This guide on how to get to Nara from Osaka goes along with this one day Nara itinerary with the best places to visit.
As an ancient capital of Japan, Nara can be a good place to go for some history and culture.
This city is also where you’ll find the nearly 50 foot tall Great Buddha, the largest bronze statue of Buddha in Japan.
Oh, and the deer. Nara is also very well-known for the deer.
You will see them everywhere.
If you’ll be making your way to the top attractions of Nara, you won’t have to go searching for deer. They are all around.
Nara is an easy one day trip from Osaka or from Kyoto, which is perfect if you want to avoid dragging around your luggage to one more city!
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How much does a JR pass cost?!
See the current price from an official JR pass vendor for a 7-day, 14-day, and 21-day pass.
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So now, is it easy to get from Osaka to Nara by train?
Yes, it can be!
With the JR pass, there is a specific train that you’ll need to take, but there are still frequent enough timings of trains running between Osaka and Nara that it’s pretty convenient.
If you’re looking to get to Nara using your JR pass, you basically have one option that you’ll want to take.
If you don’t have a JR pass, you have an additional option to get from Osaka to Nara by train.
- JR rapid train (JR pass option)
- Kintetsu rapid express train
With any of these options, whether you have a JR pass or not, it may require an extra train depending on where you’re staying in Osaka.
The examples below depart from major train stations in Osaka.
How to get from Osaka to Nara with a Japan rail pass
Cost with JR pass: FREE!
- JR RAPID TRAIN
- Time: 55 minutes
From Osaka to Nara, it’s possible to go by taking a single train and no transfers necessary.
But depending on your timing, it may make more sense to go for the option that requires the transfer. Even with the transfer, it could get you to Nara quicker than waiting for the next direct train.
Since it’s possible to get from Osaka to Nara on the JR line alone, this means your whole train trip will be covered by the JR pass without having to pay anything extra.
How much does it cost to get to Nara from Osaka WITHOUT a Japan rail pass?
Now, let’s say you’re trying to figure out if you should have your JR pass activated when you go to Nara, or you won’t be traveling around Japan at all with a JR pass.
Listed prices are approximate just so you can start to get at least a little bit of an idea.
These are your main options.
Option 1: Kintetsu express train
Cost: 560 yen (US$5)
- KINTETSU EXPRESS TRAIN
- Time: 40 minutes
This is on the Kintetsu line, and these are the main train stations:
- Kintetsu Osaka Namba station
- Kintetsu Nara station
This is likely your best option in terms of time and money!
Although, it will also depend on where you’re staying in Osaka and which train station is the closest to you.
Option 2: JR train
Cost: 800 yen (US$7)
- JR RAPID TRAIN
- Time: 55 minutes
And of course, you can take the JR train even if you don’t have a Japan rail pass.
Once again, while there are direct trains between Osaka JR stations and the JR Nara station, depending on your timing, the better option could be to go for the train that requires a transfer.
JR train or Kintetsu train to Nara?
If you have a choice, consider going to Nara on the Kintetsu line.
Not only can it be the fastest way to get you to Nara from Osaka, but the JR Nara train station and Kintetsu Nara train station are in different locations.
The Kintetsu train station is slightly closer to the best places to visit in Nara compared to the JR train station.
So if you’re looking at your travel options and find there’s not too much of difference between the JR and Kintetsu, then the Kintetsu can be better for a little bit more convenience once you get to Nara.
But even if you take the JR train to get to Nara, it’s not that big of a deal, as the distance between the 2 train stations is about a 10 minute walk.
Public transportation apps to download before your trip to Japan:
- Google Maps
- Navitime for Japan Travel
Have these apps on your phone and you’ll become a pro in no time at navigating public transportation in Japan!
When you’re in Osaka and ready to head to Nara, search for directions to Nara from your current location!
Top tips for using Navitime to get from Osaka to Nara
- To search train timings when you’re traveling with a JR pass, see the option “tourist pass”
- If you’re not using a JR pass, you’ll need to search for the JR train and Kintetsu train separately, since they are 2 different train stations
- There are many different train stations in Osaka that you may start your trip depending on where you’re staying. For research purposes, you can enter one of the following stations.
- For Osaka train stations:
- For the JR line, search for “Osaka” (main Osaka station)
- If you’re traveling without a JR pass, also search for “Osakanamba” for the best option on the Kintetsu line
- If you’ll be arriving to Osaka by shinkansen and heading directly for Nara, you’ll arrive at Shin-Osaka station, and it’ll be “Shinosaka” with no space
- For Nara train stations:
- For the JR line, it’ll be “Nara”
- For the Kintetsu line, it’ll be “Kintetsu-Nara” with the hyphen and no space
If this sounds complicated, it’s really not as complicated as it seems!
The easiest thing is to trust that there is a convenient way from Osaka to Nara. 😉
And then when you get to your hotel in Osaka, just search Navitime using your current location! Then you don’t have to bother with typing in a certain Osaka train station.
Best things to do on a one day trip to Nara from Osaka
Now that you have a better idea of how to get to Nara, what to do when you get there?!
Here are some ideas!
1. Visit Great Buddha Hall at Todaiji Temple
2. Walk to Kasuga taisha shrine
3. Visit Kasuga taisha
4. Visit Sangatsudo temple
5. Visit Kofukuji temple
Plan your trip to Nara
For further details on planning your trip to Nara, be sure to take a look at this list of the best places to visit in Nara in one day so you can see lots and lots of deer!
HAPPY OSAKA TO NARA PLANNING!
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Among the top things people get specific for a trip to Japan
- JR pass for quick and easy long distance train travel (see price here and see here how to calculate train routes to figure out it's worth it for you)
- Travel insurance for natural disasters just in case especially for travel disruptions (see price here and see here for past natural disaster that affected foreigners)
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And also have a look at some of these cooking classes in Japan too.
When the JR pass is worth itIn general, 2 long-distance shinkansen train trips will likely end up making it so the JR pass will be worth it. But here's how to calculate it to be sure. See the current price of a JR pass from an official vendor.
Natural disasters in JapanUnfortunately, Japan can be prone to natural disasters which means risk for travel delays. So be sure to look at travel insurance for natural disasters.
My travel insurance took care of my accommodation and food costs when I was forced to stay extra days in Japan because of a typhoon. There have been a few typhoons that have hit Japan in the past couple of years and they can cause real travel disruptions!
See how much insurance costs for your trip.
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