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.

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

  1. Hello , we have planned the same schedule as you suggested. Intended dates of Travel are from 12th Dec to 19th Dec 2016. We will reach KIX only near 11 pm. Which places ( area ) you recommend to stay : Do we stay 12th , 13th, 14th In Kyoto and from 15th to 19th we stay in Osaka?
    1 Day 1 – Kansai airport (KIX) to Kyoto
    2 Day 2 – Sightseeing in Kyoto
    3 Day 3 – Sightseeing in Kyoto
    4 Day 4 – Trip to Nara and transfer to Namba, Osaka
    5 Day 5 – Trip to Kobe and Himeji from Osaka
    6 Day 6 – Sightseeing in Osaka
    7 Day 7 – Namba, Osaka to Kansai airport (KIX)
    Appreciate your advise. We are a couple travelling with our daughter aged 9 yrs.

    1. Hi Ashwin,

      First of all, I don’t recommend you to get Kyoto on arrival day. There is only one way to get there that is a bus. Please see the link below:
      http://www.kate.co.jp/en/timetable/detail/KY

      There is only one departure available that is 23:40. But you will have only 40 minutes after arrival. It’s too risky to take this bus. You may spend one hour to clear custom and immigration. You will miss this bus and there is no way to get there other than taxi. But taxi fare is super expensive. It costs more than 30,000 yen

      I recommend you to stay near airport on arrival day and use ICOCA and Haruka to get Kyoto on next day.

      You also can reverse your schedule, KIX-Osaka-Kyoto-KIX.
      https://jprail.com/sample-itineraries/7days/visit-osaka-and-kyoto-for-5-to-7-days-sample-itinerary.html

      There are midnight bus available to get Namba and Umeda.
      http://www.kate.co.jp/en/timetable/detail/NB
      http://www.kate.co.jp/en/timetable/detail/UM

      You can do whichever you like but you cannot reach Kyoto on arrival day anyway.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  2. Hello Takeshi,

    I bought ticket to Kansai for next year, 15 – 25 March 2017, plan to visit Osaka, Nara, Kobe and Kyoto. Seek for your advice on the routine. My concern:-
    1) Is the day enough to explore or too many or too short?
    2) Worry redundant on the routine, from Kansai to Kyoto or Kansai to Osaka?
    3) What type of pass shall you suggest to have?

    Looking forward on your reply soon.
    Thank you very much!!!

    Regards,
    Yau San

    1. Hi Yau,

      1. In my opinion, one day is okay for Kobe and Nara. Some traveler spend only half day for these. But one day is minimum for Kyoto and Osaka. There are many places to see.

      2. Whichever you like. Some traveler stays in Osaka only and make day trips. Please see the links below:
      https://jprail.com/sample-itineraries/7days/visit-osaka-and-kyoto-for-5-to-7-days-sample-itinerary.html
      https://jprail.com/sample-itineraries/7days/how-to-build-the-itinerary-and-choose-the-deals-for-osaka-stay-5-to-7-days.html

      3. You can find which deal you need in the lines above. You have to decide where you go and how many days you spend for each cities before you choose the pass.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  3. Hi Takeshi,

    Could you pls advise which pass should I get for my itinerary.

    Day 1-8: Tokyo
    Day 8-10: Kyoto
    Day 11: Nara day trip
    Day 12: Kyoto
    Day 12-15: Osaka

    Thank you in advance. 🙂

  4. Hi takeshi, im planning visit osaka wif my family this december. Perhaps you could advice on my itinerary.thanks!

    Day 1. Arrive KIX. Head to apt at namba,Osaka.
    Day 2. Universal studio, Osaka.
    Day 3. Kobe & rokkosan and return back to Osaka.
    Day 4. Kyoto (Arashiyama, Tenry-ji Temple, Bamboo Groves & Gion) then back to Osaka.
    Day 5. Osaka ( Osaka amazing pass 1 day)
    Day 6. Head to KIX.

    We are staying at Osaka the whole time. Do i need buy another pass?

    Thanks!

  5. Hello Takeshi-san,

    I am a resident in Japan. So I think I am not eligible to purchase the Icoca or Kansai one pass. I will be arriving at Kansai-airport and living near Gakken Kita Ikoma station in Nara. And I plan to travel to Kyoto, Osaka, Nara and Kobe every day from Gakken Kita Ikoma station between Nov 2- Nov 7. Which pass you think will be economical and convenient for my travel. Thank you in advance.

    Regards,
    Anonya

    1. Hi Anonya san,

      You cannot purchase Kansai one pass but you can purchase ICOCA. ICOCA is available for anyone. If you have any other IC card, such as Suica, you can use it in Kansai area too.

