Kyoto is a beautiful town, once Japan’s Capital city, now a great tourist attraction on the island of Honshu. So why exactly does this city draw so many tourists? Let our 2 day Kyoto itinerary guide you around one of Japan’s most popular destinations…
Its authentic Japanese style has continued through the ages. Home to over 1600 temples and shrines, there’s no shortage of gorgeous heritage sights to visit here. If temples are what you’re there for, check out my “Kyoto Temple Tour” blog.
If you’re looking to explore Kyoto for all its beauty, then keep reading. Here is a 2 day itinerary for Kyoto, Japan.
Ideal Kyoto Itinerary – 2 Days of Exploring
Accomodation in Kyoto
There are so many great luxury hotels to choose from in Kyoto. The architecture and beauty of the buildings are astonishing.
There are also plenty of budget-friendly accommodation types. So if you’re clutching your purse strings very tightly right now, don’t worry, it won’t be a struggle to find well priced accommodation in Kyoto.
Piece Hostel Kyoto
This gorgeous hostel is situated right in the heart of Kyoto city. If you’re not one to miss out on the action then this is a great place to spend a few nights.
Piece Hostel is fully kitted out. A library, wifi, kitchen and computers, all of the highest standard. You’ll also be able to rent a bicycle at the hostel if you wish to go on a ride around the city for the day. Cycling is a popular form of transportation in Kyoto and a great way to stay fit while on holiday.
Private rooms come with a flat screen TV and wash basins, while dormitory style rooms come with luggage space and a security locker.
If you’re feeling a little thirsty, don’t hesitate to visit the on-site bar for a quick quenching before heading out on a day trip through Kyoto.
New Miyako Hotel
This incredibly beautiful hotel, leaves nothing your heart to desire. Not only are its guests treated to free wifi, a beauty salon, and a convenience shop, but they also have the choice of 6 dining options. I mean, what else could you possibly want?
Each hotel room contains a flat screen TV, an en suite bathroom and a refrigerator for those who love a good midnight-snack.
Once you’ve visited, you’ll never want to leave. But when you eventually do, you’ll be a 5-minute walk from the station. It doesn’t get more convenient than that.
The New Miyako Hotel is a great place to dine and live in luxury during your stay in Kyoto.
The Hotel Grandia is nothing less than a vision of grandeur. With splendid architecture and chic decor, there’s so much for the eyes to take in. The facilities are spectacular – an indoor swimming pool, a fitness centre and 9 dining options. As well as all the amenities you would come to expect from a hotel as luxurious as this.
The rooms are spacious and well designed with incredible views of the city that stretch out below for kilometers.
When traveling to Kyoto, of course, convenience is key, so the location being a 3-minute walk from the station doesn’t hurt one bit. This hotel is a modern dream come to life. It’s a must stay for at least one night during your stay in Kyoto.
The Machiya Villa Sanjo Shirakawa Koji
If you’re looking for accommodation that’s a little more private, then Machiya Villa Sanjo Shirakawa Koji is a great place to stay. Each unit is fitted with a kitchenette so there’s no need to leave your room when you’re feeling peckish.
Guests are encouraged to enjoy the serene gardens and take in the beauty of the authentic Japanese style surrounds.
Located close to many ancient landmarks, this holiday accommodation is a great place for those who love to explore.
Two Day Kyoto Itinerary
During your stay in Kyoto, you’ll want to explore the city and get involved in all the activities that Kyoto has to offer. If you’re going to be spending 2 days in Kyoto, or maybe even a little longer, here’s a few things you should not miss out on:
Day One in Kyoto
On your first day, you’ll want to immerse yourself in true Japanese culture. I always find the best way to experience a city is to learn about its people. So your first day should be centered around this idea.
Japanese Traditional Taiko Drum Experience
Japan has managed to seamlessly integrate age-old traditions into their culture. The art of Taiko (Japanese drumming style) is taught in a one hour drum session. This is a fun activity that will get your morning rolling in a rhythmic manner.
If you’re traveling with friends this is a great group activity but don’t feel left out if you’re traveling solo, Taiko drumming brings people together and is a great way to make new friends.
Half-Day Kyoto Cultural Tour
Talking about immersing yourself in culture. This half-day Kyoto cultural tour will leave you absolutely awe struck. Discover shrines, temples and incredible zen gardens on this 3.5 hour walking tour, through some of the best ancient landmarks in Japan.
On this tour you’ll gain an insight into Japan’s mysterious culture that you wouldn’t have had if you’d done the tour by yourself.
Maiko Performance with Kaiseki Dinner
Enjoy a two-hour Maiko (apprentice Geisha) performance while enjoying authentic Japanese cuisine.
