1 Day Itinerary in Kyoto

Best Things to Do in Kyoto in One Day

Kyoto is a must-visit city for every traveller to Japan. The ancient capital of Japan has rich history, traditional culture and beautiful monuments that you will never have enough time to see all in limited time.

Most of visitors stay in Kyoto for 2–3 days, but some of you may have even shorter length of staying in this city with full of incredible tourist attractions.

In this article, I’m going to share a suggested 1-day itinerary in Kyoto which only includes the best highlights in eastern Kyoto including Fushimi Inari Taisha and Kiyomizudera Temple. The duration of the itinerary is around 8–9 hour duration + night-out, and you will have a chance to visit some of the most popular historic sites, shop regional souvenirs and try delicious Kyoto food.

Let’s check out the best thing do to in Kyoto in one day!

8am Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine

The first stop on your 1-day Kyoto itinerary is Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine (伏見稲荷大社), one of the most famous landmarks in the country. As you only have one day in Kyoto, I’d strongly recommend you to start your day as early as possible. Also this place is extremely busy, so if you get there in early morning, you will have more chance to spend time without crowds!

There is a hiking trail available at the shrine, but it may take a couple of hours to complete, so you’d better skip that this time and head north to continue your itinerary.

10am Kiyomizudera Temple

The second stop is Kiyomizudera Temple (清水寺). The distance between Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine and Kiyomizudera Temple is approx 5km, and since you have only limited time here, I’d recommend you to take a taxi (15–20 mins). But if you are on a tight budget, there is a train between Fushimi Inari Station to Kiyomizu Gojo Station (Keihan Line) then walk which takes around 35–40 mins.

Kiyomizudera Temple is one of must-visit spots for every visitor in Kyoto, which was designated to UNESCO World Heritage sites in 1994. Founded in 780, the massive temple building with a wooden terrace offers an amazing view in each season collaborating with surrounding nature such as cherry blossoms and autumn leaves.

11pm Higashiyama District

After short walk from Kiyomizudera Temple via the main approach, you will be in the most attractive district in Kyoto City. Higashiyama (東山) is a well-preserved historic district with stone-paved narrow streets and slopes, and traditional wooden buildings.

Also, one of the most iconic landmarks of Kyoto, Yasaka Pagoda (八坂の塔) is situated within Higashiyama District, so make sure to stop for the picture-perfect view.

Ninenzaka (二年坂) and Sannenzaka (三年坂) are two most popular streets/slopes in the district where you can find numbers of shops, cafes and restaurants.

It’s a perfect places to stop for a lunch break, and make some souvenir shopping before continuing sightseeing in the afternoon.

For souvenir shopping idea, you can also check this article.

▶ What to Buy in Kyoto

1pm Kodaiji Temple

Off the main street of Higashiyama District, there is Kodaiji Temple (高台寺). The Zen temple was built in memory of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, one of the greatest warriors in Japanese history.

The temple offers two impressive Japanese gardens. One of two is the landscape garden which was designed by the famous garden designer Kobori Enshu, and the other is the rock garden in the main hall of the temple.

2pm Keage Incline

After leaving Kodaiji temple, walk towards Keage Incline (蹴上インクライン) through Maruyama Park (円山公園). This route is especially recommended during the cherry blossom season as they are both top Sakura viewing spots in Kyoto.

Keage Incline is an old railway track that is open now to public. It’s a great walk trail to enjoy the quiet and peaceful atmosphere with the surrounding nature.

After approx 10 mins walk on this 582m path, you will reach the next stop, Nanzenji Temple.

2:30pm Nanzenji Temple

Nanzenji (南禅寺) is one of the most beautiful zen temples in Kyoto, and the large temple complex consists of numbers of historic buildings and astonishing gardens including the magnificent Sanmon Gate, the Karesansui (dry garden) and the massive brick aqueduct behind the temple.

4pm Ginkakuji Temple

After walking towards north for approx 20 mins from Nanzenji Temple, you will reach the last sightseeing spot of the day, Ginkakuji Temple (銀閣寺).

Ginkakuji is one of must-visit temples in Kyoto, which is often called “the Silver Pavilion”. The zen temple offers the magnificent main hall, beautiful gardens, and there is a view spot on the hill behind the buildings where you can gaze the entire temple sites and the city.

Photo by topcools tee on Unsplash

Ginkakuji Temple is open until 5pm, so I hope you will have enough time to see around the temple.

Near Ginkakuji Temple, there is also a famous walking trail called “the Philosopher’s Walk”, which is one of the most popular cherry blossom spots in Kyoto. If you are in a right season, you may consider adding it on your itinerary, too!

After the long day of historic site hopping, I’d suggest you to go back to the hotel and take a 1–2 hour rest before going for dinner. Or if your hotel is not in convenient location, how about popping by at one of cafe/teahouses offering delightful Matcha desserts??

▶ Best Matcha Cafes in Kyoto

7pm Pontocho Alley

One of the most recommended areas to dine in Kyoto is Pontocho Alley (先斗町), a narrow atmospheric street running on the west of Kamogawa River. The pedestrian street is lined by numbers of restaurants and Izakaya bars offering a wide range of dining options from high-end Kyoto cuisine to affordable gastropub.

9pm Gion

Stroll down the famous geisha district, Gion (祇園) before heading back to your hotel.

This historic district with traditional machiya buildings and the stone-paved streets offers an astonishing scenery with dimmed lights after dark. Hanamikoji is the busiest street in Gion where you’d have chance to see pretty geisha and maiko girls walking on the street.

If your budget is not so tight, I’d also recommend you to dine at one of the traditional restaurants/teahouses in Gion where you can be entertained by geisha and maiko girls.

So that’s all! I hope you have enjoyed reading my suggest 1 day itinerary in Kyoto! As 1 day in Kyoto is pretty short, I tried to squeeze in quite a few spots in limited time, so if you are following this itinerary, make sure to manage your time wisely or otherwise, skip some spots according to your schedule!

If you want to customize your Kyoto 1 day itinerary, you may wanna check out more amazing tourist spots in Kyoto from the link below!

▶ Kyoto Bucket List: Best Things to Do

Moreover, there are several tourist sites and attractions that are recommended in particular seasons such as cherry blossoms and autumn leaves viewing. Here are some more recommended articles for you to check out!

▶ Best Cherry Blossom Viewing Spots in Kyoto

▶ Best Autumn Leaves Viewing Spots in Kyoto

If you are planning to visit Kyoto with longer days, Here are some more suggested itineraries in Kyoto!

▶ 3 Days Itinerary in Kyoto
▶ 5 Days Itinerary in Kyoto
▶ One Week in Kyoto, Osaka and Hiroshima

Thanks for reading! For more travel information, I’d recommend you to check out these articles, too!

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"The world is my oyster" A globetrotter 🌎 and hammock lover 🌞 who loves taking adventures to fuel wanderlust. Born and raised in Japan, I have lived and explored countries around the world. As a resident of Japan and based on my travel experience, I'd love to share my knowledge and tips for travelling Japan with my readers. I hope my story will help you plan your trip and have a great time in Japan 🌈