Although Japan has many attractions, the ancient capital of Kyoto always gives a special impression. For many people who have traveled to many places, major cities such as Tokyo or Osaka are still merely cities, streets with buildings, like Singapore or Bangkok. It was quite boring. So, what to do in Kyoto in 2 days? Let’s check out our Kyoto 2 day itinerary blog on how to spend 2 days in Kyoto (48 hours in Kyoto) pefectly with the details of Kyoto travel itinerary 2 days and our real Kyoto trip itinerary for 2 days below to find out the answer!

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Cherry blossoms at Kiyomizu-dera Temple, the must visit place in Kyoto. | kyoto 2 day itinerary blog
Couple in kimono at Arashiyama bamboo grove, Kyoto
A couple wearing kimono and yukata at Arashiyama bamboo forests, Kyoto
gion district geisha kyoto (1)
Gion District at night | kyoto 2 day itinerary blog

Having been the ancient capital for over 1000 years of Japan, Kyoto still retains the intact architecture and values of a long-standing culture. Besides Mount Fuji, which represents the beautiful nature of the land of rising sun, Kyoto, actually represents the traditional cultural values of Japan.

Geisha / Geiko Mamehana tea ceremony in Kyoto
A Geisha in a tea ceremony in Kyoto.
kyoto kaiseki cuisine
Kyoto Kaiseki Cuisine

2 days in Kyoto: How to get to Kyoto from other cities of Japan?

Traveling from Tokyo to Kyoto

If you traveling to Japan and landing at Narita Airport, you can go straight to Kyoto without having to getting to the city center. The fastest way is to take the Narita Express line to Tokyo Station or Shinagawa Station, then transfer to the Shinkansen train to reach Kyoto. For both Narita Express and Shinkansen routes, you can use the JR Pass. Buy JR Pass in advance here: JR Whole Japan Rail Pass (Consecutive 7, 14, or 21 Days).

tokyo to kyoto by shinkansen
Shinkansen from Tokyo to Kyoto | kyoto 2 day itinerary blog

Alternatively, you can consider taking high-speed bus from central Tokyo to Kyoto in case you don’t buy the JR Pass. The bus tickets costs around 7.000–9.000JPY and take about 8–9 hours driving. The departure point of the bus is at Yaesu Gate – Tokyo Station or Bus Terminal Shinjuku at South Gate of Shinjuku Station.

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Highway Bus station in Kyoto. | kyoto 2 day itinerary blog

Read more: Tokyo to Kyoto — 4 fastest and cheapest ways on how to get to Kyoto from Tokyo.

Traveling from Osaka to Kyoto

From Kansai airport to Kyoto

If you traveling to Japan and arriving at Kansai Airport, you can also go straight to Kyoto with the Kansai Airport Express “Haruka” line. The non-reserve seat fare is 2.770 JPY or 3.080 JPY if you want to choose a seat (do not worry has no seat). The travel time from Kansai Airport to Kyoto takes 1 hour 20 minutes.

Haruka express train at the platform
Haruka express train at the platform
JR Haruka non-reserve seat (One Way)
JR non-reserve seat ticket (One Way) | kyoto 2 day itinerary blog

Alternatively you can choose the Limousine bus, the last station is Kyoto Station, the travel time is 1 hour 30 minutes with the ticket price of 2.550 JPY.

From central Osaka to Kyoto

From central Osaka you can easily take the JR Line for free with those holding the JR Pass. You take the subway in the city to Umeda station, then change to the JR Line and go straight to Kyoto Station. Travel time is only about 30 minutes.

Kyoto Station2
Kyoto Station

48 hours in Kyoto: Getting around and public transport in Kyoto

The two main means of transportation in Kyoto are train/subway or bus. Depending on the attractions, you can choose the optimal transportation plan for yourself. Usually you will getting to Kyoto at Kyoto Station, this station is located in the central area and from here can access other attractions.

If you don’t want to get headache when have to calculate the travel costs, you can buy Day Pass tickets (1 day or 2 days) for convenient traveling. With these tickets you will get unlimited access to the Kyoto subway and bus routes (except for some routes) during 1-2 days. Tickets can be purchased at the ticket counters at the station, the 1 day ticket cost is 1.200 JPY for adults, and 600 JPY for children. 2-day tickets for adults is 2.000 JPY and children is 1.000 JPY.