Indulge your senses in a multi-course Kaiseki meal while enjoying unlimited drinks and entertainment. After the show you’ll get a chance to interact and chat to the performers before the night is up.
Day Two in Kyoto
On your second day, you’ll be able to enjoy the marvelous natural beauty of Kyoto as well as joining in on some cultural experiences.
There are plenty of activities to be explored in Kyoto, so if you’re staying in this city for longer than 2 days, be sure to check out some more of the activities that Kyoto has to offer. For now, here’s what you should be getting up to on the second day of your trip to Kyoto.
Hidden Kyoto Bike Tour
Get your morning off to an active start with the Hidden Kyoto Bike Tour that will take you to some of the lesser known secrets of the city. On this 3.5 hour bike tour you’ll travel a mear 7 kilometers, giving you plenty of time to stop off at each site for a bit of exploration.
You’ll get a chance to cycle to some of the more iconic temples as well as to some secret hidden gems that this mysterious Japanese city has to offer.
This is the perfect way to see more than just your typical guidebook attractions.
Samurai School in Kyoto: Samurai for a Day
Live your childhood dream and experience what it’s like to be a Samurai for a Day. Okay so that’s what the course is called, but realistically you’ll be a samurai for an hour or two.
Prepare yourself for battle as you learn the techniques of the ancient Japanese warriors. After learning the ancient art of the samurai you’ll be able to take some photos in your traditional samurai outfit, because how could you possibly miss a photo opportunity like this one.
After you’ve completed the 1 – 2 hour course you’ll leave with a certificate of completion, making you – basically a samurai.
Private Nishiki Market Food Tour
Spend three hours tasting your way through the iconic Nishiki Market, indulging yourself in authentic Japanese cuisine. You’ll be offered many tasters before being fed a full-lunch during your tour.
The tour is led by expert guides who hold qualifications in the culinary arts and know a great deal about Japanese cuisine. If the way to the heart is through the stomach, then after this tour you’ll be falling head-over-heels in-love with Kyoto, Japan.
Where to Eat in Japan
We are slaves to our stomachs and as the phrase goes ‘a man needs to eat.’ So when the stomach starts to growl, where should you be satisfying your cravings in Kyoto?
Best Affordable Sushi
In recent years, sushi has become an absolute delicacy all over the world. But of course, nobody does sushi like Japan does sushi. So it’s very high on the list of must-haves while staying in Kyoto.
A lot of the best sushi restaurants in Japan are basically off-limits to foreigners because they’re so exclusive, you need an introduction to actually get in. But here are a few places that welcome foreigners and serve great sushi too.
Note: This is not a discrimination tactic, it’s a connection thing. So if you are well-connected (with the rich & famous) in Japan, you’ll more than likely be able to get a seat at the metaphorical round table.
Sushisei is located in downtown Kyoto. It offers moderately-priced sushi that is of an exceptional standard. At Sushisei you can sit right at the counter and watch the chefs as they busy themselves with making your delectable sushi.
This restaurant is not much to look at from the outside, but the food is worth every penny – or should I say, Yen.
Again, this restaurant is not much to look at from the outside, but it’s what’s inside that counts. Den Shichi serves mouth-watering sushi in the traditional sushi-bar atmosphere.
This sushi-bar is located in Saiian, a neighbourhood found on the west-side of Kyoto. It’s very unassuming and the last place you’d expect to find great sushi.
Best Ramen in Kyoto
Ramen is now served at Asian restaurants all over the world. I’m sure you’ve had the chance to taste this hearty noodle soup dish before. If not, Japan is definitely the best place to give it a try.
Ippudo Ramen is arguably the best Ramen restaurant in all of Kyoto. This restaurant started in Japan and quickly spread its wings all over the world. You may have had it before, as there are now locations in the US and Singapore.
Karako is a ramen restaurant in the heart of the museum district. There is little to no ambience in the restaurant and table service has a lot to be desired but their Kotteri ramen is what keeps people coming back. This is a thick ramen, that will leave you addicted for the rest of your life.
Kyoto Final Thoughts
Kyoto is a city that has thousands of ancient relics and culturally loaded areas to explore. If at all possible, try visiting from 4-days to a week, it’s well worth the extra yen. Be sure you’re ready for plenty of new experiences and tasty cuisines along the way.
The picture-perfect city of Kyoto is not one you’ll want to miss. Be sure to enter this city, camera ready, as it holds so many great photo opportunities.
The ancient Japanese culture is a thread that binds this city together and you can feel it everywhere you go throughout Kyoto. Don’t miss out on a trip to this life-changing city.