The third largest city of Japan might not be as colourful or well known but it certainly is worth a visit on a trip around Honshu in Japan. Whether you are coming to see cherry blossoms or want to dive into local history, here are the best things to do in Nagoya to get you started on your upcoming trip.
**** 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. ****
When thinking of Nagoya attractions, Nagoya Castle (Meijō) might come to mind first and foremost. After all, it’s an iconic sight and beautiful to behold, surrounded by a moat and lined by cherry trees. During Japan’s sakura season, it’s particularly stunning and there are spring festivals held here too.
It was built during the Edo period and its origins date back to 1532. A little later, many parts were destroyed by the new owner and the entire castle was rebuilt in 1609.
Nowadays, it is preserved as a museum and you can admire a stunning golden room within. Entrance is 500 yen for adults. It’s open year round except between December 29 and January 1.
To learn more about the castle history, take advantage of the free guided tours in English. They leave daily at 1pm from the Main Gate and the East Gate of Nagoya Castle. You can also book a private tour at least a week in advance. Check out these other castles in Japan, too.
Address: 1-1 Honmaru, Naka Ward, Nagoya, Aichi 460-0031, Japan
The SCMAGLEV and Railway Park is one of the most unique things to see in Nagoya. The museum has 39 retired train cars on display, everything from world record setting bullet trains to old school steam locomotives.
They even have a brand new magnetic levitating train. More than that, Nagoya’s Railway Museum has a host of exhibits to teach visitors all about the different parts of trains, how they work and how to maintain them.
For something a little different, check out the driving simulators for different types of trains to see what it feels like to be behind the controls of some of the most exciting and powerful modes of transportation in history.
If you’ve ever wanted to learn anything about trains, this museum is a must see when you visit Nagoya.
Address: 3 Chome-2-2 Kinjofuto, Minato Ward, Nagoya, Aichi 455-0848, Japan
Located just outside of Nagoya, Nagashima Resort offers a ton of different activities and will not leave you searching long for what to do in Nagoya, Japan.
The resort is made up of an amusement park, a hot spring complex, a water park, a flower park and an outlet shopping mall. You can stay here for a few days or visit for a day trip from Nagoya.
Address: 333 Nagashimacho Urayasu, Kuwana, Mie 511-1192, Japan
Nagashima Spaland is the amusement park and main attraction of the Nagashima Resort. The park has over 40 rides and is said to have the best roller coasters in Japan’s West.
The park has something for everyone, from small children to the biggest adventure seekers and is great fun solo or when visiting with others.
The waterpark, named Joyful Waterpark, is also located on the Nagashima Spaland grounds. It has tons of slides, pools and even a wave pool.
Be aware that it’s only open in the summer. But when you do visit during that time, it’s the perfect place to cool off during those hot Nagoya summer days.
Nagashima Spa Yuami no Shima
The hot spring complex in the resort is a great place to kick back and relax when you travel Nagoya. The complex offers both indoor and outdoor baths and is surrounded by dense, albeit man-made nature.
The baths are separated by gender, but both sides offer saunas, massages, jacuzzis, restaurants, and more for you to fully relax.
An onsen experience might be a bit unfamiliar at first but it’s one of the best experiences while in Japan. The hot thermal spring water will really soothe your muscles and is said to have healing qualities too.
Address: 333 Nagashimacho Urayasu, Kuwana, Mie 511-1135, Japan
Mitsui Outlet Park Jazz Dream Nagashima
This outlet mall sits right next to the resort. With over 300 stores, this is one of the best places to visit in Nagoya to buy absolutely anything and everything you could possibly need, both for your trip and afterwards.
The Nagoya mall features both foreign and domestic shops, so you can get the best of all kinds of Japanese souvenirs, as well as some comforts from your own home country.
Address: Japan, 〒511-1135 Mie, Kuwana, 浦安３６８ 三井アウトレットパーク ジャズドリーム長島 2F-5300
Nabana no Sato Flower Park
In the spring, this flower park hosts one of the largest flower festivals in Japan. Grab your bento box and have a little picnic here or feast on the foodie treats in the park.
