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Kyoto Temple Guide

Kyoto Temple Guide

Kyoto is home to over 1,600 temples, making it a top destination for architecture lovers. With many dating back to the 11th century and hundreds built since then, it can be hard to decide which to see. Here are the temples you can't miss in Kyoto.


Famous for its Zen garden made of seemingly arbitrarily (but in fact, very purposefully) placed stones, Ryoan-ji is a favorite temple among locals and tourists. The rock garden is the highlight, and the grounds have the air of a secret, unspoiled piece of nature. 


A moss-covered gate greets visitors at the small Honen-in Temple. Step in a few feet further, and you will be greeted with a small bridge that crosses a scenic pond. Honen-in is a must for nature lovers seeking a little piece of solitude in a busy city. 


The "Silver Pavilion" is one of Kyoto's most famous temples. The view from behind the temple complex spans over Kyoto, with mountains rising in the distance, and some of the best spots on the temple grounds include the moss garden and a sand garden. 


After seeing the Silver Pavilion, your next stop should be the Golden Pavilion, or Kinkaku-ji. Situated on a pond, this structure is a majestic sight. Dense, lush forest paints a colorful backdrop behind the temple. 


The five-storied wooden pagoda at To-ji temple is the tallest of its kind in Japan, and it is easily accessible from within Kyoto's city center. For pagoda lovers, it's a must-see temple.


This interactive temple is fun for the whole family. An open-air pathway wraps around it, allowing visitors to take in the outer view and the temple at the same time. The Otowa Waterfall is also on the premises, and visitors can drink from the falls using instruments provided.


Nestled at the foot of the Hagashiyama Mountains, Shoren-in Temple is a hidden gem in Kyoto. The temple is peaceful and even illuminates a spectacular garden pond in the evenings during some parts of the year.


The landmark temple in the Arashiyama district of Kyoto, Tenryu-ji should not be missed. This mountain escape boasts a pond that stretches all the way to a forest, which gives way to mountains rising in the distance.

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2 Tours and Activities

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Kyoto and Nara 1 Day Trip - Golden Pavilion and Todai-ji Temple from Kyoto

Kyoto and Nara 1 Day Trip - Golden Pavilion and Todai-ji Temple from Kyoto

Discover the history and religions of ancient Japan during this full-day exploration of Kyoto and Nara. See Kyoto’s UNESCO World Heritage-listed Kinkaku-ji and Nijo Castle, along with its Imperial Palace. Then drive from Kyoto to Nara to explore its own World Heritage Site, Todai-ji Temple (including Great Buddha Hall), plus Kasuga Shrine. You also visit Nara’s deer park and sample a Japanese and Western-style meal for lunch. Your Nara and Kyoto visit also includes a guide, vehicle transport, and all entrance fees.
  • 11 hours
  • Free Cancellation

Kyoto Morning Tour - Golden Pavilion and Kyoto Imperial Palace from Kyoto

Kyoto Morning Tour - Golden Pavilion and Kyoto Imperial Palace from Kyoto

Marvel at the some of the top UNESCO World Heritage-listed temples and palaces of ancient Kyoto on this half-day tour. This quick introduction to the sights of Kyoto covers Nijo Castle, Kinkakuji Temple (Golden Pavilion), and the Japanese Emperor’s former Imperial Palace—a perfect way to see the city if you’re short on time. Your guided morning Kyoto excursion includes entrance fees and transport between sites by vehicle.
  • 4 hours 30 minutes