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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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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Address: 1 Kinkakujicho, Kita Ward, Kyoto, 603-8361, Japan
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.
Located in: Nishiki Market Shopping District
Address: 609 Nishidaimonjicho, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto, 604-8054, Japan
Dinner at Pontocho Alley
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
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 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.
Address: 68 Fukakusa Yabunouchicho, Fushimi Ward, Kyoto, 612-0882, Japan
Hours: Open 24 hours
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
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.
Enjoy a bowl of cold soba noodles in a small restaurant in Gion before exploring the old town here:
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.
Address: 294 Kiyomizu, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, 605-0862, Japan
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.
Dinner at Pontocho Alley
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
- Private Kansai International Airport Transfers (KIX) for Kyoto
- Limousine Bus Transfers between Kansai International Airport (KIX) and Osaka or Kyoto
- Shared Night Bus Transfers from Kyoto to Tokyo
- Private Kansai Airport (KIX) Transfers to Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, Uji, Kobe, or Arima
- Kyoto-Osaka Sightseeing Pass (1 Day/2 Days, Kyoto Pick Up)
- Kyoto-Osaka Sightseeing Pass 1 Day/2 Days (Pick up at Osaka)
- Randen + Subway 1 Day Pass
- Kyoto Temples & Shrines Day Tour from Osaka: Fushimi Inari-taisha, Arashiyama, Kiyomizu-dera & More
- Kyoto Perfect Day Tour from Osaka or Kyoto: Kiyomizu-dera, Fushimi Inari-taisha, Arashiyama & More
- Kyoto and Nara Day Tour from Osaka/Kyoto
- Kyoto Afternoon Tour from Osaka
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.