Kyoto and Nara Day Tour Including Golden Pavilion and Todai-ji Temple from Osaka

activities / Sightseeing tours

Tour description provided by Viator

See the main sights of both Kyoto and Nara in one day! This day trip from Osaka takes you on a morning tour of Nijo Castle, Kinkaku-ji Temple (Golden Pavilion), Kyoto Imperial Palace and Kitano Tenman-gu Shrine. After a Japanese lunch, visit landmarks in nearby Nara, home to Kasuga Shrine and the impressive Great Buddha of Todai-ji Temple. Upon hotel pickup, your guide will accompany you by motor coach, JR Rail and Kintetsu Rail, and inform you about the cultural treasures in each historical capital.

Meet your guide upon hotel pickup and head to JR Osaka Station. Board the JR Special Rapid Service or Rapid Service (non-reserved seating) to Kyoto, Japan's former capital and the emperor's residence from 794 until 1868. Now the country's seventh largest city, modern Kyoto remains steeped in traditional culture. Your morning tour of the city’s main highlights includes approximately 45 minutes at each site.

Start at Nijo Castle, a former residence of the Tokugawa Shogun. Completed in 1626, Nijo Castle is noted for the contrast of its solemn appearance and gorgeous interiors. (Note: When Nijo Castle is closed you’ll visit Ryoan-ji Temple instead.)

After touring the castle, head to nearby Kinkaku-ji Temple, Kyoto's most popular Zen Buddhist temple. Home to perhaps the world's most authentic and exquisite Japanese garden, the temple features the celebrated Golden Pavilion whose wooden structure is completely covered in gold leaf.

Next, visit Kyoto Imperial Palace, which clearly demonstrates the Japanese taste for purity, simplicity and tranquility. With your guide you’ll gain exclusive access to the former residence of the Emperor of Japan before the capital moved to Tokyo. When the Kyoto Imperial Palace is closed, the tour will visit Kitano Shrine (Kitano Tenman-gu) instead. This famous shrine, known as the god of study, has been designated a national treasure and is particularly worth seeing for its Japanese plum blossoms and colored leaves.

Enjoy a Japanese set meal for lunch (vegetarian option available) before you’re off to Nara, located in the Kinai Plain less than one hour from Kyoto. Due to its past as the first permanent capital of Japan, established in the year 710 at Heijo, the city now known as Nara remains full of iconic sites.

See Todai-ji Temple, one of Japan's most famous and historically significant temples, constructed in the 8th century. In its huge precincts are various national treasures of Japan. Step foot in the Daibutsuden (Great Buddha Hall), one of the world's largest wooden buildings, before a stop at Kasuga Shrine. This most famous and beautiful Shinto shrine features some 3,000 antique stone and bronze lanterns.

Before your day trip ends, your guide will take you to Nara Nagomikan, Nara’s biggest souvenir shop where you’ll have the opportunity to browse for about 20 minutes. Here, you’ll find a variety of food products, sweets, and goods exclusive to Nara. Afterward, head to Kintetsu-Nara Station for the rail ride back to Osaka-Namba Station on the Kintetsu line (non-reserved seat) with your guide. Upon arrival back in Osaka, you'll make your own way back to your hotel.

What's included

  • Hotel pickup (from selected osaka hotels only)
  • Transportation by motorcoach, jr rail and kintetsu rail
  • Admission fees
  • Lunch
  • Professional english-speaking guide
  • Tax

What isn't included

  • Entrance to the treasures hall
  • Entrance to the manyo botanical gardens at kasuga shrine
  • Hotel drop off