Kyoto was the ancient imperial city of Japan. Today, many of its temples and structures are still standing and enjoy UNESCO World Heritage status.
Kyoto is a 75 minute train ride from Osaka’s Kansai International Airport, or a two and a half hour shinkansen bullet train from Tokyo.
The Kyoto Gion Matsuri Festival happens each July and is one of the most famous in all of Japan. The city celebrates with parades, floats and festival food stalls. While crowded, it is an unforgettable time to visit.
Nishiki Market A fun place to walk through and have a meal.
Kaiseki Kyoto’s haute cuisine is a beautiful, multi-course meal that originated 500 years ago.
The Gion District This part of the city escaped bombing in World War II and remains one of the most well-preserved areas of the city. Visit the old tea houses in this old geisha district, and if you are lucky, you may spot one of the few geishas left. Hanami Street is a particularly lovely walk.
Pontocho This narrow, ancient alley is over 500 years old. The area is well known for its excellent nightlife, dining, and is in general a lovely area to walk around at night.
Arashiyama Beautiful, tightly packed bamboo groves.
Fushimi Inari A short train ride outside of Kyoto’s main station, this Shinto shrine is a spiritual place. Thousands of brightly colored tori arches are arranged throughout the forest like dominoes.
Ginkakuji and Kinkakuji Temples The Silver and Golden Pavilions, respectively, are among the most famous of Kyoto’s thousands of temples. Rent bikes for a self-led tour.
Kyoto Imperial Palace
Shosei-en Garden Traditional temple garden.
The Philosopher’s Path A nice walk or bike along a peaceful stream. The path is very near Ginkakuji.
Yasaka-jinja A Shinto shrine in Gion.
We recommend basing yourself in Kawaramachi, Gion or near Kyoto Station. All are within walking distance of good food, nightlife and most of the top sites.