The name Hiroshima will forever be connected to the atomic bomb. But spend one day in Hiroshima, and you’ll see that it’s far from a radioactive wasteland. Today, Hiroshima a thriving city with over a million citizens, and is a great addition to any Japan trip plan.
Planning your Hiroshima itinerary, you’ll discover a modern city with many great attractions. You can reach most of its top sightseeing spot by foot or by train. Even if you only have 24 hours in Hiroshima, you should be able to hit up all the highlights in a cinch.
Hiroshima is a mixture of ancient & modern history. From the site of the atomic bomb memorial to the magical floating torii gate outside of Itsukushima Shrine, it’s all here.
Not sure where to begin your journey? Plan an unforgettable trip with this complete one-day Hiroshima itinerary.
What to do in Hiroshima in 24 hours: A complete one-day itinerary
While 24 hours in Hiroshima may not seem like a lot of time. the city’s main attractions are conveniently located close to one another. The furthest destination is Miyajima Island. Even then, Miyajima only takes about 40 minutes to reach.
If you want to make the most out of your Hiroshima itinerary, start bright and early.
For a large portion of the trip, you’ll be walking around the city. Ensure you’re wearing a comfortable pair of shoes. If your feet get tired, or you want to move a bit quicker, you can always rely on the train stations. They’re located all throughout the downtown area.
Now, for the fun part! Let’s look at the memorable sights waiting for you in Hiroshima…
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Start your day with a quick snack at Hiroshima Station
Depending on how you arrive in Hiroshima, you’ll likely start your day at Hiroshima Station. While you could head straight for your first sightseeing destination, you may want to fuel up with a snack first.
You’ll find quite a few options in & around the station, including coffee and Western-style fast food chains. Skip these options. Instead, try a local treat: Momiji-Manju. It’s a small pastry shaped to resemble a maple leaf and stuffed with different fillings.
While it’s traditionally filled with red bean paste, you can find these small cakes stuffed with anything from cream cheese to chocolate. It also holds local significance as the maple leaf is the traditional symbol of the city.
Catch an early ferry ride to the island of the gods
After grabbing a quick bite, embark for your next destination: Miyajima in Hiroshima Bay. You can reach the island as early as 6:30am. With just 24 hours in Hiroshima, it’s important to start early.
The fastest way to get to the island is to take a train from Hiroshima Station to Miyajimaguchi Station. Exiting Miyajimaguchi will put you right next to the ferry pier. The entire trip is about 40 minutes, including the ferry ride.
Miyajima means “shrine island” and is home to the Itsukushima Shrine. The main building and its iconic large torii gate are perched in the bay. At high tide, they give the sense that they’re floating.
Many travellers choose to visit the island later in the day, but you’ll appreciate making it your first stop. The early morning skies are a more spectacular backdrop for the giant torii gate. Going early will also help you beat the crowds. It’ll let you explore the island and still have plenty of time for more Hiroshima sightseeing.
The main attraction on the island is Itsukushima Shrine. This UNESCO World Heritage Site takes just a few minutes to reach after getting dropped off by the ferry. Spend some time marveling at the floating torii gate and the shrine buildings before heading toward Mount Misen.
Ride the ropes to ascend the highest peak on the island
Finished taking pictures of the shrine and surrounding buildings? It’s time to head to the highest spot in the island. At 500 metres above sea level, Mount Misen offers wide-open views of the surrounding islands and bay.
Luckily, you don’t need to hike to the summit. Simply catch a ride on the ropeway. The cable cars take people up and down the mountain with each trip taking only about 15 minutes.
There isn’t much to do at the top except to take in the sights. Within a few minutes, you may want to start making your return trip.
If you’re worried about time, you can take the ropeway back down. If you’re making good time, however, follow the path down to the town.
As you walk the pathways back to the town, you’ll probably encounter deer. They roam freely through the area and are a common sight in most parts of Miyajima Island.
You can grab a bite in town or make your way back to the mainland. You’ll find several great restaurants on the island. As you might expect, seafood is their specialty. Grilled oysters, served with butter or soy sauce, are particularly popular.
Travel back to the mainland to fill your stomach with a local specialty
Unless the ferries are getting too crowded, the fastest way back to downtown Hiroshima is the way you came. Another option is to take a direct boat from the island to the Hiroshima port. It’ll put you within a stone’s throw of Hiroshima Station.
The direct boat ride is more expensive and has the same travel time. On a busy day, it might be more relaxing than riding on a crowded ferry though.
