What to see in Kyoto: the 20 best attractions and things to do

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Lluis Enric Mayans

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Kyoto, also known as the city of a thousand temples, is certainly an unmissable stop on your trip to Japan. L'ancient capital of Japan, where classical Japanese culture arose, is a unique place, a destination in which to rediscover the charm of the most traditional Japan, made of low houses and narrow streets, between the ancient quarters of the geisha and the countless Buddhist temples. Take all the time you need to visit it and experience it to the fullest, if Tokyo is a city that goes at 100 per hour, here it is a must to slow down, stop and contemplate the traditional architecture and lose yourself in the timeless charm of this city.

There are many attractions in the city, so let's find out together what to see in Kyoto, the best attractions and things to do!


  1. Kinkaku-ji, The Golden Pavilion
  2. Fushimi Inari-taisha shrine
  3. Ginkaku-ji, The Silver Pavilion
  4. Nijo Castle
  5. Gion, the district of the geishas
  6. Kiyomizu
  7. Nishiki Market
  8. The Philosopher's Path (Tetsugaku no michi)
  9. Sanjusangendo, Rengeo-in Temple
  10. Imperial Palace
  11. Arashiyama Bamboo Forest
  12. Pontocho
  13. Yasaka Shrine
  14. Nanzen-ji
  15. Imperial Villa of Katsura
  16. Sannenzaka and Ninenzaka
  17. Kodai-ji
  18. Chion-In
  19. Ryoan-Ji
  20. Kyoto National Museum
  21. 8 things to do in Kyoto
  22. User questions and comments

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1 - Kinkaku-ji, The Golden Pavilion

One of the iconic images of the city of Kyoto: the Golden Pavilion (Kinkaku-ji) is one of the must-see of the city. At the center of a small lake inserted in a very characteristic and suggestive natural environment, the temple is spread over three floors, each of which built according to a different architectural style.

Its peculiarity, from which the name derives among other things, is that of be completely covered with gold foil. Depending on how the sun's rays hit it, very special luminescent effects are created.

It is located in the north of the city. It was built in 1397, initially as a villa for the shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu; only after his death was it converted to Zen temple. Burned several times (most recently in 1950 when it was set on fire by a temple monk), the current structure dates back to 1955.

Visit it in the morning: To make the most of this wonderful temple, we recommend that you arrive early in the morning. This way you can also take beautiful souvenir photos.

  • in 1 Kinkakujicho, Kita Ward. From Kyoto station it can be reached by bus 101 or 205 (40 min, ticket 230,00 Yen / € 1,90) - Get directions
  • every day 9: 00-17: 00
  • full 400,00 Yen (€ 3,30), reduced 300,00 Yen (€ 2,40)

2 - Fushimi Inari-taisha shrine

One of the most famous icons of Japan, appeared in numerous films including "Memoirs of a Geisha" as well one of the sacred and most famous places in Kyoto. The famous path lined with hundreds of red torii is one of the most famous postcard images of Kyoto and Japan.

The complex consists of five sanctuaries and extends along the sides of the Inari Yama, inside a wood. The torii path goes up the mountain for about 4 km. The entire complex can be visited for free and never closes, so you can also take a walk in the evening, although the atmosphere can be vaguely spooky.

Fushimi Inari is the most important of the shrines dedicated to kami Inari, the deity of rice and fertility. Its origins are very ancient, in fact it seems to have been built before the capital was moved to Kyoto, in 794, while the countless red torii that make up the tunnels have all been donated over the centuries by individuals and families, but also by Japanese companies.

But what are these Torii? It is very simply about doors. Torii are the element that distinguishes Shinto shrines from Buddhist ones. A torii is more precisely a portal that indicates the passage to a sacred, divine dimension. Being always open, we recommend that you go early in the morning to enjoy the beauty of the place in peace without the crowds of tourists, or in the evening when everything is illuminated.

  • in 68 Fukakusa Yabunouchicho, Fushimi Ward. It can be easily reached by train, from Kyoto station take the JR Nara line (covered by the Japan Rail Pass) and get off at the second stop, Inari station. The shrine is right in front - Get directions
  • free

3 - Ginkaku-ji, The Silver Pavilion

Ginkakuji is perhaps one of the most impressive temples in the city. Built in 1482, it was originally born as a private residence of the shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa, who was inspired by the more famous Kinkakuji, the golden pavilion, built by his grandfather. The shogun wanted to have this building covered with silver leaf, but due to his death the following year, the pavilion remained unfinished.

