The view from the cycle path on the Osaka to Kyoto, Arashiyama cycling route.

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 sites and also marvel at the cycle paths that cut through river-side farms on the way to the Arashiyama in Kyoto.

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction >
  2. Route >
  3. Yodo River Start >
  4. Hirakata to where the River Splits >
  5. Katsura river to Matso taisha >
  6. Arashiyama, cycling Kyoto and the return >
  7. Final thoughts >


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 route an accessible yet stunning part of any Kansai cyclists' itinerary.



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

The Yodo river (Yodogawa) start

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

At the Yodo river you'll turn right and head East-Northeast towards Kyoto. Following Yodo river connects Osaka to Kyoto and other surrounding areas. The river is generally free of traffic (except for the occasional service vehicle) which makes for a nice stretch to settle into your bike and cycle at your own pace to Kyoto.

There are some barriers on the Yodo river cycling path, which can hinder your pace. 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 the first few, you'll develop a technique to get yourself through them and back to cycling as quickly as possible.

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 here 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 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 areas 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 continues straight but you will want to make a left to 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 cycle 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 the bridge that you cross to go over to the Katsura river (Katsuragawa). This is the point where the Yodo river splits into three rivers (the Kizu, Uji and Katsura rivers). You will want to turn left on the bridge and head north to the northern-most river - the Katsura river - which will take you to Arashiyama in 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 pointing 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. 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 experiencing 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 can't help yourself to 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 to marvel at the beautiful tori gates.

The temple is about 1km south of Arashiyama so it doesn't get the crowds that most Kyoto temples have which makes for a lovely resting point. There is a Family Mart convenience store right next to the station with outside. It's a top little spot to stop, get a coffee, water or Pocari Sweat and have a look at your route to 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.

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

Happy and safe cycling!

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