In this post, we’ll help you travel from Osaka to Kyoto (and back) without a hitch! Kyoto and Osaka are among the most popular destinations in Japan because they offer unique yet distinctly different experiences. Kyoto is rich in history and has a traditional atmosphere, while Osaka boasts a culinary wonderland and exceptional nightlife. Here’s everything you need to know about visiting them and traveling between the two!

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How far is Kyoto from Osaka?

The distance from Kyoto to Osaka isn’t as far as you may think—only about 30 minutes by train! You can easily travel between the 2 cities on a day trip.

Kyoto and Osaka are cities in Japan’s main island, Honshu, a few hours west of Tokyo by bullet train. Traveling from Tokyo, you’ll arrive at Kyoto first, and Osaka a little after that.

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How to travel from Osaka city to Kyoto city

Is it easy to travel from Osaka to Kyoto by train?

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If you have the JR Japan Rail Pass, use the shinkansen (bullet train). You’ll arrive in Kyoto City (or vice versa) in about 15 minutes.

Even without the JR Pass, it’s easy and fast to travel from Osaka to Kyoto. Here are the 3 main ways to do it.

(1) Osaka Station to Kyoto Station (JR Train)

– The easiest & most straightforward way if you’re afraid of getting lost!

Since there’s no train transfer between Osaka Station & Kyoto Station, you don’t have to rush around looking for the right train. However, if your hotel or accommodation isn’t located near Kyoto Station, you may need to transfer to another line after arriving in Kyoto Station. If you are staying at MACHIYA INNS & HOTELS, contact our guest services team. We can help you find the best way to get to Kyoto city.

(2) Osaka Umeda Station to Kyoto-Kawaramachi Station (Hankyu Railway Line)

– This is easiest way to travel to & from the main downtown area of Kyoto, which is known as Shijo Kawaramachi!

Take the Hankyu line from ‘Osaka-Umeda’ Station, and stay on until ‘Kyoto-Kawaramachi’ Station. It’s an approximately 45 minute train ride, and 410 yen one way.

Travel Tip: Don’t get confused as to what station to start from in Osaka! Make sure you get on the Hankyu line from Osaka-Umeda Station (NOT Osaka Station).

Kawaramachi Station is located in the heart of Kyoto’s downtown area. Here, you’ll find bustling streets full of shops & restaurants. You’ll also be within walking distance of the historical neighborhood of Gion.

(3) Kyobashi Station (Keihan Line) → Fushimi Station / Gion Shijo Station (Keihan Line)

– The Keihan Line is the most convenient if you want to travel between sightseeing attractions. From Kyobashi Station (Osaka) to Gion-Shijo Station (Kyoto), it will take approximately 1 hour and 12 minutes on the semi-express train. If you take the semi-express train, it is 420 yen one way.

However, the Keihan Line also offers a Premium Car. You have to make a reservation to sit in the premium car, and in additional to your regular fare, you’ll nee to pay a ticket fee (between 500 yen~1000 yen depending on where you plan on getting off). The premium car guarantees you a spacious & comfortable seat (with a reclining chair), and you’ll also be able to eat in the premium car, too! If you need to charge your phone, you’ll also have access to a plug near your seat for your convenience. You can purchase Premium Car tickets at the Keihan Station. 


All of the following sightseeing attractions can be found near stations on the Keihan Line:


Travel Tip: If you are traveling from Kyoto City to Osaka, you can get off at Kyobashi Station and easily transfer to the Osaka Loop Line (which travels in a large circle).

You can use the JR Pass on the Osaka Loop Line to access the following places:

  • Umeda Station: Food
  • Fukushima Station: Food (great hidden spots for ramen!)
  • Tennoji Station: Food & Shopping
  • Osaka Castle (easy access!)
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Why visit both Kyoto and Osaka?

Kyoto and Osaka have very different “personalities”! So if you visit both, you’ll get a well-rounded experience of Japanese culture.  A Japanese saying describes the 2 cities as: 


Kyoto no kidaore, Osaka no kuidaore

It means that people in Kyoto spend a lot of money on kimono (clothes) and people in Osaka spend a lot of money on food and drinks!

Despite their differences, both cities have incredibly long histories. In 645 AD, Osaka city was Japan’s capital Naniwa-kyō, and in 794, Kyoto city (formerly Heian-Kyo) was Japan’s capital. You’ll also find grand castles in both cities—such as Osaka Castle and Nijo Castle—as well as temples and shrines throughout. (Read this article for more Japanese castle recommendations!)

However, their modern images are quite different!

Rent a private Japanese vacation rental (holiday home) in Kyoto City: MACHIYA RESIDENCE INN Kyoto

To enjoy historical Temples & Shrines ..... visit Kyoto City!

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Kyoto is the best place to experience traditional Japanese culture with modern convenience and flair. The city prides itself on preserving original architecture and culinary customs that date back hundreds of years. 

What to Do and See in Kyoto

In Kyoto, you can find 3,058 temples and 1,761 shrines! The city is densely packed with UNESCO World Heritage Sites, many of them world-famous and probably already on your bucket list!

Travel Tip:

To get the most out of your trip to Kyoto, decide what type of sightseeing you want to do! If you love nature, choose places famous for their gardens. If you enjoy hiking, try remote locations in the mountains.

To navigate, search for signs, maps, and bus routes. These will guide you to popular destinations such as Kiyomizu-dera Temple and Kinkaku-ji Temple. These landmarks wll be easily accessible by following the recommended routes. Look at our recommended phone apps to download ahead of time to help you navigate your way around.

Where to Eat and Drink in Kyoto

If you are looking for more traditional, long-established, Japanese-style restaurants, we would recommend Kyoto for Ryotei, Kaiseki Course Dinners, etc. Here’s our complete guide on the best kaiseki and sushi in Kyoto to make planning your trip easier!

Nightlife in Kyoto is a little more laid back, with many cool, hidden bars, Jazz bars, outdoor bars overlooking the river, and more. 

Rent a private Japanese vacation rental (holiday home) in Kyoto City: MACHIYA RESIDENCE INN Kyoto

To enjoy Japanese street food ..... visit Osaka City!

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Osaka has been described as “Japan’s Kitchen” by locals and visitors alike. While Kyoto certainly has many delicious and affordable places to eat, Osaka has more neighborhoods and streets that are filled with cheap and easily available food. You’ll never have trouble finding a place to eat in Osaka! 

What to Do and See in Osaka

Osaka’s specialty is keeping you fed and entertained!

Where to Eat in Osaka

Besides Dotonbori, areas like Tenma, Shinsaibashi, and Tennoji also have many restaurants and street food stalls. Walk through these areas to see colorful signs, large moving crabs beckoning you, and restaurant staff trying to bring in customers.

If you’re intimidated by the selection, why not book a street food tour? Local guides will take the guesswork out of deciding what and where to eat, and can also make navigating dietary restrictions and allergies much easier!

Travel Tip: Osakan restaurants and establishments also tend to stay open later, so if you want a lively nightlife experience in Japan, head to Osaka!

You’re on your way!

The convenience of traveling from Osaka to Kyoto can’t be beat. Your trip should be about enjoying it, not worrying about getting around! No matter which city you visit, you’re guaranteed to have an incredible experience. Be sure to check out our other posts on what time of year to visit and all-around travel tips from locals for the best possible vacation to Japan!

Where to stay when in Japan


Stay in a traditional Japanese-style accommodation during your next visit to Japan.

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