Kyoto is a beautiful city located in central Japan. Many people flock here because of the rich culture. Kyoto is famous for its many tourist attractions including temples, palaces, and shrines, and it’s easy accessibility to Tokyo and Osaka. During my 2 days in Kyoto Itinerary, I was able to see many of the city’s popular attractions and I wanted to share how I spent my 2 days in Kyoto. It was not easy to create an itinerary for this city because there were so many other places I could have seen and visited during my stay here. However, I have curated the best spots to visit for 2 days in Kyoto.
RELATED: Kyoto Osaka Itinerary
Best 2 Days in Kyoto Itinerary
Kyoto has some of the most tourist attractions in Japan and is known as the former capital of Japan. Here is my Itinerary for 2 days in Kyoto.
Short on time? Read about whether you should travel to Kyoto or Osaka.
Itinerary Day 1 in Kyoto
When you arrive at Kyoto Station, be sure to take some time and head over to the Kyoto Tower. You can get a beautiful view of the city. The tower is right outside of the train station which makes it a great pit stop before wandering to other places for the day. Book your tickets here.
This market is known for all of the delicious street food you can get during your 2 days in Kyoto. They have so many different options from sushi, crab on a stick, beef sticks and more. Additionally, on the way there you can hit up some other markets to purchase souvenirs, gifts, or just go shopping in general. Since this is a food market, it usually closes pretty early. You can go in the evening but your options may be limited.
Nishiki market opens at 9:00 am and closes at 6:00 pm.
Now on your walk to Kenninji Temple, you can see some beautiful buildings alongside the river in Kyoto. This is a great place to take a walk, take photos, or just enjoy the scenery. There are some restaurants in this area as well you could check out.
This less popular temple is fairly close to the Gion District which makes it a great pitstop to visit. This is a fairly simple temple with white and brown colors. If you plan to rent a Kimono then you can easily come back here and get some photos without people in them. It is the less visited location and I was able to get quite a few photos without people in them. Additionally, this temple is free to visit. I suggest visiting here during your 2 days in Kyoto.
Rent a Kimono
A popular tourist attraction during your 2 days in Kyoto is to rent a Kimono all day to get some beautiful gorgeous photos in it. However, many of the stores will book up quite early, so you want to get there as soon as possible to get the best patterns and styles. Many people rent an AirBNB Photography experience to take photos of Kyoto’s popular locations. Book your Kimono Rental here and Kimono Photo Shoot.
The Gion District is a beautiful District with traditional buildings which make it perfect to take photos and rent out a traditional Kimono. This is where all the action is at. It’s a perfect place to take beautiful photos of girls dressed in Kimonos. There are many cute little cafes, small craft shops, and more down these alleyways.
Yasaka Pagoda at Hōkanji Temple
After you visit Gion District, before sunset, be sure to get to the Hokanji Temple to get a view of the Yasaka Pagoda to get the best view at sunset. You’ll get the beautiful glowing sunlight hitting behind the building as the sun goes down. It’s a great place for photoshoots, however, it may be filled with tons of tourists thinking the same thing. I was able to get a few neat photos, but trust me it took several shots without people walking in them. You can get some of the best photos here for your 2 days in Kyoto.
After visiting the Yasaka Pagoda, you can walk over to the Kiyomizu-dera Temple. This temple is very popular and has a lot of tourists, students, and locals. You can see many shops on your way to this temple as well. At this temple, you can get the best views of Kyoto from the hillside. This temple also includes one of the famous spots with a balcony overview, however, it was under remodel when I was there. You can still enjoy the pagodas and other temples as well. The pagoda area is free to visit, but if you want to visit the part with the balcony, it costs about 500 yen to enter.
Have dinner at the famous Ramen restaurant: Ichiban
This location has some amazing ramen. There aren’t many options to pick, but I suggest you pick the best. You will get a set of everything for the ramen. If you haven’t had ramen in Japan before, usually the ramen in ordered on a vending machine. You will have to prepay for your meal with the vending machine and then make your selection. The vending machine will then provide you with a ticket for you to take back to your table and server.
TRAVEL TIP: Don’t be afraid of how long the line it. The restaurant actually moves pretty quickly partially because the ramen doesn’t really take that long to make or eat, but also the restaurant is like bar seating. So keep that in mind if traveling with little ones.
