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. Li Ling says:


    I would like to ask about the train pass throughout holiday in Japan. My itinerary will be as below:-

    (Use Haruka & ICOCA pass- Return)
    Day 1 – KIX to Kyoto (Stay near Kyoto Station)

    (Use Kyoto 2 day sight Seeing Pass for Day 2 & Day 3)
    Day 2 – Fushimi Inari – Kiyomizudera – Nishiki Market – Gion
    Day 3 – Nara & Arashiyama

    (Start Use JR Kansai Hokuriku Pass – 7 Day)
    Day 4 – Travel to Kanazawa (JR Thunderbird) then take Nohi Bus(return fare) to Shirakawago. Overnight.

    Day 5 – Travel to Kobe (JR Thunderbird). Visit Kitano-cho & kobe Harbourland (Mosaic). Overnight at Kobe

    (Start using San-in Area Pass – 4 day)
    Day 6 – Travel to Tottori (JR hamakaze or JR Tokaido or JR Super Hakuto )- Visit Sand Dunes
    [Can i take train direct from Kobe to Tottori station exercise both pass route at the same time? Both train meet at certain station]

    Day 7 – Sakaiminato (Mizuki Shigeru Musem) — Conan Street — Tottori Station

    Day 8 – Travel back to Osaka

    Day 9 – Travel to Shirahama – Sadenbeki Cave – Shirahama Beach – Tore Tore Market

    Day 10 – To Wakayama (Cat Station) – Kuroisho Market – Back to Osaka

    Use Amazing Osaka Pass
    Day 11 – Osaka
    Day 12 – Osaka – KIX (night flight)

    Many thanks

    Li Ling

    • Hi Li Ling,

      I don’t think you need 2 days Kyoto sightseeing pass. Nara is outside coverage area and Arashiyama can be accessed from Kyoto station by JR train. You can use ICOCA for both places and you need only one day sightseeing card.

      You can take both Super Hakuto and Hamanakaze from Kobe to Tottori by these two passes.


      Takeshi /

  2. Carina says:

    Takeshi San,

    I was going through the website and I am still a bit confused and your help would be greatly appreciated. We are planning a 6 day trip between Osaka, Kyoto and Nara. Looking at all the possible passes which would be the best option of landing in Osaka, straight to Kyoto for 3 days, 1 day Nara and the rest in Osaka and back to the airport afterwards. I did read your 7 day guide but I am trying to plan for my parents and as little transfer or over the counter interactions would be the best..

    (Having the JRPass was much easier for me last year)


    • Hi Carina,

      In Kyoto, there are many places to see and you need to take bus or subways.

      But if you stay near Kyoto station, you can access there from KIX by direct train Haruka. That may help your parents. Nara can be accessed by Kintetsu railway from Kyoto. JR can take you to Nara too but Kintetsu Nara station is better location.

      In Osaka, it’s hard to choose the location to stay. JR Osaka station is most accessible from JR Kyoto station. And it’s located in Umeda that is one of downtown core in Osaka.

      So try to choose these locations to stay. You have to take subway or local bus to visit the places in these cities anyway. But if your parents are struggle to take many trains, consider to hire the taxi. It’s expensive (I don’t have a rate) but it’s much easier. Especially in Kyoto, bus is always busy.


      Takeshi /

  3. Grace says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    This is my first trip to Japan ( 5 days each for Tokyo & Osaka) and I am quite clueless how to start with. I will be arriving Tokyo NRT airport & transfer to Osaka city. From Osaka to Kyoto, Kobe, Nara etc then back to Tokyo city. I am not sure if it is more worthwhile to buy the JR pass or Nozomi pass or Kansai pass ? I read from few website but still not very clear as some pass are more expensive.

    Kindly help to advise…many thanks.

  4. Wena says:

    We will be coming in december 27 to January 2.

    I think we will follow your itinerary for Osaka/Kyoto/Kobe/narra. Would it be good to visit during the winter? Are there any places closed during the New year holidays?

    What area would it be best to stay during our entire stay/


    • Hi Wena,

      It’s no problem in winter season. It does not have snow in winter season.
      Many stores and restaurants will close early on New Years eve. And those are closed on New Years day. And temples and shrines are very busy in New Years day.


