One day in Kyoto Japan itinerary. Best places to visit in Kyoto with one day bus pass. How to get around Kyoto by bus. Backpacking Kyoto Japan travel blog and Kyoto travel guide

 

 

So, is one day in Kyoto enough?!

Well, probably not. ๐Ÿ˜‰

But if it’s all you have, then here’s how to make the most of it!

 

If you have more time in Kyoto, see the 2 day itinerary and 5 day itinerary.

 

Now…

First, the quick list of places to visit in Kyoto in one day.

Then, a little bit about taking the bus in Kyoto. (But also see this step-by-step guide.)

Then, some more pictures of this one day Kyoto itinerary to see if it’s something you want to follow!

 

 

Best places to visit in Kyoto in one day with a bus pass

One day in Kyoto Japan itinerary: Best places to visit in Kyoto in one day with bus pass. Backpacking Kyoto Japan travel guide.

 

 

1. Nijo Castleย (and teahouse)

One day in Kyoto itinerary: Nijo Castle. Best places to visit in Kyoto in one day Kyoto bus pass. Backpacking Kyoto Japan travel guide with DIY self-guided tour

 

 

2. Kinkakuji Temple

One day in Kyoto itinerary: Kinkakuji Temple - golden temple. Best places to visit in Kyoto in one day Kyoto bus pass. Backpacking Kyoto Japan travel guide with DIY self-guided tour

 

 

3. Ryoanji Temple

One day in Kyoto itinerary: Ryoanji Zen Temple with rock garden. Best places to visit in Kyoto in one day Kyoto bus pass. Backpacking Kyoto Japan travel guide with DIY self-guided tour

 

 

4. Yasaka Shrine

One day in Kyoto itinerary: Yasaka Shrine in Gion. Best places to visit in Kyoto in one day Kyoto bus pass. Backpacking Kyoto Japan travel guide with DIY self-guided tour

 

 

5. Chion-in Temple

One day in Kyoto itinerary: Chion-in Temple. Best places to visit in Kyoto in one day Kyoto bus pass. Backpacking Kyoto Japan travel guide with DIY self-guided tour

 

 

6. Ninenzaka and Sannenzaka streets

One day in Kyoto itinerary: Ninenzaka slope and Sannenzaka slope. Best places to visit in Kyoto in one day Kyoto bus pass. Backpacking Kyoto Japan travel guide with DIY self-guided tour

 

 

7. Kiyomizu-dera Temple

One day in Kyoto itinerary: Kiyomizu-dera temple. Best places to visit in Kyoto in one day Kyoto bus pass. Backpacking Kyoto Japan travel guide with DIY self-guided tour

 

 

How to get around for this Kyoto itinerary

 

One day in Kyoto Japan itinerary: List of best places to visit in Kyoto in one day and how to get around by bus with bus pass. Backpacking Kyoto Japan travel guide.

 

 

Kyoto map with attractions

The map may not work very well here on this page on mobile, sorry! In that case, see this Kyoto map in Google Maps!

And if you have more time, see this Kyoto tourist map to plan out your 5 days in Kyoto!

 

 

Hotels in Kyoto

Put in your travel dates below (partner website) and you’ll be able to see the prices of the hotels in Kyoto on the map!

 



Booking.com

 

 

3 things you NEED for this one day Kyoto itinerary

Okay, you don’t NEED any of these things, but all of them will definitely make your life on the streets of Kyoto MUCH easier!

 

1. Wifi or data on your phone

Pocket wifi is a thing for travelers in Japan.

If you’re American and have t-mobile, most standard plans come with FREE international data so be sure to look into it! It’s only 2G, but it worked well for me for purposes of getting around Kyoto!

And if you have Sprint, also look into the Japan roaming planย (that’s a pdf), as it seems you can get unlimited text and data in Japan for $5! Not sure if this is a limited time offer, but worth looking into!

 

2. Google maps app on your phone

So the reason you will want to highly consider wifi is because Google Maps will make your life much easier.

Once you’re done visiting one place and you’re ready to move on to the next one, open up Google Maps with data/wifi and GPS enabled.

Then let it tell you the best way to get to your next destination by bus or by walking!

