1 Day Kyoto Itinerary, Japan (2024 GUIDE)


This 1 Day Kyoto Itinerary is the perfect guide for first-timers visiting the cultural capital of Japan.

From ancient temples and shrines to shopping streets and nourishing restaurants, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

There are so many things to do in Kyoto that you could quite literally spend weeks exploring this magnificent city.

But don’t worry – if you only have a short time frame to visit, seeing the top Kyoto attractions in one day is totally possible.

In this 1-day itinerary for Kyoto, I have included a complete list of the top places to see as well as some useful information on how to get around, where to stay in Kyoto, and a map of the city.

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To get the most out of your Kyoto 1 Day Itinerary, see below for a list of must-see attractions that I have included in this post:

  • Kinkaku-ji Temple
  • Ryoan-ji Temple
  • Arashiyama Bamboo Forest 
  • Fushimi Inari (Tori Gates)
  • Maiko Theatre (Geisha Girl Performance)
  • Kiyomizu-dera Temple
  • Gion
kyoto itinerary


For the first stop on your 1 day Kyoto itinerary, I highly suggest paying a visit to Kinkaku-ji Temple in Kyoto’s northwest, where you’ll find the famous Golden Pavilion, located on a small lake in the middle of a serene garden.

The building dates back to 1397, and was once the holiday retreat villa for a prominent Japanese Shogun!

You can expect to spend about an hour exploring the temple and its surrounding gardens.


To reach Kinkaku-ji Temple on your Kyoto day trip itinerary, you can take the Kyoto City Bus 205 from Kyoto Station to Kinkakuji-michi bus stop, or Kyoto City Bus 59 from Sanjo-Keihan to the Kinkakuji-mae stop, or taxi directly to Kinkaku-ji Temple.

→ Click here for the pin location on Google Maps


The entrance fee to visit Kinkakuji Temple is 400¥.

Opening hours are Monday to Sunday from 9 am – 5 pm.

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Kinkaku-ji Temple – Kyoto Itinerary 1 Day

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Ryoan-ji Temple is the site of Japan’s most famous rock garden, attracting hundreds of visitors every day.

Meditating with the view of this immaculately well-kept Cultural World Heritage site is the next best place to visit on your 1 day Kyoto itinerary!


From Kinkaku-ji Temple, it’s a 20-minute walk or a 5-minute bus ride to reach Ryoan-ji Temple.

→ Click here for the pin location on Google Maps


The entrance fee to enter Ryoanji Temple is 500¥.

Opening hours are Monday to Sunday from 8 am – 5 pm – Plenty of time to visit on a day in Kyoto.

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Ryoan-ji Temple – 1 Day Itinerary In Kyoto


Next up on this itinerary is the world-famous Arashiyama Bamboo Forest. A trip to Kyoto wouldn’t be complete without having visited Arashiyama!

Kyoto’s bamboo forest is one of the most photographed attractions in the city and experiencing it through your own eyes is even better than any picture you would have seen of this place!

There is one main path leading through the Kyoto bamboo grove and when you enter the parallel tunnel of bamboo trees, you’ll feel like you’ve just entered another realm.

You will also notice the temperature drop when you are wandering through Arashiyama Bamboo Grove as the canopy above almost completely cuts out the sun.

The nature that surrounds Arashiyama is absolutely breathtaking and chances are you’ll spot a few monkeys in the area too, so keep your eye peeled.

A personal recommendation – make sure to come just after sunrise as photos will look even more stunning and you’ll avoid the group tours.

Talking about group tours, in case you don’t feel comfortable visiting by yourself, I recommend taking this early bird tour to Arashiyama Bamboo Grove. Many people prepare their 1 day Kyoto itinerary from Osaka only for that!


Kyoto Early Bird Tour

A must-do when visiting Kyoto is joining a Kyoto Early Bird Tour!

It includes a professional guide, a tour of the Bamboo Forest and other spots, and the Kinkakuji Temple!


The Bamboo Forest in Kyoto is located in Arashiyama, northwest of the city center.

Find your way to Saga Arashiyama Station on the JR Sagano line using the JR Pass and it’s a short 10-minute walk from here.

