The following is a suggested full day itinerary for medium paced travelers that leads through the narrow streets and quiet residential areas at the foot of Kyoto's Eastern mountains, stopping at several of the city's most popular temples and shrines along the way.

Start at Ginkakuji
Zen Temple 45 minutes
Start the day at Ginkakuji, a former retirement villa turned Zen temple built in 1482
Walk to the start of the Philosopher's Path just outside Ginkakuji
5 minutes
Philosopher's Path
A beautiful path lined with cherry trees 60 minutes
The approximately 1.5 kilometer long Philosopher's Path follows a canal and is especially beautiful during the cherry blossom season. The southern end of the path disappears into residential neighborhoods, so look for and follow the signs to Nanzenji.
Walk to Nanzenji from the end of the Philosopher's path
10 minutes
One of the most important Zen temples in Japan 60 minutes
Explore Nanzenji. Check out the view from Sanmon Gate and the gardens at the main temple and smaller subtemples around the complex. Finish around the brick aqueduct at the rear of the temple grounds
Walk to the Keage Incline from Nanzenji
10 minutes
Keage Incline
One of the best cherry blossom spots in Kyoto 30 minutes
A trail leads off to the right from behind Nanzenji's brick aqueduct along a small canal to the Keage Incline. This tree lined slope is most beautiful in spring when it becomes one of the best cherry blossom spots in Kyoto.
Walk along the canal at the bottom of the Keage Incline.
10 minutes
Heian Shrine
Shrine with a beautiful garden 45 minutes
Check out the huge torii gate along the approach to Heian Shrine. The garden behind is also beautiful in the spring when its numerous weeping cherry trees are in bloom.
Backtrack to the torii gate and head to Yasaka Shrine via Maruyama Park.
20 minutes
Yasaka Shrine
Home of the famous Gion Matsuri 30 minutes
Check out Yakasa Shrine and its striking vermillion structures.
Go back through Maruyama Park to Kodaiji.
10 minutes
Kodaiji Temple
Zen temple with impressive gardens 45 minutes
Explore Kodaiji and surroundings
Continue south towards the Higashiyama District.
5 minutes
Higashiyama Streets
Winding streets lined with traditional shophouses 60 minutes
Explore the historic shopping streets of the Higashiyama District. Continue past the Ninenzaka and Sannenzaka Steps until you reach the approach to Kiyomizudera Temple.
Walk up the shop-lined approach to Kiyomizudera.
5 minutes
Temple with an iconic wooden stage 60 minutes
Check out Kiyomizudera Temple. Afterward, consider backtracking through Higashiyama to check out Gion or Pontocho for dinner.

Recommended Additions


Eikando is a large temple near Nanzenji that is especially nice to visit in autumn when the leaves change. Extremely popular evening illuminations are also held during the fall season.


Check out the historical Gion entertainment district where there are plenty of wonderful, if not pricey, restaurants to experience Kyoto cuisine. While there, check out a show at the Gion Corner and get an introduction to Kyoto culture.


The Higashiyama District is a popular shopping area that has been serving travelers and temple visitors for centuries. There is a large variety of stores selling Kyoto specialties, food, clothes and souvenirs. Or for more modern shopping, check out the boutiques, department stores and shopping arcades along Shijo Avenue.

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