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

Dotonbori is very popular place to eat and shop near Namba. ©Osaka Convention & Tourism Bureau/©JNTO
Dotonbori is very popular place to eat and shop near Namba. ©Osaka Convention & Tourism Bureau/©JNTO

I think many travellers prefer to stay in one place and visit surrounding areas as day trip. I have received many inquiries about Osaka stay and visit surrounding areas, like Kyoto, Kobe, Nara as day trip. I understand that it’s quite easy to stay in one place and enjoy the trip with luggage free.

But many of you struggle to plan and choose the deals. In this post, I show you 5 days Osaka stay sample itinerary. You will learn how to choose the deals for your trip. Of course you can extend to stay, like 6 days, 7 days, as many as you want.

Day 1 / KIX (Kansai airport) to Osaka

Kansai Airport Express Haruka
JR Limited Express Haruka is one of the popular way from KIX to get Osaka.

Before you choose the deals, you have to make sure these things:

      Location to stay
      Plan after arrival your accommodation

    There are several deals available.

    Let’s see which deal is the best by location.

    Shin-Osaka

    ICOCA and Haruka is most recommended. It includes one way or round trip between any JR stations in Osaka and Kansai airport by limited express Haruka non reserved seat, and 1500 yen e-money in ICOCA. This e-money can be used for any trains in Kansai area.

    ICOCA and Haruka ticket. Very flexible and good deal for tourist who stay in Kansai.

    Limited Express Haruka is most comfortable way to get Shin-Osaka. But if you are very sensitive with the cost, Kanku Chikatoku Ticket is the best. It is sold at 1000 yen only. Even though you have to transfer at Namba from Nankai Railway to Osaka Subway Midousuji line, the cost is cheaper than Haruka Discount Ticket at 1,300 yen.

    Kanku Chikatoku Ticket

    If you arrive early and intend to visit somewhere in Osaka after arrival hotel, there are some options. If you choose ICOCA and Haruka, it gives you 1500 yen e-money to take any trains. Kanku Chikatoku Ticket gives you only airport access. But you can purchase Enjoy Eco Card (Osaka Subway and Bus unlimited travel pass) or Osaka Visitors Ticket. You know that subway fare for Shin-Osaka to Umeda is 240 yen and Shin-Osaka to Namba is 280 yen. Please see the link below to find more information about deals

    And also Kansai Thru Pass is considerable too. This pass covers any “NON JR” trains. You can get almost anywhere in Kansai area. Especially if you intend to visit somewhere outside of Osaka after arrival, Kansai Thru Pass is a good choice. Be careful that Kansai Thru Pass does not cover Haruka by JR. This pass does not give you any direct access to Shin-Osaka. If you want to have comfortable way, ICOCA and Haruka is still the best choice.

    At last, Yokoso Osaka Ticket gives you a great value. It includes Nankai railway’s limited express train “Rapi:t” from KIX to Namaba and unlimited ride of Osaka subway. This is one day subway pass portion of this deal can be used on next day.

    Namba

    Most affordable way is just taking Nankai Railway rapid train. You can take this train by base fare only which is 920 yen.

    But Namba Access Rapi:t ticket is most recommended. But if you intend to drop by somewhere on the way back to the airport, such as Rinku town, Kanku Tokuwai Rapi:t Ticket is your choice. “Rapi:t” is Nankai Railway’s direct limited express train between KIX and Namba. It gives you most comfortable way to get Osaka beside JR’s limited express “Haruka”.

    Namba Access Rapi:t Ticket
    Kanku Webtoku Ticket

    Namba Access Rapi:t Ticket is almost same price as Kanku Chikatoku Ticket. Even Kanku Webtoku Ticket is only 130 yen higher than Kanku Chikatoku Ticket. But Kanku Chikatoku Ticket does not include Rapi:t Express surcharge at 510 yen.

    ICOCA and Haruka can be used for access to Namba. But you have to transfer at Tennoji from Haruka to local train to JR Namba. And JR Namba station is a bit away from the center of Namba area. If you want to have ICOCA, it’s not a bad choice. But please keep in in mind JR Namba station location and transfer at Tennoji.

    Yokoso Osaka ticket and Kansai Thru Pass may be considerable too if you make some more trips after arrival in Namba. It is same reason as staying in Shin-Osaka. Please see the above.

