Kyoto is a fantastic city with gems around nearly every corner. If you’re the kind of family who loves getting out into nature, here are some things to do in Kyoto for kids, outdoor adventures for nature loving families. Kyoto is gorgeous. It’s as simple as that.
With its millennia-old temples and shrines, traditional artwork, and beauty. Kyoto is teeming with places to discover. Attempt Kyoto on foot, on two wheels, or by tram.
8 Things to do in Kyoto For Kids Outdoors
#1 Visit Fushimi Inari Shrine
If you’ve seen the movie Memoirs of a Geisha, you’ll recognize the famous vermilion torii gates of the Fushimi Inari Shrine. Stretch the legs and take a hike up to the top of the mountain. It’s a tranquil and calm place to reflect and absorb the energy of the forest. Also known as the Kyoto Fox Shrine, this is a classic Kyoto destination that should be at the top of your list. Intrigued? Read this post about Fushimi Inari and other things to do in Kyoto with kids.
#2 Explore Higashiyama by Bicycle
Higashiyama is a district of beaches and is especially pleasant to explore by bike. Highlights include famous temples but it’s most fun cycling through the narrow streets to get to them. Stop whenever something catches your eye and you’ll discover a wealth of culture and experience local life too. A bike can be rented for as little as ¥500 per day, and if you don’t think you can handle the hills pick up an electric bicycle.
#3 Camp at Biwa Lake
30 minutes from Kyoto, are the historic towns around Biwa Lake is a beautfiul place to go bird watching, swimming and water sports are available too. This off the beaten path destination in Japan is a fantastic spot for active families. Biwa Lake is the largest freshwater lake in Japan and a popular spot to go camping. There are several campsites to choose from and as it’s popular with Japanese families, your kids will get the chance to make friends with local kids too. The historic town of Hikone nearby, is home to an ancient castle that is one of the original 12 Japanese castles in the country.
#4 Visit Kuramadera and Mt. Kurama
Kurama Temple sits at the foothills of Mt. Kurama in northern Kyoto. The lushly-wooded region is believed to be home to numerous spirits, like the mythological tengu or long-nosed goblin. The art of reiki was also born here and there’s a natural hot springs in the region. It’s a serene place to add to your Kyoto temple hopping itinerary.
#5 See the monkeys in Arashiyama
Although the areas around Arashiyama Station and Togetsukyo Bridge are crowded, the Arashiyama area is a worthwhile excursion. There are many hiking and walking trails around here, that are sprinkled with temples and traditional gardens. The Arashiyama Bamboo Grove is soothing and the fall colors here are stunning. Monkey Park is an inviting place to mingle (and take selfies) with free-roaming Japanese macaques.
#6 Relax in Maruyama Park
This pretty park is near the Gion area. So after you tire of geisha gawping, head over to Maruyama for a stroll through the classical garden with trails that wind around ponds. In spring, this is a popular spot to do hanami (cherry blossom viewing).
#7 Go on the Philosopher’s Walk
The narrow stone path that connects Ginkakuji (Temple of the Silver Pavilion) to Eikando is called Tetsugaku no michi. Also known as philosopher’s walk, this is because philosopher Kitaro Nishida used to take the route daily to think and reflect. The pedestrian route runs under a procession of trees along a canal and is lined with temples and shrines. Who knows what hidden talents this walk might stir up?
If you are traveling with teenagers, you might want to consider walking the Nakasendo Way or at least a part of it.
#8 Bike around Sanzenin and Ohara
For a more strenuous biking excursion, head up to the village of Ohara in the northern part of Kyoto. The ride is all about 20km with uphill climbs and picturesque views. It should take a few hours. But once there, your reward is a visit to the temple complex at Sanzenin and the quaint shops around it. Also, check out Otonoashi Waterfall and consider staying in one of the hot spring inns in the region for a true cultural experience.
Where to stay in Kyoto?
One of the great things about visiting Kyoto is there are plenty of places to stay in Kyoto to suit all budgets. Here’s a great guide to help you decide where to stay in Kyoto.
While Kyoto is a lovely city to visit with kids, Japan has lots of other attractions for young travelers. If you’re visiting Kyoto, it’s worth putting Osaka on your itinerary. Osaka is 42km from Kyoto, and can be visited as a day trip.
Osaka is a fun city to visit and there’s lots to do in the city itself. There are also some cool day trips from Osaka that are worth considering.
For more information here’s everything you need to know when planning a trip to Japan.
For more holidays with the family check out our guide to best places to visit in 2018.