Kyoto-one day Bus-Pass
Kyoto City Bus & Kyoto Bus One-day Pass | kyoto 2 day itinerary blog

For 2 days in Kyoto I combine go by bus, subway and train in this city to reach the attractions. You need to distinguish subway is a train system operating in the city, serving the locals. The train is the local train that can reach more remote locations such as the Arashiyama bamboo forest, and some train routes can use the JR Pass. Link to buy in advance here: Randen + Subway 1 Day Pass.

Kyoto 2 day itinerary blog: Where to stay in Kyoto?

Hotel New Hankyu Kyoto
Hotel New Hankyu Kyoto | what to do in kyoto in 2 days

Kyoto is actually not too large, there are many locations you can refer to choose place to stay for yourself. I recommend you should choosing hotel near Kyoto Station, which easy to use public transport and this is the city central with many restaurants, shops, bars, especially the central shopping area right under Kyoto Station. If finances are not an issue for you, you can choose to stay at Ryokan.

Staying at a traditional ryokan in Kyoto the ultimate Japanese Experience
Staying at a traditional ryokan in Kyoto the ultimate Japanese Experience | what to do in kyoto in 2 days

In addition, you can refer to another area is Gion district. This is the old town that surely you will have to spend a whole day to wander around the streets here. If book hotel here is also very good, you can get up early to take pictures to avoid rush hour is always crowded.

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Gion District. | what to do in kyoto in 2 days

Kyoto trip itinerary: Is 2 days enough for kyoto?

2 days in Kyoto or 48 hours in Kyoto is not a long enough itinerary to fully experience an ancient Kyoto imbued with the thousand-year-old cultural history of the ancient capital of Japan. But with limited time, people can accept it temporarily. What are the attractions in this ancient land, please list it in my itinerary in comment section.

Boat riding on Hozu-gawa river, Kyoto.
Boat riding on Hozu-gawa river, Kyoto. | what to do in kyoto in 2 days

What to do in Kyoto in 2 days? — Day 1: Take the train from Osaka to Kyoto in the morning

Getting to Kyoto Station

9AM: I arrive at Kyoto Central Station, check in the hotel about 5 minutes walk away. This is a small hostel located near the station, designed in a traditional style with a bit of boutique. Everything is quite ok and suitable for those who solo traveling, simply need a warm place to sleep in the evening.

After checking in, leave my luggage in the hostel and head straight back to Kyoto Station. Right in the basement of the station is a pretty big shopping mall with full of shops, stores and restaurants. I eat lunch right at the station.

Arashiyama bamboo forest

Couple in kimono at Arashiyama bamboo grove, Kyoto
A couple wearing kimono at Arashiyama bamboo forests, Kyoto | what to do in kyoto in 2 days

This bamboo forest is very famous in Kyoto and Japan and only takes about 30 minutes traveling by train. There is a very easy way to getting there, you just catch the JR line from Kyoto Station, free for those who hold the JR Pass. Remember get off at Saga-Arashiyama Station and walk about 15 minutes to reach the bamboo forest.

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One of the must visit place in Kyoto. | 48 hours in kyoto

Arashiyama bamboo forest is located in an area that resembles a suburb of Kyoto. This place has been planned for tourism development for a long time, so on the way from the station to the forest, there are many walking streets and crowded tourists, with countless shops of both sides of the road. If you explore quickly, it will take half a day to discover all of Arashiyama, while slowly walking, it will take a whole day.

kimono walk
Kimono walk | 48 hours in kyoto

Kinkaku-ji Temple

From Arashiyama Bamboo Forest I took a direct bus to Kinkaku-ji Temple. This temple is also known as the Golden Temple because the upper part of the temple is covered with a beautiful layer of gold. Admission is 300 JPY but really worth the money. The temple is located in the middle of a lake and reflex the charming scenery surrounding creates a peaceful and poetic setting.

Kinkaku-ji Temple

| 48 hours in kyoto

Address: 1 Kinkakujicho, Kita Ward, Kyoto, 603-8361, Japan
Hours: 9AM–5PM

Nishiki Market and walk around in the evening

After leaving Kinkaku-ji Temple, it was about 4pm, I took the bus to Nishiki Market was quite difficult because all signs of the buses write in Japanese and not easily recognizable. I finally got on the bus to Nishiki night market, strolled around in the evening and enjoyed delicious street food.

