Visiting Japan and heading to Kyoto but short on time? Then you’ll want to know what the absolute must do’s are for your one day in Kyoto Itinerary! Whether that entails strolling through the gorgeous Arashiyama Bamboo Grove or climbing the mountain trail filled with Orange Torii Gates to the famous Fushimi Inari Shrine, or gazing at a few Buddhist temples like Kinkaku-Ji and Ginkaku-Ji. Or maybe your kind of Kyoto Day Trip is filled with yummy food like the iconic Nishiki Market.
Whatever your vision of the perfect one day in Kyoto is, we are here to help you navigate a realistic Kyoto 1 day itinerary, so you can feel good about what you accomplished in a day and not too overwhelmed or burnt out because you tried to shove too many Kyoto attractions in one day.
This guide is all about the perfect one day in Kyoto Itinerary for new tourists that want to make the most of their short time in the beautiful city of Kyoto, without feeling too rushed.
Why Visit Kyoto, Japan?
Visiting Kyoto is hands down one of the best things you can do when touring through Japan. Full of gorgeous escapes in nature, stunning architectural wonders that have been carefully preserved through time, and chock full of traditional Japanese culture.
Exploring Kyoto city, was probably one of my favorite cities in Japan, easily top 2, next to Tokyo. There is just so much beauty to Kyoto that even with a few days there I still felt like I couldn’t get enough of it’s close connection to its historical past with its Unesco world heritage sites, Japanese food, and traditional Japanese buildings that look like they are from a history book.
The Perfect Day Trip In Kyoto Looks Like?
The perfect day trip in Kyoto is going to allow you to visit multiple spots without feeling overwhelmed with the constant switching between places and reliance on transportation.
Trust us, we can do both styles of travel and throughout the years. Our approach to travel has flipped between constantly between quality vs. quantity when it comes to knocking out our bucket list.
When it comes to Japan, we do stress slower paced travel because while Japan has an amazing transportation system between big cities. It’s still much slower in comparison when trying to certain hotspots via traditional public transport in Kyoto.
Which brings us back to stress that importance of narrowing down your Kyoto Bucketlist and choosing items that are close to each other, which will allow you to see more in less time.
Now let’s go over what you can accomplish in 1 day in Kyoto comfortably:
Arashiyama Bamboo Grove
One of the most popular tourist destinations in Japan is the stunning Bamboo forest that is located in Arashiyama Park. Walk through the scenic bamboo lined pathways and snap a few photos here, just be sure to be mindful of others.
If you head early enough you might be able to squeeze in seeing the Arashiyama Monkey park. However, it’s crucial you get up earlier than we recommend because this will extend your time in the area at the least by an additional 1.5 hours.
The gorgeous Golden Pavilion is one of the most iconic landmarks in Kyoto Japan and rightfully so. This stunning buddhist temple is a ways out from Arashiyama but well worth the additional time required to get there.
While Ginkaku-Ji means silver pavilion in japanese, it doesn’t actually have a whole lot of silver to look at. In reality this temple is brown and white with red accents. Instead it has beautiful silver sand beds that are perfectly raked with ripple like lines and complete with a small but peaceful zen garden.
Higashiyama District – Yasaka Shrine and Kiyomizu Dera Temple
The historic Higashiyama district is beautiful, and well known for its carefully preserved streets throughout the district.
It’s easily one of the most top photographed areas in Kyoto because of its numerous Unesco world heritage buildings that are scattered throughout.
If your goal is to mainly knock out the walk then it should be easily completed in about 40 minutes. However, there is a lot to do here from visiting Yasaka Shrine, Maruyama park, Kiyomizu dera temple, and stopping along at the shops and cafes that line the walkway. So we recommend taking a few hours to explore and get to know the area at a leisure pace.
Fushimi Inari-Taisha Shrine
The last stop on this Kyoto Itinerary is to visit the Fushimi Inari Shrine, along the way you’ll see beautiful orange torii gates leading up the mountain path as you make your way to the historical shrine.
