Matsuyama is spread out and its two railway systems (JR and Iyotetsu) have their main stations in separate locations, so Matsuyama Tram is very convenient for getting around.
The main line of the tram runs a loop around Matsuyama Castle with lines that go off to Matsuyamashi Station and Dogo Onsen. Here are some stops listed with nearby sites:
-Matsuyamashi: Matsuyamashi Station
-Shiyakushomae: Matsuyama Castle (for walking up), Ehime Prefectural Art Museum
-Okaido: Matsuyama Castle Ropeway, Akiyama Brothers Birthplace, Sakanoue no Kumo Museum, Bansuiso, Okaido Shopping Arcade
-Dogo Kouen: Dogo Park (Yuzuki Castle Ruins), Matsuyama City Shikikinen Museum
-Dogo Onsen: Dogo Onsen, Isaniwa Shrine, Ishiteji Temple
-JR Matsuyamaeki-mae: Matsuyama Sation
-Miyatacho: Koshin-an Garden
In spite of the perception of many travelers, Matsuyama is well-connected and easy to reach from the mainland. From Okayama, the Limited Express Shiokaze trains travel directly to Matsuyama. It takes about 2.5 hours.
Alternatively, you can take the Marine Liner to Sakaide. Once there, you can take the Limited Express Ishizuchi which only runs in Shikoku. The direct train from Okayama is obviously the most convenient and fastest way to get here, but depending on your departure time, it may be faster to go this way.
The most convenient way to travel around the city is by tram or streetcar. The tram, although abolished in most Japanese cities, is the main method of getting around the city and is operated by Iyotetsu with five tram lines across the city connecting JR Matsuyama Station in the west, to Matsuyama-shi Station in the south and Dogo Onsen area to the northeast.
To use the tram board through the rear door, payment is made with exact change upon exiting through the front door. There are usually change machines inside the trams next to the driver.
Adults: 150 yen per trip
Children: 80 yen per trip
One day pass: 400 yen
This is the main transport interchange within Matsuyama city itself, with all three commuter train lines coming through, and also connections to trams and buses.
On top of the station is the Iyotetsu Takashimaya department store, and there are restaurants in the area, as well as being close to the entrance of the Gintengai shopping arcade.
It is actually some way from the main JR station for intercity services, being around 15 minutes on foot, or around 5-10 minutes on the tram.
Matsuyama is to be fair, a little inconvenient for those travelling there from outside of Japan, unless of course you can fly in from Seoul or Shanghai.
Domestically, ANA flies to Tokyo (Haneda) Osaka (Itami), Nagoya (Chubu). JAL flies to Tokyo-Haneda and Osaka-Itami, Nagoya, Fukuoka.
There are around 12 flights a day to Tokyo.
Unfortunately the flight from Matsuyama to Osaka-Kansai has been discontinued and there are no flights to Tokyo-Narita either. This means that there are no direct flights between Matsuyama and Japan's two major international airports.
Other domestic airlines have flights to Naha, Kagoshima and Kumamoto.
Lastly, Asiana airlines have a direct flight to Seoul (3 a week), and China Eastern flies to Shanghai twice a week.
I'll be honest, I much prefer train travel, but for these two destinations, the bus is a quicker and cheaper option, as you can go there directly, rather than having to transfer at Takamatsu and Tadotsu or Uwajima respectively.
Matsuyama is well connected by ship with Kyushu, Honshu and elsewhere.
Going to Honshu, there are ferries to Hiroshima (1-2.5 hours depending on the ship), Osaka/Kobe (overnight), , Beppu, Yanai (Yamaguchi prefecture), Iwakuni, and so on.
Going to Kyushu, there are ferries to Moji (Kitakyushu), Kokura (overnight) and Oita.
I often used the overnight ferries, as it's the cheapest way of getting to Osaka or Kitakyushu, and there are bathing facilities onboard as well.
There are two ports in town, the Mitsuhama port which has ships to Yanai, and the main Kanko-ko Port. The best way to get to Mitsu port is by bus, but it's also doable by commuter train, getting off at Mitsu, where taxis will be waiting (it should cost around 700 yen), and to the main port where ferries for Kyushu, Kobe/Osaka and Hiroshima, get off at the last station on the line (Takahama) from where a connecting bus awaits to take you the last stretch to the port. Alternatively there is a direct bus. You can't miss it, as it is a blue bus with a picture of a ship painted on it.
The Iyotetsu company dominates commuter transport within the city of Matsuyama. All train and bus timetables can be found here.
Unfortunately it's not in English as yet, hopefully they remedy this eventually.
Matsuyama has some useful tram lines which go between the JR station, City station, Dogo Onsen, Okaido and elsewhere.
It's 150 yen per journey for adults, but a day pass is 300 yen, which makes it good value if you are going to do some sightseeing around town.
Matsuyama is served by a number of long distance buses. Various companies offer these, most leaving from Matsuyama city station, but some leaving from the main JR station.
Takamatsu (15 buses a day)
Kobe (6 a day)
Uwajima (15 a day)
Tokushima (7 a day)
Fukuyama/Onomichi (many buses)
Kochi (5 a day)
Hiroshima (6 a day)
Kyoto (2 a day)
Osaka (numerous services offered by different companies)
Tokyo (3 a day offered by different companies)
Okayama (6 a day)
If you happen to be flying into Matsuyama, there is a special bus which will take you as far as the JR station, the city station, or Dogo Onsen. You can't miss it, as it's a blue bus with a big airplane on it. Last time I used it it cost 300 yen.
The tram system in Matsuyama is very good, there are enough lines to cover the whole city with it's major sights.
It's also inexpensive and easy to use. You get in at the back and leave the tram at the front. The price is a flat fare of around Yen 240 which you pay when getting off.
From Matsuyama, we went to Kyoto by train. We had to change trains in Okayama, until there it is a normal train, the journey costs 1510 Yen. Trains in Japan are extremely clean, punctual and comfortable, and the journey along the northern coast of Shikoku is truly beautiful, you will see mountains, the Inland Sea, cities and villages with beautiful houses.
From Okayama to Kyoto, we took the Nozomi Super Express, the fastest train! It was so expensive, but definitely worth the experience, the train is supermodern - and superfast, of course! ;-)
There are many ferries going from Hiroshima to Matsuyama, it's a convenient and relaxing method to travel. The ride takes about 3 hours and if the weather is fine, you'll probably get some nice views of the Inland Sea (The weather was not good when we went!). You can also take a faster ferry, but the price is much higher, it's about twice as much. Price for the "slow" ferry was 2700 Yen.
The Shinkansen is by far the most convenient way to travel around Japan. Unfortunately it isn't very cheap! Luckily there is a Japan JR Rail Pass available to foreign travellers. See the JR East website for details:
It must be bought abroad and stamped in Japan before you can use it. There are several options including one week (unlimited JR travel except for the super fast Nozomi service), two week, JR East and JR West passes. Check with your local travel agent for the best option or click on the link to see for yourself!
Here is a link to a very cool page that lets you see the routing between cities/stations/ports within Japan. It will tell you the route and includes the cost and time. http://www.jorudan.co.jp/english/norikae/.