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Osaka to Kyoto Cycling Guide and Route


Cycling to Kyoto from Osaka is easy to navigate while also being a very satisfying ride. You'll cycle along the Yodo river (Yodogawa), discover some fantastic river-side cycling spots and also marvel at the cycle paths that cut through river-side farms on the way to the stunning Arashiyama, in Kyoto.

Table of Contents

Introduction >

Route >

Yodo River Start >

Hirakata to where the River Splits >

Katsura river to Matso taisha >

Arashiyama, cycling Kyoto and the return >

Final thoughts >


Introduction

Cycling Kyoto is amazing. The mountains, rivers, rural areas, spiritual sites and world-famous sightseeing spots make for top-class cycling and exploring

From Osaka, getting to Kyoto is easy and also involves some beautiful moments on the bike that make the Osaka to Kyoto cycling route an accessible yet stunning part of any Kansai cyclists' itinerary.

Route

Details

Distance: 54km
Elevation: 339m
View on Strava >



The Yodo river (Yodogawa) start

The ride starts on the Globalwheels favourite Oo river (Oogawa) right outside Globalwheels. You'll head down onto the river path and then start cycling north towards the Yodo river (Yodogawa) river intersection.

As you get the Yodo river you'll turn right and head east (ends up being North-east) and start the cycle towards Kyoto. The Yodo river connects Osaka and Kyoto and if you follow it, you'll get to Kyoto. The river is generally free of traffic except for a few slow moving service trucks transporting materials up and down the river so makes for a a nice stretch to settle into your bike and slowly (or quickly!) pull and push yourself to Kyoto.

You may have heard of them but there are barriers on the Yodo river cycling path. They are every few kilometers and to be honest, a bit frustrating. You'll probably have to clip out if you are wearing cleats but as you pass through a few of them, you'll develop a bit of a technique to get yourself through them and back cycling as quick as possible.

I've negotiated the barriers enough times but I still managed to fall off my bike as I was trying to pass through without clipping out and got caught in a slightly high gear and came tumbling down like a clown. The people watching in the car-park had a good laugh as I gathered my dignity, got back on the bike and continued on my journey.

Cycling along the Yodo river

The cycling path on the Yodo river on the Osaka to Kyoto cycling route.

From Hirakata to where the River Splits

Hirakata is about half-way between Osaka and Kyoto. The town is quite large and it's from Hirakata that the river-side cycling starts to get more interesting and natural.

There is a point where a few smaller cycling paths meet and you'll probably approach on the higher cycling path on the right.

Hirakata Cycling paths

The cycling path on the Yodo river at Hirakata on the Osaka to Kyoto cycling route.

We recommend heading down onto the cycling path and putting your bike through its paces on the lovely river-side cycling road as you breath in the nature and enjoy the view of the mountains on the north side of the river towards Kyoto.

In terms of the route from Osaka to where the river splits into three the leg from Hirakata to the bridge crossing is the best. The trees wrap along the path while the river morphs into some amazing beach-like moments which will have you considering stopping and parking yourself on one of the many private beaches (sandy shores of the river) and making the most of the river segments that join Osaka to Kyoto.

Lovely Yodo river cycling

The beautiful cycling path on the Yodo river on the Osaka to Kyoto cycling route.

The ride will continue past a golf course which is a sign you are about 10km from where the river splits into three. The golf course will be on your right-hand side and it will lead to a part where the path actually continues straight but you want to make a left and keep following the river-side path and route.

Golf course photo

The golf course on the Yodo river on the Osaka to Kyoto cycling route.

Enjoy the scenery for another 10km or so as the path cuts through the jungle while always having the river as a background on the left. With the barriers gone and the scenery becoming more and more alive this is a memorable part of the ride. The mountain range of Mt. Ponpon will be standing tall on the left (north side) of the river as you push and pull yourself down the path towards Kyoto.

River-side cycling

The cycling path down the Yodo river on the Osaka to Kyoto cycling route.

