3 best Kyoto day trip plans and 3 best 2-day trip plans

Kyoto kiyomizu dera
The view of Kiyomizu-dera temple

Kyoto, which is the most famous tourist destination in Japan, has so many attractions that it is very difficult to make a schedule. You may be wondering if one day is enough or need two days or more.

It will be a little busy schedule, but you can still visit the “Must-See” places in Kyoto for a day. Of course it would be nice if you could spend a lot of time exploring Kyoto, but the reality is that your time is limited.

In this article, I will show you these following:

☑3 best Kyoto one-day plans
☑3 best Kyoto 2-day plans including Kyoto 1.5 days and Nara 0.5 day combined plan

I believe these choices will satisfy both travelers who want to see sights as many as they want and tourists who want to pick a few places for more relaxing trip.

1-day plan : Complete all major places in one day

Kinkakuji kyoto
Kinkaku-ji tmeple (Golden Pavillion)

It is “Grand Slam” tour of Kyoto. It is busy but if you want to visit all major sights in one day, you have no choices.

But a taxi gives you lots of extra time. Before I explain you how to use a taxi, let’s see the itinerary.

Suggested itinerary

TimePlace and transporation
07:52Kyoto station
JR Nara line local train
07:58 / 09:02Inari station / Fushimi-Inari station
Visit Fushimi Inari Taisha shrine
Keihan Railway local train
09:08Kiyomizu-Gojo station
Walk to Kiyomizudera temple (1.7 km)
09:30 / 10:30Kiyomizu-dera temple
Walk to Gion via Sannenzaka, Ninenzaka (1.8 km)
11:00 / 12:07Gion
Kyoto city bus
12:26 / 13:22Ginkakujimae bus top
Visit  Path of Philosophy and Ginkaku-ji temple
Kyoto city bus
14:02 / 15:03Kinkakujimichi bus stop
Visit Kinkaku-ji temple (Golden Pavillion)
Kyoto city bus
15:12 / 15:22Enmachi station
JR Sagano line local train
15:39 / 17:32Saga-Arashiyama station
Visit Bamboo Forest, Togetsukyo bridge
JR Sagano line local train
17:49Kyoto station
Drop by Kyoto Tower if you still have an energy.
Kyoto tower
Kyoto Tower is located just in front of Kyoto station.

A taxi seems to be an expensive choice. But if you travel as a group of 3 or 4, it is not. And spending money on a taxi give you an extra time in return. I will show you how you use a taxi efficiently.

Travel from Fushimi Inari to Kiyomizu-dera temple

You will spend 40 minutes and 210 yen per person for a train ride. If you take a taxi, a fare is around 2,000 yen and travel time is about 20 minutes. You can get 20 extra minutes.

Travel from Kinkaku-ji temple to Arashiyama

You will spend 40 minutes and 190 yen per person for a train ride. If you take a taxi, a fare is around 2,000 yen and travel time is about 20 minutes.You can get 20 extra minutes.

You may think 20 minutes is not a big difference. But if you take a bus, you have to go to a bus stop a bit ahead of the schedule. An extra time may be longer.

1-day plan : Sagano Scenic train, Hozugawa River Boat, Fushimi Inari and Kiyomizu-dera

The view of Hozugawa river from Sagano Scenic Railway (C) pang yu liu from Taoyuan, TW / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)

Sagano Scenic train may be at the top of your wish list. The combination of Sagano Scenic train and Hozugawa river boat ride is one of very popular sightseeing plans in Kyoto. I added Fushimi-Inari shrine and Kiyomizu-dera temple on top of this combination.

Suggested itinerary

TimePlace and transporation
08:10Kyoto station
JR Sagano line local train
08:20 / 09:02Saga-Arashiyama station / Torokko Saga station
Sagano Scenic Railway Torokko train
09:25 / 09:35Torokko Kameoka station
Keihan Kyoto Kotsu Bus
09:50 / 10:00Hozugawa River Boat Ride pier
*The departure time of the boat is irregular on weekend and holidays.
*The boat departure times will vary because of first come first serve basis. Advance reservation is available for group of 10 or more only.
Hozugawa River Boat Ride
11:30 / 14:02Arashiyama / Saga-Arashiyama station
Visit sights and lunch time
JR Sagano line local train
14:19 / 14:37Kyoto station
JR Nara line local train
14:42 / 15:48Inari station / Fushimi-Inari station
Visit Fushimi Inari Taisha shrine
Keihan Railway local train
15:55Kiyomizu-Gojo station
Walk to Kiyomizudera temple (1.7 km)
16:20 / 17:00Kiyomizu-dera temple
Walk to Gion via Sannenzaka, Ninenzaka (1.8 km)
17:30Gion-Shijo bus stop
Enjoy dinner in Gion area. You can go back to Kyoto station by bus or Hankyu Railway and subway.
Kiyomizu dera kyoto
It is very rare to see snow in Kyoto. But if you see it fortunately, the view is amazing. This photo is the winter view of Kiyomizu-dera temple.

