17 Best Things to Do in Shinjuku with My Perfect Itinerary

Things to Do in Shinjuku Guide

There are many best things to do in Shinjuku, Tokyo, for every traveller. Let me list them for you below.

Shinjuku is big, bright, and busy—a must-include destination for tourists crafting their itinerary due to its striking features.

This famous place has everything you need, including shopping centres, beautiful parks, bars, unique buildings and more! Clearly, it should be at the top of your Tokyo itinerary!

Without further delay, let me start introducing 17 must-see and must-do things when you visit Shinjuku. Also, I’ll guide you through the best routes to explore this area. 😊

1. Explore the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden

The gorgeous sights surrounding Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden
The gorgeous sights surrounding Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden – Photo by: Sean Pavone © 123RF.com

Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden is a breath-taking natural park filled with impressive landscapes and it should be on your list of to-do activities.

You’ll be attracted to its colourful gardens that feature Japanese, English, and French designs.

With its thousands of beautiful trees and flowers, the park offers a lot of great backdrops for photography.

Scenic walking path in Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden

You can simply walk around the gardens and enjoy the views.

And you will love the garden scenery even more because it changes every season. Therefore, you can visit the park all year round.

2. Spend a Night Out at Kabukicho

Exciting things to do in Shinjuku's Kabukicho nightlife district
The vibrant vibes of Kabukicho

No list of the top things to do in Shinjuku at night would be complete without a visit to Kabukicho.

Go around the largest red-light district in Japan, which is often tagged as the liveliest downtown in the world.

As the most popular entertainment district, be sure to take some memorable photos, especially at the famous red Kabukicho gate.

Bustling Kabukicho street scene, showcasing the lively atmosphere of Shinjuku's entertainment district
A busy night along the streets

If you’re looking for the best place to stroll around Shinjuku, especially during night-time, this is definitely a top choice.

Here, you’ll find a lot of love hotels, nightclubs, restaurants, and shops that are open the entire night.

Simply walk around the bright streets and capture some photos.


  • The most recommended time to explore around Kabukicho is after dark, when all the streets and buildings are lit up.
  • Some locals might entice you into nightclubs and bars. Politely decline, as many have high prices and hidden charges.

3. Take a Peek at the Godzilla Head

Impressive Godzilla Head sculpture in Shinjuku
The eye-catching Godzilla Head

Things you must do on your Shinjuku trip definitely require a stop to see the iconic Godzilla Head.

This attraction can be found at Kabukicho Street, located atop the 8th floor lobby of Hotel Gracery Shinjuku.

Head to the iconic landmark and take a selfie together with this famous character. Or you can just watch and listen to this huge Godzilla that roars for 30 seconds.

And if you visit the site from 12 PM to 8 PM, you’ll catch the amazing laser lights and smoke that come from the Godzilla.

Roar Times:
12:00 PM, 1:00 PM, 2:00 PM, 3:00 PM, 4:00 PM, 5:00 PM, 6:00 PM, 7:00 PM and 8:00 PM.

4. Join the Evening Bar and Izakaya Tour in Shinjuku

Cozy bars in Golden Gai
Savor Tokyo’s nightlife with an Evening Bar Tour in vibrant Shinjuku!


Come and join the Shinjuku local evening bar-hopping tour! This tour gives you a peek into how locals enjoy their drinks.

You’ll get to go to small, hidden bars that only locals visit. This makes your night feel special and real.

The whole tour takes three hours. In these hours, you’ll hop from one bar to another, trying different drinks and snacks that Japanese people love.

It’s a night of fun and learning! You’ll also meet other travellers and make new friends as you enjoy Tokyo’s nightlife.

5. Try the Ichiran Shinjuku

Ichiran Ramen Shinjuku's mouthwatering noodles, tender pork, and fresh green onions
The must-try Ichiran Shinjuku

Ichiran Shinjuku is undeniably a favourite ramen place among locals and travellers.

This ranks high among the things to eat in Shinjuku due to its popularity in Japan.

Savor their one and only Tonkotsu ramen that comes with rich, milky pork-based broth. The soup is combined with smooth-thin noodles, sliced pork, spicy red sauce, and green onions.

A ramen set meal costs 1,620 yen and 980 yen if you opt for ramen only without side dishes.

6. Head to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building with twin towers against the skyline in Shinjuku
See the cityscape from the free observation deck

When you explore Shinjuku, don’t miss the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building Observation Deck.

