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Kyoto 2-Day Itinerary—Epic Guide To Explore Kyoto

If you are looking for a detailed Kyoto 2-day itinerary in Google, search no further because you have come to the right site!

Once the capital of Japan, Kyoto is famous for its stunning ancient temples, beautiful shrines, picturesque gardens, and well-preserved culture.  

Home to 17 UNESCO World Heritage sites, you will get to experience both its modern city vibes and tranquil urban settings—making a short visit of two days to Kyoto is definitely worthy.  

Continue reading this jam-packed Kyoto 2-day itinerary to find out the main highlights in this fascinating laid-back city, how to navigate around, local cuisine to try, and useful tips that you can rely on to make your Kyoto trip one of the memorable ones! 

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Summary Of Kyoto Itinerary 2 Days

Day 1 

  • Visit Kitano Tenmangu Shrine
  • Marvel at Kinkaku-ji and Ginkaku-ji
  • Stroll along Philosopher’s Path
  • Visit Eikando Temple
  • Explore Nanzenji Temple
  • Continue temple-hopping at Kiyomizu-dera Temple
  • Wander around Sanjusangendo
  • Explore and sunset watching at Fushimi Inari Shrine 
  • Have a sip of Japanese whisky at local bars 

Day 2

  • Wander around Arashiyama Bamboo Forest
  • Explore Tenryuji Temple
  • Admire the scenery at Togetsukyo Bridge
  • Visit Arashiyama Monkey Park Iwatayama
  • Explore Nijo Castle
  • Try extraordinary local food at Nishiki Market
  • Have a stroll and geisha spotting at Gion District 
  • Explore Pontocho street

Kyoto Essentials: Kyoto 2-Day Itinerary

Here is a summary of useful resources that will help to better plan your upcoming Kyoto 2-Day Itinerary:

  • Using JR pass to travel around Japan will be your greatest buy—easy to use, fast, and convenient.
  • Get Japan local sim card or pocket WIFI for stable internet connection before leaving for Kyoto to check for directions etc.
  • Make sure you are fully insured before travel to Kyoto. Get your travel insurance from World Nomads today!
  • Get your 2 days in Kyoto accommodation sorted using Booking.com.
  • Explore the main highlights in Kyoto in rental kimono for an authentic cultural experience!
  • If you are looking to learn some Japanese cooking skills, this highly rated bento class will be a good fit for you.
  • And if itinerary planning is really not your thing (I get it), get this wholesome full-day Kyoto historical sites tour that cover most of the fascinating highlights shared in this detailed Kyoto itinerary!

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Kyoto Itinerary Day 1 

  • Visit Kitano Tenmangu Shrine
  • Marvel at Kinkaku-ji and Ginkaku-ji
  • Stroll along Philosopher’s Path
  • Visit Eikando Temple
  • Explore Nanzenji Temple
  • Continue temple-hopping at Kiyomizu-dera Temple
  • Wander around Sanjusangendo
  • Explore and sunset watching at Fushimi Inari Shrine 
  • Have a sip of Japanese whisky at local bars 

The first day of your Kyoto 2-day itinerary is dedicated to ancient temples and shrines-hopping.

Visit Kitano Tenmangu Shrine

To kick start your Kyoto 2-day itinerary, head over to Kitano Tenmangu Shrine.

This shrine is exceptionally popular among the students during exam period and school trip season as the deity is deemed as Shinto God in education.  

Do enjoy the beautiful scenery of the plum trees planted along the walkway in the garden while admiring the intricate wooden architecture of the shrine. 

Kitano Tenmangu Shrine Entrance Fee: Free

Visiting Hours: 5am – 6pm (April to September) & 5.30am – 5.30pm (October to March)

If you do happen to visit Kitano Tenmangu Shrine on 25th of the month during your Kyoto two day itinerary, make your way to the flea market (Tenjin San’s Festival) to immerse yourself into the local culture. 

In this flea market, there will be vendors selling plants, antiques, and local handcrafts that you can get as souvenirs. 

You also get to try some of the authentic street food from the food stalls too. 

If seeing historical artifacts and understanding Japanese culture are more to your liking, make sure to visit Kitano Tenmangu Treasure House.

Note: This treasure house is only open to the public on every 25th of the month. 

This is where you get to see some of the national treasures such as historical documents, tea ceremony tools, and ancient scrolls. 

