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.

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

  1. Hi Takeshi san, I would like to seek your advice in my itinerary,

    Day 1 (Osaka) Arrive around 8pm, stay in chuo-ku (hostel mitsuwaya)

    Day 2 (Osaka) Osaka Castle & Umeda & Kuromon Ichiba Market; Dotonbori & Shinsaibashi (Night)

    Day 3 (Osaka) Mt koya day trip use heritage pass

    Day 4 (Osaka) Day trip to Eastern Kyoto (Ginkaku-ji, Nanzen-ji, Higashiyama, Kiyomizudera, Daigoji), sagano bamboo (Arashiyama) if time permits I’ve missed seeing it before then maybe Tenzan-no-yu Onsen?

    Day 5 (Osaka) Day trip to Southern Kyoto (Fushimi Inari Shrine, Tofuku-ji, Uji) + NARA (go todaiji see Buddha)

    Day 6 (Osaka) Flight will be at 845pm evening, check out in the morning then will decide to do last minute shopping in Osaka or Universal Studios? Or maybe Himeiji Castle in the morning? (if time permits)

    • Can you recommend which pass I should purchase? I am open to re-arranging schedule to save on travel expense
    • I would like to have dinner when I visit Kyoto, are the trains from Kyoto to Osaka available up to what time?
    • Can you recommend a good onsen near Kyoto? That will be in Day 4 most likely
    • Any other recommendations will be welcomed :))

    Arigato gozaimasu!

    Thank you so much in advance, your website is a blessing 🙂


    1. Hi Arnold san,

      You may find all info about the pass which you need in the link below:

      Train runs until around 1:00 am in Osaka/Kyoto area. It’s completely no problem to eat dinner in Kyoto.

      Fufunoyu is located in Arashiyama. I have never been there actually but this one looks nice.


      Takeshi /

  2. Sir I am visiting Tokyo on 14th April 2018, will be staying there for 3 Nights. Please suggest rail pass to visit city area and MtFuji. then I will be going to Kyoto /Osaka for 3 nights. please suggest rail pass for that also to visit local sight seeing.

    1. Hi DD,

      If you leave from Osaka after visiting Osaka/Kyoto, please see the link below:

      You can add other deal or ticket to get Fuji. Please see the link below:

      If you go back to Tokyo after visiting Osaka/Kyoto, you may use JR pass.


      Takeshi /

  3. Hi Takeshi

    Thanks for all the amazing information on this website!
    We will be staying in Osaka Namba area for the first 4 nights then Tokyo shinjuku area last 4 nights. As we are flying into Osaka and out of Tokyo we’ve decided not to get a JR pass. Below is our itinerary and we would like to have your input on the itinerary and the best passes to buy.

    Day 1 – Land in osaka – itami airport 9am, check into hotel visit osaka castle, tenmangu shrine, umeda sky building, explore area nearby hotel

    Day 2 – 3 Kyoto
    Hoping to visit these places in Kyoto over 2 days
    What’s the best way to order the places to save on travel time between them?
    Fushima Inari, Arayshima, Kinkaku ji, Sanjusangendo, Kiyomizu-dera, gion, Ninenzaka, Yasaka shrine, Nijo castle,

    Day 4 – Nara until we’ve done everything then explore osaka in the evening

    Day 5 – Osaka –> head to Tokyo maybe afternoon flexible depending on if we still have things we want to do in osaka

    Day 5 – 8 Explore Tokyo
    Day 9 – Explore tokyo –> head to Narita airport in the evening

    Any advice/suggestions would be the most helpful.
    Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi A,

      You may follow my sample in the link below:

      You will arrive in Itami. Only limousine bus is the choice. There are several routes to Osaka and please see the link below:

      You may use Osaka amazing pass for Osaka and Kansai thru pass in Kyoto.

      And follow my sample for the rest of your trip.


