Kyoto is the former Imperial capital of Japan, located in the Kansai region. Today, the city is a mixture of historic and modern, being part of the Kyoto-Osaka-Kobe metropolitan area. That means there are plenty of Kyoto tours that include history, architecture and the traditional culture and religions of Japan.
Experience Kyoto tours
These Kyoto tours allow you to experience the city in the most authentic ways, with tours and experiences that let you see what life is like for people living in the city.
Night Walk in Gion: Kyoto’s Geisha District
This walking Kyoto tour is one of the most popular in the city and sees around 5000 guests a year. The guided tour with an English speaking host takes you for a night-time walk around Gion, famous as the home of the geisha. It starts at the Gion Omiode Museum then to the Shirakara River and the area used to film the movie Memoirs of a Geisha. Learn about the history, rules and life of a geisha and maybe even meet one.
Kyoto: Tea Ceremony Experience
Making tea in Japan is a much more ceremonial and important thing than in other parts of the world. In this experience, you learn about the traditional Japanese tea ceremony from a licensed tea master and how to make one. Learn how to prepare the tea, try making it yourself and learn the importance of the ceremony. Then after sampling the tea, enjoy a range of traditional Japanese sweets.
Kyoto: Cultural and Spiritual Tour with Zen Meditation
Kyoto is a very spiritual city and this tour is a great way to see and experience this for yourself. The tour starts with the Nonomiya Shrine, the place of purification and preparation for priestesses of the Ise Grand Shrine. You will also visit Kameyama Park and stop on Togetsukyo Bridge where the fishermen use trained cormorants to catch fish. You can also try authentic Zen meditation with one of the resident monks before taking part in a traditional Japanese tea ceremony.
Short and day tours
When you are in Kyoto for a short time, then short tours or even single day Kyoto tours are an ideal way to see the sights you most want to see.
Kyoto: Full-Day UNESCO and Historical Sites Tour
Kyoto has a number of historical sites and even some that are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. This tour is a brilliant way to see some of them. It starts with the Kiyomizu-dera Temple, sitting on the hill high above the city. Next visit the Sanju-san-gen-do Temple, famous for having 1001 statues and in particular the Thousand Armed Avalokiteshvara statue.
Next, you can stop at the Inari Shrines and then move on to the Thousand Torii Gates. After a traditional Japanese lunch, you will get to visit Togetsu-kyo Bridge, Sagano Bamboo Forest and Tenryu-ji Temple, all of which are among the most popular spots to visit in the city. Finally, stop at Rokuon-ji Temple, known locally as Kinkaku-ji or the Golden Temple.
Kyoto 5-Hour Walking Tour
This five hour walking tour covers the best Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines and also a number of Japanese handicraft workshops around the city. Led by an English speaking guide, you will learn about the culture of Japan, the part the different religions play in the city’s history and its current resident’s lives. The tour ends near the Kiyomizu-dera temple.
Kyoto: Private Customised Walking Tour with a Local
This fully customisable tour lets you set up the experience you want. You can book tours for two, four, six or even eight hours and your tour guide is a knowledgeable local who can help you see the very best of Kyoto. It is best to book at least 72 hours before you want to take the tour and if you aren’t sure about what you want to see, you will chat with your guide beforehand to help them draw up the perfect itinerary.
Kyoto: Historical Sake, Green Tea & Wagashi Shopping Tour
Kyoto is the heart of the traditional arts and crafts movement in Japan and is also a great place to do some shopping. This tour is ideal to enjoy the best of both of these things. It starts with a stroll through Fushimi Momoyama, the shopping area that is one of the most charming parts of the city. See shops where tea ceremonies have been held for over 300 years.
Next, you will see the candy shops where wagashi, traditional sweets served with tea, are made. Sample a range before heading to the sake district and see the traditional brewery buildings. Finally, visit Miyagawa-cho, with the oldest Zen temple in the city and its Geisha districts. See Ukiyo-e, one of the traditional crafts of Japan and see a geisha performance.
Kyoto tours show there are loads of amazing places to visit in the city. But if you are staying a bit longer, the area around Kyoto also has some fantastic spots to visit.
Kyoto and Nara 1 Day Bus Tour from Osaka/Kyoto
Travel from Kyoto to Fushimi Inari Taisha, a key cultural location with five shrines named for the five virtues of Inari Okami, the deity of business property, industry and of safe households. See the 1000 torii gates where individuals and companies make donations.
Next, you will travel with Arashiyama with its spring cherry blossom, summer boat festivals and stunning autumn show – even the beauty of winter so there’s something at any time of the year. See the various temples and shrines as well as the Bamboo Grove.
Finally, visit Kinkakuji, the Golden Pavilion, one of the most popular spots in Japan. See the famous deer, the largest wooden building on the planet and the biggest statue of Buddha, standing 15 metres tall.
Hidden Kyoto: Amanohashidate and Miyama Traditional Village
This tour covers the hidden gems around Kyoto including Amanohashidate and the traditional village of Miyama. The temple of Amanohashidate is a Zen temple and houses the Buddhist god of wisdom and intellect so is often visited by those hoping for academic success. It is also known as one of the three most scenic spots in Japan.
After a traditional lunch, visit Kasamatsu Park then stop at Miyama. This rural area is known for thatched roof farmhouses and is a throwback to past times.