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Top 5 Must-Visit Tourist Attractions in Kyoto

Free Walking Tour in Kyoto
Photo: Kyoto Temple | Image Courtesy of Ash Edmonds / Unsplash

Japan is known to for the beauty of its well-preserved culture, rich traditions and interesting history. While Tokyo is the power behind Japan’s golden years in the recent history, Kyoto takes us to an earlier time of Japan where emperors and shoguns led the progress of Japan.

Being the ancient capital of Japan, Kyoto offers many beautiful temples, shrines and scenic sights to visit and cultural things to do. With limited time, it could be overwhelming to plan your day tours in Kyoto.

To help you in deciding where to spend your time, energy and money, we listed below the top 5 must-visit attractions in Kyoto:

1. Appreciate the beauty of Golden Temple, Kinkakuji Temple

Top 5 Must-Visit Tourist Attractions in Kyoto
Photo: Golden Temple | Image Courtesy of Erik Eastman / Unsplash

This Zen Buddhist Temple, despite its shiny façade color seems to perfectly blend to its surrounding. It was built during the Muromachi period which is considered the golden age of Japanese garden design. The two-story temple covered with gold leaf and behind the mirror pond is an incredible sight. A seamless blending of man’s creation and nature.

2. Walk your way up to the Fushimi Inari Shrine

Top 5 Must-Visit Tourist Attractions in Kyoto
Photo: Fushimi Inari | Image Courtesy of Tianshu Liu / Unsplash

With an estimate of 10,000 red torii (shrine gates), this temple for one of the deities of Shintoism, Inari is a favorite tourist spot. Travelers enjoy taking photos at the pathway lined with red torii on both sides and leading to the shrine stations. As you stroll around the temple, you will see many fox statues as they are considered as the messengers of Inari.

Unlike other attractions, this temple is open for 24 hours. Just visit either early morning or late at night and you can have your perfect photo spot with the red torii as the background.

3. Be amazed at the view of Kyoto from the Kiyomizu-dera Temple

Top 5 Must-Visit Tourist Attractions in Kyoto
Photo: Kiyomizu-dera Temple | Image Courtesy of Thilo Hilberer / Flickr

Built before even Kyoto became Japan’s capital, this temple is embedded with history and legend. It is located at the site of Otowa Waterfall hence, it is also known as ‘Pure Water temple. Visitors can find three streams of the Otowa waterfall and drink each cup to fulfill their prayers related to their love life, studies and life in general.

To get an incredible sight of Kyoto and of the temple, head to the vantage point located at Mount Otowa!

4. Relax at Arashiyama Bamboo Forest

Top 5 Must-Visit Tourist Attractions in Kyoto

A pathway of large bamboo grove, Arashiyama Bamboo Forest is a famous Kyoto destination. Walking between tall bamboos that almost reach the sky, breathing fresh air and hearing nature’s sound is an experience unique to Kyoto. Just be sure to head to Arashiyama before the crowd arrives to enjoy a zen experience and have a good picture against the soaring bamboo trees.

5. Travel back to the old Japan along Gion District

Top 5 Must-Visit Tourist Attractions in Kyoto
Photo: Gion District | Image Courtesy of Daniel Tseng/ Unsplash

The district offers many cultural experiences. You can have the traditional Japanese tea ceremony at one of the ochaya (teahouses) in the area. You can visit the oldest Zen temple, Kenninji Temple.

But its main attraction is the chance to meet a Geisha, a famous Japanese entertainer famous for its distinct costume and make up. Be careful not to mistake tourists wearing traditional kimono/yukata as this activity is popular in Kyoto. More importantly, tourists should act properly in sacred places especially in seeing a geisha as a form of respect. Taking photos while it is not illegal, should be practice in a polite manner instead of acting like a paparazzi. Remember, the locals are also living their daily and normal lives in this area.

Kyoto definitely hits all the checklist of the best place to visit. However, it is important to note that Kyoto attractions are located quite apart from each other. You should set enough time in your schedule for your travel time which include walking and train schedules at each part of Kyoto. A good overview of the city would be helpful in navigating Kyoto and making sure you visit all the must-see attractions in Kyoto.

Joining a free walking tour gives you an overview on where you would like to spend your limited time, energy and budget around Kyoto! Luckily, Kyoto Localize offer free walking tours that cover culture, religion, food, and history of Japan kept by the sights, streets and corners of Kyoto.

There are many things to do in Kyoto, but you should make sure you get the most out of your Japan trip through joining free walking tours in Kyoto — you’ll get the most interesting tips and secrets as told by a local!

About the writer

Rocel is a believer of living life to the fullest through creating memories with her loved ones – family, friends and self. One of the things she enjoys doing with them is travelling where they get to experience new cultures, new cuisines, new stories to share and memories to look back. In 2018 alone, she travelled to 6 continents which exposed her to the world’s wonders. After all those trips, Japan is still one of her favorite countries because of its unique and rich culture and natural resources. She lived and studied in Tokyo, Japan for one year where she developed deeper love and appreciation towards the country.


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.


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