10 Best Things to Do in Kyoto 2024

Travel guide for Kyoto: The Hottest Attractions for 2024

Best Things to Do in Kyoto 2024

In 2024, Kyoto, already a top destination for international travelers, is poised to unveil even more captivating experiences. This historic city, renowned for its seamless blend of ancient traditions and modern innovations, is set to introduce a variety of new attractions and events that promise to enhance its allure.

This article will guide you through these exciting additions, ranging from exclusive temple events celebrating the Year of the Dragon to groundbreaking art exhibitions and innovative entertainment spaces. Join us as we explore what makes Kyoto an ever-evolving treasure trove for visitors in 2024. These are the 10 best things to do in Kyoto 2024.

Apart from this list, if you’re looking for a list of things to do in Osaka for your first-ever visit, you can also check out our list of the 30 best things to do in Osaka in general from the following article.

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1. New Hotels Opening in 2024

2024 is a year with exciting new hotel openings across Japan, and Kyoto is no exception. Staying at a brand-new hotel is a luxurious experience you can’t always have, so it may be worth taking into account staying at one of the new hotels if you happen to visit Kyoto at the right time.

Here are some of the more anticipated hotel openings for the year 2024.

Six Senses Kyoto

Six Senses Kyoto-
Copyright https://www.sixsenses.com/

Opening in spring 2024, Six Senses Kyoto (シックスセンシズ 京都), nestled in the culturally vibrant Higashiyama district, offers a blend of sustainability and luxury.

With 81 modern Japanese-style rooms and suites, guests can enjoy views of the city, gardens, or the historic Toyokuni Shrine. The hotel is close to key attractions like Myoho-in Temple and Kyoto National Museum. Its location in Kyoto’s historical heart provides easy access to cultural sites, nature trails, and local culinary delights, making it an ideal base for exploring the city’s rich heritage and natural beauty.

Hilton Kyoto

Hilton Kyoto
© 2024 Hilton

The Hilton Kyoto, set to open in the lively Sanjo-Kawaramachi area, the heart of downtown Kyoto, offers a blend of convenience and cultural immersion.

This 313-room hotel is within walking distance of renowned sites like the Kyoto Imperial Palace, Heian Shrine, Yasaka Shrine, and the historic Gion district. Guests can savor authentic Japanese cuisine nearby Nishiki Market or the atmospheric Pontocho dining area. The hotel boasts easy access to public transport, being minutes away from Kyoto City Hall and Sanjo Stations, and a short drive from Kyoto Station.

Facilities include four dining outlets, a fitness center, a spa, an indoor pool, an executive lounge, and meeting rooms, ensuring a comfortable and enriching stay in one of Japan’s most historic cities.

Mercure Kyoto Miyazu Resort & Spa

Mercure Kyoto Miyazu Resort & Spa
©Accor Resorts Japan

Opening in April 2024, the Mercure Kyoto Miyazu Resort & Spa (メルキュール京都宮津リゾート&スパ), previously Hotel & Resorts KYOTO-MIYAZU, offers a serene escape in Kyoto.

Its spacious guest rooms, each over 36 square meters, feature stunning seasonal views. Guests can enjoy local Kyoto Miyazu cuisine in an elegant buffet setting and relax by the garden pool overlooking the scenic Amanohashidate. The resort also features a luxurious spa with outdoor baths and a sauna for ultimate rejuvenation. Dedicated to providing warm hospitality, this resort ensures a comfortable and memorable stay in the heart of Kyoto’s natural beauty.

2. The Nintendo Museum

The Nintendo Museum
© Nintendo

Set to open by the end of March 2024, The Nintendo Museum (ニンテンドーミュージアム) in Kyoto is an exciting development for gamers and enthusiasts.

This museum is a renovation of the former Uji Ogura Plant of Nintendo, transforming it into a space where visitors can explore and experience Nintendo’s extensive history of products. In October 2023, Nintendo’s official Instagram unveiled the museum’s logo and a building featuring a ‘Question Block’ on the rooftop, signaling its progress towards completion.

As of now, only the official name, logo, and rooftop design have been revealed, making this museum one of the most anticipated openings of 2024 for gaming fans.

3. Nintendo KYOTO

Nintendo Kyoto
© Nintendo

Opened on October 17, 2023, Nintendo KYOTO is the brand’s third official store, located in the Kyoto Takashimaya Shopping Center.

It offers a wide range of merchandise from iconic games like “Super Mario” and “The Legend of Zelda,” featuring over 1500 items including toys, apparel, and snacks. The store is easily identifiable by a giant Super Mario statue and also houses exclusive “Nintendo KYOTO Series” products. Visitors can enjoy a memorable photo opportunity with a Mario statue on the rooftop, making it an exciting destination for fans and collectors of Nintendo merchandise.

