Sample itinerary of staying in Osaka, Kyoto and Osaka 8 days

Kinkakuji temple in Kyoto ©Akira Okada/©JNTO7 to 9 days
Kiyomizu-dera temple in Kyoto ©Akira Okada/©JNTO
Torii gates in Fushimi Inari shrine in Kyoto

I have made two sample itineraries of Osaka and Kyoto before. The first one is staying in Kyoto and them moving to Osaka.

Visit Kyoto, Osaka, Nara and Kobe for 5 to 7 days sample itinerary

Another one is staying in Osaka first and then moving to Kyoto.

Visit Osaka and Kyoto for 5 to 7 days sample itinerary

But I have received some inquiries about Osaka to Kyoto, and go back to Osaka again. I would like to show you this type of itinerary and think about most effective deal.

Day 1, Kansai to Namba, Osaka

There are many choices for Kansai airport to Osaka. Before choosing a deal or a ticket, you have to decide where you stay. Roughly speaking, these following three choices are most common:

  • Nankai Railway regular ticket
    For staying near Namba, Shin-Imamiya or other stations on Nankai Railway between Kansai airport and Namba
  • ICOCA and Haruka
    For staying near Tennoji, Shin-Osaka or other JR stations in downtown Osaka
  • Nankai Railway and subway combo ticket (a.k.a. Kanku Chikatoku Ticket)
    For staying near Osaka subway stations other than Namba, Tennoji and Dobutsuenmae (Shin-Imamiya)

There are many more deals available. Please see the link below to find the information about the deal:

Sample itinerary
In this sample, I picked Namba as the place to stay. Regular fare ticket is most affordable choice.
Kansai airport (Nankai Railway Rapid train) Namba

Day 2, sightseeing in Osaka

Osaka castle, icon of Osaka (C) Osaka Government Tourism Bureau / JNTO

These three deals are very common:

  • Osaka Amazing Pass
    If you intend to visit three or more attractions on the list of this pass
  • Osaka Kaiyu Ticket
    If you want to visit Osaka Kaiyukan Aquarium
  • Osaka subway deal (Osaka Visitors Ticket or Osaka Eco Card)
    For staying near Osaka subway stations other than Namba, Tennoji and Dobutsuenmae (Shin-Imamiya)

If you spend whole day in Universal Studio Japan, no deal is required. Just pay regular fare as you go. You may find the detailed information about the deal of Osaka in the link below:

Sample itinerary
Using Osaka Amazing Pass
Namba (Subway Midousuji line / 10 mimutes) Tennoji
– 1 hours at Shitenoji temple (covered by Osaka Amazing Pass)
Tennoji (Subway Tanimachi line / 10 minutes) Tanimachi-4chome
– 2 hours at Osaka Castle (covered by Osaka Amazing Pass)
Tanimachi-4chome (Subway Chuo line / 15 minutes) Osakako
– LEGOLAND Discovery Center Osaka (covered by Osaka Amazing Pass)
– Tenpozan Giant Ferris Wheel (covered by Osaka Amazing Pass)
– Osaka Kaiyukan Aquarium (discount by Osaka Amazing Pass)
* Total 4 hours for these three above attractions.
Osakako (Subway Chuo line / 10 minutes) Hommachi (Subway Midousuji line / 5 minutes) Umeda
– Umeda Sky Building (covered by Osaka Amazing Pass until 18:00)
* If your schedule is tight, pick up one or two facilities of LEGOLAND, Tenpozan Giant Ferris Wheel and/or Kaiyukan. 4 hours may be too short for these three places, especially if you travel with seniors and/or small children. You have to keep in mind that after 18:00, Osaka Amazing Pass does not cover Umeda Sky Building at all.
Umeda (Subway Midousuji line / 15 minutes) Namba

Day 3, Namba, Osaka to Kyoto, and sightseeing in Kyoto after arrival

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

You may use one day of Kansai Thru Pass 3 days. Kansai Thru Pass is most useful pass to go around Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, Kobe, Wakayama and Koyasan.

This pass covers subway, city bus and most of major privates railway lines, such as Hankyu Railway, Keihan Railway, Kintetsu Railway. You can take subway and one of these railways to get Kyoto by Kansai thru pass. After arrival in Kyoto, you can use Kansai thru pass to take trains, subways and city bus lines to visit many places in Kyoto.

