Top 10 Kyoto Tours

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Misty Fujii is a Canadian who moved to Osaka, Japan in 2019 and married her Japanese sweetheart. In 2022 they had a baby and moved to Fukui for the clean country air. She is a DJ who teaches English part time and writes in order to share Japan with the world. She gets excited about collecting vintage vinyl records, food of all countries, travelling and renovating her traditional Japanese house.

There is so much to see and do in Japan’s cultural capital. Home to numerous temples, shrines and palaces, Kyoto has some of the country’s oldest buildings and is also known for its rich food culture and geisha. Guided tours will give you an up-close-and-personal experience of this fascinating prefecture and make sure you don’t miss out on all the amazing things Kyoto has to offer. 

1. Kyoto Food and Drink Tour @Nishiki Street & Gion

If the quickest way to your heart is food, you’ll definitely fall in love with Kyoto on this tour, which will take you through ‘Kyoto’s Kitchen’ and beyond. Starting at Nishiki Market, you’ll learn all about the history of this 400-year-old foodie haven while sampling local delicacies as you go. Nishiki Market is famous in Kyoto, with more than 100 shops and restaurants specializing in the area’s culinary specialties. You’ll also get a taste of the city’s ancient culture as you wander Kyoto’s nostalgic streets, leading you through some of the popular geisha districts. With stops at shrines and temples along the way to learn about local traditions and beliefs, your head will be as full as your belly by the end of the tour.

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2. Kyoto Night Foodie Tour

Gion Pontocho geisha district
Pontocho offers an authentic nightlife experience

Kyoto comes alive at night, especially in the geisha districts. For an even deeper experience of Kyoto’s food culture, you can visit some of the city’s smaller restaurants and bars to try traditional food and drinks. You’ll learn about food history and culture from your guide as you savor the flavors of Kyoto around the areas of Gion and Pontocho. Don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled for geisha in the lively neighborhoods past the Kamogawa River. 

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3. Kyoto Private Full Day Walking Tour

The beautiful bamboo forest at Arashiyama is one if the places you can experience on this fully customizable tour

With so much to see, it’s impossible to do everything in a single day. Or is it? Thankfully there are knowledgeable guides who can use their expertise to curate a customized tour, making sure you don’t miss any of the good spots. You can start at Fushimi Inari Shrine, famous for the thousands of bright red torii gates. From there, you can explore the green bamboo paradise that is Arashiyama before heading to the magnificent golden pavilion, Kinkakuji Temple. Or perhaps you’ve always wanted to explore Gion, the most famous geisha district. You could even enjoy breathtaking views of Kyoto from Kiyomizudera, one of the most celebrated temples in Japan. It’s up to you! This is the ideal tour if your time is limited and you want to make the most of it.

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4. 3-Hours Kyoto Insider Sake Experience

Dive into the world of sake at one of Kyoto’s largest sake breweries

Curious about the world of sake, Japan’s famous and much-loved drink? On this tour you will get to try ten different types of sake, from sweet and fruity types to dry and even a cloudy one. You will tour the biggest sake brewery in Fushimi, where you can see how sake is made the traditional way and, of course, taste it! Then, meet a true sake expert to try varieties you might not have imagined existed. One of the best things about being among pros is that they know exactly which snacks will be the perfect match for the sake you’re drinking. With the handy cheat sheet received on this tour, you’ll surely be able to impress your friends back home with your newfound sake knowledge. 

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5. Kyoto 4-Hour HIGHLIGHT Private Walking Tour

kiyomizudera fall
Opt for the breathtaking views from Kiyomizudera on this half-day private tour

You don’t even need a full day to make the most of your time in Kyoto. With a half-day tour, you’ll still have the chance to see some of the top sights and learn all about them from an expert tour guide. Choose a couple of your must-see spots, or let the guide decide and take you to some quintessential Kyoto locations. The tour could include a visit to the famous Fushimi Inari Shrine and Kiyomizudera, for example. No time for getting lost? No problem, because your guide will meet you at your hotel or Kyoto Station. 

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6. Bike Tour Exploring North Kyoto plus Lunch

Kitano Tenmangu Kyoto Autumn
Kitano Tenmangu Shrine is especially famous for its autumn colors

They say you never truly know a destination until you’ve biked your way through it. Whether you’re looking to reduce your carbon footprint or just love to cycle, this is a great tour option for active travelers. Explore northern Kyoto on two wheels and navigate some of the roads less traveled. If you think you’ve already seen most of what Kyoto has to offer, this tour will surprise you with a visit to the lesser-known Nishi Honganji Temple, before soaking up the tranquility of Kitano Tenmangu Shrine. Then, you’ll bike to a great photo spot and admire the golden Kinkakuji Temple. Thanks to your two-wheeled mode of transport, you can cover a lot more ground compared to being on foot, so you’ll be able to see Kyoto’s Imperial Palace and the Gion district as well. 

