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The Perfect One Month Japan Itinerary And Travel Guide

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Japan is a beautiful country with a history of emperors and samurai, unique culture and religion, ancient temples, impressive castles, and stunning nature.

Japan never ceases to amaze and it’s one of my favorite countries in the world. We’ve made two trips to Japan, one as a couple and one with kids.

Altogether we’ve spent almost two months exploring Japan and I’d love to go back for another trip.

This Japan itinerary gives you several options to explore this truly unique nation, depending on your preference and the amount of time you have available.

It includes some of the most popular places to visit and things to do in Japan, but also several off-the-beaten-path destinations.

Japan itinerary

Disclosure: Some links in this post are affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these links, I may earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you!). I’m very grateful when you use my links to make a purchase:-).

1 Month In Japan: A Complete Itinerary And Travel Map

Itinerary for Japan and Japan travel map

You can find our itinerary of Japan on the map below, as well as our accommodation and the highlights we visited during our trip to Japan.

Japan itinerary map things to do

Click here for the interactive map

The perfect one month itinerary in Japan

  • Day 1-3: explore Tokyo. Visit ancient temples, marvel at modern buildings, relax in one of the many parks and eat your way around this bustling city.
  • Day 4-13: make a road trip around Hokkaido, Japan’s wild and untamed northernmost island with stunning scenery.
  • Day 14-16: visit the museums in Hiroshima and explore the lovely island of Miyajima.
  • Day 17-19: explore ancient temples in Nara and hike the Koyasan pilgrimage trail.
  • Day 20-22: visit magical Kyoto. Stroll around historic neighborhoods, visit beautiful temples, and the famous Fushimi Inari-Taisha Shrine.
  • Day 23-28: go off the beaten track in the Japanese Alps and visit Kanazawa, Shirakawa-goTakayama, Kamikochi, and Matsumoto.

Important things to know when planning a trip to Japan

What is the best time to visit Japan?

While Japan is a year-round destination, the best and most popular times to visit are MarchMay and SeptemberNovember.

Sakura (cherry blossom season) is very important in Japan and there is even a daily Cherry Blossom report with up-to-date information on where the flowers are at their most beautiful.

The changing color of the leaves in Autumn is almost equally popular, there is a daily report to monitor this as well.

We personally visited once in April/May and once in October and had very comfortable temperatures and mostly sunny weather.

Especially in the Alps (Honshu) and on Hokkaido, winter in Japan can be extreme with freezing temperatures and lots of snow.

Summer is hot and humid and not the most comfortable time to visit Tokyo or Kyoto. Be sure to pack appropriately!

Hokkaido 10 day road trip itinerary

Which currency is used in Japan?

The official currency in Japan is the Japanese Yen (¥). Here you can find the current exchange rates, at the time of writing €1 is approximately 120¥ and $1 is around 110¥.

How to travel around Japan?

Japan has an excellent public transport system and is famous for the ‘shinkansen’, also known as the bullet train. During both our trips to Japan, we mostly traveled by public transport (train, bus, MRT, and ferry).

For our road trips to Hokkaido and Shikoku, we rented a car. The public transport network on these islands isn’t as great as on Honshu, plus, driving on these islands is an awesome experience.

If you plan on covering large distances in Japan within a short period of time, I highly recommend buying the Japan Rail Pass.

This pass gives you unlimited trips on all JR trains, JR buses, and several other lines. You can choose a pass valid for 7, 14, or 21 consecutive days.

While the Japan Rail Pass offers great value for money it may not always be the most economical option for your trip. It’s worth calculating the costs of your itinerary to Japan with and without the rail pass to see which option is best for you.

You can use Hyperdia to check the costs of your intended Japan itinerary and decide whether or not the Japan Rail Pass is worth the money for your trip.

Bullet train Japan

Where to stay in Japan on a budget

I have to admit I was slightly worried about finding affordable accommodation before traveling to Japan, the country of the rising sun.

This is why I searched Agoda, Booking, and Tripadvisor meticulously to find the best possible options.

While we definitely spend more on accommodation during our Japan family trip in 2019 than when we were backpacking Japan as a couple (with a tent) in 2016, I can say from personal experience that it is possible to find (relatively) cheap places to stay in Japan.

