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    Insider's guide to multi-day tours in Kyoto: guide or solo

    By Mei Nakamura

    September 27, 2023

    Insider's guide to multi-day tours in Kyoto: guide or s

    Greetings, I'm Mei. Having spent my entire life in Kyoto, I've come to deeply appreciate the evolving beauty of this city through its distinct seasons. Each corner of Kyoto, from its historic temples to its bustling marketplaces, encapsulates the essence of Japan.

    When I'm not reliving my own memories in this timeless city, I'm guiding travelers on private Kyoto tours with City Unscripted. I've had the privilege of showing visitors both the famed sights and the quieter spots, often overlooked. But today, I'm not here to sell a tour. Instead, I want to share my knowledge and love for this city with you. One thing has always been clear to me: to truly grasp Kyoto's depth, multi-day tours are paramount. The vast array of activities and sights in this area simply can't be condensed into a single day. And in my experience, travelers find the heart of Kyoto when they allow themselves more time to wander, discover, and understand.

    If you're planning your journey to Kyoto, I'm here to provide insights from a local's perspective, ensuring you make the most of your visit.

    • Planning your multi-day tours
    • Multi-day tour day 1: Kyoto's historical heartbeat
    • Multi-day tour day 2: Kyoto's scenic sights and hidden corners
    • Multi-day tour day 3: Delving deeper into Kyoto's mystique
    • Multi-day tour day 4: Nara day-trip
    • Multi-day tour day 5: Osaka day-trip
    • Eating your way through Kyoto
    • Finding your perfect stay in Kyoto: From traditional ryokans to modern hotels
    • Hands-on Kyoto: Workshops to weave into your multi-day tour
    • Maximizing your multi-day tour: Tips and tricks
    • FAQ & insider tips on multi-day tours in Kyoto
    • In conclusion


    Planning your multi-day tours

    Kyoto has been my home since forever, and let me tell you, it's a city that continues to enchant, no matter how long you've lived here. The rhythm of this age-old city, an intricate dance of tradition and innovation, is something you won’t grasp in just a day's visit.

    Make the most of your multi day tour

    So, for travelers like you, who really want to immerse in Kyoto's authentic tapestry, I always advocate multi-day tours. Why? Because one day you could be watching concerts in tucked-away temple corners and the next, indulging in culinary activities that epitomize Japan's gastronomic legacy. Trust me, every moment in Kyoto is a sight to behold, an experience to savor.

    Now, based on countless strolls and stories shared with visitors, I’ve jotted down some itineraries. Whether you're adventuring solo, with that lovely spirit of curiosity, or perhaps considering a private tour tailored to your unique wishes, there's an essence of Kyoto I've tried to capture here. Dive into these suggestions, let your passions be the compass, and discover Kyoto as not just a destination, but an emotion.

    Multi-day tour day 1: Kyoto's historical heartbeat


    Enjoy your multi day tours in kyoto

    Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion): Begin your day with the shimmering beauty of the Golden Pavilion. Every time I visit, I'm reminded of why this Zen temple is a staple for any multi-day tours.

    Ryoan-ji: Just a short distance away, this temple houses Japan's most famous rock garden. It's an exercise in tranquility and contemplation.


    Main Kyoto attractions

    Gion: Immerse yourself in the charm of the Geisha district. Those wooden machiya houses make it one of Kyoto's top attractions.

    Kiyomizu-dera: Standing atop a hill, this temple gives a panoramic vista of Kyoto. Trust me; you'd want to spend some time here, especially during sunset.

    Multi-day tour day 2: Kyoto's scenic sights and hidden corners


    Explore Kyoto's Bamboo Grove

    Arashiyama Bamboo Grove: The dense bamboo stalks rising into the sky create a surreal experience. You'll feel like you've stepped into another world, reminding you of the diverse attractions of Japan.

    Tenryu-ji Temple: Located in the same area, this World Heritage Site is surrounded by a peaceful garden, reflecting the Zen spirit.


    Cultural multi day tour

    Philosopher's Path: A stone-paved path that offers serenity and seasonal beauty, making it one of my personal favorites.

