Best Places to Stay in Nagano
Nagano City is the largest city in Nagano Prefecture and the primary transport hub for travellers heading to popular destinations the Jigokudani Monkey Park, Shiga Kogen, Togakushi, Matsumoto and the best ski resorts of Central Japan. On this page you will find the following information:
Located to the northwest of Tokyo and northeast of Kyoto and Osaka, Nagano is Japan’s fourth largest prefecture – a region dominated by its mountains, forests and multiple national parks. Among that beautiful and varied landscape, Nagano City is the largest city in the prefecture followed by Matsumoto, best known for the near-1400 year old Zenko-ji Temple and Matsumoto Castle respectively.
As a stop on the Hokuriku Shinkansen line running from Tokyo to Kanazawa, Nagano Station – located in the centre of Nagano City – is the primary transport hub in the north of the prefecture providing access to many of the region’s most popular destinations including the Jigokudani Monkey Park and ski resorts of Shiga Kogen, Nozawa Onsen, Madarao, Myoko Kogen and Hakuba Valley.
40 Things to Do Around Nagano & Where to Stay
Lying in the centre of Honshu, Japan’s largest island, Nagano is the countr…
Most famous for the deep snow of winter and its world-class skiing and snowboarding, Nagano is in truth an all-year-round destination with just as much to offer during spring, summer and autumn. This page is intended to be read in combination with our ’40 Things to Do Around Nagano’ page. We hope the information on these pages helps you plan your visit and find the best hotels in Nagano.
WHERE TO STAY IN NAGANO?
Nagano is one of Japan’s most popular regional destinations and as such, offers plenty of accommodation options ranging from high-end hotels and hot spring guesthouses to basic lodges and hostels. In this section with provide information about accommodation in the following areas within Nagano City and wider region of Nagano Prefecture:
NAGANO CITY AREA – TOGAKUSHI AREA – OBUSE AREA – YUDANAKA ONSEN AREA – SHIBU ONSEN AREA – SNOW MONKEY PARK / KANBAYASHI ONSEN AREA – SHIGA KOGEN AREA – NOZAWA ONSEN AREA – MADARAO & IIYAMA AREA – MYOKO KOGEN AREA* – HAKUBA AREA – MATSUMOTO CITY AREA – AZUMINO / HOTAKA ONSEN-KYO AREA – KAMIKOCHI AREA – KISO VALLEY / NAKASENDO AREA – KARUIZAWA AREA
We start in Nagano City and then move toward the monkey park, followed by the most popular ski resorts and onto Matsumoto, Azumino, Kamikochi, the Kiso Valley and historic Nakasendo, and finally, the popular mountain resort town of Karuizawa. Both Nagano Station and Karuizawa Station are stops on the Hokuriku Shinkansen line running from Tokyo to Kanazawa, making them quick and easy to get to; while all other destinations can be reached using convenient train and bus services, many of which operate to and from Nagano Station.
NAGANO CITY AREA
Nagano City boasts lots of accommodation options, most of which are centred around Nagano Station – a stop on the Hokuriku Shinkansen line running from Tokyo to Kanazawa – 80 to 110-minutes from Tokyo depending on which service you use. Other train lines, tours, local buses and taxis all operate from the station making the area around it, the most convenient place to stay when exploring the region. The area immediately around Nagano Station has plenty of large hotels catering to international visitors. Prices are typically good with many hotels offering Western-style rooms and amenities, in-house restaurants and English-speaking staff. Around 15 to 20-minutes walk from the station, the area around Zenko-ji Temple has smaller guesthouses including many ‘shukubo’ (temple lodgings) in the surrounding streets. For accommodation listings, see our ‘Nagano City Area’ hotel page. When staying in Nagano City, we recommend:
HOTEL KOKUSAI 21
Located between Nagano Station and Zenko-ji Temple, Hotel Kokusai 21 is the city’s most established international hotel. Known for its blend of modern amenities and attentive Japanese service, Kokusai 21 offers guests spacious Western-style rooms with private bathrooms, multiple in-house restaurants including daily breakfast service and English-speaking 24-hour reception.
