How to build the itinerary and choose the deals for Osaka stay 5 to 7 days.

osaka castle4 to 6 days
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Dotonbori is very popular place to eat and shop near Namba. ©Osaka Convention & Tourism Bureau/©JNTO

I think many travellers prefer to stay in one place and visit surrounding areas as day trip. I have received many inquiries about Osaka stay and visit surrounding areas, like Kyoto, Kobe, Nara as day trip. I understand that it’s quite easy to stay in one place and enjoy the trip with luggage free.

But many of you struggle to plan and choose the deals. In this post, I show you 5 days Osaka stay sample itinerary. You will learn how to choose the deals for your trip. Of course you can extend to stay, like 6 days, 7 days, as many as you want.

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Day 1 / KIX (Kansai airport) to Osaka

JR Limited Express Haruka is one of the popular way from KIX to get Osaka.

Before you choose the deals, you have to make sure these things:

  • Location to stay
  • Plan after arrival your accommodation

There are several deals available.

Let’s see which deal is the best by location.


ICOCA and Haruka is most recommended. It includes one way or round trip between any JR stations in Osaka and Kansai airport by limited express Haruka non reserved seat, and 1500 yen e-money in ICOCA. This e-money can be used for any trains in Kansai area.

Limited Express Haruka is most comfortable way to get Shin-Osaka. But if you are very sensitive with the cost, Kanku Chikatoku Ticket is the best. It is sold at 1000 yen only. Even though you have to transfer at Namba from Nankai Railway to Osaka Subway Midousuji line, the cost is cheaper than Haruka Discount Ticket at 1,300 yen.

Kanku Chikatoku Ticket

If you arrive early and intend to visit somewhere in Osaka after arrival hotel, there are some options. If you choose ICOCA and Haruka, it gives you 1500 yen e-money to take any trains. Kanku Chikatoku Ticket gives you only airport access. But you can purchase Enjoy Eco Card (Osaka Subway and Bus unlimited travel pass) or Osaka Visitors Ticket. You know that subway fare for Shin-Osaka to Umeda is 240 yen and Shin-Osaka to Namba is 280 yen. Please see the link below to find more information about deals

And also Kansai Thru Pass is considerable too. This pass covers any “NON JR” trains. You can get almost anywhere in Kansai area. Especially if you intend to visit somewhere outside of Osaka after arrival, Kansai Thru Pass is a good choice. Be careful that Kansai Thru Pass does not cover Haruka by JR. This pass does not give you any direct access to Shin-Osaka. If you want to have comfortable way, ICOCA and Haruka is still the best choice.

At last, Yokoso Osaka Ticket gives you a great value. It includes Nankai railway’s limited express train “Rapi:t” from KIX to Namaba and unlimited ride of Osaka subway. This is one day subway pass portion of this deal can be used on next day.


Most affordable way is just taking Nankai Railway rapid train. You can take this train by base fare only which is 920 yen.

But Namba Access Rapi:t ticket is most recommended. But if you intend to drop by somewhere on the way back to the airport, such as Rinku town, Kanku Tokuwai Rapi:t Ticket is your choice. “Rapi:t” is Nankai Railway’s direct limited express train between KIX and Namba. It gives you most comfortable way to get Osaka beside JR’s limited express “Haruka”.

Namba Access Rapi:t Ticket
Kanku Webtoku Ticket

Namba Access Rapi:t Ticket is almost same price as Kanku Chikatoku Ticket. Even Kanku Webtoku Ticket is only 130 yen higher than Kanku Chikatoku Ticket. But Kanku Chikatoku Ticket does not include Rapi:t Express surcharge at 510 yen.

ICOCA and Haruka can be used for access to Namba. But you have to transfer at Tennoji from Haruka to local train to JR Namba. And JR Namba station is a bit away from the center of Namba area. If you want to have ICOCA, it’s not a bad choice. But please keep in in mind JR Namba station location and transfer at Tennoji.

Yokoso Osaka ticket and Kansai Thru Pass may be considerable too if you make some more trips after arrival in Namba. It is same reason as staying in Shin-Osaka. Please see the above.

JR Osaka / Umeda

There are several options to get Umeda/JR Osaka station area. JR Kansai Airport Rapid is only direct train service from KIX to Osaka. This is most recommended way.

Rapid train service to Kansai Airport and Wakayama from Osaka. Kansai Airport Rapid Service and Kishuji Rapid Service
This rapid train connects Kansai airport, Wakayama, Tennoji and Osaka. This is a sort of the commute train. You may find the information about this train in thi...

