Best Day Hikes in Kyoto

Surrounded by mountainous peaks, Kyoto boasts some brilliant hiking trails or gentle walks. While some are closer than others, there is a hike for almost everybody and for all fitness levels. If you need an escape – or a moment of soul searching or a rare chance to enjoy your own company – these are the trails you need to make your way to.

Travel to: Japan 

Before you jet on over to Japan, read on to find out where to find the best day hikes in Kyoto.

Best day hikes in Kyoto


1. Arashiyama

Best day hikes in Kyoto


One of the most beautiful (and most Instagrammable) places in Japan is the Arashiyama Mountains, where you can visit from Kyoto via bus, train, or taxi for the magnificent sights. There are a number of hikes or short walks you can enjoy, including The Arashiyama Bamboo Grove or you can hike to Nison-in Temple for a peaceful journey. Another option for visitors is to walk along the Hozu River from Togetsukyo Bridge in Arashiyama and travel back via the Sagano Scenic Railway.

2. Mount Atago

One of the most stunning hikes you can embark on takes you up to the top of Kyoto’s highest mountain, Atago and takes anywhere from 4-6 hours to climb to the top and back depending on your level of fitness. Located in the to the north west of Kyoto, this is one of the most popular hikes in the area.

As you make your way up to the top of Atago, keep your eyes open for abundant wildlife, including small deer along the path. Most importantly, don’t be surprised if you see an influx of small children and babes along the trail. This is because it is believed that children who visit the shrine at a young age may be granted a lifetime immunity and protection from fire.

3. Takao to Hozukyo Hike

Best day hikes in Kyoto

Photo credit: MShades on Visual hunt / CC BY-ND

Covering a distance of approximately 11-kilometres and will take maybe 6 hours to complete, this is one of the superb hikes in Kyoto. If you’re looking for a gentle, but challenging jaunt then this is the one for you. To start, set your sights on the temples in Takao. As you make your way along the vibrant trail, you will also be able to follow a beautiful river that’s great for swimming when the temperatures rise.

4. Kyoto Isshu Trail

This is the 70-kilometre course that circles across the city and starts at the Fushimi Inari Shrine and travels across the mountains before ending at the Moss Temple.

There are many ways you can approach this course over four or five days using the camping facilities, or you could simply return to Kyoto before returning to where you ended the day before. The choice is all yours! While you’re travelling across the trail, you may encounter a number of boars, bears or deer – maybe even some monkeys in addition to the many impressive shrines and temples.

5. Fushimi Inari Hike

Best day hikes in Kyoto

While this ranks as one of the more gentle walks on this list, to take a stroll through the winding tunnels at Fushimi-Inari pilgrimage hike is one of the greatest experiences you can have. But before you start to wonder how to get there, rest assured it really is quite simple. As for actually getting there, the trail starts at Keihan Fushimi-Inari Station, which is only a short journey from Kyoto by train

The total journey time can take anywhere from one hour or up to 90 minutes and the torii gates stretch to the top of the 233m-high Mt. Inari. If you’re not in a rush, why not take your time and make a few stops along the way for some tea or the famous Fushimi sake. For a short walk, this one is by far the most interesting.

6. Mount Daimonji

If you have a half-day to spare during your travels in Japan, take note of the hike up to Daimonji located just on the eastern edge of Kyoto. Here, you will be treated to bold views at the top of the summit as you weave past the lush scenery and thundering nearby streams.


7. Shogunzuka and Seiryuden Hike (from Chion-in Temple)

If you have a few hours in your day, we suggest you take a look at hiking along to the Seiryuden Viewpoint which starts from the Chion-in Temple. The walk or gentle hike itself will take approximately two hours and will offer a visual feast for your eyes once you reach the main vantage point.

  • If you have any tips for hiking or trekking along any of the trails in Kyoto, comment below and share your advice with other travellers!
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