Visit Osaka and Kyoto for 5 to 7 days sample itinerary

Shinsho-Gokuraku-ji temple in Kyoto. This temple is as known as Shinnyodo and it is getting popular to see fall foliage lately. (C) Yasufumi Nishi / JNTO
Shinsho-Gokuraku-ji temple in Kyoto. This temple is as known as Shinnyodo and it is getting popular to see fall foliage lately. (C) Yasufumi Nishi / JNTO

I have made the sample itinerary that is Kyoto and Osaka stay for 5 to 7 days before.
Visit Kyoto, Osaka, Nara and Kobe for 5 to 7 days sample itinerary

In this itinerary, staying in Kyoto is first and then move to Osaka. But I have received many inquiries that is staying in Osaka first and then move to Kyoto. Those itineraries are very similar but when we choose the deals, it is different.

In this post, I will show you Osaka and Kyoto 5 days sample itinerary. But I will also tell you how to extend this itinerary and how to add other spots. And of course, I will show you how to choose the deals.

*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 find the deals at the link below:

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

I usually recommend to decide the location to stay before choosing the 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. But in this itinerary, ICOCA and Haruka is most recommended. Because this is only deal that covers return trip to Kansai airport from Kyoto.

Of course, you can use Nankai railway to get Namba. It’s a direct access to Namba from Kansai airport. If you use ICOCA and Haruka, you cannot get a direct access to Namba. If you want to use Nankai Railway, ICOCA and Haruka is not your choice. But you have another choice from Kyoto to Kansai airport other than ICOCA and Haruka. I will tell you later.

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 considerable. 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

Umeda Sky Building is very popular in these days. (C) JNTO
Umeda Sky Building is very popular in these days. (C) JNTO

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

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

Trip to Osaka Kaiyukan Aquarium by Osaka Kaiyu Ticket

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.

If you intend to make a day trip to Nara, Kobe or other places around Kansai area when you are in Osaka, you will use Kansai Thru Pass for these trips and trip to Kyoto on this day. You will make some trips in either Osaka or Kyoto. Kansai Thru Pass covers subway and bus in both Osaka and Kyoto. And it covers Hankyu Railway and Keihan Railway. This pass gives you transfer from Osaka to Kyoto and sightseeing in both cities.

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.

And also if you intend to use Kansai Thru Pass when you are in Osaka, you can use Kansai Thru Pass for this day too.

Day 4 – Sightseeing in Kyoto

Kiyomizu-dera temple is ne of most famous spots in Kyoto.
Kiyomizu-dera temple is ne of most famous spots in Kyoto. (C) Sue Ann Simon / JNTO

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

If you want to extend to stay in Kyoto

You may add another All Day Bus Pass or purchasing Kyoto City Sightseeing Card 2 days. 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 5 – Kyoto to Kansai airport

If you pick ICOCA and Haruka round trip ticket, you can use it. But if you pick Nankai Railway deal or arriving in Kansai airport late night and cannot purchase any deals, you may purchase JR West Kansai Area Pass one day ticket.

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

This deal is cheaper than base fare ticket and limited express surcharge with non reserved seat on Haruka. But you can purchase this deal only once per visit. This deal is prefect deal for trip to Himeji from Osaka. So if you have a plan to visit to Himeji as day trip from Osaka, you might have to choose which day you want to use Kansai Area Pass, trip to Himeji or trip to Kansai airport from Kyoto. You may also take Limousine bus from Kyoto station to Kansai airport too.

Sample combination of deals

I tried to show you the itinerary and deals as simple as possible. But there are many choices and you may be overwhelmed. I would like to show you some sample picks.

