in Hakone?

Hakone is known for its delicious local cuisine. You’ll find many restaurants serving Kaiseki Ryori, a traditional multi-course Japanese dinner. Yose tofu, made with pure spring water from Hakone, is another local specialty. And don’t forget to try the local delicacy of Hakone, the black eggs cooked in the volcanic hot springs.

Is Hakone family-friendly?

Yes, Hakone has a wide range of attractions that are perfect for families. From boat rides on Lake Ashi, and strolling in Hakone Gora Park, to visiting the Hakone Open-Air Museum, there are plenty of activities that kids will love.

Can I see Mount Fuji from Hakone?

Yes, you can! On clear days, you can see Mount Fuji from several spots in Hakone, such as the Hakone Ropeway, Lake Ashi, and the Mishima Skywalk. However, keep in mind that the visibility of Mount Fuji greatly depends on the weather.

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