Basic itinerary of Osaka, Kyoto and Tokyo in 7 days

Kyoto tenryuji7 to 9 days
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The scene of Gion Festival in Kyoto. It is one of the biggest summer festivals in Japan.
The scene of Gion Festival in Kyoto. It is one of the biggest summer festivals in Japan.

I have received many inquiries about the deal for one way trip from Osaka to Tokyo with stopover at Kyoto. Unfortunately there is no deal to cover whole part of trip. But you can combine some local deals and single ticket.

In this post, I show you the basic 7 days itinerary and the deals that suit this itinerary. But you can extend the duration as many as you want. I also show you how to change or add days in this itinerary too.

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Day 1 – Kansai airport to Osaka

There are many deals to get Osaka from Kansai airport. You can use one of those deals. But you have to find the location to stay before choosing deal. If you stay near subway station, Kanku Chikatoku Ticket or Rapi:t Tokuwari Ticket is recommended. If you stay near JR station, ICOCA and Haruka is recommended. Please find more information about the deals from Kansai airport to Osaka at the link below:

How to choose the deals for access to/from Kansai Airport

And also I show many photos in Kansai airport at the link below. You will find the location of stations, bus stops and other facilities.

Kansai airport transportation guide. Find info about station, ticket, airport bus and high speed ferry

If you arrive at Kansai airport in early morning and intend to explore in Osaka after arrival, Yokoso Osaka Ticket is recommended. This deal includes airport access to Namba by Nankai Railway and unlimited trip of Osaka subway. You may find the information about this deal at the link above too.

ICOCA and Haruka includes 1500 yen preload e-money in ICOCA beside airport access ticket. You may use this e-money to ride subway. ICOCA can be used for any trains in major cities, not only Osaka but also Kyoto and even Tokyo. If you stay near JR station and make some trips by subway in Osaka, you can use ICOCA.

If you arrive in late night, like after 22:00, you cannot purchase any deals because the windows are closed at 23:00. Train runs until 23:30. But you might not take even the last train to Osaka if custom and immigration are busy. There are some midnight bus service to Osaka. But the destination is very limited. Please find more information about late arrival in Kansai airport at the link below:

How to access to Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe from late arrival flight at Kansai Airport-KIX

Day 2 – Sightseeing in Osaka

Dotonbori is located near the biggest downtown core of Osaka, Namba.
Dotonbori is located near the biggest downtown core of Osaka, Namba.

The basic choice is Enjoy Eco Card that is one day subway unlimited ride pass. You may get most of places in downtown Osaka by this pass.

Enjoy Eco Card (Osaka subway official site)

If you want to visit many attractions, Osaka Amazing Pass gives you the great savings. It includes 28 attraction’s admission and unlimited subway ride. Please see the following link to get the details about this pass:

Osaka Amazing Pass

But if you use ICOCA and Haruka, you may use ICOCA e-money to take subway, JR trains and other trains. Especially if you want to visit the places outside downtown Osaka, such as Minoo, Momofuku Ramen Museum, subway pass does not cover these places. You need to pay single fare or using ICOCA.

If you want to extend to stay in Osaka

You may add another Eco Card or Amazing Pass. But you may visit other places, such as Kobe, Nara. In case of this, you may add another Kansai area deal, like Kansai Thru Pass or Kansai Area Pass.

The following link shows you the itinerary of stay in Osaka only. But you may get some idea about choosing deal for trip to outside Osaka.

Day 3 – Transfer to Kyoto from Osaka

Three railways, JR, Hankyu Railway and Keihan Railway run between Osaka and Kyoto. You have to find the location to stay in both Kyoto and Osaka. And then you may find which train is the best for your transfer from Osaka to Kyoto. You may find the route map at the link below:

If you use ICOCA and Haruka, you may have some fund left in your ICOCA. You can use it for this transfer.

Using long distance base fare ticket to Tokyo

If your ICOCA is empty and need to purchase a single ticket to Kyoto, you may use one base fare ticket to Tokyo with stopover at Kyoto. Please see the link below to find the rule and condition of JR base fare ticket.

