Kyoto is one of the biggest cities in the Kansai region next to Osaka and Kobe. Being a large city, it can be hard to decide where to stay when planning your itinerary. There are many great areas to stay in Kyoto depending on your travel style and preferences.
For first-time visitors, Downtown Kyoto is a great base as it is near some of the sights in the city and there are also a lot of restaurants, shops, and bars in the area. If you prefer a more modernized part of the city, Central Kyoto is the place to be while Kibune is a great place for nature lovers.
In this article, we will talk about 7 areas where you can stay in Kyoto. We will also mention some great hotels in each area so you have options for accommodation. If you are ready for your adventure in Kyoto, read until the end!
Downtown Kyoto is a great area to stay in for first-time visitors as it is well-connected to the public transportation system in the city. There are buses in the area and there are also two train lines and a subway that can take you to most of the sights in the city.
Downtown Kyoto is also home to a lot of shops, restaurants, and bars. Kyoto also has a decent nightlife if you like to party. Downtown Kyoto Nishiki Market is also a very popular place where you can find lots of food stalls and small shops.
Staying in Downtown Kyoto gives you a lot of options when it comes to hotel accommodations. Some of the luxury hotels you can stay in Downtown Kyoto are the Ritz-Carlton Kyoto and Kyoto Hotel Okura.
If you want to stay in a modern city but still be close to the old part of Kyoto, staying in central Kyoto is a great option. Central Kyoto is the modern part of Kyoto and this is where you will see most of the high-rise buildings and modern houses. But, there are still a few traditional Japanese houses in the area and you will definitely get to experience a mix of the old and new Kyoto. There are also a lot of restaurants, bars, and izakayas (traditional Japanese bars) in Central Kyoto.
Central Kyoto is a big area and there are many hotels and other types of accommodation you can stay at. However, the area is quite far from the most predominant sights in Kyoto. The closest attractions in Central Kyoto are the Nijo Castle and the Kyoto Imperial Palace. However, with Kyoto’s extensive public transportation system, visiting other main sights in Kyoto from the city center is easy. Just make sure to book a hotel that is near the train or bus station. Some of the best hotels you can stay at in Central Kyoto are Noku Kyoto, Hotel Grand Bach Kyoto, and The June Hotel Kyoto Imperial Palace West.
If you plan on doing day trips to Nara and Osaka, staying in the Kyoto Station area is a great option. Kyoto Station is the main railway station in Kyoto and all trains of Japan Railways have connections to Kyoto Station.
This station is also an attraction in itself because of its modern structure and it is filled with restaurants, shops, and photo spots. Even if you don’t have a trip to Kyoto Station, it is a great place to visit, especially if you like shopping.
One of the iconic landmarks near Kyoto Station is the Kyoto Tower. While there are not many sights and landmarks near the Kyoto Station building, having easy access to the train station can get you anywhere in Kyoto. If you plan on going to the iconic Fushimi Inari Taisha, a train ride from Kyoto Station only takes about 5 minutes via the JR Nara Line. Some of the best hotels to stay in the area are Hotel Granvia Kyoto, Hotel Kana, and Century Hotel Kyoto.
Gion and Southern Higashiyama
Staying at Gion is a great option if you want to stay in Kyoto’s oldest Geisha district and southern Higashiyama is where Kyoto’s ancient temples are. Gion is also full of traditional wooden Japanese shops, tea houses, and restaurants and is a great place to immerse yourself in traditional Japanese culture.
The downside to staying in the Gion and southern Higashiyama area is it gets very crowded as it is a popular place in Kyoto. Southern Higashiyama is also home to Kyoto’s most famous temple, Kiyomizu-dera Temple and a lot of people visit this temple. Southern Higashiyama is also where Kyoto’s museum district is located.
Like other neighborhoods in Kyoto, Gion, and Southern Higashiyama are also very accessible via public transportation. Some of the best hotels to stay in this area are Four Seasons Kyoto and Gion Hatanaka. You can also find a traditional Japanese Inn (traditional Ryokan) in this area.
Just like south Higashiyama, northern Higashiyama also has a lot of stunning old temples that you can visit. But, staying in northern Higashiyama will give you a more calmer and quieter vibe compared to the crowded Gion and southern Higashiyama area.
Two famous landmarks in Kyoto can be found in this are – the Ginkaku-ji Temple (The Silver Pavilion) and the Philosopher’s Path. As these two are some of the main attractions in Kyoto, they do get crowded. But the overall vibe of northern Higashiyama is very calm and quiet.
The downside is, you will have limited options when it comes to restaurants and shopping areas. But, don’t worry as northern Higashiyama is still very well connected to the other areas in Kyoto via public transportation. There are several hotels and ryokans in northern Higashiyama such as the Ryokan Inn Yoshida-sanso and Okra Okazaki Bettei.
Located on the western side of Kyoto, Arashiyama is the perfect place to stay for nature lovers. If you want to experience Kyoto’s suburbs, this is the place to be.
Arashiyama is home to the famous Arashiyama Bamboo Forest and the area is also very popular during the cherry blossom season. You can also visit the Tenryu-ji Temple, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Arashiyama. If you like spending time in nature, walking along hiking trails, or just being a lover of the outdoors, staying in Arashiyama is your best option.
Arashiyama is just a little over 20 minutes from Kyoto Station via the JR San-in or Sagano Lines. If you want easy access to Kyoto’s city center, book your accommodation near train stations. One of the hotels that is within walking distance from Hanky Arashiyama Station is the GrandWest Arashiyama. Other hotels you can stay at Arashiyama are Suiran and Magi Kyoto Arashiyama.
If you want to really be far away from the city center, going north of Arashiyama will take you to Kibune. This area is a scenic spot that is known for hiking trails, onsens, and riverside dining. Kibune is about a 40-minute train ride from Central Kyoto on the Eizan Kurama Line.
The area is far away from all the main sights of Kyoto but, if you are not a first-time visitor and want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city, the Kibune area is a great place. Some of the accommodations in this area are the Kyo no Minshuku Ohara no Sato and Japanese Ryokan Seryo.
deciding where to stay in Kyoto, make sure to think about the sights and attractions you will visit so you can pick a good base for your trip. There are a lot of beautiful areas where you can stay if you plan to visit Kyoto. Downtown Kyoto is perfect if it is your first time visiting Kyoto while Gion takes transports you back with its old wooden Japanese shops and buildings.
We have included 7 areas in this article that you can stay in if you plan on visiting Kyoto. We hope this helps you pick the best area for your Kyoto trip! Happy travels!