How to Get to Central Tokyo from Narita Airport

Narita Airport, Narita

Tokyo is served by two main airports: New Tokyo International Airport (Narita Airport) and Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport). Haneda Airport serves mostly domestic flighst, so if you’re flying to Japan from another country, you’ll most likely land at one of Narita Airport’s two terminals. The Tourist Information Center, where you can get free maps and guides from, is located at the arrival lobbies of both Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 (open daily 8am-8pm) of Narita Airport.

With its paddy fields and bamboo forests, Narita is quite different from the busy, metropolitan Tokyo. The town is also quite a distance from Tokyo (do not make the mistake of staying in a hotel at Narita thinking you can get to central Tokyo fast, it is nearly 70 km away) and depending on your mode of transportation and traffic conditions, it can take anything from about 50 minutes to 2 hours to get to central Tokyo.

Getting from Narita Airport to Central Tokyo

There are several ways to get to Tokyo from Narita Airport – by taxi, airport limousine bus and JR and Keisei trains.

By Taxi

Cabs are an expensive option and not necessarily not the quickest way to Tokyo. Generally, guide books do not recommend this option but if you have heavy luggage and money (and time!) to burn, you may consider going the taxi way. All rides are metered.
Journey time: 70 minutes or more, depending on traffic
Fare: about 20,000 yen
Pros: Not need to wait for scheduled timing, door-to-door service to any location in Tokyo
Cons: Very expensive, journey time depends on traffic

By Airport Limousine Bus

If you are are carrying heavy luggage and staying at one of the major hotels (partial list below) served by the Airport Limousine Bus, this is your best bet. The service counters are located in the arrival lobbies (in front of the exit) of both Terminal 1 and 2.
Frequency: Departs nearly every hour for most destinations from 7:30am-9:00pm. (See scheduled service)
Journey time: 70 minutes or longer to Tokyo, depending on traffic (note: It takes about 55 minutes to Tokyo City Air Terminal (T-CAT) barring traffic jams. T-CAT is about 15 minutes away from Tokyo Station)
Fare: 3000yen (with Tokyo Metro 1 day free ticket) one way
Pros: Cheap, door-to-door service to many major hotels in Tokyo
Cons: Journey time depends on traffic

Some hotels served by Airport Limousine Bus

Shinjuku Area: Keio Plaza Hotel Tokyo, Hyatt Regency Tokyo, Park Hyatt Tokyo, Shinjuku Washington, Hilton Tokyo, Century Southern Tower, Hotel Sunroute Plaza Shinjuku
Shibuya Area: Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel, Shibuya Excel Hotel Tokyu

Tokyo Disney Resort Maihama Area: Disney Ambassador Hotel, DisneySea Hotel MiraCosta,  Disneyland Hotel, Sheraton Grande Tokyo Bay Hotel, Hotel Okura Tokyo Bay, Hilton Tokyo Bay, Sunroute Plaza , Tokyo Bay Maihama Hotel, Tokyo Bay Hotel Tokyu

Akasaka Area: ANA Intercontinental, Hotel Okura, Hotel New Otani, Grand Prince Hotel Akasaka, Akasaka Excel Hotel Tokyu, Grand Hyatt Tokyo, The Ritz-Carlton

Ginza, Shiodome Area: Sukiyabashi, Mitsui Garden Hotel Ginza Premier, Courtyard by Marriott, Tokyo Ginza Hotel, Conrad Tokyo, Park Hotel Tokyo, Royal Park Shiodome Tower

Ikebukuro Area: Sunshine City Prince Hotel, Crowne Plaza Metropolitan Tokyo

Shinagawa, Ebisu Area: Shinagawa Prince Hotel, Hotel Laforet , The Prince Sakura Tower , Hotel Pacific Tokyo, Grand Prince Hotel Takanawa, Grand Prince Hotel New Takanawa,
Sheraton Miyako Hotel , The Westin Tokyo, The New Sanno Hotel, Shinagawa Station East Exit (The Strings Hotel Tokyo Intercontinental)

See scheduled service for complete listing and timing

By Train

There are no porters or luggage carts at train stations so going up and down stairs can be a problem when you’re transferring between train stations (if you’re not staying near major stations served by the trains). If you don’t mind walking or transferring stations with luggage in tow (or have relatively little to carry), the train is a fast and inexpensive way to get to Tokyo metropolitan area. We’re using Tokyo Station as a benchmark for our train travel.

