This 2-week itinerary starts in Tokyo then covers the three main tourist cities of Kansai (Kyoto, Nara and Osaka), before heading west to Hiroshima/Miyajima. It’s an efficient way to see many of Japan’s real highlights.
Tokyo Tower and Tokyo cityscape © 143951935@N07
- Duration: Around 2 weeks.
- Perfect for: First time visitors to Japan who want to see a lot of Japan’s highlights.
- Places visited: Tokyo, Kyoto, Nara, Osaka, Hiroshima and Miyajima.
- Arrival City/Airport: Most people fly into Tokyo’s Narita or Haneda airports to do this itinerary.
- Best Season: Any time of year.
- Japan Rail Pass: A two-week Japan Rail Pass will save you a bit of money. For more details, see our Japan Rail Pass: Is It Worth It? page.
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The Full Itinerary
Day 1: Arrive in Tokyo
You’ll probably arrive at Narita International Airport (NRT), but some flights also go into the more convenient Haneda International Airport (HND). See our Tokyo Airport Transport page for details on getting into Tokyo from the airports.
Day 2: Tokyo: Modern Tokyo
On your first full day in Tokyo, you’ll explore the modern west side of the city. See our full Tokyo Two-Day Itinerary for details.
Day 3: Tokyo: Traditional Tokyo
On your second full day in Tokyo, you’ll explore the traditional east side of the city. See our full Tokyo Two-Day Itinerary for details.
Day 4: Travel to Kyoto, Explore Downtown Kyoto
Take the shinkansen from Tokyo to Kyoto. The journey takes around 2.5 hours and costs Y13,080 (you can use a Japan Rail Pass to cover this trip). For details, see our How to Travel from Tokyo to Kyoto page. You’ll probably have some time after arriving in Kyoto to explore. We recommend checking out the downtown area on this day.
Kyoto’s Kinkaku-ji Temple © pedrosz
Day 5: Kyoto: Southern Higashiyama
On your first full day in Kyoto, you’ll explore the temple-packed Southern Higashiyama area. See our full Kyoto Three-Day Itinerary for details.
The Great Buddha at Nara’s Todai-ji Temple © myneur
Day 6: Daytrip to Nara
Nara is only 30 minutes by train from Kyoto, so it makes a great daytrip. On this day, you’ll see the Great Buddha and the rest of the sights in Nara-koen Park. for details on today’s itinerary, see our Perfect One-Day Nara Itinerary. For transport details between Kyoto and Nara, see our How to Get to Nara page.
Day 7: Kyoto: Arashiyama
On your second full day in Kyoto, travel west to the Arashiyama district, which is home to the famous Arashiyama Bamboo Grove. See our full Kyoto Three-Day Itinerary for details.
Day 8: Kyoto: Northern Kyoto
On your last day in Kyoto, consider a half-day trip up to the village of Kurama and an exploration of some of the temples in the north of the city. See our full Kyoto Three-Day Itinerary for details.
Day 9: Travel to Osaka, Explore Osaka
Osaka is only 12 minutes from Kyoto by shinkansen or 40 minutes by private rail line (Hankyu or Keihan lines). So, you’ll have plenty of time to explore the city on this day. For some ideas of what to do, see our Osaka Two-Day Itinerary page.
Osaka’s Dotombori District © pedrosz
Day 10: Explore Osaka
With a full day in Osaka, you can cover a lot of ground. For some ideas of how to spend the day, visit our Osaka Two-Day Itinerary page.
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park © 45909111@N00
Day 11: Travel to Hiroshima, Night in Hiroshima
If you get a relatively early start today, you can see a lot of Hiroshima on this day. Take the shinkansen from Osaka to Hiroshima. The journey takes one hour and 26 minutes and costs Y9,710. The Japan Rail Pass covers this leg. For transport details, see our How to Get to Hiroshima/Miyajima page. Option A of our Two-Day Hiroshima/Miyajima Itinerary is the perfect way to structure your visit.
The Floating Torii at Miyajima © momocita
Day 12: Travel to Miyajima, Explore Miyajima, Night on Miyajima
In the morning, travel from Hiroshima to Miyajima. See our Getting Around Hiroshima and Miyajima page for transport details. Do the Must-See 1-Day Miyajima Itinerary on this day.
Day 13: Return to Tokyo
On this day, you’ll make the trek back from Miyajima all the way to Tokyo. The ferry/local train/shinkansen journey back to Tokyo takes about 5 hours. For transport details, see our How to Get to Hiroshima/Miyajima page.
Day 14: Fly Home from Tokyo
After spending a final evening in Tokyo, you will make your way back to Narita or Haneda airports and fly home. See our Tokyo Airport Transport page for details on getting from Tokyo to these airports.
- Japan Itineraries Overview
- 1 Week Japan Itinerary: Tokyo and Kyoto
- 10 Day Japan Itinerary: Tokyo, Kyoto and Kanazawa
- 10 Day Japan Itinerary: Tokyo, Kyoto and Takayama
- 2 Week Japan Itinerary: The Grand Tour
- 7 to 10 Day Japan Itinerary: Kyoto, Osaka, Nara and Hiroshima
- Japan With Children Itinerary
Kyoto Vacation Checklist
- For all the essentials in a brief overview, see my First Time In Kyoto guide
- Check Kyoto accommodation availability on Booking.com - usually you can reserve a room with no upfront payment. Pay when you check out. Free cancellations too.
- Need tips on where to stay? See my one page guide Where To Stay In Kyoto
- See my comprehensive Packing List For Japan
- Buy a data-only SIM card online for collection when you arrive at Kansai International Airport (for Osaka and Kyoto) or Tokyo's Narita Airport. Or rent an unlimited data pocket wifi router.
- Compare Japan flight prices and timings to find the best deals
- If you're visiting more than one city, save a ton of money with a Japan Rail Pass - here's my explanation of why it's worth it
- A prepaid Icoca card makes travelling around Kyoto easy - here's how.
- Get travel insurance for Japan - we recommend World Nomads (and here's why)