Japan is a wonderful destination, suitable for the whole family as it has numerous attractions to cater to both the young and old. Besides, it is one of the safest and cleanest countries in the world to travel to, boasting excellent family accommodation and amenities. All these make travelling as a family with children a fuss-free experience. While most family travellers typically travel to Tokyo and its vicinity to keep their children entertained in famous theme parks like Disneyland, why not go somewhere different this time?
Nagasaki, located on the island of Kyushu in western Japan, is reputed to be the most international city in the country. Being the only trading port opened to the outside world in the 15th century, it is characterised by its exotic East-meets-West culture. Head to Nagasaki for an eye-opening experience together with your family to witness the interesting mix of cultures for yourself. Here’s how you can enjoy a great family holiday in exotic Nagasaki:
How to get to Nagasaki
Nagasaki Airport (NGS) is a small international airport located 18 kilometres (11 miles) northeast of Nagasaki railway station in Nagasaki city. Most of the flights operate on domestic routes within the country, with a limited number of flights from / to Shanghai (China), Seoul (South Korea), and Yangon (Myanmar). Thus, it may be more convenient to fly into international airport hubs like Osaka Kansai (KIX) or Tokyo (NRT & HND) and fly down to Nagasaki Airport using the foreign traveller’s special promotion fare offered by ANA.
ANA Experience JAPAN Fare
Address:593 Mishimamachi, Omura, Nagasaki Prefecture
Contact: +81 957-52-5555
Top attractions in Nagasaki for everyone in the family
Set on a large natural harbour, Nagasaki is strategically located with beautiful views of the bay. Not only is the city synonymous with unique international culture, it is also a place that is steeped in history. Here are the top attractions in the city that will keep both the young and old captivated on a family holiday:
1. Nagasaki Seaside Park
A trip to the best natural harbour city on the island of Kyushu would not be complete without making your way down to Nagasaki Seaside Park. Conveniently located near the downtown area, take a leisurely morning walk with your family here to enjoy the fresh sea breeze and beautiful views of the bay. With many trees and flowers in bloom in the 65-hectare (160.6-acre) park, delight in the change of colours as the season changes throughout the year. There are also lots of interesting festivals held in different seasons, such as the Tall Ships Festival from late April to early May, and the Christmas celebrations in winter.
In addition, join in the fun competition of flying Nagasaki’s hata kites with the friendly locals on the large grassy plains. Also known as “fighting kites” because of their abrasive glass-powdered hemp strings, this kite-flying activity promises a fun-filled experience for everyone as you work together to manipulate the kite to fight with your opponents. You can also check out the famous Dejima Wharf next to the park, where you will be able to find historic Western architecture and numerous nice restaurants.
Nagasaki Port and Nagasaki Seaside Park (長崎水辺の森公園)
Address: Nagasaki-city, Nagasaki Prefecture
Price: free admission
Opening Hours: open 24 hours
Duration: around 2 hours required
Access: short walk from Dejima Station on tram line no. 1
Contact: +81 95-818-8550
Located in the historic Minami-yamate district, Setre Glover’s House is just a 3-minute walk from the World Heritage Sites of Glover Garden and Oura Church, which are also a short walk away from the south gate of the Nagasaki Seaside Park. Enjoy your stay in this heritage Western-style building with hospitable service that warms your heart. Tuck into local noodle dishes, such as the delicious champon, at Nagasaki Chinatown in the neighbourhood. The location of Setre Glover’s House certainly makes it an ideal accommodation to stay for a family holiday where everyone can find something to enjoy within convenient access!
Setre Glover's House Nagasaki
Address: Minami-Yamatemachi 2-28
Price: from 105 USD
2. Nagasaki Penguin Aquarium
Loved by adults and children alike, the penguin is a species of adorable flightless bird that lives almost exclusively in the Southern Hemisphere. While Nagasaki may not be located in that part of the world, the people in this city are indeed a fortunate bunch to have their very own Nagasaki Penguin Aquarium located on the eastern shore of Nagasaki.
