Known for its shrines and spring cherry tree blossoms, Kyoto is one of Japan's most beautiful cities. Having been the capital for more than 1,000 years and having never been bombed in WWII, it has retained many fantastic structures through a collection of intriguing districts backed by a ring of mountains.
Kyoto is mainly about shrines, parks and gardens, yet there are also options for getting active or enjoying the nightlife. Cultured evenings are particularly good here and can be enjoyed at Gion Corner, which is a popular theater. For a spot of geisha ogling, this area is also a must.
Kyoto is loaded with souvenir shops, boutiques, malls and arcades and is the best place to head for traditional Japanese items and handicrafts. You can find pottery, textiles, and high quality paper items in all parts of the city.
Kyoto's cuisine (Kyo-ryori) is traditional and highly refined; aimed as it was at the wealthy and powerful during Kyoto's days as the royal capital. A multi-course meal (kaiseki ryori) in the swishiest places is the epitome of Kyoto imperial eating, with plays on fish being particularly popular.
Kyoto is a safe and friendly place for visitors, with low rates of crime and spotless streets. The country suffers from seasonal typhoons June through October and there are some dos and don't to observe, but most tourists get by without incident.
Kyoto's main offering to visitors is its amazing collection of shrines, temples and gardens. Although there are plenty of other attractions that all the family can enjoy, the likes of the Kyoto Imperial Palace and the Heian and Fushimi Inari Taisha shrines are must-sees.