Sample 1
Day 1 KIX – Shin Osaka
Day 2 Sightseeing in Osaka
Day 3 Shin Osaka – Kyoto, sightseeing in Kyoto
Day 4 Sightseeing in Kyoto
Day 5 Kyoto – KIX

Recommended deals – ICOCA and Haruka (day 1-3, and 5), Kyoto City Sightseeing Card (day 3 and 4)

Sample 2
Day 1 KIX – Namba
Day 2 Sightseeing in Osaka
Day 3 Namba – Kyoto, sightseeing in Kyoto
Day 4 Sightseeing in Kyoto
Day 5 Kyoto – KIX

Recommended deals 1 – ICOCA and Haruka (day 1-3, and 5), Kyoto City Sightseeing Card (day 3 and 4)
Recommended deals 2 – Kanku Tokuwari Rapi:t Ticekt (day 1), Enjoy Eco Card (subway pass, day 2), single ticket (day 3 to Kyoto), Kyoto City Sightseeing Card (day 3 and 4), Kansai Area Pass 1 day (day 5)

Sample 3
Day 1 KIX – Shin Osaka
Day 2 Sightseeing in Osaka
Day 3 Shin Osaka – Kobe – Nara – Kyoto
Day 4 Sightseeing in Kyoto
Day 5 Kyoto – KIX

Recommended deals – ICOCA and Haruka (day 1, 2, 5 and maybe 4), Kyoto City Sightseeing Card (if ICOCA is not enough), Kansai Area Pass 1 days (day 3)

Sample 4
Day 1 KIX – Namba
Day 2 Sightseeing in Osaka
Day 3 Namba – Kobe – Nara – Kyoto
Day 4 Sightseeing in Kyoto
Day 5 Kyoto – KIX

Recommended deals – Kanku Tokuwari Rapi:t Ticekt (day 1), Enjoy Eco Card (subway pass, day 2), Hanshi Tourist Pass (day 3), Kintetsu Rail Pass (day 3), Kyoto City Sightseeing Card (day 4), Kansai Area Pass 1 day (day 5)

Sample 5
Day 1 KIX – Namba
Day 2 Sightseeing in Osaka
Day 3 Day trip to Koyasan
Day 4 Namba – Kobe – Nara – Kyoto
Day 5 Sightseeing in Kyoto
Day 6 Kyoto – KIX

Recommended deals – Kanku Tokuwari Rapi:t Ticekt (day 1), Enjoy Eco Card (subway pass, day 2), Kansai Thru Pass 2 days (day 3 and 4), Kyoto City Sightseeing Card (day 5), Kansai Area Pass 1 day (day 6)

I will add more samples whenever I receive new itinerary.

50 thoughts on “Visit Osaka and Kyoto for 5 to 7 days sample itinerary”

  1. Hi Takeshi!

    Need your kind assistance here. Could you advise on the pass I should get?

    Day 1 – KIX to Osaka
    Day 2 – Osaka
    Day 3 – Universal Studios
    Day 4 – Osaka to Kyoto
    Day 5 – Osaka to Nara
    Day 6 – Osaka
    Day 7 – Osaka to KIX

      1. Hi Takeshi!
        Thank you for answering my query last night. I would just like to consult you on the itinerary I am planning to take. Do you think this is possible? And may I ask what specific trains or tickets will I buy? Thank you in advance for your reply. This is my planned itinerary….Please feel free to comment. Thank you.

        Day 1: 5AM arrival in chubu airport in Nagoya. Travel to Nagoya to Osaka right away

        Check in to our rented apartmenr

        Sightseeing in Osaka in the afternoon and in the evening

        Day 2: Universal Studios the entire day

        Day 3: Osaka to Kyoto

        Day 4: Check out of our apartment in Osaka

        Osaka to Nara in the morning then leave for Nagoya in the evening

        Check in to our hotel in Nagoya

        Day 5: Sightseeing in Nagoya in the morning

        Leave for Chubu airport in the evening

        Thank you Takeshi for your input. I shall await your reply.

        1. Hi Sunshine,

          Your itinerary is okay.
          My suggested deal is same as the last reply. Kintetsu rail pass is your primary choice. And add city deals, such as subway pass in Osaka and Kyoto for day 1 and 3. Please check the last replay.
          Single fare is okay for day 2 and you don’t need any additional for Nara.

