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Kyoto Private tours

Our most recommended Kyoto Private tours

Kyoto: Private Tour with Local Licensed Guide

1. Kyoto: Private Tour with Local Licensed Guide

Discover Kyoto’s historical sites, favorite local spots, and hidden gems on a private walking tour with a nationally licensed guide. Choose from a 6 or 4-hour tour, whose itinerary can be customized to fit your interests. See both the modern and traditional sides of this dynamic and ancient city as well as some of the best sightseeing areas, restaurants, and shops. Visit places like the Fushimi Inari Shrine, famous for the Torii Gate Corridor. Explore the filming location for the film “Memoirs of a Geisha”, displaying a colorful crimson scenery with a mysterious atmosphere. Walk through the shrine’s corridors that were erected as a symbolic continuing gate from the current world to the world of the dead inhabited by the gods. Go to the Kinkaku-ji Temple (Temple of the Golden Pavilion), which was given its name from the golden color of its reliquary hall. Admire its simple yet bold structure that features beautiful mountain views in the background. Enter the ancient Kiyomizu-dera temple to get panoramic city views from its large veranda. Walk from the path from the temple to Gion, to find many Kyoto-esque shops filled with unique souvenirs. Grab a snack or enjoy a delicious dinner at one of the many fine restaurants in the Gion district. Your guide will give you dining recommendations that are sure to delight your palate.

Kyoto: 45-Minute Tea Ceremony Experience

2. Kyoto: 45-Minute Tea Ceremony Experience

You will take you place on the tatami, the traditional Japanese floor mat and be met by your English-speaking host, who is a licensed tea master from Urasenke, the biggest school of tea ceremony in Japan. Watch as the host carries out the ceremonial preparation of matcha, powdered green tea. Then, you will have the chance to make tea yourself, while the host informs you about the history and spiritual role of the tea ceremony and the effects each tea-making method has on its flavor. Afterwards, savor some traditional Japanese sweets Once the ceremony has come to a close, you will have the chance to take photos and see examples of kimonos and beautiful woven textiles made in the Nishijin district of Kyoto. If you'd like to wear a kimono during the experience, you can select it as an add-on during booking and take photos to remember the experience.

Kyoto: Arashiyama Customized Rickshaw Tour & Bamboo Forest

3. Kyoto: Arashiyama Customized Rickshaw Tour & Bamboo Forest

Your guide and chariot await at Kyoto’s iconic Togetsu-kyo bridge in Arashiyama, a nationally designated historic site and place of scenic beauty on Kyoto’s western fringe. Be amazed by the district’s main attraction, a towering grove of thick bamboo stalks with a pedestrian and rickshaw path cutting through it. Seeing its beauty, you’ll understand why the Japanese have a fond appreciation for nature. Admire the scenery, which is a blend of serene nature, tended gardens, and dazzling shrines, as your rickshaw driver pulls you up the mountain. Next you’ll see the beautiful Nonomiya Shrine, a Shinto site. If you’ve chosen the 45-minute tour, at this point you’ll end back at the starting point. But if you choose a longer tour, up to 3 hours and 10 minutes, you’ll continue through more of Arashiyama’s wealth of sites. Explore Rakushisya’s cottage, a rustic thatch-roof cottage that was once the home of one of Japan’s revered poets and haiku masters. Those continuing on will be pulled to spots not seen by many tourists. Explore more ancient temples, including Shinto shrines and the Buddhist Nison-in, as your guide whisks you through some amazing places before returning to Togetsu-kyo bridge. The Kyoto Arashiyama Tour is available in four different options: 45 minutes, 1 hour and 10 minutes, 2 hours and 10 minutes, and 3 hours and 10 minutes.

Kyoto: Private Customized Walking Tour with a Local

4. Kyoto: Private Customized Walking Tour with a Local

Explore your way with a private and customized walking tour to discover the highlights of Kyoto with your own local guide. See Kyoto Tower, Togetsu-kyō Bridge, Ginkaku-ji Temple, Nishiki Market, and more with an itinerary crafted to your personal interests. Depending on what sparks your interest, your guide will help you create an itinerary to see Kyoto's top attractions. Get insider tips on what to see and do, learn about the culture, and discover hidden gems along the way. Visit sacred sites like the shrine of Fushimi Inari Taisha or Kinkajuki Temple, explore the cultural Geisha district of Gion, or go off the beaten path in historic neighborhoods with the help of your guide. Walk the perfectly preserved streets of Higashiyama for a bird's-eye city view from Yasaka Pagoda, or amble eight minutes north to Gion, Kyoto’s famous lantern-lit geisha district and nightlife hub. Along the way, choose to sample street food at centuries-old Nishiki Market or head one mile west for green tea and pastel-colored wagashi confections in Sanjo-dori Shopping Street, a foodie’s paradise (food costs not included). If you're an outdoor enthusiast, take in a sunset view from Kurama, a natural hot spring area nestled in pine-tree-blanketed mountains reachable by a 30-minute train ride. Whatever you choose to do, your guide will help you get the most out of your visit.

