So you want to go to Kyoto!
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!
Is 2 days enough in Kyoto?
If you plan your days well, then 2 days in Kyoto can be enough to get you a taste of Ancient Japan! You can see a historic castle, several world heritage sites, drink classic green tea from a teahouse, see Japanese gardens, walk through classic Japanese streets, walk through red torii gates as seen in pictures, and more! Plus, you can get a glimpse of local life in Kyoto by getting around Kyoto by bus!
Kyoto itinerary: How to spend 2 days in Kyoto
- Day 1: UNESCO World Heritage Sites and more historic Kyoto sights by bus
- Day 2: Famous Fushimi Inari torii gates and Arashiyama
First, the quick list of places included in these 2 days… with pictures!
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
The ultimate Japan experience #1: You can read the reviews for watching sumo training!
The ultimate Japan experience #2: You can read the reviews for the samurai lesson at a dojo!
The ultimate Japan experience #3: You can read the reviews for the tea ceremony!
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Traveling around Japan and can't read Japanese? No problem! Just use the camera on the google translate app!
5. Ryoanji Temple (world heritage site)
7. Chion-in Temple
9. Kiyomizu-dera Temple (world heritage site)
13. Tenryuji Temple (world heritage site)
More below with details on how to get around during your 2 days in Kyoto!
More info/pictures below, but... SIDE NOTE!
Where to go from Kyoto?! You can go to to Nachi Falls to see one of Japan's most famous views! You can make it a part of your Kumano Kodo itinerary to go to several UNESCO world heritage sites, also making a stop at the small Yunomine Onsen hot springs town!
Here are more ideas for your Japan trip planning!
- Best places to visit for your first time in Japan (including famous views!)
- Where to go to see cherry blossoms in Kyoto
- Where to go to see fall colors in Kyoto
- Where to go for winter in Japan
- Where to go to experience tropical Japan
- Where to go for epic snow-capped Mt Fuji views
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 Taisha 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!
If your days in Kyoto are during cherry blossom season, then be sure to see ideas for how to spend one of those days with the Kyoto cherry blossom itinerary!
If your days in Kyoto are when there are fall colors, take your pick out of 2 of the days for a Kyoto fall colors itinerary!
Here are ideas for your Kyoto itinerary!
- Day 1: Top tourist spots with one day bus pass
- Day 2: Fushimi Inari Shrine hike through 1,000 torii gates
- Day 3: Philosopher's Path walk
- Day 4: Arashiyama and Sagano
- Day 5: Kurama Kibune Ohara with one day pass
And the JR pass makes it time-efficient to travel around Japan by train and is a popular option among international travelers! See how to figure out if the JR pass will be worth it for you!
🍵 Read the reviews of these highly rated tours:
Is a JR pass worth it?!
- Google maps can make it easy to figure out whether or not you should get a JR pass!
- In google maps, type in your departure and arrival city, and choose the transit icon. The route will come up, and so will the estimated cost at the bottom!
- Here is an example of a train route with cost on google maps.
- So do that for all of your long distance routes to figure out how much it might cost.
- Next, go here to see how much a JR pass costs from an official JR pass vendor (and partner of this website).
- And compare!
- Not all forms of public transportation are JR, but long distance shinkansen bullet trains are, and that's where the most cost savings will come.
Best of Kyoto (and Japan!)
👇 Explore the best places to visit in Japan!
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