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.
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