The capital of Japan is a total bucket list destination.
Soaring skyscrapers, amazing museums, megamalls, unique culture, and an incredible food scene…it’s a never-ending list of sights and experiences that will totally leave you wanting more!
But Tokyo is also one of the biggest cities in the world.
Almost 14 million people live inside its 23 wards, with an amazing 38,140,000 million packed into the Greater Tokyo area. It’s insane!
Numerous small towns, cities, train lines, and roads all entwine together to make for a pretty overwhelming experience that can take a while to get your head around.
For a Tokyo first-timer, the city can seem confusing.
But don’t worry! It might seem scary at first, but Tokyo is a really accessible place that isn’t as crazy as you might think…I promise!
The hardest part is actually deciding on the best place to stay in Tokyo for you.
So, I have put together this in-depth guide to Tokyo’s best neighborhoods.
From the kinds of places that you might want to stay on your first time in Tokyo, to low-key local gems and places with easy access to transport—it’s all in my guide!
Pssst, heading to Tokyo? Don’t miss these travel guides to help you plan your trip!
So, whether you’re in Tokyo for cherry blossom season (lucky you—be sure to read my post on the Best Places to View Cherry Blossoms in Tokyo!), you want to spend your time on an anime odyssey, or you simply just want to spend time soaking up the sights and sounds then read on. These are the best places to stay in Tokyo…
Best place to stay in Tokyo quick answers:
Where to stay in Tokyo for the first time:
Shibuya! This works well for a first-time trip to Tokyo. Not as seedy as its sister Shinjuku, Shibuya has excellent transport links and is much bigger than you might expect.
Away from the crazy crossings and shopping, there are some cool local spots and a pretty good selection of accommodations.
Where to stay in Tokyo on a budget:
Although it might be a little far away from some of the more popular sightseeing spots, Ryogoku is a great choice if you’re on a budget.
There are cheap but clean and safe hotels, great local food options, and the bonus of being right near the sumo wrestling stadium. The train line from the main station also has handy connections to other parts of the city.
Another way to keep your stay budget-friendly is to look for a Ryokan in the area of your choice—they are traditional Japanese inns and while the fancy ones can certainly get pricey, you can usually find affordable ones for $50 – $100 per night.
Where to stay in Tokyo for shopping:
Ginza is the shopping hub for sooo many reasons. The main shopping street in the district makes London’s Oxford street look like a toy town!
There’s simply so much shopping to be done in this part of Tokyo.
Accommodations in the area aren’t always cheap, though. Also, this isn’t a very local ‘hood, so if you want more of a local vibe, look elsewhere.
Where to stay in Tokyo for nightlife:
Shinjuku’s a party hot spot for numerous reasons.
Not only is it home to the very gaudy and famous Robot Cafe, but down the same streets, you can find yourself dipping in and out of bars for a weird and wonderful night out that will make you feel like you’ve entered a different dimension entirely.
TIP: Look skyward—each floor of the high-rise buildings here is home to a different bar or club.
Where to stay in Tokyo for sightseeing:
Asakusa is one of the best places to stay in Tokyo, and it’s not hard to see why.
With the famous Sensoji temple in the middle of the district, there’s also a wide selection of cute little cafes and eateries, as well as traditional shopping streets to explore.
Asakusa is also very well connected by train, so staying here makes it easy to explore other parts of Tokyo.
Where to stay in Tokyo for local life:
Meguro draws in a ton of crowds during cherry blossom season, but at other times of the year, it’s pretty chilled out, which I like.
A nice mix of friendly locals, amazing food, and walkable streets, this is the best place to get an Airbnb and make yourself at home with the other Tokyoites.
Where to stay in Tokyo for one night:
The Tokyo Station area is a good option if you’re only in Tokyo for one night.
Not only has it got some of the best train links in the city, so you can easily catch a train to elsewhere, but there are top Tokyo sights within walking distance, and some great places to grab a bite to eat for dinner, too!
Best Place to Stay in Tokyo: By Neighborhood
Shibuya is the center of all things new and modern in Tokyo. Think soaring skyscrapers, neon signs, and the rush of the world-famous scramble crossing.
Staying in this part of the city will mean that not only will you be connected to the late-night antics of this youthful area of Tokyo, but it’s also just a simple train ride away from a lot of other locations in the metropolis.