Kitano Tenmangu Treasure House Entrance Fee: US$8 (800 yen)

Visiting Hours: 10am – 4pm (Only on 25th of the month)

Marvel At Kinkaku-ji And Ginkaku-ji

Your 2-day Kyoto itinerary will not be complete without a trip to one of the major highlights in Kyoto—Kinkaku-ji. 

Kinkaku-ji, also known as the Golden Pavilion, is a stunning Zen temple with an impressive architectural structure where parts of the temple are covered in gold leaf. 

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The temple is overlooking a large pond and surrounded by a beautiful garden. You also get to see some statues in the complex where people throw coins at them as a symbol for luck. 

Spend about 30 minutes wandering around Kinkaku-ji to admire the breathtaking view and soak up the zen vibes. 

If you would like to have a short break, you can visit the traditional tea house within the temple complex.

You can try its matcha tea and sweets while enjoying the temple scenic view before continuing the Kyoto 2-day itinerary.

Kinkaku-ji Entrance Fee: US$4 (400 yen)

Visiting Hours: 9am – 5pm

Want to dig into the interesting history behind Kinkaku-ji? Check out these recommended tours:

Another Zen temple that you shouldn’t miss in your 2 days in Kyoto itinerary is Ginkaku-ji

Located at the eastern side of Kyoto’s mountains, Ginkaku-ji was initially built as a retirement villa before converted into a temple in 1490. 

Known as Silver Pavilion, Ginkaku-ji is part of a complex that consists of other temple buildings, a stunning dry sand garden, as well as a lovely moss garden. 

To explore the complex and enjoy the beautiful temple-garden view, follow the laid circular walkway. 

Once you reach the moss garden, walk up the hill located behind the temples where you can see the breathtaking panoramic view of the complex and part of Kyoto city. 

Ginkaku-ji Entrance Fee: US$5 (500 yen)

Visiting Hours: 8.30am – 5pm (March to November) & 9am – 4.30pm (December to February)

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Stroll Along Philosopher’s Path

A few minutes walk away from Ginkaku-ji lies Philosopher’s Path, or locally known as Tetsugaku no michi.

If you are an avid fan of cherry blossoms, you need to add Philosopher’s Path into your Kyoto itinerary 2 day especially when you are visiting the city in April!

Nevertheless, having a stroll along Philosopher’s Path irregardless of the month is still a fantastic experience where you get to admire the scenic view of the trees lining along the canal. 

Due to its popularity among locals and tourists, you can also find a number of cafes and restaurants nearby this path. 

Note: Expect to spend at least 20 minutes to complete the walk at Philosopher’s Path.

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Visit Eikando Temple

Once you have walked to the other end of Philosopher’s Path, you will come across Eikando Temple.

Previously known as Zenrinji Temple, Eikando Temple consists of several temple buildings including a pagoda and a beautiful pond.

This Buddhist temple is exceptionally crowded especially during autumn as the visitors get to admire the spectacular view of the maple leaves’ bright colour changing event. 

Note: To get a better panoramic view of the temple complex and the city, you can walk up to the pagoda. 

Apart from this, you also get to see some extraordinary historical paintings drawn on the fusuma (sliding doors) in Eikando Temple.  

Eikando Temple Entrance Fee: US$6 (600 yen)

Visiting Hours: 10am – 4pm

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Explore Nanzenji Temple

The next stop in your Day 1 of the 2 day Kyoto itinerary is Nanzenji Temple. This ancient temple is just a few minutes walk away from Eikando Temple. 

Nanzenji Temple is one of the important Zen temples in the country. There are several temple buildings and sub temples located on the same complex as Nanzenji Temple. 

The admission into the temple ground is free and you can wander around to admire the different temples and structures within the ground. 

A slightly unusual man made structure that you can find within the temple complex is a large brick aqueduct. 

Some of the sub temples in this complex that are open to public includes:

  • Konchi-in Temple
  • Tenjuan Temple 
  • Nanzenin Temple

However, there are entrance fees applicable as well as for Nanzenji’s Sanmon entrance gate and Nanzenji’s main hall, Hojo. 

Sanmon Gate Entrance Fee:US$6 (600 yen)

Visiting Hours: 8.40am – 5pm

Hojo Entrance Fee: US$6 (600 yen)

Visiting Hours: 8.40am – 5pm

Konchi-in Temple Entrance Fee: US$4 (400 yen)

Visiting Hours: 8.30am – 5pm

Tenjuan Temple Entrance Fee: US$5 (500 yen)

Visiting Hours: 9am – 5pm

Nanzenin Temple Entrance Fee: US$4 (400 yen)

Visiting Hours: 8.40am – 5pm

You can get more information about Nanzenji Temple here. 