Your admission ticket also includes a gift voucher that you can use on food and souvenirs within the park. There are a few shops and restaurants located within.
Regardless of the season, it is well worth a visit all year round. In the winter, the park lights up with Winter Illuminations, an intricate light festival. It is one of the most beautiful Nagoya, Japan attractions.
If you want to get your ticket already but don’t know for what date yet, reserve an open date ticket online.
Address: 駒江漆畑-270 長島町 Kuwana, Mie 511-1144, Japan
If you are a big Lego fan, you must add Legoland to your list of Nagoya places to visit. It’s not just for kids!
The amusement park is separated into 7 differently themed areas. These include Miniland Japan, Bricktopia, Pirate Shores, Knight’s Kingdom and more. The entrance fee is 5000-6900 yen for adults and 3700-4500 for children, depending on the season.
Address: Kinjoufutou, LEGOLAND Japan Limited, 2 Chome-2-1, Minato Ward, Nagoya, Aichi 455-8605, Japan
Standing at 247 meters, Midland Square is the tallest building in Nagoya. On the top 3 floors of the building, visitors can check out the Sky Promenade, an open-air observation deck that offers 360 degree views of the city. Admission is 750 yen.
The official name of the skyscraper is Toyota-Mainichi building. It’s open all year round and you can also reserve a seat at a restaurant here or go shopping.
You can easily reach it via the pedestrian network, which means you don’t need to brave the Osaka traffic on foot to get there when sightseeing Nagoya.
Address: 4 Chome-7-１ Meieki, Nakamura Ward, Nagoya, Aichi 450-0002, Japan
Osu Kannon Temple
Osu Kannon is a Buddhist temple in the center of Nagoya. When wondering what to see in Nagoya, this should be at the top of your list. It’s extremely beautiful and wasn’t crowded at all during my last visit.
The temple was built between 1192 and 1333 in the neighboring Gifu Prefecture, but was moved to its current location due to serious flooding in 1612.
Osu Kannon in Nagoya is dedicated to Kannon, the goddess of mercy. Visit the temple between the 18th-28th of any month to check out the bustling flea market held on the temple grounds. Even if you don’t want to buy anything, the atmosphere is well worth soaking in.
Address: 2 Chome-21-４７ Osu, Naka Ward, Nagoya, Aichi 460-0011, Japan
Sakae is Nagoya’s downtown district. It offers some of the best dining and shopping opportunities in the city. And you will want to try food in Nagoya.(Note: it’s perfect if you’re into the taste of miso.)
When exploring the area, don’t miss out on the Nagoya TV Tower and Oasis 21, a futuristic shopping complex. As soon as you get hungry, stop for a delicious bite at any of countless mouth-watering restaurants scattered around the district. Maybe set yourself a budget limit so you don’t buy everything you see because you might give in to temptation.
Address: Naka-ku, Nagoya, Präfektur Aichi 460-0008, Japan
Nagoya City Science Museum
The science museum is one of the best places to visit in Nagoya for any science loving or curious traveller. The museum features one of the world’s largest planetariums.
Also, they hold monthly programs that discuss current astronomical phenomenon, so be sure to check out the schedule when you arrive in town.
The museum is seven stories high and is guaranteed to keep you busy and satisfy your questions about the mysteries of our planet and solar system.
Address: Japan, 〒460-0008 Aichi, Nagoya, Naka Ward, Sakae, 2 Chome−17−1 芸術と科学の杜・白川公園内
One of Nagoya, Japan’s greatest points of interest is the Atsuta Shrine (Atsuta-jingū). This important shrine is dedicated to the Sun Goddess Amaterasu. If you’ve never been to a Japanese shrine before, take heed of the typical shrine and temple etiquette.
After visiting the shrine, be sure to try the kishimen noodles, one of Nagoya’s best local specialties prepared at the restaurant right on the temple grounds.