4. Takashi Murakami Mononoke Kyoto

Takashi Murakami Mononoke Kyoto
©2023 Takashi Murakami/KaiKai Kiki Co., Ltd.

Takashi Murakami Mononoke Kyoto (「村上隆 もののけ 京都」京都市京セラ美術館)

The Takashi Murakami Mononoke Kyoto (「村上隆 もののけ 京都」京都市京セラ美術館) exhibition, celebrating the 90th anniversary of the Kyoto City Kyocera Museum, showcases the contemporary artist Takashi Murakami’s first major solo exhibition in Japan in about 8 years.

Running from February 3 to September 1, 2024, at the museum’s Higashiyama Cube, this exhibition features special versions of Murakami’s works inspired by Japanese art, such as “Kawaii Summer Vacation (Golden Kingdom’s Summer Vacation)” and the “Korin” series, along with new pieces referencing Kyoto and its history.

Takashi Murakami is a prominent contemporary artist known for challenging Western-centric art norms by incorporating elements of manga, anime, and popular culture into his work, thus redefining the value and meaning of art.

5. Nijojo Castle

Nijojo CastleNijo Castle (二条城), a historic site reflecting Japan’s rich feudal history, was once the residence of the Tokugawa Shogunate. Today, it’s a popular destination for its architectural beauty and cultural significance.

The castle grounds host various events throughout the year, organized by NAKED Inc., including the “Nijo Castle Cherry Blossom Light-Up“, “Nijo Castle Summer Festival”, and “Flowers of Autumn”. These events beautifully blend modern digital art with traditional settings.

Additionally, more conventional activities like tea ceremonies and yoga lessons are offered in the serene Castle garden, providing visitors with a unique blend of contemporary and traditional Japanese experiences.

▽Check out more about Nijo Castle events▽

▶Nijo Castle Cherry Blossom Light-Up by NAKED

6. VS PARK Aeon Mall Kyoto

VS PARK Aeon Mall Kyoto
©Bandai Namco Amusement Inc.

Opened on December 14, 2023, VS PARK Aeon Mall Kyoto (VS PARK イオンモールKYOTO店) offers an indoor entertainment venue where visitors can experience the thrill of participating in a variety of TV-style variety sports games.

Featuring over 24 unique and exciting activities, such as a short-distance run to escape a virtual ferocious beast and the obstacle-dodging ‘Jump×Jump’, this facility brings together an array of extreme sports for endless fun. It’s perfect for friends, families, or couples looking to spend a special day full of laughter and energy.

Conveniently located just a 5-minute walk from the Kyoto Hachijo exit of JR, Kintetsu, and Subway Kyoto Station, it’s an ideal spot for those visiting Kyoto to enjoy an unforgettable experience.

7. The Cubist Revolution – An Exhibition from the Collection of the Centre Pompidou, Paris

The Cubist Revolution
© Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI/Georges Meguerditchian/Dist. RMN-GP Copyright © Nikkei Inc.

The Cubist Revolution – An Exhibition from the Collection of the Centre Pompidou, Paris (「パリ ポンピドゥーセンター キュビスム展─美の革命 ピカソ、ブラックからドローネー、シャガールへ」), taking place at the Kyoto City Kyocera Museum from March 20 to July 7, 2024, is a significant exhibition introducing Cubism in Japan for the first time in about 50 years.

Showcasing around 130 works, including over 50 pieces never before seen in Japan, this exhibition features key pieces from Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, and others from the Centre Pompidou’s collection. Cubism, initiated by Picasso and Braque in the early 20th century, revolutionized art by moving away from traditional perspective and shadow techniques, using geometric, flattened shapes instead. This groundbreaking approach freed painters from the Renaissance notion that art should replicate reality, profoundly influencing the course of modern art.

8. Exclusive “Year of the Dragon” merch and events at Temples and Shrines

Kiyomizudera Temple Dragon

In 2024, the Year of the Dragon in the Japanese zodiac, Kyoto’s temples and shrines will offer exclusive “Year of the Dragon” merchandise and events, celebrating the only mythical creature in the zodiac, revered for its auspicious symbolism of ascension to the heavens. Key sites include:

Kiyomizu Temple (清水寺), where the dragon is believed to be an incarnation of the Goddess of Mercy, visits Otowa Waterfall nightly.

Tenryuji Temple (天龍寺), a World Heritage site, known for its “Cloud Dragon” painting in the Hatto (Dharma Hall) and the seasonal beauty of its Sogen Pond Garden.

Yasaka Shrine (八坂神社), home to the legendary pond believed to house a blue dragon, symbolizing the shrine’s deep connection with Kyoto’s eastern guardianship.

