Things to do in
Kyoto Prefecture

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Our most recommended things to do in Kyoto Prefecture

From Osaka : Private Full-day Tour to Kyoto

1. From Osaka : Private Full-day Tour to Kyoto

Start the tour with pick up from central Osaka and travel to historic Kyoto. Over the course of the day, you'll be presented with a balanced view of this historic city and its surroundings. The Arashiyama district is the first stop, and it is here where you'll be introduced to Japanese garden and temple design. Tenryu-ji Temple has one of the most outstanding, timeless examples of Japanese gardens surrounding it's simple-but-majestic temple buildings. Then it's time for a walk up through the famous bamboo grove - a photo opportunity not to be missed - before arriving at the entrance to luxurious Okochi Sanso. Here you will try some matcha (Japanese green tea), before exploring the winding paths that connect the buildings, views, and garden areas. Afterwards, you'll enjoy a stroll alongside the river, then have free time for lunch and even a bit of shopping, if you wish. Next, enjoy the atmospheric streets of the Goin district, complete with a gurgling stream and rows of traditional tea house and restaurant buildings.  Not far from the Gion is Fushimi Inari-taisha, arguably the most famous Shinto shrine complex in the entire region. After having a look around you'll end your tour with a visit to the famous Torii gate.

Kyoto: Arashiyama Bamboo Forest Walking Food Tour

2. Kyoto: Arashiyama Bamboo Forest Walking Food Tour

Start the tour from the JR Saga Arashiyama station. The Arashiyama district, located west of the Kyoto city center, has long been a scenic leisure spot. Many ancient aristocrats had their villas here 1000 years ago and enjoyed writing literature and poetry. Today, the area is one of the most popular tourist sites in Kyoto.  First, explore the Bamboo Forest and quiet Sagano District, a peaceful neighborhood known for its beautiful maple trees. Then, visit Tenryu-ji temple which was built in 1339 by the Shogun Ashikaga in memory of the Emperor Go-Daigo and was a complex of more than 100 buildings. They were mostly destroyed by fires and civil wars over the years, but the traditional garden remains in its original form, designed by the monk Muso. Enjoy walking in the landscaped garden. After walking, taste Japanese croquette, leek pancakes, and sweet potato. Then, head over to the Togetsukyo bridge which, as the area’s landmark, dates back to the 9th-century and provides a good photo taking spot for visitors today. At the end of this half-day tour, have a nice sweets. If you like, you can enjoy shopping around after the tour because the this tour finished in a district where you can find many souvenirs.

Kyoto: Rent a Kimono for 1 day

3. Kyoto: Rent a Kimono for 1 day

Explore the picturesque streets of Kyoto while wearing a traditional Japanese kimono, and you will leave with many beautiful photos and memories. Kimonos can be rented both for men and women. The package includes the kimono itself, the sash belt (obi), the Japanese clutch, the Japanese sandals, and the Japanese socks. Don't worry about hair styling, because that is also available (additional cost), as are accessories and make-up (also for an additional cost). Discover Kyoto in a fun and traditional way with this unique opportunity to try the clothing used at formal Japanese occasions such as weddings.

Kyoto: 45-Minute Tea Ceremony Experience

4. Kyoto: 45-Minute Tea Ceremony Experience

You will take you place on the tatami, the traditional Japanese floor mat and be met by your English-speaking host, who is a licensed tea master from Urasenke, the biggest school of tea ceremony in Japan. Watch as the host carries out the ceremonial preparation of matcha, powdered green tea. Then, you will have the chance to make tea yourself, while the host informs you about the history and spiritual role of the tea ceremony and the effects each tea-making method has on its flavor. Afterwards, savor some traditional Japanese sweets Once the ceremony has come to a close, you will have the chance to take photos and see examples of kimonos and beautiful woven textiles made in the Nishijin district of Kyoto. If you'd like to wear a kimono during the experience, you can select it as an add-on during booking and take photos to remember the experience.