But let’s also face the fact that prices in Japan are not like in Southeast Asia, you won’t be able to find a pretty pool villa for €25 a night…

Read more about our Japan travel budget here.

The best budget tip to save on accommodation in Japan

Go camping! During our first Japan trip, we brought a small tent and stayed at several campsites around Japan, which were only €7-€13 a night.

Another advantage is you get to wake up with views like the one in the picture below.

Camping in Japan Hokkaido

Here is a list of all the places we stayed during our travels around Japan.

LocationWhere to stayPriceBook/info
TokyoCandeo Hotels Shimbashi*€110 / $120Book here
Lake ShikotsuCampsite Morappu€12,80 / $14Read more
Lake ToyaNakatoya Camping Ground€7,20 / $8Read more
HakodateHotel WBF Hakodate€76 / $79Book here
FukushimaRoadside Rest Area FukushimafreeRead more
Toyako OnsenToyako Parking Lotfree(see map)
FuranoShin Furano Prince hotel**€131/$135Book here
SōunkyōParking lot next to 7-11free(see map)
Akanko OnsenShizen Koen Parking Lotfree(see map)
SapporoHotel Areaone Chitose€51/$53Book here
HiroshimaHiroshima Pacific Hotel€78/$81Book here
MiyajimaCampground Tsutsumigaura€8/$9Read more
NaraFamily Inn Nara***€76/$79Book here
KoyasanKoyasan Guesthouse Kokuu€68/$71Read more
KyotoCarta Hotel Kyoto Gion***€31/$33Book here
KanazawaAPA Hotel Katamachi€37/$39Book here
TakayamaGuesthouse Tomaru€47/$49Book here
KamikochiKonashi-daira campsite€13/$14,50Read more
MatsumotoAlpico Plaza Hotel€59/$62 Book here
Narita airportNarita Tobu Hotel€74/$77Book here

* Read more about our stay at Cando Hotel Shimbashi here.

** Unfortunately the accommodation we stayed at in Furano during our Hokkaido trip is no longer available. While we didn’t personally stay at the Shin Furano Prince hotel we did visit their spa twice during our time in Furano.

*** Several other accommodations we stayed at are no longer available (stupid C**vid😞). I’ve done my utmost to find suitable alternatives that I’d be happy to book myself.

Note: Prices for the hotels, campgrounds, and guesthouses depend on the time of year and how far in advance you book. Click ‘book here’ to see the latest prices on Booking and book ahead to get the best deal.

Golden Week

Golden Week is the period from the 29th of April to early May and includes a number of Japanese holidays.

During this week many Japanese people go on holiday and accommodation can be extremely difficult to find.

If you are traveling in peak season and Golden Week in particular: book your accommodation in advance!

During our first trip to Japan, I was looking for accommodation for a night during Golden Week. I have never seen Agoda and Booking come up with only 2 available hotels in an entire city, the cheapest one was €400 a night…

I was very happy to have our tent and car as backup options!

One-month Japan itinerary

I have written detailed guides for pretty almost all the places we visited in Japan, with more information about our day-to-day activities, transportation, and accommodation.

You can find the links to those posts in the itinerary below. If you have less time available to explore Japan, don’t worry, I’ve got you covered.

Further on in the post, I also suggest shorter options (7 and 10 days, plus 2 and 3 weeks) for your Japan travel itinerary.

Day 1 – 3: Tokyo

Shibuya crossing in Tokyo from above

Of course, no visit to Japan is complete without exploring Tokyo.

The city of flashing neon, Lolita dresses and other quirky looks, hidden alleys, ancient temples, the famous Tokyo Sky Tree, and the most Michelin stars of any city in the world. Tokyo offers days (or should I say months) of activities.

Tokyo is the most populous metropolitan area in the world. While the city can be extremely busy at places like Tokyo Station and Shibuya Crossing, there are also much more quiet areas, like lovely Ueno Park.

We’ve visited Tokyo several times, twice for several days and once during a stopover. Each trip. we discover more to see and do in this unique capital, mixing ultramodern and century-old traditions!