    JR Osaka / Umeda

    There are several options to get Umeda/JR Osaka station area. JR Kansai Airport Rapid is only direct train service from KIX to Osaka. This is most recommended way.

    Access to Kansai Airport and Wakayama from Osaka. Kansai Airport Rapid Service and Kishuji Rapid Service

    You can use a single fare if you use this train. However you can use ICOCA and Haruka for this train if you want to have ICOCA. Because single fare is 1190 yen for taking this rapid train. If you purchase ICOCA card only, it is sold at 2000 yen (1500 yen preload e-money and 500 yen deposit). So total cost is 3190 yen (1190 + 2000). But ICOCA and Haruka one way ticket to Tennoji is sold at 3,100 yen. This deal can take you to any JR stations in downtown Osaka. It means that this deal covers Haruka only to Tennoji. It does not mean you can get only Tennoji. So you can use Tennoji version of ICOCA and Haruka to get Osaka.

    Remember that ICOCA can be used for any trains. It includes even non JR trains, like subway. And also you can pay by ICOCA to shop in the convenience store. ICOCA does not give you any discount. But it is very convenient and gives you ticket free trip. In case that you use ICOCA and Haruka, you can take Haruka to Shin-Osaka or Tennoji and transfer to local train to get Osaka if you like.

    If you are very sensitive a cost, Kanku Chikatoku Ticket is your choice. It is sold at 1000 yen. You have to transfer the train at Namba from Nankai Railway to Subway Midousuji line. But it is 190 yen cheaper than JR single fare.

    And Yokoso Osaka ticket and Kansai Thru Pass may be considerable too if you make some more trips after arrival in Osaka/Umeda. It is same reason as staying in Shin-Osaka. Please see the above.

    Other places near subway stations

    Your first choice is Kanku Chikatoku Ticket. If you intend to make some trips after arrival, Kansai Thru Pass may be your choice.

    Yokoso Osaka ticket and Kansai Thru Pass may be considerable too if you make some more trips after arrival in Namba. It is same reason as staying in Shin-Osaka. Please see the above.

    Other places near JR stations

    As long as you stay on Osaka Kanjo line, such as Tennoji, Kyobashi, Nishikujo, single fare is the best option. It is same thing as staying in Osaka/Umeda area. And many places can be accessed by Osaka subway. Kanku Chikatoku Ticket is your choice if you are very sensitive with the cost. Please see the map in the link below to find more information about location in Osaka.

    Guide to take trains in Osaka. How to choose the best route by train to get the major spots?

    Day 2 / Day trip to Kyoto

    Togetsukyo bridge in Arashiyama, Kyoto. ©Yasufumi Nishi/©JNTO
    Togetsukyo bridge in Arashiyama, Kyoto. ©Yasufumi Nishi/©JNTO

    I put Kyoto on day 2 in this sample itinerary. But you can switch any trips. You can stay in Osaka, visit Kobe, Nara or other spots. This is just sample.

    The key is how many times you will take a train. So you have to find where you go in Kyoto before you pick up the pass. First of all, please see the following post:
    Guide to take trains in Kyoto. How to choose the best route by train to get the major spots?

    Kyoto can be accessed by three railways, JR (Osaka – Shin-Osaka – Kyoto), Hankyu Railway (Umeda – Kawaramachi/Arashiyama), and Keihan Railway (Yodoyabashi – Kyobashi – Kiyomizu-Gojo – Shijo – Sanjo). So make sure where you will stay in Osaka and where you go in Kyoto.

    In Kyoto, there are four different areas, West (Arashiyama, Kinkaku-ji temple), Central (Nijo castle), East (Higashiyama, Kiyomizudera, Yasaka shrine, Ginkaku-ji) and South (Fushimi Inari, Uji). In my opinion, it is not impossible to visit all four places in one day, but not realistic. I recommend you to spend 2 days or at least 1.5 days. If you complete West, Central and East, you can combine South area with Nara. Because Fushimi and Uji are located between Nara and Kyoto.

