48 Hours in Hiroshima: The Ultimate Itinerary

Hiroshima Cityscape on a Sunny Autumn Day.
Mlenny / Getty Images

The warm and temperate Hiroshima city is a fantastic hub for any traveler, with many of the country’s most memorable sights just a short journey away. From Hiroshima, the natural landscape of Japan opens up in many mesmerizing ways but the city is also well worth exploring, filled with historic sites as well as a renowned and revered local cuisine that is a favorite amongst people all across Japan.

There is an exciting amount of activities and sights to keep any visitor occupied in Hiroshima but, luckily, seeing it all is still achievable within a single weekend. The city’s main tourist sites are within very close proximity of one other and visitors will be pleasantly surprised to find that they can travel between almost all of them on foot. Here is your ultimate two-day itinerary to help every visitor to this stunning city make the most of their time in Hiroshima.

01 of 06

Day 1: Morning

cherry blossom tree alongside a river

Photographed by MR.ANUJAK JAIMOOK / Getty Images

10 a.m.: One of the defining attractions of Hiroshima and its history. It would be impossible to visit the city and not take the time to visit the 29.6-acre Peace Memorial Park that memorializes the site of the bombing of Hiroshima. It was decided that, instead of renovating, the area would be preserved with the A-Bomb Dome, a shell of one of the buildings that was left standing, at its center. The Peace Memorial Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site and also houses a number of statues, as well as a museum dedicated to the history of Hiroshima and the advent of the nuclear bomb with a clear focus on the events of August 6th, 1945.

Noon: In a short and easy walk from Peace Memorial Park, you can reach Hiroshima’s longest shopping arcade. Hon-dori Shotengai features more than two hundred shops, cafes, and restaurants. This is the perfect place to sample some of the best local Hiroshima foods, many of which can be enjoyed at one of several fabulous seafood restaurants, such as Tsukiakari and Ekohiiki. Hon-dori Shotengai is also an ideal place for souvenir shopping, with shops dedicated to stationery, fashion, Japanese lifestyle, and sweet treats. Your one-stop-shop for all of the most popular Hiroshima souvenirs is Nagasakiya. Prepare yourself for the rest of the day with a coffee, some retail therapy, and a wholesome lunch before checking into your hotel.

Continue to 2 of 6 below.
02 of 06

Day 1: Afternoon

Hiroshima castle tower in Japan
hayakato / Getty Images

2 p.m.: Take another short walk from either Peace Memorial Park or Hon-dori Shotengai to Hiroshima Castle. What with it being a castle town, it’s easy to see how Hiroshima was built around its famous castle, which was originally constructed back in 1589. The castle still stands today (though restored since the events of World War II) and it can be found in the center of the city, surrounded by peaceful green grounds and a large moat, all of which are traditional elements of Japanese castles, and can also be found on the grounds of Osaka and Himeji castles.

Visitors can enjoy panoramic views from the top of the castle and spend some time perusing the museum that is spread out over several floors within the castle. The museum’s art and artifacts help to illustrate Hiroshima’s history and the culture of samurai families. Don’t miss out on the peaceful Hiroshimagokoku Shrine within the castle grounds.

4 p.m.: A 7-minute walk from Hiroshima Castle will take you to Shukkeien Garden, a historic garden dating back to 1620. The meticulously planned out garden features precise miniatures of some of the most beautiful natural spots in Japan giving the illusion of thick forests and mountains. The garden is centered around a giant lake supposedly inspired by Hangzhou’s grand West Lake.

The garden was designated a National Site of Scenic Beauty in 1940 and provides a quiet respite to stroll in the afternoon and absorb one of Hiroshima’s most tranquil spots. It is also one of the top cherry blossom and fall leaf viewing spots during the season thanks to the wide range of tree species and flora present. On your walk through the grounds, in the northern part of the garden, you will also see The Atomic Bomb Victims' Memorial which is a small stone statue located on a hilltop over the Enko River.

Continue to 3 of 6 below.
03 of 06

Day 1: Evening

Kagura Hiroshima

Kuremo / Getty Images

7 p.m.: There’s no better way to spend an evening in Hiroshima than getting lost in Japanese mythology and Shintoism. Kagura theater performances are held at the Hiroshima Prefectural Art Museum, last 45 minutes, and cost 1,000 yen. Kagura is a masked, musical performance dedicated to the Shinto gods of nature and incorporates ancient Japanese mythological stories into the narrative. Here you will be able to see Geihoku Kagura, which are performances specific to Northern Hiroshima that have been passed down through the generations. Accompanying the performance will be music, making this a perfect opportunity to see traditional Japanese instruments in action including drums, a gong, and a Japanese flute.

