Shinto shrine of Kyoto, Japan

Best of Kyoto Tour: Culture, Tradition, and Treasures

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Customizable Itinerary

This is a sample itinerary to inspire a personalized trip designed with your travel specialist

Countries Visited


Places Visited

Kyoto, Ohara

Suggested Duration

9 Days

Immaculate gardens and exquisite temples will create an enchanting ambiance during your 9-day best of Kyoto tour. You will experience culture, tradition, and custom on an immersive exploration of Kyoto’s serene foliage and ancient heritage sites. Your taste buds will tingle during a tea tasting and when sampling celebrated local cuisine. From feudal palaces to artisan traditions, you can embrace Japanese heritage in Kyoto.

Customizable Itinerary

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Trip Highlights

  • Experience the delicate beauty and alluring serenity of 13 Kyoto gardens, from world-renowned favorites like Sanzen-in to secluded meditative spots that are far from the tourist eye
  • Enjoy unique autumn openings of Nijo Castle and Gosho Imperial Palace, landmarks that are usually closed to visitors
  • Combine tranquil tea tasting with trips into vibrant Kyoto traditions, like food markets, townhouse neighborhoods, poetry huts, and pottery studios
  • Allow the senses to roam free and the stresses to slip away as this Kyoto tour immerses you in the serenity of a city, its culture, and its gardens
  • As well as Kyoto's not to be missed highlights, you'll also discover parts of the city that are predominantly far from the tourist trail
  • Delve into the heart of Kyoto's heritage with unique and informal talks on cuisine, architecture, Shinto, and shakuhachi
  • All lunches are included and the subtle creativity of Japanese cuisine is revealed with welcome and sayonara dinners
  • Two free days allow you to discover further parts of Kyoto with suggestions provided by your guide

Detailed Description

Kyoto comes alive in the fall: the temples are speckled with autumnal leaves and the city becomes elevated by a blanket of mystique. This is a serene time of year; a time when palaces and temples host special fall openings and kaleidoscopic dusk colors seemingly continue for hours. Kyoto's gardens blossom with an untamed splendor yet their beauty remains diaphanous and de-emphasized, nothing boastful in their charismatic pathways or veils of seduction. This tour takes you to 13 gardens, mixing eternal favorites with hidden delights from one of the world's great cultural cities. Kyoto is ancient Japan; home to 1600 temples, 400 Shinto shrines, and 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Yet tradition doesn't just live on in the architecture, the heritage is also revealed through everything from food markets to calligraphy, and flute recitals to making sweets.

This 9-day best of Kyoto tour delves deep into the heart of ancient Kyoto, using the city's world-renowned gardens as its focus. Each is absolutely unique, crafted by artists to complement the tranquility and charm of the city. Some flourish with bursts of vibrancy as pathways take you past carp filled ponds and resplendently curved bridges; others are more humble, places of reflection in a city of artistic indulgence. All have an inspiring ingenuity and absolute harmony. Throughout the tour you experience an eclectic collection of Kyoto's gardens, from the works of famed master Kobori Enshu to sublime collections surrounding 12th century temples. Some are well regarded as can’t miss Kyoto highlights. Others provide an off the beaten track showcase of why the gardens garnered so much fame. Accommodation at the Shunkoin Zen Temple Guesthouse further enhances the serenity while organized lectures add fresh layers of knowledge to a city of utopian treasures. This tour is capped at 12 travelers and all transfers are by private vehicle.

Discovered amongst the gardens are Kyoto's exquisite highlights, including unique fall openings at Nijo Castle and Gosho Imperial Palace. You'll explore the city's finest temples, like Sanjusangendo and Kiyomizu-dera, as well as Shinto shrines that radiate spirituality. There are natural delights to discover like Arashiyama bamboo forest as well as guided tours through food markets and traditional townhouse neighborhoods. The detailed itinerary unveils ancient Japan, but like a Tendai Buddhist temple, there's no interruption to the calmness. Stresses melt away and tension escapes from shoulders. While this is a culture and arts based tour, there's a hypnotic feeling of escaping into another world. Two free days are included so you can explore new parts of Kyoto (suggestions are provided) and there are ample stops to enjoy traditional tea overlooking soporific gardens. This tour is the complete taste of Kyoto, both in its aesthetic impressions and the incumbent pull of equanimity.

For more itinerary planning ideas, visit Zicasso's Japan tours page.

Starting Price

$4,675 per person (excluding international flights)

Your Zicasso trip is fully customizable, and this sample itinerary is a starting place for your travel plans. Actual costs are dynamic, and your selection of accommodations and activities, your season of travel, and other such variables will bring this budget guideline up or down. Throughout your planning experience with your Zicasso specialist, your itinerary is designed around your budget. You can book your trip when you are satisfied with every detail. Planning your trip with a Zicasso travel specialist is a free service.

What's Included

  • Accommodations
  • In-country transportation
  • Some or all activities and tours
  • Expert trip planning
  • 24x7 support during your trip

Your final trip cost will vary based on your selected accommodations, activities, meals, and other trip elements that you opt to include.

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