How to get from Narita Airport to central Tokyo? Compare Skyliner, Narita Express, Limousine Bus, etc.

2023-08-30

As means of access using public transportation from Narita Airport to the center of Tokyo, there are four main types. Keisei line and JR East are railways. Limousine buses (Tokyo Airport Transportation) and Airport buses (Airport Bus Tokyo / Narita) are public buses.

Furthermore, Keisei line is subdivided into three major types: Skyliner, Access Limited Express, and Keisei Main Line Limited Express. Also JR East has two types: Narita Express and Rapid.

As you can see, there are 7 main means of transportation from Narita Airport to the center of Tokyo using public transportation, so you may be wondering which one is the best to choose.

This time, I will introduce the characteristics of each of the seven types of transportation: Keisei line’s Skyliner, Access Limited Express, Keisei Main Line Limited Express, JR East’s Narita Express and Rapid Service, Limousine Bus, and Airport Bus, and compare them. And I want to help you make the best choice for yourself.

If you are planning a trip from Narita Airport to central Tokyo, please read this article to the end.

How to get from Narita Airport to central Tokyo

Narita Airport (official name: Narita International Airport) is the second gateway to the Tokyo metropolitan area after Haneda Airport, as indicated by the fact that it used to be called “New Tokyo International Airport" until 2004.

Many international flights and some domestic flights are in service at Narita Airport, making it a very convenient airport not only for travelers visiting Tokyo from overseas, but also for travelers heading from Tokyo to other parts of Japan.

Narita Airport has three terminals, Terminal 1, Terminal 2, and Terminal 3. Many Star Alliance member companies are located in the South Wing of Terminal 1, and most of SkyTeam member companies are located in the North Wing of Terminal 1. Most of One World member companies use Terminal 2 and most of the LCCs use Terminal 3. From each terminal, you can move to the center of Tokyo by public transportations.

There are seven main types of public transportation from Narita Airport to central Tokyo: Keisei line’s Skyliner, Access Limited Express, Keisei Main Line Limited Express, JR East’s Narita Express, Rapid Service, Limousine Bus, and Airport Bus. Each feature is introduced below.

1. Keisei line

Keisei line’s stations that can be used from Narita Airport are “Narita Airport Station", which is closest to Terminal 1, and “Airport Terminal 2 Station", which is closest to Terminals 2 and 3.

Keisei line’s Skyliner, Access Limited Express, and Keisei Main Line Limited Express all head for central Tokyo, starting at Narita Airport Station, stopping at the next station, Airport Terminal 2 Building Station, and continuing on to Nippori Station and ending at Keisei Ueno Station. From Nippori Station, you can transfer to the JR Yamanote Line and travel to major spots in Tokyo.

Many of the Access Limited Express trains and Keisei Main Line Limited Express trains run directly through to Asakusa and Shinbashi on the Toei Subway Asakusa Line.

The following table shows the characteristics of the Skyliner, Access Limited Express, and Keisei Main Line Limited Express, which are the main means of transportation on Keisei Electric Railway.

Travel time and fares from Narita Airport Station to Tokyo Station Travel time and fares from Narita Airport Station to Shinjuku Station Features and precautions
Skyliner Approximately 1 hour and 10 minutes from Nippori Station, 2,730 yen Approximately 1 hour 10 minutes, 2,770 yen with transferring to JR Line at Nippori All seats are reserved seats, and each car has a large luggage space, and all trains go to Nippori and Keisei Ueno.
Access Limited Express Transfer to JR line at Higashi-Nihonbashi/Bakurocho, about 1 hour and 20 minutes, 1,450 yen At Higashi-Nihonbashi/Bakurocho transferring to the subway, about 1 hour and 30 minutes, 1,410 yen There are few trains going to Nippori and Keisei Ueno, and most of them go to Asakusa, Nihonbashi and Shinbashi. By the way, it takes about 1 hour and 10 minutes (1,344 yen) to go directly to Shimbashi.
Keisei Main Line Limited Express Transferring to JR line at Nippori, about 1 hour and 30 minutes, 1,210 yen Approximately 1 hour 50 minutes, 1,250 yen, transferring to JR line at Nippori In addition to trains to Nippori and Keisei Ueno, there are also many trains to Asakusa, Nihonbashi, and Shinbashi. By the way, it takes about 1 hour and 35 minutes (1,149 yen) to go directly to Shimbashi.

2. JR East

The stations of JR East that can be used from Narita Airport are the same as the above-mentioned Keisei Line, “Narita Airport Station" nearest from Terminal 1 and “Airport Terminal 2 Building Station" nearest from Terminals 2 and 3. Both are located just next to Keisei Line’s stations.

JR East’s Narita Express and Rapid trains heading for central Tokyo both start at Narita Airport Station and stop at the next station, Airport Terminal 2 Building Station, before stopping at Chiba, Tokyo, Shinagawa, Yokohama, and Ofuna. Some Narita Express trains even go to Shibuya and Shinjuku beyond Tokyo.