The residence was later converted into a Zen temple. Inside there are also some beautiful gardens, one of sand in pure Zen style, and a magnificent garden of moss, which follows a circular circuit that runs along the hill, and from which you can enjoy an enchanting view of the whole complex and the city.

  • in 2 Ginkakujicho, Sakyo Ward. From Kyoto station it can be reached by bus 5, 17 or 100 (30 min, ticket 230,00 Yen / € 1,90) - Get directions
  • from March to November every day 8: 30-17: 300, from December to February 9: 00-16: 30
  • full 500,00 Yen (€ 4,00), reduced 300,00 Yen (€ 2,40)

4 - Nijo Castle

UNESCO heritage since 1994, Nijo Castle is an architectural marvel created in 1603 as the Kyoto residence of the shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu.

To visit the beautiful rooms of the Ninomaru palace, the shogunal residence: walking through the various rooms of the complex, you can hear the continuous creaking of the floor. This is the famous uguisubari, that is the floor of the nightingale, a sort of alarm system that made it possible to find any intruders inside the residence: the boards were positioned so that, when stepping on the floor, they rub against each other, producing a sound similar to the song of the nightingale.

Outside the palace don't forget to visit the magnificent gardens surrounding the castle: the one adjacent to the building is a garden in the traditional style of residential architecture.

Discover the islets in the lake: in the gardens of the park you can take a pleasant walk in the greenery, without forgetting to stop and observe the lake and its small islands. Pay close attention to the island of eternal happiness, the crane and the turtle. They are in fact all auspicious symbols in Japan, for a long happy life. A must see, maybe they will bring really good news.

  • in 541 Nijojocho, Nakagyo Ward. A few minutes walk from the Nijojo-mae stop along the Tozai metro line - Get directions
  • every day 8: 45-16: 00, July and August 8: 00-17: 00, September 8: 00-16: 00.Closed on Tuesdays in January, July, August and December
  • full 620,00 Yen (€ 5,00), reduced 520,00 Yen (€ 4,20)

5 - Gion, the district of the geishas

One of Kyoto's more traditional neighborhoods as well the most famous geisha district. It is an area characterized by the typical wooden houses with low roofs, where you can find several shops and restaurants, and again several ochaya (tea houses) in business, where geiko (geisha in Kyoto dialect) and maiko (geisha apprentices) entertain their guests with traditional music and shows.

The most popular area of ​​Gion it is definitely Hanami-Koji which goes from Shijo-doori to Kenninji temple. Another very suggestive area of ​​Gion, especially in the evening, is Shirakawa, which winds along the Shirakawa canal, parallel to the Shijo-doori.

The neighborhood develops south of the center, at the base of Higashiyama Mount. It can be reached from Kyoto station by bus 100 or 206 i (20 min, ticket 230,00 Yen / € 1,90). Gion-Shijo Station (Keihan Main Line) Reference Stations - Get directions

Visit with a guide and be careful not to photograph the geishas: Discover the neighborhood on an evening tour of the Geishas. You can watch demonstrations and shows at Gion Corner. These are short performances that want to introduce some aspects of traditional Japanese culture, such as the tea ceremony, ikebana, bunraku theater (Japanese puppet theater) and geisha dances. Speaking of Geisha, if you are lucky enough to see one walking through the streets of the neighborhood (a non-recurring event) do not photograph her at all, it is not a welcome gesture.

6 - Kiyomizu-dera

The Kiyomizudera (Pure Water Temple) is one of the most famous and loved temples in Kyoto and Japan, as well as one of the oldest in the city, declared UNESCO heritage
Built in 780 on the site of the Otowa waterfall in the hills east of Kyoto, it takes its name from the pure waters of the waterfall. The temple that we can admire today is a reconstruction of 1633. It is famous for its 13 meters high wooden terrace. At the base of the temple, however, there is the Otowa waterfall divided into three streams, each of which is thought to have particular "therapeutic properties": longevity, health and wisdom. You can drink the water from the three waterfalls using the special containers, but be careful not to be greedy: you can drink a maximum of two channels, otherwise you will attract misfortune on you!

