If you will be in Tokyo, then I have some ideas for the best things to do in Yokohama, a nearby hidden gem. The name Yokohama fittingly means harbor of the future.
Where is Yokohama?
Gimme the deets, you say? Well, Yokohama is just south of Tokyo and is the second largest city in Japan with a population of over 3.5 million people.
Important: During these unstable times with the pandemic, make sure to check for closures or restrictions before visiting!
Getting to Yokohama
You may have not known that this port city is part of the very large Tokyo-Yokohama metropolitan area. Consequently, it is very easy to get to by train from the capital city.
The two main stations to get to Yokohama are the Minatomirai Station & Sakuragicho Station
If you arrive at the Sakuragicho station, you can take the exhilarating aerial tram (Yokohama Air Cabin) to the Minato Mirai Shinko District.
Yokohama: A Vibrant City
Many people are completely unaware of Yokohama, but it is well worth a visit!
Business, tourism, and nightlife make up this lively “district” of Tokyo. There are lots of fun things to do in Yokohama, and you should definitely check it out.
Shopping & Eating
Yokohama is a shopping and restaurant wonderland. There are so many options…
Landmark Tower & Queen’s Square Shopping Mall
This huge complex is a great place for eating, shopping, and more. It consists of the Landmark Tower and the connected Queen’s Square Shopping Mall. If you want to shop or get a bite to eat, this is the perfect place to try with an abundance of choices.
The Landmark Tower & Plaza has multiple stories of unique shops and some fun restaurants. On our first night in Yokohama, we ate Thai food at one of the Dock Yard Garden restaurants, Tinun.
Additionally, the tower includes the Royal Park Hotel where we participated in a Japanese tea ceremony on the 65th floor. I love tea and really enjoyed taking part in this tradition.
At the top of the tower is the Landmark Sky Garden Observatory, which is one of the highest in Japan. It provides a majestic view of Mt. Fuji and the sprawling metropolitan area. You can even grab a soft drink, cocktail, or snack while you take in the 360° view.
Queen’s Square Mall is a more typical mall with global brands. Over 200 stores and restaurants sit above the Minatomirai Station.
Red Brick Warehouses
Another cool place to go to is the Red Brick Warehouses. What used to be the Customs Inspection House in the 1920s is now a collection of unique stores and restaurants.
It’s nice to see that these historic buildings have been saved and repurposed!
If you like visiting Chinatowns all over the world like I do, then be sure to visit this one.
This lively area is very popular, and it’s fun to just walk around and take it all in.
We ate at one of the restaurants there and had a great time.
The Japanese word Izakaya (居酒屋) literally means “stay drink place,” so it’s basically the Japanese version of a pub. Locals go to Izakaya to relax and grab some drinks and comfort food after work.
As a visitor, you can experience local life and culture by visiting these casual establishments. Personally, I think enjoying food and drink is the best way to immerse yourself in another culture.
While there are Izakaya all over Japan, the best place to go is the Noge area which is a hidden gem in Yokohama. The Noge streets are not as new and sparkly as Minato Mirai, but the cool part about it is that it’s like stepping back in time to the 60s or 70s.
And if you are a little skittish about doing it on your own, you can always get a local guide to show you around and give you a curated experience.
Kirin Yokohama Beer Village
Kirin Yokohama Beer Village offers three different tours: a factory tour, a nature tour, and a family-friendly tour. So, there’s something for everyone! These tours are in Japanese only; however, reading materials are available in English.
On the factory tour, participants get to see and smell the hops, taste the wort, and see where the ingredients are mashed and fermented.
Not surprisingly, you get to sample the beer after the tour! Yay! FYI, the drinking age in Japan is 20.
Plenty of branded goods, souvenirs, and snacks are available at the shop. Meals can be found at the cafe also.
Finally, keep in mind that you need to make a reservation for this very popular destination.
Museums & Attractions
Cup Noodles Museum
Who doesn’t have a fond memory of eating Cup Noodles? Well, this quirky and amusing museum is all about the history and making of this global favorite.
The museum is a must-see if you are traveling with kids. In fact, it’s really fun for adults too! I had a great time there.
Before you visit, be sure to read my full review of the Cup Noodles Museum.
Cosmoworld offers something for everyone whether you’re there solo, with family, or friends.
Entrance is free at this amusement park. You can then pay for whichever rides that interest you or buy a discounted ticket book if there are a lot of rides you want to do.
The ferris wheel, Cosmo Clock 21, has become an iconic part of Yokohama’s skyline, and it’s one of the tallest in the world!
Nippon Maru Memorial Park & Yokohama Port Museum
Interested in the history of this cool port city? Visiting the 1930s ship, Nippon Maru, and the adjacent museum is a great way to gain insight. I love learning about the history and lore of places I visit.
Yokohama Museum of Art
Note: This museum is closed for renovation until 2023.
At the Yokohama Museum of Art, you can discover modern and contemporary art from the 19th century to the present and a significant photography collection.
They also have research and breeding programs for wild animals including endangered and rare species. Their focus is on conservation and environmental education which is so important these days.
Sankeien is a peaceful escape just steps away from the bustling city. In 1906, Tomitaro “Sankei” Hara, a wealthy silk trader, designed the garden surrounding his home.
It was designated as a national site of scenic beauty in 2007.
However, it is not just a classical Japanese garden; it also has numerous culturally significant buildings from various eras and areas of Japan.
You will be rewarded no matter which season you visit. In late winter and spring, you’ll see gorgeous plum blossoms followed by cherry blossoms along with wisteria, Japanese irises, and azaleas.
Summer is a great time to see water lilies, lotus flowers, irises, and hydrangeas. And, best of all, if you’re there at the right time, fireflies will make an appearance too. In fall, there is an explosion of autumn colors.
If you love loads of blooming flowers like I do, be sure to read my article about the Meiji Jingu iris garden in Tokyo.
A Place to Stay
A day trip is certainly possible. But if you want to stay and enjoy more of Yokohama, there are quite a few accommodation options. <–Click the red link for places to stay for every budget.
We stayed at the InterContinental Yokohama Grand, which was a fabulous location because it is close to everything. They had a wonderful breakfast, free wifi, and a sweeping view of the bay.
Best Things to Do in Yokohama
Well, there you have it. This list isn’t exhaustive, so if you find some other great things to do, please let me know in the comments!
Don’t forget to pin for later!
Until next time…