At least two full days are needed to get a taste of Kyoto; however, the city is extremely rich in history and culture, and you could easily spend a week exploring Japan's ancient capital and not run out of first class attractions to visit.

Suggested full day schedules

Suggested half day schedules

Northern Kyoto Half Day

This is another one of our recommended plans for first time visitors to Kyoto, as it covers some of the city's most iconic attractions including Kinkakuji (Golden Pavilion) and Ryoanji with its world famous Zen garden.

Suggested side trips


Nara, less than one hour south of Kyoto, was Japan's first permanent capital and remains full of historic treasures, particularly some of the country's oldest temples. While half a day is enough to cover just Todaiji Temple and its surroundings, a full day is recommended to better appreciate central Nara. Two days are needed to also cover the attractions outside of central Nara, such as Horyuji.


Himeji Castle is Japan's best preserved and most beautiful remaining feudal castle. From Kyoto it can be reached by shinkansen in 50 minutes. The cheaper, special rapid train takes about 85 minutes for one way.


Osaka, only 15 minutes by shinkansen from Kyoto, is the center of Western Japan, offering various attractions to travelers.


Kobe is an attractively situated city, 30 minutes west of Kyoto by shinkansen. Devastated by a 1995 earthquake, it has recovered completely.


Kinosaki is a charming hot spring town about 2.5 hours north of Kyoto along the coast of the Sea of Japan. Visitors can experience the nostalgic feel of an old fashioned hot spring town as they stroll about in the evenings dressed in yukata and geta (wooden clogs).

Hotels around Kyoto

Recommended Hotels
Backpackers Hostel Ks House Kyoto
One of Kyoto's most popular hostels. A ten minute walk from Kyoto Station.
Agoda Booking
Hotel Granvia Kyoto
Located inside Kyoto Station, this is Kyoto's most convenient 4-star hotel.
Agoda Booking
Hyatt Regency Kyoto Hotel
Elegant luxury hotel located near Sanjusangendo Temple.
Agoda Booking
Khaosan Kyoto Guest House
Cheap and popular hostel located in the heart of the city near Kawaramachi Station.
Agoda Booking
New Miyako Hotel Kyoto
Reasonably priced 3-star hotel located just across the street from Kyoto Station.
Agoda Booking
Royal Park Hotel The Kyoto
Modern hotel along Sanjo Street close to Pontocho and other dining options.
Agoda Booking