12 Top Kyoto Tourist Attraction by Local Guides

by Dan - TripleLights travel specialist

Check out our best Kyoto tourist attractions below!

 

Tokyo and Kyoto are the first two cities that surely comes to mind when mentioning Japan. Tokyo is known for its vibrant culture and as the city of neon lights and everything electronic. While Kyoto is the ancient capital city of Japan. Kyoto offers a historic and traditional view of Japan. Being home to many beautiful and unique shrines and temples, Kyoto has become the cultural and historical center of Japan and earns it a title as one of the must-see cities in the world. 

 

Since there are many cool tourist spots you cannot miss when coming to Kyoto, we got it covered. Here’s our list of the top Kyoto tourist attractions that you should visit, guaranteeing you have the best experience ever!

 

Kinkaku-Ji

The fact that Kyoto is home to many temples and shrines is nothing new! Kinkaku-Ji is certainly the most widely-recognized among all of them. The breathtaking sight of the golden temple floating over a mirror pond, surrounded by small islands and pines has coined its name as the “The Golden Pavilion.”

 12 Top Kyoto Tourist Attraction by Local Guides

The building was first built to serve the Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, then later became a Zen Temple after Yoshimistu passed away. In 1950 the temple was burned down by a monk, the event later inspired the author Yukio Mishima to write a book.

 

The stunningly adorned temple alone is worth a trip to Japan’s ancient capital, and thus Kinkaku-Ji has indeed become a very popular Kyoto tourist attraction.

 

Note! Since Kinkaku-Ji is arguably famous among tourists, you’ll be likely to get trapped in lines of people when coming here at any time of the day, so our recommendation would be visiting the temple early in the morning, most preferably Monday mornings.

Address

1 Kinkakuji-cho Kita-ku, Kyoto City (map)

Opening Hours

9:00 am -17:00 pm

Entrance

Adults (including High School students): 400 yen

Children (including Junior High, Elementary School students): 300 yen

 

Ryoanji Temple

12 Top Kyoto Tourist Attraction by Local Guides

Compared to its peer- Kinkaku Temple, Ryoanji is no less attractive to the eyes of all the visitors! The temple was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as a part of the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto. It is labeled as the most beautiful rock garden in Kyoto, with the rocks positioned in small groups which at least one of them cannot be seen from any vantage point.

 

The thing that intrigues visitors to come to Ryoanji Temple is the mystery of it. Till now there’s no exact information on the meaning behind the construction of this building. Some say the mystery is left unveiled, as to invite curious viewers to come and find out themselves.

 

Ryoanji is surprisingly spacious with a park area that includes a stunning pond. No wonder why it is one of the most visited sites in Kyoto.

 

Like Kinkaku-Ji, Ryoanji Temple is extremely crowded, and if you don’t want to have tourists in every photo you take, try visiting the place earlier in the day.

 

Address

13 Ryoanji Goryonoshitacho, Ukyo Ward, Kyoto, 616-8001 (map)

Opening Hours

8:00 to 17:00 (March to November) 

8:30 to 16:30 (December to February)

Entrance

500 yen

 

Kifune Shrine

  12 Top Kyoto Tourist Attraction by Local Guides

Kifune Shrine is the oldest shrine in Kyoto and has long been a site of worship for the deity of water and rain. Rumor has it that the shrine brings good luck to those who will be heading to sea. You only need to take one of the water fortune-telling paper and place them into the sacred pools in the shrine. And for those who have long been struggling to find their other half, Kifune Shrine has got your back! Kifune Shrine is also known for its power of matchmaking, where you can buy a Musibi Fumi-knotted letter for roughly 200 yen, then tie it on a tree after you write your wishes.

 

The shrine itself is so beautiful, lined with vermillion lanterns on both sides of the entrance. Kifune Shrine is stunningly charming throughout all four seasons. It’s hard to pick just one, but my recommendation is to visit the shrine during the summer during the Tabata festival and when lanterns are lit everywhere. 

 

Address

180 Kurama-kibune-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto (map)

Opening Hours

May 1 to Nov. 30: 6:00a.m. - 8:00p.m.

Dec. 1 to Apr. 30: 6:00a.m. - 6:00p.m.

Entrance

Free

 

Fushimi Inari Shrine

You have probably seen at least one of those photos where people were standing between the iconic red Torii gates of this shrine. Fushimi Inari Shrine is a must-see when in Kyoto! 

 12 Top Kyoto Tourist Attraction by Local Guides

It is famous for the ten thousand well-preserved gates leading you straight to Mount Inari. The experience of climbing through each of the gates can be described as touching a piece of history since you can see how it beautifully represents Japan’s past.

