Visit Kyoto, Osaka, Nara and Kobe for 5 to 7 days sample itinerary

Yasaka shrine in Kyoto Higashiyama area. ©JNTO
Yasaka shrine in Kyoto Higashiyama area. ©JNTO

I have received inquiries about the trip to Kansai area many times. So I make a basic itinerary that includes Kansai area, such as Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe and Nara only. This is 7 days itinerary. But you can shorten or extend as you can.

Now I would like to tell you the best route and most economical deals about this trip.

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

Day 1 – Kansai airport (KIX) to Kyoto

Central exit of Kyoto station. (C) JP Rail
Central exit of Kyoto station. (C) JP Rail

ICOCA and Haruka round trip ticket at 4060 yen.
Stay at hotel around JR Kyoto station

If you arrive in Kyoto early, you can visit Fushimi Inari or Uji. Especially Fushimi Inari is only 5 minutes away from Kyoto station. That is very accessible and very popular spot. You can use ICOCA to get there

Kyoto – Inari 140 yen / 5 mins by local
Inari – Uji 240 yen / 25 mins by local
Kyoto – Uji 240 yen / 20 mins by Rapid, 30 mins by local

In this itinerary, I include the trip to Fushimi Inari shrine.

Round trip to Inari 280 yen.
ICOCA remaining 1220 yen.

You may use one way ICOCA and Haruka if you stay near subway or non JR stations in Osaka.

Day 2 – Sightseeing in Kyoto

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

Visit Nijo castle, Kinkaku-ji temple (Golden Pavilion) and Arashiyama
Use Kyoto City Sightseeing Card 2 days pass at 2000 yen.

Day 3 – Sightseeing in Kyoto

Kiyomizu-dera temple is one of Must See spot in Kyoto. ©Sue Ann Simon/©JNTO
Kiyomizu-dera temple is one of Must See spot in Kyoto. ©Sue Ann Simon/©JNTO

Visit temples and shrines in Gion and Higashiyama area, such as Yasaka shrine, Kiyomizu-dera temple, Gion-Shijo area, Ginkaku-ji temple,
You can use Kyoto City Sightseeing Card 2 days again.

*You may be able to use All Day Bus Pass at 500 yen per day. You can save 1000 yen for day 2 and 3. But subway is much faster to visit attractions than bus. Especially in peak season, traffic is very heavy in Kyoto. Subway is more accurate and smooth. Please see the post, Guide to take trains in Kyoto. How to choose the best route by train to get the major spots? to get the details about rail system in Kyoto.

Day 4 – Trip to Nara and transfer to Namba, Osaka

Todai-ji temple in Nara  	©Nara Prefecture/©JNTO
Todai-ji temple in Nara ©Nara Prefecture/©JNTO

Visit Nara on the way to Namba, Osaka from Kyoto.

Kyoto to Nara 710 yen
Nara to JR-Namba 560 yen
Total 1230 yen

You have to pay 10 yen to exit station because you have only 1220 yen in your ICOCA. There is a fare adjustment vending machine near ticket gate. You can slot your ICOCA and add 10 yen, you will receive a ticket to exit station. You will receive empty ICOCA. If you return this empty ICOCA, you will receive 500 yen deposit.

If you intend to come back to Japan or keep it as souvenir, you can keep it if you are okay with giving up 500 yen deposit.

Day 5 – Trip to Kobe and Himeji from Osaka

There are lots of castles in Japan. But Himeji castle is one of four existing original catle buildings. (C) JNTO
There are lots of castles in Japan. But Himeji castle is one of four existing original catle buildings. (C) JNTO

Day trip to Kobe and World Heritage Himeji castle.
Use JR Kansai Area Pass one day at 2060 yen.

You can purchase this pass at JR-Namba station. There is other trains to Kobe and Himeji, like Hanshin railway. But JR is the fastest to get Himeji. Please see the post, How to access to Himeji and Kobe from Osaka to get the details.

If you intend to visit Kobe only, single fare by Hanshi Railway to Sannomiya is 410 yen for one way. This is the cheapest option.

Day 6 – Sightseeing in Osaka

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

Visit attractions in Osaka.
You have two choices, Enjoy Eco Card (subway pass) at 800 yen or Osaka Amazing Pass at 2300 yen.

If you intend to visit many attractions in one day, Osaka Amazing Pass gives you a great value.

If you visit Universal Studio Japan, you will spend all day there and single fare, 180 yen one way for JR-Namba to Universal city, is the cheapest.

But if you intend to visit Osaka Kaiyukan Aquarium, Osaka Kaiyu Ticket is recommended.

Trip to Osaka Kaiyukan Aquarium by Osaka Kaiyu Ticket

Day 7 – Namba, Osaka to Kansai airport (KIX)

You have Haruka ticket that is included in ICOCA and Haruka deal. You cannot take Limited Express Haruka at JR-Namba. But you can use Haruka ticket to get local train to Tennoji from JR-Namba. And then you can transfer to Limited Express Haruka at Tennoji.