At the temple every December 12 there is a ceremony in which the "Kanji of the Year" is announced, that is the kanji (ideogram) considered the most representative of the year that is going to end.

Visit it at sunset: given its wonderful location, the ideal time to visit it is definitely the sunset. We therefore advise you to go here just before closing, so you can admire the sun setting on the horizon and see the sky turn red, a unique spectacle.

  • in 294 Kiyomizu, Higashiyama Ward. From Kyoto station it can be reached by buses 100 and 206 (15 min, ticket 230,00 Yen / € 1,90) - Get directions
  • every day 6: 00-18: 00. August and September until 18pm. In spring and autumn, on the occasion of the cherry blossoms and then of the autumn colors, extraordinary opening until 30:21
  • full 300,00 Yen (€ 2,40), reduced 200,00 Yen (€ 1,60)

7 - Nishiki Market

Are you passionate about markets? You love Japanese cuisine and desire discover the gastronomic tradition of Kyoto? Then you can't miss visiting the Nishiki market. Between a temple and a garden, take an hour to discover this place: it is the largest and most famous city market, open every day and located in the center, north of the Shijo-dori, along its parallel.

The atmosphere is nice and chaotic, the market is located inside a long covered gallery where you will find dozens of box offices selling everything. Many too things to nibble on the fly proposed by the various shops.

Take the opportunity for lunch: the best time to visit the market is certainly during lunch hours. Here you can in fact taste many typical products at low cost.

  • in 609 番地 Nishidaimonjicho, Nakagyo Ward. Easy walk from Shijo Station of Karasuma Metro Line - Get Directions
  • every day 9: 00-18: 00. Some shops may close on Wednesdays or Sundays
  • free

8 - The Philosopher's Path (Tetsugaku no michi)

One of the most pleasant walks to take in the city, especially in spring, under the cherry trees in bloom. It is a pleasant route that crosses the northern part of the Higashiyama district, along a canal overlooked by numerous cherry trees.

The walk takes its name from Nishida Kitaro, one of the most important Japanese philosophers, who is said to practice meditation every day along this road that led to Kyoto University. Leaving the Ginkakuji Temple, take it immediately on the left, but first, however, we recommend that you stop at a local site right in front of the temple, where you can enjoy a delicious green tea cream puff. Then enjoy this wonderful walk that will lead you to the Nanzen-ji Temple.

Road connecting Ginkakuji temple with Nanzenji. From Kyoto station it can be reached by bus 5, 17 or 100 (30 min, ticket 230,00 Yen / € 1,90) - Get directions

Watch out for crowds, better early in the morning: it is one of the most Zen places in the whole city. Obviously, it is also one of the most loved and photographed by tourists, so we advise you to walk the trail early in the morning, especially if you visit the city during the cherry blossom. You will be surrounded by millions of small pink flowers, which will make the atmosphere unique and relaxed. Here you can take some truly wonderful photos.

9 - Sanjusangendo, Rengeo-in Temple

Sanjusangendo is the name by which the Rengeo-in temple, located in the east of Kyoto, is commonly known. It is a temple famous for being the longest wooden building in Japan (a good 120 meters). The temple was founded in 1164, but was later rebuilt after the original structure caught fire.

But, above all, it is famous for its wonderful 1.001 golden statues of Bodhisattva Kannon, the divinity of mercy. The effect of all these aligned statues is truly impressive! What's even more impressive is the fact that each of these statues represents the immortalized divinity in an always different pose, it was also a small decorative detail. A truly meticulous attention!

No photos inside: during the visit, remember that it is forbidden to take photos inside. A shame given its beauty, but you can make up for it by taking wonderful photos outside, especially in the autumn period, when the trees are tinged with a thousand shades of red.

  • in 657 Sanjusangendomawari, Higashiyama Ward. From Kyoto station take bus 100, 206 or 208 (10 min, ticket 230,00 Yen / € 1,90) - Get directions
  • every day 8: 30-17: 00, from mid-November to March 9: 00-16: 00
  • full 600,00 Yen (€ 4,80), reduced 300,00 Yen (€ 2,40)

10 - Imperial Palace

The Imperial Palace was the residence of the Japanese imperial family until 1868, when the capital was definitively moved to Edo, today's Tokyo. Is situated nestled in the Kyoto Imperial park, a real green lung in the heart of the city which is certainly worth a visit on its own.

