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

4 to 6 days
Fushimi Inari shrine is most popular spot in Kyoto in these days. ©Kyoto Convention Bureau /©JNTO
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.


  1. Kelly says:

    Hi Takeshi-san

    We will be traveling as 4 adults in mid May. Please advise the best pass for the following itinerary and if the flow is smooth. Thank you in advance!

    Day 1: Arrival at KIX at night
    Day 2: Osaka – Kobe – Osaka
    Day 3: USJ
    Day 4: Osaka – Kyoto
    Day 5: Kyoto
    Day 6: Kyoto – Nara – Osaka
    Day 7: Osaka
    Day 8: Osaka

  2. Alice says:

    Pls advise which pass to purchase if my itinerary is as follows:
    Day 1: Kansai International Airport to Osaka
    Day 2: Osaka
    Day 3: Kyoto
    Day 4: Kyoto
    Day 5: Osaka
    Day 6: Nara
    Day 7: Osaka
    Day 8: Osaka to Kansai International Airport

  3. Lei says:

    Dear Takeshi-san,

    Would greatly appreciate your input and advise on the best pass for us to use for the following itinerary. Also open to suggestions or tips to improve the following. We are 7 adults travelling together. Thank you so much!

    Day 1 (Jan 29):
    – Arrival in KIX 1135AM, proceed to drop off luggage at Airbnb near Ebisucho Station (what’s the best ticket to buy?)
    -Explore Shinsekai, Kuromon Market, Nipponbashi, Dotonbori for dinner
    Day 2 (Jan 30):
    -planning to get 1-Day Osaka Day Pass to visit: Tsutenkaku, Osaka Castle, Aqua Liner cruise, Omeda Sky Tower, Naniwa no Yu Onsen
    Day 3 (Jan 31):
    Day 4 (Feb 1):
    -early morning proceed to Nara, drop off bags
    -planning to get Nara 1-Day Pass to explore and walk around the area
    Day 5 (Feb 2):
    -AM walking tour of Nara/buy souvenirs
    -PM proceed to Kyoto, check in at Jurakumawari Nishimachi area
    -explore and dinner at Nishiki Market / Gion
    Day 6 (Feb 3):
    –> Still unsure about the places to visit so open to suggestions in case we missed a must-visit place
    -Fushimi Inari, Arashiyama, Kinkakuji, Nijo Castle, Imperial Palace
    Day 7 (Feb 4):
    -early morning to Nagoya
    -go to Nagoya (Chubu) Airport for 8PM flight

  4. Liza Lie says:

    hi Takeshi,
    I’m planning a trip to Kansai area on March/April 2018. Here’s my itinerary for the trip. I would like to know which passes are best for my trip?

    Day 1 : Arrive Itami Airport at 8pm, will go straight to Kyoto.
    Day 2 : Kyoto sightseeing.
    Day 3 : Kyoto sightseeing.
    Day 4 : Leaving Kyoto to Osaka.
    Day 5 : Osaka to Kobe, Osaka sightseeing
    Day 6 : Osaka to Nara, Osaka sightseeing
    Day 7 : Leaving to Itami airport early morning (6 AM flight)

    I would like to know which passes are best for my trip.
    Thanks for your help.


  5. Chooi says:

    Hi there,

    Thank you for your posts. I am travelling to Kansai area for the first time and would like some advice about which passes are the most suitable ones. Thanks.

    Day 1 – KIX to kyoto. Nishiki market – Nijo castle – Kinkaku-ji temple – ?Fushimi Inari
    Day 2 – Higashiyama area – Philosopher’s path
    Day 3 – Arashiyama area
    Day 4 – Kyoto to kinosaki onsen
    Day 5 – Kinosaki onsen to Osaka, likely staying at namba. Sightseeing in osaka.
    Day 6 – USJ
    Day 7 – Sightseeing in osaka
    Day 8 – Osaka, evening flight out from KIX

    This is my itinerary but my parents are arriving 1 day earlier and will be travelling to kyoto from KIX on the first day. What passes suit all of us better?

    Many thanks in advance for you advice.

  6. cy says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    This is my first solo trip to Kansai. I went through your websites and i would like to get your advice on my coming trip on March.

