Things To Do in Kyoto

Kyoto Itinerary: A Travel Guide Blog For First-Timers

posted in: Japan, Kansai Japan | 0

Last updated on May 12th, 2024

Looking for what to do in Kyoto for 1-day, 2-days, or 3-days? This Kyoto travel guide blog will tell you everything you need to know to plan your trip with all the highlights and important sights when visiting this wonderful city. The best way to explore!

Kyoto is an amazing city in Japan. This wonderful city is full of historical charm and Japanese culture. Kyoto has many historical shrines and a natural hidden gem. There are so many things to do and see in Kyoto awaiting you to discover. I have been visiting Kyoto a few times but never felt enough. Kyoto delighted me with its beauty in different seasons.

However, sometimes it might be confusing when planning what to do in Kyoto, especially for first-time visitors. Here’s our Kyoto travel guide on what you can eat and do in Kyoto for 1, 2 to 3 days! You can easily arrange and DIY your version. But bear in mind most of the attractions are not located nearby. So please allocate some traveling time if you are planning to get around. Additionally, Kyoto is full of tourists which might also require more time when visiting.

If you’re visiting Kyoto for the first time, then this comprehensive Kyoto travel guide will tell you all you need to know to plan your trip. This Kyoto travel blog can give you some ideas when planning your Kyoto itinerary. Please feel free to modify and adjust based on your preference. Travel at your comfort level and leisure. Discover the best attractions and fully utilize your trip for 1 day, 2 days, 3 days, or even 1 week in Kyoto.

Kyoto Pre-Trip Essential

If you’re planning to visit Kyoto, keep in mind that it’s a popular tourist destination and can get quite crowded during peak season. Exploring all the sights in one day might be challenging, as traveling between different attractions can take time.

To make the most of your day in Kyoto, we recommend picking a few of the most stunning and memorable attractions that you’re interested in. Instead of rushing to see everything, it might be better to slow down your pace and spend less than half a day exploring only one spot. This will allow you to fully immerse yourself in the experience and truly appreciate the beauty of each attraction you visit.

Planning to visit Kyoto? Read on our Kyoto Checklist Guide:
For all the essentials in a brief overview, see my First Time In Kyoto Guide below.
1. How To Get to Kyoto – read more Kyoto Transport Guide.
– Save on transportation: Buy Shinkansen tickets online from Klook.
– Popular routes include Tokyo to Kyoto, Kyoto to Osaka, and Kyoto to Tokyo.
2. Accommodation at Kyoto – read more Where To Stay In Kyoto Guide.
– Stay near with station for easy getting around: Hotel Keihan Kyoto Ekiminami
– Stay at Downtown Kawaramachi nearby to the attractions: Hotel Resol Kyoto Kawaramachi Sanjo
3. Popular Attractions to visit: Kiyomizudera, Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kinkajuji, Gion, Arashiyama, and many more.
4. Nearby Kyoto Day Trips Option: Nara, Uji, Kurama and Kibune, Amanohashidate, Ine Funaya.
5. Recommend Transport Pass to visit the Region:
Japan Railway Pass– Get the 7-Day, 14-Day, and 21-Day to travel in Japan.
JR Kansai Wide Area Pass – Travel for 5-Day within the Kansai Wide Area.
Kansai Railway Pass – Enjoy unlimited rides on subways and private railways, covering Osaka, Kobe, Kyoto, Nara, Wakayama, and Koyasan.

How To Get To Kyoto

Haruka Limited Express
Haruka Limited Express

If you’re traveling to the Kansai region of Japan and your itinerary includes Kyoto, the nearest international airport is Kansai International Airport (KIX). The most popular options for getting to Kyoto or Osaka, which is another common destination in the area, are by train or bus.

From Kansai International Airport to Kyoto:

The easiest and fastest option is taking the Haruka Limited Express from JR West. The Haruka Limited Express will take you directly from Kansai Airport to Kyoto Station. Klook offers discounted Haruka tickets for the Haruka Limited Express, so it’s definitely worth considering.

If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option and don’t mind a slightly longer travel time, you can take the Kansai Limousine Bus. This is also a great option if you have a lot of luggage, as you can sit back and relax during the journey. (Check price for Kansai Limousine Bus from Klook)

From Osaka to Kyoto:

If you’re traveling from Osaka to Kyoto, there are up to four different train companies running this popular route. The best option for you will depend on where you’re departing from and where you’re headed next in Kyoto.

