The following is a suggested half day itinerary for medium paced travelers around Kyoto's Philosopher's Path. This itinerary can be extended to a full day plan with a few additions.

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
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 20 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 follow the Shirakawa Canal to Gion
20 minutes
Historical neighborhood 60 minutes
Explore the old neighborhoods around the Shirakawa area of Gion. Cross Shijo Avenue and continue exploring Gion's Hanami-koji neighborhood. Afterwards, consider having dinner in Gion or Pontocho or another of our suggested additions listed below.

Recommended Additions

Kyoto Half Day Itineraries

This itinerary is easily combined with one of our other suggested Kyoto itineraries to make a full day plan. One possibility would be to do this itinerary in the morning followed by our Higashiyama itinerary in the afternoon.


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.

Nishiki Market

Nishiki Market is a friendly market to explore and try some Japanese food, but beware that most of the shops along the market open relatively late in the morning and close by early evening.

Dinner along Pontocho

Pontocho is one of Kyoto's more atmospheric dining streets, especially during the summer months when many of the restaurants build open air decks for riverside dining. Most restaurants open around 17:00.

Dinner in Gion

Gion is a wonderful, if not pricy, place to experience Kyoto cuisine. Some of the city's most exclusive restaurants can be found in Gion, but there are also plenty of moderately priced establishments.


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