1. The One day Kyoto Itinerary for First Timers

The One day Kyoto Itinerary for First Timers

kyoto tower

There are many great sightseeing spots in Kyoto.
But it can be very difficult to visit all of them in a single day, as some are located quite far from each other.

So how can you experience as much as you can and make the most out of your time here? To help you create the perfect itinerary for your days in Kyoto, we looked for some of the most popular sites in different areas.

You can find out which places to visit while you are in that particular area in Kyoto, and this is helpful because there are so many different places all over the city, to begin with. 


How to get around Kyoto

kyoto bus

There are numerous ways to get around the city of Kyoto. It is best that you come to visit the city with some knowledge of its public transport systems. The network is extremely sophisticated and convenient, but it can also seem quite confusing if you are not used to it. 

Here are some of the options that you might want to consider using in order to visit the many different areas of Kyoto.

Main means of transportation


The city bus network incorporates flat fare routes, meaning you can get off at most stations around the city for the fixed price of \230 for one adult.

-Train and subway

Utilize the railway and the bus network, you can pretty much go anywhere in the city.


Although it can get pricier than the other means of transportation, you have the benefit of being able to arrive right on location, faster.

Recommended coupon pass

-Bus one-day pass:

This pass lets you ride the Kyoto City Bus and the Kyoto Bus as many times as possible in a single day.


Adult: \600

Child (6 ~ 11 years old): \300

One ride with a regular ticket is \230, so this one-day pass is highly recommended if you are going to be riding the bus on three or more occasions in one day. You can purchase the pass at City Bus and Subway Information Center in Kyoto Station.


Itinerary for Higashiyama (Gion, Pontocho) area in Kyoto

Higashiyama area is located on the eastern part of the city, known for being home to some of the most prolific temples and shrines in Japan.

We have listed some of the most popular sightseeing spots in this area that you definitely want to visit while in Kyoto.

Ginkaku-ji (the Silver Pavilion)

ginkakuji temple

Ginkaku-ji, the famous temple known for its Silver Pavilion, is officially named Jisho-ji. Built in the late 15th century by the shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa, the temple is also famous for its Japanese-style garden.


Adult (high school and above): \500

Child (elementary ~ junior high school): \300

-Hours: 8:30am ~ 5:00pm

-Access:   Get off at Ginkakuji-michi bus stop on Kyoto City Bus.

Tetsugaku no michi (the Philosopher’s Path)

the Philosopher’s Path

Tetsugaku no michi is a pathway that spans roughly two kilometers that connects Ginkaku-ji and Nanzen-ji. The path was given such a name since some well-known philosophers are said to have come here to take a walk.
During the spring you can enjoy the cherry blossoms, and in the summer perhaps you can even get a chance to see fireflies.

 Get off at Ginkakuji-michi bus stop on Kyoto City Bus line.



Nanzenji temple

This historic Zen temple was built around the 1300s and is well-known for its Karesansui-style garden (a style of Japanese Zen garden).


Adult: \500

High school: \400

Elementary ~ junior high school: \300

Note: The price may differ depending on which building you wish to enter.

8:40am ~ 5:00pm (3/1 ~ 11/30)

8:40am ~ 4:30pm (12/1 ~ 2/28)

-Access: Get off at Higashitennocho or Nanzenji Eikando bus stop on Kyoto City Bus, and 10min walk from there.

Yasaka Shrine, Maruyama Park

Yasaka shrine

One of the popular sightseeing spots in Kyoto, this historical shrine boasts beautifully painted red structures. There are many Japanese festival stalls (yatai) which sell toys and delicacies present.

Behind the main shrine buildings lies the Maruyama Park, the oldest park in Kyoto. The place is famous for its beautiful cherry blossoms.

The Gion area is right by, which is convenient if you are looking to find lunch spots nearby.

-Access: Get off and Gion bus stop on Kyoto City Bus.


Kodai-jikodaiji temple

The widow of the shogun Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Kita no Mandokoro, established the temple around the 1600s dedicating it to the late shogun. You can have an experience of Zen meditation, and there are special night entrance hours during the seasonal illumination periods.


Adult: \600

Junior high ~ high school: \250

Note: There is a discount price of \900 for those who wish to visit these three places; Kodai-ji temple, Kodai-ji sho museum and Entokuin temple.

-Hours: 9:00am ~ 5:30pm (Nighttime hours is until 10:00pm)
Get off at Higashiyama Yasui bus stop on Kyoto City Bus.


Kiyomizu temple

Originally built in 778, this famous temple is one of the oldest in Japan. Visitors can enjoy the picturesque views of and from the temple. Ninenzaka, the nearby pedestrian street, is perfect for walking and eating delicacies that are sold there.



Adult: \400

Child (Elementary school): \200


The opening hours vary depending on the season.
For more info visit: https://www.kiyomizudera.or.jp/en/location/#OpenHours.

