Things To Do in Kyoto

3 Days Kyoto Itinerary: A Travel Guide Blog For First-Timers

posted in: Japan, Kansai Japan | 0

Last updated on April 24th, 2022

Looking for what to do in Kyoto for 1-day, 2-days, or 3-days? Follow my Kyoto itinerary travel guide blog 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 feel 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 for getting around. Additionally, Kyoto is full of tourists which might also require more time when visiting.

Hopefully, my Kyoto travel guide can give you some ideas when planning your Kyoto trip. Next, plan on your Kyoto itinerary. Please feel to modify and adjust based on your preference. Travel at your comfort level and leisure. So, please fully utilize your trip for 1 day, 2 days, 3 days, or even 1 week in Kyoto. 

Kyoto Pre-Trip Essential

Bear in mind that Kyoto is a very popular tourist attraction. it will be too crowded for comfort during peak season. If you’ve got only limited time, it is impossible for you to explore all the sights within one day. Traveling to different attractions also takes time.

If you only got one day, we recommended you best pick some of the most stunning and memorable attractions that you are interested in. Slow down your pace and spend less than half a day exploring only one spot.

How Many Days in Kyoto?

In our opinion, two days is just right to get a look at what Kyoto has to offer. Added, don’t forget you might need an additional one day for a day trip to Nara and Uji. 

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 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.

You might need to slightly rush to get to the next attraction. While Arashiyama and Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine can be easily reached by JR train. Lastly, head to the Southern Higashiyama district to spend your remaining time in this area.

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.

How To Get To Kyoto

Haruka Limited Express
Haruka Limited Express

The Kansai International Airport (KIX) is the nearest international airport in the Kansai region. It depends on your Japan itinerary to Kyoto. Most people will choose to get to Kyoto or Osaka for their first destination in the Kansai region.

From Kansai airport to Kyoto, the easiest transportation is by rapid train. The Haruka Limited Express from JR West will directly take you to Kyoto Station from Kansai Airport. Klook is offering discounted Haruka Limited Express if you opt for this option. Else, you can take the limousine bus with a longer traveling time but cheaper.

While from Osaka to Kyoto, there are up to 4 different train companies running this popular route. The best option depends on where you departed and the next visited location 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.

Last but not least, the shinkansen is the best way to get to Kyoto from Tokyo. The bullet train fare is not cheap even in one way. So, consider getting the Japan Rail Pass which greatly save on transportation fee for round-trip travelers.

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.

3 Days Kyoto Itinerary

While some the people are only visiting Kyoto as a day trip from Osaka. We feel that 2 days is the best and relaxing enough to cover the top attraction in Kyoto. Moreover, you might also consider adding 1 more day to make the total 3 days Kyoto itinerary if you are coming during cherry blossom or fall foliage season. Believe me, you won’t regret this decision for visiting Kyoto when the sakura is full blooming. The view is so amazingly beautiful. If you are having more time in Kyoto, consider including one more day for a day trip to Nara or Uji.

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

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 and Uji

Below we will start with giving an overview of things to do in Kyoto in each district and only proceed to a more deep explanation of how to plan your Kyoto itinerary for 3 days.

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

Things To Do in Kyoto: Cherry Blossom Viewing (April)

During our Kyoto trip in April, we took the JR Shinkansen from Tokyo to Kyoto. We arrived in Kyoto in the afternoon, and successfully check in to our accommodation nearby the Kyoto station. Next, we are ready to out for our first day Kyoto itinerary!

While this is the best time with cherry blossom in Kyoto, we don’t want to waste this great opportunity for sakura viewing. So our first day is focusing on the cherry blossom itinerary in Kyoto. If you are not coming at this time, you may read on and check out our Kyoto travel guide on day 2 and day 3.

Things To Do in Kyoto (April):

  • Kyoto Cherry Blossom Viewing: Philosopher’s Walk, Keage Incline
  • Dinner at Kyoto Ramen Koji

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

Kyoto Travel Tips: Kyoto Travel Tips: Kyoto is extremely amazing in April when sakura in full bloom.

Philosopher’s Walk

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

Firstly, we were headed to the Philosopher’s Walk (哲学の道). On a normal day, the Philosopher Walk is only a pedestrian path with a cherry tree-lined along the canal in Kyoto. But do you know, 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 detail 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 nearby 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 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!

Dinner at Kyoto Ramen Koji

Kyoto Ramen Koji

After that, we were headed for a bowl of tasty hot ramen at Kyoto Ramen Koji. From Keage incline, we took the subway from Keage station back to Kyoto station.

