Nikk\u014d, in Tochigi Prefecture, is a destination favored among both international and local tourists. With its stunning mountain scenery and variegated foliage, it's a choice location for admiring Japan\u2019s distinct seasonal changes. Nikk\u014d is an unmissable travel destination and a convenient day trip from Tokyo. Soak your feet in an onsen overlooking a lake, or gaze upon centuries-old carvings at UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Pro-tip: A guided Nikk\u014d day trip from Tokyo is an easy way to take in the sights. Getting to Nikk\u014d: Transportation and discount tickets Probably the easiest, most comfortable, and most cost-effective way to travel to Nikk\u014d is via the Tobu Railway from Asakusa Station. It takes around 1 hour and 50 minutes on a limited express train and costs one-way. You can reduce the cost by purchasing a two-day Nikk\u014d Pass (known as the Nikk\u014d World Heritage Area Pass) for . This covers the basic fare ( return) from Asakusa to T\u014dbu-Nikk\u014d Station, but you'll have to pay extra for a seat on the limited express trains. See all of the options in our dedicated guide to transport from Tokyo to Nikk\u014d. Tours from Tokyo to Nikk\u014d It's hard to see everything in Nikk\u014d in just one day, so a guided tour is recommended if you want to explore further than the shrines and temples in Central Nikk\u014d. This includes a visit to T\u014dsh\u014dg\u016b Shrine, Lake Ch\u016bzenji, and Kegon Falls. Prices start from a reasonable per person. If you're in a group, with an English-speaking driver is perfect. You get to hit up all the famous spots but in the privacy and comfort of a private vehicle. A group of up to four people costs all in, while a group of up to 13 (!) can be accommodated in a minivan for total. If you would prefer a driver who can be more of a tour guide, as opposed to just a chauffeur, this costs \u2013 for up to 13 passengers. And if you are looking to explore even more of Tochigi? Consider a 2-night getaway in the countryside -- full of hot springs and history. Note: This package has limited availability. Central Nikk\u014d: Getting there and things to do Due to the high concentration of natural and historical landmarks in the same area, it\u2019s possible to see a great deal of Nikk\u014d over two or three days. However, if you are just on a day trip, it may be worth focusing on the shops, shrines, and temples in Central Nikk\u014d. Getting to and around Central Nikk\u014d Most of Central Nikk\u014d can be accessed either on foot (20 to 30 minutes from T\u014dbu-Nikk\u014d Station) or by the World Heritage Loop Bus (also from the station). The two-day Nikk\u014d Pass (Nikk\u014d World Heritage Area Pass) covers this bus route and also includes train access up to Kinugawa Onsen and beyond. Things to see and do in Central Nikk\u014d With 103 buildings and structures, it\u2019s easy to lose track of time and place in the UNESCO World Heritage Shrines and Temples of Central Nikk\u014d.\u00a0Here, we highlight some of the most popular and not-to-be-missed landmarks. Shinky\u014d Bridge 5-minute bus or 23-minute walk from T\u014dbu-Nikk\u014d Station Free; to cross the bridge This red, vermillion wooden icon is seen as the entrance to Nikk\u014d and is one of the most recognizable bridges in Japan. Shinky\u014d Bridge crosses the Daiya River and has a beautiful mountainous backdrop that changes color throughout the seasons. Originally built at the end of the Nara period, the bridge was rebuilt in 1987 and was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2011. If you're lucky, you'll be able to spot a bride and groom's first crossing after their marriage in the affiliated Nikk\u014d Futarasan Shrine. The end of the bridge once started the approach to T\u014dsh\u014dgu Shrine. Note that if you pay the to cross, you'll still have to come back the way you came. T\u014dsh\u014dg\u016b Shrine 10-minute bus or 36-minute walk from T\u014dbu-Nikk\u014d Station T\u014dsh\u014dg\u016b Shrine, built in 1617, is the mausoleum of the founder of the Tokugawa Shogunate, Tokugawa Ieyasu. \u00a0Featuring elements of Buddhist and Shinto architecture, T\u014dsh\u014dg\u016b Shrine is renowned\u00a0for its highly ornate fa\u00e7ade. Well-known features of T\u014dsh\u014dg\u016b Shrine include the wooden inlay of the three wise monkeys (\u2018see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil\u2019) and nemuri-neko, a sleeping cat located near the karamon gate. Also spot the elephants motif, which was crafted by an artist who had never seen elephants before -- see if you can tell their tails from their trunks. Rinn\u014dji Temple 10-minute bus or 30-minute walk from T\u014dbu-Nikk\u014d Station for Sanbutsudo Hall only; for Sanbutsudo Hall, Treasure