    If you do this above one full day Kyoto and Kyoto+Nara in one day, the best choice fis Kansai Thru Pass. Only this pass cover round trip to Kyoto by both Hankyu and Keihan, and subway, bus and railway other than JR in Kyoto. I explain this trip at the following link:

    Kansai Thru Pass sample itineraries

    If you don’t want rush and have easy slow trip, single fare and/or Kyoto all day bus pass may be better. For example, if you want to visit just Arashiyama, one way fare to Arashiyama from Umeda by Hankyu Railway is 400 yen. If you stay in other than Umeda, you will take subway or JR train to get Umeda. You will spend approximately 500 to 600 yen for round trip to Umeda. But Kansai Thru Pass 2 days pass is sold at 4000 yen. So you have to make 2000 yen worth in one day. Trip to only Arashiyama is not enough to use Kansai Thru Pass.

    If you visit one more place beside Arashiyama, how about it? In Kyoto, All day bus pass (Kyoto bus unlimited train) is sold at 500 yen. If you stay in Umeda, total cost is 1300 yen. It is way cheaper Kansai Thru Pass. But All day bus pass does not cover any train services in Kyoto. If you want to take subway in Kyoto, you have to purchase Kyoto city sightseeing card at 1200 yen. But total cost is 2000 yen. It is same cost as Kansai Thru Pass. In this case, Kansai Thru Pass is better.

    Even you intend to visit only Arashiyama, you may take subway for evening in Osaka for eat or shop. Remember that one way subway fare for Umeda-Namba is 240 yen. You will spend about 500 yen for this trip.

    If you are very sensitive about the cost, you have to calculate very exactly. But if you have Kansai Thru Pass, it is very flexible.

    By the way, you can get Kyoto by JR train. Especially Special Rapid train is the fastest train to get Kyoto from Osaka.

    Single fare
    Shin-Osaka or Osaka – Kyoto 560 yen

    When you use JR trains, the problem is that most of popular sites are not located around JR Kyoto station. You have to take subway or bus. JR has Kansai Area Pass at 2060 yen. But single fare is way cheaper than this deal. So if you have ICOCA and enough fund in ICOCA, you can use JR train to get Kyoto and purchase All day bus pass or Kyoto city sightseeing card.

    If you do half Nara and half Kyoto in one day by JR trains, total cost (Osaka-Nara-Kyoto-Osaka) is more than 2000 yen. In this case, you can use Kansai Area Pass instead of Kansai Thru Pass.

    Day 3 / Day trip to Nara

    Todaiji is one of the popular spot in Nara. ©Nara Prefecture/©JNTO
    Todaiji is one of the popular spot in Nara. ©Nara Prefecture/©JNTO

    As I mentioned above, you can make half Nara and half Kyoto in one day. But some of you want to visit Nara only. Let’s see it.

    Nara can be accessed by JR and Kintetsu Railway (Osaka-Namba – Kintetsu-Nara). The post below shows you about trip to Nara by JR pass basically. But you can get some information about access to Nara:
    How to access to Nara by Japan Rail Pass. If you don’t use JR Pass, Kintetsu Railway is more convenient.

    Most of popular spots in Nara are located within walking distance from Nara station. So you will get a chance to use the pass to take the train to Nara only. You may not have many chances to use the pass after arrival in Nara.

    Single fare for Kintetsu Railway
    Osaka-Namba – Kintetsu-Nara 560 yen.

    If you stay in other than Namba, you will spend 500 to 600 yen for round trip to Namba by subway. The total cost is very close to the worth of Kansai thru Pass. So if you make some more trips by subway in Osaka or other trains before/after trip to Nara, Kansai Thru Pass can be the choice. Otherwise single fare is cheaper.

    On the other hand, Nara can be accessed by JR train too. Especially if you stay in Osaka/Umeda, you can take Yamatoji Rapid train to get Nara directly.

    Single fare
    Osaka – Nara 800 yen
    Shin-Osaka – Nara 920 yen

    Kansai Thru Pass does not cover any JR trains. JR has Kansai Area Pass at 2060 yen. But if you have round trip to Nara from even Shin-Osaka, single fare is still cheaper. And also Kansai Area Pass covers only JR trains. In my opinion, it is not very useful for exploring in Osaka before/after trip to Nara. I believe that Kansai Thru Pass is more useful.

