Nara Day Trip: The Perfect Nara 1 Day Itinerary

Nara Day Trip: The Perfect Nara 1 Day Itinerary

Nara is an excellent choice if you are looking for an easy day trip from Kyoto or Osaka. Here, you can duck into ancient temples, wander around Nara Deer Park and even feed free-roaming deer. Read all about what to do in Nara in this quick Nara 1 day itinerary.

Roughly one hour south of Kyoto is the magical wonderland of Nara – a quaint little town where free-roaming deer stroll around beautiful parks and gardens. If you’re looking for one of the best day trips from Kyoto or even Osaka, Nara is an excellent add-on to any Japan itinerary.

Nara was established in 710 and is home to some pretty remarkable temples, unique architecture, and gorgeous stretched-out gardens. Not to mention, the hundreds of free-roaming deer!

Although Nara is the capital of Japan’s Nara Prefecture, it’s pretty small, making it a great choice for a 1 day itinerary. Unlike its bustling neighbors, Kyoto and Osaka, Nara is whimsical, quaint, compact and a great place to spend some time surrounded by nature.

Since Nara is so small, you’ll be surprised to learn how easy it is to get around the city, too. All the top spots are effortless to reach by foot, so you don’t need to worry about taxis and buses.

Nara Deer Park is one of the most popular attractions in Nara and a great add-on to any Nara 1 day itinerary.
The Nara Deer Park is a highlight on any Nara day trip itinerary.

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Planning a trip to Japan's ancient capital city, Nara? Find the best things to do in Nara here in this Nara 1 day itinerary. plus get all the tips you need to plan the perfect Nara day trip! #nara #Japan #naradaytrip #kyotodaytrips

Nara 1 Day Trip Itinerary: The Best Things to do on a Nara Day Trip

Nara Deer Park

Many of the top attractions in Nara actually lie close to Nara Deer Park. Which is why I’d suggest you start your Nara one day itinerary right here. 

Apart from its excellent location, the park is the perfect spot to have a picnic while admiring the surroundings and of course, the deer. Witness these cute animals huddling around the Deer Cookie stalls waiting for hand-outs!  If you too want to feed the deer, you can buy some cookies at one of the many stalls around the park. Packs contain five cookies and go for ¥150.

Planning a Nara day trip and wondering what to do? There's plenty to do in Nara, but a visit to Nara Deer Park is a huge must.

Pro Tip

Although Nara is a beautiful destination to explore year-round, I highly recommend visiting Nara during autumn. The town starts to bustle with tourists and the leaves begin to change. All over the city, you’ll be rewarded with leaves changing to bright reds, bursting yellows, vivid oranges and all shades of brown imaginable.

If you are thinking of heading here during this season, be sure to check out these other top spots for fall in Japan

Planning a trip to Japan's ancient capital city, Nara? Find the best things to do in Nara here in this Nara 1 day itinerary. Plus get all the tips you need to plan the perfect Nara day trip! #nara #Japan #naradaytrip #kyotodaytrips
Planning a trip to Japan's ancient capital city, Nara? Find the best things to do in Nara here in this Nara 1 day itinerary. Plus get all the tips you need to plan the perfect Nara day trip! #nara #Japan #naradaytrip #kyotodaytrips
Ice cream anyone?

Todai-ji temple

Nara’s most iconic temple and a must visit place on your Nara day trip is Todai-Ji. This remarkable temple is an absolute must-see on your Nara one day itinerary. The temple is home to the famous Daibutsu (Great Buddha) – a 15m towering statue housed in the Daibutsu-den (Hall of the Great Buddha). The figure is the second-largest Buddha statue in Japan and one of the largest in the world. The Hall itself is the most significant wooden building in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage site. In addition to the impressive Daibutsu, the Hall also houses four other giant statues, a few old tiles, and some leftover relics.

After admiring the statues, head towards the wooden column with a small hole carved through the bottom. If you can squeeze through the hole, ‘enlightenment’ is reportedly promised! Don’t forget to stop and touch the Yakushi Nyorai Buddha on your way out too! Which, according to legend, has healing powers.

Apart from the temple, you’ll be delighted to learn that the grounds are just as spectacular. Be sure to explore the beautiful surroundings and all the little pathways.

Opening hours:
Apr – Oct: 7:30 – 17:30
Nov – Mar: 8:00 – 16:30
Entrance fee: ¥500

Planning a trip to Japan's ancient capital city, Nara? Find the best things to do in Nara here in this Nara 1 day itinerary. plus get all the tips you need to plan the perfect Nara day trip! #nara #Japan #naradaytrip #kyotodaytrips
Todai-ji Temple is the largest wooden building in the world and an important religious site in Nara.
Todai-ji Temple is the largest wooden building in the world.
Religious treasures housed in Todai-ji Temple, Nara
Klook.com

Kasuga-Taisha Shrine

A short walk from the Deer Park is Nara’s most famous Shinto shrine, Kasuga-Taisha. It dates back to 768 AD and has a main hall as well as a worshipper’s hall. Although I loved the bright architecture of the shrine, the grounds left me in utter awe. With towering forests, pathways lined with more than 3000 stone lanterns and wandering deer, Kasuga-Taisha is mesmerizing and breathtaking!

