> News > Article 

  • Kyoto Localized

Free Walking Tour Kyoto: Top 15 Places to Visit in Kyoto, Japan

Top 15 Places to Visit in Kyoto, Japan

Free Walking Tour Kyoto: Top 15 Places to Visit in Kyoto, Japan

Kyoto is the cultural capital of Japan, and it’s not without merit. This imposing millennia-old city dazzles any season with more than 4,000 historical monuments.

Temples, shrines, palaces, gardens, streets, museums, parks, trees — you name it — many of which exist as old as the city.

It comes as no surprise that Kyoto continues to bag esteemed accolades as a top travel destination, not only in Japan but across the world. In 2018, Japan’s former capital welcomed 31.19 million local and foreign tourists and was estimated to double by 2030.

As a top travel destination, one would think that visiting Kyoto is a daylight robbery that only the rich have enough money to pay for. But it’s not!

In this article, we will give you the top places to visit in Kyoto that’s included in most free walking tours in Kyoto.

1. Kamigamo and Shimogamo Shrines

[Shimogamo Shrine | Image Courtesy of mafutto / Pixabay]

Together known as the “Kamo Shrines,” Kamigamo and Shimogamo Shrines are two of the first and most significant shrines in Kyoto. Shimogamo Shrine is girded by Tadasu no Mori, a preserved forest where 600-year-old trees stand till today. Located 3.5 km away from Shimogamo, Kamigamo houses two sacred sand cones for purification. The Kamo Shrines host the Aoi Matsuri, the third biggest festival in Kyoto that happens every May 15.

2. Philosopher’s Path

[Philosopher’s Path | Image Courtesy of Wenjie Zhang / Flickr]

The Philosopher’s Path is 2-km stone-paved pathways with a canal sitting under a striking canopy of hundreds of cherry blossom trees. The attraction is named after Nishida Kitaro, an influential Japanese philosopher who’s known to visit this place for meditation. Many free walking tours in Kyoto will pass by the Philosopher’s Path.

3. Shinbashi Street

[Shinbashi-dori | Image Courtesy of Zairon / Wikimedia Commons]

Shinbashi-dori in Gion is a century-old strip dubbed as Kyoto’s most attractive street. At the west-end side of Shinbashi Street is the Gion Tatsumi Bridge, a striking place in its own right.

4. Gion Shirakawa

[Gion Shirakawa | Image Courtesy of wakanmuri / Flickr]

Parallel to Shinbashi-dori is a street sitting alongside the Shirakawa River where you can find Gion Shirakawa, a popular spot among dating couples, especially on the sakura season. Gion Shirakawa and Shinbashi Street are two of the few places where you can still experience the alluring old Kyoto.

5. Maruyama Park

[Weeping cherry blossom at Maruyama Park | Image Courtesy of Kimon Berlin / Flickr]

Although there are countless places in Kyoto for sakura viewing, Maruyama Park is the grandest of them all. The star attraction at the park is a weeping sakura tree that lights up at night. Maruyama Park gets extremely crowded in the New Year’s Eve and sakura season around March to May.

6. Kyoto Station

[The Sky Garden at the Kyoto Station | Image Courtesy of Kyoto Station]

Boasting Japan’s second-largest station building, the Kyoto Station is an attraction itself. The 15th floor of the building is home to the relaxing Sky Garden. Its stairs and fountains are also lit up with various themed displays.

7. Porta Mall

[Porta Mall | Image Courtesy of Kyoto Station]

Right beneath the Kyoto Station is Porta Mall — an underground shopping mall perfect for window shopping. From artsy handicrafts to authentic Japanese cuisine, Porta Mall has it all for tourists of all stripes.

8. Wakaba Park

[Kamo-gawa | Image Courtesy of lensonjapan / Flickr]

Wakaba Park is the popular go-to place among local and foreign tourists right off the bank of Kamo-gawa which cuts through Kyoto spanning 31 km. It’s a great place to relax and meditate or have a picnic with your family. Cherry blossom trees surround the park.

9. Arashiyama Bamboo Grove

[Arashiyama Bamboo Grove | Image Courtesy of Alexander de Leon Battista / Flickr]

Though Arashiyama is rare in most free walking tour Kyoto itineraries, it’s best to do a Kyoto self-guided walking tour. Arashiyama Bamboo Grove is the most popular tourist attraction in the area. Despite the crowds, walking in between bushes of towering bamboo stalks could be the most soothing experience you will get in Kyoto.

10. Nishijin Textile Center

[Kimono fashion show | Image Courtesy of Nishijin]

If you find interest in authentic Japanese kimono, some Kyoto daily tours include a Kimono fashion show in their itinerary. Nishijin Textile Center, the biggest textile center in Kyoto, has daily kimono shows you can watch.

11. Nishiki Market

[Nishiki Market | Image Courtesy of David Stanley / Flickr]

Known as “Kyoto’s Kitchen,” Nishiki Market is the perfect place to hunt for some fresh produce and palatable delicacies. The market has been around 400 years, so it’s worthy of a visit no matter what. Some free walking tours in Kyoto drop by Nishiki Market for out of the ordinary dining experience.

12. Sannenzaka and Ninenzaka

[Sannenzaka | Image Courtesy of Andrea Schaffer / Flickr]

Sannenzaka and Ninenzaka in Higashiyama are cobblestoned sloping alleys exuding an old Kyoto ambiance. Sannenzaka is a major pedestrian thoroughfare brimming with souvenir shops and traditional Japanese homes. A 3-minute walk away is Ninenzaka, an arresting pedestrian strip famous where ochaya (traditional teahouse), old houses, and sakura thrive.

13. Kyoto Imperial Palace

[Kyoto Imperial Palace | Image Courtesy of Carlos ZGZ / Flickr]

The Kyoto Imperial Palace was the home of Japan’s imperial family before Tokyo became the capital in 1868. It sits within the Kyoto Imperial Park, which is a common point of interest in most itineraries of free walking tours in Kyoto. The palace is free to visit, but it requires pre-booking.

14. Pontocho

[Pontocho | Image Courtesy of Andrew Lyu / Unsplash]

Pontocho is an atmospheric alley packed with bars and restaurants for all budgets. It has a lot of traditional teahouses, which makes for a great area to spot geisha and maiko. Pontocho sits along the banks of Kamo River, which makes it a really cool place at night. Pontocho is part of many Kyoto evening walking tours’ itinerary.

15. Yasaka Shrine

[Yasaka Shrine | Image Courtesy of Eiji Saito / Flickr]

Also called “Gion Shrine,” Yasaka Shrine conveniently sits in between the districts of Higashiyama and Gion. This 1,350-year-old Shinto shrine is home to Gion Matsuri, one of the most attended festivals in Kyoto that take place in July.

Kyoto is the heart of Japan and has rich history and culture. Our walking tours will show you why. On our Walking Tours you will learn about the Old and New Kyoto, tradition, religion, history, food, and culture. Free Walking Tours in Kyoto | Kyoto Walking Tours. Book your free walking tour of Kyoto today.

Free day and night walking tours of Kyoto

Kyoto is heart of Japan and have the rich history and culture. Our walking tours will show you why. You will learn about the Old and New Kyoto, tradition, religion, history, food, and culture.

  • Find us on Facebook
  • Twitter - White Circle
  • Find us on Instagram
  • TripAdvisor - Kyoto Localized
Day & Night Walking Tours of Tokyo


© 2020 by Kyoto Localized

Photos Provided by Mon petit voyage a Kyoto