The most popular way to enjoy Hakone is to do the Hakone loop, which is a round course that starts and ends at Hakone-Yumoto station, with many attractions to see along the way.
There are different ways to do the Hakone loop, and if you depart early in the morning you could even do the complete loop in one day. However you would miss out on one of Hakone’s main attractions, which is of course its onsen (natural hot springs).
If you don’t have a Japan Rail Pass and want to go to Hakone using the Hakone Free Pass, we would recommend paying a supplement of 1200 yen and taking the Romance Car train, travelling straight to Hakone-Yumoto from Shinjuku station in 85 minutes. If you do have a JR Pass, then you can instead go from Tokyo or Shinagawa station to Odawara station by Shinkansen in about 30 minutes, transferring there to take the Odakyu line train to Hakone-Yumoto in 15 minutes.
1. Once in Hakone-Yumoto, travel to Gora on the Hakone Tozan Railway; 35 minutes, departures every 15-20 minutes.
2. Using the Hakone Tozan Cable Car go from Gora to Sounzan; 10 minutes, departures every 15 minutes.
3. Then take the Hakone Ropeway from Sounzan to Togendai; 30 minutes, constant departures.
4. From Togendai you can get on the Hakone Sightseeing Boat to Moto-Hakone, with one stop at Hakone-machi; 60 minutes total, 40 to Hakone-machi, departures every 30-60 minutes. Alternatively you can go on foot from Hakone-machi to Moto-Hakone which would take about 20-30 minutes.
5. Finally from Moto-Hakone you can head back on the Hakone Tozan Bus to Hakone-Yumoto; 35 minutes, departures every 15-20 minutes.
There are more areas covered by the Hakone Free Pass that are also worth a visit, and are not part of the Hakone Loop. You could also do the loop the other way around, from step 5 to 1.
Read more about visiting Hakone in our articles: