5 best one-day trips from Kyoto
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Planning a vacation in Kyoto? But why plan to visit only Kyoto? Japan is not a big country, so if you have several days here, it would be a great idea for you to make trips to other parts as well. As small a country Japan may be geographically, it’s no question that there are myriad things you can do and places you can visit. Kyoto is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Japan, but it only represents only a fraction of what this country has to offer. If you are staying in the country for several days, then we highly recommend that you explore other places as well, as they are just as fascinating and memorable. Here, let us present to you some of the best vacation destinations outside Kyoto. Don’t get us wrong, we still want you to enjoy Kyoto; we’ll also lay out a few itineraries to fully enjoy Kyoto in one day.
- 1 Why you should go on a day trip from Kyoto
- 2 Day trip destinations from Kyoto: Top 5 picks
- 3 Enjoy sightseeing in Kyoto in one day
Why you should go on a day trip from Kyoto
It’s true that Kyoto is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Japan. One of the reasons is that there are countless places to visit and things to do here. So why even bother to visit anywhere else? Well, not surprisingly, Kyoto is not the only prominent city to go sightseeing in Japan. Just think of many other fascinating paces waiting for you to be discovered.
-Lesser known, equally worthwhile
Those who come to this ancient city will find out that it is home to some of the most widely recognized landmarks and culturally significant festivals in the country. But as great a city Kyoto may be, there are so many other places you can visit to enjoy the variety of beauty and culture that Japan has to offer. For example, Nara, located just south of Kyoto, is another ancient city that once served as the capital of Japan, long before Kyoto did. Kanazawa, another historic city, is home to one of the Three Great Gardens of Japan, Kenroku-en.
It helps that Kyoto sits near the central part of the main island of Honshu, as this makes roundtrip visits to surrounding cities quite easy. Take advantage of the sophisticated network of public transport, such as the bullet train, and discover what other places have to offer.
-Avoiding the crowd
Additionally, going to these other equally fascinating destinations outside Kyoto enables you to avoid the overwhelming crowds that the city experience. It is estimated that more than 50 million people visited the city in 2017. Walking among a big crowd can be stressful, so having an option to visit other parts of Japan can be beneficial when planning your trip here.
Day trip destinations from Kyoto: Top 5 picks
As mentioned earlier, the great advantage of being in Kyoto is that the city sits in the central region of Honshu island, which makes it easy to travel to other cities in all directions. Many of these popular cities lie quite close from Kyoto, making it possible to visit there in a single day. Here are five of our top picks for great day trip destinations that are reachable from Kyoto.
1.Nara Park, Nara
The city of Nara once served as the capital of ancient Japan, long before Tokyo and Kyoto. The city still attracts many tourists, but it is slightly less crowded than the neighboring Kyoto. Nara Park is one of the oldest parks in Japan, and it consists of many famous landmarks including the great Todai-ji and Nara National Museum. The latter is the home of the annual exhibition of Syoso-in treasures during autumn, showcasing select artefacts from roughly 9,000 items that are said to be stored inside Syoso-in.
Train ride to Nara Station from Kyoto Station takes about one hour.
2.Osaka Castle, Osaka
Osaka, the third largest city in Japan, is home to numerous sightseeing spots just like Kyoto or Nara. Close to the central part of the city rises the impressive Osaka Castle, one of the most recognizable structures in all of Japan. The castle is open year-round for visitors to experience its surrounding beauty and learn about its historical significance.
Osaka-jo-koen Station (Osaka Loop Line) is the nearest train station. Take the JR Kyoto line from Kyoto to Osaka Station, and transfer to the Osaka Loop Line there.
3.Itsukushima Shrine, Hiroshima
The city of Hiroshima is located on the western part of Honshu. If you are fascinated by the beauty of Japan, you may have seen a picture of the monumental orange torii gate rising from the sea. Itsukushima Shrine, located on the Itsukushima Island, is a place of scenic beauty and religious importance. On the island you can also take a hike on Mount Misen to enjoy the colorful autumn leaves or to experience the sacred atmosphere there.
One-way trip to the island takes 3 – 4 hours from Kyoto Station. Take the bullet train from Kyoto to Hiroshima Station first, and transfer to JR Sanyo line there. Take the train from Hiroshima to Miyajima-guchi Station, where the ferry port to the island resides.
Kanazawa may be one of the lesser-known vacation spots to some foreigners, but if you love Kyoto, then you’ll surely love Kanazawa as well. Similar to Kyoto, Kanazawa boasts historic pedestrian streets and marketplaces, and you can even see geisha there as well. But no trip to Kanazawa would be complete without visiting Kenroku-en, one of the Three Great Gardens of Japan.
