A Travel Price Comparison for Japan Nagano vs. Dewa Sanzan for Attractions, Food, Hiking, and Couples

Should you visit Nagano or Dewa Sanzan?

Which is cheaper to visit? Which is more expensive for vacation?

Trying to figure out where to travel next? This travel comparison between Nagano and Dewa Sanzan can help. It includes a travel cost comparison in addition to other factors. For many travelers, the cost of a destination is a primary consideration when choosing where to go.

Nagano

Nagano is a scenic, historic, and traditional city. It's a large city, so you'll find plenty of things to do around town. The beauty of this spot is also one of the main reasons why visitors come. Visitors also love the nightlife, food, and hiking.

Dewa Sanzan

Dewa Sanzan is a traditional, religious, and sacred religious site. Visitors also love the hiking and museums.

Nagano and Dewa Sanzan: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular for skiing
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Popular for food and cuisine
  • Active nightlife
  • Nice resorts
  • Scenic old town
  • Good for hiking
  • Fun shopping
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Good for students
  • Impressive beauty
Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Good for hiking
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
Things to Consider
  • Less popular for food
  • Less popular for nightlife
  • Less popular for shopping
  • Less family-friendly


Is there more to do in Nagano or Dewa Sanzan?

Visitors will usually find more to do in Nagano than Dewa Sanzan, as it offers more sights, attractions, and activities. Nagano is more touristy than Dewa Sanzan and is known for its historic temples, beautiful mountain setting, and being the host of the 1998 Winter Olympic Games. Also, Nagano is famous for Zenko-ji Temple. Dewa Sanzan is well known for its traditional religion, three sacred mountains, and the Shukubo Pilgrim Lodges.

How is Nagano different from Dewa Sanzan?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Dewa Sanzan and Nagano. Then, you can decide for yourself which place is better for your next trip.

Is Nagano or Dewa Sanzan Better for Skiing?

Nagano
Dewa Sanzan

Nagano is an excellent place to visit for skiing and snowboarding. However, Dewa Sanzan is not a skiing destination.

Visitors travel far to experience snow skiing in Nagano. The city hosted the 1998 Winter Olympics and many of the skiing events were held at ski resorts in the area. In the Nagano Prefecture you'll find several ski resorts with some of the most popular being the Hakuba ski areas, Shiga Kogen, Nozawa Onsen, and Myoko Kogen.

Dewa Sanzan is not a skiing destination.


Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Nagano or Dewa Sanzan?

Nagano
Dewa Sanzan

Nagano is an excellent place to visit for its museums and history. Also, Dewa Sanzan is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its museums and landmarks.

Many visitors head to Nagano specifically to visit some of its top-rated museums and other sights. The area is filled with history and there are many places to explore. Matsumoto Castle, the Matsumoto City Museum of Art, Zenko-ji Temple, and Togakushi Shrine are just some of the highlights.

If you're looking for an educational opportunity, there are a decent number of museums and historical sights around Dewa Sanzan. This is a sacred religious site that is at the heart of the Shugendo folk religion. The religion combines Buddhist and Shinto traditions and there are several temples in the area including the most sacred sights at Yudono-san, Haguro-san, and Gas-san, as well as the Churenji and Dainichibo Temples.

Is the Food Better in Nagano or Dewa Sanzan? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Nagano
Dewa Sanzan

Nagano is an excellent place to visit for its restaurants. However, Dewa Sanzan is lacking in options for its restaurant scene.

Nagano has a huge number of terrific restaurants. You'll find many of Japan's culinary favorites here like ramen, udon, sushi, and sashimi. There are also regional dishes and some comfort food like Tonkatsu and Oyaki Dumplings.

Dewa Sanzan may not make the list for most foodies, but you'll find what you need while you're in town. In your guesthouse you'll be given "Shojin cuisine", which is the traditional cuisine that has been handed down through the generations. It is strictly vegetarian and is heavily influenced by whatever vegetable is currently in season in the area. Traditionally, the cuisine focused on sustenance and not taste, but for the purposes of hospitality, the dishes are more flavorful than is typical in the traditional cuisine.

Is Nagano or Dewa Sanzan Better for Nightlife?

Nagano
Dewa Sanzan

Nagano is an excellent place to visit for nightlife and partying. However, Dewa Sanzan is lacking in options for its evening party scene.

Nagano has a lively atmosphere and nightlife is popular here. The nightlife scene is varied, from local and intimate venues, to wild and crazy clubs. You'll find all styles and activities such that whatever you're looking for, the city likely won't disappoint.