If you remove Kiyomizu-dera temple, the trip is much easier. You can get more time in Arashiyama or Fushimi Inari. You may remove Fushimi Inar and keep Kiyomizu-dera in the plan. But Fushimi Inari is more accessible from Arashiyama than Kiyomizu-dera temple.

1-day plan : Sagano Scenic train, Hozugawa River Boat, and Railway museum (or Aquarium)

Hozugawa kyoto
The bird-eye view of Hozugawa river

This plan is designed for a family traveler, a slow paced traveler or a train fan. You will enjoy Sagano Scenic train, Hozugawa river boat ride, sightsee in Arashiyama. And then you will head to Kyoto Train Museum. If you are not interested in museums, the aquarium is an alternative. You will spend the rest of the time around Kyoto station area.

Suggested itinerary

TimePlace and transporation
08:10Kyoto station
JR Sagano line local train
08:20 / 09:02Saga-Arashiyama station / Torokko Saga station
Sagano Scenic Railway Torokko train
09:25 / 09:35Torokko Kameoka station
Keihan Kyoto Kotsu Bus
09:50 / 10:00Hozugawa River Boat Ride pier
*The departure time of the boat is irregular on weekend and holidays.
*The boat departure times will vary because of first come first serve basis. Advance reservation is available for group of 10 or more only.
Hozugawa River Boat Ride
11:30 / 14:02Arashiyama / Saga-Arashiyama station
Visit sights and lunch time
JR Sagano line local train
14:16
/ 17:00
Umekoji-Kyotonishi station
Visit Kyoto Railway Museum or Kyoto Aquarium
Kyoto Railway Museum is closed on Wednesday. Aquarium is open everyday.
Walk to Kyoto station (20 minutes)
17:30Kyoto station
Drop by Kyoto Tower if you still have an energy.
Kyoto railway museum
The main exhibition of Kyoto Railway Museum (C) Rsa / CC BY-SA (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)

You can take a train from Umekoji-Kyotonishi to Kyoto after visiting Railway Museum. But it takes only 20 minutes. You can get to Kyoto station easily on foot.

2-day plan : Sagano Scenic train, Hozugawa River Boat and walk in Higashiyama area

Nijo castle kyoto
Nijo castle is one of the designated temples in Kyoto of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

This is a plan that includes Sagano Scenic train and Hozugawa River boat rides, and a few sightseeing spots in addition to the one-day plan that was introduced at the beginning of this post.

On day 2, you will cover most part of “Higashiyama area” (eastern part of Kyoto) by walk.

Suggested itinerary

Day 1

TimePlace and transporation
08:34Kyoto station
JR Sagano line local train
08:48 /Horikawa Oike bus stop
Visit Nijo castle
Walk
09:00 / 10:10Nijo castle
Walk
10:21 / 11:31Kinkakujimichi bus stop
Visit Kinkakuji temple (Golden Pavillion)
Kyoto city bus
11:40 / 11:52Emmachi station
JR Sagano line locla train
11:59 / 13:02Saga-Arashiyama station / Torokko Saga station
Lunch time
Sagano Scenic Railway Torokko train
13:25 /13:35Torokko Kameoka station
Keihan Kyoto Kotsu Bus
13:50 / 14:00Hozugawa River Boat Ride pier
*The departure time of the boat is irregular on weekend and holidays.
*The boat departure times will vary because of first come first serve basis. Advance reservation is available for group of 10 or more only.
Hozugawa River Boat Ride
15:30 / 17:41Arashiyama / Saga-Arashiyama station
Visit sights
JR Sagano line local train
17:53Kyoto station
Path of Philosophy kyoto
Spring scenery of the Path of Philosophy

Day 2

TimePlace and transporation
08:52Kyoto station
JR Nara line local train
08:58 / 10:00Inari station / Fushimi-Inari station
Visit Fushimi Inari Taisha shrine
Keihan Railway local train
10:07Kiyomizu-Gojo station
Walk to Kiyomizudera temple (1.7 km)
10:30 / 11:30Kiyomizu-dera temple
Walk to Gion via Sannenzaka, Ninenzaka (1.8 km)
12:30 / 13:30Gion
Lunch time
Walk to Chioin temple
13:30 / 14:15Chionin temple
Walk to Nanzenji temple (1.6 km)
14:35 / 15:20Nanzenji temple
Walk to Ginkaku-ji temple via Path of Philosophy (2 km)
16:10 / 17:00Ginkaku-ji temple
Walk (5 minutes)
17:05 / 17:22Ginkakujimae bus stop
Kyoto city bus
18:02Kyoto station

2-day plan : All Kyoto and Uji

The Phoenix Hall of Byodoin is one of the designated temples in Kyoto of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. (C) Sergeisemenov / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

This does not include Sagano Scenic train and Hozugawa boat ride. You will spend this extra time for visiting Uji, Byodoin temple.

