If you have only one week in Japan, then Tokyo and Kyoto are the two places you should visit. These cities will give you the best experience of modern and traditional Japan. Here's the ideal one-week Tokyo-Kyoto itinerary.
Shinkansen bullet train at Tokyo Station: Norman Pogson / Shutterstock.com
Tokyo-Kyoto 1-Week Itinerary Summary
- This itinerary includes two full days in Tokyo, three full days in Kyoto and two travel days.
- In Tokyo, you'll see the modern West Side and the traditional East Side.
- In Kyoto, you'll see Southern Higashiyama, Arashiyama and Northern Higashiyama.
Day 1: Tokyo: West Side/Modern Tokyo
- Travel to Harajuku and check out Meiji-jingu Shrine, Omotesando, and Nezu Museum.
- Take the train to Shibuya and explore the shops then eat lunch.
- Take the train and subway to Roppongi for some more exploration then dinner.
- Have a drink after dinner in Roppongi. See my Tokyo 2-Day Itinerary for full details on the Tokyo leg of this itinerary.
Day 2: Tokyo: East Side/Traditional Tokyo
- Take the subway up to Asakusa and visit Senso-ji Temple.
- Then, take the subway over to Ueno and check out the park and museums there.
- Take the train down to Tokyo Station and eat lunch in the Tokyo Station area.
- Visit a museum in the area then walk into Ginza to do some shopping.
- Eat dinner in the area or near your hotel.
- See my Tokyo 2-Day Itinerary for full details on the Tokyo leg of this itinerary.
Day 3: Travel Day: Tokyo to Kyoto
- Take the shinkansen (bullet train) from Tokyo to Kyoto. See my How to Get from Tokyo to Kyoto page for full travel details. The trip takes about 2.5 hours. There's no point in getting an early start on this day since most hotels and ryokan won't allow you to check in until 3pm. At Kyoto Station, you can put your luggage in the lockers or the luggage storage office and eat a relaxing lunch in the station. Otherwise, you can store your luggage at your hotel or ryokan and do some exploring until check-in time. I suggest doing a short walk near your hotel or ryokan during the late afternoon.
Day 4: Kyoto: Southern Higashiyama
- Explore Kyoto's most important sightseeing district: Southern Higashiyama.
- Walk from Kiyomizu-dera Temple all the way north to Shoren-in Temple.
- Head downtown and eat lunch, then visit Nishiki Market and if you've got the energy, head south to the superb Fushimi-Inari Taisha Shrine.
- See my Kyoto Two-Day Itinerary for full details on the Kyoto leg of this itinerary.
Day 5: Kyoto: Arashiyama
- Head to the west side of Kyoto today and explore the city's second-most important sightseeing area: Arashiyama.
- Visit Tenruy-ji Temple, the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove and Okochi-Sanso Villa.
- Then take a taxi up to Kinkaku-ji Temple and continue to Daitoku-ji Temple if you have the energy.
- In the evening, visit Pontocho Alley. See my Kyoto Two-Day Itinerary for full details on the Kyoto leg of this itinerary.
Day 6: Kyoto: Northern Higashiyama
- Visit the Northern Higashiyama Area and, if you have the energy, head up to the village of Kurama. If you feel like taking it easy, just take a stroll downtown in the afternoon. See my Kyoto Three-Day Itinerary for full details on the Kyoto leg of this itinerary.
Day 7: Travel Day: Kyoto to Tokyo
- Travel from Kyoto back to Tokyo by shinkansen (bullet train). See my How to Get from Tokyo to Kyoto page for full travel details. The trip takes about 2.5 hours Again, there's no point in getting an early start since your Tokyo hotel probably won't let you check in before 3:00pm. In the afternoon of this day, do some last-minute shopping. Consider a splurge dinner this evening in a place like Roppongi or Shinjuku.
- Don't try to pack too much into your days in Tokyo and Kyoto. It's better to enjoy a few places properly than to race through a long list of places.
- See my Where to Stay in Tokyo page for advice about where to stay in Tokyo.
- See my Where to Stay in Kyoto page for advice about where to stay in Kyoto.
Tokyo Vacation Checklist
- For all the essentials in a brief overview, see my First Time In Tokyo guide
- Check Tokyo accommodation availability and pricing on Booking.com – usually you can reserve a room with no upfront payment. Pay when you check out. Free cancellations too
- Need tips on where to stay? See my one page guide Where To Stay In Tokyo
- You can buy a Japan SIM card online for collection on arrival at Tokyo Narita or Haneda airports. Or rent an unlimited data pocket wifi router
- See my comprehensive Packing List For Japan
- Compare airline flight prices and timings for the best Japan flight deals.
- If you're visiting more than one city, save a ton of money with a Japan Rail Pass – here's why it's worth it
- A prepaid Suica card makes travelling around Tokyo much easier - here's how
- Get essential travel insurance for Tokyo – World Nomads is well-regarded (and here's why)