Discover the sublime scenery and fascinating history of ancient Kyoto during this half-day exploration of the city’s top sights departing from Osaka. Enjoy several of Kyoto’s UNESCO World Heritage-listed temples and its beautiful palaces, all set against the city’s ever-changing natural backdrop of forests that change colors with the seasons.
Start your excursion to Kyoto with a pickup from select hotels in the early morning, proceeding to a central meeting point where you’ll head to Osaka station for the short ride to Kyoto by train. Soon you arrive in this historic Japanese town, an urban center that once served as the country’s capital and home to its emperors between 794 and 1868.
Hop aboard your coach for the ride to your first attraction, the massive Nijo Castle. This UNESCO World Heritage site was home to the Tokugawa shoguns for close to 200 years after its construction was completed in 1603. Admire the castle’s imposing stone walls and large defensive moat, before heading inside to view its beautiful murals of gold leaf. A number of fantastic photo opportunities will be available at the castle, thanks to the complex’s photogenic groves of plum and cherry trees. When Nijo Castle is closed, the tour will visit Ryoan-Ji Temple instead.
Head next to the elaborate gardens and beautiful buildings at Kinkaku-Ji Temple, another UNESCO World Heritage site. After checking out this amazing structure, also known as the Golden Pavilion, you’ll move on to the Kyoto Imperial Palace for more sightseeing. This elegant palace, once home to Japan’s Imperial Family until the capital was moved in 1868, emphasizes the Japanese interior design philosophies of simplicity, tranquility and purity. You’ll also have a chance to see Shishinden imperial state chamber, where the country’s enthronement ceremonies once took place. When the Kyoto Imperial Palace is closed, the tour will visit Kitano Shrine (Kitano Tenman-gu) instead.
This famous religious monument, dedicated to the god of study, is a frequent site of patronage for many Japanese students, who pray for luck in passing exams by touching the site’s statue of ‘Ushi-san’ (Mr. Cow) representing the virtues of scholarship.
Finish your Kyoto excursion with time for a buffet lunch (at your own expense) as well as some time at the Kyoto Handicraft Center, affording you an opportunity to purchase some traditional souvenirs. The tour ends with a return ride to Osaka by train, at which point you will make your own way back to your hotel.