I have received some inquiries about trip to Kyoto and Hokkaido in only 7 days. It is packed but it is not impossible. I would like to share the sample itinerary which covers Kyoto and Hokkaido.
This itinerary starts from Tokyo but you can start from Osaka too. The first destination is Kyoto. Osaka is much closer than Tokyo.
And this itinerary does not include airport to/from downtown Tokyo. JR Pass 7 days is required for this itinerary but you have to use other deal for airport (Narita or Haneda) to Tokyo. Please see the links below to find the deals:
Day 1 Tokyo – Kyoto
After arrival, enjoy exploring in Kyoto. You can use JR pass to take a local train and JR bus in Kyoto.
But you have to take city bus to visit most of places in Kyoto. City bus is not covered by JR Pass. You can purchase one day bus pass at 500 yen. You may get the worth by only 3 rides.
*Hikari departs at Tokyo station every 30 minutes. Of course you can take later Hikari. Please see the link below to find the timetable. You can take Hikari which is shown by “H”. Nozomi (“N”) is not covered. Kodama (“K”) is covered but it is slow.
Start from Kansai airport
*You can start this itinerary from Osaka or Kansai airport. If you arrive in Kansai airport early morning, you can take Haruka to get Kyoto directly. Trip time is 1.5 hours.
(Overnight in Kyoto)
Day 2 Kyoto
Enjoy sightseeing in Kyoto
(Overnight in Kyoto)
Day 3 Kyoto – Tokyo
You have one whole day until you take the train to Tokyo in the evening. You can spend the as you like. I have a few suggestions to spend this one day.
Option 1 More Kyoto
If you fall in love with Kyoto, stick around Kyoto. Kyoto has huge number of places to see.
Option 2 Visiting Osaka
Osaka is just 30 minutes away from Kyoto by rapid train. It’s easy day trip from Kyoto. JR Pass covers many local trains in downtown Osaka.
Option 3 Visiting Nara
Nara is another old city in Kyoto. Nara was the capital city before Kyoto. There are many old temples and shrines. It is similar but Nara offers a bit different atmosphere.
Option 4 Drop by Hakone
Hakone is very well known onsen town. It is located on the way to Tokyo from Kyoto. You can drop by Odawara and visit Hakone. Please see the link below to find more information:
You can take a train to Kanazawa from Kyoto and visit world heritage site, Shirakawago. After visiting Shirakawago, take Hokuriku Shinkansen to get Tokyo. I have two day trip sample itineraries either from Tokyo and from Osaka/Kyoto. You can combine these two itineraries and make Kyoto-Kanazawa-Tokyo one day trip plan.
Option 6 Going through Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route
You will take very similar route to Kanazawa and Shirakawago. You will access to Toyama via Kanazawa, and then start Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route. After that, access to Nagano and take Hokuriku Shinkansen to Tokyo. I have two sample itineraries either from Tokyo and from Osaka/Kyoto. It is same way as Kanazawa and Shirakawago. Just combine two plans and make one day trip plan.
(Overnight in Tokyo)
Day 4 Tokyo – Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto – Hakodate
06:32 Depart from Tokyo by Tohoku-Hokkaido Shinkansen Hayabusa 1
10:57 Arrive at Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto
11:10 Depart from Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto by Rapid train Hakodate Liner
11:25 Arrive at Hakodate
After arrival at Hakodate, enjoy sightseeing.
(Overnight in Hakodate)
Day 5 Hakodate to Sapporo
07:37 Depart from Hakodate for Sapporo by Limited Express Super Hokuto 3
11:27 Arrive at Sapporo
After arrive at Sapporo, enjoy sightseeing in Sapporo
If you are okay with the packed schedule, you may squeeze Otaru on this day. Otaru is only 45 minutes away from Sapporo by rapid train. It is very easy to access. If you plan to visit Otaru, please expect to spend at least 4 hours for return trip from Sapporo and sightseeing in Otaru. If you want to save your time in Sapporo, Otaru do not suit to your plan.
(Overnight in Sapporo)
Day 6 Sapporo to Noboribetsu
Stay in Sapporo until lunch time and then move to Noboribetsu.
13:32 Depart for Noboribetsu by Limited Express Super Hokuto 14
14:43 Arrive at Noboribetsu
15:05 Leave Noboribetsu by Donan bus
15:19 Arrive at Noboribetsu Onsen
Enjoy sightseeing and onsen bath in Noboribetsu
(Overnight in Noboribetsu)
Day 7 Noboribetsu – Lake Toya – Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto – Tokyo
09:00 Take Express Bus “Iburi” from Noboribetsu Onsen
Bus fare is 1,700 yen. This is not covered by any rail passes.
10:13 Arrive at Toyako Onsen
13:35 Leave Toyako Onsen by Donan Bus local bus
13:56 Arrive at Toya station
14:07 Depart from Toya by Limited Express Super Hokuto 12
15:49 Arrive at Shin-Hakodate-hokuto and transfer to Hokkaido Shinkansen
16:17 Leave Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto by Hokkaido Shinkansen Hayabusa 34
20:32 Arrive at Tokyo
*You may skip Lake Toya and go back to Tokyo earlier if you like.
**If you start this trip from Osaka, you have to leave Lake Toya about two hours earlier. Otherwise you cannot catch the train to Osaka.