Ryokans in Kyoto

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Best Kyoto Ryokans

Fully deserving of its reputation as Japan’s most beautiful city, Kyoto is an intriguing mix of the ultra-modern and an abundance of stunning, well-preserved traditional attractions. With over 2,000 temples and shrines, ancient palaces, and impeccably designed gardens, Kyoto’s imperial history is everywhere to be seen. The city’s rich cultural heritage embodies the best of authentic Japanese architecture, including the traditional Kyoto ryokan, and affords visitors a tantalizing glimpse into an illustrious past.

Things to see in Kyoto

The Zen temple of the “Silver Pavilion” is a jewel of Higashiyama culture, also famous for the iconic traditions of the tea ceremony and Noh theater. The tranquil site comprises a number of elegant buildings and a striking sand garden—take a leisurely stroll around the grounds and drink in the beauty of this peaceful setting. For history buffs and night owls, check out Gion, home to Japan’s most famous Geisha district. Its narrow side streets retain traces of its glory days, in the shape of well-preserved ochaya (teahouses), offering typical Japanese evening entertainment including games, music, and dancing. If you’re interested in traditional Kyoto cooking, book a tour of the Nishiki Food Market, where your guide will give you expert advice on the use of local ingredients. Sample some sake at a former brewery, and finish your culinary excursion with a 90-minute cooking class, during which you’ll unlock the mysteries of creating perfect sushi and miso soup.

Ryokans in Kyoto

There is a broad range of old and new ryokan accommodation in Kyoto city center, as well as in the surrounding countryside. With tatami floors, communal bathing areas, and sliding doors, the emphasis in these traditional Kyoto ryokans is on peaceful and discreet service. Breakfast and dinner are often included in the daily rate, while upscale establishments offer more private arrangements for dining. Minshuku represent a more affordable Kyoto ryokan option, tending to feature communal dining and less formal service. For a fun modern twist, try a novel capsule ryokan in Kyoto, where venerable tradition meets futuristic design.

Where to stay in Kyoto

The famous weaving district of Nishijin, which gives its name to a process of spectacular kimono design, is a must for those seeking the ‘old Kyoto’, with many machiya, or traditional townhouses, offering authentic Japanese-style hospitality. Home to the National Museum, and containing the exquisite Ishibei-Koji lane as well as a plethora of breathtaking temples and shrines, the Southern Higashiyama area also has one of the best selections of ryokans in Kyoto. If you prefer shopping for artisan local specialties and exploring the city’s bustle on foot, stay close to the covered arcades of Downtown and be near some of the best sushi bars in Kyoto.

How to get to Kyoto

The nearest international airport for visitors to Kyoto is Osaka’s Kansai Airport. From here, you can take an express train to Kyoto in around 80 minutes. If you’re visiting the city as part of a more extensive tour of Japan, treat yourself to a ride on a famed ‘bullet train’ from Tokyo—journey time is just over 2 hours. For travel within the Kyoto city area, two subway lines, north–south (Karazuma) and west–east (Tozai), efficiently bisect the metropolitan area. To explore further afield, city buses are a comfortable and affordable way of reaching outlying areas while enjoying scenic views.

Kyoto travel guides

Kyoto Travel Guides

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