Note: To save more time and money, you can skip entering the sub temples and admire their beautiful architecture from the outside. 

Interested to learn some Japanese cooking skills instead of temple-hopping in Kyoto? Here are some of the recommended cooking classes to sign up for:

Continue Temple Hopping At Kiyomizu-dera Temple

Another historical temple that you need to add into the Kyoto 2-day itinerary is none other than Kiyomizu-dera Temple

This 1200 year-old-temple is famous for its large wooden terrace that protrudes out from the main hall at the hillside. 

This temple is mostly crowded with tourists during autumn and spring as it offers a magnificent view of maple and cherry trees respectively and part of Kyoto city view from the top of the temple.

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Some of the interesting sites in Kiyomizu-dera Temple are:

  • Jishu Shrine
  • Otowa Waterfall
  • Okunoin Hall
  • Koyasu Pagoda

One of the highlights that you need to get to in Kiyomizu-dera Temple is the Otowa Waterfall

The water from Otowa Waterfall is divided into 3 individual streams and each stream carries different types of blessings—ranging from good health, success in school, and romantic relationships.

Note: Visitors are permitted to drink the water by holding out a cup that is attached with a long handle so don’t forget to choose the blessing that you wanted the most when you are at Otowa Waterfall!

Kiyomizu-dera Temple Entrance Fee: US$4 (400 yen)

Visiting Hours: 6am – 6pm 

Interested to learn more about the history behind the religious buildings in Kiyomizu-Dera Temple? Check out these highly rated tours:

Wander Around Sanjusangendo

Head over to Sanjusangendo next after you have finished exploring Kiyomizu-dera Temple.

Sanjusangendo, or also known as Rengeo-in, is popular due to the presence of 1001 statues of Kannon, the Goddess of Mercy. 

Besides, this Buddhist temple holds the title of having the longest wooden structure in the whole of Japan. 

Spend some time walking around the temple and its garden and enjoy the spectacular sight of the thousand statues. 

Sanjusangendo Entrance Fee: US$6 (600 yen)

Visiting Hours: 8.30am – 5pm (1 April to 15 November) & 9am – 4pm (16 November to 31 March)

Explore And Sunset Watching at Fushimi Inari Shrine 

Fushimi Inari Shrine is one of the unmissable places to go during your Kyoto 2-day itinerary.

Fushimi Inari Shrine has impressive architecture with the presence of fox statues. You will also get to see the stunning Romon Gate at the shrine entrance.

If you keep walking to the back of the shrine, you will stumble upon these large orange columns that are known as torii gates. 

In fact, there are thousands of torii gates called Senbon Torii lining up a hiking trail to a smaller shrine up at the mountain. 

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An iconic sight in Kyoto, these torii gates are one of Kyoto’s most visited sites among tourists and an Instagrammable spot that you shouldn’t miss.

Note: To skip the tourist crowd at Fushimi Inari Shrine, you can either visit the shrine in the early morning or during sunset hours.  

You can opt to walk up the trail to have more of the Senbon Torii by yourself or simply hike up to the smaller shrine to admire the breathtaking sunset view with Kyoto city as the backdrop. 

The hike will take about 2 hours to complete and if you change your mind, there are few viewpoints along the trail for you to stop where the panoramic view is equally majestic. 

Fushimi Inari Shrine Entrance Fee: Free

Visiting Hours: Always open 

Want to dive into the history while admiring Fushimi Inari Shrine? Here are some of the recommended tours:

Have A Sip Of Japanese Whisky At Kyoto Local Bars 

After spending most of Day 1 of your 2-day Kyoto itinerary doing temple and shrine hopping, it is time to unwind yourself and have a Japanese whisky drinking session in local bars. 

Being one the top whisky manufacturers in the world, Japanese whisky is a must-try drink when you are in Japan apart from sake and shochu!

Some of the recommended bars to go in Kyoto for Japanese whisky are: 

If you are keen to have a guided whisky bar tasting, you can opt for this tour where you also get to customise your cocktail drinks and savour specialty food. 

Alternatively, you may just get into one of the bars and enjoy Kyoto’s lively nightlife before calling it a day. 

Rest well and wake up early the next morning as you continue to explore and sightsee in this ancient city of your 2 day Kyoto itinerary.

Kyoto Itinerary Day 2

  • Wander around Arashiyama Bamboo Forest
  • Explore Tenryuji Temple
  • Admire the scenery at Togetsukyo Bridge
  • Visit Arashiyama Monkey Park Iwatayama
  • Explore Nijo Castle
  • Try extraordinary local food at Nishiki Market
  • Have a stroll and geisha spotting at Gion District 
  • Explore Pontocho street

Wander Around Arashiyama Bamboo Forest

Kick start the Day 2 of the Kyoto 2-day itinerary by getting to the outskirts of Kyoto—the enchanting Arashiyama Bamboo Forest.

Another iconic place in Kyoto, it is recommended to reach Arashiyama Bamboo Forest early morning or late evening to avoid the tourist crowd. 

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Wander around the forest to admire the scenic view it portrays with the sunlight seeping through the bamboo sticks. It takes about 30 minutes to complete the walk. 

Arashiyama Bamboo Forest Entrance Fee: Free

Visiting Hours: Always open

Want to have a memorable twist when you are exploring Arashiyama Bamboo Forest and its vicinity? Make sure to have a look at these interesting tours:

Explore Tenryuji Temple

Tenryuji Temple is just located next to Arashiyama Bamboo Forest where you can get there via its side gate.

A famous Zen temple in Kyoto, Tenryuji Temple was first built to dedicate it to Emperor Go-Daigo in 1339. 

Over here, you get to see its main hall, drawing hall, and kitchen. You can also walk around its tranquil garden with Arashiyama Mountain being the backdrop. 

Tenryuji Temple Entrance Fee: US$5 (500 yen) with additional US$3 (300 yen) to enter temple buildings

Visiting Hours: 8.30am – 5pm 

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Admire The Beautiful Scenery At Togetsukyo Bridge

Continue your Kyoto itinerary 2 days’ sightseeing activity by walking towards Togetsukyo Bridge located a few minutes away from Tenryuji Temple. 

Togetsukyo Bridge is the main attraction in Arashiyama. 

A popular site for filming, the wooden bridge offers a majestic view of the Katsura River and picturesque mountainside scenery. 

It is also a great cherry blossom watching spot where many cherry trees are planted in the nearby park. 

Visit Arashiyama Monkey Park Iwatayama

After you have a fair share of photo taking sessions on Togetsukyo Bridge, continue walking to the end of the bridge where you will stumble upon the entrance of Arashiyama Monkey Park Iwatayama

Hike up the hill for about 10 minutes where you will be welcomed by hundreds of freely roaming Japanese macaques. 

You will also get to enjoy the stunning panoramic view of Kyoto over here. 

Note: Please refrain from staring and touching the macaques when you are feeding them with food.

Arashiyama Monkey Park Iwatayama Entrance Fee: US$5.50 (550 yen)

Visiting Hours: 9am – 4.00pm 

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Explore Nijo Castle

Another UNESCO World Heritage site in Japan, Nijo Castle is one of the major attractions that you need to visit in your Kyoto 2-day itinerary.

This one-of-a-kind ancient castle boasts the impressive architecture of Chinese style Karamon Gate that leads to Ninomaru Palace. 

Apart from housing grand palaces and several historical buildings, there are also few gardens on Nijo Castle complex. You can admire the serene view consisting of beautiful ponds, pine trees, and orchards of cherry and plum trees.  

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Following is the list of buildings and gardens that are within the Nijo Castle complex:

  • Ninomaru Palace
  • Honmaru Palace
  • Ninomaru Garden
  • Honmaru Garden

Note: Audio guide in English is available for rent at about US$5 (520 yen).   

Nijo Castle Entrance Fee: US$6 (620 yen) with additional US$4 to enter Ninomaru Palace

Visiting Hours: 8.45am – 5pm (October to June), 8am – 8pm (July to August) & 8am – 5pm (September)

Want to dive into the history of Nijo Castle under the guidance of a friendly local? Check out this recommended tour:

Try Extraordinary Local Food At Nishiki Market

Another iconic landmark in Kyoto, you shouldn’t leave Nishiki Market out of your 2 days in Kyoto itinerary.

Dubbed as Kyoto’s Kitchen, this narrow yet lively market offers a wide range of food related produce and products such as fresh seafood, specialty food, and cookware. 

Do take your chances to try out some of the free, weird-looking food sampling given by the stall vendors and have a try on their local street foods! 

By exploring Nishi Market, you can also immerse yourself into the local culture by experiencing the pleasantly chaotic surroundings in the market with the locals and fellow tourists.