The current palace was rebuilt in 1855 and the complex is enclosed by long and high defensive walls, inside which we can admire portals, pavilions and gardens. The palaces are admirable only externally, while the magnificent gardens are freely accessible.

  • in 3 Kyotogyoen, Kamigyo Ward. It can be reached in a few minutes on foot from the Imadegawa stop along the Karasuma subway line - Get Directions
  • from April to August 9: 00-17: 00, September and March 9: 00-16: 30, from October to February 9: 00-16: 00. Closed on Mondays (or the following day if Monday is a national holiday), from 28 December to 4 January, and occasionally for some events
  • free

11 - Arashiyama Bamboo Forest

Arashiyama is a green area located west of Kyoto, ideal for a day or even a morning excursion. The famous bamboo forest is very famous and super photographed, with rods so high that the light can hardly filter!

Consiglio: to be able to take a picture as you should try to get there early in the morning when there is still the horde of tourists. The best time to visit the area is during the fall or spring, when it is possible to admire the red of the maples and the cherry blossoms.

It is a popular Japanese tourist destination since the Heian period (794-1185) when the imperial court went there to enjoy its beautiful landscapes. The pedestrian path is perfect for walking or cycling to enjoy a moment of total relaxation surrounded by greenery. A truly suggestive walk, able to take us to a remote era.

In Ukyo Ward. You can easily get there from Kyoto Station by JR Sagano Line trains, getting off at Saga-Arashiyama Station. From the station, the forest can be reached on foot (15 min) - Get directions

Take a ride on a bike or rickshaw: the best time is in the morning, which also corresponds to the least sultry time and with less crowds of tourists to take wonderful souvenir photos. If you are short on time, you could also opt for a characteristic Arashiyama rickshaw tour and bamboo forest.

12 - Pontocho

Much like Gion, Pontocho is one of the most evocative areas of the city, an ancient geisha district. It is characterized by narrow streets that line the Kamogawa River, and the numerous clubs that follow one after the other.

It's surely one of the richest points of atmosphere and charm, where to stop for dinner one evening but also just for a pleasant walk. Here you can find cheap dishes such as yakitori (spit-roasted chicken) or okonomiyaki and yakisoba (cabbage omelette, bacon and so on and grilled spaghetti), but also much more expensive restaurants, able to offer you the best of modern and traditional cuisine of Kyoto. During the summer then, many of these restaurants are beautiful terraces, usually temporary, directly facing the river Kamogawa, where you can dine while enjoying some coolness along the river.

It is located near the Gion district, on the opposite side of the river. It can be reached from Kyoto station by bus 100 or 206 i (20 min, ticket 230,00 Yen / € 1,90). Gion-Shijo Station (Keihan Main Line) Reference Stations - Get directions

Ideal for dinner: this neighborhood is a very suggestive area in the evening, the best time to visit it! Here you can enjoy a fantastic dinner with traditional Japanese dishes and a river view, and end the day with a simple walk through the characteristic streets.

13 - Yasaka Shrine

Beautiful Shinto shrine in the Gion district. Originally the shrine was called precisely Gion, but, later, when there was the distinction between shrines and Buddhist times, in the period of the Meji renewal, it was renamed Yasaka. Developed on a very large surface, the complex includes several buildings and doors, a theater and a main hall.

In particular, since the late 1800s, this sanctuary occupies a very important position in Japanese history and culture, so much so that it is officially one of the sanctuaries aided and supported by the government. Here numerous events and shows take place. One of the most famous festivals is definitely the Gion Matsuri, which lasts a whole month and takes place in July.

In 625 Gionmachi Kitagawa, Higashiyama Ward, in the Gion district. It can be reached from Kyoto station with the JR train of the Nara line, Inari stop. It is a few minutes walk from the station - Get directions

Watch the lantern show: the temple is open 24 hours and we advise you to visit it in the evening, between sunset and nightfall. This is because slowly all the lanterns of the temple will light up, creating a very suggestive and unique atmosphere.

14 - Nanzen-ji

One of the main Zen temples in all of Japan. Magnificent complex on the slopes of the Higashiyama mountains (the easternmost area of ​​Kyoto). Its construction dates back to the mid-thirteenth century. The central temple is freely accessible, while separate fees are paid for the different sections and temples inside.

