Kyoto is the ancient capital of Japan. It was this city that was the residence of the Emperor for many millennia. A huge number of temples, parks and gardens – this is what characterizes Kyoto from a tourist point of view. To superficially examine the most popular temples, you need at least a week. But, if in Kyoto you have just a couple of days, do not despair. In my article I will write about the most visited attractions that can be visited in 1, 2 or 3 days.

Unknowingly, in our route I allocated only two days to Kyoto. If you come to Japan more than a week, reduce the number of days in Tokyo and increase the time to visit Kyoto. Because the most traditional, ancient sights of Japan are concentrated here.

Kyoto map with landmarks

The map below shows the attractions that I will write about in the article.

I also bring to your attention such a brochure (in English), according to which you can see how to get to a particular Kyoto attraction by public transport, as well as the fare. The picture is clickable.

Kyoto attractions how to get

I must say right away that we did not have time to see some of the main attractions, namely: the Imperial Palace and one of the symbols of Kyoto – the Golden Pavilion. I will talk about them later, but for now – what you can see in Kyoto in 1 day.

What to see in Kyoto in 1 day

We arrived in Kyoto by high-speed train from Tokyo (about 3 hours, free by JR Pass) at about 11 in the morning. Putting things in a traditional hotel, the ryokan Nishikiro , went for a walk.

No. 1. Nishiki Market or Kyoto Fish Market.

You can start the day, and at the same time dine with seafood, at the Kyoto fish market. The market is a narrow street along which trays, tents, display cases with food stretch (mainly fish and seafood, but there are sweets, national dishes, and sometimes something exotic (for example, sparrows!), Shops, restaurants.

what to see in kyoto

The place is very atmospheric, crowded. You can try fresh sushi, oysters, scallops, shrimp, sea urchin caviar. 

seafood market in kyoto

Such a set (sushi + hedgehog roe + fresh tuna shish kebab) cost 1,500 yen (about 15$)

what to see in kyoto in 1 day

No. 2. Geisha Quarter (Gion)

gion kyoto

This is a traditional Japanese quarter. He began building up many centuries ago in order to provide housing for all pilgrims of the Yasaka shrine. Over time, geisha became the hallmark of the area.

Today, almost all the “geisha” you see here are dressed up tourists from Asian countries 🙂 You can recognize them by the presence of a selfie stick :))) But this girl was quite like a real geisha or geiko (google about the differences on the Internet )

Kyoto in 1 day

Many mistakenly consider Gion a red light district, but the work of geishas, ​​as you probably know, is not related to prostitution.

No. 3. Kiyomizu Dera Temple

kiyomizu dera

One of the most popular temples in Kyoto is the Kiyomizu-dera Temple or the Temple of Clear (Clear) Water. In Japan, the Temple is not only a structure, but a whole complex of structures. So, the Temple of Pure Water is famous for its wooden temple, built without a single nail. A huge wooden terrace hangs over the abyss. Unfortunately, now this building is under reconstruction and the terrace itself is covered with scaffolding.

Kyoto in 1 day

Also on the territory of the complex is a three-tiered pagoda, which is considered one of the highest in Japan.

Kyoto Attractions

A waterfall with clear water is another object of the complex. It was he who gave the name to the Temple. The stream of the waterfall is divided into three parts and, according to legend, if you drink from these streams, you can find health, wisdom and good luck. But do not be greedy, you should not drink from three streams at once – the gods do not welcome this.

temple of pure water

The temple is located on a hill, therefore: 1. it offers panoramic views of Kyoto; 2. Getting here on foot is a little difficult, because you have to go uphill. However, when approaching the Temple along the street there are many shops, being distracted by them, you already feel less tired. You can, of course, get by taxi.

what to see in kyoto in 2 days
On the way to the temple you can get into the “traffic jam”
Kyoto attractions in 2 days
The number of “geishas” per square meter rolls over 🙂

Attractions Kyoto

Information on how to get by public transport you can know from the official website

Attraction site:

Number 4. Sanctuary of Fushimi Inari (Fushimi Inari)

fushimi inari kyoto

Another temple complex, known for its red gate, which is called Torii. The temple is dedicated to Inari, the god of rice and the patron saint of business. The representative of God is foxes, therefore, in the temple there are many statues and statuettes of this animal.

shrine of fushimi inari
God inari

At the foot of the hill there are the main gate – “Ryomon” (“tower gate”), and the main sanctuary (“go-honden”). Torii stretch 5 km uphill.

