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. Janice says:

    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.

    • 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.


      Takeshi /

  2. Irene Wong says:


    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. Lilian D says:

    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!

  4. Michael says:

    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. Carol yu says:

    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. Jessie says:

    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

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

    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

    Day 5: (Osaka) JR pass
    Osaka Castle

    Day 6: Airport JR pass

    Appreciate your help Takeshi-san!

  7. Michelle says:

    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.

  8. CJ says:

    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.

  9. Bonita says:

    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!

  10. Roseline says:

    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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