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.

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

  1. Hello Takeshi san,

    A very good day to you. I will be travel to Japan West for 10 days in Nov and kinda confuse with the transportation. Need your kind advise for the following itinerary:

    Day 1 Kansai Airport to Kyoto (staying near Nakagyo-ku Nishinokyo)
    Day 2 Kyoto sightseeing
    Day 3 Kyoto sightseeing
    Day 4 Kyoto to Osaka ( staying near Abeno Station)
    Day 5 Osaka to Nara ( day trip)
    Day 6 Osaka Aquarium
    Day 7 USJ
    Day 8 Osaka sightseeing / Namba
    Day 9 Namba
    Day 10 Abeno Station to Rinku Premium Outlet . Later to Kansai Airport.
    Not sure shall I buy Jr-West Kansai Rail Pass or just take Icoca+ Haruka ticket or Kansai thru pass.

    Hope to hear from you and thank you in advance.

    1. Hi Janice san,

      Actually you can just follow my sample in the post above. You just may remove Kobe part in the sample above. Both Kansai area pass and Kansai thru pass do not work. You cannot get the worth of those. You may use ICOCA and Haruka, and local deal in both Osaka and Kyoto.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  2. Hi,

    Thank you for your article regarding the JR Pass. However, I am not sure if it’s worthwhile to get one.

    I will be in Japan with 3 others and we intend to do the following:-

    1. Arrive Kansai Airport and transfer to Kyoto
    2. Stay 2 days in Kyoto
    3. Transfer from Kyoto to Kanazawa and stay 2 days in Kanazawa
    4. Take the bus from Kanazawa to Shirakawago and back to Kanazawa
    5. Transfer from Kanazawa to Osaka and stay 3 days
    6. One day trip to Nara from Osaka and back
    7. Transfer from Osaka to Kansai Airport

    Would appreciate if you could kindly recommend what kind of pass should we buy. I am thinking of the 2-day passes while in Kyoto and Osaka. I am just confused and not sure of the train tickets for Kansai-Kyoto, Kyoto-Kanazawa, Kanazawa-Osaka, Osaka-Nara and Osaka-Kansai.

    Thank you.

  3. Hi Takeshi,

    Thanks for all the informative articles, but i have some question on the passes available in Kansai.
    My itinerary will be as follow:-

    Day1 – KIX -Kyoto – Fushimi Inari (stay nearby kyoto station)
    Day 2 – Arashiyama – Kinkaku-Ji – Gion
    Day 3 – Kyoto – Nara – Kyoto
    Day 4 – Kyoto – Osaka (stay nearby nipponbashi station)
    Day 5 – Sightseeing in Osaka
    Day 6 -Sightseeing in Osaka
    Day 7 – Airbnb – KIX

    1. For KIX – Kyoto Haruka + Icoca pass is the best options for us right?
    2. For sightseeing in Kyoto and Osaka i can use for all my itinerary? Can Kansai Thru Pass allow JR line ride?
    3. From Kyoto to Osaka, which sort of transport that i should use.
    4. From where i stay which near to Nipponbashi station, how can I go to airport in most effective way?

    Thanks alot for your help in advance!

    1. Hi Lilian,

      1. Yes.

      2. Kansai thru pass does not cover JR line. You cannot get the worth of Kansai thru pass anyway. You may use ICOCA for trip to Nara, Kyoto to Osaka, and when you need to take train or subway in Kyoto, use ICOCA. For bus ride in Kyoto, you can use one day city bus pass. Don’t use ICOCA to take a bus. Bus pass is only 500 yen. You can get the worth by only 3 rides.

      3. You may take Kintetsu railway via Yamato Saidaiji. You may use ICOCA to take Kintetsu.
      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#Kintetsu_Railway

      4. Nankai and subway deal
      http://www.howto-osaka.com/en/ticket/ticket/chikatoku.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  4. HI Takeshi-san

    We will be visiting Osaka-kyoto-Nara on May 17 to 22. We are planning to stay only in Osaka for the whole duration of the trip. Since travel time from Osaka to Kyoto/Nara is just around an hour.

    May 17 – Osaka
    May 18 – Osaka
    May 19 -kyoto
    May 20 -Kyoto
    May 21 – Nara
    May 22 – Osaka

    We will return to our hotel in Osaka everyday at the end of our trips. What pass would you recommend? Would this plan good? Or is it better to book hotel on each places? Thank you very much Takeshi-san.