    Day 4 / Day trip to Kobe or Kobe and Himeji

    Kobe is closer than Kyoto and Nara from Osaka. Let’s see the single fare.

    Single fare for Hankyu or Hanshin Railway
    Umeda – Sannomiya 320 yen

    You will have some chances to take a bus in Kobe. If you use Kansai Thru Pass, Kobe city bus and subway are covered. But single bus fare is 210 yen. If you take a subway, you can get most of places by base fare ticket at 210 yen. So actually it is quite hard to get the worth to use Kansai Thru Pass. If you use ICOCA and Haruka, it is a good idea to use ICOCA e-money for this trip.

    But if you intend to make some more trips in Osaka before/after trip to Kobe, Kansai Thru Pass may work. It is same situation as trip to Nara. And also one of famous Onsen, Arima Onsen is closed to Kobe. If you want to have something different, try to visit Kobe and Arima in one day. Kansai Thru Pass does work for this trip. Please see Kansai Thru Pass sample itineraries.

    If you visit both Himeji and Kobe in one day, it is different story. Please see the posts about Kansai Thru Pass sample itineraries.

    Kansai Thru Pass work for Kobe and Himeji trip. However JR’s Special Rapid train is way faster than Hanshin/Sanyo railways that are covered by Kansai Thru Pass. Please see the following post:

    How to access to Himeji and Kobe from Osaka

    If you want to have quick access to Himeji by JR Special Rapid, use Kansai Area Pass at 2060 yen for one day. It is cheaper than single fare.

    How to use JR West Kansai Area Pass. Compare pass and single fare

    Day 5 / Sightseeing in Osaka

    When you stay in Osaka, don’t think about using Kansai Thru Pass and Kansai Area Pass. You can get most of places by Osaka subway. Please see the map in the link below:

    Guide to take trains in Osaka. How to choose the best route by train to get the major spots?

    As you see, only USJ cannot be accessed by subway. But if you will visit USJ, you will spend one whole day there. So single fare is fine.

    There are many deals available in Osaka, such as subway pass, Amazing Pass, Osaka Kaiyu Ticket. Please see the link below to find the detailed information:

    How to choose the best train pass for sightseeing in Osaka

    Day 6 / Trip to Mt. Koya

    Mt. Koya (Koya san) is very popular for the tourists from overseas. You can use Kansai Thru Pass for this day trip.

    Single fare for Nankai Railway
    Namba – Gokurakubashi – Koyasan 1260 yen

    As you see, if you have round trip to Mt. Koya from Namba, total cost is 2520 yen. Kansai Thru Pass is way cheaper.

    But if you will stay overnight in Mt. Koya, Koyasan-World Heritage Ticket may be better choice.

    Koyasan-World Heritage Ticket

    It is valid for 2 days. If you purchase it for Namba – Mt. Koya ticket, the ticket is 3,710 yen. This includes round trip fare to Koyasan from Namba, Nankai Rinkan bus and discount for some attractions and souvenir shop.

    You can use Kansai Thru Pass for overnight trip to Koyasan too. The coverage is not much differnet. But Kansai Thru Pass can be used for other destinations, such as Kobe, Kyoto and Nara. If you want to use Kansai Thru Pass 3 days for these destinations, and need another deals to get Koyasan, Koyasan-World Heritage Ticket is your choice.

    Day 7 / Back to KIX

    Please refer the above at “Day 1”. You can use same deal as arrival day.

    Some of you are thinking about drop by Rinku Town on the way to KIX. If you get off at Rinku Town, you cannot use any deal. Single fare is your choice.

    For the trip to outside of Kansai area

    Kinosaki onsen, Kurashiki, Okayama and even Hiroshima can be accessed as day trip. I recommend you the following deals if you will visit outside of Kansai area.

    For the trip to Kinosaki onsen, Kurashiki and Okayama
    JR West rail pass for Kansai and Okayama, Kurashiki, Kinosakai and Shingu area, Kansai WIDE Area Pass

    For the trip to Hiroshima and Miyajima
    Sanyo Area Pass. Good deal for the tourist who visits Kansai, Hiroshima and Hakata

    253 thoughts on “How to build the itinerary and choose the deals for Osaka stay 5 to 7 days.”