If you purchase one way ICOCA and Haruka to Kyoto, you can use Nankai railway deal, Rapi:t Tokuwari Ticket.
Nankai railway Rapi:t Tokuwari

You also can take direct ordinary Nankai railway train. Single fare is only 920 yen.

If you have lots of time before departure, you may think about Enjoy ECO Card or Osaka Amazing Pass before you leave.

This sample itinerary is 7 days. But you can shorten to 5 days. If your flight depart late, you can visit the attractions in Osaka on departure day. You also can skip one of 2 days in Kyoto. Of course I recommend you to stay in Kyoto longer. But it is not impossible.

Total fares

ICOCA and Haruka round trip ticket 4060 yen
Kyoto City Sightseeing Card 2 days 2000 yen
Additional charge 10 yen
Refund for returning ICOCA -500 yen
Kansai Area Pass one day 2060 yen
Enjoy Eco Card 800 yen (or Amazing Pass 2300 yen)

Total fares 8430 yen

The fares and schedule are based on August, 2014. But you can use this amount for your estimation of your trip.

522 thoughts on “Visit Kyoto, Osaka, Nara and Kobe for 5 to 7 days sample itinerary”

  1. Hi Takeshi, great information!

    I’m travelling to Osaka, and have 10 days to check out the region.
    Planning on visiting Hiroshima/Miyajima, Nara, Kobe, Kyoto, and Universal Studios (maybe 2 days?). I have no particular order of visiting, had figured it would depend on the rail pass…

    Last time I only had 4 days and just used the Kansai Wide Area Pass (and paid the difference for the Shinkansen to Hiroshima) but research looks like the Kansai Hiroshima Area Pass will be best to cover that now.

    Given we’re there for 10 days, I’m wondering your thoughts on getting a seperate pass to get in from KIX to Dotonbori area (Ibis Styles is the prospective hotel) and only using the JR Pass for the rest of the touring, or perhaps using the JR Pass to get in and starting 5 days from that, and paying a single trip to get back out at the end.

    Likewise for around Osaka I was considering using the JR Pass and supplementing with Suica we already have if needed, then when JR Pass runs out, getting something for Osaka only (as planned to do most out of city stuff in the 5 day pass).

    Sorry for the rambling, I’m a bit all over the shop as there are so many options!

    1. Hi Nick,

      I agree with your though.
      You may use Kansai Hiroshima area pass from day 2. You can take Nankai railway to get Namba on day 1 which is not covered by this pass anyway. You can use Suica if you take ordinary train. Otherwise use Webtoku rapi:t ticket is considerable.
      http://www.howto-osaka.com/en/ticket/ticket/webtoku.html

      In Osaka, there are lots of deals. You may choose one of these after using Knasai Hirsohima area pass.
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-residents/how-to-choose-the-best-train-pass-for-sightseeing-in-osaka.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. Thanks Takeshi!

        Was thinking the Yokoso ticket for getting in from airport (probably won’t do much after arriving), and day 2 – am I correct in reading the Subway part will work next day?)

        Days 3-7 do Hiroshima, Miyajima, Nara, Kyoto, Kobe, Himeji and other daytrips out of Osaka, then days 8-10 either use Suica or get day ticket (eg Visitors or Amazing Pass) depending on how far we’re going.

        Then Rapi:t Webtoku for return to Kansai.

        Thanks again!

  2. Hi Takeshi,
    I have a plan to go to Osaka and Kyoto next June, could you suggest to me the suitable ways please!
    Day 1: Arriving KIX at 8 a.m, then sightseeing in Osaka
    Day 2-3: Osaka sightseeing, visit some places such as osaka castle, Kuromon Ichiba Market, Instant Ramen Museum, Shinsaibashi and Universal studios Japan. Should i use Osaka visitor’s ticket first day and 2 day Osaka Amazing Pass.

    Day 4: Go to Kyoto and Kyoto sightseeing
    Day 5 : Kyoto sightseeing
    Day 6: Go to Nara and come back to Osaka
    Day 7: Go Kobe and may be Himeji and go to Airport at 8 p.m

    Thank you

    1. Hi Moon,

      You may use Kansai thru pass 3 days for day 4,6 and 7.
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-residents/how-to-use-kansai-thru-pass-compare-pass-and-single-fare.html

      Add city deal in Kyoto on day 5.
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-residents/how-to-choose-the-best-train-pass-for-sightseeing-in-kyoto.html

      I recommend you to visit Kobe and Himeji on day 6 and go to Nara on day 7. This is easier.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. Hi Takeshi,
        Thank you for your suggestion. I am wondering whether I can use Icoca card for the route from KIX to Osaka castle on the fist day, and then buy Osaka visitor’s ticket at the same time for Osaka sightseeing. Any better choices to make it cheaper?

        On the other hand, If i use Kansai thru pass 3 days for day 4, 6 and 7, this pass will include the subway and city bus passes in Kyoto (day 4), is that true? if it correct, I just add city deal in Kyoto on day 5.

        Do you think that Kansai Area pass 4 day will be a good idea in the case I want to combine the first day and 4, 6, 7.

        Thank you very much.

