NARA 1 DAY ITINERARY

The Ultimate Nara 1 day Itinerary – See All the Must-See Sights in Japan’s Ancient Capital in Just 24 Hours!

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But with only 24 hours in Nara, how do you make sure to see all the top attractions? This ultimate one day itinerary for Nara will guide you to all the must-see sights and help you make the most of your limited time in this fascinating city.

As the first permanent capital of Japan, Nara is overflowing with historic temples, shrines, and museums to explore.

NARA 1 DAY ITINERARY

The Ultimate Nara 1 day Itinerary – See All the Must-See Sights in Japan’s Ancient Capital in Just 24 Hours!

Nara is an amazing destination for a day trip from Kyoto or Osaka.

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With UNESCO World Heritage sites around every corner and over 1,000 sacred deer roaming free in Nara Park, this city makes for an unforgettable experience.

What You’ll Discover in Nara in One Day Trip:

  • Feed the Adorable Deer at Nara Park
  • Be Wowed by the Great Buddha at Todai-ji Temple
  • Walk Under the Largest Temple Gate in Japan
  • Explore Kasuga Taisha’s Lantern-Lined Forest
  • Marvel at Kofuku-ji Temple’s Iconic Pagoda
  • Relax in Serene Japanese Gardens
  • Wander Through Historic Temples and Shrines
  • Sample the Local Cuisine
  • Shop for Souvenirs on Higashimuki Shopping Street

Let’s dive into the details of how to see the best things in Nara on 1 day nara itinerary

 day trip from kyoto to nara day trip from Kyoto

Here are some additional details on visiting Nara as a day trip from Kyoto, including info on getting there by train and where to stay:

Thanks to its proximity to Kyoto, it’s easy to visit Nara on a day trip using the fast and convenient train connections. Here are tips for getting to Nara from Kyoto by train:

NARA 1 DAY ITINERARY

How To get To Nara From kyoto by train

nara day trip from kyoto By JR Train:

  • Take the JR Nara Line from Kyoto Station to JR Nara Station
  • Shortest trip is around 50 mins using the JR Nara Line Rapid Service
  • Covered by the Japan Rail Pass

nara day trip From Kyoto By Kintetsu Train:

  • Take the Kintetsu Kyoto Line to Kintetsu Nara Station
  • Fastest trip is around 35 mins on the Kintetsu Limited Express
  • Not covered by the JR Pass but cheaper without for direct trips

Kintetsu Nara Station is more centrally located making it a better option unless you have a Japan Rail Pass.

Nara Day Trip from Osaka by Train: how to get to nara from osaka

Here’s an easy guide on how to get to Nara from Osaka for your Nara day trip from Osaka:

  • Take either the JR Yamatoji Line or Kintetsu Nara Line from Osaka to Nara
  • JR Yamatoji Line from Osaka Station takes 50 mins on JR Yamatoji Rapid Service
  • Can use JR Pass and transfer from JR Namba Station
  • Kintetsu Nara Line from Namba Station takes 38 mins on limited express
  • Kintetsu is faster and cheaper without JR Pass
  • Kintetsu Nara Station more central and walkable to sights
  • Kintetsu Nara Station closer to Nara Park than JR Nara Station
  • Best to take Kintetsu Line over JR if not using Japan Rail Pass

In summary, the Kintetsu Nara Line is the quickest and most convenient option for getting from Osaka to Nara on a day trip, unless you have a Japan Rail Pass. The centrally located Kintetsu Nara Station makes for an easy transfer to explore the city.

Where to Stay in Nara 

Since Nara makes an easy day trip from Kyoto, many visitors choose to stay in Kyoto for convenience.