Just outside the Hojo you can find a real curiosity: here in fact there is a brick aqueduct running through part of the temple grounds. It is a construction built in the Meiji era (1868-1912) and is part of a system of canals that were used to bring water between Kyoto and Lake Biwa, in Shiga prefecture.

In autumn you cannot miss the Nanzenin, where you can admire a traditional garden with pond, and the Tenjuan, which is made up of two beautiful gardens, one of stone and gravel, in the classic Zen style, and another traditional one with a pond, which during the autumn is expertly illuminated, making it even more evocative.

  • in 606-8435 Kyoto, Sakyo Ward, Nanzenji Fukuchicho. It can be reached in 5-10 minutes on foot from the Keage stop along the Tozai metro line - Get directions
  • every day 8: 40-17: 00, from December to February until 16:30. Closed from 28th to 31st December
  • Sanmon Gate 500,00 Yen (€ 4,00) / Hojo 500,00 Yen (€ 4,00) / Nanzenin 300,00 Yen (€ 2,40) / Konchi-in 400,00 Yen (€ 3,20) / Tenjuan 400,00 Yen (€ 3,20)

15 - Imperial Villa of Katsura

Gorgeous example of traditional Japanese architecture and landscaping, a must see for lovers of traditional and Zen architecture.

The villa and its beautiful garden were built in 1645 as residence for the Katsura family, members of the Japanese imperial family. You can access the villa for free but only through a guided tour lasting about an hour. The tour follows the circular path of the garden around the central pond, and the buildings can only be visited from the outside.

  • in Katsuramisono, Nishikyo Ward. It can be reached on foot from Katsura station (15 min), along the Hankyu Kyoto line. From Kyoto station by bus 33 (20 min, ticket 230,00 Yen / € 1,90) - Get directions
  • accessible only via guided tour to be booked in advance. Visits available 6 times a day (except Mon, bookable only through the official website of the Imperial Household Agency or directly at their offices located next to the Imperial Palace, with passport
  • free. Visit in Japanese, audio guide available in English

16 - Sannenzaka and Ninenzaka

Sannenzaka and Ninenzaka are two characteristic streets through which you pass before or after the visit to Kiomyzu-dera. These are two narrow streets closed to traffic, where numerous lines follow one another restaurants and shops inserted in a traditional architectural context, made of low and wooden buildings.

Although the transit area is highly touristy, the ancient atmosphere of yesteryear and the sense of quiet are still perceptible. To make the most of this area, we recommend that you visit it in the morning, before entering the Kiomyzu-dera temple.

They develop exactly in front of the Kiomyzu-dera entrance. The latter can be reached from Kyoto station with buses 100 and 206 (15 min, ticket 230,00 Yen / € 1,90) - Get directions

17 - Kodai-ji

One of the most beautiful temples in Kyoto. Dedicated to Toyotomi Hideyoshi by his wife, it belongs to the Rinzai School. The complex is made up of a garden designed by Kobori Enshu and the tea room designed by the master Sen no Rikyu.

The work, of considerable artistic value, becomes enchanting and unmissable destination especially in autumn, when the bright shades of maple trees create chromatic paintings of exceptional beauty. There is also a delicious bamboo grove for beautiful walks even more suggestive in the evening.

  • from Kyoto Station with buses 100 and 206 (19 min, ticket 230,00 Yen / € 1,90). Once you get off at Higashiyama Yasui stop you will reach the entrance on foot (10 min) - Get directions
  • every day 9: 00-17: 00. In spring for hanami, in summer (August) and in autumn until 21pm
  • free gardens / Museum full 600,00 Yen (€ 4,80), reduced 250,00 Yen (€ 2,00)

18 - Chion-In

Large temple related to Pure Land Buddhism. In the Higashiyama district, it is an area that holds a vast historical and cultural heritage. The temple it stands out for its size, importance, the variety of architecture and the presence of beautiful landscaped gardens. Not to mention the fact that the rooms house works of art of considerable value.

Access to the temple is via the Sanmon, a huge wooden portal, with two floors, the largest of this construction type in Japan. The Mieido room is noteworthy, where the statue of the monk Honen, founder of the Jodo school, is kept. The Ohojo and Kohojo palaces, with their characteristic irimoya-style roofs, are also of considerable architectural value.