To Kanazawa Station, itself renowned for its structural beauty, take the JR’s Thunderbird Express from Kyoto, which takes just over 2 hours.
5.Kobe Port Tower, Kobe
The world-famous Kobe beef is the namesake of the city of Kobe. The city is located to the west of Osaka, and is home to yet another popular landmark, Kobe Port Tower. The surrounding area consists of parks like Kobe Harborland and Meriken Park, offering many fun activities for you to experience.
These are all located in the vicinity of Kobe Station, which only takes an hour from Kyoto.
Enjoy sightseeing in Kyoto in one day
Now that we’ve shown you some of the great cities you can go from Kyoto, here we will show some itinerary examples for a one-day Kyoto trip. A well-planned itinerary will keep you from wandering around the city needlessly and lets you have extra days so you can plan trips to other destinations in Japan as well.
The first itinerary shows an example of a day trip to Kyoto from Tokyo, and the second one takes you to Kyoto from Osaka.
Tokyo to Kyoto
7:00 am: Take bullet train from Tokyo Station to Kyoto Station (2hr12min, \13,080). Bullet train is definitely the fastest and the easiest means of transportation between Tokyo and Kyoto.
9:30 am: Arrive at Kyoto Station. Take City Bus from Kyoto Station to Kiyomizu-dera (Gojozaka bus stop, 10min, \230).
10:00 am: Arrive at Kiyomizu-dera. We highly recommend that you visit the temple before noon, as it can get very crowded later in the day. Walk to Sannnenzaka (pedestrian street).
11:00am: Walk through Sannenzaka and Ninenzaka to Gion area. There are many joyous souvenir shops and teahouses in these streets.
12:00 pm: Lunch in Gion area. Take Keihan train from Gion-Shijo Station to Fushimi-Inari Station (10min, \210).
2:00 pm: Arrive at Fushimi-Inari Shrine. Take JR train from Fushimi Station to Kyoto Station (10min, \210), then take City Bus from Kyoto Station to Kinkaku-ji (Kinkakujimichi Bus Stop, 37min, \230).
4:30 pm: Arrive at Kinkaku-ji. Take City Bus from Kinkakujimae Bus Stop (not to be confused with Kinkakujimichi) to Shijo-Kawaramachi Bus Stop (30min, \230).
6:30 pm: Dinner in Shijo-Kawaramachi. Take subway from Shijo Station to Kyoto Station (4min, \210).
8:00 pm: Depart Kyoto Station by bullet train.
10:30 pm: Arrive at Tokyo Station.
Osaka to Kyoto
7:00 am: Depart Osaka Station. Bullet train from Shin-Osaka Station to Kyoto Station (13min, \1,420). JR train to from Osaka Station to Kyoto Station (30min, \560).
7:30 am: Arrive at Kyoto Station. Take City Bus from Kyoto Station to Kiyomizu-dera(Gojozaka bus stop, 10min, \230).
8:00 am: Arrive at Kiyomizu-dera. We highly recommend that you visit the temple before noon, as it can get very crowded later in the day.
9:00 am: Walk through Sannenzaka and Ninenzaka (pedestrian streets). Take City Bus from Gojozaka Bus Stop to Kyoto Station, then take JR train from Kyoto Station to Saga-Arashiyama Station(Arashiyama area, 17min, \240)
11:00 am: Arrive at Arashiyama areTake JR train from Saga-Arashiyama Station to Inari Station via Kyoto Station(in total; 35min, \240)
2:00 pm: Arrive at Fushimi-Inari Shrine. Take JR train from Inari Station to Enmachi Station via Kyoto Station (in total; 30 min, \200), then take City Bus from Enmachi Station to Kinkaujimichi Bus Stop (15min, \230).
5:00 pm: Arrive at Kinkaku-ji. Take City Bus from Kinkakujimichi Bus Stop to Shijo-Kawaramachi Bus Stop (30min, \230).
6:30 pm: Arrive at Shijo-Kawaramachi. Dinner in Ponto-cho (historic street where you can find great dining spots). Take Hankyu train from Kawaramachi Station to Umeda Station (Osaka, 1hr5min, \400).
9:00 pm: Arrive at Hankyu Umeda Station.
- I am Nagai Yuichi ,CEO of S-fleage a company in Kyoto. We are spreading the charms of Kyoto to the world. I hope this article is helpful for your experience in Kyoto!