Basic itinerary of Osaka, Kyoto and Tokyo in 7 days

The scene of Gion Festival in Kyoto. It is one of the biggest summer festivals in Japan.
The scene of Gion Festival in Kyoto. It is one of the biggest summer festivals in Japan.

I have received many inquiries about the deal for one way trip from Osaka to Tokyo with stopover at Kyoto. Unfortunately there is no deal to cover whole part of trip. But you can combine some local deals and single ticket.

In this post, I show you the basic 7 days itinerary and the deals that suit this itinerary. But you can extend the duration as many as you want. I also show you how to change or add days in this itinerary too.

*The information in this article is current at the time of writing.

Day 1 – Kansai airport to Osaka

Limited Express Haruka at Kansai Airport station
Limited Express Haruka at Kansai Airport station

There are many deals to get Osaka from Kansai airport. You can use one of those deals. But you have to find the location to stay before choosing deal. If you stay near subway station, Kanku Chikatoku Ticket or Rapi:t Tokuwari Ticket is recommended. If you stay near JR station, ICOCA and Haruka is recommended. Please find more information about the deals from Kansai airport to Osaka at the link below:

How to choose the deals for access to/from Kansai Airport

And also I show many photos in Kansai airport at the link below. You will find the location of stations, bus stops and other facilities.

Kansai airport transportation guide. Find info about station, ticket, airport bus and high speed ferry

If you arrive at Kansai airport in early morning and intend to explore in Osaka after arrival, Yokoso Osaka Ticket is recommended. This deal includes airport access to Namba by Nankai Railway and unlimited trip of Osaka subway. You may find the information about this deal at the link above too.

ICOCA and Haruka includes 1500 yen preload e-money in ICOCA beside airport access ticket. You may use this e-money to ride subway. ICOCA can be used for any trains in major cities, not only Osaka but also Kyoto and even Tokyo. If you stay near JR station and make some trips by subway in Osaka, you can use ICOCA.

If you arrive in late night, like after 22:00, you cannot purchase any deals because the windows are closed at 23:00. Train runs until 23:30. But you might not take even the last train to Osaka if custom and immigration are busy. There are some midnight bus service to Osaka. But the destination is very limited. Please find more information about late arrival in Kansai airport at the link below:

How to access to Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe from late arrival flight at Kansai Airport-KIX

Day 2 – Sightseeing in Osaka

Dotonbori is located near the biggest downtown core of Osaka, Namba.
Dotonbori is located near the biggest downtown core of Osaka, Namba.

The basic choice is Enjoy Eco Card that is one day subway unlimited ride pass. You may get most of places in downtown Osaka by this pass.

Enjoy Eco Card (Osaka subway official site)

If you want to visit many attractions, Osaka Amazing Pass gives you the great savings. It includes 28 attraction’s admission and unlimited subway ride. Please see the following link to get the details about this pass:

Osaka Amazing Pass

But if you use ICOCA and Haruka, you may use ICOCA e-money to take subway, JR trains and other trains. Especially if you want to visit the places outside downtown Osaka, such as Minoo, Momofuku Ramen Museum, subway pass does not cover these places. You need to pay single fare or using ICOCA.

If you want to extend to stay in Osaka

You may add another Eco Card or Amazing Pass. But you may visit other places, such as Kobe, Nara. In case of this, you may add another Kansai area deal, like Kansai Thru Pass or Kansai Area Pass.

The following link shows you the itinerary of stay in Osaka only. But you may get some idea about choosing deal for trip to outside Osaka.

How to build the itinerary and choose the deals for Osaka stay 5 to 7 days.

Day 3 – Transfer to Kyoto from Osaka

Three railways, JR, Hankyu Railway and Keihan Railway run between Osaka and Kyoto. You have to find the location to stay in both Kyoto and Osaka. And then you may find which train is the best for your transfer from Osaka to Kyoto. You may find the route map at the link below:

How to transfer among Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe, Nara and Wakayama. Compare Japan Railway and private railways.

If you use ICOCA and Haruka, you may have some fund left in your ICOCA. You can use it for this transfer.

Using long distance base fare ticket to Tokyo

If your ICOCA is empty and need to purchase a single ticket to Kyoto, you may use one base fare ticket to Tokyo with stopover at Kyoto. Please see the link below to find the rule and condition of JR base fare ticket.