If the image of taking a train while lugging heavy suitcases is very unattractive to you, you can have your luggage and parcels delivered to your hotels by engaging the delivery service of a takuhaibin.

JR Narita Express (N’EX)

JR Narita Express or N’EX serves Tokyo, Ikebukuro,  Shinagawa, Shibuya, Shinjuku, Yokohama, Ofuna and Takao stations, among others. You have to state your destination at the point of purchasing your tickets as the trains may split into two different directions once in the Tokyo metropolitan. Tickets may be purchased from JR Reservation Ticket Offices or midori-no-madoguchi at the airport terminals. All seats are reaserved. The JR Suica + N’EX package is a good deal — you get a Suica card (contactless, rechargable smart card) with 2000 yen value that you can use for travel on public transport in Tokyo along with your N’EX ticket to Tokyo. The Suica is also an accepted mode of payment at some restaurants, vending machines and shops in Tokyo.
Every hour or every 30 minutes during peak period (timetable)
Journey time: 53 minute to Tokyo Station
Fare: 2900 yen or 3500 yen (packaged with 2000 yen Suica card for shopping and travelling in Greater Tokyo) one way
Pros: Journey time not dependent on traffic conditions, fastest way to get to Central Tokyo, N’EX + Suica package is great value-for-money if you’re planning to use public transport in Tokyo
Cons: May not be the most convenient if you have large and heavy luggage and arriving at peak periods as it serves some of the busiest stations in Tokyo

JR Sobu Line (Rapid Service)

An alternative is to Tokyo is to take the commuter train on the JR Sobu (Rapid Service).
Journey time:
about 85 minutes to Tokyo Station
Fare: 1450 yen one way
Pros: Inexpensive, journey time not dependent on traffic conditions,
Cons: Commuter train – no reserved seats, so may be packed during rush hours, considering the time taken and similar price, JR N’EX may be a slightly more attractive option option is alighting at one of the major stations.

Keisei Skyliner
If you’re staying in Ueno in downtown Tokyo, consider the Keisei Skyliner (by major private railway Keisei Electric Railway). It connects Narita to Ueno with a stop at Nippori. All seats are reserved. Sales counters are found at the arrival lobbies of both airport terminals.
Frequency: Every 40 minutes from 7:50am – 10:00pm (timetable)
Journey time: about 55 minutes to Ueno Station, or about 75 minutes to Tokyo Station (transfer to JR line at Nippori or Ueno Station)
Fare: 1920 yen one way (+150 yen  transfer to JR Line for Tokyo)
Pros: Journey time not dependent on traffic conditions, speedy option to get to Ueno
Cons: As per all train rides, may not be the most convenient option if you have large and heavy luggage and need to transfer to another station to get to your hotel in another part of Tokyo

Keisei Limited Express

The cheapest way to Tokyo (you will need to transfer at Ueno or Nippori) is to take the commuter service Keisei Limited Express. It takes slightly longer to get to Ueno station but trains are frequent. However, since this is a normal commuter train and there’s no seat reservation so trains may get crowded during rush hours.
Frequency: Every 20 minutes from 6:00am-9:30pm (timetable)
Journey time: about 75 minutes to Ueno Station, or 95 minutes to Tokyo Station (transfer to JR line at Nippori or Ueno Station)
Fare: 1000 yen one way (+150 yen transfer to JR Line for Tokyo)
Pros: Cheapest way to get to Ueno from Narita Airport, journey time not dependent on traffic conditions,
Cons: Trains may be crowded at peak hours and seats are not reserved, as with Keisei Skyliner, the Limited Express serves Ueno and transfers to JR and subways lines may not be as convenient (if you’re staying in another part of Tokyo)

Note: Narita Station (a station away from Narita Airport) is not the same as Narita Airport Station (station located in Narita Airport Terminal 1, which is shared between JR East and Keisei Electric Railway). The station in Narita Airport Terminal 2 is imaginatively called Airport Terminal 2 Station.

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