Kyoto: Lanes and Lanterns Night Time Discovery Tour

5. Kyoto: Lanes and Lanterns Night Time Discovery Tour

Immerse yourself in the drama of Kyoto at night and walk the lantern-lit wooden streets. Get a feel for the nightlife scene with the help of a local guide. Go to the Minamiza Theatre in the famous Geisha district of Gion and keep a look out for the geiko and maiko. Escape the crowds and venture through the backstreets to arrive at Yasaka Shrine. Marvel as it is brought to life by the bright lights and buzzing crowds. Continue to the north part of Gion to find narrow streets lined with smaller and more modern clubs and bars that contrast with the Old Town. Cross the Kamo River and get a sprawling view of the restaurant district before entering the entertainment district of Pontocho, lit by traditional Japanese lanterns. Go to the Teramachi arcade, where merchants sell everything from Manga comic books to statues of ancient gods and high-quality sushi knives. End with a visit to the Nishiki food market to check out a tachinomiya (stand-up only bar) popular with the locals.

Higashiyama | Kyoto: Sakura Season Private Rickshaw Tour

6. Higashiyama | Kyoto: Sakura Season Private Rickshaw Tour

Explore the traditional neighbourhood of Higashiyama from the comfort of a Rickshaw with a guide and see the famous cherry blossoms. Discover why it is the favourite season among the locals. Admire the well-preserved wooden townhouses and pass through the vibrant geisha district in the Gion area. See the cherry blossoms as they paint parts of the sky and cityscape pink. Travel back in time as your guide pulls you through the historic neighbourhood, filled with traditional buildings and shops. Meet your guide at the appointed meeting place. During the day, choose from the well-rounded 70 minutes to the 120-minute tour including a stop to walk amidst the cherry blossoms at the World Heritage Kiyomizu-Dera Temple.

Kyoto Cultural Walking Tour: Temples, Shrines & Gardens

7. Kyoto Cultural Walking Tour: Temples, Shrines & Gardens

See the temples, shrines and gardens that make Kyoto Japan’s capital of culture on this unique tour of the city. Founded as the national capital more than 1,200 years ago, Kyoto originally developed as a center of aristocratic culture and is most famous for its Zen gardens and Geisha traditions. On this Kyoto tour, you'll discover some of the magic of the city through cultural explorations and local experiences. First head to one of the city’s must-see sights, the Tofukuji Temple. Originally built in the 13th century, and famous for its traditional, yet modern, Zen garden, this is a great place to escape to a relaxed atmosphere in the city. Learn about the origin and inspiration for the garden, and what it means to the Monks who continue to live and study here. Next walk through a nice local residential neighborhood to the Fushimi Inari Shrine. Home to a seemingly endless stretch of iconic red torii gates spread across a thickly wooded mountain, this shrine is a world unto itself. Walk through snaking corridors of red gates, made famous in the film "Memoirs of Geisha", stopping to admire the shrines and many fox statues. Major photo opportunity alert! As the sun begins to set on the Toriis, leave behind the foxes and head to Gion, famously known as Kyoto’s Geisha district. This area was the model for Memoirs of Geisha, and it comes alive with people and lights in the evening. Stroll past the 17th-century traditional restaurants and teahouses, many of which are still exclusive establishments for Geisha entertainment, see the theaters and traditional shops, and soak up the atmosphere of this historic quarter. This iconic neighborhood makes for the ideal end to this Kyoto city tour, and is sure to leave you completely enthralled with this dynamic city.

Kyoto: Traditional Townhouse Tour, Kimono & Tea Ceremony

8. Kyoto: Traditional Townhouse Tour, Kimono & Tea Ceremony

Visit a traditional Japanese townhouse known as a machiya, and partake in a tea ceremony in traditional attire in Kyoto. First of all, after you arrive, a kimono made of authentic silk will be quickly fitted for you. Explore the machiya, built in the Meiji period. After that, discover three storehouses and the six tsuboniwa gardens where you can feel the flow of seasonal wind. Arrive at the tea ceremony room, Rakuju, and the detached tatami room where Noh plays were performed. Tea is an inseparable part of Japanese culture. Hear an explanation of the tea ceremony in the tea room and watch a tea ceremony performance. Feel as if you were transported back in time to the Meiji period and experience the spirit of Wabi-Sabi. Feel free to take as many pictures as you like during your stay and experience Japanese culture to the fullest.

