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Japan

Kyoto Holidays

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Can-do Kyoto

Japan’s one-time capital, Kyoto is considered by many to be the country’s most alluring city. With a whole host of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and literally thousands of temples, it’s earned its reputation as the spiritual heart of Japan. So if you’re keen to delve into Japanese culture, and learn all about its rich history and traditions, a holiday to Kyoto is just the ticket.

Located on the island of Honshu, Kyoto feels worlds away from Japan’s current capital, Tokyo. Here, instead of cloud-piercing skyscrapers and blinding neon lights, you’ll find quaint streets packed with charming wooden teahouses, Shinto shrines and tranquil gardens. The main attractions to tick off on a Kyoto holiday include the beautifully ornate Kinkaku-ji and Ginkaku-ji – or Golden Pavilion and Silver Pavilion – plus the striking Fushimi Inari Taisha, one of the most iconic sites in the country.

Take a trip to the historic Gion district at some point during your holiday to Kyoto and you might spot geishas and maikos (trainee geishas) wandering around with their painted faces and colourful parasols. This is a great neighbourhood in which to enjoy an authentic tea ceremony, during which you’ll have the chance to sip carefully prepared cups of matcha.

A visit to the opulent Nijo-jo Castle should also feature somewhere on your Kyoto holiday itinerary. Dominating a large part of northwest Kyoto, the castle was built in 1603 as the official residence of the first Tokugawa shogun, Ieyasu. Complete with double moats, massive walls and watchtowers, it’s lavishly decorated inside with spectacular screens and intricate carvings.

Then, after working up an appetite from a full day of sightseeing, you can spend the evening feasting on traditional Kyoto cuisine. This is, after all, one of the most foodie places in the country. And while restaurants do serve all kinds of different Japanese foods, we recommend trying local specialities – particularly the multi-course haute cuisine known as kaiseki.

Things to do

Kyo ryori

Cultural experiences

Best time to go

Things to do in Kyoto

While there are signs of urban development, for the most part, a holiday to Kyoto is a journey back in time. Much of your break will be spent touring sacred sites and visiting historic attractions. There are over 2,000 temples and shrines dotted around Kyoto, but undoubtedly the most famous is Kinkaku-ji – or the Golden Pavilion. Covered in brilliant gold leaf, this three-storey building in the north of the city stands gleaming above the aptly named Mirror Pond. Then there’s Ginkaku-ji – the Silver Pavilion – which started life in as a retirement villa for shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa in 1482. And you certainly can’t miss Fushimi Inari-taisha. With its 1,000 vermilion torii gates, it’s one of the most striking sights in the city.

Show More
Show Less

If you want to enjoy a moment of peace during your Kyoto holiday, take a stroll around the Zen gardens of Daitoku-ji or Ryōan-ji. Or head to the Gion district for a chance to glimpse geishas as they go about their daily business. The covered Nishiki Market is another highlight of a Kyoto holiday. Packed with stalls selling all kinds of weird and wonderful foods, it’s where most of the city’s restaurateurs come to get their ingredients.

Show More
Show Less

Kyo ryori

Kyo ryori is the name for Kyoto cuisine. As the former capital of Japan, this city has a rich culinary history and is famed for its refined flavours and elegant presentation. Although you can find dishes from all over Japan in Kyoto, there are a few regional specialities you really should try. Thanks to its low mineral content, Kyoto's groundwater is among the softest in the country, meaning it’s ideal for making high-quality tofu, soba noodles, matcha tea and sake.

Show More
Show Less

While many parts of Japanese cuisine go heavy on fish, Kyoto’s distance from the coast means that, historically, the city did not have easy access to fresh seafood. Consequently, most popular fish dishes here, like nishin soba and kyozushi – or Kyoto-sushi – are made with dried fish. And vegetarians are particularly well catered for on a Kyoto holiday as the city has its own extensive range of heirloom vegetables, known as kyoyasai. Also, one approach to dining you’re almost certain to experience on your Kyoto holiday is kaiseki ryori – a traditional, multi-course meal served at many high-end restaurants and inns.

Show More
Show Less

Cultural experiences

There are a whole heap of experiences you can enjoy on a Kyoto holiday that are imbued with deep cultural significance. One of the most popular is chado – a traditional Japanese tea ceremony. Considered one of the three classical Japanese arts of refinement, along with incense appreciation and flower arrangement, chado is usually held in a tatami room and involves a host preparing and serving matcha – a powdered green tea.

Show More
Show Less

If you’re into arts and crafts, you might want to take the opportunity to learn about various hand-dyeing techniques, like yuzen and aizome. Or you could partake in cloisonné (enamel-work), folding-fan painting or woodblock printing classes. Alternatively, if you’re a bit of a foodie, book a cooking class to try your hand at preparing some delicious Japanese cuisine. And, if your Kyoto holiday falls in spring, why not join a hanami (cherry blossom-viewing) party?

Show More
Show Less

Best time to visit Kyoto

With its humid, subtropical climate, the best times for a Kyoto holiday are spring and autumn. From late March to May and also late September to November, the weather is mild, with highs usually in the top teens or low twenties. Spring is also a particularly pretty time to visit, as the whole city erupts in a sea of pink cherry blossoms. Then, come autumn, there’s another explosion of colour as trees take on fiery orange hues.

Show More
Show Less

Summer in Kyoto is hot and sticky, with top temperatures frequently getting above 30°C – and in July and August lows rarely dip much below 25°C. June and July also see particularly heavy rains. However, if you can cope with the weather, you’ll find the city relatively crowd-free at this time of year, and you might even be able to score a great deal on accommodation.

Winter is another quiet time for a Kyoto holiday as cold weather keeps visitors at bay. Highs don’t tend to get much above 5°C, but you’ll have the pick of the bunch when it comes to deciding where to stay. Plus, a light covering of snow adds a certain charm to the city in January and February.

Show More
Show Less

Things to do

Things to do in Kyoto

While there are signs of urban development, for the most part, a holiday to Kyoto is a journey back in time. Much of your break will be spent touring sacred sites and visiting historic attractions. There are over 2,000 temples and shrines dotted around Kyoto, but undoubtedly the most famous is Kinkaku-ji – or the Golden Pavilion. Covered in brilliant gold leaf, this three-storey building in the north of the city stands gleaming above the aptly named Mirror Pond. Then there’s Ginkaku-ji – the Silver Pavilion – which started life in as a retirement villa for shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa in 1482. And you certainly can’t miss Fushimi Inari-taisha. With its 1,000 vermilion torii gates, it’s one of the most striking sights in the city.

Show More
Show Less

If you want to enjoy a moment of peace during your Kyoto holiday, take a stroll around the Zen gardens of Daitoku-ji or Ryōan-ji. Or head to the Gion district for a chance to glimpse geishas as they go about their daily business. The covered Nishiki Market is another highlight of a Kyoto holiday. Packed with stalls selling all kinds of weird and wonderful foods, it’s where most of the city’s restaurateurs come to get their ingredients.

Show More
Show Less

Kyo ryori

Kyo ryori

Kyo ryori is the name for Kyoto cuisine. As the former capital of Japan, this city has a rich culinary history and is famed for its refined flavours and elegant presentation. Although you can find dishes from all over Japan in Kyoto, there are a few regional specialities you really should try. Thanks to its low mineral content, Kyoto's groundwater is among the softest in the country, meaning it’s ideal for making high-quality tofu, soba noodles, matcha tea and sake.

Show More
Show Less

While many parts of Japanese cuisine go heavy on fish, Kyoto’s distance from the coast means that, historically, the city did not have easy access to fresh seafood. Consequently, most popular fish dishes here, like nishin soba and kyozushi – or Kyoto-sushi – are made with dried fish. And vegetarians are particularly well catered for on a Kyoto holiday as the city has its own extensive range of heirloom vegetables, known as kyoyasai. Also, one approach to dining you’re almost certain to experience on your Kyoto holiday is kaiseki ryori – a traditional, multi-course meal served at many high-end restaurants and inns.

Show More
Show Less

Cultural experiences

Cultural experiences

There are a whole heap of experiences you can enjoy on a Kyoto holiday that are imbued with deep cultural significance. One of the most popular is chado – a traditional Japanese tea ceremony. Considered one of the three classical Japanese arts of refinement, along with incense appreciation and flower arrangement, chado is usually held in a tatami room and involves a host preparing and serving matcha – a powdered green tea.

Show More
Show Less

If you’re into arts and crafts, you might want to take the opportunity to learn about various hand-dyeing techniques, like yuzen and aizome. Or you could partake in cloisonné (enamel-work), folding-fan painting or woodblock printing classes. Alternatively, if you’re a bit of a foodie, book a cooking class to try your hand at preparing some delicious Japanese cuisine. And, if your Kyoto holiday falls in spring, why not join a hanami (cherry blossom-viewing) party?

Show More
Show Less

Best time to go

Best time to visit Kyoto

With its humid, subtropical climate, the best times for a Kyoto holiday are spring and autumn. From late March to May and also late September to November, the weather is mild, with highs usually in the top teens or low twenties. Spring is also a particularly pretty time to visit, as the whole city erupts in a sea of pink cherry blossoms. Then, come autumn, there’s another explosion of colour as trees take on fiery orange hues.

Show More
Show Less

Summer in Kyoto is hot and sticky, with top temperatures frequently getting above 30°C – and in July and August lows rarely dip much below 25°C. June and July also see particularly heavy rains. However, if you can cope with the weather, you’ll find the city relatively crowd-free at this time of year, and you might even be able to score a great deal on accommodation.

Winter is another quiet time for a Kyoto holiday as cold weather keeps visitors at bay. Highs don’t tend to get much above 5°C, but you’ll have the pick of the bunch when it comes to deciding where to stay. Plus, a light covering of snow adds a certain charm to the city in January and February.

Show More
Show Less

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Whether you're looking for luxury or simplicity, we've got the perfect holiday for you.

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Travelbag is fully protected by ATOL and ABTA, so your booking is completely secure.

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