And when you’re on the bus, you can keep an eye on Google Maps to know when you’re getting close to your stop.

 

3. One day bus pass

Well, since this IS an itinerary that uses a bus pass, this will be useful to have.

You CAN follow this itinerary without it, but it WILL cost you more.

AND not only that, you’ll have to get out those coins every time you want to ride the bus. A one day bus pass really is just easier! (Or get an ICOCA card – that will also be easier, as you will just swipe to pay with no need to take out coins!)

 

 

๐Ÿ—พ๐ŸšŒ

Side note! See quick Kyoto travel tips if it's your first trip to Japan. Also see ideas for how to spend time in Kyoto with the Kyoto travel planning map and 5 day Kyoto itinerary. For Kyoto in spring, see this one day cherry blossom photo walk. Also see ideas for how to spend winter in Japan - 10 day itinerary with Japan Alps and 7 day itinerary in Hokkaido! And finally, see how to figure out if a JR pass will be worth it!

 

So…

Is it worth it to get a one day Kyoto bus pass?

If you will be taking the bus more than 2 times in one day, then YES! It’s worth it.

If you follow this particular itinerary, you’ll be taking the bus 5 times, so it will more than pay for itself!

 

The one day bus pass costs 600 yen (US$5)

At least it was for me in 2018!

 

There are a few different types of buses that go around Kyoto, and this particular bus pass will cover 2 main types of buses:

  • City bus
  • Kyoto bus

These buses are the vast majority of the buses you’ll come across, and what Google Maps will show you.

 

Bus fare without a Kyoto bus pass

Generally speaking, a single bus ride will probably cost you around 200-400 yen (US$2-3) when you are paying for individual rides.

 

How to use the one day bus pass

One day in Kyoto with Kyoto one day bus pass. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

 

The bus pass also doesn’t cover ALL parts of Kyoto.

That only becomes a concern if you are going on the outskirts of Kyoto, like to the more rural Ohara village.

There are other types of buses in Kyoto, but the city bus and Kyoto bus will be able to get you around to the main attractions of Kyoto well.

The first time you use the pass, you’ll put it through the card machine when you get off the bus. You can think of this as the way to activate the bus pass.

After that, to use your bus pass, you’ll flash the back of your pass that has the date on it to the bus driver as you get off.

These instructions are on the back of the bus pass.

If you’re unsure of anything, just make gestures to the bus driver about whether or not you’re doing the right thing. (Most probably don’t speak much English.)

 

One day in Kyoto with Kyoto bus pass. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

 

If you follow the route outlined on this one day itinerary, you’re likely to mostly end up on a city bus or Raku bus.

If you won’t be following this exact itinerary, you may also consider taking the bus with an ICOCA card, the recharge cash card.

 

Be sure to also see about how to take the bus in Kyoto.

 

 

Where to buy a one day Kyoto bus pass

These are probably the 2 easiest ways to buy a Kyoto bus pass:

  • Bus ticket center at Kyoto station
  • Bus ticket machine at Kyoto station

 

See more here for the visual of where to buy the bus passย once you’re at Kyoto Station.

 

 

What about the bus timings?

When I did this, I wasn’t concerned about specific bus timings.

The most important thing is the frequency of the buses.

And since these places to visit are popular areas, the frequency of the buses between the various tourist attractions is good enough.

You generally won’t have to wait too long for the next bus.

When you’re ready to move on to the next attraction, just consult Google Maps!

 

 

What if you need help at the Kyoto bus station?!

One day in Kyoto with bus pass: Kyoto station bus stand information staff. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

 

If you see people dressed in purple, they are there to help you!

 

 

What’s the WORST part about getting around Kyoto by bus?!

There IS a possibility that you’ll end up on a crowded bus.

This means that you might end up standing for much of the time that you’re in transit.

But don’t worry, there are plenty of areas to sit and rest up along the way at the sites of the tourist attractions once you’re off the bus. ๐Ÿ˜‰

 

One day in Kyoto with bus pass: How much time at tourist attractions. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

 

And there IS a chance that you COULD end up on an empty bus!

 

One day in Kyoto with bus pass: No tourist on bus. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

 

 

What about the JR pass to get around Kyoto by bus?

