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.

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

  1. Hi there,

    Thank you for your posts. I am travelling to Kansai area for the first time and would like some advice about which passes are the most suitable ones. Thanks.

    Day 1 – KIX to kyoto. Nishiki market – Nijo castle – Kinkaku-ji temple – ?Fushimi Inari
    Day 2 – Higashiyama area – Philosopher’s path
    Day 3 – Arashiyama area
    Day 4 – Kyoto to kinosaki onsen
    Day 5 – Kinosaki onsen to Osaka, likely staying at namba. Sightseeing in osaka.
    Day 6 – USJ
    Day 7 – Sightseeing in osaka
    Day 8 – Osaka, evening flight out from KIX

    This is my itinerary but my parents are arriving 1 day earlier and will be travelling to kyoto from KIX on the first day. What passes suit all of us better?

    Many thanks in advance for you advice.

    1. Hi Chooi,

      You may use Kansai wide area pass for the first 5 days. This is most affordable deal which covers Kinosaki.
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-visitors/the-newest-jr-west-rail-pass-for-kansai-and-okayama-kurashiki-kinosakai-and-shingu-area-kansai-wide-area-pass.html

      You may add city bus pass for 1 day at 500 yen in Kyoto because Kansai wide area pass covers only JR trains.

      Single ticket is okay for USU. For day 6 and 7, please see the links below:
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-residents/how-to-choose-the-best-train-pass-for-sightseeing-in-osaka.html
      https://jprail.com/sample-itineraries/airport-access/kansai-kix/how-to-choose-the-deals-for-access-tofrom-kansai-airport.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. Kobanwa takeshi san

        My name is yeni, this is my 3 rd time to visit japan and now i am likely want to explore tokyo and surrounds.
        I am emailinh you to look an advise for a quick visit (6 days 5 night)
        I am seeking to visit this trip to hakone, fuji san, ashikaga flower festival (i heard this superb beautiful) , kamakura.
        I really love to see scenery, shrines and local people living are good experience i had in japan. So its really appreciated on your recommendation.

        I will be arrived on 28 april early morning at narita and leave on 3 may early morning from narita too.

        Appreciate on your prompt response as always

        Cheers yeni

  2. Hi Takeshi,

    This is my first solo trip to Kansai. I went through your websites and i would like to get your advice on my coming trip on March.

    DAY 1
    5:40AM arrived KIX
    KIX – Kyoto -Nijo castle – Kitano tenmangu – Ninnaji temple – Kamo shrine-nishiki market

    Day 2
    Yoshimine-dera temple – Arashiyama – Tenzen No Yu – Gion – Yasaka Shrine

    DAY 3
    Ginkakuji – Philosopher’s path – Zenrinji – Nanzenji

    DAY 4
    Mount Kurama – Heian Shrine – Kodai-ji zen Temple – Ninenzaka – Kiyomizu-dera – Higashiyama

    DAY 5
    Kyoto -Osaka
    Fushimi inari shirne – Fushimi inari taisha otabisho – Osaka expo ’70

    DAY 6
    Sumiyoshi taiha – Tennoji – Horikoshi Shrine- Isshin-ji – Kuromon ichiba market- Minami namba & Dotonbori

    DAY 7
    Minoo Park – Kita Umeda – Tenma – Samuhara Shrine

    DAY 8
    5:30am Fukushima – KIX depart at 9:55AM

    Day 1 & 2 – Icoco Haruka card (one way) & kyoto sightseeing pass 2days
    Day 3 – Icoco card
    Day 4 – Kyoto bus pass & Kyoto subway 1 day pass
    Day 5 & 6 – Kyoto & Osaka sightseeing pass 2 days
    Day 7 – One day ticket enjoy eco card
    Day 8 – icoco card take JR Osaka loop line

    My Question ,
    Am i chosen the right passes for above itinerary?
    Is my itinerary too packed for certain day?

    Thank you very much.

    1. Hi cy,

      I think you just need bus pass on day 1, 2 and 4. You don’t have many chances to take subway but you need to take other trains, such as JR, Keifuku, Hankyu, Keihan. These are not covered by Kyoto sightseeing card. So just use bus pass and use Kansai one pass when you need to take a train. Kansai one pass is same type of card as ICOCA. But Kansai one pass offers discount at many attractions. ICOCA does not. You can add Kansai one pass instead of ICOCA for ICOCA and Haruka package.
      https://kansaionepass.com/en/about.html?info=1

      Kyoto Osaka sightseeing pass 2 days cover only Keihan railway. It does not work for day 5 and 6. You can use Kansai one pass for day 5 and use Enjoy Eco card for day 6 too.

      Your itinerary is feasible. It’s not too much.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. Dear Takeshi,

        Thanks for your prompt reply. I misunderstand the T&C on Enjoy Eco card and Kyoto Bus Pass only can buy one time per passport.

