Tokyo on a Budget

Things to do | Travel | Tokyo | Japan

こんにちは (Konnichiwa)!

Tokyo doesn’t have to be expensive! There are plenty of free things to do in Tokyo, Japan. From historical temples and epic observation decks to national museums and hidden gardens, Tokyo has it all. During our four day trip to Tokyo, we barely spent a dime on attractions and never ran out of things to do in the city. Here’s a list of completely free things to do in Tokyo, most of which we’ve personally done, and others that we missed out on but are on the list for next time! 

Temples & Shrines

Sensōji Temple

Sensoji Temple is an ancient Buddhist Temple and also Tokyo’s oldest temple, dating back to 645. It is one of the world’s most visited spiritual sites and an iconic Tokyo landmark. Learn more about this spiritual site and other famous places to visit in Tokyo

Address: 2-3-1 Asakusa, Taitō-ku, Tokyo
Hours: 6:00AM – 5:00PM, temple grounds are open 24/7
Closest Station: Asakusa Station

See our full guide of things to do in Asakusa, Tokyo

Zojoji Temple

Zojoji Temple is main temple of the Jodo branch of Japanese Buddhism. The main hall is famous for its backdrop with Tokyo Tower. 

Address: 4-7-35 Shibakoen, Minato, Tokyo
Hours: 9:00AM – 5:00PM
Closest Station: Hamamatsucho Station

Meiji Shrine

Meiji Shrine is a Shinto shrine dedicated to the spirits of the late Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken. Located in Yoyogi Park, be sure to explore the different parts of Meiji Shrine. 

Address: 1-1 Yoyogikamizonocho, Shibuya, Tokyo
Hours: 5:00AM – 6:00PM (sunrise to sunset)
Closest Station: Harajuku Station

See our full guide of things to do in Harajuku, Tokyo

Nezu Shrine

Nezu Shrine is the one that got away. Unfortunately we didn’t get a chance to visit but from pictures, Nezu Shrine is absolutely stunning. It is famous for its azalea bushes that blossom in the spring, and the beautiful greenery, ponds, and architecture that surround it. 

Address: 1-28-9 Nezu, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo
Hours: 9:00AM – 5:00PM
Closest Station: Nezu Station


Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building is known for its free observation decks which offer a panoramic view of Tokyo. On a clear day you can spot Mt. Fuji to the southwest!

Address: 2-8-1 Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku, Tokyo
Hours: 9:30AM – 11:00PM
Closest Station: Shinjuku Station

Asakusa Culture & Tourist Information Center

Located across from Kaminarimon Gate, the Asakusa Culture & Tourist Information Center offers a great view of Asakusa from its observation deck. The building itself is a modern marvel, and there are free tours offered by the center on weekends. 

Address: 2-18-9 Kaminarimon, Taito-ku, Tokyo
Hours: 9:00AM – 8:00PM
Closest Station: Asakusa Station

Carrot Tower Observatory

Carrot Tower offers a view of western Tokyo from its 26th floor observation deck. 

Address: 4-1-1 Taishido, Setagaya City, Tokyo
Hours: 9:30AM – 11:00PM
Closest Station: Sangenchaya Station

Gardens & Parks

Imperial Palace

The Imperial Palace is home to Japan’s Imperial family. A large moat system surrounds the palace, perfect for taking a run. Guided tours of the palace grounds are available via advanced reservation. 

Address: 1-1 Chiyoda, Chiyoda, Tokyo
Hours: 9:00AM – 5:00PM
Closest Station: Tokyo Station

Hibiya Park

Hibiya Park is a beautiful park in the middle of the bustling city. This park features western gardens, a grand pond, and intricate fountains scattered throughout the park. 

Address: 1-6 Hibiiya-koen, Chiyoda, Tokyo
Hours: Open 24/7
Closest Station: Hibiya Station

Yoyogi Park

Yoyogi Park in Harajuku can be classified as a miniature forest. If you’re able to, visit on Sundays when the park comes alive with live performances. Great for picnicking and hanami viewing. 

