Kyoto, Japan’s former imperial capital, is a city steeped in history, culture, and natural beauty. From majestic temples to serene gardens and bustling neighbourhoods, Kyoto has something to offer everyone. If you’re planning a trip to Kyoto and want to explore its hidden gems and local neighbourhoods, then a free walking tour is the perfect way to do it. In this blog post, we’ll share some of Kyoto’s must-see landmarks and off-the-beaten-path neighbourhoods that you can discover on a free walking tour.
1. Nishiki Market:
Start your walking tour at Nishiki Market, a bustling covered alley lined with over 100 small shops and restaurants. Here you can sample local Kyoto delicacies like pickles, Japanese sweets, fresh seafood, and more. A local guide can give you an insider’s perspective on the market, its history, and the ingredients used in traditional Kyoto cuisine.
Next, head towards the Gion district, Kyoto’s famous geisha neighbourhood. The charming streets of Gion are full of traditional wooden houses, tea houses, and shops selling traditional Japanese crafts. It’s also a great place to spot geisha and maiko (apprentice geisha) walking down the streets. A local guide can tell you more about the customs and traditions of geisha culture and point out important landmarks like the Gion Shrine and Hanamikoji Street.
3. Kiyomizu Temple:
Kiyomizu Temple is one of Kyoto’s most iconic landmarks and a UNESCO World Heritage site. This temple, perched on a hillside overlooking the city, offers stunning views of Kyoto and is particularly beautiful in spring when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom. Your guide can give you a tour of the temple, explain its history, and show you the best photo spots.
4. Philosopher’s Path:
After visiting Kiyomizu Temple, take a stroll along the Philosopher’s Path, a scenic pedestrian trail that follows a canal lined with cherry trees and temple gardens. This peaceful path is named after Kyoto University professor Nishida Kitaro, who used to walk along it while contemplating philosophy. Your guide can point out some of the hidden temples and shrines that line the path and share some stories about the local legends and traditions.
5. Fushimi Inari Shrine:
End your walking tour at Fushimi Inari Shrine, one of Kyoto’s most visited landmarks. This shrine is famous for its thousands of bright orange torii gates that form a tunnel-like path through the forested hills of Inari. A local guide can show you the best photo spots, explain the symbolism of the gates, and tell you about the shrine’s history and religious significance.
Kyoto is a city full of wonders and beauty, and a Free Walking Tour Kyoto is one of the best ways to experience it. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a Japan enthusiast, a local guide can help you navigate the city’s maze-like streets, share their knowledge of local history and culture, and show you hidden gems that you would never discover on your own. So, next time you’re in Kyoto, be sure to book a free walking tour and get lost in the charm of this amazing city.