For non JR pass travellers. Guide to use JR single ticket, basic rules, validity and stopover

Squeeze Nara or Kobe on the way to Kyoto from Osaka

If you just make a trip from JR Osaka to JR Kyoto, it takes 30 minutes. If you take other railway, you spend a little more minutes. But it never be more than one hour. You may enjoy some more in Osaka or Kyoto. But you may visit other places, such as Nara or Kobe. Nara is easier to squeeze because both Kyoto and Osaka are very accessible to Nara. You may find the access to Nara from Osaka and Kyoto at the link below:

How to access to Nara by Japan Rail Pass. If you don’t use JR Pass, Kintetsu Railway is more convenient.

Kintetsu Rail Pass one day is recommended for trip to Nara.

Kintetsu Rail Pass (Kintetsu Railway official site)

You may visit Kobe too. But Kobe is located at other side if you move from Osaka to Kyoto. Please find more information about trip to Kobe at the following link:

How to access to Himeji and Kobe from Osaka

Hankyu Tourist Pass covers Osaka, Kobe and Kyoto. This is most affordable one day pass that covers these three cities.

Hankyu Tourist Pass (Hankyu Railway official site)

If you are okay with very tight schedule and want to visit as many as you want, you can do Kobe and Nara in one day. In this case, Kintetsu Rail Pass that I mentioned above and Hanshin Tourist Pass are recommended. Hanshin Tourist Pass covers Umeda, Namba and Kobe. Hanshin Railway connects with Kintetsu Railway at Osaka-Namba station. Many of both Hanshin and Kintetsu trains run each other. Some trains go directly from Kobe-Sannomiya to Nara. This is the easiest route to get Nara from Kobe. If you have these two passes, you can take this direct train.

Day 4 – Sightseeing in Kyoto

Fall foliage in Kiyomizu-dera temple. It is one of Must-See spots in Kyoto.
Fall foliage in Kiyomizu-dera temple. It is one of Must-See spots in Kyoto.

When you visit temples and shrines in Kyoto, you have to take city bus and/or subway. Kyoto city sightseeing card or all day bus pass is your choice. You may find more information at the link below:

Inside Kyoto – Special Kyoto Bus, Train and Subway Passes

Day 5 – Kyoto to Tokyo

Shinkansen is the high speed train service in Japan. Shinkansen stops at Maibara, Kyoto, Shin-Osaka, Shin-Kobe, Nishiakashi and Himeji in Kansai area.
Shinkansen is the high speed train service in Japan. It connects Tokyo and Kyoto in 2.5 hours.

There is no deals to cover this segment. Single fare and Shinkansen supplement charge is your choice.

If you have already started using the long distance base fare ticket at Osaka, you do not need to purchase a ticket at Kyoto.

If you use ICOCA on day 3 or purchase non JR lines single fare ticket to get Kyoto, you need to purchase single ticket for Tokyo. But if you purchase single base fare ticket and Shinkansen supplement ticket with reserved seat, you can purchase it in advance. You can purchase it even when you arrive in Kansai airport if you want. But if you want to take non reserved seat car, you cannot purchase it in advance. You have to purchase it on the spot.

I recommend you to use reserved seat car. Because many of non reserved seat are occupied when train leave at Shin-Osaka. Especially if you travel with someone, it is hard to find the seats side by side very often. The difference between non reserved seat and reserved seat is only 500 yen. I think it is worth paying extra 500 yen to secure your seat.

Day 6 – Sightseeing in Tokyo

Cinderella's castle is the icon of Disneyland.
Tokyo Disneyland is actually not located in Tokyo. It is located in Chiba prefecture. That is a reason why Tokyo subway does not go there.

Tokyo Metro/Subway deal is most popular. JR Tokunai Pass is also available. Subway covers most of spots in Tokyo but subway lines are so many and very hard to find the fastest route. JR train network is very simple. But you cannot get many places in Tokyo by JR trains, such as Asakusa, Tsukiji. Please see the links below to find more information of these deals.

