Nikko is one of my absolute favourite places in Japan. This small city is a treasure trove of UNESCO world heritage sites among a dreamy setting of lush forests, gushing waterfalls and a scenic lake.
While you can see the famous temples and shrines in a day (totally a Tokyo day trip option), you really ought to stay for a few nights to see its scenic trails and visit the local museums as well. No need to wonder where to stay in Nikko, here are the best Nikko hotels in one overview.
**** This post isn’t sponsored nor commissioned but contains affiliate links. If you book anything from them, this doesn’t cost you anything but might give me a little commission to help keep this free blog full of more travel tips and me fuelled with chocolate to keep writing. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. ****
How to find great hotels in Nikko?
I recommend using Booking.com, where I make all my bookings myself. It has free cancellation feature, which means you can book way in advance even if you are not entirely sure of your dates.
You can adjust those dates as well. Plus, you can collect points and then take advantage of special discounts this way. Booking includes hotels, ryokans, B&Bs as well as hostels. So it’s pretty comprehensive and you can adjust your filters to budget and perks, such as Wi-Fi and kitchen.
Which Area to Stay in in Nikko?
Nikko makes up quite a big chunk of the Tochigi Prefecture and is actually the third largest Japanese city based on its area. So it’s a valid question on where to stay in Nikko. There are three main areas you can pick from, depending on your preferences and what kind of trip you have planned.
Near the train station
Arriving from Tokyo, you will get off at either of the two train stations in Nikko (Tobu Nikko Station and Nikko Station). They are pretty much next to one another, so it doesn’t really matter. Nearby are a few Nikko hotels you can base yourself in.
If you get a 2-day bus pass, you can easily catch a bus around the city and the vicinity from in front of the train stations. So this is a very central location, which is great.
Nikko Guesthouse IMAICHIYADO
- 12-minute walk to train stations
- Free Wi-Fi throughout
- Shared kitchen
- Super clean
- Friendly & accessible host
Nikko Sweden Village
- One-bedroom apartments
- Swedish-style architecture
- A kitchen with microwave and fridge
- Hot tub & private bathroom
Near the Shrines
My preferred place to stay in Nikko is close to the UNESCO sites right by the river. It’s a quick stroll from here and you have the best of both worlds: the feeling of staying in a town but right by nature.
You’re by bus stops in no time either, so you can quickly get to the train station (which is about a 30 minute walk away anyway) or catch the bus into the countryside.
Rindou No Ie
- Tatami floors and futon beds
- Free Wi-Fi and internet station
- Free laundry machine use
- Shared bathrooms
- Flat-screen TV and tea set
Nikko Hoshino Yado
- Japanese-style rooms with tatami floors
- Natural hot-spring baths
- Japanese garden or mountain views
- Traditional kaiseki cuisine
- Free Wi-Fi & shuttle bus to the hotel
Along the River
I you don’t mind staying a little bit outside and right by Kinugawa River you get to stay the local Nikko ryokans. There are local train and bus stops nearby too, so you’re not actually remote at all.
Along the river, there are plenty of local attractions. For instance, you’re close to the Edo Wonderland (Nikko Edomura), Tobu World Square and the Kinugawaonsen Ropeway.
- Garden and rooms with free Wi-Fi
- Hot spring & sauna
- Private bathroom
- Air conditioning and TV
- Asian breakfast
- Japanese-style rooms
- Terrace & hot spring bath
- Air conditioning
- Flat screen TV & free WiFi
- Private bathroom with a bath
Nikko Accommodation Based on Budget
I first visited Nikko as a broke backpacker and was super thrilled to get a cute little hostel even during busy cherry blossom season. The hostel was more like a BnB (with a dorm) and beautiful river views. (Btw, the hostel was Nikkorisou Backpackers.)
Maybe location isn’t really of much concern to you as is budget. I totally get that! So here are my picks on hotels in Nikko Japan based on buck.
Earth Hostel – The Riverhouse
This hostel isn’t in the city centre at all but it offers a free shuttle service! This way, you can get to and from Nikko’s train stations, where the local buses go, too. There is free onsite parking for cars and bikes.
The hostel is super social and the host really friendly and accommodating. A special perk of this hostel is its unique location by the river.
There is a cosy common room and you can join breakfast, lunch & dinner for a fee. Vegan & vegetarian options are available. Or you can cook for yourself in the kitchen or visit a nearby restaurant.
Location: 30 minute drive to Nikko Station (free shuttle)
Perks: river view, no curfew, free Wi-Fi
The location here is excellent as it’s right in the city centre and only 1.3 miles to Nikko Toshogu Shrine. On warmer days, you can enjoy the gardens.
