Are you wondering how to spend one day in Fukuoka? With first-hand knowledge of the sunniest city in Japan, this is where I can help.
Discover the best things to do by diving into my 1-day Fukuoka itinerary. This article also includes how to get to Fukuoka, how to get around, what to eat and where to stay.
And if you have two days in Fukuoka, I’ve included bonus recommendations for things to see.
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TOP 5 THINGS TO DO
- Stroll around Ohori Park
- Visit Kushida Shrine
- Visit Tochoji Temple
- Watch the dancing fountains at Canal City
- Eat Hakata Ramen
RECOMMENDED FUKUOKA SELF-GUIDED WALKING TOUR: 3.5 miles (5.4 km)
BEST WAY TO GET AROUND FUKUOKA: On foot or by subway
BEST MONTHS TO VISIT FUKUOKA: March & April or October & November. Visit in July for the Yamakasa festival.
Why Visit Fukuoka?
Visit Fukuoka for its yatai food stall culture, historic shrines and temples, lovely parks and gardens and a blend of modern and traditional Japanese culture. Japan’s eighth most populous city is also the gateway to the volcanic peaks, hot springs, pottery towns and the near-tropical coastlines of Kyushu island.
How Many Days Is Enough in Fukuoka?
You can cover the city’s main sights on a Fukuoka day trip. However, for a more relaxed visit, I recommend spending two days.
As I used Fukuoka as a base for exploring Kyushu, I spent four nights there.
1-Day Fukuoka Itinerary + Map
My Fukuoka 1-day itinerary starts with a walk through the city’s green lungs: Ohori Park and Maizuri Park. After lunch in the shopping district of Tenjin, the afternoon is spent exploring Fukuoka’s most important shrines and temples. As night falls, you will watch the dancing fountains in Canal City and feast on a bowl of Hakata ramen.
To help you on your way, here’s a map of the places that we will visit. If it helps, you can use this as a Fukuoka self-guided walking tour. Click here for an interactive map with walking directions or on the image.
BEST THINGS TO SEE IN FUKUOKA IN ONE DAY: MAP
MORNING: OHORI PARK, MAIZURU PARK & FUKUOKA CASTLE
Start your day in Fukuoka by heading to two of the city’s loveliest public parks and its ruined castle.
The centrepiece of Ohori Park is a large pond, which once served as part of the moat system of Fukuoka Castle.
Three islands in the middle of the pond are connected to the mainland and each other by elegant bridges. The path that runs around the circumference of the pond is popular with locals strolling, jogging or walking their dogs.
Pass the swanlike boats for hire and café and cross the stone bridge to the central island and the hexagonal, vermilion pavilion jutting out into the pond.
Continue over a series of graceful stone bridges, then back on the path circling the pond until you reach the Fukuoka Art Museum. This is known for its Buddhist statues dating back to the 11th Century and paintings and sculptures by modern artists including Miro and Dali.
Adjacent to this museum is the lovely Ohori Park Japanese Garden. Designed by Nakane Kinsaku, one of Japan’s foremost 20th-century garden masters, this features a magnificent main pond, a waterfall, a dry garden and a traditional teahouse.
Exiting Ohori Park Japanese Garden, your next stop is Maizuri Park, named after the castle’s alias, Maizuru Castle.
Fukuoka Castle was built at the beginning of the 17th century by Kuroda Nagamasa, lord of the Chikuzen feudal domain. The castle was almost completely torn down when the feudal system was abolished in 1870,.
Today, all that remains of the castle are its ruined walls, a few turrets and parts of the moat system. However, it offers one of the best vantage points for a panoramic view of Fukuoka.
From Fukuoka Castle, it’s a 20-minute walk to Tenjin.
The Tenjin shopping district left me a little cold – I am not an enthusiastic shopper – but it is a good place to pick up lunch. There are delis, cafes and restaurants to suit all tastes.
I opted to eat a takeaway sandwich on a bench in Tenjin Central Park.
AFTERNOON: KUSHIDA SHRINE, TOCHOJI TEMPLE & SHOFUKUJI
Shrines and temples are two of the things that Japan is known for the world over. The second half of your Fukuoka itinerary is spent temple and shrine hopping.
From Tenjin Central Park, cross the Haka River and make your way to the Kushida Shrine. This walk should take you around 15 minutes.
