One of Japan’s oldest cities, Kyoto is filled with traditional architecture and shrines dedicated to both Shintoism and Buddhism. Of all the best places to stay in Japan, Kyoto best embodies the country’s traditional culture. But deciding where to stay in Kyoto can be a little overwhelming, especially if this is your first time in Japan.
Connect with Fora to level-up your stay at one of the coolest hotels in Japan, with VIP perks and exclusive travel benefits. Our advisors know the best months to visit Japan, the best places to stay in Kyoto as well as the city’s coolest sights and attractions. Simply put, there’s no better way to travel to Kyoto.
The 4 best places to stay in Kyoto
Staying almost anywhere in Kyoto can be an illuminating experience, but 4 particular areas stand out: Shimogyo, Higashiyama and Arashiyama.
It’s also worth noting that Kyoto is fairly close to Osaka. If you were also planning on traveling to Osaka, maybe to enjoy “Japan’s kitchen” (see our Japan foodies’ guide for more info), your advisor can help you decide where to stay in Osaka or Kyoto for convenient access to both cities.
Read on for the best places to stay in Kyoto.
1. Kyoto Station, Shimogyo Ward (aka Downtown or Central Kyoto): where to stay in Kyoto for the best shopping & nightlife
The area surrounding Kyoto Station in Shimogyo Ward, also called Downtown or Central Kyoto, is the city’s busiest and most modern district. Sometimes referred to as “New Kyoto,” this is where to stay in Kyoto if you’re looking for the best shopping, nightlife and entertainment.
Notable landmarks include Kyoto Tower, Shosei-en Garden and Nishi Hongan-ji Temple. The former offers a breathtaking view of the entire city while the latter two provide insights into different eras of Japanese culture.
Shimogyo Ward’s central location also makes it one of the best places to stay in Kyoto if you want convenient access to the rest of the city using Japan’s uber-efficient metro systems.
Connect with Fora, and we'll offer more details on where to stay in Kyoto’s Shimogyo Ward.
2. Higashiyama Ward: where to stay in Kyoto for Japanese culture
Higashiyama is one of the most unique places to visit in Japan. Here, you’ll still find many of the old temples and shrines that have come to define traditional Japanese architecture, like Kiyomizudera Temple and Otani Hobyo Shrine, as well as more recent structures like the Kyoto National Museum.
Some sections of the ward, most notably Higashiyama-Ku and Gion, have preserved their wooden architecture. It’s not uncommon to see locals in traditional kimonos amidst shops selling homemade goods, art and street food.
Ultimately, Higashiyama is where to stay in Kyoto if you’re looking to embrace Pre-War Japanese culture. Connect with Fora to learn more about the ward, as well as other great places to stay in Kyoto (and if this isn’t your first time in Japan, check out our Japan regulars’ guide for more Kyoto ideas).
3. Arashiyama, Ukyo Ward: the best place to stay in Kyoto to see the bamboo forest
On the other side of the city, you’ll find Arashiyama. Best known for the bamboo forest of the same name, Arashiyama is a quiet and contemplative area. It’s a great place to get off the beaten path in Kyoto, as the ward extends deep into the city’s surrounding countryside, a prime area for hiking and other outdoorsy activities.
The nearby Katsura River also offers plenty of opportunities for kayaking and water-bound tours of Kyoto.
4. Kita Ward: where to stay in Kyoto for one of the coolest hotels in Japan
Kita Ward generally isn’t the first place people think about when deciding where to stay in Kyoto, but this gorgeous, semi-rural district is also home to one of the coolest hotels in Japan: Aman Kyoto.
If you’re looking for a quiet, luxury retreat amidst Japan’s scenic interior, this is it.
Meanwhile, the more urban districts of Kita Ward host a variety of trendy bars, casual restaurants and coffee shops frequented by students and younger travelers. This half of Kita is also relatively close to the city’s center, so it’s a convenient area to stay, too.
Ask Fora where to stay in Kyoto (and get great travel perks)
Wondering how to plan a trip to Japan? Book with Fora to gain access to all sorts of hotel perks and upgrades at no extra cost. They’ll help you decide where to stay in Kyoto and curate an itinerary based on your preferences.
And you don’t have to stop at Kyoto, either. Maybe you want to know where to stay in Tokyo? We know all the coolest hotels in Tokyo as well as the best restaurants and things to do. While we handle the heavy lifting of logistics and planning, you get to focus on enjoying your trip.
Ready to travel? Connect with Fora to plan and book your Japan trip today.
Looking for more travel advice? Check out our guide to the best places to stay in Costa Rica.