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.
When the JR pass is worth itIn general, 2 long-distance shinkansen train trips will likely end up making it so the JR pass will be worth it. But here's how to calculate it to be sure. See the current price of a JR pass from an official vendor.
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. There have been a few typhoons that have hit Japan in the past couple of years and they can cause real travel disruptions!
See how much insurance costs for your trip.
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.