Private Highlights of Kyoto Tour

Kyoto, Japan
Private Highlights of Kyoto Tour

From USD 156.26

Price varies by group size

Select Date and Travellers

Free cancellation
Up to 24 hours in advance.
  • 7 hours
  • Mobile ticket
  • Offered in: English


Immerse yourself in the cultural and architectural splendor of Kyoto on this private tour, ideal for first-time visitors. Choose from two different routes, both of which cover major Kyoto attractions including Nijo Castle and Kiyomizu Temple, and explore the city with a personal guide. On the northwest-bound route, you’ll visit the Golden Pavilion, Nishiki Food Market, and the bamboo groves of Arashiyama Park. Alternatively, the southeast course covers the Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kiyomizu Temple, and the Gion area. Receive undivided attention from your guide on this private tour. 
  • Private full-day tour of Kyoto highlights
  • Choose from two itineraries that cover major Kyoto attractions
  • Visit the Golden Pavilion, Nishiki Food Market, and Arashiyama Park on the northbound route
  • Tick off Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kiyomizu Temple, and the Gion area on the southbound route
  • Receive undivided attention from a private guide

What's Included

  • Professional English speaking guide
  • Public Transportation
  • One-day city bus pass (can be used continuously after the tour)
  • Food and drinks
  • Lunch
  • Hotel pickup and drop-off

Meeting And Pickup

Meeting point

  • Hotel Granvia Kyoto
    Japan, 600-8216 Kyoto, Shimogyo Ward, Higashishiokōjichō, 901, Kyoto Station Building, 内

    Hotel Granvia Kyoto is located in the Kyoto Station building.

Start time

09:00 am

What To Expect

Regardless of the itinerary chosen, your private tour begins at Hotel Granvia Kyoto near Kyoto Station. From here, you’ll take public transport in order to immerse yourself in local life.

If you’ve opted to follow the northwest-bound itinerary, your first stop is Arashiyama Park—famed for its array of temples and inviting bamboo groves—before proceeding to Japan’s most famous rock garden at Ryoan-ji.

Following a lunch break (own expense), you’ll continue to the Golden Pavillion, a 3-story pagoda that floats on a lake surrounded by lush forest. Then, choose to visit the culinary wonderland of Nishiki Food Market or Nijo Castle, whose interior walls are adorned with gold leaf and elaborate sketches.

Alternatively, the southeast-bound course gives you the chance to visit Gekkeikan Sake Brewery to discover the secrets behind Japan’s iconic rice wine, and then behold thousands of red tori gates at the Fushimi Inari Shrine, replete with stone foxes and shrines.

See, too, Sanjusangendo temple before revitalizing with lunch at your own expense. Then, you’ll continue to Kiyomizu Temple, a hilltop landmark dating back to the 8th century, before ascending the steep slopes in the Ninenzaka and Sannenzaka neighborhoods for spectacular views.

Both tour options conclude in the Gion area of Kyoto.

Kinkakuji Temple

50 minutesAdmission Ticket Included

Kiyomizu-dera Temple

50 minutesAdmission Ticket Included

Nijo Castle

50 minutesAdmission Ticket Included

Sanjusangendo Temple

50 minutesAdmission Ticket Included


50 minutesAdmission Ticket Free

Arashiyama (Pass By)

Sannenzaka Ninenzaka (Pass By)

Bamboo Forest Street

30 minutesAdmission Ticket Free

Ryoanji Temple

30 minutesAdmission Ticket Included

Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine

50 minutesAdmission Ticket Free

Gekkeikan Okura Sake Museum

50 minutesAdmission Ticket Included

Additional Info

  • Confirmation will be received within 48 hours of booking, subject to availability
  • Not wheelchair accessible
  • Child rate applies only when sharing with 2 paying adults
  • Children must be accompanied by an adult
  • Service animals allowed
  • Near public transportation
  • Infants must sit on laps
  • Most travellers can participate
  • This tour/activity will have a maximum of 8 travellers

Cancellation Policy

You can cancel up to 24 hours in advance of the experience for a full refund.

