Hiroshima, forever associated with the utter devastation of the atomic bomb, is today a vibrant and thriving city. Full of light and color it’s a shining example of the resilience of the Japanese people.
Although at the time it would have felt like the city would never recover from the catastrophic radiation effects, following a slow and tenacious road, Hiroshima has bloomed into a vibrant modern city with various memorials and monuments that honor the victims and teach the world about the dangers of nuclear weapons.
The city is also known for its rich history, natural beauty, and many outdoor activities that attract tourists from all over the world.
We took our daughter to visit, right after a trip to Pearl Harbour in Hawaii, to highlight both sides of the story. While a trip to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park & museum is heartbreaking, it’s a fantastic experience and city, and well worth a line on your bucket list.
In this list of the best things to do in Hiroshima, I’ll walk you through the most popular Hiroshima attractions that you must visit while there.
- Genbaku Domu or the Atomic Bomb Dome
- Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum
- Children’s Peace Monument
- Cenotaph for A-Bomb Victims
- Hiroshima Castle
- Miyajima Island
- Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art
- Hiroshima National Peace Memorial Hall
- Shukkei-en Garden
- Wood Egg Museum
A UNESCO World Heritage site, the Genbaku Domu or the Atomic Bomb Dome is also known as the Hiroshima Peace Memorial.
The Hiroshima Peace Memorial is formally known as the Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall, and it is one of the few structures that survived the blast.
The structure was only 160 meters from the blast epicenter and its walls were destroyed by the atomic bombing.
Today, in its skeletal form, the structure serves as a symbol of hope and a beacon of peace.
The Genbaku Dome is located inside the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, which is located in downtown Hiroshima.
Within the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park is the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum where you will get a heartbreaking but accurate picture of the atomic bomb attack.
In the museum, you’ll learn about the devastation caused by the atomic bombing and its subsequent radiation effects.
The museum calls for international peace and the complete elimination of nuclear weapons.
In the main building, there are items on exhibit that once belonged to the atomic bomb victims.
You can learn about the history of Hiroshima before and after the atomic bombing in the east building.
Within the pleasant green park – the Peace Memorial Park of Hiroshima City – is the Children’s Peace Monument erected in honor of Sasaki Sadako – a two-year-old girl at the time of the Hiroshima bombing.
A decade after the bombing, due to radiation poisoning, she was diagnosed with leukemia.
She believed that if she folded a thousand origami cranes, she would recover, but sadly after making over 1,300 origami cranes, she died within 8 months of her diagnosis.
Her elementary school classmates, deeply affected by both her spirit and her death, decided to build a statue symbolizing all children who died because of the atomic bombing.
The monument was completed on Children’s Day (May 5, 1958) using the funds collected by Japanese schools.
Within the Peace Memorial Park is a cenotaph that consists of an arch with a stone chest underneath.
Inside the chest is a record of the names of all victims of the nuclear bomb blast. The name list is not limited by nationality.
In 2015, there were 297,684 names of those who were victims of the atomic blast.
Image Credit: Maarten Heerlien from Voorschoten, The Netherlands, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
While visiting Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, you will come across the Hiroshima National Peace Memorial Hall, which was opened in 2002 by the Japanese Government. It is a place to mourn the atomic bomb victims.
There are video and written testimonials of the bombing survivors along with photographs of those who died.
Though the Memorial Hall represents pain and suffering, it stands as a stark reminder for both current and future generations of the human suffering that atomic weapons can bring.
One of the major attractions in Hiroshima is the Hiroshima Castle which was destroyed during the atomic bombing.
It has now been restored with traditional Japanese castle construction methods.
The beautiful garden on the castle grounds gives scope to witness the beautiful plum and cherry blossoms (in cherry blossom season).
Once you climb up the stairs, you can get a sweeping view of the Hiroshima city skyline and the garden.
Be warned, there’s a fair few stairs!
A small island in Hiroshima prefecture and located in Hiroshima Bay, Miyajima Island is also known as Shrine Island.
You can reach this incredibly picturesque island by taking a ferry from the famous Miyajimaguchi port.
The island is home to many ancient temples built with exquisite Japanese architecture, with some of the Buddhist temples still in use.
