Planning a trip beyond the usual Japan tourist destinations? There’s no shortage of things to do in Hiroshima. For years, Hiroshima was known as one of the sites of the atomic bombings of World War II. The Japanese city has long since transcended its most fateful days. Today, it thrives with a population of almost 1.2 million people.
Whether you have one day in Hiroshima or a few, you can experience history in this vibrant metropolis. Whisk yourself back to the city’s feudal days on visit to Hiroshima Castle. Go shopping in local markets while searching for its most famed food, okonomiyaki. Or catch a Hiroshima Toyo Carp baseball game in a stadium filled with 30,000 ardent Japanese fans. With so much to see & do, the top tourist attractions in Hiroshima will keep you busy for days.
Don’t where to start exploring what to do in Hiroshima? Plan your trip with this guide to the best places to visit in Hiroshima.
Top tourist attractions in Hiroshima
View the sobering reminder of WWII at the Atomic Bomb Dome
On August 6th, 1945, a five-ton atomic bomb was detonated over Hiroshima. The explosion destroyed much of the city in an instant, killing tens of thousands. In the years since, the city has built a large memorial and peace park to memorialize the human toll.
Despite its grim past, Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park is a lovely area. In the park, you’ll find several monuments including the Children’s Peace Monument. The park also hosts few museums like Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, and the Hiroshima Peace Centre Memorial Hall.
In the middle of the park, you’ll see a lasting reminder of the devastation. The Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall partially survived the bombing. The skeleton of the building remains. The top of the building featured a large dome, and its metal framework is still in place. It’s become known as the Atomic Bomb Dome.
The dome, the park, and museums are all necessary Hiroshima attractions to visit. In visiting this UNESCO World Heritage Site, you’ll learn more about the modern history of Hiroshima and how it was rebuilt after the war.
Ride the ferry to Miyajima Island view the floating torii gate of Itsukushima Shrine
Nearby Miyajima Island is one of the top places to visit in Hiroshima. It’s just across the harbour and is one of the best day trips from Hiroshima. It only takes about 40 minutes to reach from Hiroshima Station.
Miyajima Island is often called the Shrine Island. It houses the world-famous Itsukushima Shrine and its enormous torii gate. The shrine, its buildings, and its large torii gate were constructed upon pier-like structures to appear as if they’re floating on the water.
If you happen to visit during high tide, the shrine and the gate still look like they’re floating on the water. When riding in on the ferry to Miyajima Island in the early morning during a light fog, the gate magically appears out of nowhere.
Learn more about ancient history at Carp Castle
Another historic site and top attraction is Hiroshima Castle. The feudal castle is a massive five-story structure surrounded by a moat.
Sometimes called Carp Castle, Hiroshima Castle was destroyed during the atomic blast. It was rebuilt in the late 1950s. Today, the castle offers a window into the ancient history of the city. It’s home to a museum dedicated to Japanese life before World War II.
Walk the reconstructed castle grounds to imagine life in feudal Japan. You can also get a little help picturing ancient times by visiting the castle museum.
While exploring the grounds, keep on the look out for the three trees that survived the bombing. Somehow, the willow/eucalyptus/holly trio still thrive on the castle grounds.
Catch a baseball game at Mazda Zoom-Zoom Stadium
Hiroshima contains more than historic sites and ancient temples. You can also catch a baseball game. Surprising to some, baseball is one of Japan’s favourite national pastimes.
Mazda Zoom-Zoom Stadium Hiroshima is the home of the Hiroshima Toyo Carp. The team plays in the Nippon Professional Baseball Central League. Like the MLB in North America, the league represents the highest level of pro baseball in Japan.
For the past couple of decades, the home team hasn’t performed at their best. Luckily, they recently broke the curse and had a bit of a winning streak. The Toyo Carp won the Central League pennants for three straight seasons between 2016 and 2018.
Get in on the excitement by catching a game during the regular season alongside 30,000 fans. It’s a truly memorable experience with a lot more crowd participation compared to a typical MLB game. Prepare for dueling team brass bands, sing-alongs, dancing, and plenty of screaming.
Taste test local delicacies like okonomiyaki at Okonomimura
Okonomiyaki is a dish that you can find just about anywhere in Japan. When you talk to a resident of Hiroshima, they’ll quickly claim that their city delivers the tastiest version of this popular meal.
In Hiroshima, okonomiyaki ingredients are layered. While cabbage is a standard ingredient, you can also find noodles, eggs, and meat. Various other veggies can also be added to your taste.
There are many great spots for okonomiyaki throughout Hiroshima. Okonomimura provides the most options. It’s a sprawling building containing over 20 restaurants. The restaurants here specialize in okonomiyaki, or hiroshimayaki as it’s often called here.
Breathe fresh air and enjoy nature as you stroll Shukkeien Garden
Many major cities in Japan maintain historic gardens. Wherever you roam, you’ll have a chance to walk the same landscapes people walked hundreds of years ago. In Hiroshima, Shukkeien Garden is one of the most well-preserved ancient Japanese gardens.
Shukkeien Garden is a short walk from the castle. It’s a super convenient stop during your trip.
The garden was constructed in 1620. Like much of the city, Shukkeien Garden was destroyed by the atomic bombing. The garden was later reconstructed, and reopened to the public in 1951.
Today, you can enjoy a stroll through a landscape filled with native plant life, lakes, and teahouses. Above the cluster of trees surrounding Shukkeien Garden, you’ll see mountains blending in with the cityscape.
Ride the Moving Streetcar Museum
One of the top attractions in Hiroshima is found throughout the city. The streetcars travelling up & down every major street are a notable feature of Hiroshima.
In the first half of the 20th century, streetcars were a primary mode of transportation in major Japanese cities. While they’ve mostly disappeared throughout the country, Hiroshima proudly maintains over 300 streetcars.
These streetcars are called Hiroden. They come from all over Japan, as the city buys discontinued streetcars from other cities. This growing collection is commonly called the Moving Streetcar Museum.
You’ve got an eclectic mix of trolleys that you can use to travel the city streets. It’s also one of the best ways to explore the city.
Where to stay in Hiroshima for sightseeing
Unlike other large Japanese cities, figuring out where to stay in Hiroshima isn’t so difficult. Many of the top points of interest in Hiroshima lie in & around the compact and walkable city centre. Get your accommodations search started with these top hotels…
- Daiwa Roynet Hotel Hiroshima is budget-friendly 3-star hotel located in the city’s main commercial district. Rooms are spacious and modern.
- Hotel Granvia Hiroshima is another pick that won’t break the bank. This 3-star hotel is conveniently connected to the main station. Your arrival and departure will be a cinch. The contemporary rooms and more spacious than Japanese standards would predict. As an added bonus, the hotel is home to six restaurants. It also offers extras, like a massage service, that are beyond what’s normally offered in Japan at the price point.
- Rihga Royal Hotel Hiroshima is one of the top mid-range picks in city. This hotel features massive modern rooms. Most of the best attractions in Hiroshima lie within 5 to 10 minutes of the property by foot.
- Candeo Hotels Hiroshima Hatchobori is one of most luxurious choices in the city. There isn’t much in the way of top-end luxury in Hiroshima. This 4-star hotel shouldn’t disappoint. The rooms are surprisingly large. The real treat, though, is the relaxing on-site onsen where you can float all your cares away.