    Nanzen-ji Temple: The area around this Zen temple is a mix of old aqueducts and lovely gardens, offering a taste of old Kyoto.


    Traditional Tea Ceremony: Round off your day by embracing the rich traditions of Japan through a tea ceremony.

    Multi-day tour day 3: Delving deeper into Kyoto's mystique

    Enjoy the hidden side of Kyoto


    Fushimi Inari Taisha: Start early to avoid the crowds at this iconic shrine. The endless red torii gates, in my opinion, are a testament to Kyoto's timeless appeal.


    To-ji Temple: This UNESCO site, with Japan's tallest pagoda, always fills me with a sense of wonder.

    Sanjusangen-do: Home to a thousand life-sized Kannon statues, this temple showcases Japan's awe-inspiring craftsmanship.


    Pontocho Alley: Wander through this narrow lane lined with eateries and bars. It's Kyoto after dark at its best.

    Multi-day tour day 4: Nara day-trip

    Explore Nara

    Morning to Afternoon:

    Todai-ji Temple: The grandeur of the world's largest bronze Buddha in Nara is something you'll carry with you long after your Japan trip.

    Nara Park: Mix with the free-roaming deer, considered divine messengers. Their gentle presence makes the area even more special.

    Late Afternoon:

    Kofuku-ji Temple: This five-story pagoda is another gem in Nara, and it's a lovely place to wrap up your day tour before heading back to Kyoto.

    Multi-day tour day 5: Osaka day-trip

    It can also be a good alternative to day 4's nara day-trip itinerary above.


    Osaka Castle: I always tell travelers that if Kyoto is the heart, Osaka is the lively spirit of Japan. Start with Osaka Castle. Nestled in a sprawling park, this iconic castle reflects both the might and history of Japan.

    Sumiyoshi Taisha: One of Japan's oldest shrines, it offers a different shrine architecture unique to the area, a break from the usual.


    Shinsaibashi and Dotonbori: Dive into Osaka's vibrant shopping districts. From high-end brands to local trinkets, it's a shopper's delight. And when you talk of sights in Osaka, the neon frenzy of Dotonbori can't be left out. Don't forget to sample some takoyaki (octopus balls)!

    Umeda Sky Building: Elevate your afternoon, literally! The observation deck here provides a bird's-eye view of the sprawling city.


    Kuromon Ichiba Market: Round off your day trip with a visit to this bustling market. Every time I visit, I'm reminded of Japan's incredible culinary variety. From fresh seafood to deliciously ripe fruits, it's a treat to the senses.

    Eating your way through Kyoto

    Whenever friends from outside Japan visit, I always remind them that Kyoto isn't just about ancient temples and serene gardens. It's also a delightful journey for your taste buds. Planning your multi-day tours around food isn't just a treat for your palate, but it's also a unique way to understand Kyoto's heart.

    Let's get started. For breakfast, how about wandering to Nishiki Market? It’s where I've spent a lot of my time savoring the most authentic flavors of Kyoto. From freshly made tamago (sweet omelet) to skewers of delicious mochi, this market is a kaleidoscope of sights and tastes.


    Visit Kyotos kitchen at Nishiki Market

    For lunch, if you're craving something wholesome, there are countless ramen joints scattered throughout Kyoto. One of my personal favorites is "Ichiran Ramen" near the Shijo area. It offers a rich broth and customizable toppings that always hit the spot. Seek out a local favorite based on the area you're exploring that day.

    Come evening, indulge in a traditional kaiseki meal. This multi-course dinner, deeply rooted in our culture, offers seasonal and regional specialties. It's not just a meal, it's an experience!

    But remember, while these suggestions might guide your culinary journey, Kyoto always has more to offer. Some of my most memorable moments have been stumbling upon quaint tea houses after a long day's tour or finding a hidden soba noodle shop after an afternoon of activities. Trust me, every corner of this city holds a delicious secret. So, stay curious and let your hunger lead the way!

    Finding your perfect stay in Kyoto: From traditional ryokans to modern hotels


    See activities close t your accommodations

    Let’s talk about where to rest your head during your multi-day tours. Kyoto, while rooted deeply in traditions of old Japan, embraces both the past and the present. And this reflects in the array of accommodations on offer.

