The top sights, highlights, tours & travel itinaries curated by our Travel Experts.
While in Tokyo you will get up close and personal with modern Japan, in Kyoto you can take a trip back in time to the country's rich past. You can look forward to beautiful gardens with traditional tea houses, noble tripping geishas and temples with a very special atmosphere. With around 2,000 temples and shrines, Kyoto is the spiritual heart of the country.
And even though the city is modern and cosmopolitan, the smell of incense always seems to be in the air here and soft prayer chants can be heard. You can also discover traditional handicrafts here. And a visit to the Nishiki Market will make your visit to Kyoto an experience for all the senses. Less
Also known as the Golden Pavilion
The famous shrine with its thousands of Toriis
The picturesque bamboo grove
The history of this Buddhist temple goes back to the 8th century. However, the buildings you can visit today are from the 17th century. The temple, which is one of the most famous sights in Kyoto, was named after the waterfall that is located in the complex. Kiyoi Mizu means translated approximately "pure water". Since 1994, the temple complex has been part of the so-called "Historic Kyoto" and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. From the terrace, which stands with the main hall of the temple on wooden beams on the hillside, you can enjoy an impressive view of the city.
The Kinkaku-ji Temple is not for nothing also known as the Golden Pavilion. The upper floors of its main hall are covered all over with gold leaf. The impressive building awaits you in the middle of a garden, directly on the shore of a lake. When the building, sparkling in the sunlight, is reflected in the surface of the water, you will be amazed. The Kinkaku-ji is also part of the Historic Kyoto, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
After Mount Fuji, the Fushimi Inari-Taisha, one of the oldest shrines in Kyoto, is probably the most photographed sight in Japan. The shrine with its thousands of scarlet arches awaits you in the south of Kyoto. The so-called torii, which form several impressive avenues on the temple grounds, were donated by families or companies and are supposed to help to ensure a good harvest. Take a walk through the arches up the hill to the shrine and take unique souvenir photos. We recommend an early morning visit before it gets really crowded around 11am.
Another highlight on your Kyoto trip is the beautiful Arashiyama district in the west of the city, which you can reach by train in a very short time. Here, where already 1,000 years ago the nobility enjoyed themselves, is the picturesque bamboo grove of the same name, where the bamboo canes rise up to ten meters in height. Walk through the iron gate, the Tenryuji, and find yourself among the trunks rustling in the wind. You can explore the forest on foot, by bike or rickshaw. It is best to come here early in the morning when the forest is still deserted and quiet.
The majestic Nijo Castle was once the seat of the shogun, the leader of the samurai. However, it was only rarely used, as the Shogun's headquarters were located in Edo, today's Tokyo. The fortress from 1626 awaits you with impressive decorations and extensive gardens. Also pay special attention to the so-called nightingale corridors. These are specially designed so that every step in them squeaks softly and no one can sneak up on them. From the stone foundation walls of the former main tower you also have a wonderful view over the entire fortress.
The imperial palace of Kyoto was the residence of the Japanese emperor for a long time. It awaits you in the middle of the so-called Gosho Park, which comprises all the buildings within the walls between the streets Imadegawa in the north, Marutamachi in the south, Karasuma in the west and Teramachi in the east. The park can be used free of charge around the clock, the palace complex itself is only open to the public for one week each in spring and autumn. However, you can book guided tours about three months in advance and thus take a look inside the historical imperial chambers.
Kyoto's most famous neighborhood is Gion, also known as the Geisha neighborhood, because here you will meet many geishas in their kimonos with flashy make-up who work in one of the many traditional tea houses or restaurants. On your Kyoto trip, be sure to visit one of the shrines or temples and stroll through the picturesque streets of Gion. When the lanterns are lit in the evening hours, the neighborhood is even more atmospheric. Less
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