Itinerary Day 2 in Kyoto
Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine
Now it is time to visit the famous Fushimi Inari-taisha shrine during your 2 days in Kyoto. This shrine is the most popular in Kyoto and is why many people flock to visit. However, because of this, the shrine easily gets packed in the morning. I highly suggest you arrive early in the morning. I arrived around 7:00 am (mostly because I couldn’t sleep) and there were still people there. I was able to get a good shot of myself, however, there were still many photos in the entrance that I was unable to get without people in them.
This shrine is free to enter and is open 24 hours.
Next, I went to Bamboo Grove. This is probably one of the most popular places to visit for 2 days in Kyoto. I arrived around 8:30 am in the morning and it was just starting to get crowded. It was starting to become difficult to get photos without people in them. This location easily fills up by 9:00 am to the point where it becomes hard to walk around with so many people. I suggest you arrive early unless you don’t mind having people in your photographs or just want to walk around. If you have time on your way out, eat some soba at the window shop at the end of the street.
This bamboo grove is free to enter and is open 24 hours.
Monkey Park Iwatayama
If you have time, you can easily add this to your list of things to do. This is in the general area that the Bamboo Grove is. However, you will have to travel some time to get there. I actually ended up skipping this since I wasn’t interested, but I know it’s fairly close to Bamboo grove so I wanted to include it as an option for my readers.
Another popular and famous temple in Kyoto is the Kinkakuji Temple. This temple is popular because of the beautiful water and garden built around the temple. The temple is also gold in color which makes it look very rich and luxurious. Many people flock here for a great photo of the temple, which can be hard to get with so many tourists. It’s definitely worth the visit and beautiful to walk through. This is a must location to visit during your Itinerary for 2 days in Kyoto.
The cost to enter the temple was 400 yen.
This castle was probably the most expensive one for me to visit Kyoto. However, during my trip here the palace was closed for refurbishments which I was unaware of. So I only really got to enjoy the beautiful garden spaces and tea room. It was still a beautiful site even though I was unable to see all of it.
The cost to enter Nijo Castle and Ninomaru Palace is 1040 yen. Book your discounted tickets here.
Higashiyama Temple and Philosopher’s Path
After Nijo Castle, I ended up taking a break and eating a late lunch. I was pretty exhausted from traveling so early in the morning. I went to my room took a break and drank plenty of water to stay hydrated from the humidity.
After I felt better and relaxed, I headed off to the Philosopher’s Path. It was a place I was recommended to visit, but honestly, there wasn’t much there. To my surprise, there was a temple at the top of the hill that I saw and I immediately walked there instead. I was surprised to see this temple was not talked about much. I found this blog to be completely stunning. This temple is known for its gorgeous zen gardens that have been raked and designed ever so carefully. At the top of the hill, you can get an excellent view of Kyoto as well. I know this location is pretty far from everything else, but it was quite different than any of the other temples I had visited, so I think it was worth it.
It costs 500 yen to enter this temple.
If you want to extend your trip to Kyoto, read this post on 3 days in Kyoto.
Other things to do in Kyoto for more than 2 days
- Okochi-Sanso Villa
- Daitoku-ji Temple
- Tea Ceremony
- Sannen-zaka and Ninnen-zaka and Maruyama-koen Park
- Chion-in Temple
- Imperial Palace
RELATED: 2 Days in Osaka Itinerary
What to eat in Kyoto for 2 days
- Conveyor Belt Sushi – It’s popular to do in Japan, each plate is priced differently based on what is offered.
- Nishiki Market – Popular for street food in Kyoto.
- Shabu Shabu – A popular dish in Japan is a hot pot dish served with veggies and thinly sliced meat. You use hot water to cook the veggies and meat as well.
- Soba – Soba noodles are made of buckwheat and usually placed in similar broth to Udon.
- Tonkatsu – A popular Japanese dish made of breaded pork and deep-fried tempura style. This dish is served with sauce either covered or as a dipping sauce.
Where to Stay in Kyoto for 2 days
There are pretty much 4 neighborhoods that are best to stay in Kyoto.
- Downtown Kawaramachi – This place is a great location to stay in Kyoto because it’s a highly convenient location for tourists. It also has easy access to many forms of public transportation in Kyoto. There are also a lot of restaurants available in this area as well. I stayed in this area and I highly suggest it. So that you are centrally located to everything and can come back to some locations you may have missed the first day.