    If you're looking for an authentic slice of Japan, I can't recommend ryokans enough. Imagine wooden interiors, tatami mats underfoot, and the comforting embrace of a futon after a day of exploring the city's sights.

    Some of these ryokans even come with an onsen bath. There's something truly magical about soaking in these hot springs, especially after spending time wandering Kyoto's streets. Gion and Higashiyama are areas where you'll find many such ryokans, perfectly based to explore nearby attractions.

    But if modern comforts are more your style, worry not! Kyoto boasts a range of contemporary hotels with all the amenities you'd expect. From luxury suites overlooking the Kamo River to boutique hotels nestled in lively districts, there's something for every kind of traveler.

    A tip? If you plan to crisscross Japan, considering the proximity to Kyoto Station might save you time during your travels.

    In essence, whether it's the age-old charm of a ryokan or the chic style of a city hotel, Kyoto ensures your stay is as memorable as the journey itself.

    Hands-on Kyoto: Workshops to weave into your multi-day tour

    You know, beyond the picturesque temples and bustling markets, there's another way to really connect with Kyoto: diving into our traditional workshops. Imagine yourself, seated in a peaceful room, learning the intricate art of kimono making. The meticulous patterns, the soft fabrics, it's a beautiful journey through time and tradition.


    Hand on activities in Kyoto

    Or perhaps you'd rather master the ceremonial steps of matcha tea preparation? There's a certain magic in whisking the vibrant green powder, tasting the deep flavors, and feeling a piece of Kyoto's soul with every sip.

    These workshops aren't just activities, they're intimate windows into our way of life. So, while charting out your tour, consider weaving in one or two. They offer a hands-on experience that truly brings you closer to the heart of Kyoto's rich cultural tapestry.

    Maximizing your multi-day tour: Tips and tricks


    If there's one thing I've learned from showing travelers around my hometown, it's how to make the most of your multi-day tour in Kyoto.

    Let's start with the break of dawn. Mornings here are pure magic. Not just because of the soft sunlight painting our temples, but also because it's when the city is at its calmest. Fewer crowds mean you can truly appreciate the serenity and beauty of places like Fushimi Inari or the bamboo groves of Arashiyama.

    Kyoto multi-day tour: Tips and tricks

    Now, here's something vital: don't rush. I've seen so many visitors trying to cram everything in, only to miss out on the soul of Kyoto. Multi-day tours aren't just about checking sights off a list. They offer the luxury of time. Take a moment to just sit by the Kamo River, watch locals go about their day, or maybe even strike up a conversation with a fellow traveler. Savor the small moments; they often make the most cherished memories. Trust me, by slowing down a bit, you'll experience Kyoto in a way many others might miss.

    FAQ & insider tips on multi-day tours in Kyoto

    FAQ's for your next day tours

    Q: Are multi-day tours of Kyoto guided? A: Absolutely! Many multi-day tours come with knowledgeable guides. However, there's also the option of venturing out solo with a thoughtfully planned itinerary. If you're someone who enjoys a more tailored experience, consider booking private tours that can be customized based on your unique interests.

    For instance, City Unscripted offers bespoke tours that align perfectly with what you're eager to discover.

    On that note, when booking, always remember to do a bit of homework. Dive into reviews, perhaps even reach out to past travelers for their insights. It's essential to ensure the tour not only covers the major sights but also resonates with what you want from your Kyoto journey. And hey, a little insider tip from Mei: the most memorable tours are often the ones where you feel a personal connection, so choose wisely!

    In conclusion

    Kyoto! The city of my heart and a treasure trove of Japan's rich history and vibrant culture. It's a place that whispers ancient tales through its temples, streets, and the very air you breathe. Whether you choose to meander through its alleys with guided multi-day tours or set out with your personal itinerary, trust me, Kyoto has a way of leaving an indelible mark on your soul.

    Take your time, soak in every experience, and let the city unravel its stories to you. Each corner holds a promise of unforgettable memories, ones that will stay with you long after you've returned home. Safe travels, dear visitor, and may Kyoto embrace you as warmly as it has always embraced me!

    Hello, curious traveler!
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