Kyoto, the ancient capital of Japan, is a city that embraces both the modern and the traditional, and this juxtaposition is apparent from the moment you arrive. From the shiny new Kyoto Station building with its popular shopping malls and restaurants to the tranquil zen gardens of Ryoanji temple, contrasts abound. Attend a boisterous and exciting traditional festival with hundreds of sightseers, or lose yourself down the leafy and intriguing hidden side streets. Hike the forested mountains around the city, or spend your yen at the downtown markets, department stores and arcades.
You could spend a week, a month, or even a year in Kyoto and there would still be more to discover! With such a variety of places to see it can be difficult to know where to begin, so we’ve compiled an example 3-day visit (based on a two night stay at the Kyoto Hot Spring Hatoya Zuihokaku Hotel, a five minute walk from Kyoto Station) taking in some of the city’s most well known and beloved sights.
Arrive at Kyoto Station in the morning and take the express bus to visit the beautiful Golden Temple, followed by the nearby Ryoanji temple (that of the famous Zen rock garden).
Ride the old Randen tram line to Arashiyama and spend the afternoon outdoors - from the gardens of Tenryuji temple to boating on the river or a visit to the monkey park, there’s plenty to do!
Take the train back to Kyoto Station and enjoy an evening meal of Kyoto kaiseki cuisine at the hotel. Relax in the hot spring bath!
For a taste of history, travel by train or bus to Nijo Castle and enjoy a walk around the castle and gardens before taking the bus to downtown Kyoto for an afternoon’s shopping in Shijo. The Nishiki food market is highly recommended!
From Shijo, take the bus or walk to Gion and enjoy an evening stroll through the old streets to Yasaka shrine, where, if you’re lucky, you may catch a glimpse of a maiko. The head back to the hotel (and relax in the hot springs again if you feel like it!).
In the morning, take advantage of the hotel’s sightseeing plans with a visit to Tentokuin temple, founded in the 14th century, where you can view the tranquil Zen garden while enjoying a lunch of delicious Japanese cuisine.
Then take the bus to Fushimi Inari shrine and spend the afternoon walking through the picturesque tunnels of red tori gates in the forest before heading back to the station.
Our sample three day trip will keep you busy, but we hope that those who love history, traditional culture, handicrafts, shopping, and of course good food, will return to Kyoto many times to discover more of the city’s hidden treasures and experience the Kyoto hospitality for themselves.
Kyoto is waiting to welcome you!
Kyoto Hot Spring Hatoya Zuihokaku Hotel