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

Kansai One Pass and Haruka one way trip to Kyoto at 4,600 yen.
Overnight around JR Kyoto station

If you arrive in Kyoto early, you can visit somewhere around Kyoto station. Fushimi Inari is only 5 minutes away from Kyoto station. Kyoto Tower is just located in front of Kyoto station. You can use Kansai One Pass to get there.

Day 2 and 3 – Sightseeing in Kyoto

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

There are several deals available. I recommend you to use both Kansai One Pass and Kyoto City Bus Pass. Kansai One Pass covers city bus too but Kansai One Pass does not give you unlimited travel. It offers only convenience. On the other hand, Kyoto City Bus Pass is sold at 600 yen for one day. You can take a bus as many as you want. You can get the worth of it by only 3 rides. You can use Kansai One Pass only for taking a train and/or a subway.

Kyoto City Bus and Subway Pass (Kyoto Sightseeing Card) is also available. But this does not cover other railways, such as JR, Hankyu, Keihan railways. You will take various trains in Kyoto. Please see the link below to find the train route in Kyoto:

Kyoto train guide

You can get anywhere in downtown Kyoto by bus. It is possible to visit all places only by city bus. However city bus is always crowded and the traffic in Kyoto has been very heavy in these days. I recommend you to take a train or a subway as much as you can.

Kansai One Pass and Bus Pass are the best combination for sightseeing in Kyoto, in my opinion.

Day 4 – Trip to Nara and transfer to 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.

You can take either Kintetsu Railway or JR to get Nara. Both trains depart from Kyoto station. But Kintetsu railway’s Nara station is better location. It is 1 km closer to most of tourist spots in Nara than JR Nara station.

After Nara, you can take either JR or Kintetsu to get Osaka. Please see the link below to find the route to Nara:

Nara access guide

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

You may use JR Kansai Area Pass one day at 2,200 yen if you book it online in advance. If you buy it online, you have to exchange the pass at Shin-Osaka, Osaka, Kyoto or Kansai airport.

JR West Pass official site

You can purchase this pass at many major stations in downtown Osaka but the price is a bit higher. 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.

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

There are lots of deals available in Osaka. Please see the link below to find the deal:

How to choose the pass for sightseeing in Osaka

Day 7 – Osaka to Kansai airport (KIX)

If you want to take Haruka again, you can purchase Haruka discount ticket. This discount ticket is available for overseas tourist who has ICOCA or Kansai One Pass only.

ICOCA and Haruka, Kansai One Pass and Haruka

Otherwise you can choose other deal in the link below:

How to choose the deal for trip to/from KIX

I hope this sample helps you to build your trip plan.

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

  1. Dear Takeshi San,

    Thank you for the informative writeup!

    Please check and see if my selection of the passes are suitable 🙂

    Day 1 arrival at night in Kansai Airport to Namba – using The Rapi:t Airport Express
    Day 2 Osaka – using 1 day OAP
    Day 3 USJ – using ICOCA
    Day 4 kyoto – using 4 Day JR West Kansai Pass
    Day 5 kyoto – using 4 Day JR West Kansai Pass
    Day 6 Nara – using 4 Day JR West Kansai Pass
    Day 7 Kobe/ Himeji – using 4 Day JR West Kansai Pass
    Day 8 departure

    1. Hi Ann san,

      Kansai area pass 4-day is okay for day 4 to 7. But Kansai Thru Pass is more useful for sightseeing in Kyoto.
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-residents/how-to-use-kansai-thru-pass-compare-pass-and-single-fare.html

      Especially Kansai thru pass covers Kyoto city bus. This is a great advantage of this pass. Kansai area pass does not cover it. It covers only JR train and you can access Arashiyama, Fushimi, Nijo and Uji only. If you want to visit Kinkakuji, Gion, Kiyomizudera and many other places, you may need to take city bus.