Some of the top things to do are:

  • Asakusa and the Senso-Ji Temple: don’t miss this beautiful historic neighborhood in Tokyo. Here you can find quaint little streets, boutique shops, and the impressive Sensō-Ji temple.
  • TeamLab Digital Art Museum: this amazing interactive museum creates a fairytale world filled with light and colors. Be sure to buy a ticket online as they often sell out!
  • The Tokyo Sky Tree: the Tokyo Sky Tree is currently the second-tallest building in the world (only the Burj Khalifa in Dubai is higher). There are two observation decks, one at 350 meters and at 450 meters high, offering impressive views over Tokyo city. Book your ticket online to save money and skip the queue.

Check out my Tokyo itinerary and what to do in Tokyo with kids

Day 4-13 Hokkaido

Jigokudani Hell Valley Hokkaido Japan

I was already sold on Hokkaido when I was still on the plane (from Tokyo to Sapporo). From my window seat, I could see nothing but nature. And nature is what I love the most.

Cities are nice, but nature is best…

I loved our time on Hokkaido, the island is wild and untamed and completely blew me away with its natural beauty.

There are impressive volcanoes, extensive forests, and vast lakes. Also, it was cold! And I mean cold…

Cold Hokkaido Japan dam

Hokkaido is a place where you’ll be in awe but also grow healthy respect for nature.

The wind can be fierce and freezing, and we endured snow and hail but also got to enjoy days of sunshine and admire the famous cherry blossoms (sakura).

We explored Hokkaido by car, which in my opinion is the best way to get around this island.

We discovered places we wouldn’t have been able to visit if we didn’t have a car and each of those places was absolutely incredible.

A couple of the highlights of our Hokkaido trip were:

  • Noboribetsu and Jigokudani (Hell Valley): this volcanic park with bubbling mud pools, steaming vents, and a kaleidoscope of colors is highly worth a visit. The highlight is Oyunuma Pond, a steaming lake with a surface temperature of 50°.
  • Matsumae Castle: a beautiful traditional Edo-style castle surrounded by thousands of cherry blossom trees. Matsumae Castle is worth a visit during any time of the year but is particularly stunning during sakura.
  • Furano: my favorite town on Hokkaido with a myriad of things to do. You can visit a cheese or wine factory (or both), go for a hike, admire the vivid Blue Pools, and much more. Stay here for at least two nights if you have time!

Check out my Hokkaido road trip guide

Day 14 – 16: Hiroshima and Miyajima


We went from the cold of Hokkaido to the comfortable spring temperatures of Hiroshima and Miyajima Island.

Visiting Hiroshima was a very moving experience. It felt strange to wander around streets that were completely and utterly destroyed when the A-bomb was dropped during WWII in 1945.

An entire city lost…

I couldn’t, and still can’t, grasp the enormity of that tragedy. When in Hiroshima, there are several places you must visit, to learn about the history of the city:

  • The Atomic Bomb Dome: the atomic bomb dropped by the United States Army detonated about 600 meters above this building, which is why it’s still (partially) standing. It’s a vivid reminder of the tragic history of Hiroshima.
  • The Children’s Peace Monument: this monument is dedicated to the children who died in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.
  • Hiroshima Castle: the original castle was also destroyed by the atomic bomb, but has been reconstructed perfectly (like you could expect anything less in Japan). Explore the museum inside, wander the gardens, and admire the view from the top of the caste.

Check out my Hiroshima itinerary.


Miyajima island floating Torii gate in the water Japan

From Hiroshima, we traveled to Miyajima Island (also called Itsukushima). Miyajima is a beautiful green island and a great place for outdoor lovers like myself.

Things to do are:

  • Itsukushima Shrine and the ‘floating’ Torii gate: this is definitely the top attraction of Miyajima Island. The shrine is built over the water and supported by pillars. If you can, time your visit with high tide and the sunset for an unforgettable view.
  • Hike to the top of Mount Misen: Mount Misen is a 535 meters tall ‘mountain’ on Miyajima Island. Three official trails lead to the summit, though you can also do part of the ascend by ropeway.
  • Daisho-in Temple: this ancient temple was founded in the year 80. Don’t miss the multicolored sand mandala, the beautiful lanterns hanging from the ceiling of the Henjokutsu Ichigandaishi cave and the many little statues found all around the complex.

Check out my Miyajima Island guide.

Day 17 – 19: Nara and Koyasan

Both Nara and Koyasan are very interesting places to visit.