Things get quiet in the evenings in Dewa Sanzan. This is a religious site that is remote and focused on mountain worship and devotion. Nightlife is non-existent in the area.


Is Nagano or Dewa Sanzan Better for Resorts?

Nagano
Dewa Sanzan

Nagano is very good for its luxury resorts. However, Dewa Sanzan is not a resort destination.

With a selection of resorts, Nagano makes a nice vacation spot. You'll find wonderful mountain resorts throughout the entire prefecture.

Dewa Sanzan is not a resort destination.

Is Nagano or Dewa Sanzan Better for its Old Town?

Nagano
Dewa Sanzan

Nagano is very good for its old town. However, Dewa Sanzan does not have a historic old town.

Plenty of visitors enjoy exploring the old town in Nagano. Throughout the prefecture there is a lot of history and charming towns. If you're willing to get out of Nagano City, you can enjoy an area filled with tradition and culture. In particular, Tsumago-juku was the first preserved old town in Japan.

Dewa Sanzan does not have a historic old town.

Is Nagano or Dewa Sanzan Better for Hiking?

Nagano
Dewa Sanzan

Both Nagano and Dewa Sanzan are destinations which offer superb hiking.

Many visitors go to Nagano for the hiking trails. The surrounding area is filled with stunning scenery, natural beauty, and beautiful hikes. You'll find shrines and temples, historic villages, nice views, and peaceful walks throughout the region. One of the most unique walks is along the highest road in Japan, the Norikura Echo Line. The route is at 8,800 feet and is lined with ten meter high snow walls. It's open from from late April to the end of June every year.

Dewa Sanzan is a popular spot for hiking. Experienced hikers can climb Mt. Gassan and Mt. Yudono in one day and do Mt. Haguro separately. For Mt. Gassan, you'll want to take the bus to the 8th station and climb from there.


Is the Shopping Better in Nagano or Dewa Sanzan?

Nagano
Dewa Sanzan

Nagano is very good for its shopping opportunities. However, Dewa Sanzan is lacking in options for its shopping areas.

Shopping is a popular activity when visiting Nagano. There are a number of shopping streets that are fun to explore including the historic street of Naka-mise. This street is lined with tea shops, cafes, traditional stores, and more. While there aren't a huge number of shopping centers around town, Midori Nagano is one of the biggest.

Dewa Sanzan has some shopping areas for those that seek them out. This is a sacred sight that is devoted to worship and a simple life. As such, shopping in not available in the area with the exception of a couple of convenience stores.

Is Nagano or Dewa Sanzan Better for Families?

Nagano
Dewa Sanzan

Nagano is an excellent place to visit for its kid-friendly activities. However, Dewa Sanzan is lacking in options for its family-friendly activities.

Because of its large number of kid-friendly activities, Nagano is very family-friendly. Chibikko Ninja Village is a great place for kids with climbing walls, indoor playgrounds, and more. There are also a number of sports facilities around town, and you can keep the sport theme going with a visit to the Nagano Olympic Museum. Animal lovers will enjoy a visit to the Nagano Chausuyama Zoo and for little kids, the Nagano City Joyama Zoo is nice.

Dewa Sanzan is not such a family-friendly city. The remote location make this a challenging place to access. It's a religious destination and its sacred and historic past is often lost to children. Out of respect for the strict religion, this site is best visited as an adult.

Is Nagano or Dewa Sanzan Better for Couples?

Nagano
Dewa Sanzan

Both Nagano and Dewa Sanzan are notable destinations for a couple's getaway.

Nagano makes for a fun place to visit for a couple. The city has a lot of history and beauty, making it a romantic destination for couples. There are also outdoor activities as well as a number of sports that you can enjoy.

Dewa Sanzan is a good city for couples to visit. Couples who want to do something that's a bit different from mainstream Japan will appreciate a visit to this religious site.


Is Nagano or Dewa Sanzan Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Nagano
Dewa Sanzan

For backpackers, both Nagano and Dewa Sanzan are notable places to visit.

Nagano is a good city to visit for backpackers. There are several good hostels in the area, as well as some great activities for young travelers, backpackers, and sports enthusiasts.

Plenty of backpackers visit Dewa Sanzan. This is an off-the-beaten-path destination for backpackers, and it can be difficult to reach by public transit. Once you're there, if you want a traditional experience, you can stay at a Shukubo Pilgrim Lodge.

Is Nagano or Dewa Sanzan Better for Students?

Nagano
Dewa Sanzan

Nagano is very good for its student-friendly activities. However, Dewa Sanzan is not popular with students.

