Best Day Trips from Nara
Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture
The city 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 an deep insight of the Japanese culture and history. The train ride from Nara to Kyoto takes about 30min. My list with must-see spots in Kyoto is endless, but I would always start with Fushimi Inari-Taisha.
Osaka, Osaka Prefecture
Osaka is the 3rd largest city in Japan. The train ride from Nara to Osaka takes less than 45min. 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).
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 appr. 1,5hrs 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 possiblities explore the Kobe Harborland area.
Himeji Castle, Hyogo Prefecture
Lake Biwa, Shiga Prefecture
The train ride from Nara to Otsu at Lake Biwa takes appr. 1hr. The largest freshwater lake in Japan offers a beautiful scenery with high mountains in the background. Buy a ticket for a boats tour and enjoy the trip. Btw do not miss the major attraction Hikone Castle.
Yoshino, Nara Prefecture
Mount Yoshino is 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.
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 the famous Ryokans. Take your time to visit more than 100 temples in this area.