There are many things to do in Nagoya, but surprisingly, the city is often overlooked by people visiting Japan. Nagoya connects the major cities like Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka and others through its excellent transport system. The chic skyscrapers, fantastic food and plenty of places of interest in Nagoya make it alluring. Plus it is cheap. In this complete Nagoya travel guide, I have mentioned all on what to see in Nagoya. Is Nagoya worth visiting? Read to find out!
Top Things To Do in Nagoya
1. Nagoya Castle
There are plenty of exciting things to do in Nagoya, but let’s start with the top ones. Among the top Nagoya attractions are the city castle. Initially built in the 16th century, the Castle has been rebuilt after WWII and is one of the top Japanese attractions and landmarks. It is known for its tall tower, which now houses a museum. From the top floor, you can see some stunning views of Nagoya City and the Nobi Plain. It is one of the best things to do in Nagoya in winter as you can witness snow-covered castle, which looks impressive.
Castle timings: 9 AM to 4:30 PM
Castle entry fees: 500 Yen
2. Atsuta Shrine
One of the important landmarks in Japan, The Atsuta Shrine is among the best places to visit in Nagoya. Built about 1900 years ago, it is a famous Shinto shrine in Japan. It is known for Kusanagi-no-Tsurugiwas or the ‘Grass moving sword,’ an imperial sword, one of the only three in the country found now. More than 10 million visitors come here during their Nagoya travel, and it’s one of the top things to do in Nagoya in spring. So plan your visit accordingly.
Atsuta Shrine timings: 24 hours
Atsuta Shrine entry fees: Free
3. Higashiyama Zoo and Botanical Gardens
One of the top tourist spots in Nagoya, Higashiyama Zoo and Botanical Gardens is also one of the fun things to do in Nagoya with kids. The place is a zoo, a botanical garden and an amusement park all rolled into one. The botanical garden is the typical Japanese garden with greenery all around. Don’t forget to visit the 100-meter-tall Higashiyama Sky Tower for some beautiful views of the city.
Timings: 9 AM to 4:30 PM
4. Nagoya Port
When you visit Nagoya, don’t miss exploring its port, one of the busiest harbours in Japan. There is a Public Aquarium, a popular addition to Nagoya sightseeing if you are traveling with kids. You can spend time at the promenade, and a small amusement park nearby.
5. Nagoya TV Tower and Hisaya Ōdori Park
If you are looking for some great views of the city, check out the TV Tower. This 100-meter tower isn’t comparable to other towers in Japan, but you still get to see lovely pictures from two observation decks. Also nearby is Hisaya Odori Park, a favorite place for the locals for events and festivals.
TV Tower timings: 10 AM to 10 PM
TV Tower entry fees: 700 Yen
6. The Temples of Osu
Osu district is one of top Nagoya things to do, thanks to the serene shrines. One of the most important is the 14th-century Buddhist temple of Ōsu Kannon. Don’t miss to check out the famous red lantern in the main hall, around which you’ll see the locals offering their prayers.
The other temples in the area are Bansho-Ji and Hogan-Ji Betsuin. Also, if you want to do some Nagoya shopping, Osu is incredible. You’ll find shops selling traditional handicrafts in the old streets in Osu, which is the best place if you are looking for typical souvenirs.
7. Tokugawa Art Museum & City Art Museum
One of the excellent places in Nagoya is the Tokugawa Art Museum, dedicated to the Tokugawa family, known for their wealth. You can find the collections belonging to the family, including paintings, porcelain and weapons. The main attraction in this museum is Genji-Monogatari-emaki, a 43-page hand made picture scroll depicting the life of a priest.
Close to it is the City Art Museum, one of the many tourist points of interest in Nagoya, which includes works of global artists. There are also temporary exhibits.
Tokugawa Art Museum timings: 10 AM to 5 PM
8. Toyota Automobile Museums
Japan’s most famous company, Toyota, is based in Nagoya. If you are wondering what to do in Nagoya that is interesting, then head to Toyota Automobile Museums including The Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology. There are many museums, and one of them showcases the latest Toyota products, including robots, next-gen cars and engines. If machines entice you, you’ll love spending your time here.
9. SCMaglev and Railway Park
It should probably one of the top fun things to do in Nagoya and one of the coolest museums ever. How does a museum dedicate to bullet trains sound? In the railway park is an impressive museum belonging to the Central Japanese Railway Company. Shinkansen museum Nagoya consists of more than 40 train models including the modern version of bullet trains. Try the fun simulator and also have a look at the interiors by hopping onto these model trains.
The SCMaglev is probably the most exciting part of all, as you can see how Maglev trains work.
10. Noritake Garden
Noritake Garden is a part of the ceramics factory next to it and is one of the fun things to do in the city. Shops are selling different ceramic products like porcelain. Take a stroll around the well-maintained garden after checking out the exhibits at the craft centre and the museum.
Noritake Garden timings: 10 AM to 6 PM
11. Nagoya Science Museum
How about visiting the second largest planetarium in the world? If that sounds interesting, head to the Science Museum for learning more about science and modern technologies. It is one of the best places in Japan worth visiting, especially if you are traveling with kids.
Timings: 9:30 AM to 5 PM
12. Legoland Japan
Among the fun things to do in Nagoya is visiting Legoland. Who said it was just for kids? You’ll love this theme park with its miniature structures amazingly built. It attractions over a million visitors every year, and is only becoming more popular.