When you get back to the downtown area, it should still be early in the day, depending on what time you started. If you haven’t had lunch yet, there are several restaurants along the way that serve Hiroshimiyaki.
Hiroshimayaki is Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki. If you’re not familiar with the dish, okonomiyaki is a fried pancake covered in a mixture of cabbage and vegetables. Typically, ingredients are mixed together in the batter to create a savoury pancake. The Hiroshima style involves layering the ingredients on the pancake instead of mixing them together.
Visit the historic site of the first atomic bomb dropping
After lunch, it’s time to explore more of the downtown area and the most famous site in the city. The sprawling Peace Memorial Park is an essential destination for your Hiroshima itinerary.
It serves as a reminder of the importance of peace and the tragedy when the bomb dropped. The atomic bomb is the first thing that people think of when discussing Hiroshima. As such, Peace Memorial Park is a must-see.
The park includes several memorials, a museum, and landmarks in memoriam to the over 200,000 people who died that day.
When exploring the park, you’ll see the top of the Atomic Bomb Dome. It’s part of the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall.
The hall remained mostly intact after the bombing, including the metal framework to the dome on the top of the building. The building still stands and has remained as a memorial.
By the middle of the day, the park and museum might be crowded. However, most of the sites in & around the park are spread out. You should be able to find plenty of room to wander around and take photos.
As you walk around the park, try to find ground zero. The hypocentre of the bombing is directly below the spot where the bomb was detonated 600 meters in the sky.
Surprisingly, the hypocentre doesn’t include a large memorial and can be difficult to find. It’s found on an ordinary side street containing a medical clinic and a few other businesses. It consists only of a simple marble monument with a plaque.
Get a better view of the city from the Hiroshima Orizuru Tower
The atomic bomb dome is right across from your next destination. From the upper floors of the Hiroshima Orizuru Tower, you’ll get a beautiful unobstructed view of Hiroshima.
Besides the view, there are several activities to enjoy inside the tower. You can grab a cup of coffee from the café or learn how to fold an origami crane, a Japanese symbol of hope and healing. When you get back outside, you’re allowed to add your paper crane to the wall.
Note that you can cut the cost of admission to the tower in half by simply showing your passport. Without your passport, you’ll need to pay full price.
You have two ways to exit the tower. You can take the stairs or have some fun and opt to take the slide. Just remember to take your shoes off to enjoy a smooth ride down to the bottom floor.
Shop & dine in the Tokaichimachi neighbourhood
By the time that you finish your trip to the tower, it should be getting a little late in the day. Start walking northeast across the Aioi Bridge toward shopping, dining, and drinks.
The Tokaichimachi area is in a central part of Hiroshima. It includes a dense collection of residential and commercial blocks. Here, you’ll find a wide selection of places to shop and eat.
In the evening, many of the area’s cocktail bars start opening their doors. The area doesn’t have a thriving nightlife. But you can still have a great time exploring the neighbourhood and trying to find various watering holes.
As your night winds down, there are several stations in the area that can take you directly back to the Hiroshima Station. In just a single day, you’ve explored the most important landmarks in the city and hopefully got to taste most of the local cuisine!
Where to stay in Hiroshima in one day
Unlike other Japanese cities, choosing where to stay in Hiroshima isn’t so complicated. The city centre, where you’ll find many of the top attractions and the man transportation hubs, is compact and easy to navigate.
Not sure where to start looking? Check out these top hotels for a Hiroshima layover:
- Daiwa Roynet Hotel Hiroshima is a budget-friendly 3-star hotel located in the city’s commercial district. The hotel offers spacious rooms with simple modern style. Peace Memorial Park is less than 10 minutes away by foot.
- Hotel Granvia Hiroshima is a well-priced hotel conveniently connected to Hiroshima Station. Rooms are modern and large by Japanese standards. Six on-site restaurants and a massage service shoot the property above its 3-star rating.
- Rihga Royal Hotel Hiroshima is a contemporary mid-range hotel in the heart of the city. Its rooms are gargantuan compared to most in other major Japanese cities. For sightseeing, it doesn’t get much better than this. Many of the top attractions lie within a short 5- to 10-minute walk.
- Candeo Hotels Hiroshima Hatchobori is a lovely brand-new 4-star hotel. It fills the void in a city surprisingly short on high-end luxury. Rooms and spacious and modern, but its the hotel’s relaxing & atmospheric onsen that kicks it up a notch.