          Cheers,

          Takeshi / JPRail.com

          1. Takeshi san,
            A pleasant evening to you. Regarding my planned itinerary, is it safe to assume that I should be getting the Kintetsu rail pass plus and the kansai thru pass for my 4-day stay? Or do you recommend other passes which I should look into? Thank you again for your patience and kind reply.

          2. Hi Sunshine san,

            I don’t think you need Kintetsu rail pass plus. Even if you use “plus”, you can get benefit of ride on Nara Kotsu Bus. But actually many places can be accessed by walk in Nara. So regular Kintetsu pass is okay.

            You don’t need Kansai thru pass either. If you need the transportation to move among the cities, Osaka, Kyoto and Nara, you need Kansai thru pass but Kintetsu rail pass covers it. All you need to add is subway/bus pass in Osaka and Kyoto.

            If you use Kansai thru pass, you waste some coverage of Kintetsu pass. Or just add single fare to get Osaka from Nagoya by Shinkansen. You can purchase a regular ticket at Nagoya station. It takes one hour from Nagoya to Shin-Osaka by Shinkansen (bullet train). But the cost is much higher than Kintetsu rail pass. One way regular fare for Shinkansen is around 6500 yen. There is a deal that is “Platt Kodama”. Even if you use this, one way cost is 4300 yen. I just put the link of Platt Kodama.
            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

            Even if you use Platt Kodama, you have to purchase it at travel agent in Nagoya station that is not open until 11:00 am. You will waste your time. So basically your choice on arrival day is Kintetsu rail pass or regular fare.

            I make you be confused again. Let me clear the choice for your.

            1. Kitnetsu rail pass + subway/bus pass in Kyoto and Osaka
            2. Shinkansen regular fare + Knasai thru pass

            The cost of “1” is cheaper than “2”. But you can get Osaka is much faster if you take “2”. I compare the trip time between Shinkansen and Kintetsu in Kintetsu rail pass post. Please refer it.

            Cheers,

            Takeshi / JPRail.com

          3. Hi Takeshi san!

            Your reply made it clearer for me now. I shall definitely consider your advice on getting the kintetsu pass (not the plus 🙂 ) and regular bus/subway pass in Osaka and Kyoto, which was choice number 1. Thank you for your efforts in explaining every single detail on all queries in your blog. I hope you won’t get tired of answering our questions. You really are a big help. Thank you again, Takeshi San!

  2. Hi Takeshi,

    Would need your help to determine which passes should I buy based on my itinerary below:

    Day 1: Kansai – Himeji
    Day 2: Himeji – Kyoto
    Day 3: Kyoto
    Day 4: Kyoto (after 1pm) – Osaka
    Day 5: Universal Studio
    Day 6: Nara
    Day 7: Kobe
    Day 8: Osaka – Kansai Airport

    Here is thanking you in advance for your help and hope to hear from you soon.

    1. Hi Haniza,

      You may use the following deals:

      Day 1 and 2
      Kansai area pass 2 days
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-visitors/how-to-use-jr-west-kansai-area-pass-compare-pass-and-single-fare.html

      If you intend to visit some places on day 2 in Kyoto, you may access to Arashiyama, Nijo, Fushimi Inari shrine and Uji by this pass. Other area cannot be accessed by this pass so you may visit these places first on day 2.

      Day 3 Kyoto sightseeing pass or all day bus pass
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-residents/how-to-choose-the-best-train-pass-for-sightseeing-in-kyoto.html

      Day 4, 6 and 7 Kansai thru pass 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

      Day 8 Find the deal 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

  3. HI…
    Can anyone advise us for the following itinerary in terms of best use n affordable use of icoca n haruka card for the below. I’s is sufficient to buy icoca&haruka round trip card at jpy 5200 or we need additional card to get around Kyoto?

