Hakone is a mountainous town, a couple of hours by train from Tokyo. It’s a popular getaway spot, and totally worth including in your Japan itinerary. Here are our top picks of the things to do in Hakone!
Amazing outdoor onsen with Mount Fuji views
Hakone is famous as an onsen resort area. It is no brainer that one of the best things to do in Hakone is to soak in an onsen. There are numerous natural hot springs, which are tapped into by public bathhouses and ryokans. The lovely mountain scenery completes the experience – soak in an outdoor onsen while taking in your natural surroundings. The best place to go is Hotel Green Plaza Hakone. On a clear day, you can enjoy views of Mt Fuji while taking a dip in its outdoor onsen. If you go in winter, you can even do so while it is snowing!
Traditional ryokan experience
Hakone is dotted with numerous traditional ryokans (Japanese inns) to suit all kinds of preferences and budgets. There’s just something a bit more appealing about staying in a ryokan in a countryside, rather than choosing one in a big city like Tokyo. Definitely an unmissable experience when you visit Japan! Read our review of Gora Hanaougi Sounkaku Ryokan in Sounzan, Hakone, here>>
Hakone Ropeway is a cable car system connecting various points in Hakone. When you want to explore the area, this is probably the nicest way to go around. Regardless of which spot you want to reach, the cable car journey is already an experience in itself.
The ropeway is also part of a wider transportation network connecting the Hakone region. The other two main lines are the Hakone Tozan Cable Car, an electric tram that goes up the mountain, and the Hakone Tozan Railway, a sight-seeing passenger train. Buy a Hakone Free Pass to get unlimited rides on all three lines as well as discounted fares on tourist attractions! You can either get the 2-day or 3-day pass, depending on your length of stay.
Hakone Sightseeing Cruise at Lake Ashinoko
Lake Ashinoko is a scenic lake in Hakone, and there are frequent boat cruises touring the lake. The best way is to take the Hakone Ropeway to Togendai station (the view you get of the lake coming in is heavenly!) and then hop on the boat from there. We paid a little extra and got on the VIP deck. It was nice because it was less cramped, but I reckon you can still enjoy the cruise perfectly well on the normal deck 😉
We got off the cruise at Hakone-machi, and spent some time riding the duck paddle boats around the lake and enjoying the views. We also had lunch at one of the restaurants by the lake. You can also buy for takeaway and have a picnic outside when the weather is especially nice!
Explore the Hiking Trails at Owakudani
Owakudani is famous for its volcanic zone full of bubbling hot springs and steam vents and sulphur smells. It is a stop on the Hakone Ropeway before Togendai, so it makes for a good pitstop before you get to Lake Ashinoko. On clear days, you can get lovely views of Mt Fuji from here. You can also buy eggs boiled in the natural hot springs, and legend has it the eggs can prolong your life by 7 years! Not a bad deal at all. On top of that, there are various hiking trails from Owakudani, but make sure you are equipped with proper hiking gear!
Access to Owakudani can sometimes be restricted due to its volcanic activity, though. So make sure you check the local reports before planning a visit!