Compare many discount tickets and passes for sightseeing Tokyo. How to choose the right tickets?
Tokyo Metropolitan District Pass (Tokyo Tokunai Pass), good choice for sightseeing in Tokyo.

Single fare is actually best choice for access to outside Tokyo

Many “Big Name” attractions are located outside downtown Tokyo. For example, Tokyo Disney Resort, Ghibli Museum, Sanrio Puroland and many more places are located outside coverage area of both subway pass and Tokunai pass. Single fare is okay for access to these places. And also Yokohama is not in Tokyo and not covered by these Tokyo deals either. Single fare is okay for Yokohama too.

How to extend to stay in Tokyo

If you stay in Tokyo more, you may simple add subway fare, Tokunai Pass or single fare as you need. But if you want to travel to other places in Kanto area, like Nikko, Fuji, Hakone, you may need to get other passes. Please find more information at the links below:

Fuji Hakone access guide by train and bus from both Tokyo and Osaka / Kyoto / Nagoya.
How to access to Nikko from Tokyo. There are three ways from Tokyo, Shinjuku and Asakusa.

If you travel both Fuji/Hakone and Nikko, Kanto Area Pass is a good choice.

JR East Kanto Area Pass. Perfect choice for tourist who want to go to Fuji, Izu, Nikko from Tokyo.

Day 7 – Tokyo to Narita Airport or Haneda Airport

Haneda airport is very close to downtown Tokyo. You can take Keihin Kyuko railway from Shinagawa or Monorail from Hamamatsucho. Both stations are connected by JR Yamanote line with Tokyo, Shinjuku, Shibuya, Ueno and many other stations in Tokyo. Single fare is okay for access to Haneda. You may find some more information about access to Haneda at the following link:

How to access from Haneda airport to downtown Tokyo

Narita airport is one hour away from downtown Tokyo. There are many ways to get Narita from downtown Tokyo, like Narita Express, Skyliner, Limousine bus and budget access bus. But the deal is very limited. They welcome incoming traveller but not outgoing travellers. Please find more information about access to Narita at the link below:

The list of deals for access to downtown Tokyo from Narita airport

I have many more sample itineraries. Please check the category, Sample Itinerary.

98 thoughts on “Basic itinerary of Osaka, Kyoto and Tokyo in 7 days”

  1. Hi Takeshi, how are you? We are travelling from Philippines to Osaka on Oct 29 and back on Nov 4, arrive at Kansai airport at 7pm, can you give me a good itinerary on what to visit in osaka-kyoto-nara? and what train pass is best to purchase in getting around the 3 cities i’ve mentioned. Thank you so much and hope to hear from you soon.
    God bless!

  2. Hi,

    Please advise if JR Pass is better or not.

    Day 1 – Arrival in Narita; Travel from airport to Tokyo
    Day 2 & 3- Explore Tokyo area
    Day 4 – Travel from Tokyo to Kyoto
    Day 5 – Kyoto to Osaka
    Day 6 – Osaka to Tokyo
    Day 7 – Tokyo area
    Day 8 – Tokyo to Narita airport

    Thank you and hoping to hear from you soon. 🙂

  3. Hi Takeshi-san

    I am planning a trip to japan for 8d7n. Planning to set up “base camp” in osaka namba area hotel for 5 nights and then move to tokyo shinjuku for 2 nights. Really need your advice as the train system in japan is so confusing.

    Day 1 – arrive haneda and transfer to itami airport. Take airport limousine bus to nankai namba 640yen. Walk through namba walk to hotel near nippombashi. (Do you think OCAT stop or nankai namba exit 7 stop is better to get off at? These are the two stops the bus will stop at)

    Explore dotonburi/shinsaibashi area.
    Maybe subway to umeda, osaka castle etc.

    Day 2 – explore osaka more

    Day 3 – day trip to kyoto and back to namba hotel overnight

    Day 4 – day trip to nara and kobe then back to namba hotel

    Day 5 – undecided. Perhaps explore more areas in osaka or day trip to somewhere again. Or let day 4 be only nara and day 5 kobe. Back to namba at night.

    Day 6 – travel namba to shinjuku with luggage. According to hyperdia i will need to transfer several times and take shinkansen nozomi. Hotel location is nearer to shinjuku sanchome station exit c6. Not sure what is the best way to get there from namba. Please advise.