Address: 2-1 Yoyogi Kamizonocho, Shibuya, Tokyo
Hours: Open 24/7
Closest Station: Harajuku Station

People Watching

Shibuya Crossing

Shibuya Crossing, the world’s busiest intersection. There are plenty of places where you can get a birds-eye-view of the crossing (drop into any of the multi-level stores next to it), but make sure you take part in the crossing as well! It’s exhilarating. 

Address: Shibuya, Tokyo
Hours: Open 24/7
Closest Station: Shibuya Station

See our full guide of things to do in Shibuya, Tokyo

Do you need a place to stay in Tokyo?

Which of these FREE Tokyo attractions would you check out?

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  1. Thanks for sharing this. We will be going to Tokyo with our son and when you travel with kids they expect to be on the go all of the time and seeing places which can become costly if there is no free options! Thanks for sharing this!

    1. Traveling with kids can really add up! Luckily Tokyo has plenty of free attractions to reduce costs 🙂

  2. Wow this list is super useful. So far I havent been to Tokyo. But I will definitely bookmark this in case my travel plans get more concrete. I especially like the Shibuya Crossing, I cuold pass hours there hahahaha 🙂

  3. Hello! Right now I am living in Tokyo, Japan and I didn’t notice many of this places to visit. Thank you so much for all the information. I think my favorite places are Yoyogi and Hibiya Park, they are just beautiful. Beautiful photos, by the way. (:

    1. Ah, I’m so jealous! Glad this post was helpful, hope you’re able to check them out while you’re still in Tokyo!

  4. As a budget long-term backpacker, I always appreciate these kind of guides! Love how you grouped them into temples, gardens etc. (and especially people-watching. Creepy hobby but I love it). Oh and even just for the name I’d check out Carrot Tower haha.

  5. Yoyogi Park would be the one I most want to see- is it close to the city? I always think or Tokyo as a really built up place. Sounds like you had a fab time fitting so much in!

  6. I love these types of guides! I’ve never been to Japan or Asia but it is the top Asian country on my list. When I was a little girl my teacher really loved the country and culture and triedto bring it into our classroom – even taking some kids on exchange there! It has always stuck with me. Thanks for all the information, I hope to use it someday!

  7. I did most of these the last time we visited Tokyo, we were on a tight budget too. I am always so happy when city has so much to offer. We spent lots on dinner every night however, after eating from the 7/11 style shops for breakfast and lunch, we felt like we had earned it lol.

  8. This is a great list! Tokyo can be expensive, but it’s also a place with a lot of free things. I love the view from the Metropolitan building. I also love the parks!

  9. Tokyo can be so expensive to visit so it is nice to know where you can find free things to do! I love visiting Japanese temples. The design of those architectures is stunning!

  10. I had seen some shows on discovery relating to history and architecture of Japan. I reason I would visit Tokyo is for temple and historical building to see the architecture. 🙂

  11. I can’t wait to visit Tokyo! I hear Starbucks has a great view of Shibuya crossing and is good for people watching.

    1. The Starbucks is great for people watching but we also recommend going to Hoshino Coffee just across the street 🙂

  12. Your post on Japan tempted me so much that for next vacations I have to book tickets now. Free things to do in Tokyo is life saviour as travel is expensive we all want to save some money. Carrot Tower Observatory is most beautiful part and skyline views from Government building is also appealing

  13. Tokyo is such an expensive city that it is a joy to see some free things. I loved the way you have written the post, esp the timing of the attractions. I am now excited to visit Tokyo!

  14. Great tips! Japan is definitely in the top 3 counties I want to visit next but when I do go I’m def going to be on a budget! This guide is super helpful!

    1. Traveling in Japan is actually a lot cheaper than a lot of people think, it’s just getting there that’s expensive!

  15. We have a great fascination for Buddhist Temples and Shrines, they are so calm and peaceful amidst the spiritual aura. We would love to explore them. The national parks of course are great for some laid back experience and as we travel with a kid the parks and gardens would make for a good break after the walks and strolls exploring the city.

  16. Thanks for the tips about good places for views! The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building sounds like a great spot! I really want to explore Tokyo since my SIL is from there. But, everyone keeps telling me how expensive it is. These ideas seem like they might cut the cost a big.