Home to nine types of penguin, the aquarium used to house the world’s oldest living penguin in captivity, Gin-kichi (a king penguin species), who died in 2002 at the age of 41. Currently, there are about 180 penguins in the aquarium and over half of them were born in Nagasaki. Not only can you view the penguins swimming in huge glass-walled habitats, you can also see them up close at the beach. Have fun kayaking on the clear blue waters of Tachibana Bay with your little ones. Furthermore, there is also a biotope created as a replica of Nagasaki’s countryside, where everyone can learn more about fascinating nature in a fun and interactive way!
Nagasaki Penguin Aquarium
Address: 3-16 Shuku-machi, Nagasaki, Nagasaki Prefecture
Price: 510 JPY (4.90 USD) per adult, 300 JPY (2.90 USD) per child (aged 3 - 14 / junior high school students), free for children aged below 3
Opening Hours: 9 am - 5 pm. August: 9 am - 6 pm. Closed every third Wednesday, or the following day if the third Wednesday is a national holiday
Duration: around 2 hours required
Access: From Nagasaki Station East Gate, take the bus to Aba or Kasuga Shako-Mae, and get off at Penguin Suizokukan-Mae bus stop. On weekends and national holiday, the bus will leave from the South Gate of Nagasaki Station
Contact: +81 95-838-3131
Website: Nagasaki Penguin Aquarium
A convenient and great economical accommodation to consider is the recently renovated Traveler’s House on the ROUTE, near JR Nagasaki Station. Book the spacious 40-square-metre (431-square-foot) family private room that can accommodate up to 4 guests at wallet-friendly prices. Staying in the city centre means you can enjoy easy access to most of the city’s top attractions, as well as the direct bus to the lovely aquarium for a great family holiday.
ROUTE - Cafe and Petit Hostel
Address: 5-14 Nishizakamachi, Nagasaki, Nagasaki, Japan, 850-0051
Price: from 42 USD
3. Huis Ten Bosch theme park
As the largest theme park in Japan, Huis Ten Bosch theme park is modelled after Holland in the medieval era. Located in the Sasebo city of Nagasaki Prefecture, this beautiful theme park is filled with lovely canals, museums, shops, restaurants, and hotels.
For the young and young at heart, take your pick from the wide range of entertainment facilities available, such as Wonder Wheels, Sky Castle, and Fairytale Wonder Woods. You can also rent a family cycle that accommodates up to 4 people, or take a ride in the Huis Ten Bosch special taxi to roam around the park. Furthermore, foodies will be delighted to find delectable cuisines from all around the world in this theme park too. Indeed, Huis Ten Bosch has so much to offer you are spoilt for choice on what you should do first upon arrival at this popular theme park!
Huis Ten Bosch theme park
Address: 1-1 Huis Ten Bosch Machi, Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture
Price: please refer to official website
Opening Hours: please refer to official website
Duration: at least 1 day required
Access: about 1-hour train or express cruise ride from Nagasaki Airport. Please refer to official website for full details
Contact: +81 570-064-110
Instead of fighting with time to complete a day tour of Huis Ten Bosch theme park so that you can make your way back to your Nagasaki city accommodation, why not stay overnight at Huis Ten Bosch Forest Villa? As its name implies, this quaint cottage-style hotel is surrounded by a forest and situated by the tranquil lake.
Step into the charming and airy two-storey cottage with an alluring view of the lake from the terrace. The two bedrooms, which can accommodate up to 5 guests, are housed on the second floor. Have an easy time putting your little ones to sleep as they count the twinkling stars through the rooftop’s skylight. Don’t worry much about being out in the faraway and inconvenient woods, for you will find buzzing streets filled with shops and restaurants in the theme park once you step out of the Forest Villa. Huis Ten Bosch Forest Villa definitely makes your stay within the theme park a memorable one!
4. Dolphin-watching cruise along the Shimabara Peninsula
Besides the cute penguins at Nagasaki Penguin Aquarium, animal lovers will also be happy to know that wild bottlenose dolphins can be sighted all year round in the Shimabara Peninsula (島原半島) along the eastern shore of Nagasaki Prefecture. Join an exciting dolphin-watching cruise, where you can chase after approximately 300 dolphins in the sea between the Shimabara Peninsula and Amakusa. This is an experience definitely worth the long travelling time from Nagasaki city.
