Kagoshima Itinerary - A Travel Guide Blog

Kagoshima Itinerary: Ultimate Travel Guide Blog

posted in: Kyushu Japan | 0

Last updated on June 28th, 2024

Wondering what to do in Kagoshima? Check out this Kagoshima travel guide blog introduce some of the best things to do in the city and create your ultimate Kagoshima itinerary!

Known for the smoking volcano of Sakurajima in South Kyushu, Kagoshima (鹿児島) is one of the popular places to visit. This prefecture is incredibly active geologically and is home to the great volcanoes of Mt. Kirishima and Mt. Sakurajima. It is an ideal place to visit for those seeking adventure, relaxation, or learning about the volcano.

Kagoshima has plenty to offer. This charming city is undeniably the slowly moving island time. Take your time strolling along the rural and town areas, mesmerizing the active volcano in Mt. Sakurajima, exploring the Sengan-en Garden, soaking into the unique hot springs, and tasting the local cuisine. That’s so many things to do for your 1, 2, or even 3 days of Kagoshima itinerary.

In this Kagoshima Travel Guide blog, we’re sharing what to do in Kagoshima, how to get there, what to eat, and other helpful travel tips. Continue reading this Kagoshima itinerary to help you make the most of your time in this charming city.

How Many Days for Kagoshima

Kagoshima Travel Guide

Some travelers visit Kagoshima as a day trip from Fukuoka by using the Shinkansen. The one-way journey will take you about 1.5 hours. But if you’re exploring the area leisurely, we recommend that you spend 2 to 3 days.

Spend one day visiting the city’s major attractions like Sakurajima, and Sengan-en Garden. Next, spend another day visiting the Kirishima or the Ibusuki. The charming Kagoshima is worth more than a day trip.

Best time to visit Kagoshima

Kagoshima is in Southernmost Japan so the weather here is relatively mild year-round. It doesn’t experience extreme weather changes and is unlikely to snow even in winter.

If you’re looking for the absolute best time to go weather-wise, then visit Kagoshima from October to November. The temperature is at its most ideal and there are few rainy days.

How To Get to Kagoshima

Kagoshima is easy to reach by Shinkansen (bullet train) or JR Train. It is also served by highway buses and has an airport close by. 

Getting to Kagoshima by plane: Kagoshima Airport is the closest airport to Kagoshima city. The airport serves a handful of domestic destinations in addition to several international flights from Seoul, Shanghai, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. The easiest way to travel from Kagoshima Airport to the city is by taking the direct airport limousine bus into Kagoshima City.

How To Get to Kagoshima from Fukuoka

Getting to Kagoshima by rail: Thanks to excellent rail connections, it is easy to get to Kagoshima from many of Japan’s major cities, including Tokyo, Osaka, Fukuoka, and Kumamoto. Most travelers will probably be arriving via Fukuoka Airport or through some other major city in Japan, then continuing to Kagoshima by train or by bus. The Kagoshima-chuo Station is the terminus of the Kyushu Shinkansen line making it quick and easy to reach.

All rail journeys are covered by the Japan Rail Pass and JR All Kyushu Rail Pass are covered for your journey from Fukuoka to Kagoshima. Travel smart as one return journey of a Shinkansen ride is already worth the price of the pass.

Take note that Kagoshima-Chuo Station (鹿児島中央駅) and Kagoshima Station (鹿児島駅) are not the same! Shinkansen riders should get to Kagoshima-Chuo Station station.

Getting to Kagoshima by bus: Highway buses are running between big cities and small towns in Kyushu. If you’re visiting multiple cities in Kyushu, consider getting the SunQ Pass. This valuable pass will give you unlimited bus rides on consecutive days.

Self-Driving in Kagoshima

Self-driving to Kagoshima: Kagoshima is a very good place for self-driving itineraries in Kyushu. Even though the rail and bus are well-connected to most of the attractions, you can plan your Kagoshima itinerary more flexibly by self-driving. You will have more freedom with your time and you can also stop at various scenic places along the trip.