The island is home to the world-renowned Itsukushima Shrine, which was declared a World Heritage Site in 1996.
The grand torii gate has been placed at a distance in the sea, which means the shrine stands in water during high tide. It also gives incredibly breathtaking views of the sea.
One of the top Hiroshima attractions, the Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art is located nearly 1 km south of Hiroshima Station.
This modern art museum offers various exhibitions that last for a few weeks or months. There are special exhibitions showcasing group and solo artists.
The entry fee depends on the exhibit you want to visit. Some exhibitions are completely free.
Image Credit: Fg2, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Located in Downtown Hiroshima’s northeast is the Shukkei-en Garden, originally created in 1620.
One of the 100 Historic Parks in Japan, it was damaged due to the atomic bombing during World War II.
The garden has different sites including a lush forest area, a sandy beach area, a valley area, and a mountainous area.
Shukkei-en Garden translates into Shrunken Scenery Garden and is one of the major tourist attractions of Japan.
The Wood Egg Okonomiyaki Museum is a heaven for foodies. Here, not only will you learn about the history of okonomiyaki – a local delicacy of Hiroshima, but you can also get taught how to make it.
Okonomiyaki is a savory pancake dish, made from flour, eggs, cabbage, your choice of meat or seafood and various toppings.
Take a class to discover the ingredients used, and choose from three different courses available. Prior reservation is a must and the cost will depend on the course you select.
There is also a quick factory and museum tour that will reveal the secrets of making the perfect okonomiyaki.
If you’re a food lover, you’ll love the Okonomimura food theme park!
There are 25 restaurants in the Okonomimura complex with each serving a unique spin on okonomiyaki.
The common ingredients are vegetables, noodles, pork, squid, sauces, eggs, and anything you fancy.
I have to be honest, I’m not a big fan of Japanese food, but if you love it, this is a great experience.
Streetcars or Hiroden are one of the top attractions of Hiroshima and they can be found everywhere in Hiroshima prefecture.
Streetcars were a top mode of transportation in all major cities in Japan in the early 20th century.
However, while they’ve now disappeared from most cities, Hiroshima proudly maintains 300 streetcars and continues to buy discontinued Hiroden from other cities.
This growing collection is known as the Moving Streetcar Museum.
Mazda Motor Corporation was founded in Hiroshima in 1920 and it continues to make cars even today. They have a research and development center next to the corporate headquarters.
If you’re interested in learning about car making, you can go for a guided tour that takes about an hour and a half. Tours are not available during national and company holidays.
The Japanese Military Self Defense Force is located in Kure, which is close to Hiroshima.
Inside the JMSDF grounds is the Kure Maritime Museum dedicated to showcasing Kure’s history of steelmaking and shipbuilding.
Here you can see the scaled-down model of the famous battleship Yamato.
Mount Misen is the only high point in Hiroshima that gives you a panoramic view of the city, the islands, and the Seto Inland Sea.
You can hike to the top using three different routes. Once at the top, you can take a cable car to travel across the sea.
The best time to visit Hiroshima is spring (March, April, May) and fall (October, November). Spring is particularly beautiful when cherry blossom trees bloom. (Although be sure to check the dates as the cherry blossom season only lasts for about a month, and changes each year.)
During spring, the high temperature ranges between 14°C and 24°C, while the low temperature ranges between 5°C and 15°C.
Fall is beautiful, too. This is the time for fall foliage. The high temperature during fall ranges between 17°C and 24°C and the low temperature ranges between 9°C and 14°C.
Summer months (June, July, and August) are hot and humid (due to rain from mid-June to late July) and the winter months (December, January, and February) are cool or cold.
Both spring and fall are known for heavy tourist activities. So, expect high prices. For digital nomads who don’t mind heat and humidity, summer is a good choice to avoid crowds and enjoy low prices.
Similarly, winter also sees fewer tourists, so could be a great time for digital nomads or remote workers to visit Hiroshima.
There is no shortage of hotels, hostels, or Airbnb in Hiroshima, so it completely depends on your requirements and budget.
I use booking.com as my preferred hotel booking app. I have tried many over the years and booking.com consistently offers me the best deals.
If however, you’re looking for super budget accommodation try hostelworld.com.
