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Sightseeing Walking Tours

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Our most recommended Kyoto Sightseeing Walking Tours

Night Walk in Gion: Kyoto's Geisha District

1. Night Walk in Gion: Kyoto's Geisha District

Experience one of the most popular walking tours in Kyoto, joined by nearly 5,000 guests annually. This 100-minute guided walk is led by a licensed English-speaking guide and takes you through nighttime Gion. The tour begins at Gion Omoide Museum, connected to a traditional pastry shop. Walk down the classic cobblestoned streets next to the Shirakawa River, and admire the scenery that was featured in the book and film, Memoirs of a Geisha. As you walk beside this beautiful stream, the guide will tell you about the history of geisha and give you a detailed explanation in regards to their kimono, hairstyle, traditional rules, and what their daily life is like. Although it is not guaranteed, during the walking tour guests often encounter geisha walking along the street.

Kyoto: Japanese Gardens Private Customizable Tour

2. Kyoto: Japanese Gardens Private Customizable Tour

Explore the many gardens of Kyoto on this customizable tour with a private guide. Let the guide know what special requests you have for the day and they will tailor your itinerary accordingly.  Visit various styled gardens and experience traditional Japanese spirits which are represented in plants, rocks, and the entire design. Relax at both, artistic landscape gardens with seasonal plants and dry landscape gardens at Zen temples. Learn about the meaning and the history of the gardens from your knowledgeable guide. Most popular places to visit for this tour: Arashiyama Bamboo Forest Kinkakuji Temple Ginkakuji Temple Ryoanji Temple Honen-in Nanzenji Temple Tofuku-ji Temple Kyoto Imperial Palace Shugakuin Imperial Villa Daitoku-ji Temple Kokedera Suzumusidera Katsura Imperial Villa Kyoto Botanical Garden

Kyoto: All-Inclusive 3-Hour Food and Culture Tour in Gion

3. Kyoto: All-Inclusive 3-Hour Food and Culture Tour in Gion

Explore the Gion district by night with an experienced English, German, French, or Spanish-speaking tour guide who knows everything there is to know about the area. The tour starts near Kamo river, where you’ll learn about how the tradition of Geishas came to be. After a short stroll along a busy commercial street, you’ll slip into a calm, quiet area to visit the Yasaka Jinja shrine. After that touch of education, it’s off to the Gion.   The Gion has secrets and history scattered across its narrow streets, but this is also a modern entertainment district—so it’s time for a deep dive into what goes on here. Your guide will keep it light and fun, and explain some of the more interesting cultural mores of these parts. Step into a restaurant and graze from a multitude of small plates at a sort of Japanese-style tapas experience. Enjoy a drink as well before continuing on.   Between restaurant stops, there will be an exploration of Kiyamachi, Ponto-cho, and some other commercial and nightlife streets. Your guide will show you both modern and historical Kyoto, painting a well-rounded picture that gives you a real sense of the place. This tour keeps the groups small and includes your food and drinks, so that you can have a carefree night like you’re simply hanging out with someone who knows the neighborhood. A delicious Kobe (or nearby sourced) Beef option is available on top of the usual food and drink. This option is for bookings at least 10 hours in advance.

Kyoto: Nijo-jo Castle Guided Walking Tour

4. Kyoto: Nijo-jo Castle Guided Walking Tour

Explore Niji-jo Castle with a licensed and experienced multilingual guide, who will introduce you to sides of Japan that ordinary tourists do not usually get to discover. Learn why this monument's feudal-era castle architecture is so significant in terms of history, culture, and art history. Hear all about the 400-year old castle and UNESCO World Heritage Site, and its significance in the history of Japan.

Kyoto: Family Friendly Personalized Tour

5. Kyoto: Family Friendly Personalized Tour

Get to know your local host who can give you advice and recommendations for things to see and do with your family. You'll be paired with guides that are passionate about the place they call home and who choose to spend their free time sharing it with like-minded travelers matched to them. They will also suggest family-friendly restaurants where the locals eat that serve the kind of food you all like. Explore the temples, gardens, and places in Kyoto that make the perfect backdrop for your family day out. Visit world famous attractions where your kids can learn and explore, parks to run off any extra energy, and interactive exhibits at the Railway Museum to get hands-on. Explore the unique and exciting aspects of Kyoto’s magical culture. Explore the Kiyomizu-dera Temple, which is a great temple for children and adults. You can also visit Tainai-Meguri if none of your party are claustrophobic or afraid of the dark. Jishu-jinja and Otowa-no-taki Spring are other temples you can explore. The Sannen-Zaka and Ninen-Zaka preserved neighborhoods are beautiful lanes lined with restaurants, teahouses, and souvenir stores which the kids will also enjoy. At Maruyama-koen Park you can see some of the famous Kyoto rickshaw pullers and the carp and turtles in the pond. Shoren-in Temple is one of the most popular temples in Kyoto and has a beautiful garden that the kids can explore with a bamboo forest.  Head to downtown Kyoto for lunch where you will be surrounded by restaurants. Your host will recommend a place that is to your taste. Kyoto Railway Museum is a great museum for the kids to explore. Nishiki Market is Kyoto’s best food market and it is fun to check out all the mysterious items on offer.

