How one can get round Kyoto

Kyoto is a comparatively compact metropolis, with an incredible public transport community that makes touring round a breeze. Its simply navigable streets and largely flat floor additionally imply Kyoto is an pleasurable vacation spot to discover by bike or on foot.

Right here’s a fast information on one of the best methods to get round in Kyoto.

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 As a result of it is such a compact metropolis, getting round Kyoto is comparatively simple © Emma Shaw / Lonely Planet


Kyoto has two subway strains: the Karasuma Line, which runs from the north of the town to the south, and the Tozai Line, which runs from east to west. They intersect within the metropolis middle at Karasuma Oike Station, the place you possibly can switch between the 2 strains. Each additionally join with different railway strains at numerous stations, making a complete community. 

Regardless of having solely two strains, the subway is a handy choice for touring to many key spots in downtown Kyoto and the Higashiyama sightseeing district. It’s fast and cozy, simpler to navigate than buses and cheaper than taking a taxi. Limitless day passes can be found, which additionally get you reductions at a number of vacationer spots, together with Nijō-jō fortress and the Kyoto Worldwide Manga Museum. For extra protection, you should buy one- and two-day passes that offer you limitless journey on each the subway and the town buses.

Shinkansen (high speed train) at Kyoto Station
Japan’s environment friendly prepare system is dependable, clear and on time © Greg Elms / Lonely Planet


Japan is legendary for its glorious rail system, and Kyoto isn’t any exception. A number of prepare strains function throughout the metropolis, together with nationwide JR strains and native personal ones. You may count on companies to be snug and clear and depart exactly on time. Prepare is usually the easiest way to succeed in components of Kyoto which might be barely farther out, comparable to Arashiyama, Tōfuku-ji temple and Fushimi Inari-Taisha shrine. It’s additionally probably the most handy technique to journey to close by cities comparable to Osaka and Nara.

HyperDia is among the greatest English-language websites for planning your journey, and you should buy tickets from cubicles within the station or one of many many computerized ticket machines. Don’t fear in case you make a mistake, as most stations even have fare adjustment machines by the exit boundaries, the place you possibly can pay any additional cost and get a brand new ticket.


Lots of Kyoto’s hottest points of interest – together with Kinkaku-ji and Ginkaku-ji temples – are usually not positioned close to prepare or subway stations, wherein case taking the bus is usually a handy alternative. Kyoto has a wealth of bus routes operated by just a few totally different corporations, and most make bulletins in each English and Japanese. Buses can get very crowded at instances, particularly throughout the spring cherry blossom and fall foliage seasons. The faster choice is usually to stroll or cycle as an alternative.

On most buses, you board on the again and exit on the entrance. To pay your fare, put the precise change in cash into the field subsequent to the motive force as you get off (there’s one other machine subsequent to it that breaks down cash and ¥1000 payments). Inside the metropolis middle, it’s a flat fare of ¥230 per journey, and on longer routes you are taking a numbered ticket whenever you get on and use that to test your fare on the display on the entrance whenever you exit. Limitless day passes can be found to be used throughout the flat fare zone.

Transport Passes

Kyoto has a pay as you go IC card known as Icoca, which you need to use on the subway in addition to nearly all the town’s trains and buses (in addition to these in a number of different cities). These don’t provide reductions on journey, however they make it extra handy by avoiding the trouble of getting to purchase paper tickets (in case you’re coming from Tokyo, you need to use the Pasmo IC card in Kyoto too). When you’ve got a JR Go, you need to use it for limitless journey on the JR prepare strains in Kyoto, but it surely’s unlikely to save lots of you cash in case you solely use it throughout the metropolis.


Biking is among the greatest methods to get round Kyoto. The town is generally flat and straightforward to navigate, with well-maintained roads and loads of outlets the place you possibly can hire bikes. The difficult half is discovering someplace to park your bike, as you have to use designated parking areas – if not, you might discover your experience will get impounded. 

Most temples, museums and different vacationer spots have small parking areas for bikes, and there are additionally some city-operated ones in busy areas. When using, cycle on the left-hand aspect of the street or use a shared sidewalk with pedestrians. Helmets are solely a authorized requirement for youngsters underneath 12, however you have to use a light-weight if biking at night time.

'The Path of Philosophy' (Tetsugaku no michi), which is a well-known riverside cherry blossom area.
One of the crucial stunning strolling routes in Kyoto is the Path of Philosophy beside the Kamogawa river © MyPixelDiaries / Shutterstock


Kyoto is a particularly walkable metropolis due to its compact dimension, flat floor, excessive ranges of street security, and logical format. Exploring on foot provides you the prospect to find extra of the town’s atmospheric streets and scenic pathways. Among the most nice strolling routes embrace the Path of Philosophy that runs alongside a canal between Ginkaku-ji and Eikan-dō temples, and the footpath beside the Kamogawa river. Higashiyama and Arashiyama have strolling routes that hyperlink up lots of their well-known sightseeing spots, although these get busy throughout the peak cherry blossom and fall foliage seasons.


Taxis are commonplace in Kyoto, and it’s simple to flag one down on the road or hop in at a taxi rank. Drivers will open and shut the rear door for you routinely. Fares are displayed on a meter inside, and though an costly choice for solo vacationers, it may be cheaper than getting the bus in case you’re in a gaggle. 

Many drivers communicate restricted English, so it’s useful to have your vacation spot written down in Japanese to indicate them (resorts typically offer you a enterprise card because of this). Alternatively, in case you’re at Kyoto Station or utilizing the Japan Taxi app, you possibly can take a clearly marked “foreigner-friendly” taxi at no additional price.


Renting a automobile is just not mandatory for getting round Kyoto metropolis, and it’s typically really extra inconvenient. Nevertheless, a automobile might be helpful in case you’re planning to go to a few of the extra distant components of the broader prefecture. Those that select to drive will want a world driving license. Driving in Japan is mostly protected, though navigation might be difficult in case you can’t learn Japanese.

Crowded interior of Kyoto Station on the Karasuma side
Most prepare and subway stations have improved their accessibility for vacationers © Manuel Ascanio / Shutterstock

Accessible transportation in Kyoto

Accessibility in Kyoto has improved enormously lately, significantly within the metropolis middle. Most giant prepare and subway stations have wider ticket gates and elevators to entry the platforms, and the vast majority of prepare strains have precedence seats and carriages with spots for wheelchairs. You may at all times ask station workers in case you require help. Raised blocks on station flooring and platforms help passengers with visible impairments. Nearly all of buses that run within the metropolis middle at the moment are accessible. The motive force will arrange a ramp for wheelchair customers to get on and likewise make it easier to off at your vacation spot.

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