    Day 1 – kIX to Kyoto
    Day 1 – Kyoto
    Day 2 – Kyoto
    Dat 3 – Kyoto to nara back to Kyoto
    Day 4 – Kyoto to Osaka
    Day 5 – Osaka ( premium outlet )
    Thank you

    1. Hi Jean,

      You may use ICOCA and Haruka one way to Kyoto. ICOCA covers round trip to Nara from Kyoto. 1500 yen in IOCCA is not enough both trip to Nara and Kyoto to Osaka. But if you want, you can add some more fund into the card at the vending machine in JR stations. Minimum amount of charge is 1000 yen and you can add by 1000 yen.

      In Kyoto, you can use city deal to take subway and bus. City deal is better choice than using ICOCA.
      http://www.insidekyoto.com/special-kyoto-bus-train-subway-passes

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  4. Hi Takeshi,

    I will staying near Kyoto JR sttion and going to Kitahama for my next hotel stay in Osaka and then flying off from KIX after 5 days. What is the best train line for this route?

    Thanks.

    1. Hi Donald,

      You have a few routes available to get Kitahama.

      1. Kyoto (subway) Shijo/Karasuma (Hankyu) Awaji (Hankyu/suwbay) Kitahama
      2. Kyoto (taxi or walk) Keihan railway Shichijo station (Keihan) Kitahama

      Route 2 is easier and faster. If you walk to Shichijo, it’s 1.2 km and 15 to 20 minutes walk. If you don’t want, take taxi for 5 minutes. The fare is around 1000 yen.

      For trip to KIX
      Kitahama (subway) Tengachaya (Nankai railway) Kansai airport.

      This is the best and fastest way.

      There is no deals to cover the above routes. Single fare is your choice. But if you take limited express train of Nankai railway, you can use the deal in the link below:
      http://www.howto-osaka.com/en/ticket/ticket/tokuwari.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  5. Hi Takeshi – I will be in Kansai region in Nov. for autumn foliage photography. Draft program as follows :

    13th : KIX to Kyoto
    14th – 19th : Kyoto + Arashiyama, Kibune & Kurama
    19th : Kyoto to Osaka
    20th : Himeji, Akashi Kaikyo Bridge and Kobe city area
    21st : Koyasan
    22nd : Osaka and surrounding (Minoo Park)
    23rd : Osaka to KIX

    Please could you advise type of passes required in order for us to access private and JR lines, subways and buses?

    Much appreciated your thoughts please.

    Thank you.

  6. Dear Takeshi,

    thank you very much for that source of information you are providing!

    I still have some questions regarding my trip, hopefully you can help me!
    Day 1:
    Arriving at KIX airport, going to Osaka using Yokoso ticket. You don’t have to use that Osaka 1-day unlimited ride ticket the same day, did I get that right?
    Day 2, 3 and 4: Sightseeing Osaka
    Day 5:
    Going to Koyasan with Kansai Thru Pass 2 Days.
    I can use Nankai Express and Rapid Express to go to Koyasan from Osaka-Namba without paying express surcharge?
    Return to Osaka (so better no World Heritage Ticket)
    Day 6:
    Leaving Osaka, going to Nara with Kansai Thru Pass 2 Days, then to Kyoto
    Day 7,8, 9 and 10: Seightseeing Kyoto
    Day 11: Leaving Kyoto, activating JR Pass 14 days…

    What do you think? Do you have other suggestions?
    Can I walk around in Osaka and Kyoto and do sightseeing or do I need to buy an additonal local ticket?
    Thank you very much!

    1. Hi Lei,

      Your itinerary is good to go. And you have picked the right deal. You don’t need to have any other deal on arrival day. Kansai thru pass covers Koyasan and Nara.

      I recommend you to have city deal in both Kyoto and Osaka. These cities are too big to walk around. You need to take subway or city bus. Please see the link below:
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-visitors/how-to-choose-discount-railway-ticket-and-pass-in-kansai-area.html

      If you think about purchasing Kyoto city sightseeing card (cover both subway and bus), you may think about purchasing Kansai thru pass 3 days. The difference between 2 day and 3 days is 1,200 yen. This is equal amount to Kyoto city sightseeing card one day. Kansai thru pass covers more than Kyoto city sightseeing card.
      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

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

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