Sample itinerary
Namba (Kintetsu Railway / 30 mins) Yamato-Saidaiji (Kintetsu Railway / 40 mins) Kyoto
– Check in hotel and drop off baggage
Kyoto (Subway Karasuma line / 5 mins) Karasuma-Oike (Subway Tozai line / 10 mins) Uzumasa-Tenjingawa / Randen-Tenjingawa (Randen Arashiyama line / 15 mins) Arashiyama
– Half day at Arashiyama
Arashiyama (Randen Arashiyama line / 10 mins) Katabiranotsuji (Randen Kitano line / 10 mins) Kitano-Hakubaicho (Kyoto city bus / 5 mins) Kinkakuji-michi
– 2 hours at Kinkaku-ji temple (Golden pavilion)
Kinkakuji-michi (Kyoto city bus / 10 mins) Kitaoji (Subway Karasuma line / 15 mins) Kyoto

You will take various trains and buses but all trips are covered by Kansai Thru Pass.

Day 4, Kyoto

Kiyomizu-dera temple is ne of most famous spots in Kyoto.

On this day, you do not make any trips by subway. You may have only Kyoto city bus pass. It costs only 600 yen for one day bus unlimited ride. Do not use Kansai Thru Pass on this day. That is not a good idea to use the pass for a few short trips.

Sample itinerary
Kyoto station (Kyoto city bus / 10 mins) Inaritaisha-mae
– 2 hours at Fushimi-Inari shrine
Fushimi-Inari (Keihan Railway / 10 mins) Gion-Shijo
* Regular fare ticket payment is required to take Keihan Railway.
– 3 hours at Gion / Nishiki Market with lunch time
Gion (Kyoto city bus / 20 mins) Ginakakuji-mae
– 1 hour at Ginkaku-ji temple
Ginkakuji-mae (Kyoto city bus / 25 mins) Kiyomizu-michi (walk 15 mins) Kiyomizu-dera temple
– 2 hours at Kiyomizu-dera temple
Kiyomizu-dera temple (walk 15 mins) Kiyomizu-michi (Kyoto city bus / 20 mins) Kyoto station

I also recommend to walk from Gion to Kiyomizu-dera temple. There are lots of temples, such as Yasaka shrine, Kodai-ji temple, Hokan-ji temple (a.k.a. Yasaka Pagoda). And also there are lots of shops along this route. But Kiyomizu-dera temple usually close at 18:00. It is open until 21:00 only during special night event. You have to be Kiyomizu-dera temple by 17:00 at latest in most of seasons. If you walk from Gion, I recommend to skip Ginkaku-ji temple or shrink your time in Gion and/or Fushimi-Inari to make 2 hours.

Day 5, Kyoto to Nara to Namba, Osaka

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

You take almost same route as day 3. On day 3, you change the trains at Yamato-Saidaiji. This station is actually a few stations away from Nara. There are lots of coin lockers in Kintetsu Railway Nara station. You can store your luggage and walk in Nara.

You use second day of Kansai Thru Pass 3 days.

Sample itinerary
Kyoto (Kintetsu Railway / 45 mins) Kintetsu Nara
– 5 hours to visit tourists spots in Nara, such as Todai-ji temple (Big Buddha), Kasuga Taisha shrine, Nara Park (Deer Park) and have a lunch time.
Kintetsu Nara (Kintetsu Railway / 40 mins) Osaka-Namba

You may add some small trips in Osaka and/or Kyoto before/after trip to Nara. The above trip schedule is less than 7 hours. You can add some more. Please remember that Kansai Thru Pass covers subway and city bus in both Osaka and Kyoto. Try to maximize using this pass.

Day 6, Trip to Kobe and Himeji

There are lots of castles in Japan. But Himeji castle is one of four existing original catle buildings. (C) JNTO

On this day, Kansai area pass one day is your choice. Kansai Area Pass covers only JR trains. Kansai Thru Pass covers other than JR trains. Do not mix up these two passes. JR train is faster to Himeji than non JR trains.

Do not use Kansai Thru Pass and save the last one day for trip to Mt. Koya on next day.

