Welcome to Nara


The centrepiece is the Daibutsu (Great Buddha), which rivals Mt Fuji and Kyoto's Golden Pavilion (Kinkaku-ji) as Japan's single most impressive sight. The Great Buddha is housed in Tōdai-ji, a soaring temple that presides over Nara-kōen, a park filled with other fascinating sights that lends itself to relaxed strolling amid greenery and tame deer.

Nara is also compact: it's quite possible to pack the highlights into one full day. Many people visit Nara as a side trip from Kyoto, but with an overnight stay (there's high-quality accommodation for all budgets) you might spend one day around the city centre, another exploring west and southwest of here (areas called Nishinokyō and Ikaruga, respectively) and/or another exploring more far-flung historical destinations.


Top experiences in Nara

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Nara activities

$136.55 Day Trips & Excursions

Kyoto and Nara Day Trip from Kyoto including Nijo Castle

Your day trip starts with morning pickup for the Kyoto sightseeing portion of your tour. Known as the cradle of Japan's cultural heritage, Kyoto was the country’s capital and home of the Japanese emperor from 794 until 1868. Thus, it boasts many important temples and other sites, several of which make up the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto UNESCO World Heritage site.With your guide, visit some of the highlights of this ancient city, starting with Nijo Castle, the Kyoto residence of the Tokugawa Shogun until the mid-1800s. This World Heritage–listed castle was built in 1603 and is noted for the contrast of its solemn appearance with its gorgeous interiors. You have about 50 minutes here to explore. Next, visit Kyoto's most popular temple, Kinkaku-ji, another World Heritage site and the home to what is perhaps the world's most exquisite Japanese garden. It’s also home to the celebrated Golden Pavilion, a 3-story structure covered in gold leaf and extended out over a pond. Make sure your camera is ready because it makes a great photo op. Spend about 45 minutes here.Continue your tour to Kyoto Imperial Palace, the former residence of the emperors of Japan. During your 40 minutes here, visit the Shishin-den, where important state ceremonies took place, and get a feel for the Japanese aesthetic of purity, simplicity and calmness as you explore the palace grounds.Take a break from sightseeing for lunch, and then re-board your coach for the 1-hour drive south of Kyoto to Nara, where you’ll visit two of the temples and shrines that make up the UNESCO World Heritage site the Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara. Start at Todai-ji, a temple complex famous for being home to one of the world’s largest bronze statues of the Buddha, housed in the Great Buddha Hall. You have about one hour here to explore the temple grounds and surrounding Nara Park. Then head to colorful Kasuga Shrine, famous for the 3,000 bronze lanterns that line its interior. You have 40 minutes here before continuing to a section of Nara Park, aka Deer Park, where tame sika deer roam freely and can be hand-fed (special food can be purchased from vendors, if you wish). If time and/or traffic conditions permit, you will also stop at a souvenir shop before heading back to Kyoto, where your day trip ends.

$162.95 Cultural & Theme Tours

Kyoto and Nara Tour with Golden Pavilion, Todai-ji from Osaka

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. 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, you'll be transferred to Kintetsu Nara Station and say goodbye to your guide at the station. You'll make your own back from Kintetsu Nara Station to Osaka Namba Station (non-reserved seat) where the tour concludes.

$578.08 Multi-day & Extended Tours

Mt Fuji, Kyoto and Nara 3-Day Tour by Bullet Train from Tokyo

Your 3-day tour includes all transportation, two nights in Kyoto in your choice of tourist class or first class accommodations, a professional guide in the daytime, and the evenings free to spend at your leisure. Your guide and hotel are happy to offer recommendations for restaurants and other places to see in your free time. Have the option to return to Tokyo late on the third day or remain in Kyoto, the choice is yours. Occasionally weather conditions at Mt Fuji may necessitate itinerary changes. If an activity is not possible, a substitution will be provided. If any sites in Kyoto or Nara are closed on the day of your visit, a substitute site will be visited. Both cities have a wealth of amazing places to see.

$69.19 Day Trips & Excursions

Nara Tour: Todaiji Temple, Deer Park, Kasuga Shrine from Kyoto

Japan's first permanent capital was established in the year 710 at Heijo, the city now known as Nara. As the influence and political ambitions of the city's powerful Buddhist monasteries grew to become a serious threat to the government, the capital was moved to Nagaoka in 784. Nara is located in the Kinai plain, less than one hour from Kyoto. Due to its past as the first permanent capital, it remains full of historic treasures, including some of Japan's oldest Buddhist temples. Visit the Todaiji Temple, constructed in the 8th century, is one of Japan's most famous and historically significant temples. In it's huge precincts are various national treasures of Japan. The Daibutsuden (Great Buddha Hall) is one of the world's largest wooden buildings. One of Japan's best-known temples, it enshrines a gigantic bronze statue of Buddha. A wonder of religious architecture. See over 1,000 tame deer roam freely in the verdant 1,250 acres peaceful park. If you wish to feed the deer, they will gladly eat from your hand. Special deer food is available for sale in the park grounds. Tour concludes with a visit to Kasuga Shrine, the most famous and beautiful Shinto shrine in Nara, it features some 3,000 antique stone and bronze lanterns. Travel by return coach to Kyoto.

$94.68 Cultural & Theme Tours

Nara: Todaiji Temple, Deer Park, Kasuga Shrine Tour from Osaka

Depart Osaka and travel by JR rail to Kyoto, where you'll join your tour of Nara. Board the coach and drive less than 1 hour from Kyoto to explore some of the city’s UNESCO World Heritage sites with your guide.Japan's first permanent capital was established in the year 710 at Heijo, the city now known as Nara. As the influence and political ambitions of the city's powerful Buddhist monasteries grew to become a serious threat to the government, the capital was moved to Nagaoka in 784. Visit the 8th-century Todaiji Temple, one of Japan's most famous and historically significant temples. In its huge precincts you’ll find various national treasures of Japan. The Daibutsuden (Great Buddha Hall) is one of the world's largest wooden buildings, which enshrines a gigantic bronze statue of Buddha — a wonder of religious architecture! Exploring the grounds during any season will showcases the most impressive displays of nature, from vivid fall colors to Japanese cherry blossoms in full bloom.See more than 1,000 tame deer roaming freely in the verdant Deer Park, which comprises 1,250 acres (505 hectares). If you wish to feed the deer, they will gladly eat from your hand. (Special deer food is available for sale in the park grounds.)Your last stop is Kasuga Shrine, the most famous and beautiful Shinto shrine in Nara. Part of the historic monuments of ancient Nara, it features some 3,000 antique stone and bronze lanterns. Walk along the outdoor pathway as you listen to commentary from your guide about the shrine’s influence on Japanese culture.Afterward, travel by return rail directly to Osaka Station, where you’ll make your own way back to your hotel.

$612.67 Multi-day & Extended Tours

2-Day Kyoto and Nara Rail Tour by Bullet Train from Tokyo

Your overnight trip to Kyoto by way of Nara includes pickup from selected Tokyo hotels, your choice of first-class or tourist-class accommodation in Kyoto, and all entrance fees. Your guide will lead you through magnificent temples and shrines in both cities, offering expert commentary on Japanese culture along the way!