I was only in Kyoto for a couple of hours and I wish I could stay there longer and explore. There is so much to see in the city, so I definitely recommend spending at least one night there, so you can see all sides of the city.
First, we wanted to see the Imperial Palace, but what we didn’t know was that you have to go on guided tours. And more importantly, that there are only two guided tours of the main palace a day, at 10am and 2pm. We got there at 10:15, so unfortunately, we didn’t have time to go for a tour. We did, however, go on a tour of the Sento Palace gardens.
TIP: in the summer and in the winter you have to reserve tickets for the tours!
TIP 2: bring your passport everywhere, as they want to see an ID when you go on the tour
The Sento Palace was amazing to see. I was there in early spring, so the trees were barely budding and only two trees were actually blooming. But I could already tell that the gardens will be magical when everything is in full bloom. The tour guide, I’m sure, was amazing, but I didn’t understand what he was saying, since everything was in Japanese. I also gave up a little on the audio guide, because the monotone voice bored me a little. It was very informative, but it was hard to listen to that, when the stories looked so much more interesting when spoken. So, instead of listening I took lots and lots of pictures, from all angles! It was nice and sunny, which brightened all the colors and made me fall in love with serenity of the place. I imagined how amazing it would be if I could just bring my book and read by the lake.
After the tour we just drove a little further into the center, parked by the Kamo river and walked around for a little bit. We got lucky and saw a couple of Geishas walking around and even one that just became a Geisha, ceremoniously completing her training. When we saw her, she was surrounded by photographers. So naturally, we joined them and took lots of pictures of her too 🙂
We continued walking through the little streets of Kyoto, slowly looking for a place to eat. Finally we found this Yakiniku (Japanese BBQ) place, called Ryū an, that was absolutely amazing. Each table was separated by sliding walls, which made the place really intimate. When we told the waiters that I was allergic to gluten, they were very careful to check that all the food they served me was gluten-free. The food was so good, so I definitely recommend!
Kyoto was so much fun! Definitely wish I could spend more time there and really explore the city. There are a lot of temples and shrines that I didn’t get to see, so hopefully next time!