Bicycle escape: Lake Biwa
Discover Japan's largest lake, Lake Biwa in Shiga Prefecture, and explore the picturesque countryside of Japan on a cycling tour!
Take the time to discover the legends of Shiga with a cruise on the island of the gods and visit its most beautiful historical places and admire the breathtaking scenery.
Departing from Kyoto, from which the cycling journey covers around 250km.
Throughout the 5-day journey, immerse yourself in the culture of Japan, between mountains, across beaches and through forests.
We recommend this cycling tour to those experienced in the sport who wish to experience an intimate way of traversing around Lake Biwa in Shiga.
Included in this self-guided trip: accommodation, breakfast, dinner at select locations, bike rental and a cruise on Lake Biwa.
With Japan Experience, confidently visit and stay at different locations we have personally visited and recommend.
please find travel details below.
Why choose this excursion to Japan?
- Discover Japan's largest lake by bike and take time to appreciate the surrounding towns and region.
- Take a detour by boat to visit Chikuba Island, dubbed "the Island of the Gods," located right on Lake Biwa itself.
- Take a stroll through Omihachiman, known as the "Venice of Lake Biwa" due to its canals.
- Enjoy the beaches of Lake Biwa
- The digital diary included with your package has a number of recommendations to see on your own time.
Your excursion in detail
Day 1 : Prepare for your journey by bike around Lake Biwa!
Arrive in Kyoto in the morning to pick up your rental bikes then head towards Lake Biwa, north of the former capital of Japan, and cross the Ohara region to enter Shiga prefecture and begin your tour.
Don't hesitate to stop on the road to visit the many temples that exist throughout the forests of the area.
Continue your journey towards the waterside town of Otsu to admire the floating temple of Mangetsuji, a Zen site of the Rinzai school which will provide a moment of peace and a beautiful view.
Head to your ryokan in Otsu, the capital of Shiga Prefecture then, at the end of the afternoon, take a stroll throughout the city and enjoy the clear waters of the beaches of Lake Biwa.
Dinner will be included at your traditional accommodation.
This first day includes a cycling route of approximately 45km by bike.
Day 2 : Beyond the island
Enjoy breakfast in your ryokan, then start your day's cycling adventure through Shiga by riding to the lake bridge to stop and admire the view!
After crossing the bridge, take advantage of your morning to visit the art museum facing Lake Biwa with a number of exhibitions.
Continue and enjoy a lunch break overlooking the water of the lake in a small Japanese chalet.
Your afternoon continues in Omihachiman and its delightful canals, with a charming temple at the top of the hill waiting for you to visit.
Omihachiman is a beautifully preserved trading town, once a stopover town on the legendary Nakasendo Road which links Tokyo to Kyoto.
Head to your ryokan in Hikone, for a well-deserved break before continuing your tour.
This day includes a route of approximately 65km by bike. (Lunch and dinner are not included for this day).
Day 3 : Shellfish and crustaceans
Start your day with breakfast at your ryokan once again then go out to visit a 17th century castle and its magnificent gardens!
Take a cruise on Lake Biwa with a visit to Chikubu Island, the island of the gods, with its two small sanctuaries dating back to the 16th century.
Plan your lunch for a picnic on the island, then, at the start of the afternoon, head to the peninsula to the north of Lake Biwa, renowned for the beauty of its landscape and its hundreds of Japanese cherry trees.
Then return to your accommodation in Makino, an elegant hotel that is perfect for relaxing after a long day of cycling.
This day includes a route of approximately 60km by bike. (Lunch and dinner are not included for this day)
Day 4 : Between beaches and waterfalls
Have breakfast at your hotel once again, then head south for the last stage of your cycling journey through Shiga. A beautiful torii gate and its view of the lake welcomes you, a place renowned for bringing good fortune and longevity to those who wish to admire it.
For lunch, indulge in some fresh and delicious seafood facing facing Lake Biwa, the perfect way to take in the atmosphere and charm of Shiga.
After the meal, bike further south, and set off to discover magnificent waterfalls hidden within the forest.