- Gion – This location is best for those trying to get an authentic Japanese experience. There are a lot of traditional sites and also known as the Geisha District in Japan.
- Kyoto Station – This location is not necessarily a prime location for tourists wanting to visit the sites. However, it is convenient when it comes to being close to public transportation and more hotels available.
- Karasuma Central Kyoto – Close to Kyoto station, easy to find available hotels and cheaper than downtown.
How to get to Kyoto
The best way to get to Kyoto is by train. If you flew into Kansai airport in Osaka, I suggest you take the JR train from Kansai to Kyoto. There are other options to take the bus as well, however, with taking a bus you do risk being stuck in traffic. Taking the JR train one way from Kansai airport to Kyoto costs about 1880 yen.
If you are traveling from Tokyo, there are the options to fly to Osaka or you can take the JR train from Tokyo to Kyoto as well. Taking the train from Tokyo to Kyoto one way is about 13,080 yen which can be quite expensive.
Getting Around Kyoto in 2 Days
So getting around Kyoto is a bit complicated when you don’t know the Japanese language. However, I found that many of the people who worked in the subway stations, airports, and buses would try and go out of their way to help you get to where you need to go. I pretty much just asked a lot of questions, tried to navigate as best as I could with google, and I purchased a 2 day pass good for the subways and buses.
How Many Days in Kyoto?
Kyoto is probably more popular than Osaka because of its rich culture. I think you should at least spend 2 days in Kyoto, however, do whatever you can. To see all the major Kyoto attractions, you’ll need at least 2 full days to see all the highlights and tourist spots. However, there were so many places that I was unable to see during my 2 days in Kyoto. You can easily spend at least 4 days here to see more of the sites as well as eating around the city.
RELATED: Okinawa Restaurants
When to Visit Kyoto
Like Korea, the best times to visit during your Kyoto Itinerary are October/November (fall) and March/April/May (spring). The weather can be pretty brutal and hot during the summer months. The winter months are doable, however, you will have to worry about how cold it is outside, you may even need to worry about snow or ice. Summer is also Typhoon season, so you will have to worry about heavy rains and terrible storms.
What to Pack for your Kyoto Itinerary
It depends on when you plan to travel to Kyoto in 2 days. However, I’ll give some of my suggestions below of items you may need for Kyoto.
Clothing to Pack for your Kyoto Itinerary
I suggest you try and pack more modest types of clothing. Many locals may stare at you if you are heavily exposed. Koreans and Japanese typically dress in shorter skirts and dresses exposing their legs, however, it isn’t very common to expose your shoulders or chest. You can dress in whatever way you want, but you will get more stares which could make you feel uncomfortable.
- Winter – Thick clothing, hand warmers, knitted hat, long sleeve shirts, boots, pullovers, thick sweaters, scarves, and heavy winter coats.
- Summer – Umbrella, poncho or very thin raincoat, sandals or waterproof shoes, dresses, shorts, hat, and shirts.
- Spring and Fall – Pants, light coats, layering items, shirts, blouses, light sweater, skirts, flats, dresses, and leggings.
Electronics to Pack for your Kyoto Itinerary
- Universal Adapter – You should definitely bring a universal adapter for Japan. If you are from the US though, they do use the American style plugs. Just make sure your electronics say 110-220 V or you may fry your devices.
- Unlocked Cell Phone with Sim Card from the Airport – Make sure your phone is unlocked so that you can easily grab a sim card from the airport. You can easily put a Japanese data only sim card at the airport which is cheaper than roaming charges. If you have cell phone services like T-Mobile or Sprint, then you should be okay with their unlimited international date.
- Battery Pack – It does not matter where I travel to, I have to bring a battery pack with me. Living in Seoul, it’s pretty much a necessity. The worst thing is having your phone die while trying to find a place you need to get to and having no way to figure out how to get back to your hotel or destination.
- Camera – You have to take all the amazing photos while traveling. Don’t forget the most important tool, your camera. Although, many smartphones are perfect for taking photos these days, so just do what is most comfortable for you.
- Tablet, Laptop, Kindle – Only if you find it necessary. I usually just get around with my cell phone rather than these accessories since they take up space and weight.