Travel itinerary | 5 days in Kyoto – Japan

My itinerary for 5 days in Kyoto.
My itinerary for 5 days in Kyoto.

You may have already seen everything we did while staying 6 days in Tokyo, now it’s time to know how awesome our trip to Kyoto was! You can get here my shared Google maps with the precise location of the great places we visited and also highlighted below a bit of our experiences.

I simply loved that city and would come back for sure! I just wish I had extra time (like a year or so :P) to explore more of Japan…

Day 1

Kiyomizu-dera
The “Pure Water Temple” is one of the most stunning places I’ve visited in Kyoto. Not only for the magnificence of those buildings but also for the spectacular views. A bit unfortunate that we were there during summer though. I do believe spring and autumn will give you an unforgettable landscape for truly memorable pictures.

Another thing to not miss is walking around the charming and narrow streets close to the temple. They are, as you might assume, surrounded by traditional Japanese-style dwellings, restaurants, and souvenir shops.

Kiyomizu-dera
Kiyomizu-dera
Kiyomizu-dera surrounds
Kiyomizu-dera surrounds

Fushimi Inari Shrine
This shrine is outstanding! While you walk a couple of kilometres up to reach the top of the mountain, you will pass through the Tori Gates covering most of the beautiful pathway. It is so pretty! The views going up to the mountain are amazing too. Just be careful during summer, I would recommend going there in the early morning to have a fresher weather. We did it in the afternoon, on a very hot day (around 36C, or 98F), and I can honestly tell you, we finished the walk pretty much exhausted. 🙂

Fushimi Inari Shrine
Fushimi Inari Shrine

Where to eat

Kendonya
Close to the fantastic Fushimi Inari Shrine you will find this family-owned udon restaurant. Not only with delicious homemade udon on their menu, but also other traditional Japanese dishes.

Chicken and egg rice bowl
Chicken and egg rice bowl

Gyoza Bar Anzukko
In case you are keen to try iron pot gyozas, this is the place to go. Just have in mind that there is a maximum number of gyozas you can order per table (yes, unbelievable, try to explain that to an empty belly :D). Apart of that, their gyozas are simply out of this world!

Anzukko Gyoza, cooked on a iron pan.
Anzukko Gyoza, cooked on an iron pan.

Day 2

Heian Shrine
This is another beautiful shrine in Kyoto, in which there is a paid garden that is totally worth the visit. You can see a traditional Japanese-style garden, packed with beautiful trees and flowers, and a serene environment.

Heian Shrine
Heian Shrine

Nijo Castle (Nijojo)
This is a 414-years-old castle in the middle of the city. You can walk around the gardens for free or pay to enter some restricted areas. We did just the free section, so I can only talk about the garden and surroundings. It is a beautiful place (like others in Kyoto), so in case you are in a hurry, you can skip this one.

Nijo Castle entrance lake
Lake around Nijo Castle

Nishiki market
In case you want to try some of the most traditional Japanese food, or is just curious to see different stuff, this is the place! It’s also an amazing place to buy Japanese sweets and souvenirs. Just keep in mind the market closes early, so check their timetable before going.

Nishiki market
Nishiki market

Where to eat

Ichiran Kyoto
This is a curious Ramen house. You order from a vending machine, then the waitress takes you to a booth (that’s right), and your food is served from a small window in front of you. Check here photos from my experience there. Ah, of course, their ramen is yummy and deserves more than a single visit to be fully appreciated. We’ve been there 3 times in less than a week – so you can easily tell this is a great place, right? 🙂

Ichiran ramen bowl.
Ichiran ramen bowl.

Kyoto Gogyo
This is the place to try modern Japanese food. They serve different styles of ramen, usually not easily found anywhere else, like the burnt miso ramen. DELICIOUS! 😋

Kogashi Shoyu-men simple (Burnt soy sauce ramen)
Kogashi Shoyu-men simple (Burnt soy sauce ramen)

Day 3

Kinkakuji
If you like gold this is the place to be (but you can’t take it home with you, unfortunately :P). The garden itself is not that big (there are better ones in Kyoto), but the golden temple in the middle is something remarkable. It’s a bit unfortunate you can’t enter the temple; also I recommend going early in the morning to avoid lines (they can get HUGE).

Kinkakuji
Kinkakuji

Ninnaji Temple
I’ve found this place very interesting. Paying for the Goten Palace you will be able to walk through the house, see their rooms, decorations, and all that beautiful minimalism that you can only find in the Japanese culture.