The good news about this shrine is that it’s always open and it does have some lighting for the evening visitors. That’s why it’s a perfect ending to your day in Kyoto, and if you time it correctly you can get stunning views during sunset and also be able to see the illuminated pathway.
After you’re done with visiting Fushimi-Inari, grab some dinner!
Early Start At Arashiyama Park – Kyoto Bamboo Grove
Before heading out, make sure to eat something or you can grab some food near Arashiyama.
Time: 7:00 am – 9:00 am
Admission Cost: No fee
How To Get There: Head to Kyoto Shiyakusho-mae station and hop on the Tozai line towards Uzumasa-Tenjingawa. Get off at Uzumasa Tenjingawa and then walk to Randen Tenjingawa station and board the Arashiyama line towards Arashiyama. Get off and start walking towards Bamboo Grove. If you follow a gps it’s pretty easy to navigate.
First thing you are going to want to do is make sure you set your alarm clock for 5:00 am at the latest. The reason is because you need to be heading to Arashiyama Bamboo Grove by 6:00 am the latest. Ideally getting to Bamboo grove by 7:00 am for lower crowds and better photo opportunities.
If you sleep in, and get there around 9:00 am , the crowds are already starting to hit the area and then you’ll have a lower chance of grabbing a good photo.
Of course if you don’t mind crowds and aren’t really into photography then you head out a little later, but then you also delay the other destinations or have to cut one out.
When you’re done head to Arashiyama Station so you get started on your next stop.
Morning at Kinkaku-Ji Temple – The Golden Pavilion
Time: 10:30 am to 11:30 am
est Admission Cost: 500 yen
How to Get There: Coming from Arashiyama you will want to get on the Randen Arashiyama line towards shijo omiya. Exit at Arisugawa and then transfer to the Randen Kitano line and head towards Kitano Hakubai-Cho.
Your next stop on your 1 day kyoto Itinerary is the famous golden temple that is visited by swarms of tourist every year. This gorgeous buddhist temple is also a national special historic site, so make sure to be especially respectful when visiting the area.
It should take about an hour to enjoy the view of the Golden pavilion and still be able to walk through the gorgeous zen garden.
Quick Stop At Ginkaku-Ji Temple – The Silver Pavilion
Time: 12:30 pm to 1:00 pm
est Admission Cost: 5oo yen
How To Get There: Getting Ginkaku-Ji Temple from Kinkaku-Ji Temple is pretty easy by hopping on a Kyoto City bus you can make the trip in about an hour if you account for walking.
When you arrive at Ginkaku-Ji temple, it shouldn’t take more than an half an hour to tour the temple grounds. Making it a true quick stop along this itinerary.
Explore Higashiyama District During The Afternoon
Time: 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm
Cost: no fee
How to get there: You can get to Higashiyama District from Ginkaku-ji temple by walking ten minutes to the bus stop, then taking the Kyoto city bus 203 towards Higashiyama. It’s around 15 minutes total for the trip from Ginkaku-Ji. You can also just walk, which is about 2.4 miles and a little under an hour walk time, to get to Yasaka Shrine area.
Explore Fushimi Inari-Taisha at Night
Time: 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Est Admission Cost: No fee
How To Get There: Getting to Fushimi Inari Taisha from Higashiyama District can be done either by walking or taking the railway Keigan main line Ōtō line and getting off at Fushimi-inari. If you choose to walk, it will take about and hour and is about 2.7 miles for the distance.
The trick with this place is even though it will be slammed with tourist in the beginning of the mountain hike, it dwindles down about 25 minutes into it. So just keep walking up the path and you’ll eventually have a spot for photos with the many orange Torii Gates that lead up to the Fushimi Inari Shrine.
We love this as the ending of the itinerary because you can get gorgeous views of the shrine and torii gates during the evening hours as the sun goes down.
Just remember to be careful as it gets very dark but there is some illuminations alongs the pathways.
One Day In Kyoto Itinerary Wrap up
That wraps up our Kyoto in a day itinerary! We hope you have a blast while touring through Kyoto and enjoy the beautiful history that is present in this stunning city.