Free Things to do in Kyoto


Did you know that you can explore Kyoto for free? There are so many free things to do in Kyoto, which is a big deal. Because Japan is a bit expensive compared to other countries in Asia, but you can travel on a budget without spending much.


Explore Gion, The Geisha District 

Gion area is located in Hanamachi sub-district not faraway from Kyoto downtown. A set of streets consisting of traditional wooden buildings will take you back in time. 

But the area is mostly famous for Geisha, the beautiful, talented Japanese women who have an excellent dance, singing and art skills. You can easily spot them wearing the lovely Kimono and with traditional make-up on the way to work. Don’t shove cameras in their faces, but politely observe them from a distance and make sure to take pictures only when possible.


Visit Sacred Yasaka Shrine

There are plenty of temples in Kyoto, and you might feel templed-out after visiting a few. But this one is certainly worth checking out. Not to mention free to enter. It is located in the Gion area, and you can pay a visit while checking out this neighbourhood. Yasaka Shrine is the place where Gion Matsuri, Kyoto’s major traditional festival happens. Also, if you are lucky, you can witness Geisha performing a dance or some rituals in this temple.


Walk around Higashiyama District 

The Higashiyama District in Kyoto is one of the cities best-preserved historic areas and is one of the best free things to do in Kyoto. The cobbled-stone streets of this area are home to traditional buildings, merchant houses and ancient shrines, and will take you back in time. Located close to Yasaka Shrine, you can plan a trip combining the two.


Explore Nishiki Market 

Nishiki Market is one of the cool free things to do in Kyoto if you love checking out local markets. It is at least 500 years old and was Kyoto’s first fish market. It now functions as a food market and is a perfect place if you are a foodie. Here you can try almost all of the local delicacies from baby Octopus served as pancakes to the ubiquitous Sushi. 


Visit Imperial Palace

The Imperial Palace is one of the famous Kyoto attractions, and of course, a free thing to do in Kyoto. It was home to the royal family during the Heian period. The Imperial Palace consists of a beautiful big garden built in Japanese style. The entry to this enormous palace is free, and you can even book guided English tours without any charges. But if you visit during peak hours, these get booked very quickly. It is an attraction worth checking out in Kyoto for its history, architecture and lovely Japanese gardens.


Walk along the Kamogawa River 

One of the best free things to do in Kyoto is people watching. And an excellent place for that is the banks of the Kamogawa River, which offer scenic views of the city. The locals hang out a lot during the weekends and holidays for a picnic along the riverside. It is also one of the famous cherry blossoms viewing spot in Kyoto.


Visit the Samurai Shrine 

Sengakuji temple, dedicated to a famous Sumo wrestler Akoroshi Kinenkan, nicknamed 47 Ronin. It is one of the very few Samurai shrines in Japan, which also houses a museum. The temple is free to enter to pay respects at the burial ground.


Fantastic views at Kyoto Station 

Okay, a station might not be one of the attractions, but the Kyoto station can pass off as one of the free things to do in the city because of its grand modern architecture. Also, the station has a skywalk, sky garden as well as many cool places to hangout. You need to check out this massive station while you are in Kyoto.

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