10 Kyoto Hidden Gems for a Perfect Vacation

by | Dec 18, 2022 | Asia, Destinations, Travel Bucket Lists

Famous for being home to thousands of temples and shrines, Kyoto is definitely worth visiting. There are many beautiful destinations in Kyoto that people usually go to. However, not many of them are aware of the lesser-known places which will give you a refreshing angle to enjoy this metropolitan city. Therefore, we have compiled a list of the best Kyoto hidden gems for your perfect vacation. Check it out!

What are the best Kyoto hidden gems?

  1. Amanohashidate
  2. Mount Hiei
  3. Miyama Village
  4. Lake Biwa
  5. Omihachiman
  6. Eikando Temple
  7. Kameoka
  8. Nishiki Market
  9. Rurikoin Temple
  10. Uji


kyoto hidden gems Amanohashidate
Copyright: Ryutaro Tsukata

The first Kyoto hidden gem worth visiting is Amanohashidate. This hidden gem in Kyoto is a pine-shrouded sandbar spanning from Miyazu Bay in the coastal area of northern Kyoto. The vast stretch of sandbar divides the land and the ocean. Go to this place to get some ocean breeze and enjoy the clean water and beach sand.

Moreover, Amanohashidate is one of Japan’s three scenic views. You can enjoy the view by walking around the sandbar on foot like the locals usually do. Alternatively, rent a bike or take a speed boat to explore the area. Amanohashidate is definitely a place to see the hidden natural beauty of Kyoto.

Mount Hiei

kyoto hidden gems mount hiei
Copyright: Wikimedia Commons

Are you planning to visit Kyoto during the fall? Then, visit Mount Hiei to see the fiery maple leaves covering the entire mountain. Mount Hiei, during the fall, is one of the best Kyoto hidden gems many people have taken for granted. The scenery from the mountaintop is breathtaking, offering you the fall color grades of cedar trees.

Going on an electric railway is the easiest way to go to the mountaintop. Go to Yase Hieizanguchi Station at the bottom of Mount Hiei. Then, take the Eizan Main Line of the Eizan Electric Railway to the mountaintop. During the journey, you can take pictures of the mountain inside the cable ride. Otherwise, you can also hike away to explore the rugged terrain and hiking trails.

Miyama Village

kyoto hidden gems miyama village
Copyright: Pxhere

Do you want to experience metropolitan Kyoto in a more serene way? Then, visit Miyama Village, located in the northern part of Kyoto. This quaint village offers quite a scenic neighborhood. It has a collection of surviving traditional thatched-roof farmhouses nestled on the breathtaking landscape.

What is unique about these farmhouses is that they are constructed using surrounding natural materials. Mounted into the hills, the village is rich with greenery all over the village, giving you a tranquil and eye-pleasing scenery to enjoy. The mix of Japanese traditional culture and its natural beauty is a perfect combo to make this place one of the most beautiful Kyoto hidden gems.

Lake Biwa

kyoto hidden gems lake biwa
Copyright: Takeshi Yu

Lake Biwa is the largest freshwater lake in Japan, offering a beautiful view to enjoy a peaceful life. Only ten minutes away from Kyoto Station, you can enjoy bird watching in a vast wetland region surrounding the lake. If you love this outdoor activity, Lake Biwa is for you to discover.

Besides, the lake itself has a beautiful beach with a boundless shoreline. The sand is white, and the water is clear like crystal. Instead of walking throughout the shore, rent a bike and pedal all places around the lake. Moreover, rent a kayak and set sail to discover this Kyoto hidden gem. You will love this place.


kyoto hidden gems omihachiman
Copyright: Wikimedia Commons

Not far from Lake Biwa, you must visit the fantastic neighborhood called Omihachiman. This area has one of the most impressive canals in Japan, named Hachiman-bori Canal. Because of this, the canal is often called “the Little Green Venice.” You can explore this canal by boat, especially during the cherry blossom season, which even looks more stunning. 