One day in Kyoto with bus pass: Getting around Kyoto on JR bus with JR pass. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

 

If you want to consider doing Kyoto sightseeing exclusively with your JR pass by bus, there is a JR bus which means free bus rides to get around Kyoto.

The route is a bit more limiting, but you can still see a number of places.

Of the attractions that are a part of this list with the one day bus pass, you can get to the following attractions by taking the JR bus:

  • Kyoto Station
  • Nijo Castle
  • Kinkakuji Temple
  • Ryoanji Temple

So this is basically the first part of the itinerary (in this exact order), and the castle and temples are some of the top UNESCO world heritage sites in Kyoto.

See more of the JR bus route.

 

 

Now, to see if you want to follow this plan…

How to spend one day in Kyoto!

One day in Kyoto Japan itinerary: List of best places to visit in Kyoto in one day with bus pass. Backpacking Kyoto Japan travel guide.

 

This was my exact route in August 2018.

 

Kyoto Station to Nijo Castle bus

So once you get to Kyoto station and you have your one day bus pass, onward to getting to the right bus stand!

You can ask the good people in purple…

 

One day in Kyoto with bus pass: Kyoto station to Nijo castle bus timings route information staff. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

 

And you can also look at the information board to find out where the bus to Nijo Castle is.

You’ll find a section that lists the platform of all the top Kyoto attractions.

 

One day in Kyoto with bus pass: How to get from Kyoto station by bus to top tourist sightseeing spots. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

 

The bus to Nijo Castle will be at platform B1 and B2.

 

One day in Kyoto with bus pass: Kyoto station to Nijo castle bus timings. Kyoto station to Kinkakuji Temple (golden pavilion). Backpacking Kyoto Japan

 

As a popular tourist attraction, it’s possible there will already be a long line when you arrive.

 

One day in Kyoto with bus pass: Kyoto station to Nijo castle bus - tourist raku bus. Kyoto station to kinkakuji bus 101 express. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

 

Off to Nijo Castle you go!

The bus will drop you off right in front of Nijo Castle.

 

One day in Kyoto with bus pass: Kyoto station to Nijo castle bus stop. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

 

 

Nijo Castle (UNESCO world heritage site)

Cost: 600 yen (US$5)

You’ll probably end up spending 1-2 hours on a visit to Nijo Castle.

 

One day in Kyoto with bus pass: Visit to Nijo castle gate. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

One day in Kyoto with bus pass: Visit to Nijo castle palace. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

One day in Kyoto with bus pass: Visit to Nijo castle garden. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

One day in Kyoto with bus pass: Visit to Nijo castle moat. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

 

Nijo Castle teahouse

Consider stopping by the Waraku-an teahouse that’s on the grounds of Nijo Castle.

You can make your own matcha green tea straight from the matcha powder!

 

One day in Kyoto with bus pass: Visit to Nijo castle teahouse for matcha green tea. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

One day in Kyoto with bus pass: Visit to Nijo castle teahouse for matcha green tea. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

One day in Kyoto with bus pass: Visit to Nijo castle teahouse for matcha green tea. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

One day in Kyoto with bus pass: Food near Nijo castle teahouse food menu prices cost how much. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

 

Nijo Castle cafe

There’s also a little cafe near the exit if you want to sit down for some snacks too.

 

One day in Kyoto with bus pass: Food near Nijo castle - restaurant cafe food. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

One day in Kyoto with bus pass: Food near Nijo castle - restaurant cafe food menu prices cost how much. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

 

 

Nijo Castle to Kinkakuji bus

Once you’ve finished your visit to Nijo Castle, next up is Kinkakuji Temple!

You’ll take a bus ride and then walk a little bit to get to the Kinkakuji entry.

 

One day in Kyoto with bus pass: Nijo castle to kinkakuji bus. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

One day in Kyoto with bus pass: Nijo castle to kinkakuji bus - raku bus, Kyoto tourist bus. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

One day in Kyoto with bus pass: Nijo castle to Kinkakuji bus and walk. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

 

You can also find some snacks on the way to Kinkakuji Temple.

