3 Days in Kyoto: Suggested Itineraries

By Viator, August 2015

4.5 1048 Reviews | Add your review

Known as the cradle of Japan's cultural heritage, Kyoto was Japan's capital. Today it's the country's seventh largest city, thoroughly modern while remaining Japan's most traditional city. Get to know Kyoto with this three-day itinerary.

Day 1: Kyoto in a day

If you've got limited time, trying to explore a history-drenched city like Kyoto can be a daunting prospect. Take a one-day sightseeing tour to acquaint yourself with the layout of the city and its highlights, such as Nijō Castle, the Golden Pavilion, Kyoto Imperial Palace and Kyoto Handicraft Center.

Day 2: Sushi and Nara

Artfully constructed Japanese food is a favorite the world over. So how about taking home some Japanese cooking tips as a souvenir with a difference? Take a guided walk through the mile-long, covered Nishiki food markets and eclectic back streets of Kyoto, then learn how to make Japanese home-cooked food from market ingredients. Follow that up with a visit to a sake brewery museum to really cover all your Japanese gourmet bases.

If you've got enough time, consider an afternoon spent in nearby Nara – it's less than an hour from Kyoto and full of historic treasures, including some of Japan's oldest temples and the delightful Deer Park - home to hundreds of friendly free-roaming deer.

Day 3: Bamboo groves and neon light

For a totally tranquil start to the day, stroll the rural bamboo groves and mountain temples of the Arashiyama and Sagano districts just outside of Kyoto. The lush Sagano Bamboo Grove is surrounded by mountains and will make you feel instantly relaxed. When you're ready, head up a mountain to the Jojakkoji Temple- its history dates back to the 6th century and it has a pagoda surrounded by Japanese maples.

For the rest of the day, move from the past and speed into the future. Kyoto is a modern city full of concrete and neon and downtown Kyoto can more than provide for those feeling templed-out. Kyoto's shopping district (which offers everything from notebooks to the latest fashions or traditional fans) is located around the intersection of Shijo-dori and Kawaramachi-dori.

Tours & Tickets

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Kyoto Full-Day Sightseeing Tour including Nijo Castle and Kiyomizu Temple

4.5 star rating: Recommended 372 Reviews

Discover tranquil temples, Imperial palaces and ancient shrines on this 9-hour full-day Kyoto sightseeing tour. Explore top city attractions such as Nijo ...  Read more

Location: Kyoto, Japan
Duration: 9 hours (approx.)

From USD $112.15

Kyoto and Nara Day Trip from Kyoto including Nijo Castle

4.5 star rating: Recommended 235 Reviews

Explore the cultural treasures of Kyoto and Nara on this full-day tour from Kyoto. In the morning, visit UNESCO World Heritage sites Nijo Castle and ...  Read more

Location: Kyoto, Japan
Duration: 10 hours (approx.)

From USD $124.90

Maiko Performance with Kaiseki Dinner in Kyoto

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 8 Reviews

Witness the beauty and elegance of the lovely ‘maiko’ (apprentice geishas, or ‘geiko’) at Gion Hatanaka during an exquisite 2-hour evening of culture, ...  Read more

Location: Kyoto, Japan
Duration: 2 hours (approx.)

From USD $161.43

Best Kyoto Cooking Class, Sake Tasting and Nishiki Food Market Walking Tour

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 48 Reviews

Explore the Nishiki Food Market and learn how to make a home-cooked Japanese meal on this Kyoto culinary walking tour. With a knowledgeable guide, learn about ...  Read more

Location: Kyoto, Japan
Duration: 3 hours 30 minutes (approx.)

From USD $97.27

Best Private Custom Tour: Kyoto in One Day

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 3 Reviews

Create your own sightseeing itinerary on a private, customized tour of Kyoto. You’re accompanied via public transport to a few of the cultural capital’s 2,000 ...  Read more

Location: Kyoto, Japan
Duration: Full-day: 8 hrs (approx.)
Half-day: 4 hrs (approx.)

From USD $165.68

Japanese Tea Ceremony with a Tea Master

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 22 Reviews

Enjoy a traditional tea ceremony and learn the sophisticated philosophy behind serving a bowl of tea. You’ll have three options for this experience: a 1-hour ...  Read more

Location: Kyoto, Japan
Duration: Varies

From USD $33.03

Nara Afternoon Tour of Todaiji Temple, Deer Park and Kasuga Shrine from Kyoto

4.5 star rating: Recommended 112 Reviews

Venture to Nara from Kyoto for the afternoon. Due to its past as the first permanent capital of Japan, Nara remains full of historic treasures, including some ...  Read more

Location: Kyoto, Japan
Duration: 5 hours 30 minutes (approx.)

From USD $62.87

Arashiyama and Sagano Morning Walking Tour

4.5 star rating: Recommended 43 Reviews

Stroll through dense bamboo groves to hidden mountain temples and discover centuries of Japanese heritage on this 4-hour Arashiyama and Sagano walking tour. ...  Read more

Location: Kyoto, Japan
Duration: 4 hours (approx.)

From USD $75.62

Himeji Castle, Koko-en Garden and Akashi Kaikyo Bridge from Kyoto

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 4 Reviews

Embark on a full-day walking tour to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Himeji Castle. You'll take public transportation from Kyoto to Hyogo with a guide to the ...  Read more

Location: Kyoto, Japan
Duration: 9 hours (approx.)

From USD $161.43

Kyoto Morning Tour: Kyoto Imperial Palace, Golden Pavilion, Nijo Castle

4 star rating: Recommended 119 Reviews

Soak up temple and palace sights on this half-day guided city tour, great for those who want to see Kyoto’s top attractions in a short time. Travel by coach in ...  Read more

Location: Kyoto, Japan
Duration: 4 hours 30 minutes (approx.)

From USD $54.38

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