9 must-see places in Kyoto that you have to visit yes or no

Summary of contents of this post

I’m convinced that when you’ve started to organize your stay in Kyoto you’ve found yourself a bit lost at first sight about which are the most important places, where are they, how far away are they from each other, what to see in each neighborhood… So in this post we’re going to share with you our map with all the essential places in Kyoto in which you’ll be able to get an idea at a glance of which are the most important points of interest in the city.

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These are our essentials in Kyoto

Before you start planning your days in Kyoto, it is best to take a look at our Kyoto must-haves to decide which areas you are most interested in and which you will eventually sacrifice if you don’t have time for everything.

Analyzing Kyoto from north to south, these would be the essential places and areas, which you will be able to distinguish on this map:

1. Fushimi Inari, the largest of the essentials in Kyoto

Of course, one of our main attractions in Kyoto is the Fushimi Inari shrine.

QuĆ© ver en Kioto: Fushimi Inari - cuĆ”nto cuesta un viaje a JapĆ³n - consejos para viajar a JapĆ³n - imprescindibles en KiotoQuĆ© ver en Kioto: Fushimi Inari - cuĆ”nto cuesta un viaje a JapĆ³n - consejos para viajar a JapĆ³n - imprescindibles en KiotoMust see in Kyoto: Fushimi Inari

This marvelous enclosure rests on the sacred Mount Inari and best of all: touring it is free.

Visiting this sanctuary is like entering another world. A world full of vermilion toriis that accompany the path to the top of Mount Inari.

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Without a doubt, this is one of the most special places in Kyoto. You can find out more about how to visit it in our super guide to Kyoto.

2. The path of the philosopher, one of the great imperatives in Kyoto

The Philosopher’s Path is a beautiful walk surrounded by nature that runs along a small canal from Ginkaku-ji Temple, the northernmost temple in eastern Kyoto, and Eikan-do Temple.

QuĆ© ver en Kioto: Camino del FilĆ³sofo - Imprescindibles en KiotoQuĆ© ver en Kioto: Camino del FilĆ³sofo - Imprescindibles en KiotoEssential in Kyoto: The Philosopher’s Way

Anything I tell you will fall short of describing the beauty of this walk. Plus, along the way you’ll find some of Kyoto’s most beautiful temples.

The path owes its name to the philosopher Nishida Kitaro, one of its most famous walkers who, it seems, got lost while walking it abstracted in his thoughts.

3. Kiyomizu Dera Temple and its surroundings: Ninenzaka and Sannenzaka streets

Now let’s talk about two super cool traditional shopping streets that lead you to Kyoto’s most famous temple and that you can’t miss for anything in the world: Ninenzaka and Sannenzaka.

Without a doubt, for us this is one of the most charming areas of Kyoto. Walk them up and down and get lost in them, because it’s really worth it.

QuƩ ver en Kioto: Calle Sannenzaka - Imprescindibles en KiotoQuƩ ver en Kioto: Calle Sannenzaka - Imprescindibles en KiotoMust see in Kyoto: Sannenzaka Street

The Kiyomizu Dera temple impressed us, perhaps because we experienced one of the most beautiful sunsets of the whole trip there. Simply magical.

QuƩ ver en Kioto: Kiyomizu Dera - imprescindibles en KiotoQuƩ ver en Kioto: Kiyomizu Dera - imprescindibles en KiotoEssential in Kyoto: Kiyomizu Dera

The views from above are impressive although we are the main pavilion under construction.

Even though it was one of the temples where we found more people, it was a wonderful experience to visit it at sunset and it seems like the ideal moment to make the visit.

4. Neighborhood of Gion

The Gion neighborhood is the geisha neighborhood of Kyoto and is really beautiful.

QuƩ ver en Kioto: Gion - imprescindibles en KiotoQuƩ ver en Kioto: Gion - imprescindibles en KiotoWhat to see in Kyoto: Gion

The Gion area, besides being a perfect place to walk at night and try to find a maiko during the walk, is a great place to have lunch or dinner and soak up a great atmosphere.

5. Ginkaku-ji Temple or Silver Pavilion

The Ginkaku-ji is one of the most important temples in the eastern part of the city and is undoubtedly one of our favorites in Kyoto.

QuƩ ver en Kioto: Ginkaku-ji - imprescindibles en KiotoQuƩ ver en Kioto: Ginkaku-ji - imprescindibles en KiotoEssential in Kyoto: Ginkaku-ji

As with most of the temples we visited in Kyoto, what we liked best about the silver pavilion enclosure was its exquisite relationship with nature, which is a perfect part of the enclosure.

6. Eikan-do Temple

The Eikan-do is impressive not only in terms of its natural beauty, but also in terms of the various buildings that make up the religious complex.

QuƩ ver en Kioto: Eikan-do - imprescindibles en kiotoQuƩ ver en Kioto: Eikan-do - imprescindibles en kiotoEssential in Kyoto: Eikan-do

The Eikan-do is well worth a visit for its pagoda and wooden pavilions that help introduce you to another era in Japan’s history. Just beautiful, really.

7. Nanzen-ji Temple

The gateway to this temple is really imposing (you can climb up for 500 JPY), but it may not be what most caught the Nanzen-ji’s eye.

QuƩ ver en Kioto: Nanzen-ji - imprescindibles en KiotoQuƩ ver en Kioto: Nanzen-ji - imprescindibles en KiotoEssential in Kyoto: Nanzen-ji

What we liked best about this temple is that there is a super curious red brick aqueduct.

QuƩ ver en Kioto: Nanzen-ji - Imprescindibles en KiotoQuƩ ver en Kioto: Nanzen-ji - Imprescindibles en KiotoEssential in Kyoto: Nanzen-ji

8. Kinkaku-ji Temple or Golden Pavilion

We were not sure whether to include the Golden Pavilion in our list, but finally we thought it had to be there, even if it was not the temple we liked best in Kyoto.

The famous Kinkaku-ji or Golden Pavilion is one of the most renowned places in Kyoto and perhaps in all of Japan.

QuƩ ver en Kioto: Kinkaku-ji - imprescindibles en KiotoQuƩ ver en Kioto: Kinkaku-ji - imprescindibles en KiotoEssential in Kyoto: Kinkaku-ji

Despite the number of people you’ll meet here, going to Kinkaku-ji is worth it.

The Golden Pavilion is impressive (not so much the pavilion itself, but the contrast of the pavilion with the landscape), and the gardens surrounding it are among the best in Kyoto.

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9. Ryoan-ji Temple

The Ryoan-ji dry garden is undoubtedly one of the most famous in Kyoto and Japan.

It is formed by 15 rocks placed in groups with moss at the base and the curious thing is that wherever you look at it you will never see them all at once. There’s always one hidden behind another.

Imprescindibles en Kioto: Templo Ryoan-jiImprescindibles en Kioto: Templo Ryoan-jiMust see in Kyoto: Ryoan-ji Temple

You’ll probably miss a spot on this list. And yes, we haven’t included the Arashiyama bamboo forest because the reality is that we don’t think it’s a Kyoto necessity.

There are millions of places and more interesting temples to spend your time in Kyoto. Especially if it’s limited.

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