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.

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

  1. Hi Takeshi-san,

    I would be travelling on budget on Feb 23 (3 person group) for 9 days 8 nights from Tokyo to Kansai Area before heading back to Tokyo to catch my flight at Narita Airport.

    My itinerary
    Day 1: Narita Airport to Tokyo station via J-bus, follwed by an overnight Willer express bus from Tokyo station to Osaka Umeda Station.
    Day 2: Osaka Umeda Station to Koyasan utilizing my 3 days Kansai Thru pass. I will be having a night Shukubo at Koyasan btw (Day 1 usage).
    Day 3: Koyasan to Osaka (1 day tour) paying single fare trip to Osaka, then commence utilizing Osaka Amazing 1 day pass for Osaka city tour.
    Day 4: Osaka to Kobe (1 day tour) using Kansai thru pass (Day 2 usage)
    Day 5: Osaka to Kyoto (1 day tour) using Kansai thru pass (Day 3 usage). Overnight travel via Willer express bus from Kyoto to Shinjuku.
    Day 6 – 8: Tokyo tour utilizing 3 days JR Tokyo wide pass.
    Day 9: Tokyo Station to Narita Airport via J-bus.

    Based on the above itinerary,
    1)Is this considered a cheaper alternative compared to getting the 7 days JR nationwide pass?
    2)Did I missed out any miscellaneous transportation cost?
    3)For Day 3, What is the recommended route to take from Koyasan to Osaka for single trip?
    4) Which station vicinity do you recommend to get a hotel/apartment for my itinerary in Kansai to save travelling time?


    1. Hi Ricky san,

      1. This is most affordable plan.

      2. You may need to add some fares to take subway in Tokyo. There are some places, such as Asakusa, Tsukiji, where you cannot access by Tokyo Wide Pass. Please see the link below:

      If you go to some places outside Tokyo, such as Nikko, this pass is recommended. Otherwise subway pass is okay.

      3. Just take Nankai railway to Namba.

      4. Namba is the best place. You can get there from Koyasan directly and you can access to Kobe directly.


      Takeshi /

      1. Hi Takeshi-san

        Thank you for the reply, I have another question. Using Kansai Thru Pass, Keihan Main Line and Hankyu Kyoto Main line, which of the two is the better train service to visit Kyoto for 1 day sightseeing from Osaka Umeda Station?


  2. Hello Takeshi-san,

    Is it possible to cram Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe in only three days? My itinerary is ff:
    1. Arrive KIX evening, hotel check-in in Osaka.
    2. DAY 1: Tour Osaka
    3. DAY 2: Train to Kyoto and Tour Kyoto, back to Osaka
    4. DAY 3: Train to Kobe and Tour Kobe, back to Osaka
    5. DAY 4: Depart KIX in the afternoon.
    What passes should I purchase?
    Domo arigato gozaimasu.


    1. Hi Nuni,

      Yes, you can.
      You can choose one of the deals for day 1 and 4 in the link below:

      Kansai thru pass 2 days is the best choice for day 2 and 3.


      Takeshi /

    2. Kobanwa takeshi san

      I am planning to visit again japan in early december and this time i wish i can visit some places that i cannot visit before like the central of japan incl kanazawa, shirakawa go, fuji, and nikko there any itinerary that you can suggest and is still jp rail is efficient and cost saving way? Perhaps you have a roughly cost advise it would be appreciated.

      Arigatou gozaimasu

      1. Hi Yeni san,

        I don’t have a sample itinerary but you can find some info at the links below:

        I cannot suggest the deal at this point. You have to decide arrival and departure airport. And you also need to decide how you visit these places and routes. I cannot tell you even rough cost now.


        Takeshi /

  3. Dear Takeshi-San,
    We are planning a 7-day trip to Osaka, Kyoto and Tokyo.
    Arriving Kansai 8pm. Below is our planned itinerary:
    Day2: Sightseeing Osaka
    Day3: Sightseeing Kyoto
    Day4: Early morning Off to Tokyo by JR Train
    Sightseeing Tokyo
    Day5: Lake Kaguchi-ko; Fuji; Gotemba?
    Day6: Sightseeing; Shopping in Tokyo
    Day7: Off to Narita for 11:30am flight

    With this itinerary, what mode of transport can you recommend?

      1. Thank you for your fast response. Shall i just buy a 7-day JR Pass for my entire trip or i cannot use JR pass on some of my itineraries.