While Nara offers some of the most famous temples in Japan, Koyasan is considered a sacred place and remains a popular pilgrimage destination even today.


1 Month In Japan: A Complete Itinerary And Travel Map

Nara, while far from a big city, is home to about 400.000 people and is most well-known for its temples and deer. And we saw plenty of both during our one-day visit to Nara.

Some of the highlights in Nara are:

  • Naramachi District: in the former merchant district of Nara, you can find traditional wooden houses, pretty little shops, art galleries, and much more. When strolling around this beautiful neighborhood, you will feel like you have stepped back in time.
  • Todaiji: Todaiji roughly translates into the Great Eastern Temple, a fitting name for this huge and impressive temple. Housing the world’s largest bronze Buddha statue, a visit to this temple should definitely be on your Nara itinerary.
  • Nara Park: go for a stroll in Nara Park, one of the oldest parks in Japan. Nara Park is home to hundreds of deer, which have become a symbol of the city. Several of Nara’s highlights are located in the park as well, such as the aforementioned Todaiji, but also Kofukuji, and the Nara National Museum. 

Check out this great guide to Nara for more details!


From Nara, we traveled to Koyasan. or Mount Koya, to be exact.

We hiked the 24km Koyasan Chōishi-Michi pilgrimage trail, definitely a highlight of our trip. The fog drifting through the forest made the entire experience magical and mysterious…

And if our trip to Koyasan wasn’t perfect enough already, the next day was sunny with a clear blue sky.

Vermillion Kongobu-ji temple Mount Koya Japan

Some of the places in Koyasan you must visit are:

  • Okunoin: the oldest graves in this cemetery date back to the year 816. Okunoin is a UNESCO heritage site, with over 200.000 tombstones, many of them covered by thick layers of moss, and the Kobo Daishi’s mausoleum.
  • Garan: this is Koyasan’s central temple complex. Pictured above is the 45-meter-high vermilion Konpon Daito Pagoda, one of the most impressive buildings within the complex. Another notable building is the Kondo Hall, a large wooden temple used for important ceremonies. 
  • Daimon Gate: a magnificent two-story wooden gate that marks the end of the 24km Koyasan Chōishi-Michi pilgrimage trail. You’ll be very happy to see this gate, it means you’ve finished your hike and made it all the way to Koyasan!

Check out my Koyasan chōishi-michi hiking guide.

Day 20 – 22: Kyoto

Kyoto with its many temples and other highlights was another great place to visit in Japan.

We strolled around the busy streets for two days (three nights) and didn’t nearly see everything there is to see in Kyoto…

I liked the vibe of the city and the gorgeous weather didn’t hurt either. And again, the food… Oh Japanese food, I would travel back to Japan today for a bowl of abura soba or ramen!

In any case, when in Kyoto, definitely visit these places:

  • Gion: Gion is the historic district of Kyoto, a maze of narrow streets and alleys lined with old (wooden) buildings, restaurants, cafes, and traditional teahouses. If you are lucky, you may even spot a real geisha!
  • Kinkakuji (the Golden Pavilion): possibly the most famous construction in Kyoto, this temple was originally the retirement villa of the shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu. Later it became a temple and with its golden exterior and splendid architectural style, it’s highly worth a visit.
  • Inari Fukushi shrine: for me, this was the highlight of our trip to Kyoto. You probably have seen many photos similar to the one pictured above (on the right), however, actually walking this famous path below the Torii gates yourself is a very special experience.

Check out my Kyoto itinerary.

Day 23 – 28: The Japanese Alps

Lowa Lady Light GTX hiking shoes

Though our entire trip around Japan was amazing, the Japanese Alps were definitely one of my favorite areas. 

I love mountains, though unfortunately, we don’t have any in the Netherlands. I also love hiking and this is something we did a lot in the Alps.


Kenruko-en garden Kanazawa - Japan itinerary

We started our journey through the Alps in Kanazawa to stroll around the lovely Kenruko-en garden.


Shirakawa-go (白川郷, Shirakawagō) village in Japanese Alps

The next day we got on a bus to Shirakawa-go, famous for its traditional gassho-zukuri farmhouses, some of which are more than 250 years old!