      Takeshi /

      1. Thanks for your response!

        For the Osaka Amazing pass should I get a 1 day pass or 2 day pass? If I get the passes should I still get an icoca card? Whats the difference between Kansai One pass and the normal icoca card?

        So I will get a 2 day Kansai thru pass for day 2-3.
        While in Kyoto we was hoping to visit the following places. What’s the best way to order the places to save on travel time between them?
        Fushima Inari, Arayshima, Kinkaku ji, Sanjusangendo, Kiyomizu-dera, gion, Ninenzaka, Yasaka shrine, Nijo castle

        Thanks so much!


        1. Hi A,

          You need 1 days Osaka amazing pass for day 1 only. I don’t think you need either ICOCA and Kansai one pass. By the way, Kansai one pass is same type of card as ICOCA. But it’s designed for foreign tourist. It offers discount at many attractions.

          You may visit Nijo, Arashiyama and Kinkakuji on day 1. Fushimi, Kiyomizudera, Ninezaka, Yasaka and Gion for day 2.


          Takeshi /

  4. Hi Takeshi
    What will my best options be?
    Day 1 arrive KIX 8.35am
    I want to go to Kobe directly
    Day 2 Kobe
    Day 3 Kobe – Osaka
    Day 4 Osaka
    Day 5 Osaka – Kyoto
    Day 6 Kyoto
    Day 7 Kyoto
    Day 8 Kyoto
    Day 9 Kyoto – Osaka – KIX 9.20pm flight
    Many thanks!

  5. Dear Sir Tekeshi,

    Thanks for the reply…

    Can I conclude…
    ICOCA & Haruka discount ticket….
    travel from KIX to Kyoto.

    Kansai thru pass (3days) + Kyoto Sightseeing Card (2 days)…
    travel around Kyoto, Nara, USJ, and Kobe.

    Osaka Amazing Pass….
    travel around Osaka.

    – can Kansai thru pass valid for boat trip from USJ to Osaka
    Kaiyukan Aquarium ?
    – And what is different between Kansai Thru Pass and Kasai
    Area Pass ?

    Many Thanks

    1. Hi SS,

      I think you have inquired by the name of Susian and I have replied already. I just explain about Kansai thru pass and Kansai area pass. Kansai area pass covers JR trains only. Kansai thru pass covers subway, city bus and non JR trains, such as Hankyu, Keihan, Kintetsu and many other non JR.

      If you are sure visit both Kobe and Nara, you can use Kansai thru pass. Boat from USJ to Kaiyukan is not covered by any passes.

      You may not see your comment after you submit. But it will come up after I approve. Please do not use two handle names. I will reply to you as soon as I can.


      Takeshi /

      1. Dear Sir Takeshita,
        Sorry for the 2 separate submissions, that is due to…
        I thought I doesn’t meet the basic rules as mention in the website…so I resubmit my question again.

        So sorry if I have caused any inconvenience to you.

        I really appreciate your advice and thank you.


  6. Dear Sir Takeshi,

    Your advice and help is very appreciated for my first trip to Kyoto & Osaka. I will travel together with my husband and 11 & 3 years old daughter.
    Please do help advice on:
    – type of pass should we used with the below itinerary and
    – where should I slot in Kobe trip?

    Dec 1 – KIX to Kyoto and will stay at hotel near Kyoto JR station.
    Day 1 – 4 will stay at Kyoto.
    Planning to visit: Kyoto and Nara
    Kyoto – Nijo castle, Imperail Palace, Kinkaku-ji temple, Arashiyama, Yasaka shrine,
    Kiyomizu-dera temple, Gion-Shio area, Kyoto down-town, Fushimi Inari Taisha,
    Nara – deer feeding

    Dec 5 – transfer to Universal Station and stay at Universal Tower Hotel.
    Day 5 – 8 will stay at USJ area
    Planning to visit: USJ, Osaka Kaiyukan Aquarium, Universal Studio (spend a day), Temposan Ferries Wheel.

