Mt. Fuji, Shrines, Cruises and… Eggs? 2-Day Hakone Itinerary for First-Time Visitors

By Ryan Noble
Updated: May 2, 2024

Hakone is a famous onsen (hot springs) mountain town located in Japan's Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park area, about 1-2 hours west of Tokyo. Despite being so easy to access from the capital, it has some of the best views of Mt. Fuji.

This area is also the location of many other must-see attractions, including Lake Ashi, Owakudani Valley, Hakone Open Air Museum, and Hakone Shrine — all of which you’ll be visiting shortly.

We hope you're ready, because your next two days in Hakone may be the best days of your Japan trip! Here are the best things to see, do, and eat in Hakone!

Getting to Hakone

A Japanese train driver wearing white gloves and driving a train through an area of green trees.

The closest airport to Hakone is Tokyo Haneda, which is likely the first stop for many people coming to Japan. You may also be traveling from Osaka or Kyoto, two of Japan’s other major must-see cities — don’t worry, we’ll cover how to get to Hakone from all three.

Getting from Tokyo to Hakone: By shinkansen (bullet train) and the Limited Express Romancecar, it will take around an hour and cost almost ¥5,000 to get from Tokyo Station to Hakone-Yumoto Station.

If you take the train from Tokyo Station to Odawara Station and then take a bus to Hakone-Yumoto Station, it will take about 2 hours and cost around ¥2,000.

Alternatively, you can take the direct Romancecar from Shinjuku to Hakone-Yumoto Station, which will take 1.5 hours and can be mostly covered by the Hakone Free Pass, which we’ll explain shortly.

Getting from Osaka to Hakone: Taking the Hikari Shinkansen from Shin-Osaka Station to Odawara Station takes approximately 2 hours, 20 minutes, and an unreserved seat costs ¥12,100. From Odawara Station, you’ll then need to catch the Hakone Tozan Line to Hakone-Yumoto Station, taking 15 minutes for ¥310.

Getting from Kyoto to Hakone: You can catch the same Hikari shinkansen from Kyoto Station to Odawara Station, before also taking the Hakone Tozan Line to Hakone-Yumoto Station.

The smoky, sulfur-rich area of Owakudani Valley.

Should I buy the Hakone Free Pass?

The Hakone Free Pass is a travel ticket that allows free, unlimited travel across five transport networks of Hakone, including:

  • Hakone Tozan Line
  • Hakone Tozan Cable Car
  • Hakone Ropeway
  • Hakone Sightseeing Cruise
  • Kanko Shisetsu-Meguri tourist bus

Designated areas of the Hakone Tozan Bus, Tokai Bus Orange Shuttle, and Odakyu Hakone Highway Bus are also covered by the Hakone Free Pass.

The Hakone Sightseeing Cruise on Lake Ashi, taking passengers across the water.

You can buy a 2-day Hakone Free Pass for:

  • ¥6,100 from Shinjuku Station 
  • ¥5,000 from within the Hakone area, such as Odawara Station

Traveling with children? The Hakone Free Pass is approximately 75% cheaper for children.

It’s estimated that if you explore Hakone fully by using its trains, cable car, ropeway, cruise, and buses, you’ll easily spend over ¥7,000 on travel, meaning that the Hakone Free Pass is absolutely worth getting.

In addition to the reduced cost of travel, you’ll also get discounts on tickets at multiple attractions, meaning you’ll save even more money to spend on souvenirs!

If you’re planning to travel all around Japan while you’re here, it may also be worth looking into the JR Rail Pass, covering nationwide shinkansen and rail travel.

Getting around Hakone

Two cable cars in Hakone, heading towards the camera.

With the Hakone Free Pass by your side, traveling around Hakone will be a breeze. Most locations can be accessed by trains or buses, with certain spots accessible by memorable methods of cable cars, ropeways, and pirate-ship-shaped lake cruises — all of which will be covered or discounted by the Hakone Free Pass.

