Things to do in
Nara

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Our most recommended things to do in Nara

Nara: Big Buddha, Bambi and Backstreets Cultural Tour

1. Nara: Big Buddha, Bambi and Backstreets Cultural Tour

Accompanied by your tour guide, head straight to one of Nara’s top historical sites and one of the largest wooden buildings in the world, the Todaiji temple. Its famous centerpiece is the 15-meter bronze statue of the Great Buddha, Vairocana. On our way, you will be greeted by the friendly deer of Nara. The deer are divine protectors of the ancient capital living in perfect harmony with the locals. Next stop is the second of the seven great temples of Nara, Kofukuji. Make a brief stop at the Sarusawa pond, well known for its turtles and the pretty scenery surrounding it; this is considered a perfect spot for a romantic evening walk in Nara. Move forward into the quiet alleys and backstreets of Nara-machi, the well preserved former merchant's district, where you will be able to see and experience unique traditional arts and crafts. As the best way to experience a city is through its food, you will get the chance to test some of our favorite local delights. The last stop of your journey will take you to a shopping street, where you can find colorful and diverse shops, perfect for souvenir hunting. Both the JR Nara station and the Kintetsu station are within comfortable walking distance from the finishing point of the tour. Your guide will be happy to help you with directions to your hotel or to provide a restaurant recommendation for lunch. Do not forget to ask for more hints and tips on what else there is to do in Nara during your time here. 

Nara Like a Local: Customized Guided Tour

2. Nara Like a Local: Customized Guided Tour

Your guide will meet you at your accommodation and help you get familiar with the neighborhood, show you the best places to eat and shop and tell you about the easiest ways to get around. Choose a 2, 3 or 4-hour tour, and by the end you’ll have all the information you need to make the most of your stay. After booking you’ll be sent some questions so that you’re paired with a local guide based on your interests. The tour is completely customized so you can choose the meeting location and the starting time. During the walking tour you’ll have the option of taking public transportation or a taxi to get around the city (at your expense). Hear what it’s like to live in Nara, learn about cultural differences, local events and politics and get to know your guide on a personal level.

Kansai-Hiroshima JR & Bus Pass

3. Kansai-Hiroshima JR & Bus Pass

Explore the Kansai region, the spiritual heart of Japan which is home to some of the country's most interesting cities. Once you’ve picked up your pass, you’ll be able to ride the JR West railways and buses throughout the Kansai region down to Hiroshima.  Discover the vibrant city of Osaka and its amazing food scene. Visit the ancient temples and shrines of Kyoto. See Nara's natural beauty, try the beef in Kobe, visit Himeji castle, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, or connect with nature in the forests and waterfalls of Wakayama. Walk the UNESCO Kumano Kodo in Kishi, admire the best dunes in Tottori, relax in the Kinosaki Onsen's hot spring, or take amazing photos in the top Japanese garden of Okayama's Korakuen.  Visit UNESCO World Heritage Site Atomic Bomb Dome and Itsukushima Shrine in Miyajima by ferry. Take the road-less traveled and use the JR West bus network to see cities such as Kyoto, Shiga, Tsuruga, and Iga-Ueno.

Nara: Half-Day UNESCO Heritage & Local Culture Walking Tour

4. Nara: Half-Day UNESCO Heritage & Local Culture Walking Tour

Meet your knowledgeable guide at the meeting point and begin your cultural half-day walking tour of Japan's first historical capital. As you walk by the shopping arcade, explore a Japanese old town extremely different from a metropolis like Tokyo. Walk between the historical buildings, and go inside a traditional merchant's house to see how people around here live in the past. Next, take a break from walking to observe the mysterious pyramid-shaped structure in the middle of the quiet town. Admire the view of the city of Nara from the hill, then visit Todai-ji Temple and Kasuga Taisha Shrine, both UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Learn about the distinct Japanese religious culture as you see a huge temple with a great Buddha statue, then explore a beautiful shrine housing hundreds of lanterns. In this area, meet and feed the wild deer living in Nara Park. For over 1,200 years, locals have believed that deer are sacred divine messengers. Interact with them and see how polite they are. At the end of the tour, savor a delicious Japanese lunch dish made only using local Nara vegetables and fresh meat.

Nara: Private Tour with Private Guide

5. Nara: Private Tour with Private Guide

Discover Nara on a fully customizable tour. Nara is in close proximity to Kyoto and Osaka, and its rich collection of traditional sites make it an ideal destination for a day trip from either of its larger neighbours. Start your day by meeting your guide at your hotel or chosen location, then choose sites you wish to visit depending on your interests. Example 6-hour Itinerary: Meet your guide at the designated meeting point you chose and let the tour begin. First visit Kofuku-Ji temple, a historic site that has been registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Discover several designated National Treasures here including the Buddhist sculpture masterpiece, the Statue of Ashura. Next, head for Todai-Ji temple, a World Heritage Site that is Nara’s most famous landmark. Admire the statue of Kongo Rikishi at Nandaimon Gate and Japan’s largest Great Buddha statue. Stroll through Nara Park which is famous for its wild deer species. Enjoy the verdant natural setting of Nara while taking part in the popular activity of feeding the deer inside the park. Then discover Kasuga Taisha temple, another World Heritage Site with an impressive red main shrine. Explore the Kasuga-Taisha National Treasure Hall which contains valuable works of Buddhist art.

