The city of Nagoya has attractions galore but you might also want to see more of nearby sights and beautiful landscapes. Maybe you are planning a day trip from Nagoya or two, guided or by yourself. Here are some ideas to inspire your journey.
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How to Get Around
Option A – Trains
The best way as a foreign tourist is to invest in a Japan Railpass when spending at least a week or maybe even two weeks in Japan. It can only be purchased in advance and is delivered to your home address. Hence, order it as soon as you know. Here’s the link.
You pick an area – all of Japan, or certain regions – and then the duration. When you’re in Japan, you need to validate it at a major JR train station before you can use it.
Which also means added flexibility for deciding when to start using it. If you decide not use it after all, it should be returnable. Get the Japan Railpass here.
Another big plus is that you can (and sometimes need to) reserve your train and seat to use the railpass. But you don’t actually need to take it should your plans change suddenly. It’s always a good idea to look up train times especially if you are travelling to smaller towns.
Option B – Buses
There are also intercity and longer distance buses you can use in Japan. The typical one being Willer Express. The sooner you book, the more seats are available. Overnight buses are also an option and are decently comfortable and come with a sleeping hood by your seat.
Bus prices are cheaper than with trains but it’s not as fast and sometimes requires changing buses or into trains to get to lesser frequented destinations.
If you stop by a roadhouse on your trip, do yourself a favour and check it out. They are so nice in Japan and the toilets are an experience. I still remember them (and love talking about them..lol) as part of my day trips from Nagoya.
Option C – Guided Tours
There are many tours from Nagoya in case you don’t have a lot of time but want to see the key attractions in the region and with the added benefit of a local full of anecdotes and insights into the regional history.
I have selected a few for the destinations mentioned throughout the text, so if you need some more information, just click on the links provided.
Top 12 Day Trips for Nagoya
Of course, there’s the added option of going on a day trip from Nagoya to Osaka. After all, Osaka is the second largest city and just as exciting as Tokyo.
(And let’s be honest, you can’t do a fulfilling trip day trip from Nagoya to Tokyo. The travel time takes way too long and there are tons of things to do in Tokyo as is.)
And don’t forget that classic Osaka okonomiyaki. The cup noodle museum is also a very quirky sight worth checking out. You can create your very own cup noodle!
If you can, watch the sunset from the tower at Osaka station, then admire the neon lights around Dotonbori. It’s super vibrant and therefore also a well sought after destination. This is where you’ll find the famous running man symbol as well.
When you are close to Osaka, you are automatically close to Kyoto as well. In fact, it’s easy to get around the Kansai region and there are lots of wonderful places to see there. I wrote an entire article about it, so check it out if you need more details.
Kyoto itself is always worth a visit, even if you’ve been before. While the city centre seems compact, it’s actually a large city and jampacked with history and cultural heritage sites.
Wander the iconic red torii gates up Fushimi Inari mountain. Sample traditional food in Arashiyama or do some mountain hiking. Don’t know where to start? Here are 100 things you can do in Kyoto.
Another important historic site near Nagoya is Gokayama. Get your cameras and smartphones ready and fill up your power bank because the Gokayama region is packed with awe-inspiring scenery that will encourage you to indulge in taking tons of photos.
Located in southwest Toyama Prefecture in Nanto, the place features not only one, but two UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the Ainokura and Suganuma villages.
What makes these Japanese villages near Nagoya so unique are their architectural style known as the gassho-zukuri.
Furthermore, the houses’ setting is also something to behold. The villages are surrounded by an abundance of peaks and greenery that are particularly pretty to behold in spring and summer. It’s a great spot for cherry blossom viewing in Japan!
Join fellow travelers on an arranged bus tour including both Ainokura and Shirakawago as well. You can get your ticket for an English tour here.
One of the most instagrammable spots in Japan is Shirakawa Village. Triangular shaped houses with thatched roofs in the midst of green trees, that’s what you’ll see.
Some of the buildings are over 250 years old! For once, you don’t need to visit for sakura season in Japan necessarily. It’s excessively enchanting when covered in snow.
From Nagoya to Shirakawago, it’s only a little over 2 hours by car and 3 and a half hours by train. Shirakawa-go is found in Takayama’s northwest parts and is a World Heritage Site listee as well. The area is a feast to the senses with its impressive, luxuriant landscapes.
It also features gassho-zukuri homes. The village with the greatest number of these thatched houses is the Ogimachi Village. For a wonderful view of the village, drop by any of these observatories: the Tenshukaku Observatory and the Ogimachi-jo Castle.
For Japanese souvenirs, food and the hot spring experience, wander by the Shirakawa Kaido Street, a main street peppered with food stands, souvenir stores and the Shirakawago no Yu, a hot springs place.
Of course, it’s also possible to do a Shirakawago tour from Nagoya. This way, you won’t need to arrange and plan everything yourself and you have the comfort of arranged transport and English speaking guide.
The little village used to be quaint but now, thanks to its ever growing popularity, you might meet other tours coming through. At least if you’re on one, you have fellow travellers to help take photos of you.