  5. Hi pls help. We will be going to osaka this april. Itinerary will be

    2 days osaka
    1 day or 2 days kyoto
    1day nara
    1day kobe
    1 day universal studio
    What train pass should i get that can alao cover round trip airport transfer and trip to univ studio

  6. Hi! We are really confused on which discount pass to use for our upcoming trip. Currently leaning toward the 4 day JR pass as we are staying near JR stations. I would appreciate any suggestions comments on our planned itinerary. I’ve tried reading all about the various passes but there are so many I can’t keep up! We’ll be staying for 6 days with the following itinerary:

    Day 1: (Kyoto) ICOCA-Haruka?
    Arrive Kansai Airport transfer to Kyoto (our accommodation is near Emmachi station)
    Nijo Castle
    Kinakakuji
    Gion

    Day 2: (Kyoto) ICOCA?
    Fushimi Inari
    Kiyomizu Dera
    Arashiyama

    Day 3: (Nara-Osaka)Activate JR pass
    Transfer to Nara
    Nara deer park
    Transfer to Osaka
    Check in around Namba

    Day 4: (Osaka) JR pass
    USJ

    Day 5: (Osaka) JR pass
    Namba
    Osaka Castle

    Day 6: Airport JR pass

    Appreciate your help Takeshi-san!

    1. Hi Jessie san,

      You may use ICOCA and Haruka on day 1. When you purchase ICOCA and Haruka, add Kansai one pass instead of ICOCA. Both ICOCA and Kansai one pass are basically same but Kansai one pass is designed for the tourist. You can get some discount at many attractions:
      http://www.westjr.co.jp/global/en/ticket/icoca-haruka/
      kansaionepass.com/en/about.html?info=1

      You may use Kansai one pass for riding train/subway only in Kyoto. You have to take a bus for sightseeing in Kyoto. But one day pass is sold at 500 yen. You can get the worth by only 3 rides. So use this pass for the 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 can use Kansai one pass for day 3, 4 and maybe day 6 too. You cannot get the worth of the pass. So don’t use it.

      For day 5, if you visit some more places, you may use Osaka amazing pass but if you visit Namba and Osaka castle only, Kansai one pass is okay. Please see the link below to find the deal in Osaka:
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-residents/how-to-choose-the-best-train-pass-for-sightseeing-in-osaka.html

      For day 6, if you take ordinary train to KIX, Kansai one pass is okay. If you take express train “Rapi:t”, you can find the deal in the link below:
      https://jprail.com/sample-itineraries/airport-access/kansai-kix/how-to-choose-the-deals-for-access-tofrom-kansai-airport.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. Thank you so much for your detailed explanation! I guess it’s not worth it to get the JR pass then.

        We’ll follow your suggestion and get the Kansai one pass instead.

        Thank you for all your help!

  7. Hi Takeshi-san,

    I will be travelling to Japan on April and not sure which pass should I get.

    My itinerary as below.
    Day 1 KIX to Kyoto
    Day 2 Kyoto
    Day 3 Kyoto
    Day 4 Kyoto to Fukui
    Day 5 Fukui to Kanazawa & Shirakawago
    Day 6 Kanazawa to Osaka
    Day 7 Osaka
    Day 8 Osaka
    Day 9 Osaka
    Day 10 Osaka to KIX

    Much appreciate if you can advise on this.
    Thank you.

    1. Hi Michelle san,

      You can use Takayama Hokuriku area pass for day 4 to 8.
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-visitors/takayama-hokuriku-area-pass-perfect-deal-to-get-takayama-kanazawa-toyama-shirakawago-from-nagoya-or-osaka.html

      For day 1, you may use Kansai one pass (instead of ICOCA) and Haruka.
      http://www.westjr.co.jp/global/en/ticket/icoca-haruka/
      https://kansaionepass.com/en/about.html?info=1

      You may use Kyoto city bus pass for day 2 and 3, and when you need to take train or bus, you can use Kansai one pass. Don’t use Kansai one pass for taking bus. Kyoto city bus pass is only 500 yen and you can get the worth by only 3 rides.
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-residents/how-to-choose-the-best-train-pass-for-sightseeing-in-kyoto.html

      In Osaka, you can still use Takayama Hokuriku area pass to take JR local trains. For day 9 and 10, you can add the deal in the links below:
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-residents/how-to-choose-the-best-train-pass-for-sightseeing-in-kyoto.html
      https://jprail.com/sample-itineraries/airport-access/kansai-kix/how-to-choose-the-deals-for-access-tofrom-kansai-airport.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  8. hi takeshi. we will be in japan on end of march 2018. can you help me which train pass we should have, we’ll be in kansai for 5 days and our itinerary are as ff:

    day 1: 10am – arrival in osaka from nagoya

    day 2: universal studio japan whole day

    day 3: osaka diy tour

    day 4: nara diy tour

    day 5: kyoto diy tour after go back to gifu nagoya.

    it will be a big help to hear from you soon.

