Tourist Attractions in Kyoto

In this article, we’ve categorized the major tourist attractions in Kyoto City into seven different areas. Furthermore, we’ve introduced nearby cities suitable for day trips from Kyoto.
Kyoto City offers a multitude of historical landmarks as well as photogenic and nature-rich spots.
If you’re interested in Kyoto’s tourist destinations, be sure to check out this article.

About Kyoto City

When it comes to tourist spots in Kyoto, many people might think of temples like the “Kinkakuji (Golden Pavilion)” and the “Kiyomizu Temple.”
Actually, Kyoto has not only temples but also many fun places to visit!

If you plan to explore Kyoto city, it’s recommended to divide your visit into different areas for better transportation.
Here, we will introduce Kyoto city in seven areas.

Kyoto City Center Area (Nakagyo Ward,Kamigyo Ward)

Main tourist attractions: Kawaramachi Street, Nishiki Market, Kyoto International Manga Museum, Nijo Castle, Kyoto Imperial Palace, Seimei Shrine, and Kitano Tenmangu, among others.

Central Kyoto City, located in Nakagyo Ward, is always bustling with activity and serves as the heart of Kyoto.

For shopping and dining, “Kawaramachi Street” is a popular spot, especially among young people between Kawaramachi Sanjo and Shijo streets.

Heading a bit west, you’ll find shopping streets like “Teramachi Shopping Arcade” and “Shinkyogoku Shopping Street,” as well as the famous “Nishiki Market” where you can enjoy Kyoto’s delicious food.
Manga enthusiasts will be thrilled to visit the “Kyoto International Manga Museum.”

While it requires a short trip, about a 20-minute bus ride away, you’ll reach the UNESCO World Heritage Site, “Nijo Castle,” and the beautiful garden of “Kasen-en” in its vicinity.

Kamigyo Ward, situated north of Central Kyoto City, holds attractions such as the former residence of the Emperor before the Meiji Restoration, “Kyoto Imperial Palace,” the “Seimei Shrine” dedicated to Abe no Seimei, and “Kitano Tenmangu,” a shrine known for its association with scholars and where students often pray for success in their exams.

Kyoto Station Area (Simogyo Ward)

Main tourist attractions: Kyoto Tower, Kyoto Aquarium, Kyoto Railway Museum, and more.

This area offers excellent accessibility and gathers tourist spots that can be enjoyed by a wide range of people, from children to adults.

Right in front of Kyoto Station, you’ll find “Kyoto Tower,” where you can enjoy panoramic views of Kyoto from the highest point in the city and dine at its restaurants.

A short distance from Kyoto Station, there are facilities like the family-friendly “Kyoto Aquarium” and the “Kyoto Railway Museum” that are great for families to explore.

Gion and Kiyomizu Area (Higashiyama Ward)

Main tourist attractions: Yasaka Shrine, Hanami-koji Street, Kiyomizu Temple, Sannenzaka, Gojozaka, Ninen-zaka,  Sanju-sangen-do, and more.

One of the things that immediately comes to mind when you think of Kyoto is the Gion and Kiyomizu area.

You can fully immerse yourself in the Kyoto atmosphere by visiting the beloved “Yasaka Shrine” and doing some shopping at the souvenir shops in the Gion district.
If you’re lucky, you might even encounter a Maiko while walking down the nearby “Hanami-koji” street!

Heading south, you’ll find the famous “Kiyomizu Temple” with its scenic wooden stage.

On your way to Kiyomizu Temple along “Kiyomizu-zaka” and in the vicinity of “Sanneizaka,” “Gojozaka,” and “Ninen-zaka,” you’ll also discover souvenir shops and restaurants serving delicious Kyoto cuisine.

Saga and Arashiyama Area (Ukyo Ward)

Main tourist attractions: Togetsukyo Bridge, Bamboo Forest Road, Kimono Forest, Arashiyama Monkey Park Iwatayama, Sagano Romantic Train (Sagano Tram), and Kyoto Uzumasa Eigamura (Toei Movie Land), among others.

