Nara flourished to become one of Asia’s grandest cities during its 74-year reign as Japan’s first capital. As the most eastern destination on the Silk Road, Nara absorbed ideas from other mainland Asian countries and developed into the grand diocese of Buddhism. This compact city was one of Japan’s earliest capitals and is UNESCO World Heritage Site-listed – it's home to a significant collection of ancient Buddhist temples, the grand Shinto shrine of Kasuga-Taisha, the Heijo imperial palace, and the beautiful Kasugayama primaeval forest. A must-see in Nara is Todai-Ji temple, home to the world’s largest bronze Buddha which stands 15 metres tall. In the heart of the city, you can still be close to nature – see wild deer roaming free at the picturesque Nara Park. 

    There are 3 World Heritage Sites and many impressive shrines, temples and ruins within the 1,300 acres of Nara Park. Over 1,000 tame deer wander the park freely and are regarded by locals as messengers of the gods. You can purchase special wafer biscuits in the park to feed them. 

    What to see & do in Nara

    Featured stories & fun stuff

    Things to do in Nara include serene outdoor parks, ancient Buddhist shrines, museums, historic ruins and modern theme parks with tons of opportunities for shopping, dining and entertainment. The sheer number of Buddhist shrines and temples here is mind-blowing, with some, like Kasuga-taisha, dating back over 1,300 years and Kōfuku-ji dating to 710 CE. Temples like Hōryū-ji have several historic buildings onsite, and at Daibutsu-den... Read more

    Where & what to eat in Nara

    Food and dining in Nara allow the unique opportunity to explore Japanese history through food, with many of the dishes here dating back hundreds of years. At one point, Nara was the centre of the culinary culture in Japan, and even today you can try iconic dishes like kuzumochi, or rice cakes covered with sweet bean paste. You can try Miwa somen, a special noodle dish with a delicate flavour... Read more

    Where to shop & what to buy in Nara

    Shopping in Nara offers everything from vibrant department stores and shopping centres to independent boutique shops and traditional arts and crafts markets where you can soak up the local culture. Most of the popular attractions in the area are situated around the shopping district surrounding Nara Park. Along Sanjo Dori street, you'll find a long stretch of souvenir shops. Nearby, you'll also find Higashimuki Shopping Street and Mochiidono Shopping Street... Read more

    Where to go & what to do at night in Nara

    • 9 Best Things to Do After Dinner in Nara

      The evenings in Nara tend to be gentle and refined. If you're staying in Nara, exploring the city at night is a must. Although it's not as flashy as Osaka or Kyoto, Nara has its own unique atmosphere. Said to be the birthplace of sake, Nara is dotted with quiet street corner where you can enjoy a fine drink. It's...

    Useful information

    • Nara Travel Essentials

      Our Nara Travel Essentials allow you to plan the ultimate holiday to this Japanese city and larger prefecture. You'll find tips and insights for keeping your holiday stress-free, crafting the perfect itinerary and enjoying the wonders this historic city has to offer. Nara is a major city with immense historic value as the former capital of Japan. You'll find...

    Start planning your trip

    Also popular in Japan

    Back to top