- I was here: 3 days in October plus another in November 2008, and 3 days in May 2013.
- Recommended number of days: minimum 3, plus at least a day and a half more for the main day trips in case Kyoto is our base.
- My score: 5/5. Exceptional.
I have not visited all of Asia, but I dare to say that Kyoto is the most beautiful big city on the continent and one of the most beautiful cities in the world. So much so, that it was not bombed even once in the Second World War, such is its beauty that it was the only Japanese city exempted from the attacks. That explains its quiet and classic atmosphere, far from the supermodern cities that proliferate in the rest of the country; Kyoto is, together with Nara, the pure essence of ancient Japan.
It was the capital from 794 to 1868, which explains the abundance of unequaled temples (more than 2000), walks and palaces, some considered among the best religious buildings in the world. Paradoxically, a large part is a city without touristic interest apart from restaurants and shopping; of its 828 km2 only 10-15% is interesting, but that percentage supposes a very large number of attractions, being most of them located in nearby areas. Kyoto is so incomparable that the only real problem is that after 3 days seeing some of the most spectacular Buddhist and Shinto temples in the world, we will get used to its beauty. It is not uncommon for some tourists to leave the third day after feeling that they are so saturated with visiting temples, that they all start to look alike. That is why taking the city as a base and making day trips to slightly different places is the best strategy to follow, so that our minds rest and the next day again we feel like more Kyoto. Taking into account the most remote (and least visited) areas in the city it would take almost a week to be able to visit everything interesting, and that’s not counting the possible day trips. Almost 60 million visitors a year, a number that continues to grow to the displeasure of residents, can not be wrong. Me, at least, I do not think I’m ever tired of going.
WHAT TO SEE
- ITINERARY: THE BEST OF KYOTO IN ONE OR TWO DAYS
- ARASHIYAMA AND ITS BAMBOO FOREST
- HIGASHIYAMA SOUTH AND KIYOMIZU TEMPLE
- HIGASHIYAMA NORTH AND THE SILVER TEMPLE
- THE FUSHIMI INARI TAISHA
- TRAIN STATION AREA
- CENTRAL-NORTH: GOLDEN TEMPLE, IMPERIAL PALACE AND CASTLE
- KURAMA, KIBUNE AND OHARA
ONE DAY EXCURSIONS
- HIMEJI’S CASTLE
- WHEN TO GO
- HOW TO GET THERE
- HOW TO MOVE AROUND
- ACCOMMODATION AND RESTAURANTS: NISHIKI MARKET AND GION, THE DISTRICT OF GEISHAS