Immerse Yourself in Kyoto's Rich Culture and Heritage: Check out the Best Kyoto Walking Tours to Take You on an Unforgettable and Exhilarating Journey of Discovery in This Beautiful Ancient City (2023)

Immerse Yourself in Kyoto's Rich Culture and Heritage: Check out the Best Kyoto Walking Tours to Take You on an Unforgettable and Exhilarating Journey of Discovery in This Beautiful Ancient City (2023)

If you are planning to visit Japan's cultural capital and are wondering how to explore this magnificent city up close then taking walking tours in Kyoto will be the best option for you. To make your trip planning simpler, we have curated 10 of the best walking tours in Kyoto from which you can shortlist the perfect ones based on your personal preference. These walking tours will surely take you on a memorable journey of discovery in the city which was the capital of Japan for more than a thousand years.

Why Walking Tours are Worth Your Time

A growing number of tourists are drawn to walking tours, particularly self-guided walks, because they allow them to experience their destination slowly and without technology. With this Kyoto Walking Tour guide, let’s delve into a curated list of tours that bring alive the fascinating history and culture of Japan. Walk around the city and get insights into its culture and its quirks such as the geisha practice, vintage tea shops, magnificent shrines, and also its incredible culinary culture. You may stumble across the city's best sake found in a century-old backstreet pub, marvel at the autumn foliage from a secret forest temple, or get lost in the cherry blossoms in a peaceful park - it’s all here! Given below are 10 best Kyoto walking tours along with the needed details that you need to pick the right one for you!

Top 10 Kyoto Walking Tours Worth Checking in 2023!

Kyoto is one of the frequently visited cities in Japan, along with Osaka and Tokyo. Tokyo is Japan's ultramodern capital, but Kyoto is renowned for its traditional vibe, as well as its temples, shrines and Japanese gardens. The city's abundance of traditional tea establishments, temples and shrines attracts travellers in droves.

Kyoto reveals a more conventional side of Japan in contrast to the glitzy and ultramodern Tokyo. Kyoto is a pretty unique place that is a fantastic travel destination and shouldn't be missed. It has numerous shrines, temples and geisha districts that seem to have been frozen in time, and tonnes of green tea.

Fushimi Inari Hidden Hiking Tour

This tour covers one of southern Kyoto’s most significant shrines. There are numerous fox statues scattered across the shrine grounds since foxes are believed to be Inari's messengers. The history of Fushimi Inari shrine dates back to before Kyoto became the capital in 794. The mountain trails are the main draw for most international tourists to Fushimi Inari shrine, although the shrine structures themselves are very beautiful.

This Fushimi Inari will be a unique tour because you will be guided through a hidden trail where you won’t get to face other tourists for a majority of your path. Starting from Tofukuji Station, you'll travel into a tranquil area and stop at a few small shrines before climbing the mountain. After that, a pathway will lead you through a beautiful bamboo forest and back to the main walkway, where the well-known vermilion torii gates are located. You spend the most of the tour wandering through a forest, so there is no direct sunshine. Additionally, since this is a small-group hiking tour, you can have a good time just like you would out with friends. You can book this 3-hour small group tour on Magical Trip at a cost of US$ 61 (about ₹ 5,000.00).

Kyoto Arashiyama Bamboo Forest & Garden Walking Tour

One of Japan's most amazing sites is the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove. The Arashiyama Bamboo Forest, a captivating grove of thousands of tall bamboo plants, sits at the centre of the neighbourhood. The Tenryu-ji Temple grounds, the JR Sagano-Saiin line train lines, and the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove are actually two different bamboo groves. Since the time of traditional Japan, Arashiyama has been a preferred setting for imperial and noble homes and temples (the Heian Period). Many of Arashiyama's bamboo groves were abandoned or transformed into residential areas as a result of economic development in the contemporary age. The government took action in 1967 to safeguard the last remaining bamboo groves, allowing you to enjoy the magnificent grove you see today.

This Kyoto walking tour will be a small group, 5 hours tour that you can book on Magical Trip at a cost of US$ 108 (about ₹ 9,000.00). It’s a fantastic chance to chase your everlasting memories in the bamboo forest of Kyoto with insights and knowledge from Arashiyama insider. At the Tenryu-ji temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, there will be a traditional meal served in the sho-jin style. What will you get in this package is entrance fees to 2 temples and 1 Japanese garden, matcha drink with a small tea ceremony snack, lunch, 5 hours of local guide and tour photos.