From Osaka : Private Full-day Tour to Kyoto

9. From Osaka : Private Full-day Tour to Kyoto

Start the tour with pick up from central Osaka and travel to historic Kyoto. Over the course of the day, you'll be presented with a balanced view of this historic city and its surroundings. The Arashiyama district is the first stop, and it is here where you'll be introduced to Japanese garden and temple design. Tenryu-ji Temple has one of the most outstanding, timeless examples of Japanese gardens surrounding it's simple-but-majestic temple buildings. Then it's time for a walk up through the famous bamboo grove - a photo opportunity not to be missed - before arriving at the entrance to luxurious Okochi Sanso. Here you will try some matcha (Japanese green tea), before exploring the winding paths that connect the buildings, views, and garden areas. Afterwards, you'll enjoy a stroll alongside the river, then have free time for lunch and even a bit of shopping, if you wish. Next, enjoy the atmospheric streets of the Goin district, complete with a gurgling stream and rows of traditional tea house and restaurant buildings.  Not far from the Gion is Fushimi Inari-taisha, arguably the most famous Shinto shrine complex in the entire region. After having a look around you'll end your tour with a visit to the famous Torii gate.

Kyoto: Private 2.5 Hour Historical Walking Tour

10. Kyoto: Private 2.5 Hour Historical Walking Tour

Meet up in the west gate (red gate) of Yasaka Shrine. At first, the guide will tell you about the history of Kyoto with a map of Kyoto. Start the tour with the explanation about Yasaka shrine. In Yasaka shrine, the guide will explain how to worship at a shrine.  Next, going through Maruyama Park, located next to Yasaka Shrine, you will find a busy street whose name is Nene-no-michi. Nene is the wife of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, a political leader in Japan in the late 16th century. Entokuin is a temple associated with Nene. Entokuin is a Zen temple, with beautiful dry landscape gardens, famous pictures depicted on sliding doors of the rooms in the temple. You can see  traditional Japanese rooms. You can enjoy the serene atmosphere of the temple. After going out of the temple, you will find a narrow street called Ishibe-koji. Walking further, you will find red ornaments hung from the eaves of the  entrance of shops and restaurants. The ornaments are the dolls of monkey, a divine messenger of Koshindo. Koshindo is a place of folk religion, which originated in  Asian countries.   A five-storied pagoda, commonly called Yasaka-no-to(pagoda), is located close to Koshindo. You will see the pagoda from outside. Zuigudo is a sub-temple of Kiyomizu Temple. You will get into the basement floor of the temple which symbolizes the womb of Bodhisattva. Wooden balls symbolizing a rosary will lead you to the bottom of the temple. When you get out, you will feel as if you were reborn. The final destination, Kiyomizu temple is one of the most popular temples in Kyoto. It was originally built in the 8th century. The temple has five million visitors a year from all over the world. The main object of worship is Kannon Bodhisattva. You can see Buddhist statues, including Kannon Bodhisattva. There is a wooden stage attached to the main hall. The stage is a wooden structure without the use of nails. The scenery from the stage is magnificent. From the stage you can see a three storied pagoda. It is called Koyasu Pagoda, or lliterally  pagoda for easy birth.  Women visit the pagoda praying for easy birth. Kiyomiozu literally means "pure water". The stream of water, running down from the mountain behind the temple, has never been dried up.  A lot of visitors stand in line to drink the water. There are an iron stick and iron clogs in the precinct.. They are donated items to the temple. The iron stick is very heavy. Why don't you try to lift it up?  After getting out of the main hall, the tour ends. Before ending the tour, the guide will explain something about Jishu Shrine, a shrine for match making.

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Frequently asked questions about Kyoto

What top attractions are a must-see in Kyoto?

The must-see attractions in Kyoto are:

What are the best day trips and excursions from Kyoto?

The best day trips and excursions from Kyoto are:

Arashiyama

Other Sightseeing Options in Kyoto

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What people are saying about Kyoto

Overall rating

4.0 / 5

based on 1 reviews

This was an amazing experience! Our host was so kind and patient. Even though the ceremony should be quiet, she made sure to answer all of our questions. The ceremony itself is very beautiful, like a dance. There are moves and steps that must be taken and each one is significant. You get to practice a bit of the ceremony before starting, participate in the actual ceremony, blend your own matcha tea, and enjoy snacks and conversation with the host. The location is very close to the Golden Pavilion (Kinkakuji) so you should visit that site before or after the ceremony. If you go in the winter you can use the in-ground water heater for the tea ceremony! This was a really special and unique part of our trip where we could learn a lot about Japanese culture that originated in Kyoto. If you are thinking of doing a tea ceremony, you should do this one!

Keiko was an excellent tour guide who was very kind and so accommodating and flexible based on our changing needs and preferences. She had good historical knowledge and knew her way around kyoto like the back of her hand. We are so thankful to have had her take us around and see the beautiful sights of Kyoto!

My friend and I learnt a lot about Japanese tea culture; we also wore kimono. It was a nice experience overall and we met people from different parts of the world too!

Very nice experience. The instructor explained nicely. We got to learn a lot about matcha and tea ceremony.

The guides were excellent and super friendly. A great experience for both adults and kids!