Kyoto travelogue – tips for the ancient capital of Japan

Kyoto Sights

After some wonderful days in the Japanese capital Tokyo we went on to Kyoto, the old capital of Japan. For the journey from Tokyo to Kyoto we decided to take the bus and didn't regret it for a second. In this travelogue we would like to introduce you to Tokyo with its sights and temples. Be surprised by the beautiful Kyoto.

The first impression of Kyoto

View of Kyoto

When we arrived in Kyoto, we first had to take a deep breath. We just came from Tokyo, this crowded and hectic city, with all the skyscrapers and crowded streets. In Kyoto we felt, strangely enough, like we were in a village. It was quiet, the people (even) more polite and it all seemed more "Japanese". Surrounded by mountains we discovered a city which is so completely different from what we imagined. With great anticipation we fell asleep early in the evening.

Travel tip – How long should you stay in Kyoto ?

Kyoto really offers a lot and we wondered for a long time how long we should stay in Kyoto. In the end we decided to stay for one week. Minus. Departure and departure we could explore the city with all facets in 5 days.

Where to stay in Kyoto ?

Kyoto Hotel

Kyoto is quite a big city in terms of area and the search for a hotel can turn out to be quite tedious. We have a detailed post under "Kyoto – Where to stay ?" and go here only briefly on the subject and introduce you to a few nice hotels.

Hotel recommendations

  • Smile Hotel Kyoto (book on Expedia*) – We stayed in this hotel for a few days. The location is quite central, there are some stores and restaurants, as well as bus stops nearby.
  • APA Villa Hotel Kyoto-Ekimae (book on Expedia*) – The hotel is perfect for tourists who want to z.B. Arrive by train. It's only a few minutes walk from Kyoto Central Station to the hotel.
  • Cross Hotel Kyoto (book at Expedia*) – The hotel is a bit expensive, but we would call the location very good. The geisha district of Gion is nearby, as are numerous stores and other attractions.

Airbnb as an alternative

It doesn't always have to be a hotel – Through Airbnb, you can book individual rooms with locals or you can book an entire apartment. If you need more space, z.B. If you want a kitchen or are traveling with your family, Airbnb is a real alternative to a hotel.

Airbnb voucher

You are welcome to try Airbnb and I will give you a present
even a 35 Euro voucher for your booking

Go to Airbnb's website now*

How expensive is Kyoto ?

Arashiyama - view of Kyoto

Kyoto is one of the most famous cities in the world, especially because of the Kyoto Protocol. We actually wanted to give Kyoto a wide berth, because we heard that the city is very expensive. However, we can not confirm this after our trip. In the article "How expensive is Kyoto ?" we once commented on the costs.

Discover Kyoto – The bus is perfect!

Kyoto has a very well developed public transport system, with which you can reach almost every part of the city and of course also the many sights and temples. Underneath the city runs a subway network, which we have used, however, hardly. On the one hand, only a few sights are accessible by subway and in addition, the subway is quite expensive. Much cheaper, however, is the bus, which we used very intensively. One ride on the green buses costs only 220 yen (approx. 1,90 EUR), regardless of the length. Entrance is always at the back and exit at the front, where you also pay ideally appropriate. At some stops they even check if someone is getting out of the back of the bus without paying and the Japanese are not joking!

Kyoto: Bus ticket for 1 day (unlimited)

Discover Kyoto with its sights on your own by bus. This day ticket for approx. 6 Euro you can use unlimited times. Valid for Kyoto Bus, Kyoto City Bus and Keihan Bus. Book now at GetYourGuide.

Kyoto and its sights

Kyoto Sights

When planning our trip to Kyoto, we were actually overwhelmed with planning. We wanted to explore Kyoto on our own, of course, but at the same time we didn't want to miss any of Kyoto's most famous sights. In the end, it has become a colorful mixture of the top sights, special places and insider tips, which we of course want to share with you.

The golden temple and pavilion

Kyoto - Golden Temple Kinkakuji

I think it was the 2nd day in Kyoto and we decided to visit one of the most famous sights of the city. Took bus line 101 from main station to Kinkakuji temple and golden pavilion, which is especially popular with Asian tourists. Unfortunately, we completely underestimated how crowded it would be on this day and so we plunged into the middle of crowds that somehow did not want to end. After about an hour we started our way back again. If possible, avoid the golden temple during vacations and weekends.

Kyoto: half day tour including Golden Pavilion

Discover the top sights in Kyoto on a half-day tour. Visit the Nijyo jyo castle and the golden temple. Book now with GetYourGuide.

The little sister – Ginkaku-ji Temple Silver Pavilion

Ginkaku-ji Temple

While the Golden Temple is one of the most famous sights in Kyoto, possibly in all of Japan, the Silver Pavilion Ginkaku-ji is rather unknown and rarely visited by tourists. The temple is located in the east of the city, in the middle of the mountains of Kyoto. From here you have a great view of the city and the mountains around Kyoto.

Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine – 1.000 red gates

Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine

The Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine in Kyoto is one of the most famous motifs on postcards and is one of the most popular sights of the city. Next to the main shrine you can walk through a tunnel with approx. 1.Go to 000 red gates (torri). They make perfect photo opportunities.

Kyoto: Cultural tour in small group

Discover Kyoto with its many cultural sights in a small group. Book now with GetYourGuide.

Gion – The Geisha Quarter of Kyoto

Kyoto Geisha in Gion

You want to see a Geisha ? A real guarantee is in the Gion district of Kyoto. The old red light district has become a party and nightlife district in Kyoto in recent years, while retaining the charm of the past. Gion is very popular with locals and tourists and is definitely worth a visit.

Night walk in Gion: Kyoto's geisha district

Gion is one of the most beautiful and lively quarters in Kyoto. Discover Gion with all its facets during a night walk. Book now at GetYourGuide.

Arashiyama – The bamboo forest and monkey park of Kyoto

Kyoto offers not only temples, but also some natural wonders like Arashiyama with its bamboo forest and monkey park. The bamboo forest is one of the top sights in Japan and is very popular with locals and tourists. We have even seen whole school classes visiting the bamboo forest. If you want to go to the nature, Arashiyama is the first place to be.

Kyoto Food & Drink Tour in Arashiyama

Combine your visit of Arashiyama with a Food & Drink Tour. Explore the bamboo forest and be enchanted by the traditional cuisine of Kyoto. Book now at GetYourGuide.

Kiyomizu-dera Temple

Kiyomizu-dera Temple

Since 1994, the Kiyomizu-dera Temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has become a worldwide celebrity overnight. In Kyoto, the temple is one of the most famous sights of the city and is visited by thousands of tourists every day.

The highlights of Kyoto: 7-hour guided private tour

Discover Kyoto and its many sights and attractions on a 7-hour private tour. Book now at GetYourGuide.

Nishiki Market Kyoto – The culinary heart of the city

Nishiki Market in Kyoto is affectionately called the culinary center of the city by the locals. We were totally surprised ourselves how great the selection of fish and shellfish can actually be. A few days before we were at the fish market in Tokyo, but Nishiki Market seems to be one dimension larger. Besides fish and shellfish, there is a great selection of Wagyu Beef and Matcha. Definitely worth a visit.

Tip – Kyoto Nishiki Market Food Tour

Discover the Nishiki market on a guided tour. Affectionately referred to by locals as the kitchen of Kyoto, here you can discover the culinary heart of the city. Book now with GetYourGuide.

The link marked with * is a so-called affiliate link. Should you come across a link marked with * z.B. book an accommodation, product or flight, then I will receive a commission which helps me to run this project. You will not incur any additional costs.

The castle of the samurai – Nijo

Nijo Castle in Kyoto

One of the most impressive sights in Kyoto is Nijo Castle. The sprawling complex is now several hundred years old and is a great option if you want to immerse yourself in the history of Kyoto. All in all, the castle consists of several buildings, some of which are still in their original condition. Today the castle is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Kyoto: Nijō Castle Guided Tour & Entrance to Ninomaru Palace

Discover one of Kyoto's top attractions with this 60-minute guided tour conducted by a professional guide. Book now at GetYourGuide*.

Day trip from Kyoto to Nara

Kōfuku-ji Temple in Nara

After a few days in Kyoto, it was time for us to explore the surrounding area and a day trip from Kyoto to Nara is perfect for this. Nara is the ancient capital of Japan and we were surprised ourselves what this city actually has to offer:

  • The Tōdai ji Temple – The temple is the largest wooden house in the world and inside is the largest bronze statue in the world
  • Gangō ji – The oldest Buddhist temple in Japan

Nara is ca. 1 1/2 hours by train from Kyoto and we can really recommend you to visit Nara.

Nara like a local: individual tour

Nara offers many attractions and sights – If you want to discover them, then we recommend a tour by a local. Book now with GetYourGuide.

Conclusion – Kyoto remains positive in our memory


Kyoto – Our first impression after arriving from Tokyo was rather "sober". After experiencing the hustle and bustle of Kyoto and the many skyscrapers, noise and neon signs, Kyoto was like a village for us in the first moment. But we learned to love this place very quickly. If you're into the city and have a bit of a taste for Japanese culture, don't miss Kyoto.

Travel tip – For us it is then on to Osaka and we also recommend you to visit the city. It's just under 1 1/2 hours away by train and offers a great contrast to Kyoto.

The link marked with * is a so-called affiliate link. If you should have found a link marked with * z.B. book an accommodation, product or flight, then I receive a commission for it, which helps me to run this project. You will not incur any additional costs.

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