Day 1 in Hakone

See Mt. Fuji from Hakone Ropeway

Two cable cars crossing paths on Hakone Ropeway, with a sea of trees in the background.

Let’s say you’ve just arrived at Hakone-Yumoto Station. You’ve already had breakfast and you’re ready to explore the sights of Hakone. Well, hop onto a bus that’s bound for Hakone Garden (箱根園) right by the station — it takes about 25 minutes, cost ¥750, and you’ll be jumping off at Sounzan Station Entrance (早雲山駅入口). 

We’ve reached our first destination: Hakone Ropeway. You’ll soon be flying high over the mountains and scenery of Owakudani Valley — which, we have to warn you, may smell strongly of sulfur — and on a clear day, you’ll also get breathtaking views of Mt. Fuji.

Enjoy the odors and dishes of Owakudani

The Owakudani Valley area, showing the cafe and souvenir area.

After about 10 minutes, you’ll arrive at Owakudani, a volcanic valley where many of Hakone’s famous onsen get their spring water from, but that’s not all you’ll find here. 

Try the local specialty of Owakudani Curry: If you stop for lunch at Owakudani Station Shokudo (canteen), you could try the Deluxe Owakudani Curry. You’ll find that it’s a darker color than usual, inspired by the sulfur and smoke of the area, and you can mix a hot spring egg into your curry. Do as the locals do!

Five of the famous Owakudani black eggs, sporting a sulfur-affected black shell and packets of salt.

Experience the Owakudani Black Egg: Trying kurotamago (black eggs) while you’re here is also a rite of passage. Its unique black shell comes from the sulfur-rich spring waters, and though it may taste like a slightly smoky boiled egg, it’s rumored that eating one will add 7 years to your life!

Take the Hakone Sightseeing Cruise!

The Hakone Sightseeing Cruise crossing Lake Ashi, with the Hakone Shrine torii gate in the background.

Once you’ve seen all that Owakudani has to offer, take the Hakone Ropeway again, this time going down the other side of the mountain from Owakudani to Togendai Station. 

Nearby, you’ll see Togendai Port, where you can board the Hakone Sightseeing Cruise. With the design of a European battleship — or a “pirate ship” if you’re feeling less fancy — you’ll have some time to soak up the scenes of Lake Ashi. You may also spot a splash of red amongst the trees, hinting at our next location!

Get on the boat going to Motohakone-ko: This cruise has two destinations, but make sure you get on the one going to Motohakone-ko as this is closer to our next stop: Hakone Shrine!

Embrace history at Hakone Shrine

A statue at Hakone Shrine, covered in green moss.

Hakone Shrine is only a 20-minute walk from Motohakone-ko Pier, where you’ll be dropped off, but that’s more than enough time to think about how this shrine has over 1260 years of history behind it.

Back in the days of pilgrimages, this was a spot of prayer for safe journeys — especially those taking the Hakone-ji path from Odawara to Mishima or the well-known Tokaido path, a journey between Tokyo and Kyoto that used to take up to 3 weeks to travel.

Take a picture at the Torii Gates of Peace

The famous shot from the Torii Gates of Peace, looking out onto Lake Ashi.

Remember seeing this from the boat? These are the red Torii Gates of Peace, and you’ll find a line here for a memorable picture. If you can’t beat them, join them! Get in line and prepare your pose for this iconic shot.

Dinner option #1: Enjoy a buffet with views of Lake Ashi

A table laid with plates, cutlery, bread rolls, and small dishes at Lakeside Grill.

If you think you’re going to be hungry for dinner after Hakone Shrine, we’d recommend heading straight over to Lakeside Grill (レストラン レイクサイドグリル). It’ll take you 30 minutes to get there by foot, but what you’ll find at the end is a buffet dinner of Western, Japanese, and Chinese dishes with glorious lakeside views from inside the Prince Hakone Lake Ashinoko hotel.

If anyone in your party is a picky eater, this place is perfect. With steak, pasta, quiche, pizza, and desserts on the menu, there really is something for everyone here.

Book your table for lakeside views at Lakeside Grill!

