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How to Spend 3 Days in Nagano

How to Spend 3 Days in Nagano

With three days in and around Nagano, you can spend a day seeing the sights of Nagano city and another two on day trips around mountainous Nagano Prefecture, taking in temples, castles, and the famous local wildlife. Here are our top picks for spending three days in Nagano.

Day 1: Nagano City

Start your day at one of Nagano’s most important sites, the 8th-century Zenkoji Temple, where you can view impressive Buddhist statues and learn more about the city’s long history. Next, turn your attention to Nagano’s 12th-century Togakure school of ninja. If you’re traveling with children, check out the Kids’ Ninja Village, with ninja costumes and obstacle courses; otherwise, visit the Togakure Ninpo Museum, which delves into the school’s history. Finally, take a hands-on cooking class to learn about local cuisine and make—and eat—Nagano specialties such as oyaki dumplings and basashi (raw horse meat).

Day 2: Snow Monkeys

Devote your second day to one of Nagano’s most famous attractions: Jigokudani Monkey Park, northeast of the city in the town of Yamanouchi. Visit the park independently, or join one of the many half- and full-day tours that stop at the park as part of a larger area exploration, including Zenkoji Temple and the Shiga-kogen Highlands. At the wildlife reserve, visitors watch Japanese macaques bathe in the hot springs, a pastime they learned from humans. Winter is the best time to see these “snow monkeys,” although viewing is possible year-round. If you feel like a soak after viewing the macaques, head to a nearby hot-spring resort such as Shibu Onsen or Yudanaka Onsen. Alternatively, hiking enthusiasts can take in spectacular valley views in Shiga-kogen Park, within Joshinetsu-kogen National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Day 3: Visit Matsumoto

Rise early on your third day in Nagano, and take a day trip to the castle town of Matsumoto, a 1- to 2-hour drive away. Spend the day exploring this small city on the plains, with snow-capped mountains visible in the distance. The town’s star attraction, black, 16th-century Matsumoto Castle survived World War II intact. Other highlights include well-preserved merchant houses and the Matsumoto City Museum of Art, where the hometown of eccentric Japanese contemporary artist Yayoi Kusama proudly displays many of her colorful sculptures, paintings, and installations.

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6 Tours and Activities

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1-Day Snow Monkeys, Zenko-ji Temple & Sake in Nagano Tour

1-Day Snow Monkeys, Zenko-ji Temple & Sake in Nagano Tour

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194
See two of the top attractions near Nagano on this full-day excursion. Explore the tranquil grounds of Zenko-ji, a lovely religious site known for its historic Buddhist statue. Enjoy a sake tasting and lunch before heading down a beautiful forest trail to the home of the snow monkeys, a group of local macaques known for their willingness to live in the snow and bathe in the local hot spring.
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  • 8 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$151.44
From
$151.44

Nagano Private Two Day Tour

Nagano Private Two Day Tour

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27
Discover Nagano’s many highlights on this private 2-day tour. Save time planning transport, as a driver and private vehicle is included. You’ll have a guide to show you around on the first day, and then free time to explore on the second day. Overnight stay in a Japanese Ryokan, entrance fees to Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park, Zenko-ji Temple, and a private onsen experience is included, making it the ultimate hassle-free tour.
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  • 2 days
From
$355.05
Price varies by group size
From
$355.05
Price varies by group size

(Spring Only) 1-Day Snow Monkeys & Cherry Blossoms in Nagano Tour

(Spring Only) 1-Day Snow Monkeys & Cherry Blossoms in Nagano Tour

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6
Check out Japan’s famous cherry blossom blooms and see snow monkeys on a full-day trip from Nagano. After visiting the Jigokudani Monkey Park, you’ll stop for lunch, then visit several different ‘hanami’ spots to admire the cherry blossom trees. This seasonal experience runs from April to the end of May, allowing you to take in the later blooms of the mountainous northern Nagano region.
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  • 9 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$151.45
From
$151.45

Nagano Like a Local: Customized Private Tour

Nagano Like a Local: Customized Private Tour

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1
Pair up with a Nagano local for a private walking tour that’s a new concept in travel. Unlike traditional, pre-packaged tours, it’s like exploring the city alongside a local friend, complete with tips, advice, and insider recommendations. From a pre-tour chat with your Lokafyer guide to the walking tour itself, the experience is completely tailored to your preferences.
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  • 2 to 6 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$35.90
Price varies by group size
From
$35.90
Price varies by group size

Nagano Full-Day Cycling Tour with Snow Monkey, Obuse Town, Apple Orchards

Nagano Full-Day Cycling Tour with Snow Monkey, Obuse Town, Apple Orchards

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6
Experience the nature and culture of beautiful Nagano on this all-day excursion. After a convenient hotel pickup, head out with an informative local guide and bicycle through apple orchards along the Chikuma River, watch macaques bathe in their natural habitat at Snow Monkey Park, relax in a hot spring at Yudanaka and Shibu Onsen villages, and treat yourself to delicious chestnuts in Obuse.
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  • 7 hours
From
$174.84
Price varies by group size
From
$174.84
Price varies by group size

Onsen Town Cycling Tour in Nagano

Onsen Town Cycling Tour in Nagano

【OUTLINE】 Explore Nagano’s Togura Kamiyamada Onsen area by bicycle and learn about life in the Japanese countryside with explanation by a local guide. You will see examples of traditional Japanese houses in an old residential area, have a talk with farmers in apple orchards and rice paddy fields, touch the Japanese spirits in a shrine with a sumo ring and a temple with a thatched roof, and view the scenery of the river and surrounding mountains from the Chikuma River Cycling Road. And lastly, have soft ice cream while taking a footbath.
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  • 2 hours 15 minutes
From
$42.51
From
$42.51