You can use a single fare if you use this train. However you can use ICOCA and Haruka for this train if you want to have ICOCA. Because single fare is 1190 yen for taking this rapid train. If you purchase ICOCA card only, it is sold at 2000 yen (1500 yen preload e-money and 500 yen deposit). So total cost is 3190 yen (1190 + 2000). But ICOCA and Haruka one way ticket to Tennoji is sold at 3,100 yen. This deal can take you to any JR stations in downtown Osaka. It means that this deal covers Haruka only to Tennoji. It does not mean you can get only Tennoji. So you can use Tennoji version of ICOCA and Haruka to get Osaka.

Remember that ICOCA can be used for any trains. It includes even non JR trains, like subway. And also you can pay by ICOCA to shop in the convenience store. ICOCA does not give you any discount. But it is very convenient and gives you ticket free trip. In case that you use ICOCA and Haruka, you can take Haruka to Shin-Osaka or Tennoji and transfer to local train to get Osaka if you like.

If you are very sensitive a cost, Kanku Chikatoku Ticket is your choice. It is sold at 1000 yen. You have to transfer the train at Namba from Nankai Railway to Subway Midousuji line. But it is 190 yen cheaper than JR single fare.

And Yokoso Osaka ticket and Kansai Thru Pass may be considerable too if you make some more trips after arrival in Osaka/Umeda. It is same reason as staying in Shin-Osaka. Please see the above.

Other places near subway stations

Your first choice is Kanku Chikatoku Ticket. If you intend to make some trips after arrival, Kansai Thru Pass may be your choice.

Yokoso Osaka ticket and Kansai Thru Pass may be considerable too if you make some more trips after arrival in Namba. It is same reason as staying in Shin-Osaka. Please see the above.

Other places near JR stations

As long as you stay on Osaka Kanjo line, such as Tennoji, Kyobashi, Nishikujo, single fare is the best option. It is same thing as staying in Osaka/Umeda area. And many places can be accessed by Osaka subway. Kanku Chikatoku Ticket is your choice if you are very sensitive with the cost. Please see the map in the link below to find more information about location in Osaka.

Day 2 / Day trip to Kyoto

Togetsukyo bridge in Arashiyama, Kyoto. ©Yasufumi Nishi/©JNTO

I put Kyoto on day 2 in this sample itinerary. But you can switch any trips. You can stay in Osaka, visit Kobe, Nara or other spots. This is just sample.

The key is how many times you will take a train. So you have to find where you go in Kyoto before you pick up the pass. First of all, please see the following post:

Kyoto can be accessed by three railways, JR (Osaka – Shin-Osaka – Kyoto), Hankyu Railway (Umeda – Kawaramachi/Arashiyama), and Keihan Railway (Yodoyabashi – Kyobashi – Kiyomizu-Gojo – Shijo – Sanjo). So make sure where you will stay in Osaka and where you go in Kyoto.

In Kyoto, there are four different areas, West (Arashiyama, Kinkaku-ji temple), Central (Nijo castle), East (Higashiyama, Kiyomizudera, Yasaka shrine, Ginkaku-ji) and South (Fushimi Inari, Uji). In my opinion, it is not impossible to visit all four places in one day, but not realistic. I recommend you to spend 2 days or at least 1.5 days. If you complete West, Central and East, you can combine South area with Nara. Because Fushimi and Uji are located between Nara and Kyoto.

If you do this above one full day Kyoto and Kyoto+Nara in one day, the best choice fis Kansai Thru Pass. Only this pass cover round trip to Kyoto by both Hankyu and Keihan, and subway, bus and railway other than JR in Kyoto. I explain this trip at the following link:

If you don’t want rush and have easy slow trip, single fare and/or Kyoto all day bus pass may be better. For example, if you want to visit just Arashiyama, one way fare to Arashiyama from Umeda by Hankyu Railway is 400 yen. If you stay in other than Umeda, you will take subway or JR train to get Umeda. You will spend approximately 500 to 600 yen for round trip to Umeda. But Kansai Thru Pass 2 days pass is sold at 4000 yen. So you have to make 2000 yen worth in one day. Trip to only Arashiyama is not enough to use Kansai Thru Pass.