    Dec 8 – transfer to Osaka Namba and stay at Airbnb
    Day 8 – 10 will stay at Osaka
    Planning to visit: Osaka Castle, Nakanoshima, Floating Garden Observatory, Shintennoji Temple, Sumiyoshi Taisha, Osaka Science Museum, Tennoji Zoo, Kuromon Ichiba Market

    Dec 11 – back to KIX taking the early flight back.

    Many Thanks


    1. Hi Susian,

      You can follow my sample in the post above. You just need to change to use ICOCA for day trip to Nara. And remove Kobe portion in my sample. Other part of trips are almost same as my sample.

      But you don’t need any deals when you stay in USJ area. Just purchase a single ticket. And when you stay in Namba area, you can use Osaka amazing pass or other deals.

      If you use Osaka amazing pass, Tempozan wheel is included. You can get discount at Kaiyukan. You may visit these places from Namba. Osaka amazing pass is too expensive to use when you are in USJ. You may go to Nakanoshima or Umeda area for just shopping if you have extra time.


      Takeshi /

  7. Hi Sir Takeshi,

    I need your help, this is my first trip to OSAKA & KYOTO and planning to travel 10 days .

    Day 1 – KIX arrived at 5:45am to Kyoto
    Day 2 – Day 3 – visit Uji, Inari, Nijo Castle, Golden Pavillion,
    Arashiyama, Yasaka Shrine, Kinkaku-ji temple.
    Day 4 – visit Nara
    Day 5 – travel from Kyoto to USJ (stay at USJ for 3 night)
    – visit USJ and Osaka Kaiyukan Aquarium
    Day 6 – visit Kobe.
    Day 7 – Universal Studio
    Day 8 – travel from USJ to Osaka Namba.
    Day 9 – 10 – Explore Osaka
    Day 11 – Leave Osaka Japan

    Need your advice on the travel pass and is the itinerary above idea to travel with 2 young kids ( 3 and 11 years old) ?

    Many Thanks


    1. Hi SS,

      Basically you can follow my sample in the post above. But you may use Kansai thru pass for one of day 2 (or day 3), day 4 and day 6.

      But Kansai thru pass does not cover JR trains. So when you go to Kobe from USJ, you need to pay single fare for Universal city to Nishikujo. After Nishikujo, you can take Hanshin railway to Kobe by Kansai thru pass. You can take subway in Kobe and Osaka. If you have a time after trip to Kobe, you can explore Osaka by this pass.

      Just follow my sample for the rest of your trip plan. At last, 3 year old is free of charge. The ticket is not required. 11 year old applies child rate which is half amount of adult fare. Child price is available for most of deals.


      Takeshi /

  8. Hi Takeshi,

    I will be travelling to Japan with the following itinerary :
    1) 4/11 : Arrival at KIX late
    2) 5/11 : KIX to Kyoto
    3) 5/11 – 9/11 : Kyoto (staying near Saiin St) covering these areas : Nijo castle, Imperail Palace, Kinkaku-ji temple (Golden Pavilion) and Arashiyama (including sagano train), Yasaka shrine, Kiyomizu-dera temple, Gion-Shijo area, Kyoto downtown, Fushimi Inari Taisha,
    4) 9/11 : Kyoto to Nara and later to Osaka (to stop half a day in Nara)
    5) 10/11 : Osaka (staying near Sakaisuji Hommachi St) to Kobe – day trip
    6) 11/11 -12/11 : Osaka city shopping and interesting places including Osaka Kaiyukan Aquarium
    7) Osaka to KIX

    I was thinking of getting a one way ICOCA and Haruka pass when I land in KIX on 4/11 as my return trip to KIX is from Osaka but looking at your posting it seems to me it may be possible and cheaper to buy a return pass. Correct me if I am wrong.

