1. Enjoy the Atmosphere – Kyoto Bus ToursSlick Vic/Flickr
If you want to enjoy the scenery of the city, buying a one day travel pass which you can use on the municipal buses and subway is an inexpensive way to do it. Kyoto has a great bus network, and the municipal bus loop line (202, 205) will take you on a tour around the city, and for sightseeing, the “Raku Bus” (100, 101, 102) will take you around all the best tourist spots.
Bus and Train Veteran http://www.arukumachikyoto.jp/index.php?lang=en
2. Enjoy the Air – Travel by Bicycle
Kyoto, with its the orderly checkerboard layout of its streets and gentle hills, is a great place for cyclists. The many narrow roads and one way streets aren’t a problem if you are on a bicycle. There are lots of places you can rent a bike, and some hotels also offer a bicycle loan service. If you want to enjoy the fresh Kyoto air, cycling is the best way to do it.
Online Guide for Exploring Kyoto on Bicycle https://kanko.city.kyoto.lg.jp/bicycle/en/
3. Enjoy the Town – Gion
When you think of Kyoto, one of the first things that comes to mind is Gion. With its beautifully organized streets, stone paving, delicious restaurants found on every corner and, of course, the famous maiko and geiko, it is the perfect place to experience both the modern and ancient Kyoto. If you only have one day in the area, we recommend spending your time strolling through the countless narrow streets that intersect Shijo Street in from of the Yasaka Shrine. You won’t regret it.
Kyoto City Higashiyama-ku Gion, Gion Shopping Street Promotion Associates http://www.gion.or.jp/
4. Enjoy the Summer Heat – Relax on the Riverbank (Kawadoko)四季・趣の床 貴船荘 (kibunesou)/Flickr
Kyoto is in a valley, which means it has very hot and humid summers. From May to September, the restaurants and bars along the Kamo and Kibune rivers open terraces known as “toko,” to bring in the cool river breezes. One easy place to enjoy these toko terraces is the Starbucks near the Sanjo Ohashi. Why not visit a toko to enjoy all that the Kyoto summer has to offer?
Starbucks Coffe Kyoto Sanjo Ohashi Branch http://www.starbucks.co.jp/store/search/detail.php?id=68&mode=concept
5. Enjoy the Sounds – SuikinkutsuNorio.NAKAYAMA/Flickr
A suikinkutsu is a type of ornament used in Japanese gardens. It’s quite difficult to tell from the picture above, but a suikinkutsu is a pot with a hollow in the base. As water drips into the hollow, it creates a pleasant ringing sound like a bell. The bamboo tubes in the picture are added to make the quiet ringing sound easier to hear. You can enjoy the suikinkutsu at the Kyoto Botanical Gardens and Enko-ji Temple, which are definitely worth visiting for their spectacular seasonal greenery as well.
Kyoto Botanical Gardens, Shimokamo Hangicho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto City http://www.pref.kyoto.jp/plant/
Enko-ji, 13 Kotani-cho, Ichijoji, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto City http://www.enkouji.jp/
The sound of the suikinkutsu at Enko-ji http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2a/Suikinkutsu-LS100112.ogg
6. Enjoy the Gardens – Enkojiorio.NAKAYAMA/Flickr
A zen temple located close to the Shisendo Temple and Shugakuin Imperial Villa. In the quiet grounds of Enko-ji, you can enjoy the vivid colors and the beauty of nature throughout the year, with cherry blossom and the new fresh leaves in the spring, the reddened leaves in the autumn, and snow in winter. You can also try out zazen, or seated meditation, here, but please note this requires booking in advance. To get there, take the number 5 municipal bus to Ichijoji, and walk 10 or so minutes from Matsu.
Enko-ji, 13 Kotani-cho, Ichijoji, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto City http://www.enkouji.jp/
7. Enjoy the Nature – Sagano Bamboo GrovesCLF/Flickr
If you ever have the chance to go to Arashiyama, one place we really recommend you visit is the Sagano Bamboo Groves. Here, you can enjoy the sound of the leaves of the bamboo trees rubbing against each other and feel the soft, cool breeze and you walk through the groves. The light green of the bamboo and the soft scent are sure to calm your soul. The Sagano Bamboo Groves are 10 minutes on foot from the Randen Arashiyama Station, or 15 minutes on foot from the JR Sagaarashiyama Station.