Ninnaji temple
Ninnaji temple

Kyoto Railway Museum
This is a must for train fans! (Hubby loved) In this museum you will find everything related to the Japanese transportation history, including previous Shinkansen models (bullet train). A very entertaining place to spend at least a couple of hours.

They also have some sessions where they run a simulation of different trains (of mixed generations) serving a few stops. Quite interesting to watch, despite being done exclusively in Japanese.

Kyoto Railway Museum
Kyoto Railway Museum

Where to eat

Kinugasa Zen
Close to Kinkakuji you will find this beauty called Kinugasa Zen udon house. There are many udon flavours, both cold and hot. The food quality was great and also the prices!

Atsutama bukkare udon - with broth
Atsutama bukkare udon – with broth

Tofu Cafe Fujino
Also around the Kinkakuji area (ok, for this one you might need to walk a bit), there is this amazing tofu place. Tofu Cafe Fujino is specialised, as the name clearly suggests, in tofu and soy products, with many vegan options to satisfy even the most selective tastes. You can have a traditional Japanese lunch there if you want, but we decided to try only their desserts. Their tofu cheesecake is a MUST.

Soy milk cheesecake.
Soy milk cheesecake.

Ramen Sen No Kaze
This is the BEST ramen in Kyoto EVER. I don’t need to say anything else, JUST GO THERE!

Yamato no Miso with gyoza - miso-based broth, with veggies, minced pork and spices, topped with three chased pork slices.
Yamato no Miso with gyoza – miso-based broth, with veggies, minced pork and spices, topped with three chased pork slices.

Day 4: Day trip to Nara

Kofukuji
While in Kyoto we took a day trip to Nara. To start we did a short walk to Kofukuji to see the second tallest pagoda in Japan. There is no photo because it was under restoration! Can you believe that? So this post is just a heads up to check things before going there. 😛

Kofukuji temple
Kofukuji temple

Nara Park
This charming park is right in front of another temple we wanted to visit (see below) and is full of deers! Aw, they are so cute, you can even pet them! I noticed there are stands selling a special biscuit to feed them.

Funny enough, I’ve also seen tourists trapped in a circle of hungry deers. So, in case you have kids, watch out for them!

Nara park
Nara park

Todaiji
This is one of the most outstanding temples I’ve visited there. You can’t really see how big this place is from the photo below, it’s unbelievable. Inside of it you will find a huge Buddha statue that made me speechless.

Todaiji temple
Todaiji temple

Day 5: Day trip do Osaka

Osaka Castle
This was another day trip from Kyoto. This time we decided to visit Osaka and our first stop was at the Osaka Castle. The castle itself is amazing, and all the park around is also great, nicely maintained. You can also pay to enter the museum inside the castle and go all the way to the top to have great views from Kyoto. Just a note so you don’t get disappointed as I did, the castle from inside is very modern, there is even a lift, so don’t expect anything very traditional as I did. 😜

Osaka castle
Osaka castle

Namba and Dotonbori street
Namba is a very busy suburb to explore while in Osaka. We decided to spend our afternoon walking around that area, especially along the famous Dotonboru Street. A good thing is to do is to wait until dark to see all the neons lit up.

Keep an eye open to spot the Glico man! (hint: easily spotted)

Dotonbori street
Dotonbori street

Where to it

Chibo
A good place to have authentic Okonomiyaki in Osaka. There are many different flavours, including sets for 2 people with very competitive prices. We ordered one of these sets, which included two pancakes, Japanese omelet and salad. Yummy!

Dotonbori yaki and Hiroshima yaki meal for two.
Dotonbori yaki and Hiroshima yaki meal for two.

Kyoto tips

Get a Suica card
As I’ve said on my blogs post about my 6 Days in Tokyo, you can also use the Suica Card in Kyoto. So, in case you doing both cities, keep the card with you!

Suica card
Suica card

Fresco Oike – Supermarket
Different from Don Quijote in Tokyo, this is a more traditional supermarket, full of good fresh options. We bought many fruits, veggies, and nuts there. Also, things for our breakfast and snacks to survive the long walks during the hot summer days.

I hope this itinerary can be useful for you too.
Please let me know if you used it or any hidden gem you might have discovered in Japan too!

Here is everything I’ve published about our trip to Japan.

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