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.

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

  1. Hi Takeshi,

    Recently my flight change from kix to Narita due to typhoon and I’m flying in few day

    My itinerary as below;
    Day 1 Narita – Kyoto
    Day 2 Kyoto
    Day 3 Kyoto – Namba
    Day 4 Kyoto – Nara – Osaka namba
    Day 5 Osaka namba – Kobe – Osaka namba
    Day 6 Osaka
    Day 7 Osaka kaiyukan
    Day 8 Osaka – mix

    Can you advice which pass can I use ?

    Thx

  2. Hi Takeshi San,
    I would appreciate some feedback about our upcoming trip to Kyoto. We have to attend a meeting at the convention centre everyday and would require to take a subway for this from Gion area, which is where we are staying. In between meetings we would also like to visit the popular local tourist destinations as well as Osaka, Kobe and Hiroshima, time permitting. We are flying into Tokyo and departing from Tokyo as well and will be taking the Shinkansen to get to Kyoto. We were thinking of purchasing the JR rail pass as well as Kansai thru pass. I am aware that the Kansai thru pass is valid for only 3 days and I may have to purchase a second one. One of my reasons for purchasing these passes is for convenience. As we have a very tight schedule and would like to cram as much activities as possible, we have prioritized the convenience of the pass over financial considerations. Am I correct in thinking so? Do these passes allow me to visit the areas highlighted without having to purchase separate tickets? I am aware of reserved and unreserved seats. Would I be able to cover all trains/subways/buses within this region with these passes or in spite of them, end up having to purchase separate tickets? Should this be the case, I shall not go for the Kansai Thru Pass and opt for individual tickets. Your feedback would be much appreciated. Regards.

    1. Hi Joe san,

      As you will have JR Pass, I don’t think Kansai thru pass is required. JR pass does not cover subway, city bus and non JR railways, such as Keihan railway, Hankyu railway, Kintetsu railway. But you can move among these places by JR pass. Please see the link below:
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/tips-for-japan-rail-pass/how-to-transfer-among-kyoto-osaka-and-kobe-compare-japan-railway-and-private-lines.html

      I recommend you to use JR pass as much as you can. And when you need the train or bus which is not covered by JR Pass, you may purchase a regular fare. Or you can use IC card, such as Kansai one pass.
      https://kansaionepass.com/en/about.html?info=1

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  3. Hi Takeshi San,
    I am planning a trip end of June 5D4N in Osaka and Kyoto. Regarding the transportation, may I check with you if I understand is correct?

    DAY 1: KIX. Purchase ICOCA and Haruka. Take HARUKA to Kyoto.

    DAY 2: Go to Inari using ICOCA via Jrail. Then go from Inari to Arashiyama using ICOCA via Jrail. Go from Arashiyama to Kyoto using ICOCA via Jrail. (Or should all the above be using KYOTO 2 DAYS PASS AT 2000YEN?)

    DAY 3: Go to Nishiki and Kiyomizu San Choe, all using ICOCA via Jrail. (Or is it the KYOTO 2 DAYS PASS AT 2000YEN again?)

    DAY 4: Go from KYOTO to SHIN OSAKA via HARUKA. Go from SHIN OSAKA to OSAKA using ICOCA via Jrail.

    Day 5: Go from OSAKA to SHIN OSAKA using ICOCA via Jrail. Go from SHIN OSAKA to KIX using HARUKA.

    Many thanks in advance for your help.
    Best regards
    Kah Ai

    1. Hi Kar Ai san,

      You can use ICOCA and Haruka. But you may add Kansai one pass instead of ICOCA. This is basically same as ICOCA and you can purchase this package at same price as ICOCA and Haruka. But Kansai one pass offers discount at many attractions.
      https://kansaionepass.com/en/about.html?info=1

      You may use Kansai one pass for day 2. But you may add all day bus pass for day 3. You cannot get Nishiki and Kiyomizu by train. You should take a bus. You can use Kansai one pass to take a bus. But all day bus pass is 500 yen for one day unlimited ride. You can get the worth by only three rides of bus.
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-residents/how-to-choose-the-best-train-pass-for-sightseeing-in-kyoto.html

      You cannot take Haruka from Kyoto to Shin-Osaka by Kansai one pass. ICOCA and Haruka gives you ride on Haruka from/to airport only. If you take Haruka from Kyoto to Shin-Osaka, you have to add limited express surcharge. Special rapid train is covered by Kansai one pass fully but this is a sort of commute train.
      https://jprail.com/trains/sort-by-type/rapid-service/special-rapid-service.html

      You can take Haruka if you add Haruka discount ticket. You don’t need to use Kansai one pass.
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-visitors/icoca-and-haruka-ticket-very-flexible-and-good-deal-for-tourist-who-stay-in-kansai.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

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