Considered the cultural and historical heart of the country, Kyoto is the best place to experience Japan’s traditional temples, shrines and flawless gardens. Once the former capital of Japan, Kyoto remains timeless with its elegantly dressed geishas and centuries-old craftsmanship.
Things to do in Kyoto
There are said to be over 1,000 Buddhist temples in Kyoto, including the Emperor's official residence at the Kyoto Imperial Palace. If you only have time to sample a few, make sure to explore the splendour of Kinkaku-ji and the spacious grounds of Higashi Hongan-ji.
Quiet your mind at Ryoan-ji Temple, where picturesque gardens with raked sand and haiku-inspired rock formations will help you find your Zen. Climb the well-worn steps of Fushimi Inari-Taisha, famous for its crimson colour and mountainside backdrop, for a mesmerising look at this Shinto shrine. When the cherry blossoms are in bloom, they become Kyoto’s most famous natural masterpiece, best seen along Kyoto’s famous Philosopher’s Walk.
Kyoto remains the home of traditional Japanese cuisine and is best known for its refined and delicate taste. With over 170 Michelin-starred restaurants, Kyoto offers a glamorous dining scene that promises to leave all your senses satisfied. The most unique thing about eating in Kyoto, however, is that you can find first-class restaurants just around the corner from delectable street-food stalls, including the popular Nishiki Market.
If you’re in search of natural scenery take a journey to Kiyomizu Temple, best known for its seasonal landscape. Located on the city outskirts, Arashiyama Bamboo Grove is perfect for a day excursion, where you can take a leisurely walk through thick bamboo stalk pathways.
A relatively small city, Kyoto boasts an easy-to-use public transportation system. The subway and train lines are the best way to avoid traffic, while the Kyoto Bus serves the more outlying areas. Kyoto makes travelling even easier with its English-language signs and announcements. Transportation costs can add up quickly, so put on a pair of comfortable shoes and get ready to do some strolling. To experience Japan’s famous high-speed trains, you can take a ride from Kyoto to Tokyo in just two hours.