The Most Convenient Ways to Get Around in Kyoto

  • When it comes to tourism in Japan, the most infamous example may be Kyoto, the former capital of the country. From serene shrines to bustling city attractions, there’s no shortage of things to see and do in this town. Unfortunately, the density of tourists in Kyoto is straining Kyoto’s transportation infrastructure to its limits. While it is one of the largest cities in Japan, Kyoto’s infrastructure is underdeveloped, in part due to the lack of damage suffered during World War II. Rail transport within the city is limited, so the majority of movement from place to place is done via Kyoto’s many bus lines. There are also a number of convenient avenues for walking and biking, since Kyoto’s street layout is a very easy to read grid system.

    If you’re planning on visiting Kyoto for the first time, it can be very confusing trying to make sense of the various routes and target locations. But we’ve researched travel information for the city and found some of the best options for getting around in the Old Capital of Japan.

    Karasuma Subway Line

    Even though Kyoto has limited railway coverage, both of it’s major operating subway lines provide coverage for a good part of the city. Mainly servicing the northern half of Kyoto north of Kyoto station, the Karasuma and Tozai subway lines are easily accessible and can help you get somewhere faster than by bus. However the Karasuma line is distinguished in that it provides service to the south of Kyoto as well. Visitors to Kyoto might notice that the large majority of available transport options in the city, such as bus lines, are mainly servicing the north of the city where most of the tourist attractions are. But the Karasuma subway extends well into the south of Kyoto beyond Kyoto station, so if you had a specific destination in mind for south-central Kyoto, this subway line will really help make that trip out easier.

    Kyoto Bus Line 12

    The Kyoto 12 bus is a great way to see lots of different sights in Kyoto. This route takes you across northern Kyoto, from the banks of the Kamo River at the Yasaka shrine all the way to the golden pavilion Kinkakuji Temple. Between both ends of the route you’ll have the chance to encounter various attractions such as the Imperial Palace Garden and various fun activities within the Teramachi shopping arcade. Kyoto is a city sheltered by mountain ranges on all sides, so if you want to cross the breadth of Kyoto and see the city from different sides, the 12 bus can serve those needs easily.

    Kyoto Bus Line 4

    This line is unique for the access it offers to northern Kyoto. That section of the city is cut off by the Kamo and Takano River and contains several unique destinations such as the Kyoto Botanical Garden and the UNESCO World Heritage site Kamigamo Shrine. As a result, this region isn’t easily accessible without a long walk from one of the southern bus stops. Line 4 is a convenient way to get here because it runs a route directly from Kyoto Station. If you’ve been to Kyoto before and are looking for some new travel spots, the 4 bus to northern Kyoto may be what you’re looking for.

    Kyoto Raku Bus

    The Raku Bus lines offer the most direct routes to many of Kyoto’s prime tourism spots such as Nijo Castle and Kiyomizudera at the price of a higher fare than other bus lines in the city. These bus lines, 100, 101, and 102 focus on taking visitors on a specified route from Kyoto station throughout the city, zigzagging north before turning back at the Kitaoji bus terminal. If you’re visiting Kyoto for the first time and are interested mainly in seeing the major tourist destinations in the city, the Raku bus routes are simple, direct routes for you to ride on.

    Kawaramachi Street


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    Kawaramachi is one of the major streets in Kyoto, running near the Kamo River making it easy to prevent getting lost. It also provides street-level access to famous destinations within the city like the Imperial Palace Park and Teramachi shopping arcade. There are many different kinds of restaurants that can be found along this street, and towards the southern end you can easily locate various shopping options like the Takashimaya Department Store. This avenue is convenient for walkiing because you can go for long stretches without encountering a traffic crossing to slow your progress. It’s also a good destination for those interested in biking since it’s near the Imperial Palace Park and the banks of the Kamo River, both excellent spots to spend some quality time outdoors.

    You can learn more about transportation options in Kyoto from this website. We hope you enjoyed reading about these options for getting around in Kyoto. Hopefully they serve you well should you visit this beautiful Japanese city in the future.

    Interested in staying in Kyoto? This hotel is conveniently located near a subway station, so you can quickly reach Kyoto Station.