The Best Things to do in Nara One Day Itinerary
Nara is an excellent choice if you are looking for an easy day trip from either Kyoto or Osaka. Here, you can duck into gorgeous temples, wander around Nara Deer Park and even feed the free-roaming deer. Read all about which top spots not to miss on a Nara one day itinerary, here.
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 a great day trip from either Kyoto or Osaka, don’t miss adding Nara to your Japan itinerary.
Nara was established in 710 and is home to some pretty remarkable temples, unique architecture,
Although Nara is the capital of Japan’s Nara Prefecture, it’s pretty small, making it easy to explore in just one day. Unlike its bustling neighbors, Kyoto and Osaka, Nara is whimsical, quaint, compact and a great place to spend some time in 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.
In a rush? Pin this Nara One Day Itinerary for later.
The Best Spots to Add to Your Nara One Day Itinerary
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.
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.
Nara’s most iconic temple 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.
Apr – Oct: 7:30 – 17:30
Nov – Mar: 8:00 – 16:30
Entrance fee: ¥500
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!
Apr – Sep: 6:00 – 18:00
Oct – Mar: 6:30 – 17:00
Entrance fee: ¥500
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.
Getting to Nara
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Alternatively, if you have already purchased a Japan Rail Pass, take the JR West line to Nara. The JR station is a 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 one
For the most accurate prices and time schedules, be sure to visit the respective sites.
Have you ever been to Nara? What tips do you have for fellow travelers visiting Nara? And, more importantly, what were your favorite things to do on a Nara one day itinerary?
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This post was updated on February 29, 2019.