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Miyajima Itinerary With The Best Things To Do In Miyajima

Miyajima, also known by the name Itsukushima, is a beautiful island in Japan within easy travel distance from the city of Hiroshima.

There are lots of things to do on Miyajima, but the island is most famous for the impressive floating Torii Gate which is part of the Itsukushima Shrine.

Miyajima Island is a great place to spend a couple of days, you can hike, visit ancient temples, eat delicious food, or simply relax and enjoy the island vibe.

This Miyajima itinerary will help you make the most of your trip to this small island just off the coast of the Hiroshima prefecture.

The best things to do on Miyajima Island

Stone lanterns on Miyajima Island

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Miyajima Island things to do

Things to do on Miyajima

Map of Miyajima island and the main attractions

In the map below you can find the places mentioned in this post.

Miyajima island map with things to do

Click here for the interactive map

Is Miyajima worth visiting?

Yes, absolutely! Miyajima is said to be one of the top three scenic spots in Japan and having visited this wonderful island I can say that I totally agree.

That being said, Miyajima wasn't on our initial Japan itinerary. We would originally spend 2 weeks in Hokkaido but ended up flying out after 10 days instead of 14 because of the bad weather forecast.

Leaving Hokkaido a couple of days early gave us the opportunity to add both Hiroshima and Miyajima Island to our itinerary and I am very glad we did.

In Japanese, Miyajima means ‘the Shrine Island', which is not surprising as the island is well-known for the beautiful floating Torii Gate and Itsukushima Shrine. But there are other shrines and temples as well, as you can read further in this post.

For outdoor enthusiasts, Miyajima has plenty to offer as well, with several well-marked hiking trails and the 535 meters high Mt. Misen.

What is the best time to visit Miyajima?

While you can visit Miyajima year-round, spring and autumn are the best time to visit in my opinion.

We visited Miyajima in May and had excellent weather (except for a heavy shower on our last morning on the island).

Generally, temperatures are comfortable but not too hot for hiking between March-June and after the hot and humid summer months. While winters are definitely colder they are not extremely cold, so you could still visit Miyajima in winter.

Note however that the trees will be bare in winter and as Miyajima is covered in beautiful trees, I personally feel you wouldn't see the island at its prettiest.

Contrarily, in spring you can see the cherry blossoms (usually early April) and in autumn you can admire the colorful leaves (around mid-November) making these great (but also very popular) times to visit Miyajima.

Temple on Miyajima Island

Where to stay on Miyajima Island

There are many excellent accommodation options available on Miyajima, suitable for any budget. In the table below you can find my recommendations.

NameStarsRatingPriceBook
Miyajima Guest House Mikuniya9.3US$89Click here
Miyajima Grand Hotel Arimoto ☆☆☆☆9US$172Click here
Miyajima Seaside Hotel☆☆☆8.8US$228Click here

Note: Prices for these hotels depend on the time of year and how far in advance you book. Therefore, the prices mentioned above are a rough indication of the price per night to help you compare the different options. Use ‘click here' to see the latest prices on Booking and book ahead to get the best deal.

If you are on a really tight budget, you can go camping on Miyajima instead of staying at a hotel (read more below).

Alternatively, you can stay on the mainland where accommodation is cheaper than on Miyajima itself.

Transport: how to get to Miyajima

Shinkansen Japan Shin Osaka station

Miyajima has a train station called Miyajima-guchi station which is served by rapid trains.

You can take a bullet train to JR Hiroshima station, and from Hiroshima, you can transfer to the JR Sanyo line (local train). The train journey to Miyajima station takes 30 minutes.

From the Miyajimaguchi station, it's only a short walk to the pier where the JR ferry departs every 15 minutes to the island, it takes around 10 minutes to reach Miyajima. More information can be found here.

If you have a JR Rail Pass or a JR Kansai Hiroshima Area Pass, both the train as well as the ferry is included in this pass.

Regarding the JR Pass: 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 Railpass 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 JR Pass is worth the money for your trip.

Deer Miyajima island Japan

Miyajima itinerary

Read my proposed Miyajima itinerary including all the best things to do on Miyajima below.