Kyoto Tea Ceremony & Kiyomizu-dera Temple Walking Tour

Japan’s favoured hot beverage is more than a tea. The traditional tea ceremony carries a lot of cultural significance. It is an important ritual that stands for peace, harmony, respect and purity. The tea ceremony contains a lot of intricate steps and takes a lot of planning.

Depending on the setting and the season, the tea ceremony's steps will vary, but often the host and the visitor will exchange a silent bow before ritually cleansing themselves in a stone basin by washing their hands and rinsing their mouths with water. Kiyomizu-dera is one of the most celebrated temples of Japan. It was founded around 780 on the site of the Otowa Waterfall in the forested hills east of Kyoto and received its name from the waterfall's clear waters. The most distinctive feature of Kiyomizu-dera is its wooden stage, which protrudes 13 metres over the hillside from its main hall. Jishu Shrine, a shrine to the god of love and marriage, is located behind Kiyomizu-dera's main hall. In this 3-hour long, small group tour you will explore this magnificent temple and get 2-3 food samplings, photos during the tour, tea ceremony experience, and exclusive insights on Japanese religious culture. You will find that the tour is available at a cost of US$ 87 (about ₹ 7,100.00) on Magical Trip.

Kurama to Kibune Walking Tour

Two charming tiny towns called Kurama and Kibune may be found in the Kitayama Mountains, 30 minutes via a scenic train from Kyoto. On this trip, you ascend the mountain between the two villages and pass Kurama-dera Temple on your way to Kibune. This excursion is ideal if you want to spend some time away from the city and enjoy some lovely trekking in the countryside that is available at an affordable cost of US$ 9 (about ₹ 730.00) per person on Chris Rowthorn Tours.

If you are in decent physical shape then you can do this trip, but before signing up, please make sure you are comfortable with the climbs and rough terrain. The tour guide will meet you at a Kyoto hotel or ryokan, or at a designated location at Kyoto Station. At Kyoto's Demachiyanagi Station, the stroll comes to an end. Visitors to Kyoto frequently skip through Kurama and Kibune, but when taken together, they make for an excellent half-day trip.

Gion Evening Walk

Gion is Kyoto's historic centre for entertainment. It is the domain of hostesses and geisha. The early evening, when the lanterns are lit and trainee geisha flit around the back streets on their way to their appointments, is when Gion is at its most evocative. Gion is packed with clubs, restaurants and traditional teahouses.

Starting at the district's patron shrine, Yasaka-jinja Shrine, this Gion evening stroll delves into the area's enchanted lanes. Before passing through the Pontocho entertainment zone on the opposite side of the Kamo-gawa River, you will go through what we believe to be the most charming single street in all of Asia. The most magical way to explore Gion is by taking this route, which is quite romantic. This will be a short, 2 hours Kyoto walking tour that you can book for just US$ 7.56 (about ₹ 615.00) per person on Chris Rowthorn Tours.

Tofuku-ji Temple to Fushimi-Inari Taisha Shrine

This is a guided Kyoto walking tour that you can book for just US$ 15.12 (about ₹ 1,250.00) per person on Chris Rowthorn Tours. The beginning of the walk is through Tofuku-ji Temple and leads through the woods to visit a secret small shrine. Here, the tori arcades—Shinto shrine gates—are enchanting. You will go via various winding lanes and streets after touring Tofuku-ji before climbing the northern slope of Mt. Inari, where Fushimi-Inari Taisha is located. You would then enter a realm filled with vermillion torii (Shinto shrine gates), secret shrines, odd stone statues, and, in some people's eyes, armies of ghosts and spirits.

You will finally exit at the base of Inari-san, where you tour the shrine's principal halls before boarding the train to take you back to Kyoto's central business district. Anyone in decent physical shape can complete this walk, which lasts for about four hours. You can meet the guide at Kyoto Station's meeting spot or at one of the city's hotels. Fushimi-Inari Taisha, where the walk ends, is connected to all areas of Kyoto by bus and train.

Northern Higashiyama Highlights and Secrets

The Kyoto neighbourhood of Higashiyama (Eastern Mountain) has the most attractions. Many of its most significant temples, shrines, gardens and museums are found there. While avoiding the more touristy attractions, this stroll shows some of the region's true features and natural beauty.