  • Tokaido Shinkansen: from JR Shin-Osaka to JR Kyoto Station
  • JR Rapid Train: from JR Osaka/Shin-Osaka Station.
  • Keihan Main Line: from Osaka (Yodoyabashi Station) to Sanjo Station in Central Region.
  • Hankyu Main Line: from Osaka (Hankyu Umeda Station) to Kawaramachi Station in Central Region.

From Tokyo to Kyoto:

If you’re planning to travel from Tokyo to Kyoto, the Shinkansen bullet train is the fastest and most convenient way to get there. However, the fare can be quite expensive if you’re traveling one-way. To save on transportation costs for round-trip travelers, consider getting the Japan Rail Pass.

On the other hand, if you’re on a budget, taking a highway bus is a cheaper alternative. Keep in mind that bus fares vary depending on the season, time of day, and comfort level, so be sure to check prices before booking your trip.

Sound confusing? No worry as we have documented how to get to Kyoto from Kansai Airport, Osaka and even Tokyo. All the train routes, duration, and pricing are included in your selection.

Getting Around in Kyoto

Getting Around in Kyoto by Bus

Kyoto Station serves as the primary transportation hub connecting Shinkansen, local trains, subway, and buses, making it easy to navigate the city.

While some of the attractions in Kyoto are accessible by train or bus, walking is the best way to explore the city. Although, if you have a packed itinerary, taking the bus or train can save time and energy.

For those traveling with a larger group or elderly companions, taxis are also an option, with reasonable fares available throughout Kyoto.

How Many Days for Kyoto itinerary

If you’re wondering how many days to allocate for your Kyoto itinerary, I would suggest planning for at least 3 days to explore the city’s many top attractions, historical temples, and shrines. However, if you’re limited on time, it’s still possible to see the major sites in just 1 or 2 days. Some travelers even choose to visit Kyoto as a day trip from Osaka.

If you have an extra day to spare, I highly recommend taking a day trip to Nara and Uji – two nearby cities that are home to some of Japan’s most stunning cultural and natural landmarks. And if you’re planning your trip during the cherry blossom or fall foliage season, consider adding an additional day to your itinerary. Trust me, the view of Kyoto during full bloom is simply breathtaking.

Also, don’t forget to include some must-see spots during cherry blossom season, such as the Philosopher’s Path, Nanzenji, and Keage Incline. These attractions offer some of the most picturesque views of the city during this time of year.

Best Hotel to stay in Kyoto

Where To Stay in Kansai Japan - Hotel Resol Kyoto Kawaramachi Sanjo
Hotel Resol Kyoto Kawaramachi Sanjo

One of the important decisions when planning your Kyoto trip is to decide where to stay in Kyoto. There are many best budget hostels, mid to luxury hotels, or unique Ryokan in Kyoto. Depending on your budget and preference.

Some people choose to stay near the station for easy getting around. The Downtown Kawaramachi and Gion are the best areas to experience the Japanese old town and are nearby to major attractions in Higashiyama District. We have shortlisted a few best hotels in different budget ranges if you are looking for an accommodation guide to stay in Kyoto.

Ultimate Accommodation Guide: Where to Stay in Kyoto

Best hotel near Kyoto station:

  • High-RangeDaiwa Royal Hotel Grande Kyoto is located a 5-minute walk from Kyoto station. It is a 4-star reputation Japanese chain hotel with Japanese standards. Clean with great-sized room for solo, couples, and family. 24-hour service desk and professional staff.
  • High Range: Hotel Keihan Kyoto Ekiminami is located right opposite the Kyoto station with a nearby overnight car park at a discount rate. Comfortable room with excellent amenities. A simple good breakfast is included for your stay!
  • Budget: Pieces Hostel Kyoto, is one of the best budget stay hotels near Kyoto station. It is conveniently located nearby within walking distance of Kyoto Station. Most importantly, this designer hostel with extremely reasonable price!

Best hotel in Kyoto Downtown Kawaramachi:

  • High-RangeHotel Resol Kyoto Kawaramachi Sanjo is one of the popular picks in Kyoto. You will fall in love with this cozy hotel once you walk in. The environment is so tranquil with various styled rooms available. Most importantly, this beautiful historic hotel is offering rooms at a reasonable price.
  • Mid-Range: Travelodge Kyoto Shijo Kawaramachi is another great budget choice to stay in Kyoto. This nearly open hotel is perfectly situated next to the Gion Area. You can walk to many places like Nishiki market, convenience stores, restaurants, and main shopping malls. The nearest subway station is about 8 minutes walk.
  • BudgetPieces Hostel Sanjo is your best hostel stay in the Kyoto downtown area. Similar to its sister hostel near Kyoto station, it is a great budget hotel that offers excellent value for your money. Extremely popular. Remember to book early to secure your stay.
Travel Tips: When looking for the best price and biggest selection of hotels in Kyoto check prices for Kyoto Best Hotel from Booking.com. We found they are the best option and have a great cancelation policy.

