nagoya travel guide

Ask any Japanese person and chances are they will tell you ‘Nagoya is the most boring city in Japan’!

Only yesterday I had a discussion with my Japanese family, again. ‘I don’t know why foreign tourists would come to Nagoya’ my Japanese father-in-law said ‘It’s not like there are any interesting thing to see here like Asakusa in Tokyo’.

I told him, again, that Nagoya does have a lot to offer, he just never thought about it having spent his whole life here.

My mission is to spread the word about how awesome Nagoya as a travel destination is!

Great Deals in Nagoya and the Rest of Japan

To guarantee an amazing trip to Nagoya, book your portable WIFI or Sim card with klook.com, as well as convenient transport from the airport to your hotel in the city.

Find great deals and discounts for your trip to Nagoya on klook.com. I use this all the time when traveling around Japan!

This post is all about Nagoya! Everything a traveler needs to know if they are even a little bit interested in visiting Japan’s 4th populous city.

Let me convince you!

Let’s start by looking at where Nagoya came from:

Nagoya has a history that is more than 1900 years old (the famous Atsuta Jingu was mentioned in the first written history book of Japan called the Kojiki which dates from the early 8th century.

The city gained in importance during the 17th century with the construction of Nagoya Castle. Between the founding of Atsuta Jingu and Nagoya Castle about 1500 years later apparently nothing interesting happened in Nagoya.

But from here it gets interesting.

The Tokugawa Shogun (the military leader of Japan) moved the regional capital Kiyosu to nearby Nagoya in 1614 in what was called the “Kiyosu-goe”.

From there on out Nagoya developed first in infrastructure, and then culturally with the blossoming of the arts like Noh, Kyogen and tea ceremony.

It also became an industrial power horse, first with the production of ceramics and textiles as well as the brewing of sake, later when Japan entered the industrial age as one of the front runners in the automotive industry. You all have heard about Toyota, right?

Facts About Nagoya

Still not convinced how interesting Nagoya really is?

Here are 3 facts about Nagoya city you probably didn’t know about:

1. Nagoya is the 4th largest city in Japan after Tokyo, Yokohama and Osaka, and the biggest in the region. The population in 2015 was 2.3 million that’s more than the population of Paris (2.1 million)!

2. Nagoya is an important transportation hub in Japan. It lies conveniently between Osaka and Tokyo on the Shinkansen line. But did you realize that Nagoya also has one of the biggest international ports in the country and a big international airport? From Nagoya, you can conveniently reach not only all parts of Japan but the whole world. If you are looking for cheap flights, I can recommend flying Air Asia from Nagoya.

3. Nagoya, especially Nagoya Castle has been featured in 3 Godzilla movies. I was impressed when I first heard it, but then I realized there had been a total of 35 Godzilla movies over the last 60 years. Who needs 35 Godzilla movies? But I guess, that’s a topic for another time.

What is Nagoya Famous For

So, what is Nagoya famous for?

Most people associate Nagoya with the Nagoya Castle, and so I would think that is what makes Nagoya memorable. It is also what the people from Nagoya are most proud of. The castle including the golden carp at the top (once you visit Nagoya you will see what I mean. It’s everywhere).

But among Japanese, it is also famous for Nagoya Meshi, the unique Nagoya cuisine that can be only found here.

Nagoya has actually put a lot of effort into promoting Nagoya Meshi to Japanese as well as international tourists.

Interest in Nagoya Meshi was first sparked when Nagoya hosted the World EXPO in 2005 and has only continued to become more popular since. In 2011 Nagoya staged a Nagoya Meshi EXPO.

Between the two I think Nagoya already has a lot to offer. Don’t you?

Is Nagoya Worth Visiting

If you asked me ‘Is Nagoya worth a visit?’ my only answer would be: Yes, yes, yes, definitely yes!

It is an excellent base for trips to other parts of Japan (north, south, east, and west), but in itself, it is also a charming destination, especially if you love Japanese food and want to learn more about its regional variations and specialties.

The best way to experience Nagoya is on a Nagoya Meshi Food Tour.
8 foods and snacks in 3.5 hours with in-depth info will make this one unforgettable experience.
Check out the details!

Nagoya Travel Tips

-> Go directly to the Nagoya Travel Tips Page

This section and the accompanying posts are all about making your trip to Nagoya easier with valuable tips.