        Thanks again for your help.
        CY

  3. Dear Takeshi,

    I would like to get your advice on my coming trip 10 days at Kyoto + Osaka.

    Day 1 – KIX to Kyoto in the noon time and stay nearby Kyoto Station. Planning to visit – Sanjusangendo Hall + Kiyomizu-dera Temple + Yasaka Shrine.

    Day 2- Tenryuji Temple + Arashiyama Bamboo Grove + Okochisanso Garden + Jojakko-ji Temple + Gio-Ji Temple .

    Day 3 – Fushimi Inari-taisha + Nara Park + Todai-ji Temple + Kasuga-taisha + Kofukuji Five Storied Pagoda + Kasuga Shrine.

    Day 4- Nijo Castle + Ryoanji Temple + Kinkaku-ji + Kyoto Imperial Palace + Chion-in + Pontocho Alley.

    Day 5 – Nishiki Market . Travel to USJ and stay there for 3 nights.

    Day 6 – Spend whole day at Universal Studio

    Day 7 – USJ to Himeji Castle + Kobe-Sannomiya + Kitano Ijinkan.

    Day 8 – Stay at Namba area for 3 nights. Planning visit Osaka Aquarium + Cruise Ship Santa Maria + Tempozan Ferries Wheel + Legoland Discovery Centre.

    Day 9 – Nakanoshima + Museum of History + Shinsaibashi + Kuromon Ichiba Market.

    Day 10- Shitennoji Temple + Osaka Castle + Osaka Museum of Housing and Living + Floating Garden Observatory.

    Day 11- Back Home.

    Questions:
    Which pass is suitable for above itinerary ?
    Which transportation is most convenient to travel in Kyoto with young children?
    Is my itinerary too packed or it is visible to travel with young kids?

    Many Thanks for your help and advice.
    Morn

    1. Hi Morn,

      Basically you can use same ways in the post above. ICOCA and Haruka is your choice for arrival day. And you can use bus pass or Kyoto sightseeing pass when you are in Kyoto. You can use ICOCA to get USJ from Kyoto and for the trip to Nara. You may add Kansai one pass instead of ICOCA.
      https://kansaionepass.com/en/about.html?info=1

      And add Kansai area pass one day for Himeji and Kobe.
      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

      Osaka Kaiyu ticket for day 8, and Osaka amazing pass 2 days for day 9 and 10.
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-residents/how-to-choose-the-best-train-pass-for-sightseeing-in-osaka.html

      At last, you can add other deal for Namna to KIX if you like.
      https://jprail.com/sample-itineraries/airport-access/kansai-kix/how-to-choose-the-deals-for-access-tofrom-kansai-airport.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. Dear Takeshi,

        Thank you so much for your quick response.

        After getting the above advice, I have a few questions would like to get advice:
        1. used Kansai one pass + ICOCA on trip to Nara and travel to
        USJ ?
        2. With young children travel in Kyoto, may I know which
        public transportation is more suitable ? Should I used the
        Bus as my main transportation and support by train ?
        3. Lastly, I would like to get your opinion on my itinerary. Will
        it be too pack for young children ?

        Many Thanks for your advice
        Morn

        1. Hi Morn,

          1. You can use Kansai one pass only. ICOCA and Kansai one pass are basically same. Kansai one pass is ICOCA + discount at many attractions. So you don’t need ICOCA.

          2. Train and subway are better than bus. Bus is slow and always crowded. Try to take a train as much as you can.

          3. Your itinerary is okay.

          Cheers,

          Takeshi / JPRail.com

  4. Hello Takehsi san,

    First the all, I am apologized if i already submitted my previous message. It was showed to be error when I submitted so I am not sure if it even went through.

    I am going to Osaka area very soon and it is my first time. I read through the website and I am still confused what passes is best for my trip and hope you can give me a bit of assistance.

    Day 1: Arrive KIX, will stay in osaka, very close to nippombashi station.
    Day 2: Day trip to Nara
    Day 3: Day trip to Kobe, maybe other area that i can get to in a day?
    Day 4: Leaving morning to Kyoto, sightseeing in Kyoto
    Day 5: Kyoto sightseeing
    Day 6: leaving Kyoto to Osaka either in AM or PM depends if i need more time in Kyoto or sightseeing in Osaka
    Day 7: Osaka sightseeing
    Day 8: KIX

    Thank you so much for your help

    Karen

    1. Hi Karen san,

      I haven’t received any other comments from you. I think there was some database error when you submit the first comments.

      You may use Nankai railway and subway deal for KIX-Nippombashi.
      http://www.howto-osaka.com/en/ticket/ticket/chikatoku.html

      Kansai thru pass 3 days is the best choice for day 2 to 4.
      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 choose city bus pass or subway/bus pass in Kyoto.
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-residents/how-to-choose-the-best-train-pass-for-sightseeing-in-kyoto.html

      Single ticket is okay for Kyoto to Osaka. And you can choose one of the deals in the link below for Osaka.
      https://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

  5. Hi Takeshi,

    I have visited Japan before, but it will be first time to go Kansai region, and also with elderly (70 years old).