    1. Hello, Takeshi. Can you give us some recommendations for transportation passes for our upcoming trip to Osaka and Kyoto? Here is our rough itinerary:

      Day 1: KIX to Osaka (Namba to Nippombashi Station)
      – I read that the Kanku Chikatoku ticket would be our best bet. Should we get round trip tickets at the airport?

      Day 2: Universal Studios

      Days 3-4: Kyoto (staying overnight at a place a bus ride from Kyoto Station, or a 10-minute walk from Yamaguchi JR station)
      – Gion
      – Arashiyama bamboo grove
      – Fushimi Inari
      – Nishiki Market (optional)

      Day 5: Dotonbori, Kurumon Market, Shinsaibashi

      Day 6: Return to KIX

      Thanks so much!

      1. Hi Valerie,

        You may use Kanku Chikatoku on day 1 and 6. For other part of your trip, I recommend you to use Kansai one pass instead of single fare.
        https://kansaionepass.com/en/about.html?info=1

        You can take any trains and even city bus in Kyoto. But you may add all day bus pass in Kyoto and avoid using Kansai one pass to take a bus.
        http://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-residents/how-to-choose-the-best-train-pass-for-sightseeing-in-kyoto.html

        Cheers,

        Takeshi / JPRail.com

    2. Hi Takeshi-san,

      I would also like to ask for advice which pass suits best for our visit to Kansai. We are planning a more laid back vacation and not really going to a lot of attractions.

      Day 1-KIX to Osaka(Namba) early afternoon; attend Kurama Festival at night

      Day 2- Day trip to Kobe (Mount Rokko) and Arima Onsen

      Day 3- Day trip to Kyoto (Fushimi Inari, Kiyomizu-dera, Gion)

      Day 4-7 – sightseeing around Osaka then back to KIX at the night of day 7

      We are arriving early afternoon on the first day and departing Kansai at around 8pm on the last day.

        1. Hi Takeshi-san,

          Thank you so much for the information! We will surely make the most out of our short trip.

          Cheers,

    3. Dear Takeshi-san,

      I really like your idea to stay in Osaka and then travel to Kyoto, Kobe and Nara. Would you please advise which pass suits my plan listed below for six-day stays in Osaka (Namba area)

      – Day 1 – Kansai Airport to Osaka (Namba)
      – Day 2- Day trip to Nara (Todai-ji temple)
      – Day 3- Day trip to Kyoto (Fushimi-Inari Taisha, Kiyomizu-dera, Ginkaku-ji, Gion)
      – Day 4 – Day trip to Kyoto (Arashiyama, Ryōan-ji, Kinkaku-ji, Nijō Castle)
      – Day 5 – Osaka city visit (Kaiyukan Aquarium)
      – Day 6 – Day trip to Kobe (Mount Rokkō), Hemeji (Himeji castle)
      – Day 7 – Osaka city visit
      – Day 8 – Osaka to Kansai Airport

    4. Hello Takeshi,

      Looks like you giving good advises. Could you please give me some as well for transportation and passes that we should get.

      Day 1 – KIX airport to Kyoto (staying around Kyoto station)
      Day 2 – Kyoto to Osaka (staying around Homachi station)
      Day 3 – Osaka City tour
      Day 4 – Osaka to Nara return
      Day 5 – Osaka city tour and to KIX airport in the afternoon

      Friends has recommended the Haruka to travel from KIX to Kyoto and Osaka to KIX. By separate ticket from Kyoto to Osaka and Nara. Use ICOCA card for travel within Kyoto and Osaka . What are your thoughts? Any better recommendations?

      First time to Japan. A bit worried.

      Kind Regards,
      Helen Lai

      1. Hi Helen,

        You can follow another sample itinerary in the link below:
        http://jprail.com/sample-itineraries/7days/visit-kyoto-osaka-nara-and-kobe-for-5-to-7-days-sample-itinerary.html

        You can remove trip to Kobe in the link above, and use ICOCA for trip to Nara. You also may use Kansai one pass instead of ICOCA.
        http://kansaionepass.com/en/about.html?info=1

        You can buy Haruka ticket and Kansai one pass instead of ICOCA together.
        http://www.westjr.co.jp/global/en/ticket/icoca-haruka/

        Cheers,

        Takeshi / JPRail.com

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