After these hectic cycling stages, a short break on a white sand beach to enjoy the freshness of the lake water if the weather allows.
End your long day of cycling at the final hotel of the journey.
This day includes a circuit of approximately 38km by bike. (Lunch and dinner are not included).
Day 5 : Circling back to Kyoto
The final stretch has you bike straight to reach Kyoto and finish the loop, leaving Shiga prefecture.
Drop off your bikes to our trusted rental partner to finish your journey.
This day includes a route of approximately 50km by bike. Lunch and dinner are at your expense.
2 nights in a 3* ryokan in Otsu and Hikone
1 night in a 3* hotel in Makino
1 night in a 3* hotel in Takashima
1 night in a 3* hotel in Shiga
The base rate includes a twin room for two people
- Bike rental with gears for 5 days from Kyoto.
- Cruise on Lake Biwa departing from Nagahama port. Two-wheelers are not allowed on board, you can park them at the pier.
Visits and meals
- All breakfasts
- Dinner on the first night in Otsu
Included in your self-guided excursion
- Complete digital travel diary sent before your departure
- 24/7 telephone support in English
Not included in the price of your excursion
- Personal expenses including lunches & dinners
- Everything that is not in the “included in your excursion” section
- the cable car in Otsu
- Prices displayed on this page may vary depending on the Japanese ¥ exchange rate.
- This excursion is unfortunately not accessible to people with reduced mobility.
- Pets are not allowed.
- Prices for children up to and including 11 years old. Children's bike available from 120cm. Children below this height will not be able to participate in the excursion.
- This program may be subject to modifications due to circumstances such as weather conditions or any other force majeure. Please note that due to the current situation, any information mentioned is subject to change or adaptation.
- Reservations for this excursion must be made at least 1 month before the start date of the excursion. For example, for a stay starting on July 1, 2024, the reservation deadline is May 30, 2024.
- In summer in Kyoto, the temperature reaches 35 degrees, hot and humid weather. Please take this information into account if you wish to book during this period.
- Your travel documents will be sent to you by email 20 days before your departure.
- To benefit from an internet connection in Japan, book your Pocket Wifi with Japan Experience for an additional fee
- Some hotels may ask you for a tourist tax upon arrival. It depends on the cities and even the hotels, as some do not include it in the cost of the reservation. It generally amounts to ¥200/night/person (around €1.60) but can be a little higher in 4* hotels. It must be paid in cash at the hotel reception.
- Single room: People traveling alone and/or wishing to reserve a single room must pay a supplement when booking. Please note that in the event of a single room supplement for an order of more than 2 people, it will be applied in all accommodation except in ryokans (3 and 4*). Indeed, as this is traditional accommodation, people under the same reservation are grouped together in spacious rooms that can accommodate up to 5 people.
- 3 person room: If there are 3, 5 or more of you and you do not select the individual supplement, you will be allocated a triple room.
- Names of hotels: The names indicated on the site are given for information only. In the event of unavailability, an establishment of equivalent standard will be scheduled.
- In the ryokan, you will sleep on comfortable futons placed on the tatami. The bedroom has a private sink and WC. As is customary in ryokan in Japan, the “onsen” bathroom is shared (single-sex) unless you take the “private bathroom in the room” option.
OPTIONAL: Enjoy a private Japanese bathroom (traditional or modern onsen) in your room. Option recommended for mixed couples, families, modest people or people with clearly visible tattoos. The 4* ryokan (see 4* option) have comfortable raised futons or on Western beds in a traditional tatami room. The bathrooms and toilets of 4* ryokans are private
- The bicycle provided has a basket at the front which will allow you to store your personal belongings as well as a protective helmet.
- During the journey, there will be 20% cycle paths. The rest of the time, you can drive on the road (traffic is not heavy around the lake). Possibility of driving on sidewalks if necessary.
- Train journeys between Nagahama and Makino then between Honkatata and Kyoto are not included in the price of the excursion. These journeys will allow you to fully and safely enjoy your excursion.
- Breakfasts are fully included in the price of your excursion.
- Dinner on the first night in Hikone
- For lunch, you will find addresses selected by us in your travel diary.
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