  • For a full refund, you must cancel at least 24 hours before the experience’s start time.
  • If you cancel less than 24 hours before the experience’s start time, the amount you paid will not be refunded.
  • Any changes made less than 24 hours before the experience’s start time will not be accepted.
  • Cut-off times are based on the experience’s local time.
  • This experience requires good weather. If it’s cancelled due to poor weather, you’ll be offered a different date or a full refund.

Traveller Photos

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67 reviews
Total review count and overall rating based on Viator and Tripadvisor reviews
Reviews by Viator travellers.
Showing 1-10 of 67 reviews
The best day of our trip
Kelsie_B, Sept 2023
Our guide Mie was absolutely amazing. Her in-depth knowledge about the culture and history was second to none. She also had a great sense of humour which made it an absolute pleasure to learn from and travel with her.
marc_b, Sept 2023
Very good guide, perfect English, great level of knowledge. It was a very enjoyable day Thanks very much
Great tour of Kyoto with Mia
Boris_N, July 2023
We had two days back to back of Kyoto tours with Mia as our guide. While the communication with the tour company was not great prior to the tour and many messages went unanswered, Mia was right on time waiting for us at the meeting point. She spoke excellent English and was easy to understand and talk to. She was flexible in our tours and showed us what we wanted to see. She clearly knows Kyoto well and we had two great days with her.
Wonderful Kyoto Tour
Sarah_L, June 2023
The history and background of each place we went was terrific. Our guide Mie was friendly, fluent and gave us thoughtful and thorough information. She shared cultural tips that went beyond the tour. Thank you it was lovely to spend the day together.
Canadian review. Amazing day.
mitchell_w, June 2023
What an experience. We have been on several tours here in Japan but our tour guide and her choices of where to go were amazing. Cannot say enough about her knowledge and great sense of humour, and his was our favourite tour. Mea, was amazing. From the Bamboo forest to the golden palace, she was delightful. She actually suggested other points of interest that we explored on our own the next day. They were great recommendations, cannot thank her enough. 5 stars does not do Justice to this guide and this tour.
Kyoto Highlights with an Expert!
JodyChristensen, Apr 2023
We had a wonderful tour featuring beautiful and important Kyoto sights. Our guide, Mai, was delightful, knowledgeable, and accommodating. She shared the history and many fun facts along the way. I wasn't sure if a day tour would be too long, but it flew by. We loved every moment from the sake museum tour and tasting to the Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine to our custom stop at the Donguri Kyowakoku (Ghibli Store). We would highly recommend this tour.
Amazing tour with incredible guide
Cassidy_S, Apr 2023
We had the best day with Choko! She was the most amazing historian, guide, translator, and even photographer! Left with a much deeper understanding and appreciation of Kyoto and some lovely memories with a new friend! Arigato, Choko Sensei!
A must for first time visitors to Kyoto
Serge_B, Mar 2023
This is a must for all new comer to Kyoto, the guide we had , her name is Mie, was fantastic, very knowledgeable and helpful. I give 4 stars instead of 5 only because the tour is a bit pricey
Our tour guide was...
Mary_J, Mar 2023
Our tour guide was fabulous! We loved her knowledge, friendliness, and willingness to get to know us all. Truly fabulous. The favourite part of our trip was this tour!
Hiseko our guide was perfect very knowledgeable about the symbolism of all the sculptures and motifs in the decoration
Angela_B, Feb 2023
Seeing the Nijo castle and the zen Buddhist garden kinkakuji temple golden pavilion, golden carp swimming in the pond. Our guide Hiseko was excellent.
Great Kyoto private tour with amazing tour guide
Edward_M, Dec 2022
We took this Kyoto private highlight tour on Christmas day (December 25th) 2022. Our guide, Ms. Chako, is such an amazing person with a wealth knowledge of the Kyoto area. This private tour is such a recommend tour because you can pace yourself, enjoy the place of interest and have an additional information provided by your guide. Additional highlight of the tour is the Ramen lunch, where Ms. Chako recommended the restaurant. We are such a ramen enthusiasts and this shop (off the beaten path) can rival all the ramen shop in Kyoto. All and all we highly recommend this tour. With a tour guide such as Ms. Chako, this program is a must to anyone who want to visit Kyoto.
Fantastic private tour
richard20202020, Jan 2020
Mie was our tour guide who was excellent. She was flexible with her itinerary and we saw so much. When we return to Kyoto later in the year we'll ask for Mie again.
Fantastic Kyoto guide
Peter_B, Oct 2019
Mie was a knowledgeable and flexible guide who helped us manage 2 young children on our tour. She paced the tour to meet our needs and engages with the children to include them and maintain their interest. Mie was patient and thoughtful snd mage this a fantstic tour over numerous key sites using local buses and trains.
Amazing Tour with Knowledgable and Excellent Tour Guide
Jonathan_F, Aug 2019
Extremely knowledgable and friendly tour guide, amazing sites with great explanations, and a great overall experience. Highly recommend this tour for anyone visiting Kyoto.
Mylene_H, Aug 2018
Choice of highlights was good but guide was nearly just bringing us from one spot to the other without telling us a lot. Nice choice of the restaurant.
Despite the rain, my wife and I had...
Robert_P, July 2018
Despite the rain, my wife and I had such a good time on this private tour! Our guide took us to all the best sites, provided us with really good background information, and answered every one of our questions. She also took us to a delicious okonomiyaki restaurant, which was a real treat since we got to make it on a grill built into the table. I highly recommend the northwest-bound route to anybody visiting Kyoto!
An excellent day trip with the bonus...
Diana S, June 2018
An excellent day trip with the bonus that it ended up being a true 'private' tour with just me and my husband joining this one on the day whereas normally it is small groups - our guide was excellent in terms of her knowledge and adaptability to small or larger groups as she was heading off to a larger tour that night a real hard worker. We were fortunate that all of the smaller tours we took felt like we were out with friends and we treated it like that - having lunch together and sharing small gifts. Our guide also went above and beyond helping me at the train station and on the phone when I needed to make bookings for upcoming train travel and additional hotel accommodation given that I was having trouble explaining myself fully.
This was a perfect introduction to...
Lisa_S, June 2018
This was a perfect introduction to Kyoto first-time visitors. Our guide Mie was caring, knowledgeable, and professional. We felt like we had a friend showing us around her country. We saw all the highlights listed, plus Mie gave us so much additional information during our in-between travel times. We weren't sure which level of guide to book, and decided on the most experienced for a little extra money. We were very happy with our decision. Thank you, Mie, for a great day!
The tour was absolutely amazing...
Matthew M, May 2018
The tour was absolutely amazing! The sights were great, but what set the tour apart and made it great was the guide. Yuri, our guide, completely exceeded our expectations. She was extremely knowledgeable about the history and significance of all the sights we saw during the tour, but her knowledge and expertise went well beyond. She never tired of our endless questions about Kyoto, Japanese culture and Japanese history. She seemed to be able to answer anything we asked and was constantly enlightening us with fun facts AND doing so in excellent English. In a word, she was outstanding! My only complaint is that we didn't have another day or two in Kyoto to do more tours. Has we had at least one more day I think we would have tried the Southeast tour and we would definitely request Yuri by name. On our Northwest tour we had the option of Nijio Castle or Nishiki Market. We chose the castle and I'm glad we did. It is so nice having a guide with you at the castle explaining the historical significance of what your are seeing. Yuri was nice enough to ride the bus with us to Nishiki Market at the conclusion of our tour. Once she got us there I think we were able to get the flavor of the market without a guide.
Tour takes in a lot, so you dont...
diane k, May 2018
Tour takes in a lot, so you dont spend a lot of time at the venues. But you can go back and visit the sites you particularly liked on another day. Lots of good information given while on the bus. Lunch was OK.

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