Here are the best budget and mid-range accommodation options in Hiroshima include:
Roku Hostel Hiroshima: Starting at $25/night (including taxes) [For budget accommodation]
This hostel offers bunk beds and twin rooms with free Wi-Fi, a bar, a terrace, and a garden. It is only 1.8 km from Hiroshima Station and 2.9 km from Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. The Atomic Bomb Dome is only 2.6 km from the property.
WeBase Hiroshima: Starting at $59/night (including taxes) [For mid-range accommodation]
Less than a kilometer from A-Bomb Dome and a 12-minute walking distance from Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, this property offers both bunk bed and full bed options. Air conditioning and free Wi-Fi are available throughout the property.
LAZULI Hiroshima Hotel and Lounge: Starting at approximately $168/night (including taxes) [For luxury accommodation]
Offering free Wi-Fi, free bikes, and concierge services, this hotel is only 1 km from the Hiroshima station and about a 16-minute walking distance from the Hiroshima University Institute of Medical History. Flat-screen TVs, attached bathrooms, air conditioning, etc. are available.
There is no shortage of trips and tours to make the best use of your time in this beautiful country. However, here are some suggested trips I recommend you explore further.
- The best way to get around Hiroshima is by streetcars or Hiroden. The Hiroden network is spread across the city, so you can visit most of the top destinations using trams. Trains are also available and so are taxis. There is an extensive bus network, too.
- Wi-Fi connection was pretty good almost everywhere in Hiroshima, making it ideal for digital nomads who want to work while on the move. You can get free Wi-Fi in certain areas like Peace Park, in central areas of the city, and even in a small segment of the Hiroshima JR train station complex. Most residential and commercial areas have high-speed internet available.
- The Japanese Yen is the official currency of Hiroshima. Japan in general is a cash society so I recommend you carry Yen with you at all times. You can use your international travel card to withdraw Yen from ATMs. Though contactless payment is gradually picking up, carrying cash is important.
- Depending on how long you’re staying and the kind of phone contract you’re on, it might be worth getting a local SIM when you get there. Most times when I travel, a local sim is the cheapest option. I recommend Japan Unlimited SIM from Mobal. You will get different high-speed data plans to choose from. The SIM comes with free incoming calls and texts and it also supports tethering.
- If taking money out of an ATM, always choose the ‘convert from your own bank’ option, rather than the convert from the ATM option. This is a golden rule worldwide. I have tried multiple ATM’s in multiple countries and the bank conversion is always without fail cheaper than a local ATM conversion.
- Also when paying with your travel credit or debit card, always choose local currency. If you choose your own currency, the conversion will be done then and there by their bank. When choosing local currency, the conversion is done by your bank and will be cheaper. Not by much, but every little helps! The bank to make travelling easy is Wise.
It’s tough when organizing your travels to know which companies offer the best deals and can be trusted with your credit card details!
The following resources are companies I have consistently used over my 11 years of travels and who I believe are the best in the business. I’m constantly updating this list as I find new and improved services.
Rome2Rio – a fantastic app which will show you the best routes to get from city to city or country to country. Simply enter where you’re traveling from and too, and they’ll show you how to get there via planes, trains and automobiles!
Skyscanner.net – always my first port of call when looking for the best flights. Easy to use and consistently highlights flights I can’t find anywhere else, they’re the best flight resource there is. Plus an easy to use app.
Flight Aware – a free, handy app showing flights around the world. I use this to track family or friends when they’re flying, to check whether my flight has left on time on previous days so I can be prepared for delays etc, and just to double check my own flight details as and when I’m traveling.
Trainline (for Europe) – I used to use this just for UK trains, but nowadays you can book trains all over Europe using their services. Cheap, reliable and with a great refund policy for canceled or delayed trains, they’re highly recommended.
Booking.com – I have tried all the other hotel booking sites and without doubt booking.com has consistently offered the best deals. One caveat to this, is always to just check the hotel website directly before finalizing your booking as sometimes they’ll have specialized deals.
Getyourguide.com – the easiest and most reliable activity booking agent. I haven’t had a bad trip to date with them. Plus an easy to use app which tracks all your bookings and includes the meeting point, trip details and everything else you need to ensure your activity goes smoothly.
