Tour description provided by Viator
Tour Kyoto’s famous landmarks all in one day, traveling by rail from Osaka! Visit three UNESCO World Heritage sites in the former royal capital, including Nijo Castle, Kinkaku-ji Temple (Golden Pavilion) and Kiyomizu Temple. You'll observe classical Japanese life in the elegant gardens of Heian Shrine, explore the Kyoto Imperial Palace and view 1,001 Bodhisattva statues at Sanjusangendo Hall. A local guide offers informative commentary throughout your day trip, including lunch, until you return to Osaka by train.
Transfer to the Osaka railway station after morning hotel pickup and hop aboard the JR rapid service train, accompanied by your guide. The train ride takes approximately 30 minutes to Kyoto, Japan's former capital and the emperor's residence from 794 until 1868. Set out to explore iconic sites by comfortable coach while your guide informs your group about the city’s rich cultural heritage.
Start your full-day tour of Kyoto highlights at Nijo Castle, a 17th-century UNESCO World Heritage site that housed Tokugawa shoguns for 265 years. View the castle’s impressive fortifications such as the wide moat, heavy gate and massive stone walls — in contrast with its lavish interiors decorated in gold leaf. Explore the lovely gardens that feature groves of plum and cherry trees, with great photo opportunities during any season.
Note: When Nijo Castle is closed you’ll visit Ryoan-ji Temple instead.
Next, your guide reveals the splendor of UNESCO World Heritage-listed Kinkaku-ji Temple, home to the celebrated Golden Pavilion. Stroll through one of the world's most authentic Japanese gardens at Kyoto's most popular Zen temple before heading to the Kyoto Imperial Palace. This ancient palace was the residence of the imperial family until the capital was relocated to Tokyo in 1868, and clearly shows the Japanese aesthetic for purity, simplicity and tranquility.
Note: When the Kyoto Imperial Palace is closed, the tour will visit Kitano Shrine (Kitano Tenman-gu) instead. This famous shrine, known as the god of study, has been designated a national treasure. It is especially worth seeing for its Japanese plum blossoms and colored leaves.
After a Japanese-style lunch (vegetarian option available) and the opportunity to shop at the Kyoto Handicraft Center, re-board the coach for Heian Shrine. Your guide will point out the brightly colored shrine with its vermilion pillars and green roof that, along with enchanting inner gardens and ponds, reflect the elegance of life in the ancient Japanese court.
At Sanjusangendo Hall, explore Japan's longest wooden structure, which honors the goddess of mercy. You’ll be rewarded with the sight of the 1,000-armed wooden statue of Kannon, in addition to 1,001 Bodhisattva statues standing alongside her.
Continue your tour with a visit to Kiyomizu Temple, another spectacular UNESCO World Heritage site. Enjoy panoramic views of Kyoto from its lofty terrace, surrounded by cherry and maple trees. This is a great place to take in the changing seasons — especially the breathtaking canopy of blossoms in spring.
Your tour concludes with a guided trip on the JR rail back to Osaka Station, where you’ll make your own way back to your hotel.