Kyoto : 1-Hour Gion Evening Highlights Guided Walking Tour

5. Kyoto : 1-Hour Gion Evening Highlights Guided Walking Tour

Save time and money on this value-packed tour of the Gion district with a multilingual tour guide. Experiencing a side of Kyoto that most tourists do not get to see. You'll start your evening by meeting your guide at the Tatsumi Daimyojin Shrine, the center of Gion. While exploring Gion, your guide will show you the history and culture of the Geisha. Learn about their kimonos and hairstyles, rules, and daily rituals. You'll walk down the cobbled streets of three3Geisha areas in total: Gion, Pontocho, and Miyagawacho while you listen to stories of Kyoto's ancient past. If you're lucky, you may even spot a geisha on the street.

Kyoto Nishiki Market Food Tour

6. Kyoto Nishiki Market Food Tour

Your experience will include stops at family owned stalls and shops which have stood the test of time. At a few of the stops sample specialty products like tsukemono (vegetables from the surrounding mountains preserved in vinegar), yuuba (the world’s smoothest sashimi tofu made from the world famous Kyoto mountain water), Kamaboko (seafood preserved in fish paste), Tako (Octopus with quail egg) and Macha Warabi Mochi (a special traditional sweet covered in ground tea leaves). During the tour learn detailed information about the ingredients of different Japanese dishes, how their food is prepared and what is used to eat it. Your experience will do more than just give you a chance to taste Kyoto’s delicious food but will also give you a sense the history and atmosphere of the Nishiki Market experienced by the Japanese for generations. You will be consumed with physical and visual stimuli every step of the way and enjoy stories from the past told directly from shopkeepers and families you will spend time with. After your market exploration walk to a nearby restaurant and have a course lunch featuring beautiful and delicious local dishes.

Kyoto: Private Tour with Local Licensed Guide

7. Kyoto: Private Tour with Local Licensed Guide

Discover Kyoto’s historical sites, favorite local spots, and hidden gems on a private walking tour with a nationally licensed guide. Choose from a 6 or 4-hour tour, whose itinerary can be customized to fit your interests. See both the modern and traditional sides of this dynamic and ancient city as well as some of the best sightseeing areas, restaurants, and shops. Visit places like the Fushimi Inari Shrine, famous for the Torii Gate Corridor. Explore the filming location for the film “Memoirs of a Geisha”, displaying a colorful crimson scenery with a mysterious atmosphere. Walk through the shrine’s corridors that were erected as a symbolic continuing gate from the current world to the world of the dead inhabited by the gods. Go to the Kinkaku-ji Temple (Temple of the Golden Pavilion), which was given its name from the golden color of its reliquary hall. Admire its simple yet bold structure that features beautiful mountain views in the background. Enter the ancient Kiyomizu-dera temple to get panoramic city views from its large veranda. Walk from the path from the temple to Gion, to find many Kyoto-esque shops filled with unique souvenirs. Grab a snack or enjoy a delicious dinner at one of the many fine restaurants in the Gion district. Your guide will give you dining recommendations that are sure to delight your palate.