Old shops in Takayama village Japanese Alps

The next city on our Alps itinerary was Takayama, where we explored the old neighborhoods and Hida Folk Village.


1 Month In Japan: A Complete Itinerary And Travel Map

The absolute highlight of our Japan trip was Kamikochi, one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen.

I spent three days in Kamikochi. We were surrounded by stunning mountains and scaled a volcano (Mount Yakedake).

We slept in our little tent at a very well-managed campsite and wandered around the valley. Suffice to say, I was completely and utterly happy.


One month Japan itinerary - Matsumoto Castle

Last but not least we visited the beautiful castle in Matsumoto, one of Japan’s most famous and well-preserved historic castles.

During our second trip to Japan, we spent 3 nights in Matsumoto, it’s a very convenient hub to explore the Japanese Alps and a nice city as well.

Check out my Japanese Alps itinerary and Kamikochi camping and hiking guide.

Day 29: Goodbye Japan…

From Matsumoto, we traveled back to Tokyo to catch our flight back home. I was sad to leave because we had such an amazing month in Japan…

From the wilds of Hokkaido with its hauntingly beautiful nature and its bitter cold to the tragic and terrible history of Hiroshima.

From the floating Tori gate of Miyajima to the peaks of Kamikochi, the temples in Kyoto, and the mysterious forest of Koyasan, it was a wonderful trip. And that’s not even taking into account all the delicious food!

Japan is an amazing country and I highly recommend adding Japan to your travel bucket list, you won’t regret it.

Hokkaido 10 day road trip itinerary

Alternative Japan itineraries (7 and 10 days + 2 and 3 weeks)

Japan itinerary 7 days

If you just have 1 week in Japan, don’t worry! While you cannot see everything the country has to offer, you can get a taste and feel of the country. Here is my suggestion for a 7-day Japan itinerary:

  • Day 1-2: Explore Tokyo
  • Day 3: Make a day trip from Tokyo (such as Mount Fuji, Kamakura, or Nikko)
  • Day 4: Take the Shinkansen to Kyoto (2 hours and 15 minutes) and explore Kyoto
  • Day 5-6: Explore Kyoto
  • Day 7: Return to Tokyo and fly home (you can also fly out from Osaka)
Senso-Ji Temple in Tokyo

10 day Japan itinerary

This Japan 10-day itinerary includes the major cities Tokyo and Kyoto, but also the beautiful nature of Koyasan and the famous temples (and deer) in Nara.

This Japan 10 days itinerary isn’t too fast-paced, however, you will get to visit five very different places in Japan:

  • Day 1-2: Explore Tokyo
  • Day 3: Make a day trip from Tokyo (such as Mount Fuji, Kamakura, or Nikko)
  • Day 4: Take the Shinkansen to Kyoto (2 hours and 15 minutes) and explore Kyoto
  • Day 5-6: Explore Kyoto
  • Day 7-8: Hike the Koyasan Chōishi-Michi pilgrimage trail and explore sacred Koyasan
  • Day 9: Visit Nara
  • Day 10: fly home from Osaka
Kinkakuji temple Golden Pavilion Kyoto Japan

Japan 2 week itinerary

This 2 week Japan itinerary includes the major highlights of Japan, without rushing around the country.

During your 2 weeks in Japan, you’ll visit the cities of Tokyo, Kyoto, and Hiroshima and get to enjoy some beautiful nature (and temples) in Koyasan and on Miyajima island.

  • Day 1-3: Explore Tokyo
  • Day 4: Make a day trip from Tokyo (such as Mount Fuji, Kamakura, or Nikko)
  • Day 5: Take the Shinkansen to Kyoto (2 hours and 15 minutes) and explore Kyoto
  • Day 6-7: Explore Kyoto
  • Day 8-9: Hike the Koyasan Chōishi-Michi pilgrimage trail and explore sacred Koyasan
  • Day 10-11: Travel to Hiroshima and learn about the tragic history of the city
  • Day 12-13: Go hiking on Miyajima island and admire the famous floating Torii gate
  • Day 14: fly home from Osaka
Osaka castle with cherry blossoms

Japan 3-week itinerary

With this 3 week Japan itinerary, you get to experience very different sides of Japan. You’ll explore several interesting cities, spend a night in Koyasan, and hike around the Japanese Alps.

