How Many Days in Kyoto is Enough?

As you plan your trip to Kyoto, you may find yourself wondering, “How Many Days in Kyoto is Enough?” In this blog post, I will guide you through the factors to consider and help you create the perfect itinerary for your stay in Kyoto.

Kyoto, the cultural capital of Japan, is known for its historic temples and shrines, traditional Japanese gardens, Kyoto Imperial Palace, as well as the traditional arts and culture of geisha and maiko, and the art of the Japanese tea ceremony.

How Many Days in Kyoto is Enough?

I would recommend spending at least three to four days in Kyoto to get a good overview of the city’s attractions and immerse yourself in its rich cultural heritage. However, it really depends on your personal preferences and the amount of time available.

With three to four days, you can visit the must-see landmarks such as Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion), Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine, Kiyomizu-dera Temple, Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, and Gion District, famous for geisha sightings. 

Additionally, you’ll have time to explore other notable sights, such as Nijo Castle, Philosopher’s Path, Ginkaku-ji (Silver Pavilion), and the beautiful gardens throughout the city.

This duration allows you to take part in traditional tea ceremonies, wander through the traditional streets of Higashiyama, sample Kyoto’s renowned cuisine, and potentially take day trips to nearby destinations like Nara or Osaka.

If you have more time available, you can delve even deeper into Kyoto’s cultural offerings and take part in seasonal festivals or explore lesser-known neighborhoods and attractions.

Ultimately, the ideal duration for your visit depends on your interests and the pace at which you prefer to explore the city.

Where is the best place to stay in Kyoto?

Some of the best areas to book your accommodation in Kyoto are Downtown Kyoto, Gion and Southern Higashiyama, Kyoto Station, and Arashiyama. You can read full detail of the best neighborhoods in Kyoto at this article: Best places to Stay in Kyoto First Time.

For me, Downtown Kawaramachi and Gion are the best overall areas in Kyoto for tourists. They are popular and safe neighborhoods for first-timers who want to stay in the heart of the city with easy access to public transportation and attractions.

Here are some of the best hotels in Kyoto for first-time visitors:

💖 Best Area for first-timers:Downtown Kyoto
💎 Best luxury hotel:Hotel Granvia Kyoto
🏨 Best mid-range hotel:Mitsui Garden Hotel Kyoto Shijo
💰 Best budget hotel:Hotel Resol Kyoto Kawaramachi Sanjo

Can Kyoto be done in one day?

While it’s challenging to fully experience Kyoto in just one day, it is possible to have a condensed visit and explore some of its key highlights. If you have the opportunity, consider extending your stay to fully appreciate the cultural richness that Kyoto has to offer.

One Day in Kyoto Itinerary

Start early at the Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine that is known for its iconic thousand red torii gates that create a stunning pathway through the forested hillside. Take your time to explore the shrine grounds, hike to the mountaintop for a panoramic view.

After Fushimi Inari, take the Keihan Railway and walk to the Kiyomizu-dera Temple, the UNESCO World Heritage site with breathtaking views from its wooden terrace. Wander through the temple complex, admire the beautiful architecture.

Then, take a bus to the Philosopher’s Path, a scenic canal pathway lined with hundreds of cherry trees. It is at its best during cherry blossom season when the trees bloom. Along the way, you’ll encounter small shops, cafes, and temples such as Ginkaku-ji Temple (Silver Pavilion).

You can visit Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion) by bus or taxi. It is the iconic Zen Buddhist temple covered in gold leaf, and is surrounded by manicured gardens and the pond. You can appreciate the tranquility of the surroundings.

From Kinkaku-ji, hire a taxi to the Arashiyama District, which is famous for its bamboo forest, Togetsukyo Bridge, and beautiful nature. Take a walk through the towering bamboo groves, visit the Tenryu-ji Temple, and enjoy the riverside scenery.

Catch a taxi back to downtown Kyoto, consider visiting one of the museums such as the Kyoto National Museum, the Kyoto International Manga Museum, or the Samurai & Ninja Interactive Museum and Show.

As the day comes to an end, you can explore the bustling nightlife districts like Gion, Pontocho, or Kawaramachi, or wind down with a relaxing visit to a traditional onsen (hot spring) or eat in a kaiseki (multi-course) dinner at a ryokan (traditional inn) for an authentic experience.

Where should I stay in Kyoto for one day?

