Kyoto is a mix of traditional and modern Japan. The city possesses a stunning collection of UNESCO World Heritage sites and a still working geisha district. But that’s not all, Kyoto also offers many traditional Japanese restaurants, (secret-) exclusive cocktail bars and many natural hot springs. This is how you get a taste of it all.
Stay at a ryokan
If you wish to experience true Japanese culture stay a few nights in a “ryokan”. It’s a traditional Japanese-style accommodation that features flooring made from tatami straw mats with futon beds. Choose for a simple one in the city or go all the way in a country ryokan that usually includes dinner, breakfast and natural hot spring baths, known as onsen.
Temples & gardens
Kyoto is a true paradise for garden & temple lovers. The city has over 1600 Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines. Most of them have a perfectly maintained traditional garden. Take in the beautiful scenery and learn about Japanese Zen Buddhism.
Save yourself some time, check out our favorites. ( in English soon)
This is a well known street described in the book ”Memories of a Geisha”. The magical narrow alley is lightened with lanterns and is fully packed with bars, restaurants and teahouses. There is also an okiya (lodging houses in which maiko or geiko/geisha live during their career as a geisha) so this is your best change of spotting maiko or geiko in Kyoto. On the East side of the alley you overlook Kamogawa River which -especially during twilight- is a nice walk.
One of the most exclusive and famous geisha districts of Kyoto where you can spot geiko and maiko around 6PM or late at night. Behind the wooden doors there are hidden restaurants where you can experience traditional Japanese food like kaiseki.
Explore the city by bicycle is not only a good workout, but you’ll also see more than taking a bus. This is a great shop to hire a bike and get some local tips.
The best and largest traditional food market in Kyoto from 9 am to 5 pm. This is the place to buy and try typical Japanese delicacies. You’ll find all ingredients for traditional Kyoto cuisine like Japanese pickles, fresh tofu, tea, fresh fish and wagashi (Japanese sweets).
Address: Nishikikoji-dori, Nakagyo-ku (between Teramachi and Takakura)
Japanese Address : 中京区錦小路通り
This traditional multi-course Japanese dinner is really worth the experience. Kaiseki is known for its meticulous preparing and beautiful presentation. Meals can have more than fourteen courses and include expensive Japanese food. It is mostly served in a Ryokan or small restaurant known as ryõtei and often very expensive (15.000 to 40,000 yen). <There are> Cheaper options for lunch (from 4.000 to 8.000 yen). Good to know is that in some cases counter seating is cheaper than private rooms.
These natural hot springs are not to miss when traveling in a volcanic active country like Japan. Onsen water is believed to have healing powers derived from its mineral content. It is the perfect way to relax while you take in the breath-taking scenery that changes through the seasons.
One of the best bars to drink a cocktail is in the authentic bar Rocking Chair. When you walk in it’s like you are in an old British movie. The service is super friendly and every cocktail is made with attention. It’s a cocktail heaven.
Address: 432-2 Tachibana-cho, Gokomachi-dori Bukkoji-sagaru, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto
Japanese Address: , 〒600-8044 京都府京都市下京区御幸町通仏光寺下る橘町434−2
If you’re looking for a more low key atmosphere there is K6. A popular well known bar where you meet locals and travellers. Take a seat at the counter and allow the bartender to prepare you a cocktail with only a hint of the flavors you prefer. He won’t disappoint you!
Address: 2F VIZE Bldg., 481 Higashi Ikesu-cho, Nijo-dori Kiyamachi-higashi-iru, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto
Japanese Address : Japan, 〒604-0922 京都府京都市中京区二条通木屋町東入東生洲町481
Kyoto – Yodobashi is a shopping store close to Kyoto main station that contains a big supermarket underneath it. You can buy all the weird food Japan has to offer and when you travel on a budget you can take away fresh & good quality sushi and sashimi.