So is 2 days in Kyoto enough?!
Well, maybe not.
But if your time in Japan is short, and that’s the time you’re giving yourself to spend in Kyoto…
This plan will include some of the BEST spots around to give you a taste of Kyoto!
First, the quick list in pictures of places included in these 2 days.
Then, a few more details on how you can make it happen, including public transportation tips.
Best places to visit in Kyoto in 48 hours
1. Nijo Castle (world heritage site)
3. Kinkakuji Temple (world heritage site)
4. Kinkakuji tea garden
5. Ryoanji Temple (world heritage site)
7. Chion-in Temple
9. Kiyomizu-dera Temple (world heritage site)
11. Sagano scenic railway
13. Tenryuji Temple (world heritage site)
14. Togetsukyo Bridge
15. Arashiyama Monkey Park
Day 1: How to get around Kyoto
- Bus from Kyoto Station to Nijo Castle
- Visit Nijo Castle (and teahouse)
- Bus from Nijo Castle to Kinkakuji
- Visit Kinkakuji Temple (and tea garden)
- Bus from Kinkakuji to Ryoanji
- Visit Ryoanji Temple
- Bus from Ryoanji to Gion
- Visit Yasaka Shrine
- Walk from Gion to Kiyomizu-dera (with stops at Chion-in and Ninenzaka)
- Visit Kiyomizu-dera Temple
- Bus from Kiyomizu-dera to Kyoto station
Day 2: How to get around Kyoto
- Train from Kyoto Station to Fushimi Inari
- Walk through 1,000 torii gates of Fushimi Inari Shrine
- Train from Fushimi Inari to near Kameoka torokko station
- Sagano scenic train to Arashiyama torokko station
- Walk to bamboo grove
- Walk through Arashiyama bamboo forest
- Walk to Tenryuji
- Visit Tenryuji Temple
- Walk across Togetsukyo Bridge
- Visit Arashiyama monkey park (check closing time before you go!)
- Walk to train station
- Train from Arashiyama to Kyoto Station
Quick tips for getting around Kyoto
- The Google Maps app is a reliable way to figure out how to get around Kyoto by bus and train
- The Japan Travel Navitime app can be good if you’re trying to figure out the best way to get around with a JR pass (or to help you decide if it’s better to get around without your JR pass… or to decide if it’s worth it to buy the JR pass at all!)
- The Google Translate app has a feature where you can take a picture of Japanese writing and it will translate it for you
- The ICOCA card is SO worth it to get if you’ll be taking the bus or train to get around Kyoto. No cost savings, but it’s highly convenient so you won’t have to go through the hassle of buying individual tickets! They are basically recharge cash cards.
HAPPY 2 DAYS IN KYOTO!
And if you have more than 2 days in Kyoto…
Use this Kyoto tourist map to plan out your 5 days in Kyoto!
- Day 1: Top tourist spots with one day bus pass
- Day 2: Fushimi Inari Shrine
- Day 3: Philosopher’s Path
- Day 4: Arashiyama and Sagano
- Day 5: Kurama Kibune Ohara with one day pass
More quick tips for planning your trip to JapanThere are affiliate links on this page that take you to partner websites.
For more on planning your trip to Kyoto, see the 1-day, 2-day, and 5-day Kyoto itineraries. If you'll be in Kyoto in the spring, also see the 1-day cherry blossom photo walk.
Hotels in KyotoSearch for deals on Kyoto hotels here.
For hostels across Japan, try this top backpacker's hostel chain.
Kyoto can also be a good place to stay at a Japanese-style ryokan, like this one. Or if you're on more of a budget, try this one.
Also use the map below to see more hotels in Kyoto!
The super fast train in JapanIn general, 2 long-distance shinkansen train trips will likely end up making it so the JR pass will be worth it.
See the current price of a JR pass from an official vendor.
See an example of traveling by the fast train from Tokyo to Kyoto.
NEW way of buying individual shinkansen train tickets online!I will start by saying I have NOT bought train tickets online this way (yet!) to verify this! (But it's on my list for my next trip to Japan!)
There's an online train ticket booking method that's popular for other parts of Asia, and they are just now branching out to Japan.
You can now buy train tickets online here for popular shinkansen train routes. (And some bus routes too.)
I've used this booking site for taking the train from Thailand to Malaysia, and it worked out well, so I would expect it to work out well in Japan too!
The thing is, though, that you need to pick up the physical train tickets in person.
So it won't be enough to just buy the tickets online. I had to do this in Bangkok for my train ticket - and it was easy! So again, I would think it'd be easy for Japan train tickets too.
Search for popular routes in Japan here. For example, Tokyo to Kyoto.
If you end up buying train tickets online this way, I would love to hear how it goes! Whether that's good, or if it came with some challenges!
Natural disasters in JapanUnfortunately, Japan can be prone to natural disasters which means risk for travel delays. So be sure to look at travel insurance for natural disasters.
My travel insurance took care of my accommodation and food costs when I was forced to stay extra days in Japan because of a typhoon.
See how much insurance costs for your trip.
Best travel guides for JapanIf you're at step 1 in your planning process, have a look at this Discover Japan book.
For "books" that won't take up space in your suitcase, see the best PDF guides.
See more of the best books for Japan trip planning.
Create your Japan itinerary
- 5 days in Kyoto
- Cost of climbing Mt Fuji from Tokyo
- Where to go for famous Mt Fuji views as seen in pictures
- Know before you go to Hiroshima
- One day in Miyajima with famous floating torii views
- 3 days in Okinawa, Japan's tropical islands
- Cherry blossom photo walk
- When is the JR pass worth it for train travel?
- Tokyo to Kyoto train
- Hostels in Japan