Dinner option #2: Dine on wagyu beef by River Sukumo

 If your accommodation for the night is closer to Hakone-Yumoto Station, you might prefer to catch the Hakone Tozan Bus from the Hakone Shrine (箱根神社) to Hakone-Yumoto Station (箱根湯本駅), which will take about 40 minutes. From there, you’ll need to walk for 20 minutes to reach Gyunabe Ukon, but it’ll be worth it.

This scenic restaurant is inspired by the Japanese art of kawadoko (riverbed), in which people dine on a raised platform by a river to cool down during the summer months. But no matter when you visit, experiencing kuroge wagyu beef in a traditional Japanese hot pot by the river of Sukumo will also be a memorable moment.

Book your spot by the river at Gyunabe Ukon!

Dining as a family? A children's version of the byFood-exclusive Kiwami course menu is available for ¥14,000. If a children's version of the menu is desired, please make the initial reservation only for adult guests. 

Then, in the "remarks" section, indicate how many children will be joining you. Additional payments required for any children's meals will be sorted at the restaurant on the day of your booking.

Day 2 in Hakone

Vegetarian breakfast in Hakone: CafeDouce

The exterior of CafeDouce, featuring the menu and flowers.

After one perfect day, how about another? CafeDouce is a cozy little cafe near our first attraction of the day that offers a great variety, including vegetarian options!

Their signature baked curry set will only set you back about ¥1,000, including a baked curry, simple salad, fruit jelly, and a cup of coffee. This — and many of their other curry options — can be made vegetarian upon request.

Toast and pizza are also on the menu, as is conversation — the staff mostly speak good English, meaning you can have a chat and even discuss any allergies or dietary restrictions, as they’ll be happy to accommodate your needs as much as possible.

A haven for breakfast in Japan: Finding breakfast in Japan can be difficult as many places that offer breakfast options don’t open until later in the morning, but CafeDouce opens as early as 9:30am, making it a perfect spot to grab breakfast before heading to our first activity of the day!

Have a blast at Hakone Open-Air Museum!

The Happiness in Symphonic sculpture at Hakone Open-Air Museum.

The Hakone Open-Air Museum is Japan’s first outdoor museum, giving you a backdrop of Hakone while taking in the art and sculptures of this must-see attraction.

Most people will want to head straight to the Happiness in Symphonic sculpture, housing a spiral staircase inside a column of stained glass windows — and who could blame them? — but there’s also the Picasso Pavilion, featuring 300 pieces of Picasso’s art, Soap Bubble Castle, Net Forest, and even footbaths for soaking your tired feet.

The entrance fee is ¥1,600 for adults, ¥1,200 for high school and college students, and ¥800 for elementary and junior high school students.

Get a discount at Hakone Open-Air Museum: Show your Hakone Free Pass and you’ll get discounted entry fees; ¥1,400 for adults, ¥1,100 for high school and college students, and ¥700 for elementary and junior high school students.

Let’s get lunch: Grab a burger at CafeBar WOODY

The Ontama Kun Hamburger at Woody, a cafe by the Hakone Open-Air Museum.

CafeBar WOODY is right next door to the Hakone Open-Air Museum, so you won’t need to go far to enjoy their unique, wood-themed decor and signature hamburgers. For a lunch you won’t forget any time soon, try the Ontama Kun Hamburger — a big, juicy burger with a hot spring egg on top.

This should give you all the energy you need for the next hour of traveling. We’re taking you somewhere special.

Take a dip in a Hakone onsen: Tenzan Tojikyo Onsen

The corner of a wooden Japanese onsen bath, looking out into the trees from the steaming water.

It’ll take about an hour to get here from CafeBar Woody, but you won’t regret it for a single second. Let the aches and pains of two days of travel simply slip away in the onsen baths of Tenzan Tojikyo Onsen, looking out over the woods of Hakone.

Entry is ¥1,300 and they’re open until 11pm, giving you plenty of time to soak in their outdoor spa pools and cave baths. It’s the most perfect activity to slow things down before your final meal in Hakone, wouldn’t you say?