Kyoto: Arashiyama Bamboo Forest Walking Food Tour

6. Kyoto: Arashiyama Bamboo Forest Walking Food Tour

Start the tour from the JR Saga Arashiyama station. The Arashiyama district, located west of the Kyoto city center, has long been a scenic leisure spot. Many ancient aristocrats had their villas here 1000 years ago and enjoyed writing literature and poetry. Today, the area is one of the most popular tourist sites in Kyoto.  First, explore the Bamboo Forest and quiet Sagano District, a peaceful neighborhood known for its beautiful maple trees. Then, visit Tenryu-ji temple which was built in 1339 by the Shogun Ashikaga in memory of the Emperor Go-Daigo and was a complex of more than 100 buildings. They were mostly destroyed by fires and civil wars over the years, but the traditional garden remains in its original form, designed by the monk Muso. Enjoy walking in the landscaped garden. After walking, taste Japanese croquette, leek pancakes, and sweet potato. Then, head over to the Togetsukyo bridge which, as the area’s landmark, dates back to the 9th-century and provides a good photo taking spot for visitors today. At the end of this half-day tour, have a nice sweets. If you like, you can enjoy shopping around after the tour because the this tour finished in a district where you can find many souvenirs.

Welcome to Kyoto: Private Walking Tour with a Local

7. Welcome to Kyoto: Private Walking Tour with a Local

Transform the way you travel and make it as much about the people you meet as the places you see. Get a welcome to Kyoto from a local host eager to share all the tips and tricks to help you make the most of your stay. Meet at your hotel or accommodation and get familiar with your local neighborhood. Learn about the best places to eat, buy groceries and the easiest ways to get around. Alternatively, arrange to meet at a central landmark or intersection to start your walking tour. Hear about the top things to do, customized to your interests. By the end of the tour, you will feel more comfortable navigating the city on your own with all the information you need.

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.

Kyoto Nishiki Market Food Tour

9. Kyoto Nishiki Market Food Tour

Your experience will include stops at family owned stalls and shops which have stood the test of time. At a few of the stops sample specialty products like tsukemono (vegetables from the surrounding mountains preserved in vinegar), yuuba (the world’s smoothest sashimi tofu made from the world famous Kyoto mountain water), Kamaboko (seafood preserved in fish paste), Tako (Octopus with quail egg) and Macha Warabi Mochi (a special traditional sweet covered in ground tea leaves). During the tour learn detailed information about the ingredients of different Japanese dishes, how their food is prepared and what is used to eat it. Your experience will do more than just give you a chance to taste Kyoto’s delicious food but will also give you a sense the history and atmosphere of the Nishiki Market experienced by the Japanese for generations. You will be consumed with physical and visual stimuli every step of the way and enjoy stories from the past told directly from shopkeepers and families you will spend time with. After your market exploration walk to a nearby restaurant and have a course lunch featuring beautiful and delicious local dishes.

Kyoto Hike and Hot Springs Visit

10. Kyoto Hike and Hot Springs Visit

Discover the rural charm that’s just a short train ride away from Kyoto city. Experience the beauty of nature and see ancient religious sites in Kurama and Kibune. On this 6-hour program you’ll meet in Kyoto and board a train for Kibune village, a place well-known for its lovely riverside and peaceful atmosphere. You’ll also find the exquisite Kibune Shrine, where red lanterns have been placed along an old stairway. Drink the fresh water that flows from the hills and say a prayer for good relationships. After a short visit, you’ll head for the hiking course. Climbing the steps to the top requires a moderate level of fitness, but the peak can be reached within 30-40 minutes. You’re sure to make plenty of stops along the way to enjoy the stunning scenery as well as some features unique to this trail. When you reach the top of the mountain, you’ll visit the Kurama Temple. From the temple you’ll have amazing views of the valley below. Relax after your climb and enjoy the fresh mountain air. As you head back down the steps from the temple, you’ll make your way to the little town of Kurama for lunch followed by a trip to an outdoor bath. The bath, known as an onsen is rich in minerals that will energize your body and soul. With views of the tranquil countryside this is one of the best outdoor bathing experience in West Japan. After a relaxing bath it will be time to hop on the train and head back to Kyoto city, feeling refreshed and energized.

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Other Sightseeing Options in Kyoto

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What people are saying about Kyoto

Overall rating

4.7 / 5

based on 1,244 reviews

An excellent value for money and in-depth walking tour that allows one to truly delve into the depths of Kyotian culture, (especially the Geisha of course.) Without this tour, I would have not been able to truly "sense" the beat of Kyoto's heart. It was only with our guide's knowledge that I was able to even scratch the surface to appreciating this beautiful, vibrant city and its History.

A well thought out tour around some beautiful parts of Gion that tied in very well with the history our guide shared with us. Ayu-san has excellent English and was able to answer a variety of questions very well. The tour was well paced and not overly taxing. A few stairs to climb around the temple, but no steep hills to navigate.

The local Tour was amazing! Really made me feel like a local. An impossible task but one he really tried to accomplish. Helped me understand how Kyoto works from the ground up. Great experience and a great visit!!

Loving it...it was a very well organized and informative tour. Our tour guide Ayu was very knowledgeable and patient to answer all of our questions.

A very interesting and informative tour. The guide was very knowledgeable.