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If you are a fan of sake, make sure you visit Tsunoki Shuho—an old liquor store with over 200 years of history. 

Note: Refrain yourself from walking around when eating as the behaviour is deemed disrespectful in Japanese culture. 

Nishiki Market Entrance Fee: Free

Operating Hours: 9am – 6pm (Varies by stalls) 

Looking to experience the scrumptious and mouth-watering Kyoto cuisine in Nishiki Market? Here are some of the guided tours to consider:

Have A Stroll and Geisha Spotting At Gion District 

A popular Geisha district, Gion is the place that you have to go to spot a real life geisha in your Kyoto 2-day itinerary. 

As a trained performer in a local ochaya (tea house), you may have a chance to bump into a group of geisha walking on the street towards their assigned tea houses.  

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Note: You can observe geishas from far. Kindly refrain yourself from taking their picture without any permission.

Apart from that, you can also find traditional wooden shops, small alleys, interesting lanterns, and pricey restaurants in this district. 

If you are interested in wearing Japan’s traditional clothes while exploring the streets, you can rent a pair of kimono from the rental shop. 

Looking for fun-filled cultural tours in Gion with the help of a friendly local? Make sure to sign up any of these tours:

Explore Pontocho Street

End the Day 2 of your 2 days itinerary in Kyoto by heading over to Pontocho Street—a narrow alley filled with traditional restaurants with impressive wooden architecture. 

There are different types of restaurants here; ranging from selling inexpensive yakitori (grilled skewered meat) to izakaya (traditional beer house), and to pricey fine dining cuisine. 

You can stroll along the street to experience the local’s lively atmosphere and have dinner with a drink or two at your preferred eatery establishment. 

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Alternatively, you can walk over the riverbank of Kamogawa River to enjoy the scenic view before getting back to your hotel for a good rest before leaving Kyoto the next morning. 

Note: If you prefer to enjoy scenic river views while enjoying your dinner in summer, pick restaurants that provide an open-air dining area facing the Kamogawa River.

Want to learn more about the interesting history and food culture in Pontocho? Check out these recommended tours:

That is all for your 48 hours adventure in Kyoto—a jam-packed and fulfilling Kyoto 2-day itinerary that covers all the major highlights in this vibrant city!

How Many Days in kyoto is enough

As this Kyoto itinerary 2 days suggests, you will need to spend at least 2 days to cover the major highlights in Kyoto. 

For a 3-day Kyoto itinerary, you can explore other major landmarks in this charming city such as Kyoto Tower, Kyoto Station, and the award winning Suntory Yamazaki Distillery

Alternatively, you can opt for a day trip to Osaka, Nara, or Himeji from Kyoto as the travel journey between the two cities is relatively short and convenient via train service. 

Prefer to immerse yourself into the local culture in your Kyoto itinerary 2 days? You can consider signing up any of these highly recommended cultural tours:

Day Trip From Kyoto

It is relatively easy to have a day trip from Kyoto to other major cities in Japan contributed by the advancement and convenience of its public transportation system.

If you are the adventurous type of traveler, you can get to these cities by planning your route and getting there via public train or bus. 

Alternatively, guided tours to explore other cities are also readily available where transportation is included and itinerary is planned. 

Here are some of the cities to consider for a day trip in your Kyoto 2-day itinerary:

  • Osaka
  • Nara
  • Himeji

Day Trip To Osaka From Kyoto

You can easily reach Osaka from Kyoto by train and the duration is less than an hour. 

If you are taking the shinkansen (bullet train) service, the ticket costs about US$13 (1420 yen) and the duration is only a mere 15 minutes long! 

Note: There are other train service providers that transfer passengers between these 2 historical cities. You can click here for more information. 

Some of the interesting places that you can visit in Osaka are Osaka Castle, Osaka Aquarium, and Shinsekai. 

To learn more about things to do in Osaka, check out my detailed 1 Day Itinerary Osaka!

Day Trip To Nara From Kyoto

This yet another beautiful city is also easily reachable in less than an hour from Kyoto by train service. 

If you are taking JR service, the train ticket costs about US$7 (720 yen)

Main highlights to visit in Nara include Kofukuji Temple and Kasuga Taisha Shrine. 

If you want to spend the day with the free roaming deers, Nara Park is a must-visit place in your Nara day trip itinerary!

I have written a jam-packed Day Trip To Nara itinerary—so click on to read the unmissable things to do in this beautiful city!

Alternatively, you can opt for this day trip guided tour where you get to visit the main highlights in both Osaka and Nara from Kyoto without spending too much time on travel planning.  

