Have you ever met someone who wanted to go to Japan, and then, after a visit, it became their favorite place in the world? Confession time: That’s me. In 2014, I worked on a travel video series in Kyoto, and I've been hooked ever since.
Kyoto is a city steeped in tradition, yet its culinary scene overflows with innovation and diversity. The food is simply outstanding, everywhere—even at the train station. From quirky cafes to hidden izakayas (Japanese pubs), Michelin-starred restaurants, sake bars, speakeasies, temple tea houses, gourmet burger joints—you name it, Kyoto has it. So lean in, as you explore Kyoto’s world-class gastronomic offerings on this whistle-stop 3-day foodie adventure.
Come in spring (March–May) or fall (October–November) for mild, light jacket weather.
If you only have time for one thing, make it Nishiki Market—nicknamed Kyoto's kitchen.
Wake up your appetite with a visit to the basement food floor of Fujii-Daimaru department store. Discover a rainbow of bento boxes, sushi platters, and almost too-pretty-to-eat handmade sweets and cakes. Get your coffee fix at % Arabica, then head to Nishiki Market to browse its 100-plus shops, restaurants, and street food stalls.
After some market nibbles, take a scenic walk across Shijo Bridge to the geisha district of Gion. Stroll past the ancient machiya houses and stop at izakayas—such as Gion Kappa or Siba for beers and bites. Finish the evening with a kaiseki ryori traditional multicourse Japanese meal.
Matcha green tea is grown near Kyoto, in Uji. Learn tea-making traditions by attending a tea ceremony. Alternatively, start with a matcha-based latte and pancake breakfast at Okaffe Kyoto, near Shijo Station.
From Gion-Shijo Station, take the Keihan Main Line to Chushojima Station to get close to the epicenter of Kyoto’s sake production—Fushimi Sake Village. Discover its breweries and museums with a guided tour.
Then, end things by taking the Keihan Main Line to Sanjo Station. Cross the bridge and explore the bars and eateries near the Takase River. Try obanzai ryori (homestyle cooking) at Renkon-Ya or wagyu beef at Shibata.
Start the day in the west of Kyoto, in Arashiyama, known for its bamboo grove. Visit Tenryu-ji Temple’s charming tea house, or sample shojin ryori (Buddhist vegetarian temple food) at the on-site Shigetsu restaurant.
In the afternoon, take the Randen Line from Arashiyama Station to Shijo-Omiya Station for a traditional bento box or izakaya cooking class. Alternatively, travel on the San-In Line from Saga-Arashiyama to Kyoto Station to explore the station’s food offerings (Ramen lovers should head to the ramen street on the 10th floor). Finish by strolling down one of Kyoto’s most atmospheric dining streets—Pontocho Alley.