-Access: Get off at Kiyomizu-michi bus stop on Kyoto City Bus, and 16 min walks from there. 




Gion is one of the prominent shopping districts in Kyoto. There are numerous famous shops and restaurants here, and the area is great if you are looking for a place to dine. If you are (very) lucky, you might even get a chance to see maiko.


-Access: Get off and Gion bus stop on Kyoto City Bus.



kyoto pontocho

Pontocho is the classic “street of Kyoto,” even more so than Gion, and there are many hidden restaurants that can be difficult to find. Formerly known for being a red-light district, the dim-lit atmosphere makes for a mystical and fantastical photo opportunity.


-Access: Get off at Gion-Shijo Station on Keihan line. 


If you would like to go to the restaurants in Pontocho, please check it out:

The Best 7 Restaurants and Bars in Pontocho, Kyoto


Itinerary for Arashiyama, Kinkaku-ji area in Kyoto

Arashiyama area sits on the western part of Kyoto, opposite from Higashiyama area. This area also consists of some of the most popular sites in the city.

Kinkaku-ji (the Golden Pavilion)

Kinkaku temple

Kinkaku-ji, its official name being Rokuon-ji, is one of the most famous temples in Japan, especially for the Golden Pavilion. Older than the previously mentioned Ginkaku-ji, this temple was built by the shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu. It is highly recommended that you take photos during the morning.



Adult (high school and above): \400

Child (elementary ~ junior high school): \300

-Hours: 9:00am ~ 5:00pm

-Access: Get off at Kinkakuji-michi bus stop on Kyoto City Bus, and 6min walk from there. 




Arashiyama is located on the outskirts of the city and is a place where you can enjoy the beautiful nature.
There are several sightseeing spots within the walking distance, and you can also enjoy the food which is sold in many different shops and restaurants around the area.


-Access: Get off at Arashiyama Station on Hankyu line, or Hankyu Arashiyama Sta. bus stop on Kyoto City Bus.


I’ll introduce you to three popular spots around Arashiyama.   



Another prominent temple in Kyoto, Tenryu-ji was founded during the 1300s by the shogun Ashikaga Takauji, memorializing the late Emperor Go-Daigo.



Adult (high school and above): \500

Child (elementary ~ junior high school): \300

-Hours: 8:30am ~ 5:30pm


Okochi Sanso

japanese garden

Okochi Sanso is a place in Arashiyama where Showa era film star Denjiro Okochi formerly resided.
The home is now open to the public and its beautiful garden is something to behold.


-Hours: 9:00am ~ 5:00pm

Sagano Bamboo Forest

kyoto bamboo forest

Sagano Bamboo Forest in one of the main attractions in the Arashiyama area and is located on the east bank of Katsura River. In December you can enjoy Hanatoro, a nighttime illumination event. The forest is open for everyone for free.


If you would like to know more about Arashiyama, please check it out:

Delight in the magnificent Bamboo Forest – Arashiyama, Kyoto

Itinerary for Other places to enjoy in Kyoto

Besides the two main regions we have presented above, there are other areas where you might want to enjoy while in Kyoto. Here are several great places you should also consider visiting during your trip.


Fushimi Inari Taisha

Fushimi inari taisya

Perhaps you may have seen the picture of the torii tunnel, or senbon torii, which is heavily associated with the image of Kyoto itself. This grand shrine is situated in the southern part of the city, and one of the most visit places in entire Japan.

The precinct covers a large area, so it is highly recommended that you take some time to walk around the place.

-price: Free

-Hours: 8:30am ~ 4:30pm

-Access: Get off at JR Inari Station, Fushimi-Inari Station on Keihan line, or Inaritaishamae bus stop on Kyoto City Bus.


Nishiki Market

kyoto nishiki market

The so-called Kitchen of Kyoto, this dense market street has more than 400 years of history. Including many famous stores, the foods are reasonably priced and are enjoyed by the locals and tourists alike.


-Access: Get off at Subway Shijo Station or Shijo-takakura bus stop on Kyoto City Bus.

If you are interested in Nishiki market, please check it out: 

Top 7 foods that you should eat at Nishiki market

Kyoto Imperial Palace

Kyoto imperial palace

Located on the northern part of the city, this is the former residence of the Emperor of Japan. The grounds are now open to the public, with tours of the buildings and the gardens also available. 

-price: Free


April ~ August: 9:00am ~ 5:00pm (last admission 4:20pm)

September & March: 9:00am ~ 4:30pm (last admission 3:50pm)

October ~ February: 9:00am ~ 4:00pm (last admission 3:20pm)


Get off at Subway Imadegawa Station, and 5min walk from there.



Thank you for reading!

I hope you’ll have a great time in Kyoto!


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