A Complete Guide to Hakone & 2-Day Hakone Itinerary
Hakone is a great day trip from Tokyo but it’s also a wonderful place to stay a few days, relax in an onsen, see Mount Fuji, and visit the iconic Hakone Shrine. There is also a spa where you can bathe in coffee, wine, sake, green tea, and more favorite beverages! Take some time to immerse yourself in the unique activities in this 2 day Hakone itinerary. We promise you’ll absolutely love it!
Where is Hakone?
Hakone is a small town located in the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park about 1.5 hours west of Tokyo. Here you can get a gorgeous view of Mt. Fuji on a clear day, take a tranquil boat ride on Lake Ashi, and visit numerous hot springs.
How to get to Hakone
Taking the Romance Car to Hakone from Tokyo (Approximately 1 hour 20 minutes)
The Romance Car is the fastest way to travel to Hakone from Tokyo which will save you time if you are planning to do a day trip to Hakone or just want to make the most of your time for your 2 days in Hakone. Although the main difference between the Romance Car and regular trains is the time it takes to get to Hakone, there are also a few other perks when booking seats on the Romance Car.
As we said, all seats are reserved so you’re guaranteed a place to sit rather than having to potentially stand on the regular train for a longer period of time. The seats on the Romance Car can also recline and can rotate 180 degrees to face each other making the ride more comfortable if you are planning to sleep or visit with others in your party. Lastly, on the Romance Car, you can also expect restrooms in all cars and luggage storage, free WiFi, and cart service with food and beverages in most cars.
Keep in mind that all seats on the Romance Car are reserved seats so you’ll need to book in advance and it costs an additional 1,110 yen for the Limited-Express Ticket to ride the Romance Car. In all honesty, unless you’re on a very tight budget riding the Romance Car to Hakone is extremely worth it for the added comfort and low price!
How to get to Hakone from Tokyo on the Regular Trains (Approximately 2 hours)
Although the Romance Car is the fastest and most luxurious way to get to Hakone from Tokyo, there are also a limited number of seats so you may have to take the regular train from Tokyo to Hakone or if you’d like to save a few dollars, taking the regular train from Tokyo is your best bet. From Tokyo, you will take the Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen to Odawara Station (which is included in your Hakone Free Pass or JR Pass). From Odawara Station, you’ll take the Hakone Tozan Train to Hakone-Itabashi Station.
How to Get to Hakone from the Fuji Five Lakes Area (Approximately 1 hour 20 minutes)
There are no trains that go between Hakone and the Fuji Five Lakes Area but there are a number of buses that travel between these two popular areas. From Fujikawaguchiko you would take the Fujikyu bus to Gotemba Station. At Gotemba Station you’ll transfer to the Hakone Tozan bus line that will take you to Hakone. If you plan to visit Mt. Fuji after visiting Hakone, you’ll simply follow the same route but in reverse order.
When to Visit Hakone
Hakone is a popular place to visit year-round but especially in the fall and winter for an onsen experience. When we first visited Hakone in the summer we were faced with some seriously inclement weather… and by inclement weather, I mean a typhoon that stopped all public transportation on our last night there but fortunately, we managed to find what was possibly the last taxi driver in Hakone and get back to our hotel safely (minus some hefty transport fees).
Regardless of the unfortunate weather circumstances during our time in Hakone, it didn’t stop us from enjoying as many activities as we could while there. We’re just glad that we were able to do a bunch before the storm hit!
Spring (March-May) in Hakone is one of the most popular times to visit Hakone due to the mild temperatures and low humidity, it is also the sakura (cherry blossom) season in Japan which is widely popular in the Fuji Five Lakes area. Keep in mind that while temperatures are generally pleasant during this time, it has been known to rain somewhat frequently during these months as well.
July-September are the hottest months to visit Hakone at an average of 75-91°F (23.8-32.7°C) which brings high humidity and often a lot of rainy days as well. There is also limited visibility of Mount Fuji during this time too due to high humidity.
Fall (September-November) in Hakone is typically one of the higher times for tourism in Hakone due to the fall foliage and mild temperatures. Although the weather can be unpredictable during this time too.