13. Nittaiji Temple
Nittaiji is a unique Buddhist temple dedicated to mark the harmonious relationship between Japan and Thailand countries. Worth visiting to see the traditional items of both the countries that are displayed.
14. Sakae Shopping District
The best place for Nagoya shopping is Sakae, the main shopping area in the district. Mostly famous for cheap clothing, but you can also explore other Japanese products in the many malls around.
15. Shirotori Garden
Visit Shirotori, a famous Japanese landscape garden to escape the skyscrapers for a relaxed evening amidst lush greenery, streams and well-decorated paths.
Shirotori Garden timings: 9 AM to 5 PM
16. Tennogawa Park
Another tourist spot in the city is Tennogawa Park, known for all of its multi-seasonal flowers. It is one of the best things to do in Nagoya in spring, thanks to the hundreds of Sakura trees which blossom and transform the place into a mini-paradise.
17. JR Station Central Towers
There are no specific things to do in Nagoya station, but you’ll probably arrive at the city here, and it’s worth looking around the station for its modern architectural splendour. Don’t miss checking out the two towers house shopping areas, offices, cafes and some excellent restaurants. There is also the famous Takashimaya store in the station.
18. Summer Night Festival
One of the cool things to do in Nagoya at night if you are traveling in the city during summer would be to witness the summer night festival which happens in The Nagoya Castle. Lanterns adorn the gardens, which looks magical. Shops are set up in the garden, where you can try some delicious food and beer along with buying Japanese handicrafts.
19. Watch the Sumo Tournament
If you visit Nagoya in July, then you can watch the annual Sumo Tournament where the best of Japan Sumo wrestlers battle out to win the prestigious title. The tickets are not very expensive, so it shouldn’t affect your budget.
You can buy the tickets online or from any of the department stores like 7-Eleven or Family Mart. Make sure to grab your tickets at the earliest as they sell out quickly.
20. Enjoy Nagoya Matsuri
One of the famous festivals in Japan is Matsuri, which happens in all cities annually at different times. It is the time when the cities come together for a day of carnival and celebrations through prayers, dance and music.
If you travel to Nagoya in October, don’t miss this festival happening at Hisaya Odori Park, the centre of the festivities from where the procession begins.
Whether you are a foodie or not, one of the must do things in Nagoya should be exploring the local cuisine. The city is famous for a miso cuisine called Red Miso Katsu. Also, try Udon noodles called Kishimen and Tenmusu, tempura stuffed with rice and wrapped in seaweed.
Places near Nagoya
If you have more time in the city, you can check out these places on your trip to Nagoya. You can also explore these as day trips from Nagoya depending on how much time you want to spend.
One of the places in Japan popular exclusively for fall colours is Korankei. Thanks to a priest who started the tradition of planting Maple trees around shrines centuries ago, Korankei transforms into a colourful spectacle in fall, drawing thousands of Japan tourists.
It should be one of the must things to do in Nagoya in October/November. Walk along the Tomoe river to absorb the beauty of nature and the vibrant autumn colours.
Meiji Village Museum
Located in Inuyama district about 25 km from Nagoya downtown, the Meiji-mura Village is an open-air Museum dedicated to Meiji period. Over 20 buildings depict the life during this period consisting of public office buildings, homes and hotels. There is also the Little World Museum of Man, an enjoyable point of interest where you can wear different traditional attires from different parts.
Another attraction in Inuyama is Inuyama Castle, a 15th-century monument on a hill known for its stairways and tower, from where you can get beautiful views of the Japan countryside.
Takayama itself is a great town to explore and needs at least two days, but you can squeeze this in as a day trip from Nagoya. Blessed with nature, Takayama is known for its ancient streets and walking trails. Check this guide for Takayama things to do.
A mountain town surrounded by gorgeous landscapes known for heritage ancient houses, it is one of the famous landmarks in Japan. Read this post on how to plan your Shirakawa day trip.
What is the best time to visit Nagoya?
The best time to visit Nagoya is in the spring between March and May and autumn between late August to November. Spring is the most popular time to visit Japan totally for the Cherry blossoms. So it goes without saying that Sakura blossoms in the city would be best to enjoy if you travel during these months. The landscape looks spectacular with the fall colours, and you can have a fantastic time with things to do in September/October.
Where is Nagoya in Japan?
Nagoya is located in central Honshu close to the Pacific coast in Japan. It is the largest city of the Chubu region and the capital of Aichi Prefecture. It is about 4 to 5 hours away from Tokyo.
How to reach Nagoya?
Trains – The best way to reach Nagoya is by trains. The city is the central hub connecting all the major cities of Japan through networks of various railway companies. There are different trains in all budgets from the most expensive, including Tokaido Shinkansen(Bullet trains), Limited express, Rapid express and to the local budget trains. You can travel from Tokyo to Nagoya, Osaka to Nagoya and Kyoto to Nagoya by any of these trains. JR rail passes also work on select trains.
Buses – You can reach Nagoya from any of the cities by Highway buses that takes about 6 hours. There are many operators in different price ranges, and tickets can be booked online as well.
Flights – The nearest airport to Nagoya is Central Japan International Airport located outside the city. It’s the fourth largest airport in Japan offering international flights from various cities to Nagoya.
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