If you live in the Kanagawa and Tokyo areas and want to spend a day or two to relax and unwind, then Hakone is the place. Get the Hakone Freepass discount ticket to get there and enjoy the beautiful scenery and the many activities that Hakone has to offer.
The Hakone Freepass is an amazing deal! You get unlimited train and bus rides, use of the ropeway, the option to ride on a ship in the lake, and discounts on restaurants, parks, and hot springs. It also includes your round trip fare from your starting station. For the bus ride, there are designated areas where you are allowed to use the Freepass. Be sure to ask the bus driver before getting on the bus or else you will be charged.
The pass is valid for 2 days, but a one-day trip is also worth the fee; bus and ropeway fares can be a little expensive in Hakone. The 2-day pass is 5,700 yen for adults and 1,500 for kids. If you wish to stay longer in Hakone, it might be better to get the 3-day pass. The price is 6,100 yen for adults and 1,750 yen for kids. Tickets can be bought at any ticketing machine at Odakyu Line stations.
I recommend using the Romance Car to go to Hakone since it's fast...and to avoid crowds. The Romance Car is a limited express train that runs from Shinjuku station to Hakone station, so you won't have to transfer trains. The seats are reclining and can be rotated 180 degrees. There are also restrooms inside the train. The Romance Car is reserved seating only so please go to the Odakyu train office to ask for assistance.
Hakone is a popular destination among locals so it is better to get there early to explore many sights and avoid the long lines. Here is my suggested itinerary for a one-day trip. Once you get to Hakone-Yumoto station, you can use the bus or the Hakone Tozan train to get to Sounzan station. From there, ride the ropeway to Owakudani, famous for the black eggs. Go around the area and take a picture of Mt. Fuji. Then, take the ropeway to Togendai station. Get your camera ready to snap a picture of Mt. Fuji while riding the ropeway.
Next, ride the cruise ship and get off at the last stop, Hakone Machiko. Walk to the Hakone Checkpoint, and then the Ancient Cedar Avenue until you reach Moto-Hakoneko. Relax and take a picture of Mt. Fuji along Lake Ashi. Next, walk all the way to Hakone Shrine. Don't forget to take a picture behind the huge "tori" gate. You can take the cruise ship at Moto-Hakoneko and return to Togendai station or you can take the bus all the way to Hakone-Yumoto station.
I recommend eating at the restaurant at Togendai station to enjoy the view of Lake Ashi and the cruise ship. Here, you can also plan your next destination. You can relax at one of the hot springs or visit any museum in Hakone. You can also go all the way to Odawara station and visit Odawara Castle.
If you plan to stay overnight in one of the hotels in Hakone, you can still use the Hakone Freepass the next day and go around to the other sightseeing spots. However, if you return to your starting station, the Freepass will no longer be valid the next day. There are many museums and hot springs in Hakone. One day isn't enough to visit the entire area.