If you visit one more place beside Arashiyama, how about it? In Kyoto, All day bus pass (Kyoto bus unlimited train) is sold at 500 yen. If you stay in Umeda, total cost is 1300 yen. It is way cheaper Kansai Thru Pass. But All day bus pass does not cover any train services in Kyoto. If you want to take subway in Kyoto, you have to purchase Kyoto city sightseeing card at 1200 yen. But total cost is 2000 yen. It is same cost as Kansai Thru Pass. In this case, Kansai Thru Pass is better.

Even you intend to visit only Arashiyama, you may take subway for evening in Osaka for eat or shop. Remember that one way subway fare for Umeda-Namba is 240 yen. You will spend about 500 yen for this trip.

If you are very sensitive about the cost, you have to calculate very exactly. But if you have Kansai Thru Pass, it is very flexible.

By the way, you can get Kyoto by JR train. Especially Special Rapid train is the fastest train to get Kyoto from Osaka.

Single fare
Shin-Osaka or Osaka – Kyoto 560 yen

When you use JR trains, the problem is that most of popular sites are not located around JR Kyoto station. You have to take subway or bus. JR has Kansai Area Pass at 2060 yen. But single fare is way cheaper than this deal. So if you have ICOCA and enough fund in ICOCA, you can use JR train to get Kyoto and purchase All day bus pass or Kyoto city sightseeing card.

If you do half Nara and half Kyoto in one day by JR trains, total cost (Osaka-Nara-Kyoto-Osaka) is more than 2000 yen. In this case, you can use Kansai Area Pass instead of Kansai Thru Pass.

Day 3 / Day trip to Nara

Todaiji is one of the popular spot in Nara. ©Nara Prefecture/©JNTO

As I mentioned above, you can make half Nara and half Kyoto in one day. But some of you want to visit Nara only. Let’s see it.

Nara can be accessed by JR and Kintetsu Railway (Osaka-Namba – Kintetsu-Nara). The post below shows you about trip to Nara by JR pass basically. But you can get some information about access to Nara:

Most of popular spots in Nara are located within walking distance from Nara station. So you will get a chance to use the pass to take the train to Nara only. You may not have many chances to use the pass after arrival in Nara.

Single fare for Kintetsu Railway
Osaka-Namba – Kintetsu-Nara 560 yen.

If you stay in other than Namba, you will spend 500 to 600 yen for round trip to Namba by subway. The total cost is very close to the worth of Kansai thru Pass. So if you make some more trips by subway in Osaka or other trains before/after trip to Nara, Kansai Thru Pass can be the choice. Otherwise single fare is cheaper.

On the other hand, Nara can be accessed by JR train too. Especially if you stay in Osaka/Umeda, you can take Yamatoji Rapid train to get Nara directly.

Single fare
Osaka – Nara 800 yen
Shin-Osaka – Nara 920 yen

Kansai Thru Pass does not cover any JR trains. JR has Kansai Area Pass at 2060 yen. But if you have round trip to Nara from even Shin-Osaka, single fare is still cheaper. And also Kansai Area Pass covers only JR trains. In my opinion, it is not very useful for exploring in Osaka before/after trip to Nara. I believe that Kansai Thru Pass is more useful.

Day 4 / Day trip to Kobe or Kobe and Himeji

Kobe is closer than Kyoto and Nara from Osaka. Let’s see the single fare.

Single fare for Hankyu or Hanshin Railway
Umeda – Sannomiya 320 yen

You will have some chances to take a bus in Kobe. If you use Kansai Thru Pass, Kobe city bus and subway are covered. But single bus fare is 210 yen. If you take a subway, you can get most of places by base fare ticket at 210 yen. So actually it is quite hard to get the worth to use Kansai Thru Pass. If you use ICOCA and Haruka, it is a good idea to use ICOCA e-money for this trip.

But if you intend to make some more trips in Osaka before/after trip to Kobe, Kansai Thru Pass may work. It is same situation as trip to Nara. And also one of famous Onsen, Arima Onsen is closed to Kobe. If you want to have something different, try to visit Kobe and Arima in one day. Kansai Thru Pass does work for this trip.

If you visit both Himeji and Kobe in one day, it is different story. Please see the posts in the link below:

Kansai Thru Pass work for Kobe and Himeji trip. However JR’s Special Rapid train is way faster than Hanshin/Sanyo railways that are covered by Kansai Thru Pass. Please see the following post:

If you want to have quick access to Himeji by JR Special Rapid, use Kansai Area Pass at 2,060 yen for one day. It is cheaper than single fare.