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7. Kyoto Rickshaw Tour

Kyoto rickshaw ride
A rickshaw ride is a fun way to explore Kyoto’s historic streets

Evoke a nostalgic era on a rickshaw ride through some of Kyoto’s most scenic and historic districts. If you’ve always wanted to enjoy the sights and scenery without having to worry about where to turn at the next corner, sitting back on a rickshaw ride can be a fun and relaxing way to explore the city, and you can reserve the rickshaw for as long as you like. Whiz by sights like the green moss garden at Gio-ji Temple, admire cherry blossoms at Daikaku-ji Temple in spring, or see the cottage belonging to a famous Japanese haiku poet, to name a few. If you’re looking for an extraordinary experience on an unconventional mode of transport, look no further. 

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8. Kyoto Samurai Experience

Foreigner samurai with katana
Ever wanted to experience life as a samurai? Here’s your chance!

Samurai evoke images of strength and nobility, and they are a classic symbol of Japanese culture. Warriors of premodern Japan, they lived following a strict “samurai code” known as bushido. They also had some pretty incredible uniforms and weapons. If you’ve ever wanted to immerse yourself in samurai history and maybe even experience life as a samurai, this is your chance to do so for a couple of hours. Learn the philosophy of bushido, wield a real katana sword and find your inner zen at a meditation session, just like real samurai used to do. 

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9. Private Geisha district tour “Explore Gion, the Geisha world”

Geisha Maiko Kyoto
Learn about geisha on this fascinating tour of the tea house district

Another symbol of Japan, and particularly of Kyoto, are the elusive geisha. With stunning kimono and elaborate makeup, geisha are highly skilled in performing arts as well as the art of conversation. Typically only patronized by the wealthy, their lives are shrouded in mystery. For anyone fascinated by the mysterious world of geisha, this tour of Gion and its surrounding shrines and kabuki theater with an expert guide will be a dream come true. The chance of spotting a real geisha on her way to one of the area’s many tea houses is just icing on the cake!

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10. Traditional Tea Ceremony wearing a Kimono in Kyoto MAIKOYA

tea ceremony
Wear a beautiful kimono while participating in an authentic tea ceremony

If you’ve ever dreamt about donning a kimono, this dream is about to come true if you sign up for this authentic tea ceremony where you will participate wearing the traditional Japanese piece of clothing. Slowing down from the fast pace of everyday life while preparing and drinking matcha green tea is a Japanese tradition that goes back to the 1500s. Kyoto is famous for matcha and one of the best places in Japan to practice the art of tea ceremony. This is a rich cultural experience with plenty of great photo opportunities, allowing you to treasure your Japan trip for many years to come. 

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Kyoto Higashiyama

We hope these tours have piqued your interest in Kyoto and given you inspiration to dive deeper into this cultural hotspot – which tour was your favorite? On foot, bicycle or rickshaw, you can see, taste and experience authentic Japanese life. There is something for everyone in Kyoto, day and night, and you’ll quickly understand why this ancient capital remains a treasure, loved by locals and visitors alike. 

Japan Wonder Travel Tours in Kyoto

When you are visiting Kyoto and you need some help organizing your trip, you came to the right place. We’re happy to help you make your trip to Kyoto the best trip ever. We can advise you on where to go or even better, show you around with a local, English speaking guide. Let us help you create safe, comfortable, and unforgettable memories in Kyoto!

Kyoto Private Full-Day Walking Tour
On this full-day private tour of Kyoto, you will be able to see the highlights of Kyoto in just one day and at the same time develop a deeper understanding of both the culture of the area and Japan as a whole.

Total Kyoto Experience
If you only have a day or two in Kyoto, we offer a full-day tour of the city, enabling you to immerse yourself in and fully enjoy the entire city of Kyoto in just 10 hours!

Kyoto Food and Drink Tour @Nishiki Street & Gion
If you’re looking to learn more about the culture and the local cuisine of Kyoto, this is the perfect tour for you! Take part in this Kyoto food and drink tour and explore the 400-year-old market and the famous Gion district.

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