3 Days Kyoto Itinerary

Kyoto itinerary Travel Blog
Kyoto itinerary Travel Blog

For first-timers, we highly recommend exploring the Southern Higashiyama Sightseeing District (Kiyomizudera), seeing the incredible Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine, and a relaxing stroll in the Western Kyoto (Arashiyama) area. Most of the places to visit in Kyoto require about half a day. You can allocate the time and freely adjust the Kyoto itinerary based on your interest.

Below Kyoto itinerary below will mainly focus on the must-see attractions in Kyoto. We will start with giving an overview of things to do in Kyoto in each district and then proceed to a deeper explanation of how to plan your Kyoto itinerary for 3 days.

Day 1 Kyoto itinerary (Explore Southern Higashiyama District)

  • Morning: Kiyomizudera, Ninenzaka & Sannenzaka Slope, Yasada Pagoda
  • Lunch at Nishiki Market
  • Afternoon: Fushimi Inari Shrine

Day 2 Kyoto Itinerary (Explore Western Kyoto, Arashiyama)

  • Morning: Arashiyama, Sagani Scenic Train, Bamboo Forest
  • Afternoon: Kinkajuji
  • Dinner in Menbakaichidai (Flaming Kyoto Fire Ramen)

Day 3 Kyoto Itinerary

  • Day trip to Nara or Uji

Don’t forget to continue to read our Kyoto itinerary planning below which includes what to do and food to eat during the trip.

Kyoto itinerary Bonus Tips: We included the things to do in Kyoto during Cherry Blossom viewing if you are visiting Kyoto in April!

Kyoto Travel Tips: Kyoto Travel Tips: Kyoto is extremely amazing in April when sakura in full bloom. Make sure to plan ahead and book your accommodation!

Arrived Kyoto

We arrived in Kyoto and checked in at our hotel near Kyoto station. The Kyoto station is an important transportation hub to visit Kyoto. You can find everything you need such as clothing, food, and household goods. If you have having rush itinerary, we recommend staying nearby Kyoto station to easily get around.

During our recent trip to Kyoto, we had the pleasure of staying at Hotel Keihan Kyoto Ekiminami. The hotel’s location, right opposite the Kyoto station, was incredibly convenient for getting around and exploring all that Kyoto has to offer. However, due to its popularity among travelers, it can be difficult to secure a room. To avoid disappointment, I recommend reserving your room as early as possible, especially if you’re interested in taking advantage of early bird promotions.

Once checked in, we were headed for a bowl of tasty hot ramen at Kyoto Ramen Koji. The Kyoto Ramen Koji is located inside the Kyoto Station building at level 10F. This ramen street are home to eight ramen specialties in Japan which is Sapporo, Fukushima, Tokyo, Toyama, Osaka, Kyoto, Tokushima, and Hakata.

Dinner at Kyoto Ramen Koji

Kyoto Masutani ramen

We chose the Masutani ramen which originates from Kyoto. This ramen store was established in 1948 and it is the birthplace of ramen in pork back fat soy sauce! It is famous and known as one of Kyoto’s tastiest traditions of ramen.

To taste the best ramen from Kyoto in Masutani, required some waiting time. There was a line of people waiting for their bowl of ramen. Luckily the queue is more quick and fast and only waits for less than 20 minutes. We choose the char-siu ramen with a slow-boiled egg about ¥1,000. The pork back broth was very flavorful but not heavy. We left with very full and happy tummies. The ramen tasted so much better in Japan.

Kyoto Ramen Koji

  • Address: Kyoto, Shimogyo, Karasuma-dori, Shiokoji-Sagaru, Higashi-Shiokojicho 901, Kyoto Station building 10F
  • Operating hours: 11:00 to 22:00 (Last order 21:30)

How To Get to Kyoto Ramen Koji: Located right at the Kyoto Station building. Level 10F.

Illuminated Grand Stairway at Kyoto Station

Illuminated Grand Stairway at Kyoto Station

After our fulfilling meal, we continued wandering around the Kyoto station.