8 p.m.: After a busy day, spend the evening relaxing and mingling at an izakaya (a Japanese gastropub) and enjoy select dishes including skewered meats, seafood, and vegetables all of which can be paired with plenty of beer, whisky, and sake. Izakaya Ichika has a wide shochu and sake collection and specializes in charcoal cooked dishes. For a livelier atmosphere, try Koba which is described as a rock bar and restaurant but attracts regular customers from across the music-loving spectrum thanks to the excellent menu, which also features vegetarian dishes, a wide drink selection, and friendly service.

Continue to 4 of 6 below.
04 of 06

Day 2: Morning

Garden of Hiroshima museum of art in Hiroshima Prefecture,
Phurinee / Getty Images

9:30 a.m.: Take some time to visit the Hiroshima Museum of Art which is housed in a distinctive minimalist circular building featuring important impressionist and Neo-Impressionist works from across Japan and the West including Chagall, Picasso, Monet, and Manet. The display rooms are themed making it easier to appreciate the art within and you’ll need around an hour to go through all of them. They also host a number of temporary exhibitions which you can check on their website. There’s also a shop and cafe on-site if you are in need of refreshment before lunch.

Noon: If you’re hungry, there is no better place to visit than Okonomiyaki Village (Okonomimura) for endless restaurants, spread over four floors. Get ready to try the famous Hiroshima delicacy called okonomiyaki (which also has a variation in the Kansai region). Whichever restaurant you choose, your experience will be largely the same – a customizable pancake consisting of shredded cabbage, fried noodles, scallions in a spiced batter which is fried up with toppings of your choice such as seafood and pork. The dish will be cooked in front of you on a flat top before being topped with okonomiyaki sauce, mayonnaise, a fried egg, and bonito flakes then served. The result? A delicious sticky tower of goodness that's fit for royalty.

Continue to 5 of 6 below.
05 of 06

Day 2: Afternoon

The Floating Torii of Itsukushima Shrine
Flickr Vision / Getty Images

2 p.m.: As this breathtaking trip is so quick and convenient it would be a shame to miss out on seeing the giant torii gate from Miyajima Island—just take the ten-minute frequent ferry from Miyajimaguchi Station. One of the top three views in Japan, Itsukushima Shrine is famous for its five-tiered pagoda and giant torii gate that appears to float when the tide of the Seto Inland Sea is in. The shrine is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was originally built in the 12th century. While you are there, make sure to wander the trails where you will see deer walking freely. Don’t miss the Miyajima History and Folklore Museum for fascinating cultural artifacts.

4 p.m.: Take a stroll down Omotesando Arcade, the main shopping street on Miyajima Island, there are plenty of local sweets to try like Momiji Manju, a battered maple-flavored cake in the shape of a maple leaf with fillings like red bean paste, cafes to stop for a drink, and wonderful souvenirs specifically from Miyajima like oyster soy sauce and hand-carved rice paddles. Catch the next ferry back to start the evening. 

Continue to 6 of 6 below.
06 of 06

Day 2: Evening

Oyster street food stall in Hiroshima

Alan Morris / Getty Images

6 p.m.: As Hiroshima is the city of oysters, it would be a shame to leave without trying the famous delicacy. They are prepared in so many different ways here that there really is an oyster dish for everyone. Popular methods of preparation include fried in tempura batter, steamed, served as part of a miso hotpot, raw with a citrus juice, and even in a curry. We would recommend trying them at sea on the floating Kanawa Oyster Boat which offers downtown views and a set oyster menu. Alternatively, Ekohiiki, which is also downtown, offers a dizzying array of oyster dishes as well as other sashimi options.

8 p.m.: If you want to try some sake, Japan's most traditional and beloved drink before you leave then don’t miss out on Flat Sake Bar. They serve more than 60 kinds of sake with low alcohol options available for people who prefer something more mellow. They also serve the sake in wine glasses so you can better appreciate the aroma between the different brews. This bar is traditionally designed with wood and ambient soft lighting. A perfect way to enjoy your last evening in the city.