Book a private experience in

    (0 - 12 years old)

    Book a private experience

    • guides & tips

    Best areas to stay in Kyoto: A comprehensive guide for travelers

    By Brice Guilbert

    August 23, 2023

    Best areas to stay in Kyoto: A comprehensive guide for

    Hello, I'm Brice, a local host with City Unscripted and a fellow adventurer who's been living in Kansai for 7 years. When I first set foot in Kyoto, I was swept away by its rich history, lively streets, and vibrant culture. And you know what? It's never lost its charm! In this city where ancient temples meet bustling markets, I've had the pleasure of exploring it all – not just the well-trodden Kyoto tours but also the hidden gems that make this place truly unique. I'm not here to sell you a tour but rather to share my love for this city and to help you find the best areas to stay in Kyoto, so you can feel its heartbeat just like I do.

    Whether you're drawn to the serene ambiance of the historic Higashiyama or the lively vibes of Downtown Kyoto, there's a neighborhood just waiting for you to explore. So grab your favorite pair of walking shoes, and let's embark on a journey to uncover the best places to stay and all the secrets that make Kyoto a city like no other.

    Join me, and let's make memories together in beautiful Kyoto!

    Is Kyoto worth the stay?



    City Unscripted article image

    Is Kyoto Worth the Stay? You bet it is! Now, I know some people might think of just popping over from Osaka for a quick visit, but trust me, staying in Kyoto gives you something special. The best areas to stay in Kyoto place you right in the heart of traditional Japanese customs.

    Imagine waking up to the sound of temple bells, enjoying a fresh sushi breakfast, and then stepping out your door with all of Kyoto's main attractions within walking distance.

    Whether it's exploring conventional Kyoto neighborhoods or immersing yourself in Japanese customs, staying in Kyoto city brings real magic to life.

    Visiting Kyoto is great, but to truly explore Kyoto and feel its pulse, you need more than a day trip.

    Stay in Kyoto, wander the city center, and let the blend of history and vibrancy capture your heart. From major attractions to hidden spots, there's always something new to discover, something authentically Kyoto waiting just around the corner. Dive into a traditional tea ceremony, find that perfect handcrafted souvenir, or simply lose yourself in a peaceful garden. And if you're visiting during the blossom season, don't miss out on the spring tours in Kyoto, offering a unique view of the city's beauty.

    Language in Kyoto: Is Kyoto English friendly?

    City Unscripted article image

    Ah, the question that's crossed many a traveler's mind! When I first came to stay in Kyoto, I had the same concern. But guess what? Even though the city is soaked in a traditional atmosphere, it's also quite welcoming to English-speaking tourists. While not everyone speaks English fluently, you'll find that many folks in the city center, tourist attractions, and even some traditional Japanese accommodations do their best to communicate in English. And let's not forget those handy English signs at major attractions – they've saved me more than once!

    What really makes Kyoto City special is the kindness of the people. They'll go out of their way to help you, even if it means using gestures and smiles. It's all part of the authentic traditional Japanese experience.

    Ideal duration in Kyoto

    City Unscripted article image

    Now that's a question I've heard more than once! Kyoto is packed with character, history, and incredible spots to explore and trust me, a quick day trip won't do it justice.

    In my experience, the magic number for a satisfying stay in Kyoto is around 3 to 5 days.

    That gives you enough time to wander the magnificent temples, stroll along the historic streets, and maybe even catch a Geisha performance. And don't forget about the food – you'll need at least a few days to savor all the local delicacies!

    If you've visited Kyoto before and think you've seen it all, think again! This city keeps revealing new layers, and even I discover something new every time I explore. Whether you're aiming for the major tourist attractions or the hidden gems, every visit to Kyoto unveils a new adventure.

    Deciding between Gion and Kyoto Station

    City Unscripted article image

    Gion, the heart of downtown Kyoto, is where tradition meets allure.

    Staying here means you'll be walking distance from stunning shrines, delightful teahouses, and the mysterious world of the Geisha.

    It's a place to soak in the authentic vibes of Kyoto, meander through narrow streets, and maybe even catch a glimpse of Maiko on their way to appointments.

    Kyoto Station area, on the other hand, is the bustling hub of central Kyoto.

    It's not just a train station; the Kyoto Station building is a modern marvel filled with shops, restaurants, and incredible architecture.