Double the relaxation: Tenzan Tojikyo is actually split into two areas: Higana Toji Tenzan and Kayoi Toji Ikkyu. On weekdays you can buy the Hashigo-ken (Hashigo coupon), allowing you to enter both areas for only ¥100-¥300 extra.

Make dinner plans at Tenzan Tojikyo Onsen 

Chopsticks dunking a thin slice of meat onto a grill at the shabu shabu restaurant in Tenzan Tojikyo Onsen.

You may have already spotted that Higana Toji Tenzan has two peaceful restaurants; Yamaboshi, offering unagi freshwater eel and a range of vegetarian dishes; and Rakuten, serving shabu shabu (hot pot), rice bowls, and udon noodles.

Indulge to your heart’s content in this traditional Japanese setting, ending your two days in Hakone in the most luxurious, relaxing way.

Alternative plan: Ninomiya ramen and gyoza cooking class

A bowl of fresh ramen and a plate of gyoza at a cooking class in Japan.

Not hungry yet and feel like breaking up your journey back to Tokyo with a cooking class in Japan? Join the 4:30-7:30pm slot on this ramen and gyoza cooking class in Ninomiya, taking you in the direction of Tokyo while also creating new memories and skills you can take home with you!

You’ll learn how to make ramen broth, boil chashu pork (braised pork belly) or chicken, perfect half-boiled soy sauce eggs, and fold gyoza bursting with flavor. Now, enjoy the fruits of your labor — dinner is served!

Join this ramen and gyoza cooking class in Japan!

Once you’re full of ramen and gyoza, you’re only 1 hour, 15 minutes away from Tokyo, great for if you’re heading back to the capital for a few more days before your return flight.

Staying in Japan for a while longer and wondering how to spend your days? We can help. We’ve got itineraries for all Japan trips, including 3 days in Kyoto, 3 days in Osaka, and 3 days in Kanazawa. Time to explore!

Hakone FAQs

A bright red bridge at Hakone Shrine, next to Lake Ashi.

How far is Hakone from Tokyo?

Hakone is 1-2 hours away from Tokyo, depending on how you travel. By shinkansen and the Limited Express Romancecar, it will take around an hour and cost almost ¥5,000 to get from Tokyo Station to Hakone-Yumoto Station.

If you take the train from Tokyo Station to Odawara Station and then take a bus to Hakone-Yumoto Station, it will take about 2 hours and cost around ¥2,000.

Where is Hakone, Japan?

Hakone is located in the western Kanagawa Prefecture, around 1-2 hours west of Tokyo. Due to its proximity to Mt. Fuji, it offers some of the best views of this famous volcano — perfect for a memorable day trip from Tokyo.

What to do in Hakone?

Hakone is best known for its stunning scenery and a bounty of natural onsen (hot spring), making it an ideal spot for escaping the city and enjoying some relaxation time. You can take the Hakone Ropeway cable car over the sulfur pits of Owakudani, see Mt. Fuji from Lake Ashi on the Hakone Sightseeing Cruise, explore the Hakone Open Air Museum, and so much more. 

A man crossing a long bridge at Hakone Open-Air Museum.

Where to buy the Hakone Free Pass? 

The Hakone Free Pass — which makes traveling around the landscapes of this onsen town much more affordable — can be purchased at a wide range of locations, including via your smartphone, 711 convenience stores, Odakyu Line stations, and more.

For more information on the benefits of the Hakone Free Pass and where to buy it, check out the designated Hakone Free Pass site.

We strive to be as accurate as possible and keep up with the changing landscape of Japan's food and travel industries. If you spot any inaccuracies, please send a report.
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Ryan Noble
Ryan’s love for Japan may have begun with Naruto — something he refuses to hide — but it only grew once he truly understood the beauty of this country’s language, culture, and people. He hopes to use that passion to bridge the gap between Japan and the rest of the world, shining the spotlight on its hidden gems and supporting the revitalization of rural regions.
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