Miyajima itinerary day 1

  • 9 am: take the boat to Miyajima Island
  • 10 am: drop your bags at your hotel
  • 11 am: visit the Five-Story Pagoda and Senjokaku
  • 1 pm: have lunch (at Okonomiyaki Kishibe)
  • 2 pm: take a stroll through Machiya Street
  • 2.30 pm: buy a souvenir in Omotesando street
  • 3:30 pm: visit Itsukushima Shrine
  • 6 pm: have dinner
  • Depending on the time of the year: watch the sunset behind the floating red Torii Gate

Miyajima itinerary day 2

  • 8 am: have a nice breakfast
  • 9 am: hike to the top of Mount Misen
  • 11 am: arrive at the top of Mount Misen and enjoy the view
  • 11:30 am: have a picnic at the top of Mount Misen
  • 12.00 pm: hike down to Daishion temple
  • 2 pm: visit the Daisho-in Temple
  • 4 pm: get your bags from your hotel
  • 5 pm: catch the ferry back to the mainland

If you have limited time, check out this Hiroshima and Miyajima day tour

Miyajima things to do

1. Visit Goju-no-to (the Five-Story Pagoda) and Senjokaku

Five Story Pagoda Miyajima Island

This beautiful Five Story pagoda was built in 1407 and is a combination of Japanese and Chinese building styles.

Please note that you can't enter the pagoda. However, you can visit Senjokaku (The Hall of One Thousand Tatami Mats), which is definitely worthwhile!

Interesting fact: the central pillar of the pagoda doesn't extend all the way from roof to the foundation, instead it ends at the second floor.

2. Have lunch at one of the many Japanese restaurants

One of my favorite things about travel is enjoying the local cuisine. There are so many delicious options in Japan and Miyajima is no exception.

There are lots of restaurants where you can go for lunch, most are located on Omotesando street (though the restaurant pictured below is located on Machiya Street).

One of the dishes I discovered in Japan is okonomiyaki. Okonomiyaki is a mix of batter, vegetables, and meat (or seafood, usually squid) looking a bit like a pancake.

I first ate this dish in Hokkaido, but the dish is said to have originated in Osaka. You can find okonomiyaki throughout Japan and each region has its own version. And so did Miyajima!

miyajima island 2 day itinerary

We found a cute little place serving okonomiyaki (Okonomiyaki Kishibe, 483-2 Miyajimacho, Hatsukaichi, Hiroshima 739-0588, Japan+81 829-44-0002) and could see our food being freshly prepared on a big hot plate.

Usually, you can also order yakisoba in these kinds of restaurants. Yakisoba is a fried noodle dish with vegetables and some meat, you can see mine in the picture above (the huge pile of noodles on the right side of the hot plate).

3. Stroll around Miyajima Machiya Street

Walking through this street lined with old folk houses is like stepping into the past. Visit one of the art galleries, grab a drink in one of the cafes or simply enjoy a stroll through this cute little backstreet. 

4. Buy a souvenir in Omotesando street

On Omotesando Street, you can find lots of souvenir shops selling local delicacies (such as typical Miyajima rice scoops and freshly baked Momiji Manju) as well as local arts and crafts,

Take your time exploring the many stalls and shops!

5. Visit Itsukushima Shrine

Miyajima Island and Itsukushima Shrine seen from JR Ferry

Itsukushima Shrine and the ‘floating' Torii gate marking the entrance to the complex is the main reason most tourists visit Miyajima Island.

The entire shrine is supported by pillars over the water and the different buildings within the complex are connected by boardwalks. Give yourself plenty of time to explore this unique place in Japan!

6. Watch the sunset and the floating Torii Gate

Floating Torii gate Miyajima island Japan

Visiting the majestic and awe-inspiring floating torii gate on Miyajima Island is an experience that is not soon forgotten.

This 16-meter-tall torii gate was built in the 12th century and has been declared an Important Cultural Property of Japan.

