Kyoto is home to over 1,600 temples, making it a top destination for architecture lovers. With many dating back to the 11th century and hundreds built since then, it can be hard to decide which to see. Here are the temples you can't miss in Kyoto.
Famous for its Zen garden made of seemingly arbitrarily (but in fact, very purposefully) placed stones, Ryoan-ji is a favorite temple among locals and tourists. The rock garden is the highlight, and the grounds have the air of a secret, unspoiled piece of nature.
A moss-covered gate greets visitors at the small Honen-in Temple. Step in a few feet further, and you will be greeted with a small bridge that crosses a scenic pond. Honen-in is a must for nature lovers seeking a little piece of solitude in a busy city.
The "Silver Pavilion" is one of Kyoto's most famous temples. The view from behind the temple complex spans over Kyoto, with mountains rising in the distance, and some of the best spots on the temple grounds include the moss garden and a sand garden.
After seeing the Silver Pavilion, your next stop should be the Golden Pavilion, or Kinkaku-ji. Situated on a pond, this structure is a majestic sight. Dense, lush forest paints a colorful backdrop behind the temple.
The five-storied wooden pagoda at To-ji temple is the tallest of its kind in Japan, and it is easily accessible from within Kyoto's city center. For pagoda lovers, it's a must-see temple.
This interactive temple is fun for the whole family. An open-air pathway wraps around it, allowing visitors to take in the outer view and the temple at the same time. The Otowa Waterfall is also on the premises, and visitors can drink from the falls using instruments provided.
Nestled at the foot of the Hagashiyama Mountains, Shoren-in Temple is a hidden gem in Kyoto. The temple is peaceful and even illuminates a spectacular garden pond in the evenings during some parts of the year.
The landmark temple in the Arashiyama district of Kyoto, Tenryu-ji should not be missed. This mountain escape boasts a pond that stretches all the way to a forest, which gives way to mountains rising in the distance.