Dec 8, 2017
Travel from Osaka to Nara should be a breeze, given the proximity of the two Kansai cities. Here we look at the "how to" and "how much it costs" to travel from Osaka to Nara by train, with taxi and driving yourself being the other modes of transport. In fact, Osaka sits in an enviable position, almost equidistant from both Nara and Kyoto, two of Japan’s marquee cities for all sightseeing spots historical. Throw in Kobe and Himeji Castle, and it’s a wonder why there remains debate about whether or not Osaka is the best base for Kanto exploration.
Travelers still tend to gravitate towards Kyoto or Nara though. We looked at how much it costs to get from Osaka to Kyoto (together with the transport options) here.
The distance from Osaka to Nara is short, maybe around 40 km separates Osaka and Nara stations.
Trains from Osaka to Nara
When getting from Osaka to Nara by train the options are myriad with the journey taking around one hour from anywhere in Osaka.
There are two main train hubs in the Osaka area though; Umeda, Osaka and Shin-Osaka Stations in the north of the city and the Namba area (including Shinsaibashi, Nippombashi, Dotonburi) further south.
(Umeda / Osaka Station area one of the city's main train hubs)
While Osaka has a handful of rail hubs to choose from, Nara has few. Maybe two to be more specific - Kintetsu Nara Station and JR Nara Station - both of which are within walking distance of sightseeing Mecca, Nara Park.
JR Nara Station handles the Yamatoji, Nara, Gakkentoshi, and Man-yō Mahoroba lines
Kintetsu Nara Station handles the Kintetsu Nara and Kintetsu Kyoto lines.
One could argue the case that Kintetsu Nara Station, while smaller than Nara Station, is the more popular of the two due to a greater proximity to Nara Park and trains of a faster, more frequent nature.
Osaka Station to JR Nara Station
JR Yamatoji Rapid trains cost 800 yen for the ~50 - 55 mins journey.
Earliest departure from Osaka Station to Nara: Dept. 4:58 / Arrive 6:03
It this early time the rapids are yet to get started, so a transfer will be required …
OSAKA - (Osaka Loop Line) - SHINIMAMIYA - (JR Yamatoji Line Local) - NARA
The rapids don’t get going until around 6:22
Last departure for Osaka Station from Nara: Dept 23:20 / Arrive 00:34 ...
NARA - (JR Yamatoji Line Local) - TENNOJI - (JR Kansai Airport Rapid) - OSAKA
Osaka to Kintetsu Nara
Depending on departure time, getting from Osaka Station to Kintetsu Nara can involve a lot of transfers. There is one straightforward option though …
OSAKA - (Osaka Loop Line) - TSURUHASHI - (Kintetsu Nara Line Exp.) - (KINTETSU NARA)
Journey time: ~ 55 mins
Fares: 670 yen
From the Umeda Station area, rather than make use of the Subway, Hanshin and Hankyu Lines, travelers to Nara would be better to walk to Osaka Station and use the JR lines from there. It’s about a 5-min walk between the stations.
Trains To Kintetsu Nara Station
For those who are based in the Nippombashi, Dotonburi, Shinsaibashi, Namba area of Osaka the easiest access to Nara will be via Osaka-Namba Station and Kintetsu Nara Station.
Kintetsu Nara Line Rapid Express services take around 35 mins to travel from Osaka-Namba to Kintetsu Nara. Fares, 560 yen.
Local trains on the same line share the same cost but journey times are around 50 - 55 mins.