    DAY 1
    5:40AM arrived KIX
    KIX – Kyoto -Nijo castle – Kitano tenmangu – Ninnaji temple – Kamo shrine-nishiki market

    Day 2
    Yoshimine-dera temple – Arashiyama – Tenzen No Yu – Gion – Yasaka Shrine

    DAY 3
    Ginkakuji – Philosopher’s path – Zenrinji – Nanzenji

    DAY 4
    Mount Kurama – Heian Shrine – Kodai-ji zen Temple – Ninenzaka – Kiyomizu-dera – Higashiyama

    DAY 5
    Kyoto -Osaka
    Fushimi inari shirne – Fushimi inari taisha otabisho – Osaka expo ’70

    DAY 6
    Sumiyoshi taiha – Tennoji – Horikoshi Shrine- Isshin-ji – Kuromon ichiba market- Minami namba & Dotonbori

    DAY 7
    Minoo Park – Kita Umeda – Tenma – Samuhara Shrine

    DAY 8
    5:30am Fukushima – KIX depart at 9:55AM

    Day 1 & 2 – Icoco Haruka card (one way) & kyoto sightseeing pass 2days
    Day 3 – Icoco card
    Day 4 – Kyoto bus pass & Kyoto subway 1 day pass
    Day 5 & 6 – Kyoto & Osaka sightseeing pass 2 days
    Day 7 – One day ticket enjoy eco card
    Day 8 – icoco card take JR Osaka loop line

    My Question ,
    Am i chosen the right passes for above itinerary?
    Is my itinerary too packed for certain day?

    Thank you very much.

    • Hi cy,

      I think you just need bus pass on day 1, 2 and 4. You don’t have many chances to take subway but you need to take other trains, such as JR, Keifuku, Hankyu, Keihan. These are not covered by Kyoto sightseeing card. So just use bus pass and use Kansai one pass when you need to take a train. Kansai one pass is same type of card as ICOCA. But Kansai one pass offers discount at many attractions. ICOCA does not. You can add Kansai one pass instead of ICOCA for ICOCA and Haruka package.

      Kyoto Osaka sightseeing pass 2 days cover only Keihan railway. It does not work for day 5 and 6. You can use Kansai one pass for day 5 and use Enjoy Eco card for day 6 too.

      Your itinerary is feasible. It’s not too much.


      Takeshi /

  7. Morn says:

    Dear Takeshi,

    I would like to get your advice on my coming trip 10 days at Kyoto + Osaka.

    Day 1 – KIX to Kyoto in the noon time and stay nearby Kyoto Station. Planning to visit – Sanjusangendo Hall + Kiyomizu-dera Temple + Yasaka Shrine.

    Day 2- Tenryuji Temple + Arashiyama Bamboo Grove + Okochisanso Garden + Jojakko-ji Temple + Gio-Ji Temple .

    Day 3 – Fushimi Inari-taisha + Nara Park + Todai-ji Temple + Kasuga-taisha + Kofukuji Five Storied Pagoda + Kasuga Shrine.

    Day 4- Nijo Castle + Ryoanji Temple + Kinkaku-ji + Kyoto Imperial Palace + Chion-in + Pontocho Alley.

    Day 5 – Nishiki Market . Travel to USJ and stay there for 3 nights.

    Day 6 – Spend whole day at Universal Studio

    Day 7 – USJ to Himeji Castle + Kobe-Sannomiya + Kitano Ijinkan.

    Day 8 – Stay at Namba area for 3 nights. Planning visit Osaka Aquarium + Cruise Ship Santa Maria + Tempozan Ferries Wheel + Legoland Discovery Centre.

    Day 9 – Nakanoshima + Museum of History + Shinsaibashi + Kuromon Ichiba Market.

    Day 10- Shitennoji Temple + Osaka Castle + Osaka Museum of Housing and Living + Floating Garden Observatory.

    Day 11- Back Home.

    Which pass is suitable for above itinerary ?
    Which transportation is most convenient to travel in Kyoto with young children?
    Is my itinerary too packed or it is visible to travel with young kids?

    Many Thanks for your help and advice.

  8. Karen says:

    Hello Takehsi san,

    First the all, I am apologized if i already submitted my previous message. It was showed to be error when I submitted so I am not sure if it even went through.

    I am going to Osaka area very soon and it is my first time. I read through the website and I am still confused what passes is best for my trip and hope you can give me a bit of assistance.

    Day 1: Arrive KIX, will stay in osaka, very close to nippombashi station.
    Day 2: Day trip to Nara
    Day 3: Day trip to Kobe, maybe other area that i can get to in a day?
    Day 4: Leaving morning to Kyoto, sightseeing in Kyoto
    Day 5: Kyoto sightseeing
    Day 6: leaving Kyoto to Osaka either in AM or PM depends if i need more time in Kyoto or sightseeing in Osaka
    Day 7: Osaka sightseeing
    Day 8: KIX

    Thank you so much for your help


  9. Fiona says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    I have visited Japan before, but it will be first time to go Kansai region, and also with elderly (70 years old).