      Takeshi /

  5. Sonia Ong says:

    I want to visit kyoto, tokyo and hakone in per day basis but for day tour only. I have rented a place in osaka. Pls help us with the convenient and fastest means of transpo. Thank you for your help

  6. Sonia ong says:

    Hello, is it possible to visit the following placesin seven days? I mean from osaka to kyoto to mt fuji and tokyo. What is the most possible route and means of transportation ? And we want to visit these places rhru day trips only. Pls suggest the most convenient and fastest means because we press against time. Thank you and will be waiting for your reply. Pls send your repjy thru my e mail add.

    • Hi Sonia,

      Do you want to visit Kyoto, Fuji and Tokyo in one day from Osaka? And which part of Fuji do you want to go, Hakone or Lake Kawaguchi? Please tell me more detail about what you want.

      And you asked me to reply by email but I don’t contact any readers by email. I can answer your question but on this site only.


      Takeshi /

  7. Ken Adams says:

    Hi, Takeshi,

    We are making our first trip to japan next summer. We arrive at NRT late afternoon on Day 1 and will stay in Tokyo for 3 full days before departing to Yokohama for a 9 day cruise. Returning to Yokohama Port, we intend to take the Shinkansen to Osaka for 4 days of visits to Osaka, Kyoto, and wherever else we can go before returning to NRT for flight home. Is it possible to do day trips from Osaka to Kyoto or should we plan to change hotels and stay in Kyoto proper? Any tips on an itinerary would be most appreciated. As a fan of the NHK Taiga Doramas, I am really looking forward to actually seeing the country!

  8. Bob says:

    Hi Takeshi,
    Thank you so much for this wonderful website. Could you please review our itinerary for out first trip to Japan in late October? Please advise if we should get the 7 day JR pass and also which pass to get while staying in our base cities and taking side trips. With our many side trips, which area of Osaka will you suggest us to stay at? Our itinerary is still preliminary so your suggestions on moving things around to make it better are very welcomed. On our last day, is it possible to go from Hakone to HND for 21:45 departure?

    Thank you very much!

    Osaka 1 Osaka – arrive at KIX 14:55
    Osaka 2 Osaka
    Osaka 3 Osaka
    Osaka 4 – JR1 Osaka day trip to Kobe and Himeji
    Osaka 5 – JR2 Osaka day trip to Amanohashidate sandbar
    Miyajima – JR3 Osaka to Hiroshima and Miyajima
    Kyoto 1 – JR4 Miyajima to Kyoto – Eastern Kyoto
    Kyoto 2 – JR5 Kyoto – Arashiyaman – Sagano Scenic Railway
    Tokyo 1 – JR6 Kyoto to Tokyo
    Tokyo 2 – JR7 Tokyo day trip Yokohama
    Tokyo 3 Tokyo
    Tokyo 4 Tokyo day trip Izu?
    Tokyo 5 Tokyo (Odaiba)
    Tokyo 6 Tokyo day trip Kawagoe ?
    Tokyo 7 Tokyo
    Tokyo 8 Tokyo to Hakone – use Fuji Hakone freepass?
    Hakone 1 Hakone – follow Odakyu Fuji Hakone course
    Hakone 2 Hakone – follow Odakyu Fuji Hakone course
    Last day Hakone to Haneda to depart – How?

  9. Stefan says:

    Hello Takeshi-san,

    I´m arriving at Kyoto on September 25th (by train from Hiroshima). We have a Japan Rail Pass. We stay for five nights at Monterey Kyoto and want to do a lot sightseeing in Kyoto and the surrounding area. Your suggested itinerary for five to seven days sounds very interesting. Can I use my JR Pass for some of the trips?
    On September 30th we have to travel to Kansai Airport (from Kyoto). Can we use JR Pass? Thank you in advance, best wishes, Stefan

  10. S Lim says:

    hi Takeshi-san,
    Could you please advise me on transport options for my coming Sept travelling? we are travelling in a group of 3 adults.

    Day 1: morning 8am arriving KIX airport – Kyoto – Arashiyama
    Day 2: Golden Temple – Nijo jo – Kiyomizu Temple
    Day 3: Fushimi Inari Taisha – Kobe – Arima Onsen
    Day 4: Arima Onsen – Kobe – Osaka Namba or shinsaibashi
    Day 5: Osaka sightseeing – kuramon market, city sightseeing
    Day 6: head to airport

    Hope you can give me some suggestions on which transport means and deals will be the best for us. thank you very much in advance!!

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