→ Click here for the pin location on Google Maps


The Arashiyama Bamboo Forest entrance fee is FREE, which is another great reason to visit on your one day in Kyoto itinerary.

Opening hours are Monday to Sunday from 5:30 am – 11:30 pm, and that is so convenient if you plan a day trip to Kyoto from Osaka.

BOOK NOW: Arashiyama Bamboo Forest Tour
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Arashiyama Bamboo Grove – Kyoto things to do

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Continue the adventure on your one day Kyoto itinerary by journeying through the world-famous Tori gates of Fushimi Inari.

This must-see shrine consists of a pathway lined with over 10,000 Tori gates that extends 4km up to the very top of Mount Inari.

It takes around two hours to walk to the very top and back down again, however, you can turn back at any time you want!

Along the pathway, you will also see many stone foxes, symbolizing the messenger of Inari – the god of rice… and business!

The Fushimi Inari Shrine is also known for its beautiful architecture and gardens, making it an ideal spot for photographers looking to capture some amazing shots and it’s a great idea for what to do in Kyoto in 1 day.


Take the JR Nara Line from Kyoto Railway Station using the JR Pass and ride it two stops to JR Inari Station.

→ Click here for the pin location on Google Maps


The Fushimi Inari Shrine is FREE to enter and it’s open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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Fushimi Inari Shrine – Kyoto in a day


One of the most exclusive experiences to add to your Kyoto 1 day itinerary is meeting a traditional Geisha performer.

Geisha are highly skilled entertainers who appear at high-end dinners, private parties, and special events to add a special touch to the proceedings, and are rarely seen in public.

Many foreigners tend to run around the red light district areas to try to get a glimpse of a Geisha girl or pay large sums of money to have a private performance.

Luckily, for travelers on a budget, there are some cheap options to get a taste of what a Geisha show is like!

I personally recommend the Maiko Theatre. While training to become Geisha between the ages of 15 and 20, these girls are known as ‘Maiko’, and this theatre gives you the rare opportunity to get to see one of them close up!


Take the bus from Kyoto Station to Kawaramachi Gojo bus stop, then walk for 2 minutes, or 3 minutes walk east from Keihan Shimizu Gojo station (exit 4).

→ Click here for the pin location on Google Maps


It is relatively inexpensive at 3300¥ for their basic show, including a special dance and Q&A session, and you can take as many photos of (and with) her as you like!

Opening hours are Monday to Sunday from 10 am – 7 pm.

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Traditional Geisha girl in Kyoto
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Maiko performance – Kyoto Itinerary 1 Day

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Next on this itinerary for Kyoto is a visit to the Kiyomizu-dera (Water) Temple.

The walk leading up to the temple is almost as exciting as the temple visit itself, with a multitude of traditional buildings, shops, and restaurants.

Kiyomizu-dera is built into the side of the mountain, and from the huge verandah, you can see spectacular views of the hillside and the entire city.

Below the Kiyomizu-dera temple, you can find the reason why people make pilgrimages here from around Japan and the world – the Otowa Waterfall, a must-see on a Kyoto 1 day itinerary.

The waters are divided into three streams, and visitors use long poles with cups attached to drink from the streams.

Each stream has a different meaning and benefit – long life and health, success in school/career, and love. However, you can only drink from one… so choose carefully!


Make your way to Kiyomizu-michi street and follow it uphill until you reach the popular Kiyomizu-dera (Water) Temple.

→ Click here for the pin location on Google Maps


The Kiyomizu-dera Temple entrance fee is 300¥.

This Kyoto tourist spot is open daily from 6 am to 6 pm, and that’s plenty of time to include it with other spots what to see in Kyoto for the day.

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Kiyomizu-dera – 1 Day Itinerary In Kyoto
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View of Kyoto City from Kiyomizu-dera


Last but not least on this Kyoto day itinerary is Gion, a must-do when taking a Kyoto day trip from Osaka or Tokyo.

From Kiyomizu-dera, you can meander down the iconic Sannen-zaka alleyway, a historical, stone-paved street lined with many traditional Japanese buildings, shops, cafes, and inns.

Sannen-zaka is also surrounded by several famous landmarks such as Yasaka Shrine, Maruyama Park, Yasaka-no-to Pagoda, and Kodaiji Zen Temple.

