Kyoto is definitely a place you would want to visit on your first trip to Japan.

Located just 30 minutes by train from Osaka, Kyoto is famous for its well-preserved traditional Japanese vibe. In fact, its historic monuments are inscribed in UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites. This city is also a destination for enjoying formal traditions such as kaiseki dining and traditional performances by geishas.

During my trip to Kyoto, I made my way to Kyoto’s sacred Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines, and historic districts. I fell in love with how the city’s old town charms co-existed harmoniously with its modern surroundings, and how the traditional architecture was complemented perfectly with Zen gardens and natural features.

Traveling to Kyoto for the first time? Scroll down to get started on planning your trip. I’ve included a sample itinerary, places to visit/things to do, list of expenses/budget breakdown and extra travel tips.

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Kyoto Itinerary

What to do in Kyoto in 2 days? Here’s a 2 days & 1 nights (2D1N) itinerary for your do-it-yourself (DIY) trip. This itinerary will take you to many of Kyoto’s top temples, and cultural sights. Including the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kiyomizudera Temple, Kinkaku-ji (Golden Temple) & more.

Feel free to tweak the activities & timings below based on your traveling style, schedule & attractions that interest you the most.

Day 1: Kyoto Tower & Fushimi Inari Shrine

TimeActivity

Flight to Osaka

Arrive at Osaka-Kansai International Airport (KIX). Claim tours, passes & tickets booked online.

Osaka airport to Kyoto center/hotel train — via JR Haruka line to Kyoto Station

Kyoto hotel check-in

Cheapest ratesBest reviews

Fushimi Inari Taisha (shrine)

Tofukuji Temple

Kyoto Tower

Day 2: Kyoto Highlights

TimeActivity
0700 AM

Arashiyama Bamboo Grove

Tenryuji Temple

Togetsu-kyō Bridge

Kinkaku-ji (Golden Temple)

Nijō Castle (optional)

Kiyomizudera Temple

Explore Higashiyama Ward — Sanneizaka & Nineizaka streets

Kodaiji Temple

Yasaka Shrine (Gion Shrine)

Gion District (optional)

Nishiki Market

TimeActivity

Kiyomizudera Temple

Explore Higashiyama Ward — Sanneizaka & Nineizaka streets

Kodaiji Temple

Yasaka Shrine (Gion Shrine)

Gion District

Nishiki Market

Kyoto Budget

Your travel expenses will largely depend on your traveling style and how much you plan to spend on activities, accommodations & food. To help you set your own budget, here are budget estimates if you follow the 2 days and 1 nights (2D1N) itinerary posted above. Make sure to review all discounts & online booking prices.

Transport expenses breakdown
JPY 2,200JR West Kansai Pass — Per person discount price online. Includes 1 day unlimited rides on JR trains in West Kansai area. Covers Haruka limited express line from Osaka-Kansai Airport to Kyoto Station and JR Nara line.Book here
JPY 500Kyoto Bus Pass — Per person. Includes 1 day unlimited rides on Kyoto buses. Buy at Kyoto train station or from your hotel (if available).
Activities/attraction costs breakdown
JPY 400Tofukuji Temple — Admission ticket/entrance fee per person.
JPY 150Kyoto Tower — Per person price online. Includes admission ticket/entrance fee.Book discount here
JPY 500Tenryuji Temple — Admission ticket/entrance fee per person.
JPY 400Kinkaku-ji (Golden Temple) — Admission ticket/entrance fee per person.
JPY 600Kiyomizu-dera Temple — Admission ticket/entrance fee per person.
JPY 600Kodaiji Temple — Admission ticket/entrance fee per person.
Budget Trip – Backpacker expenses
JPY 2,700Transport — Includes train and bus fares/passes listed above.
JPY 2,500Accommodations — Per night in a budget hostel dorm
JPY 5,000Food — JPY 2,500 per day inexpensive meals budget x 2 days.
JPY 12,850Sub-total — Including activities & expenses above. Approximately PHP 6,139 / USD 116 / SGD 159. Or, a daily budget of JPY 6,425 / PHP 3,069 / USD 58 / SGD 80.
JPY 2,650Activities — Admission tickets/entrance fees on selected activities above.
JPY 10,200Total — Excluding attractions/activities & flights. Including accommodations, food & transport. Approximately PHP 4,873 / USD 92 / SGD 126. Or, a daily budget of JPY 5,100 / PHP 2,436 / USD 46 / SGD 63.

I’ve included backpacker budget estimates for food & accommodations to give you an idea of how cheaply you can do the trip. If you have money to splurge on hotels, food, and luxuries, simply use the expenses posted to calculate your own budget.

Other expenses
JPY 1,067Japan local 4G/4G SIM card — 1GB data for 6 days & up. Japan airport pick-up.Book discount here
JPY 500Japan pocket WIFI hotspot — Per day device rental.Book discount here
Japan travel insuranceBook online

Kyoto Itineraries & Travel Blogs

More travel tips coming once the detailed Kyoto travel guide is out. In the meantime, feel free to check out my Pinterest board and list of helpful Kyoto travel blogs below for inspiration.

Follow updates on Pinterest@detourista.

1 Day Itinerary

What to do in Kyoto, Japan in 1 day (24 hours or less).

VisitOne Day in Kyoto, Japan: A Complete Itinerary – Treksplorer
VisitKyoto – 1 Day Itinerary – Travelling with Kids – Family Travel Blog – Our 3 Kids V The World
VisitJapan Travel Blog: 1 day in Kyoto – Anj Fernando
Visit1-Day Kyoto Cherry Blossom Walking Itinerary – Travel Caffeine

2 Days Itinerary

What to do in Kyoto, Japan in 2 days (48 hours or less).

Visit2-Day Kyoto Highlights Itinerary – Travel Caffeine
VisitKyoto 2 Days Itinerary – Best City Highlights in 48 Hours – The Blessing Bucket
VisitHow to See Kyoto in 2 Days – Kollecting Koordinates

3 Days Itinerary

What to do in Kyoto, Japan in 3 days.

VisitWhat To Do In Kyoto – A 3 Day Kyoto Itinerary – Nerd Nomads
VisitKyoto Travel Guide (Budget + Itinerary) – The Pinay Solo Backpacker

4 Days Itinerary

What to do in Kyoto, Japan in 4 days.

VisitKyoto Itinerary – A Perfect 4 Day Itinerary for First Timers – High Heels And A Backpack

5 Days Itinerary

What to do in Kyoto, Japan in 5 days.

VisitAn Epic 5 Day Kyoto Itinerary – You Could Travel

6 Days Itinerary

What to do in Kyoto, Japan in 6 days.

VisitKyoto: Our 5-night, 6-day Itinerary – The Cultivated Mother

1 Week Itinerary

What to do in Kyoto, Japan in 1 week (7 days or more).

VisitThe Best 7 Day Kyoto Itinerary for Any Traveler – Viahero
VisitA 7-Day Kyoto Itinerary for Active Families with Young Kids – Family Can Travel

Don’t Stop Here

Did you find this travel guide helpful? Share your Kyoto experience & tag #detourista. Follow trip updates on: Instagram, Facebook & Pinterest.

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Check out these pages for more travel inspiration beyond Kyoto: