10 Best Activities in Kyoto

Unique tours and experiences you can take part in Kyoto

Kyoto is easily one of the most popular prefectures when it comes to international visitors. Rich history, rich culture, and rich sceneries. What else do you need in a tourist location?

However, because of this, there are so many things you can do when you visit Kyoto. It can be a little overwhelming seeing all the information out there to decide what to do.

In this article, let me introduce our list of the 10 best activities in Kyoto. It might be difficult to do all of these in a single visit to Kyoto, but I hope this helps you in deciding what to do when you get the chance to visit this amazing place.

*Please note that this article contains affiliate links.

1. Food Tours

Kyoto food tour

We start our list of activities to do in Kyoto with food tours. What better way to get to know Kyoto than by getting to know its tasty local foods? From street foods to more traditional cuisines; Kyoto has a lot to offer its visitors with a wide variety of fascinating foods.

There are two food tours we would like to recommend in particular which are the Kyoto Food and Drink Tour @Arashiyama and the Kyoto Food and Drink Tour @Nishiki Street & Gion by Japan Wonder Travel. Both of these tours offer an English-speaking guide that will not only show you the best place to visit in Kyoto but also introduce to you some of the best traditional foods and all their backstories.

▶Kyoto Food and Drink Tour @Arashiyama

▶Kyoto Food and Drink Tour @Nishiki Street & Gion

2. Kimono Rental

kimono kyoto

One of the images that may pop into mind when thinking about Kyoto is people wearing beautiful Kimono dresses in the traditional streets. Well, you can have this experience by yourself by renting a Kimono in Kyoto. Some of these services even come with a photographer included.

Kimono Rental and Photoshoot in Kyoto is a Kimono rental service that does offer a “photographer option”. Other services are located close to tourist spots such as the Kimono Rental in Kyoto Kiyomizu Temple and the Kyoto|Fushimi Inari Surroundings・Kimono Rental|Experience.

▶Kimono Rental and Photoshoot in Kyoto

▶Kimono Rental in Kyoto Kiyomizu Temple

▶Kyoto|Fushimi Inari Surroundings・Kimono Rental

3. Maiko Experience

maiko in Kyoto

Another iconic keyword that comes to mind when thinking about Kyoto is “Maiko”. If you come to Kyoto, then you will want to at least see a real Maiko in person, wouldn’t you? There are activities in which you can make reservations to see and meet a real Maiko.

The Lunch or Dinner with Maiko Experience in Kyoto and the Tea Ceremony, Dance Lesson and Game with Japanese Maiko are really good activities that you can take part of and have a completely unique experience. There is also the Maiko Experience with Photoshoot in Japanese Garden which will transform you into a Maiko and have a photoshoot.

▶Lunch or Dinner with Maiko Experience in Kyoto

▶Tea Ceremony, Dance Lesson and Game with Japanese Maiko

▶Maiko Experience with Photoshoot in Japanese Garden

4. Museums

Kyoto railway museum

Museums are always a great way to spend time and get to know a new place that you’re visiting. In the case of Kyoto, there are many interesting museums that you can visit. I mean, Kyoto is such a rich city when it comes to history and culture, so, of course there are going to be fascinating museums here.

Some of the museums in Kyoto that you can get tickets online include the Kyoto International Manga Museum, the Kyoto Railway Museum, and the Fukuda Art Museum.

▶Kyoto International Manga Museum Ticket

▶Kyoto Railway Museum Ticket

▶Fukuda Art Museum 140th Anniversary of Birth -KANSETSU- Admission Ticket

5. Observatories

kyoto tower

Getting the opportunity to view the entire city from a tall point such as an observatory is something many love doing. There’s something about viewing the whole city at once that makes you wonder about things. You will see the city from a different point of view (literally and figuratively).

Although there are various observatory spots in Kyoto, the first place that many will think about is the Kyoto Tower. As opposed to Kyoto and Osaka which have many tall buildings, Kyoto doesn’t have many of those, making the view from the tower completely uninterrupted.

You can get tickets for Kyoto tower from the following link.