    Staying near Kyoto Station gives you unmatched access to train lines, subway lines (including the Karasuma Subway Line), and other public transportation. This means you can tour Kyoto and even take day trips to nearby cities with ease.

    So which is better? If you want to feel the heartbeat of traditional Kyoto, Gion's your spot. But if you're looking for convenience and a more modern touch, you might prefer the area near Kyoto Station. Either way, you're in for an unforgettable visit to Kyoto. Just remember to have fun and explore every nook and cranny of this amazing city!

    Noteworthy areas in Kyoto

    City Unscripted article image

    If you're staying in Kyoto and want everything at your fingertips, the Kyoto Station area is the place to be.

    The Kyoto Station premises itself is like a mini-city, jam-packed with shops, restaurants, and entertainment.

    And trust me; you haven't seen a train station until you've seen this architectural wonder! It's like a gateway to the future, right in the heart of Kyoto.

    But wait, there's more! Just a hop, skip, and jump away is the iconic Kyoto Tower, offering breathtaking views of the city. Want to explore other parts of Kyoto or even venture out of town? With access to various train and subway lines, public transportation here is a breeze.

    Whether you want to explore the central Kyoto neighborhood or catch a speedy Shinkansen to another city, staying near Kyoto Train Station puts you in the perfect spot.

    Geisha District: A glimpse of traditional Japanese culture

    City Unscripted article image

    Oh, the magnetic allure of Gion, Kyoto's famous Geisha District! It's a world where time seems to have stood still, and every cobblestone echoes with whispers of tradition. Staying in Downtown Kyoto, I found myself just a short walk away from this mesmerizing enclave.

    The small traditional wooden houses lining the narrow lanes looked like they were pulled straight from a fairy tale. I couldn't help but feel a thrilling connection to Japan's rich history as if I'd stepped into a living, breathing work of art.

    Let's talk about those evenings in Gion. As the sun dips, the Geisha District transforms into a vibrant stage for the most elegant cultural dance. The clinking of tea cups, gentle laughter, and the graceful glide of geishas in colorful kimonos create an experience that's both exotic and intimate. Kyoto Station, it's effortlessly accessible by public transit, making it a must-see.

    But honestly, the best way to explore Gion is on foot, losing yourself in its timeless charm.

    Whether you're an enthusiast of Japanese culture or simply curious, Gion offers a memory that'll dance in your heart forever.

    Imperial appeal: Stay near Kyoto Imperial Palace

    City Unscripted article image

    Staying near the Kyoto Imperial Palace is like stepping into a painting. Everywhere you look, there's elegance, history, and serene Japanese Zen gardens. The area around the Imperial Palace, right in the heart of central Kyoto, is something special that you've got to experience.

    From the majestic Kyoto Gosho to the mind-calming Zen garden, it's not just a place; it's a vibe, a way of life, a taste of Imperial Japan.

    I've strolled around the Kyoto Imperial Palace more times than I can count, and it never gets old. The tranquility, the artistry, the history - it's something you don't want to miss. And staying close by? That's a treat all on its own.

    Imagine waking up to the soft rustling of leaves in a nearby Zen garden or walking the Imperial grounds as the sun sets, painting everything gold.

    If you're planning to visit Kyoto, consider a stay near the Imperial Palace; it's more than accommodation; it's an experience that'll make your trip unforgettable.

    Northern Higashiyama: Traditional charm

    City Unscripted article image

    Ah, Northern Higashiyama - now that's a spot that feels like stepping right into a classic Japanese painting!

    You're surrounded by small conventional wooden houses, Zen gardens, and a traditional atmosphere that's just oozing charm.

    As someone who loves to wander off the beaten path, I find myself drawn to this area time and time again. It's not just the postcard-perfect scene; it's the connection to old Japan, the warmth of wood, and the stillness of the gardens. It's a place where you can take a deep breath and feel the history.

    What's fantastic about Northern Higashiyama is that it's not just eye candy - it's within walking distance of some serious must-see spots. Take the Tenryu Ji Temple, for example, one of Kyoto's most famous temples. I've spent many mornings just wandering the grounds, soaking up the calm, learning a thing or two from the monks. If you're looking to stay in Kyoto, and want a blend of the traditional and the convenient, consider Northern Higashiyama.