Sample itinerary
Using Kansai Area Pass
JR-Namba (local or rapid / 5 mins) Shin-Imamiya or Imamiya (local or rapid / 15 mins) Osaka (Special Rapid / 1 hour) Himeji
– 3 hours at Himeji to visit Himeji castle
Himeji (Special Rapid / 40 mins) Kobe
– Stay in Kobe for the rest of day
Kobe or Sannomiya (Special Rapid / 20 mins) Osaka (local or rapid / 15 mins) Shin-Imamiya or Imamiya (local or rapid / 5 mins) JR-Namba

Shinkansen is the fastest way to get Himeji but Kansai Area Pass does not cover Shinkansen. Special Rapid is the best way to get there.

You may find the information about Kobe and Himeji in the links below:

Day 7, Trip to Koyasan

Approach to Okunoin temple in Mt. Koya

On day 7, you make a day trip to Koyasan (Mt. Koya). You may use the last day of Kansai Thru Pass 3 days. This pass covers Nankai Railway and Cable Car to Koyasan and bus on Mt. Koya. All trips are covered fully unless you take Limited Express train between Namba and Gokurakubashi.

I had a day trip to Mt. Koya from Namba in October, 2017. You may use my trip report to build your itinerary.

Day 8, Osaka, Namba to Kansai

You may use a regular fare ticket to get Kansai airport from Namba.

In this sample itinerary, the places to stay overnight are Namba and Kyoto station area. But you may use other locations if you like. Basically you can same deals other than Kansai airport to/from Osaka. As I explained in day 1, there are many deals available. Single ticket is the best option for Kansai airport to/from Namba. But if you stay other area, you may use one of many deals.

I hope this sample gives you an idea to build your trip plan!


  1. Chong Wei Pei says:

    Dear Takeshi San,

    Thanks for this informative blog. Really very helpful to first timer like us. I will be in Kyoto for 3 days but the itinerary that I plan doesn’t seems need to have Kansai Thru Pass. May I have ur feedback to confirm on the travel pass with the following itinerary in Kyoto?

    D1 – D3 Osaka
    D4 – Osaka to kyoto – Plan to go Arashiyama ( use ICOCA)
    D5 – East side of Kyoto – Kiyomizudera , Hanamikojidori, Ninenzaka & etc. ( use ICOCA as well since all the attractions are nearby )
    D6 – Fushimi Inari & Kyoto Imperial Palace ( use ICOCA + Haruka pass )

    Sincerely thanks and have a good day.

  2. Lim says:

    Dear Takeshi,
    I will be going to Osaka and Kyoto this November. After referring to your sample itineraries, I have adjusted it as such. Would like to ask for your advice on whether my pass used is correct, and whether the plan is feasible since sunsets early at around 4.45pm each day.

    Day 1: (use regular ticket)
    Arrive at Osaka Kansai at night: check in at rinkutown.

    Day 2: (use Haruka, Kansai one pass)
    Kansai airport (Haruka) Kyoto station (JR) Arashiyama (randen&subway) Nijo Castle (subway&JR) Fushimi Inari for sunset (JR) Check in near Kyoto station.

    Day 3: (use subway&bus one-day pass, kansai one pass)
    Kyoto station (JR) Fushimi inari (JR) Kyoto station (raku bus) Kinkaku-ji (raku bus) Ginkakuji (walk) Philosopher’s path (walk) maruyama park & yasaka shrine & Hanamikoji street (walk) kiyomizu-dera (raku bus & subway) nishiki market (walk) gion (raku bus) Kyoto station

    Day 4: (use regular ticket)
    Kyoto (Kintetsu) Nara station (walk) kofukuji temple, nara park, today-ji, isuien garden, kasuga taisha, mt wakakusa, higashimuki shotengai (Kintetsu) Imazato Kintetsu nearest station to room in Osaka

    Day 5: (use hanshin tourist pass & kansai one pass)
    Imazato Kintetsu (Kintetsu & hanshin) Kobe-sannomiya (subway) shin-kobe (subway) sannomiya for lunch (hanshin) sake brewery (hanshin) meriken park, kobe harborland, kobe mosaic (hanshin) Osaka (JR loop line & Kintetsu) imazato Kintetsu

