Best Day Trips from Nara

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Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture

The city of Kyoto is a former capital of Japan and one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country. 1600 Buddhist temples, 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and more than 400 Shinto shrines will give you a deep insight into Japanese culture and history. The train ride from Nara to Kyoto takes about 30 minutes. My list of must-see spots in Kyoto is endless, but I would always start with Fushimi Inari-Taisha.

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Osaka, Osaka Prefecture

Osaka is the 3rd largest city in Japan. The train ride from Nara to Osaka takes less than 45 minutes. The city has many great sightseeing spots to offer. These were my personal highlights: Umeda Sky Building (enjoy the view from the observation platform), Osaka Castle, Dotonbori area (crazy nightlife, best food in town), and America Mura (great shopping district).

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Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture

Kobe belongs to the list of most beautiful cities in Japan. I can tell you this is not a lie. It takes approx. 1.5 hours by train from Nara. One of the three Chinatowns in Japan (Yokohama, Nagasaki, Kobe) is located here. Enjoy the cosmopolitan atmosphere of the city. For good food and shopping possibilities explore the Kobe Harborland area.

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Himeji Castle, Hyogo Prefecture

Himeji Castle is the most beautiful and most visited castle in Japan. The UNESCO World Heritage Site can be reached by train within 2hrs from Nara. The castle is undamaged for over 400 years. One of the last remaining original castles in Japan is my must-see recommendation for you.

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Lake Biwa, Shiga Prefecture

The train ride from Nara to Otsu at Lake Biwa takes appr. 1hr. The largest freshwater lake in Japan offers beautiful scenery with high mountains in the background. Buy a ticket for a boat tour and enjoy the trip. Btw do not miss the major attraction of Hikone Castle.

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Yoshino, Nara Prefecture

Mount Yoshino is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site - Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range. It is the most popular cherry blossom spot in Japan. The scenery is amazing and you will find there many great ancient temple areas like Kimpusen-ji, Yoshimizu-jinja Shrine, Yoshino-jingu Shrine, and Yoshino Mikumari Shrine.

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Mount Koya (Koya-san), Wakayama Prefecture

Koya-san, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, belongs to the Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range. It takes appr. 3hrs from Nara to Mt. Koya. You should definitely plan an overnight stay there in one of the famous Ryokans. Take your time to visit more than 100 temples in this area.

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