There’s so much to see in Kyoto itself that most people don’t explore the surrounding area. First priority should probably go to Arashiyama, to the west side of Kyoto, which is famous for its gardens and temples, as well as the Hozu-gawa gorge boat ride and the monkey park. Uji, to the south of Kyoto, is another quiet pocket of history and home to the magnificent Byōdō-in, whose graceful Phoenix Hall is a masterpiece of Japanese architecture, as well as the tea fields which support Kyoto’s cultural traditions. In the northeast of Kyoto is Hiei-zan, atop a mountain overlooking the city, where age-old cedars shelter the venerable temples of Enryaku-ji. Below Hiei-zan, Ōhara contains a scattering of beguiling temples in an attractive valley.

Slightly further afield, but definitely worth the effort, are Amanohashidate, the “Bridge to Heaven”, on the northern coast of Kyoto prefecture and one of the trio of top scenic views in Japan; the attractive castle town of Hikone on Biwa-ko, Japan’s largest lake; and the architecturally stunning Miho Museum, nestled in the Shigaraki mountains.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Japan features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

The best places to go in spring

The best places to go in spring

Springtime is beautiful, with its big blue skies and flowers in bloom, so there may be no better time to travel. If you're thinking about getting away, here are…

14 Feb 2017 • Rough Guides Editors camera_alt Gallery
26 awe-inspiring architectural wonders

26 awe-inspiring architectural wonders

From ancient temples to hyper-modern skyscrapers, these are just a few of the world's most incredible architectural wonders. Whether you're looking to wander l…

01 Feb 2017 • Rough Guides Editors camera_alt Gallery
Go solo: the 20 best places to travel alone

Go solo: the 20 best places to travel alone

Solo travel can be one of the most rewarding ways to explore the world. Whether you'd rather spend it on a desert island or in a frenetic new city, here are th…

21 Dec 2016 • Rachel Mills camera_alt Gallery
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month