Day 5 / Sightseeing in Osaka

When you stay in Osaka, don’t think about using Kansai Thru Pass and Kansai Area Pass. You can get most of places by Osaka subway. Please see the map in the link below:

As you see, only USJ cannot be accessed by subway. But if you will visit USJ, you will spend one whole day there. So single fare is fine.

There are many deals available in Osaka, such as subway pass, Amazing Pass, Osaka Kaiyu Ticket. Please see the link below to find the detailed information:

Day 6 / Trip to Mt. Koya

Mt. Koya (Koya san) is very popular for the tourists from overseas. You can use Kansai Thru Pass for this day trip.

Single fare for Nankai Railway
Namba – Gokurakubashi – Koyasan 1260 yen

As you see, if you have round trip to Mt. Koya from Namba, total cost is 2520 yen. Kansai Thru Pass is way cheaper.

But if you will stay overnight in Mt. Koya, Koyasan-World Heritage Ticket may be better choice.

Koyasan-World Heritage Ticket

It is valid for 2 days. If you purchase it for Namba – Mt. Koya ticket, the ticket is 3,710 yen. This includes round trip fare to Koyasan from Namba, Nankai Rinkan bus and discount for some attractions and souvenir shop.

You can use Kansai Thru Pass for overnight trip to Koyasan too. The coverage is not much differnet. But Kansai Thru Pass can be used for other destinations, such as Kobe, Kyoto and Nara. If you want to use Kansai Thru Pass 3 days for these destinations, and need another deals to get Koyasan, Koyasan-World Heritage Ticket is your choice.

Day 7 / Back to KIX

Please refer the above at “Day 1”. You can use same deal as arrival day.

Some of you are thinking about drop by Rinku Town on the way to KIX. If you get off at Rinku Town, you cannot use any deal. Single fare is your choice.

For the trip to outside of Kansai area

Kinosaki onsen, Kurashiki, Okayama and even Hiroshima can be accessed as day trip. I recommend you the following deals if you will visit outside of Kansai area.

For the trip to Kinosaki onsen, Kurashiki and Okayama, Kansai Wide Area Pass is recommended:

For the trip to Hiroshima and Miyajima, Kansai Hiroshima Area Pass is recommended:


  1. Hello

    I would like to take 1 day trip from Osaka down town to GoZaisho. Can I use JR kansai pass for this trip?

  2. Eva says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    I am wondering if the following iternerary for travelling makes sense because of the timming of my flights I am doing something very different from other itineraries online.

    Day 1
    Arrive at KIX, 9.30pm
    Travel to Tennoji station 30mins, Overnight at hotel nearby.

    Day 2
    Travel from Tennoji station to Nara, place luggage at Nara Station.
    Visit the deers.
    Travel from Nara to Kyoto, check in hotel, Gion.

    Day 3 Kyoto
    Half day tour around Arashiyama and the
    other half day tour to Fushimi Inari temple.

    Day 4 Kyoto
    Other attractions

    Day 5 Osaka
    Kuromon Market + Shinsekai + Osaka castle + Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan

    Day 6 Osaka

    Day 7 Namba

    Day 8 Namba to KIX

    For this itinerary, do I need to get Kansai Area Pass or do you think I just get the ICOCA + Haruka card. But because I cannot get the round trip as I am coming back from a different station. should I buy a single ticket when I return as there is no Haruka at Namba.

  3. Connie says:

    Hi Takeshi,
    Would you please help to see if my planning and use of passes are correct? Thanks in advance!

    Day 1 – Arrive at KIX airport at 9pm, travel from airport to Namba area
    >> Get Namba Access Rapi:t Ticket (Round trip ticket)

    Day 2 – Explore Namba area (Dotonburi + Shinsaibashi)
    >> Assume no pass required if staying around Namba area?

    Day 3 – Kuromon Market + Shinsekai + Osaka castle + Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan
    >> Get Osaka Kaiyu Ticket

    Day 4 – Universal Studios
    >> Purchase single fare ticket

    Day 5 – Day trip to Nara + Osaka city
    Day 6 – Day trip to Kobe + Himeji
    Day 7 – Mt Koya or Wakayama (which one would you recommend worth the visit?)
    >> Get 3-days Kansai Thru Pass for day 5-7 itinerary.

    Day 8 – Depart Osaka

    Lastly, based on above plans, do you think it is a good idea to stay at Namba? Thank you!