      My recommendation is using Kansai thru pass for day 4, 5 and 7, and using ICOCA to get Nara on day 6. JR train special rapid is faster than Hanshi railway and Sanyo railway. JR is covered by Kansai area pass. Hanshin and Sanyo are covered by Kansai thru pass. But you have to get Osaka station first to take special rapid. You have to take JR Kanjo line to get Osaka but if you take Hanshin railway, you can get from Namba. In the total trip time, JR is still faster than Hanshin and Sanyo but the price is cheaper because you will use Kansai thru pass.

      For the trip on other days, your choice is okay.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. Takeshi san;
        I have finalized our trip agenda. Want to purchase a 14 day JPRail pass but unsure about Green or Ordinary. We will have 4 trips by Shinkansen; one from Tokyo to Osaka with 4 large luggage, Osaka to Hiroshima and return day trip, and one from Osaka to Haneda with luggage. The rest of our local transport will basically not have green cars( to Kyoto, Kobe, etc. ) Trip dates are from June 13 to June 29. Biggest concern is transporting the luggage. Last trip we did use green car pass but that was in August at height of festival time. What is your opinion?

        1. Hi Ken san,

          June is one of the shoulder season in Japan. But there are lots of business traveler using the Shinkansen all season long. I think Green Pass is better solution.

          Cheers,

          Takeshi / JPRail.com

  2. Dear Takeshi san,
    I tried to read your previous post that you explained to others, but I still confuse and I really hope you can help me on right pass to choose. I plan to go Osaka early Dec for 10 days, below my itinerary:-

    Day 1 : Arrive Kansai Airport 7am, travel to Kyoto and arrive by noon. Sightseeing around Kyoto (Hotel near Kyoto Station). Question : shall I use Haruka and Kyoto Subway/City 2 days pass1700yen?
    Day 2 : Sightseeing in Kyoto (Hotel near Kyoto Station) – 2nd say Kyoto Subway/City 2 days pass
    Day 3 : Check out Kyoto, go to Uji/Nara (with luggage, may I know any locker at Kintetsi-Nara Station for luggage storage ), then check in hotel near Nipponbashi Station, Osaka (I stay 5 nights here) – using Kansai Thru Pass?
    Day 4 : Universal Studio Japan (by ICOCA or just buy ticket?)
    Day 5 : Osaka City/Dotonburi/Shinsaibashi (by ICOCA)
    Day 6 : Himeji/Kobe (Kansai Thru pass or Kansai Area Pass 1 day?)
    Day 7 : Kuromon/Tenoji/Denden town (by ICOCA)
    Day 8 : check out hotel, go to Takayama/Shirakawa-go (from OCAT, Nohi bus, correct?)
    Day 9 : half day moring tour at Shirakawago and back to OCAT at night, check in hotel near OCAT
    Day 10 : Dotonbori/Shisaibashi/last day shopping (by ICOCA)
    Day 11 : Take Limousin bus from OCAT to Kansai airport for 10:30am flight

    Kindly advise if I am selecting the right pass. Thanks in advance for your help.
    Regards,
    Emily

    1. Hi Emily san,

      You can use Kansai one pass and Haruka for KIX to Kyoto. Kansai one pass is better choice than ICOCA because you can get the discount.
      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

      City bus and subway pass is okay for day 1 and 2.

      You may use Kansai one pass for day 3 because JR is better choice from Kyoto to Uji. If you use Kansai thru pass, you have to change trains at Tambabashi and Chushojima twice.
      https://jprail.com/destinations/kansai-area/guide-to-take-trains-in-kyoto-how-to-choose-the-best-route-by-train-to-get-the-major-spots.html

      Kansai one pass is okay for other than day 6, 8 and 9. Kansai area pass one day is your choice fro day 6.

      There are lots of lockers available at Kintetsu Nara station. But you will take JR from Uji to Nara. There are lots of lockers available at JR Nara station. But JR Nara station is a bit away from many of places in Nara:
      https://jprail.com/trains/sort-by-type/subway/how-to-access-to-nara-by-japan-rail-pass-if-you-dont-use-jr-pass-kintetsu-railway-is-more-convenient.html

      You may take JR train from Nara to JR-Namba.

      Please do not forget to book a seat for Nohi bus for Osaka to/from Takayama. Reservation is required.
      https://www.nouhibus.co.jp/highwaybus/osaka_en/

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

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