Are you thinking about taking your partner out on a special date in Kyoto?

This Japanese city, which was once the country’s capital, is known for its Buddhist temples, pristine gardens, imperial palaces, and Shinto shrines.

It is rife with UNESCO World Heritage Sites and is even considered by many to be the cultural capital of Japan.

The breathtaking scenery and rich history make Kyoto a great destination for couples.

From taking a walk down the cherry blossom-filled Philosopher’s Path to signing up for a private Japanese cooking lesson, there are plenty of intimate activity choices in this popular Japanese city.

Fortunately, we’ve done the hard work for you and narrowed it down to 25 romantic things to do in Kyoto for couples.

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1. Kyoto Rickshaw Tour

Explore Kyoto like never before – by rickshaw!

An authentic Japanese rickshaw offers visitors the ride of a lifetime.

There is no better way to explore some of Kyoto’s most historic and picturesque neighbourhoods.

This customised experience lets you choose which sites you want to see.

Options include riding to the west end of the city, visiting the Bamboo Grove and shrines of Kyoto’s Arashiyama district, or exploring the wooden buildings and stone alleys in the city’s Higashiyama district.

Remember to keep your eyes peeled – you may even spot a geisha along the way!

With just you and your loved one cuddled in the rickshaw, this is a romantic option for all couples visiting Kyoto.

Tour details

  • Duration: 30-180 minutes
  • Inclusions: Local, English-speaking guide and rickshaw ride

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2. Hidden Kyoto E-Biking

Venture into the city of Kyoto via e-bike.

This unique experience will give you a local’s perspective, allowing you to navigate to all the best sites the city has to offer.

Along the 8-kilometre route, you’ll stop at Kyoto’s biggest attractions, including the Daitokuji Temple Complex, Imamiyajinja, and the Kitanotenmangu Temple.

Your knowledgeable tour guide will also take you to off-the-beaten-path locations and give you an insider’s perspective on the ancient city.

You can expect to see all sorts of beautiful temples, shrines, and zen gardens.

Plus, each tour is limited to a small group ensuring an intimate setting for all.

Tour details

  • Duration: 3 hours 30 minutes
  • Departure Times: 9:00 am and 1:00 pm
  • Inclusions: English-speaking route coordinator, entry fees, water, bike and helmet rental.

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3. Kyoto Imperial Palace

Live like a royal for a day at Kyoto’s very own Imperial Palace.

Although the Japanese royal family no longer live in this stunning estate, the interior has been preserved.

Tours take you through all areas of the palace, from the Imperial Library to the Empress quarters and throne room.

Surrounding the palace, visitors will find the most beautiful park in Kyoto.

The nearby parklands are filled with lush flora and fauna, including carp ponds and cherry blossom trees.

After exploring the nineteenth century palace, the park is a great place to enjoy an afternoon picnic.

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4. Kinkaku-ji

No trip to Kyoto is complete without stopping at Kinkaku-ji, otherwise known as the Golden Pavilion.

It is hands down the most famous temple in the city – and with good reason.

The gilded exterior (made of gold leaf) is even more magical in person, so be sure to bring your camera!

The three-story pagoda was originally built in 1397.

Today, the structure that stands in its place was built in 1955, as the original was destroyed in a fire in 1950.

Visitors still come here to marvel at the temple, and take in its picturesque surroundings by the lake and forest.

Couples will have plenty of fun taking selfies with the Golden Pavilion in the background.

Inclusions for most tours

  • Professional guide
  • Entry fees
  • Hotel pick up and drop off
  • Lunch

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5. Himeji Castle

Himeji Castle is as stunning in person as it is in photos.

The hilltop Japanese estate dates back to the 14th century.

It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site back in 1993.

People from all over the world visit Kyoto to take in the imperial beauty for themselves.

A guide will take you around the castle grounds, teaching you all about its rich history.

Afterwards, visitors will enjoy a lunch buffet with Western and Japanese dishes.

The tour will end with a walk along the Maiko Marine Promenade, a quaint walkway that overlooks the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge, the longest suspension bridge in the world.

Tour details

  • Duration: 9 hours
  • Departure Point: Miyako Hotel Kyoto Hachijo
  • Departure Times: 8:40 am
  • Inclusions: English-speaking guide, entry fees, buffet lunch, public transportation fees.

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6. The Philosopher’s Path

For those looking to get that perfect Instagram pic in Kyoto, the Philosopher’s Path is the place to do it.

The two-kilometre trail along the canal was once walked by one of Japan’s most famous philosophers.

He would meditate while walking to Kyoto University.

Today, couples flock to the site for romantic walks, and take in the surrounding beauty.

Hundreds of cherry blossom trees line the path, creating a breathtaking sight in spring.

