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Kyoto travel guide

Known as the home of Geisha culture, Kyoto is an exciting city where the ancient and the modern collide. From incredible Fushimi Inari Shrine and the winding streets of the Gion quarter to a great food scene, Kyoto is a must for all visitors to Japan.

Kyoto neighborhoods

Among the cherry blossom trees and ancient temples, Kyoto serves as the perfect alternative to Tokyo’s electric lifestyle. Discover the city's vibrant neighborhoods and experience a city that once served as the capital of Japan.
The red and gold Yasaka Shrine at night

Gion District

Walking through Gion you’ll come across plenty of places to see and eat, including traditional teahouses (also known as Ochaya). Being the hub of all things entertainment, expect to see a mixture of famous landmarks, street performers and even Geishas.
A collection of colorful folding fans displayed at a market

Shinkyogoku District

A shopaholics paradise, the Shinkyogoku district of Kyoto is the perfect combination of high Japanese fashion shops, cafes and restaurants also selling specialty foods. Top tip: Lovers of fresh food should head over to Nishiki Market, also known as ‘Kyoto’s Kitchen’ where you’ll find everything from fresh Sushi to Japanese sweets.
A section of the brown and gold pagoda roof of Nijo castle Kyoto

Central Kyoto

Step into the past and visit two of the most iconic landmarks you will come across in Central Kyoto: Nijo Castle, where you can learn about and the Edo period in Japanese history and explore the surrounding gardens or visit the Imperial Palace (also known as Kyoto Gosho).
Two Geishas walking down a traditional Kyoto street

Downtown Kyoto

Bars, clubs, hotels…you name it! The perfect place to explore the best of Kyoto, Downtown Kyoto has a little bit of everything, including the International Manga Museum plus plenty of food markets.

Top things to do in Kyoto

  • The Golden Pavilion
    Also known as Kinkaku-ji, this 14th century temple is a popular must-see highlight in Kyoto that is open daily from 9-5pm.
  • Toei Kyoto Studio Park
    Live studio performances. Think sword flights and tv actors dressed up as Samurais!
  • Visit the Fushimi Inari Shrine
    Dedicated to the god of rice in the 8th century, this vibrant orange shrine made up of thousands of Tori gates and is surrounded by small statues, making it the perfect setting for you to wander and explore.
  • Nanzenji Temple
    This is considered one of the five most important Zen temples in Japan and is open to the public free of charge!
  • Kyoto Imperial Palace
    Filled with history, the palace has been home to many Emperors and is now open to the public. Some of the highlights of the palace include its decorated gates and the Imperial library.
  • The Kyoto National Museum
    Boasting a large collection of pre-modern Japanese and Asian art, the museum is one of Japan's oldest and most recognized.

Tours and activities in Kyoto

Kinkaku-ji temple surrounded by trees with its reflection in the bordering lake

Discover Japan

Linger in the gardens of Kyoto, shoot through the mountain air on a Shinkansen bullet train, and stay in a traditional ryokan for the ultimate in Japanese luxury on this small group adventure.
The Meiji Jingu Shinto shrine in Tokyo

Backroads of Japan

Tokyo and Kyoto are the modern and imperial capitals of Japan respectively, and represent the perfect merger of the ancient and the contemporary. On this trip, you'll thoroughly explore both and everything in between, from traditional villages and miles of rice fields to ancient temples and the stunning vistas of the Japanese Alps.

When is the best time to visit Kyoto?

Kyoto can be a year-round destination, but expect extreme temperatures (when it’s hot, its hot!). Visit in April at springtime to photograph those beautiful cherry blossom trees by the riverbanks.

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