The Kyoto Ramen Koji is located inside the Kyoto Station building at level 10F. This ramen street is home to eight ramen specialties in Japan which is Sapporo, Fukushima, Tokyo, Toyama, Osaka, Kyoto, Tokushima, and Hakata.

Kyoto Masutani ramen

We choose the Masutani ramen which origin from Kyoto. This ramen store is 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 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 more quick fast and only waits for less than 20 minutes. We choose the char-siu ramen with a slow-boiled egg at 900 yen. 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 hour: 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 quickly 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 can’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.

Stay: Pieces Hostel Kyoto

Next, we walked back to our hotel for rest. We stayed at Pieces Hostel Kyoto, one of the best budget stays hotels nearby Kyoto station. It is conveniently located nearby within walking distance of Kyoto station. Most important, this designer hostel with extremely reasonable price. (48,780 JYP/night)!

However, it is very popular among travelers and sometimes very difficult to get your room. Alternatively, look for Daiwa Royal Hotel Grande Kyoto within 5 minutes walking distance from the station.

Things To Do in Kyoto: Visit Southern Higashiyama District

The second day on things to do in Kyoto is focusing on the important sights in the Southern Higashiyama district. As usual, we are always advised to start your journey in the morning.

First up, we started day 2 in Kyoto with a good breakfast at Pieces Kyoto Hostel. 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!

Things To Do in Kyoto (Southern Higashiyama District):

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

Kiyomizudera: UNESCO World Heritage Site

Street view when getting to Kiyomizudera

From Kyoto station, we took the Kyoto city bus and get off at Gojozaka stop. A single way of bus ride costs ¥230. For money-saving tips. Consider getting the Kyoto one-day bus pass if you are planning for more than two bus rides in your Kyoto itinerary.

We decided directly headed to Kiyomizudera. There are a leisure 15 minutes walk from Gojozaka bus station to the temple. The picturesque shopping streets lined along the way up.

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 in 139 pillars without using one single nail.

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 Gojozaka stop. Bus fare ¥230.

Wandering At Ninenzaka & Sannenzaka Slope

Street view at Ninenzaka Slope

After the visit to Kiyomizudera, we spend our time wandering around the busy shopping street in ninenzaka and sannenzaka slope. There are various souvenir shops, restaurants, and cafes along the street.

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.

Admire the Yasaka Pagoda

We slowly walked toward Yasaka pagoda. 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 the beautiful photos from the outside.

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.

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. Compare 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 Hour: 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 local JR train from Kyoto station. It is only 2 stops away with 6 minutes train ride. So, for easier transport arrangement, 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 thousand of eye-catching torii with amazing views along the walk.

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 spend 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 Hour: 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. The train fare cost ¥150.

Things To Do in Kyoto: Western Kyoto, Arashiyama

On Day-3 in Kyoto, we were headed to Arashiyama which is located in West Kyoto. We enjoyed our Sagano scenic ride to enjoy the mountain view at the Japanese village. Next, we spend our whole morning wandering around in Arashiyama. In the 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.

Things To Do in Kyoto (Western Kyoto, Arashiyama)

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

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 blossom in spring and fall foliage in autumn. 

We bought the Sagano Scenic Railway ticket once we arrived in Kyoto. The train will ride in the upstream direction from Kameoka to Saga torokko station.

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 the scenic boat ride.

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

  • Train Fare: 620 yen, 25 minutes
  • Operating hour: 9:00 to 16:00 (until 17:00 on busy days)
  • Close: every Wednesday except national holidays, spring and summer holiday,s and autumn foliage season. Not operate during winter from Dec 30 to the end of Feb
  • Official websitewww.sagano-kanto.co.jp/en/
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

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 direction, we were 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 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.

The Reflection of Kinkakuji Temple

Kinkakuji with reflection
Kinkakuji Temple

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.

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 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.

Planning Kyoto Itinerary

Kyoto itinerary Travel Blog
Kyoto itinerary Travel Blog

For those of you planning your own Kyoto itinerary, we wanted to share our Kyoto travel blog and Kyoto itinerary to help with your trip planning for 1, 2, or 3 days! 

Kyoto has many top attractions and is famous for its historical temple and shrine. 3 days is enough to see the major sites of Kyoto. But, if you are limited in time, it is doable for a 1 or 2 days stay. Some travelers even plan for visiting by day trip from Osaka.

I have outlined 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. Below is our recommended Kyoto itinerary travel route that takes you through Kyoto’s main sightseeing attractions with ease of transport and follows the district allocation. 

I hope below simple and easy Kyoto itinerary travel blog will help to plan your Kyoto itinerary in 1, 2, or even 3 days. If this sounds like you, this may be your perfect Kyoto itinerary. You can read more detail about each day below.

