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Traveling from Osaka to Kyoto: 4 Best Options

By Asia Car Service

Getting from Osaka to Kyoto is a relatively short trip, since the two cities are only about 55 km apart. In this article, we will provide a guide on the 4 most common methods of getting from Osaka to Kyoto. We will compare each option based on the most important priorities for travelers. This includes door- to-door travel time, convenience, comfort, and general cost.

1. Time: How many hours do I have to spend to get from Osaka Airport to my Kyoto destination?

2. Convenience: How many transit switches and different modes of transport will I have to make?

3. Comfort: How comfortable am I sharing a full vehicle, and walking with all my luggage for varying distances at different points in the journey?

4. Cost: What is my budget for this journey? Am I willing to spend more for a reduced time, increased convenience, and comfort?

Option 1: Osaka Kansai Airport to Kyoto Station by Shuttle Bus

Osaka Kansai Airport to Kyoto Station by Shuttle Bus

Travel Time: 1.5 hours

Convenience: Low

Comfort: Medium

Travel Cost: $$

Summary & Recommendation:

Traveling by bus is the most cost effective way to go from Kansai International Airport to Kyoto Station. The bus will pick passengers up at Terminal 1 or Terminal 2 and will stop first at Highway Kyotonabe drop-off point before moving on to Kyoto Station. It will also make stops at smaller stations in Kyoto past Kyoto Station which may be located nearer to your hotel. There are regular departures throughout the day, but those traveling outside of the scheduled departure times may find this inconvenient.

Travel Steps in Detail:

Step 1: Once you land at the airport, proceed to the Kansai Tourist Information Center Travel Desk located on the 1st floor of Terminal 1. From here you can find a bus schedule and purchase bus tickets and receive directions on where to wait for the bus. If you miss your bus, there are fairly regular departures throughout the day. The earliest departure is at 6:05am from Terminal 2 and 6:20am fromTerminal 1 arriving in Kyoto at 7:45am. The latest departure is at 11:40pm from Terminal 2 and 11:55pm from Terminal 1 arriving in Kyoto at 1:20am. Timetables can also be found on the Kansai Airport website.

Step 2: Make your way to either Terminal 1 or Terminal 2 bus stop depending on the bus you are scheduled to take and wait for announcements and instructions on which bus to board. Once you have boarded the bus, you will be on the bus to Kyoto for about 90 minutes.

Step 3: Once you arrive at Kyoto Station, either de-board the bus, or remain on it if you need to get off at one of the smaller stations in other parts of Kyoto.

Step 4: You will likely need to hail a taxi outside the station to get to your final destination.

Option 2: Osaka Kansai Airport to Kyoto Station by Train

Osaka Kansai Airport to Kyoto Station by Train

Travel Time: 75 min

Convenience: Low (multiple stops)

Comfort: Moderate

Travel Cost: $$$

Summary & Recommendation:

Traveling by train is slightly more expedient, but also slightly more expensive than traveling by bus. The JR West Limited Express Haruka runs between Kansai Airport Station and Kyoto Station, making stops at Shin-Osaka Station and Tennoji Station along the way. There are about 30 round trips per day, but those traveling outside these times may find this inconvenient. There are other train lines traveling from Osaka to Kyoto, but the JR West Limited Express Haruka is the only line that runs directly from Kansai Airport to Kyoto Station.

Travel Steps in Detail:

Step 1: Once you land at the airport, proceed to the Kansai Tourist Information Center Travel Desk located on the 1st floor of Terminal 1. From here you can find a train schedule and purchase tickets for the JR West Limited Express Haruka. The earliest departure is at 6:30am (6:40am on weekends and holidays) and the latest is at 10:16pm. Timetables can be found at the JR West website.

Step 2: Make your way to Kansai Airport Station. The JR West Limited Express Haruka only departs from Platform 4, so be sure you are in the correct location to board your train. If you miss your train, you will have to wait for the next one to come.

Step 3: Once you board the train, stay on past the first two stops at Shin-Osaka and Tennoji stations. You will de-board the train once you arrive at Kyoto Station.

Step 4: You will likely have to hail a taxi outside the station to make it to your final destination.

