Things to do in Kyoto Prefecture

Our most recommended things to do in Kyoto Prefecture

Kyoto: Hop-on Hop-off Sightseeing Bus Ticket

1. Kyoto: Hop-on Hop-off Sightseeing Bus Ticket

Discover the highlights of Kyoto with a same-day or 2-day ticket on this convenient hop-on hop-off sightseeing bus. Admire the panoramic views from onboard the open-top double-decker bus, and hop on or off at any of the stops along the route. Enjoy informative audio commentary on board the bus, available in 7 languages. Choose this efficient way of exploring the must-see places and attractions in Kyoto. The bus takes you past many of the city's top attractions, including UNESCO World Heritage sites such as Nijo Castle, Kinkakuji, and Kiyomizu-Dera Temple. You can enjoy unlimited rides for the duration of your ticket's validity. Bus stops along the route:  • Kyoto Station • Nishihonganji ( Kyoto Tokyu Hotel) • Shijo Karasuma / Nishiki-ichiba Market • Nijo-jo Castle • Kitano-tenmangu Shrine / Kamishichiken • Kinkakuji Temple (Golden Pavilion) • Daitokuji Temple • Kyoto Imperial Palace (Doshisha University) • Ginkakuji Temple (Silver Pavilion) • Heian-jingu Shrine / Okazaki Park • Gion (Kotowa-Kyoto Yasaka) • Gojozaka (Kiyomizu-dera Temple / Gion) • Sanjusangendo / Kyoto National Museum (Hyatt Regency Kyoto)

Kyoto: 45-Minute Tea Ceremony Experience

2. Kyoto: 45-Minute Tea Ceremony Experience

You will take you place on the tatami, the traditional Japanese floor mat and be met by your English-speaking host, who is a licensed tea master from Urasenke, the biggest school of tea ceremony in Japan. Watch as the host carries out the ceremonial preparation of matcha, powdered green tea. Then, you will have the chance to make tea yourself, while the host informs you about the history and spiritual role of the tea ceremony and the effects each tea-making method has on its flavor. Afterwards, savor some traditional Japanese sweets Once the ceremony has come to a close, you will have the chance to take photos and see examples of kimonos and beautiful woven textiles made in the Nishijin district of Kyoto. If you'd like to wear a kimono during the experience, you can select it as an add-on during booking and take photos to remember the experience.

Kyoto: Private Tour with Local Licensed Guide

3. Kyoto: Private Tour with Local Licensed Guide

Discover Kyoto’s historical sites, favorite local spots, and hidden gems on a private walking tour with a nationally licensed guide. Choose from a 6 or 4-hour tour, whose itinerary can be customized to fit your interests. See both the modern and traditional sides of this dynamic and ancient city as well as some of the best sightseeing areas, restaurants, and shops. Visit places like the Fushimi Inari Shrine, famous for the Torii Gate Corridor. Explore the filming location for the film “Memoirs of a Geisha”, displaying a colorful crimson scenery with a mysterious atmosphere. Walk through the shrine’s corridors that were erected as a symbolic continuing gate from the current world to the world of the dead inhabited by the gods. Go to the Kinkaku-ji Temple (Temple of the Golden Pavilion), which was given its name from the golden color of its reliquary hall. Admire its simple yet bold structure that features beautiful mountain views in the background. Enter the ancient Kiyomizu-dera temple to get panoramic city views from its large veranda. Walk from the path from the temple to Gion, to find many Kyoto-esque shops filled with unique souvenirs. Grab a snack or enjoy a delicious dinner at one of the many fine restaurants in the Gion district. Your guide will give you dining recommendations that are sure to delight your palate.

