In this article, we will introduce a perfect Kyoto 2-day itinerary, especially recommended for first-timers! This itinerary suggests how to best enjoy the city of Kyoto in 2 days with the best highlights such as temples, shrines and other must-see places in this beautiful old city.
- Day1: Explore the East Side of Kyoto
- Day2: Explore the West Side of Kyoto
- Recommended Stays in Kyoto
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Day1: Explore the East Side of Kyoto
10am Fushimi Inari Shrine
Let’s start your Kyoto trip from the famous Fushimi Inari Shrine where you can see thousands of red torii gates. It’s one of the most photogenic spots in Kyoto.
Since it’s a popular tourist spot, visiting Fushimi Inari Shrine in the early morning is also recommended.
Fushimi Inari Shrine is located in Mt. Inari and the mountain itself is considered as a precinct of the shrine. You can enjoy a pilgrimage while hiking on the 233 meters mountain. It takes approximately 2 hours to get to the top.
11.30am Kiyomizu Temple
The next stop is Kiyomizudera (or Kiyomizu Temple), one of the most famous temples and sightseeing spots in Kyoto. Near the temple, there are areas called Sannen Zaka and Ninen Zaka that have a traditional atmosphere with well-preserved buildings. We recommend you stop there and have Udon noodles for lunch!
▶Recommended Private guided tour at Kiyomizudera Temple and more
1pm Yasaka Shrine Area
Around Yasaka Shrine is a very beautiful area and there are several notable landmarks such as Ishibei Koji Street, Tower of Yasaka and Kodaiji Temple. This area is less crowded than Kiyomizu temple, so you could feel the calm and pleasant atmosphere of traditional Kyoto.
3pm Ginkakuji Temple and Philosopher’s Path
How about visiting Ginkakuji temple? It’s a sophisticated temple and has Zen atmosphere. And the gardens are also beautiful! After Ginkakuji temple, you can have a relaxing walk through Tetsugaku no michi (Philosopher’s Path). You will find hidden shrines, small cafes and restaurants along the path.
5pm Explore Gion Area
The Gion area is a very famous spot for Maiko and Geiko (or Geisha) because there are many Ozashiki where they perform! If you are very lucky, you can see Maiko walking on the streets of Gion.
If you want to make sure to see them, watch their performance at Gion Corner or book the tour!
▶Recommended walking tour at Nishiki street & Gion area
7pm Dinner at Pontocho Alley
Kyoto has its own unique food culture and there are some signature dishes like Yuba, Kaiseki, Hamo etc. If you already travel around Tokyo, you should try local food to see the difference between dishes in Tokyo and Kyoto. In the Pontocho area, there are many restaurants and bars in a beautiful atmosphere where you can enjoy the evening.
We also recommend you to take a bar hopping tour which is guided by local experts! You can explore and hop several restaurants and bars where locals usually hang out. You may not find these places without local guides as they are usually not in guidebooks. Check the link below to find out more details about the tour!
▶Recommended Pontocho Food and Drink Hopping Tour
Day2: Explore the West Side of Kyoto
9am Kinkakuji Temple
Kinkakuji Temple is another one of the most famous spots in Kyoto, also known as the golden pavilion. When you research Kyoto you probably have seen a picture of this stunning temple! Though the place is often very crowded, it is definitely worth going and seeing it with your own eyes. On a day of snow or autumn leaves, it could get even busier.
10am Ryoanji Temple
Ryoanji is very famous for its’ Zen garden from the 15th century. In the garden, there are 15 rocks, but you can find only 14 rocks from everywhere. It’s said that it indicates nothing is perfect.
1pm Togetsukyo bridge
Next, let’s move to the Arashiyama area. There is a very famous bridge called Togetsukyo Bridge. It’s one of the most picturesque spots in Kyoto. The view of the bridge over the Oigawa River is very beautiful!
Tip: Across the bridge there is a monkey park. You could see more than 100 monkeys!
▶Recommended Food and Drinks Tour in Arashiyama area
2pm Tenryuji Garden
In Tenryuji Garden, there is another beautiful Zen garden. This is one of UNESCO World Heritage sites in Kyoto and Japanese first national important property. You can even do some meditation while observing the beautiful garden!
3pm Bamboo Grove
The Bamboo Grove of Arashiyama is also a very famous spot in Kyoto. Have you seen the photos with the bamboo? There are thousands of bamboo trees and you can feel the cooler and pleasant air inside the bamboo grove.
This is our suggested Kyoto 2-day itinerary, covering most of the highlights. But of course there is much more to see and do in Kyoto. You can easily spend a full week in this city alone! But most likely you don’t have this time to spend in Kyoto. If you have a local guide on this itinerary, that would make your days more enjoyable and you get most out of your trip to Kyoto! We have knowledgeable local guides to make your trip better. If you are interested in our tour, check the link below.
▶Total Kyoto Experience – 10 Hours Private Walking Tour
Is it hard to come to Japan right now?
You can join our tour at home and learn about Kyoto before you come to Japan! Explore 5 spots including Kinkakuji, Arashiyama, Fushimi Inari etc. while the local guide telling you the small story abut the area.
▶Kyoto Virtual Highlight Tour
Recommended Stays in Kyoto
High Class Hotel
We wish you a wonderful time in Kyoto! Happy travelling!
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