At all months of the year, the trail has views of the nearby temples and shrines.

The Philosopher’s Walk is a quiet and calm haven within the city.

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7. Kamogawa River

A romantic stroll along the Kamogawa River, also called the Kamo River, is just the ticket for a couple visiting Kyoto.

It connects to the fourth largest river in the city.

It also weaves its way through many of Kyoto’s most beautiful districts, including the district of Gion, famous for its geishas.

The riverbanks are lined with stretches of grassy parks and there are numerous scenic bridges connecting the two sides of the river.

So in addition to strolling along the river, it is a great spot to have a picnic or do some people watching.

In the evening, it is illuminated by nearby restaurants, making it a great place to head for a post-dinner walk.

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8. Fushimi Inari and Sake Brewery Tour

History and sake rolled into one – this tour can’t be beat!

The Fushimi Inari and Sake Brewery Tour takes you on a journey through Kyoto’s popular Inari district.

The day begins by walking through the iconic red gates of the Fushimi Inari Shrine.

From there, you’ll make your way into the Gekkeikan Okura Sake Museum, where you’ll learn all about how sake is made.

You’ll even get to indulge in some sake tastings!

Finally, your tasting continues in a local specialty shop located near the museum that sells over 80 kinds of sake.

This is a great spot to grab a souvenir for your date!

Tour details

  • Duration: 3 hours 30 minutes
  • Departure Point: JR Kyoto Train Station
  • Departure Times: 9:00 am
  • Inclusions: Local guide, entry fees, sake liquor store tasting

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9. Sannenzaka Ninenzaka

Calling all history buffs!

Step back in time in Kyoto’s shopping district of Sannenzaka and Ninenzaka, which dates back to the imperial era.

These two alleyways are for pedestrians only.

They are considered two of the most beautiful streets in the city.

Sannenzaka and Ninenzaka are lined with teahouses, shops, restaurants, and traditional Japanese wooden houses.

Shoppers looking to pick up a few souvenirs will discover everything from handmade fans to chopsticks.

Meanwhile, couples who love food will be able to indulge in mochi balls, green tea ice cream, or even matcha cakes.

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10. Gion Walking Tour by Night

The Gion district can be found in the heart of Kyoto and is not to be missed.

It is widely considered to be the city’s entertainment district and where you’ll find many of the area’s traditional art forms.

Kagai culture is on full display here in the form of maiko and geiko.

While many couples will visit this part of Kyoto when they visit the city, it’s difficult to grasp the area’s importance today, as well as its historical importance, without help from a knowledgeable guide.

This guided tour will take you along the backstreets of Gion.

It will also explain the area’s rich history and answer your questions about the lives of maiko and geiko.

Tour details

  • Duration: 1 hour 40 minutes
  • Departure Point: 〒605-0079 Kyōto-fu, Kyōto-shi
  • Departure Times: 5:00 pm or 6:00 pm
  • Inclusions: Professional, English-speaking guide

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11. Japanese Gardens Tour

Gardens are an essential part of Japanese culture and Kyoto is full of them.

Whether you have a green thumb or not, you’ll love marvelling at the romantic beauty of Kyoto’s pristine gardens.

This guided tour begins at the Golden Pavilion, which has a surrounding garden that dates back to the Muromachi era.

From there, you’ll be transported to Ryoan-ji, which is the home of dry zen gardens.

The tour will end at Ninna-ji, which has a multitude of gardens, allowing couples to see first hand the difference in style and design of zen gardens.

By the end of the day, you’ll have witnessed some beautiful scenery, and learned about the different types of gardens in Japan.

Tour details

  • Duration: 3 hours
  • Departure Point: Kinkaku-ji
  • Departure Times: 9:00 am or 1:30 pm
  • Inclusions: Small group guided tour

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12. Arashiyama

Strolling through a bamboo grove is an experience like no other.

The bamboo grove is the highlight of Arashiyama, which has a rich history dating back over 1,000 years.

Japanese aristocrats used to have their villas in this region over a century ago.

Today, it is a popular destination for romantic strolls.

More than the bamboo grove, the tour will explore the temples of Jojakko-ji and Tenryu-ji, a scenic bridge by the name of Togetsukyo, and the Sagano area.

Your guide will also take you to a few less frequented spots by tourists and teach you about the history and culture of the area.

Tour details

  • Duration: 3 hours 30 minutes
  • Departure Point: Saga-Arashiyama Station
  • Departure Times: 11:00 am
  • Inclusions: Professional guide, lunch, bottled water, entry fees

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13. Nara Afternoon Tour

Get out of the city and visit the first permanent capital of Japan: Nara.

Nara is a treasure trove for history buffs.

It is rife with some of Japan’s oldest Buddhist temples.