Opening hours:
Apr – Sep: 6:00 – 18:00
Oct – Mar: 6:30 – 17:00
Entrance fee: 
¥500

Planning a trip to Japan's ancient capital city, Nara? Find the best things to do in Nara here in this Nara 1 day itinerary. Plus get all the tips you need to plan the perfect Nara day trip! #nara #Japan #naradaytrip #kyotodaytrips

Kofuku-ji temple

Kofuku-ji Temple is home to a five-story pagoda making it hard to miss as you make your way to or from Nara Deer Park. Apart from its towering pagoda, there is also a treasure museum containing some interesting Buddhist images and the impressive three-faced Ashura. The main hall, the Central Golden Hall, was initially constructed between 710-714. It has recently been renovated and I can’t wait to go back to see the changes first hand. 

Opening hours: 9:00 – 17:00
Entrance fee: Free entry to the grounds. Eastern Golden Hall ¥300. National Treasure Museum ¥600.

Planning a trip to Japan's ancient capital city, Nara? Find the best things to do in Nara here in this Nara 1 day itinerary. Plus get all the tips you need to plan the perfect Nara day trip! #nara #Japan #naradaytrip #kyotodaytrips

How to Get to Nara

You can quickly get to Nara by car or train from Kyoto. Although both Kintetsu Railways and JR West have frequent trains to Nara, I’d suggest taking Kintetsu Railways to reach the city. The Kintetsu Nara Station is just a stone’s throw from Nara Park, making the top attractions easily accessed on foot. Kintetsu Direct Express trains run hourly and will set you back ¥620 for a single ride.

Alternatively, if you have already purchased a Japan Rail Pass, take the JR West line to Nara. The JR station is 15-20 minute walk to most of the main attractions. JR West trains run every thirty minutes from Kyoto station and cost ¥720 for a oneway trip.

For the most accurate prices and time schedules, be sure to visit the respective sites.

Nara Map

Planning a trip to Japan's ancient capital city, Nara? Find the best things to do in Nara here in this Nara 1 day itinerary. Plus get all the tips you need to plan the perfect Nara day trip! #nara #Japan #naradaytrip #kyotodaytrips

Have you visited Nara? What tips do you have for fellow travelers planning a Nara day trip? If you have any suggestions to add to this Nara 1 day itinerary, let me know in the comments below.

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Planning a trip to Japan's ancient capital city, Nara? Find the best things to do in Nara here in this Nara 1 day itinerary. Plus get all the tips you need to plan the perfect Nara day trip! #nara #Japan #naradaytrip #kyotodaytrips


17 thoughts on “Nara Day Trip: The Perfect Nara 1 Day Itinerary”

  • We visited Nara last November and it was one of the best days on our trip to Japan. Beautiful town with so much to see there and you also get to feed the deer. I love how you have been able to catch the autumn colours on your pictures.
    This was our first trip to Japan and we absolutely fell in love with the country. I hope we can visit soon again. It is so different and full of life, and people are so friendly. I will need to read your other Japan related posts as well.

    • Thanks Paula! This was my first trip to Japan too! And I must admit, I can’t wait to go back either. What an amazing country…apart from its culture, history and ‘oh so gorgeousness’…the food was mouthwatering!

  • Japan is on our list. Would love to see it in Autumn to see the colors in the trees. The deer park would be nice to see. Thanks for some ideas. Some really great photos as well.

  • Nara is such a quaint and pretty town! The autumn foliage looks so lovely, you have captured it so beautifully. The historic significance of the city is clearly visible from the pictures. Would love to see the 3000 lanterns at Kasuga Taisha Shrine.

  • Oh my goodness the color of those trees are mesmerizing. I’m not one for the wild life, but its interesting that they don’t run away like the ones we have here. The temple statues also seem larger than life. Certainly a place I’d like to visit some time.

  • I really like the greenery and the beautiful color of the foliage. And the buddha statue as well. Seems like a very stunning sight to explore for sure. I will keep it in mind when I visit this part of the world.

  • So nice to see a different part that I did not previously know about. We are looking to visit Japan someday. We need to really find two to three weeks to see everything we want to without having to rush. Your pics are great.

  • Those autumn leaves on the trees are so vibrant and colourful. I have only been to Japan for a short visit but have vowed to return to see more of this beautiful country. I will certainly put Nara on my itinerary. It’s hard to decide what time of year to go – Autumn for the coloured leaves or Spring for the cherry blossoms? Or maybe winter for the ski season?

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