Visitors can collect special commemorative stamps and fortune slips during their visits, making the Year of the Dragon an exceptional time to experience the spiritual and cultural richness of Kyoto.

9. Hidden Gems in Kyoto

Hidden gems in Kyoto

Other than the things listed in this article, Kyoto hides some captivating treasures for tourists to explore.

Nanzenji Temple (南禅寺), renowned for its historic brick aqueduct, is a must-visit for its unique blend of traditional Japanese architecture and Meiji Period engineering. The aqueduct, with its gracefully arched footings and red bricks, complements the temple’s serene scenery. This temple, a prominent Zen Buddhist site, offers a peaceful retreat amidst lush gardens and striking mountain views, making it an ideal destination for visitors seeking a blend of historical significance and natural beauty in Kyoto.

Rurikoin Temple (瑠璃光院), nestled in northeast Kyoto, is a hidden gem renowned for its spectacular autumn foliage. The temple’s garden, a stunning showcase of seasonal beauty, is mirrored exquisitely on the smooth, expansive tables within its rooms, creating a mesmerizing effect. Open exclusively during spring and autumn, Rurikoin offers a serene and intimate experience of Japan’s natural splendor.

Shogun Mound (将軍塚), part of the Seiryukan Temple complex, offers an extraordinary observatory deck with panoramic views of Kyoto and Osaka. This location gained attention for its glass teahouse, adding a modern touch to the historic site. It’s an ideal spot for visitors looking to experience a unique blend of traditional Japanese culture and contemporary architecture.

▽Check out more hidden gems in Kyoto▽

▶Best Hidden Gems in Kyoto

10. Check out the Seasonal Events in Kyoto

Kyoto Seasonal events

As you may already know, Japan in general has four seasons and you can have a completely different experience depending on which season you decide to visit. This is especially true in the case of Kyoto.

Kyoto is mostly popular to visit in Autumn for its colorful Autumn leaves. There are so many popular spots across Kyoto where you can not only enjoy these sceneries during the daytime but also in the night when they are illuminated.

Another popular time to visit Kyoto is during Spring for its Cherry blossoms. The collaboration between Cherry blossoms and Kyoto’s traditional city esthetics makes it a popular location to visit.

Summer is when outdoor activities become more prominent such as festivals. It is also famous for the extensions that many restaurants and cafes open near the Kamogawa River.

And Winter is when various illuminations can be enjoyed. Winter is also when the hot food is especially delicious!

Regardless of when you visit, there’s always something happening in Kyoto. For a deeper insight into seasonal activities, exploring further articles on Kyoto’s events is recommended.

Spring

▶Best Places to See Cherry Blossoms in Kyoto

▶Best Things to Do in Kyoto in Spring

Summer

▶Best Things to Do in Kyoto in Summer

▶5 Nice Viewing Restaurants and Cafes on Kamogawa River

Autumn

▶Japan Autumn Leaves Forecast

▶Best Things to Do in Kyoto in Autumn

▶Best Autumn Leaves Spots in Kyoto

Winter

▶Best Things to Do in Kyoto in Winter

+ Go and explore Osaka

Osaka Dotonbori

As an extra point for you to do while visiting Kyoto in 2024, we also strongly recommend that you have a quick visit to Osaka if you have the time. Osaka is just a 30-minute train ride away from Kyoto and has so much to offer!

Just like the case of Kyoto, Osaka also has many exciting new things opening in 2024.

Opening in Spring 2024, Donkey Kong Country at Universal Studios Japan immerses visitors in the lush, vibrant world of Donkey Kong. This jungle-themed area features a thrilling minecart ride, interactive play experiences, and a variety of Donkey Kong-inspired food and merchandise, promising an adventurous and playful experience for all ages.

TeamLab Botanical Garden Osaka, set in Nagai Park, is a unique open-air attraction that blends nature with digital art. As TeamLab’s first permanent outdoor museum, it offers a distinctive experience where technology harmoniously coexists with the natural environment.

KITTE Osaka (Opening in July 2024), located in the JP Tower Osaka, sets itself apart as a food haven. Over half of its 100+ tenants are dining establishments, capturing the essence of Osaka’s gourmet culture. KITTE Osaka is designed to be a hub for discovering and appreciating Japanese life, offering experiences that spark curiosity and inspire visits, while also promoting local attractions and culture.

▽Check out more about things to do in Osaka 2024 ▽

▶Best Things to Do in Osaka 2024


You can also check out our list of the best things to do in Kyoto 2023!

▶Best Things to Do in Kyoto 2023

Also, check out the list of things to do in 2024 in the other main cities in Japan!

▶Best Things to Do in Tokyo 2024

▶Best Things to Do in Osaka 2024

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