Plenty of students visit Nagano. It's relative affordability combined with its close proximity to Tokyo and laid back populations make this a nice place to study.

Dewa Sanzan is not popular with students.

Is Nagano or Dewa Sanzan Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Nagano
Dewa Sanzan

Nagano is very good for times when you don't have a car. However, Dewa Sanzan is lacking in options for its public transit.

Nagano has some public transit options. The main station in town is Nagano Station. There's a bus and train system through the area, including buses that run to Zenkoji Temple. There's also a bus that goes to the Togakushi area and takes about an hour. However, renting a car will give you more freedom and efficiency. .

Public transit is generally limited in Dewa Sanzan. There is public transit from Tsuruoka Station to Mt. Haguro and the accommodation in the area. There are also buses to the top of Mt. Haguro, Mt. Yudono, and Mt. Gassan 8th Station.


Is Nagano or Dewa Sanzan a more walkable city?

Nagano
Dewa Sanzan

Nagano is very good for its high level of walkability. However, Dewa Sanzan is lacking in options for its ease of walking around.

Nagano is a somewhat walkable place. Parts of the city are walkable and there are hiking trails around the Togakushi area, where you'll find many shrines and other attractions.

Dewa Sanzan is generally not very walkable. Everything is very spread out so walking can be challenging. Experienced hikers will enjoy hiking to each of the three shrines.

For even more information, also check out Is Nagano Worth Visiting? and Is Dewa Sanzan Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Dewa Sanzan or Nagano?

How long in Nagano or Dewa Sanzan?

Visitors can find plenty of fun things to do in both Nagano and Dewa Sanzan. In our opinion, Nagano has more to see and do, so we recommend that you spend more time in Nagano than Dewa Sanzan. In general, 1-3 days is a good amount of time for Nagano, and 2-3 days is enough time in Dewa Sanzan.

Families should spend more time in Nagano than Dewa Sanzan. Because of the many family-friendly attractions and fun things to do for kids in Nagano, it's a great place to visit with the whole family.

Couples should spend more time in Nagano than Dewa Sanzan. You'll find plenty of romantic sights and fun activities in Nagano that are great for a weekend getaway or a longer couple's trip.

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Nagano than Dewa Sanzan if your budget allows for it. With a larger number of budget-friendly sights, good nightlife, and active things to do, anyone traveling on a budget would have a good time in Nagano.


  • How many days in Nagano or Dewa Sanzan? Ideal Length of Stay
    Nagano 1-3 
    Dewa Sanzan 2-3

One day in Nagano or Dewa Sanzan?

Visitors enjoy the food and shopping when visiting the historic city of Nagano. Hikers are also drawn to this area. One day should give you a good understanding of everything this city has to offer. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.

Many travelers enjoy the museums when visiting the destination of Dewa Sanzan. Hikers are also drawn to this area. But since there are so many activities, you'll likely want to spend more than one day exploring.

A weekend in Nagano or Dewa Sanzan?

Visitors enjoy the shopping and museums when visiting the traditional destination of Nagano. Many visitors also spend a good bit of time hiking. This city offers something for everyone. Plenty of people spend a weekend in the area when traveling. If you enjoy all that's offered here, then a weekend is just the right amount of time to spend here.

Dewa Sanzan is a great place to explore. It is common to spend a weekend here. With all of its activities, you can easily fill a weekend here. Your budget might influence how long you stay.


Five days in Nagano or Dewa Sanzan?

The alpine city of Nagano offers museums and skiing. Make sure you spend some time hiking while you're in the area. Five days may feel like too much time unless you plan to do a lot of relaxing. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel.

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Dewa Sanzan. Make sure you spend some time hiking while you're in the area. Five days may feel like too much time unless you plan to do a lot of relaxing. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do.

A week in Nagano or Dewa Sanzan?

Many people enjoy the skiing and nightlife when visiting Nagano. Anyone can find something fun to do here. Many travelers plan to spend time hiking while in the area. Most people find that one week is more than enough time to see everything.

Travelers enjoy the museums when visiting the sacred destination of Dewa Sanzan. This religious site offers a variety of activities to choose from. Many travelers plan to spend time hiking while in the area. Most people find that one week is more than enough time to see everything.


Which place is cheaper, Dewa Sanzan or Nagano?

These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.