 

Walking through the ten thousand gates will lead you to the top of the hill, where you can admire the outstanding view of Kyoto city. However, with approximately 3 - 4 hours to get to the top of Mount Inari, consider yourself warned that this long hike will not be comfy to the feet. But I guess trekking to the top to get the perfect shot means everything to our Instagramers, and you gotta do it for the gram!

 

Address

68 Yabunouchi-cho, Fukakusa Fushimi-ku, Kyoto (map)

Opening Hours

7:00-18:30

Entrance

Free

 

Arashiyama Bamboo Grove

Here is one of the most famous scenic views in Kyoto. Located on the outskirts of the city, the Arashiyama Bamboo Forest is loved by the many visitors who come, and is regarded as a top Kyoto sightseeing attraction. 

 12 Top Kyoto Tourist Attraction by Local Guides

Reasons? The place is just so peacefully beautiful and serene, that it would make you feel so at ease when standing between the long straight lines of those towering bamboo groves. The forest is usually visited in the morning when sunlight peaks through the tall stalks of the groves to create a very photogenic yet calming picture. Coming to Arashiyama Forest to stand in awe of the beauty of nature, you’ll feel all of your sadness and sorrows just disappear, as if the wind coming from these graceful bamboo pillars just takes them away, leaving you in total peace.

 

Address

1 Arashiyama, Ukyo-ku (map)

Opening Hours

24/24

Entrance

Free

 

Nishiki Market

Tired from going back and forth from all those famous Kyoto tourist spots? Why not add Nishiki Market to your travel list and mix things up a bit!

 12 Top Kyoto Tourist Attraction by Local Guides

With over 100 vendors and shops standing next to each other to the full length of the street, you can be sure to find at least one thing that sparks your interests here at Nishiki Food Market. The place is also named as “Kyoto’s Kitchen,” and is filled with the true essence and heritage that Japan embraces. Selling everything from fresh and delicious street foods to luxury hand-crafted kitchenware, Nishiki offers a charming experience of living like a native right in the heart of Kyoto. The market allows you to indulge yourself and shop like a local, leaving you to unwind, taste the hot and savory foods from the food stalls, or bring home some ornate Japanese hand-made souvenirs.

 

Address

〒604-8054 Kyoto, Nakagyo Ward, 富小路通四条上る西大文字町609番地 (map)

Opening Hours

9:30-18:00

 

Gekikara Shotengai

The next place I would recommend is Gekikara Shotengai. The word “Gekikara” means super spicy, while “Shotengai” refers to the shopping street, so Gekikara Shotengai is technically a “super spicy street.” To my spice lovers out there, this is the place to go! Gekikara Shotengai is only 7 minutes by train from central Kyoto. The sight is well-known among not only locals but tourists as well. It is said that you could sense the spiciness within the air right when entering the street. How fascinating! There is a vibrant selection of spicy foods from savory dishes like ramen, soba, gyoza, curry to the wilder spicy dishes such as crepe, ice cream or any dessert one could think of. Since spicy food is the theme here, they even sell stationeries that are spicy food shaped, and some cleaning shops have services like washing stains of the spicy red food you’ve just eaten… Couldn’t get any weirder! but I think that is why we love this country, right!

 

Address

27-1 Hatsuda, Terado-cho, Muko-shi, Kyoto (map)

Opening Hours

9:30 - 21:00 

Website

Official Homepage (Japanese only)

 

Yokai Street

The next Kyoto tourist attraction is unlike any other. It is the “Taishogun Shotengai,” or The Yokai Street. Yokai in Japanese means monsters. There’s a tale about the origin of this neighborhood, where during the Heian period, lots of antiquated items were abandoned after Susuharai (big house cleaning), and they got mad and transformed into monsters to seek revenge against the humans. These monsters marched along the street from West to East.

 

Many years later, the locals and shopkeepers still celebrate the presence of these monsters by placing the wooden monsters that look exactly like the garden ornaments inside and outside their shops. Take a trip to Yokai Street and go on a monster hunt with your friends, or see people dressed up as a Yokai marching on the streets, or go to the flea market to buy some old antiques but still in good condition, trust me there’s so much you can do here in Yokai Street.

 

Address

〒602-8375 Kyoto, Kamigyo Ward, 御前通西入二丁目 大上之町75 大将軍コミュニティホール 1F (map)

Opening Hours

24/24

 

Tofuku-Ji

Right when you thought that you have had enough of temples and shrines for your Kyoto trip, I’m here to prove you wrong. Tofuku temple is one of the best places in Kyoto to visit that you surely don’t want to miss out on.


