• Plan the perfect day-trip to Japan’s most romantic city—just half an hour away
• Roam among 1,200-year-old temples and imposing shogun castles
• Relax over a delectable kaiseki-style lunch beside a tranquil river
Only a half hour away by train, Kyoto is a wonderland of ancient shrines, temples, and cobblestoned lanes lined with wooden houses, where you can often spot geisha darting by at dusk. It’s impossibly atmospheric—the wildly romantic Japan of your imagination. It’s also impossible to fully explore in one outing, so a day trip to Kyoto requires strategic prioritizing. During cherry-blossom season (by far the most popular time in Kyoto), you’ll want to explore Gion, the city’s historic geisha district, or stroll down the Philosopher’s Path, a stone walkway leading to temples large and small alongside a narrow canal fringed with blooming trees. In autumn, Kyoto’s resplendent foliage is best admired from Kiyomizu-dera, a 1,200-year-old Buddhist temple situated high on a hillside. At any time of year, parents with curious kids in tow will enjoy touring the Tokugawa-era shogun castle, Nijo-jo, where so-called “nightingale” floors (that “sing” by creaking and squeaking) helped detect intruding ninja. Another all-season favorite is Kinkaku-ji, the Golden Pavilion, a Zen Buddhist temple whose gold-leaf façade reflects brilliantly in the adjacent pond. If time allows, head west to the leafy Arashiyama district, where you can wander through bamboo forests and meditate on the area’s natural beauty over lunch at Shoraian, a traditional tofu-focused restaurant where kaiseki-style courses are served in beautiful tatami-clad rooms overlooking a peaceful river.
From the Conrad, walk north to Osaka Station and take the JR Line to Kyoto Station (about 30 minutes), then take a taxi between the sights.