Typically, a tour includes both a visit to Shirakawa and Takayama, both of which are very beautiful and historically significant Japanese destinations.
Such a tour can include a meal and provides you the option of free Wi-Fi on the bus. Typically you have to buy a Wi-Fi hotspot for Japan. You can book the tour here.
Not far from Takayama you can find the town of Matsumoto. There are a few things to do in Matsumoto apart from the well known Crow Castle. (Its outer park is free to visit).
My fave foodie thing is eating the taiyaki with sausage and Japanese mayo. I was told that you can’t get it anywhere else and it was amazing!
The town is very walkable but there is the option of taking the direct bus to the old Japanese castle if you feel tired or have a full itinerary that day. Getting to Matsumoto takes a few hours, so start your day early.
Takayama, located in the Gifu Prefecture, is another popular tourist hotspot near Nagoya. Nestled in the mountains, historic Takayama will quickly draw you in with its authentic charm and it’s 400 years old!
It’s typically combined with a trip to Matsumoto as both have similar charms and are sites for important Japanese castles.
However, Takayama castle hasn’t been wonderfully restored as the one in Matsumoto. You will only see remains of its stone base, walls and moat.
Some of the former buildings have also been moved to nearby temples and can be viewed there. In particular, you should check out the local magistrate’s office, known as Takayama Jin’ya.
Japan in winter is especially renowned for its white slopes and ski lovers love to flock to the Japanese alps. Kamikochi, a resort situated in the upland plains of the Northern Japan Alps, features tons of trails, rivers and mountains for nature lovers to discover.
On top of that, it’s a solo traveller-friendly resort and boasts a variety of facilities like campgrounds, huts, hotels, a clinic and even restaurants.
To warm up with a cup of sake and local food, drop by at the Sanmachi-Suji District. It’s located in the centre of Takayama’s old-fashioned town, just east of the River Miya-gawa.
Another popular sight near Nagoya and situated in Takayama is the Shinohataka Ropeway. It’s a popular aerial lift system, which lets visitors appreciate breath-taking views of the area’s verdant, impressive scenes of the Kamikochi valley and the Okuhida territory.
Get your ticket in advance here to skip the communication barriers and potential queue.
The ropeway’s initial stop is the Nabedaira Kogen, where the hiking trails are found. You will also get to go into the Visitor Centre here for more local information. Moreover, there’s a public bath and some restaurants around here.
To get to the second stop, jump in one of the sizable double-decker cable cars. Due to the higher altitudes, it can get pretty chilly up there, even in the summer so make sure to bring with you clothing fit for cold weather.
Fancy a day trip from Nagoya to feudal Japan? Then check out Magome. It used to be one of several Nakasendo post towns and to this day has preserved many historic buildings.
Picture typical wooden buildings with slabstone streets, winding alleys and closed lanes.
For a day trip to Magome, check out this tour: It includes convenient transportation with roundtrip bus tickets and comes with a hearty lunch of traditional handmade soba.
Please note that the tour isn’t guided. You will get three vouchers you then need to print: two for buses and one for the front desk at Magomekan. Reserve your seat here.
One of the prettiest flower fields in Japan when the cherry blossom season is over but spring is still reigning strong is the Shibazakura Festival. To the backdrop of magnificent Fuji-yama you can stroll around fields of vibrant pinks, purples and whites.
The moss phlox (shibazakura) covers the ground and offers a one of a kind outdoor experience for nature lovers. There are multiple shibazakura festivals in Japan but this one is especially stunning.
And it’s easily accessible with the bus ticket being included in the entrance fee. Get more information on the Shibazakura Flower Festival here.
That’s not the only reason to visit Kawaguchiko, however. You can visit quite a string of fascinating museums, go to a theme park, relax in an onsen or visit the historical village Iyashi No Sato. There are plenty of things to do in Kawaguchiko, if you want to learn more.
On the Pacific shorelines of central Honshu lies Shizuoka, the home of the country’s highest peak, Mt. Fuji.
Mt. Fuji is one of the must-see spots in Japan especially for hikers. After all, it has lots of trails that make for great trekking. You will also find the gorgeous waterfalls Otodome and Shiraito here plus the Fujisan Hongu Sengen shrine.
For a glimpse of the country’s political past, visit the Kunozan Toshogu shrine, which was built to honour the late Tokugawa Ieyasu, founder of the Tokugawa Shogunate and the Sumpu Castle, a sumptuous façade which served as the famed shogun’s retirement home.
Laidback Kameyama is nestled between the Mie Prefecture and Shiga Prefecture. It has attractions like the Kameyama Park, which also houses the Kameyama Castle. Definitely a laid back leg for your day trips from Nagoya.
In 1953, the castle was recognized as a Prefectural Historic Site and later on, proclaimed an Important Cultural Property.
The Kameyama City Museum by the castle grounds is a favourite spot for cherry blossom-viewing in the area.
If you’re keen on nature, hiking being more to your liking, you better check out the Sekisuikei, an impressive forest ideal for communing with nature. Here, you can go for a trek, camp out by the forest grounds have a picnic.
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