Discovercars.com – Easy to use website to find rental cars in over 145 countries around the world. Pick up from one location, drop off in another. Find the best deals with the best reviews.
Safetywing – quite simply the best insurance for digital nomads and long term travelers. See my Safetywing insurance review for more details, but with cheap monthly plans and an easy to use claims process, you won’t find better on the market.
Light Packing Guide
I’m generally a very light packer so for a summer trip here is what I would usually pack, with a maximum weight of 7 KG;
Swimming costume or bikini
Light Beach dress
2 x pairs of shorts
2 x summer skirts
3 x t-shirts
1 x ‘going out’ dress
2 x night shorts & tee
14 x underwear (I always take a lot as I hate washing underwear in hotel sinks)
1 skin color plunge bra (can wear under black or white, and with posh dress or t-shirts)
1 x flip flops or thongs or sandals (depending where you’re from in the world)
1 x trainers/sneakers (which I generally wear when traveling from place to place or hang off the back of my bag
3 x trainer socks
1 x leggings
1 x light cardigan
Travel size all in one Shampoo/Conditioner (sacrilege to some women, but hey I want to travel light)
Travel size shower gel
Small battery powered toothbrush (with cap)
Travel size sun lotion
50SPF lip balm
Travel size body moisturiser
Ziplock bags – for anything and everything!
Travel Bags – for separating tops/shorts/underwear etc, and also great for laundry
My husbands bag usually weighs less than mine and he takes;
2 x shorts (Both double as swim shorts)
2 x tees
7 x socks
7 x boxers
1 x ‘going out’ shorts & tee
1 x croc flip flops
1 x trainers/sneakers
Travel size shampoo
1 x razor
Hiroshima is a city in Japan. It’s the largest city and capital of the Hiroshima Prefecture located on the Seto Inland Sea across Shikoku Island and bounded by the Chūgoku Mountains to the north. When looking at a map, it’s South West of Osaka.
Hiroshima is very safe even for solo female travelers.
As with all popular tourist destinations you’ll need to watch out for pickpockets and keep your valuables hidden, plus for females, use your common sense and don’t go wandering on your own in the middle of the night plus be careful when drinking in bars/clubs. (Sad but true across the globe).
But on a general scale compared to the rest of the world, for tourists visiting Hiroshima, it would be considered a very safe city, for solos, couples & families alike.
Nevertheless, always ensure you have travel insurance wherever you go as it will protect you against theft, injury, illness, or cancelations. Use the form below to get your personalized quote.
The official currency of Japan is the Japanese Yen and it is the only legal tender acceptable throughout the country, including Hiroshima. There are various currency exchange locations in Japan. It is always wise to carry cash because many places will not accept credit cards.
People in Hiroshima speak the Chūgoku dialect of Japanese. Not many people will speak English, but you will find a lot of English signage to help you with your travels. Also, hotel and restaurant staff understand English and they’re extremely friendly. Google translate is your friend!
Hiroshima follows Japan Standard Time, which is 9 hours ahead of the UTC. They do not observe Daylight Saving Time and have the same UTC offset throughout the year.
Hiroshima was the first city in the world to become a victim of an atomic bomb blast. Since that time, Hiroshima has blossomed into a modern and thriving city with many memorials and monuments that teach the world about the devastating effects of an atomic bomb blast.
Hiroshima also has many historical and cultural attractions, tasty local cuisine (if you like Japanese food), and plenty of outdoor activities like skiing, ocean sports, cycling, and hiking.
Both an educational and entertaining experience, there is a lot to learn and explore in Hiroshima.
Hiroshima has much to offer.
Despite its tragic history of the atomic bombing that killed hundreds of thousands of people directly or indirectly, Hiroshima has recovered into a thriving city.
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, Atomic Bomb Dome (or A-bomb Dome), Children’s Peace Monument, Hiroshima Castle, Miyajima Island, and Itsukushima Shrine, etc. are some of the many attractions in Hiroshima that attract tourists from across the world.
For the outdoorsy types and adrenaline junkies, the city offers various outdoor activities like skiing, hiking, cycling, and more.
I hope you’ve found this list of the 10 very best things to do in Hiroshima useful for your travels. Let me know how you go!