    Staying near major attractions

    City Unscripted article image

    Picture this: waking up in the heart of Kyoto, grabbing a quick breakfast, and then stepping out to explore. You're not just close to one major attraction; you're near them all! Whether it's the serene Arashiyama Bamboo Grove that's calling your name, or the historic Nijo Castle, Downtown Kyoto and Central Kyoto have you covered. From the Kyoto National Museum to the lively Kyoto Aquarium, everything's accessible, often just a short stroll or a quick hop on public transportation. And after a day of adventures, the comforts of Kyoto Tower or the splendor of the Imperial Palace await.

    My time exploring Kyoto's wonders was a breeze, thanks to staying near these incredible spots. I remember the vivid orange gates of Fushimi Inari Shrine, just a stone's throw away, and the playful encounters at Kyoto Zoo that made my day.

    If you're aiming to experience Kyoto to the fullest, choosing accommodation close to these major attractions is the way to go. It's like having the entire cultural buffet of Kyoto at your doorstep, and trust me; you'll want to taste it all!

    Kyoto's museum district: A cultural stay

    City Unscripted article image

    Oh, the Kyoto Museum District! It's not just a place; it's a vibrant hub of art, history, and culture that dances to life right before your eyes. If you've ever dreamt of staying in a spot where every corner whispers a new secret of Japanese heritage, this is it.

    The Kyoto Municipal Museum is like the crown jewel here, showcasing a brilliant array of exhibitions. Staying in Downtown or Central Kyoto, you'll be right at the heart of this cultural whirlpool.

    Every morning feels like a fresh dive into a world waiting to be explored.

    But wait, there's more to the Museum District than just the Kyoto Municipal Museum. A myriad of other galleries and cultural institutions dot the area, each telling its unique tale. I still remember the time when a simple afternoon stroll led me to a hidden art gallery, unfolding the charm of modern Japanese artistry. It's like a never-ending festival of knowledge, creativity, and curiosity all around you. If you choose to stay in this part of Kyoto, you're not just booking a room; you're reserving a seat at Kyoto's grand cultural feast!

    Accommodation types in Kyoto

    City Unscripted article image

    Looking for a place to stay in Kyoto that won't break the bank? Well, you're in luck!

    Central Kyoto is brimming with budget hotels, mid-range inns, and traditional Japanese-style accommodations that'll have you living the Kyoto life without emptying your wallet.

    And the best part? You're right in the heart of Kyoto, close to all the action. From budget central Kyoto hotels to boutique mid-range spots, you've got options aplenty. Central Kyoto's affordable accommodations mean you can explore more, taste more, and do more, all while staying in comfort and style.

    Traditional Kyoto: A stay in Ryokans

    City Unscripted article image

    Oh, the joy of staying in a traditional Ryokan! If you really want to immerse yourself in what makes Kyoto unique, there's no place like a Ryokan.

    These traditional Japanese inns are everywhere, from bustling downtown Kyoto to the quieter parts of central Kyoto. It's like stepping into another world, where tatami mats grace the floors, and sliding paper doors invite you to explore.

    Want to know what makes Ryokans so special? It's not just the architecture; it's the hospitality and the whole experience that accompany it. Imagine enjoying a meticulously prepared traditional meal in your room or soaking in a hot onsen bath after a day exploring Kyoto's alleys and temples. That's a Ryokan for you – an authentic taste of Japan. So, if you're looking to visit Kyoto and want something more than a standard hotel, give Ryokans a try.

    Mid-range options in central Kyoto

    City Unscripted article image

    Central Kyoto is where the magic happens, friends, and guess what? You don't have to break the bank to enjoy it! I'm talking about quality mid-range options that let you have your cake and eat it too. The Royal Park Hotel Sanjo is just a stroll away from all the buzz. This place has become one of my go-to recommendations. It's classy, comfortable, and guess what? It doesn't wipe out your wallet. You're right in the heart of everything and can practically walk wherever your heart desires.

    But the Royal Park Hotel isn't the best or only gem in Central Kyoto's mid-range scene. A thriving list of accommodations blends affordability with a touch of luxury.

    What I love about these mid-range hotels is that they don't cut corners on the experience. You're treated like royalty without the royal price tag.