Fushimi Inari Kyoto Japan
Entrance to the Temple

They are put on the money of businessmen who want to “appease” God, thereby attracting luck to their business. The price of thorium starts from $ 1600 and reaches $ 12,000.

Kyoto attractions in 2 days

But don’t think that having paid 12,000 bucks, your thorium will be immediately delivered, it’s already the turn to install thorium, because There are certain limits on how many thorium can be put per month. 

On the paths leading up, you can walk as much as you like. There must be a lot of people here during the day. We arrived in the evening, the flow of tourists began to decrease, and the higher we went up, the fewer and fewer people.

However, in the evening all the shops and tea houses that can be found along the road were already closed.

But you can inspect the sanctuaries and statues of the chanterelles at any time of the day (and, probably, at night).

fushimi inari kyoto

Entrance to the sanctuary is free.

You can get here by metro, or by train JR (to the station of the same name Inari).

Site attractions:


See also “Kyoto Guide: Traveler Tips”


What to see in Kyoto in 2 days

On the second day in Kyoto, we managed to visit only 2 attractions. They will be discussed in this section.

No. 5. Arashiyama Bamboo Forest

bamboo forest kyoto

In the Kyoto Arashiyama area, there is another attraction – Bamboo Forest or Bamboo Grove. Many guidebooks write that this attraction is included in the list of “100 sound sights of Japan”, that due to the wind some special sounds are created. Perhaps if you arrive early in the morning, at about 4 o’clock, you can hear something, to penetrate this place. But in the afternoon there is only a rumble from the conversations of a huge number of tourists.

Arashiyama Bamboo Forest
If you do not see the crowd of tourists, you can imagine the unusual sounds of a bamboo forest

Yes, they recommend arriving early, we planned so, but when we entered the grove we got lost. And while we were walking around the district, there was no longer any crowding in the grove 🙂

Also in this area it’s nice enough just to walk.

what to see in kyoto in 3 days
In Arashiyama
arashiyama kyoto
Very traditional area

Kyoto Station can be reached by JR in about 25-30 minutes.

No. 6. Nara – deer city

Nara Japan

Not far from Kyoto there is a small town Nara, famous for its tame deer, which can be stroked, fed, and indeed sit next to them (don’t get into poop!)

The attraction is unusual, so, of course, we planned a visit to this city in advance. It’s easy to get to Nara, from the Kyoto station there is a JR line train, if you have a pass , you can get there for free.

In the map set of Japan, which I wrote above, there is also a map of Nara:

nara map

From the station to the park, where deer are found, about 12-15 minutes walk around the city. There are many shops and souvenir shops along the way.

city ​​of nara kyoto
The town of Nara

At the entrance to the park – Kohfukuji temple with a pagoda.

sights of kyoto in 3 days

I’ll say right away if you want to feed deer, go deep into the park, deer at the entrance are fed and exhausted.

By the way, there are arrogant deer, such a horned one bite me on the side when I did not want to give him a cookie.

deer park nara
Insolent ass


The park has a lot of temples, shrines and paths for walking. To be honest, I was not interested in temples, therefore, I can’t tell. If you are interested in temples, then this information from a brochure may be useful to you (the picture is clickable):

Nara temples

what to see in Nara
At the entrance to one of the Nara Temples
Kyoto attractions on their own
Gate to one of the Temples
Nara Japan Attractions
Deer – a symbol of Nara
Kyoto Japan 3 days what to watch
They looked into one of the temples.
nara japan
Traditional architecture

What to see in Kyoto in 3 days or longer

In this section I will write the sights that can still be seen in Kyoto, but which we did not have enough time for.