 

One day in Kyoto with bus pass: Food near Kinkakuji Temple food menu prices cost how much. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

One day in Kyoto with bus pass: Nijo castle to Kinkakuji bus and walk. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

One day in Kyoto with bus pass: Nijo castle to Kinkakuji bus and walk. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

One day in Kyoto with bus pass: Visit to Kinkakuji temple - golden temple entry. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

 

 

Kinkakuji Templeย (UNESCO world heritage site)

Cost: 400 yen (US$4)

Maybe you’ll spend an hour here.

One day in Kyoto with bus pass: Visit to Kinkakuji temple - golden temple pavilion. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

One day in Kyoto with bus pass: Visit to Kinkakuji temple - golden temple walk. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

One day in Kyoto with bus pass: Visit to Kinkakuji temple - golden temple walk. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

One day in Kyoto with bus pass: Visit to Kinkakuji temple - tea cafe. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

 

 

Kinkakuji to Ryoanji bus

Next up, you’ll take another bus ride, followed up with a short walk to get to the Ryoanji Temple entry!

 

One day in Kyoto with bus pass: Kinkakuji to Ryoanji bus 59 - Kinkakuji, Ryoanji, Ninnaji. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

One day in Kyoto with bus pass: Kinkakuji to Ryoanji bus and walk. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

 

Throughout the day, you’ll come across many vending machines so you can stay well-hydrated. (And you will have no problem finding a toilet at the tourist attractions.)

 

One day in Kyoto with bus pass: Kinkakuji to Ryoanji bus and walk with vending machine drinks. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

 

 

Ryoanji Temple (UNESCO world heritage site)

Cost: 500 yen (US$5)

This is considered to be a zen temple, and it’s also famous for its rock garden.

This is a place you can spend a short time if you want to make this a quick visit, or you can spend longer if you like the atmosphere.

 

One day in Kyoto with bus pass: Visit to Ryoanji temple - zen temple with rock garden. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

One day in Kyoto with bus pass: Visit to Ryoanji temple - zen temple. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

One day in Kyoto with bus pass: Visit to Ryoanji temple - zen temple. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

One day in Kyoto with bus pass: Visit to Ryoanji temple - zen temple. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

 

 

Ryoanji to Yasaka Shrine bus

This will be a bus ride to Gion where the Yasaka shrine is located.

You’ll be dropped off on the streets of Gion, and this is a place that can be good to do your souvenir shopping or gift shopping.

 

One day in Kyoto with bus pass: Visit to Gion with kimono rental for souvenir shopping and gift shopping. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

 

From the bus stop, it’ll be a short walk to the Yasaka Shrine.

 

 

Yasaka Shrine

Cost: FREE!

This is another place that can be a quick visit where you can spend a short time roaming around the grounds of the shrine.

 

One day in Kyoto with bus pass: Visit to Yasaka shrine, Gion. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

One day in Kyoto with bus pass: Visit to Yasaka shrine, Gion. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

One day in Kyoto with bus pass: Visit to Yasaka shrine, Gion. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

One day in Kyoto with bus pass: Visit to Yasaka shrine, with Gion kimono rental. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

 

 

Yasaka Shrine to Chion-in Temple

Start of Gion to Kiyomizu-dera walk

Once you’ve finished up at the shrine, you’ll start your walk fromย Gion to Kiyomizu-dera.

It’ll be a short walk to get to Chion-in Temple.

 

One day in Kyoto with bus pass: yasaka shrine to chion-in temple walk. Gion to kiyomizu-dera temple. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

One day in Kyoto with bus pass: yasaka shrine to chion-in temple walk. Gion to kiyomizu-dera temple. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

One day in Kyoto with bus pass: yasaka shrine to chion-in temple walk. Gion to kiyomizu-dera temple. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

 

 

Chion-in Temple

Cost: 500 yen (US$5)

You can walk around the grounds of the temple for free!

 

One day in Kyoto with bus pass: Visit to chion-in temple. Gion to kiyomizu-dera temple. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

One day in Kyoto with bus pass: Visit to chion-in temple. Gion to kiyomizu-dera temple. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

One day in Kyoto with bus pass: Visit to chion-in temple. Gion to kiyomizu-dera temple. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

 

 

Chion-in to Ninenzaka and Sannenzaka walk

Once you’re finished walking around the grounds of the Chion-in Temple, next up is to continue in the direction of Kiyomizu-dera Temple.