12 Top Kyoto Tourist Attraction by Local Guides

The temple is one train stop from Kyoto station, located in southern Kyoto. Tofukuji temple is famous for its outstanding autumn foliage, and its rock garden named Hojo Garden. The building was built in 1425 and become a top Kyoto tourist attraction thanks to its unique design of the rock gardens. It is a beautiful work of art, and since there are fewer visitors compared to Fushimi Inari, you will get that calm and peaceful atmosphere that you won’t get at other Kyoto tourist spots.

 

Address

15-778 Hommachi, Higashiyama, Kyoto 605-0981, Kyoto Prefecture (map)

Opening Hours

9:00 AM - 3:30 PM

 

Kyoto Tower


12 Top Kyoto Tourist Attraction by Local Guides

Located next to JR Kyoto Station, Kyoto Tower is Kyoto’s tallest structure and an iconic landmark of the city. Standing 131 meters tall, you can look out over the city of Kyoto. There are so many other things to do besides visiting the 360-degree bird’s eye view of the 100-meter observation deck. The Kyoto Tower building has a hotel, a public bath and a commercial complex where you can eat and shop.

 

Address

Karasuma Shichijo sagaru, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto 600-8216, Kyoto Prefecture (map)

Opening Hours

9:00 AM - 8:30 PM

 

Philosopher’s Path

 The Philosopher’s Path is a streamside stone path sided with cherry blossoms and green shrubs through the northern part of Kyoto’s Higashiyama district. 


12 Top Kyoto Tourist Attraction by Local Guides

The best time to visit the Philosopher’s Path is certainly in early spring when the cherry trees are blooming. This path is called the Philosopher’s Path because of the famous Japanese philosopher Nishida Kitaro, who used to practice meditation while walking through this path on his daily commute to Kyoto University. Take a stroll along the path of Philosophy, where the peaceful water flow of the canal will invite deep thoughts, and you can have a moment or two to yourself to embrace the present surroundings. You can also visit Honen-in temple while wandering along the Philosopher’s Path, this temple looks spectacular during the autumn leaves season.

 

Address

Shishigatani Honenin Nishimachi, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto, 606-8427 (map)

Opening Hours

24/24

 

Kurama Onsen 

Believe me when I say that your trip will never be complete if you have not yet been to any onsen in Kyoto. Sore feet after days walking between temples and shrines, accompanied by a sea of people, you will start to crave some alone time. And what’s better than pampering yourself at a hot spring?

 

Kurama Onsen is one of the best in the area and is only 30 minutes away from Kyoto station. You’ll be satisfied every minute you spend here. The place faces directly to the forested mountains and will leave you speechless at the spectacular beauty of nature. You can go to Kurama Onsen all year round, and each season has their charms. It is a true getaway just to let yourself get lost in the hot water, mystical surroundings, and fresh air.

 

Address

520 Kurama Honmachi, Sakyo-ku (map)

Opening Hours

10am-9pm

Website

Official Website (English)

 

Want to make the most of your Kyoto Trip?

That just about concludes our list of the 12 best Kyoto tourist attractions. But there is so much more to see and do. If you find deciding where to go in Kyoto is a hassle or if you have limited time, why not ask one of our friendly guides to help you out? Exploring Kyoto is fun, but you know what makes it even better? Exploring this old, historically rich city with someone who knows who can teach you about it. You can learn loads, discover hidden gems and understand more about the culture. The best way to do it is to have your guide customized a private tour for you and your family.

 

At TripleLights we provide guides and tours to customers based on your preferences and convenience. All the best and professional local guides create their own tour of Kyoto so there is a lot for you to choose from, and if you don’t find any tour that suits your needs, why not request a tour? See what our guides could do for you. You can request exactly what you want to see, and where you want to visit. Just send us a message, we’ll get right back to you.

 

Recommended Blogs

Kyoto Day Trip from Tokyo: Complete Guide with Best Tour Options 

The 20 Most Beautiful Shrines and Temples in Kyoto

Gion Kyoto: Complete Guide Before You Go

Traveling to Kyoto from Osaka: One day trip

 

Did you like my article?

If you are interested to know more and save your time during your trip to Kyoto, You can send a message to our local guides to get a customized itinerary and quotation for an unforgettable experience.

In the TripleLights website you can find the best professional guides all over Japan to help you plan your trip. Check our local guides for Kyoto


16 Aug 2019

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