With your Japan Rail Pass
- Travel time: At least 15 minutes
- Cost: Included in your JR Pass
The quickest way to travel from Kyoto to Osaka is via the Shinkansen.
At Kyoto Station, Japan Rail Pass holders can board the Hikari and Kodama trains on the Tokaido Shinkansen Line for free, and arrive to Shin-Osaka Station after only a 15-minute ride.
There are also other JR trains covered by the JR Pass that connect the two cities with each other, such as the JR Kyoto Line rapid service or the JR Special Rapid Service for Himeji. However, travelling via these non-Shinkansen options takes twice as long.
Shinkansen or bullet train
- Travel time: 14 minutes
- Cost: From 1,420 yen
The fastest bullet train on the Tokaido Shinkansen line is the Nozomi train, which is not covered by the Japan Rail Pass. It takes only 14 minutes to run between Kyoto Station and Shin-Osaka Station. If you want to use this option to get from Kyoto to Osaka, you need to buy a one-way ticket that costs 1,420 yen (unreserved seat) or 3,220 yen (reserved seat).
- Travel time: Under an hour
- Cost: Around 400 yen
There are a couple of privately owned railways that also operate routes between Kyoto and Osaka.
Keihan Railway offers limited express trains that serve Kyoto’s Sanjo Station and Osaka’s Yodoyobashi Station. A one-way trip is less than an hour long, and costs 410 yen.
Hankyu Railway’s limited express trains link Kyoto’s Karasuma Station and Kawaramachi Station to Osaka’s Umeda Station. A one-way trip takes about 50 minutes, and costs 400 yen.
Bus from Kansai Airport or Itami Airport in Osaka
- Travel time: About 1 to 2 hours
- Cost: From 1,310 yen
Both Kansai Airport and Itami Airport in Osaka are served by Osaka Airport Limousine buses that take passengers directly to Kyoto Station. Every day, there are multiple departures, and a one-way trip takes about 2 hours and costs 2,550 yen (from Kansai Airport), or under an hour and costs 1,310 yen (from Itami Airport).
Check out the Osaka Airport Limousine website for bus timetables, ticket prices, and other information.
With other kinds of rail passes
The Kintetsu Rail Pass and the Kansai Thru Pass are two rail passes that allow you to get from Kyoto to Osaka, and enjoy unlimited use of certain train and bus lines not only in those two cities, but also in some surrounding areas.
Available for 3,800 yen and only for foreign tourists, the Kintetsu Rail Pass is valid on all facilities operated by the Kintetsu Railway network in the Osaka, Kyoto, Nagoya, Nara, and Ise-Shima regions. The Kintetsu Railway website provides more information on the pass.
The Kansai Thru Pass, on the other hand, is valid on several subway, metro, cablecar, and bus services in Osaka, Kyoto, and the rest of the Kansai region that are not operated by the JR Company. It is available as a 2-day pass (4,000 yen) and a 3-day pass (5,200 yen), and can be used only by foreign tourists for unlimited rides on facilities operated by Hankyu Railway, Keihan Railway, Kintetsu Railway, Nankai Railway, Hanshin Railway, Osaka Monorail, and others. It is also valid on Kyoto’s, Kobe’s, and Osaka’s subway networks. More information on the pass is available here.7