Kyoto: All-Inclusive 3-Hour Food and Culture Tour in Gion

8. Kyoto: All-Inclusive 3-Hour Food and Culture Tour in Gion

Explore the Gion district by night with an experienced English, German, French, or Spanish-speaking tour guide who knows everything there is to know about the area. The tour starts near Kamo river, where you’ll learn about how the tradition of Geishas came to be. After a short stroll along a busy commercial street, you’ll slip into a calm, quiet area to visit the Yasaka Jinja shrine. After that touch of education, it’s off to the Gion.   The Gion has secrets and history scattered across its narrow streets, but this is also a modern entertainment district—so it’s time for a deep dive into what goes on here. Your guide will keep it light and fun, and explain some of the more interesting cultural mores of these parts. Step into a restaurant and graze from a multitude of small plates at a sort of Japanese-style tapas experience. Enjoy a drink as well before continuing on.   Between restaurant stops, there will be an exploration of Kiyamachi, Ponto-cho, and some other commercial and nightlife streets. Your guide will show you both modern and historical Kyoto, painting a well-rounded picture that gives you a real sense of the place. This tour keeps the groups small and includes your food and drinks, so that you can have a carefree night like you’re simply hanging out with someone who knows the neighborhood. A delicious Kobe (or nearby sourced) Beef option is available on top of the usual food and drink. This option is for bookings at least 10 hours in advance.

Night Walk in Gion: Kyoto's Geisha District

9. Night Walk in Gion: Kyoto's Geisha District

Experience one of the most popular walking tours in Kyoto, joined by nearly 5,000 guests annually. This 100-minute guided walk is led by a licensed English-speaking guide and takes you through nighttime Gion. The tour begins at Gion Omoide Museum, connected to a traditional pastry shop. Walk down the classic cobblestoned streets next to the Shirakawa River, and admire the scenery that was featured in the book and film, Memoirs of a Geisha. As you walk beside this beautiful stream, the guide will tell you about the history of geisha and give you a detailed explanation in regards to their kimono, hairstyle, traditional rules, and what their daily life is like. Although it is not guaranteed, during the walking tour guests often encounter geisha walking along the street.

From Osaka: Kyoto Top Highlights Day Trip

10. From Osaka: Kyoto Top Highlights Day Trip

Visit some of Kyoto's most famous cultural sites on this day-long bus tour from Osaka. Hop aboard a comfortable coach and drive to Japan's ancient capital to see the brilliant torii gates of the Fushimi Inari Shrine, the UNESCO-listed Kiyomizu-dera temple, and the golden pavilion of Kinkaku-ji. Kyoto is filled with ancient historic sites dating back to the 6th century. Get dropped off first at the Fushimi Inari Shrine, a Shinto shrine famous for its thousands of vermilion torii gates. Spend time wandering the brilliant paths before heading to your next destination. Arrive at Kiyomizu-dera, one of the most iconic temples in Japan. Take ample time to wander through the temple. Walk across the impressive wooden stage, which juts out from the hillside and was constructed without the use of a single nail. Next, stop at Kinkaku-ji, also known as the Golden Pavilion due to the fact that it's covered in gold leaf. Wander through the immaculate gardens surrounding the temple, admiring the original Japanese designs that have been preserved since Ashikaga's time. Finish the day in Arashiyama, which has been a popular nature-viewing destination since the Heian Period. Take a stroll through the cool Sagano Bamboo Forest and listen to the distinct rustle of bamboo leaves as you walk. In the late afternoon, hop on the bus back to Osaka.

Frequently asked questions about Kyoto Prefecture

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What people are saying about Kyoto Prefecture

Overall rating

4.5 / 5

based on 3,256 reviews

This was an amazing step into the world of Kyoto’s Geiko and Maiko district, Gion. I was simply shocked by how much I didn’t know about the it! Luckily, my guide Ayu was super helpful and knowledgeable about the subject of the tour and honestly about anything I asked about concerning Kyoto and Japanese culture. It was a great time that I can’t recommend enough if you want to know about the area and Kyoto in general.

A well thought out tour around some beautiful parts of Gion that tied in very well with the history our guide shared with us. Ayu-san has excellent English and was able to answer a variety of questions very well. The tour was well paced and not overly taxing. A few stairs to climb around the temple, but no steep hills to navigate.

The local Tour was amazing! Really made me feel like a local. An impossible task but one he really tried to accomplish. Helped me understand how Kyoto works from the ground up. Great experience and a great visit!!

Loving it...it was a very well organized and informative tour. Our tour guide Ayu was very knowledgeable and patient to answer all of our questions.

A very interesting and informative tour. The guide was very knowledgeable.