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.

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.

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

  1. Hi takeshi
    I am planning to visit japan this november end and i really want to see shirakawa go during the stay.
    Let me know if my plan below is recommended (i am open for feed back) and let me know the economist transportation during the stay. I will bring my 5 years old son on this trip.

    Day 1 – 25 nov touch down in KIX and keep luggage at our hotel in shin osaka and proceed plan go direct to Kanazawa
    Day 2 – 26 nov plan visit shirakawa go, takayama and nagoya and back to osaka for stay
    Day 3 – 27 nov USJ
    Day 4 – free time and back to kix for fly home

    Thank takeshi and hope to hearing again from you

    Cheers

    1. Hi Yeni,

      It seems to be tight but not impossible. Your planning is okay but I don’t think you have a time to see Nagoya. You need 2 hours at Shirakawago and 3 hours in Takayama at least in my thought. Please see the link below to find the timetable for bus to Shirakawago.
      https://www.nouhibus.co.jp/english/highwaybus/shirakawago.pdf

      Even if you take the earliest bus from Kanazawa, you will be Takayama around noon. You will leave Takayama around 15:00. It takes 2 hours 15 minutes to Nagoya from Takayama. And then it takes one hour to get back to Shin-Osaka. So you have to give up either Takayama or Nagoya. Especially you have a small kid. You need an extra time.

      Takayama Hokuriku area pass is your choice. But you need to pay single fare fare for Nagoya to Shin-Osaka. If you have a chance in Shin-Osaka on day 1, you can purchase Platt Kodama to save your cost. You need to purchase this by day before trip date. So you cannot purchase it at Nagoya.
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-visitors/takayama-hokuriku-area-pass-perfect-deal-to-get-takayama-kanazawa-toyama-shirakawago-from-nagoya-or-osaka.html
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-residents/platt-kodama-one-way-deal-among-tokyo-nagoya-kyoto-and-shin-osaka-by-shinkansen.html

      Takayama Hokuriku area pass covers from KIX to Kanazawa via Shin-Osaka by limited express Haruka and Thunderbird, bus for Kanazawa-Shirakawago-Takayama, limited express Wide View Hida from Takayama to Nagoya, trip to USJ from Shin-Osaka by local train, and Shin-Osaka to KIX by express train Haruka.
      http://jprail.com/trains/sort-by-type/limited-express/kansai-airport-limited-express-haruka.html
      http://jprail.com/trains/sort-by-type/limited-express/limited-express-thuderbird-raicho-%E9%9B%B7%E9%B3%A5.html
      http://jprail.com/trains/sort-by-type/limited-express/limited-express-wide-view-hida.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  2. Hi Takeshi,

    This is my 2nd time going to Japan, and this time it’s Kansai area! I wouldn’t feel complete without your input on my plan so here it is:

    Day 1: Arrive at Kansai Airport and go straight to Kyoto
    Day 2: Kyoto
    Day 3: Kyoto + Nara
    Day 4: Kobe + Himeji
    Day 5 to 7: Osaka (USJ on day 7)
    Day 8: Depart from Kansai Airport

    So basically, my transportation plan is to use:
    Day 1 to 4: Kansai Area Pass (use single ticket for area not covered by Kansai Area Pass or Ekirin Kun free bicycle rental!)
    Day 5 to 6: Osaka Amazing Pass
    Day 7: Single ticket to USJ
    Day 8: ???

    For the last day, I’m still researching on the cheapest and efficient way to go to Kansai Airport from Osaka. Maybe you can give some input on this.

    What do you think of my plan? Is there anything you would suggest better?

    Thank you for taking your time reading this Takeshi. Hope to hear from you soon.

    Have a nice day,
    Dinhae.

    1. Hi Dinhae,

      I agree with your plan. Your choice of deals are right. You may add Kansai one pass instead of using single fare ticket. It also offers you the discount at many attractions in Kansai area.
      https://kansaionepass.com/en/about.html?info=1

      For day 8, you may choose the deal or the ticket in the link below:
      http://jprail.com/sample-itineraries/airport-access/kansai-kix/how-to-choose-the-deals-for-access-tofrom-kansai-airport.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. Kansai One Pass seems nice, it’s an IC card like ICOCA but with discount bonus, I can save some time with this as I don’t need to queue for ticket.

        Thank you for the helpful suggestion, Takeshi. I will look into it.

        Have a nice day,
        Dinhae.

  3. Hi Takeshi,

    Good day to you, thank you for your blog posts, they are informative and an amazing amount of work you put in. We will be in Japan for a week and I would appreciate some guidance.

    We arrive and depart from Haneda airport. The plan is to stay in Kyoto for 5 nights and then Tokyo for 2 nights. We plan to use Kyoto as a base and take day trips to Nara, Osaka, possibly Kobe and Himeiji. Do you recommend a JR 7 day pass or the Kansai Area pass? Our last 2 nights of the trip we plan to move to Tokyo since we have an early flight back home.
    I appreciate your suggestions, thanks!

    Best,
    Yuki

    1. Hi Yuki,

      JR pass is recommended. As long as you use the pass for round trip between Tokyo and Kyoto, it’s almost paid off. And you can use it for trip to Osaka, Nara, Kobe and Himeji. It does not cover subway, non JR trains and city bus. But it’s still very useful. Please see the links to find the coverage of JR pass in Tokyo and Kansai area.
      http://jprail.com/destinations/how-to-transfer-among-kyoto-osaka-and-kobe-compare-japan-railway-and-private-lines.html
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/tips-for-japan-rail-pass/how-to-transfer-among-kyoto-osaka-and-kobe-compare-japan-railway-and-private-lines.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. Thank you Takeshi! I will get the 7 Day JR Pass. To cover the non JR transport I will need to figure out if it is better to get Kansai Thru pass or the Hankyu Tourist pass. I appreciate if you have further advice or suggestions. Thank you!

  4. Hi,
    Good evening. Read through your blog and still in confusion which pass should I buy. Will be in Osaka this Sept 15th n leaving on 23rd. Had yet to come out with the itinerary but would.like to seek.your advice if I should only stay in Osaka n move around places in day trips? Which is the places which highly recommended?
    Hoping to hear from you.

Before you leave your comment, please see the conditions below.
  • Your comment will not be shown until I approve. When you submit your comment, the page will be reloaded and nothing happens. But your comment will be shown when I approve. Please click submit only once and wait for my approval.
  • Please do not ask me to make your itinerary. Because I am not your personal travel agent. I am very happy to check your itinerary. But please try to make the plan by yourself. In this website, there are lots of resources to make your plan.
  • Please do not ask me about the access to your hotel. You can google your hotel and find it at hotel website or google map easily.
  • If you want to ask me which pass suits your plan, please tell me your detailed itinerary and location to stay. I cannot choose any deals without the detailed itinerary because I have to compare the total single fare and deals.
  • Please do not ask me to reply to your inquiry by email. In this website, I would like to share all information with any readers. I do not communicate with you directly.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*