Downtown Kawaramachi is the best overall area to stay in Kyoto for 1 day due to its central location and well-connected to public transportation. It has a wide range of accommodations, shopping streets, and restaurants.

Some of the best places to stay in Kyoto for 1 day, include:

  • Mid-range ($$): Solaria Nishitetsu Hotel Kyoto Premier, 4-star hotel, centrally located only 2 minutes walking distance from Sanjo Station on the Keihan Line, and a 13-minute train ride from Kyoto Station.
  • Mid-range ($$): hotel kanra kyoto, 4-star hotel, only a 12-minute walk from Kyoto Station, easy access to Nishiki Market, Gion area, Kiyomizu-dera Temple, and Nijo Temple.
  • Budget ($): R Star Hostel Kyoto, a budget friendly accommodation, located only 15 minute walk from Nishiki Market (Kyoto market).

Is 2 days enough for Kyoto?

Two days in Kyoto can give you a taste of the city’s major highlights such as Arashiyama Bamboo Forest, Fushimi Inari Taisha, Golden Pavilion, Silver Pavilion, Nishiki Market, Kiyomizu-Dera, among a few other notable sites. 

While two days will give you a glimpse of Kyoto’s highlights, if possible, I would recommend extending your stay to at least three or four days to have a more leisurely and immersive experience of the city and its cultural heritage.

Two Days in Kyoto Itinerary

Day 1:

Start your day by taking the Keihan Line subway to Fushimi-Inari Station or Nara Line train to Inari Station to visit Fushimi Inari Taisha. This is a famous Shinto shrine known for its thousands of vibrant red torii gates that form a network of hiking trails on the sacred Mount Inari.  

After that take a taxi or subway to Gion-Shijo Station to visit Nishiki Markets in downtown Kyoto, Nishiki Markets to try local Kyoto delicacies and fresh produce.

Spend your afternoon at the Higashiyama historic district with traditional streets, temples, and shrines. It’s a perfect place for a leisurely stroll, visiting Ninenzaka and Sannenzaka paths, Yasaka Shrine, and Kiyomizu-dera.

In the evening, you can have dinner in Gion, spot Geisha out on the streets, and visit Gion Corner, a cultural center where you can experience traditional Japanese arts, such as tea ceremonies, flower arrangement, and geisha performances.

Day 2:

Start early in the morning by taking the JR Sagano Line from Kyoto Station to Saga-Arashiyama station to visit the Arashiyama Bamboo Forest. Walking through the towering bamboo stalks is a memorable experience.

Situated in Arashiyama, Iwatayama Monkey Park is home to a troop of wild Japanese macaque monkeys. You can interact with them while enjoying panoramic views of Kyoto.

In the afternoon, you can visit Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion), the Ginkaku-ji (Silver Pavilion), and Philosopher’s Path, by hail a taxi and take public transportation. 

In the evening, head to Pontocho, a narrow street lined with traditional wooden machiya houses. It’s a popular nightlife district with numerous restaurants, bars, and teahouses, offering a glimpse into Kyoto’s traditional entertainment scene.

Where should I stay in Kyoto for two days?

Downtown Kawaramachi, Gion, and the Kyoto Station area are some of the best areas to stay in Kyoto for two days due to their prime location and excellent connections to public transportation. 

Staying in these areas allows you to be located within walking distance to tourist facilities, as well as easy access to the city’s attractions by bus, subway, and train. 

They all offer a wide range of accommodation options, running from budget hostels to luxury hotels. There are more ryokans and traditional Japanese B&Bs around Gion, while the Kyoto Station area has more budget-friendly options.

Some of the best places to stay in kyoto for two days are:

  • Luxury ($$$): Good Nature Hotel Kyoto, 5 -star hotel located within walking distance from Gion Shijo Station.
  • Mid-range ($$): Matsui Honkan, 4-star hotel located close to the Nishiki Market and Ponto-cho Street, as well as Shijo, Karasuma and Kawaramachi subway stations.
  • Budget ($): Sotetsu Fresa Inn Kyoto-Kiyomizu Gojo, 3-star hotel, located close to numerous train and subway stations.

Is 3 days in Kyoto enough?

Three days can provide you with a decent overview of Kyoto’s main highlights. You’ll have the opportunity to visit some of the famous temples, stroll through traditional neighborhoods, and experience the city’s unique ambiance.