When you have 3 weeks in Japan, I suggest the following route:

  • Day 1-3: Explore Tokyo
  • Day 4: Make a day trip from Tokyo (such as Mount Fuji, Kamakura, or Nikko)
  • Day 5: Take the Shinkansen to Kyoto (2 hours and 15 minutes) and explore Kyoto
  • Day 6-7: Explore Kyoto
  • Day 8-9: Hike the Koyasan Chōishi-Michi pilgrimage trail and explore sacred Koyasan
  • Day 10-11: Visit Nara
  • Day 12-13: Explore Osaka
  • Day 14-20: Travel around the Japanese Alps (Kanazawa, Shirakawago, Takayama, Kamikochi, and Matsumoto)
  • Day 21: Fly home from Tokyo
Houses with gassho-zukuri roofs in Shirakawa-go Japanese Alps

Plan your Japan trip like a pro with these tools:
🚅 Get a Japan Railpass to save lots of time and money.
🚗 Rent a car for your Japan road trip via
📱 Stay connected with a Japan SIM card.
📖 Plan your journey with the Japan Lonely Planet.
🛏️ Find the best hotel deals on
😎 Join the best tours in Japan via Get Your Guide.
🗺️ Travel safely and get reliable travel insurance from Safety Wing.

I hope this post has given you an idea of what to see in Japan, you can download the map of our Japan one-month itinerary below.

If you have any questions, leave a comment or send me a message.

This post was updated in April 2022.

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Sunday 4th of September 2022

Is there anything to consider when renting a car in Japan? Or something you have to do in advance that you are allowed to rent a car at all? I am planning to go on a road trip with my friends.


Tuesday 6th of September 2022

Hey Cedric,

Thanks for reading! Regarding your question, you may want to check out my guide to driving on Hokkaido: Many of the tips mentioned here are applicable for entire Japan. Most importantly: don't forget to bring a Geneva Convention International Driver’s Permit. You must have one in order to rent a car.

Have a great trip and let me know if there's anything else you need help with! Lotte


Wednesday 6th of January 2021

Fantastic itinerary. I will keep this in mind for the next time I travel:-)


Thursday 7th of January 2021

Thank you Daniel, let's hope we can travel (safely) again in the near future:-)


Sunday 8th of September 2019

HI there,

Did you get any vaccinations for your trip to Japan? Specifically, for Japanese Encephalitis?

Cheers, Brendon


Monday 9th of September 2019

Hi Brendon,

Thank you for your email and we didn't get any vaccines specifically for Japan. However, we already had many vaccines (Hep A&B, MMR and tetanus etc). We did not get the Japanese Encephalitis vaccines, though I'm no medical expert so I don't feel qualified to give any advice regarding health issues. I recommend to check with your doctor and discuss the pros and cons with him/her:-). Have a great trip to Japan!


Alex Ek

Thursday 13th of June 2019

Hello! I am wondering how you contacted the campsite in Miyajima. Thank you so much for this blog! It’s really helped a lot!


Thursday 13th of June 2019

Hi Alex,

Very welcome! I actually didn't contact the campsite, we just showed up:-) Sorry I can't be more help. Have a great trip!


Scott Jordan

Saturday 22nd of December 2018

Hello Lottie!

this is an incredible post, found it very helpful!

I am planning a rather ambitious cycle trip during august/sept summer 2019. My intention is to cycle around Tohoku over a month period or so staying at hostels and airBnB along the way. However i am finding that there doesn't appear to be many hostels in the north of Honshu. I noticed you didn't stay anywhere in Tohoku i was wondering was that because of a similar reason?

How far in advance would you advise booking rooms to stay?

Thanks for your help Scott


Monday 24th of December 2018

Hello Scott,

Thank you for your kind comment! Your cycle trip sounds amazing:-) I actually didn't research that area, Japan is such a large country and there is so much to see, there was only so much we could visit in one month. The Tohoku area didn't make the cut... I checked and there are some campsites but you are right about Airbnb and Booking showing very few options! Perhaps you can try finding a Japanese hotel booking site or you can consider carrying a small tent.

We didn't book that far ahead, I think only a couple of weeks and on Hokkaido only 1 or 2 days. I hope this helps! Have a great trip:-)