Kyoto

Travel Guide
Heian Shrine showing heritage architecture, religious elements and a temple or place of worship

Experience the sheer tranquillity of the beautiful temples, and discover some of the greatest ancient treasures in Japan.

Kyoto was the capital city of Japan for more than a thousand years – and its unique beauty still remains today. The city was renowned as a leader in Japanese (indeed, Asian) economic, industrial and cultural development, and even today, Kyoto consists of enough steel, glass and concrete buildings to show it remains an economic success. However, it is the meditative temples and sprawling parks spread across the urban space that are the real, picturesque reminders of the city's rich cultural heritage.

Because of the many centuries of priceless architectural heritage in Kyoto, this city was dropped from the list of targets for the atomic bomb and was spared from World War II air raids. This means visitors today can still enjoy the abundance of ancient shrines and temples still standing throughout the city.

A great way to begin your discovery of Kyoto is to venture out on the Philosopher’s Walk. This walking trail follows the path that famous 20th century Japanese philosopher Nishida Kitaro used to walk every day, while meditating over the deep meaning of life. The walk will take you past three of the major landmark temples of Kyoto and the cherry-tree lined canal, which is at its most spectacular during April, when you can see an abundance of beautiful pink blooms.

During your trip to Kyoto, you can also visit the Arashiyama Monkey Park, where you can see wild monkeys playing, interacting, swinging through the trees and even eating out of your hand. The Eikando Temple is another interesting attraction, especially in the autumn when the gardens are decorated with sparkling lights. This is a wonderfully peaceful place to stroll or sit in the quiet and meditative atmosphere of the ponds and moss gardens.

Another truly impressive architectural spectacle is the Katsura Imperial Villa, which was built by Prince Toshihito in order to recreate the setting described in his favourite book – the famous 11th century novel The Tale of Genji. Then, of course, there the famous attraction of The Temple of the Golden Pavilion, with its glittering gold leaf surface which can be seen sparkling in the sunlight.

Indeed, Kyoto encapsulates the romantic Japanese image in our imagination of peaceful temples, quiet bamboo forests and contemplative rock gardens. There are 17 different UNESCO World Heritage Sites in this historic city, as well as over 400 Shinto shrines and 1,600 Buddhist temples. The best time of the year to enjoy the city's divine gardens and tree-lined pathways is in the spring or the autumn, when these ancient attractions are set against a backdrop of lush pink floral blossoms or vibrant orange leaves.

Kyoto Travel Guide Video

Where to stay in Kyoto

Hotel Monterey Kyoto
Hotel Monterey Kyoto
3.5 out of 5
The price is NZ$118 per night from 1 Feb. to 2 Feb.
Located in Central Kyoto, this spa hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Rokakkudo Temple and Nishiki Market. Kawaramachi and Nijō Castle are also within 1 mile ...
4.3/5 Excellent! (963 reviews)
"スタッフの方々も親切でとてもすごしやすかったです!"

Reviewed on 22 Jan. 2022

Hotel Monterey Kyoto
RIHGA Royal Hotel Kyoto
RIHGA Royal Hotel Kyoto
4 out of 5
1 Taimatsu-cho, Shiokoji-sagaru, HigashiHorikawa-dori, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto
The price is NZ$133 per night from 31 Jan. to 1 Feb.
Located in Central Kyoto, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Kyoto Tower and Kyoto Aquarium. Kyoto Railway Museum and Nishiki Market are also within 2 ...
4.4/5 Excellent! (2,002 reviews)
"Convenient location and courteous staff. Just wish use of swimming pool and gym is made free for staying guest."

Reviewed on 11 Jan. 2022

RIHGA Royal Hotel Kyoto
Hyatt Regency Kyoto
Hyatt Regency Kyoto
4.5 out of 5
The price is NZ$279 per night from 24 Jan. to 25 Jan.
Located in Higashiyama, this luxury hotel is within 1 mile (2 km) of Kyoto National Museum, Kawaramachi and Kyoto Tower. Kiyomizu Temple and Kyoto MINAMIZA Theatre ...
4.5/5 Wonderful! (982 reviews)
"My wife and I loved the hospitality of the staff."

Reviewed on 19 Jul. 2021

Hyatt Regency Kyoto
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.
Kyoto Sanjo Ohashi
Kyoto Sanjo Ohashi
3 out of 5
78-4 Shinmaruta-cho, Sakyo, Kyoto, Kyoto
The price is NZ$40 per night from 23 Jan. to 24 Jan.
Located in Sakyo Ward, this apartment building is within a 10-minute walk of Pontocho and Kawaramachi. Kyoto University and Kyoto MINAMIZA Theatre are also within ...
4.4/5 Wonderful! (77 reviews)
Fab find!!
"Great find!! I'm astounded what you get for your money. Huge room, by japanese standards, great amenities, friendly, helpful staff with good English. I hugely recommend this place, especially if you are staying more than a few days in Kyoto. Also well located, within walking distance of Gion and ..."

Reviewed on 3 Oct. 2019

Kyoto Sanjo Ohashi
nol kyoto sanjo
nol kyoto sanjo
3 out of 5
The price is NZ$274 per night from 22 Feb. to 23 Feb.
Located in Central Kyoto, this aparthotel is within a 5-minute walk of Teramachi Street and Nishiki Market. Kawaramachi and Kyoto University are also within ...
4.7/5 Exceptional! (24 reviews)
"清潔でコーヒーお菓子無料で頂けて大変満足です。月に一回は京都行ってるので空いてる限り利用しょうと思います。"

Reviewed on 5 Jan. 2022

nol kyoto sanjo
Miun Kinkakuji
Miun Kinkakuji
4 out of 5
Located in Kita Ward, this holiday home is within a 15-minute walk of Funaoka Thermal Bath and Kinkaku-ji. Kitano Tenmangū and Doshisha University are also within ...
4.8/5 Exceptional! (4 reviews)
"Excellent house. The location is remote, a long way from most anything."

Reviewed on 7 Apr. 2019

Miun Kinkakuji
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.

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