How to Get from OSAKA TO KYOTO: By Train & By Bus

Osaka and Kyoto are two of the most famous destinations in Kansai Region and Japan in general. Oftentimes, people visiting Osaka will never pass up the chance to do a day trip to Kyoto since it will only take them about an hour by train to reach it.

While Osaka is more about tempting gastronomic delights and passionate binge shopping, Kyoto is more on relaxing communion with nature and calming temple-and-shrine pilgrimage. Osaka is restless and electric, while Kyoto is peaceful and transcendental. For travelers who want to experience the best of both worlds, a trip to Kyoto from Osaka is almost always inevitable.

After (or before) you exhaust your energy and money trying out all the good food and scouring the shopping district in Osaka, take a relaxing trip to the UNESCO-listed historic monuments and structures in Kyoto. Other popular sites are Fushimi Inari Shrine, Arashiyama, Imperial Palace, Katsura Imperial Villa, Shugakuin Imperial Villa, Nishiki Market, Higashiyama, and the several museums and festivals.

Getting to Kyoto from Osaka is not too complicated. Here’s how you can travel between Osaka and Kyoto by train and by bus.

There are four railway lines connecting Osaka and Kyoto: JR Shinkansen, JR Kyoto Line, Hankyu Railways, and Keihan Railways.

Downtown Osaka to Kyoto by Train

Via JR Shinkansen (The Fastest Option):

  1. From JR Shin-Osaka Station, take the JR Shinkansen train to Kyoto Station. The JR Shin-Osaka Station is located north of downtown Osaka. If you are coming from central/downtown Osaka, you can ride a train from JR Osaka Station to JR Shin-Osaka Station.
  2. Alight at JR Kyoto Station.

Travel Time: Approximately 15 minutes
Fare: ¥560 + Seat Fee
Seat Fee: ¥860 (unreserved); ¥2,260 (reserved, lean season); ¥3,220 (green seat)
No. of Transfer: None (direct)
Note: For JR Pass holder, you can only use it when riding the Hikari and Kodama trains. The pass doesn’t work for Nozomi trains. JR Kyoto Station is located south of downtown/central Kyoto.

Via JR Kyoto Line:

  1. From JR Osaka Station, take the JR Special Rapid Service train (for Yasu or Nagahama) to JR Kyoto Station.
  2. Alight at JR Kyoto Station.

Travel Time: Approximately 30 minutes
Fare: ¥560
Seat Fee: None
No. of Transfer: None (direct)
Note: JR Kyoto Station is located south of downtown/central Kyoto. The nearby tourist attractions include Kyoto Tower, Kyoto Railway Museum, Nishi Honganji Temple, and Tofukuji Temple among others.

Via Hankyu Railways:

  1. From Hankyu Umeda Station, take the Limited Express train to Kawaramachi Station.
  2. Alight at Kawaramachi Station.

Travel Time: Approximately 45 minutes
Fare: ¥400
Seat Fee: None
No. of Transfer: None (direct)
Note: Kawaramachi Station is located in central Kyoto. Aside from linking downtown Osaka to downtown Kyoto, this railway also connects central Kyoto to the tourist attraction in western Kyoto including Arashiyama. Since this is a private company, it is not covered by JR Pass.

Via Keihan Railways:

  1. From Keihan Yodobashi Station, take the Limited Express train to Sanjo Station.
  2. Alight at Sanjo Station.

Travel Time: Approximately 55 minutes
Fare: ¥410
Seat Fee: None
No. of Transfer: None (direct)
Note: Sanjo Station is located in downtown Kyoto. Aside from linking downtown Osaka to downtown Kyoto, this railway also connects the southern and northern parts of central Kyoto, providing access to most of the popular tourist attractions including Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine. The line terminates at Demachiyanagi Station in Kyoto. This is also a private company, so it is not covered by JR Pass.


Universal Studios to Kyoto by Bus

Take a bus bound for Kyoto Station at Bus Stop #3.

Travel duration is approximately two hours.

The fare is ¥900.


Downtown Osaka to Kyoto by Guided Tour

If you are traveling with kids or seniors, you can also take the Kyoto Day Tour from Osaka offered by Klook. The tour covers English-speaking guide, traditional Japanese meal, and tour bus transportation. The itinerary includes Kiyomizu-dera Temple, Kinkaku-ji, and Fushimi Inari Shrine.

JOIN THIS TOUR


Kansai Airport to Kyoto by Train

Fastest Option:

  1. Take the Limited Express Haruka train to Kyoto Station.
  2. Alight at Kyoto Station

Travel Time: Approximately 70 minutes
Fare: ¥1,880 + Seat Fee
Seat Fee: ¥970 (unreserved); ¥1,290 (reserved, lean season); ¥2,250 (green seat)
No. of Transfer: None (direct)

Cheapest Option:

  1. Take the JR Kansai Airport Rapid Service train (for Kyobashi) to JR Osaka Station.
  2. From JR Osaka Station, transfer to JR Special Rapid Service train (for Nagahama) to JR Kyoto Station.
  3. Alight at JR Kyoto Station.

Travel Time: Approximately 120 minutes
Fare: ¥1,880
Seat Fee: None
No. of Transfer: 1 (Osaka Station)


Kansai Airport to Kyoto by Bus

At the arrival lobby, purchase a limousine bus ticket bound for Kyoto. Limousine buses run twice per hour, stopping and picking up guests at Bus Stop #8. Travel duration is more or less two hours. The fare is ¥2,500 for adults and ¥1,250 for children. You can also book online via Klook.

RESERVE A SEAT HERE


Important Tips

  • Japan’s train system, although reliable and systematic, is extensive and can be very confusing. To help tourists (and even locals) navigate through its vast rail system, maps and booklets are available. You can check other helpful mobile apps too. Another very useful way of breezing your way through Japan’s railway system is Hyperdia. To know more about how it works, check it here: HOW TO USE HYPERDIA for Japan Train Travel
  • For convenience and efficiency, you might want to get an ICOCA IC Card. This is a reloadable card that works for JR, private railways, subway, buses, and even shopping in (and around) Kansai region. For foreigners, you can get discounted Haruka rail ticket for the Kansai Airport Express when you present your ICOCA card. You can get yours online via Klook. RESERVE NOW
  • For foreign visitors, getting a one-day JR West Kansai Area Pass is something to consider. Passport and the return flight ticket are required in purchasing the pass. You can also purchase online via Klook. RESERVE HERE
  • Is it worth getting Japan Rail Pass (JR Pass) when you visit Japan? This might help you answer that question: Is Japan Rail Pass Worth It?

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Asta Alvarez

Asta Alvarez

Blogger at PhilippineBeaches.org
Asta is the Managing Editor at PhilippineBeaches.org and a regular contributor to The Poor Traveler. She's also a mountaineer, production designer, and cineaste.
Asta Alvarez

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