    Unique Kyoto: Boutique hotels

    City Unscripted article image

    Ready to add a splash of flair to your stay in Kyoto? Let's dive into the captivating world of boutique hotels. Nestled in spots like Downtown Kyoto and near Kyoto Station, these hotels are like hidden gems waiting to be discovered.

    Imagine walking into a place that's a harmonious blend of modern art and conventional Japanese customs. It's not just a luxury hotel either; it's an experience, an exploration of creativity and heritage, all within walking distance of Kyoto's bustling heart.

    I remember this one spot where each room was a different artistic statement, blending sleek, contemporary design with touches of Kyoto's timeless elegance. Do you know that warm, friendly vibe you've been looking for? These boutique hotels have it in spades, treating you like an old friend rather than just another guest. Whether you're an art enthusiast or simply want a unique place to lay your head, Kyoto's boutique hotels are a refreshing break from the ordinary.

    Vacation rentals in Kyoto

    City Unscripted article image

    If you're anything like me and crave that home-away-from-home feeling when you travel, Kyoto's got your back! Holiday rentals are making waves in this stunning city, and they come with a ton of perks. I stumbled across some gorgeous options around Kyoto Station, which puts you right at the hub of public transit. From chic apartments in Downtown Kyoto to traditional Japanese Inns in Central Kyoto, there's something to fit every taste and budget.

    What do I love most about these holiday rentals? The space and the freedom! You can rustle up your breakfast or brew that perfect cup of coffee without leaving your cozy nest. Plus, the locations couldn't be better. Many of these spots are just a hop, skip, and jump from the main attractions, yet tucked away enough to give you a tranquil retreat at the end of a day's exploring. And let's not forget the local hosts, who often have the best recommendations for hidden gems in the city.

    Which area to pick?

    City Unscripted article image

    Now, whether you're a first-time visitor or returning for another round, choosing where to stay in Kyoto can be quite the adventure itself.

    Downtown Kyoto offers a lively blend of old and new, where bustling markets meet historic temples.

    Stay here if you want to be in the heart of the action, with shops, eateries, and even traditional Japanese accommodations just around the corner.

    If you crave a quieter atmosphere with a touch of Zen, consider a stay in one of the central Kyoto neighborhoods like Higashiyama. Imagine waking up to the soft sound of temple chants and exploring ancient streets with a backdrop of picturesque mountains. And don't overlook areas near Kyoto Station if you're planning to explore beyond the city. Wherever you choose, Kyoto welcomes you with open arms, ready to unfold its treasures at every turn.

    In conclusion

    City Unscripted article image

    Embarking on a journey to Kyoto means diving into a world where tradition and innovation intertwine. From the alluring Traditional Japanese Inn to the chic Boutique Hotel, every traveler can find the perfect spot to stay in Kyoto. Picture yourself strolling through the bustling lanes of downtown Kyoto Nishiki Market or escaping to the tranquil Bamboo Forest, surrounded by Cherry Blossoms at Nijo Castle.

    Kyoto is a city that caters to every preference and pocket.

    Central Kyoto's many Mid Range hotel options place you in the heart of a vibrant culture, while the upscale indulgence of Hotel Grand Bach Kyoto awaits those seeking luxury. Whether shopping in quirky shopping arcades here, delving into Japanese comics, or simply soaking in the Cherry Blossom Season under a canopy of Cherry Trees, your ideal Kyoto experience awaits.

    Safe travels, and may you come to appreciate Kyoto's many facets as much as I do. Enjoy the shopping, the temples, and don't miss the Northern Higashiyama district

    Hello, curious traveler!
    Embark on a unique experience with
    Hello, curious traveler!
    Embark on a unique experience with
    City Unscripted Kyoto.
    Our personalized, private tours, led by local hosts, make you feel like you’re exploring the city with a knowledgeable friend. We’ll take you to well-known sights and reveal Kyoto’s hidden gems, unveiling stories typically missed by traditional tours. So unscript your journey, and see Kyoto through the eyes of our local hosts!

    We’ll pair you with the perfect host

    face animation 1
    face animation 2
    face animation 3
    face animation 4
    face animation 5
    face animation 6

    There is no better way to see a city than with a friend who lives there. This is why we carefully match guests with their perfect host based on interested, personality and type of experience so they can discover a city beyond the tourist trail.