15 Things To Do In Togakushi & Where To Stay
Nestled in the mountains to the north-west of Nagano City – and within the …
Located 40 to 50 minutes from Nagano Station, Togakushi boasts some of Japan’s most important Shinto shrines and is home to a number of ‘ryokan’ (traditional guesthouses) including several ‘shukubo’ (temple lodgings). As such, staying in Togakushi offers guests the chance to enjoy a uniquely Japanese accommodation experience. Most guesthouses are concentrated around the ‘Hokosha’ (Lower Shrine) / lower area of Togakushi village with a second concentration nearby the ‘Chusha’ (Middle Shrine). For accommodation listings, see our ‘Togakushi Area’ hotel page.
15 Things to Do Around Obuse & Where to Stay
Only 25 to 30-minutes by train from Nagano Station, Obuse is a small but hi…
Obuse is a small but historic town just outside Nagano City – around 30-minutes by train. Famous for its chestnut confectioneries, ‘miso’ and ‘sake’ breweries and the Hokusai-kan Museum, Obuse is popular destination for Japanese who enjoy its quiet ambience and mix of gardens, temples, shops and restaurants. Obuse also offers a limited amount of accommodation, mostly small family-run guesthouses. For accommodation listings, see our ‘Obuse Area’ hotel page.
YUDANAKA ONSEN AREA
20 Things to Do Around Yudanaka / Shibu Onsen & Where to Stay
Located a short distance from the Jigokudani Monkey Park and Shiga Kogen Sk…
Yudanaka is a historic ‘onsen’ (hot spring) town – only 45 minutes by train from Nagano Station – offering accommodation ranging from high-end to budget. Many hotels and guesthouses have their own hot springs and serve traditional ‘kaiseki’ (multi-course) dinners and while Yudanaka doesn’t have the charm of nearby Shibu Onsen, it’s a good option for visitors looking for well-priced accommodation in close proximity to the Jigokudani Monkey Park and Shiga Kogen Ski Resort. For accommodation listings, see our ‘Yudanaka & Shibu Onsen Area’ hotel page.
SHIBU ONSEN AREA
20 Things to Do Around Yudanaka / Shibu Onsen & Where to Stay
Located a short distance from the Jigokudani Monkey Park and Shiga Kogen Sk…
Shibu Onsen is another historic hot spring town only a couple of minutes drive or walking distance from Yudanaka and the Jigokudani Monkey Park. Blessed with numerous hot water sources concentrated within a small area, most guesthouses have their own hot springs with Shibu also boasting nine ‘public’ onsen that can be used free of charge by anyone staying overnight in Shibu. A quaint town with some good dining options and a couple of bars, Shibu Onsen has retained more of its historic character and charm than Yudanaka Onsen. For accommodation listings, see our ‘Shibu Onsen Area’ hotel page.
SNOW MONKEY PARK / KANBAYASHI ONSEN AREA
Where To Stay Around The Jigokudani Monkey Park
The monkey park is located in the small hot spring village of Kanbayash…
Kanbayashi Onsen is a small hot spring village best-known as home to the Jigokudani Monkey Park, which is within walking distance of a handful of traditional guesthouses, each with their own hot springs. Busy during the day thanks to the monkeys, the village is quiet at night allowing overnight guests to completely relax, unwind and enjoy a traditional ‘kaiseki’ dinner. Only 20 to 25-minutes drive to Shiga Kogen Ski Resort, Kanbayashi Onsen is a good option for visitors wanting to enjoy a traditional hotel or guesthouse and some of the region’s best hot springs. For accommodation listings, see our ‘Snow Monkey Park / Kanbayashi Onsen Area’ hotel page. When staying in Kanbayashi Onsen, we recommend:
Hotel Senjukaku is one of the best hotels in the region within easy walk of the Jigokudani Monkey Park and around 25-minutes drive to Shiga Kogen. A favourite hotel with members of the Japanese Royal Family, this elegant hotel is known for its exceptional service, traditional comforts, indulgent ‘onsen’ (hot springs) and outstanding ‘kaiseki’ (multi-course) meal service.
SHIGA KOGEN AREA
Where To Stay In & Around Shiga Kogen?
