The capital of Japan until 1868, Kyoto is a thriving city with a wealth of historical and religious monuments which were luckily untouched by the widespread firebombing of WWII. Considered to be one of the best preserved cities in Japan, its picturesque location among the mountains of western Honshu is just one of the reasons it is internationally known as Japan’s most beautiful destination.

Kyoto is a large city, with Northwestern Kyoto being the location of the many temples and shrines which are among the main attractions. Kinkaku-ji is probably the most visited and is certainly worth seeing for its spectacular golden pavilion, beautiful landscaped gardens and the reflection of the temple on the waters surrounding it. To the west, you can walk through a towering bamboo forest to the Nonomiya Shrine, another charming site. The area is also home to the Tenryu-ji temple, the main location of the Rinzai Buddhist sect and a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Kyoto Tower, located in the city center, offers a view of the urban landscape. The Museum of Kyoto is also close by, displaying mostly works of ancient Japanese pottery. For a pulsing night scene, the area of Kawaramachi-dori is alive with activity from bars and clubs to karaoke boxes and izakay (Japanese style eateries serving alcohol). For shoppers looking for traditional souvenirs to take home, the Arashiyama neighborhood has a good selection of tasteful shops.


Nijo Castle: a striking example of military wealth and power in the 17th and 18th centuries, this castle has some fascinating features designed with the safety of the community in mind.

Ryoan-ji: is the world’s best-known Zen garden, offering tranquil, meditative excursions or peaceful strolls through the lake garden.

Costume Museum: for an interesting insight into the stunning costumes of 8th century aristocracy.

Kyoto Imperial Palace Park: located in the heart of the city is also home to the Imperial Palace, and is a refreshing break from the bustling city streets.

Kinkaka-ji: this three-story building situated in the middle of a peaceful lake is a popular tourist attraction, with its top stories covered in sparkling gold leaf.

Gion district: is one of Kyoto’s most well known areas, lined with beautiful tea houses where geisha have entertained their wealthy customers for years.