Traveling to Kyoto from Osaka: One day trip

by TripleLights travel specialist

If you’re looking for information about a one day trip to Kyoto from Osaka, you’re in the right place. Kyoto is a great place to go on a day trip since it’s only about 15 - 30 minutes away by train. There’s a lot to see but since it’s so close, it’s almost as if it’s in the same city. So having your accommodations in Osaka is not a problem.

If you’re only planning to be in Kyoto for one day, you won’t have time to wander around the city aimlessly so make sure to create an itinerary to follow. And try to research how much time it will take from one sightseeing spot to another, how much time you want to spend at each place, and around what time or area would be a good time to fit in a lunch break. A lot of temples and shrines close in the early evening, so you’ll need to think about that as well when you’re making your plans. You can get some ideas for your itinerary here.

 

How to get to Kyoto

The fastest way to get to Kyoto from Osaka is by Shinkansen. It’s only a 15 minute ride. For those of you who have a Japan Rail Pass, if you ride on the non-reserved seating car, there’s no extra fee. But be aware you can only ride the “Hikari” and “Kodama” Shinkansens and not the “Nozomi”. For people who don’t have a Japan Rail Pass, it’s 1,420 yen one way for a non-reserved ticket on any Shinkansen.

Traveling to Kyoto from Osaka: One day trip

You can also get to Kyoto by regular train. There are two types of trains you can use, the JR train or the Hankyu train. They are two different train companies.

The easiest and the fastest way is to use the JR line. You’ll need to get on the “Shin-Kaisoku” or new express train. You can get on from either JR Osaka station or JR Shin-Osaka station. The cost is 560 yen one way and it takes 25 - 30 minutes depending on which station you get on from. You’ll be arriving at JR Kyoto station. The only downside is that JR Kyoto station is a bit of a distance from the center of the city where places like the famous Gion area is located.

Traveling to Kyoto from Osaka: One day trip

The other route is to use the Hankyu train from Hankyu Umeda station in Osaka to Kawaramachi station in Kyoto. Umeda station is actually connected to JR Osaka station, though it’s a 5 - 10 walk from one station to the other. And Kawaramachi station is in the center of Kyoto city, so it’s easier to go shopping or sightseeing from there, and it is close to the Gion area. In order to get there, you need to take the Limited Express (“Tokkyu” in Japanese) bound for Kawaramachi station. It takes about 45 minutes and the cost is 400 yen one way.



Famous sightseeing spots in Kyoto

Kiyomizudera Temple 

Kiyomizudera was designated as a World Heritage Site in 1994. It was founded at the location of the Otowa Waterfall in 780, hence the name of the temple, Kiyomizu, meaning pure water in Japanese. The roof of the main hall has been under renovation since February 2017 and will continue to do so until March 2020. However, it’s still possible to go inside to sightsee.

Kiyomizudera is famous for the large balcony outside the main hall. It is called the “stage” of Kiyomizu in Japanese. And you’ll see why when you see it. It hangs 13 meters high in the air like a performance stage you can view from the surrounding hillside below. As you can imagine, the view from the platform is amazing. In the spring, there are pink cherry blossoms everywhere. And in the autumn, the woods become like a carpet of red, yellow, and orange maple trees.

Kiyomizuzaka, which is the long sloping street leading to the temple, is the best place to do some shopping. You’ll find lots of shops lining the streets with souvenirs of Kyoto and many Japanese knick knacks you can’t help but buy. And there are restaurants or cafes to stop by if you need to take a break from all the sightseeing.

 

Ryoanji Temple 

The rock garden at Ryoanji Temple is said to be the most famous rock garden in Japan. It is a simple but somehow beautiful and soothing scene that hundreds of tourists come to see every day. It’s less crowded in the early morning so that is the best time to visit. The temples were originally built in the Heian Era as a villa of an aristocrat. Then in 1450, it was converted into a Zen temple.

The garden can be viewed from the Hojo building. When the garden was created or who designed it is unknown. The Zen garden is in a rectangular shape and has grey rocks placed at several points in a sea of small white pebbles. It has a curious and highly calculated design in which at least one of the rocks is hidden from view by another rock at any angle you look at the garden from. If you don’t believe me, try looking at the garden from multiple standpoints. You’ll find that it’s true. The meaning of the placement of these 15 rocks is unknown. Some say it represents an old Chinese theme of a tiger carrying her cubs across a body of water.

 

Ginkakuji Temple 

Traveling to Kyoto from Osaka: One day trip

Many Japanese people sightseeing in Kyoto think of Ginkakuji Temple (Silver Pavilion) and Kinkakuji Temple (Golden Pavilion) as a set, because of the names of these temples have the color silver or “gin” and gold or “kin” in their names. But if you go to Ginkakuji Temple thinking that it’s covered in silver, just as Kinkakuji Temple is covered in gold leaf, you’ll be sorely disappointed. The temple actually has another official name, but as it was modeled after Kinkakuji, it is called by this more popular name.