    I have a rough itinerary below, and would like to seek your kind advice if it is do-able?

    Day 1 (28/2): Arrive late at KIX (stay in Kix airport hotel)
    Day 2 (1/3): Move to Namba hotel, explore Namba
    Day 3 (2/3): USJ
    Day 4 (3/3): Himeji/Kobe
    Day 5 (4/3): Nara?
    Day 6 (5/3): Kinosaki onsen (stay ryokan)
    Day 7 (6/3): Amanohashidate and Ine (stay in funaya?)
    Day 8-10 (7-10/3): Kyoto (explore and also Higashiyama Hanatoro, stay in Kyoto)
    Day 11: Depart KIX

    May I seek your advice, if I should get the KANSAI WIDE Pass for Day4-8?

    Is there any changes I should make that may suit elderly more?

    Thank you very much in advance!

  6. Hi Takeshi-san,

    i went through your websites and would like to get your advice for traveling 3 adults + 1 boy (1 years). thank you in advance and apologize for the trouble.

    Question 1:
    For day 1 – 6, I think I will get Kansai-Thru -3days but you said that Haruka may be better deal. How about the Takayama? JR West Kansai Area Pass seems to have same price with Kansai Thru?

    1) Kansai Thru Thru 3 days for @5,200 > can make use for KIX – Kyoto – Nara – Kyoto
    2) Haruka – ICOCA package
    3) Takayama – Hokuriku Area Tourist Pass

    Question 2:
    Should I just get one-way ticket from Kyoto to Osaka ? Is there any way I can combine this if I want to go to Shirakawago?
    Or
    Should I visit Shirakawago/Takayama from Kyoto + Nara from Osaka?

    Question 3:
    Should I also get the Kyoto pass and Osaka Pass?

    My schedule
    Day 1 – 5 Kyoto @Sakyo-ku
    • Arrival 0630 HRS KIX –> proceed to Kyoto
    • Planning to go to Nara on Day 2
    • Depart to Osaka on day 5

    Day 6- 12 Osaka @Nishinari-ku
    • Arrive Osaka on day 5
    • Day 7 -8 > Universal Studio >Ticket purchase. Date is fixed.
    • Perhaps visit Shirakawago/Takayama on day 10?

    Depart KIX at 1700 HRS

    1. Hi BD san,

      1. You may use Kansai thru pass if you like. However if you use it for KIX to Kyoto, you need to change trains at least twice. You will take Nankai railway to Tengachaya, subway from there to Awaji or Takatsukishi, and then take Hankyu railway to Kyoto. You may need to take subway or city bus in Kyoto to get your place.

      If you use ICOCA and Haruka, you can take Haruka to Kyoto directly by Haruka. It’s less changing trains and Haruka gives you more comfortable trip.

      If you go to Nara on day 2, you may use JR West Kansai area pass 2 days instead of Kansai thru pass. It covers Haruka and trip to Nara too. But you need to use it in two consecutive days. So you need to visit Nara on day 2.

      Anyway I don’t find any reason to use Kansai thru pass. If you use ICOCA and Haruka, you need to use ICOCA to visit Nara.

      2. You may start to use Takayama Hokuriku area pass on day 5 from Kyoto to Osaka. You can take Haruka from Kyoto to Tennoji by this pass. It covers JR local trains in Osaka too. You can visit USJ by this pass. But you need to visit Shirakawago on day 6 or 9.

      3. You need to get both. In Kyoto, bus pass is okay. When you need to take subway or train, just use ICOCA if you use ICOCA and Haruka. Otherwise just pay as you go to take trains or subways.
      In Osaka, you may use it after Takayama Hokuriku area pass expires.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. Hello Takehsi san

        Thank you for your response.

        I will get haruka to get me from KIX/Kyoto and Osaka/KIX.
        I will see if i can push Nara on day 2. I amworried my boy will be tired.

        I will take Takayama Hokoriku pass to get me from Kyoto to Osaka on day 5 plus USJ on day 7 & 8.

        For inside Kyoto and Osaka
        Kyoto sightseeing two days Pass
        Amazing Osaka pass

        I hope I understand your advice correctly.

        Domo arigatou

        1. Hi BD san,

          If you go to Nara on day 2, you will use Kansai area pass 2 days. You don’t need to have ICOCA and Haurka on day 1. If you don’t go to Nara on day 2, you need ICOCA and Haruka. So you need to decide which you go to Nara on day 2 or not when you arrive in KIX.

          I think you have understood correctly for the rest of your trip.

          Cheers,

          Takeshi / JPRail.com

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