        1. Hi Moises,

          Why are going to purchase JR pass? As I gave your the link of sample itinerary, JR pass is too expensive for one way trip from Osaka to Tokyo.
          If you understand it and want to use JR pass, it’s okay. It’s your choice.

          Some local transportation in Osaka, Kyoto and Fuji are not covered by JR pass. Please see the links below:


          Takeshi /

  4. Hi Takeshi

    I am doing a 7 day trip around the Kansai area and am basically following the above itineray. Do you think I will save any money by buying a 1 way ICOCA and Haruka ticket instead of round trip and take the Nankai railway deal, Rapi:t Tokuwari Ticket to KIX from Namba?

    Also, I am staying near the Gojo (五条) station in Kyoto and near Nippombashi (日本橋) Station in Osaka. Can these use the ICOCA card?

    1. Hi Raymond,

      That’s right. You can use ICOCA and Haruka one way to Kyoto. And Nankai railway is better choice to get KIX than Haruka. You can use ICOCA to get Namba from Nippombashi by ICOCA. You also can use ICOCA from Kyoto to Gojo.


      Takeshi /

  5. Dear Takeshi-san,

    May I ask for your insight on my trip to Osaka ?
    We have booked an airbnb in Abeno ward, Bishoen which is near Koboregushi station (I will refer to this as home from this point on)

    Day 1
    Arrive at Kansai International Airport at 7:55 PM
    to Home
    to Dontonburi
    [Do you think there will still be time (and trains) that will head to Namba station after we have checked in at approximately 10PM?)

    Day 2
    HOME to Day trip/ Sightseeing in OSAKA and back to HOME

    Day 3
    HOME to Day trip KYOTO and back to HOME

    Day 4
    HOME to Day trip KYOTO and back to HOME

    Day 5
    HOME to Kansai International Airport

    In addition, we are thinking of just buying a round trip Haruka pass to save time travelling to and from the airport. I am concerned about the expenses going to and from our home to Osaka and Kyoto for sightseeing

    1. Hi Maria san,

      You can use Nankai railway deal, Rapi:t Tokuwari ticket or just pay single fare 920 yen for one way from KIX to Namba. Kansai thru pass is the best choice for day 2 to 4. Please see the links below:


      Takeshi /

  6. Dear Takeshi san,

    For the Haruka and ICOCA round trip ticket, is it correct that I can use Haruka directly from Kansai Airport to Kyoto and from Osaka back to Kansai Airport?

    Thank you.


      1. Dear Takeshi san,

        Thank you for the advice. I need to get to Nishikyogoku station in Kyoto. Can I only buy the ICOCA card? Is it possible if I travel using the Kyoto Access Ticket from Kansai Airport to Kyoto (Karasuma station)? Then take train on Hankyu line to Nishikyogoku station? Is this method cheaper than purchasing the Haruka and ICOCA card?

        Thank you.

        1. Hi Stephanie san,

          You can use Kyoto Access Ticket. You need to change the trains twice at Tengachaya, Awaji and Katsura. But even if you use ICOCA and Haruka, you have to change the trains twice at Kyoto and Karasuma.

          Anyway you can use Kyoto access ticket and you don’t need to go to Karasuma. You can take limited express or express train at Awaji and change to local or Semi Express train at Katsura. Because Limited Express and Express skip Nishikyogoku.


          Takeshi /

  7. Hi, on my third day in kyoto, im only planning to go to arashiyama, then to osaka after that. which pass do you recommend me to take? thanks! 🙂

      1. Thanks for your fast response. Another question though. Just to clarify, the icoca pass is for me to travel from Kyoto to Osaka, Osaka to Nara. AnD to travel around the city itself, a one day pass is a better option?

  8. Hello there! I’d like to thank you in advance for taking your time in reading and answering my questions.

    1) How do I decide between taking the Kansai Thru Pass and the Icoca & Haruka (main concerns are maybe which is more budget friendly or time friendly)?

    I’ll be doing a 14D trip to Japan, where the first week mostly covers the Kansai region. If you could kindly take a look at my itinerary, it goes something like this. I’d appreciate your input and adjustments to improve the itinerary too!

    D1 KIX-Osaka

    D2-5 Osaka-Kyoto-sidetrips
    2) I plan to include daytrip to maybe Nara on the fifth day. Would you recommend anywhere else?