Besides its enchanting canal, you can also experience one of Japan’s most dangerous festivals, the Omihachiman Sagicho Fire Festival. Running in mid-March, the highlight of this fiery celebration is when the huge float, Sagicho, is burned at the end of the festival. Then, the revelers dance in the firelight. Quite interesting, right? So, visit this Kyoto hidden gem and experience it by yourself. 

Eikando Temple

eikando temple
Copyright: Wikimedia Commons

Get off the beaten path of Kyoto by visiting Eikando Temple, one of the most beautiful temples in Kyoto. Established in 863, this Buddhist temple is famous for the Mikaeri Amida, a unique statue of the Amida Buddha. If you are interested in Buddhism in Japan, especially Kyoto, you can visit this temple and learn more about it. 

Besides the religious value, you can also adore the beauty of its authentic Japanese architecture. The Tahoto Pagoda cradled in the hillside trees looks stunning, especially during the fall season. The fall colors illuminate the beauty of the temple, with the small streams running through the grounds and connecting to the pond. You will get a tranquil ambiance outside the hustle and bustle of city life.


Copyright: Wikimedia Commons

One of the best Kyoto hidden gems you must visit next is Kameoka. If you are looking for a natural destination in Kyoto, Kameoka should be on your list. Due to its beautiful natural scenery, combined with many small temples and shrines, the area is a hot spot for those seeking a place to meditate and solitude.

Once you visit Kameoka, you must visit the Hozu River, which spans from Arayshiyama to Kameoka. Take a boat ride on the river to get the breathtaking views of the rivers and forests with the background of the mountains behind. The best time to visit Kameoka is during the fall season when the color of the tree leaves beautifully turn into oranges, red, and yellow. Moreover, remember also to enjoy this place’s hot springs, hiking trails, and shopping streets.

Nishiki Market

nishiki market kyoto hidden gems
Copyright: Roméo A.

Looking for some authentic Japanese cuisine in Kyoto? Then, go to Nishiki Market, known as Nishiki Ichiba, or what many often call Kyoto’s Kitchen. Dating back to the early 1300s, the market offers you a lot of delicious food and treats. So, if you are a foodie, you should spare time to savor these delicacies.

Bring home some matcha candies and other dried food with local tastes that you can find in this market. Besides food, you can also find other shops along the way, offering you goods such as souvenirs and cookware. So, if you really want to get the best out of Kyoto, do not forget to visit Nishiki Market.

Rurikoin Temple

rurikoin temple
Copyright: Yu

One of the little-known Kyoto hidden gems that offer you a place to discover is Rurikoin Temple. Once you set foot on this temple, you can sense its peaceful ambiance, complete with the natural oasis that will blow your mind. Visit Rurikoin Temple during the fall season to get a beautiful view of the leaves of the maple trees there turns red.

This historical temple is home to two amazing gardens. Roam in these gardens and take some pictures for your next Instagram posts. Besides, you can also find a tea house situated on the grounds of the temple. So, if you are a tea lover, this place will be one of the best places to visit during your stay in Kyoto. 


uji kyoto hidden gems
Copyright: Wikimedia Commons

Located in the south of Kyoto, Uji is home to many temples and shrines. One of the historical sites you should not miss while visiting Uji is Ujigami Shrine. Moreover, Ujigami Shrine is also one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites. You can also go to Byodoin Temple, especially during the spring when the wisteria flowers bloom in full swing.

Besides its historical and beautiful temples and shrine, Uji is actually the birthplace of Japanese matcha. So, if you are a matcha lover, visiting its birthplace is a must. In fact, matcha in Uji is a norm, so you can find a matcha trail and sample various types of matcha at different places in Uji. So, are you interested in going to Uji?

What do you think about those Kyoto hidden gems? Did you find some places for your travel bucket list? Check out more amazing trips at JoinMyTrip. You can find many incredible places, including hidden gems in Japan, to visit guided by experienced TripLeaders that will take your vacation to the next level. So, what are you waiting for? Save your spot now!

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