How to do 1 day trip to Kyoto from Tokyo!! [Recommended itinerary]

Tokyo and Kyoto are the two most famous cities in Japan, and many tourists visit both cities.
Even if you are visiting only Tokyo for a short period of time, it is still possible to visit Kyoto from Tokyo!
If you can spare one-day during your stay in Tokyo, you can make a day trip to Kyoto!
This article will introduce how to make a day-trip to Kyoto from Tokyo with a suggested itinerary.

Before we start, we’d also like to introduce you a recommended day-trip tour from Tokyo to Kyoto! This full-day guided tour allows you to see the best highlights of Kyoto in one day including Kinkakuji Temple (the Golden Pavilion), Fushimi Inari Taisha and Kiyomizudera Temple! Check the link below for more details about the day-trip tour to Kyoto from Tokyo!

▶ Kyoto 1–Day Private Walking Tour from Tokyo (8 Hours Tour in Kyoto)

Transportation to Kyoto

There are two options for transportation to get to Kyoto from Tokyo.
・Shinkansen Bullet Train
・Night Bus
Let check out pros and cons of each one.

Shinkansen Bullet Train: fastest and comfortable

The fastest way to travel to Kyoto from Tokyo is by Shinkansen.
If you take the fastest Shinkansen called “Nozomi”, it takes about 140 minutes and costs 13,080 yen per person for one way.
When you have JR rail pass and you choose the second fastest Shinkansen “Hikari”, which takes about 165 minutes with no extra charge!

Tips for Shinkansen Bullet train ride:
・From Tokyo to Kyoto: Choose the seat E because you can see Mt. Fuji from the seat window on a sunny day. Mt. Fuji appears 40 mins after the departure of Tokyo.
・Tokyo station: Buy a Bento Lunch Boxes. There are variety kinds of unique lunch boxes sold and you can enjoy them during Shinkansen ride!

Bus : Cheapest

The cheaper way is taking a bus, especially NIGHT bus.
If you take a night bus, departure time from Tokyo is around 10-11pm, then arriving time in Kyoto is 6-7 am.

The price varies on days. It costs usually between 1,700 yen and 6,000 yen. The price may be higher on Weekends and the holiday season of Japan.

Our recommended bus company is those three.
Willer Express 4,000 yen-
VIP liner  4,000 yen –
Sakura Kanko bus 1,700 yen- *Sorry it’s only in Japanese.

Recommended Itinerary for a day-trip to Kyoto from Tokyo

 1. COMFORTABLE PLAN: Bullet train round trip

Transportation fee:  about 26,000 yen

8:00-11:00 Bullet train from Tokyo to Kyoto
11:00-18:00 Sightseeing in Kyoto for 7 hours
(For how to enjoy Kyoto in 7 hours, please check this article: 1 Day Kyoto Suggested Itinerary [HIGHLIGHT(7hours)])
18:00-21:00 Bullet train from Kyoto to Tokyo

Recommended hotels very close to Tokyo station (Lux and First Class)

The Tokyo Station Hotel
Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Marunouchi
Shangri-La Hotel, Tokyo

 2. KYOTO LONG STAY PLAN: Go by Bullet train and back by night bus

Transportation fee: approx.15,000-20,000 yen

8:00-11:00 Bullet train from Tokyo to Kyoto
11:00-18:00 Sightseeing in Kyoto for 7 hours
(Please check Kyoto itinerary here.)
18:00-22:00 Enjoy dinner and night activity in Kyoto
23:00-6:30 Back to Tokyo by night bus

Recommended budget hotels in Akihabara station easy access to Tokyo station’s bus terminal.

First Cabin Akihabara
Glansit Akihabara

3. BUDGET PLAN: Go and back by night bus

Transportation fee: about 4,000-12,000 yen

23:00-6:30 Go to Kyoto by night bus
6:30-8:00 Have a break and breakfast
8:00-18:00 Sightseeing in Kyoto for 10 hours
(Kyoto one day itinerary)
18:00-22:00 Enjoy dinner and night activity in Kyoto
23:00-6:30 Back to Tokyo by night bus

Comparative Table

Transportation Price Duration Station
Bullet Train Non reserved seat:13,080 yen
Regular reserved seat:13,910 yen
Green Car reserved seat(1st class): 18,690 yen
2hours and an half JR Tokyo/ Shinakawa station
Night Bus 1,700 yen-6,000 yen about 7 hours Busta Shinjuku
Tokyo station Bus Terminal

If you are looking for special experiences in Kyoto, we recommend you to take a guided tour so you can see around Kyoto efficiently even with a short time! With a local guide, you can also learn the history and culture of Kyoto much deeper. We have listed two very popular tours in Kyoto, so please check them out!

Food Tour: Kyoto FooDrink Tour – Nishiki Street & Gion
Private Tour: Kyoto 4 Hour HIGHLIGHT Private Walking Tour

How do you think about that?
Recently night bus becomes more comfortable than before so it is one of the easy way to go to Kyoto!
If you want to have our advice, please free free to ask us.
Contact to Japan Wonder Travel
Hope you could enjoy Japan efficiently!

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The very best 10 things to do in Tokyo

5 things to do in Okayama where is easy to access from Naoshima

Cherry Blossom Forecast 2019 and the Best Sakura blooming spots in Japan[Recommended]

Beautiful views of Autumn Leaves, One Day Trip from Tokyo: Kamakura, Hakone, Fuji Five Lakes, Nikko and inner Tokyo

10 Best Places to see Autumn Leaves in Kyoto ~ beautiful world of red leaves~

7 Days Itinerary in Kyoto, Osaka, Nara and Kobe(Kansai region)

Book a hotel in Japan



  1. Hi there! Thank you for the tip on this page! May I please ask if it’s advisable to take the Hikari there and back? And by what time should we take the Hikari at night?

    Thank you!

    • Hi Vivian-san,
      Thank you for your inquiry. Of course you could use Hikari between Tokyo and Kyoto.
      You could use Hikari with JR rail pass.
      Then last train is about 8pm between Tokyo and Kyoto.(It takes about 3 hours.)
      If you have any question, please feel free to let us know.

      Best regards,

  2. Hi.. in regards to the bus.. is it safe for non- Japanese speaking passengers? Is it comfortable? How do I get more details on the bus? I’m flying in to Haneda.. how do I go by bus from there?

    • Hi Husna-san,
      Yes it’s safe for non-Japanese speaking passengers. I used bus last month, some non Japanese speaking passengers were in bus.
      3 seat-row is comfortable, 4 seat-row is bit tight, I think.

      Please check bus’s company page. From airport, there is an airport limousine bus to Shinjuku bus terminal.

  3. Hello! Would it be worth buying a JR pass just for this one day trip, as I am based in Tokyo and will only do one trip outside of Tokyo due to time. I’ve heard a return trip on the bullet train is as expensive as a JR Pass.

  4. Don’t use the night bus if you’re claustrophobic, afraid of the dark, or need to look out of the window when you travel. The entire seated area is boxed off with curtains (you can’t see out of the windshield in front either), lights are not allowed, opening the curtains is not allowed. It’s supposed to create a relaxed environment but there’s nothing much relaxed about it. They’ve been pretty strict when I’ve tried to see where I’m going.

  5. Hi Yu,

    Thanks for your article! We will take the night bus from Kyoto to Tokyo, arriving around 7:00 in the morning. But the hotel does not accept baggage deposit and we can not check in before 15:00. Are there places where we can “crash” with our luggages and wait/rest a bit until we can check in?

  6. Hi, of using bus, do you think 1 full day (10 hrs) is enough to tour Kyoto and Nara including travel time in between? What’s the travel duration? Thanks!

    • @Leah-san,
      Thank you for your comment.
      From Kyoto to Nara it takes about 1 hour. And you should spend at least 4 hours in Nara.
      We think it’s not enough for 10 hours in Kyoto and Nara.
      If you only have 10 hours, you should spend only in Kyoto!!
      Have a nice trip!!

  7. Hello!
    What do you mean by “no extra charges” with the Hikari train if we use a JR Pass? Does it mean once we purchase a JR Pass, we are able to go inside the train instantly without paying?
    May I also ask how much the discounts are from Kyoto to Tokyo if we have the Pass?
    Thank you!

  8. hi, i will be arriving in Narita airport Tokyo on May 24 at 5pm, i want to go to Kyoto right away overnight bus. How can i get to the Will Express station from the airport?

    • Hello Arcadio Elegado-san,

      Thank you for your comment.
      What’s “the Will Express Station”?
      Willer Express bus station in Shinjuku?

      You need take NEX(Narita Express: JR train) or Air Port Limousine bus from Narita to Shinjuku station.

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