Be warned! This is a crazy busy part of Tokyo. If you actually want to take a moment to breathe during your trip, maybe you should base yourself somewhere a little more laid back.
There are some pretty nice hotels located in Shibuya, however.
Budget travelers will be pleased to know that there are some trendy hostels to bunk up in during their trip. For a little more money, there’s the mid-range Hotel Sunroute Plaza Shinjuku (a bit confusing that it’s called Shinjuku but it’s technically in Shibuya—the two areas are right next to each other, though).
Shibuya is also a top location to opt for if you like to get around cities on foot: from this area, it is easy to stroll to Yoyogi Park and the leafy Meiji Jingu Shrine.
First-time visitors could also consider staying in Shinjuku. The area is a rush of commuters, small bars, and shopping malls, and first-timers will really get the feeling that they are in Tokyo.
Plus you’ll be right by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, which offers spectacular views of Tokyo!
Fun fact: Shinjuku train station is the busiest train station in the world—and, wow, it feels like it! But staying near Shinjuku station means you’ll have super easy access to the train and day trips outside of Tokyo.
If late-night neon Tokyo sounds like your kind of thing, Hotel Gracery Shinjuku is right in the middle of the action in Kabukicho.
Close to the train station, the Kabukicho area is the name of the red light district, and it has a distinctly rough around the edges vibe.
This is the spot for getting all sorts of weird and wonderful late-night bites to eat, seeing some of the more raucous Tokyo-ites letting their hair down, and generally having an awesome time.
Location-wise, Shinjuku is close-ish to Shibuya. Because of its central location, traveling around Tokyo is straightforward, if you’re up for navigating the train station.
It’s crowded but it’s orderly, and I’m terrible with directions so if I can do it, you most certainly can.
Made famous by Lost in Translation (obviously!), staying at this chic hotel and sipping cocktails from their jazz bar with a view of the glistening lights of the city will actually make you feel like you’re a literal movie star yourself!
Into shopping? Then definitely stay in Ginza!
This fashionable district is intersected by Chuo-Dori, a pedestrian-friendly shopping street that is home to high-end fashion boutiques as well as more down-to-earth names such as Uniqlo and Gap.
Sophisticated, upscale, and old-school, Ginza might not scream “Tokyo,” but behind its plush shops and designer labels, the area has a surprising amount of heart.
Fans of architecture and Meiji Era (1968-1912) Japanese culture will enjoy the 1930s Wako Department Store, as well as charming little mid-century cafes and interesting izakaya (Japanese pubs).
There are also some top Tokyo attractions within a short walking distance of Ginza!
The Tsukiji Fish Market area, for example, is super accessible from Ginza (the actual fish market has moved locations, but all of the restaurants, shops, and businesses that surrounded the market are still open), as is Tokyo Station and the Imperial Palace.
The hotels Tokyo has to offer don’t usually have very large rooms but check out Ginza’s mid-range to high-end selection of hotels and you’ll be more likely to find something to fit your travel requirements.
A super popular hotel in this area is Park Hotel Tokyo, as it offers aesthetics at reasonable prices.
Tokyo Station sits (almost) in the center of the city and this area is considered central Tokyo. It’s a top place to stay in Tokyo if you want to take in a lot of sights but only have a few days of your vacation to spare.
Located in the quiet district called Marunouchi, Tokyo station is a surprisingly low-key area. Here, you get a peppering of different sides of Tokyo, but it won’t leave you feeling overwhelmed like Shinjuku might!
The area is fairly quiet, but if you want nightlife, Ginza is an easy walk from Tokyo Station.
The Tokyo Station Hotel is the spot to stay in this area of Tokyo if you can’t live without luxury. The rooms here are totally opulent—and pretty pricey to boot!
If living the high life is your thing, you’ll be in good company. Just ten minutes from the station is the Imperial Palace—the actual residence of the Japanese Royal Family.
Strolls around the Imperial Palace East Gardens could be your morning exercise.
Tokyo Station is an awesome area if you want to jump on a bullet train and explore Mount Fuji on a day trip.
The super-high-speed trains leave from this location, so you won’t have to struggle with heavy luggage on the crowded metro system. Not fun—trust me, I’ve done it!
Oh Odaiba…what a weird and wonderful place! Not the most beautiful of areas in this most magnetic of cities, sure, but the views from this man-made island are to die for…
Away from the rush of the center of Tokyo, Odaiba is connected to the rest of the city by the very eye-catching Rainbow Bridge, which is crossed by a fabulously futuristic and oh-so-fun driverless train.
