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Travel Guide of Kyoto in Japan by Influencers and Travelers

Kyoto, officially Kyoto City, is the capital city of Kyoto Prefecture in Japan. Located in the Kansai region on the island of Honshu, Kyoto forms a part of the Keihanshin metropolitan area along with Osaka and Kobe.

The Best Things to Do and Visit in Kyoto


1 - Kinkaku-ji

Kinkaku-ji, officially named Rokuon-ji, is a Zen Buddhist temple in Kyoto, Japan. It is one of the most popular buildings in Japan, attracting many visitors annually.

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Kinkaku-ji things to do in Kyoto Kinkaku-ji things to do in Kyoto

2 - Kiyomizu-dera

Kiyomizu-dera, formally Otowa-san Kiyomizu-dera, is a Buddhist temple in eastern Kyoto. The temple is part of the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto UNESCO World Heritage site.

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Kiyomizu-dera things to do in Kyoto Kiyomizu-dera things to do in Kyoto

3 - Mountain Bike Tours in Kyoto

Combine the fun and freedom of cycling with the discovery of a new city as we explore Kyoto's best known site alongside some of our own favourite secrets! Navigate the backstreets with a friendly, bilingual and experienced guide, explore local shrines and grand temples, quaint shopping arcades and riverside paths while learning about the sites you visit in a light, interesting and fun way. Cycle on high quality 'Trek' and 'Giant' hybrid bikes, sample an authentic and delicious lunch and enjoy the unique atmosphere of Japan's ancient capital.

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Mountain Bike Tours in Kyoto things to do in Kyoto

4 - Nijō Castle

Nijō Castle is a flatland castle in Kyoto, Japan. The castle consists of two concentric rings of fortifications, the Ninomaru Palace, the ruins of the Honmaru Palace, various support buildings and several gardens.

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Nijō Castle things to do in Kyoto Nijō Castle things to do in Kyoto

5 - Yasaka Shrine

Yasaka Shrine, once called Gion Shrine, is a Shinto shrine in the Gion District of Kyoto, Japan. Situated at the east end of Shijō-dōri, the shrine includes several buildings, including gates, a main hall and a stage.

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Yasaka Shrine things to do in Kyoto Yasaka Shrine things to do in Kyoto

6 - Shore Excursions in Kyoto

Temples, shrines, and tea ceremonies. The traditions of ancient Japan are still alive and well in the old capitol, Kyoto. Walking around this beautiful city can feel like you are in a time machine as its architecture has been preserved for centuries. Kiyomizu Temple towers over the historical Gion district, famous for its rich history of geisha. There is much history in this city that you don’t want to miss so book our Government Licensed and Experienced English-speaking guides for a walking tour of Kyoto! Once your reservation is made, a guide will be in touch to plan your personalized tour. Choose 3 to 4 spots that you wish to visit and your guide will plan a personalized itinerary. If you do not know where to visit, ask the guide to send you their recommended itinerary based on your interests. Whether you are a history buff, love the beauty of old Japanese architecture, or just want to enjoy a green tea parfait, Kyoto has something for you!

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Shore Excursions in Kyoto things to do in Kyoto

7 - Kyoto Tower

Kyoto Tower is an observation tower located in Kyoto, Japan. The steel tower is the tallest structure in Kyoto with its observation deck at 100 metres and its spire at 131 metres.

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Kyoto Tower things to do in Kyoto Kyoto Tower things to do in Kyoto

8 - Kamo River

   9 km away

The Kamo River is located in Kyoto Prefecture, Japan. The riverbanks are popular walking spots for residents and tourists. In summer, restaurants open balconies looking out to the river.

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Kamo River things to do in Kyoto

9 - Culinary Tour in Kyoto

-Try Kyoto's traditional, seasoned dishes at a hidden restaurant in Ponto-cho & Gion - We'll walk around the Gion where many old Kyoto-style buildings can be seen. Our local guide will provide insight into how locals enjoy their nights. We will enjoy simple, seasoned Kyoto appetizers in a traditional atmosphere! -Enjoy more Kyoto food- We'll walk to the second spot famous for its Sake where you can enjoy mouth-watering platters of the local delicacy "Tempra" and perfect food pairings with Sake, Matcha Beer and more! -Finish the tour with Kyoto's local liquor or matcha dessert- After trying many traditional dishes, we'll round things up with the tour to the Kyoto's bar or Night cafe where you can taste Kyoto's local liquor or Matcha dessert. Magical Trip is a local tour operator with the TripAdvisor certificate of excellence that offers various types of small-group tours throughout Japan! Check out our Trip Advisor Page for more tours and our reviews!

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Culinary Tour in Kyoto things to do in Kyoto

10 - Ryōan-ji

Ryōan-ji is a Zen temple located in northwest Kyoto, Japan. It belongs to the Myōshin-ji school of the Rinzai branch of Zen Buddhism.

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Ryōan-ji things to do in Kyoto Ryōan-ji things to do in Kyoto

11 - Kyoto Imperial Palace

The Kyoto Imperial Palace is the former ruling palace of the Emperor of Japan. The Emperors have since resided at the Tokyo Imperial Palace after the Meiji Restoration in 1869, and the preservation of the Kyoto Imperial Palace was ordered in 1877.

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Kyoto Imperial Palace things to do in Kyoto

12 - Coffee & Tea Tours in Uji

   14 km away

Join our Matcha Kyoto Green Tea Tour and discover more about Uji Town, the heart and soul of Japanese Green Tea Culture. Matcha tea is definitely an integral part of Japanese tea culture. If you love Green tea and would like to learn more about Matcha, be sure to join our 3-hour tour to the town of Uji in Kyoto, the home of Matcha. A trip to Uji will give you many chances to experience and taste Matcha and other types of green tea in a variety of beverages and foods. The green tea and matcha (powdered green tea) produced here in Uji are famous for their quality not only in Japan but all over the world. Also, while visiting Uji you can see the gorgeous and famous Byodoin temple, a UNESCO World Heritage site. During our Uji tour we will sit down for a fantastic set lunch, and we will have a chance to experience making and drinking tea. If you find teas that you like, you will have time to choose, purchase and take home some delicious memories of your tour.

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Coffee & Tea Tours in Uji things to do in Kyoto

13 - Daitoku-ji

Daitoku-ji is a Buddhist temple, one of fourteen autonomous branches of the Rinzai school of Japanese Zen. It is located in Kita-ku, Kyoto, Japan. The "mountain name" by which it is known is Ryūhōzan. The Daitoku-ji temple complex today covers more than 23 hectares.

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Daitoku-ji things to do in Kyoto Daitoku-ji things to do in Kyoto

14 - Heian Shrine

The Heian Shrine is a Shinto shrine located in Sakyō-ku, Kyoto, Japan. The Shrine is ranked as a Beppyō Jinja by the Association of Shinto Shrines. It is listed as an important cultural property of Japan.

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Heian Shrine things to do in Kyoto Heian Shrine things to do in Kyoto

15 - Mount Kurama

   12 km away

Mount Kurama is a mountain to the north of the city of Kyoto. It is the birthplace of the Reiki practice, and is said to be the home of Sōjōbō, King of the Tengu.

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Mount Kurama things to do in Kyoto

16 - Kifune-Jinja Shrine

   12 km away

Kifune Shrine is a Shinto shrine located at Sakyō-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture Japan.

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Kifune-Jinja Shrine things to do in Kyoto

17 - Byodoin

   14 km away
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Byodoin things to do in Kyoto

18 - Joyo

   18 km away

Jōyō is a city located in Kyoto Prefecture, Kansai, Japan. It is halfway between Kyoto and Nara. It contains historical sites including the Shibagahara Tomb and Mito shrine. The city was founded on May 3, 1972.

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Joyo things to do in Kyoto

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Pictures and Stories of Kyoto from Influencers

20 pictures of Kyoto from Andre Benz, Jamie Haughton, pgaberski and other travelers

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Why should you visit Kyoto ?

Travel to Kyoto if you like:

  🏘️ Town     🏰 Temple     🐾 Wildlife     🏰 Pagoda     🗼 Landmark     🏘️ Cottage  

How to visit Kyoto ?

To get to Kyoto, most travelers will fly into Kansai International Airport (KIX) in Osaka. From there, you can take the JR Haruka Airport Express train directly to Kyoto Station, which takes about 75 minutes. Alternatively, you can also take a bus from the airport to Kyoto, which takes around 90 minutes. If you're arriving from Tokyo, the Shinkansen (bullet train) is the fastest and most convenient option, taking about 2.5 hours to reach Kyoto.

It is essential to book some attractions in advance, particularly if you're visiting during peak travel seasons. Popular sights such as Kinkaku-ji (the Golden Pavilion) and Kiyomizu-dera Temple can get crowded, so booking a guided tour will allow you to skip the lines and get a more in-depth understanding of the sites. Additionally, if you plan to attend a traditional tea ceremony or a geisha performance, it's best to reserve your spot in advance.

The costs of visiting Kyoto can vary depending on your travel style. Admission fees for temples and shrines range from free to around 500 yen (approximately $5). Public transportation is affordable, with a one-day bus pass costing 600 yen (around $6), which is an excellent option for getting around the city. Meals can range from budget-friendly street food to high-end dining experiences, with average prices between 1,000 to 3,000 yen ($10 to $30).

Some of the best things to do in Kyoto include visiting iconic temples like Fushimi Inari Taisha, home to thousands of red torii gates, and exploring the breathtaking Arashiyama Bamboo Grove. Don't miss the chance to wander through the historic Gion district, where you might catch a glimpse of a geisha. For a more hands-on experience, consider taking a cooking class to learn how to make traditional Japanese dishes.

When it comes to dining, Kyoto has no shortage of options. For an unforgettable kaiseki (multi-course) meal, try Gion Karyo, which offers a contemporary twist on traditional cuisine. For more budget-friendly options, head to Nishiki Market to sample a variety of street food, or visit Omen for delicious udon noodles.