    Explore tokyo. Stay in shinjuku sanchome.

    Day 7 – explore tokyo/day trip somewhere (undecided)

    Day 8 – last minute shopping in tokyo. Transfer to narita airport for 6pm flight. What is the best way to do this from shinjuku/shinjuku-sanchome?

    Will I need a jr pass for the above itinerary? I was thinking of getting a yokoso osaka for the first two days in osaka and then kansai thru pass for day 3-5 (2 day or 3 day pass depending on itinerary). Then the shinkansen ticket for namba to shinjuku. Maybe the icoca for miscellaneous subway travelling. Oh maybe a tokyo 3 day metro pass as well for 1500 yen i think.

    Let me know your opinion thank you!

    1. Hi Fleur san,

      JR pass is not your choice. If you have round trip between Osaka and Tokyo, it works. But as you think, single fare is better because you have one way trip.

      Yokoso Osaka includes airport access from Kansai to Namba. This does not suit your plan. You can just add some deals for Osaka. Please see the link below:
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-residents/how-to-choose-the-best-train-pass-for-sightseeing-in-osaka.html

      Nankai Namba is much closer to Nippombashi.

      Kansai thru pass is the best choice for day 3 and 4. I don’t think you need to have 3 days as long as you stay in downtown Osaka.

      When you go to Shinjuku, your route is the following:
      Namba (Subway Midousuji line) Shin-Osaka (Shinkansen) Shinagawa (JR Yamanote line) Shinjuku

      You can use one base fare ticket to Shinjuku from Shin-Osaka. And you need to add Shinkansen seat fee ticket for Shin-Osaka to Shinagawa. You can purchase it in advance if you like at most of JR stations in Osaka/Kyoto/Kobe/Nara.
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/for-non-jr-pass-travellers-guide-to-use-jr-single-ticket-basic-rules-validity-and-stopover.html

      Tokyo subway ticket is the best choice for Tokyo.
      http://www.tokyometro.jp/en/ticket/value/travel/index.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. Hi Takeshi san,

        Thanks for your detailed reply! I have read the guide to using JR single ticket. Does it mean that with this single ticket (5xxkm so 4 days validity) I can stopover nagoya or odawara? But I will need to purchase additional seat fee for each leg of shinkansen correct?

        So an example is shin-osaka to shinkuju base fare
        +seat fee 5500 shin-osaka to odawara
        +seat fee 5500 odawara to shinagawa

        This is such a great method for stopovers! Thanks for sharing. Next time I should plan my trip without “base camp” and do such stopovers. But the travel with luggage part will be tiring. Thanks so much for your help!

        1. Hi Fleur san,

          Seat fee is around 5000 yen for Shin-Osaka to Odawara.

          But you want to make a stopover at Odawara. Now it’s totally different choice for you. You need only base fare ticket for Shin-Osaka to Odawara. I think you will go to Hakone, right? You can take Odakyu railway from Hakone-Yumoto to Shinjuku directly. You don’t need to change trains at Odawara and Shinagawa if you take Odakyu railway’s limited express train “Romancecar”.
          http://jprail.com/destinations/chubu-area/fuji-hakone-access-guide-by-train-and-bus-from-both-tokyo-and-osaka-kyoto-nagoya.html
          http://www.odakyu.jp/english/romancecar/

          This is faster and much more convenient.

          Cheers,

          Takeshi / JPRail.com

  4. Hi Takeshi

    Do you think I need to buy JR-Pass? Kindly advise.

    Day 1 28-Mar-17 Narita – Ueno
    Ueno – Hostel
    Ueno – Asakusa
    Asakusa – Ueno
    Day 2 29-Mar-17 Ueno Arashiyama
    Arashiyama Nijojo-mae
    Nijojo-mae Kitano Tenmangu Mae
    Kitano Tenmangu Mae Kinkauji
    Kinkauji Kitaoji Station
    Kitaoji Station Kibune-guchi Station
    Kibune-guchi Station Kifune Shrine
    Kibune-guchi Station Nijojo-mae
    Nijojo-mae Gion Shijo
    Gion Shijo Nijojo-mae
    Day 3 30-Mar-17 Nijojo-mae Kyoto Station
    Kyoto Station Ginkakuji
    Ginkakuji Nanzen-ji Temple
    Nanzen-ji Temple Shoren-in Temple
    Shoren-in Temple Chion-in Temple
    Chion-in Temple Maruyama Park
    Maruyama Park Kiyomizudera
    Kiyomizudera Kiyomizu-gojo station
    Keihan Kiyomizu-gojo station Fushiminari Station
    Fushiminari Station Ibaraki Station
    Ibaraki Station Hitachi Park
    Hitachi Park Ibaraki Station
    Ibaraki Station Osaka
    Osaka Namba Station
    Day 4 31-Mar Namba Station Sumiyoshi Taisha
    Sumiyoshi Taisha Tennoji
    Tennoji Osakajokoen Station
    Osakajokoen Station Osakako
    Osakako Shinjuku
    Shinjuku Shibuya
    Day 5 1-Apr Shinjuku Tsukiji Station
    Tsukiji Station Ginza Station
    Ginza Station Asakusa Station
    Asakusa Tokyo Skytree
    Tokyo Skytree Station (Narihirabashi Station) Ueno Station
    Ueno Station Tokyo Station
    Tokyo Station Daiba Station
    Daiba Station Harajuku Station
    Harajuku Station Shinjuku Station
    Day 6 2-Apr Shinjuku Station Kawaguchiko Station
    Kawaguchiko Station Gotemba Station
    Gotemba Station Shinjuku Station
    Day 7 3-Apr Shinjuku Station Shibuya Station
    Shibuya Station Narita Airport
    Narita Jakarta

    1. Hi Anita,

      Yes. JR pass is recommended. But you still need to add city deals because JR pass does not cover Non JR trains, subway and city bus. You need to take these for sightseeing in Kyoto, Osaka and Tokyo. Please see the links to get the info for the coverage of JR Pass.
      http://jprail.com/destinations/kanto-area/tokyo-kanto-area/guide-to-take-trains-in-tokyo-how-to-choose-the-best-deal-and-the-best-route-by-train-to-get-the-major-spots.html
      http://jprail.com/destinations/kansai-area/guide-to-take-trains-in-kyoto-how-to-choose-the-best-route-by-train-to-get-the-major-spots.html
      http://jprail.com/destinations/kansai-area/guide-to-take-trains-in-osaka-how-to-choose-the-best-route-by-train-to-get-the-major-spots.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  5. Hi Takeshi! How are you? I’m Mursyid from Malaysia.
    I’m planning to visit Japan on Dec 17. Tentatively I plan to travel from Sapporo – Tokyo – Osaka. I plan to start my journey from Sapporo (3 days) then travel to Tokyo (4 days) then move on to Osaka (Kyoto, Nara, Hiroshima, Kobe -3 days).
    1. Is it suitable for me to buy 7 days JR Pass (Tokyo-Osaka)?
    2. How can I travel from Sapporo to Tokyo using JR Pass instead of flight (Vanilla Air/Jet Air or ferry?
    Still finding the best transportation method from Sapporo to Tokyo to Osaka.

    Really need your advise.
    Tqvm and have a nice day.

    1. Hi Mursyid,

      First of all, you asked me to reply by email. But I do not communicate with readers by email directly. I only reply on this site. So I deleted your email address from your inquiry. Please understand.

      1. You can JR pass for even Tokyo to Osaka. But you have to include trip to Hiroshima in this 7 days period. This is required to get the worth of 7 days pass.

      2. You can take trains from Sapporo to Tokyo. But it’s very very long trip. Please see the link below:
      http://jprail.com/destinations/hokkaido-area/how-to-get-sapporo.html

      If you take train from Sapporo to Tokyo, you can use even 14 days pass. 14 days pass is still cheaper than regular fares.
      But if you can include Sapporo to Tokyo, Tokyo to Osaka and return trip to Hiroshima from Osaka, in 7 days period, 7 days pass gives you super great deal.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. Hi Takeshi San, if i use Kansai Hiroshima Pass. Can i access to Saga Arashiyama Station? From my finding. Is it favourable to find a accomodation near Shin Osaka Station when using Kansai Hiroshima Pass? Tqvm Takeshi San.

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