RELATED: Best Hotels & Ryokans in Nara

However, if you decide to stay overnight in Nara or extend your visit, some top areas to find accommodation include:

RELATED: 2- 3 Days Kyoto Itinerary & Things To Do In Kyoto

  • Near JR Nara Station – Close to transport with plenty of restaurants and shops
  • Central Nara – Puts you steps away from the main temples and shrines
  • Naramachi – Historic district with traditional machiya house hotels and ryokans

Look for lodgings within walking distance of the stations and top attractions for the best Nara location. You’ll also find a great range of traditional ryokan and hotels to suit any budget.

RELATED: Best Ryokans & Hotels in Nara

With this advice, getting to Nara from Kyoto by train and finding the right accommodation for your stay should be smooth and hassle-free. Enjoy your epic day exploring Japan’s ancient capital!

Famous Sights and Attractions in Nara

In addition to the places covered in the nara one day itinerary below, here are some of the other top sights and attractions that Nara is famous for:

Temples in Nara:

  • Todai-ji – This magnificent UNESCO World Heritage Site dating back to 752 AD is home to the world’s largest wooden building and Japan’s largest bronze Buddha statue.
  • Kofuku-ji – Founded in 710 AD, this temple features a famous 5-story pagoda and impressive National Treasure Museum.
  • Yakushiji – Founded in 680 AD, Yakushiji is famous for its unique octagonal main hall and towering pagoda.
  • Horyu-ji – Considered the world’s oldest wooden temple, this historic site was founded in 607 AD.

Shrines in nara to see on nara day trip:

  • Kasuga Taisha – Nara’s most celebrated shrine is renowned for its 3,000 bronze and stone lanterns lining its pathways.
  • Himeji Shrine – Dedicated to Princess Kushi Inada, the wife of Emperor Temmu, this shrine has a unique architecture style.
NARA 1 DAY ITINERARY

Gardens in nara to see on nara one day trip:

  • Isuien Garden – This beautiful Meiji period garden skillfully blends motifs representing the sea and mountains.
  • Yoshiki-en Garden – Cherry blossoms and autumn leaves make this a popular garden for seasonal beauty.
  • Man’yo Botanical Garden – Over 200 varieties of wild plants mentioned in ancient Man’yo poetry grow here.

Museums In Nara:

  • Nara National Museum – Japan’s first national museum houses important Buddhist art, statues, and sutras.
  • Naramachi Museum – Exhibitspreserve the architecture and history of Naramachi’s merchant houses.
  • Yoshino Mikumari Shrine Museum – Featuring artifacts shedding light on Mt. Yoshino’s spiritual culture.

Parks in nara:

  • Nara Park – Famously home to over 1,000 free-roaming deer, this park surrounds the city’s top temples and shrines.
  • Mt. Wakakusa Park – Great spot for sakura cherry blossom viewing in spring or autumn leaves later in the year.

Nara truly has an abundance of historic temples, serene gardens, fascinating museums, and scenic parks for visitors to discover.

The Perfect nara day trip : Nara 1 day Itinerary

8:00am – Arrive at Kintetsu Nara Station

To make the most of your limited time on day trip to Nara, it’s essential to get an early start on our nara itinerary one day. Take the first train possible from Kyoto or Osaka to arrive at Kintetsu Nara Station around 8am. This station is centrally located making it easy to explore the city on foot.

Tip: Purchase a 1-day Kintetsu Rail Pass for discounted travel to and from Nara.

8:30am – Walk Up Nobori-oji Street Towards Nara Park

Exit the station and walk north up Nobori-oji Street. You’ll immediately notice the large stone lanterns lining the road as you approach Nara Park. Keep an eye out for deer who frequently wander the streets in this area!

9:00am – Feed the Deer at Nara Park

Your first stop is the famous Nara Park, home to over 1,000 free-roaming deer. The deer are believed to be sacred messengers of the gods and have lived in Nara for centuries.

NARA 1 DAY ITINERARY nara park

Stop by a vendor near the entrance to purchase “deer senbei” crackers. The deer will politely bow to ask for a snack! It’s an amazing experience hand-feeding these wild yet friendly animals.