Day Trip To Himeji From Kyoto

Another stunning city in Japan, Himeji is about 1 hour away from Kyoto via train—making it an ideal city to go for a day trip from Kyoto. 

A one-way shinkansen train ticket from Kyoto to Himeji costs about US$46 (5000 yen). To opt for other alternative train services, you can click on this link

Places of attractions to visit in Himeji are Himeji Castle, Himeji City Museum of Art, and Shoshazan Engyo-ji Temple.

What Is The Best Month To Go To Kyoto

Any time of the year is a good time to visit Kyoto due to its temperate climate.

However, there are certain seasons that attract tourists or even local crowds to this unique historical city to admire its natural beauty in the seasons it offers.

If you would like to have a picnic session with a magnificent view under the blooming cherry trees or enjoying your stroll accompanied with the mesmerising autumn foliage, you can consider visiting Kyoto during spring (March to May) or autumn (September to early December) respectively for your Kyoto 2 days itinerary.  

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Being said, expect to spend more on the accommodation and buildings’ entrance fees, and more time to fully explore the main highlights of Kyoto due to large tourist crowds. 

If you prefer to visit Kyoto during non-peak periods, you can either choose to explore this ancient city in summer (June to August) and winter (late December to February). 

It is relatively cheaper and easier to travel around Kyoto during summer due to lesser crowds. 

However, it is also worthy to take higher rainfall coupled with typhoons during this humid season into consideration before embarking on your 2 day itinerary Kyoto travel journey.

During winter—another cheaper season to travel around Kyoto with a lesser crowd—you might even find snowfall in this city, especially in Kurama.

Note: Do bring warmer clothes during winter as the temperature can drop to as low as 1 degree Celsius.

For this Kyoto 2-day itinerary, it is recommended to explore Kyoto in either late February (early spring) or mid October (late autumn) where generally you get to enjoy the scenic views each season portrays with lesser crowd and expenditure—the best of three worlds!

How To Get To Kyoto From Osaka & Tokyo

From Osaka

You can get from Osaka to Kyoto via:

  • Shinkansen
  • JR special rapid train
  • Limousine bus

The fastest way to travel between these 2 cities is by taking the shinkansen. 

You can take the JR Tokaido Shinkansen where the duration will only take about 15 minutes! The fare for an unreserved seat costs about US$13 (1440 yen) and US$26 (2880 yen) for a reserved seat.

Another option that you can opt for is by taking the JR special rapid train. 

The travel duration is about 30 minutes and the fare costs US$5 (570 yen). There are several stops along the way and the train is usually less crowded. 

Alternatively, you can board a limousine bus if you have big luggages or you do not plan to get a JR pass for your 2 days itinerary in Kyoto. 

For limousine bus service, expect to pay US$23 (2500 yen) for a one way transfer and reach Kyoto in 70 to 90 minutes. 

From Tokyo

You can get from Tokyo to Kyoto via:

  • Bus
  • Train
  • Shinkansen
  • Airplane

One way transfer from Tokyo to Kyoto by bus will take at least 7 hours. 

The bus fare starts from as low as US$32 (3500 yen) and a premium bus can cost about US$92 (10 000 yen). 

Some of the bus operators offering such service are Willer Express and Japan Bus Online

If you have time to travel from Tokyo to Kyoto while enjoying the beautiful scenery along the way, you may opt for train service instead.

A typical travel duration for 1 way between these 2 cities will take at least 9 hours.

The train fare starts at a whopping US$76 (8300 yen) and usually it requires 4 transfers. 

However, you can get a train ticket at about US$22 (2410 yen) if you manage to board Seishun 18 Kippu train service. 

Note: Seishun 18 Kippu train service is only available during school holiday seasons in spring, summer, and winter. 

Another faster alternative to train service is by taking shinkansen. 

The travel duration between Tokyo and Kyoto ranges from 2 hours to 4 hours, depending on the shinkansen train service operator. 

A one way shinkansen ticket for a reserved and unreserved seat costs about US$128 (14 000 yen) and US$122 (13 320 yen) respectively. 

If you choose to get a flight instead, your arrival airport will be Osaka’s Itami Airport—the nearest airport to Kyoto. 

You can take a flight from Tokyo’s Haneda Airport and reach Itami Airport within an hour. Then, take a one hour bus ride from the airport before reaching central Kyoto. 

A typical plane ticket costs about US$210 (23 000 yen) but a foreign traveller can get a discount air ticket from as low as US$83 (9000 yen).