    Day 6: (use JR West Rail Pass 1day)
    Imazato Kintetsu (Kintetsu, Osaka loop line, JR) Himeji castle, kokoen garden (bus) Shoshazan engyo-ji temple (bus) Himeji (JR) Osaka (subway) dotonburi (walk) hozenji yokocho (Kintetsu) imazato Kintetsu

    Day 7: (use Osaka Amazing Pass & Kansai One Pass)
    Imazato subway (subway) Osaka castle (subway) kaiyukan aquarium, tenpozan giant ferris wheel, legoland (subway) shinsekai (subway) kuromon ichiba (Kintetsu) imazato Kintetsu

    Day 8: (use Osaka Amazing Pass & Kansai One Pass & regular ticket)
    Imazato Kintetsu (Kintetsu & subway) Shitenoji temple (subway) Umeda sky building (subway) shinsaibashi suji (walk) dotonburi (Kintetsu) imazato Kintetsu (Kintetsu, Osaka loop line, JR) kansai airport for evening flight.

    Would really appreciate any comments or suggestions you might have. Thanks in advance.

    • Hi Lim,

      You have researched very well and you have picked the right deals. I have two small suggestion for you.

      At first, on day 3 in Kyoto, I think city bus pass (600 yen for one day) is okay. Because you don’t have many chances to take subway. City bus pass and Kansai one pass are okay for this day.

      On day 4 for trip to Nara, you can use Kansai one pass to take Kintetsu.

      Your trip plan is feasible and I don’t have any more suggestions.


      Takeshi /

  3. Lilian says:

    Dear Takeshi san,

    I would like your advise on the kind of travel pass to buy as I am very confused with all the different passes – mind boggling actually
    July 2 morning – leave KIX airport for Kyoto
    July 2 to July 6 (4 nights) Sightseeing around Kyoto and etc
    July 6 – leave Kyoto for Osaka
    July 6-12 will be sightseeing around Osaka and neighbouring places

    Would really appreciate if you can help plan my itinerary with the different rail passes as travelling in Japan quite be very confusing.
    And also would you be able to recommend any nearby public golf courses either in Kyoto or Osaka ?

    Thank you


  4. Tony K says:

    Hi Takeshi san,
    My question is, if I am planning on getting the Osaka amazing pass, should I also get a Kansai one pass or is a ICOCA card okay? Also if I am staying in Kyoto for 3 days (maybe with some day trip into Shiga) what is my best option for transportation?

    • Hi Tony san,

      I don’t think you need ICOCA or Kansai one pass in Osaka. Because Osaka amazing pass covers Osaka subway. Osaka subway covers most part of downtown Osaka.

      But in Kyoto, I recommend you to use Kansai one pass to take train and subway. It covers city bus too. But one day bus pass is sold at only 600 yen. You can get the worth of it by only 3 rides of bus. So use both bus pass and Kansai one pass in Kyoto. This is the best combination. There is no deals to cover just trip to Shiga. Please use Kansai one pass too if you go there.


      Takeshi /

      • Tony K says:

        Thank you so much for the reply Takeshi san!!
        Follow up question: I planned to get the Osaka Amazing pass because I have 3 days in Osaka, one at USJ, and two exploring the city. If I should get Kansai one pass for Kyoto anyways, should I not get the Osaka Amazing pass for the two days exploring Osaka?

        • Hi Tony san,

          If you intend to visit many attractions which is listed on Osaka amazing pass, you should get it. Kansai one pass does not include any attractions and it does not give you unlimited subway ride. It gives you only convenience.


          Takeshi /

  5. Sharon says:

    Dear Takeshi san,

    Can I have you feedback on what rail passes to buy for the below itinerary pls.

    Osaka — Kobe — Nara — Kyoto — Hakone — Tokyo

    24/3 Osaka – kansai airport to cross hotel osaka (Castle / Dotombori)
    25/3 Osaka (60mins) – Himeiji (4hrs + 30mins) – Kobe (dinner + 30mins) – Osaka
    26/3 Osaka (39mins) – Nara – Osaka
    27/3 Osaka (15/24mins) – Kyoto (Solaria Nishitetsu Hotel Kyoto) (Arashiyama Bamboo grove / tenryu-ji temple)
    28/3 Kyoto (Fushimi Inari shrine / Gion)
    29/3 Kyoto
    30/3 Kyoto (3hrs) – Hakone (Yoshiike Ryokan) (Hakone shrine & torii gate 1.5hrs / Ancient Cedar Avenue 30mins / Hakone Old Checkpoint Museum / Lake Ashinoko via cruise 60mins rd trip / ryokan)
    31/3 Hakone (Owakudani — Valley of Hell via ropeway 2hrs / Odawara Chirashi for lunch) (85mins) – Tokyo (Hotel Sunroute Plaza Shinjuku)
    1/4 Tokyo (Meiji shrine / Harajuku / Shinjuku)
    2/4 Tokyo (Disneysea)
    3/4 Tokyo (Tsukji fish market / Asakusa / Ginza)
    4/4 Tokyo
    5/4 Tokyo (Haneda airport)

  6. Zandy says:

    Dear Takeshi San,

    I would like to first comment on the very good and informative blog. I’m already a fan of yours. Below are is my Quick reference itinerary for my 10 day trip to Osaka (3days) and Kyoto (7days)with my wife for honeymoon. I have not booked specific hotels yet since this transportation research is making me dizzy so I need to clarify with you before I make any further planning of hotel booking. After doing research on your blogs here is what I can come up with and would like to verify with you if I need correction.

    Day 1. Arrive KIX 11am Claim, (purchase Yokoso and Amazing Osaka 1 day)
    Travel to Hotel somewhere in Namba. Use Yokoso to shop around and eat/Dotonburi, Bic Camera etc.

    Day 2. Travel to universal studio 1 day (direct purchase of tickets use Icoca)

    Day 3. Activate Amazing Osaka Card (Use your Osaka sample Itenerary above).

    Day 4. Check out Osaka Hotel Travel to Kyoto Station (Purchase Kansai Thru Pass?)
    – Check in to Kyoto Hotel Do some tourist sights

    Day 5-7: Travel around Kyoto (Purchase 2 day Kyoto Subway and Bus Passes)

    Day 8: Travel to Kobe and back to Kyoto Hotel (Use Kasai Thru Pass Day 2)

    Day 9: Travel to Nara and Back to Kyoto Hotel(Use Kasai Thru pass day 3)

    Day 10: Checkout Hotel Travel from Kyoto To Kix (Purchase 1 way Haruka)

    Let me know if you have any correction and advice? Do I need to purchase the Icoca/Haruka combo card for the return trip from Kyoto to KIX?

    Thank You very much
    Zandy Tan

    • Hi Zandy san,

      If you can extend one more night in Osaka, you can make a trip to Kobe from Osaka. Osaka is closer to Kobe than Kyoto. Osaka is just located middle of Kyoto and Kobe. You can go to Kobe from Kyoto but if you go there, you can save your travel time. Even if you go to Kobe from Osaka, you can still use Kansai thru pass 3 days for Osaka to Kyoto with sightseeing in Kyoto, trip to Nara and trip to Kobe.

      You can get Kansai one pass instead of ICOCA. Basically those are same but Kansai one pass offers discount at many attractions.

      You can use Kansai one pass for USJ and train/subway ride in Kyoto. You don’t need subway and bus pass in Kyoto but I recommend you to use city bus pass. Bus pass is 600 yen for one day and you can get the worth by 3 rides. When you need to take train or subway, you can use Kansai one pass.

      You can get Haruka discount ticket for Kyoto to KIX.


      Takeshi /

      • Zandy says:

        Dear Takeshi San,

        Thank you very much for the great advice! Can you confirm below the passes I need to buy for a 10 day trip to Osaka/Kyoto as my base hotel. We will take an extra day in Osaka to go to Kobe as advised by you to save travel time.

        1. Yokoso pass (1500 Yen) (Arrival Use to get to Osaka)
        2. Amazing Osaka Pass 1day(2500 Yen)
        3. Kansai One Pass (3000 yen) For USJ part of the trip and subways
        4. Kansai Thru pass 3day (5200 Yen) (Osaka->Kobe->Osaka->Kyoto->Nara->Kyoto Trip)
        5. Kyoto Bus passes (600 Yen/per day)
        6. Haruka express (1600 with Kasai One pass discount) (Departure from Kyoto to KIX)

        Thank you very much!

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