Riding this train between the skyscrapers at night is such a fun thing to do in Tokyo!
Odaiba island is all about entertainment: there are megamalls, aquariums, a television station, restaurants, and even a huge Ferris wheel. The waterfront here is a fun spot to grab a bite to eat and gaze across Tokyo Bay to the city skyline on the other side.
Apart from the modern entertainment options, Odaiba is the best place to stay in Tokyo if you want to visit Tokyo Disney Resort.
Tokyo Disney is just over a half-hour by train from the artificial island. Some hotels, like the Grand Nikko Tokyo Daiba, have a free shuttle for guests who want to spend the day at the theme park.
You should opt to base yourself in Odaiba if you like to stay in new, swanky hotels surrounded by creature comforts. The island is an entertainment hotspot, but it’s a bit lacking in culture and natural beauty.
But if you want to get away from the overpacked streets and unwind in a polished hotel, Odaiba could be a good option for your vacation.
Meguro is the cool cousin to the frantic energy of Shibuya. Located a speedy train ride out of the middle of the city center, this leafy suburb is the best place to stay in Tokyo to get a glimpse into local life.
While Meguro probably isn’t the best place to stay in Tokyo if it’s your first time in the city or only have a day or two to explore, if you have a week or more in Tokyo (lucky!), a cute little Airbnb in Meguro makes a great choice.
Meguro’s main station is connected by the all-important Yamanote Line: the loop line that runs around Tokyo. Nearby Naka-meguro is a super famous spot to see cherry blossom in full bloom as it colors the banks of the Meguro River—and dyes the river pink!
Around the neighborhood, expect some seriously cool kids kicking back with friends inside independent cafes or shopping for new threads and vintage finds in one of the backstreets.
Elsewhere, Meguro is full of friendly local parks where families hang out, enjoying weekends together, picnicking, and exercising. There’s also an (almost) unending number of places to eat and drink—every street seems to have its own bar!
Another of Tokyo’s huge urban hubs, Ikebukuro is a young and lively district that is a combination of commuter mayhem and colorful teen culture.
Located on the busy Yamanote Line, Ikebukuro’s station is actually the third-busiest in the world! Crazy!
The area’s wide roads are crisscrossed by overhead highways—beneath them, offbeat eateries and cafes fill up with city dwellers as they unwind after a busy day.
Ikebukuro is also where you will find some large malls and is another top choice for shopping. It’s the best place to stay in Tokyo if you like interesting anime shops and cute, fashionable finds.
The Sunshine 60 building is one of the best places to hang out in this district. In fact, a lot of people make their way here just to do some shopping and visit the very popular Pokemon Center.
An area of Tokyo like no other, Roppongi is a strange and sometimes surreal mix of upscale city chic and downright slobbish.
This is a lively area which attracts many foreigners who live in the city full-time.
By day, Roppongi is busy with office workers who go about their daily routines. As night falls, this glistening area starts to heat up.
The place to get dressed up to the nines and dance the night away, you should find yourself a hotel around this neighborhood if you want to see Tokyo’s nightclubs and (expensive) bars.
A foreigner-friendly neighborhood, Roppongi is home to many embassies. With a sizeable non-Japanese population, this means that a lot of businesses and bars are very used to serving people who don’t speak the most fluent of Japanese (or any).
There’s an extensive choice when it comes to looking for accommodation in this slice of the city, but hotels here aren’t going to be the cheapest. Boo!
If you’re thinking about sticking around in the city for a while, Roppongi is the best place to stay in Tokyo for you: there’s a choice of long(er)-term serviced apartments you could totally opt for.
Those of you who like to seek out cool and under-the-radar places to stay in the city should look no further than Koenji! This will be the best place to stay in Tokyo for you.
Yes, there’s the happening Harajuku and the cool streets of Shimokitazawa to explore, but Koenji has a more local and happening vibe about it.
Connected to the city by the Marunouchi Subway Line, Koenji is a top place to stay in Tokyo for those of you that are into vintage finds and thrift shopping.
The whole area has a distinctly retro look to it, with the classic Japanese shotengai (shopping streets) like “Look Street” managing to avoid any damage from bombing during WWII.
