How Many Days To Spend In Kyoto, Japan

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Are you planning to visit Kyoto for the first time? Planning your Japan itinerary can be hard, especially if you are traveling to a country with so many beautiful cities, like Japan. Kyoto is one of the top destinations in Japan and it is a beautiful city to visit if you like a quiet and charming town.

Having been to Kyoto before, I can tell you that one day is definitely not enough to explore the city. However, if you are staying in Osaka, a day trip to Kyoto is definitely possible. If you want to take in the sights and attractions of Kyoto, 2 to 4 days will be enough. You can definitely stay longer if you want to explore off-the-beaten paths and really immerse yourself in the Japanese culture.

In this article, we will talk about the places you can visit in Kyoto whether you will only spend one day or more in the city. The places included in this article can all be visited if you spend 3 or more days in Kyoto! 

How Many Days To Spend In Kyoto?

How Many Days To Spend In Kyoto

Kyoto is a beautiful city in the Kansai region of Japan and it is known for its UNESCO World Heritage Sites, temples, shrines, and food. If you like the charm of a rural town, Kyoto is definitely worth to visit. If you are visiting Kyoto for the first time, 3 to 4 days in Kyoto will be enough to see the main sights and attractions of the city. Day trips to Kyoto are also possible if you are staying in nearby cities such as Osaka and Nara. However, you might find that one day in Kyoto might not be enough as it is a beautiful city.

How To Get Around Kyoto

How To Get Around Kyoto

The transportation network in Kyoto is well-developed and it is easy to get around the city. Kyoto has subways and trains which are very convenient, especially if you want to do trips to other cities. Trains are best used for inter-city travel and the best way to get around Kyoto is by bus.

You can buy the Kansai Thru Pass at Kyoto Station and you can choose between a 2 or 3-day pass. The Kansai Thru Pass will get you unlimited rides on both buses and trains (except for the JR line) and it also has special benefits and discounts for museums, restaurants, art galleries, and more in the Kansai region.

You can also opt to buy reloadable cards such as Icoca, Pasmo, and Suica. The Icoca card is the one mostly used in the Kansai region. These reloadable cards are also available in Kyoto Station and if you’ve run out of balance, train stations around the city have machines where you can load the card. 

What To Do In Kyoto

As we said earlier, Kyoto is known for its temples, shrines, and food. It is also one of the top tourist destinations in Japan and whether you spend 1 day, 2 days, or 3 days or more, you will have a wonderful time in the city. Here are some of the things you can do and places you can visit in Kyoto, Japan.

Arashiyama Bamboo Grove

Arashiyama Bamboo Grove

If you are only doing a day trip to Kyoto, you can visit some of the main tourist attractions in the city. You can start your trip by going to the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, one of Kyoto’s top sights, and take in the sights of the beautiful bamboo stalks. The bamboo grove is open 24 hours but you want to go very early in the morning, especially if you are only doing a day trip to Kyoto, as the place can get very crowded.

Fushimi Inari Taisha

Fushimi Inari Taisha

Fushimi Inari Taisha is one of the most iconic destinations in Kyoto. Be prepared to do a lot of walking as you will hoke the Shinto Shrine while passing through thousands of torii gates. You can hike all the way up to the top of the shrine but you can also go as far as you want before going back. The full hike to the summit takes about 2 to 3 hours going there and back. There are a lot of food stalls and restaurants at the base of the shrine so you can eat before and after your hike. Like the Ashiyama Bamboo Grove, entrance to the shrine is free and it also gets very crowded.

Nishiki Market

Nishiki Market

If you want to experience Kyoto’s food scene, Nishiki Market is a must-visit. Nishiki Market, also known as Kyoto’s Kitchen, is a narrow shopping street about 5 blocks long. You can try all sorts of food, from donuts to croquettes to traditional Japanese dishes such as takotamago and tempura. The market is open from 9 am to 6 pm but some shops open late, close early, or remain open past 6 pm. Nishiki Market is definitely an experience itself with over 100 stalls selling fresh produce, Japanese sweets, and more.

Kinkaku-ji Temple

Kinkaku-ji Temple

Kinkaku-ji Temple is also known as the Golden Pavilion because the temple is covered with plated gold. The main temple is not open to the public but there is a viewing spot across a pond that gives you majestic views of the temple, especially with the lush greenery as its background. There is an entrance fee to visit the temple and it is open from 9 am to 5 pm.

Nijo Castle

Nijo Castle

If you are planning on spending 2 days in Kyoto, you can add Nijo Castle to your itinerary. This castle, located in central Kyoto, was built in 1603 and was the residence of the first shogun of the Edo Period, Tokugawa Ieyasu. The Nijo Castle is known for housing the Ninomaru Palace which has the famous nightingale floors. As you step into the corridors of the palace, you will hear squeaking sounds much like that of a nightingale. This was done as a security measure to alert the occupants of the palace of any intruders. The outside of the palace is also as beautiful with a large garden with lots of cherry trees and ponds. Entrance to the Ninomaru Palace has a fee and the castle is open from 8:45 am to 5 pm. The Nijo Castle is also just 20 minutes away from Kyoto Imperial Palace on foot.

Book A Tea Ceremony

Book A Tea Ceremony

Kyoto is not only for visiting castles, temples, and shrines. There are other activities that you can do to immerse in the traditional culture of Japan. Tea ceremonies are very big in Kyoto and you can book a traditional tea ceremony as part of your trip. In a tea ceremony in Kyoto, a professional will teach you the art of preparing authentic matcha green tea. Some tea ceremony schools in Kyoto also offer other experiences such as wearing a Kimono during the class for an authentic Japanese tea ceremony experience. Some schools also let you go sightseeing in a Kimono. If you are a tea lover, booking a tea ceremony in Kyoto can be a great experience.

Do A Day Trip To Nara

Do A Day Trip To Nara

A visit to Kyoto is not complete if you do not go on a day trip to Nara. The travel time from Kyoto to Nara only takes about 35 minutes if you choose to use the Kintentsu Nara line. However, this railway is not covered by the Japan Rail Pass or JR Pass, if you have one. The JR Nara line takes about 45 minutes using the express train and about an hour if you use the local train. Nara is famous for its roaming deers and the Kofuku-ji Temple, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can interact with the deer and you can even feed them with a special cracker that you can buy in the stalls around the Nara park.

Conclusion

Kyoto is such an incredible city that is rich in culture. You will definitely feel like you’ve been transported in the past with all the traditional Japanese shrines and temples such as the Kinkaku-ji Temple, Kiyomizu-dera Temple Ginkaku-ji Temple (the Silver Pavilion), and more all over the city. We hope this article helped you plan your trip to Kyoto. If you want to see the the cherry blossoms, it is best to visit during the cherry blossom season at the end of March and the first two weeks of April. Whether you spend one day or more, you will have a wonderful time in this city!

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