Kyoto Station is one of Japan’s largest buildings. It is not only the Kyoto main transportation hub for Shinkansen, trains, subway, and buses. Here you can also find a shopping mall, hotel, movie theater, Isetan department store, and several local government facilities at this building. Sometimes, I also feel it is easy to get lost in this busy building.

However, don’t forget to take a photo at the illuminated Grand staircase at Kyoto Station. There are a total of 15,000 LEDs installed on the staircase at the 171 stair step in Kyoto station. It was beautifully illuminated by different designs that represent the four seasons of Kyoto. A quick stop for a photo.

Kyoto Station Building Grand Stairway

  • Operating Hour: From 3:00 to 22:00, may vary depending on the season

Have some Japanese Snack

Beard Papa's cream puff at Kyoto Station

There are so many Japanese snacks and desserts.

Even though we had a full meal, we still couldn’t resist trying one. The Beard Papa’s cream puff caught our attention. It was located near the JR Shinkansen entrance at Kyoto Station. We brought one cream puff to try on. It was so delicious! Besides, you also can get the famous 555 Horai butaman, a simple Chinese pork bun at Kyoto station. A lot of locals were queuing to buy their pork buns

Day 1: Visit Kyoto Southern Higashiyama District

Assuming you’ve arrived in Kyoto, it is advised to start your Kyoto itinerary in the morning. You’ve had one full day to spend in the city. We’ll suggest seeing some of the most stunning historical attractions in the town. We recommended focusing on the important sights in the Southern Higashiyama district and visiting the world-famous spectacular wooden building Kiyomizudera. One of the UNESCO World Heritage sites.

First up, we started in Kyoto with a good breakfast at Hotel Keihan Kyoto Ekiminami. Our stay included breakfast. There are simple Japanese and Western-style breakfasts for you to start your day.

Next, we were heading for the Kiyomizudera, the UNESCO World Heritage Site. This popular attraction is always good to visit in the morning to avoid the crowd.

Day 1 Kyoto itinerary in Southern Higashiyama District: Kiyomizudera | Ninenzaka, Sannenzaka Slope | Yasada Pagoda | Nishiki Market | Fushimi Inari Shrine.

Kiyomizudera: UNESCO World Heritage Site

Kiyomizudera Kyoto
Kiyomizudera Temple

Kiyomizudera is a world-famous historical important sight in Southern Higashiyama. It is listed as one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the world. The spectacular wooden building was built with 139 pillars without using one single nail.

From Kyoto station, we took the Kyoto city bus and got off at the Gojozaka stop. A single way of bus ride costs ¥230.

There is a leisurely 15-minute walk from Gojozaka bus station to the temple. The picturesque shopping streets lined along the way up. We decided directly to Kiyomizudera and come back here for a leisure walk.

Best View of Kiyomizudera

Remember, the best view of Kiyomizudera is from the viewing platform at Okunoin Hall which is diagonally opposite the main temple. Besides, don’t forget to check out the legendary stone at the Jishu shrine. Just play the mini-game by closing your eyes and walking straight to another stone located on the opposite. Japanese believe that you can find your loved one near future.

How to get to Kiyomizudera: From Kyoto station, take the Kyoto bus (#206) or (#100) and get off at the Gojozaka stop. Bus fare ¥230. For larger groups, you can consider taking a taxi as the fare is about ¥1,500 from Kyoto station.

Wandering At Ninenzaka & Sannenzaka Slope

Street view when getting to Kiyomizudera

After the visit to Kiyomizudera, take the exit via the front of the temple and walk down Matsubara-dori Street. Next, we spend our time wandering around the busy shopping street in ninenzaka and sannenzaka slope. The lovely preserved district and iconic street in Kyoto. 

Street view at Ninenzaka Slope

You can easily spend the whole afternoon wandering around. This is where you can find various types of souvenir shops, desserts, cafes, and restaurants around this busy street here. Have your lunch or refreshment here before proceeding to the next stop. Although the whole area is a bustling riot with commerce. But, trust me, you will enjoy this Kyoto’s must-see attractions and experience them.

While it is almost afternoon, the street was full of visitors and much more crowded compared to the morning. Have some refreshments here before heading to our next destination.

Related Kyoto Travel PostKiyomizudera Itinerary Walking Guide

Admire the Yasaka Pagoda

Yasaka Pagoda - Must-see in Kyoto itinerary

We slowly walked toward Yasaka Pagoda (八坂の塔). This picturesque 5-story Buddhist pagoda temple is one of the recognizable landmarks in the Higashiyama district. The walking journey from ninenzaka and sannenzaka to Yasaka pagoda took about 30 minutes.