Visitors will get to see Todaiji Temple, which is home to the country’s largest Buddha statue.

The beautiful Kasuga Shrine is also in Nara.

The main attraction though, is the Deer Park, where you’ll find hundreds of deer roaming freely in the grass.

You’ll have plenty of fun with your date feeding these cute mammels.

Tour details

  • Duration: 6 hours
  • Departure Times: 1:45 pm
  • Inclusions: Professional guide, air conditioned vehicle, hotel pick up, entry fees

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14. Northern Kyoto Prefecture

Northern Kyoto Prefecture is an area often overlooked, but it is an ideal place for a romantic date.

It is a lush, quiet haven north of the city that allows visitors to escape the bustling streets of downtown Kyoto for a day.

The area is known for three main attractions.

First, you’ll visit Monju Amanohashidate Park, otherwise known as Kyoto by the Sea.

Take the chairlift or monorail to the top and see the water and sand bar below.

Second is Ine no Funaya, a coastal town known for its wooden boathouses.

Finally, you’ll stop at a mountainous region called Miyama, which is famous for its traditional thatched roof farmhouses (you’ll truly feel like you’ve been transported back in time).

This guided tour arranges all transportation for you, so you can avoid the hassle.

Tour details

  • Duration: 12 hours
  • Departure Point: Kyoto Avanti
  • Departure Times: 7:20 am
  • Inclusions: English-speaking guide, transportation by coach, lunch, entry fees, cruise ride, monorail or chairlift ride.

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15. Japanese Tea Ceremony

Visiting a tea house is like a rite of passage in Japan.

Don’t miss out on this extraordinary tea ceremony experience.

You’ll learn the traditional philosophy behind how to serve a bowl of tea.

There will also be a local guide on-site who can answer all of your tea-related questions.

Couples will have the option to choose from two main experiences.

The first is a one hour tea ceremony in a machiya, a traditional wooden building.

The second option is a 1.5 hour tea ceremony and kimono-wearing lesson, where you’ll learn how to put on the traditional garment.

Tour details

  • Duration: 1 hour
  • Departure Point: Wakwak-kan
  • Inclusions: English-speaking guide, tea tasting, snacks

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16. Kyoto Evening Food Tour

Kyoto is a foodie’s paradise, so this will be a safe choice to share an intimate time with your date.

This evening food tour takes you through the districts of Gion and Shirakawa.

While navigating the streets of these iconic Kyoto districts, you’ll experience traditional Japanese culture and pass by some of the most famous eateries in the city.

The tour will culminate with a lavish 10-course dinner at a local Kyoto restaurant.

The multi-course dinner is a true ode to Kaiseki cuisine, giving you the chance to sample flavours and dishes you’ve never tried before.

You’ll be treated to a luxurious dinner complete with green tea and dessert.

Tour details

  • Duration: 3 hours
  • Departure Point: Japan Kanji Museum & Library
  • Departure Time: 5:00 pm
  • Inclusions: Local guide, one drink, ten-course dinner, green tea, dessert

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17. Sake Brewery Tour with Sake Tasting

Are you a fan of sake?

Then you better enjoy it while you’re in its native country!

This unique experience will take you on an intimate sake brewery tour.

You’ll learn all about the history of Japan’s most famous drink, including how to brew it.

After sake tasting, your expert guide will describe which ingredients give the beverage its distinct flavour.

The tour is limited to just 10 people, ensuring you have a personalised experience and can have all your questions answered.

Tour details

  • Duration: 45 minutes
  • Departure Point: Wakwak-kan
  • Departure Time: 11:00 am or 4:00 pm
  • Inclusions: Professional guide, entry fee, sake tastings, taxi fee to brewery.

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18. Night Bar Hopping Tour

Experience Kyoto’s vibrant nightlife with a bar hopping tour in Nishiki and Pontocho.

This three hour food and drink tour of Japan’s ancient capital will take you to one secret bar and two local restaurants.

You’ll be able to sample local cuisine, including tempura, kyoto vegetables, and fish.

And of course, there’s no drink more famous in Kyoto than sake!

Finish off the tour with a pint of sake.

Tours are limited to just five people.

Tour details

  • Duration: 3 hours
  • Departure Point: ete 大丸京都店
  • Departure Time: 5:45 pm
  • Inclusions: Professional guide, entry fees, dinner, beverages, food samplings

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19. Nishiki Market Tour

Kyoto’s food culture is like nowhere else.

Gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for the city’s food scene on this Nishiki Market food tour.

This market is also known as “Kyoto’s kitchen,” and is home to over 130 stalls and shops.

You’ll have the option of trying fresh dishes at the market, including tofu skin, rice balls, fried fish cakes, Japanese pike conger eel, and even sake.

Rest assured, you’re in for a wild culinary adventure with your partner.

The tour will also take you to the Nishiki Shrine, the iconic Pontocho Geisha Alley, and the traditional Gion district of Kyoto.

Tour details

  • Duration: 3 hours
  • Departure Point: ete 大丸京都店
  • Departure Time: 10:45 am
  • Inclusions: Professional guide, food tasting, bottled water, lunch

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20. Maiko Makeover Experience

When in Kyoto, do as the geishas do!

This fun experience will allow you and your partner to dress up like a maiko and samurai for a day.

Everything is included – the ornate clothing, traditional hair and makeup, and even the beautiful headpiece.

The adventure takes place in a local tea house in the Gion district, where geishas typically entertain their guests.

A professional photographer will be capturing the whole romantic experience.

Tour details

  • Duration: 2 hours
  • Departure Point: Gion AYA Maiko & Geisha Makeover
  • Inclusions: Kimono rental, hair and makeup, hair accessory, 2 laminated photos, CD-rom, 4 2L-sized photos

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21. Kyoto Vacation Photography Session

Perfect for couples – this romantic photography session will allow you to take home the most beautiful photos of your time in Kyoto.

Sessions are between 1 and 3 hours and captured by a local photographer.

It is up to you to choose where you’d like to take the photos, whether in front of blossoming cherry blossom trees or a historic temple.

Plus, as all photographers are local, they’ll be able to make some great recommendations as to the best spots for photos in the city.

You can also ask them about the history and culture of Kyoto.

In the end, you’ll come away with 50 perfectly edited photos that capture your trip to Kyoto.

Tour details

  • Duration: 1-3 hours
  • Inclusions: 50 edited photos

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22. Private Dinner with a Geisha

Geishas are an important part of Kyoto’s local culture.

Having dinner with a geisha is a privilege that historically not many could enjoy.

This tour makes it possible for couples to experience geishas in an authentic setting.

The evening will begin with an English-speaking guide taking you through the geiko and maiko district in Kyoto, before your private dinner.

During dinner, you’ll enjoy a Kaiseki dish at a local Japanese restaurant with one maiko.

On this unique romantic date, you’ll always remember having dinner with a real life geisha.

Tour details

  • Duration: 2-3 hours
  • Departure Point: Minamiza Kabuki Theater
  • Departure Times: 5:00 pm or 7:30 pm
  • Inclusions: Professional guide, dinner, drinks, geisha dance performance, geiko or maiko accompaniment

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23. Japanese Cooking Class

Learn to cook in the traditional Japanese style while in Kyoto.

There are a multitude of cooking lessons in the city, from ones at local cooking schools to those at popular restaurants.

Each tour will allow you to gain more insight into Japan’s food culture.

They will also teach you how to make a famous Japanese dish, such as sushi, ramen, dashi soup, and even green tea ice cream.

You’ll come away with a full stomach and some amazing new cooking skills to impress your partner.

Inclusions for most tours

  • Food tasting
  • Lunch
  • Local taxes

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24. Pottery Class

Plan an adventurous date night in Kyoto that includes trying your hand at pottery!

Pottery is another important part of traditional Japanese culture.

Some of Kyoto’s potteries date back to the eighteenth century.

You’ll be taught how to use an electric potter’s wheel to create something truly beautiful.

Professional pottery artists will be on-site to guide you and answer any questions you have about the art form.

Whether you’re a full blown beginner or not, this is a fabulous way to spend an evening with your partner in Kyoto.

Inclusions for most tours

  • Material cost
  • Finishing by local craftsman
  • Experience fee
  • Local taxes

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25. Traditional Maiko Performance

Experience several aspects of Japanese culture all in one night!

This not-to-be-missed maiko performance features a traditional maiko dance.

Guests will also be wowed by a flower arranging performance, gagaku court music, and authentic puppet theater.

As you marvel at the beauty unfolding on stage, you’ll be treated to a candlelit tea ceremony.

To top it off, you’ll receive a traditional Japanese-style dinner.

As this is limited to a small group only, you’ll get the most intimate experience possible.

Tour details

  • Duration: 4 hours
  • Departure Point: Miyako Hotel Kyoto Hachijo
  • Departure Times: 5:00 pm
  • Inclusions: Professional guide, Japanese-style dinner, hotel drop off by taxi, entry fees.

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As one of the romantic cities in Japan, there is no shortage of activities for couples in Kyoto. Whether you’re foodies looking for a great local food tour or history buffs wanting to explore the city’s iconic temples, we hope this list has inspired you.

Find more Romantic Things to do in Kyoto

For all new cities, I go overboard on my itinerary, just to see every major attraction. Countries I've visited include New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong, China, Cambodia, Japan and Thailand. Mostly Asian countries. Next target - Europe!