Three Days in Kyoto Itinerary

Day 1: Explore Higashiyama, the eastern part of Kyoto

Please note that this itinerary may involve a fair amount of walking, so wear comfortable shoes and plan your time accordingly. 

  • Take a bus to Ginkaku-ji Temple (Silver Pavilion), beautiful sand garden and temples
  • Walk to Philosophers Path, a scenic canal-side path lined with cherry trees
  • Nanzen-ji Temple, a significant Zen temple complex.
  • Chion-in Temple, one of Kyoto’s most important temples.
  • Yasaka Jinja Shrine, a popular Shinto shrine known for its vibrant festivals.
  • Kodai-ji Temple, a stunning temple with beautiful gardens and tea houses.
  • Ninen-zaka and Sannen-zaka, pedestrian streets with traditional shops, cafes, and souvenir stores.
  • Kiyomizu-dera temple, with a five storied pagoda, the Otowa Waterfall.

Day 2: Golden Pavilion and Arashiyama

Please keep in mind that Golden Pavilion and Arashiyama can be quite popular, especially during peak tourist seasons, so be prepared for potential crowds and plan your visit accordingly.

  • Take a bus to Kinkaku-ji Temple (Golden Pavilion), enjoy a stunning golden exterior and the reflection of the pavilion in the surrounding pond.
  • Take a bus or walk to Ryoan-ji Temple, famous for its rock garden.
  • Head to Arashiyama district, where you can explore the a UNESCO World Heritage site Tenryu-ji Temple, Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, and Monkey Park Iwatayama

Day 3: Downtown Kyoto and Fushimi Inari

  • Nishiki Market, a bustling food market known as Kyoto’s Kitchen where you can try fresh seafood, traditional snacks, and unique culinary delights.
  • Nijo Castle, home to Ninomaru Palace with its beautiful gardens.
  • Imperial Palace, the former residence of the Imperial family.
  • Fushimi Inari, one of Kyoto’s most iconic and visited Shinto shrines.

Where should I stay in Kyoto for three days?

Downtown Kawaramachi, Gion, and Kyoto Station, are some of the most popular areas to stay in Kyoto for three days due to their central location and well-connected to public transportation. 

Staying in these areas allows you to be surrounded by restaurants, bars, and shops, and easy access to major attractions by bus, subway, and train.

Best hotels to stay in Kyoto for 3 days include:

  • Luxury ($$$): The Ritz-Carlton Kyoto, 5 -star hotel located right along the Kamogawa River, easy access to Kyoto Shiyakusho Mae Subway Station, JR Kyoto Station.
  • Mid-range ($$): Matsui Honkan, 4-star hotel located close to the Nishiki Market and Ponto-cho Street, as well as Shijo, Karasuma and Kawaramachi subway stations.
  • Budget ($): Sotetsu Fresa Inn Kyoto-Kiyomizu Gojo, 3-star hotel, located close to numerous train and subway stations.

Is 4 days in Kyoto too much?

Four days can provide you with a decent amount of time to explore the city and experience its cultural and historical attractions. Kyoto is known for its numerous temples, shrines, gardens, and traditional neighborhoods, and you can definitely cover a lot of ground in four days. 

Four Days in Kyoto Itinerary

Day 1: Southern Higashiyama district

  • Kiyomizudera Temple
  • Ninenzaka and Sannenzaka Street
  • Ishibei Koji Street
  • Kodai-ji Temple
  • Maruyama Park and Yasaka Jinja Shrine
  • Chionin Temple
  • Shoren-in Temple 

Day 2:  Arashiyama and Golden Temple

  • Togetsukyo Bridge
  • Monkey Park Iwatayama 
  • Tenryuji Temple
  • Ryoan-ji Temple
  • Kinkaku-ji Temple 
  • Daitoku-ji Temple

Day 3: Downtown Kyoto

  • Nijo-jo Castle
  • Nishiki Market
  • Gion Neighborhood
  • Food Tour of Kyoto

Day 4: South Kyoto and North Higashiyama

  • Fushimi Inari Shrine
  • Nanzen-ji Temple
  • Eikan-do Temple
  • Philosopher’s Path
  • Honen-in Temple
  • Ginkaku-ji Temple
  • Gion Corner for Geisha Performance

Where should I stay in Kyoto for four days?

