This week, I asked some fellow travel bloggers for the best day trips from Kyoto. Transport networks are excellent in Japan with high-speed trains, making it easy. In fact, you can now get to Tokyo from Kyoto in just 2 hours and 20 mins! Top day trips from Kyoto include Osaka, Nara, Nagoya, and Arima Onsen.
Day Trip from Kyoto to Osaka
By Amber from With Husband In Tow
Osaka is a food traveler’s paradise and the perfect day trip from Kyoto. Located less than 60km (40 miles) from each other, travelers can ride the world-famous Shinkansen high-speed train and arrive in the heart of Osaka in only 15 minutes.
This leaves plenty of time during a day trip to experience the “Kitchen of Japan” as local residents often refer to Osaka. The first stop on any day trip to Osaka should be Dontonburi. The main tourist and eating district of Osaka, Dontonburi is lined with an abundance of local food speciality restaurants. When it comes to what to eat in Osaka, try the two most famous dishes Okonomiyaki (a Japanese-style pancake) and Takoyaki (fried octopus balls). Or, stop at one of the city’s famous conveyor belt sushi restaurants.
After you have stuffed yourself, head over to 16th century Osaka Castle to explore part of Osaka’s past. Considered one of the Japanese greatest castles, Osaka Castle is a very popular attraction, especially during cherry blossom season. For a taste of the city’s recent past, head over to Shinsekai, Osaka’s old downtown district. Packed with shops selling retro clothing and housewares, the Shinsekai district is home to the Tsutenkaku tower. Osaka’s ode to the Eiffel Tower, the structure offers 360-degree views of Osaka. For even better views, Umeda Sky Building in the Kita district rises 173 meters above the city.
For baseball lovers, consider planning a day trip around the Hanshin Tigers schedule. The stadium is located a short train ride from the center of the city. Osaka also offers loads of shopping opportunities for daytrippers. Kuromon Market has housed vendors for over 190 years and is one of the largest markets in Japan. Between all of the food and shopping, Osaka offers an entirely different experience from its more cultured and historic neighbor, Kyoto.
Day Trip from Kyoto to Arima Onsen
James Ian at Travel Collecting
Arima Onsen, in Mount Rokko, the hills just north of Kobe, is an easy day trip from Kyoto. It has been an onsen (hot springs) town for about 1,000 years. It is famous for its gold (kinsen) and silver (ginsen) waters. The “gold” (actually a reddish-brown) water gets its color from iron, and also has very high levels of salt (much saltier than the sea). It has therapeutic qualities for ailments such as arthritis. The “silver” (actually clear, colorless) water is bubbly (carbonic) water that is good for circulation and metabolism. There is also a second type of “silver” water that has very low amounts of radium which helps muscle fatigue and boosts your immune system.
Even if you aren’t seeking these curative qualities, soaking in hot mineral spring water is a wonderful way to spend a day. You can even go to an outdoor onsen, which is my favorite. Sitting in hot water, in cool mountain air is so relaxing! Arima Onsen is a great day trip, but it’s also worth considering staying in ryokan (traditional inn) overnight to get the full benefit.
To get to Arima Onsen, take the train from Kyoto to Shin Osaka and then the Arima bus (about one hour 40 minutes) or a bus directly from Kyotoeki Bus stop just near Kyoto JR train station (about one hour 20 minutes). For a longer, but more scenic route (train – cable car – ropeway), take the train to Kobe and then the Rokko Cable Car up the mountain to the Rokko Sanjo Station and then transfer to the Rokko Arima Ropeway.
Day Trip from Kyoto to Nara
Paul Fournier from JourneyCompass
After you’ve figured out where to stay and what to do in Kyoto, Nara is a great worth while day trip to add to your itinerary too. Its main attraction is the deer park, where you can see hundreds of deer roam free. And since they’re used to humans, you can feed them too. It’s a unique experience.
Apart from that, the city itself is worth exploring too with its traditional architecture. The Todaiji Temple and the Kasuga Shrine being some of the highlights.
The easiest way to get from Kyoto to Nara is via train, with either the JR or the private Kintetsu line. The travel time is about an hour, though the Kintetsu line is a bit faster when taking a direct express, and it’s more comfortable too.
Day trip from Kyoto to Nagoya
By Lena Scheidler from Nagoya Foodie
If you are a foodie like me and are interested in exploring different Japanese local cuisine then you should make a day trip to Nagoya just to enjoy the food. Some of the amazing foods to try in Nagoya (https://nagoyafoodie.com/nagoya-food-guide/) include Hitsumabushi, grilled freshwater eel on rice, Kishimen, flat and broad noodles in a hot broth, and Tebasaki, Nagoya style chicken wings which are perfect with a cold beer or Chuuhi.
Of course, there are other things to do besides food. You could visit Nagoya Castle or one of the most important Japanese shrines called Atsuta Jingu. There is also an old shopping arcade called Osu Shopping Street which is worth checking out.
From Kyoto, the fastest way is by Shinkansen, bullet train, which costs around 5500 yen (55 US dollars) and takes just over half an hour. If you have a Japan Rail Pass this is free. Another option is taking a local train. You will need to change trains at Maibara Station. The local train takes about 2 hours and costs 2500 yen (25 US dollars).
Further reading on Kyoto
I also recommend this 2 day Kyoto itinerary by my friend Mia Hargrave.
Don’t Forget Your Travel Insurance
Travel insurance is so important as it will help you with emergencies and unexpected costs on your trip. Make sure that you declare any pre-existing health conditions so that you are covered for those. Check your cover for accidents and medical care and also lost baggage or getting things stolen. Remember to report as soon as something goes wrong on your trip because some travel insurance companies require you to report something that you want to claim for within 24 hours. Read the fine print carefully when you sign up. I always recommend World Nomads. You can get a free quote here: