The Best (and Cheapest) Places for Aerial Views of Kyoto

Don’t want to pay for Kyoto Tower? Many tourists spend lots of money in search of the best views, but when travelling on a budget, every dollar saved is a dollar earned. So here are the best places that you can enjoy the view of Kyoto while also covering some of Kyoto’s most famous attractions.

Kiyomizu dera 

Let’s start with the obvious – Kiyomizu Dera. Only one of Kyoto’s most famous temples, part of the reason why Kiyomizu Dera has become so famous is because of its amazing view of Kyoto city.

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For a very reasonable entry fee of 400 yen, you not only get to enjoy the view from multiple observation areas, but also the temple itself and the surrounding gardens. This is fantastic and incredibly convenient, considering Kiyomizu Dera is on everyone’s must see list anyway. Location

Fushimi Inari 

This is one of my personal favourite places in Kyoto. The shrines and torii gates of Fushimi Inari are very famous, but few people actually hike all the way up the path carved by the Torii gates along the mountain.

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This is a bit of a shame, considering that the actual hiking trail is really gorgeous, and at the very top you get stunning views of the city, all for free! That’s right, the shrine doesn’t have an entrance fee at all, so you can get away without spending a dime. To top it off, since most people give up along the way, the higher you go, the less people there are. So get climbing! Location.

Kyoto station 

If you’re in Kyoto, you’ll definitely visit Kyoto station. After all, Kyoto Station has it all – food, shopping and trains to everywhere else. However, what many may not know is that it also has an observation deck! After going through a series of very long escalators, you will reach the observation deck, which is best viewed at night as the glass is tinted.

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There is also a skyway, which is an elevated bridge allowing visitors to walk across the station. These windows are not tinted and the view can be enjoyed at any time of day. Both the observation deck and the skyway are completely free! Location

Chion-in temple

Seiryuden viewpoint. Image credit

Chion-in sits at a prime location just north of Maruyama park and Yasaka shrine, and hence in very close proximity to Gion. The temple itself has no entrance fee.

There are a total of 3 viewpoints to choose from – the viewpoint above Hojo gardens, the Seiryuden viewpoint and the Shogunzuka Viewpoint. While the Seiryuden viewpoint offers the most impressive views, it is also the most expensive at 500 yen.

Shogunzuka Viewpoint. Image credit

The Hojo gardens on the other hand has an entrance fee of 400 yen and the viewpoint isn’t very high up. The best option would be the Shogunzuka Viewpoint, which is completely free and offers fantastic views of the city. Both the Shogunzuka Viewpoint and the Seiryuden viewpoint are along the same hiking trail. Location

Ginkaku-ji 

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Ginkakuji, also known as Silver pavilion, is sometimes left out in favour of Kinkaku-ji, the very famous Golden pavilion, as the two are historically connected and one is obviously a bit more impressive looking than the other. However, at 500 yen, this is a great place to explore beautiful temple grounds and, of course, take in the wonderful view.

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Yes, after looking around the temple you can follow a path up to the surrounding hills. The whole hike is known as the Daimon-ji hike. This hike, like in the case of Fushimi Inari, is often ignored by international tourists. The top of the hill gives an amazing aerial view of the temple and its surrounding gardens as well, and is definitely worth the little detour! Location

As you can see, there is really no need to spend extra to get amazing views in Kyoto, as some of its best attractions have really great views already!

[Adapted from my now missing Odigo page]

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