As Japan’s largest ski resort, Shiga Kogen is comprised of multiple ski…
Around 70 minutes from Nagano Station, Shiga Kogen is an all-year-round destination boasting Japan’s largest and highest ski resort which enjoys Nagano’s longest season and most reliable snow conditions. The resort covers an expansive area – over 600 hectares of terrain and trails – with accommodation spread throughout. Accommodation options range from budget to high-end, with many large hotels and smaller family-run ski lodges. Situated in the mountains above the monkey park, the ski fields of Sun Valley and Maruike are the first you will come to when approaching from Nagano City. Heading further into the resort, areas including Higashidateyama, Takamagahara and Ichinose are the most central, while further ski fields including Yakebitaiyama and Okushiga are known for the scenery and great powder. Kumanoyu and Yokoteyama are the most distant ski fields – the only areas of Shiga Kogen not connected to the rest however boasting Japan’s highest chairlifts at over 2307 metres. For accommodation listings, see our ‘Shiga Kogen Area’ hotel page. When staying in Shiga Kogen, we recommend the following accommodation:
HOTEL SUNNY SHIGA, TAKAMAGAHARA
Located in Shiga Kogen’s central Takamagahara, Hotel Sunny Shiga offers guests everything needed in a family-friendly ski hotel in the heart of the resort. Rooms come in a variety of sizes and styles including both Western and Japanese rooms. The in-house restaurant offers both breakfast and dinner, which can be included with your accommodation and the spacious in-house bath, offers the perfect refuge and place to unwind after a day on the mountain.
HOTEL GRAND PHENIX, OKUSHIGA
Hotel Grand Phenix Okushiga is the premier hotel in Shiga Kogen, combining European-style accommodation and comfort with traditional Japanese service, outstanding facilities, and ski in/out convenience. Offering multiple types of rooms, fine dining, a spacious lounge with open fireplace, relaxing men’s and women’s communal baths, sauna and heated indoor swimming pool, Grand Phenix affords guest the highest quality stay available in Shiga Kogen Ski Resort.
NOZAWA ONSEN AREA
Where To Stay In Nozawa Onsen?
One of the most popular ski resorts in Japan, Nozawa Onsen boasts some exce…
Nozawa Onsen is another historic hot spring town which today, is most famous as one of Nagano’s most popular ski resorts – around 70 minutes from Nagano Station or only 20 minutes from Iiyama Station. Connected to the traditional hot spring village, Nozawa offers visitors a wide-range of accommodation options including large hotels, traditional ‘ryokan’ (guesthouses), private accommodation and budget/basic ski lodges. The village can be divided into three areas: the Nagasaka / central area, the Higake / northern area and the Karasawa / southern area. Accommodation can be found at the base of the ski fields in each area with the majority spread through the town below. One of Japan’s best ski resorts, Nozawa also boasts some of the best nightlife of any ski area in Japan and given that combination, the best accommodation typically books-out well in advance. For accommodation listings, see our ‘Nozawa Onsen Area’ hotel page.
MADARAO & IIYAMA AREA
25 Things to Do Around Madarao & Where to Stay
Located one hour to the north of Nagano City, Madarao is a small resort but…
A convenient stop on the Hokuriku Shinkansen line, Iiyama is a quiet rural town most often used as a transit point for visitors heading to nearby Madarao Mountain Resort and Nozawa Onsen. Iiyama has a limited range of accommodation and most people move through the town enroute to nearby Madarao and Nozawa Onsen. Madarao is a small but spread-out resort with no major village. Madarao Kogen Hotel is the largest accommodation in the resort but the majority of accommodation are small lodges. For accommodation listings, see our ‘Madaraao & Iiyama Area’ hotel page.
MYOKO KOGEN AREA*
Best Places to Stay in Myoko Kogen
Best-known for the deep powder of winter, Myoko Kogen offers some of Japan’…
Sitting at the southern end of Niigata Prefecture and part of the wider Myoko-Togakushi Renzan National Park, the area known as ‘Myoko Kogen’ experiences extremely heavy snowfall each winter, making it one of Japan’s best destinations when looking for powder. Myoko Kogen consists of multiple ski resorts including Akakura Onsen, Akakua Kanko, Ikenotaira, Suginohara, Seki Onsen and Lotte Arai with most accommodation concentrated in and around Akakura Onsen village. Though located in Niigata, the resorts of Myoko are most easily accessed via the Kita-Shinano Line running from Nagano Station or using the Hokuriku Shinkansen to Joestu-Myoko Station, also via Nagano Station. As such, it’s best to consider Myoko as part of Nagano when planning your visit. For accommodation listings, see our ‘Myoko Kogen Area’ hotel page.
