Kyoto is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Japan and there are many ways to get there. Travelers from overseas will fly into Kansai International Airport, while domestic flights arrive at Itami Airport in Osaka. There are also many trains and buses that connect Kyoto with other cities in Japan.
How to get to Kyoto from Kansai Airport
Located to the south of Osaka, Kansai International Airport is the closest international airport to Kyoto and there are several ways to get to the city from there.
Kansai Airport Trains to Kyoto
Trains are the faster way to get to Kyoto from Kansai Airport and several options are available. Kansai Airport Station is located opposite the arrival lobby.
JR West Haruka Kansai Airport Limited Express Train
The best way to get to Kyoto from Kansai International Airport is to buy a one-day JR West Kansai Area Pass and take the Haruka Limited Express (non-reserved tickets only). The Haruka Limited Express is the fastest way to get to Kyoto from the airport and takes about 75 minutes, with trains leaving every half hour. The pass is for foreigners only and costs 2,000 yen, which is 980 yen less than a regular Haruka Limited Express ticket from the airport to Kyoto. You will need to show your passport when purchasing a ticket..
The Haruka Limited Express train is also free for people with a JR Pass. Purchased by itself, a one-way ticket on the Haruka Limited Express from the airport to Kyoto costs 2,980 yen for non-reserved seating and 3,500 yen for reserved seats.
Taking local trains to Kyoto from Kansai Airport is slightly cheaper than the bus, but requires several transfers and can be a little confusing. However, some of the trains can take you to areas outside of central Kyoto.
Take the local JR Airport Line Osaka, then transfer to the JR Kyoto Line. The trip takes about one hour and forty minutes and costs just over 1,800 yen. You can make the trip with 3 transfers for about 1,650 yen, but the small amount you save is not worth the hassle.
Buses to Kyoto from Kansai Airport
Comfortable limousine buses run from the airport to Kyoto Station about two times per hour, stopping at some of the major hotels along the way. The ride takes 90 – 135 minutes and costs 2,300 yen (children 1,150 yen) one-way or 3,800 yen for round-trip. Note that the trip can take longer when there is traffic.
Bus tickets can be purchased outside of the airport’s arrival lobby on the first floor.
Taxis from Kansai Airport to Kyoto
Taking a taxi to Kyoto from Kansai Airport is very expensive and takes longer than trains and buses. The ride will cost more than 30,000 yen and take two to three hours depending on traffic conditions.
How to get to Kyoto from Itami Airport
Located in Osaka, Itami Airport is Kansai’s largest domestic airport. Travelers flying into Kyoto from other areas in Japan will most likely arrive here.
Buses from Itami Airport to Kyoto
The easiest way to get to Kyoto from Itami Airport is by limousine bus. The trip takes about an hour and costs just under 1,300 yen. Buses run three times per hour.
Itami Airport Monorail
You can travel to Kyoto from Itami Airport by monorail and train. Take the Osaka Monorail one stop from Osaka Airport Station and get off at Hotarugaike Station. The trip takes two minutes and costs 200 yen.
There are two options from Hotarugaike Station. One is to transfer to the Hankyu Takarazuka Line going towards Umeda Station, then switch to the JR Kyoto Line to Kyoto. The trip takes about an hour and costs 760 yen in total from the airport.
The second option is to transfer to the Kankyu Takarazuka Line bound for Juso station at Hotarugaike Station, then change to the Kankyu Kyoto Line for central Kyoto. The trip costs 650 yen in total from the airport and takes about an hour.
Getting to Kyoto by Train
Japan has one of the best railway services in the world. It is clean and fast, and its more than 11,000 miles (20,000 km) of JR railway line is used by some 20,000 daily services. Several different kinds of trains offer service to Kyoto and ticket prices vary according to how fast the train travels. The shinkansen bullet trains are the faster and most expensive, the regular trains are the cheapest and take the longest time, while the different kinds of express and rapid trains fall somewhere in between.
Shinkansen trains offer service to Kyoto from Tokyo and Nagoya from the east, and Osaka, Fukuoka, and Hiroshima from the west. Kyoto is also serviced by rapid trains from all over the country.