From Kyoto or Osaka: Private Walking Tour through Nara

6. From Kyoto or Osaka: Private Walking Tour through Nara

Go on a private city walking tour through Nara and explore the fascinating history, culture, and food scene of this city. You'll be paired with guides that are passionate about the place they call home and who choose to spend their free time sharing it with like-minded travelers matched to them. Meet your guide in Kyoto or Osaka and take the train to Nara, the city where Shinto Buddhism was born. See some of Japan’s most significant temples and shrines. Marvel at art and architecture dating back to the 8th-century.   Walk down quiet streets and shaded paths lined with cherry blossom trees and be amazed by Nanto Shichi Daiji, the seven great Buddhist temples. Discover the magical, wood-built architecture overhung with thousands of lanterns at the fairytale Kasuga-Taisha Shrine. At the famous Nara Park, you can see the iconic tame deers that come close enough to greet you. If you are hungry this would be the perfect opportunity to check out the restaurants and cafes at Higashimuki Shopping Street. In this street, you will also find all sorts of souvenirs.  This tour can be fully personalized depending on your preferences. Your guide can provide you with tips and recommendations for the rest of your stay in Nara.

Kansai: All-in-One Train, Subway, and Bus Pass

7. Kansai: All-in-One Train, Subway, and Bus Pass

Explore Osaka, Kobe, Kyoto, and neighboring cities like Nara, Hyogo, Wakayama, and Shiga with just a single pass. The Kansai Thru pass is the ideal way to discover the Kansai region and benefit from complimentary discount promotions at about 280 major tourist facilities along the railway lines. Subways, Light Rail, Trams & Cable Cars The Kansai Thru Pass is valid on the Osaka subway, Kyoto subway, Kobe subway, and Osaka Monorail as well as the Eizan Railway and Keifuku (Randen) in Kyoto, the Port and Rokko Liners in Kobe and the Hieizan and Koyasan cable cars. Railways The Kansai Thru Pass is valid on the Hankyu, Hanshin, Keihan, Kintetsu, Kobe Kosoku, Kobe Railways, Eizan, Nankai, Nose and Sanyo railways within the Kansai region. Buses The Kansai Thru Pass is valid on Kyoto City buses, Kobe City buses, Osaka City buses, as well as Hankyu, Itami, Keihan, Kintetsu, Nankai, Sanyo, Shintetsu and Wakayama buses.

Nara: Nara Park Private Family Bike Tour with Lunch

8. Nara: Nara Park Private Family Bike Tour with Lunch

Embark on a private cycling tour around Nara and have a fun day out with all the family. Explore Nara Park, pet and feed the deers cookies, and enjoy a delicious morning snack and lunch to keep your energy up while getting your daily dose of exercise. Meet your local guide at the meeting point in Nara and after a short introduction and safety briefing, you will be ready to set off. Put your helmet on, jump on your bike and head off to discover the beauty of Nara. Admire the beautiful scenery as you ride along at a relaxed pace. Your first stop is the Todai-ji Temple which you will explore with your guide. Stroll through its grounds and gaze in awe at the 15-meter-tall giant Buddha statue. Next, head to the Kasuga Taisha Shrine to see its thousand lanterns. You will also pause for a Western or Japanese-style lunch at a local restaurant during your tour. Enjoy a private and relaxed experience throughout your tour which can be adjusted according to your preferences.

Nara: City Highlights Shared Group or Private Bike Tour

9. Nara: City Highlights Shared Group or Private Bike Tour

Embark on a guided cycling tour around the city of Nara. Discover some of its significant landmarks including Nara Park, Kasuga Taisha Shrine, Tōdai-ji, and the Oshikien Garden. Meet your guide in Nara and after a short introduction and safety briefing, you will be ready to set off. Put your helmet on, jump on your bike and head off to discover the beauty of the city.  Admire the beautiful scenery of Nara Park as you ride along at a relaxed pace. See the friendly deer who roam freely within the park and take in the views of the beautifully maintained surroundings. Stop at the Todai-ji Temple and learn more about Buddhism and Shinto culture with your guide. Stroll through its grounds and gaze in awe at the 15-meter-tall giant Buddha statue. Next, head to the Kasuga Taisha Shrine to see its thousand lanterns. Then, continue to the Kikuichi store, a high-end Japanese cooking knife retailer, before heading back to the starting point.

Haneda Airport Pick-up: Japan Pocket Wi-fi Router 4G LTE

10. Haneda Airport Pick-up: Japan Pocket Wi-fi Router 4G LTE

Access 4G LTE Wi-fi across Japan with this pocket router that connects to the Softbank Network. With Unlimited WiFi data, you'll be able to use Maps, Facebook, Twitter, Skype, watch Youtube videos and more on the go. Just visit the Haneda Airport counter on the 2nd/3rd floor of the arrival terminal and you will be able to start using the internet as soon as you have landed. Business Hours:  6:30 AM-11:45 PM 2nd floor NINJA WIFI Counter The devices can be returned at most major airports in Japan, or via delivery from any hotel, Family Mart, or Lawson convenience store.

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What people are saying about Nara

Overall rating

4.3 / 5

based on 216 reviews

Really very good ! My guide spoke enough English to explain everything to me and above all she took me to little places not touristy at all (traditional house, making motchi etc.) in addition to the big sites. She was also very interested in where I came from, we talked about our two cultures, what we liked and what we didn't. Very pleasant ! I recommend !

It was an absolute splendid few hours!! Nia did an incredible job at showing me around, showing me the most interesting and beautiful parts of Nara. She had interesting tidbits and information about everything and clearly knows her way around the city! This was absolutely with its money and I'm so glad I did this tour.

Very nice the tour. Deer, the great Buddha and the guardians, temples, and ends in a commercial area with restaurants. 4h tour The guide very attentive and walking at our pace.

Nice short tour around Nara Park

Paul was a great guide, took us around Nara park to see the deers and temples. He even went out of his way to help us find a mochi maker there. Cheers!

Fumiko great guide excellent person

Wonderful place and Fumiko's explanation very good