Last year, Kyoto dominated the World’s Best Awards by snagging the winning spot on list of best cities. This year, it broke the top 10. It’s easy to see how Kyoto continues to impress travelers year after year.
Visitors to the ancient city should get a taste of Kyoto by sampling the local treats. At the 400-year-old Nishiki Market (known as Kyoto’s Pantry), tourists and locals seek out the food shotengai, or shopping street. Here, you’ll find everything from expert sake sommeliers to Japanese pickles (tsukemono) vendors, and matcha-flavored ice cream.
One of the most fun things to do in Kyoto is to partake in a traditional tea ceremony. The Ippodo Tea Company has been around for three centuries, and it’s home to the Kaboku Tearoom. Here, master tea brewers steep and stir everything from matcha to sencha and hojicha loose-leaf teas. There are more than 40 green teas to choose from, and each one comes paired with traditional Japanese confections.
Kyoto’s Geishas aren’t just the stuff of legend. They can be seen commuting to work around dusk in their elaborate kimonos, traditional zori sandals, and striking makeup.
If you need a moment of Zen, you’ll have no trouble figuring out what to do in Kyoto. After all, more than 2,000 temples and Shinto shrines are scattered across the city. Our favorites include Daitoku-Ji, a monastery with 24 sub-temples and manicured gardens that have been around for nearly 700 years, and Ryoan-Ji Temple, which has a pristine rock garden. There’s also Kinkaku-Ji, better known as the Golden Pavilion.
For the best Kyoto memento, head to the Arashiyama bamboo forest, where visitors can snap photos of the trees bending in the wind. Another iconic shot is that of the bright orange gates leading to Fushimi Inari Taisha shrine.
If you’re planning to visit Kyoto, keep in mind the city has strict etiquette and expectations for tourists. Cycling while drunk and cancelling restaurant reservations at the last minute are among the worst offenses.