Regardless of the itinerary chosen, your private tour begins at Hotel Granvia Kyoto near Kyoto Station. From here, you’ll take public transport in order to immerse yourself in local life.
If you’ve opted to follow the northwest-bound itinerary, your first stop is Arashiyama Park—famed for its array of temples and inviting bamboo groves—before proceeding to Japan’s most famous rock garden at Ryoan-ji.
Following a lunch break (own expense), you’ll continue to the Golden Pavillion, a 3-story pagoda that floats on a lake surrounded by lush forest. Then, choose to visit the culinary wonderland of Nishiki Food Market or Nijo Castle, whose interior walls are adorned with gold leaf and elaborate sketches.
Alternatively, the southeast-bound course gives you the chance to visit Gekkeikan Sake Brewery to discover the secrets behind Japan’s iconic rice wine, and then behold thousands of red tori gates at the Fushimi Inari Shrine, replete with stone foxes and shrines.
See, too, Sanjusangendo temple before revitalizing with lunch at your own expense. Then, you’ll continue to Kiyomizu Temple, a hilltop landmark dating back to the 8th century, before ascending the steep slopes in the Ninenzaka and Sannenzaka neighborhoods for spectacular views.
Both tour options conclude in the Gion area of Kyoto.