2 Days in Kyoto (+ Printable Itinerary)
A lot of you have probably heard of Kyoto – The ancient capital of Japan. A few hundred years ago, it was in the thick of things because it was where the emperor lived. You’d be able to picture it bustling with activity, with vendors selling their wares to samurai’s walking about the place and spending the night at a Ryokan(Traditional Japanese Inn). We had lived in Japan 4 months when we decided to visit Kyoto in autumn. We’d heard that it was beautiful during that time. We’re so glad that we went because we fell in love it and ended up visiting Kyoto a few more times. So, we decided to make a travel itinerary that might help you save some time and effort planning –
Download a printable Itinerary by clicking on the image below:
In the Heian period, this shrine was one of the shrines that carried written messages of important events occurring in Japan, to the gods. That’s why you see a lot of foxes in the shrine as they are regarded as the messengers.
Timings: Always Open
Access: Fushimi Inari station (Keihan Line) or JR Inari station from Kyoto station.
Note: To get to Kiyomizu temple, you need to head back to Kyoto station and board a bus (for Kiyomizu dera) from the Kyoto bus station (which is located to the right of Kyoto station, just outside.)
Kiyomizu temple, originally built in 798 is famous for its 3 waterfalls and their wish granting powers. It is also a world heritage site.
Access: Get off at the Gojozaka Stop on Route 206 bound for Higasihama-dori Kitaoji Bus Terminal or Route 100 bound for Kiyomizu-dera Gion/Ginkaku-ji and walk 10 minutes
The names mean three year hill and two year hill respectively and they refer to the ancient imperial years when they were first laid out.
Timings : It tends to open around 10:00 and close around 17:00 or 18:00. The hours may depend on the shops and even the seasons.
Access : The streets are a few steps from Kiyomizu-dera.
Gion district is famous for the its Geishas ( locally referred to as Geiko) and maikos. It also has many tea houses. Geiko are mature Geishas and Maiko are Geishas under 20.
Timings: Closing time depends on the stores and restaurants. Usually open till very late in the night or even early mornings.
Access : Keihan Line to “Shijo”. Hankyu Line to “Kawaramachi”.Kyoto City Bus to “Gion”. If you’re up for walking, it’s a 20 minute walk from Kiyomizu-dera
It is also called the Golden Pavillion. The top 2 storeys are covered with pure gold leaf. The pond surrounding the temple also has Koi carp.
Timings : 9:00 a.m – 5:00 p.m
Access : From Kyoto station, board Kyoto City Bus number 101 or 205. It’ll take 40 minutes to get to Kinkaku-ji.
The name, Tenryuji translates to dragon of the sky. It is ranked 1st out of 5 Zen temples and is also a World Heritage Site. The gardens of Tenryuji was designed by Muso Soseki who also designed Koke-dera ( moss garden). he was also the head priest of Tenryuji.
Timings : 8:30 – 17:30 ( until 17:00 October to March)
Access : From Kinkaku-ji-Street, take Kyoto city bus 59 to the Ryoan-ji-mae or Omuro Ninnaji bus stop. Transfer to Keifuku Electric Railroad and get off at the Arashiyama terminal station.
As the name suggests, it’s a forest of bamboo. A path cuts right across the forest so you get to walk with bamboo on both sides.
Timings : Always open
Access : Exit the north gate of Tenryuji temple and take a left. Walk for less than 5 minutes .
Togetsu means “moon crossing”. This bridge is famous for it’s autumn leaves and cherry blossoms. The river underneath it has a different name on either side – on the West, Hozu River and on the east, Katsura river.
Timings : Always open
Access : Walk back towards Tenryu-ji and head towards Arashiyama station. Go past the station and keep walking straight till you reach the bridge. It will take you about 8 minutes.
If you’re staying at a Ryokan, don’t miss out on the traditional Kyoto breakfast. Many Ryokans provide a breakfast for a reasonable price –
For lunch/dinner, we recommend the Yuba lunch Set. Yuba is basically Tofu skin and is a food often associated with Kyoto
A must try dessert in Kyoto is the famous “Matcha Parfait” –
Bus Pass – Buying a one day bus passes would save you a lot of money on travel. It costs 500 yen per pass. There is also a 2 day unlimited bus and subway pass for 2000 yen. But we recommend buying a bus pass because you’ll mostly be travelling by buses in Kyoto.
Accommodation – If you want to experience traditional Kyoto, a stay at the Ryokan is a must! But, make sure you book a Ryokan(Japanese style Inn) in advance because it’ll definitely be cheaper and it’ll also make sure that you have a place to stay. The Ryokans (and all the other hotels)get booked really fast during autumn.
Storing Luggage – Every station has some lockers where you can store the luggage so you don’t have to carry them around.
Kimono Rentals – If you want to walk around Kyoto in a Kimono, make advance reservations online to get a lower Kimono rental rate. Prices vary a lot so do your research before you reserve one.
Temple stamp Book (Goshuin cho ご朱印帖 )
If you plan on visiting a lot more temples, a Temple stamp book can be a great souvenir for yourself. A Goshuincho is available for purchase at many temples. You can collect stamps (Goshuin) from the temples you visit, for a small price. They look something like this –
Do you have any suggestions or ideas for a good Kyoto Itinerary for 2 days? Let us know in the comments!