Money, language, climate, and rules and manners are all covered in this part.

I will also tell you how to get to Nagoya and how to best get around the city.

I’ll talk about free WIFI and Sim Cards, as well as portable WIFI routers and I, will give you some recommendations on useful Apps.

All right, here we go! (or in detail on the dedicated Nagoya Travel Tips page)

Language in Nagoya

The language spoken in Nagoya, as in the rest of Japan is Japanese. You might be worried that it is hard to get around Nagoya if you don’t speak Japanese, but it shouldn’t be a big problem.

English is readily available now. Not only the people at the tourist information offices speak some English but also the train schedules and ticket machines as well as ATMs can be switched to English.

Tourist attractions have English brochures and signs available and even audio guides and guided tours for English speakers.

The most popular restaurants such as Yamachan, Yamamotoya, and Yabaton have English menus for their foreign guests and even if your waiter doesn’t speak English you can simply point at the things you want to order.

Currency in Nagoya

The currency in Nagoya and the rest of Japan is the Japanese Yen. In general, it is the only currency accepted in shops and restaurants.

Japan is still a very cash-heavy country and it is not unusual for restaurants and hotels to only accept cash. Credit cards are not the norm yet. Japan is moving in the direction of cashless payment using one’s smartphone with many local services available, but only to people holding Japanese bank accounts or credit cards.

Foreigners can use their Pasmo or Suica train cards to pay at convenience stores and some other shops around Nagoya and Japan.

You can withdraw cash using your foreign credit card from ATMs. The best ones are from Seven-Eleven convenience stores and Japan Post. They accept most foreign credit cards for withdrawal.

If you want to exchange currency it is advisable to do this in the city and not at the airport if possible, since the rates are usually much better. Around Nagoya Station, you can find currency exchange offices at both underground shopping malls. One is located on the west, the other on the east side of the station.

The best way to experience Nagoya is on a Nagoya Meshi Food Tour.
8 foods and snacks in 3.5 hours with in-depth info will make this one unforgettable experience.
Check out the details!

Rules and Manners in Nagoya

Japan is a very clean and rule-abiding country. Here are some simple rules to follow:

It is generally not allowed to smoke on the streets. Only smoke in the designated area at train stations and other public buildings. In many restaurants, smoking is allowed in smoking areas.

Don’t throw your garbage on the street. There are almost no trash cans available in the cities and the Japanese usually carry around their garbage and throw it away at home. If you do not want to do this I suggest finding the nearest convenience store. They usually have garbage cans. Make sure to separate garbage by burnable, non-burnable, cans and pet bottles.

The Japanese walk on the left side of the sidewalk, this might take some getting used to depending on where you are from. Try not to get in the way of the flowing pedestrian traffic.

Escalators are always boarded in order. Stand on the left side. Walk on the right.

Climate in Nagoya

Nagoya, located right in the center of Japan’s biggest island Honshu enjoys the same climate as other major cities located close by such as Tokyo and Osaka.

The climate in Nagoya can be described as humid temperate with cold winters and humid and hot summers.

There is a yearly rainy season which usually lasts from June to July. Typhoons are a regular occurrence during the months of August and September which can bring heavy rains and strong winds to the city.

Winters are cold, but not cold enough for snow. Winter is also the dry season with very little rain from November to February.

Best Time to Visit Nagoya

-> Read the full post: What is the best time to visit Nagoya?

Most parts on the main island of Honshu are great to visit all year round, and so there really isn’t the best time to visit Nagoya, per se.

Every season has something beautiful, and of course, there are advantages and drawbacks to a visit in each season.

Spring is beautiful with the blossoming of flowers. Especially popular are the cherry blossoms which bloom around the end of March. It isn’t too hot or too cold in spring, which makes it a great time to visit.

Summers in Nagoya can get really hot, up to 40 degrees Celsius. It’s no fun doing sightseeing in temperatures where you feel like melting. There are however some good reasons to visit in summer like the many summer festivals going on in Nagoya almost every weekend. There are fireworks and Bon dancing. Amazing cultural experiences not to be missed.

