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

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

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

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

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

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. Tan says:

    Hi Emily San,

    Appreciate is u can advise which is the best pass to get if my itinerary as below:

    Day 1- KIX – Kyoto (stay around Kyoto station)
    Day 2 – Visit Kyoto Arashimaya
    Day 3 – Kyoto – Osaka (stay round Umeda station)
    Day 4 – Osaka – Nara (Day trip)
    Day 5 – Osaka – Kobe (Day Trip)
    Day 6 – Osaka sightseeing
    Day 7 – Osaka – KIX

  2. Dear Takeshi san,

    I’ve been reading most of your entries and replies to other inquiries but I am still confused on what to be the best pass or combo to deal with my itinerary. I will be arriving on 24th Jan. 2020 morning. My planned itinerary is as follows:

    Day 1: Kansai (KIX) Arrival then go to Nara [temples and markets]
    Day 2: Higashimuki then attend the Wakakusa Yamayaki and get the late train to Kyoto (Hotel is in the Kyoto Station)
    Day 3: Kyoto – Nishiki Market Breakfast then to Miyama Kayabuki no Sato
    Day 4: Kinkaku-ji in the morning and go to Namba in the afternoon, Osaka Castle at night
    Day 5 and 6: Markets – Kuromon ,Shinsaibashi-suji , Dotonburi feasts, Den den town, Shinsekai (if time permits)
    Osaka Castle at night and Kaiyukan for the other night.
    Day 7: Kuromon, Shitennoji Temple, Shinsekai (if haven’t visited yet)
    20:00 – Kansai International Airport

    Kindly advise what would be the best pass to buy for my itinerary. Looking forward to hear from you. Thank you very much in advance.


  3. Sandra says:

    Hi Takeshi San,

    We are planning to visit Japan during next year Mid-March 2020. It would be greatly appreciated if you are able to review and give advise on my itinerary as below.

    Day 1 :
    Land in Tokyo Haneda Airport
    Day 1 – 5 (4 nights) :
    Exploring around Tokyo cites center (shibuya, shinjuku, harajuku, ginza, asakusa, odaiba..etc)
    Day 5 – 6 (1 night) :
    Depart from Tokyo Shinjuku to Hakone (exploring around hakone area, hakone air museum, hakone shrine, lake ashi etc, overnight at ryokan near Sounzan train station)
    Day 6 – 8 (2 nights)
    Depart from Hakone to Kyoto, stay hotel around Kyoto station
    (explore around Kyoto: Arashiyama, Fushimi Inari, Kinkaku-ji, Kiyomizu-dera, Gion district etc)
    Day 8
    Depart from Kyoto to Nara to Osaka (*with luggage)
    (explore around Nara: visit Nara Park , Todai-ji temple etc)
    Day 8 – 10 (2 nights)
    Exploring around Osaka city center (dotonburi, shinsaibashi, osaka castle, osaka aquarium etc)
    Day 10 night departure

    I have a few questions regarding my itinerary:
    1. Is it worth purchase 7 Days JR Pass based on my itinerary?
    2. In terms of transportation from Shinjuku to Hakone, it is better to take Tokaido Shinkansen (cover by JR Pass) to Odawara Station and bus to Sounzan Station? Or it is better to take direct train Romancecar to reach Hakone then to Odawara and lastly Sounzan Station?
    3. Can you kindly advise the most convenient / fastest transportation from Hakone to Kyoto?
    4. Is it more convenient to take shinkansen from Kyoto to Nara and lastly to Osaka?
    Do you have a better advise to accommodate our luggage while travelling these 3 places, I plan to transfer the luggage from Kyoto to our Osaka stay place, but I not sure how this works)
    5. The pass I needed in this whole trip as below, do I missed out any?
    -7 Days JR Pass
    -Hakone Free Pass
    -Suica Card (for the road that is not cover by JR Pass)
    -Osaka Amazing Pass
    6. I would hope to insert Lake Kawaguchiko or Gotemba Outlet in my itinerary, but I worried it would be too packed. Please do let me know if you have any idea on mind.

    Thank you.

    Best Regards,

  4. Kristine says:

    I’m currently living near Yokohama 🙂

  5. Kristine says:

    I’m currently working here in Japan and planning on an Osaka-Kyoto-Nara-Kobe 7day trip in February. Are there any JR passes that I can use other tha the Visitor limited one’s?

  6. Kay says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    We will be travelling to Japan for 5 days. Can you pls help us with the most convenient travel passes to use:

    Day 1 – Arrive at KIX. Our hotel is located at Namba. Tour around Namba area.
    Day 2 – Universal Studios
    Day 3 – Kyoto (Fushimi Inari and Arashiyama), Nara
    Day 4 – Day trip to Kobe

    We have an ICOCA card already. Is it more convenient to use it or we should do combination of travel passes?


  7. Lorenzo says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    We are planning to go to Osaka on December. Please help us identify which is the best pass to get. Booked our hotel in Namba area and Here is our itinerary:

    Day 1: arrival at kansai airport
    Day 2: osaka
    Day 3: osaka
    Day 4: kyoto
    Day 5: kobe
    Day 6: nara osaka
    Day 7: depart at kansai

    Thank you, Takeshi!

  8. janicetanlh
    Janice Tan says:

    Dear Takeshi san,

    My family of 5 have 5 Pasmo cards from our last visit to Tokyo last year. We plan to visit Osaka/Kyoto early next year. Our Itineraries are:

    KIX to Kyoto, arrive at Kyoto around 6 pm by Haruka limited express. Staying near Kyoto station.
    Day 2 – 5 explore Kyoto to places like Philosophers path, Kiyomizu Dera, Gion etc using trains or bus services and travel to Nagoya for a day trip.
    Day 6 Kyoto to Osaka. Staying near Umeda station.
    Day 7 – 9 explore Osaka Castle, Himeji, Dotonbori etc and travel to Nara for a day trip
    Day 10 from Osaka to KIX by airport limousine bus

    Can you please advise do we need to get the ICOCA cards? Or we can use our Pasmo cards to purchase the Haruka tickets to Kyoto? Will there be a discount? And lastly, can Pasmo card be used widely in Osaka/Kyoto/Nagoya/Nara?

    Thank you so much for your time.

  9. Ann says:

    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

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of
      Takeshi / says:

      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.

      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.


      Takeshi /

      • ken Adams says:

        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?

        • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of
          Takeshi / says:

          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.


          Takeshi /

  10. Emily says:

    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.

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