10 Unusual and Exciting Tours and Tasting Experiences in Kyoto

Kyoto is best known for its beautiful shrines and temples
Kyoto is best known for its beautiful shrines and temples | © Alex Ramsay / Alamy Stock Photo
Culture Trip Travel Team

Kyoto is popular for a reason, but that doesn’t mean you have to follow the well-trodden path. These handpicked tours and experiences take you away from the crowds and show Kyoto in a completely different light.

Kyoto is best known for its beautiful shrines and temples, but there’s much more to the city than manicured gardens and historic architecture. For a new way to discover Kyoto, consider booking a tour or experience. From exploring the city’s lesser-known sights on a bike ride or taking a cultural walking tour with an experienced guide, to enjoying a Japanese cooking class with ingredients sourced from Nishiki Food Market, these unique experiences might just uncover a surprising side to Kyoto.

1. Izakaya Style Cooking Class

Architectural Landmark

Kyoto is a 3 to 3.5-hour session where participants learn to prepare five or six popular izakaya dishes under the guidance of a master chef. The class includes instruction on Japanese seasoning techniques and preparing dashi, a fundamental Japanese soup stock. After cooking, participants enjoy their creations and take home the recipes to recreate the dishes. The experience provides a deep dive into Japanese pub-style cuisine, offering a unique culinary adventure​
The Hidden Kyoto E-Biking Tour is a 3 hour and 45 minute guided experience that allows participants to explore the lesser-known treasures of Kyoto on an electric bike. The tour covers an 8-kilometer route, passing famous sites such as Kinkakuji and Kitano Tenmangu Shrine, while also venturing into serene Zen gardens and quaint local streets. Participants will have the opportunity to stop at a historic snack shop and partake in a traditional tea ceremony, offering a unique cultural immersion​

2. Kyoto Sake Brewery & Tasting Walking Tour

Architectural Landmark

Offers participants an immersive experience in the Fushimi sake district. The tour includes visits to traditional sake breweries, where participants learn about the sake brewing process and its history. Guests can enjoy guided tastings of various sake styles, enhancing their understanding of the flavors and characteristics of this iconic Japanese beverage.
The Hidden Kyoto E-Biking Tour is a 3 hour and 45 minute guided experience that allows participants to explore the lesser-known treasures of Kyoto on an electric bike. The tour covers an 8-kilometer route, passing famous sites such as Kinkakuji and Kitano Tenmangu Shrine, while also venturing into serene Zen gardens and quaint local streets. Participants will have the opportunity to stop at a historic snack shop and partake in a traditional tea ceremony, offering a unique cultural immersion​

Kyoto at night

3. Kyoto Foodie Night Tour

Architectural Landmark

A 3.5-hour small-group experience that explores Kyoto’s culinary scene. Participants visit popular spots like Nishiki Market and hidden gems, sampling at least seven local dishes from Kyoto-style cuisine to izakaya dishes, and enjoy two drinks, such as beer or sake. The tour offers an intimate look into Kyoto’s food culture, guided by a knowledgeable local​
The Hidden Kyoto E-Biking Tour is a 3 hour and 45 minute guided experience that allows participants to explore the lesser-known treasures of Kyoto on an electric bike. The tour covers an 8-kilometer route, passing famous sites such as Kinkakuji and Kitano Tenmangu Shrine, while also venturing into serene Zen gardens and quaint local streets. Participants will have the opportunity to stop at a historic snack shop and partake in a traditional tea ceremony, offering a unique cultural immersion​

4. Insider Sake Experience

Architectural Landmark

Tour in Kyoto is a three-hour experience in the Fushimi sake district. Participants visit Gekkeikan Okura Sake Museum and other breweries, learning about sake production and history. The tour includes guided sake tastings paired with traditional Japanese snacks, providing an in-depth understanding of sake varieties and their unique flavors. It is ideal for both beginners and enthusiasts wanting to enhance their knowledge of sake​
The Hidden Kyoto E-Biking Tour is a 3 hour and 45 minute guided experience that allows participants to explore the lesser-known treasures of Kyoto on an electric bike. The tour covers an 8-kilometer route, passing famous sites such as Kinkakuji and Kitano Tenmangu Shrine, while also venturing into serene Zen gardens and quaint local streets. Participants will have the opportunity to stop at a historic snack shop and partake in a traditional tea ceremony, offering a unique cultural immersion​

5. Ramen Cooking Class

Architectural Landmark

Class at Ramen Factory Kyoto provides a hands-on experience where participants create their own ramen from start to finish. The class covers making noodles, selecting broths, and preparing toppings. It caters to various dietary needs, including vegetarian and halal options. Participants can enjoy their custom ramen and take home a souvenir like a T-shirt or ramen bowl​
The Hidden Kyoto E-Biking Tour is a 3 hour and 45 minute guided experience that allows participants to explore the lesser-known treasures of Kyoto on an electric bike. The tour covers an 8-kilometer route, passing famous sites such as Kinkakuji and Kitano Tenmangu Shrine, while also venturing into serene Zen gardens and quaint local streets. Participants will have the opportunity to stop at a historic snack shop and partake in a traditional tea ceremony, offering a unique cultural immersion​