Arashiyama, with its stunning natural beauty, boasts several renowned attractions, including the majestic “Katsura River” and the historically rich wooden bridge, “Togetsukyo Bridge,” which has stood for over 400 years.
Particularly during the spring cherry blossom season and the autumn foliage season, Arashiyama attracts a multitude of tourists.

One of the well-known spots in Arashiyama is the “Bamboo Forest Road,” where you can stroll through a beautiful bamboo forest.
For those who want to capture beautiful photos or enjoy a peaceful walk, early morning, when there are fewer people, is highly recommended.

At Arashiyama Station, there’s a photogenic spot called “Kimono Forest” where you’ll find beautiful pillars resembling kimono patterns. It’s a popular spot among young visitors.

Additionally, you can interact with monkeys at the “Arashiyama Monkey Park” or admire the natural beauty while riding the sightseeing train, the ” Sagano Romantic Train (Sagano Tram),” between Arashiyama and Kameoka.

A bit further away from Arashiyama, you’ll find the “Kyoto Uzumasa Eigamura (Toei Movie Land),” a recreation of an Edo-period village.

Eastern Area (sakyo Ward)

Main tourist attractions: Higashiyama Jishoji Temple(Ginkakuji or Silver Pavilion), Nanzenji Temple, Heian Shrine, Kawai Shrine, Shimogamo Shrine, Kifune Shrine, Kyoto Botanical Garden, and more.

This area, situated on the eastern side of Kyoto city in Sakyo Ward, is a bit farther from the central area. It’s a place where you can enjoy nature and find many famous temples.

Heading to the northern part of Sakyo Ward, you’ll encounter a stretch of mountains. Among them, you can explore the scenic approach lined with lanterns at the renowned “Kifune Shrine” and enjoy a ropeway ride at Mount Hiei.

Around Demachiyanagi Station, famous for the “Kamo River Triangle Delta,” you can pay your respects at the UNESCO World Heritage Site, “Shimogamo Shrine,” and the “Kawai Shrine,” where women gather for beautiful prayers.

As you venture southeast, you can appreciate the simplicity and elegance of “Higashiyama Jishoji Temple(Ginkakuji or Silver Pavilion)” in the Higashiyama area, “Heian Shrine” built to commemorate the 1,100th anniversary of the Heian capital, and “Nanzenji Temple,” the first imperial temple of Zen Buddhism in Japan.
It’s a wonderful area for temple visits and exploration.

Kinkakuji Area (kita Ward)

Main tourist attractions: Kinkakuji (Golden Pavilion), Kamigamo Shrine, and more.

Although it’s a bit away from the central area, this area is home to significant cultural treasures, including the world heritage site “Kamigamo Shrine,” which boasts national treasures and numerous important cultural properties.
It also includes the famous “Kinkakuji” with its iconic golden pavilion architecture.

Fushimi Inari Area (Fushimi Ward)

Main tourist attractions: Fushimi Inari Taisha, Kizakura Kappa Country, Gekkeikan Okura Sake Museum, and more.

Fushimi Inari Taisha,” famous for its thousands of torii gates, is also popular within Japan.
It has been voted as the number one “Must-Visit Tourist Spot in Japan” for two consecutive years on international travel review websites.

Furthermore, it is also known as a place for sake, where you can admire picturesque sake breweries and even enjoy sake tasting.
Kizakura Kappa Country” is a sake-themed amusement park located in Fushimi, operated by the sake manufacturer “Kizakura.”
Gekkeikan Okura Sake Museum” is a Japanese sake museum for the major sake producer “Gekkeikan,” showcasing their sake-related artifacts and history.

Outside of Kyoto City

In Kyoto Prefecture, there are various tourist destinations besides Kyoto City.

Uji City

Main tourist attractions: Mimuroto-ji Temple, Shojuin, Byodo-in Temple, and more.