We did not take the visit inside the pagoda. Instead, we took some beautiful photos from the outside. A must-see in Kyoto itinerary.

Lunch at Nishiki Market

Kyoto Nishiki Market
Nishiki Market

Next, we headed to the Nishiki market (錦市場) for a quick lunch. The Kyoto Nishiki market is a local market that sells Japanese local products. It is a narrow shopping street with hundreds of shops and restaurants lined along the street. A great place for lunch if you are looking for what to eat in Kyoto.

What to eat in Nishiki Market - Street Food

There were lots of different street foods such as croquettes, wagyu skewers, doughnuts, and more. We enjoyed our sushi lunch at an unknown food staff in the Nishiki market.

READ MORENishiki Market Travel Guide: What To Eat and Buy

Compared with Kuromon Market in Osaka, Nishiki Market is much smaller but more local. A great stop by to experience the Japanese market and for lunch.

Nishiki Market

  • Address: 609, Nishidaimonjicho, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto.
  • Operating Hours: Daily from 9:30 to 18:00

Red Torii Gate at Fushimi Inari Shrine

Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine
Fushimi Inari Shrine

Our next stop was heading to the Fushimi Inari Shrine (伏見稲荷大社).

The location is easily accessed by a local JR train from Kyoto station. It is only 2 stops away with 6 minutes train ride. So, for easier transport arrangements, we took the bus back to Kyoto station and then took the JR train to Fushimi Inari.

When in Kyoto, one must visit their world-famous historical shrine. This incredible Shinto shrine is famous for its arcades of vermillion torii gates. The best way to appreciate the beauty of the shrine is by walking up the hill, through the torii gate. Imagine walking under thousands of eye-catching torii with amazing views along the walk.

Giant vermilion torii gate at the Fushimi Inari Taisha entrance

From the station, follow the navigation, and you can easily walk to the entrance of the Fushimi Taisha shrine with the first torii (gate) welcoming your visit. Passing and walking up through the major street, you’ll shortly get to the main precinct of the shrine.

READ MORE: Visit Fushimi Inari Shrine: A Complete Travel Guide

A visit to Fushimi Inari Shrine can be as short as an hour or as long as half a day. You can stop halfway and return to the base whenever you like. However, try to go as far as possible as there will be less crowded and fewer people. The best way to feel more tranquil is with magnificent red torii gates. We spent around 2 hours at Fushimi Inari Shrine and took a lot of amazing photos here.

Fushimi Inari Shrine

  • Address: 68 Fukakusa Yabunouchicho, Fushimi Ward, Kyoto
  • Operating Hours: 24 hours
  • Entrance Fee: Free!

From Kyoto station to Fushimi Inari Shrine: By JR Nara line to Inari Station. A 3-minute walk from the station.

If you are not tired, you can plan to have your dinner or spend your night in the downtown Gion district. You may spot the geisha passing by if you are lucky.

Day 2: Western Kyoto, Arashiyama

On the next day of the Kyoto itinerary, heading to Arashiyama in western Kyoto on the second day.

Various transportation is available to get to Arashiyama. The Sagano Scenic Train ride is the best option to mesmerize the natural beauty in Arashiyama. We enjoyed our Sagano scenic ride to enjoy the mountain view of the Japanese village.

Next, we spend our whole morning wandering around in Arashiyama. In the late afternoon, we were headed to Kinkakuji, the golden pavilion. Last but not least, we had an extraordinary dining experience in Menbakaichidai: flaming Kyoto fire ramen.

Day 2 in Kyoto (Western Kyoto, Arashiyama): Sagano Scenic Train | Arashiyama, Bamboo Forest | Kinkajuji.

Ride on Sagano Scenic Railway

Sagano Scenic Railway

The Sagano Scenic Railway (嵯峨野観光鉄道) is also known as Sagano Romantic Train or Sagano Torokko. This sightseeing train runs between Arashiyama and Kameoka, riding along the Hozugawa River. It is one of the popular activities, especially during cherry blossoms in spring and fall foliage in autumn. 

We bought the Sagano Scenic Railway ticket before we arrived in Kyoto. You opt to choose the upstream direction from Kameoka to Saga Torokko station or the downstream direction from Saga to Kameoka Torokko based on your Kyoto itinerary planning.

View from Sagano Scenic Train

The scenery was amazing with a scenic train run along the Hozugawa River. Besides, you may also opt for the Hozugawa River Boat ride with 1 to 2 hours of scenic boat ride..

