Articles Real Estate Information Kyoto and Nara in Two Days – See as many World Heritage Sites as possible - Sample Itinerary

Kyoto and Nara in Two Days – See as many World Heritage Sites as possible - Sample Itinerary

Make planning a trip to Kyoto and Nara with this sample itinerary for your easy use and reference!

Planning a trip to Kyoto and Nara? These historic places of Japan have a high concentration of tourist attractions. If you have plenty of time, actually it would be much easier. But what if you have a limited time only -let’s say, just one weekend? It gets extremely hard to narrow down the options. But do not worry, we have made an itinerary for you!

Start your Day 1 at Kinkaku-ji Temple. Its famous Golden Pavilion (Kinkaku)—actually a pagoda made to house the sacred relics of the Buddha—has given this temple the popular name of Kinkaku-ji (“Temple of the Golden Pavilion”), however the official name of this temple is Rokuon-ji. The morning sunlight is just nice to take pictures of the shiny golden pavilion. The temple was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994.


The next destination is Ryoan-ji Temple. If you have seen a picture of Japanese rock garden, most likely this is the place. Ryoan-ji is famous for its rock garden, a garden representing mountains and water without using water. Usually, the water is expressed by white gravel with lines drawn on the surface. Apart from the garden, the dynamic nine dragons drawn on the sliding doors are worth seeing. This is also a World Heritage Site.


After having a quiet time looking at the zen garden, let’s go to Tetsugaku-no-michi (Philosopher's Path), which offers a beautiful landscape throughout the year. Walk along the path and find a place for lunch. There are restaurants, cafés, and souvenir shops in the area.

After lunch is Ginkaku-ji temple (the Temple of Silver Pavilion) which is often referred to in contrast to Kinkaku-ji temple. Its official name is Jisho-ji. The symbol of Jisho-ji is the Kannon-den, which is a national treasure. Ginkaku-ji does not look as gorgeous as Kinkaku-ji, but embodies the beauty of simplicity. There is a walking path that goes up a hill which offers a magnificent view of the temple and the city.


Ninen-zaka and Sannen-zaka are two of Kyoto's most attractive lanes in the traditional Higashiyama district, leading you to Kiyomizu-dera Temple. Along the lanes are souvenir shops, cafés, and dessert shops. If you are a little tired of walking, you can stop at one of those shops to get a soft-served matcha ice cream or a candied fruit skewer to give your body a boost.

Kiyomizu-dera Temple is founded in 778. The temple is also part of the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Main Hall stands on the steep cliff of Mt. Otowa. The wooden stage that protrudes from the Main Hall is solidly built, using a traditional Japanese construction method. The spectacular view that the stage offers – especially cherry blossoms in spring, lush green in summer, red and yellow leaves in autumn and snow coated trees in winter – can be enjoyed any time of the year, and the view of the stage and the structure holding the stage from the path that leads to Otowa-no-Taki waterfall is just amazing.


Check-in to your hotel and give your tired legs a little break, before heading out again for a walk along the Kamogawa River to find a place for dinner. There is a wide variety of restaurants and bars available in the area, ranging from Japanese to Mediterranean, Spanish, Italian, and many more, so you can choose what you feel like.

If your hotel is located near the Kamogawa River, it is such a peaceful moment to have a breakfast looking at the morning light shining on the river and watching long-legged birds also enjoying their brekkie in the river.

Check-out your hotel and let’s make our way to Byodo-in. This is another World Heritage Site. If you have a 10-yen coin, look at its face… The Phoenix Hall of Byodo-in was chosen as the design of the coin in 1951. To enter the Phoenix Hall, you will need a separate ticket (and probably an extra wait time), but even if you do not get to enter the Hall or have time to wait, walking around the Hall and visiting the Hoshokan Museum is worth your time. The museum is filled with National Treasures and Important Cultural Properties.


Say good-bye to Kyoto and we head to Nara. It takes about an hour by car or by train to get to Nara Park and Todaiji-Temple from Byodo-in.

Todai-ji Temple is one of the world’s biggest wooden structures that houses the Great Buddha. The seated height of this bronze buddha statue is about 15-meter. One of the pillars of the temple has a hole in the same size as the nostril of the buddha statue. You can easily spot the pillar as there is a queue of people trying to go through the hole and taking pictures. After seeing the Great Buddha, do not forget to visit the museum and feed the wild deer in the park with crackers.


The last destination of Day 2 is Hōryū-ji Temple. The grounds of the temple house the world's oldest surviving wooden structures, conveying images of Japan as it existed more than 1,300 years ago. Today, the temple is composed of the Western Precinct (Saiin Garan), which is centered around the Five-Story Pagoda and the Main Hall (Kondō), and the Eastern Precinct (Tōin Garan), which is arranged around the Hall of Visions (Yumedono). The entrance ticket is \1,500 per adult, expensive compared to other temples in the itinerary, but you can visit three areas in the temple premises with one ticket. Gentle afternoon sunlight gives a nostalgic look to the wooden structures and the fact that you are standing in front of 1,300-year-old structures which were built with wood that probably were even decades older just awes you.


This is the end of the trip! You can catch a train to either Osaka or Kyoto from Horyu-ji Station on the JR Line, depending on where you go next.

Read more:

Let’s visit world heritage sites in Japan! (Part 1)

Let’s visit world heritage sites in Japan! (Part 2)

Looking for a holiday home in Japan to enjoy the natural beauty of each season? Contact our PropertyAccess team here.