    On the other hand, please help me with the other type of travel pass(es) required for the rest of the itinerary


    1. Hi Jason,

      You can purchase ICOCA and Haruka. But as you think, you can purchase KIX to Kyoto and Osaka to KIX separately. And also Haruka is not the best way to get KIX from Sakaisuji Hommachi. Please see the subway map below.

      You can take subway to Tengachaya. And then take Nankai railway. Tengachaya is the easiest transfer point. After arrival at Tegachaya, just go up and find Nankai railway station.

      You may use Kansai thru pass 3 days for Kyoto-Nara-Osaka, day trip to Kobe and then Sakaisuji Hommachi-Tengachaya-KIX. You can take all subways, non JR trains (such as Hankyu, Keihan, Kintetsu, Nankai), city bus in Kyoto.

      You can follow the sample itinerary above for other part of your trip.


      Takeshi /

  9. hello sir Takeshi. Can u please help me.. my first time to visit japan with my wife. we plan to make it fun and memorable. we will be staying from nov 3-9. arrival will be 7pm and departure 2pm. we plan to go to osaka-kyoto and nara. cant decide where to go first and stay.

    1. Hi Calvin,

      You can go either Kyoto or Osaka on arrival day. Train and bus run until 23:00 to Kyoto. So it’s no problem to get Kyoto on arrival day after 19:00 arrival. Osaka is much closer than Kyoto. If you want to make easier, stay in Osaka first.

      You can stay in Osaka only and make day trips surrounding areas, such as Kyoto and Nara.

      If you stay in Kyoto and Osaka, you can feel different atmosphere. But if you stay in Osaka only, you don’t need to move from Kyoto to Osaka with luggage.


      Takeshi /

  10. Hi Takeshi,

    Can you help me please… This is my first time visitng Japan. Please help me with the type of travel pass and estimated fare and time.

    Day 1 (9 Nov) 6.30am– arrived at KIX airport to Kyoto (JR Sagano Line Enmati Station). As I can only check in at 2pm, I might need to store my luggage in the locker at the station.
    While waiting to check in, I would like to visit the following,
    Kiyomizu-dera Temple
    Sannen-zaka and Ninnen-zaka
    Maruyama-koen Park
    Chion-in Temple
    Nishiki Market
    Daimaru Basement Food Floor (Lunch)
    Fushimi-Inari-Taisha Shrine
    Collect luggage & Check in at airbnb
    Gion Shimbashi(Dinner)
    Return to rest

    Day 2 (10 Nov) – Kyoto
    Tenryu-ji Temple
    Arashiyama Bamboo Grove
    Okochi-Sanso Villa
    Kinkaku-ji Temple
    Daitoku-ji Temple
    Downtown Kyoto(Dinner)
    Pontocho Alley
    Back to rest

    Day 3 (11 Nov) – Check out @ 8am & proceed to Nara(Deer feeding) before heading to Osaka Namba station (Dotonburi airbnb) with early check in
    Osaka Bay Area & Kita
    Osaka Aquarium (Kaiyukan)Osaka Castle Area
    Tempozan Marketplace(Lunch)
    Central Osaka Area(Dinner)

    Day 4 (12 Nov) – Kobe and Himeji
    Day 5 (13 Nov) – Shiragawago
    Day 6 (14 Nov) – Minami and Tennoji
    Day 7 (15 Nov) – Check out @ 2pm, head to KIX airport depart at 6pm



    1. Hi Linda,

      You may use Takayama Hokuriku area pass for day 1 to 5.

      You need to add bus pass and Kansai one pass because Takayama Hokuriku area pass does not cover any local transportation and trip to Nara.

      You can use bus pass to take city bus in Kyoto and use Kansai one pass when you need to take trains in Kyoto and Kyoto-Nara-Osaka. You also can use it to Kansai airport from Namba.

      And also you need to switch day 4 and 6. Takayama Hokuriku area pass covers JR local trains in Osaka but does not cover Kobe and Himeji. You can use Kansai one pass to get Kobe and Himeji on day 6.


      Takeshi /

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