*the ski resorts of Myoko Kogen are in fact located in the southern tip of Niigata Prefecture however given the area’s proximity to resorts including Nozawa Onsen and Madarao, and access via Nagano Station, it’s easiest to consider Myoko as part of Nagano Prefecture.
Hakuba lies around 60 minutes drive to the west of Nagano Station, an area that boasts Nagano’s most international ski resorts. Of the resorts, Hakuba Happo-One Snow Resort is the largest and is directly accessible from Hakuba Village. Unsurprisingly, this area also has the most accommodation, dining, nightlife and can be accessed on-foot from the Hakuba Happo Bus Terminal. Accommodation in the central area is divided into three precincts – Hakuba Village / Happo-One, Wadano and Echoland – in which you’ll find some of Nagano’s best hotels including high-end along with fine-dining restaurants and plenty of nightlife. Accommodation can also be found around the resorts of ABLE Hakuba Goryu, Hakuba47, Hakuba Tsugaike and Hakuba Cortina / Norikura. For accommodation listings, see our ‘Hakuba Area’ hotel page.
MATSUMOTO CITY AREA
25 Things to Do Around Matsumoto & Where to Stay
Located in the shadow the North Japan Alps, Matsumoto is a small historic c…
Also around 60 minutes Nagano City, Matsumoto is one of the region’s most historic and pleasant cities. Most famous for its castle, Matsumoto is a lively arts, craft and food city within striking distance of the North Alps to the west. Within the city, most accommodation can be found in-between the station and castle and around the hot spring district of Asama Onsen. Accommodation ranges from large to small hotels including some high-end options, all within walking distance of the castle and city’s other most popular attractions. For accommodation listings, see our ‘Matsumoto & Kamikochi Area’ hotel page.
AZUMINO / HOTAKA ONSEN-KYO AREA
20 Things To Do In Azumino & Where To Stay
Located within three hours of Tokyo, Azumino offers visitors a chance …
Azumino is a tranquil enclave around 30 minutes from Matsumoto City known-best for its abundant farms, museums, galleries and access to hiking trails leading into the North Alps. For visitors heading that direction, the hot spring town of Hotaka Onsen-kyo is located in the forested foothills leading to the Alps – an idyllic area to stay in before or after exploring the mountains or the popular nearby destinations of Matsumoto and Hakuba. For accommodation listings, see our ‘Hotaka Onsen-kyo Area’ hotel page.
15 Things to Do in Kamikochi & Where to Stay
Part of the larger Chubu Sangaku National Park, Kamikochi is a beautiful al…
The alpine valley of Kamikochi is one of Japan’s most rewarding outdoor destinations, located around 1.5 hours drive to the west of Matsumoto City. Open to the public from April until November, Kamikochi has a number of large hotels, smaller lodges and two campgrounds allowing visitors to stay in the valley from April to November. Always popular, prices can be very high with many hotels and lodges booking-out well in advance. There are some excellent accommodation options in Kamikochi including high-end, modern hotels as well as more rustic, mountain hotels with loads of charm. When booking your accommodation, make sure to check its exact location as hotels, lodges and campgrounds are dotted along the Azusa River and can only be accessed on-foot. For accommodation listings, see our ‘Kamikochi Area’ hotel page.
KISO VALLEY / NAKSENDO AREA
Where To Stay In The Kiso Valley & Nakasendo?
Most famous for the historic Nakasendo and its beautifully preserved ‘shuku…
The Kiso Valley is a beautiful area located between Shiojiri and Nakatsugawa in Nagano Prefecture. Running north to south, the valley follows the Kiso River and is known for its pristine waterways, forests, waterfalls and hiking trails including the historic Nakasendo. A key route linking Tokyo – then called ‘Edo’ – to Kyoto during the Edo Period (1603-1868), the Nakasendo spanned a distance of more than 500KM with the area of the route that passed through the Kiso Valley, known as the ‘Kiso-ji’, regarded as particularly beautiful. Parts of the route can still be walked today with the ‘shukubamachi’ towns of Magome and Tsumago being the most popular destinations, located in the southern part of Kiso Valley nearby Nakatsugawa Station. Accommodation is centred around the old towns of Magome, Tsumago and Nakatsugawa in the south and Kiso-Fukushima and Narai in the central valley. Magome, Tsumago and Narai are known for their excellent preservation, in which you’ll find plenty of ‘ryokan’ (traditional guesthouses). These towns are popular and the best accommodation books-out well in advance, especially in spring and autumn. Our recommendation is to stay in Kiso-Fukushima. It is the most conveniently located of any accommodation area in Kiso and though it may not have the overall charm of the other towns, it has a good range of accommodation centred around the station and from where, you can reach all of the area’s most popular attractions by train or bus. For accommodation listings, see our ‘Kiso Valley & Nakasendo Area’ hotel page.