    D6 & D7 Kyoto- Himeji – Miyajima

    3) Here I’m not sure whether the plan is feasible. It’d be nice if you could offer your input on this. I’d also like to activate my 7D JR Pass from Miyajima to Tokyo.

    D8-12 Tokyo + sidetrips
    Sidetrips include Nikko and Hakone.

    4) Here I wonder if the JR Pass would be sufficient to cover most of Tokyo and the sidetrips? Or if I’d need to consider the Suica.

    D13 Tokyo-Kyoto

    5)Up to D13, my travels should be covered by the JR Pass? I’d be interested in another stop before Kyoto. But I’m just not clear yet. My research is not as extensive as I’d hope.

    D14 Kyoto-KIX
    Either with the Icoca&Haruka or Kansai Thru Pass.

    I based my itinerary on a sample itinerary on japan-guide.
    But obviously I have a lot of concerns and questions that require direct answers, preferably from one person.
    Thank you once again for your time and answers.

    1. Hi Miyeko,

      First of all, it’s hard to compare Kansai thru pass and ICOCA and Haruka. These deals are different type of deals. But anyway Kansai thru pass does not recommended for Kyoto to KIX. You can use Haruka discount ticket that is only Haruka ticket without ICOCA. You cannot use ICOCA and Haruka for the trip to KIX. ICOCA and Haruka is available for trip from KIX only.

      This deal is 1,600 yen.

      And you will use JR pass 7 days for day 7 to 13. In this case, you need to pay single fare for Kyoto-Himeji-Miyajima. Even if you pay single fare with Shinkansen seat ticket for Kyoto to Hiroshima, the fare is more than 11,000 yen. You will make a stopover at Himeji and go to Miyajima. The cost is more and it will be 14,000 yen in my rough calculation.

      At this point, your total cost is almost same as 14 days JR pass at 46,390 yen. I do not include other cost for trip to Kyoto, Osaka and other destination for day 1 to 6. So simply your choice is 14 days JR pass. It does not cover local transportation, such as subway and city bus in Osaka, Kyoto, Tokyo. But you can get many places by JR Pass. Please see the links below. You can find the coverage for Hakone and Nikko too.


      Takeshi /

      1. Dear Takeshi,
        Thanks for your reply. I’d like to clarify something. I cannot use the icoca&haruka for round trips to KIX? From what I’m reading, it seem like I can use Icoca&Haruka for round trips to and from KIX with 14days validity. Or am I misunderstanding something?
        If the answer to question above is yes, meaning I can use the icoca&haruka for round trip from KIX-Kyoto on D1 and D14, does it cost more compared to the haruka discount ticket? Regarding the purchase of haruka discount ticket, that’s to be done upon arrival in Japan or before arriving Japan?

        1. Hi Miyeko,

          In your trip plan, you can use ICOCA and Haruka but you need to have two deals.
          ICOCA and Haruka one way to Osaka at 3,300 yen
          Haruka discount ticket one way from Kyoto to KIX at 1,600 yen
          Total 4,900 yen

          If you want to use round trip, you must purchase round trip to Kyoto at 5,200 yen. It’s more expensive than combination above.

          If you want to have ICOCA, you can purchase ICOCA only. It’s sold at 2,000 yen (1,500 yen e-money and 500 yen deposit).

          JR pass 14 days covers Haruka both way and as I mentioned, you can take JR trains to get all cities. It will be cheaper than many deals combination.


          Takeshi /

          1. Dear Takeshi,

            Oh I apologize. I thought I typed KIX-Kyoto for D1. And here I’m thinking why do you keep talking about Osaka. Lol.

            So you would recommend that I get the 14D JR Pass?
            And usethe JR Pass to get by during all 14 days of the trip? I’ll still need other passes to go around in Kansai for sure though right?

            I mean in Tokyo, I might still be able to get to plenty of sights with the JR Pass. But that’s not the case with Osaka, Kyoto and Nara? In this case, what pass will I need to go around in these places from D1-D6?

            Thank you.

          2. Hi Miyeko,

            You can visit many places in Osaka and Nara by JR Pass. Especially you don’t have any other passes to get Nara. In Kyoto, you need other pass, like bus pass. But you have no problem to move among cities by JR pass. Please see the links that I gave you in previous line and make sure the coverage of JR pass again.