Read on for more details on our ride on Sagano Scenic Railway.

  • Train Fare: ¥840, 25 minutes
  • Operating hour: 9:00 to 16:00 (until 17:00 on busy days)
  • Close: every Wednesday except national holidays, spring and summer holidays, and autumn foliage season. Not operate during winter from Dec 30 to the end of Feb
  • Official websitewww.sagano-kanto.co.jp/en/
Arashiyama Hozugawa River Boat Ride
Arashiyama Hozugawa River Boat Ride
Good News: Sagano Romantic Train Ticket is available in Klook now! And travelers does not required rush for train ticket once reached Japan. Book Sagano Romantic Train Ticket through Klook and avail of a ticket to ride the famous Sagano Romantic Train in Kyoto! Paid for convenience and secure your ticket to avoid disappointment.

 

Leisure Walk in Arashiyama Bamboo Forest

Arashiyama Bamboo Grove
Arashiyama Bamboo Forest

Once you arrive, there are many things to do in Arashiyama. For example, make your visit to the famous bamboo forest, pray in Nonomiya Shrine, visit Tenryu-ji Temple, and other sightseeing attractions. Enjoy your half-day trip to Arashiyama.

No doubt, Arashiyama Bamboo Forest is one of the top sights in Kyoto. It is one of the must-visit when looking for things to do and see in Kyoto. Enjoy the walk with soaring stalks of bamboo aside along the path.

How to get to Arashiyama Bamboo Forest: 5 minutes walk from Arashiyama Torokko station.

Pray at Nonomiya Shrine

Nonomiya Shrine

Continue wandering around Arashiyama Grove. Following the directions, we walked to Nonomiya Shrine.

The Nonomiya Shrine (野宮神社) is a small Shinto shrine located in the Arashiyama bamboo grove. Locals and visitors come to pray for their love life. So don’t forget to pray at Nonomiya Shrine if you are visiting Arashiyama.

There are a few other attractions in Arashiyama worth spending some time here. For example, visit the Tenryu-Ji Temple, a leisure walk at the Arashiyama shopping street, and Togetsu-Kyo Bridge. We spend almost half a day in Arashiyama before proceeding to Kinkajuji.

Related Read: Day Trip To Arashiyama Itinerary: A Travel Guide Blog

The Reflection of Kinkakuji Temple

Kinkakuji with reflection
Kinkakuji Temple

Next, heading to Kinkakuji, the golden pavilion in the late afternoon. It is a Zen temple covered in gold leaf with golden shiny color. Perfectly situated aside a lovely lake and a Japanese garden. This stunning view makes it one of the top attractions to visit in Kyoto.

From JR Arashiyama station, we took the JR train from Saga-Arashiyama station to Emmachi station. Next, we transferred to a bus ride (#205) to Kinkakuji.

Continue Read On: Our visit to Kinkakuji from Asashiyama.

Kinkakuji or Golden Pavilion is a unique gold shinny color temple. It is perfectly situated aside from a lovely lake and a Japanese garden. The reflection of the temple was so picturesque and stunning.

Try the Kyoto Fire Ramen

Flaming Kyoto fire ramen

Our day ended with the flaming Kyoto fire ramen at Menbakaichidai. Menbaka is a small ramen store that only can fit 12 people. But it is very popular among visitors for an extraordinary culinary experience. The fire ramen burning right in front of you.

For those who love traditional Japanese broth ramen, Menbakaichidai might not be your food choice. However, we love and enjoy the entertaining and unique dining experience of Kyoto fire ramen. Make sure to put this flaming Kyoto ramen into your Kyoto itinerary. One of the must-try when visiting Kyoto.

Continue to read about our dining experience in Menbakaichidai Kyoto fire ramen.

Day 3: Day Trip to Nara / Uji

One Day Nara Itinerary

Lastly, spend day 3 in Kyoto on a day trip to Nara and Uji. It depends on your itinerary. It is doable to spend the whole day visiting both places in one day. However, if you travel in leisure, I would opt for Nara compared with Uji.

Despite the historical visit to Todai-ji Temple, Kasuga Grand Shrine, or some other ancient building in Nara. The free-roaming deer is one of the major attractions in Nara. I enjoy my time wandering around in Nara Park with deer encounters. Don’t forget to try the local specialties of Kamameshi when visiting Nara.

