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Self-Guided Walking Tour Kyoto: How to Explore Kyoto Like a Local


Looking to some self-guided Kyoto walking tour ideas? You are in the right place.

Kyoto is a place with a rich history, religion, and local culture. To slow down and take everything all in on foot is probably the best way to explore the city. That is why you should take a tour in Kyoto.

And if you are wondering how to tour Kyoto on your own, we have a brief guide for you with some recommendations on how to go about it.

1. Higashiyama Walking Tour

Chion-in Temple | Image Courtesy of Wei-Te Wong / Flickr

Higashiyama is home to many famous temples in Kyoto as well as centuries-old Zen and Shinto sites, so doing a DIY Kyoto tour around Higashiyama is very doable. In fact, you will be able to visit 6 temples in less than 3 kilometers within 1 hour. Some sites you can visit in this self-guided walking tour are:

  • Kiyomizu-dera Temple

  • Kodai-ji Temple

  • Nene-no-Michi (The Path of Nene)

  • Yasaka Shrine

  • Chion-in Temple

  • Shoren-in Temple

2. Kyoto Shopping and Food Tour

Shinkyogoku Shopping Street | Image Courtesy of Ruth Hartnup / Flickr

Kyoto is a shopper’s mecca. And as a cultural center of Japan, Kyoto is the best place to find contemporary and traditional goods. From souvenirs to homeware to out-of-the-ordinary goods, you can find pretty much everything here. Walking around Kyoto is the best way to enjoy shopping and food adventure because you are moving at your own pace. You can travel 1.5 kilometers to hit 4 well-known food and shopping markets in Kyoto, including:

3. Gion District Walking Tour

Hanamikoji Street | Image Courtesy of Elsie Lin / Flickr

Your Kyoto trip won’t be complete without hitting the cobblestone streets of Gion district. Gion is the entertainment capital of Kyoto which plays a huge part in it becoming the geisha district. Gion is the perfect place in Kyoto to immerse yourself in the old traditional Kyoto. It’s where you can find lots of izakaya (“traditional pub”), ryotei (“traditional fine-dining restaurant”), and ochaya (“teahouse”). Embark on a 2-hour self-guided Gion walking tour spanning 2 kilometers and hit at least 11 Kyoto attractions:

  • Minamiza Kabuki Theater

  • Gion Shirakawa

  • Tatsumi Bridge

  • Shinmonzen-dori Street

  • Ichiriki Chaya

  • Hanamikoji Street

  • Gion Corner

  • Kenninji Temple

  • Yasui Kompira-gu Shrine

  • Ebisu-jinja Shrine

  • SaryoTsujiri Tea House

If you wish to explore Gion at night on a guided walking tour, join Kyoto Localized’s free night walking tour.

4. Kiyomizudera Temple Tour

Kiyomizu-dera Temple | Image Courtesy of Sebastian Kurpiel / Unsplash

Kiyomizu-dera is one of the most popular places in Kyoto. But more than a tourist destination, Kiyomizu-dera is still a place of worship that preserves the Old Kyoto well. The temple is already a stunning temple on its own, but from it is another stunner. From the temple lookout point, you can see the city of Kyoto in all its glory. Be warned that walking your way through the temple from Kiyomizu-michi stop can be a bit exhausting for the untrained feet, especially on a hot summer day. After your temple visit, you can proceed to Yasaka Shrine and Jishu Shrine as you go back downtown.


Kyoto is the heart of Japan and has a 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.


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