Hall, and Sh\u014dy\u014d-en Garden Near T\u014dsh\u014dg\u016b Shrine is Rinn\u014dji, a Buddhist temple built in the 8th century and founded by the monk Sh\u014dd\u014d Sh\u014dnin. In the main Sanbutsudo Hall, you'll find three 8-meter-tall golden Buddhas related to Mount Nantai, Mount Nyoho, and Mount Taro. The treasure house just opposite also holds precious artworks and statues. Next to Sanbutsudo Hall is the classical garden, Sh\u014dy\u014d-en, a pleasant space in which to relax and enjoy the seasonal imagery of Nikk\u014d. Taiy\u016bin Temple and Mausoleum 15-minute bus or 40-minute walk from T\u014dbu-Nikk\u014d Station for Taiy\u016bin; for Sanbutsudo Hall (Rinn\u014dji) and Taiy\u016bin Taiy\u016bin Temple is the companion piece to T\u014dsh\u014dg\u016b Shrine, being the mausoleum of Ieyasu\u2019s grandson, Iemitsu. Although less grand than T\u014dsh\u014dg\u016b, Taiy\u016bin still deserves attention, not least for its white dragon statue near the Karamon Gate and the Nio statues at the Niomon Gate. Kanmangafuchi Abyss 5-minute bus and 10-minute walk or 40- to 45-minute walk from T\u014dbu-Nikk\u014d Station Free Kanmangafuchi Abyss is a pleasant walking trail through a valley with a babbling river. Known for its red-hatted jizo statues (monk protectors of women, children, and travelers), the trail is said to have a mystery; each time you count the statues, the number changes. Adding to the mysticism is a Sanskrit character carved into stone that is said to be engraved by the founder of Shingon Buddhism, K\u014db\u014d Daishi. Kinugawa Onsen: Getting there and things to do Kinugawa Onsen is a hot spring town just to the east of Central Nikk\u014d. It's not too far from the shrines and temples, so it can be added on if you want to utilize the Nikko pass. Getting to and around Kinugawa Onsen As with Tobu-Nikko, Kinugawa Onsen Station has direct access using the Tobu Railway from Asakusa Station. The area from Shimo-Imaichi Station to Kinugawa Onsen and even farther to Shin-Fujiwara has all-you-can-ride coverage on both Nikk\u014d passes. It also includes one return trip from Asakusa. Things to see and do around Kinugawa Onsen You can always tag these two adventures on a day trip to Central Nikk\u014d. Edo Wonderland Nikk\u014d Edomura 15-minute bus from Kinugawa Onsen Station or free 30-minute shuttle from Nikk\u014d Station one-day pass; for afternoon pass; get tickets here Edo Wonderland Nikk\u014d Edomura is your opportunity to walk in the footsteps of those who lived in the Edo period (1615-1868). The family-orientated theme park is filled with folks in traditional costumes -- guests and actors. But if you don't want to dress up then there are also experience zones, shopping, and archery challenges. Tobu World Square 5-minute bus from Kinugawa Onsen Station or 1-minute walk from Tobu World Square Station ; Love the small things? Interested in the miniscule? Then you may want to visit Tobu World Square. Inside the theme park are more than 100 famous buildings from 22 countries, but how can they all fit inside? They're at 1\/25th the scale of the originals. The park is easy to get to -- it has its own train station -- so it's an easy add-on if you're looking for things to do in the area. Nikk\u014d National Park: Getting there and things to do To enter the heart of Nikk\u014d National Park, one of Japan's most beautiful national parks, you'll need to go a bit farther than Central Nikk\u014d and may require more than a day. The 2-day Nikk\u014d Pass does not cover travel in this area -- but the 4-day Nikk\u014d All Area Pass does. How to get around Nikk\u014d National Park (Lake Ch\u016bzenji and beyond) You can hop on a bus bound for Lake Ch\u016bzenji at either JR T\u014dbu or T\u014dbu-Nikk\u014d stations. The 45-minute drive on the sinuous Irohazaka Winding Road will lead you past Shinky\u014d Bridge and smaller waterfalls such as Urami Falls and Jakko Falls. Ch\u016bzenji Onsen, the town next to the lake and at the foot of Mount Nantai, is a good resting spot if you plan to spend the night and can be a hub for other attractions in the area. Things to do around Nikk\u014d National Park It may take a bit more planning to see all the sights of Nikk\u014d National Park, especially if you are relying on timetables and public transport. You might consider renting a car, if this area is the main focus of your Nikk\u014d trip. Akechidaira Ropeway Observation Deck 35-minute bus from T\u014dbu-Nikk\u014d Station round trip on ropeway On your way to Lake Ch\u016bzenji, you'll pass the start of the Akechidaira Ropeway. Get off and jump on a 3-minute ropeway to the observation deck for perhaps the most iconic landscape shot of Nikk\u014d. If you go in autumn, you're bound to be queuing for a while but it'll be well worth it. It