      ICOCA (or other kinds of IC card) or regular ticket is your choice for city to city transfer. But you can purchase city deal in each cities, such as subway/bus pass. Please see the link below. You can purchase these deals.
      http://www.insidekyoto.com/special-kyoto-bus-train-subway-passes
      http://www.kotsu.city.osaka.lg.jp/foreign/english/Card.html
      http://www.osaka-info.jp/osp/en/index.html
      http://www.feel-kobe.jp/_en/profile/traffic_service/
      (Kansai thru pass is not available for residents any more)

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  6. Hi Takeshi-san

    I will be visiting Osaka / Kyoto / Nara this November with below itinerary:

    Day 1. Arrive KIX at 11:35am. Head to hotel at Osaka (Matsuyamachi station). Stay in Osaka

    Day 2. Go to Kyoto from Osaka (Arashiyama, Tenry-ji Temple, Bamboo Groves, Money Park) then back to Osaka

    Day 3. Go to Kyoto and Nara from Osaka (Fushimi Inari, Nara) then back to Osaka

    Day 4. Go to Kyoto from Osaka (Kinkaju Temple, Nijo Castle, Kiyomizu-dera, Gion)

    Day 5. Go to Kobe and Himeji from Osaka

    Day 6. Stay in Osaka

    Day 7. Stay in Osaka

    Day 8. Head to airport from Osaka (1:05PM flight)

    We are staying at Osaka the whole time. Does the itinerary make sense and what is my best transpo option?

    Thanks!

  7. Hello Takeshi,
    I’m planning to visit Japan this coming november with my family. Hope you can help us in determining what passes to use for our itinerary.
    Day 1 : Arrive Osaka-Kansai. Stay Uji
    Day 2 : Kyoto
    Day 3 : Nara
    Day 4 : Osaka
    Day 5 : Osaka
    Day 6 : Back to Malaysia

    1. Hi Woon,

      You may use ICOCA and Haruka round trip to Kyoto. Uji is not covered but you can start using ICOCA to get Uji from Kyoto. You have to exit Kyoto station and tap your ICOCA to enter the station.

      For day 2, 4 and 5, you need to get these cities from Uji. Kansai thru pass is the best choice.
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-residents/how-to-use-kansai-thru-pass-compare-pass-and-single-fare.html

      But when you go to Nara, JR train is easier to get Nara and Kansai thru pass does not cover JR train. Use ICOCA to get Nara.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  8. Hi Takeshi,

    Please help which pass would be best for my trip:

    Day 1 (June 25 PM) Arrive Narita
    Day 2 (June 26) Tokyo
    Day 3 (June 27) Tokyo
    Day 4 (June 28) Tokyo
    Day 5 (June 29) Kyoto
    Day 6 (June 30) Kyoto
    Day 7 (July 1) Osaka/Kobe/Nara
    Day 8 (July 2) Osaka/Kobe/Nara
    Day 9 (July 3) Tokyo
    Day 10 (July 4 AM) Depart Narita

    Is it better to get JR Pass which is $270 or Tokyo-Osaka Hokuriku Arch Pass?

    Thank you in advance.

    1. Hi Alexander,

      JR pass is recommended. Hokuriku Arch Pass is okay but it does not cover Kobe. And also when you move between Tokyo and Osaka/Kyoto, trip time by Hokuriku arch pass is about 2 hours longer than JR pass.
      So you can use JR Pass 7 days of the last 7 days of your trip. You can find the deal for Tokyo at the links below:
      https://jprail.com/sample-itineraries/airport-access/narita/the-list-of-deals-for-access-to-downtown-tokyo-from-narita-airport.html
      https://jprail.com/destinations/kanto-area/tokyo-kanto-area/guide-to-take-trains-in-tokyo-how-to-choose-the-best-deal-and-the-best-route-by-train-to-get-the-major-spots.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  9. Hi Takeshi.

    I’m planning to visit Japan late March next year with my friends. Hope you can help us in determining what passes to use for our itinerary.

    Day 1 KIX to Namba (hotel near dotonbori) – I was advised to take Nankai railway. Is this right?
    Day 2 Universal Studios
    Day 3 Explore Osaka
    Day 4 Nara & Kobe
    Day 5 Tokyo
    Day 6 Tokyo
    Day 7 Kyoto
    Day 8 Kyoto
    Day 9 Flight back to home base from KIX

    Since we’re going to Tokyo we’re planning to buy the 7-day JRPass but we’re confused what other passes we need to buy with the best value for money based on our itinerary.

    Hope you can help us.

    Thank you very much!

    1. Hi Leann,

      You may use JR pass from day 3. For day 1, single fare is okay for Nankai railway ordinary train. If you take limited express Rapi:t (faster and more comfortable), you can use Kanku Tokuwari Rapi:t ticket.
      http://www.howto-osaka.com/en/ticket/ticket/tokuwari.html

      Single ticket is okay for day 2.

