If both Kyoto and Nagoya are part of your Japan itinerary and you want to find the best way to get from one to the other, this post will help you make an informed decision.
There are different ways to travel between Kyoto and Nagoya. And while the bullet train is definitely the fastest way to get from Kyoto to Nagoya it isn’t the most budget-friendly option.
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Here are all the options you have to get from Kyoto to Nagoya with details like price, travel time and other things you need to know about each form of transport.
Distance between Kyoto and Nagoya
Kyoto and Nagoya are only around 130 kilometers apart (80 miles). Not a great distance and even close enough to just do a day trip from one to the other. However, I do recommend you spend at least a couple of days in both cities to get to know them a little bit.
Shinkansen from Kyoto to Nagoya
The fastest way to get from Kyoto to Nagoya or the other way around is the Shinkansen, also called bullet train. The fastest type of train is called Nozomi and it goes directly from Kyoto to Nagoya without a single stop.
With speeds of up to 300 kilometers per hour, you will reach your destination in just 35 minutes. But you will find your wallet to be lighter by 5170 to 5700 yen (51 to 57 US dollars) depending on whether you booked a non-reserved or reserved seat.
If you are a Japan Rail Pass holder (something you should definitely consider if you are planning on taking many long-distance trains between cities) you cannot take the Nozomi bullet train.
But the Hikari and Kodama trains are available to you. As a Japan Rail Pass holder, you do not have to pay any money to ride these trains between Kyoto and Nagoya. Hikari trains take 40 minutes, only 5 minutes longer than Nozomi, and Kodama trains will take about 60 minutes.
The time difference is because of the additional stops the train makes between the cities.
There is a special Kodama train ticket which might be interesting to people wanting to save a little bit of money. The so-called ‘Platt Kodama Economy Plan’ allows for train travel between Kyoto and Nagoya with a reserved seat for just 4400 yen (or 5200 yen on weekends and holidays) which includes a free drink on board. This is a discount of between 1300 and 500 yen.
You have to purchase this special discount ticket at least one day in advance at a JR Tokai Travel Agency. You can find one inside Kyoto station as well as Nagoya station. For more information visit the JR Tours website.
Local Train from Kyoto to Nagoya
A more budget-friendly option is taking a local train between Kyoto and Nagoya. You only need to change trains once to get from Kyoto Station to Nagoya Station, so it is a fairly convenient option.
Take the JR Tokaido Line from Kyoto Station to Maibara Station. Transfer trains here to a train (also on the JR Tokaido Line) headed to Nagoya Station. The one-way trip takes around 2 hours and costs 2640 yen (around 27 US dollars).
Compared to the bullet train you travel for quite a bit longer, but spend only about half the amount of money.
Bus from Kyoto to Nagoya
Multiple bus companies offer frequent highway buses between Kyoto and Nagoya. They usually take about 2.5 hours and cost as little as 2000 yen one-way.
So, about the same as a local train, with the added advantage that you won’t have to transfer anywhere. Just get on board, relax and wait to arrive.
While you can book your bus ticket conveniently online, you can also just go to the bus terminal at Kyoto Station or Nagoya Station to buy your ticket directly. I bought my last ticket directly from JR bus.
Driving between Kyoto and Nagoya
Unless you are planning on driving around Japan for more days and with at least 3 people this option isn’t the best one.
The drive from Kyoto to Nagoya takes around 2 hours but factoring in the car rental price, tolls, and the cost of gasoline it is probably cheaper to take any of the other options, including the bullet train.
If you do want to rent a car, have a look at the prices on rentalcars.com. They have a wide selection of partners in Japan and you will find a car that fits you perfectly for sure.
Also, make sure to check the requirements for driving in Japan. Depending on the country you either need an international driver’s license or a translation of your driver’s license. You can find all the necessary information here.
Final Thoughts on Travel Between Nagoya and Kyoto
If you have the money taking the Shinkansen between Kyoto and Nagoya is the best option for sure. In case you want to save some money buses and local trains are a cheap and still convenient alternative to the bullet train.
If you haven’t yet researched information on Nagoya you should check out my Nagoya Travel Tips as well as the Nagoya Travel Guide which gives a good overview of everything you need to know when traveling to Nagoya.
Ready to Book your Trip to Nagoya?
Find the cheapest flights on skyscanner.com, book amazing hotels in Nagoya on booking.com and reserve discounted tours and other activities on klook.com!
The best way to get around Japan is a Japan Rail Pass, book your Japan Rail Pass now on jrailpass.com.
Other posts that might be of interest can be found here:
Do you like Japanese food? Then you will love the food in Nagoya! Check out the Nagoya Food Guide to learn about the local cuisine.
I recommend joining one of my food tours to get a real in-depth look at what kind of food Nagoya has to offer. You can either join a group food tour or let me build a customized private food tour just for you and your friends.
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In love with Japan and its amazing food, Lena wants to share her passion with the world. That’s why she started Nagoya Foodie. To teach about Nagoya, her adoptive home online through blog posts and offline through unique food tours.