One of strong points of JR East is that not only can you transfer from Tokyo Station to the JR Yamanote Line to travel to major spots in Tokyo, but you can also transfer to the Shinkansen and travel further afield.

The table below shows the characteristics of the Narita Express and Rapid trains, which are the main means of transportation for JR East.

Travel time and fares from Narita Airport Station to Tokyo Station Travel time and fares from Narita Airport Station to Shinjuku Station Features and precautions
Narita Express About 1 hour by through service, 2,870 yen About 1 hour 20 minutes by through service, 3,050 yen All seats are reserved seats and each car has a large luggage space. In addition to Shinjuku, there are also trains that go to Yokohama.
Rapid train About 1 hour 30 minutes, 1,340 yen Transferring to Chuo Line at Tokyo, about 1 hour 50 minutes, 1,520 yen By the way, it takes about 1 hour and 40 minutes (1,518 yen) to go directly to Shimbashi.

3. Limousine bus and Airport bus

Limousine buses (Tokyo Airport Transport) and Airport buses (Airport Bus Tokyo/Narita) available from Narita Airport have stops at Terminal 1, Terminal 2, and Terminal 3, respectively.

Limousine buses and Airport buses heading to central Tokyo both start from Terminal 3, stop at Terminal 2, then Terminal 1, and go to various spots in central Tokyo.

The following table shows the characteristics of Limousine buses and Airport buses.

Travel time and fares from Narita Airport Station to Tokyo Station Travel time and fares from Narita Airport Station to Shinjuku Station Features and precautions
Limousine bus 1 hour 30 minutes by subway from Tokyo City Air Terminal / Suitengumae, 2,970 yen Direct access about 1 hour 50 minutes, 3,200 yen Non-reserved seats (capacity system with guaranteed seating), baggage check-in available, stopping at major hotels
Airport bus Direct ccess about 1 hour 30 minutes, 1,300 yen Transferring to the Chuo Line at Tokyo Station, about 1 hour and 50 minutes, 1,500 yen Non-reserved seats (capacity system with guaranteed seating), baggage check-in possible, Airport bus only goes to Tokyo Station

Best choice for you

As mentioned above, for example, the shortest travel time from Narita Airport to Tokyo Station is the Narita Express (2,870 yen). It takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes). The cheapest fare is 1,210 yen (about 1 hour and 30 minutes) with transferring from Nippori to the JR Yamanote Line by Keisei Main Line Limited Express.

You can go from Narita Airport to Tokyo Station without changing trains by JR East Rapid Service (about 1 hour and 30 minutes, 1,340 yen) and Airport Bus (about 1 hour and 30 minutes, 1,300 yen) in addition to using the Narita Express.

In terms of transportation from Narita Airport to Tokyo Station, I would like to choose from the Narita Express, JR East Rapid train, or Airport bus, which does not require transferring. I would recommend Airport bus. It takes 30 minutes longer than the fastest Narita Express, but the cost is 1,300 yen, which is less than half the cost. Moreover you can leave your luggage in the trunk of the bus, and although the seats are unreserved, you are guaranteed a seat, so you can travel comfortably.

On the other hand, the shortest travel time from Narita Airport to Shinjuku Station is to take the Skyliner from Nippori to JR Yamanote Line, which takes about 1 hour and 10 minutes (2,770 yen). The cheapest is the Keisei Main Line Limited Express from Nippori to JRLine, It costs 1,250 yen (about 1 hour and 50 minutes) when transferring to the JR Yamanote Line.

Narita Express (about 1 hour 20 minutes, 3,050 yen) and Limousine bus (about 1 hour 50 minutes, 3,200 yen) can take you from Narita Airport to Shinjuku Station without changing trains.

Regarding transportation from Narita Airport to Shinjuku Station, I would like to choose between the Narita Express or the Limousine bus, which does not require a transfer, but I am concerned that the fare is a little high.

The recommended way is to take the Access Limited Express and transfer to the subway at Higashi-Nihonbashi/Bakurocho (about 1 hour and 30 minutes, 1,410 yen). Although there is a transfer, it is only 20 minutes slower than the method of transferring from the fastest Skyliner to the JR Yamanote Line. The cost is less than half of the Narita Express or Limousine Bus. As expected, it is inferior to the Narita Express and the Limousine bus in terms of comfort, but it can be said that it is a cost-effective way of transportation.

Conclusion

This time, I introduced seven types of transportation: Keisei Line’s Skyliner, Access Limited Express, Keisei Main Line Limited Express, JR East’s Narita Express, Rapid train, Limousine bus, and Airport bus. I compared it with the case of going to Tokyo and Shinjuku station as examples.

The examples introduced in this article may not necessarily be the best choice, so please use it as a reference and make the best choice according to your travel plans.

Have a nice trip!