Saga Ogurayama, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto City
8. Enjoy the Colors – Kimono Forest (Kyo-Yuzen)
Kyoyuzen is a traditional dying craft of Kyoto, where the white cloth of the kimono is dyed in vivid colors. At Randen Arashiyama Station, you can your time to enjoy the “kimono forest” of about 600 poles decorated with kimonos colored in the kyoyuzen style. The station also has a footbath where you can relax your tired feet after a day of sightseeing.
9. Enjoy the Sounds – Summer Wind ChimesBONGURI/Flickr
Furin are traditional Japanese wind chimes whose ringing is said to bring a sense of coolness in the summer. Until the end of September, at Kurama Station you can enjoy the sound about 190 iron furin that are hung up around the station. There is a hike you can take from Kurama Station to Kibuneguchi which takes about 2 hours, and the sound of the Kibune River will cleanse your soul.
Eizan Electric Railway Kurama Station https://eizandensha.co.jp/
10. Enjoy the Scents – Oko
Oko, or incense, is often used in Buddhist rituals and the Tea Ceremony, but in recent years, you can find a number of oko you can enjoy in your everyday life. There are a number oko stores in central Kyoto, so why not visit then and find a scent that you like? They also make a great present for your friends and family back at home.
11. Enjoy the Scents – Plum BlossomJoshBerglund19/Flickr
In Kyoto, the plum trees bloom from about mid-February to mid-March. Nowadays, the cherry blossom is thought of as the flower of spring, but the plum blossom have been loved since the ancient times for their beautiful scent which signals the coming of spring. There are many famous places to enjoy plum blossom in Kyoto, such as the Kyoto Gyoen, Kamigamo and Shimogamo Shrine, but our recommendation is the Kitano Tenmangu, which has around 2,000 plum trees.
Kitano Tenmangu, Bakuro-cho, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto City http://kitanotenmangu.or.jp/english/
12. Try on a Kimono – Hotel Yukata
In Japan, many hotels and ryokan offer yukata for you to wear during your stay. Usually, colorful yukata are available for women and samue for men. When you are searching for a hotel, why not look for a place where you can try on a yukata? Once you get used to wearing a yukata, it won’t be long before you are ready to go out in a kimono!
For the kimono fee‐based rental service, check this as well: 10 Places in Kyoto to Play Dress Up in Traditional Kimono
13. Enjoy the Cuisine – Nishiki Market
Nishiki Market is a famous market known as the “Kyoto’s kitchen.” Here you can find all sorts of ingredients and enjoy the cuisine of Kyoto. As well as being able to see some beautiful high-class dishes, you can also enjoy sampling the food. Nishiki Market is a 3 minute walk from Shijo Subway Station, Karasumaru Station and Kawaramachi Station on the Hankyu Line.
Nishiki Market, Nishikikoji, Nakakyo-ku, Kyoto City http://www.kyoto-nishiki.or.jp/
14. Enjoy the Cuisine – Basement of a department store, “Depachika”theob/Flickr
If you are looking to understand about local cuisine in Kyoto, the basement of a department stores are a great place to see everything the region has to offer. You can find everything from traditional Japanese sweets and dishes, to western-style food and alcohol, so why not pay a visit to one and enjoy sampling the food as you go around?
15. Savor the Taste – Suntory Yamasaki DistilleryNorio.NAKAYAMA/Flickr
How about taking a tour of the world renowned Suntory Yamazaki Distillery? After the tour, you can enjoy some samples of the famous whiskeys they produce. The distillery is surrounded by abundant nature, and there is a fantastic 1 hour hiking route up Mt. Tenno nearby. The distillery is about 10 minutes on foot from Yamazaki Station (15 minutes form Kyoto Station) and Oyamazaki Station (20 minutes from Kawaramachi Station on the Hankyu Line).
Suntory Yamazaki Distillery http://www.suntory.co.jp/factory/yamazaki/
Also check: 50 Things You Must Do in Kyoto