On day 2, you will cover most part of “Higashiyama area” (eastern part of Kyoto) by walk and visit Kibune shrine.

Suggested itinerary

Day 1

10:54TimePlace and transporation
07:52Kyoto station
JR Nara line local train
08:19 / 09:35Uji station
JR Nara line local train
09:59 / 10:49Inari station
JR Nara line local train
10:59 / 12:08Kyoto station
Early lunch break
JR Sagano line local train
12:12Nijo station
Walk (1 km)
12:25 / 13:25Nijo castle
Walk
13:35 / 13:38Horikawa Marutamachi bus stop
Kyoto city bus
13:57 / 15:03Kinkakujimichi bus stop
Visit Kinkakuji temple (Golden Pavillion)
Kyoto city bus
15:12 / 15:22Emmachi station
JR Sagano line locla train
15:29 / 17:41Saga-Arashiyama station
Visit sights in Arashiyama
JR Sagano line local train
17:53Kyoto station
Bamboo Arashiyama Kyoto
Arashiyama’s most popular place is this Bamboo grove.

Day 2

TimePlace and transporation
08:05Kyoto station
Kyoto city bus
08:18Gojozaka bus stop
Walk to Kiyomizudera temple (1 km)
08:30 / 09:30Kiyomizu-dera temple
Walk to Gion via Sannenzaka, Ninenzaka (1.8 km)
10:30 / 11:00Gion
Break time
Walk to Chioin temple
11:10 / 12:00Chionin temple
Walk to Nanzenji temple (1.6 km)
Lunch stop on th eway
13:30 / 14:15Nanzenji temple
Walk to Ginkaku-ji temple via Path of Philosophy (2 km)
14:45 / 16:00Ginkaku-ji temple
Walk (5 minutes)
16:05 / 16:12Ginkakujimae bus stop
Kyoto city bus
16:24 / 16:29Takaragaike station
Eizan Railway local train
16:48 / 16:53Kibuneguchi station
Kyoto bus
17:00 / 18:09Kifune bus stop
Visit Kifune shrine to see light up
Kyoto bus
18:15 / 18:33Kibuneguchi station
Kyoto bus
19:04 / 19:12Kitaoji station
Kyoto city subway
19:25Kyoto station

2-day plan : All Kyoto 1.5 days and Nara half day

nara
Big Buddha in Todai-ji temple

If you want to see both Nara and Kyoto but your time is limited, you will spend half day in Nara and the rest of your time for Kyoto. You can combine Nara and southern part of Kyoto easily

Suggested itinerary

Day 1

TimePlace and transporation
07:25Kyoto station
Kintetsu Railway Kyoto line and Nara line
08:13 / 11:30Kintetsu Nara station
Kintetsu Railway Kyoto line and Nara line
12:20 / 13:20Kyoto station
lunch break
Kyoto city bus
13:56 / 15:03Kinkakujimichi bus stop
Visit Kinkakuji temple (Golden Pavillion)
Kyoto city bus
15:12 / 15:22Emmachi station
JR Sagano line locla train
15:29 / 17:41Saga-Arashiyama station
Visit sights in Arashiyama
JR Sagano line local train
17:53Kyoto station
Kyoto sannenzaka ninenzaka
The route between Gion and Kiyomizu-dera is very popular walking path, such as Ninenzsaka, Sannenzaka. The pagoda of Hokan-ji temple is the icon of this path.

Day 2

TimePlace and transporation
08:52Kyoto station
JR Nara line local train
08:58 / 10:00Inari station / Fushimi-Inari station
Visit Fushimi Inari Taisha shrine
Keihan Railway local train
10:07Kiyomizu-Gojo station
Walk to Kiyomizudera temple (1.7 km)
10:30 / 11:30Kiyomizu-dera temple
Walk to Gion via Sannenzaka, Ninenzaka (1.8 km)
12:30 / 13:30Gion
Lunch time
Walk to Chioin temple
13:30 / 14:15Chionin temple
Walk to Nanzenji temple (1.6 km)
14:35 / 15:20Nanzenji temple
Walk to Ginkaku-ji temple via Path of Philosophy (2 km)
16:10 / 17:00Ginkaku-ji temple
Walk (5 minutes)
17:05 / 17:22Ginkakujimae bus stop
Kyoto city bus
18:02Kyoto station

At last

If you could spend 3 or more days in Kyoto, that would be perfect. But as I mentioned at the beginning, this post showed you how you spend your limited time in Kyoto more efficiently.

I hope this will help you to create your future trip plan to Kyoto.

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