Dating from AD 757, this intimate and simple Shinto shrine is important to the locals. Dedicated to an obscure deity from the annals of Buddhism, it sponsors the Hakata Gion Yamakasa, one of the most interesting festivals in Japan.
Held every summer from July 1st to July 15th, this festival is said to have originated to protect people from a plague in the mid-13th Century.
Ten-meter-high Yamaska (festival floats), flamboyantly decorated with samurai warriors, Japanese fairy tales and anime, are erected in a dozen places across Fukuoka. At the climax of the festival, an additional seven Yamakasa from different neighbourhoods of Fukuoka’s Hakata district are carried in a procession to the Kushida Shrine.
Although the portable and non-portable Yamakasa are usually destroyed once the festival is over, one of the Yamakasa is exhibited at the Kushida Shrine throughout the year.
Tochoji Temple is a five-minute walk from the Kushida Shrine.
Legend has it that the Tochoji Temple was founded in AD 806 by Kukai the founder of the Shingon Buddhist sect upon his return from Tang (modern-day China). This makes Tochoji the oldest Shingon temple in Japan.
Tochoji Temple is renowned for its 10-meter-tall wooden statue of Buddha in a seated position, Fukuoka Daibutsu, or “The Great Buddha of Fukuoka.” Its striking five-storey pagoda is a contemporary addition, built in 2011 to commemorate the 1200th anniversary of the temple.
Although there is no charge to enter the temple’s grounds, there is a small charge to view the statue.
The Tochoji Temple area is a popular spot for watching cherry blossoms in the spring.
From Tochoji Temple it’s a three-minute walk to Shofukuji, the final temple included in our one-day Fukuoka itinerary.
Founded in 1195, Shofukuji is the oldest Zen temple in Japan.
Although its buildings are closed to the public, I loved the temple’s grounds. There’s a teahouse, a pond that is home to dancing carp and resident cats.
Getting away from Shofukuji Temple
Shofukuji Temple is a short walk from Gion Station, one stop from Hakata Station by subway. Alternatively, it’s a longer (15-20 minute) walk to Hakata Station from the temple.
EVENING: CANAL CITY
Usually, I would avoid shopping centres and kitschy sound-and-light shows like the plague. However, I was taken with Canal City and its illuminated dancing fountains.
Spread over five floors and built around a 200-meter artificial canal, Canal City is an enormous shopping, dining and entertainment complex in Hakata.
It’s a terrific place to pick up travel essentials and gifts for those back home and has a decent selection of restaurants. This includes a Ramen Stadium on the 5th floor with its collection of ramen shops, each serving region-specific fare, including the famous local Hakata Ramen.
Canal City’s ten-minute 3D projection show is one of the best things to do in Fukuoka at night. This free sound and light extravaganza features fountains lit up in colours matching the projection, and takes place at half-hourly intervals in the main atrium (Sun Plaza Stage). Admission is free.
As this show is most spectacular when it’s dark, I suggest that you make this the last thing you do during your day in Fukuoka.
If You Have More Than One Day in Fukuoka
If you are lucky enough to be able to spend 2, 3 or 4 days (or more) in this lovely city, here are a few suggested suggestions for your Fukuoka itinerary.
Indulge in yatai food culture
Yatai food culture is woven into the fabric of Fukuoka and there are over two hundred of these mobile stalls across the Tenjin, Nakasu and Nagahama districts. The best place to find them is on the southern end of Nakasu Island.
This is an opportunity to sample the best Hakata specialities, including ramen, gyoza and motsunabe.
Yatai stalls are typically open from 6 pm until 2 am, except when the weather is very bad. Many stands close one day of the week, often on a Sunday.
Take in the views from the Fukuoka Tower
Like many other cities across the world, Fukuoka has a tower that offers a 360-degree view of the city below. Soaring 768 feet above Hakata Bay, Fukuoka Tower is Japan’s tallest seaside tower.
>>> TO BOOK YOUR TICKET HERE
Join a traditional Japanese shopping tour
Hakata has a rich trading history, a merchant tradition that has been sustained to this day. Learn more about this, and enjoy a cup of tea and traditional snacks, on this highly-rated walking tour.
