4 star rating: Recommended 12 Reviews

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  • Location:Kyoto, Japan
  • Duration:6 to 7 hours

Kyoto City Tour: Golden Pavilion, Nijo Castle, Kyoto Imperial Palace and Handicraft Center

Enjoy the sights of Kyoto on a sightseeing tour to Nijo Castle, Kinkaku-ji Temple (Golden Pavilion), Kyoto Imperial Palace and the Kyoto Handicraft Center. You'll learn about Kyoto’s rich history and culture from your guide as you take in some of the city’s favorite landmarks, then get a hands-on experience of traditional Japanese crafts during a workshop with a professional craftsman at Kyoto Handicraft Center. Your tour includes an expert guide, lunch, transportation, and hotel pickup at selected hotels in central Kyoto.


  • 7-hour tour to Ninjo Castle, Kinkaku-ji Temple, Kyoto Imperial Palace and Kyoto Handicraft Center
  • Explore one of Japan’s most well-preserved cities by coach with a knowledgeable local guide
  • Visit two of Kyoto's World Heritage sites: Nijo Castle and Kinkaku-ji Temple
  • Watch Japanese artists demonstrate traditional craft techniques at the Kyoto Handicraft Center
  • Learn how to make your own Japanese craft during a hands-on workshop with a professional artist
  • Enjoy a Japanese-style buffet lunch
  • Includes pickup from selected Kyoto hotels

What You Can Expect

Kyoto City Tour: Golden Pavilion, Nijo Castle, Kyoto Imperial Palace and Handicraft Center

Kinkakuji Temple - Golden Pavilion, Kyoto

After morning pickup from selected hotels, travel by comfortable coach to your first stop, UNESCO World Heritage-listed Nijo Castle. As you make your way there, your guide shares informative commentary about Kyoto's history and significance to the nation.

Nijo Castle was constructed in 1603 for the Tokugawa shogun. Note the contrast between the castle’s solemn exterior—with massive gate, stone walls and moat—and brightly decorated interiors that shimmer with gold leaf. Hear about the squeaky ‘nightingale’ floors, designed to make noise that warned residents of intruders.

Continue to the second World Heritage site on your tour, Kinkaku-ji Temple, the most popular temple in Kyoto. Learn from your guide about the history of the temple as you view its exquisite Japanese gardens and breathtaking Golden Pavilion.

Next up, head to the Kyoto Imperial Palace, where the imperial family lived from 794 until 1869 when the capital moved to Tokyo. As you hear about its fascinating history, your guide shows you around the stunning palace, including the Shishinden, considered one of the most important buildings on the grounds. Imperial coronations and other royal ceremonies have taken place in the Shishinden.

Take a break from sightseeing for a delicious Japanese-style lunch, then travel by coach to the Kyoto Handicraft Center.

At the Handicraft Center, experience the Japanese arts firsthand during a workshop on traditional crafts. Choose to make either a woodblock print or cloisonné pendant with a staff artist who teaches you about the craft and provides the necessary materials. Afterward, take your artwork home with you as a souvenir of your time in Kyoto.

Your tour ends after the craft-making workshop. You may want to browse in the Handicraft Center’s excellent gift shop before making your own way back to your hotel.

Temple Closures:
  • Nijo Castle, will be closed every Tuesday in January, July, August and December. Instead you'll visit Ryoan-ji Temple, famed for its zen gardens and temple.
  • Kyoto Imperial Palace is closed on Saturday, Sunday and public holidays. Instead you'll visit Kitano-tenmangu Shrine, one of Japan's most important shrines honoring the Shinto god of education and scholarship.

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Customer Reviews

5 star rating: Highly Recommended August 2015

Excellent tour and guide.

5 star rating: Highly Recommended March 2014

Was a great introduction to a fantastic city. The tour guide and bus driver were very professional, curteous and knowledgeable. Really enjoyed everything we saw and visited and ate! I was travelling with my six year old son and he also had a memorable trip. Definitely will recommend this tour to family and friends.

5 star rating: Highly Recommended October 2013

Excellent tour in every respect. Guide was very knowledgeable, locations excellent, bus and driver fault-less, even the group lunch was first rate. We were the only couple to undertake the Handicraft Centre activity after lunch and it was a unique experience - learning how to enamel and how to do woodblock printing. Highly recommend this tour and this company.

4 star rating: Recommended May 2015

The tour was nice but the tour company had several buses go to each site at once as well as other tour companies. Each place was swarming with the same tour groups. Other than that, I enjoyed the tour.

4 star rating: Recommended May 2015

Excellent tour! The tour guide was knowledgeable, funny and easy to understand. The bus was clean and well presented. The sites visited were amazing.

Taking the tour made one day of our trip a little less stressful.

Sometimes felt a little rushed, but understandable given that the tour had to be at the palace at a specific time.
Only the outside of the palace was visited - again, understandable, but not mentioned anywhere.
The food provided at lunchtime might not be to everyone's liking - certainly not a western style buffet!

4 star rating: Recommended March 2015

We were able to walk the tour at our own pace and had plenty of opportunities for photos. Mickey the tour guide was fantastic; his English was easy to understand; he kept the group to time and well formed. Highly recommend this tour.

4 star rating: Recommended April 2014

It was a good tour

4 star rating: Recommended August 2010

The morning tour ending with lunch, and the opportunity to do some art work, was so fun. The tour guide seemed in a hurry but she probably was, due to the schedule. We loved separating the morning tour from the afternoon tour, it was great for us.

4 star rating: Recommended August 2010

It was fine as far as temples and castles go, but at this point in our vacation, we had already seen quite a few. The handicraft store was great; we bought most of our souvenirs there.

3 star rating: Worth doing May 2015

Alright, except for the rushed Imperial Palace. Very disappointed in the afternoon tour to craft factory.

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Tour code: 2142KYO_N210


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