            Even if you use JR pass 7 days, ICOCA and Haruka round trip, and single fare to Miyajima, the cost is almost same as JR pass 14 days. You get 1500 yen e-money but this is not obviously enough.

            It’s no doubt that JR pass 14 days is better choice.


            Takeshi /

          3. Dear Takeshi,

            Noted with a big thanks! I really really appreciate your help. Maybe I would seek for your advice again when I’m ready with a revised itinerary. Till then.

            Arigatou gozaimashita! 😉

  9. Dear Takeshi-san,
    Im planning a 13 days trips to Osaka, Kyoto and Tokyo. I will be arriving Osaka, KIX 07:00AM on 16 Apr 2017 and leaving from Tokyo, HND 10:30AM on 30 Apr 2017.

    I plan to visit the following places:
    16th: Osaka City
    17th: Osaka City
    18th: Himeji and Kobe
    19th: Nara and Yoshino
    20th: Mt. Koyo
    21th: Kyoto
    22th: Kyoto
    23-30th: Tokyo Area

    Do you think this itinerary will cover most of the places i want to visit ? And which passes do you reccomend me for my trip ? For would you reccommend 7 days in Kansai and 6 days in Tokyo instead ? I would prefer to have a more relaxed trip, do not want to cramp too much activities in one day. Thank you !

    1. Hi Regine,

      At this point, you will use a few kinds of local deals and single fare ticket for Osaka to Tokyo. But if you make one long day trip when you are in Tokyo, JR pass 7 days is your choice:

      If you use JR pass, you can make your trip be much easier. But you have to make one long day trip from Tokyo as I mentioned. As long as you stay in downtown Tokyo, you will make short distance trip only and it does not help to get the worth using JR pass. If you make one of these following trip, JR pass will work.

      Odawara (nearest station to Hakone)
      other cities in northern region, such as Sendai

      It’s will be a big trip but if you get some place in norther region, you may be able to see the full bloomed cherry blossom. Probably it’s too late to see it in Tokyo.

      If you don’t want, you will use Kansai thru pass for 18th to 20th.

      For Osaka and Kyoto, you may find the deals in the links below:

      In Tokyo, you may use subway pass.

      And single ticket for Osaka to Tokyo by Shinkansen is required. You can book and purchase it at any major JR stations in advance. The cost is around 15000 yen.


      Takeshi /

      1. Thanks Takeshi-san for all the recommendations, I will consider the 7 days JR Pass. If not, would you recommend overnight bus from Osaka to Tokyo?

  10. Dear Takeshi San,

    I have booked first 3 day hotel stay in Kyoto and from Day 4 to 8 in Osaka. Kindly let me know if the below train passes are okay or if anything is unnecessary like use ICOCA for a day somewhere. Prefer faster travel via JR trains, appreciate your assistance.

    Day 1 Reach Kyoto(Near Yamashina Station) ard 12:30 from KIX Airport and Sight see in the evening
    Day 2 Kyoto Sight seeing
    Day 3 Nara day trip from Kyoto
    Day 4 Kyoto to Kobe & Himeji, Himeji to Osaka (JR Imamiya Station)
    Day 5 Mt.Koya day trip from Osaka and return in the evening
    Day 6 Osaka Sight seeing
    Day 7 Osaka Sight seeing
    Day 8 Reach Airport from Osaka and flight at 11:00 AM

    Train passes
    Day 1 Haruka & ICOCA card (one way) + Kyoto Sight seeing 2 day pass
    Day 2 Kyoto Sight seeing 2 day pass
    Day 3 Kansai Wide Area pass 2 day
    Day 4 Kansai Wide Area pass 2 day
    Day 5 Koyasan world Heritage ticket
    Day 6 Osaka Amazing 2 day pass
    Day 7 Osaka Amazing 2 day pass
    Day 8 Buy Haruka from Osaka to KIX

    1. Hi Vighas san,

      Your plan is feasible. I just want to tell you two things.

      1. ICOCA
      You can have it and use it on arrival day. Because you don’t have many hours to see in Kyoto on arrival day. In this case, you need only one day of Kyoto sightseeing pass.

      2. Kansai Wide Area Pass
      I think Kansai area pass 2 days is okay for your trip.

      Knasai Wide Area Pass is valid for 5 days and it’s too expensive for your trip.


      Takeshi /

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