Kyoto is a historic city in the cultural heart of Japan, where Japanese traditions and culture persist in everyday life. Ancient Japan can be found in historic temples and shrines, well-preserved wooden buildings and teahouses, as well as traditional Japanese gardens and ryokans. You could spend months exploring Kyoto and only scratching the surface. If you only have two days to spare, this is a great itinerary that will allow you to see some of the main sights. Here is our guide how to spend 48 hours in Kyoto.
How to Spend 48 Hours in Kyoto
9am: Tenryu-ji Temple
Head to Arashiyama, a popular tourist destination on the western outskirts of Kyoto, with Tenryu-ji Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. One of Kyoto’s five largest Zen temples, it features an attractive Japanese strolling garden set against a breathtaking mountain backdrop.
10am: Arashiyama Bamboo Forest
Located just outside the north gate of Tenryu-ji Temple, this out-of-this-world magical bamboo forest is one of Kyoto’s must-see attractions. Stroll through the peaceful bamboo groves swaying in the wind.
Ukyo-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture
11am: Togetsukyo Bridge and Arashiyama
Return to the river to see the historic Togetsukyo Bridge, which offers great views of the area around Arashiyama. Take the time to enjoy a rickshaw ride around town and enjoy some of the local shops and souvenirs.Saga, Nakanoshimakanyuchi, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture
1pm: Lunch at Saga Tofu Ine
Enjoy lunch at Saga Tofu Ine, a restaurant that specializes in the flavors of the Saga-Arashiyama region. Here you can enjoy seasonal vegetables and delicious local tofu dishes like yuba (skinless tofu) and yudofu (hot tofu).
19 Tsukurimichicho, Sagatenryuji, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture
3pm: Ryoan-ji Temple
Relax your mind and soul by visiting Ryoan-ji Temple, another UNESCO World Heritage Site, famous for its iconic Zen rock garden, one of the symbols of Kyoto. Meditate and admire the world while you gaze into the garden with 15 mysterious rocks floating on the white sand sea.
13 Ryoanji Goryonoshita-cho, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture
4pm: Kinkaku-ji Temple
Kinkaku-ji Temple, or Golden Pavilion is one of the most famous sites in Japan and one of Kyoto’s must-see attractions. The top two floors of the temple are covered with brilliant golden leaves, creating a beautiful backdrop against the verdant sky and verdant garden.
1 Kinkakujicho, Kita-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture
6 p.m.: Gion
Head to Gion to check in to your ryokan (Traditional Japanese Inn) for an exquisite multi-course kaiseki meal, followed by a relaxing soak in a hot spring bath (hot spring bath). If you still have energy, enjoy an evening stroll along Hanami-koji Street, a historic geisha district with traditional wooden houses and well-preserved buildings.
Hanamikoji Dori, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto
8:30am: Kiyomizu-dera Temple
Walk the narrow streets and pedestrian lanes from Yasaka Shrine in Gion to the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Kiyomizu-dera Temple, one of the most famous temples in Japan. The main hall is built on a mountainside with a wooden balcony perched on a cliff that offers spectacular views of Kyoto.
1-294 Kiyomizu, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture
10:30 am: Ninen-zaka and Sannen-zaka
After checking out the temple, take a slow walk back to Gion along Ninen-zaka and Sannen-zaka, two historic shopping streets that have served pilgrims for centuries. This part of Kyoto is famous for its well-preserved architecture and views of Yasaka Shrine.
12:00pm: Lunch at Nishiki Market
Enjoy lunch at the 400-year-old Nishiki Market in Gion, known locally as “Kyoto’s Kitchen”. The lively and airy market is the best traditional food market in the city and features stalls offering delicacies like yakitori, tempura and sashimi.
Nishikikoji-dori, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture
2pm: Nijo Castle
Explore a real samurai castle that served as the official Kyoto residence of the Shogun during the Edo Period (1603-1868). Nijo Castle features Ninomaru Palace with its ornate sliding doors, elegantly decorated ceilings, tatami rooms and ninja floors, as well as an impressive traditional Japanese landscape garden.
541 Nijojocho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture
4:30pm, Heian Jingu Temple
Enjoy one of the most photogenic temples in Japan with its colorful buildings and beautiful Japanese gardens. Heian Jingu Shrine was built in 1895 to celebrate and celebrate the 1100th anniversary of Kyoto’s founding as the capital of Japan.
Okazaki, Nishitenno-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture
6 p.m.: Gion
Return to Gion to see your machiya (traditional Japanese townhouse). Enjoy a traditional kaiseki (multi-course) meal at Gion Karyo, in a quaint house in Kyoto.
570-23 Gion-machi, Minami-gawa, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture
8pm: Evening stroll in Pontocho
Enjoy an evening stroll in the airy Pontocho Alley, famous for its teahouses and traditional Japanese tea ceremonies. Watch out as you might be lucky enough to spot an elegant geisha or maiko (geisha apprentice) running down the street on your way to a date night.