All rooms are held in the typical Japanese style with tatami mats and futon beds. They are relatively small but have air conditioning and free Wi-Fi. Bathrooms and toilets are shared. Everything is really clean, so that’s no problem at all.
Location: 5 minute walk to train stations and supermarket
Perks: kitchenette, air conditioning, free bike hire
Fancy staying right within the arms of nature and next to Lake Chuzenji? Try the 4-star hotel Shikisai. Here, you can enjoy big comfortable rooms with traditional tatmi mats and futon beds.
Ryuzu Waterfall is just a little up the hill and a 7 minute walk away. Kegon Falls and Chuzenji Temple are pretty close as well. To Onsen-Ji Temple it’s only 5 miles. So you see, this is the ideal location for starting on your hikes!
After a long day outside, you can take advantage of the two public hot-spring baths, indoor and outdoor. Breakfast and (traditional multi-course) dinner are included and served at the dining room or at the restaurant.
Location: 35-minute drive to Nikko Station (shuttle once per day)
Perks: free parking & Wi-Fi, traditional Japanese rooms
Travel Tips for Your Nikko Stay
How to Get to Nikko
It’s easy to drive up to Nikko from Toyko. It takes a little over 2 hours and you basically just take the road 東北自動車道 straight North.
Getting to Nikko by bus is an adventure as you’d have to piece together multiple local lines. The easiest way is to use the Keikyu Limousine from Haneda Airport from Terminal 2F.
It will drop you off at either Tobu World Square Railway Station, Tobu-Nikko Railway Station or Shimo-Imaichi Railway Station. The ride costs ¥3,300.
Check timetables and fares online. If you have the Railpass, you can head to Tokyo Station. From there, get on the Nikko Line at Utsunomiya Station. Get off at Nikko Station.
If you take the faster option with the Tohoku Shinkansen to Utsunomiya Station instead of the Utsunomiya Line, the trip takes a little over 2 hours and costs 5780 yen. With more local trains, it’s 30 minutes longer and costs only 2700 yen.
Alternatively, you can take one of the Tobu Nikko Line trains from Asakusa station in Tokyo to Tobu Nikko Station. This is slightly faster and costs either 2700 or 1360 yen, depending on whether you jump on the express or regular Nikko Line train.
Direct trains from Shinjuku station to Tobu Nikko Station cost 2060 yen (express train) and 1940 yen (regular train) respectively.
Travelling around Nikko
It’s totally possible to walk around Nikko. But if you’re here only on a short trip or really don’t want to go hiking all that much, there are different bus passes to choose from. There are three bus lines touring around Nikko and you can use them freely within the zone you bought.
For example, you can get the “World Heritage Pass” (Sekai Isan Meguri Tegata). It’s only 500 yen (4.48 USD/4.02 EUR). The line connects JR Nikko Station, Tobu Nikko Station, Nishisando and Rengeishi, which allows you to visit the main sites.
Then, there are two-day passes, which I personally recommend. Choose between the “Senjogahara Free Pass” (2650 yen) and the “Chuzenji Onsen Free Pass” (2000 yen). They can be bought from the JR train station or tourist information.
What to Pack for Nikko
You need proper shoes for walking around the UNESCO sites. There are steps involved and on rainy days, it can get somewhat muddy. Especially if you want to go hiking, solid hiking shoes are the way to go.
In the latter case, bring a big water bottle and some snacks with you as you’ll be walking through nature and there aren’t many guest houses along the way.
Nikko is prime onsen territory! So whatever you do, don’t forget to bring a towel. You’ll be naked in onsen, so no need to bring swimwear. If you have tattoos, those need to be covered with waterproof plasters or body makeup.
For your hotel stay, don’t forget to bring your adapter. You can order a Japanese sim card online so you can stay connected on the go. It’s not that easy to get it from local shops, actually and at the airport there are long queues. Who has time for that? You can order one here.
As always, you cannot forget travel insurance. (I cannot stress this enough as stuff goes wrong on travels all the time. And this way your health is covered and potentially even your luggage, depending on the terms.)
Are you already in Japan? No worries, the travel insurance by World Nomads actually allows you to take out travel insurance when you’re already on the road. Check rates here.
Is an Overnight Stay in Nikko Worth It?
Absolutely! Nikko has so much to offer and there are tons of traditional Nikko onsen at Ryokans and authentically Japanese accommodation in Nikko, Japan. It’s like a perfect little Japan trip up North of Tokyo. And it’s great in any season.
More from the Japan blog: