May 14th, 2019 | Updated on June 29th, 2022
Kyoto was the capital of Japan for over a millennium, and carries a reputation as its most beautiful city and the nation’s cultural capital. However, visitors may be surprised by how much work they will have to do to see Kyoto’s beautiful side.
Most first impressions of the city will be of the urban sprawl of central Kyoto, around the ultra-modern glass-and-steel train station, which is itself an example of a city steeped in tradition colliding with the modern world.
Nonetheless, the persistent visitor will soon discover Kyoto’s hidden beauty in the temples and parks which ring the city centre, and find that the city has much more to offer than immediately meets the eye.
1. Kinkakuji Temple
See Kyoto highlights on this 6-hour tour from Osaka! Visit two UNESCO World Heritage sites — Ninjo Castle and Kinkaku-ji Temple (Golden Pavilion) — as you tour Japan’s former capital with an experienced local guide. You’ll also visit the Kyoto Imperial Palace and the Kyoto Handicraft Center, traveling round-trip by train from Osaka. Enjoy impressive displays of the seasons at these landmarks, including cherry trees in full blossom in spring!
Your guide will pick you up from your selected hotel in the morning and accompany you to the Osaka railway station. Board the JR rapid service train for Kyoto and relax on the 30-minute ride to the former imperial capital. Upon arrival, you’ll disembark and begin your 6-hour tour of the city, where Japan’s emperors resided from 794 until 1868. Your comfortable coach delivers you to top attractions where you’ll hear expert commentary from your guide. Begin at Nijo Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage site built in 1603 to house Tokugawa shoguns for more than two centuries.
2. Monkey Park Iwatayama
Though it is common to spot wild monkeys in the nearby mountains, here you can encounter them at a close distance and enjoy watching the playful creatures frolic about. It makes for an excellent photo opportunity, not only of the monkeys but also of the panoramic view over Kyoto. Refreshingly, it is the animals who are free to roam while the humans who feed them are caged in a box!
3. Sanjusangendo Temple
Travel round-trip by rail to Kyoto and visit key cultural landmarks in the former capital. View the splendid gardens of Heian Shrine, see 1,000-armed statues at Sanjusangendo Hall and take in beautiful panoramic views from the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Kiyomizu Temple. Aboard a comfortable coach, you’ll explore these iconic sites with a knowledgeable local guide who informs you about the city’s rich religious heritage.
4. Kiyomizu-dera Temple
With a National Licensed and Experienced English speaking guide, this short trip is a fantastic and great value way of experiencing Kiyomizu-Dera Temple! We are here to help you discover new things, places and experiences in Kiyomizu-Dera Temple.
Kiyomizu-Dera Temple has a lot of stories to tell that will connect you to Japan’s history and culture. With a licensed and experienced English speaking guide, you can see Japan’s background that is off-limits to ordinary tourists after the tour. Kiyomizu-Dera Temple is one of the most celebrated temples of Japan. It is the best known for its wooden stage that juts out from its main hall, 13 meters above the hillside below.
The stage affords visitors a nice view of the numerous cherry and maple trees below that erupt in a sea of color in spring and fall, as well as of the city of Kyoto in the distance. This short trip is a fantastic and great value way of experiencing Kyoto!
5. Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine
With a National Licensed and Experienced English speaking guide, you can see Japan’s background that is off-limits to ordinary tourists after the tour. This short trip is a fantastic and great value way of experiencing Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine!
We are here to help you discover new things, the Fushimi Inari Shrine is so more than its famous tunnels of vermillion-red torii gates. Most people are satisfied by a scenic view of it. But this has a lot of stories to tell that will connect you to the Japan’s history and culture and your guide will show you deeper.
You will see a fascinating story attached to the origin of the shrine dedicated to the god of grains – that’s what “Inari” means–. This is also why you’ll see statues of the fox around the shrine. “Kitsune” or the fox is a servant to the god Inari. They are cunning tricksters, clever minded animals who make perfect guides for the treacherous business world. You may want the foxes on your side after this tour.
For a tasty bowl of soba noodles and a million-dollar view over the Arashiyama mountains and the Togetsu-kyō bridge, head to this extremely popular eatery (prepare to queue at peak times) just north of the famous bridge, overlooking the Katsura-gawa. There’s an English menu but no English sign; look for the big glass windows and the stone wall.
Gion is the famous entertainment and geisha quarter on the eastern bank of the Kamo-gawa. While Gion’s true origins were in teahouses catering to weary visitors to the nearby shrine Yasaka-jinja, by the mid-18th century the area was Kyoto’s largest pleasure district. The best way to experience Gion today is with an evening stroll around the atmospheric streets lined with 17th-century traditional restaurants and teahouses lit up with lanterns. Start off on the main street Hanami-kōji, which runs north–south and bisects Shijō-dōri.
For anyone with the slightest fondness for Japanese gardens, don’t miss this network of lanes dotted with atmospheric Zen temples. Daitoku-ji, the main temple here, serves as headquarters for the Rinzai Daitoku-ji school of Zen Buddhism. It’s not usually open to the public but there are several subtemples with superb carefully raked karen-sensui (dry landscape) gardens well worth making the trip out for. Highlights include Daisen-in, Kōtō-in, Ryōgen-in and Zuihō-in.
9. Ōkōchi Sansō
This is the lavish estate of Ōkōchi Denjirō, an actor famous for his samurai films. The sprawling gardens may well be the most lovely in all of Kyoto, particularly when you consider the brilliant views eastwards across the city. The house and teahouse are also sublime. Be sure to follow all the trails around the gardens. Hold onto the tea ticket you were given upon entry to claim the matcha and sweet that’s included with admission.
10. Nishiki Market
Head to the covered Nishiki Market to check out the weird and wonderful foods that go into Kyoto cuisine. It’s in the centre of town, one block north of (and parallel to) Shijō-dōri, running west off Teramachi covered arcade. Wander past stalls selling everything from barrels of tsukemono (pickled vegetables) and cute Japanese sweets to wasabi salt and fresh sashimi skewers. Drop into Aritsugu here for some of the best Japanese chef’s knives money can buy.
Top Hotels In Kyoto
1. Kyoto Itoya Hotel
The attraction of Kyoto ITOYA Hotel ・Good location Our hotel is located near central of Kyoto city. 5 minutes by taxi to Kyoto Station and walking distance to main street(Shijo-dori street). It is easy to go sightseeing. ・Wide bathroom Bathrooms are Japanese style. Expect for twinroom A, it has bus tab and washing space. ・Bicycle for rent We have some bicycles for rent. ・Library We have several kinds of books about Kyoto.
2. Cross Hotel Kyoto
Cross Hotel Kyoto is built on the philosophy of creating a borderless social space for locals and guests to discover new excitements in Kyoto. Soak your soul and feel the ancient local wisdom inside a modern interior, or relax and unwind with good vibes and food in our restaurant & bar. What will you discover here?
3. Daiwa Royal Hotel Grande Kyoto
“Daiwa Royal Hotel Grande Kyoto”, conveniently located within just 5 minutes walk from JR Kyoto station, fuses Japanese tradition and hospitality with modern cutting-edge technology & high-quality amenities and offers superior personalized service by warm and friendly bilingual staff. Executive rooms & lounge in exlusive and luxurious atmosphere will make it a stay to remember.
4. Hotel Granvia Kyoto
Beautiful 15-story hotel atop Kyoto Station – Broadband connection in all guest and banquet rooms – Easy access to Kansai Airport.
5. Enso Ango Fuya II
The largest of our five buildings, Fuyacho II has a Japanese tea room and a Tatami straw mat room, incorporating elements of traditional Japanese culture into its design. The lobby looking over the inner garden contains a tea room created by the celebrated designer Shigeru Uchida. The Tatami salon is a multi-purpose space for events with a variety of themes such as Zen and mindfulness.
6. Hotel Gran MS Kyoto
Pursuance of Comfort Promise to sleep well and make you delight than yesterday. We proudly prepare Simmons bed with pillow top and premium amenity to ensure a truly comfortable stay for you. Pursuance of Design Always bring happiness and joy to you. We display creations by Ms. Junko Funada from Kyoto at everywhere inside our hotel Her colorful creations, sophisticated lobby and front desk is designed for your precious moments.
Coexistence with Regional Area Assist your time more fun and happier with regional area. We don’t provide meal service because there are many great restaurants in our regional area. We would like you to experience and satisfied with their specialiy.
Its experience will add new page for your journey. It is our wish and starting point. Sophisticated Guest Room Our accommodation features comfort, relax and make you happier than today. Please find your favorite room from 5 types.
Ryokufuso of Kyoto was founded in 1955 as a subsidiary of its holding company in Gifu prefecture. The attractive feature of Ryokufuso is that guests can experience the traditional Japanese way of life in a casual manner with a heart-warming atmosphere.
8. Kyoto Granbell Hotel
Situated just a 2-minute walk from Gion-Shijo Subway Station, Kyoto Granbell Hotel features a modern decor with Japanese touches. Free WiFi is available throughout the property. Yasaka Shrine is an 8-minute walk away, while Samurai Kembu Kyoto is 11 minutes on foot. The rooms are air-conditioned and come with a flat-screen TV with satellite channels. You will find a sofa and refrigerator.
9. Kyoto Century Hotel
A two-minute walk from JR Kyoto Station makes access easy in the central region. Kyoto Century Hotel is located in a convenient place for both sightseeing and business at only a two-minute walk from JR and subway Kyoto Station. Taking one step inside from the entrance, you will be welcomed into a relaxing space with hospitality that will let you forget the noise and clamor outside.
10. Hotel MyStays Kyoto Shijo
Enjoy our hotel’s modern Japanese design as you explore the historic capital. We are located in the heart of Kyoto, with easy access to all major tourist destinations. Step outside and it’s only a short walk to Nijo Castle or Yasaka Shrine. Step inside and take in an undeniably Japanese, yet modern, decor. Perhaps that’s why we’ve received TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence annually since 2011.