It's the most popular place to visit on Miyajima and it's easy to see why. Watching the sun slowly set behind the impressive vermilion floating Torii gate is a sight you will never forget…

During high tide, it seems as if the gate is floating in the water, while during low tide, you can walk up to the structure and admire it upclose. Check the tide table here to plan your visit.

Note: after sunset, the shrine and the torii gate are illuminated daily until 23:00. A pretty sight as well!

7. Hike to the summit of Mount Misen

Miyajima island view from Mount Misen hike

A must-do activity on Miyajima, especially for avid hikers like myself, is to hike to the summit of Mount Misen.

The top of Mount Misen rises 535 meters above sea level and while it's not a leisurely walk in the park to get there, it's definitely worth the effort!

How long does it take to hike Mount Misen?

That depends on which route you decide to take. There are three official trails (and one ‘secret' hiking trail) leading up to the summit.

  • First of all, there is the Momiji Dani Route, which starts at Momiji Dani Park and takes about 90 minutes. The hiking distance is 2.5km (one way).
  • The second option is the Omoto Route, which takes around 2 hours. The hiking distance is 3.2 km (one way).
  • A third option is the Daishoin Route, which takes about 90 minutes and is 2.5 kilometers (one way). I recommend taking this route on your way down as it will lead you to the beautiful Daisho-in temple (read more below). Mind you, there are around 2000 stone steps so this route isn't the kindest one for your knees!

Mount Misen secret trail

There is another trail leading to the top of Mount Misen which starts at the Tsutsumigaura campground. We took this trail but later learned this track is officially closed as it's not considered to be safe by the government.

Truthfully, I don't know why because when we hiked it the track was in great condition and well signposted. Nevertheless, it's officially not recommended to take this trail.

Clear signs for hiking Mount Misen

Funny story: about halfway into the hike we ran into a group of friendly Japanese hikers, led by a volunteer guide from Mount Misen Hiking Club.

The guide asked us, a little surprised, how we found this track. He stated it was a secret trail that was not on any map and only people from the hiking club knew about it.

Well, it turned out this trail was actually not that secret as it was clearly signposted from our campsite (see picture above)!

Hiking Miyajima Island Japan Mount Misen

If you do decide to take this alternative trail to the summit of Mount Misen, note that there are viper snakes on Miyajima.

Therefore it's smart to carry a (hiking) stick and poke the bushes in front of you to make sure there isn’t a viper snake lying around…

If you are short on time or don't want to hike, you can take the Miyajima cable car as well. The ropeway takes approximately 15 minutes and the views along the way are splendid!

Read this guide to hiking Mount Misen for more tips.

8. Have a picnic at the top of Mount Misen

Top of Mount Misen Miyajima Japan

After your hike, you are probably hungry and thirsty. A big wooden lookout post near the top is the perfect place for lunch with a view.

Make sure to bring some sandwiches, snacks, and drinks so you can join the many families having a picnic here. Hike down via the Daishoin route, leading to the Daisho-in Temple.

9. Daisho-in Temple

Daishoin temple Miyajima Island Japan

The Daisho-in temple is a famous temple on Miyajima and a very unique one. Founded in the year 80, the Daisho-in complex is as ancient as it is mysterious.

Hundreds of statues are spread around the temple, and many of these are wearing tiny hats.

I was informed by reader Erin that the hats on the statues commemorate babies who were stillborn or miscarried. A beautiful gesture for a heartbreaking situation.

When visiting the Daisho-in temple, don't miss the multicolored sand mandala made by monks from Tibet and the beautiful lanterns hanging from the ceiling of the Henjokutsu Ichigandaishi cave.

10. Catch the ferry back to the mainland

Having visited all these beautiful places in Miyajima, it's time to leave this magical island.

Hop on the ferry back to the mainland and continue your trip around Japan. Osaka, Kyoto, Koyasan and obviously buzzing Tokyo are other places I highly recommend visiting.

Most people will combine a trip to Miyajima with Hiroshima, as the two destinations are very close to each other (30 minutes by train).

Be sure to read our Hiroshima itinerary to explore the city and its many facets in a meaningful and respectful way.