Check for rental car price from RentalCar.com.

Getting Around in Kagoshima

Getting Around Kagoshima City

Although Kagoshima does not have a subway system, its excellent tram and bus services make navigating the city a breeze.

By Bus: Bus is one of the popular option for getting around in Kagoshima. There are efficient and take you on loops around the city. The buses run every half hour from 8:00 until 17:00. To save money, buy the day pass which costs ¥600 if you plan to take more than 4 rides., this allows you to explore the metropolis regardless of the distance. Another option is boarding a sightseeing bus.

Two types of buses are of most use to visitors to Kagoshima:

  • Machi Meguri Bus is ¥500 for a one-day pass
  • Kagoshima City View Bus is ¥600 for a one-day pass.

These two routes can be used to go in the direction of the seaward area and Shiroyama Observatory. Both buses will stop at major sightseeing spots in the city, including Tenmonkan, Shiroyama Observatory, and Sengan-en Garden.

The Kagoshima City View Bus is located at E-4 Station (East Exit Bus Stop).

Visit Kagoshima Using Tram

By Tram: The best way to see the sites of Kagoshima city is by riding the tram. The Kagoshima City Tram (鹿児島市電) is one of the few remaining streetcar lines in Japan. In addition to being a cool alternative to a bus on a hot day, the flat rate of ¥170 for riding and the frequency of trams make this an excellent way to get around Kagoshima City. Trams run from 6:00 morning until around 23:00 at night.

Most of the time, we are taking the red line when traveling around the Kagoshima’s major attraction.

  • Number 1 (Blue) Line – Taniyama, Korimoto, Kotsukyoku, Takamibaba, Tenmonkan, Kagoshima Station
  • Number 2 (Red) Line – Korimoto, Kagoshima Chuo Station, Takamibaba, Tenmonkan, Kagoshima Station

Kagoshima tram map: https://www.kotsu-city-kagoshima.jp/en/kagoshima-city-tram-routes/

Kagoshima Travel Tip: CUTE Pass

If you plan to visit Kagoshima and Sakurajima on the same day, consider getting the CUTE Pass (One day at ¥1,200 or 2-day at ¥1,800).

Kagoshima Travel Tips

Kagoshima CUTE Pass is a great value transport pass where you may enjoy unlimited rides in most of the public transportation in Kagoshima operated by the city council, like a street car (tram), transit bus, sightseeing buses (Kagoshima City View buses, Sakurajima Island View buses), and ferry service between Kagoshima Chuo and Sakurajima. You’ll receive discounts on the attractions and some shops in the area.

Kagoshima Tourist Information Center

The pass can be purchased at the Tourist Information Center in the Kagoshima-Chuo Station. Please note that Machi Meguri Bus is not included for CUTE pass.

Best Area to Stay in Kagoshima

Staying nearby Kagoshima-chuo, the main station in Kagoshima served with Shinkansen. This place is a good choice if you want to stay close to the transportation hub.

The Tenmonkan area is the best area to stay for first-time visitors to Kagoshima. It’ll put you close to the city’s top tourist attractions, restaurants, and shops, or if you want a travel experience of convenience. The accommodation is also cheaper compared to other areas.

Things to do for Kagoshima itinerary

Kagoshima Itinerary

Next, we will share some of the best things to do in the city in this section of the Kagoshima Travel Guide. It’s best to plan ahead and get the most out of your time there. Follow the Kagoshima itinerary to plan your trip!

Things to do for Kagoshima itinerary:

  • Get closer to the active volcano at Mt Sakurajima
  • Take an Aerial View of Kagoshima from the Shiroyama Observatory
  • Shopping at the Tenmonkan
  • Taste Local Cuisine
  • Explore the Kagoshima Sengan-en Garden
  • Side Trip to Kirishima / Ibusuki

Please note that Sakurajima is the major attraction in the Kagoshima and you might see it at different places at different angles. If you’re on limited time, you’ll need to decide which places to visit to best suit your interests.