While Uji is famous for its traditional green tea and historical shrine. Uji is not renowned for world-famous shrines like Kyoto. Instead, it is a great place to see the rural side of southern Kyoto Prefecture with a locality surrounded. Come try the best matcha green tea at Uji.

Related post for Day 3 in Kyoto:

More Day Trip from Kyoto

Kyoto is an excellent city to visit and you can easily more than 3 days wandering around the city. But if you are looking for something beyond the city, there are many different places as a half-day excursion or full-day trip can be planned for your trip to Kyoto.

There are many awesome day trips from Kyoto and here are some of them.

Kurama and Kibune

Kibune Travel Guide red-lantern stairway

The Kurama (鞍馬) and Kibune (貴船) are two beautiful small villages nestled in the hills north of Kyoto. Hiking through these two villages through the lush forest is one the most popular things to do in Kyoto. The hike offers a perfect opportunity to explore the tranquility of a Japanese village. It takes about two to three hours to complete.

READ MORE

Amanohashidate

Chairlift - Amanohashidate View Land

Located in the Northern Kyoto Prefecture, Amanohashidate (天橋立) is a popular visit place to enjoy the scenic view with a laid-back vibe. This place is renowned for its scenery, consisting of nearly 8,000 pine trees covered on a sandbar that spans across Miyazu Bay. The view is breathtaking and unique.

The trip to Amanohashidate from Kyoto is over two hours away and makes for a scenic day trip from Kyoto.

READ MORE: Amanohashidate itinerary: A Travel Guide Blog

Kyoto Travel Tips: The transportation costs to Amanohashidate are extremely expensive and easily cost you more than ¥5,000 for a round-trip journey. As a smart traveler, it is advised to fully utilize the Japan transport pass to save the transportation fee. The popular JR Kansai Wide Area Pass is covered for this trip!

Ine Fishing Village

View on Funaya Boat Houses

Ine Fishing Village (伊根の舟屋) is a seaside village in the “Kyoto by the Sea” area. This charming village is known for its picturesque Funaya, or boat houses, which have been around since the Edo period. You can couple your visit to historical Ine Funaya when visiting the stunning Amanohashidate.

Read more to continue our Ine travel journey – Ine Funaya Itinerary: A Travel Guide Blog

Where To Eat and Drink in Kyoto

One thing I can guarantee about Kyoto is that you will eat well. Kyoto is renowned for its traditional Japanese cuisine and local specialties, so don’t miss the chance to all the great food. Here are some of the recommended places to eat in Kyoto:

Matsuba Soba – The oldest and most famous restaurant that has been serving some of the city’s best Nishin soba. Nishin Soba is a local herring fish soba noodle dish with flavored soy sauce broth. One of Kyoto’s specialty cuisines.

Yudofu Sagano – famous for tofu kaiseki in Arasihayama. Enjoy the traditional Japanese garden during your yudofu kaiseki meal.

Kyoto Yakiniku (BBQ) from Hiro Shoten –  one of the few best yakiniku barbecue restaurants serving the Wagyu (Japanese beef) BBQ in Kyoto without breaking the bank.

Izuju Sushi – try the authentic Kyoto-style sushi, Oshizushi “pressed sushi”.

Green Tea Desserts from Tsujiri Gion, Yajikita, and many more Green tea shops and stores.

Nishiki Market – the most popular food market in Kyoto. It is a narrow street filled with more than a hundred food stores and restaurants.

If you’re visiting Kyoto and looking for some of the best Kyoto restaurants, check out our Kyoto’s Food guide: What To Eat in Kyoto: Top 8 Must Eat Food Guide.

Bonus Tips: Cherry Blossom Viewing (April)

We’ve visited Kyoto many times in different seasons. The cherry blossom trip is one of the most memorable trips for us. Kyoto is covered in a pinky umbrella and you can even smell the sakura in the air. We were spending more money during our cherry blossom trip in April but with no regret.

Best Place for Kyoto Cherry Blossom Viewing (April):

  • Philosopher’s Walk
  • Keage Incline

Kyoto Travel Tips: One of the biggest challenges in visiting Kyoto during the Sakura season is finding the best hotel stay in Kyoto. Many rooms were already booked during January to secure their room in April. My sincere advice is to reserve your rooms as early as possible!

You may also be interested in: Where to stay in Kyoto, Accommodation Guide

Philosopher’s Walk

During one of our Kyoto trips in April, we took the JR Shinkansen from Tokyo to Kyoto. We arrived in Kyoto in the afternoon and successfully checked into our accommodation near the Kyoto station. Next, we are ready to out for our Kyoto cherry blossom itinerary!