No. 7. The Kyoto Gosho Imperial Palace (Kyoto Goso or Kyoto Gosho)

imperial palace of kyoto
Imperial Palace in Kyoto, photo

Kyoto Gosho was founded in the 14th century and until 1868 (when the capital of Japan was moved to Tokyo) was the residence of the Emperor and his family. Given the fact that the building was constantly exposed to fires, today we can see the palace built in 1855.

The Imperial Garden is surrounded by the Kyoto Gyoen National Garden. Entrance to the garden is free.

But you can get to the Imperial Palace only with a guided tour, which you need to sign up for in advance – at the tourist center, or online at

You can get on the subway, Imadegawa station

No. 8. The Golden Pavilion of Kinkaku-ji

The Golden Pavilion is one of the symbols of Kyoto, it can often be seen on postcards and advertising brochures.

Golden Pavilion Kyoto
Golden Pavilion, photo

This Buddhist temple, the two upper floors of which are covered with real gold, is located on the shores of Lake Kekoti and is beautifully reflected in the water. It was built in the late 14th century, and today serves as a repository of Buddha relics. Like most temples in Japan, Kinkaku-ji is surrounded by a garden.

The pavilion is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm, entrance: 400 ¥

You can get on the subway – Kitaoji Station.

No. 9. Ryoan-ji Rock Garden

Rock gardens in Japan are very popular. Their essence is that, at first glance, randomly arranged stones form a certain system, proceeding from the traditions of Zen Buddhism.

Ryoan-ji is one of the most popular. Garden of 15 stones. The stones are located so that it is impossible to see them all at the same time. It is said that only a person who “has achieved enlightenment” can see all 15 stones at the same time.

To visit the garden, you must go to the temple of the same name. Entrance to the Temple is free.

No. 10. Maruyama Park

Maruyama Park Kyoto
Maruyama Park during sakura blossom, photo

There are a lot of parks and gardens in Kyoto, but most guidebooks recommend this one first of all, because it is he who is considered the oldest in Kyoto (dates from 1886). He is especially beautiful during the Hanami (sakura blossom) and Momiji (red maple season)

No. 11. Nijo Castle

nijo kyoto
Nijo Castle, Kyoto, photo from the Internet

Nijo Castle is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is considered one of Japan’s most beautiful castles, attracting hundreds of thousands of tourists. The construction of the castle began in the early 17th century, the castle was to become the residence of Japanese rulers.

The main objects of the castle complex are the Ninomaru Gōten Palace with 33 luxurious rooms and the Honmaru Citadel (until the 18th century the castle tower towered there).

You can get: to the stop. Nijojo-mae buses 9, 50 and 101 from the train station. By metro Tozai Line to the stop of the same name.

Ninomaru Palace is open from 9 am to 4 pm, the rest of the complex – from 8:45 to 6 pm.

Official website:

Entrance 600 yen, see the website for the price of discounted tickets.

No. 12 Kyoto Tower (Kyoto Tower)

kyoto tower

Kyoto Tower today is the tallest building in the city. If you come to Kyoto by train and get off at the central station, the first thing that catches your eye is the Kyoto Tower.

The tower was opened in 1964 – the Olympic Games in Kyoto, height – 131 meters, this is just below the “old” TV tower in Tokyo, which I wrote about here . Kyoto Tower is built on the roof of the Kyoto Tower Hotel , where not only the hotel is located, but also various shops and cafes.

The tower, as expected, has an observation deck (at an altitude of 100 meters), runs from 9:00 to 21:00, the entrance is 770 yen (adult).

On the 3rd floor of the complex there is a bath complex, open from 7 am to 11 pm, entrance 750 yen.

There is also a food court in the building where you can eat. We went to the conveyor sushi restaurant, everything is very tasty and dinner for two costs about 1000 rubles.

These are the main attractions of Kyoto. Got something to add, or have questions? Leave a comment! 

Interesting Kyoto to you!

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