Absolutely you can also take a walk in the 2 gardens: the Yuzen-En Garden, centered on a pond to be appreciated by walking along a path, and the small Gongen-Do, which offers always different views depending on the time of year.

  • in 400 Rinkacho, Higashiyama Ward. From Kyoto Station bus Raku line 100 (tourist line) or other ordinary lines such as 206. Get off at Chionin-mae stop. It is a 10-minute walk from Tozai Line Higashiyama Subway Station - Get Directions
  • always accessible outside / Temple buildings daily 9: 00-15: 50
  • Free temple / Hojo and Yuzen Gardens full Yen 500,00 (€ 4,00), reduced Yen 300,00 (€ 2,40)

19 - Ryoan-Ji

Buddhist temple among the most interesting in Kyoto, very famous for the enigmatic dry garden: a composition of groups of stones lying on a bed of white gravel surrounded by an earth wall. The arrangement of the stones is such that from any perspective you observe the vision of one of them always remains hidden! There is no solution for this the work is considered an authentic enigma.

The temple belongs to the Rinzai School, a tradition that places emphasis on solution of puzzles considered the privileged way to achieve enlightenment. It is an extremely peaceful place that induces peace and serenity as well as aids in contemplation. The site includes numerous buildings with all empty rooms and typical sliding wooden doors and a large park developed around a vast pond.

  • in 13 Ryoanji Goryonoshitacho, Ukyo Ward. From Kinkaku-Ji Temple by Line 59 buses, from Kyoto Station by Line 50 buses - Get directions
  • from March to November 8: 00-17: 00, from February from March to November and 8: 30-16: 30
  • full 500,00 Yen (€ 4,00), reduced 300,00 Yen () € 2,40

20 - Kyoto National Museum

One of the 4 National Museums of Japan, this museum collects, exhibits and carries out research on the cultural heritage of Kyoto, especially from the period from the Heian era (794-1185) to the Edo era (1603-1868). Opened in 1897, it was designated National cultural heritage.

The museum's collection includes around 12.000 works, including engravings, documents, fabrics, lacquered ceramics, illustrated parchments, religious illustrations, and much more ... "Only 4.000" works are exhibited at a time, according to a monthly rotation or, at most, 6 weeks. This allows you to appreciate new things every time you visit it.

In the extensive museum complex are the Heisei Chishinkan, Meiji Kotokan halls, tea rooms, the fountain area with Rodin's "The Thinker", the western gardens with stone statues of Buddha and the oriental gardens.

  • in 527 Chayacho, Higashiyama Ward. From JR Kyoto station, take the municipal bus to the "Hakubutsukan - Sanjusangendomae" stop, the museum is right in front. From the "Shichijo" station of the Keihan-densha train, instead, a 7 min walk - Get directions
  • every day 9: 30-18: 00
  • full 1.800,00 Yen (€ 14,60), university students 1.200,00 Yen (€ 9,70

Other attractions to visit

It takes a long time to visit all these wonderful attractions, but there are just as many to experience and discover!

Higashiyama district, for example, is one of the best preserved neighborhoods in the city, which winds along a gentle slope in the mountains east of the city. It is the ideal place to rediscover the charm of the more traditional Kyoto, between stone avenues and low wooden houses. Ishibei-koji is instead an alley that offers the most evocative views of Kyoto. Staying here means visiting one of the most beautiful historical areas of the city away from the tourist crowds. One of the best places to witness the cherry blossom is the Maruyama Park (free), near the Yasaka temple. Another place to admire the hanami are the Haradani Gardens (1.200,00 Yen / € 9,00).

For those who study or know Japanese, or if you want to get closer to this language, you might want to visit the Kanji Museum (800,00 Yen / € 6,40). For fans of the genre, a must at the International Manga Museum (800,00 Yen / € 6,40).

Kyoto is, in the true sense of the word, The city of a thousand temples. Impossible to mention them all! In addition to the most famous ones described above we remember the imposing Tofuku-Ji temple, built on the model of the masterpieces of sacred art of Nara, and the Ninna-Ji, famous for the Goten area with refined works of art and enchanting gardens ( 500,00 Yen / € 4,00). Among the temples of the Jodo School of Buddhism, comes the Eikan-Do, also known as Zenrin-Ji. Among the buildings stands out the artistic Tahoto Pagoda. The temple is also famous for the extraordinary show of the maples in late autumn. The Shinnyo-Do temple, though belonging to the Tendai Buddhist School, and the Enko-Ji are also very beautiful this season. The Hachidai Shrine, in the Sakyo district, is a Shinto place of worship known for being the scene of some of the most gripping duels of a legendary Japanese sword master.

