Kyoto Travel Guide

Kyoto is Japan in small. This old city held the title of Imperial Capital for over a millennium and is believed to be one of the most beautiful cities in the country. And it isn’t far from the truth. The city is simply stunning, but beauty isn’t its only attribute. Whether you want to go on a shopping spree, enjoy wonderful nature, or Japanese culture – Kyoto will make it happen.

Mountains framing the city are a perfect backdrop to its many attractions. Kyoto is home to many wonderful zen gardens with soothing effect, temples, shrines, statues… But it doesn’t end here. This city, located in the central part of Honshu island will surprise you with its liveliness. No sight of typical Japanese shyness here. The city is bold when it comes to nightlife and fun. It has tons of great places where you can sit down, enjoy your drink (or two) and chat the night away.

Kinkakuji temple, a famous tourist attraction in Kyoto, Japan

It’s also a culinary and cultural capital so indulge in delicious food, soak up some culture and have a memorable time during your stay in Kyoto.

This short and informative travel guide will help you get around the city!

What to see and do in Kyoto

Kyoto National Museum

Is one of Japan’s oldest and most notable museums where you’ll be able to learn all about the incredibly rich cultural heritage of the country. The museum houses a permanent collection of various sculptures, paintings, ceramics, calligraphy and other relics you can see in rotating exhibitions. They also feature different temporary exhibitions from time to time.

Temples & Shrines tour

Knowing that the city houses over 1600 temples can be pretty baffling. Where to start and where to go might seem like a mission impossible. To help you narrow the list, here are some suggestions of the most beautiful temples and shrines: Kinkaku-Ji, Ginkaku-Ji, Heian-Jingu, Ryoan-Ji, Saito-Ji (Kokedera), Shimogamo-Jinja Shrine, Fushimi-Inari-Taisha Shrine…

Visit Nara

People walking at the Kofukuji Temple at cherry blossom in Nara, Japan. Nara is Japan first permanent capital was established in the year 710 at Heijo.

Less than an hour away from Kyoto, you’ll find a wonderful city that used to be a capital of Japan and is today a UNESCO World Heritage site. Once you see it, you’ll understand why. Here you can find some of the oldest temples in the country and also the largest wooden building in the world, Todai-Ji. If you visit Nara Park, you’ll find yourself in a company of hundreds of freely roaming deer. They are pretty tamed and some even enjoy to be cuddled but can get aggressive too, so be careful, approach them gently and treat them with respect.

Kyoto Imperial Palace

This impressive building is the former residence of the Imperial family and is conveniently located in the downtown of the city.

Drink and socialize

The city might not have the strongest club scene, but there are plenty of great bars. Here you can sit down with a drink and chat away, then drink some more, and repeat. Most of them are located close together so you can find one of your likings and spend some relaxing, fun nights there.

Gion

Gion is Kyoto's most famous geisha district, located around Shijo Avenue between Yasaka Shrine and the Kamo River. It is filled with shops, restaurants and teahouses

Is one of the most recognized districts in the city and is brimming with history and traditions. It’s best known as a geisha district. The area is packed with bars, shops, restaurants and so-called och ayas – typical and traditional teahouses. Best time to visit is early in the evening, although there’s much to see and do during the entire day.

Travel costs

Accommodation

Dorm rooms in hostels cost between 18-36 USD. Lots of them are close to the Kyoto Station, offer free WiFi, have a kitchen. However, private rooms aren’t easy to find in hostels. If you need some peace and quiet, you’re better off renting an Airbnb apartment or booking a hotel room. You can get a decent room in a hotel for around 80 USD. Sharing Airbnb cost around 25 USD per night and 70 USD per night for an entire apartment.

Food and drinks

Meals at inexpensive restaurants usually cost around 6 USD. You can choose from a wide variety of traditional Japanese dishes at reasonable prices. Two people will pay around 36 USD for a three-course meal at a mid-range restaurant. Fast food restaurants charge around 7 USD for their meals. Tap water should be safe to drink. If not, it’ll say so next to the tap. A pint of the domestic beer will cost you some less than 5 USD. Cappuccinos can be quite pricey at around 4 USD for a cup. A can of soda will cost you around 1.40 USD.

Transportation

To get around the city with no fuss, use the bus. A single ride won’t cost you more than 2 USD or 5 USD for a whole day. If you prefer, you can take the subway, fares start at 1.90 USD. Rent a bicycle to explore the city, a full-day bike rental cost around 14 USD. Starting price of taxi is 5 USD with additional km costing less than 0.80 USD.

Sights

Bamboo forest of Arashiyama near Kyoto, Japan

An average price for entrance to a temple is around 3 USD. But your best bet is to get the temple pass for around 35 USD you get a discount on temples and free public transportation. You can visit the shrines for free

Pictures of Kyoto

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