→ Click here for the pin location on Google Maps

Once you reach the bottom of the hill, you’ve basically arrived at Gion, home to various red-light districts where you might be lucky enough to spot a Geisha! My favorite is Hanamikoji Street.

I recommend timing your arrival here for around 5:30 pm, as this is when the Geishas start leaving their homes to go to work (…and avoid the paparazzi of foreigners while doing so!)

Be careful though, you can be fined for taking photos of them, as it is considered highly disrespectful.

Put the cameras down for this one, and enjoy the chance to see one in the moment!


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Sannen-zaka alleyway – See Kyoto in one day
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The streets of Gion


There are thousands of accommodations to stay on a Kyoto 1 day trip, so I have narrowed it down to a few of the best places to stay to suit the needs of luxury travelers, budget backpackers, and everyone in between.

See the list of accommodations that I personally recommend for your Kyoto 1 day itinerary.








If you’re looking for an authentic experience to add to your 1 day in Kyoto itinerary, I highly recommend staying at a traditional Ryokan (Japanese-style inn) during your stay.

My personal favorite is Kyoto Ryokan Kinoe which is conveniently located in central Kyoto just 5 minutes walk from Gion.

This cozy Ryokan offers spacious tatami mat rooms, 24-hour baths, and multi-course meals served for breakfast and dinner.

Staying here will make you feel like you’re a traveler back in Edo-era Japan, and it’s a great base for a Kyoto 1 day itinerary!



Didn’t find the perfect accommodation to suit your needs above?

Use the interactive map below to search all the available hotels for your Kyoto day tour itinerary. Simply enter your dates of stay and hit the search button!



If you have more than one day in Kyoto, be sure to check out my Kyoto travel guide which includes 25 AMAZING things to do in Kyoto!

Read More: Kyoto Travel Guide – 25 AMAZING Things To Do


The best day trips from Kyoto are to Nara and/or Osaka.


Nara was once the ancient capital of Japan and plays home to some of the country’s most important cultural places, including the world’s largest wooden structure.

Some of the best things to see in Nara on a day trip from Kyoto are the famous Todai-ji Temple which houses the world’s largest Daibutsu (bronze Buddha statue) and a visit to the Nara Deer Park where it’s said that when you bow to the deer, they will bow back!

BOOK NOW: Nara Day Trip From Kyoto
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Todai-ji Temple in Nara – What to do in Kyoto
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Nara Deer Park – Kyoto Itinerary 1 Day


Osaka is the 3rd largest city in Japan and is most popular for its modern architecture, historical castles, buzzing nightlife, and sensory-overload shopping malls.

The top attractions to visit in Osaka on a day trip from Kyoto are the Dotonbori and Shinsaibashi shopping malls, Osaka Castle, Amerika-mura (America Town), and Universal Studios Japan.

Even if you have limited time on your Kyoto one day itinerary, I highly recommend going to Osaka for the day or half day.

Alternatively, you can see the city first and then proceed from Osaka to Kyoto on your Japan holiday.

VIEW ALL: Osaka Tours
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Osaka Castle – Kyoto itinerary 1 day
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Dotonbori Osaka – 1 day itinerary Kyoto


For first-timers planning a one day trip to Kyoto, here are some useful travel tips to know before you go.


While pretty much all areas of Kyoto are good to stay in, Central Kyoto is the most convenient. And since it’s near the main train station, you can even organize a day trip to Kyoto from Tokyo.

This puts you right at the center of all the main attractions in Kyoto, making it easier and less time-consuming to explore around.

From Kiyomizu-dera Temple and Fushimi Inari to Ginkaku-ji and Nijo Castle, most of the major landmarks are located within Central Kyoto, so there’s no need to walk for hours or take a taxi or a bike.

Staying centrally also allows for easy access to popular restaurants, shopping areas, and more, basically providing an optimal base for a few days.

Also, if you plan a Kyoto day trip from Tokyo, you can easily get around town and come back later or the day after to the train station.

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Kyoto receives 87 million tourists per year on average, so visiting the tourist spots in Kyoto early is a great way to avoid crowds and walk around peacefully.

The popular things to do in Kyoto and all the major attractions are packed with tourists, so it’s wise to go early in the morning when the lines are shorter.

Plus, you’ll benefit from cooler temperatures, which is a plus in the summertime.


To see the cherry blossoms in Kyoto, consider coming in early April when you can really experience the city in full bloom.

The cherry blossom starts in late March but the peak comes in April, and this is precisely where you can see the city as beautiful as ever.


When it comes to Japan, one thing to keep in mind is that tipping is seen as rude and, therefore, it’s better not to tip. In fact, it could even be seen as an insult by the locals.

Instead of tipping, show a sign of appreciation either verbally or with a bow to express gratitude for the service provided. This applies to restaurants and ryokans too.

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Getting travel insurance should be an essential consideration when traveling in Japan. Unfortunately, accidents can happen, and it’s always best to be prepared for the worst.

Additionally, make sure you commit only to reputable companies and read the fine print carefully!

I personally use Heymondo and am very happy with their policy, coverage, and customer service. Check them out here below when planning a day trip in Kyoto.

Have you got travel insurance for your trip?!

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When you arrive in Kyoto Japan, you’re going to want to get online, and purchasing a sim card is very simple. You can do this at the airport on arrival at one of the retail stores.

Alternatively, I recommend purchasing an eSIM in advance with pre-loaded mobile data so you can get online as soon as you land and stay connected on your trip.

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Click here or on the image below for an interactive map of Kyoto.

kyoto map


When planning a one day trip Kyoto, here is a list of items I highly recommend bringing with you:

Must-Have Travel Essentials

Hidden Money Wallet

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Reusable Water Bottle

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Most Japanese people can speak English, so if you are ever lost or need help with something you will be able to converse in English.

Also, all the signs at the airports, train stations, shopping malls, etc. are written in both Japanese and English.


The currency in Japan is Yen (¥) and the exchange rate is approximately $1 USD = 130 ¥.

There are plenty of ATMs in Japan located in the majority of convenience stores, in front of banks, inside hotels, etc. where you can easily withdraw cash to have with you during your trip.

tokyo skytree


The easiest and most convenient way to discover Japan is with a Japan Rail Pass that is valid for use on the vast majority of railways and local buses operated by JR (Japan Rail) throughout the country.

Choose between an Ordinary Pass, or choose the Green Class Pass if you’re looking to travel in more comfort with reclining seats, a footrest, extra leg space, and a travel magazine.

The JR Pass includes the Shinkansen (bullet train), Limited Express, Local Trains, Monorail, JR Buses, and the Miyajima Ferry.

You could even take a Kyoto 1 day itinerary from Osaka if you’re planning to visit both.

The Japan Rail Pass is definitely the best ticket to have when planning your Japan itinerary, and you can then take the Tokyo to Kyoto bullet train!

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The best time to visit Japan depends on what you plan to do.

I personally prefer the spring and summer months in Japan (April – September) when temperatures are warm and the landscapes are vividly green.

However, visiting Japan in winter (December – March) is absolutely magical because the landscapes are completely covered in glistening white snow.

Visiting Japan in winter also means you have to opportunity to go skiing and snowboarding in Japan’s alpine regions.

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Japan is visa-free for travelers from over 65 countries and you can stay in Japan for up to 90 days on a tourist visa. 

Click Here to see the full list of nationalities that are eligible for the free 90-day tourist visa. 

You don’t need to apply online for this as you will be granted a 90-day tourist visa at the airport when you arrive.


More Japan Travel Guides


Click the button below to view all articles related to Japan!


After 7 eventful days exploring Japan, my short one day itinerary Kyoto by far exceeded my expectations!

With many fun activities to do and attractions to see, Kyoto is well worth adding to your Japan Itinerary. I guarantee you won’t regret taking a Kyoto one day trip!

If you have any questions at all about this 1 Day in Kyoto Itinerary, please leave me a comment below and I will get back to you as soon as I can.

For a quicker response, be sure to join Jonny Melon’s Travel Tribe on Facebook and post your questions or recommendations to our awesome community.

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Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or it’s your first trip overseas, here are some useful travel resources to help you kick-start your next adventure!


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Book buses, trains, and transfers online in advance.

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Need travel insurance for your next trip?


Hey friend, thanks for reading this guide!

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