Autumn is the season for delicious food, hot springs and the changing of the leaves from green to red. A great time to visit Nagoya, especially because the temperatures are going down again and it is comfortable to be out and about. Read the full post about ‘What to do in Nagoya in Autumn‘.

Winter brings snow. Not in Nagoya itself but in the mountains north of Nagoya where many ski resorts are located. New years celebrations in Nagoya, and especially a day trip to Ise Shrine are unforgettable experiences you can have in Nagoya in winter.

How to Get to Nagoya

Nagoya can be conveniently reached by flight into Centrair Airport, by bullet or regular train, by inter-city bus and, of course, by car.

If you decide to get around Japan by car, check out your car rental options on rentalcars.com. They have a wide selection rental companies and pickup locations in the whole country, which will make it possible to compare prices and find the best deal.

The best deal if you want to explore the country by train is the Japan Rail Pass, a tourist pass which allows its holders unlimited train travel on JR trains in a specific period of time (between 1 and 3 weeks). This is a great deal if you plan on traveling between many different destinations in Japan. Check out the full post on the Japan Rail Pass which will help you find answers to all possible questions.

From Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto you can easily reach Nagoya either by bullet train, normal train or highway bus. On the Nagoya Travel Tips page you will find more details on the best way to get from these cities to Nagoya. Click here if you want to know how to get from Tokyo to Nagoya.

From further away like Fukuoka, Sapporo or Naha your best option to get to Nagoya is by flight into Nagoya Airport. National flights are cheap, especially if you book well in advance and plan on flying during the week. Weekends and public holidays see prices rise sharply. Japan has different LCCs to be considered for the best deals. Check out skyscanner.com to find a flight to Nagoya.

There are different ways to get from Nagoya Airport to Nagoya Station. You can find them all by reading this post.

Activities in Nagoya

-> Go directly to the Activities in Nagoya page

If you want to know everything there is to do in Nagoya, no matter if you stay a day or a week you need to check out the Activities in Nagoya page.

Below I will give you a short overview on the things to do in Nagoya, the things to buy in Nagoya, the things to eat in Nagoya, as well as an itinerary example for one day in Nagoya.

I have posts that go into detail and give you all the information you need for specific activities. Don’t forget to check these out before you visit.

What to Do in Nagoya

If you have decided to visit Nagoya but are still wondering about what to do in Nagoya, no worries. There is plenty to do here.

For a more detailed post about the things to do in Nagoya read my post. If you are just looking for the top 10 Nagoya attractions, read on:

  1. Visit Nagoya Castle
  2. Visit Atsuta Jingu
  3. Shop at Osu Shopping Arcade
  4. Visit the Toyota Commemorative Museum
  5. Ride a Roller coaster at Nagashima Spa Land
  6. Visit the Railway Museum
  7. Visit the Tokugawa Art Museum and Tokugawa Garden
  8. Learn about Ceramics at the Noritake Garden
  9. Visit the Nagoya Aquarium
  10. Go shopping around Nagoya Station

If you are a night owl and are wondering if there is anything worth doing in Nagoya at night, don’t worry, there is plenty to do.

You can start by strolling the modern Sakae district at night. Sakae is the business and entertainment district of Nagoya where you will find a wide variety of Japanese and western style bars, great dining opportunities as well as night clubs.

What to Buy in Nagoya

If you are looking for shopping opportunities in Nagoya, you won’t be disappointed either. No matter if you are looking for some brand outlets, select department stores, cheap 100 yen shops or large electronics stores, Nagoya has it all.

The best outlet shopping mall in Nagoya is probably the Mitsui Outlet Park Jazz Dream Nagashima on Nagashima Island in the south of Nagoya. Here you will find Japanese as well as international brands at discount prices.

Around Nagoya station as well as in Sakae district the countries best department stores await you. Takashimaya, Matsuzakaya, and Mitsukoshi are great for some brand shopping. Don’t forget to visit the underground levels for some delicious food shopping.

If you want Japanese electronics like cameras, headphones or maybe a Japanese toilet seat? Head over to one of the Bic Camera stores in Nagoya. They great foreign visitors with up to 15% off if you use the following free discount code available on klook.com!

What to Eat in Nagoya

I wouldn’t be a Nagoya Foodie if I didn’t talk extensively about the Nagoya cuisine, called Nagoya Meshi.

