The Essence of Nara: Big Buddha, Bambi, and Backstreets

Explore the ancient capital of Japan with us and discover a peaceful city, brimming with dazzling temples, shrines, imperial tombs and machiya houses built in the traditional style. We’ll meet divine deer roaming the streets, grab some tasty street food, chat with locals about living and working here and show you our favourite hidden gems in the alleys of the old city. All this at your own pace, without the hassle or the crowds of a typical day in Kyoto. What are you waiting for?!


  • Get up close to the fabled, holy deer of Nara

  • Explore Buddhist temples that once held enough power to influence the emperor himself

  • Stroll the beautiful backstreets of old town and discover handicraft havens, quirky shops and traditional machiya houses

  • Watch the turtles going about their daily lives at picturesque Sarusawa pond

  • Taste some of the best street food in the city

Local english-speaking guide
Local snacks
Entrance fees for all the sites mentioned
Additional food and drink
Tips/gratuities for your guide
Important Information
What is included in the tour?

Local English-speaking guide, local snacks, and entrance fees for all the sites mentioned

What isn't included in the tour?

Additional food and drink, tips/gratuities for your guide

Where do we meet?

At the fountain in front of the exit at Kintetsu Nara station. From the train platform go through the east gates to street level, via the staircase, where you’ll see the fountain with a statue of a monk, on your right-hand side

Where does the tour end?

The intersection of Sanjo dori street and Higashimuki Shopping Arcade

What is the duration of the tour?

3.5 to 4 hours

What is the group size of this tour?

The maximum number of people on this tour will be 12 passengers.

Are there any Covid-19 vaccination requirements?

While we strongly recommend that all travellers are vaccinated against COVID-19 to reduce the risk of transmission and avoid putting undue strain on healthcare services, vaccinations are not a requirement to join an Intrepid Urban Adventures tour. For further information, please review COVID-19 Health & Safety at

Can I cancel my tour?

Free cancellation up to 24 hours before activity.


After meeting your tour guide, we’ll 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-metre bronze statue of the Great Buddha, Vairocana.  On our way to and from the temple you will be greeted by the super-friendly deer of Nara. The deer are seen as heavenly animals and as such are the divine protectors of the ancient capital, living in perfect harmony with the local population.  Our next stop is the second of the seven great temples of Nara, Kofukuji. Although much has been lost throughout the ages, this proud and powerful temple has stood against the tides of time and kept a great degree of its power, even after the capital of Japan moved to Kyoto and most of its contemporaries lost their influence.  The path then takes us south towards the heart of the old town but we’ll make a brief stop at the Sarusawa pond first. A tranquil stretch of water, well known for its turtles and the pretty scenery surrounding it, if you are staying in Nara for longer, this is a perfect spot for a romantic evening walk.  Finally, our journey will take us into the quiet alleys and backstreets of Nara-machi, the well preserved former merchants district where we will be able to see and experience traditional arts and crafts unique to Nara.  We always say that the best way to experience a city is through its food, so our penultimate stop will be to sample some of our favourite local delights, giving you a flavour of our beloved city.  The last stop on our journey will take us to a shopping street beset with an exciting array of colourful and diverse shops, perfect for souvenir hunting and that exceptional gift for someone special back home.  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. Don’t forget to ask for more hints and tips on what else there is to do in Nara during your time here. 

The Essence of Nara: Big Buddha, Bambi, and Backstreets
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