For accommodation, consider staying at the Hotel Granvia Kyoto, a modern, upscale hotel located within Kyoto Station, offering convenience and comfort. Alternatively, for a more traditional experience, stay at a ryokan (Japanese inn) like Tawaraya Ryokan or Gion Hatanaka, where you can enjoy tatami rooms and on-site hot spring baths.

Off the beaten path: For a unique and lesser-known experience, visit the village of Ohara, located in the mountains north of Kyoto. Here, you can explore the serene Sanzen-in Temple and its moss-covered gardens, as well as hike through the nearby forests and enjoy the natural beauty of the region.

Learn More about Kyoto

The city of Kyoto

The capital of Japan for almost 12 centuries, Kyoto remains the cultural and spiritual center of the country. It is renowned for its traditional arts and crafts. Surrounded by green hills, Kyoto is home to more than 1,600 Buddhist pagodas and Shinto temples, exemplary for their beautiful architecture and gardens. These can be discovered by walking along the famous Philosophy Trail in the northeast of the city. Whether you choose to stay in Kyoto or stopover there on a trip to Japan, you can't help but fall under the spell of this city, which boasts some 15 World Heritage monuments, including the Kiyozumidera temple and Nijo-jo castle.

What to do in Kyoto?

During your visit to the city, you will have to visit the temples, but also the Gion district and its famous geisha. Moreover, from the Kyoto tower, you will get a panoramic view of the city. When you come down from the tower, go and see the station known for its futuristic architecture. For the gourmets, there is nothing like going to the Nishiki market to taste the specialties. The city also has many zen gardens.
and if you are a fan of manga, there is nothing like going to the Kyōto International Manga Museum.

Don't miss the famous Kiyomizu Dera temple. Here's everything you need to know for a smooth and successful visit!

If you are planning a trip to Japan and passing through the popular city of Kyoto, you will definitely want to visit the ancient temples that the city is famous for. Located on one of the hills, Kiyomizu Dera Temple is one of the city's most popular temples for tourists and locals alike.

Founded in 778 and known mainly for its wooden terrace offering a magnificent view of the city and its surroundings, the temple is a must-see on any trip to Kyoto, and indeed any trip to Japan, especially if you go during the sakura blossom season! It is one of the oldest temples in Kyoto, and over the centuries it has been damaged and partially destroyed many times. At present, its popularity and special atmosphere are visited by more than 5.5 million tourists and locals every year.
It is made up of several buildings spread over the temple grounds, which will provide hours of sightseeing and wonderment. Among the most important places are:

  • The terrace
It is almost 15 meters high and is supported by over 140 wooden pillars. It overlooks a sea of maple and Japanese cherry trees that stretches as far as the eye can see. This area is all the more magical during the cherry blossom season in March and April, but also in autumn. 

  • Otowa Waterfall
Located at the foot of the main hall, the Otowa Waterfall is one of the must-see things to do when visiting Kiyomizu Dera Temple. According to the beliefs, the water of this cascade, divided into 3 streams, would have various benefits. Visitors, thanks to the cups attached to the structure of the waterfall, can drink from one of the three streams to obtain luck in love, succeed in studies or increase their longevity. 

  • The Jishu Altar
Located at the back of the main hall, the Jishu Shrine is an altar dedicated to a deity of love and dating. 

  • Koyasu Pagoda
From the terrace of the main hall, it is possible to see the third floor of the Koyasu pagoda. This pagoda is known for providing an easy and safe birth to visitors who go there to worship.

Frequently Asked Questions by Travelers planning a trip to Kyoto

Where to stay in Kyoto ?

The Gion and Higashiyama districts are perfect to put down your suitcases. These two districts between the Kamo River and the mountains are the most popular with visitors because they have the advantage of being central while housing historical monuments. There is also the Pontocho district, which concentrates traditional Japan, nightlife, and proximity to the city center. 

During your visit, it might be nice to visit the geisha district in Gion at night or to take a half-day guided bike tour of northern Kyoto. You can book both activities in advance. 

   Where to Stay in Kyoto

   More Travel spots to explore around Kyoto

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Discover more travel spots to explore around Kyoto

  🏰 Temple spots     🏘️ Town spots     🌲 Forest spots     🗼 Landmark spots     🌲 Nature reserve spots     🏰 Pagoda spots     🏞️ River spots     🐾 Wildlife spots     ⛰️ Hill station spots     🏞️ Reservoir spots     🏘️ Cottage spots     🏰 Place of worship spots     🏞️ Waterway spots     🌴 Jungle spots     🌆 Skyline spots     Ferris wheel spots     🌲 Tropical and subtropical coniferous forests spots     🏞️ Watercourse spots     🏞️ Lake spots     🌉 Bridge spots     Kitesurfing spots     🛣️ Off-roading spots     ⛰️ Hill spots     🌉 Rope bridge spots  

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