Winter (December-February) in Hakone is typically some of the slower months in Hakone, although a lot of people enjoy coming for the onsen in the area. However, in our opinion, a number of outdoor activities in Hakone wouldn’t be as enjoyable during snowy, cold weather.
Regardless of when you visit, be sure to avoid certain Japanese National Holidays including Golden Week (typically the last part of April-first week of May) and Obon Festival (Held the 2nd week of August).
What is the Hakone Freepass?
The Hakone Freepass is a discount pass that covers transportation on all buses, trains, and ropeways while in Hakone.
Another advantage of having the Hakone Freepass is the discounts it gives towards some sightseeing spots, onsen, historical sites, restaurants, and more in Hakone making this a no-brainer if you are planning to follow this 2-day Hakone itinerary. 🙂
Where to Purchase the Hakone Freepass
There are a few places you can purchase the Hakone Freepass including the following:
- Odakyu Sightseeing Service Center (Shinjuku Station – Tokyo)
- Hakone-Yumoto Station (and many other bus and train stations around Hakone)
- Mishima Station
- Namazu Station
- Gotemba Center
How Much Does the Hakone Freepass Cost?
The price of the Hakone Freepass varies depending on how long you need a pass for and where you are departing from. If you purchase your Hakone Freepass while in Tokyo you can also get transportation to and from Tokyo included with your pass (not including the Romance Car which is available for an additional 1,110 yen one-way).
|From Shinjuku Station (Includes round-trip transportation)
|6,100 yen (adults), 1,100 yen (children)
|6,500 yen (adults), 1,350 yen (children)
|From Machida Station
|5,820 yen (adults) 1,100 yen (children)
|6,220 yen (adults) 1,350 yen (children)
|6,050 yen (adults), 1,100 yen (children)
|6,450 yen (adults), 1,350 yen (children)
|From Odawara Station
|5,000 yen (adults), 1,000 yen (children)
|5,400 yen (adults), 1,250 yen (children)
Transportation in Hakone
If using the Hakone Freepass your transportation on Hakone’s trains, buses, ropeway, and boats are all covered. Similar to the Japan Rail Pass, you show your Hakone Freepass when using public transportation in Hakone.
If you are not using the Hakone Freepass we recommend getting an IC card to make transportation easier. Read more about IC Cards in our guide to visiting Japan.
The main lines of transportation in Hakone are:
- Hakone Tozan Train: Runs between Hakone-Yumoto and Gora Stations. It is also famous for its switchback railway and is a very scenic train ride too!
- Hakone Tozan Cable Car: Rubs from Gora to Sounzan. It also has some scenic views, especially in the summertime when hydrangeas are in bloom.
- Hakone Ropeway: Connects Togendai and Sounzan. It also includes transportation to Owakudani.
- Hakone Tozan Bus: One of the more popular modes of transportation in Hakone because it visits more stops included in this 2-day Hakone itinerary. You can also use this bus line to get to Gotemba Outlets if traveling to Mt. Fuji.
- Lake Ashi Sightseeing Cruise: While this cruise may seem a bit more touristy, it does offer some beautiful views between Togendai-ko and Hakonemachi-ko.
Where to Stay in Hakone
During our time in Hakone, we stayed in two different places. Why? Well, we weren’t really thinking it through… and we were trying to save money because we were in Japan for three months. But overall, it wasn’t a very bright idea and I highly recommend staying in the same place should you decide to stay two nights in Hakone.
Our favorite place we stayed in Hakone was Tabibito no Yado. We found it to be the perfect place to stay on a budget. The room was an apartment-style with comfortable futon beds, a kitchen, and a washer and dryer that were free to use. There was also an aquarium full of fake fish… for I guess… added ambiance. But that’s beside the point! I personally think this is also the perfect place to stay with families due to the extra space and kitchen.
However, another reason people love visiting Hakone is for the countless luxury onsen ryokan in Hakone. So if you’re wanting to splurge a little on a ryokan you can find a few here.
Places to Eat in Hakone
As you already know, when we visited Hakone we were in the middle of a typhoon so we didn’t get to dine at many restaurants in Hakone because they were closed. But, here are recommendations we do have.
Soba Kihinkan, as the name suggests, specializes in hot and cold soba noodle dishes. It is located in an old Japanese house with a sophisticated garden in the surrounding setting.
Address: Japan, 〒250-0407 Kanagawa, Ashigarashimo District, 足柄下郡箱根町 二ノ平１２９７YK
Hours: 11am-2:30pm daily
Pannomimi is an inexpensive, yet terrific spot for a sit-down lunch while in Hakone. They serve a variety of dishes including omurice, pan gratin, hot and cold sandwiches, and other cafe items.
Address: 170 Miyagino, Hakone-machi, Ashigarashimo-gun 250-0401 Kanagawa Prefecture
Hours: Thursday-Monday 11am-4pm, Closed Tuesday & Wednesday
Tamura Ginkasutei is a small restaurant that specializes in katsu (fried pork cutlets) but they do it in a way that we haven’t seen at other restaurants. Their signature dish features minced pork and tofu prepared in broth in a clay pot.
Address: 1300-739 Gora, Hakone, Ashigarashimo District, Kanagawa 250-0408, Japan
Hours: Thursday-Monday 11am-2:30pm, 5:30pm-7:30pm, Tuesday 11am-2:30pm, Closed Wednesday
Hakone Itinerary: Day 1
If you decide to visit Hakone from Tokyo we suggest first visiting Odawara Castle. However, if you are coming from somewhere other than Tokyo you can feel free to skip to the next stop on this 2-day Hakone itinerary.
Odawara Castle was originally built in the 15th century but was later destroyed by an earthquake in 1703. After being rebuilt, it was surprisingly dismantled and sold in 1870. After all of its many woes, Odawara Castle was rebuilt again in 1960 and opened to the public. In the spring, it’s a fabulous place to see cherry blossoms and many other beautiful flowers.
Address: Jonai, Odawara, Kanagawa 250-0014, Japan
Hours: 9am-5pm daily
Cost: 510 yen (castle tower), 200 yen (samurai pavilion), 310 yen (ninja hall), 800 yen (all three buildings)
You’ve probably seen the photos, Hakone Shrine is one of the most popular attractions in Hakone which is why we’ve included it first in this 2-day Hakone itinerary. Not to mention, the earlier you are able to get to Hakone Shrine the better. It gets PACKED quickly and if you want to get your photo taken under the vermillion torii gate by the water, you’ll have to step in line. The good news is, all the people in line are there for a photo op too so someone will be willing to help you take a photo more than likely.
After getting your photo (or skipping it due to the line) don’t miss out on visiting the actual shrine itself. Hakone Shrine is set at the foot of Mount Hakone and inside a dense forest area which makes the entire area feel rather mystical like you’re in Ghibli’s My Neighbor Totoro.
Address: 80-1 Motohakone, Hakone, Ashigarashimo District, Kanagawa 250-0522, Japan
Hours: 9am-4pm daily
Cost: Free to visit
Sightseeing Cruise on Lake Ashi
A lot of people recommended taking the Lake Ashi Sightseeing Cruise before visiting Hakone Shrine, but we think it’s better to do so after. One, the sea breeze is lovely and the weather should be warmer later on during the day, and two, as we said, Hakone Shrine gets really busy quickly so you can hopefully beat the crowds by going there first.
The sightseeing cruise on Lake Ashi is a great way to see Hakone Shrine from the water, witness the fall foliage, or just enjoy a relaxing activity in Hakone. It is also included in your Hakone Freepass so if you are following this 2-day Hakone itinerary make sure you utilize this benefit!
There are three different access points to take a sightseeing cruise, Hakonemachi-ko, Motohakone-ko which is close to Hakone Shrine, and Togendai-ko which is close to the Hakone Ropeway.
Address: 161 Hakone, Hakone-machi, Ashigarashimo-gun, Kanagawa 250-0521 (Hakonemachi-ko location)
Hours: Cruises start at 9:30am and run every 20-30 minutes until 5:30pm (depending on the stop)
Cost: ¥1,050 (adult, one-way), ¥520 (child, one-way), ¥1,930 (adult, round trip), ¥940 (child, round trip), free if using Hakone Freepass.