    I have a rough itinerary below, and would like to seek your kind advice if it is do-able?

    Day 1 (28/2): Arrive late at KIX (stay in Kix airport hotel)
    Day 2 (1/3): Move to Namba hotel, explore Namba
    Day 3 (2/3): USJ
    Day 4 (3/3): Himeji/Kobe
    Day 5 (4/3): Nara?
    Day 6 (5/3): Kinosaki onsen (stay ryokan)
    Day 7 (6/3): Amanohashidate and Ine (stay in funaya?)
    Day 8-10 (7-10/3): Kyoto (explore and also Higashiyama Hanatoro, stay in Kyoto)
    Day 11: Depart KIX

    May I seek your advice, if I should get the KANSAI WIDE Pass for Day4-8?

    Is there any changes I should make that may suit elderly more?

    Thank you very much in advance!

  10. BD says:

    Hi Takeshi-san,

    i went through your websites and would like to get your advice for traveling 3 adults + 1 boy (1 years). thank you in advance and apologize for the trouble.

    Question 1:
    For day 1 – 6, I think I will get Kansai-Thru -3days but you said that Haruka may be better deal. How about the Takayama? JR West Kansai Area Pass seems to have same price with Kansai Thru?

    1) Kansai Thru Thru 3 days for @5,200 > can make use for KIX – Kyoto – Nara – Kyoto
    2) Haruka – ICOCA package
    3) Takayama – Hokuriku Area Tourist Pass

    Question 2:
    Should I just get one-way ticket from Kyoto to Osaka ? Is there any way I can combine this if I want to go to Shirakawago?
    Should I visit Shirakawago/Takayama from Kyoto + Nara from Osaka?

    Question 3:
    Should I also get the Kyoto pass and Osaka Pass?

    My schedule
    Day 1 – 5 Kyoto @Sakyo-ku
    • Arrival 0630 HRS KIX –> proceed to Kyoto
    • Planning to go to Nara on Day 2
    • Depart to Osaka on day 5

    Day 6- 12 Osaka @Nishinari-ku
    • Arrive Osaka on day 5
    • Day 7 -8 > Universal Studio >Ticket purchase. Date is fixed.
    • Perhaps visit Shirakawago/Takayama on day 10?

    Depart KIX at 1700 HRS

    • Hi BD san,

      1. You may use Kansai thru pass if you like. However if you use it for KIX to Kyoto, you need to change trains at least twice. You will take Nankai railway to Tengachaya, subway from there to Awaji or Takatsukishi, and then take Hankyu railway to Kyoto. You may need to take subway or city bus in Kyoto to get your place.

      If you use ICOCA and Haruka, you can take Haruka to Kyoto directly by Haruka. It’s less changing trains and Haruka gives you more comfortable trip.

      If you go to Nara on day 2, you may use JR West Kansai area pass 2 days instead of Kansai thru pass. It covers Haruka and trip to Nara too. But you need to use it in two consecutive days. So you need to visit Nara on day 2.

      Anyway I don’t find any reason to use Kansai thru pass. If you use ICOCA and Haruka, you need to use ICOCA to visit Nara.

      2. You may start to use Takayama Hokuriku area pass on day 5 from Kyoto to Osaka. You can take Haruka from Kyoto to Tennoji by this pass. It covers JR local trains in Osaka too. You can visit USJ by this pass. But you need to visit Shirakawago on day 6 or 9.

      3. You need to get both. In Kyoto, bus pass is okay. When you need to take subway or train, just use ICOCA if you use ICOCA and Haruka. Otherwise just pay as you go to take trains or subways.
      In Osaka, you may use it after Takayama Hokuriku area pass expires.


      Takeshi /

      • BD says:

        Hello Takehsi san

        Thank you for your response.

        I will get haruka to get me from KIX/Kyoto and Osaka/KIX.
        I will see if i can push Nara on day 2. I amworried my boy will be tired.

        I will take Takayama Hokoriku pass to get me from Kyoto to Osaka on day 5 plus USJ on day 7 & 8.

        For inside Kyoto and Osaka
        Kyoto sightseeing two days Pass
        Amazing Osaka pass

        I hope I understand your advice correctly.

        Domo arigatou

        • Hi BD san,

          If you go to Nara on day 2, you will use Kansai area pass 2 days. You don’t need to have ICOCA and Haurka on day 1. If you don’t go to Nara on day 2, you need ICOCA and Haruka. So you need to decide which you go to Nara on day 2 or not when you arrive in KIX.

          I think you have understood correctly for the rest of your trip.


          Takeshi /

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