Get closer to the active volcano at Mt Sakurajima

Kagoshima Itinerary - Visit Mt Sakurajima

If you’re visiting Kagoshima, consider allowing at least half a day to visit the Sakurajima.

Sakurajima (櫻島) is a magnificent sight and might be the number one reason to come to Kagoshima. It used to be an island until the active volcano erupted in 1914 and connected the island to the Osumi Peninsula. Still, it is one of the most active volcanoes on planet earth erupting on average 1 to 2 times each day in the last couple of decades.

Tour around Sakurajima

From Kagoshima, you can see this active volcano is ever present, around every corner of the city which is very photogenic. But of course, the best way to get closer to the island is to feel the power of nature.

We recommend starting your Kagoshima itinerary with a visit to Sakurajima in the morning. It is one of the major highlights Kagoshima has to offer and make sure to visit it on a clear day.

Kagoshima Itinerary - Visit Sakurajima

Take the ferry to Sakurajima Island and tour around the island to enjoy the impressive volcano erupting. You will have the opportunity to see nature in action with very little effort. There are multiple walking trails, an observatory to view the stunning sights, onsen to spend your day here.

Pro Tips: Get the CUTE Pass or Sakurajima Island View Bus one-day pass to see attractions in Sakurajima. We will share more details during our visit to Sakurajima.

Getting there: From Kagoshima Chuoeki-mae station, board the red line tram toward Kagoshimaeki-mae and get off at Suizokukan-guchi station. This is the closest station to board the ferry to Sakurajima.

Take an Aerial View of Kagoshima from the Shiroyama Observatory

Kagoshima Aerial View from Shiroyama Observatory

On a clear day, get to Mt Shiroyama and see an unobstructed view of Kagoshima from the Shiroyama Observatory. This place has the best scenic view of downtown Kagoshima, Kagoshima Bay, and Sakurajima from aerial.

Bring a snack or drink and enjoy the scenery from the park. It is a really nice spot for a break.

Night View from Shiroyama Observatory

From the mountain, the view towards the Sakurajima volcano is truly magnificent. It is particularly beautiful during the day as you can see the whole city together with the Sakurajima from above. The view is quite spectacular at night as well.

Getting there: From Kagoshima Chuo Station, board the Kagoshima City View bus and get off at Shiroyama. The journey takes about 30 minutes.

Taste Local Cuisine

Kagoshima Itinerary - Taste Local Cuisine

There are a variety of food options to try in Kagoshima and local cuisine is something you should definitely try in Kagoshima. This prefecture is not only blessed with the bountiful sea and nature but is also a treasure trove of delicious food that can only be found here.

There are many places to eat in Kagoshima to try local cuisine.

One of must-eat food to eat in Kagoshima is the Berkshire pork. The Berkshire pork is a Kagoshima specialty. The Berkshire pigs raised in Kagoshima are sweet and have a strong, juicy flavor. Because the heritage breed’s fat melts at a high temperature, it also has a refreshing taste without being sticky.

Try unique Kagoshima food like Kagoshima Ramen and Kagoshima Kurobuta Pork!

Shopping at the Tenmonkan

Kagoshima Travel Blog - Shopping at Tenmonkan

Tenmonkan is a lively shopping district that spans several blocks of the city. It has an old-style covered shopping street where you can find many boutique shops, restaurants, cafes, bars, and pubs.

Depending on how you plan your Kagoshima itinerary, you can save this place towards the end of your trip. There are plenty of shops selling souvenirs, clothes, and products.

Kagoshima Itinerary - Shopping at the Tenmonkan

Besides, Tenmonkan is also the best place to try some of Kagoshima’s local cuisine. There are many restaurants and eateries at this local street market where you can stop by for lunch, snack time, dinner, and even supper. At night, the area lights up with crowded bars and pubs where you can chill with a drink.

Explore the Kagoshima Sengan-en Garden

Built in 658, Sengan-en Garden (仙巖園) is a traditional Japanese Garden passed down by the Shimazu Clan who ruled Satsuma (now Kagoshima) during the Japanese Edo Period (1603-1867). It was once used as a villa for the Shimazu family and is open to public view for visit.