This impressive two-tower building offers a remarkable observation deck with a height of 202 meters.

To see the impressive city views, go to the 45th floor of both North and South Towers. And don’t worry because you can access the building at no extra charge.

Scenic view from Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building observation deck
Bird’s eye view from atop


If you visit the site in daylight, you can capture Shinjuku’s stunning 360-degree view, highlighting its iconic skyscrapers, busy streets, and vibrant atmosphere.

Try to also spot the Tokyo Skytree, together with other Tokyo landmarks like Tokyo Tower and Mount Fuji.

Mount Fuji is a very popular tourist attraction in Japan for its breathtaking scenery. Here, you have a lot of things to explore and many photo opportunities. Find out more details in my day trip to Mount Fuji from Tokyo post.


Another option is to come during nighttime and catch the incredible night landscape. At this time, the entire Tokyo city transforms into an illuminated landscape filled with dancing lights and colours.

However, if you want to see more magical night views, head to the North Observatory.

7. Pay Your Respects at the Hanazono Shrine

Beautiful Hanazono Shrine with traditional architecture
Hanazono Shrine and its cultural significance

One of the best things to do in Shinjuku is to take a break and drop by Hanazono Shrine. This peaceful, hidden gem is just situated within the bustling city centre.

This is a favourite temple among businessmen and merchants who pray for successful business dealings.

So while touring around, say your prayers, and don’t forget to take a picture of this beautiful religious setting.

8. Go Shopping at Don Quijote Shinjuku

Don Quijote department store exterior in Shinjuku
An impressive display of items at Don Quijote

A trip to Shinjuku isn’t truly finished until you visit Don Quijote.

This is a very popular discount chain mall in Japan, with more than 160 branches all over the country.

So, make sure not to miss this staple place, as it is popular among tourists wanting an affordable shopping experience.

Explore this massive mall that comes with 5 floors. Not only that but this mall is open 24 hours a day and even has a tax-free counter!

Japanese instant cup noodles and snacks in Don Quijote store
A tasty assortment of goodies

Navigate through the sections and you’ll find plenty of Japanese instant cup noodles and beverage options available to you.

There are Asahi beer cans, canned juice drinks, fruit juices, and soft drinks on display.

Japanese snacks can also be found inside the mall. Try some Calbee Potato Sticks, Umaibo Cylinder Snack, Crispy Green Wasabi Pistachio, and more!

And if you’re looking for different Japanese souvenirs, this shopping centre got you covered.

My Suggestions:

For fashion trend seekers, I highly suggest that you read my articles on the best things to do in Shibuya. This is another top shopping destination that is very near Shinjuku.

You’ll surely love this place because of its abundant collection of the latest fashion pieces.

In addition, it offers countless delicious food choices, making your trip more exciting.

9. Experience the Uniqueness of Omoide Yokocho

The lively atmosphere of Omoide Yokocho
Be like a local at Omoide Yokocho

If you’re visiting Shinjuku for the first time and are searching for activities to do at night, then Omoide Yokocho (Memory Lane) is an essential stop.

This spot offers an authentic Japanese atmosphere, serving as a delightful contrast to Shinjuku’s modern vibe, immersing you in a unique experience.

An alley filled with bustling street food stalls and lantern-lit ambiance in Omoide Yokocho

As you walk through the narrow streets, you’ll see neon signs and old buildings. This stroll will also offer you a glimpse into Tokyo’s post-war history and local life.

Engage your taste buds with an array of local cuisines available at the tiny eateries and food stalls lining the area.

You will come across a lot of barbecue stalls selling tasty yakitori.

Take a bite of these grilled chicken skewers and pair them with some cheap drinks.

10. Relish the Sushi in Shinjuku

Delicious sushi at Sushi Zanmai Shinjuku Higashiguchi
The famous Sushi Zanmai Shinjuku Higashiguchi

When it comes to the best and most delicious sushi in this vibrant district, Sushi Zanmai Shinjuku Higashiguchi is undeniably top-notch.

This well-known restaurant offers an amazing selection of sushi at a cheaper price.

Check out their impressive sushi assortment that ranges from non-cooked to cooked dishes. Their huge variation of sushi choices is perfect for all types of sushi lovers.

And good thing because their menu is written in English so you’ll have a smooth ordering process.

Plus, the staff here can understand and converse in English, making it more convenient!

11. Visit Shinjuku Golden Gai

Shinjuku Golden Gai, a maze of vibrant alleys packed with eclectic bars
The calming atmosphere at Shinjuku Golden Gai

Shinjuku Golden Gai (Golden Street) is a best way to experience traditional nightlife in Tokyo.

This attraction consists of six narrow alleys that shelter more than 200 bars in total.

Do take note that this isn’t a cheap drink place and their customers are generally well-off locals. That’s why it’s not highly recommended to dine here.

Also, most of the bars will be open around 7 PM only. Hence, the area is very silent during the daytime until early evening.

But if you’re looking for an area with picturesque sights and relaxing vibes, this is a great option.

Almost all the bars here are very small, with one bar accommodating about five people only.

12. Pop by Matsumoto Kiyoshi

Matsumoto Kiyoshi drugstore exterior and cosmetic products
The abundant beauty products of Matsumoto Kiyoshi

For a top-notch shopping experience in Shinjuku, especially for makeup and skincare items, Matsumoto Kiyoshi is the place to be.

This one-stop-shop is known for its cosmetic products and local beauty items.

Go around and find different brands of foundation, blush on, lipsticks, eyeliners, eye shadow, mascara, and such!

Nail polish display in Matsumoto Kiyoshi

This shop also offers plenty of cute nail polish and skincare products like cleansers, toners, moisturizers, and face masks.

And of course, don’t forget to add to your cart some of famous Japanese sunscreens including ANESSA, Biore, and NIVEA.

13. Enjoy a Feast at Torikizoku

Delicious grilled chicken skewers at Torikizoku
Delectable food choices offered by Torikizoku

Torikizoku is the place to visit for tasty yet affordable skewers and drinks.

This restaurant is well-known for its deliciously grilled chicken skewers or also called Yakitori.

So, make sure to include this in your Shinjuku itinerary because it’s definitely worth it.

Meatball with cheese and green soybeans dish at Torikizoku

Choose from their extensive menu, featuring fried prawns, grilled chicken, and meatball with cheese. And of course, try some Kizokuyaki (thigh meat) and Yakitori (chicken skewers).

Also on the best-seller list are the grilled steak skewers and chicken skin skewers.

You can add some side dishes like fried cartilage and green soybeans, if you like. Surely, all their flavourful grilled dishes are perfect for late-night cravings.

14. Check out BICQLO Shinjuku

BICQLO Shinjuku store front
The unique shopping concept of BICQLO Shinjuku

In case you do not know, BICQLO Shinjuku is actually a fusion between two popular stores in Tokyo―Bic Camera and Uniqlo.

Bic Camera is a well-known retailer of home electronics while Uniqlo is a famous fashion brand. With such collaboration, this store is quite unique among other malls in Shinjuku.

While inside the shop, look into their range of beauty appliances, cameras, and computers.

A variety of fashionable clothing options in BICQLO Shinjuku

You’ll also discover a wide range of trendy fashion clothes and accessories.

Start from floors 1 to 3 for all your Uniqlo needs.

And for some camera equipment and other stuff, go to the remaining floors, which are designated to Bic Camera.

15. Devour some Tendon Tenya

Crispy Tendon Tenya dish with golden tempura shrimp and vegetables over steamed rice
Mouthwatering platter of Tendon Tenya

If you’re craving tasty and affordable tendon dishes in Shinjuku, look no further than Tendon Tenya.

Go through their menu that caters to different types of hungry eaters. You can opt for their excellent tendon, special tendon, prawn & chicken tendon, or vegetable tendon.

But if you want the best of the best, make sure not to miss their best-seller―the special tendon. This one comes with prawn, squid, pumpkin, and okra. And surprisingly, this satisfying meal only costs 890 yen.

16. Stop by Niboshi Ramen Nagi

Delicious Niboshi Ramen Nagi bowl, featuring rich broth, tender noodles, and fresh toppings
The appetizing Niboshi Ramen Nagi

Another popular ramen spot located within Shinjuku is none other than Niboshi Ramen Nagi. Check out their best ramen options below.

  • Normal Ramen: Enjoy this delicious ramen topped with boiled egg and roast pork for only 980 yen.
  • Ramen All Topping: If you want an upgraded ramen with lots of add-ons, try this ramen priced at 1,300 yen. This comes with seaweed, 4 pieces of roast pork, green onion, and boiled egg.
  • Super Gold Ramen: Another pick is this ramen filled with seaweed, green onions, 2 pieces of roast pork, big pork brisket, and boiled egg. You can enjoy this for just 1,600 yen.