I have dedicated a different guide to the whole topic which I recommend you have a look at: Nagoya Food Guide.

The guide introduces you to the delicious Nagoya Meshi dishes and where you can try them in Nagoya.

If you want a real in-depth experience, I suggest you join a Nagoya Meshi Food Tour while you are visiting Nagoya. Not only will you get to try 8 delicious foods and snacks from Nagoya but you will also learn a lot about the culture of the city. Check here for more details.

1 Day in Nagoya Itinerary

Chances are you are going to spend one or two nights in Nagoya. If you were looking for a Nagoya 1 day itinerary here is my suggestion on what to do in Nagoya in one day from morning to night.

  1. Have a Nagoya Morning Service at Komeda’s Coffee
  2. Visit Nagoya Castle
  3. Visit Atsuta Jingu
  4. Have Kishimen for Lunch at Miya Kishimen
  5. Go Shopping at Osu Shopping Arcade
  6. Visit the Tokugawa Art Museum and Tokugawa Garden
  7. Stroll around Sakae at night
  8. Have Hitsumabushi for Dinner at Hitsumabushi Bincho LACHIC
  9. Have a beer and some Tebasaki at Sekai no Yamachan

If you want more details have a look at my what to do in Nagoya post for the complete Nagoya itinerary.

The best way to experience Nagoya is on a Nagoya Meshi Food Tour.
8 foods and snacks in 3.5 hours with in-depth info will make this one unforgettable experience.
Check out the details!

Day Trips from Nagoya

->Go to the Day Trips from Nagoya category page

As I mentioned in the introduction of this guide, Nagoya is a transportation hub, and it is easy to reach different places within the country from it. While you can make countless day trips from Nagoya, some destinations are better explored by spending one or two nights there.

My favorite side trips from Nagoya are Shirakawago, Takayama, Inuyama, Gujo Hachiman, and Ise but there are many more destinations close by worth a visit such as Gero Onsen or Iga famous for its Ninja.

Hotels in Nagoya

->Go to the Hotels in Nagoya category page

In Nagoya, you have many different accommodation options, from cheap hostels to high-class hotels. You will find an option that suits you.

Where to Stay in Nagoya

Nagoya has different areas that are convenient for travelers. The best ones are close to Nagoya Station, Sakae District, Osu District, close to Nagoya Castle and of course Nagoya Airport, especially if you have a very early flight.

Check out this post for options in the different areas in Nagoya, from budget to luxury.

For hotel and hostel recommendations close to Nagoya Station check out this post.

The Best Hotels in Nagoya

You can find great hotels in Nagoya for every budget.

If you are looking for a hostel or guesthouse to make some friends or simply to save some money check out the best hostels in Nagoya.

If you want luxury you can read about your best options in Nagoya here.

The best way to experience Nagoya is on a Nagoya Meshi Food Tour.
8 foods and snacks in 3.5 hours with in-depth info will make this one unforgettable experience.
Check out the details!

Airbnb in Nagoya

Airbnb is a difficult subject in Nagoya. In 2018 new laws were introduced to regulate the market, this move has led to a decline in listings, a rise in prices as well as a rise in illegal listings. Therefore I cannot really recommend staying in an Airbnb. If you do so it is at your own risk that your booking might be canceled last minute.

If you want to use Airbnb make sure you read all previous reviews for the listings and take them seriously.

Final Thoughts

If you are seriously considering things to do in Japan for the first time, I think you shouldn’t skip Nagoya, even if you only visit for one day to experience the unique and delicious food.

Continue your explorations of Nagoya by reading about Nagoya Meshi, the local food of Nagoya! 

Ready to Book your Trip to Nagoya?

Find the cheapest flights on skyscanner.com, book amazing hotels in Nagoya on booking.com and reserve discounted tours and other activities on klook.com!

The best way to get around Japan is a Japan Rail Pass, book your Japan Rail Pass now on jrailpass.com.

Did you enjoy this post about Nagoya? Then pin it to your ‘Japan Travel’ Pinterest board so you can easily find it again when you need it!

Nagoya travel guide
Nagoya travel guide
Nagoya travel guide
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This is Me

I'm Lena the founder of Nagoya Foodie. I recently moved to Nagoya and want to share its food and culture with you!
Find out more about me and Nagoya Foodie.

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