Continue cycling until you get to a bridge that you cross to take you over to the Katsura river (Katsuragawa). This is the point where the Yodo river splits into three rivers (Kizu river, Uji river and Katsura river) and you want to turn left on the bridge and head north to the northern-most river - the Katsura river - which will take you to Arashiyama, Kyoto.

Photo of the sign approaching the bridge

The part where the three rivers split on the Osaka to Kyoto cycling route.

Recognizable tower on the bridge

The bridge taking you to the Katsura river on the Osaka to Kyoto cycling route.

Katsura river (Katsuragawa) to Matsuo-Taisha

The Katsura river will continue heading North-east until it slowly starts to curve to the left to point you north and towards Arashiyama.

The cycling along the river is at times breathtaking. You'll head past small Japanese suburbs on your right, the ever-present river on your left and some stunning farm-areas that sometimes stay to the side of the path but sometimes you'll find yourself cycling through the middle of the farms which will no doubt provide a few memories from the ride.

Farm areas along the Katsura river (Katsura river)

The stunning cycling path on the Katsura river on the Osaka to Kyoto cycling route.

The bike paths taking you through the farms, next to the river towards Arashiyama are amazing. They are dedicated for pedestrians and cyclists and will have you cruising along with glee as you experience some real 'Japan' moments on the bike.

It's times like these I really appreciate cycling in Japan. With the farms, river and steep mountains in the background you sometimes can't help yourself smile and just appreciate the spot you are in.

Photo towards Arashiyama

The amazing cycling path near Matsuo taisha temple on the Katsura river on the Osaka to Kyoto cycling route.

Arashiyama, cycling Kyoto and back home

You'll continue along the Katsuragawa until you reach Matsuo-Taisha shrine and then Arashiyama.

Matsuo-taisha is an underrated temple at the bottom of a mountain that is well worth cycling past and marveling at the beautiful Tori gates of the spiritual mecca located just south of Arashiyama.

The temple is about 1km from Arishiyama so doesn't get the crowds that most Kyoto temples get so it makes for a lovely stop-off and place to buy a drink or some food from the convenience store. There is a Family Mart convenience store right next to the station with outside tables and this is a top little spot to stop, get a coffee, water or pocari sweat and have a look at your route and plan the next steps.

Final Thoughts

The ride to Kyoto is a classic cycling route that won't disappoint. The initial ride along the Yodogawa has some decent cycling and the barriers can get quite annoying but the river-side ride really comes alive and is well-worth persisting for.

The route takes on another level of beauty along the Katsuragawa and will have you cycling with a smile as you approach Arashiyama and the mountains perched along the river.

One of the great things about this route is that you can then base yourself from Kyoto and tackle and explore the myriad of paths, nature and beautiful cycling in the Kyoto area. We'll be covering some Kyoto routes soon on the blogs so keep your eyes peeled for more in-depth information and guides on cycling Kyoto.

Have you cycled from Osaka to Kyoto? What was our favourite part? Let us know your thoughts and any questions in the comments section below.

Happy and safe cycling!

 

4 comments

  • Looking for cycling options for 3 days 5/11-7/11 and bikes to rent in Japan. Thanks

    Herbert Raubenheimer
  • We would like to hire bikes in October and cycle from Osaka to Kyoto..can you suggest a place where we can collect 2 bikes and leave them in Kyoto…a one way rental…thanks

    Helen
  • @Stan Williams

    Yes, exploring different places by bike is amazing. Sorry to hear about your knee but the electric bikes are great options if you have an injury. Unfortunately they are a bit hard to find for rent in Japan but they are slowly appearing at more rental shops.

    Take care on the bike and enjoy the cycling when you can!

    Globalwheels
  • Cross country cycling is great. I used to ride with childhood friend throughout our twenties. I never did make it to another country though. Japan looks beautiful. I have had 2 different cousins serve missions there and I am always captivated by their stories. I injured my knee on a construction project and I can’t put in the long miles I used to. I borrow a great electric bike from my neighbor whenever I wan to ride. It’s GLORIOUS. I think he got is here- https://www.bes-ebike.com/

    Stan Williams

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