The average daily cost (per person) in Nagano is $92, while the average daily cost in Dewa Sanzan is $67. These costs include accommodation (assuming double occupancy, so the traveler is sharing the room), food, transportation, and entertainment. While every person is different, these costs are an average of past travelers in each destination. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for Nagano and Dewa Sanzan in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Nagano $62
    Dewa Sanzan $29
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Nagano $124
    Dewa Sanzan $58
Compare Hotels in Nagano and Dewa Sanzan

Looking for a hotel in Nagano or Dewa Sanzan? Prices vary by location, date, season, and the level of luxury. See below for options and compare which is best for your budget and travel style.

Hotels in Nagano


Hotels in Dewa Sanzan


Kayak helps you find the best prices for hotels, flights, and rental cars for destinations around the world. Compare prices for multiple destinations when planning your next trip.


Our Analysis
We've analyzed the average and typical hotel prices based on guest reviews, star ratings, and hotel amenities here: Nagano Hotel Prices and Dewa Sanzan Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Nagano $10
    Dewa Sanzan $23

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Nagano

Also for Nagano, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Private Transfer Between Station & Snow Monkey Park: $686

Is it cheaper to fly into Nagano or Dewa Sanzan?

Prices for flights to both Dewa Sanzan and Nagano change regularly based on dates and travel demand. We suggest you find the best prices for your next trip on Kayak, because you can compare the cost of flights across multiple airlines for your prefered dates.





Food
  • Food Meals for one day
    Nagano $23
    Dewa Sanzan $25

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Nagano $8.37
    Dewa Sanzan $9.47

Tours and Activities in Nagano

Also, here are some specific examples of entertainment, tickets, and activities for Nagano.

  • 1 Day Tour: Snow Monkeys & Snow Fun in Shiga Kogen: $171
  • 4 Day - From Nagano to Kanazawa: Ultimate Central Japan tour: $822
  • Food & Cultural Walking Tour around Zenkoji temple in Nagano: $90
  • Full-Day Tour: Matsumoto Castle & Kamikochi Alpine Valley: $186
  • Izakaya Food Night Tour in Nagano: $93
  • Nagano Sake Tasting Walking Tour: $43
  • 1-Day Snow Monkey & Cherry Blossom Tour in Spring: $140
  • Private Snow Monkey Tour: From Nagano City / Ski Resorts: $1,403
  • Snow Monkey & ZinkoJi With Sake Tasting Private Tour: $565
  • Welcome to Private Tour with a Local: $55
  • Zenkoji Experience Tour: Overnight 'Shukubo' (Temple Lodge): $233

Tours and Activities in Dewa Sanzan

For Dewa Sanzan, here are a few prices for actual activities, tours, and tickets provided by various companies:

  • Small-Group Zenpoji Temple Zen Experience in Yamagata: $218
  • Tsuruoka & Dewa-Sanzan Full-Day Private Tour with Government-Licensed Guide: $238

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Nagano -
    Dewa Sanzan $7.46


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Nagano and Dewa Sanzan, we can see that Nagano is more expensive. And not only is Dewa Sanzan much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Dewa Sanzan would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Dewa Sanzan and be able to afford a more luxurious travel style by staying in nicer hotels, eating at more expensive restaurants, taking tours, and experiencing more activities. The same level of travel in Nagano would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Nagano than you might in Dewa Sanzan.

If you're trying to decide if either of these two destinations are within your price range, also see Is Nagano Expensive? and Is Dewa Sanzan Expensive?.



When is the best time to visit Nagano or Dewa Sanzan?

Both destinations experience a temperate climate with four distinct seasons. And since both cities are in the northern hemisphere, summer is in July and winter is in January.

Should I visit Nagano or Dewa Sanzan in the Summer?

The summer attracts plenty of travelers to both Nagano and Dewa Sanzan. Many visitors come to Nagano in the summer for the hiking, the city activities, and the family-friendly experiences. Furthermore, most visitors come to Dewa Sanzan for the hiking during these months.

Nagano is around the same temperature as Dewa Sanzan in the summer. The daily temperature in Nagano averages around 25°C (77°F) in July, and Dewa Sanzan fluctuates around 23°C (74°F).

Nagano usually receives more sunshine than Dewa Sanzan during summer. Nagano gets 136 hours of sunny skies, while Dewa Sanzan receives 124 hours of full sun in the summer.

Dewa Sanzan receives a lot of rain in the summer. Nagano gets a good bit of rain this time of year. In July, Nagano usually receives more rain than Dewa Sanzan. Nagano gets 222 mm (8.8 in) of rain, while Dewa Sanzan receives 191 mm (7.5 in) of rain each month for the summer.


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Nagano 25°C (77°F) 
    Dewa Sanzan 23°C (74°F)

Should I visit Nagano or Dewa Sanzan in the Autumn?