Squeeze Nara or Kobe on the way to Kyoto from Osaka

If you just make a trip from JR Osaka to JR Kyoto, it takes 30 minutes. If you take other railway, you spend a little more minutes. But it never be more than one hour. You may enjoy some more in Osaka or Kyoto. But you may visit other places, such as Nara or Kobe. Nara is easier to squeeze because both Kyoto and Osaka are very accessible to Nara. You may find the access to Nara from Osaka and Kyoto at the link below:

Kintetsu Rail Pass one day is recommended for trip to Nara.

Kintetsu Rail Pass (Kintetsu Railway official site)

You may visit Kobe too. But Kobe is located at other side if you move from Osaka to Kyoto. Please find more information about trip to Kobe at the following link:

Hankyu Tourist Pass covers Osaka, Kobe and Kyoto. This is most affordable one day pass that covers these three cities.

Hankyu Tourist Pass (Hankyu Railway official site)

If you are okay with very tight schedule and want to visit as many as you want, you can do Kobe and Nara in one day. In this case, Kintetsu Rail Pass that I mentioned above and Hanshin Tourist Pass are recommended. Hanshin Tourist Pass covers Umeda, Namba and Kobe. Hanshin Railway connects with Kintetsu Railway at Osaka-Namba station. Many of both Hanshin and Kintetsu trains run each other. Some trains go directly from Kobe-Sannomiya to Nara. This is the easiest route to get Nara from Kobe. If you have these two passes, you can take this direct train.

Day 4 – Sightseeing in Kyoto

Fall foliage in Kiyomizu-dera temple. It is one of Must-See spots in Kyoto.
Fall foliage in Kiyomizu-dera temple. It is one of Must-See spots in Kyoto.

When you visit temples and shrines in Kyoto, you have to take city bus and/or subway. Kyoto city sightseeing card or all day bus pass is your choice. You may find more information at the link below:

Day 5 – Kyoto to Tokyo

Shinkansen is the high speed train service in Japan. Shinkansen stops at Maibara, Kyoto, Shin-Osaka, Shin-Kobe, Nishiakashi and Himeji in Kansai area.
Shinkansen is the high speed train service in Japan. It connects Tokyo and Kyoto in 2.5 hours.

There is no deals to cover this segment. Single fare and Shinkansen supplement charge is your choice.

If you have already started using the long distance base fare ticket at Osaka, you do not need to purchase a ticket at Kyoto.

If you use ICOCA on day 3 or purchase non JR lines single fare ticket to get Kyoto, you need to purchase single ticket for Tokyo. But if you purchase single base fare ticket and Shinkansen supplement ticket with reserved seat, you can purchase it in advance. You can purchase it even when you arrive in Kansai airport if you want. But if you want to take non reserved seat car, you cannot purchase it in advance. You have to purchase it on the spot.

You may use Platt Kodama for Tokyo to Kyoto instead. You can add single fare ticket for Kyoto to Osaka and other deal for Osaka to Kansai. This way is better if single fare ticket is too complicated for you. Please see the link below to find the detailed information about Platt Kodama:

I recommend you to use reserved seat car. Because many of non reserved seat are occupied when train leave at Shin-Osaka. Especially if you travel with someone, it is hard to find the seats side by side very often. The difference between non reserved seat and reserved seat is only 500 yen. I think it is worth paying extra 500 yen to secure your seat.

Day 6 – Sightseeing in Tokyo

Cinderella's castle is the icon of Disneyland.
Tokyo Disneyland is actually not located in Tokyo. It is located in Chiba prefecture. That is a reason why Tokyo subway does not go there.

Tokyo Metro/Subway deal is most popular. JR Tokunai Pass is also available. Subway covers most of spots in Tokyo but subway lines are so many and very hard to find the fastest route. JR train network is very simple. But you cannot get many places in Tokyo by JR trains, such as Asakusa, Tsukiji. Please see the links below to find more information of these deals:

Single fare is actually the best choice for access to outside Tokyo

Many popular attractions are located outside downtown Tokyo. For example, Tokyo Disney Resort, Ghibli Museum, Sanrio Puroland and many more places are located outside coverage area of both subway pass and Tokunai pass. Single fare is okay for access to these places. And also Yokohama is not in Tokyo and not covered by these Tokyo deals either. Single fare is okay for Yokohama too.