While wandering Nara Park, admire views of Todai-ji Temple’s impressive roof in the distance. We’ll visit this important site next.

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10:00am – Be Left in Awe at Todai-ji Temple

A short walk south brings you to the massive temple gates of Todai-ji, the largest wooden building in the world.

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Pass through the towering Nandaimon Gate guarded by fierce warrior statues. Then behold the awe-inspiring sight of Todai-ji’s Daibutsuden Hall, home to Japan’s largest bronze Buddha statue.

The 15m tall Great Buddha inside is truly a jaw-dropping sight to behold. The immense wooden pillars surrounding it give a sense of the scale of this building.

After visiting the Daibutsu, check out the wooden models showing Todai-ji’s original grand 8th century design with two 100m pagodas.

Don’t miss seeing the giant wooden temple bell just a 5 minute walk from Todai-ji’s main hall. It’s considered one of the “Three Great Bells of Japan”.

12:00pm – Walk Through Deer Park to Kasuga Taisha

Next, stroll through atmospheric woods filled with roaming deer as you make your way to Kasuga Taisha. The vermillion orange torii gates along the path create a tunnel-like effect.

NARA 1 DAY ITINERARY

Kasuga Taisha is Nara’s most celebrated Shinto shrine, established in 768 AD. It’s famous for the 3,000 lanterns adorning its halls, donated by worshippers over the centuries. The illuminated lanterns create magical scenes during special nighttime openings.

Take time wandering the forested grounds, discovering historic treasures like the Man’yo Botanical Garden and Kasugayama Primeval Forest.

1:30pm – Admire Kofuku-ji Temple’s Pagoda

Enjoy a leisurely stroll through Naramachi, Nara’s old merchant district, on your way to Kofuku-ji Temple.

Founded in 710 AD, this temple boasts the second tallest pagoda in Japan at 50m high. The 5-story pagoda miraculously has never been destroyed by earthquakes and fires, unlike many other historic Japanese pagodas.

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The octagonal halls with their detailed eaves are equally impressive. Check out the National Treasures Museum to see remarkable Buddhist sculptures and artifacts.

3:00pm – Find Zen in Isuien’s Serene Gardens

After immersing yourself in Nara’s ancient culture, take a peaceful break at Isuien Garden. Stroll through gardens skillfully designed to represent both ocean and mountain scenery.

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Pause on one of the porch swings overlooking the pond to reflect on your Nara journey so far. The tranquil greenery is the perfect setting to relax and appreciate all you’ve discovered in Nara.

4:30pm – Shop for Souvenirs on Higashimuki Shopping Street

Before leaving Nara, grab some unique souvenirs and snacks along Higashimuki Shopping Street near Kintetsu Nara Station. Browse through the variety of shops selling local crafts, food items, sweets, and deer-themed omiyage.

Pick up some “kakinoha-zushi”, Nara’s famous sushi wrapped in persimmon leaves, for a delicious edible souvenir.

6:00pm – Return to Kyoto or Osaka

After a full day sightseeing in Nara, take the Kintetsu express train back to Kyoto or Osaka. You’ll return with wonderful memories of feeding friendly deer, seeing magnificent temples, exploring verdant gardens, and learning about Japan’s fascinating ancient history.

With this Nara 1 day itinerary, you now have the ultimate plan to experience the highlights of Japan’s first capital city in just 24 hours!

Nara Half Day Itinerary

If you only have a half day to spend in Nara, you can still see some of the top highlights. Here is a recommended 5-hour Nara half day itinerary:

8:00am – Arrive at Kintetsu Nara Station

8:30am – Walk up Nobori-oji Street to Nara Park

9:00am – Feed the deer at Nara Park

10:00am – See the Great Buddha at Todai-ji Temple

11:00am – Explore Naramachi on the way to Kofuku-ji Temple

12:00pm – Admire Kofuku-ji Temple’s pagoda

1:00pm – Relax in Isuien Garden

2:00pm – Browse souvenirs on Higashimuki Shopping Street

3:00pm – Return to Kyoto/Osaka

This covers the top three temple sites – Todai-ji, Kofuku-ji and a peaceful garden at Isuien – plus time with the cute deer of Nara Park.