Mimuroto-ji Temple” boasts unparalleled popularity among Kyoto’s numerous scenic spots.
Especially from spring to summer, it comes alive with a profusion of azaleas, rhododendrons, hydrangeas, and lotus blooms, making it the most vibrant season of the year.

The guest hall of ”Shojuin”, which was newly constructed in the 2010s, is known for its heart-shaped “Inome Window” in the Soku-ten-no-ma and the “160 Ceiling Paintings” created by a Japanese painter.
Every year, from June 1st to September 18th, the Wind Chime Festival takes place, adorning the temple grounds with a multitude of wind chimes.

Byodo-in Temple” is registered as one of the constituent heritage sites of the UNESCO World Heritage Site “Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto”.
It is very famous for the Phoenix Hall drawn on a 10-yen coin.

Amano hashidate

Amano hashidate” is one of Japan’s three most scenic spots.
It’s a natural wonder where a sandbar spanning about 3.6 kilometers and varying in width from approximately 20 to 170 meters separates Miyazu Bay from the Aso Sea.
The breathtaking sight resembles a bridge to the heavens, which is how Amanohashidate got its name.

Ine no Funaya (Ine Boat Houses)

Ine no Funaya (Ine Boat Houses)” are unique structures built right above the water, exuding a nostalgic charm.
It’s a place where you can experience fishing, learn about the boat houses, and immerse yourself in the atmosphere.

Outside of Kyoto Prefecture

Near Kyoto Prefecture, there are other famous tourist cities as well.


Main tourist attractions: Osaka Castle, Dotonbori, USJ, and more.

Osaka is a major city and is considered one of Japan’s three largest cities with many tourist attractions.
Additionally, The New York Times has featured Osaka as one of the “Places to Go in 2017,” highlighting its exceptional food culture, stating, “The ultimate Japanese feast awaits.”


Main tourist attractions: Kobe City, Himeji Castle, Kinosaki Onsen, and more.

Kobe City,” known for its Western-style architecture, thrived as a trading port with foreign countries during the Meiji era.
It’s a nature-rich harbor town surrounded by mountains and the sea.

Himeji Castle” was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in December 1993, making it the first in Japan.
The pristine white castle is truly magnificent and exceptionally beautiful.

Kinosaki Onsen,” believed to have been in existence since the Heian period, offers an authentic Japanese hot spring town experience.
Strolling around in yukata (cotton kimono) and geta sandals, visiting the seven public bathhouses, exudes a unique charm and is quite popular among foreign tourists as well.


Main tourist attractions: Nara Park, Todai-ji Temple, Horyu-ji Temple, and more.

Nara Park” is a natural park that dates back to the Meiji era. It spans over 660 hectares of expansive land and within the park’s grounds, you can find Kasuga Shrine, Todai-ji Temple, Shosoin Treasure House, and more.

Todai-ji Temple” is a historic temple built during the Nara period.
The famous “Great Buddha of Nara” is located at Todai-ji, which attracts tourists who visit for sightseeing.

Horyu-ji Temple” is a well-known temple registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
It houses numerous national treasures, important cultural properties, and Buddhist art, making it a recommended tourist spot for those interested in Japanese history.


Main tourist attractions: Hikone Castle, Mt. Hiei Enryakuji Temple, Shirahige Shrine, and more.

Hikone Castle”, located in Hikone City, is considered one of the most beautiful castles in Japan.
It is designated as a national treasure and boasts a stunning main keep and gardens.

Mount Hiei is a Buddhist center that rivals Mount Koya. Kukai, the founder of Shingon Esoteric Buddhism, and Saicho, the founder of Tendai Buddhism, are two prominent figures in the Heian period Buddhism.
Mount Hiei, particularly Enryaku-ji, which serves as the head temple of the Tendai school, holds great allure.

Shirahige Shrine” is known for its impressive torii gate standing on the water of the lake.


I divided the main tourist attractions in Kyoto into seven areas.
Kyoto offers plenty of spots where you can experience Japanese history and nature.
Please consider visiting Kyoto.


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