Travel guide Kyoto
The atmospheric city of Kyoto was the capital of Japan for over a thousand years. Famous for its ornate buildings, ancient temples and rich culture, the city is an unmissable destination for anyone who wants to learn more about Japan and its fascinating past.
Kyoto is located in the mountains of western Honshu, in the Kansai region of Japan. The city was one of the few in the country to escape bombing during World War II and so is home to a wealth of pre-war buildings and monuments. This offers visitors a unique glimpse into Japan’s past and gives you the opportunity to delve into the country’s fascinating heritage.
During your stay in Kyoto you can explore its 14 Unesco World Heritage Sites, take a dip in one of the city’s beautiful thermal baths and explore the regal palaces, castles and villas that dot the metropolis. In between sightseeing trips and excursions, you can fuel up in one of Kyoto’s many excellent restaurants or relax in one of the city’s lush and tranquil gardens.
Where to stay in Kyoto
Although Kyoto is nowhere near the size of Japan’s other major cities, it does still cover a considerable area so it’s important to think carefully about where you’re going to stay before you book your Kyoto hotel. The majority of the hotels in Kyoto are located in the downtown area of the city. Here you’ll be within walking distance of a huge choice of restaurants, bars and shops as well as a selection of Kyoto’s sights and attractions. Downtown Kyoto is connected to the wider city by the extensive public transport network, making it easy to get out and explore.
If you want to be closer to Kyoto’s ancient sites, or if you’re looking for a more atmospheric base for your trip, southern Higashiyama is a great choice. The ornate houses, imposing shrines and winding lanes of this district are incredibly beautiful and offer an insight into how the entire city may have looked before the arrival of the modern period. A number of popular Kyoto hotels can also be found in the area around the station, in leafy Northern Higashiyama and in central Kyoto.
As Kyoto is just over an hour from the neighbouring cities of Osaka and Kobe, hotels in Osaka and hotels in Kobe can be used as alternative bases for your trip to the city.
Hotels in Kyoto
As many of the visitors who travel to Kyoto are looking to learn more about Japan’s history and culture, traditional guesthouses, or Ryokan, are one of the city’s most popular accommodation options. Generally set in wooden, low-rise buildings and furnished with tatami mats, shoji (sliding paper doors) and low wooden tables, Ryokan offer an authentic taste of Japanese culture. You’ll find a choice of Ryokan across Kyoto, with a number located close to the city’s historic sights and attractions.
Kyoto is also home to a wide selection of modern hotels, the majority of which are located in downtown Kyoto and southern Higashiyama. These contemporary developments offer a high level of comfort and many come with an excellent choice of amenities and facilities.
If you want to experience Kyoto like a local, you can choose to stay in a self-catered apartment or, to really get a feel for the city, book a traditional machiya. These beautiful townhouses can be booked on a self-catered basis and offer you the chance to immerse yourself in Kyoto’s unique charm and character.
What to do during your stay in Kyoto
The most popular activity in Kyoto is sightseeing. The city is home to a huge number of temples, villas, palaces, shrines and gardens, giving you plenty to explore during your stay. Many of Kyoto’s sights are located in the Higashiyama District. There you’ll find the famed Kiyomizu Temple, the Kyoto National Museum, the temple-lined Philosopher's Path and countless other historic sights. If you’re visiting in the spring months, head to Maruyama Park where you can enjoy some of the most spectacular cherry blossom in Japan.
Higashiyama is a great place to witness a traditional tea ceremony. You can also learn about geisha culture in the area, with a number of tours focusing on this aspect of Japanese culture.
Aside from its history and architecture, Kyoto is best known for its food. The city is home to an excellent choice of eateries, with restaurants catering to all tastes and budgets. As the city has a strong Buddhist heritage, vegetarians are especially well provided for. Explore the restaurants of Higashiyama and downtown Kyoto to sample the city’s famous cuisine.
If you’re planning a Japanese adventure of your own, you can save money by booking your flight and hotel together at Expedia. Search our site today to find out more.