This is where you should head if you want to hang out with some of the cool kids who love the cutting-edge design and are not afraid to push the boundaries when it comes to style.
Along with fashion, Koenji has a reputation for a vibrant music scene — it’s actually the area where Japanese punk developed!
Live music venues and events happen daily, and there’s a whole bunch of record shops where you can spend time diving into the offbeat, rare, and classic collections inside.
Koejni is one of the best places to stay in Tokyo if you’re into nightlife but are traveling on a budget. There are so many cool little izakaya and drinking spots where you can eat, drink, and be merry for half the price of somewhere like Ginza or Roppongi.
Not all about the modern-day, Koenji has no fewer than 12 temples—from the 18th-century Chosenji temple to the 16th-century Saijoji temple.
The downside? Accommodation in the neighborhood isn’t as varied as in other districts. It’s a local part of town, after all.
However, there are a few good mid-range hotels and low-key guesthouses which make for a top-budget stay in Tokyo.
Markets, museums, seedy shops, salarymen, food stalls, and a big, beautiful park—Ueno really does have it all. This bustling Tokyo district is a well-balanced combination of all things that make the city so much fun.
Sprawling Ueno Park anchors the area’s sights and is a very popular spot for early evening strolls, local events, and practically overflows with people during the famous cherry blossom season.
There’s also the romance of the 17th-century Benzaiten temple that sits on an island surrounded by lotus flowers. And, a short walk away, the charming old and arty area of Yanaka will undoubtedly steal your heart at first glance.
Ueno isn’t squeaky-clean, however.
Behind its large and impressive museums (which are well worth your time) and couples walking hand and hand in the park, there’s also an almost ignored homeless community that will reveal to you a less polished side to the city.
That’s not to say that you shouldn’t choose to base yourself in Ueno—far from it!
A wonderful world of seafood joints and yakitori (grilled chicken) joints curve their way like a maze on the opposite side of the railway track from the park. There’s also bargain-hunting galore to be had around the shops of Ameyayokocho Market.
Hotels in this area are fairly reasonably priced considering the popularity of the sights—and the fact that Ueno is well connected for sightseeing, with its easy-to-navigate train station just a mere minute walk from the park.
Lovers of all things kookie, crazy, and totally kawaii should make a beeline for the youthful and colorful area of Harajuku.
It needs no introduction. This is the neighborhood that is famous for outlandish fashions being paraded on the streets by forward-thinking students who make trends instead of following them.
Ready yourself for a rainbow world of color and cute girls calling at you to by some candyfloss or the latest sweet treat from a streetside stall. The area is a fun place—you’ll find it hard to tear yourself away from the people-watching!
Harajuku is a central district. It’s within easy walking distance of the rush of Shibuya, so the area gets very crowded on weekends when the cool kids come out to play.
The best place to stay in Tokyo to easily escape the crowds, the nearby Meiji Jingu Shrine is almost opposite Harajuku station and is breath of fresh air.
The peaceful Shinto shrine—dedicated to the late Meiji Emperor—feels almost dream-like when compared to the mayhem happening in the surrounding streets!
For more nature, Yoyogi Park is a Tokyo favorite. This youthful hangout gets super busy in the summer months when everyone in the city decides it’s too hot to do literally anything so they head to Yoyogi to chill out with their friends (with a beer or two).
Hotels around Harajuku are often small and compact, but Hotel Century Southern Tower is close to Yoyogi and has plush, upscale rooms with views.
For those of you looking to taste some of the older, more traditional elements of Tokyo life, Asakusa is the best place to stay in Tokyo for you.
The tourist-friendly neighborhood is the old downtown district and has a fun atmosphere to match.
The big attraction here is the 7th-century Sensoji—a Buddhist temple with a long and complicated history. Today, the temple draws in hordes of visitors, who come to be charmed by the old architecture and buy small gifts and snacks from one of the many stalls that surround it.
Aside from the tourist crowds, the neighborhood still has a lot to offer those who want to do more than just the usual tourist checklist. Because of Asakusa’s long history, there are a number of old cafes and small local eateries hiding in plain sight, just waiting to be discovered…
Just a little bit of exploring in the area will reward you with a cup of coffee in a traditional coffee shop—or picking up food from an under-the-radar, family-run noodle shop.
There’s also modern-day fun times to be had around the area: the very shiny and extremely tall (634m) viewing tower that is the Tokyo Skytree is just a stone’s throw from here.