The 50,000 sq meters grounds are beautifully crafted with Japanese gardens with ponds, bridges, trees, plants, and a great walking area. The garden is very beautiful and it known as features an unobstructed view of Sakurajima and Kagoshima Bay. Many Japanese films even used the garden for filming. Absolutely stunning!

Senganen is located around 35 minutes by bus from Kagoshima-chuo Station. It is open daily from 9:00 to 17:00. Admission to Sengan-en Garden costs JP¥1,000. Entry to the garden museum is included, but some residence houses inside the garden require an extra fee. Allow a couple of hours minimum to wander this beautiful place.

There are also some shops selling souvenirs as well as some local snacks. You can also stop by the trendy Starbucks next to the gardens as well. This location, a remodeling of a building owned by the Shimazu family, is officially registered as a Tangible Cultural Property. You can even see Sakurajima from the cafe windows on clear days!

As we spend too much time in Sakurajima, we have to take out Senganen from our Kagoshima itinerary. If you have more time to spend in Kagoshima, consider visiting this beautiful cultural garden in the city.

Getting there: From Kagoshima Chuo Station, board the Kagoshima City View bus and get off at Sengan-en Mae. The journey takes about 50 minutes.

More time for the Kagoshima itinerary?

If you have extra days, there are also some options for side trips from Kagoshima where you’ll find the marvelous hot spring at Kirishima, Ibusuki area known for the sand bath, and Satsuma Penisula.

Enjoy the Hot Spring at Kirishima

Frpm Kagoshima to Kirishima

The neighborhood Kirishima is one of the popular places to couple with the Kagoshima itinerary. It is known for its beautiful natural scenery, including volcanic lakes and scenic hiking trails. Plus, there is an expansive area of Kirishima that is blessed and boasted with some fantastic natural hot springs. Many onsen accommodations are available for you to experience and enjoy the natural hot spring in Kirishima.

To get there, take the JR train from Kagoshima Station to Kirishima-Jingu Station. The journey takes about 50 – 60 minutes.

Read More: Kirishima Itinerary: A Travel Guide Blog

Experience Sand Bath at Ibusuki

Another popular place to pair the Kagoshima itinerary with a visit to Ibusuki. It is a popular place to experience the unique sand bath here. Your entire body will be buried in the sand that has been heated by an underground hot spring. It is said to have a detoxing effect and is good for health.

Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to visit the Ibusuki. So, we’re focusing on Kagoshima and Kirishima with a snapshot of the top highlights.

More Kagoshima Travel Tips

Can we visit Kagoshima from Fukuoka on a day trip?
A day trip to Kagoshima from Fukuoka is doable. But we recommend spending at least 2 to 3 days to visit all the major attractions and nearby neighborhoods like Kirishima and Ibusuki. Kagoshima is worth more than a day trip!

Is Kagoshima worth a visit?
While Kagoshima is not on a typical itinerary for Japan, the city does have some charm with fewer tourists and sightseeing activities. We truly enjoyed our visit to Kagoshima and highly recommend it.

Why is Kagoshima so popular?
Kagoshima is incredibly active geologically and is home to the great volcanoes of Mt. Sakurajima and the hot spring paradise Kirishima. An ideal place to visit for those seeking adventure, relaxation, or learning about the volcano.

Overview: A Visit To Kagoshima

All in all, we hope this Kagoshima Travel Guide blog is able to inspire you to include this place on your Kagoshima itinerary. We truly enjoyed our visit and highly recommended it. It is worth the long journey there to see all the breathtaking natural attractions. If you have the chance to stop by Kagoshima, go for it!

Traveling to Kyushu and looking for more travel inspiration? Check out other Kyushu blog articles on my site or if you have any questions don’t hesitate to drop us an email if you need any information and help on the Kagoshima travel guide.

Traveling to Kagoshima? Here is our travel strories to Kagoshima Prefecture:

Visiting Kyushu and looking for some inspiration for what to do in Kyushu then be sure to read our Kyushu travel blog here: