If you only have a short amount of time in Kyoto, have no fear! While you should be there longer, life doesn't always allow you the most amount of time! I promise you can see so much in two days.
Need more? Here is everything you can't miss in Kyoto.
Here is a perfect itinerary to see Kyoto in only two days...
Start the morning eating at Sizuya Gion. This small bakery, by the gates of the Yasaka Shrine, is the perfect way to start your day. The inside has a small seating area where you can eat freshly baked bread, delicious sandwiches, and decadent pastries.
Note: The tour buses seemed to roll in around 9/9:30 am and the bakery (and attractions) got extremely crowded. I suggest starting your day before then if possible.
For lunch, stop in at Omen Kodai-ji. This is a branch of Kyoto's famous Omen noodle chain and a perfect place to stop while exploring. Try the signature udon noodles served in broth with a side of fresh veggies.
As dusk approaches head back to Gion. Walk the streets as the lights twinkle on, illuminating the tea houses and shops.
For a nice sweet break, stop in here for amazing traditional Japanese desserts. You can't miss it, the restaurant is attached to a gorgeous koi pond that many people stop at to take a picture.
If you want to save time you can also grab sweets at one of the many streets vendors on the main strip leading up to Kiyomizu-dera.
For a gorgeous night view go to into Kiyomizu-dera.
As the night winds down, head over to Kyoto Station. Take your pick from the many different restaurants and food stands. If you're on a budget and want cheap food, head down to the bottom most basement levels for a to-go box of food. There are over 100 stalls down here offering different specializes. Most stalls hold sales after 5 pm and you can find the already cheap food with discount stickers of up to 50% off.
Kyoto Station also has many sit-down restaurants, simply head up to the top floors for tons of different offerings from American to Italian and Ramen to Steakhouses.
In the morning head to Kyoto Station and grab breakfast at one of the many bakeries inside.
From the train stop you will see the huge shrine. Walk up to the gates and follow the winding paths through hundreds of orange torii gates. Do be aware that the gates wind 4 km up a mountain side that at some points is very steep. The ground is always well maintained but be careful which footwear you choose in the morning.
As you head down the mountain stop in at Vermillion Cafe for some amazing drinks to give you a caffeine boost!
Take the same train back to Kyoto Station and transfer to the San-in Line line (JR train). Take that line out to Arashiyama. This time you are on the train for about 6 stops and will depart at the Saga-Arashiyama Station.
From the train stop, follow the massive crowds to the main tourist district.
Cross the bridge and have some lunch at Togetsu Cafe. The food is relatively inexpensive, the windows overlook the main road and bridge for some amazing people watching, and the seats of chargers for your electronics.
After lunch head to Monkey Park. Admission is 500 Yen and after you pay you are in front of the trail to the main pavilion. The trail takes around 20 minutes. The steps are mostly man-made but it is pretty steep. Spend some times enjoying nature on the way up. Once at the top there will be hundreds of monkeys so close to you! It truly is an amazing experience.
At your leisure, take the same train back to Kyoto Station. I suggest eating at the awesome conveyor belt sushi restaurant in the train station. It is actually a chain and is called Musashi Sushi (there is another one here). But even though it is a chain you should eat here because it is delicious, extremely fresh, and SO CHEAP.
And there you go, that is 48 hours in Kyoto!
While there is still so much more to see, this does cover a good amount of the top attractions! Head here for more help planning your trip in Kyoto.
One last thing... even though researching ahead of time is great, I definitely recommend bringing a guidebook along with you. Here are some books I recommend...
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