The autumn brings many poeple to Nagano as well as Dewa Sanzan. Most visitors come to Nagano for the hiking trails, the city's sights and attractions, the shopping scene, and the natural beauty of the area during these months. Additionally, the autumn months attract visitors to Dewa Sanzan because of the hiking trails.

In the autumn, Nagano is a little warmer than Dewa Sanzan. Typically, the autumn temperatures in Nagano in October average around 16°C (60°F), and Dewa Sanzan averages at about 13°C (56°F).

In the autumn, Nagano often gets more sunshine than Dewa Sanzan. Nagano gets 167 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Dewa Sanzan receives 149 hours of full sun.

It's quite rainy in Dewa Sanzan. Nagano receives a lot of rain in the autumn. Nagano usually gets more rain in October than Dewa Sanzan. Nagano gets 227 mm (9 in) of rain, while Dewa Sanzan receives 152 mm (6 in) of rain this time of the year.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Nagano 16°C (60°F) 
    Dewa Sanzan 13°C (56°F)

Should I visit Nagano or Dewa Sanzan in the Winter?

Both Dewa Sanzan and Nagano are popular destinations to visit in the winter with plenty of activities. The winter months attract visitors to Nagano because of the skiing, the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine. Also, the museums and the cuisine are the main draw to Dewa Sanzan this time of year.

It's quite cold in Dewa Sanzan in the winter. The weather in Nagano can be very cold. In January, Nagano is generally much warmer than Dewa Sanzan. Daily temperatures in Nagano average around 2°C (36°F), and Dewa Sanzan fluctuates around -1°C (30°F).

The sun comes out a lot this time of the year in Nagano. Nagano usually receives more sunshine than Dewa Sanzan during winter. Nagano gets 212 hours of sunny skies, while Dewa Sanzan receives 149 hours of full sun in the winter.

It rains a lot this time of the year in Dewa Sanzan. It's quite rainy in Nagano. In January, Nagano usually receives more rain than Dewa Sanzan. Nagano gets 446 mm (17.5 in) of rain, while Dewa Sanzan receives 206 mm (8.1 in) of rain each month for the winter.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Nagano 2°C (36°F) 
    Dewa Sanzan -1°C (30°F)

Should I visit Nagano or Dewa Sanzan in the Spring?

Both Dewa Sanzan and Nagano during the spring are popular places to visit. The activities around the city and the natural beauty are the main draw to Nagano this time of year.

Nagano is a little warmer than Dewa Sanzan in the spring. The daily temperature in Nagano averages around 11°C (52°F) in April, and Dewa Sanzan fluctuates around 9°C (47°F).

In the spring, Nagano often gets around the same amount of sunshine as Dewa Sanzan. Nagano gets 191 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Dewa Sanzan receives 188 hours of full sun.

Nagano usually gets around the same amount of rain in April as Dewa Sanzan. Nagano gets 94 mm (3.7 in) of rain, while Dewa Sanzan receives 100 mm (3.9 in) of rain this time of the year.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Nagano 11°C (52°F) 
    Dewa Sanzan 9°C (47°F)

Typical Weather for Dewa Sanzan and Nagano

Nagano Dewa Sanzan
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 2°C (36°F) 446 mm (17.5 in) -1°C (30°F) 206 mm (8.1 in)
Feb 2°C (36°F) 275 mm (10.8 in) -1°C (30°F) 151 mm (6 in)
Mar 5°C (40°F) 191 mm (7.5 in) 2°C (35°F) 116 mm (4.6 in)
Apr 11°C (52°F) 94 mm (3.7 in) 9°C (47°F) 100 mm (3.9 in)
May 16°C (62°F) 100 mm (3.9 in) 15°C (59°F) 96 mm (3.8 in)
Jun 21°C (69°F) 152 mm (6 in) 20°C (67°F) 120 mm (4.7 in)
Jul 25°C (77°F) 222 mm (8.8 in) 23°C (74°F) 191 mm (7.5 in)
Aug 26°C (80°F) 183 mm (7.2 in) 25°C (77°F) 174 mm (6.8 in)
Sep 22°C (72°F) 232 mm (9.1 in) 20°C (68°F) 154 mm (6.1 in)
Oct 16°C (60°F) 227 mm (9 in) 13°C (56°F) 152 mm (6 in)
Nov 10°C (50°F) 339 mm (13.3 in) 7°C (44°F) 207 mm (8.1 in)
Dec 5°C (41°F) 440 mm (17.3 in) 2°C (35°F) 231 mm (9.1 in)


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