Along with other undiscovered locations, the road passes by the infrequently visited Honen-in Temple, the flower-lined Path of Philosophy (Tetsugaku-no-Michi), the expansive Nanzen-ji Zen Temple complex, and a tiny Shinto shrine known as Kumano Nyakuoji-jinja. At the start of the tour, your guide and you will discuss where you wish the excursion to terminate. Approximately, this will be a 4-hour small Kyoto walking experience that you can book at just US$ 15.12 (about ₹ 1,250.00) per person on Chris Rowthorn Tours.

Kyoto Full-Day Private Tour with Government-Licensed Guide

On this full-day private trip, learn about Kyoto's traditional and modern aspects. Utilise public transportation like a local as you see the city's most well-known attractions, including the UNESCO-listed Nijo Castle, the suburb of Higashiyama, and the streets of Gion, often known as Kyoto's Geisha district. This is a 6-hour, customised tour with a licensed local guide that you can book on Tripadvisor for just US$ 118 (about ₹ 9,810.00).

Following the tour, you can view parts of Japan's past that are inaccessible to regular tourists. Moreover, you will get an exclusive experience to shop at different temples and prefectures along the path. This quick journey is a wonderful and cost-effective way to see Fushimi Inari-Taisha Shrine! The best part is that Tripadvisor has beautifully planned this Kyoto walking tour into different durations and local shop guides. So, you will be ultimately getting an ease of experience throughout the tour too.

Kyoto Night Foodie Tour

Joining this guided tour will allow you to experience Kyoto's cuisine culture at a deeper level than you could on your own. As you explore, stroll through the Gion and Pontocho neighbourhoods, stopping at quaint taverns and eateries to try regional cuisine and drinks. This is a small duration tour of 3 hours approximately to have an amazing experience of a full course dinner with a dessert, 3 drinks with an option of alcohol or non-alcohol, tour photos and a local guide, all at a cost of US$ 130 (about ₹ 10,600.00) on Tripadvisor.

3 Hours Kyoto Insider Sake Experience

With more than 40 breweries, Kyoto's Fushimi Sake District is one of the country's largest manufacturers of sake (Japanese rice wine). Visit the Gekkeikan Okura Sake Museum, the biggest brewery in the area, and take a guided tour to learn about the old-fashioned brewing method. Finish the experience with a variety of sake tastings, each with 'otsumami' (traditional Japanese snacks). Your guide will be able to explain the fundamentals of sake as well as introduce you to new varieties that you may not have otherwise encountered. Additionally, your tastings will be matched with Japanese foods that will improve the tasting experience. This walking Kyoto tour will cost you just US$ 83 (about ₹ 6,800.00) on Tripadvisor to grab now!

Some Useful Tips for Walking Tours

We hope this Kyoto walking tours guide is useful for you to shortlist tours and helps you plan your trip much better beforehand. In this section we will cover 3 tips to create an exhilarating and unforgettable Kyoto walking tour experience!

  • Hydrate Yourself Well!

    Keep yourself hydrated, just like your mother always advised! Sorry, but alcohol like wine and cocktails don't count! Keep drinking water while you move. If you can, hydrate every 10 minutes. Sipping is preferable to gulping.

  • Trim Toenails

    It can be easy to overlook the fundamental footcare during a walking tour due to the abundance of activities that take place. If your toenails are very long, you can lose one. Consider delaying your pedicure until after you have finished your walk.

  • Carry a Basic First-Aid Kit!

    To be fully equipped for extensive walking or general travels, a basic first-aid pack is crucial. You'll be so grateful to have these goods on hand if you experience a blister, splinter, dry skin, chapped lips, or unexpected bugs.
From our editorial team

Plan Your Kyoto Walking Tours Meticulously

Once you have decided to explore Kyoto through walking tours you need to plan these tours meticulously. Kyoto sees a lot of tourists round the year and you should typically make your walking tour bookings well in advance. Also, please go through the details of the tour carefully - duration of the tour, nature and difficulty of terrain covered, etc. and choose the tours which meets the expectations of your family and loved ones. We hope this BP Guide will serve as a good starting point for your forthcoming trip to Kyoto. Share your experiences with us and stay connected for more such engaging content.