Nishiki Market Kyoto's Traditional Kitchen
Nishiki Market Kyoto’s Traditional Kitchen | 48 hours in kyoto

Nishiki-Market-Street-kyoto-things to do in nishiki market kyoto (3)

Located in: Nishiki Market Shopping District
Address: 609 Nishidaimonjicho, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto, 604-8054, Japan
Hours: 9:30AM–6PM

Dinner at Pontocho Alley

Pontocho Alley
Pontocho Alley, Kyoto | 48 hours in kyoto

This alley is small but quite long right on the banks of the Kamogawa River, and is the gathering place of the busiest, bustling shops and restaurants in Kyoto. You can find most traditional Japanese dishes here.

Kyoto 2 day itinerary blog — Day 2: Gion district and Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine

Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine

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Fushimi-Inari-taisha shrine | 2 days in kyoto

Another famous shrine in Kyoto. At 8am I took the subway to Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine. Plan to have breakfast here because there are many street food vendors outside the shrine. Decided to eat Japanese rice cakes but it didn’t seem very smart. The taste is not suitable, not delicious and the price is very high (500 JPY for 2 small cakes).

Fushimi Inari-taisha, Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kyoto temple, Japan
Thousands of Torri gates

Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine extremely famous for its thousands of Torri gates, a feature of the land of the rising sun. Only when you experience it, you can see the beauty and ancient beauty of the shrine. It is a mile-long road with thousands of Torri gates lined up. There is a separate entrance and exit.

Fushimi Inari Shrine - One of most famous shrine in Japan (1)
Inari Ōkami, the God of rice | 2 days in kyoto
People bow outside of Inari shrine in Kyoto

Address: 68 Fukakusa Yabunouchicho, Fushimi Ward, Kyoto, 612-0882, Japan
Hours: Open 24 hours

Yasaka Shrine

Yasaka Shrine
Yasaka Shrine in Gion | 2 days in kyoto

Although this temple is not very famous, it is also quite beautiful, large and the surrounding space is more open than other famous temples.

Address: 625 Gionmachi Kitagawa, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, 605-0073, Japan
Hours: Open 24 hours

Walking in Gion district

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A geisha in Gion district | 2 days in kyoto

The busiest and most bustling district in Kyoto with its signature old streets. This place is also the place that attracts the most tourists. If you want to take photos but few people, you have to come here early in the morning, and from mid-morning onwards will be very crowded.

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Tourists take photos with Geisha | 2 days in kyoto
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Gion District
Shirakawa in Gion District, Kyoto, Japan
Shirakawa in Gion District, Kyoto, Japan | kyoto travel itinerary 2 days

Enjoy a bowl of cold soba noodles in a small restaurant in Gion before exploring the old town here:

| kyoto travel itinerary 2 days

Kiyomizu-dera Temple

Another must visit temple in Kyoto with architecture made entirely of wood. At the end of Gion street and you’ll reach this large temple.

And by the end of the afternoon, when the sunset began to fall, the time when I returned to the temple area was also very impressive: Kiyomizu Temple. If you can get up early, you should come here at dawn when deserted tourists. And in the afternoon, you can only shooting while waiting for people to pass by. The view from a nearby slope to the temple under the beautiful sunset also is stunning.

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Kiyomizu-Dera Temple in Autumn | kyoto travel itinerary 2 days
Stunning sunset | kyoto travel itinerary 2 days

Address: 294 Kiyomizu, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, 605-0862, Japan

Geisha street

Geisha, Hanami-koji Street, Gion, Kyoto
Geisha, Hanami-koji Street, Gion, Kyoto | kyoto trip itinerary

People often gather in this neighborhood before sunset to wait for the Geisha pass by. The Geisha will work in the evenings and they will only walking through this neighborhood for a while. Seeing Geisha firsthand is a very desirable thing for first-time visitors to Japan.

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Geisha
geisha-gion district
Geisha at Gion district | kyoto trip itinerary

Dinner at Pontocho Alley

Delicious sushi | kyoto trip itinerary

Continuing to explore Kyoto cuisine at Pontocho Alley, tonight I decided to eat my first Sushi on a 15-day journey to explore Japan. It felt so good because it was the first time I sit at the counter and the chef served each course. Very delicious sushi, especially in the cold weather, sitting in a warm room, sipping some sake is so wonderful.

Some best day tours, trips, activities and transfer services, tickets in and from Kyoto you can refer to

Arashiyama Bamboo momiji bridge
Arashiyama Bamboo momiji bridge. Credit: Kyoto travel blog.

Are you looking for more Kyoto travel guide and top things to do in Kyoto: Tours, activities, attractions and other things? Read more: Kyoto travel blog — The fullest Kyoto travel guide blog for a budget trip to Kyoto for the first-timers.

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