Address: 1 Chome-1-1 Jingu, Atsuta Ward, Nagoya, Aichi 456-8585, Japan
Nagoya isn’t close to the ocean but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn about sea animals. The Nagoya Public Aquarium is the place for this. See killer whales, beluga whales, penguins and lots of other marine animals, many of which you can see closer during feeding time.
You might even be able to touch a dolphin after the dolphin show. Definitely a special attraction in Nagoya!
There’s an option to combine your access to the aquarium with a visit to the Observation Deck, the Maritime Museum and the South Pole research vessel ‘Fuji’. You can get your tickets online here to skip queues.
Address: 1-３ Minatomachi, Minato Ward, Nagoya, Aichi 455-0033, Japan
With its height of 180, you can spot it from afar. The TV Tower is an iconic landmark in Nagoya. Even though it is currently closed until summer 2020, it still deserves your attention.
Once it is open again, the entrance fee is at 700 yen and allows you an unobstructed view all the way to the mountains, such as Mt. Ontake and Mt. Hakusan. There are two viewing platforms, the 90metre high Sky Deck and 100metre high Sky Balcony.
Address: 3 Chome-6-１５先 Nishiki, Naka Ward, Nagoya, Aichi 460-0003, Japan
Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology
Did you know that the birthplace of Toyota was in the building of the Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology? In the early 20th century, the foundation for Toyota’s innovations and products was laid.
In the museum, you can learn all about its original production (textiles) and its switch to automobiles. There are live machine demonstrations and dynamic displays. If you’re still curious for more, check out the onsite library.
Address: 4-1-35 Noritake Shin-machi, Nishi-ku, Nagoya
Tokugawa Art Museum
Art lovers will find a great source of enjoyment during their Nagoya sightseeing as well. It not only will introduce you to Japanese traditional art but also history as well. After all, the museum was founded by one of the three main families from the Owari-Tokugawa line of Tokugawa.
Tokugawa Ieyasu was the founder of the Tokugawa shogunate and part of the three unifiers of Japan. The valuable art pieces collected by his family resulted in one of the first public art museums in Japan.
There are permanent and temporary exhibitions. The former include information on tea culture, no theatre masks, varnish art as well as the royal treasures.
Higashiyama Zoo and Botanical Gardens
To combine a visit to both a zoo, amusement park and garden space, try the Higashiyama zoo in Nagoya. Check out the event calendar to time your visit better. This way you could attend the spring or autumn festival as well as the night zoo event.
The zoo is home to about 500 animal species, including elephants, koalas, giraffes and killifish. When it comes to plants, Higashiyama boasts 7000 species and also has its own greenhouse.
Entrance costs 500 yen and it’s open year round except on Mondays and between December 29 and January 1.
Address: Japan, 〒464-0804 Aichi, Nagoya, Chikusa Ward, Higashiyama Motomachi, 3 Chome−７０
Nagoya Noh Theatre
One of the most intriguing cultural experiences in Nagoya that I experienced was a visit to the Noh Theatre. It’s opposite the castle of Nagoya and if you’re lucky you can attend a free theatre practice like I did. On 4-5 days a month the theatre space is open to the public.
Noh is classical Japanese musical drama and very different from what you expect as a Western musical goer. It is a very different experience and should be embraced as such. To understand it better, you can rent a free audio guide.
From outside, the theatre gives the traditional appearance but within everything is super modern. The origin of Noh theatre was in Ninomaru Palace of Nagoya Castle, where there were two stages. You can see a reconstruction of such an original stage in the Tokugawa Art Museum.
Address: 1 Chome-1-１番１号 Sannomaru, Naka Ward, Nagoya, Aichi 460-0001, Japan
From Osu Kannon Temple, you will see one entrance of Ōsu, Nagoya’s shopping area. You can find all kinds of souvenirs, traditional shops, fashion and cosplay shops as well as restaurants and pop up bars in here. It’s quite the must see in Nagoya and god for people watching too.
Fancy trying Japanese craft beer? You can get that here. Wanna try a typical Nagoya dish with miso paste? You’ll find enough places to serve you here, too.
Address: Ōsu, Naka-ku, Nagoya, Präfektur Aichi 460-0011
More from the Japan blog