  17. Japan is one of our most wanted next destinations and all we heard so far that of course beside its amazingly beauty its also a pretty expensive place. That’s why its even more interesting to know what kind of things there are for free in Japan. And truly – these parks and temples look really nice and inviting. Great tips, thank you for sharing!

  18. I did a few of these things when I was in Toyko. I never went up a building though to see the view of the city, would of loved to have done that though. I did some of the gardens and shrines though, Tokyo is a great place, so much to see and do 🙂

  19. Wow! I love how you have this list organized. Tokyo is most certainly on my list. Although I visited as a child, it’s articles like yours that make me want to revisit and see all the cultural and historic sights.

  20. Super comprehensive and helpful guide! Did many when we were there! Love your photos, you should post more in your articles as they inspire to visit! Miss it, would totally go back!

  21. My first impression of Tokyo is that it’s expensive. But thanks to this guide, I know I can do or see many things without spending a lot. Thanks for this handy guide and your beautiful photos to inspire a visit to Japan!

  22. Wow! I had no idea there were so many free things to do in Tokyo! I had always considered it quite an expensive city so it’s great there are a few free activities. The buildings with the views would be at the top of my list – I love a good panorama photo op!

  23. Holy crap, there are so many free things!! You could make an entire trip of just doing the things that don’t cost any money. I also love how you organized them, and there’s a whole category for temples and shrines! 🙂 Very cool post. Thanks for sharing!


  24. I skipped Tokyo on my visit to Japan last year, because I thought it was just too expensive! If only I had this! 🙁

    Tokyo is still on my must see list, so I am totally bookmarking this. I’d love to visit the Carrot Tower – sounds interesting! Does it actually look like a carrot? 😂

  25. There are so many shrines to visit in Tokyo, I had no idea there were so many. I love photographing shrines and the fact that these activities are free is a huge bonus. Those free observation decks are perfect too for city photography, the day I visited, unfortunately Mount Fuji was not visible.

  26. I like this kind of list of free stuff that you can do in a certain place. I didn’t expect there would be so many for Tokyo. I would love to visit the gardens and parks.

  27. Awesome post! Japan was sooo interesting when I went, oh god like 8 years ago now. We did some of the temples and the parks, as well as the metropolitan building for the view. Free things to do are the best 🙂

  28. I wish I had this post when we went to Japan in November last year! I absolutely loved Tokyo though. I loved how busy and vibrant everywhere was! Will bookmark these tips for next time!

  29. Very very interesting and useful as it breaks the myth about Tokyo being such an expensive city…I am very happy to see a few free things as well. Bookmarking it for my future visit. Hopefully that happens soon 🙂

    I think I will start my trip from Shibuya Crossing – I love people watching 🙂

  30. I visited Tokyo for 3 days but missed so many things on this list :o! Pinned it for future use haha. Definitely go back to this lovely city 🙂

  31. This is awesome!! I especially love that you included viewpoints that are free… I feel like those are always hard to find since the ones everyone generally talks about are paid ones. As a landscape photographer, I’m always hunting for the best viewpoint. Pinning this for when I finally make it to Tokyo!

  32. Do you know?! I was in China and just didn’t make it to Japan because it was out of my budget but I am planning to go there next year so I will follow your tips. People watching is what I like most in my journeys, just seat somewhere random and watch the people. Of course, will have time to explore the temples and shrines also 🙂

  33. Awesome post. I lived in Japan for 3 years and avoiding Tokyo like the plague, but you bring up a valid point. In the world’s most populous city, you are bound to find free stuff to do! People watching at Shibuya and elsewhere across the city alone could easily take up an entire day.

  34. Tokyo is one of the costliest cities as far as I know. So, it is really great for you to come up with such a post for budget travellers. People watching sounds interesting. Would never have thought of it!

  35. I want to see the shrines in person! I love the architecture and I’d be interested in learning the spiritual background.

  36. Omg Tokyo is on my plans next year! Thank you for all the great tips. I’ll be back for reference when I do finally get around planning my trip! <3

    1. In the spring, when the cherry blossoms bloom! But it will also be more expensive (hotels, flights, etc) at that time, so that’s something to keep in mind.

  37. This is so beautiful and amazing in fact the color is awesome. I love this. Thank you so much for sharing this blog.

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