How To Get Around Kyoto

Depending on your budget and preference, you can get around Kyoto by: 

  • Bus
  • Subway
  • Train
  • Taxi
  • Bicycle

The most convenient way to explore this city is by taking a taxi, with a starting fare of about US$6 (650 yen). 

However, it is also the most expensive option among all, especially if you are traveling solo. 

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If you are planning a low budget trip for this Kyoto 2-day itinerary, getting around Kyoto by bus or train would be more ideal for your wallet. 

By Bus

The main bus company operators in Kyoto are:

  • Kyoto Bus (more prominent in Kyoto’s outskirts)
  • Kyoto City Bus (more prominent in central Kyoto)

Here are several one day bus passes that you can opt for when exploring this ancient city: 

  • Kyoto Sightseeing Card

Price: US$9/ US$16 for 1 day & 2 days respectively (900 yen/1700 yen)

Usage: Unlimited use of Kyoto’s subway and most buses (Kyoto City Bus, Kyoto Bus, JR Bus, and Keihan Bus) 

Area covered: Central Kyoto and certain outskirts (Ohara and Daigoji)

Purchased from: Ticketing machines in subway and bus station

  • Kyoto One Day Bus Card

Price: US$6 (600 yen)

Usage: Unlimited use of Kyoto City Bus, Kyoto Bus, and JR Bus

Area covered: Central Kyoto and certain outskirts (Arashiyama and Takao)

Purchased from: Ticketing machines in subway and bus station or directly from bus driver

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By Train

JR pass might have limited use in Kyoto due to limited lines in the city. 

One of the places of attractions in Kyoto where JR Pass can be put into use is getting to Fushimi Inari Shrine.

If you plan to travel to other cities in Japan after Kyoto or have a day trip from this historical city, getting a JR Pass would be a better choice as you get to ride shinkansen for free. 

Note: If you are holding a JR pass, you can board JR buses for free at Nijo Castle and Kinkakuji too.

Alternatively, you can get an IC card (rechargeable card) from the train or bus station to explore the city. 

IC cards make paying fare easier by tapping in and out from public transport such as buses, subways, and most of the trains.

Note: If you have another IC card that you bought from other Japanese cities, you can continue using that card when exploring Kyoto. 

Where To Stay At Kyoto

Kyoto attracts many both local and international tourists every year.

Therefore, there are numerous hostels, hotels, or ryokan (Japanese style inn) to choose from for your accommodation. 

Note: Ryokan offers a unique traditional Japanese lifestyle experience to visitors such as sleeping on a futon bed and having kaiseki ryori (Japanese haute cuisine) during the stay. 

The recommended areas to stay for this Kyoto 2-day itinerary are:

  • Near Kyoto Station
  • In Gion

For those who choose to stay near Kyoto Station, it will be convenient for you to travel around the city as most public transportation such as buses and trains will have a stop here.  

If you plan to have a day trip from Kyoto, getting an accommodation near Kyoto Station will also make your planning and departure easier.

Gion is a relatively popular choice among tourists to stay at as this historical neighbourhood offers vibrant nightlife, great food, and within walking distance from several iconic landmarks

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Here are some recommended places to stay during your 2 days in Kyoto’s visit: 

Near Kyoto Station

In Gion

What To Eat At Kyoto

Every major city in Japan has its own distinctive cuisine, rich flavour, and specialties, including Kyoto. 

Below are some recommended must-eat dishes in your Kyoto itinerary 2 day:

Tofu

In Kyoto, you can see the presence of this small, protein rich white block in almost every cuisine that you are going to have. 

You can have the tofu fried, steamed, or enjoy it in a steaming hot broth paired with a bowl of rice. 

Kaiseki 

Also known as Japanese haute cuisine, kaiseki offers a Japanese fine dining experience with multiple small dishes served across a meal. 

The dishes are prepared using local seasonal ingredients and one of the common places to enjoy this meal is by staying at a ryokan. 

Shojin

Shojin is suitable for vegans as the dishes are prepared using non-meat ingredients. 

Developed by Buddhist monks, shojin meal consists of locally sourced vegetables cooked with limited seasonings. 

Shojin meals are typically served in temples, such as Tenryuji Temple.

Wagashi

Wagashi refers to a wide range of traditional Japanese sweets that go very well with a cup of thick matcha tea. 

You can find wagashi in different sizes, shapes, and designs. The sweets’ delicate designs are sometimes influenced based on the present season. 