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of
      Takeshi / says:

      Hi Connie,

      Namba is a good place to stay. And I think you have picked the right deals. You don’t need any passes for day 3. You can walk in this area.


      Takeshi /

  4. Yvette says:

    Hi kindly help us please, see my proposed itinerary for us. We are a family of 4, our kids are aged 15yrs old and 10yrs old.
    Day 1 Sat 1pm Arrival // Check in // Streetfood experience: Kuromon Ichiba Market // Dotonburi night
    Day 2 Sun Osaka Castle // Umeda Sky Building // Aquarium Kaiyukan
    Day 3 Mon Shopping: Shinsaibashi // 3pm Universal night
    Day 4 Tue Universal
    Day 5 Wed Kyoto Toei Kyoto Studio Park
    Day 6 Thu Free time // check out // Return
    Are these places close together? What passes should we avail? Appreciate your kind assistance and recommendation. Thanks =)

  5. Yanett says:

    Hello, lots of the comments were helpful but still would like help. We will be in Japan from June 13-24 and want to get the passes.

    We arrive in Tokyo(Narita Airport) on the 13th and stay in Shinjuku area from the 13-17 we will visit downtown Tokyo and the furthest we will go is the fish market. We are not making any day trips. We feel downtown Tokyo has plenty to see and do.

    On June 17th we leave to go to Osaka. We will be there for 7days June 17-24. We will stay in Osaka and make day trips from Osaka to: Nara, Sankai, Himeji, Kobe, Kyoto, and Universal Studios. We depart from Osaka Kansai Airport.

    Would love any advice. Thank you very much.

  6. Chermaine says:

    Day 1:
    – Reach Kansai Airport – take Nankai Railway to Namba
    – Dotombori
    – Abeno Harukas
    – Shinsekai
    – Accommodation: Near Namba Station

    Day 2:
    – Osaka Castle
    – Nishinomaru garden
    – Gozabune boat
    – Suijyo bus temmabashi
    – Umeda sky building
    – Accommodation: near namba station

    Day 3:
    – Osaka aquarium
    – Cruise ship santa maria day cruise
    – Tempozan ferris wheel
    – Accommodation: near namba station

    Day 4:
    – Kuromon ichiba market
    – Shinsaibashi

    Day 5:
    – Travel to nara

    Day 6:
    – USJ

    Day 7 to day 9:
    – Kyoto
    – To purchase Kansai Pass / Haruka?

    Day 10:
    – Back to Osaka

    Day 11:
    – Travel to kansai airport

    Will be purchasing Kansai Thru Pass for all the days… Is that ok? Or anything u would advice please? Thanks. I will be going there on the 3rd week of march and hoping u can give some advice before that. Thank you!

  7. Dear Mr Takeshi,

    I will be visiting Kyoto ,Osaka and Nara from 13 March to 18 March.

    This is m y itinerary.

    Day 1 – March 13

    Arrive in Kansai Airport at 9.30 am. Will be purchasing ICOCA and haruka card to travel to Kyoto Station. My hotel is walking distance from Kyoto Station.
    Will do some exploring around Kyoto city and Gion in the evening using ICOCA card.

    Day 2 March 14
    Visit tourist spots around higashiyama area using the Kyoto bus one day pass . Taking the Raku 100 bus .

    Day 3 March 15

    Half day tour around Arashiyama and the
    other half day tour to Fushimi Inari temple.

    Day 4 March 16
    Day tour to Nara

    Day 5 March 17
    Day tour to Osaka

    Day 6 March 18

    Visit tourist places using Kyoto bus one day pass . Will be visiting places using Raku bas 101.

    Departure from Kansai Airport is at 10pm.

    Will be using Kansai thru pass for day 3,4,5 after advice from friends who have visited Japan.

    Please advise if my travel plans and usage of travel passes are not practical .

    Thank you

  8. Ra says:

    I will be in Osaka in November. We have JR Rail Pass and will activate when traveling from Tokyo to Osaka and Osaka to Tokyo. We plan to do day tripa from Osaka, you think we need to get Kansai Pass or other to cover non JR trains?

  9. vanniners
    Vanessa Cristi says:

    Hi Takeshi!

    I am very confused between getting the Nankai Thru Pass and the Nankai Wide Pass from JR. I am staying for 8 days, hotel is at Namba area, and would like to go to Nara and Kyoto (2 days), and of course around Osaka. Which would be the best deal between the two rail passes? We will mostly be going to tourist areas.

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