Old Tokaido Road
A few hundred years ago, this Hakone passageway was considered the most dangerous mountain to cross in Japan due to its steep incline and unpredictable weather. Now the Old Tokaido Road is a rather popular hike to enjoy while visiting Hakone due to its history, picturesque setting, and original stone pavements that mark parts of the trail.
While on the Old Tokaido Road, we recommend stopping at Amazake Chaya, a tea house that serves a hot, sweet sake known as amazake.
The entire hike would take a few hours, you can take buses to and from many of the stops on the Old Tokaido Road so feel free to hike as much as you want to and ride the bus for other parts of the trek!
If you’re looking for something quirky to do while in Hakone, Yunessun is a spa where you can bring a swimsuit and bathe in your favorite beverages. We’re not kidding, though diluted, there are pools of wine, coffee, sake, green tea, and more. It’s one of the only onsen spas that allow bathing suits, though we found it to be more like a water park.
There is an outdoor area that has water slides, cave baths, and waterfalls. Inside the main spa area is where the baths with wine, coffee, tea, and sake are making for a rather unique onsen or water park experience. At different times during the day, staff bring out buckets of coffee and wine and dump them in the respective baths for an entertaining show.
There is also a fish bath where tropical fish nibble away on the rough skin on your feet for an additional ¥100 yen. It might be a turn-off for some, but if you’ve ever wanted to try this then you can do so at Yunessun.
If you are also wanting to experience a more traditional onsen, Yunessun also has Mori no Yu, which is a non-clothed onsen area separated by sex. In Mori no Yu there are open-air baths located outside and indoor baths. There are also private baths that are available for rent for families, couples, or guests with tattoos.
One last thing, if you didn’t come prepared that’s okay! You can rent towels, loungewear, and swimwear for additional small fees. Be sure to check Yunessun’s website for special discount coupons that change regularly.
Address: 1297 Ninotaira, Hakone, Ashigarashimo District, Kanagawa 250-0407, Japan
Hours: Monday-Friday 10am-6pm, Saturday & Sunday 9am-7pm
Cost: ¥2,500/adult, ¥1,400/child (Yunessun only), ¥1,500/adult, ¥1,000/chid (Mori no Yu only), ¥3,500/adult, ¥1,800/child (Yunessun & Mori no Yu)
Hakone Itinerary: Day 2
Today is the short day on this 2 day Hakone itinerary so if you happened to arrive in Hakone early you might be able to squeeze in these two activities before visiting Yunessun on day one of this itinerary.
Hakone Ropeway & Owakudani
Another popular attraction in Hakone is Owakudani. Take the Hakone Ropeway (included in your Hakone Freepass!) up to this active volcano zone that has sulphuric hot springs and hiking trails that lead to Mt. Kamiyama and Mt. Komagatake. Though you cannot relax in these hot springs, you can purchase eggs cooked in the spring’s hot water. The shells are blackened by the sulfur and legend has it, eating them prolongs your life by seven years.
Address: Japan, 〒250-0631 Kanagawa, Ashigarashimo District, Hakone, 仙石原
Hours: 9am-5pm daily
Cost: ¥1,140 one-way ropeway, ¥2,040 round-trip ropeway (free with Hakone Freepass). Park is free to enter.
Hakone Open-Air Museum
The Hakone Open-Air Museum is the last stop on this 2 day Hakone itinerary and it’s honestly one of the best attractions in Hakone. It’s unlike any other art museum we’ve been to and features a number of interactive exhibits. We easily spent a few hours there exploring the outdoor art exhibits, sculptures, and exhibition halls, followed by the building dedicated to the works of Pablo Picasso.
Address: 1121 Ninotaira, Hakone, Ashigarashimo District, Kanagawa 250-0407, Japan
Hours: 9am-5pm daily
Cost: ¥1,600/adults (¥1,400 with Hakone Freepass), ¥800/children (¥600 with Hakone Freepass)
Head to Your Next Destination (or Stay the Night!)
If you happened to visit Hakone on a short stopover or day trip from Tokyo then it’s time to head back! Otherwise, you could stay the night and relax.
Hakone was definitely a magical place to visit in Japan with countless unique activities. We absolutely loved our time there and hope to make it back for their fall foliage someday, or really just anytime without a typhoon! 😉
If you are needing some ideas on where to visit next, check out our other Japan guides!