      Most part of your trip is covered by JR pass from day 3. But JR pass does not cover local bus, subway and non JR trains. Please see the links below to find the coverage of JR Pass.
      https://jprail.com/destinations/how-to-transfer-among-kyoto-osaka-and-kobe-compare-japan-railway-and-private-lines.html
      https://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
      https://jprail.com/destinations/kansai-area/guide-to-take-trains-in-osaka-how-to-choose-the-best-route-by-train-to-get-the-major-spots.html
      https://jprail.com/destinations/kanto-area/tokyo-kanto-area/guide-to-take-trains-in-tokyo-how-to-choose-the-best-deal-and-the-best-route-by-train-to-get-the-major-spots.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  10. Hello Takeshi,

    I saw your blog and find it very informative although I am still confused with the different types of Rail Pass. I need your advise on choosing the right Rail Pass. Below is my 9-day itinerary.

    Day 1 (12 Nov) – arrive Hiroshima Airport
    Day 2 (13 Nov) – Hiroshima
    Day 3 (14 Nov) – Fukuyama
    Day 4 (15 Nov) – Kurashiki
    Day 5 (16 Nov) – Himeji
    Day 6 (17 Nov) – Kyoto
    Day 7 (18 Nov) – Arashiyama
    Day 8 (19 Nov) – Nara
    Day 9 (20 Nov) – Kyoto to KIX Airport

    Should I buy a 5- day West JR Pass (Kansai Hiroshima Area Pass) @ Yen 13,000 to use from Day 2 to Day 6 or to buy a ICOCA & HARUKA Pass to use in Kyoto. As I understand it, foreign visitors can only buy 1 pass during one trip. I also need to know if JP West Pass includes the ride on Sanyo Sinkasen (from Himeji to Kyoto). It seems that there is a restriction to ride on the Bullet Train “SANYO SHINKANSEN” (Hiroshima⇔Hakata). So if I leave from Himeji for Kyoto, according to the available train route map on JR website, the Sanyo Sinkasen changes to conventional train route from Sin-Osaka Stn. We probably need to change train. If that is correct, is that money worth to pay for the 5-day West JR Pass?

    On another question, I heard that not all trains has space for luggage. Each of us carries a mid-size (26-28”) luggage. So do we have to place it besides the seat. If we don’t buy JR Pass, we can’t reserve seat in advance. Would you suggest we’d better buy the pass for a little more money?
    I look forward to your advise.
    Regards,
    Esther

    1. Hi Esther,

      You can use Kansai Hiroshima Area Pass. If you use JR train, like visiting Miyajima, you can start using this pass on day 2. But if you stay in Hiroshima and visit the places in the city, such as Peace Memorial Park, you can start it on day 3.

      Actually Sanyo Shinkansen runs between Hakata and Shin-Osaka. So you can take this train to get Shin-Osaka. Fukuyama, Kurashiki and Himeji are located on the way to Shin-Osaka. You can take Shinkansen. Kyoto is connected by Shinkansen too. But from Shin-Osaka to Kyoto is Tokaido Shinkansen that is not covered by this pass. You have to change the trains to Kyoto at Shin-Osaka.
      https://jprail.com/trains/sort-by-departure-arrival-stations/stations-in-tokai/nagoya-toyohashi/what-is-shinkansen-bullet-train.html

      In Kyoto, you can use city deal.
      http://www.insidekyoto.com/special-kyoto-bus-train-subway-passes

      Single ticket is okay for access to Nara. If you want to use ICOCA, you can purchase ICOCA only at any JR station. But I don’t think you need it.

      At last, you can purchase Haruka discount ticket. ICOCA and Haruka combo deal is available for incoming passengers only and it’s sold at Kansai airport. But you can purchase Haruka discount ticket at Kyoto. You can use both Kansai Hiroshima Area Pass and Haruka discount ticket. If you want to use 2 X Kansai Hiroshima pass, it’s not allowed. But you can purchase two different deals.

      Even if you use reserved seat, you have to keep your luggage at your space. And also you have to pay full fare of seat fee, not difference between reserved and non reserved. It’s not a smart way to use reserved seat by this pass.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. Dear Takeshi san,

        Thank you for your detailed and helpful information. I have also lodged an enquiry form with JR but has not received a reply yet. I am so glad to find this platform to solve my queries in such an effecient manner. Thank you again.

        Regards,
        Esther

          1. Dear Takeshi san,

            Can I buy the ICOCS & HARUKA at Hiroshima Station? How much money i saved on using the Haruka discount tix?

          2. Hi Esther san,

            You cannot purchase it at Hiroshima. You have to purchase it at Osaka, Shin-Osaka, Tennoji, JR-Namba, Kyoto, Sannomiya, Nara, Kansai-airport stations.
            You may save around 500 to 1000 yen. It depends on which station you will start using it. You can find an exact fare at Hyperdia and can compare single fare and this deal.
            https://jprail.com/travel-informations/basic-informations/timetable-and-reservation/hyperdia-perfect-guide-train-timetable-and-route-search-engine.html

            Cheers,

            Takeshi / JPRail.com

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