See the spectacular sights and historical highlights of Kyoto and Hiroshoma on a 3-day self-guided tour of two of Japan’s most famous cities. Ride a super-speed bullet train from Tokyo then embark on independent exploration of the UNESCO World Heritage-listen sites of the alluring areas; see sacred temples and moving shrines in Kyoto; feel emotionally stirred during visits to memorials in Hiroshima; and absorb the beautiful scenery surrounding Miyajima Island. Enjoy the freedom and flexibility of this self-guided tour, on which all accommodation and train tickets are included.
- Independent 3-day tour of Kyoto and Hiroshima by Shinkansen Nozomi bullet train from Tokyo
- Visit top sights in Kyoto listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites
- Learn about the aftermath of the August 6, 1945 atomic bombing of Hiroshima
- Hop on a ferry to Miyajima and see the Itsukushima Shrine and its ‘floating’ torii gate
- Have the flexibility of customizing your itinerary
- Avoid the hassle of buying multiple train tickets and booking hotels
Why Travelers Choose This Tour
You get the freedom to decide which sights to visit and how long to spend at each one, but you don't have to worry about making arrangements for transportation and lodging!
Have your bullet train tickets and accommodation pre-booked and delivered to your Tokyo hotel prior to the day of your departure and embark on your independent exploration of Kyoto and Hiroshima. Ride the super-fast bullet train to Kyoto then discover the exquisite temples and refined restaurants on arrival in the spectacular city.
Continue to Hiroshima to reflect at moving memorials to those killed in the devastating Hiroshima atomic bomb and delve into the city’s destruction and rebirth at informative museums. Venture to Miyajima Island at your own expense and enjoy the convenience of pre-booked accommodation and train tickets on this enriching excursion.
Day 1: Tokyo – Kyoto
Choose an early or late morning departure from Tokyo and make your way to the Tokyo Station where you board the Shinkansen Nozomi bullet train bound for Kyoto. You’ll arrive in Kyoto approximately two hours later and can leave your luggage at the hotel, then set out to see this lovely city’s highlights.
Kyoto flourished as the capital of Japan for more than 1000 years and of its many landmarks, 17 are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. You’ll have your choice of which of Kyoto's sights to visit; some of the major ones are the Golden Pavilion, Nijo Castle, Kyoto Imperial Palace and Kiyomizu Temple.
The Golden Pavilion (Kinkakuji Temple) was built in 1224 for an aristocrat and was later converted into a Buddhist temple. The top two tiers of the 3-tiered building are embossed in gold leaf, casting a stunning reflection on the surrounding lake. The gardens are also considered to be one of Japan’s finest classically designed gardens.
The Kyoto Imperial Palace was the residence for the Emperor’s family until 1868 when the capital moved to Tokyo. Stroll around the grounds or check the Imperial Household Agency website for their tours, which must be booked in advance to see the interior of the Palace.
Nijo Castle was built in 1603 as the Kyoto residence for the Tokugawa Shogun. Whereas the exterior appears solemn, the interior of the complex includes several cypress buildings with lavish decor, including beautiful screen paintings.
Kiyomizu Temple is one of Kyoto’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites. A charming lane lined with pottery shops leads you to this famous temple. Enjoy a fantastic view of Kyoto from the temple’s veranda.
Overnight: New Miyako Hotel in Kyoto
Day 2: Kyoto – Hiroshima
Enjoy a morning in Kyoto at your leisure before heading to Kyoto Station for your mid-day train to Hiroshima. Upon arrival in Hiroshima, you may leave your luggage with your hotel if you arrive before check-in time (times are listed in your itinerary).
Have the afternoon to see Hiroshima’s memorials related to the atomic bomb, and to explore the bustling modern city that was rebuilt after the destruction of World War II. Most of the memorials are located in or near the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, built to commemorate the dropping of the atomic bomb on August 6, 1945 and to promote worldwide peace.
The Peace Memorial Museum displays the terrible effects of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima in graphic detail that is both moving and depressing. The east building of the museum shows Hiroshima’s militarist past and the process that lead up to the fateful bombing.
Take in the skeletal remains of the Atomic Bomb Dome, the iconic symbol of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and the city’s last remaining bomb-damaged building. Nearby there is the Children’s Peace Monument where thousands of origami cranes made by children drape the structure.
The Atomic Bomb Memorial Mound holds the ashes of 70,000 bomb victims; many were unidentified or had no relatives to claim their ashes.
For a change of scenery, take a few hours to hop over to Miyajima, a beautiful island reached by train and ferry from Hiroshima. It is most famous for the Itsukushima Shrine and its lovely torii gate, which at high tide appears to float on water. You’ll see tame deer roaming about, adding more ambiance to this gem of an island.
Overnight: Hotel New Hiroden
Day 3: Hiroshima – Tokyo
You’ll have time in the morning to catch any sights you still wanted to see in Hiroshima or Miyajima, or take a few hours to stroll around the city and enjoy its many amenities. Pick up a box of Hiroshima's famous maple leaf-shaped momiji manju cakes for a snack on the train ride back to Tokyo!
Mid-afternoon you’ll head to the train station to catch the Shinkansen Nozomi to Tokyo, arriving in Tokyo station that evening to conclude your independent tour.