This is a question that many travelers ask themselves, and the answer is not always black and white.
Kyoto has its charms, but it also has a hefty price tag. Let’s look at some of the pros and cons of visiting Kyoto.
Kyoto is home to Japan’s most beautiful temples and shrines on the pro side. The City is also dotted with lovely parks, making it the perfect place to stroll around on a sunny day.
In addition, Kyoto is well known for its delicious food, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to eat through the City.
However, Kyoto can be expensive, as with any popular tourist destination. Hotels, restaurants, and transportation can all add up quickly, so you’ll need to be prepared to spend a fair amount of money to enjoy everything Kyoto offers.
That depends on your budget and what you want in a vacation destination. If you’re interested in exploring Japan’s rich history and culture, Kyoto is worth a visit. But if you’re on a tight budget, other places in Japan may be a better fit for you.
Is Kyoto too touristy?
Many people avoid Kyoto because they feel that it’s too touristy. And while it’s true that the City can be crowded during peak season, there are plenty of quiet corners to explore if you know where to look.
So, if you’re looking for a more peaceful vacation, Kyoto may not be the right fit. Some cities like Fukuoka and Sapporo offer a more laid-back atmosphere while offering plenty of things to see and do.
So if you are looking for a quieter experience, Kyoto isn’t the best choice.
Keep in Mind: We live in a pandemic world; most cities in Japan will be quieter than usual. Covid 19 is affecting every City differently. Here is the Japan Tourist Organization Website for Covid Related information.
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Is Kyoto expensive to visit?
Yes, Kyoto is an expensive city to visit. However, there are many ways to save money while in Kyoto.
For example, you can purchase a tourist discount card or take free walking tours. Additionally, there are many affordable restaurants and hotels in Kyoto.
Here are some tips to save money when visiting Kyoto:
- Buy a JR Rail Pass – A JR Rail Pass will allow you to travel anywhere in Japan, including Kyoto, for a certain number of days.
- Avoid peak times – The busiest times to visit Kyoto are during the Cherry Blossom Festival (early April) and the Autumn leaves (late November). Try to stay during other times of the year to avoid the crowds.
- Take a walk – Many of the attractions in Kyoto are close to each other, so you can save money by walking instead of taking taxis or buses.
- Eat street food – Kyoto is known for its delicious food, so try some local dishes and save money on dining out.
What are some of the things to do in Kyoto?
There are many things to do in Kyoto. Some popular attractions include visiting temples and shrines, walking through the bamboo forest, and exploring the Gion district.
Kyoto is also home to several museums, including the National Museum of Art and the Kyoto National Museum. Here are some things to do in Kyoto:
- Visit temples and shrines.
- Explore the Gion district.
- Visit the bamboo forest.
- Explore museums like the National Museum of Art and the Kyoto National Museum.
- Take a walk around Arashiyama at night to see the street lanterns.
- Take a boat ride on Lake Biwa to get views of the City and mountains.
- Visit during spring or fall to take advantage of cherry blossoms and foliage.
- Visit during winter for skiing and snowboarding.
What are the best times of year to visit Kyoto?
The best times to visit Kyoto depend on what you want to do in the City.
The spring and fall are great times to visit because the weather is mild, and many festivals and events are taking place.
Those are the seasons to visit if you want to view the cherry blossoms or fall foliage. However, winter is the best time to go if you’re interested in skiing or snowboarding.
How many days should I spend in Kyoto?
That depends on what you want to see and do. If you’re interested in exploring all of the City’s attractions, I recommend spending at least four or five days there.
However, two or three days should be enough if you only want to see a few key sights.
Travel time to/from Kyoto
Kyoto is about 1 hour by train from Tokyo, so you must include that time in your travel plans. Express trains also run to Kyoto but cost more (about 4,000 yen).
If you’re traveling on a budget and take the slower commuter trains, which stop at every station, it takes about 2 hours.
Even if you have to pay more for the express train, I recommend taking that over the slower trains because it saves time, which means you can enjoy Kyoto’s sights more.
Key attractions in Kyoto
Kyoto has many important historical/cultural sites, including 16 World Heritage Sites. Here are some of the most popular ones:
Fushimi Inari Shrine
This shrine is dedicated to the god of rice and is famous for its thousands of orange torii gates. It’s a great place to explore, and several hiking trails lead into the forest behind the shrine.
This temple is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Kyoto and is famous for its large wooden stage that juts out over a valley below. The views from the location are unique, and you can also visit the nearby waterfall.
This castle was built in 1603 and is one of the most impressive castles in Japan. It’s especially famous for its beautiful gardens and the Nightingale Floors, designed to squeak when someone walks on them so that intruders can be detected.
Kyoto’s most famous geisha district is a great place to see traditional Japanese architecture and culture. You can also visit some of the restaurants and tea houses in the community.
If you want to learn more about Kyoto’s history and culture, I recommend visiting some or all of these places.
However, if you’re more interested in sightseeing and enjoying the City’s beautiful nature, Kyoto has many parks and gardens.
Kyoto is full of cultural attractions, so there are lots to see in Kyoto if you enjoy history or culture.
How can I get around Kyoto?
Kyoto has an extensive public transportation network, including rail, bus, and taxi services.
- You can use a prepaid IC card (such as Suica or Icoca) to pay for all train and bus transportation in the City.
- You can also use the City’s buses (which are very convenient because they stop near most of the City’s attractions).
Kyoto is a very walkable city, and I recommend exploring the City on foot as much as possible. There are also many rickshaws and taxis in the City, but they can be expensive, so I wouldn’t recommend using them unless you need to.
Where should I stay in Kyoto?
I recommend staying in downtown Kyoto (i.e., around the Shijo-Karasuma subway station).
There are many affordable hotels and hostels within walking distance of most attractions in that area. On the other hand, if you’re willing to spend a bit more, there are many excellent hotels in other parts of the City.
I think staying in the city center is best so you can walk to most attractions.
However, suppose you’re interested in visiting some of Kyoto’s outlying areas.
In that case, staying in a remote location might be better, which will probably be cheaper and give you a better chance of finding transportation on the day you want to visit those attractions.
Where should I eat in Kyoto?
Many restaurants serve traditional Kyoto cuisine (e.g., kaiseki). You can find all these restaurants around the Shijo-Karasuma subway station downtown.
When it comes to budget, if you’re on a backpacker’s budget, I would recommend eating at convenience stores (such as 7-Eleven, Lawson, and Family Mart) or cheap izakaya restaurants.
If you’re looking for something more upscale, there are also many excellent restaurants in the Gion district.
Overall, Kyoto has a wide variety of restaurants, so you’ll have the best chance of finding something affordable or friendly, depending on your budget.