>>> CLICK HERE TO BOOK YOUR TOUR
Visit the Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine
As I had to curtail the length of my stay in Fukuoka, I missed out on visiting this reportedly gorgeous shrine.
One of the important Tenmangu Shrines in Japan, Dazaifu is dedicated to the spirit of Sugawara Michizane, a scholar politician of the Heian Period (710 – 1185). Visit in late February to mid-March to witness the 6,000 plum trees blooming in the shrine’s grounds.
Take a relaxing Yanagawa cruise
The so-called Venice of Japan, Yanagawa is an old farming village crisscrossed with hundreds of kilometres of canals. These restored canals are plied by donkobune, traditional flat-bottomed boats that take tourists on short cruises around the town.
Yanagawa is spectacular during the cherry blossom season.
>>> CLICK HERE TO BOOK YOUR CRUISE
How To Get To Fukuoka
Getting to Fukuoka by train
The shinkansen (bullet train) links Fukuoka with major Japanese cities, including Kyoto and Tokyo (journey time of around five hours). I arrived by train from Osaka, a journey of two and a half hours.
Don’t make my mistake and search for Fukuoka Station when planning your trip. The city’s main railway station is Hakata Station.
Sadly, the Japan Rail Pass is not the travel bargain it once was. However, if your train journeys are to be confined to the Kyushu region, one of the JR Kyushu Passes may save you money.
Getting to Fukuoka by air
Fukuoka is one of Japan’s most centrally located airports and it’s easy to reach downtown by public transport.
Take the subway two stops from the station at the airport’s domestic terminal to Hakata subway station (or five stops to Tenjin Station). If you are arriving at Fukuoka’s International Terminal, use the free shuttle service that runs between the two terminals.
How To Get Around Fukuoka
Fukuoka’s city transport is provided by Japan Railways (JR), Nishitetsu Railways, three subway lines and a bus network. If you are just spending one day in Fukuoka, the subway is likely to be of most use to you.
Most of Fukuoka’s main attractions are connected by one of the city’s three subway lines: Airport Line, Hakozaki Line and Nanakuma Line.
If you plan to take more than three subway rides in one day, a 1-Day Pass will be cheaper and more convenient.
Another more expensive option is the Fukuoka Tourist City Pass. In addition to offering one-day unlimited rides on buses, trains, subways and ferries, it also entitles you to discounted admission at many of Fukuoka’s attractions.
As the Fukuoka Tourist City Pass is only available to overseas tourists you will need to present your passport when purchasing the pass at these locations.
What to Eat in Fukuoka
Fukuoka is foodie heaven. Even if you don’t have the opportunity to sample the yatai food stall culture, your belly will thank you.
Here are a few of the foods I recommend that you try to eat in Fukuoka.
Also called Tonkatsu ramen, Hakata ramen is one of Japan’s most beloved culinary exports. Eating a bowl of Hakata ramen is one of the essential things to do in Fukuoka.
The secret is in the broth.
Pork bones, fatback and a number of other ingredients are slowly cooked until they break down into a delicious, rich, milky-white broth. Add pork slices, marinated soy eggs, green onions and the thinnest of noodles and you have a feast that will have your coronary artery crying out for mercy.
Most ramen joints will ask you how firm you would like your noodles. As thin noodles can soften quickly in the hot broth, your best bet is to ask for them to be firm or extra firm.
Who doesn’t love a dumpling or seven? Not this traveller, that’s for sure.
Fukuoka was one of the first places in Japan to take on the humble Chinese dumpling and make it its own. Gyoza in Fukuoka are typically bite-sized style and fried in a cast-iron pan, creating a thin, crunchy film.
Mizutaki is a Japanese chicken hotpot.
Chicken on the bone is slow-cooked with vegetables and tofu in water or a lightly seasoned broth. Other common ingredients include green cabbage, chrysanthemum, long green onion (Negi) and shiitake mushrooms.
Noodles are added to the hotpot at the end of the cooking time.
Where to Stay in Fukuoka
I recommend staying in Hakata or Tenjin. Both of these areas are convenient for seeing Fukuoka’s attractions, have good transport links and are flush with restaurants and hotels.
Fukuoka is popular with both domestic and overseas travellers, particularly at the weekend when it can be more expensive. Therefore, it is smart to make a hotel reservation as soon as you can, especially at peak times.
