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How to Get From Kyoto to Nara

Nara, a charming city nestled amidst tranquil hills, promises a day trip adventure filled with ancient temples, friendly deer, and serene gardens. But before you dive into this historical haven, the questions arise: how to get to Nara from Kyoto, and is Nara closer to Osaka or Kyoto? Both cities are relatively close, making day trips from either feasible. The Kyoto to Nara distance is around 38 kilometers, while Osaka to Nara is roughly 45 kilometers. It’s possible to navigate this scenic route by guided tour, bus, train, or car. Here, we will explore each option further.

Best Way to Get From Kyoto to Nara: Join a Tour

Nara Afternoon Tour from Kyoto - The Great Buddha (Daibutsu-Den) at Todai-ji temple in Nara, Japan

If convenience and hassle-free exploration are your priorities, a guided tour is your dream ticket. Skip the navigation, relax on a comfortable coach, and let expert guides unveil Nara‘s hidden gems. Our Nara Half-Day Tour begins with a centralized Kyoto pick-up and direct transfer. The itinerary includes a visit to Todai-ji Temple, Kasuga Grand Shrine, and Nara Park, with time for exploring at your own pace. Plus, you’ll get insider tips and historical insights you might miss exploring solo. You can also combine a half-day tour in each city and an inter-city transfer on our Kyoto & Nara Day Tour.

See all Nara Tours

Other Ways to Get From Kyoto to Nara

By Bus: 

Opt for a scenic journey aboard a comfortable express bus. The ride takes around 1 to 1.5 hours, with fares starting from ¥900. Consider this option if you’re traveling to Japan on a budget or enjoy panoramic views. Specific timings and prices may vary depending on the chosen route and company. Buses depart from various locations, including Kyoto Station Hachijo-guchi (Exit 8) and Naramachi Bus Terminal. Kintetsu Bus and Nara Kotsu also offer frequent services between these cities. Both companies have their own ticketing systems and schedules. You can purchase tickets in advance online on the respective company websites or at ticketing machines at the departure points. Consider buying a round-trip ticket for convenience and potential savings.

By Train: 

kyoto to nara train

Trains offer swift and frequent connections between these cities. There are two convenient options for the train from Kyoto to Nara:

  • JR Line: Choose the Miyakoji Rapid trains departing from Kyoto Station platforms 8 or 9. These trains reach Nara Station in 45 minutes and cost ¥720 (covered by the Japan Rail Pass).
  • Kintetsu Line: For faster connections, opt for the Kintetsu Limited Express (35 minutes, ¥1280) or the Direct Express (45 minutes, ¥760) departing from Kintetsu Kyoto Station.

Purchase tickets for the Kyoto to Nara Train at automated ticketing machines using cash or credit cards. If you have the Kyoto to Nara JR Pass, validate it at the green JR gates before boarding JR trains. Travel time ranges from 35 to 45 minutes, with fares varying depending on the chosen train type and line. Download the Hyperdia app for a user-friendly way to compare train schedules and fares in Japan.

By Car:

Renting a car offers flexibility and convenience for independent exploration, but consider toll costs and potentially crowded parking. The drive takes around 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Private Transfers: 

Splurge on a private transfer if you seek luxury and personalized service. This option comes with a hefty price tag but guarantees comfort and direct door-to-door service.

Important Things to Remember

  • Kyoto Station to Nara Station: Both JR Nara Station and Kintetsu Nara Station are convenient arrival points, depending on your chosen train line.
  • Day trip from Kyoto to Nara: Most options allow for a convenient day trip, returning from Nara to Kyoto in the evening.
  • Kyoto to Nara by Shinkansen: While technically possible, taking a Shinkansen from Kyoto to Osaka and then using local trains to Nara is generally faster and more cost-effective.

Bonus Tip: Purchase the Nara Kotsu Bus Day Pass for ¥500 to enjoy unlimited rides on city buses in Nara, making further exploration easy and affordable.

Kyoto to Nara: A Deer Adventure

Private Nara Tour from Kyoto - Deer in area of Nara, Japan

If you’re looking to organize a Kyoto to Nara day trip and wondering how to get from Kyoto to Nara, a guided tour is undoubtedly your best option. Taking care of all your transport, ticket arrangements, tour guides, and itinerary, it’s the way to go if you’re seeking the ultimate convenience. On the other hand, if you’re planning to do the route alone, make sure to check the respective company websites or apps for updated schedules and fares. It’s also important to factor in time for purchasing tickets and navigating to the departure points. 

Whether you choose a tour, train, or bus from Kyoto to Nara, prepare for deer encounters! Nara Park is home to hundreds of friendly (yet sometimes mischievous) sika deer who roam freely, adding a touch of whimsy to your journey. Remember, feed them only deer crackers purchased from park vendors, and watch your belongings closely to avoid playful nudges. No matter how you choose to travel, a day trip to Nara from Kyoto promises an adventure filled with history, charm, and unforgettable encounters with majestic deer. Start planning your adventure and let the magic of Nara unfold!