Best places to visit in Ancient Kyoto
UNESCO calls the world heritage sites of Kyoto collectively as the historic monuments of ancient Kyoto.
These historic sites encompass the cities of Kyoto, Uji, and Otsu.
List of world heritage sites in Kyoto
Kyoto is a former capital city of Japan. This means it’s a city full of history and culture.
With nearly 20 sites that includes temples, shrines, and a castle on the list of UNESCO designated historically and culturally important places in Kyoto, how to choose which of them to go to when you have limited time?!
The most popular of these sites are popular for a reason.
But that doesn’t mean the others don’t deserve a look too.
Most of these top places to visit in Kyoto have grounds that you can roam around. They are more than just a single structure.
You can get a feel for a different type of architecture than is found in the West, and many have nice Japanese gardens and landscaping on the temple grounds that make for a nice nature walk too.
So if you’re looking to experience a bit of history and culture in Japan, Kyoto is one of the best cities you can visit with so much to see.
Another good place to visit for the same reasons is Nara, which is also famous for being a former capital city of Japan.
This means that Nara has a few world heritage sites too. It’s also famous for deer!
Nara can make a perfect one day trip from Kyoto.
World heritage sites as a part of a one day Kyoto itinerary
I made 4 world heritage sites a part of my day with an unlimited one day Kyoto bus pass:
- Nijo Castle (UNESCO site)
- Kinkakuji Temple (UNESCO site)
- Ryoanji Zen Temple (UNESCO site)
- Yasaka Shrine
- Chion-in Temple
- Ninenzaka and Sannenzaka streets
- Kiyomizu-dera Temple (UNESCO site)
First, a map of Kyoto so you can make plans to visit these historical and cultural places.
Then, a list of some of the world heritage sites that are also among the most visited spots in Kyoto.
After that, some more world heritage sites for you to explore.
Map of UNESCO world heritage sites in Kyoto
Better plan out your days in Kyoto based on where these temples and shrines are located.
Have a look at the map of Kyoto’s world heritage sites.
If you’re coming from Pinterest mobile, open up this page in your browser to view the map! Then you can also view this Kyoto map on your Google maps app too.
Top Kyoto attractions: List of places to visit in Ancient Kyoto
Listed entry fees are approximate and are subject to change!
1. Kinkakuji Temple (Golden Pavilion)
Cost: 400 yen (US$4)
2. Nijo Castle
Cost: 600 yen (US$5)
Visit the teahouse at Nijo Castle!
Cost: 500 yen (US$4) for temple grounds – 300 yen (US$3) to enter temple
4. Ginkakuji Temple (Silver Pavilion)
Cost: 500 yen (US$4)
Visit the tea room at Ginkakuji!
5. Ryoanji Temple (Zen Temple)
Cost: 500 yen (US$4)
6. Kiyomizu-dera Temple
Cost: 400 yen (US$4)
List of historic monuments of ancient Kyoto
- Kinkakuji Temple
- Nijo Castle
- Tenryuji Temple
- Ginkakuji Temple
- Ryoanji Temple
- Kiyomizu-dera Temple
- Toji Temple
- Saihoji Temple (Moss Temple)
- Nishi Honganji Temple
- Ninnaji Temple
- Shimogamo-jinja Shrine
- Enryakuji Temple
- Byodo-in Temple
- Daigoji Temple
- Kamigamo-jinja Shrine
- Kozanji Temple
- Ujigami-jinja Shrine
HAPPY HISTORIC KYOTO TRAVEL PLANNING!
Use this Kyoto tourist map to plan out your 5 days in Kyoto with some world heritage sites!
- Day 1: Top tourist spots with one day bus pass (with Nijo Castle, Kinkakuji, Ryoanji, Kiyomizu-dera!)
- Day 2: Fushimi inari shrine hike through 1,000 torii gates
- Day 3: Philosopher’s Path walk (with Ginkakuji!)
- Day 4: Arashiyama and Sagano (with Tenryuji!)
- 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.
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!
Shoes for JapanFor summer travel, hiking sandals can be perfect for walking around cities and for many of the short day hikes! See travel sandals like these for women and these for men.
Japan is a mountain country so be sure to get in some hikes!
See trail running shoes too (for women - for men) for other solid hikes including climbing Mt Fuji.
Speaking of hiking, I love this daypack.
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.
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.
Cheap(er) flights to JapanI used this website to find the cheapest flight and to book my recent flight to Japan.
Sometimes it makes sense to book direct - my preferred way!
But this booking site will search a combination of airlines, including those who aren't partner airlines, which means that they can help you find cheaper flights by booking individual flights for you as part of one flight itinerary. This can be especially helpful if you're not flying out of a major hub with direct flights to Japan.
I've missed a flight booked through them and it was taken care of with hotel and new flight.
See more tips for finding cheap flights to Japan.