Mitsui Garden Hotel Fukuoka Gion
I stayed at this four-star business hotel, opposite Canal City and a seven-minute walk from Hakata JR Station.
It is a modern and quiet hotel, despite its central location. The hotel’s stylish and well-designed rooms are a reasonable price for this standard of accommodation.
>>> CLICK HERE TO CHECK RATES
Here are a few more hotels that I have found that are may suit other budgets & tastes:
Miyako Hotel Hakata
An alternative choice in Hakata is the Miyako Hotel Hakata, a mere 150 meters from the train station (the hotel lift takes you directly to the subway). This hotel features a spa with swimming pool and indoor onsen and a rooftop hot tub.
>>> CLICK HERE TO TO CHECK RATES
Richmond Hotel Tenjin Nishi-Dori
I have stayed in Richmond hotels elsewhere in Japan and found them to be a reliable choice. This new hotel in the heart of the Tenjin district has garnered excellent reviews.
>>> CLICK HERE TO CHECK RATES
>>> None of these take your fancy? Search for other accommodation options in Fukuoka here.
Day Trips from Fukuoka
Thanks to Hakata station’s role as the major railway hub for the island, Fukuoka is an excellent base from which to explore other attractions in Kyushu. Here are my suggestions for places to visit within a two-hour train journey from Fukuoka.
Average journey time: 100 minutes
If you can only take one day trip from Fukuoka, make it Kagoshima.
Kyushu’s southernmost major city and the capital of Kagoshima Prefecture has a balmy climate, palm tree-lined streets, a wonderful Japanese garden (Senga-en) and a smoking volcano (Sakurajima).
READ THIS NEXT: Kagoshima Itinerary: Best Things To Do In 1 Day
Average journey time: 2 hours 15 minutes
For the ultimate Japanese onsen experience, venture east to Beppu. Producing more hot spring water than any other resort in Japan, Beppu has an unparalleled range of baths, from ordinary hot water baths to mud baths and sand baths.
Average journey time: 100 minutes
Kyushu is famous for its pottery towns, and the easiest of these to reach on a day trip from Fukuoka is Karatsu. Pottery fanatics will not be disappointed but there is also a hilltop castle, a Shōwa-era town centre, traditional buildings and a pretty seaside trail.
The other major pottery towns – Arita and Imari – are also in the Saga Prefecture but are more challenging to visit as a day trip
Is Fukuoka Safe for Solo Travellers?
Japan is one of the safest solo travel destinations in Asia, if not the world. This is a country that takes pride in its safety, uniformity and order, and has a very low crime rate.
Safety as a solo traveller is a particular concern for women travelling alone.
If you are a woman travelling alone, Japan is one of the best countries in the world for a solo trip.
Whilst you shouldn’t be complacent, you don’t have to be as concerned about pickpocketing or walking alone at night as other countries. If you use your common sense, watch your belongings, drink alcohol in moderation and share your itinerary with someone back home, you should have a trouble-free stay in Fukuoka.
I hope that you have enjoyed reading my Fukuoka day trip itinerary
Fukuoka is 100% worth visiting and a worthy addition to your Japan itinerary. What’s not to like about a city with tuneful pedestrian lights?
This city is an excellent base for visiting other destinations in Kyushu, including Kagoshima, Nagasaki and Yufuin, and serves some of the best food on the planet.
Blessed with a mild climate, friendly locals and rich in natural attractions it is worth more than a day trip. You could easily spend four or five days in Fukuoka.
If you have found this guide helpful, take a look at some of my other Japan articles.
- What is Japan Famous For? 30 Reasons to Visit Japan
- The Best 2-Week Japan Itinerary for First-Time Visitors
- Kyoto 2-Day Itinerary: Highlights of Japan’s Cultural Heart
- The Ultimate 3-Day Kyoto Itinerary
- Best Things To Do in Kagoshima, Japan in One Day: Itinerary & Guide
- 2-Day Kanazawa Itinerary: Best Things to Do in Japan’s Samurai Town
- Top Things to Do in Fukuoka in One Day
- One Day in Osaka, Japan
Bridget Coleman has been a passionate traveller for more than 30 years. She has visited 70+ countries, most as a solo traveller.
Articles on this site reflect her first-hand experiences.
To get in touch, email her at email@example.com or follow her on social media.