Downtown Kyoto, Gion, Arashiyama, Kyoto Station, and Arashiyama are some of the best bases for four days due to their prime location. Staying here allows you to be located in the heart of the city, within easy access to popular landmarks on foot and public transportation.

Best places to stay in Kyoto for 4 days are:

Is 5 days too long in Kyoto?

Five days in Kyoto can provide a satisfying glimpse into the city’s rich cultural heritage and enchanting landscapes. You can visit the city’s iconic attractions and take day trips to nearby cities such as Nara, Osaka, and Kobe.

Five Days in Kyoto Itinerary

Day 1: Higashiyama & Gion

  • Kiyomizudera Temple
  • Ninenzaka and Sannenzaka
  • Yasaka Pagoda (Hokanji Temple)
  • Nishiki Market
  • Gion (Geisha District)

Day 2: Southern Kyoto

  • Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine
  • Consider visiting Tofukuji Temple, Daigoji Temple, Fushimi Sake District, and Uji City.

Day 3: Northern Kyoto

  • Kinkakuji Temple 
  • Ryoanji Temple
  • Ninnaji Tample
  • Ginkakuji Temple
  • Philosopher’s Path
  • Nanzenji Temple
  • Keage Incline

Day 4: Arashiyama Area

  • Togetsukyo Bridge 
  • Bamboo Grove 
  • Tenryuji Temple
  • Iwatayama Monkey Park
  • Hozugawa River Boat

Day 5: Day Trips from Kyoto

Consider a day trip to Osaka, Nara, Shiga, Ine no Funaya, Amanohashidate, or Miyama. 

Where should I stay in Kyoto for five days?

Downtown Kawaramachi, Gion, and the Kyoto Station area are the best neighborhoods to stay in Kyoto for five days due to their proximity to popular attractions and public transportation. Staying in these areas allows you to be located in the heart of the city. 

Best hotels to stay in Kyoto for 5 days are:

Can you spend a week in Kyoto?

A week in Kyoto should provide ample time to explore the city’s main attractions, immerse yourself in the local culture, and potentially take a few day trips.

Addinitanlly, Kyoto hosts several seasonal events throughout the year, such as cherry blossom viewing in spring and vibrant autumn foliage. If you plan to visit during these periods, a week allows you to witness these natural phenomena and attend related festivals or events.

Where to Stay in Kyoto First Time: Best Areas

Which month is best for Kyoto?

Kyoto offers different experiences throughout the year. Each season offers its own unique charm in Kyoto, so consider what you value most in your trip to make the best choice for yourself.

Spring (March to May) – known for its cherry blossoms, typically occurs in late March to early April. It can be quite crowded during this time, but witnessing the cherry blossoms in full bloom is a remarkable experience.

Summer (June to August) – are hot and humid but is a great time to explore Kyoto’s numerous temples, gardens, and indoor attractions. Additionally, the Gion Matsuri, takes place in July and features processions and traditional performances.

Autumn (September to November) – a fantastic season to visit Kyoto. The city’s foliage transforms into beautiful shades of red, orange, and yellow, creating a stunning backdrop for your exploration. The weather is generally mild, making it pleasant to explore the city on foot.

Winter (December to February) –  can be chilly. If you enjoy a quieter and less crowded experience, this might be an ideal time for you to visit. You can explore Kyoto’s temples and shrines at a more relaxed pace, and there’s also a chance of seeing snowfall, which adds a magical touch to the city.

See more:

So, How long should I spend in Kyoto?

A general recommendation would be to spend at least three to four days in Kyoto to see major attractions like the Golden Pavilion, Kiyomizu-dera, Fushimi Inari Taisha, Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, and Gion district, known for its wooden machiya houses and geisha culture.

Additionally, you might want to allocate time to attend traditional tea ceremonies, participate in a Zen meditation session, or explore the local cuisine.

Ultimately, the choice of how long to spend in Kyoto is subjective and depends on your preferences and available time. It’s always a good idea to research the specific sights and activities you wish to experience and plan your itinerary accordingly.

About Author: Linda Smith

I'm Linda Smith, the Hotel Expert, an experienced travel blogger who passionate about traveling. I'm here to share with you all my travel experiences and tips. I cover a wide range of travel topics, specializing in sharing information about the best areas, neighborhoods, and hotels in each city. I hope all these things will make your travel easier.

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