Kyoto is one of my favourite cities in Japan, as an old capital city in Japan, Kyoto has a long story of its culture, tradition and history. It is also a place that would make you want to visit again and again. The city is charming, the food is delicious and it combines old school and modern.
If you need to choose one place to immerse yourself into the Japanese atmosphere, that would be Kyoto.
Kyoto is that kind of place that you want to visit again and again, in this post, I am going to share my top 20 best places to visit in Kyoto.
1. Arashi Yama 嵐山
One of the best way to see Arashi Yama is through the old-style train – Sagano Scenic Railway. This is also a popular place for seasonal views such as cherry blossoms. You can either take the Sagano Line at JR Saga-Arashiyama Station or from JR Kyoto station and get off at Toroko-Kameoka station. Passing through the bamboo forest where is the most iconic spot in Arashi Yama. The scenery on the way is calm and relaxing. You will also see Hozugawa-Kudari the riverboat ride through the beautiful landscape.
2. Fushimi Inari-Taisha Shrine 伏見稻荷大社
Fushimi Inari-Taisha Shrine itself is just simply amazing to look at. The famous Senbon Torii Gate means it is made of more than 1000 Torii gates.
There is no accurate number of how many are they, but it is an incredible experience when you see those gates in person.
Also, there is no entrance fee nor opening hours, visitors can go whenever they like.
3. Kyoto Station 京都駅
Kyoto station is like a city by itself, it is extremely busy. There are many restaurants and shops and thousands of people come and go every minute. But it is a very organized train station, and the building is incredible to see.
If you are planning to go, make sure you get your JR pass as it would be a lot easier for your trip.
Also, it is recommended that you have your ticket in hands before your trip.
4. Hanamiko-Ji 祇園花見小路
If you are going to Kyoto and wish to experience dressing the traditional Kimono, this is the place for you to go.
This is not a very long street but it is beautiful. You can see the old and modern Japanese building at the same time.
Just keep in mind that there is usually not much going on in the evening, day time visit would probably be a better idea.
5. Nijo Castle 二条城
This castle surrounded by its own moat, it tells the story of how the emperor and his guards lived, how the Shogun exercised and maintained power. You can also see the stunning murals which is one of the best parts of this castle.
Same as many other Japanese castles and buildings, the garden here is also very beautiful to wander around.
6. Kinkakuji-Jo 金閣寺
This is a must-visit in Japan, you will see how the gold leaves cover the temple. It is already beautiful just looking at photos, but it’s even better when you see it in person.
One thing you must know is this place is SUPER popular, so it is always SUPER busy! Get ready for the crowd and it well worth it!
7. Ginkakuji-Jo 銀閣寺
Come here to feel the essence of the Japanese Zen garden. Make sure you don’t miss the Philosopher’s walk, it is also very nice to walk through the bamboo trees.
This place is usually less crowded compared to the Kinkakuji and would make you feel calm as well.
8. Nishiki Ichiba 錦市場
Nishiki is a very busy market, you will find so many food choices here and they are fresh! This place now is not only for locals but tourists too.
Here you will not only find tasty food and so as delicious coffee, kitchenware, and some souvenir shops.
Note that this market has become so popular, so plan your day early would be a better idea
9. Nanzenji 南禅寺
This is one of my favourite temples. You can see the little streams flowing along the side of the road when you walk in. Once you get in you will see another waterfall tucked away. It is simply peaceful and relaxing. The water viaduct is so amazing that you should see it yourself.
If you are trying to have a slow-pace day in Kyoto, this is the place for you.
10. Hieizan 比叡山
If you would like to enjoy a beautiful scenery walk into the mountain, you must come to Heizan. You can reach this place by cable car or hiking, it is also a popular place for hikers.
Many visitors find it is easy to understand how some people commit their lives to Zen meditation in a place like this.
This is also considered a quiet spot in Kyoto, would be worth to spend a day here and enjoy the breathtaking moment.
By the way, if you want to see the most beautiful maple leaves in Kyoto, come here.
11. Miyama Kayabuki-no-Sato 美山 かやぶきの里
This is a very beautiful village and not crowded, because of that, it gives here the most atmosphere of local living. It is like when you go back to the old days, the air is so fresh and the village is so clean.
The houses look like those will only appear in the movie.
Just note that it is not convenient to access by public transportation. You will need to do a few transfers before you arrive, but it worth it.
12. Kyoto University 京都大学
Still think Tokyo University is the best in Japan?
Maybe Kyoto university would interest you if I tell you this is a truly top university in Japan. It is also the most prestigious university all over Japan, so, if you are interested in what it’s like, you should visit here!
Immerse yourself in history and modern!
Kyoto used to be the capital city of Japan, it has the longest history and deepest culture of Japan.
If you are interested in experiencing the tradition of this country, don’t miss out of Kyoto.
Make sure to book your JR pass before you go↓
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