It’s a compact half day itinerary but hits some of the main highlights and gives you a good taste of historic Nara in just 5 hours. The temples and deer are must-see attractions, so including them even on a short visit will make for an amazing half day in Nara!

Kyoto-Osaka-Nara Itinerary

Kyoto, Osaka, and Nara make a perfect trio of destinations to visit together in the Kansai region. Here is a suggested itinerary for spending time in each city:

Day 1 – 3: Kyoto Spend your first few days enjoying top Kyoto sights like Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kiyomizu-dera, and Nijo Castle. Visit historic districts like Higashiyama and wander through atmospheric streets lined with shops and restaurants.

Getting between Kyoto sights: Kyoto has an excellent public bus system as well as subways. Buses are best for reaching key temples and shrines. Purchase a 1 or 2-day bus pass to save money.

Day 4: Kyoto to Osaka After exploring Kyoto, make your way to Osaka by train. The fast JR shinkansen bullet train takes just 15 minutes and departs frequently from Kyoto Station. Mid-range options like the Hankyu line take 30-45 minutes.

Upon arrival in Osaka, check into your hotel and spend the afternoon in areas like Dotonbori and Shinsaibashi for shopping, street food, and neon nightlife.

Day 5: Osaka to Nara Day Trip Take a day trip from Osaka to Nara by train, leaving in the early morning to arrive around 8-9am. To get to Nara, take the JR Yamatoji line from Osaka (Tennoji) Station (45 mins) or Hankyu line to Kintetsu Nara Station (1.5 hrs).

Spend the full day exploring Nara’s top sites like Todai-ji, Nara Park, Kasuga Taisha, and Kofuku-ji Temple. Head back to Osaka in the early evening.

Day 6 – 8: Osaka Spend your remaining time enjoying Osaka’s top foodie destinations, museums, and attractions. Must-visit spots include Osaka Castle, Kuromon Ichiba Market, the Umeda Sky Building, and Den Den Town.

Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Nara day trip:

  • Purchase a discounted 1-day Kintetsu Rail Pass for travel to/from Nara
  • Stay near Kintetsu Nara Station for easy access to attractions
  • Arrive early (by 8am) to avoid crowds later in the day
  • Wear comfortable walking shoes – you’ll cover a lot of ground!
  • Carry a backpack rather than a purse for hands-free touring
  • Bring cash for deer crackers, temple fees, snacks, & souvenirs
  • Budget 2+ hours for both Todai-ji & Kasuga Taisha Shrine
  • Visit the most important sites (Todai-ji, Kasuga, Kofuku-ji) first in case you run short on time
  • Relax in the peaceful Japanese gardens during the afternoon when temple fatigue sets in
  • Shop for souvenirs towards the end of your day before returning to Kyoto/Osaka

Additional Things to See With More Time in Nara:

Nara National Museum – Overwhelming collection of Buddhist art & artifacts

Yakushiji Temple – Ancient temple with a pagoda, famous Genjo Sanzo statues

Horyuji Temple – The oldest wooden temple in the world (45 min train ride away)

Naramachi – Historic merchant neighborhood with shops & museums

Ukimido Gazebo – Picturesque lakeside gazebo over Sarusawa Pond

Mount Wakakusa – Hike up this mountain for panoramic views over Nara

Toshodaiji Temple – Site of Japan’s first public zen meditation hall

Heijo Palace – Ruins of the former 8th century Imperial Palace

With this detailed one day Nara itinerary, you now have an amazing experience in store discovering Japan’s first capital! Follow this route to efficiently see all of Nara’s highlights in a short time. Have an incredible day feeding deer, admiring giant Buddha statues, and exploring historic temples and gardens in this magical city.

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