If you’ve got one week in Japan and don’t want to travel much, an Osaka-Kyoto itinerary is a great way to see both modern and traditional Japan. Here’s how to do it.
Osaka and Kyoto 1-Week Itinerary Summary
- A good breakdown is 2 days in Osaka and 4 in Kyoto.
- Kansai International Airport (KIX) is the most convenient airport to Osaka and Kyoto.
- A Japan Rail Pass is not a good idea for this itinerary, but a Kansai Thru Pass may be.
- The biggest decision you must make is which city to visit first: Osaka or Kyoto? Here, we’ll suggest visiting Osaka first, but you could easily switch them around.
- Note that the Osaka section of this itinerary is a summary of our Osaka 2-Day Itinerary. Visit our Osaka 2-Day Itinerary page for full details on that itinerary.
- Note that the Kyoto section of this itinerary is a summary of our Kyoto 3-Day Itinerary. Visit our Kyoto 3-Day Itinerary page for full details on that itinerary.
Day 1: Arrive and travel to Osaka
As noted above, the most convenient airport to Osaka is Kansai International Airport (KIX). See our Osaka Airport Transport page for details on getting from KIX to Osaka.
Day 2: Osaka: Osaka Bay Area and Kita District
- 9:30am: Travel to the Osaka Bay Area
- 10am: Visit Osaka Aquarium (Kaiyukan)
- 11:30: Eat Lunch at Tempozan Marketplace
- 1pm: Travel from Osaka Bay Area to the Kita District
- 1:30pm: Explore the Kita District
- 3pm: Travel to the Osaka Castle Area
- 3:30pm: Visit Osaka Castle
- 6pm: Dinner in Kita, Minami or Central Osaka.
Day 3: Osaka: Minami District and Tennoji
- 9:30: Travel to the Minami
- 10am: Explore Minami
- Noon: Dotombori Area and Lunch
- 1:30pm: Visit Hozenji Yokocho
- 2:30pm: Walk through Doguyasuji Arcade
- 3:30pm: Visit Den-Den Town
- 5:30pm: Eat dinner in Minami
- 7:30pm: Check out the evening views from the Abeno Harukas 300 observation decks in Tennoji
Day 4: Kyoto: Travel to Kyoto and Explore Southern Higashiyama and Downtown
- 9am: Travel from Osaka to Kyoto. If necessary, either drop your luggage at your hotel or put it in the lockers or luggage storage office at Kyoto Station.
- 10am: Visit Kiyomizu-dera Temple.
- 11am: Walk down Sannen-zaka and Ninen-zaka.
- Noon: Enter Shoren-in Temple and enjoy a cup of tea overlooking the garden.
- 1pm: Get on the Tozai Subway Line at Higashiyama Station and get off at Kyoto Shiyakushomae (downtown).
- 1:30pm: Eat lunch downtown and explore Nishiki Market and the food floor at nearby Daimaru Department Store.
- 3pm: Take the Keihan Line to Fushimi-Inari Station and walk to nearby Fushimi-Inari Taisha Shrine.
- Dusk: Return to your hotel and relax and freshen up. (For Kyoto hotel recommendations, see the Kyoto Hotels page).
- Evening: Eat dinner downtown, then walk over to Shimbashi in Gion and keep your eyes peeled for geisha.
Day 5: Kyoto: Arashiyama, Kinkaku-ji and Daitoku-ji
- 8:30am: Head west to Arashiyama.
- 9:00am: Enter Tenryu-ji Temple.
- 10:00am: Leave Tenryu-ji Temple by the north gate and explore the Bamboo Forest for about half an hour.
- 10:30am: Leave the Bamboo Forest and enter Okochi-Sanso Villa.
- 11:30am: Leave Okochi-Sanso Villa and return to central Arashiyama. Eat a simple lunch of noodles or rice in one of the shokudo (simple eateries) on the main strip.
- 12:30pm: Take a taxi over to Kinkaku-ji Temple, the famed “Golden Pavilion” in Northwest Kyoto.
- 1:00pm: Explore Kinkaku-ji Temple.
- 2:00pm: Take a taxi down to Daitoku-ji Temple and enjoy the peace and quiet of a small subtemple there. Consider Koto-in Temple.
- 3:00pm: Take the Karasuma Subway Line to Shijo Station and enjoy a bit of shopping or café life.
- 4:00pm: Take a rest at your hotel.
- 6:00pm: Eat dinner downtown and then take an evening stroll on Pontocho Alley or on Kiyamachi-dori south of Shijo-dori.
Day 6: Kyoto: Kurama/Kibune and Northern Higashiyama
- Morning: Take a day trip to Kurama and Kibune (ideally, hike over the mountain from Kurama to Kibune).
- Afternoon: Visit the Northern Higashiyama area: Ginkaku-ji Temple, Honen-in Temple, the Path of Philosophy and Nanzen-ji Temple.
Day 7: Travel Back to Kansai International Airport (KIX)
- Return to Kansai International Airport (KIX). See our Osaka Airport Transport page for details on getting from KIX to Osaka.
Special Ticket Deals
- Since you won’t be riding Japan Rail (JR) trains much on this itinerary, you won’t save money by buying a Japan Rail Pass. However, you might save money by buying a Haruka/Icoca combo ticket, which will cover a roundtrip ticket on the Haruka airport express between KIX and either Kyoto or Osaka (you might have to pay cash for the final Kyoto-Osaka section on the Haruka, but you’d still save money). For details, visit the JR Haruka/Icoca page.
- Another ticket that might save you some money would be the Kansai Thru Pass, which won’t cover JR trains, but will cover all private rail lines in Kansai (Kyoto and Osaka, etc), as well as bus and subway lines in those cities. Visit the Kansai Thru Pass page for more details.
- It’s important to stay somewhere central and convenient in each city in order to save time and money on transport.
- See our Where to Stay in Osaka page for details on where to stay in Osaka.
- See our Where to Stay in Kyoto page for details on where to stay in Kyoto.
Where Are These Places Located?See these places on the Inside Osaka Google map:
- Open the Osaka map
- You will see the list of places on the left hand side. (Click the 3-line icon in the top left corner if not). Scroll down or use the map search (the magnifying glass icon) to find the place you want.
- Click the name of the place in the list. Its location pin will be highlighted on the map.
- Map pins are color coded - BLUE: Hotels / Ryokan / Guesthouses | VIOLET: Ryokan | PINK: Places to Eat | GREEN: Shops | YELLOW: Things to See and Do
- If you're using the map on your phone, open the map and then search for the name of the place. The map will then zoom in on its location.
Osaka Vacation Checklist
- For all the essentials in a brief overview, see my First Time In Osaka guide
- Check Osaka accommodation availability and pricing on Booking.com – usually you can reserve a room with no upfront payment. Pay when you check out. Free cancellations too
- Need tips on where to stay? See my one page guide Where To Stay In Osaka
- You can buy a Japan SIM card online for collection on arrival at Osaka's Kansai International Airport. Or rent an unlimited data pocket wifi router
- View my comprehensive Packing List For Japan
- Compare flight prices and timings to find the best Japan flight deals
- If you're visiting more than one city, save a ton of money with the Japan Rail Pass – here's why it's worth it
- Get a prepaid Icoca card to make travelling around Osaka easy – here's how
- Find out why travel insurance for Japan is essential – World Nomads is well-regarded