17. Satisfy your Cravings at Isetan

Elegant exterior of Isetan department store in Shinjuku
The impressive food choices available at Isetan

Isetan Shinjuku is a famous food hall with an amazing food selection. So, if you want to go on a food adventure, just head to Basement 1 of this building.

As a perfect spot for hungry shoppers, you have lots of tasty options here. Pick one of the mouth-watering bento meals that come with everything you need.

Other tasty choices in the food hall are tempura, sushi, tea, wine, and other local desserts. Surely, all these food options are great treats after walking around Shinjuku area.

My Suggested Itinerary for Shinjuku

Planning a Shinjuku itinerary might be difficult for you, especially if it’s your first visit.

Or, because of your busy work schedule might cause you don’t have enough preparation time.

But don’t give up because I’m going to give my sample half-day and full-day itineraries to you in here.

If you’re wondering where to go in Tokyo, be sure to check out my complete list of the 35 best things to do in Tokyo and my most recommended Tokyo itinerary for 1 week.

Option 1: Half-Day (6 Hours – Morning to Afternoon)

Shinjuku Half Itinerary (Afternoon Session)
Option 1 – Half Day Itinerary (From morning until afternoon)
  • 9:30 AM – Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden
  • 11:30 AM – Hanazono Shrine
  • 12:00 PM – Torikizoku/ Niboshi Ramen Nagi
  • 12:30 PM – Godzilla Head + Kabukicho
  • 1:00 PM – Don Quijote
  • 2:00 PM – Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building

Option 2: Half-Day (7 Hours – Afternoon to Night)

Shinjuku Half Itinerary (Night Session)
Option 2 – Half Day Itinerary (From afternoon until night)
  • 2:00 PM – Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden
  • 4:00 PM – Hanazono Shrine
  • 4:30 PM – Take a Photo at Shinjuku Golden Gai
  • 4:40 PM – Kabukicho
  • 5:40 PM – Godzilla Head
  • 5:50 PM – Don Quijote
  • 6:50 PM – Niboshi Ramen Nagi/ Torikizoku
  • 7:30 PM – Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building

Option 1: Full-Day (10 Hours)

Shinjuku Full Day Itinerary Option 1
Option 1 – Full Day Itinerary
  • 10:00 AM – Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden
  • 12:30 PM – Matsumoto Kiyoshi
  • 1:00 PM – BICQLO
  • 1:30 PM – Tendon Tenya/ Ichiran Ramen
  • 2:10 PM – Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building
  • 4:10 PM – Hanazono Shrine
  • 4:40 PM – Take a Photo at Shinjuku Golden Gai
  • 4:50 PM – Kabukicho
  • 5:50 PM – Godzilla Head
  • 6:00 PM – Don Quijote
  • 7:00 PM – Sushi Zanmai/ Omoide Yokocho

Option 2: Full-Day (11 Hours)

Shinjuku Full Day Itinerary Option 2
Option 2 – Full Day Itinerary
  • 9:00 AM – Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden
  • 12:00 PM – Tendon Tenya/ Ichiran Ramen
  • 12:40 PM – Matsumoto Kiyoshi
  • 1:10 PM – BICQLO
  • 2:10 PM – Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building
  • 3:40 PM – Hanazono Shrine
  • 4:10 PM – Take a Photo at Shinjuku Golden Gai
  • 4:20 PM – Don Quijote
  • 5:50 PM – Godzilla Head
  • 6:00 PM – Kabukicho
  • 7:00 PM – Torikizoku/ Omoide Yokocho

Where to Explore Next

If you have extra days to spend in Tokyo, you shouldn’t miss Asakusa. This is also one of the most visited attractions in the city for tourists.

See more details in this extensive guide to the best things to do in Asakusa, which covers all the popular sights. These include Nakamise shopping street, Sensoji Temple, and the like.

Another top-notch attraction is DisneySea, a super beautiful theme park offering unique rides. Here’s my full list of Tokyo DisneySea rides and attractions that are best for adults and kids.

You might be interested to know:

Things to Do in Shinjuku, Tokyo (Map)

Shinjuku Map
Click here to see an interactive map of Shinjuku

For your convenience in exploring Shinjuku’s best attractions, I have created a custom Google Map above.

This map highlights the top tourist spots to visit, best restaurants to try, and nearby train stations to use.

Train Station Exits

Train Station Exits for Shinjuku Attractions

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