Are you visiting Kyoto with kids and wondering what the best things to do in the city are? In this guide we will tell you why Kyoto is out favourite family friendly place to visit in all of Japan and let you know the best things to do in this remarkable city with children along with our best advice on how to get around, where to stay and more.
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Getting to Kyoto
If your first stop in your Japan itinerary is Kyoto then the closest airports are:
- Osaka for those who are arriving domestic or
- Kansai for an international visitor
However if Kyoto is not your first stop then one of the most likely places that you are coming from is Tokyo.
Kyoto is a really city to reach by high speed trains, the Shinkansen with kids from Kyoto and Osaka. Taking the bullet train to Kyoto might be expensive way to get there but in our opinion is so worth the money and was a highlight of our trip and it absolutely one of those Japanese bucket list experiences that really shouldn’t be missed.
The train to Kyoto from Tokyo takes approximately 2.5hours and if you are lucky you may even catch a glimpse of Mount Fuji on the ride.
So now you know the best way to get to the city, what about how about the best ways to get around the city itself. While we were in the city we used all of the below options with great success
Getting around Kyoto with kids
Now that you know how to get to Kyoto we will turn our attention for how to get around Kyoto city. I was actually surprised at how easy it was to get around Kyoto with littles, even with toddlers with all the things that come along with such as strollers.
In my opinion the best ways of getting around Kyoto with kids are:
Kyoto Tourist Taxis
When you exit the train station at Kyoto you will clearly marked the Kyoto Tourist Taxis. Unlike in other parts of the world where anything with the word tourists hikes up the price, the Kyoto tourist taxis are no more expensive than the regular ones but instead just guarantee you an English speaking taxi driver.
We used this a couple of times as our hotel was a bit further out of town but we had a great experience each time and had some great chats with our taxi driver about everything from the British Prime Minster to Mr Bean.
While the Shinkansen is the express trains to get between the major cities, if you want to visit some of the more local Kyoto sites then the best way to get around is via the local trains.
We always think the best way to see a city is by walking. Kyoto is a beautiful city and is even easy to walk around if you are traveling to Kyoto with a toddler or baby and have a stroller with you.
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!
Where to stay in Kyoto with kids aka the most family friendly hotels in Kyoto
Whenever you travel with kids, one of the biggest concerns is finding the right accommodation! You need the holy trinity of perfect location, enough space and family friendly amenities! In this guide we round up the most family friendly hotels in Kyoto to help you create the perfect family vacation in Kyoto!
Luxury – Four Seasons Kyoto – the perfect hotel for family friendly holidays to Kyoto
Mid range – Hotel Brighton – brilliant sized rooms perfect for Kyoto family trips! Located close to the imperial palace and nijo castle!
We stayed at Hotel Brighton! Famed as being ba 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!
Some might find the location a little far out of town, as it is closer to the Imperial Palace and Nijo Castle rather than the Gion District but we found it to be very convenient and we didn’t mind travelling slightly further (a short bus to the centre) in order to get a bit more space!
For an authentic experience: Stay in a Ryokan but check they allow kids!
If you would prefer to stay in an AirBNB we recommend staying with a super host which means they have received previously very high reviews! Always check with host for details and up to date information when travelling with kids!
Some ryokan and unique stay accommodation in Kyoto includes:
Best Things to Do In Kyoto with Kids
Looking for what to do in Kyoto with kids? There are so many things kids in Kyoto will love so in this section we will run through our favourite things to do in Kyoto for kids including practical information about how to get there and what to take to help you make the most of your family vacation in Kyoto!
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 consider booking this early bird tour!
You can read our full review of Fushimi Inari with kids here!
Nijo Castle – a great place in Kyoto for children
It doesn’t feature in many of the guidebooks top ten lists but in my opinion it really should and it is one thing that I would out on your itinerary for Kyoto with children! 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, Kyoto with children
Geishas are synonymous with Kyoto and one of the must do things in Kyoto with children! 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!
Manga museum – one of the best things in Kyoto for Kids!
This museum dedicated to Japanese manga is one of the best Kyoto attractions for kids! One if the biggest draws for visiting is to get your portrait done by a manga artist! A great souvenir! It is definitely one of the best things to do in Kyoto for Kids, and is a must especially if you are visiting Kyoto with teenagers!
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!
Best 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!
How long do you need in Kyoto with kids? What is a good Kyoto itinerary 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!
A good sample itinerary would be
Day One of the best Kyoto itinerary with kids
AM – Arashiyama Bamboo Foreset
PM – Golden Pavilion
Dinner – Gion and Geisha Spotting
Day Two of the best Kyoto itinerary with kids
AM – Fushimi Ianari
PM – Imperial Palace
Day Three of the best Kyoto itinerary with kids
Explore the Higashiyama District
PM – Manga Museum
Day Four of the best four day Kyoto itinerary with kids
Day Trip to Nara
What to eat on Kyoto for families
Traveling with toddler we were worried about what she would eat but we found the cuisine really diverse and toddler friendly and there are loads of great choices for restaurants in Kyoto for Families
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!
Travelling to Kyoto with toddler or baby – helpful hints and tips
- If you are travelling to Kyoto with toddler or baby in tow you might be wondering whether or not you should take a stroller to Kyoto! I would say if you have room and you have an umbrella stroller (the only type of stroller I would take to Kyoto) then by all means use it! While some places are stroller friendly however I would recommend leaving the stroller behind at places like Fushimi Inari and other temples where the surface is more likely too be uneven and where there are many steps
- Places in Kyoto get busy, especially when traveling in peak season and the summer gets pretty hot. We advise setting off early to make the most of your day and try and plan an indoor activity during the worst of the heat!
- It can be hot traveling around Kyoto with baby! Carriers can be useful in Kyoto but we recommend getting a baby carrier specifically designed for hot weather – you can check out our recommendations here!
If you are planning to travel to other parts of Japan with a toddler such as Tokyo then you should check out our guide!
Where to buy supplies in Kyoto with baby
If you are concerned with where to buy supplies when travelling to Kyoto with baby you shouldn’t! There are plenty of department stores and supermarkets where you can pick up ample baby supplies! We didn’t struggle in Kyoto buying nappies, milk and other baby essentials and would definitely recommend visit Kyoto with a baby!
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!