For those who love to travel slowly off the beaten path, we recommend Sakyo, an area with numerous historic buildings in the frame of a suggestive hilly landscape. Those who want to devote themselves to reflection will appreciate the Shisen-Do: a simple and modest building hidden by a small wood.

8 things to do in Kyoto

  1. Samurai Experience: discover the history of the Samurai of Japan, and let yourself be guided by a real Samurai to discover the iconic places of Kyoto. At the end, you will be able to see a demonstration of the Samurai's skill with the sword. Info and prices here
  2. Tea ceremony: it is one of the most symbolic and iconic rituals in Japan. Learn the true art of tea drinking in Jotokuji temple, learn about the Chanoyu ritual and ceremony and its social significance. Info and prices here
  3. Stroll in the evening: Kyoto in the evening increases its charm. Stroll along the Pontocho River and through the most typical neighborhoods in the company of a local on an evening tour of Kyoto
  4. Japanese cooking lessons: Japan's cuisine is truly known all over the world, and what better opportunity than this to learn how to make ramen from scratch or for a food tour with tastings in the Nishiki market
  5. Sleep in a Ryokan: sleep at least one night in a very traditional ryokan, or an ancient Japanese inn, which has kept its style unchanged over time! A must-try experience to get to know Japanese culture thoroughly
  6. Iwatayama Monkey Park: Iwatayama Monkey Park is a wooded area near Tenryu-ji. Populated by many macaques who love to be photographed. From the top of the hill there is also a wonderful view of the surroundings
  7. Do your makeup like a Maika, the apprentice Geisha: Pose, put on traditional clothes, wig, and get your makeup done like a real maiko! Of course, don't forget a souvenir photo! Info and prices here
  8. Travel on a Shinkansen "bullet train": this is the Japanese high-speed railway and the first connection built was the one between Osaka and Tokyo. So take advantage of this experience and take one of these trains, perhaps for a trip out of town in the surroundings. Info and prices here

Plan your stay in Kyoto: flights and hotels

If you have difficulties with the language, and in general if it's your first time in Japan, the first tip is to take a guided tour with a resident. It is ideal for a first approach, to familiarize yourself with the city and identify points of reference. Kyoto is also perfect for cycling, so if you like cycling you can also visit it with a guided bike tour.

To get to Kyoto there are both direct flights and with stopover from Italy arriving atKansai International Airport (KIX), in Osaka (about 100 km from Kyoto). The duration ranges from 18 to about 30 hours, depending on the route and stopovers. Difficult to find for less than € 500,00 (compare flights to Kyoto).

The means of transport are efficient and economical. There are 2 metro lines and numerous buses. Sleeping in Kyoto is not expensive. The quality of the accommodation is high, even the hostels are comfortable and clean, and cost around € 20,00 per night. Sleeping in a ryokan instead, the traditional Japanese inn, can cost as much as € 200,00 per night (compare the accommodations on booking.com).
As areas, it is better to opt for the center (Nakagyo), Shimogyo or Minami near the station, but Gion is also very beautiful. Kamigyo, Sakyo and Arashiyama are surrounded by greenery and ideal for families.
Furthermore, Kyoto can be visited practically all year round. If possible, best to go there in spring and autumn, to enjoy the wonders that nature offers.

Although Kyoto is not a popular destination for nightlife, the most lively neighborhoods in the evening are those of Gion and Pontocho: it is still a nightlife made more of dinner at the restaurant and a walk along the riverside afterwards. For the little ones we recommend a visit to the Railway Museum while parks and typical neighborhoods are very suggestive attractions and at no cost. Even temples in most cases have a very low cost and for lunches and dinners you can taste the excellent local street food by spending very little!

Buy the pocket wifi router to connect to the internet: for a good internet connection on your mobile phone, useful for using Google Maps and all the apps without problems, in Japan we use the Unlimited Pocket Wi-Fi Router Rental, a portable and unlimited Wi-Fi router, complete with charger and cable USB, which will allow you to have access to the internet at any time.

Audio Video What to see in Kyoto: the 20 best attractions and things to do
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