What To Do in Kyoto for 3 Days:

  • Day 1: Kiyomizudera, Ninenzaka and Sannenzaka Slope, Fushimi-Inari-Taisha Shrine, and Gion district.
  • Day 2: Arashiyama, Sagano Scenic Train ride, Kinkakuji.
  • Lastly, Day 3: Nara (Todai-ji Temple, Kasuga Grand Shrine), and Uji.

Note: Don’t forget to include Philosopher’s Path, Nanzenji, and Keage Incline if you’re visiting Kyoto during Cherry Blossom season.

Kyoto Itinerary Day 1

Best View of Kiyomizudera

Assuming you’re arrived in Kyoto and start your 1-day 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.

Start your day at historical important sights at Southern Higashiyama Sightseeing District. This popular attraction is always good to visit in the morning to avoid the crowd. Visit the world-famous spectacular wooden building Kiyomizudera. One of the UNESCO world heritage sites.

Next, exit via the front of the temple and walk down Matsubara-dori Street. Spend your time strolling around the iconic street at Ninenzaka and Sannenzaka Slope, the lovely preserved district and iconic street in Kyoto.

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.

Note: The main hall of Kiyomizudera is under maintenance until 2020.

Related Post: Kiyomizudera Itinerary Walking Guide

Best Stay in Kyoto

Kyoto Hotel 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.

In the late afternoon, proceed to Fushimi-Inari-Taisha Shrine. 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 and you’ll shortly get to the main precinct of the shrine.

This incredible Shinto shrine is famous for its arcades of vermillion torii gates. The walk under the eye-catching Torii was one of the most memorable experiences for your Kansai Japan trip. Take an amazing photo with its magnificent red torii gates.

The scenery is almost the same even up to the summit. We recommended climbing up slightly higher to avoid the crowd. But we don’t suggest doing the whole route unless you have more time to spend on it. Just go up as far as you can and return.

Have your dinner and spend your night at the downtown and Gion district. You may spot the geisha passing by if you are lucky.

Kyoto Itinerary Day 2

Arashiyama Hozugawa River Boat Ride
Arashiyama Hozugawa River Boat Ride

Hopefully, you are still not sore from walking for the whole day. Heading to Arashiyama at 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.

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.

One of the recommendations is to explore scenic Kyoto by hopping on the Sagano Scenic Railway and boarding a boat to cruise along the Hozugawa River. This is truly an amazing experience. 

Unfortunately, we only get to know the Sagano Scenic Railway and miss up on the Hozugawa ride. It was fun when seeing to see people boating along the river. High recommended!

Next, heading to Kinkakuji, the golden pavilion in the 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.

Related post for Day 2 in Kyoto:

Kyoto Itinerary Day 3

One Day Nara Itinerary

Lastly, spend day 3 in Kyoto by 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 really enjoy my time wandering around in Nara park with deer encounters. Don’t forget to try the local specialties 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:

Where To Stay

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 nearby 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 nearby Kyoto station:

  • Daiwa 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, couple, and family. 24 hours service desk and professional staff.
  • Pieces Hostel Kyoto is your best budget hotel in Kyoto. It is a great option with a beautiful design hostel with a clean room at a reasonable price. Strategically located with less than 5 minutes walk from Kyoto station. Free breakfast includes Japanese and western food available.

Best hotel in Kyoto Downtown Kawaramachi:

  • The Royal Park Hotel Kyoto Sanjo is a modern and cozy place to stay in Kyoto downtown. Although the rooms are relatively small just like the normal Japanese standard. But it is very comfortable and clean. The location is a superb strategy which is located nearby Kyoto Shiyakusho-mae Subway Station and Sanjo Keihan Station. Both stations are within a 3-minute walk away. Added, Ponto-cho, Gion, and plenty of eateries and shops are easy to access on foot.

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 very 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. While we were visiting Kyoto during the sakura season, we were spending one day on the Kyoto cherry blossom itinerary.  While there are so many attractions to plan on what to do and see in Kyoto.

It’s unlikely that everything will appeal to you, especially in different seasons. We’ve visited Kyoto for different seasons and 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 days in Kyoto during our cherry blossom trip in April but with no regret.

Just pick your favorites into your itinerary. You’re just about ready for your trip. Happy travel to Kyoto!

Continue to Read on Kansai Japan Travel

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.

Related Kyoto/Osaka/Nara/Uji travel blog:

Kyoto Food Guide: Top 7 Must Eat Food in Kyoto

Osaka Food Guide: Top 8 Unique Food To Eat in Osaka

For transportation guide on How to travel to Osaka, Kyoto & Nara: