Alternative sights in Kyoto

The Japanese city of Kyoto is world renowned for its incredible temples and shrines - and no visit to the city is complete without a trip to Kiyomizu Temple, the Golden Pavilion, Fushimi Inari Shrine and other buildings of religious, historical and cultural significance. But what about some alternative sights in Kyoto?

After all, visiting dozens of temples and shrines can be a little overwhelming. And after a little while, some start to blend into each other. If you've been overdoing the culture and history, consider some of these alternative sights in Kyoto...

Arashiyama - Arashiyama is a beautiful town just outside of Kyoto, located close to the Higashiyama mountains. Yes there are some beautiful shrines there, but this is also a great place to come and enjoy walks through towering bamboo forests, a scenic train ride along the Hozu river and breathtaking views over the traditional roof tops all the way back to Kyoto.

Gion - Gion is also known as the Geisha district. It's the most famous neighbourhood in Kyoto, and everywhere you turn you'll find pretty tea houses and little bars and restaurants. If you're lucky you might even catch a glimpse of a Geisha rushing to her next appointment. Ok so it's a little touristy - but visiting Kyoto without visiting Gion would be like visiting New York without seeing Times Square.

Sannenzaka Ninenzaka - Sannenzaka Ninenzaka is a great place to shop for souvenirs and traditional Japanese handicrafts. It's a narrow, atmospheric street with a network of alleys and hidden treasures. Visit in the early morning or late evening if you want to avoid the crowds.

Monkey Park Iwatayama - Looking for alternative sights in Kyoto for kids? Monkey Park Iwatayama is a great opportunity to get up close to semi-wild Japanese monkeys. You can even buy some fruit to feed them - they lift it right out of your hand! It's a good hike up to the park, but the views on the way make it very rewarding.

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