Aside from all of that fun stuff, hotels are really easy to book in the area. Because so many tourists like to stay here, there’s a huge choice of hotels and hostels for you to choose from.
And finally—another reason why so many people like to stay in Asakusa during their trip is that it’s super easy to get to the airport from there! Both Narita Airport and Haneda Airport have direct trains that connect them to Asakusa. Bonus!
A neighborhood with a name that dates back to 1659, Ryogoku has an understated downtown feel—except with (almost) none of the tourists of neighboring Asakusa.
If you are trying to stick to a budget during your time in Tokyo, Ryogoku has some well-priced hostels and mid-range hotels that definitely won’t break the bank. There are also a number of tasty eats to be found around the station.
Basically, this is an area where your budget can stretch a little bit further.
But that’s not the best thing about Ryogoku.
The district is actually the home of the Ryogoku Koukugijan Arena, which is where top sumo matches in Tokyo are held at various times of the year.
If you’re not in town for a match, don’t worry. The coolest thing about Rygoku is that you can just be grabbing a quick bowl of local Chanko Nabe from a local shop and be rubbing shoulders with sumo wrestlers themselves!
You can even spot them dressed in their traditional clothing doing their grocery shopping. ? Seriously.
While it’s true Yokohama isn’t actually Tokyo—in fact, it’s an entirely different city altogether—that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t count when it comes to working out where is best for you to stay for your big Tokyo trip.
The capital’s sister city is, in fact, a great option when it comes to exploring more of what Tokyo (and Japan) has to offer. Located on the coast of Japan and around a 30-minute train ride from Shinjuku, Yokohama has a much more laid-back vibe about it.
Bonus: It’s a little cheaper! A hotel room in Tokyo, for example, can be pretty expensive for the size of the room, but in Yokohama, you can generally get more space for your money.
That’s not to say that Yokohama isn’t glamorous. Not at all!
There’s the amazingly shaped Intercontinental, with views out across the bay, as well as a string of new shopping developments at Minato Mirai, fashionable dining options, and places like the Ramen Museum to entertain you.
Not only that, but if you’re keen on taking a day trip to other destinations in Japan—or want to catch the train to Kyoto or Osaka—the bullet train stops at Yokohama en route and is super straightforward to catch.
Ok so as you can see…Tokyo is big. There are just so many different neighborhoods to choose from!
Each district has something interesting to explore or a top sight to see, so it can be hard to work out the best place to stay in Tokyo.
But I hope that with my guide to the top neighborhoods, you can get a little bit more of an understanding of the city.
Trying to work out Tokyo and what part of it to base yourself in for your vacation is hard. But there’s a massive selection of accommodation choices all over the city, and most of the capital is connected by its famously reliable Shinkansen bullet train and bus network.
I don’t think you can really go wrong if you choose to stay in any of these neighborhoods. Each one of them has something special to offer, it’s just up to you what you’re looking for in an area.
Whatever area in Tokyo you end up in, you’re going to have the best time. Tokyo is so much fun! Tag me in your Insta Story (I’m @wtfab, btw!) and let me know what you get up to.
Planning a trip to Tokyo? Be sure to check out all of my Tokyo Guides here.
What to Do in Tokyo: Tokyo Travel Guide
Best Places to View Cherry Blossoms in Tokyo
Best Time to Visit Tokyo
11 Things You Need to Put on Your Tokyo Itinerary
7 Places to Visit Near Tokyo
Things to do in Tokyo with Kids
Where to Stay in Tokyo
Park Hyatt, Tokyo
Shibuya is a great option for a first-timer. Some other great places to stay include Shinjuku, the Tokyo Station Area, and Ginza.
Tokyo Station sits at just about the center of Tokyo.
Plan to spend at least five full days in Tokyo in order to see all the top sights.
Elise Armitage is an entrepreneur and founder of What The Fab, a travel + lifestyle blog based in California. At the beginning of 2019, Elise left her corporate job at Google to chase her dreams: being an entrepreneur and helping women find fabulous in the everyday. Since then, she’s launched her SEO course Six-Figure SEO, where she teaches bloggers how to create a passive revenue stream from their website using SEO. Featured in publications like Forbes, Elle, HerMoney, and Real Simple, Elise is a firm believer that you can be of both substance and style.