    1. Hi CJ,

      You may use Kintetsu Rail Pass between Osaka/Kyoto and Nagoya, and day tour to Nara:
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-visitors/kintetsu-rail-pass-most-affordable-deal-for-osakakyoto-nagoya-and-access-to-ise.html

      But you may add a local deal in Kyoto and Osaka because this pass does not cover city bus, subway and other than Kintetsu railway:
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-residents/how-to-choose-the-best-train-pass-for-sightseeing-in-osaka.html
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-residents/how-to-choose-the-best-train-pass-for-sightseeing-in-kyoto.html

      If you go to Gifu, you need to add a regular ticket for Nagoya to Gifu. Kintetsu Rail Pass does not cover Gifu.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  9. Hello Takeshi-san,

    We are travelling to Osaka/Kyoto in two weeks and I am getting confused of what discount pass to use.

    It would be great if you have some suggestion for us.

    Out itinerary is as follows:

    Day 1: (Osaka)
    – KIX to Namba

    Day 2: (Osaka) ( I think I can use the OSAKA Kaiyu Ticket “Osaka City version” pass on this day )
    – Osaka Bay (Aquarium), Osaka Castle, Namba

    Day 3: (Osaka)
    – Cup Noodle Museum, Gundam Square, National Museum of Ethnology, Den-Den Town

    Day 4: (Osaka)
    – Himeji, Tennoji and explore the area nearby

    Day 5: (Osaka/Kyoto)
    – Namba to Kyoto
    – Kyoto Railway Museum, Fushimi-Inari-Taisha Shrine

    Day 6: (Kyoto)
    – Kiyomizu-dera Temple, Sannen-zaka and Ninnen-zaka, Kodaiji, Shoren-in Temple, Nishiki Market, Nijo Castle, Kyoto International Manga Museum, Gion

    Day 7: (Kyoto)
    – Arashiyama, Tenryu-ji Temple, Kinkaku-ji Temple

    Day 8: (Kyoto/Kinosaki)
    – Kyoto to Kinosaki

    Day 9: (Kinosaki/Osaka)
    – Kinosaki to Umeda

    Day 10:
    – Umeda to ITM

    Thank you very much!
    Bonita

    1. Hi Bonita,

      You may use Yokoso Osaka ticket for day 1 and 2.
      http://www.howto-osaka.com/en/ticket/ticket/yokoso.html

      But I recommend you to switch day 2 and 3. So you may go to Kaiyukan on day 3 and use Kaiyu ticket.

      Kansai area pass one day is recommended for day 4.
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-visitors/how-to-use-jr-west-kansai-area-pass-compare-pass-and-single-fare.html

      Kansai wide area pass is recommended for day 5 to 9.
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-visitors/the-newest-jr-west-rail-pass-for-kansai-and-okayama-kurashiki-kinosakai-and-shingu-area-kansai-wide-area-pass.html

      Limousine bus is your choice for ITM-Umeda.
      http://www.okkbus.co.jp/en/timetable/itm/t_osa.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  10. Hi Takeshi-san,

    I am quite confused if I should buy a kansai thru pass. My itinerary is as follows:

    Day 1: Reach KIX and explore Dontobori
    Day 2: Osaka castle, some other attractions like ramen musuem, aquarium, kids area etc (1-day pass?)
    Day 3 – USJ
    Day 4 – A lil bit of Osaka and then travel to Kyoto (Use Kansai pass day 1?)
    Day 5 – Kyoto: Inari shrine, Gion etc (Kyoto bus pass?)
    Day 6 – Temples + Nishiki Market (Kyoto buss pass?)
    Day 7 – Arashiyama Bamboo Grove + Go back Osaka (Use Kansai pass day 2?)
    Day 8 – Nara day trip from Osaka and back (Use Kansai pass day 3?)
    Day 9 – Go to KIX airport

    Appreciate your advice!!!

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