Some of the Japanese sweets you need to try in Kyoto are warabi mochi, yokan jelly, and namagashi. 

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Obanzai

Obanzai refers to Kyoto’s traditional home cooked style food. A meal of obanzai consists of several small dishes prepared using the seasonal local produce. 

The dishes might look simple but the natural flavours of each dish are definitely appetising and fulfilling.  

Interested to have an authentic obanzai meal with locals at a private home settings? Then this home-cooked lunch/dinner experience is for you!

Unique Tips You Should Know When Visiting Kyoto 

These are some helpful tips to take note of in order to better prepare yourself, making this Kyoto 2 days itinerary one of the best trips you ever had: 

Japan Visa Application 

US and most European countries nationals do not need a travel visa to enter into the country. 

However, all short term visitors must have proof of onward departure from Japan.

To know more information about Japan travel visa eligibility before planning your itinerary for Kyoto, click on this link

Currency 

The official currency of Japan is Japanese Yen. It is recommended to change your money at the arrival airports in Japan as they have better currency exchange rates. 

To have peace of mind, you can also bring along some extra foreign currency (such as US dollars) on hand just in case your ATM card is not working.   

Language 

Japan’s official language is Japanese. Most Japanese people do not speak fluent English. 

Nevertheless, there are plenty of signs available in the major places of attractions making navigating around the places or getting around are less of a hassle.

Internet Connectivity 

You can pre-book Japan local sim card or pocket WIFI for stable internet connection before leaving for Kyoto to check for directions etc.

Plug Socket Type 

Bring along a universal adapter before visiting the country. You can get the travel adapter here

ATM Machine 

ATM machines can be conveniently found in every post office and convenience store (7-11) around the city. 

Eating Etiquette

Remember to have a seat when you are having any meal, regardless of the meal size.

It is deemed rude in Japanese culture to move around or stand while eating.

Brace yourself to explore some of the famous iconic landmarks in Kyoto with hundreds of the tourists flocking at the same place. 

If you would like to skip the crowd, you can plan your visit either in the early morning or late evening. 

Bring Coins With Hole In The Middle

Most of the shrines and temples in Kyoto have prayer boxes where you can slot in the coins as donation.

These coins are deemed auspicious and thought to be bringing good luck to you. 

So remember to bring more of the coins along with you when you are temple-hopping in Kyoto!

Note: Well, there is no harm in trying that innit? 

Attire 

Wear comfortable clothing when sightseeing in Kyoto. 

Remember to take off your shoes when you are getting into the temples and certain restaurants. Fret not—you will be given slippers to put on at the entrance.

Walking On Foot 

Most places of attractions in this ancient city are within walking distance. 

Make sure to rest your legs well as lots of walking are involved in this Kyoto 2-day itinerary.

Bring Comfortable Shoes

As pointed above, it is crucial to have a pair of comfortable walking shoes when you are visiting Kyoto.

You can get a pair of comfortable shoes here.

Visiting Flea Markets In Kyoto

Flea markets in Kyoto are usually held on the 15th, 21st, and 25th of the month. 

If you are looking for great souvenirs for people back home, make sure you head over to these fleas markets to get a good bargain of local handicrafts products such as kimono and ceramics.

Some of the flea markets that you can go to are:

  • Tezukuri-ichi Flea Market at Chionji Temple (15th)
  • Kobo-san Flea Market at Toji Temple (20th)
  • Tenjin San Flea Market at Kitano Tenmangu Shrine (25th)
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Safety In Kyoto

Generally, Kyoto is safe for traveling. However, do stay alert to your surroundings and refrain from walking down a distant alleyway alone late at night.

Travel Insurance 

Get travel insurance for yourself before leaving for Kyoto. You can buy one from World Nomads. 

Additional Resources For Planning 2 Day Kyoto Itinerary

To know more about travelling to Kyoto and its beautiful culture, below are some recommended books for you:

Kyoto 2-Day Itinerary: Conclusion 

And there you go—a comprehensive and reliable guide that you can refer to and tweak to your heart’s content for your upcoming 2 days in Kyoto itinerary!

Kyoto is such a historically and culturally rich city that will make your visit worthwhile by immersing yourself into its unique culture and tradition.  

Do take note of the tips and etiquettes mentioned above so that you will have a pleasant and memorable experience traveling around Kyoto. 

Let me know in the comment section below if you have been to Kyoto, or if you have any recommendations in terms of attractions that I missed out on. I would love to hear from you!

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