Option 3: Osaka Kansai Airport to Kyoto Station by Bullet Train (Tokaido Shinkansen)

Osaka Kansai Airport to Kyoto Station by Bullet Train Tokaido Shinkansen

Travel Time: Around 60 min

Convenience: Low

Comfort: Moderate

Travel Cost: $$$

Summary & Recommendation:

While traveling by Bullet Train (Shinkansen) is the ideal way to travel between Osaka and Tokyo, it is a pricey and inefficient way to get to Kyoto. Travelers still have to take a train from Kansai International to Shin-Osaka Station in order to board the Shinkansen. Shin-Osaka Station is also notoriously confusing and difficult to navigate for travelers the first time there. It is very easy to get lost in the extensive network of routes, stores, and various train lines that make up the station, despite the fact that most signs are in English as well as Japanese. Buying tickets can also be very confusing, though there are usually some officials that speak a reasonable amount of English that are very willing to try and help. All of this can make the transit time much longer than expected, even though theShinkansen ride itself only takes 12 minutes to go from Shin-Osaka to Kyoto Station.

Travel Steps in Detail:

Step 1: Once you land at the airport, proceed to the Kansai Tourist Information Center Travel Desklocated on the 1st floor of Terminal 1. From here you can find a train schedule and purchase tickets for the JR West Limited Express Haruka. The earliest departure is at 6:30am (6:40am on weekends and holidays) and the latest is at 10:16pm. Timetables can be found at the JR West website.

Step 2: Make your way to Kansai Airport Station. The JR West Limited Express Haruka only departs from Platform 4, so be sure you are in the correct location to board your train. If you miss your train, you will have to wait for the next one to come.

Step 3: Once you arrive at Shin-Osaka Station, you will de-board and make your way to the Tokaido Shinkansen Gates. You will need to purchase a Shinkansen ticket at one of the machines next to the gate. To purchase tickets, you will need to provide the following information:

  1. The number of travelers.
  2. The departure station and destination.
  3. The date and time of travel.
  4. One-way or return.
  5. Preferences: Ordinary or Green Car, Reserved or Non-reserved, Smoking or Non- smoking.

More information on purchasing tickets can be found at the JR Central website.

Step 4: Once you board the train, you will arrive at Kyoto Station in about 12-15 minutes.

Step 5: You will likely need to hail a taxi outside the station to take you to your final destination.

Option 4: Osaka Kansai Airport to Kyoto by Private Car

Osaka Kansai Airport to Kyoto by Private Car

Travel Time: Around 1 h 30 min

Convenience: High

Comfort: High

Travel Cost: Get a Quote

Summary & Recommendation:

Hiring a private car service is by far the most comfortable and convenient way for travelers to get from Kansai International Airport to their final destination in Kyoto. Many private car services offer 24 hour pick up and English speaking drivers. They will also be able to provide a variety of vehicle services and options, such as sedans or 6-9 person vans for traveling families.

When using a private driving service, a professional driver will meet their clients at a pre-arranged location and escort them to their vehicle of choice. Luggage will be stored safely in a luggage compartment and travelers will have plenty of room to make themselves comfortable for the ride. They will often have access to free WiFi for the duration of the drive.

Customers will receive door-to-door service, which means they will be picked up from Kansai International Airport and taken directly to their hotel in Kyoto.

This option is the most expedient and direct method of transportation option with no wait times and minimal planning; just take a couple minutes to book online and let the driver worry about the rest. This is the recommended option for traveling families, business travelers, seniors, and any situation where comfort and safety are the most important concern.

Travel Steps in Detail:

Step 1: Book your service online and meet your chauffeur at Kansai International Airport.

Step 2: Get dropped off at your destination or hotel of choice.

Asia Car Service provides private limousine transfers. If you are interested in private car service for your Kansai Airport to Kyoto journey, don’t hesitate to contact us: bookings@asiacarservice.com.

We’re also excited to offer you a $10 discount on your first service with our company, redeemable with this promo code 10CARBLOG. Just click the image below and get your discounted quote!


10carblog promo code 1st service discount
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