It was built as a villa for Yoshimasa Ashikaga, but was converted into a Zen Temple after his death. There are several buildings along with a moss garden and a dry sand garden. These unique gardens can be enjoyed by following the circular path. It takes you up onto the hill side so that you can enjoy a wonderful view of the entire temple grounds.

 

Arashiyama 

Arashiyama is popular for its green bamboo forest. It’s about 30 minutes away from central Kyoto but well worth the train ride. You’ll find several temples in this area surrounded by nature. However, since it’s such a popular sightseeing spot, you’ll also find a great many tourists there as well. To be able to visit this area without navigating the crowds, going there early in the morning is best.

The Togetsukyo bridge is also a highlight. In the cherry blossom season of spring, the bridge is illuminated so that it creates a mystical scene with the cherry blossoms in the background. It’s also an area popular in the summertime since it’s closeness to the river and the shade of the trees makes the heat of summer a little more bearable.

 

Blogs about Kyoto

Gion Kyoto: Complete Guide before you Go 

Transportation in Kyoto, Osaka, Nara and around

How to go from Tokyo to Kyoto - Bus, Train, JR Pass, Shinkansen and more

 

Tips and Recommendations

If you’re not too keen about thinking up an itinerary by yourself or researching how to get from one sightseeing spot to the other, then why don’t you just hire a tour guide to pick you up in Osaka, take you to Kyoto and back? It’s much easier and less stressful than trying to do something you don’t feel up to doing. Below are some tours to consider.

Your most memorable Kyoto tour by Local Guide Kazuhisa 

One day Highlights of Kyoto tour by Local Guide Yasuo

 

And if you are confident enough to travel to Kyoto by yourselves, you can just have a tour guide meet you at Kyoto station or Kawaramachi station. They can make sure to get you back to the same station at the end of your tour and help you to get on the train that will take you back to Osaka. Below are some web pages to help you choose a one day tour of Kyoto.

One Day Kyoto Highlights tour by Local Guide Mari

Customized One Day Tour of Kyoto by Local Guide Kenji

 

Want to make your Kyoto trip more Interesting? Here's how! 

TripleLights the Best Private Tours and Locals Guides across Japan.

If you are interested to know more and save your time during your trip to Kyoto, you can Send a Message to our local guides to get a customized itinerary and quotation for an unforgettable experience.

You also can Request a Tour just for You. Just type what you would like to see and guides all over Tokyo will send you quotes and their recommendations according to your interested and budget. 

TripleLights website you can find the best professional Local Guides all across Japan to help you plan your trip. Check our Private Tours for Kyoto

Need help planning your trip to Kyoto ?

If you are interested to know more and save your time during your trip to Kyoto, You can send a message to our local guides to get a customized itinerary and quotation for an unforgettable experience.

In the TripleLights website you can find the best professional guides all over Japan to help you plan your trip. Check our local guides for Kyoto


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“ Two days in Kyoto ”

Excellent
4 hours ago Traveler: Alon -   Tour Guide: Kaori

Kaori guided us (me and my 24 years old twins ,from Israel) for 2 days in Kyoto. We had an amazing time with her! Kaori has great knowledge and she planned our days in a great way so we got to see and learn about the main city attractions in the best way we could. Kaori also knew how to adjust the plans according to weather and our preferences. We highly recommend choosing her for your trip.
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Very professional caring and courteous guide. Very knowledgeable and informative .Lots of good energy Wholehearted PLUS recommendation
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1 day ago Traveler: Ankita -   Tour Guide: ERIC

We had planned to stay 4 days of our 9 day stay in Japan but Typhoon Hagibis put paid to that. Our flights got cancelled 3 days in a row which meant we ended up going to Tokyo directly. I was determined to do at least a day trip to Kyoto even if it meant travelling 2 hrs 40 mins each way on the bullet train. This left us about 8 hours in Kyoto and Eric planned it brilliantly for us He met us at ...
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We would definitely recommend a tour with Mak, he is friendly knowledgable and nothing was too much trouble He guided us through purchasing our rail tickets and suggested best lunch options to take for our picnic lunch We had a wonderful day visiting such beautiful sights
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Yuki was an excellent guide. With a sense of humour and relaxed and patient manner he was enjoyable company. He spoke excellent English and gave considered and intelligent explanations to our many questions. Yuki planned an itinerary that met our interests perfectly. We explored interesting areas of Kyoto not on the usual tourist trail. Yuki went out of his way to make it an excellent experienc...
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Kazu San was a excellent guide. We took a two day Half day tour thru Kyoto with him. We found him to be very pleasant and informative. He kept in touch with me all the time until I arrived from the United States. He is extremely efficient and will help you with all your questions in Kyoto. I would highly recommend him. Jack, Linda Los Angeles
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