▶Kyoto Tower Ticket

6. Private Tours

Kyoto private tour

If you don’t have many days to visit Kyoto and you’d like to get to know the city in a very efficient manner, then having a private tour is definitely the way to go. This might be a relatively costly way, but you will get to know more about Kyoto than you’d imagine.

I would like to introduce to you the Kyoto Private Full Day Walking Tour by Japan Wonder Travel. This 8-hour tour is completely customizable, making it possible to adjust it so that it suits all your interests. The English-speaking guide will also play a large roll, providing you with interesting stories and answering your questions.

▶Kyoto Private Full-Day Walking Tour

7. Theme Parks

TOEI park

Theme parks are a great way to spend time having fun. It is usually also a good way to spend a great time with your family and friends. Kyoto does have an interesting variety of theme parks that are unique and fun.

The TOEI Kyoto Studio Park is a theme park located in the Toei Company’s Kyoto Studio where movies have actually been produced. It is modeled after the Edo period Kyoto.

You can get tickets for TOEI Kyoto Studio park by clicking on the following link.

▶TOEI Kyoto Studio Park Ticket

8. Onsen

onsen kyoto

Although not an exclusively Kyoto thing to do, going to an Onsen (hot spring) is always recommended. If you don’t have “going to an Onsen” on your Japanese to-do list, you should really reconsider it.

There are some onsen places where you can get bookings ahead such as the Fu Fu No Yu Onsen and the Uji Natural Hot Spring Genji-no-Yu Onsen.

You can check out more details and get admission tickets from the following links.

▶Fu Fu No Yu Onsen Admission Ticket in Kyoto

▶Uji Natural Hot Spring Genji-no-Yu Onsen Experience in Kyoto

9. Tea Experiences

tea ceremony

Another highly popular thing about Kyoto is definitely the Tea culture. A visit to Kyoto is not completed if you haven’t included a tea-related activity. Fortunately for you, here are some tea-related activities we recommend.

You can experience the traditional Japanese tea ceremony rituals in the Matcha Tea Ceremony Experience in Kyoto. You can also get to make Matcha in the Matcha-Tea Making Experience. Or if you want to also include learning how to make the Japanese sweets to accompany your matcha, you can check out the Kyoto City, Tea Ceremony & Japanese Sweets Making One Day Tour.

▶Matcha Tea Ceremony Experience in Kyoto

▶Matcha-Tea Making Experience

▶Kyoto City, Tea Ceremony & Japanese Sweets Making One Day Tour

10. Cultural experiences

koto kyoto

And lastly, on our list of activities in Kyoto, are the traditional cultural experiences. A good way to get to know Japanese culture is to actually experience it firsthand. Here are some unique experiences you can have in Kyoto to get to know more about the Japanese culture’s essence.

You can Take a Koto Lesson at a Traditional House in Kyoto to learn about Japanese music and instruments. You can also Learn How to Make Makie At an Old Art Shop in Kyoto and realize the brilliance of Japanese craftspeople. Or you can check out the Authentic! Otofu-making experience which will give you a new appreciation for Tofu.

▶Take a Koto Lesson at a Traditional House in Kyoto

▶Learn How to Make Makie At an Old Art Shop in Kyoto!

▶Authentic! Otofu making experience, fresh taste is exceptional!

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Did you like the information provided in this article? I hope you did. And I hope this info helps you in deciding what to do when you come to visit Kyoto. Kyoto is one of the most popular prefectures when it comes to international visitors, and there’s a good reason for it. I do recommend that you take your time here to soak in the amazing and unique vibe Kyoto emanates.

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Written by

Born and raised in Costa Rica, I started living in Tokyo from college. I love traveling within Japan & around the world. Since I wasn’t born in Japan, I know the cultural impact that you can get when visiting Japan for the first time and what you might be worried about before your trip. And I’ve lived long enough to somewhat understand the nuances of the Japanese culture that make this country such an attractive place to visit. Hopefully I can provide to you both the information you’re looking for and the information you didn’t know you needed to know.