How to extend to stay in Tokyo

If you stay in Tokyo more, you may simply add subway pass, Tokunai Pass or single fare as you need. But if you want to travel to other places in Kanto area, like Nikko, Fuji, Hakone, you may have to get other passes. Please find more information at the links below:

If you travel both Fuji/Hakone and Nikko, Tokyo Wide Pass is a good choice.

Day 7 – Tokyo to Narita Airport or Haneda Airport

Haneda airport is very close to downtown Tokyo. You can take Keihin Kyuko railway from Shinagawa or Monorail from Hamamatsucho. Both stations are connected by JR Yamanote line with Tokyo, Shinjuku, Shibuya, Ueno and many other stations in Tokyo. Single fare is okay for access to Haneda. You may find some more information about access to Haneda at the following link:

Narita airport is one hour away from downtown Tokyo. There are many ways to get Narita from downtown Tokyo, like Narita Express, Skyliner, Limousine bus and budget access bus. But the deal is very limited. They welcome incoming traveller but not outgoing travellers. Please find more information about access to Narita at the link below:

I have many more sample itineraries. Please check the category, Sample Itinerary.

I hope this post helped you to build your trip plan.


  1. RdzHmd says:

    Hi Takeshi
    We are planning to visit Japan from 15th April to 23rd April (8 days). Hopefully I can cover Tokyo – Osaka- Kyoto and hopefully Nara. My plan Itinerary as follow

    15-Apr-2015 Kuala Lumpur – 15.00 (Arrival) Tokyo – Narita. stay in Tokyo for 1 night
    16-Apr-2015 Saturday Osaka
    17-Apr-2015 Sunday Osaka-Nara(half day)
    18-Apr-2015 Monday Osaka -Kyoto
    19-Apr-2015 Tuesday Osaka – Tokyo
    20-Apr-2015 Wednesday Tokyo
    21-Apr-2015 Thursday Tokyo-
    22-Apr-2015 Friday Tokyo- Disneyland
    23-Apr-2015 Saturday 17.20 (Depart)Tokyo Narita- 23.35 (Arrival) Kuala Lumpur

    Do You think the plans are too ambitious as we are travelling with 4year old. Should we buy JR pass?

  2. Renee says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    I have plan to visit Japan to see Sakura in end Mar to early Apr, from 25 Mar to 5 Apr. Fly in Tokyo, fly out Osaka.
    Likely to stay:
    Tokyo: 25 Mar to 31 Mar (hotel: Shinagawa Prince Hotel)
    I will based at Tokyo but will visit some places like Kamakura, Nikko for day trips)
    Nagoya: 31 Mar to 1 Apr (hotel: Nagoya Ekimae Montblanc Hotel ) before travel to Osaka.
    Osaka: 1 Apr to 5 Apr (hotel: Hotel Keihan Kyobashi)
    I will based at Osaka but will make day trip to Kyoto, Himeji separately.
    I plan to buy a JR pass but not how to maximise it? Can you please advise. I also have ICOCA card left from my last trip to Osaka.
    Thank you.

  3. Allan says:

    HI Takeshi,
    My family and I planning to have a trip next year June 4-12 , 2016 with the following itenarary. June 4 – Haneda Tokyo Arrival, June 4-7 Osaka, June 7-8 Kyoto, June 9-12 Tokyo
    Can you please give some advice how to maximize and possible give the best good discounted deal on osaka.

    Thank you very much,

  4. Miccifacs21 says:

    Hi Takeshi, im sorry if i keep on asking you. But you are a reliable source and at the same time who can understand and speak english. Anyway, we will be in japan on may 15-28,2016. We will use jr pass 14 days. which snow resort or place with snow that kids can enjoy that is near Tokyo? What is your recommendation? Thank you very much

  5. Elize says:

    Hi Takeshi

    I will be travelling to Japan with my family next year on 25/03/2016 – 02/04/2016.

    I have booked my accomodation, however i appreciate your advise on my itineary.

