Kyoto Bucket List: 41 Best Things To-Do in Kyoto

WE ARE GOING TO JAPAN IN 5 DAYS. Most importantly we are giving Kyoto a real chance this time around. The last time we went it felt really rushed between getting sick and staying in a really quiet and far neighbourhood, I feel like we didn’t get a real shot to fall in love with Kyoto. We are spend 5 nights in Kyoto and are really excited to go this time around.

So far in my pre-vacation research series for Kyoto, I’ve covered, where to stay in Kyoto for the first time and the best coffee shops in Kyoto. So for today’s post, it’s going to be a Kyoto bucket list, a round-up of 42 of the best things to do and see in Kyoto.  I’ve also done this for Tokyo as well, so if you are head to Tokyo soon and want some travel trips please check out my guide on where to stay in Tokyo if it’s your first time, the most Instagram-able coffee shops in Tokyowhere to eat in Tokyo and my Tokyo Bucket List.

The Ultimate Kyoto Bucket List

Every time someone has told me they’ve been to Japan, they say Kyoto was their favourite city. However when we went the first time it wasn’t ours and this was for many reasons, one of them being we didn’t properly prepare. For our trip this November I wanted to make sure I was prepared so I found, 18 must-see things in Kyoto (aka the most worth-it Tourist attractions in Kyoto), 12 of the best things to do in Kyoto (aka the most worthwhile activities in Kyoto) and lastly 11 things to do in Kyoto at Night (aka what to do in Kyoto at night if you don’t club).

What to see in Kyoto: 18 Must-See Things in Kyoto

Best Temples to See in Kyoto

  1. Byōdō-in Temple
    • Address: Renge-116 Uji, Kyoto 611-0021, Japan
    • Notes: If you are on a time restraint this one is skippable, most people said it’s amazing for pictures however there isn’t much to do and there is a small fee to enter.
  2. Daigoji Temple
  3. Eikan-dō Zenrin-ji Temple
  4. Higashiyama Jisho-ji Temple
  5. Kinkakuji Temple (the Golden Temple)
  6. Kiyomizu-dera Temple
  7. Kōdaiji Temple
  8. Nanzenji Temple
  9. Ninnaji Temple
  10. Ryoanji Temple
  11. Rengeoin Sanjusangendo Temple
  12. Tenryuji Temple
  13. Tofukuji Temple
  14. Toji Temple
  15. Yasaka Pagoda located at Hokanji Temple

Things to see in Kyoto that aren’t temples:

  1. Kyoto Imperial Palace
  2. Nijō Castle
  3. Walk down the Philosopher’s Path

What to do in Kyoto: 12 Best Things to Do in Kyoto

  1. Explore the Gion district
    • Address: Since its a district there is no actual address, it’s across the Kamo river from downtown Kyoto
    • Notes: it’s known as Kyoto’s Geishas district
  2. Walk across the Togetsukyo Bridge
  3. Go for a traditional Tea Ceremony
    • Notes: A lot of temples have tea ceremonies!
  4. Shop and eat around Nishiki Market
  5. Visit Kyoto International Manga Museum
  6. Have a picnic or walk around Maruyama Park with a coffee
  7. Visit Arashiyama, particularly the Bamboo Forest & Monkey Park
    • Address: Arashiyama Genrokuzancho, Ukyo Ward, Kyoto, 616-0007, Japan
  8. Go for a bike ride around the city
    • Notes: There are bike rentals everywhere, your hotel might have some free ones!
  9. Take a ride on the Sagano Scenic Railway
  10. Go to Fushimi-Inari-Taisha Shrine and up the red gates
  11. Wander around the Shimogamo-jinja Shrine
  12. Explore the grounds of the Yasaka-jinja Shrine and surrounding area

What to do in Kyoto at Night: 11 things to do in Kyoto at night

  1. Go up the Kyoto Tower
  2. Watch a Movie
    • From what I found seen, if its a western film it will play in English with Japanese subtitles
  3. Sing your heart out at a karaoke bar
    • Whether you are in a group or it’s just the two of you, you can go to a karaoke bar or book a private room!
  4. Go to an Arcade
    • I surprising loved racing Mario Carts in Arcades we did it almost every other night, it was so much fun.
  5. Wander around Pontocho Alley, Miyagawacho or Kiyamachi
    • these are the more happening areas if you want to grab a drink
  6. Have a late-night bubble tea and dessert
    • two of the best things.
  7. Walk around the Yasaka Shrine
    • its suppose to be really nice at night.
  8. Go bowling  
  9. Buy a lot of snacks and taste test them back at your hotel
    • Out of all the options, we honestly found ourselves doing this the most. You can find a Family Mart or a 7/11 on any corner, so my advice when me to set at the limit, buy your favourites, bring them to your hotel and watch a sumo match on the TV.
  10. People watch at the  Kamogawa River
    • Don’t forget to buy drinks and snacks!
  11. See Kyoto stationRooftop
    • You can walk up it and see a nice view with the Kyoto Tower
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