In order to see a bit of “classic Kyoto,” you’ll want to be sure to pass by the streets of Ninenzaka and Sannenzaka along the way, so that’s where you’re headed next!

 

One day in Kyoto with bus pass: chion-in temple to ninenzaka and sannenzaka slope walk. Gion to kiyomizu-dera temple. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

 

 

Ninenzaka slope and Sannenzaka slope

Cost: FREE! (These are regular streets)

This can be another good place to do some souvenir shopping, gift shopping, and even take in a tea ceremony!

 

One day in Kyoto with bus pass: Visit to ninenzaka and sannenzaka slope streets. Gion to kiyomizu-dera temple. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

One day in Kyoto with bus pass: Visit to ninenzaka and sannenzaka slope streets. pagoda. Gion to kiyomizu-dera temple. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

One day in Kyoto with bus pass: Visit to ninenzaka and sannenzaka slope streets. japan souvenirs and gift shopping in kyoto. Gion to kiyomizu-dera temple. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

One day in Kyoto with bus pass: Visit to ninenzaka and sannenzaka slope streets. tea ceremony in kyoto. Gion to kiyomizu-dera temple. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

One day in Kyoto with bus pass: Visit to ninenzaka and sannenzaka slope streets. kimono rental. Gion to kiyomizu-dera temple. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

 

 

Ninenzaka and Sannenzaka to Kiyomizu-dera walk

And then it’ll be a final short walk to get to Kiyomizu-dera Temple!

 

One day in Kyoto with bus pass: Ninenzaka and sannenzaka to kiyomizu-dera temple with kimono rental. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

 

 

Kiyomizu-dera Templeย (UNESCO world heritage site)

Cost: 400 yen (US$4)

You’ll likely want to spend at least 1-2 hours here, and you’ll find places to eat around here too.

One day in Kyoto with bus pass: Visit to Kiyomizu-dera temple. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

One day in Kyoto with bus pass: Visit to Kiyomizu-dera temple. golden buddha. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

One day in Kyoto with bus pass: Visit to Kiyomizu-dera temple. pagoda. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

One day in Kyoto with bus pass: Food restaurant cafe near Kiyomizu-dera temple. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

One day in Kyoto with bus pass: Restaurant cafe near Kiyomizu-dera temple. menu of food prices how much. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

One day in Kyoto with bus pass: Food restaurant cafe near Kiyomizu-dera temple. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

One day in Kyoto with bus pass: Visit to Kiyomizu-dera temple. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

 

 

Kiyomizu-dera to Kyoto station bus

And finally your last bus of the day!

 

 

Kyoto station

Head underground at Kyoto station for a network of restaurants so you can finish off your day with some Japanese food!

You might need a big meal to refuel after all the walking that you did!

 

One day in Kyoto with bus pass: Kyoto station restaurant. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

One day in Kyoto with bus pass: Kyoto station restaurant - meal set food menu prices cost how much. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

One day in Kyoto with bus pass: Kyoto station restaurant - meal set food menu prices cost how much. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

One day in Kyoto with bus pass: Kyoto station restaurant - meal set. Backpacking Kyoto Japan

 

HAPPY ONE DAY IN KYOTO!

 

Do you have more than one day in Kyoto?!

Use this Kyoto tourist map to plan out your 5 days in Kyoto!

 



How to spend winter in Japan

Backpacking Japan travel blog: Japan winter itinerary. Japan itinerary travel planning tips. Backpacking Japan travel blog: Hokkaido winter itinerary. Japan itinerary travel planning tips.

More quick tips for planning your trip to Japan

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Among the top 3 things people get specific for a trip to Japan


Use this Kyoto tourist map to plan out your 5 days in Kyoto!


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.

Food in Japan
If you are in Japan for FOOD, then be sure to see where to try different types of Japanese food! (Sometimes for cheaper!)

And also have a look at some of these cooking classes in Japan too.

When the JR pass is worth it
In 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 Japan
Unfortunately, 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.

Create your Japan itinerary


That's it for now!




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