Hiroshima is where the first atomic bomb went off during World War II. The effects of this nuclear bomb have left a profound and lasting impression on the city.

Take in sights like the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, Hiroshima Castle, Hiroshima peace memorial museum, and the Atomic Bomb Dome, and take the time to reflect on its rich and difficult history.

Hiroshima peace park Japan
The Memorial Cenotaph and Peace Flame in Hiroshima Peace Park

Tips for visiting Miyajima Island on a budget

Do some grocery shopping before you take the ferry

A great way to cut costs is to bring enough drinks and snacks from the mainland.

There is no supermarket on the island so before you hop on the ferry to Miyajima Island, do some quick shopping at the 7-11. You can find the 7-11 in between Miyajima train station and the JR ferry.

Go camping

Instead of staying at a hotel, we went camping at Miyajima Island which is another opportunity to cut costs. We stayed at Tsutsumigaura campground for 2 nights and paid ¥1000/€8/$9 per night.

We were accompanied by several wild deer during our stay but there were no other campers! Perhaps it's busier during the summer months. More information can be found on the campsite website.

There is a minivan service to the Tsutsumigaura campground. However, the minivan service doesn't run until late. In fact, the last bus to the campsite departs around 6 pm.

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 Rentalcars.com.
✅ Stay connected with Airalo Japan offer.
✅ Plan your journey with the Japan Lonely Planet.
✅ Find the best hotel deals on Booking.com.
✅ Join the best tours in Japan via Klook.
✅ Travel safely and get reliable travel insurance from Safety Wing.

Miyajima island itinerary: in conclusion

I hope this post has inspired you to visit this beautiful little island just off the coast of the Hiroshima prefecture.

A two-day trip to Miyajima Island is a great way to get a taste of Japan and its beautiful culture. This itinerary can be used to explore all the incredible spots that the island has to offer, from the iconic Itsukushima Shrine to Mt. Misen and other scenic views.

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

Read my other posts about Japan for more Japan travel inspiration!

This post was updated in February 2023.

Rick Weber

Friday 19th of August 2022

Glad you enjoyed your visit to Miyajima. I'm an American living in Hiroshima. I love Miyajima, its history, folklore, scenery, and people. I have been fortunate to have visited the island more than 100 times and teach about all of the above to Japanese students in English so they can share the island and all of its wonders and beauty with visitors from around the world. Hope you or some of your readers here have a chance to come and visit our beautiful World Cultural Heritage Site again!

Lotte

Tuesday 6th of September 2022

Hey Rick,

Thanks so much for reading and lucky you living in Hiroshima! You probably have tons of insider tips for Miyajima that only locals know... Now that Japan is slowly opening its borders I hope many people will once again visit Miyajima Island! All the best:-)

Lotte

Kristyna

Sunday 24th of March 2019

Thanks a lot for a great tip, Lotte! Are there any lockers in the campsite? Or did you just leave everything inside your tent during the day?

Lotte

Wednesday 27th of March 2019

Hi Kristyna,

You're most welcome, I'm happy to help! We didn't find any lockers and just left everything in our tent. We did however carry our valuables (tablet and laptop + phones) with us whenever we left the campsite.

Have a great trip! Lotte

Nate

Sunday 12th of February 2017

Hi Lotte, awesome post and thanks for breaking down the costs... Hopefully you didn't see many viper snakes?!

Lotte

Monday 13th of February 2017

Very welcome, hope it helps you plan your trip! We luckily didn't come across any viper snakes;-)

Astrid

Tuesday 31st of January 2017

Hi Lotte,

Thanks for the inspiration! Your pictures are beautiful. Especially the 'not-so-secret trail'!

Japan is in the top 5 must-travel destinations. I've never heard of Miyajima Island before. I'll be adding it to my journey diary so when I finally plan my Japanese adventure it'll be on my itinerary.

Astrid

Lotte

Wednesday 1st of February 2017

Thank you so much Astrid! Great to hear I've inspired you to visit Miyajima Island:, it's a wonderful place-) I hope you can go to Japan in the near future, happy travels and let me know if you need any help with your itinerary!