Kyoto is absolutely my favorite place that we visited in all of Japan! And it is a place that you must budget enough time for (we didn’t and we regret not extending our stay even longer)! It is the perfect place to learn about Japanese culture, history and food at a much less frantic place than Tokyo! Kyoto with kids should really be on any families’ Japan bucket list. In this post we round up the best things to do on Kyoto with kids, where to stay in Kyoto and out other top tips for visiting Kyoto with kids!
Best Things to Do In Kyoto with Kids
Golden pavilion aka Kikakuji with Kids
The Golden Pavilion is one of the most iconic sites in all of Kyoto! Unsurprisingly therefore it can get really busy! My top tip for visiting the golden pavilion with kids is to make sure you get there early especially if you are visiting in summer to beat the crowds and the heat!
There are lots of steps at the pavilion so it’s best not to take a stroller and use a carrier instead!
The golden pavilion is further out of town than most Kyoto attractions!! We decided to get a taxi rather than public transport and I think with the heat and our itinerary this was a great decision. But it can be done on public transport on s combination of train and bus!
If you are debating whether or not to visit all I can say is it is definitely worth the trip and it is even more beautiful in real life!
Temple and grounds entrance fee 400 Y/adult, 300 Y/child 6+.
Looking for a tour featuring this then we recommend booking this early bird tour!
Shrines may not on paper seem like the most family friendly of places but no visit to Kyoto is complete without a visit to Fushimi Inari Taisha shrine.
You need a couple of hours here depending on how quick you walk and how high up you want to walk! But be warned the shrine is full of steps – you are walking up a mountain after all! This is not a place for a stroller so make sure your little one is up to walking or bring a carrier!
How to get there
- There are train and metro stations nearby. Fushimi Inari Shrine is located just outside JR Inari Station, the second station from Kyoto Station along the JR Nara Line (not served by rapid trains). The shrine can also be reached in a short walk from Fushimi Inari Station along the Keihan Main Line which was our chosen route.
Looking for a tour featuring this then we recommend booking this early bird tour!
You can read our full review of Fushimi Inari with kids here!
Nijo Castle with kids
It doesn’t feature in many of the guidebooks top ten lists but in my opinion it really should! The castle was built in 1603 by the first Shogun of the Edo Era!
It is a vast complex built up of several open to the public buildings as well as extensive and spectacular grounds! Our favorite part of the day was having to take off our shoes and explore the main castle building! We loved listening to the nightingale floors – which was apparently an early security measure! The Audio guide was definitely worth getting to cover more of the castle history!
Not to be missed are the castle grounds and gardens which were actually my favorite gardens that we visited in the whole of Japan!
Outside of the Castle is the Ninomaru Gardens, included in the entrance fee! These were my favorite Japanese gardens on our trip. We were lucky enough to visit when there were art installations in the grounds which added to the beauty!
600 Y/adult, 200 Y/children.
If you would like to do a tour of Nijo Castle – we recommend booking this private tour!
Gion and geishas
Geishas are synonymous with Kyoto! There are most frequently spotted in the Gion district which is also a great area to grab some foods. If you are lucky and there early evening you may catch sight of one! We did in the distance!
Even if you don’t see a geisha it is worth w visit to see the old wooden buildings and lanterns as you feel like you are being transported to a different time!
To get the most out of your visit to Gion we recommend doing this walking tour!
Older kids and teens will love this museum dedicated to Japanese manga! One if the biggest draws for visiting is to get your portrait done by a manga artist! A great souvenir!
Museum entry is 800 Y/adults, 100 Y/children.
Further out of town but well worth a visit in my opinion! It could be coupled with a visit to Nijo Castle as it is only a twenty minute walk between the two!
You can do an audio guide of the grounds and buildings and also enjoy more beautiful Japanese grounds!
If you would like to do a tour of we recommend booking this private tour!
Home to the highest density of shrines and temples in all of Kyoto! Filled with beautiful alleys lined with wooden buildings! Depending on who you are traveling with – we were with our toddler and we were there in September at midday when the weather was very hot so we didn’t spend as long there as we would have liked but we could have certainly on a different occasion spent a whole day there!
Kyoto has some awesome markets! Nishiki Market is perhaps the most well known and was definitely my favourite! This narrow covered market is a great place to try a variety of Japanese street eats!
Day trips from Kyoto with kids
Home to temples but most famously deer who come up right to you! A regret that we didn’t get to go there! The deer are protected and many people feed the deer on their visit!
We recommend doing this Nara Day trip from Kyoto!
Arashiyama bamboo forest
Another one that it is essential to get there early for! It gets so busy and you have the best light for photos here in the morning!
To make the most out of a trip to Arashiyama and to save hassle with kids we recommend you taking this day trip tour!
Where to stay in Kyoto with kids
We stayed at Hotel Brighton! Famed as being where Princess Diana stayed during her visit to Kyoto! Although not ultra luxurious as I am sure it once was the hotel is great for families as the rooms are on the larger side and it offers better value than some other luxury hotels in Kyoto!
Luxury – Four Seasons Kyoto
Mid range – Hotel Brighton – brilliant sized rooms for families! Located close to the imperial palace and nijo castle!
For an authentic experience: Stay in a Ryokan but check they allow kids!
Getting around Kyoto with kids
kyoto is an Easy place to explore with kids! As is my recommendation anywhere walking is a great way to get to know a city! But you will need transport to get around the major sites! We usedThe tourist taxi
Prices are the same but drivers have done English! We had some conversations about Theresa May and the ever popular mr bean on some of our journeys!
From Tokyo – take the shinkansen (bullet train). It may be expensive, but it is one of those once in a lifetime bucket list experiences you must do while inJapan. It only takes 2.5 hours to get from Tokyo to Kyoto! If you are lucky you may catch a glimpse of Mount Fuji on the ride!
The local trains can be used to visit sites such as Fushimi Inari and are easy to navigate with English maps!
When to Visit Kyoto with kids!
In the summer, Kyoto like the rest of Japan can get really hot and humid. I would say that this doesn’t necessarily have to put you off visiting at this time of year so long as you plan your dasy around the heat to make sure your little ones are as comfortable as possible. Also remember to take plenty of snacks and more importantly water.
Obviously Spring is a great time to visit Kyoto because of all the beautiful cherry blossoms that will be in bloom but be warned that this will mean that the hotel prices will soar and the tourist attractions will be a lot busier!
How long do you need in Kyoto with kids?
This is a case of do as I say not as I did! We only had three nights in Kyoto and it wasn’t enough! I would budget a minimum of 4 nights on Kyoto on any trip!
What to eat on Kyoto with kids
Traveling with toddler we were worried about what she would eat but we found the cuisine really diverse and toddler friendly!
Some of the best places to eat in Kyoto with kids included:
Department stores: a great place for reasonable priced food with good selection for kids!
Conveyer belt sushi: no trip to japan is complete without this experience!
If you want to splash out then visit the beautiful Pontocho alley for dinner
Don’t worry about ordering as many places have English menus and those that don’t have plastic replicas for you to choose from
Not many places we ate in had high chairs so if you need you may want to take a portable high chair with you!
Overall opinion of Kyoto with kids
We absolutely loved Kyoto with kids! It was our favourite stop on our japan trip and one of our favourite ever family travel spots! Just make sure you budget enough time to experience everything this great city has on offer!