What was once the capital of Japan for over one thousand years, Kyoto still carries a reputation as the nation’s most beautiful city. With its countless temples, shrines and historical structures, Kyoto holidays are both fascinating and overwhelming.
Kyoto is the spiritual home of Japanese culture, with a wealth of UNESCO World Heritage sites and over 2,000 Japanese temples. This is the perfect place to delve into some of Japan’s rich and fascinating history. The Golden Pavilion at Kinkakuji Temple is probably Kyoto’s most famous sight, with its shimmering gold architecture that reflects upon a mirror-like pond beneath.
Visit the magical moss-covered gardens at the Gio-ji Temple in Arishiyama and explore the wonders of Nijo-jo Castle, a traditional Japanese wooden castle surrounded by many lush and verdant gardens. After a day of exploring, head to the historic Geisha district of Gion and indulge in an authentic Japanese Tea Ceremony where you will be served carefully-prepared matcha tea and wagashi, Japanese traditional sweets.
Kyoto holidays: the ancient capital
Stunning scenes of nature can be found everywhere in Kyoto, and the swaying forests of Sagano Bamboo Grove in particular is one destination not to be missed. If you’re a wildlife lover then you may enjoy a short hike up Mount Arashiyama to Whataya Monkey Park where over 120 loveable snow monkeys, otherwise known as Japanese macaques, have claimed the grounds of Kyoto University as their home.
After working up an appetite with a long day of sightseeing, why not experience the refined culinary tradition of kaiseki dining and savour the flavours of authentic Japanese multi-course haute cuisine?
Combine the traditions of Kyoto with ultra-modern Tokyo before embarking on a cruise of Lake Ashi for fabulous sights of Mount Fuji. With the high-speed bullet train, it's easy to get around and combine several cities in one holiday. Speak to one of our Destination Specialists and plan your perfect Kyoto holiday package today.
Great sample itineraries
We’ve created an inspiring selection of itineraries that can be included in your Kyoto holiday package. Almost anything is possible so please give us a call to discuss all your options.
Luxury Guided Tour Japan
Explore the Gion District
One of the most famous Geisha districts, the Gion Quarter in Kyoto is a must-visit to indulge in one of Japan's most famous traditions. Used as the setting for the novel and subsequent film Memoirs of a Geisha, you'll experience tea ceremonies, puppet theatre and authentic dance, as well as the famous Geisha women with their distinctive white faces, red lips and elaborate clothing.
Kodaiji is a wonderful temple in the Higashiyama District of Kyoto. Built in 1606 in memory of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, one of Japan's greatest historical figures, by Hideyoshi's wife Nene who is also enshrined at the temple. Kodaiji belongs to the Rinzai sect of Zen Buddhism. The main building have richly decorated interiors and are surrounded by beautiful Zen gardens.
Kyoto Imperial Palace
This was the home of Japan’s imperial family until 1868, when they moved to Tokyo. If you want to visit on a guided tour, you will need to apply at the Imperial Household Agency, but the beautiful grounds around the palace are open to all.
“Without a doubt, I would recommend staying in a ryokan (traditional inn) while in Kyoto. A quintessential Japanese experience, your room will have a futon on tatami mat floors rather than a hotel bed, so may not suit everyone, but this is a wonderfully traditional way to stay in Kyoto.”
“Take a hike up Fushimi-Inari. You will not only get spectacular views of the city but this pilgrimage circle takes you around the beautiful shrines that make up this complex. It gets busy here so plan your visit for early morning to avoid the crowds, or head up in the evening when it is cooler for an atmospheric experience and a wonderful view of the city lights.”
Events & Festivals
The city of Kyoto offers a huge selection of fun events held throughout the year that can be enjoyed by everyone. Here are a few of our top suggestions.
Toshiya is an archery competition held in January at the West Garden of Sanjūsangen-dō temple. Watch on as over 2,000 archers, dressed in bright kimonos, shoot arrows at targets and compete against one another at Sanjusangen-do Hall.
Held in July, Gion Matsuri is one of Japan’s biggest annual events. Locals and visitors gather to promenade in colourful yukata robes and gorge on street food and beer as a procession of traditional parade floats pass by.
Kurama Fire Festival
Held in October in a mountain village called Kurama, just outside of Kyoto, the Kurama Fire Festival is a reenactment of a ceremony held in 940 A.D. to move Yuki Shrine to Kurama and protect the then-capital from any further disasters following an earthquake that struck Kyoto.
Get a flavour of the local culture through your palate during your Kyoto holiday.
Traditional Japanese food is generally created upon the ‘rules of five’: using five colours (black, white, green, yellow and red), five cooking techniques (boiling, grilling, steaming, frying and raw) and five flavours (salty, sour, sweet, spicy and bitter.) World-famous for its emphasis on incredibly fresh and seasonal ingredients, the food of Japan will definitely be a major highlight of your holiday in Japan.
Okonomiyaki quite literally means ‘what you like, cooked’. This is a savoury pancake dish, which comes in a variety of styles and generally contains a delicious combination of noodles, eggs, meat and vegetables layered on a crepe on a teppanyaki grill plate.
Ramen are Chinese-style wheat noodles served in a meat or fish-based broth that is often flavoured with soy sauce or miso. You can expect your ramen to be served with toppings such as sliced pork, nori and scallions.
Tempura is seafood or vegetables that have been battered and deep-fried. The dish was influenced by Portuguese settlers in Japan and the name "tempura" relates to that origin.
There is no better sushi in the world than the sushi you will discover in Japan. Sushi is cooked, vinegared white rice that is either served alone or rolled in a seaweed wrap (nori) with fresh fish, meat or vegetables.
You might also like these
We think you might also like to take a look at these destinations. If you'd like some advice, our Destination Specialists will be able to find something that is right for you.
There’s no question too small. Start planning your dream trip by talking to our Destination Specialists.
Sign up to our newsletter
Receive the latest travel inspiration and destination news.
How we tailor make your holiday
The Hayes & Jarvis Way
We've been tailor making holidays for 65 years. With over 60 destinations to choose from, talk to us and we'll listen to your travel ideas to create unforgettable holiday experiences.