Nikko is best known for its spectacular shrines and temples built during the Tokugawa Shogunate, particularly the Toshogu shrine, which is dedicated to Tokugawa Ieyasu himself. Unlike the more austere shrines in other regions, the Nikko shrines are heavily carved and brightly decorated, and bear a particularly famous painting of a sleeping cat, as well as the three wise monkeys of Japanese folklore.

Set amidst the mountains, Nikko offers spectacular natural beauty: Nikko National Park protects the stunning Kegon falls, Lake Chuzenji, and large areas of important wetlands, as well as ample hot water for bathing at Yumoto Onsen.