Philosopher’s Path Best place for sakura Viewing in Kyoto itinerary

If you are coming to Kyoto during the cherry blossom, don’t forget to visit the Philosopher’s Walk (哲学の道). On a normal day, the Philosopher Walk is only a pedestrian path with cherry trees lined along the canal in Kyoto. But do you know that Philosopher Walk is one of the best spots for hanami viewing during cherry blossom season in Kyoto?

Our Kyoto visit is during early April and it is the best time for cherry blossom. For sure we won’t miss out on this best time to enjoy the amazing stroll along with the sakura canopy. The view was amazingly beautiful with a sakura tree densely lined along the Philosopher’s Path. One of the must-visit in Kyoto during cherry blossom season.

For details on our sakura viewing itinerary in Kyoto Philosopher Walk: Kyoto Cherry Blossom Itinerary

How to get to Philosopher’s Walk: Get off at Ginkakuji or nearby by Kyoto city bus (#5), (#17), (#100) at ¥230 from Kyoto station.

Keage Incline

Keage incline during cherry blossom

The Keage incline was a defunct railway track near the Keage station. But it is extremely popular among locals and visitors during the Sakura season. Keage Incline is rated as one of the best Sakura viewing spots in Kyoto. So for sure, we won’t miss out on this opportunity during April.

From Philosopher’s Walk, we took a slow walk toward to Keage incline. Together with Nanzenji, the journey from the Philosopher’s Path to Keage incline is one of the best walking itineraries during cherry blossom. It was a pleasant walk of about 30 minutes with Sakura along the journey.

Unfortunately, the rain started during our halfway. So it took us longer than we expected to get there. When we reached the Keage incline, we were so impressed by the amazing view. The view at the Keage incline was stunning even after rain. It was so fantastic with cherry blossom-lined along the way with an unused track in the middle. Thanks to the rain, it was less crowded at Keage incline. So we can enjoy and take the best shot with Sakura. Worth it even though we were getting wet by the rain. A must-visit during cherry blossom season.

How to get to Keage incline: Take the Tozai subway line to Keage station, exit #1. Alternatively, you can choose to combine your walk with Philosopher’s Walk and Nanzenji Temple. Just like what we did!

From Keage incline, we took the subway from Keage station back to Kyoto station.

Final Tips: Planning Kyoto Itinerary

All in all, I have outlined above suggested 3 Days in Kyoto to explore Kyoto at a slower pace. It is impossible to see all the attractions in one day. Bear in mind that traveling time is required from one to another spot. It is always best to put two to three major sightseeing spots per day. Our recommended Kyoto itinerary travel route takes you through Kyoto’s main sightseeing attractions with ease of transport and follows the district allocation.

What is the must-visit attraction in Kyoto for first-time visitors?
It depends on your interests. For first-time visitors, we are highly recommended for Arashiyama, the incredible Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine, and the Southern Higashiyama Sightseeing District.

What To Do in Kyoto In 1 Day?
If you only have one full day in Kyoto and would like to fully utilize your day for the most stunning and memorable spot. We recommended visiting Kiyomizudera Temple, Fushimi-Inari-Taisha Shrine, and Arashiyama for 1-Day in Kyoto.

Is Kyoto worth visiting?
Kyoto should definitely be on your list when planning your trip to Japan. It has the most beautiful shrines and temples with cultural sights and attractions. One of the must-visit destinations when exploring the country.

Overview: Kyoto Travel Guide

Wearing kimono in Philosopher Path during sakura season

Overall, this is how we plan and visit for 3-Days in Kyoto. We really enjoyed and had fun during our visit to Kyoto. There are many things to do and see in Kyoto. From the historical shrine, modern architecture, extraordinary food, and traditional Japanese cuisine.

We hope this simple and easy Kyoto itinerary travel blog will help to plan your Kyoto itinerary in 1, 2, or even 3 days. It’s unlikely that everything will appeal to you, especially in different seasons. Just pick your favorites into your itinerary. You’re just about ready for your trip.

If this sounds like you, this may be your perfect Kyoto itinerary. Happy travel to Kyoto!

Continue to Read on Kansai Japan Travel

Overall our detailed Kyoto journey for 3-Days Kyoto itinerary is listed below:

More Kyoto Day Trip Suggestion:

Lastly, this Kyoto travel guide is part of our Japan Kansai Travel Series, read also our other blog posts on How to Plan Your 7 Days Kansai Japan itinerary.