closes early at around 3:30 p.m. and they sometimes suspend it due to weather or safety checks, so make sure to check the website before you go. Kegon Falls 45-minute bus from T\u014dbu-Nikk\u014d Station Free for ground-floor deck; for lower deck Hop off the bus at Kegon Falls, which at 97 metres is one of the three largest waterfalls in Japan. You can view it for free from above (on a ground-level platform), but for the best view, you'll have to go below the rock. This lower deck costs but treats the viewer to plummeting plumes that you can't see anywhere else. Tip: Although not as impressive as Kegon Falls, Yudaki Falls is still worth a visit. \u00a0Get up close and personal at the bottom of Yudaki Falls while cracking open a cold one made available to you via the adjacent convenience store. Lake Ch\u016bzenji 53-minute bus from T\u014dbu-Nikk\u014d Station Free; for a 55-minute cruise Lake Ch\u016bzenji is the highest lake in Japan, with many activities to do on the water or along the lakeside. You can take a pleasant walk or hike around it, hire a swan paddleboat, or opt for a cruise. The lakeside has a lot of cute caf\u00e9s and souvenir shops, as well as the British and Italian embassies' memorial parks. Ryuzu Falls 1-hour bus from T\u014dbu-Nikk\u014d Station; or 10-minute bus from Lake Ch\u016bzenji Free While not as imposing as Kegon Falls, the Ryuzu Falls are a peaceful jaunt into nature that highlights some of the best leaves of Nikko's fall season. The caf\u00e9 Ryuzu no Chaya is a great resting spot, with seats that look out onto the crashing waters below. Senj\u014dgahara Marshland 1-hour-5-minute bus from T\u014dbu-Nikk\u014d Station; or 15-minute bus from Lake Ch\u016bzenji Free If you are heading to Ryuzu Falls, you might as well keep going to Senj\u014dgahara. It's known for its crisp, autumn landscapes, and you have two choices to see the best vistas. You can either take the bus to the Senjogahara Marshland Observation Deck on the main road or stretch your legs and go for a hike. There are several trails to choose from (incl. one near Ryuzu Falls) that wind through the marshes, one in particular only takes around an hour and all are well-kept and flat. What to eat in Nikk\u014d In Nikk\u014d, the most famous thing to fill your belly with is yuba, otherwise known as tofu skin. Yuba has been a delicacy in the area for centuries -- most likely due to the nearby monks who only chowed down on veggies. And you may be thinking there's not much they can do with tofu skin, but you'd be wrong. Many yuba restaurants in Nikko serve the dish raw, steamed, baked, and fried on a tasting platter for somewhere between to . We recommend the restaurant Shiori for its welcoming atmosphere and explanations in English. A sweet treat to try is the Yubamanju sold outside T\u014dbu-Nikk\u014d Station. It is filled to the brim with red bean paste and sprinkled with salt. At only you can't go wrong. Where to stay: Accommodation in Nikk\u014d Nikk\u014d runs the gamut of accommodation options, from deluxe, five-star hotels with private onsen to modest, yet nonetheless decent budget accommodation. You can either stay in Central Nikk\u014d or nearer Lake Ch\u016bzenji, depending on what attractions you have planned. Affordability granted, several hostels impress due to their friendly service, location, and amenities. Try Nikk\u014d Guesthouse Sumica near the station for dormitory beds around the mark. For hotels, try Nikk\u014d Akarinoyado Villa Revage (mid-range) or the very popular Nikk\u014d Park Lodge (cheap-cheap) near T\u014dbu-Nikk\u014d Station. Nikk\u014d FAQs What is Nikk\u014d famous for? Nikk\u014d is most famous for its Buddhist and Shinto shrines and temples, which are designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. But it is also known for its abundance of nature, autumn colors, and black bears. Can Nikk\u014d be a day trip from Tokyo? Yes, Nikk\u014d can be done as a day trip from Tokyo. We recommend spending the day in Central Nikk\u014d, as this has easy access to the main station and attractions by foot or a quick bus ride. When is the best time to visit Nikk\u014d? Visitors tend to flock to Nikk\u014d during two periods of the year -- first, in April for hanami (cherry-blossom viewing) and second, around November for the beautiful autumn leaves, k\u014dy\u014d. Which is better: Nikk\u014d or Hakone? Both Nikk\u014d and Hakone are known for their mountains, onsen, and lakes. And while Hakone has a steaming volcanic valley and sightings of Mount Fuji, Nikk\u014d has a labyrinth of historical shrines and temples, as well as a spectacular waterfall. While we do our best to ensure that everything is correct, information is subject to change. Originally published in June 2015. Last updated in September 2023.