Top things to do

Top Choice Castle in Downtown Kyoto

Nijō-jō

The military might of Japan's great warlord generals, the Tokugawa shoguns, is amply demonstrated by the imposing stone walls and ramparts of their great castle, Nijō-jō, which dominates a large part of Northwest Ky…
Top Choice Kaiseki in Downtown Kyoto

Giro Giro Hitoshina

Often referred to as 'punk kaiseki', Giro Giro takes traditional kaiseki and strips any formality so you're left with great food but in a boisterous atmosphere and with thousands more yen left in your pocket. In a q…
Top Choice Homewares in Downtown Kyoto

Aritsugu

While you’re in Nishiki Market, have a look at this store – it has some of the best kitchen knives in the world. Choose your knife – all-rounder, sushi, vegetable – and the staff will show you how to care for it bef…
Top Choice Arts & Crafts in Downtown Kyoto

Zōhiko

Zōhiko is the best place in Kyoto to buy one of Japan's most beguiling art and craft forms: lacquerware. If you aren't familiar with just how beautiful these products can be, you owe it to yourself to make the pilgr…
Top Choice Market in Downtown Kyoto

Nishiki Market

Head to the covered Nishiki Market to check out the weird and wonderful foods that go into Kyoto cuisine. It's in the centre of town, one block north of (and parallel to) Shijō-dōri, running west off Teramachi cover…
Top Choice Japanese in Downtown Kyoto

Menami

This welcoming neighbourhood favourite specialises in obanzai ryōri – a type of Kyoto home-style cooking using seasonal ingredients – done creatively and served as tapas-size plates. Don't miss the delicious spring …
Top Choice Cafe in Downtown Kyoto

Café Bibliotec Hello!

As the name suggests, books line the walls of this cool cafe located in a converted machiya (traditional Japanese townhouse) attracting a mix of locals and tourists. It’s a great place to relax with a book or to tap…
Top Choice Tea in Downtown Kyoto

Ippōdō Tea

This old-style tea shop sells some of the best Japanese tea in Kyoto, and you'll be given an English leaflet with prices and descriptions of each one. Its matcha makes an excellent and lightweight souvenir; 40g cont…
Top Choice Noodles in Downtown Kyoto

Honke Owariya

Set in an old sweets shop in a traditional Japanese building on a quiet downtown street, this is where locals come for excellent soba (buckwheat noodle) dishes. The highly recommended house speciality, hourai soba (…
Top Choice Tempura in Downtown Kyoto

Yoshikawa

This is the place to go for delectable tempura with a daily changing menu. Attached to the Yoshikawa ryokan, it offers table seating, but it’s much more interesting to sit and eat around the small intimate counter a…