Top 10 Things To Do In Kyoto Japan – Kyoto is a magical city like no other. As the capital of the Empire of Japan for more than 1000 years (since 1868), it is the heart of Japan’s traditional culture.

There are many wonderful things to do in Kyoto – you can visit golden temples and vermillion temples, wander through Zen rock gardens and bamboo forests, down waves of ramen and participate in beautiful tea ceremonies.

Top 10 Things To Do In Kyoto Japan

Top 10 Things To Do In Kyoto Japan

It’s one of the only places where you can still see geisha in extravagant kimonos and white makeup hurrying to appointments in wooden teahouses.

Things To Know Before Going To Kyoto

The monks still live and work in the city’s 2000 temples and shrines – you’ll see them in flowing robes holding ceremonies and you’ll hear the noise.

You will visit many temples in Kyoto, but even after spending two months in the city, you never get tired of them. They all offer something special – a bright castle, a peaceful garden, a walk in the woods, or a delicious vegetarian meal.

Although Kyoto is the center of traditional Japan, it is also a modern city with concrete skyscrapers, many vending machines, and a vibrant food scene.

But it’s a smaller, more manageable scale than Tokyo or Osaka with lots of green spaces, views of the surrounding mountains, and neighborhoods that feel like villages.

Exploring Kyoto, Japan’s Most Beautiful City

Although there are many attractions (including 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites), Kyoto is best explored at a slower pace with time to aimlessly wander the narrow cobblestone streets. .

In this Kyoto travel guide, I share all the best things to do in Kyoto as well as tips on how to avoid the crowds and how to get there. You will also find a map with all the top spots in Kyoto.

In 2011, when we first visited Kyoto, Japan received 6.2 million foreign visitors. In 2019, 32 million tourists visited the country.

Top 10 Things To Do In Kyoto Japan

That’s a huge increase, and since Kyoto is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Japan, we noticed a surprising increase in the number of people during our last month’s stay in the city.

Top Things To Do In Kyoto, Japan

Even with the large number of tourists, we loved Kyoto as much as our second visit—it’s still a special place with an incredible number of amazing sights.

I recommend spending at least four full days here, but a week is ideal and allows time for some of these day trips to Kyoto (Nara is the most popular).

A longer stay will give you more time to explore Kyoto’s more popular attractions and visit popular spots at less favorable times.

To make the next tip, it will help if you stay near the famous tourist spots in Kyoto.

The 20 Best Things To Do In Kyoto, Japan

You’ll be able to leave early in the morning, relax in the busy afternoon, and leave again in the evening without having to travel too far.

I think the best place to stay is South Higashiyama (which includes Gion) at the foot of the eastern hills of Kyoto.

There are many temples to explore as well as the most beautiful preserved streets and the chance to see a geisha.

Top 10 Things To Do In Kyoto Japan

On our last visit we were in Miyakawacho, a geisha district along the Kaamo River just south of the famous geisha area of ​​Gion.

Unique Things To Do In Kyoto, Japan

It was the perfect location – traditional, quiet, but walking distance to many attractions. We regularly saw geisha (or geiko as they are known in Kyoto) walking our way on the way to appointments.

Hotel Celestine Kyoto Gion is one of the few hotels in this quiet area. It has modern rooms, a restaurant and a tempura restaurant, and it gets excellent reviews.

Kyoto Inn Gion The Second is an affordable hotel conveniently located in Gion. The rooms are small but comfortable.

If you would like to stay in a ryokan (traditional style), Ryokan Yachiyolooks beautiful with Japanese rooms and garden views.

Kyoto Travel Guide For First Time Visitors: What To See And Eat In Kyoto

I really wanted to book a room with a private open-air bath for our next trip to Kyoto. It’s a bit far from Gion but close to Nanzen-ji temple and the famous Philosopher’s Path. (Update: I booked a garden view room with a fall shower to keep you posted!).

Sora Niwa Terrace is also worth considering. It is one of the newest hotels in Kyoto and has the most amazing views from its terrace and outside. It is near the Gion river.

The road to Yasaka Pagoda at 9 am – after a few hours, this road will be full

Top 10 Things To Do In Kyoto Japan

Visiting the most popular places early in the morning is essential to truly enjoy them. It’s hard to appreciate the magic when you’re fighting tour groups.

Best Things To Do In Kyoto

These are the most important places to visit early (on weekdays if possible). If you can’t do it earlier, then try an hour before closing.

I can also add the Arashiyama bamboo grove to this list as it is one of the most crowded tourist spots in Kyoto (even before 9am).

Honestly, I think it’s more and I didn’t add it to my list of things to do in Kyoto. I suggest some quieter, more comfortable bamboo trees below.

If you have limited time in Kyoto and prefer to go with a guide, Kyoto’s famous early bird tour avoids the crowds at Fushimi Inari, Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion), and the bamboo grove by starting before 7am.

What To Do In Kyoto

It’s easy to find quiet temples and shrines in Kyoto – they’re usually just around the corner from the crowded places that everyone feels they have to see.

I highly recommend adding some hidden gems along with the popular attractions. You might start your day at one of the top temples and then move on to other, quieter spots.

Although the temples are amazing, save your energy by adding fun and unusual activities.

Top 10 Things To Do In Kyoto Japan

Take a cooking class, walk along a quiet canal, drink matcha at a tea room, learn samurai skills, or take a walk through the forest – you’ll find more ideas on what to do in Kyoto below.

Top 10 Places To Take Photos In Kyoto

This sightseeing map of Kyoto shows the best things to do in Kyoto listed below. Temples and temples are marked in red, interesting roads and walking paths in blue, and other interesting places in purple.

Fushimi Inari is a Kyoto must see. We’ve never visited another place like it—thousands of bright orange torii gates jut from the forest to the mountains.

It’s a walk very much like visiting a temple (and very deep parts), although you pass many small places with stone fox statues and small torii.

It takes us about an hour and a half to complete the entire walk (a 5 km/3.1 mile loop from the station), but you could easily spend two or three hours here.

Top 20 Japanese Gardens You Must Visit In Kyoto!

You can also choose to just do the lower circuit to see the city. I recommend you to go up the mountain as it is very quiet and you will feel peaceful while walking through the deep forest.

Fushimi Inari is insanely busy and not much fun when you’re with a crowd, so try to visit around 6am (7am at the latest) or after 8pm.

It’s a very different experience at night with ambient lighting and a slightly eerie feel (we even heard a wild boar!).

Top 10 Things To Do In Kyoto Japan

Free admission and open 24 hours. Take the train to Fushimi Inari Station on the Keihan Main Line (if coming from Higashiyama, 10 minutes from Gion-Shijo) or JR Inari Station on the JR Nara Line (if coming from Kyoto Station, 5 minutes).

Top 10: Things To Do In Japan

South Higashiyama, which includes Gion, is one of the top places to visit in Kyoto and has some of the most beautiful and beautiful streets in the city.

In this historic district you will find wooden houses on narrow streets with cobblestone streets and paper lanterns lighting the way.

There are many temples to visit, but this area is perfect for an aimless stroll (early morning or late night) and soaking up the charm.

The off-the-beaten-track paths include Yasaka-dori leading to Yasaka Pagoda (Hōkanji Temple), Ninenzaka and Sannenzaka, Nene-no-michi, and Ishibei-koji Lane (no photos allowed).

Top 18 Things To Do In Kyoto

This place is especially impressive at night in March during the Higashiyama Hanatouro Festival when the streets are lined with thousands of lights and there are special events and lighting of the temples.

Gion, Kyoto’s main geisha district, is also popular for day and night walks. Don’t miss Hanami-koji, Shirakawa Canal, Shinbashi-dori, and Yasaka Shrine (free admission).

In the traditional streets of Gion, you may see a geisha rushing to make an appointment at one of the teahouses (especially between 5.30pm and 6pm).

Top 10 Things To Do In Kyoto Japan

Yes, it is interesting, but many tourists trying to take pictures made life unpleasant. Please stay away and be respectful.

Best Things To Do In Kyoto In Summer 2023

We often saw geisha without a group of tourists following the Miyakawacho geisha district, where we stayed near the Miyakawacho Kaburenjo theater.

If you’d like to explore with a guide, this night walking group in Gion has great reviews and is a great way to learn about geisha culture. Or try this special tour of Gion for a more immersive experience.

You are free to roam the streets. The nearest train stations are Gion-Shijo and Kiyomizu-Gojō on the Keihan Main Line.

Another top spot in Kyoto, Kiyomizu-dera was founded in 778 AD and has a stunning hilltop location in South Higashiyama with views across the city.

The Best Temples To Visit In Kyoto, Japan

The main hall made of wood was built without nails and houses a


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