Osaka is one of the most popular destinations in Japan and if you plan on visiting the country, chances are you’ll spend a few days there. It’s often seen as the foodie capital of Japan and doesn’t come up short on things to do. But if you’re looking for that little bit extra, there are some awesome day trips from Osaka that you’ll wanna get involved with.
So, whether you’re an animal lover or a culture vulture, these top 6 day trips from Osaka will tick all of those travel boxes.
Consider buying a Japan Rail Pass (JR Pass) if you’re spending an extended period of time in Japan.
1. The best day trip for animal lovers: Nara
How do I get to Nara by public transport? Take the JR Yamatoji Line from JR Namba Station to JR Nara Station
How long does it take to get from Osaka to Nara? 50 minutes
How much does it cost to get from Osaka to Nara? 800 Yen (approx. €6 / $7 / £5.50)
Fun fact: Nara was the national capital of Japan from 710 to 784
Without a doubt, the deer are the main attraction in Nara for travellers. In Nara Park, you can see them walk through Shinto shrines, feed them treats from food stalls and pet them as they’re posing for pictures.
When you’re not checking out the cute deer, be sure to visit the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Tōdai-ji temple. One of the world’s biggest wooden structures, this fascinating building also houses the Great Buddha – Japan’s largest bronze statue. It’s one not to miss! Plus, walking through the tiny streets of the complex will make you feel like you’ve travelled back in time.
Ready to be wowed?
2. The best day trip for history buffs: Hiroshima and Miyajima
How do I get to Hiroshima by public transport? Take the Sanyo Shinkansen from Shin-Osaka Station to Hiroshima Station
How long does it take to get from Osaka to Hiroshima? 1 hour and 30 minutes
How much does it cost to get from Osaka to Hiroshima? 9,710 Yen (approx. €75 / $86 / £66)
Fun fact: The official flower of the city of Hiroshima is the oleander because it was the first flower to blossom again after the atomic bombing in 1945.
Hiroshima is one of those places that just has to be in your Japan itinerary. Taking only 1 hour and 30 minutes to get there, it’s one of the perfect day trips from Osaka.
Learn all about the history of Hiroshima at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and Museum. Be sure to pass by the Atomic Bomb Dome (Genbaku Dome) – the building that was still standing after the bombing.
Consider taking the ferry to Miyajima Island while you’re in the area. Miyajima translates to ‘Shrine Island’, so you know what to expect when you’re here! A highlight is the famous Shinto shrine, Itsukushima Shrine, that seems to be floating on water at high tide.
3. The best day trip for a bit of everything: Kyoto
How do I get to Kyoto by public transport? If you have a JR Pass: take the JR Shinkansen from Shin-Osaka Station to Kyoto Station. If you don’t have a JR Pass: take the Kyoto Line from Shin-Osaka Station to Kyoto Station
How long does it take to get from Osaka to Kyoto? 15 minutes (Shinkansen) or 24 minutes (JR Line)
How much does it cost to get from Osaka to Kyoto? 1,420 Yen (approx. $13 / €11 / £10) for the Shinkansen or 560 Yen (approx. $5 / €4 / £3.5o) for the JR Line
Fun fact: Kyoto University is one of the most prestigious universities in Japan, second only to Tokyo University.
We’re not gonna lie, Kyoto might be worth more days in your itinerary than just the one (check it out on Topdeck’s Japan Highlights trip). But if you do only have one day, never fear! It’s a city that lends itself perfectly to travellers who want to see it all in one go.
After getting off the train from Osaka and a quick walk, you’ll find yourself in the amazing Bamboo Forest, or Arashiyama Bamboo Grove. Here, you can get away from the busy city life and take a deep breath in the middle of nature. Looking for the perfect Instagram picture? This is it.
What else is there to do in Kyoto? Don’t miss the Fushimi Inari Shrine (Fushimi Inari-taisha). It’s known for its pathway leading up the mountain made up of thousands of bright Torii gates. This place is pretty special. Trust us.
4. The best day trip for a relaxing city break: Kobe
How do I get to Kobe by public transport? If you have a JR Pass: take the JR Shinkansen from Shin-Osaka Station to Shin-Kobe Station. If you don’t have a JR Pass: take the JR Kobe Line from Shin-Osaka Station to JR Sannomiya Station
How long does it take to get from Osaka to Kobe? 13 minutes (Shinkansen) or 27 minutes (JR Line)
How much does it cost to get from Osaka to Kobe? 1,500 Yen (approx. $13 / €11.50 / £10) for a non-reserved seat on the Shinkansen, 2,890 Yen (approx. $25.70 / €22.30 / £19.60) for a reserved seat on the Shinkansen or 550 Yen (about $5 / €4 / £3.50) for the JR Line
Fun fact: Kobe beef is often regarded as one of the best meats in the world!
Kobe has consistently been named as one of the most beautiful cities in Japan, and for good reason.
The city is known for its modern architecture which was built after Kobe was hit by an earthquake in 1995. While walking through this awesome urban scenery, you’ll stumble upon many restaurants where you can try Kobe beef. Since Kobe beef is one of Japan’s most famous delicacies, you should definitely try it while you’re here!
For the best viewpoint over the city, head up the Shin-Kobe Ropeway. Hop on by the Shin-Kobe Station and get ready for great aerial views of the Nunobiki Waterfall and the Nunobiki Herb Garden.
5. The best day trip for learning about Buddhism: Mount Kōya
How do I get to Mount Kōya by public transport? Take the Nankai Koya Line from Shin-Imamiya Station to Gokurakubashi Station and transfer to the Koyasan Cable Car
How long does it take to get from Osaka to Mount Kōya? 1 hour and 40 minutes
How much does it cost to get from Osaka to Mount Kōya? 1,650 Yen (approx $15 / €13 / £11) for the train, plus 390 Yen (approx. $3.5 0 / €3 / £2.60) for the cable car
Fun fact: Mount Kōya is known as one of the world’s most sacred mountains
Mount Kōya is the pinnacle of Buddhist culture in Japan. Shingon Buddhism was introduced to Japan when Kobo Daishi started construction of the Garan temple complex on Mount Kōya in the ninth century.
The most famous temple on Mount Kōya is Okunoin Temple, where Kobo Daishi is believed to rest in eternal meditation and provide relief to pilgrims and travellers who come to seek it.
To get an authentic insight into life as a Buddhist monk, consider staying overnight in a Buddhist temple in Koyasan.
6. The best day trip to check out the local culture: Himeji
How do I get to Himeji by public transport? Take the JR Kobe Line from Osaka Station to Himeji Station
How long does it take to get from Osaka to Himeji? 1 hour and 5 minutes
How much does it cost to get from Osaka to Himeji? 1,490 Yen (approx $13 / €11.50 / £10)
Fun fact: Himeji Castle is actually a castle complex that comprises 83 buildings
Himeji is mainly known among travellers for its castle which was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993. Even among the locals, it’s considered to be one of the most spectacular castles in the world because of its white exterior and sheer size.
However, Himeji Castle is not the only place worth visiting on a day trip to Himeji. Koko-en Garden is just by the Castle and has nine beautiful gardens to explore. After a stroll around, why not enjoy some green tea in a traditional tea ceremony house?
If you’ve still got time, head to Mount Shosha, which houses an impressive temple complex.
There you have it, our top 6 day trips from Osaka.
Wanna visit Japan? Check out Topdeck’s trips to Japan:
If you need more convincing, check out these 11 photos that prove Japan is cool AF.