Kyoto: All-Inclusive 3-Hour Food and Culture Tour in Gion

4. Kyoto: All-Inclusive 3-Hour Food and Culture Tour in Gion

Explore the Gion district by night with an experienced English, German, French, or Spanish-speaking tour guide who knows everything there is to know about the area. The tour starts near Kamo river, where you’ll learn about how the tradition of Geishas came to be. After a short stroll along a busy commercial street, you’ll slip into a calm, quiet area to visit the Yasaka Jinja shrine. After that touch of education, it’s off to the Gion.   The Gion has secrets and history scattered across its narrow streets, but this is also a modern entertainment district—so it’s time for a deep dive into what goes on here. Your guide will keep it light and fun, and explain some of the more interesting cultural mores of these parts. Step into a restaurant and graze from a multitude of small plates at a sort of Japanese-style tapas experience. Enjoy a drink as well before continuing on.   Between restaurant stops, there will be an exploration of Kiyamachi, Ponto-cho, and some other commercial and nightlife streets. Your guide will show you both modern and historical Kyoto, painting a well-rounded picture that gives you a real sense of the place. This tour keeps the groups small and includes your food and drinks, so that you can have a carefree night like you’re simply hanging out with someone who knows the neighborhood. A delicious Kobe (or nearby sourced) Beef option is available on top of the usual food and drink. This option is for bookings at least 10 hours in advance.

Kyoto: Tea Ceremony Ju-An at Jotokuji Temple

5. Kyoto: Tea Ceremony Ju-An at Jotokuji Temple

Start your tea ceremony experience by entering through the main gates of the Jotoku-ji Temple. You will pass the entrance to the Grand Tearoom on your left and a shop next to it and meet at the nearby red benches where your guide awaits. Whilst walking through the temple you are free to admire the architecture and stand by the purification fountain. Weather permitting, you are free to sit at the red benches and for a break. In the event of rain you can stand outside under the gable of the shop or wait in the Grand Tearoom. Once you have finished perusing the temple or sitting on the red benches taking in the atmosphere you are able to enter the Grand Tearoom where your instructor waits for you.  Start your tour of the Temple with a traditional purification ritual, a completely unique and insightful experience for Western visitors. Afterwards you will remove your shoes at the entrance of the Grand Tearoom and in your group, proceed inside to take your seat. Get the chance to sample matcha tea at its best. The Tea Master will guide you throughout, showing and explaining every step of the way. Throughout the ceremony you will be taught the fine art of drinking matcha tea and learn about the importance of the ceremony.

Night Walk in Gion: Kyoto's Geisha District

6. Night Walk in Gion: Kyoto's Geisha District

Experience one of the most popular walking tours in Kyoto, joined by nearly 5,000 guests annually. This 100-minute guided walk is led by a licensed English-speaking guide and takes you through nighttime Gion. The tour begins at Gion Omoide Museum, connected to a traditional pastry shop. Walk down the classic cobblestoned streets next to the Shirakawa River, and admire the scenery that was featured in the book and film, Memoirs of a Geisha. As you walk beside this beautiful stream, the guide will tell you about the history of geisha and give you a detailed explanation in regards to their kimono, hairstyle, traditional rules, and what their daily life is like. Although it is not guaranteed, during the walking tour guests often encounter geisha walking along the street.

Kyoto: 2-Hour Gion Geisha District Tour

7. Kyoto: 2-Hour Gion Geisha District Tour

Explore Gion, the centuries-old entertainment district of Kyoto, which truly comes alive at night. With your guide, learn about the customs of the geisha and the apprentice maiko. You may catch a glimpse of a few of the women in full costume.  Walk through the narrow streets with the lanterns flickering on the wooden buildings. Enjoy a night visit to a Shinto shrine, with a beautifully lit pagoda. Wander through the grounds of a Zen temple in the tranquil calm of the night. Learn more about the modern history of the entertainment district from your guide.

From Osaka: Kyoto Sightseeing Day Trip and Scenic Train Ride

8. From Osaka: Kyoto Sightseeing Day Trip and Scenic Train Ride

After pickup from one of 3 locations in Osaka, head towards Kyoto, once the former capital of Japan, on the island of Honshu. The first activity of the day is a scenic and romantic railway ride from Kameoka to Arashiyama. During the 23-minute journey, feel immersed in nature as you admire the beautiful blossom trees and breathtaking mountain views. Upon arrival at Arashiyama, enjoy a delicious buffet style lunch with soft drinks to prepare you for an afternoon of sightseeing. After lunch, visit the UNESCO World Heritage Listed Kiyomizudera Temple, one of the most celebrated temples in Japan, founded in 780 on the site of the Otowa Waterfall. The tour continues onto Fushimi Inari, world-famous for the thousands of Torii gates that line the entrance to the Shinto Shrine. Spend some free time exploring the mountain trails and the shrine buildings themselves, and learn about the fascinating culture of Japan. The tour ends after your visit to Fushimi Inari, and you’ll be dropped-off to your original pickup location in Osaka.

Kyoto Nishiki Market Food Tour

9. Kyoto Nishiki Market Food Tour

Your experience will include stops at family owned stalls and shops which have stood the test of time. At a few of the stops sample specialty products like tsukemono (vegetables from the surrounding mountains preserved in vinegar), yuuba (the world’s smoothest sashimi tofu made from the world famous Kyoto mountain water), Kamaboko (seafood preserved in fish paste), Tako (Octopus with quail egg) and Macha Warabi Mochi (a special traditional sweet covered in ground tea leaves). During the tour learn detailed information about the ingredients of different Japanese dishes, how their food is prepared and what is used to eat it. Your experience will do more than just give you a chance to taste Kyoto’s delicious food but will also give you a sense the history and atmosphere of the Nishiki Market experienced by the Japanese for generations. You will be consumed with physical and visual stimuli every step of the way and enjoy stories from the past told directly from shopkeepers and families you will spend time with. After your market exploration walk to a nearby restaurant and have a course lunch featuring beautiful and delicious local dishes.

Kyoto: Morning Japanese Bento Cooking Class

10. Kyoto: Morning Japanese Bento Cooking Class

Experience an authentic Japanese food tradition and prepare your own bento box at a morning bento cooking class in Kyoto. Learn about typical Japanese dishes, such as sushi, tempura and miso soup, and hear about the cultural background of the well-known Japanese "bento" takeaway meal. Traced back to the late Kamakura Period (1185 to 1333), the bento box has now become a staple of Japanese cuisine. Arrive for your 2.5 to 3-hour class and collect your ingredients, apron and utensils. Then, watch and follow your chef as they demonstrate the art of bento and explain the tricks to making beautiful Japanese dishes often found in a bento box. Once you have finished cooking your dishes, enjoy the fruits of your labor and tuck into your bento lunch.

Frequently asked questions about Kyoto Prefecture

What top attractions are a must-see in Kyoto Prefecture?

The must-see attractions in Kyoto Prefecture are:

Other Sightseeing Options in Kyoto Prefecture

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What people are saying about Kyoto Prefecture

Overall rating

4.5 / 5

based on 3,256 reviews

I was lucky enough to have an entire advanced workshop to myself, with just the instructor, Mr Matsuda and the translator, Akari, who were both lovely! I loved asking Mr Matsuda about how he got into bookmaking and he was very charming and friendly. So much detail and care goes into every book he makes that at the end of the workshop I was honored to own something he helped me create! An amazing and unique experience.

So fun. Do it! Our guide was very good, nice and knowledgeable. We had two other super nice people in our group which made it more fun. The food and sights were amazing. Go for the wagu beef option. Bring layers for warmth, and good walking shoes, of course.

We had an awesome time. First our tea-master introduced us to some traditions of the temple. After she showed us how to prepare matcha tea everyone of us tried it themselves. I can highly recommend that! We are very happy and had a very good time!

Such an excellent cooking class! We had to best time - the food was delicious! The class was very relaxed, yet very informative. A must activity whilst in Kyoto!!

Really enjoyed it. Mie was a great guide and we learnt more about Kyoto and Geisha (or Geiko) in one evening then we have in the 4 days we’ve been in Kyoto