6. Nighttime All Inclusive Eats

Architectural Landmark

Tour offers a three-hour immersive experience in Kyoto’s Gion district. Participants explore the area’s vibrant nightlife, enjoy local delicacies at restaurants and bars, and visit historical sites like Yasaka-jinja Shrine. The tour includes dinner and drinks, and is guided by a knowledgeable English-speaking guide, making it suitable for families, teenagers, and solo travelers. With a focus on small groups, it ensures a personalized and enriching experience of Kyoto’s culture and cuisine​
The Hidden Kyoto E-Biking Tour is a 3 hour and 45 minute guided experience that allows participants to explore the lesser-known treasures of Kyoto on an electric bike. The tour covers an 8-kilometer route, passing famous sites such as Kinkakuji and Kitano Tenmangu Shrine, while also venturing into serene Zen gardens and quaint local streets. Participants will have the opportunity to stop at a historic snack shop and partake in a traditional tea ceremony, offering a unique cultural immersion​

Nikishi Market

7. Nishiki Market

Architectural Landmark

Take a delightful small-group breakfast walking tour of Kyoto’s Nishiki Market to kick off your day. This is a fantastic chance to discover more about regional Japanese cuisine while taking in some sights you might not otherwise see. Take a stroll around the historic Gion district before indulging in the delectable offerings of the 400-year-old market, which is referred to as Kyoto’s “kitchen.” About 2.5 hours pass during the walking trip. This tour combines culinary delights with cultural exploration. It’s an excellent way to start your day in Kyoto.
The Hidden Kyoto E-Biking Tour is a 3 hour and 45 minute guided experience that allows participants to explore the lesser-known treasures of Kyoto on an electric bike. The tour covers an 8-kilometer route, passing famous sites such as Kinkakuji and Kitano Tenmangu Shrine, while also venturing into serene Zen gardens and quaint local streets. Participants will have the opportunity to stop at a historic snack shop and partake in a traditional tea ceremony, offering a unique cultural immersion​

8. Kyoto Food Tour

Architectural Landmark

Enroll on this guided food tour to gain a more profound understanding of Kyoto’s culinary culture than you could achieve on your own. Wander through the neighborhoods of Gion and Pontocho, dropping into local eateries and bars to try the house specialties, which include meticulously crafted meals and traditional drinks. The opportunity to sample three distinct varieties of regional sake is another aspect of the experience. This tour provides a deep dive into Kyoto’s food and drink traditions. The guided insights and tastings offer a richer appreciation of the local cuisine. It’s perfect for food enthusiasts and cultural explorers.
The Hidden Kyoto E-Biking Tour is a 3 hour and 45 minute guided experience that allows participants to explore the lesser-known treasures of Kyoto on an electric bike. The tour covers an 8-kilometer route, passing famous sites such as Kinkakuji and Kitano Tenmangu Shrine, while also venturing into serene Zen gardens and quaint local streets. Participants will have the opportunity to stop at a historic snack shop and partake in a traditional tea ceremony, offering a unique cultural immersion​

9. Kyoto Tea Ceremony

Architectural Landmark

Participants dress in ceremonial kimonos and engage in a tea ceremony guided by experts. They learn about the significance of kimono patterns and the history of the tea ceremony. A professional tea master demonstrates the art of preparing tea, after which participants sip tea while learning about Japanese etiquette. Finally, they have the chance to practice brewing their own tea, completing a rich cultural experience.The Hidden Kyoto E-Biking Tour is a 3 hour and 45 minute guided experience that allows participants to explore the lesser-known treasures of Kyoto on an electric bike. The tour covers an 8-kilometer route, passing famous sites such as Kinkakuji and Kitano Tenmangu Shrine, while also venturing into serene Zen gardens and quaint local streets. Participants will have the opportunity to stop at a historic snack shop and partake in a traditional tea ceremony, offering a unique cultural immersion​

Tea Ceremony in Kyoto in Japan

10. Hidden Kyoto E-Biking tour

Architectural Landmark

The Hidden Kyoto E-Biking Tour is a 3 hour and 45 minute guided experience that allows participants to explore the lesser-known treasures of Kyoto on an electric bike. The tour covers an 8-kilometer route, passing famous sites such as Kinkakuji and Kitano Tenmangu Shrine, while also venturing into serene Zen gardens and quaint local streets. Participants will have the opportunity to stop at a historic snack shop and partake in a traditional tea ceremony, offering a unique cultural immersion​The Hidden Kyoto E-Biking Tour is a 3 hour and 45 minute guided experience that allows participants to explore the lesser-known treasures of Kyoto on an electric bike. The tour covers an 8-kilometer route, passing famous sites such as Kinkakuji and Kitano Tenmangu Shrine, while also venturing into serene Zen gardens and quaint local streets. Participants will have the opportunity to stop at a historic snack shop and partake in a traditional tea ceremony, offering a unique cultural immersion​

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