Earliest departure from Osaka-Namba Station to Kintetsu Nara: Dept. 5:12 / Arrive 6:06 (local service)
Coming back from Kintetsu Nara, the last direct service on the Kintetsu Nara line …
Dept. 23:06 / Arrive 00:01
An indirect option …
KINTETSU NARA - (Kintetsu Nara Line Local) - YAMATOSAIDAIJI - (Kintetsu Nara Line Local) - OSAKA-NAMBA
Dept. 23:30 / Arrive 00:26
Shin-Osaka to Nara
Stations in Nara are not on any of the Shinkansen lines. Those travelers accessing Osaka on the Shinkansen will be alighting at Shin-Osaka Station just across the river from the Umeda / Osaka Station area in the north of the city. Getting to Nara from Shin-Osaka will require a change either at Osaka or Tennoji Stations …
SHIN-OSAKA - (Osaka City Subway Midosuji Line) - TENNOJI - (JR Yamatoji Line Rapid) - NARA
Journey times: ~ 65 mins
Fares: 750 yen
Slightly more expensive …
SHIN-OSAKA - (JR Special Rapid) - OSAKA - (JR Yamatoji Line Regional Rapid) - NARA
Journey times: ~ 63 mins
Fares: 920 yen
Earliest departure from Shin-Osaka Station (via Tennoji): Dept. 5:08 / Arrive 6:21
Last departure for Shin-Osaka Station from Nara (via Tennoji): Dept. 22:39 / Arrive 23:41
(Train bound for Nara)
Overall, when it comes to trains from Osaka to Nara and how much they cost, it looks like those Kintetsu Nara Line Rapid Express services between Osaka-Namba and Kintetsu Nara stations offer the cheapest, easiest, and quickest way to travel from Osaka to Nara.
With this many train options between the two cities, taking the bus makes little sense and as it is, at the time of writing, we could find no buses services linking the two.
Kansai International Airport to Nara
Kansai International Airport (KIX) is the main air travel hub for the west of Japan and the second largest in the country. While the airport tends to have a strong association as being “Osaka Airport,” it’s a good 40 km south of downtown Osaka, out in the waters of Osaka Bay.
Kansai Airport Transportation Enterprise (KATE) and Nara Kotsu Bus Liners (they provide the bus) run bus services from T1 & 2 of Kansai International Airport making stops at Kintetsu Nara Station and then Nara Station. Journey times are around 1 hr 45 mins. First departure from T1 is at 7:25. Last departure is at 21:25. How much does it cost? Fares are 2,050 yen one way.
Trains from Kansai International Airport to Nara
The simplest train route looks to be via Tennoji Station in Osaka …
KANSAI AIRPORT - (JR Kansai Airport Rapid or Limited Express Haruka) - TENNOJI - (JR Yamatoji Rapid) - NARA
Journey times: 80 - 90 mins (JR Kansai Airport Rapid service is cheaper but slower)
Fares: 1,710 - 2,360 yen
Itami Airport to Nara
Itami Airport (ITM) (official name; Osaka International Airport) is about 10 km north of downtown Osaka. Despite having the term “international” in the name, foreign arrivals, certainly long-haul ones, will likely arrive at Kansai International Airport.
Osaka Airport Limousine run bus services from Itami’s South and North terminals stopping at Kintetsu Nara and Nara Stations between 8:20 and 21:05. Journey times are around one hour and fares are 1,480 yen one way.
Train connections from Itami Airport to Nara are inconvenient. Take the bus to Nara.
Taxis between Osaka and Nara
Using an online taxi fare finder for rides between Osaka Station and Nara Station turned up costs of between 10,000 - 13,000 yen depending on the time of day for the 50 min ride. If there’s a few of you then, this might be a doable option if you’ve been partying hard in Osaka and have missed the last trains. How much the taxi costs to Nara compared to how much it might cost to hole up in karaoke box or manga kissa in Osaka, is another matter.
Driving from Osaka to Nara
The drive from Osaka to Nara is, in principle, a straightforward one. Quite literally. From the Honmachi (本町) area of downtown Osaka (almost equidistant between Namba and Umeda) jump on the Hanshin Expressway No.13 Osaka Line. Go past the grounds of Osaka Castle as you drive east. The Hanshin Expressway eventually merges with the Daini Hanna Toll Road (第二阪奈有料道路). On the approach to Nara this comes to an end from which you can get onto Route 308 (Hanna Road) which turns into Route 369 and plugs drivers right into Nara Park.
On a good day, driving from Osaka to Nara might only take around 30 mins. Plan for some traffic though. A buzzy little k-car will probably burn up around 500 yen of gas one way.
Rent-a-car options abound. Expect to pay around 5,000 - 8,000 yen for 12 hrs for a k-car or compact with a bit more muscle, picking up in Osaka and dropping off in Nara. A pick up / drop off at the same location will shave 1,000 - 2,000 yen off this.
How did you get from Osaka to Nara? How much does it cost? Share your travel tips in the comments below.
See our ‘How Much | Travel’ series for more destinations from Tokyo and beyond …
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