    25/03/2016 – 27/03/2016: Stay at Shin-osaka (arrival at 0825am on 25/03/2016)
    27/03/2016 – 29/03/2016: stay at tokyo (purpose for disney theme park)
    29/03/2016-02/04/2016: stay at kyoto (will have my pre wedding photoshoot)

    Hope to hear from you, thank you

  6. Grace says:

    Hi Takeshi-san,

    I need your valuable advise on my trip to Japan from 14 to 24 Nov, below is my itinerary. I have bought the 7 days JR pass but need know which part cannot be cover by JR pass.

    14 Nov :-
    Arriving Haneda Airport
    Take train to Osaka
    Hotel Best Western Fino

    15 Nov Osaka:-
    Minoo Park,
    Kita (Umeda) – Northern downtown of Osaka
    Umeda Sky Building, Floating Garden Observatory
    Kema Sakuranomiya Park
    Osaka Castle Area
    Osaka Mint Bureau
    Osaka Tenmangu Shrine
    Tenjinbashi-suji Shopping Street

    16 Nov Osaka :-
    Namba Park
    Tennoji – Southeast of central Osaka
    Tennoji Park
    Shitennoji Temple
    “Shinsekai (新世界) Osaka’s “”new world,””
    -Tsutenkaku Tower”

    17 Nov Kyoto :-
    Tenryu-ji temple + Garden
    Nijo Castle
    Kyoto Imperial Palace
    Kinkakuji (Golden Pavilion)
    Kamo Shrines
    Ginkakuji (Silver Pavilion)
    Nanzenji Temple
    Philosopher’s Path
    Kiyomizudera (Pure Water Temple) , Otowa Waterfall

    18 Nov Nara :-
    Todaiji Temple (a World Heritage Site) – Large temple
    Nara Park
    The Kasuga Taisha Shrine (Also inside Nara Park )
    Kofukuji Temple
    Isui-en Garden

    19 Nov Kobe :-
    Nunobiki Waterfall and the Nunobiki Herb Garden
    Sorakuen Garden
    Meriken Park
    Kobe Harborland.

    20 Nov Tokyo :-
    Travel back to Tokyo city

    21 Nov Hakone :-
    Day trip

    22 Nov Tokyo :-
    Tokyo City

    24 Nov : –
    Travel back to Haneda airport, flight @ 4pm

    Is my itinerary achievable ? Kindly comments.

    Thank you.

  7. Jessica says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    I find your blog really informative and useful. I used it extensively to plan my first trip to japan.

    This is my travel itinerary so far.

    10/2 fly into KIK and travel to Kyoto
    11/2 overnight at Kyoto
    12/2 day trip to Nara
    13/2 overnight at Osaka
    14/2 overnight at Osaka
    15/2 travel to Miyajima and overnight at Hiroshima
    16/2 travel to Tokyo with stop over at Himeji
    17/2 over night at Tokyo
    18/2 over night at Tokyo
    19/2 over night at Tokyo
    20/2 fly to Shanghai
    21/2 overnight in Shanghai
    22/2 overnight in Shanghai
    23/2 fly into KIK n overnight in Osaka
    24/2 leave Japan for Australia

    Do you think I should buy the 7 day rail pass from 12th to 18th. Or buy a Kansai Area Pass and 1 way ticket from Hiroshima to Tokyo? Or just skip Hiroshima and spend more days in Tokyo?

    Thank you so much 🙂

    • Hi Jessica,

      You may use 7 days pass right after arriving at KIX and using until 16th Feb. Because it will cover direct express train, “Haruka” to Kyoto. Even if you don’t use the pass on day 2 in Kyoto, I recommend you to use this pass from arrival day.

      But if you intend to visit outside Tokyo after arriving Tokyo, 12th may be the best day to start using JR Pass. But as long as you explore in downtown Tokyo, arrival day is the right day to start using JR pass 7 days.


      Takeshi /

  8. Ziela says:

    Hi there, im going there next month. May I know how much did you spend for everything (aside from your flight and accommodation) for 7 days.

    Would reallllyyyy appreciate for your reply!

  9. Lynette says:

    My family going to Hokkaido this coming 29 Nov. Any itinerary. TQ

  10. Lee Michelle says:

    Hi, I will travel to Kyoto and Osaka end of November. Can you give some basic itinerary on my vocation? I will spend 2 nights in Kyoto and 5 nights in Osaka.
    Thank you

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