        Best
        Moon

  3. I be going to Kansai for 6 days, plan to visit Kyoto, Nara, Osaka & Kobe. Should I plan to stay over night at Nara & Kobe?
    My plan is first day arrived Kansia AirPort, take a train to Kobe, 3 days 2 nights. Than to Nara for 1 night and back to Osaka.

    Lodging which area at Kyoto, Osaka & Nara if you can recommend good and cheap.
    Thanks

    P’NG

    1. Hi P’NG,

      It’s totally up to you. You can stay in each cities or just stay in one place and make day trips. Many travelers do not want to move with luggage many times. They stay in Osaka only and make day trips to Kobe, Nara and Kyoto.
      http://jprail.com/sample-itineraries/7days/how-to-build-the-itinerary-and-choose-the-deals-for-osaka-stay-5-to-7-days.html

      I think Osaka is the biggest city and it has many more hotels than Kyoto, Kobe and Nara. Price range is much wider too.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. Osaka n Kyoto, should I look for please near the subway?. Any recommendation area I should look at. Thks

  4. Hi takeshi ! Greetings from Malaysia. Just want to roughly tell you about my trips to Osaka, Nara, Kobe and Kyoto.

    Roughly I will be visiting this main 4 cities, including most of the famous sight seeing places. Can I ask that what’s the best pass (in term of price and convenient) I can get to visit all these places?

    I will be in Osaka in around 8pm in June 10th.. So I am not sure about will my pass will be count from that day or the next day.. because mostly I will just stay in my hotel on 10th, since is already night.. will start my trip on 11st to 17th.. and leaving by 18th..

    Please recommend the pass that suit best for me and how should I arrange my trip.. Thank you so much!

    1. Hi Allen,

      Please see the links below to find the info about the deals.
      http://jprail.com/sample-itineraries/airport-access/kansai-kix/how-to-choose-the-deals-for-access-tofrom-kansai-airport.html
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-visitors/how-to-choose-discount-railway-ticket-and-pass-in-kansai-area.html
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-residents/how-to-choose-the-best-train-pass-for-sightseeing-in-osaka.html

      There are many deals available but even if you are very sensitive about the cost, I cannot say which deal the best one is for you. You have to make the detailed itinerary before choosing the deal.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. Thanks for replying Takeshi!

        There’s some questions, what if I visit Kyoto first, and back to Osaka.. But I saw some passes have to claim the physical pass on Kansai Airport (same with the actual date that I book).

        So is it possible that I claims my physical pass for 15th on 10th in the airport?

  5. Hi Takeshi San,

    We are visit Osaka,Kyoto and Kobe and the plan is roughly this:

    Day 1: arriving at KIX 4pm
    Train to Osaka /sightseeing

    Day 2: day trip to Kyoto, overnight in Osaka

    Day 3: day trip to Kyoto, overnight in Osaka

    Day 4: day trip to Kobe, overnight in Osaka

    Day 5: day trip to Universal Studio Japan

    Day 6: day trip to Osaka

    Day 7: day trip to Osaka

    Day 8: go back Kansai airport

    Can you tell me which pass/tickets train should we buy? Because i confused many name train in Japan.

    Thank you!
    Aziemah

  6. Hi Takeshi San,

    We are visiting in the end of May and the plan is roughly this:

    Day 1: arriving at KIX 9am
    Train to Kyoto / Kyoto sightseeing

    Day 2: Kyoto sightseeing

    Day 3: day trip to Nara, overnight in Osaka

    Day 4: day trip to Kobe, overnight in Osaka (not sure if going to Kobe or take the day in Osaka, wdyt?)

    Day 5: Osaka sightseeing / train to KIX / flight at 22.20

    Can you tell me the best option for moving around? Which pass/tickets should we buy? I assume that for the first day we should get ICOCA+Haruka one way to Kyoto, right?

    Also, you think that both Nara and Kobe can be seen in +- half day trips, so we can have more time for Osaka?

    Thank you!
    Ricardo

    1. Hi Ricardo san,

      You can have Haruka discount ticket (without ICOCA) and Kansai one pass instead of ICOCA.
      http://kansaionepass.com/en/about.html?info=1

      You may add all day bus pass in Kyoto.
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-residents/how-to-choose-the-best-train-pass-for-sightseeing-in-kyoto.html

      When you need to take train or subway in Kyoto, use Kansai one pass. But only Kansai one pass may be enough to cover both train and bus on day 1 and 2.

      Kansai thru pass 3 days for the last 3 days.
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-residents/how-to-use-kansai-thru-pass-compare-pass-and-single-fare.html

      You can do Nara and Kobe in half day if you want. It’s totally up to your plan.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. Hi Takeshi San,
        Thank you so much for the fast reply.

        So basically I need:
        Haruka one way ticket from KIX to Kyoto (how to buy discounted without ICOCA?)
        +
        Kansai one pass for the 2 days in Kyoto
        +
        Kansai thru pass 3 days for the remaining 3 days. This one allows to take the trains to Nara and Kobe, as well as Osaka subway and return Osaka to KIX?

        Kind regards!
        Ricardo

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