Imagine the wild dolphins performing “live” right before you with impressive stunts, or even singing a melodious tune just for you! This is surely an activity that will have everyone in the family hooked. There are many dolphin-watching cruises offered by different cruise companies. Nonetheless, one of the most popular cruises at Shimabara Peninsula is by Kazusa Dolphin Watching. Enjoy your great day out at sea with your family!
Shimabara Peninsula - Kazusa Dolphin Watching
Address: 251-11 Kazusa-cho, Minamishimabara, Nagasaki prefecture
Price: 2,500 JPY (24.10 USD) per adult, 1,000 JPY (1 USD) for child aged 4 to 7, and 1,500 JPY (14.50 USD) for child aged 7 to 13
Opening Hours: Kazusa Dolphin Watching goes out 4 times daily, at 10 am, 11.30 am, 1 pm and 2.30 pm. From April to September, there is an additional cruise at 4 pm
Duration: about 1 hour
Access: From JR Nagasaki Station, transfer to Isahaya Station on the JR train, then board a bus to Suigetsu Bridge. Total travel time is about 2.5 hours
Contact: +81 957-87-4640
Since you have already travelled all the way from Nagasaki city to Shimabara to chase the dolphins, stay overnight to explore the small but beautiful city. A great family accommodation to consider is Jerremy Gou’s cosy beach house in the southern Shimabara district. This spacious and private house, just 3 minutes away from the lovely beach, can accommodate up to 10 guests. Amenities such as a supermarket, restaurants, and shops are all within a stone’s throw from the house. Furthermore, it is within a 40-minute drive of the popular Obama onsen district and scenic Mount Unzen. Enjoy the sights Shimabara city has to offer by staying in such a convenient yet idyllic setting!
Relax at a quiet/cosy beach house!南島原市, 長崎県, Japan
Top guest reviewsthe kitchen was adequately furnished with the necessary utensils and there is also a good dining areathe house was big and comfortable which is enough for 7 people or moregreat experience and could have been even better if there is wifi at this housewe especially liked the big living room and kitchen where we played games and had breakfast togetherthis place is nice and cozy with a lot of spacegreat place very clean and secludeda very nice and clean houseclean and tidy with everything you needa spacey clean and well equipped house perfect communication and check innclean spacious well equipped place to stay
Host:host is very helpful and communicativehost is very responsive and helpfuljerremy was a great host super fast and helpful reply during our check-in and stayjeremy was very helpful and explained how we could get to the house by busjerremy is a great host and i would definitely recommend this placeRead more reviewsthis house is surely spacious and well located good starting point for sightseeing close to beautiful beachesthe beautiful beaches are very close also shops and eateries all in walking distanceconvenient house close to the beach and mountains and good patisserie near by and other shopsreally nice house easy walk to a pretty beach and a grocery storethe house is very comfortable and located close to the beach and shops
5. An enriching experience in Unzen
One of the highlights of Japanese travel is a rejuvenating traditional hot spring or onsen bath. When travelling in Nagasaki, make sure you head to the popular onsen town of Unzen Onsen (雲仙温泉), located near the peak of Mount Unzen in Shimabara city.
In Unzen, the first national park of Japan designated in 1934, discover 30 steamy geothermal fields emitting strong sulfuric gas fumes due to natural volcanic activity. Take the opportunity to let your kids understand more about the wonders of nature in this volcanic mountainous town. Of course, don’t forget to indulge in some wonderful bonding in the open-air family spa at Unzen Miyazaki Ryokan. It’s best if you could stay overnight at this traditional Japanese house to immerse and relax in the surrounding natural beauty of this awesome ryokan!
Unzen Miyazaki Ryokan
Address: 320 Unzen, Obama-cho, Unzen city, Nagasaki Prefecture
Price: from 447 USD
Access: From JR Nagasaki Station, transfer to Isahaya Station on the JR train, then board a bus to Unzen for 1 hour and 20 minutes. Alternatively, reserve seats on the free shuttle service from JR Nagasaki Station at least 3 days in advance
Contact: +81 957-73-3331
A great family holiday awaits you in Nagasaki
As you can see, Nagasaki is a great destination fit for an unforgettable family trip, as it offers something everyone can enjoy. Start planning your next family holiday in the charming Nagasaki Prefecture now. Have an awesome holiday with your loved ones!
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