Best Places to Stay in Karuizawa
Popular with Tokyoites, the more wealthy of whom often have second homes in…
Karuizawa is one of Japan’s most famous resort towns, a popular all-year-round destination known for its high-end hotels, dining, shopping and variety of outdoor and seasonal activities. Only 30 minutes from Nagano and 70 minutes from Tokyo using the Hokuriku Shinkansen, most international visitors heading to and from Karuizawa will do so via Karuizawa Station, making it convenient to stay nearby. The area around the station – and effectively Karuizawa itself – can be divided into southern and northern areas. To the south of the station, Prince Shopping Plaza is immediately accessible while Karuizawa Prince Hotel Snow Resort is around five minutes drive. To the north of the station there are a good number of hotels including APA Karuizawa – a good option for those wanting immediate access to the station while the Naka-Karuizawa area lies to the west, where you’ll find some of Karuizawa’s best hotels. For accommodation listings, see our ‘Karuizawa & Kusatsu Onsen Area’ hotel page.
40 BEST THINGS TO DO AROUND NAGANO
Host of the 1998 Winter Olympics, Nagano is known best for its long winter and world-class snow. Boasting the most ski resorts of any region of Japan, there is no doubt that when it comes to skiing and snowboarding, Nagano is one the best destinations in Asia. The mountains are just as big outside of winter and offer just as many reasons to visit in spring, summer and autumn. Our ’40 Things To Do Around Nagano’ page has lots of great tips and suggestions of what to do while here and the best places to stay, both in the city and nearby.
JAPAN SKI RESORTS: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW
Nagano is home to more than eighty ski resorts, more than any other region of Japan. Needless to say, when you choose Nagano for your winter getaway you are spoiled for choice! Our ‘Japan Ski Resorts’ page has everything you need to know to start planning your ski and snowboard adventure including: LATEST NEWS & DEALS, THE BEST RESORTS IN NAGANO & JAPAN, FAQs and of course OUR SKI PACKAGES, ACCOMMODATION, TRANSPORT & TOURS.
HOW TO GET TO NAGANO
As a stop on the Hokuriku Shinkansen line running from Tokyo to Kanazawa, Nagano is easy to reach from the capital and beyond with other express train lines connecting Nagano City to Matsumoto, the Kiso Valley and Nagoya. Our ‘How To Get To Nagano City’ page has everything you need to know about how to get here.
BOOK WITH US! NAGANO’S NO.1 TOUR & CHARTER OPERATOR
Based in Nagano and operating all year round, we are a registered travel agent and the region’s No.1 tour and charter operator. We have the expertise and experience to help you get the most out of your time in the region including any destination or activity listed above. We can arrange travel packages including accommodation and transport – with a private vehicle and driver – along with group and private tours and other services in Nagano and Central Japan.
Our drivers and vehicles are fully certified, allowing us to transport you to and from your preferred destinations, in combination with any activity that suits your interests and schedule. All vehicles are fitted with a protective screen – separating the driver from passenger and luggage area – and our drivers wear protective masks, allowing you to move between your destinations in comfort and safety.
For guests wanting to access the resorts in the comfort of their own transport, we can arrange a private tour or charter customised to fit your needs, starting and ending at any destination. We can arrange both private tours with an English-speaking guide or a private charter, including a private vehicle and driver but without a guide – whichever works best for you!
Why choose us?
Awarded a 2022 TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Award for our 1-Day Snow Monkeys, Zenko-ji Temple & Sake Tour – recognised as one of the Top 10 Experiences in Japan – we have the local knowledge and experience to help you get the most out of your time in Nagano and Central Japan.
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