Kyoto is a delicate, intricate city that’s the perfect epitome of traditional culture mixed with contemporary influences. Whilst authentic traditional Japanese cuisine is still evident in neighborhoods and villages across the country, there would be none more classic than from restaurants sitting in the oldest municipality of Japan.
Exploring the vast food scene of Kyoto is an adventure in itself, and to truly get the most out of your experience, we recommend booking a food tour with a local guide who will offer you a more rounded, thoughtful, informative, and overall pleasant experience.
We’ve listed below the 10 best food tours in Kyoto for you to choose from. Let’s have a look!
1. All-Inclusive Kyoto Night Food and Culture Tour
Spent a day out visiting temples, taking photos at scenic spots, and shopping the streets of the city before heading to this all-inclusive night tour of Kyoto.
The experience will take you to the alleys of Gion, where you’ll be introduced to a variety of traditional Kyoto cuisine at a local eatery. Your guide will regale you with tales and information about the world of Geisha entertainment along the way, and if you’re lucky, you might be able to witness a traditionally dressed Geisha on the way to their appointment.
You will also get to experience the streets of Pontocho, Kiyamachi, and Kawaramachi often referred to as the youthful downtown area of Kyoto. Bring your camera, because the photo opportunities here are endless. Preserved traditional wooden homes sit alongside new bars and restaurants, creating an imagery that’s quintessentially Japanese.
- Explore the nostalgic area of Gion and the wooden buildings of Pontocho
- Visiting local standing bars and enjoy a tasty dinner of traditional Kyoto cuisine
- Experience downtown Kyoto
2. Private Tea Ceremony by the UNESCO World Heritage Site
Witnessing an authentic Japanese tea ceremony is somewhat of a privilege, and being able to experience it in the city of Kyoto is top-tier.
Kyoto is known for its Zen atmosphere. From rock gardens to temples, there are many places to visit in Kyoto where you can truly experience the traditional part of Japanese culture.
This traditional tea ceremony will introduce you to an age-old custom in Japan, within the temple of Ryoan-ji. Ryoan-ji is home to a tea house that was built more than a century ago. It features a stunning Japanese Zen Garden that you can look out to whilst the ceremony is taking place.
The delicate view and peaceful, beautiful ceremony will take you back to a time of nostalgic Japan.
You will learn about the culture and history of the Japanese tea ceremony, and even be able to make your own bowl of matcha green tea.
- Witness a Japanese tea ceremony within a stunning tea house
- Beautiful views of a Japanese garden
- Learn about the history and culture of the Japanese tea ceremony
3. Kyoto Sake Brewery Tour in Fushimi Sake District
Sake is a traditional Japanese alcoholic beverage that has been around for many centuries. It is a versatile drink that can be drunk both hot and cold and is a quintessential part of the food and drink culture of Japan.
The Fushimi Sake District is famous for producing high-quality sake and it is here where you will be guided around various breweries to learn about the interesting production process.
There are over 40 different sake breweries here, and through this tour, you will get to visit a handful of larger ones as well as niche ones. You will learn about the different flavor profiles of sake and also get to leisurely stroll around the district, take photos with the stunning Japanese buildings and have lunch at a local eatery.
Of course, you will be able to do some sake tasting as well!
Regardless of whether you’re an alcohol enthusiast or not, this enlightening tour is entertaining for everyone.
- Check out the famous and popular Gekkeikan Okura Sake Museum
- Visit several small and larger breweries
- Enjoy sake tasting
- Have a delicious lunch at a local restaurant
4. Arashiyama Food Tour in Kyoto
This is definitely one of the best food tours in Kyoto!
Arashiyama is home to one of the world’s most stunning bamboo groves, but did you know that it’s a food heaven as well?
This popular food tour in Arashiyama will take you around the beautiful area of Sagano, where you will be able to enjoy some sightseeing as well as be introduced to various types of local unique Japanese food.
There are several stunning sites to visit during this tour, including various significant temples and the Arashiyama bamboo forest. In between, you’ll get to try some delicious regional foods including Japanese fish cakes and negiyaki.
- Try various delicious regional Japanese foods
- Visit several temples and monuments
- Visit Arashiyama Bamboo Forest
5. Kyoto Tea Farm Tour, Tasting, and Lunch in Scenic Wazuka
For those who have never seen images of a tea farm before: imagine vast fields of perfectly harvested plants, which go on for miles into the horizon, offering the most picture-perfect opportunity for you to capture a selfie.
The tea fields of Wazuka are somewhat legendary in Japan. Wakuza-cho itself is a small tea town with a population of around 3,900 people. Within this small town, nearly half of the tea produced in Kyoto is made here!
In this tea farm tour, you will learn about tea’s entire production process. From the growing conditions to the leaf-drying process; you’ll become a tea connoisseur after this!
For lunch, you will get to dine on delicious buckwheat soba noodles that are made with tea; thus, they’re called “cha soba”. You will also get to try 9 different types of locally grown teas as well.
- Experience the beautiful tea fields of Wazuka
- Visit the factory and learn the production process directly from the source
- Taste 9 different types of tea
- Dine on delicious buckwheat soba noodles for lunch
6. Authentic Kyoto Tea Ceremony near Kiyomuzi-dera Temple
If you’re planning to visit the popular Kiyomizu-Dera Temple during your Kyoto visit, why not include a stunning Kyoto tea ceremony experience there as well?
The Japanese tea ceremony is a beautiful traditional ceremony that has existed for many centuries. It is not your typical type of tea ceremony, and learning about the intricacies and witnessing it firsthand makes for a memorable experience.
This tea ceremony is located near the popular Kiyomizu-Dera Temple, which makes it the perfect add-on to a wonderful day trip.
The host will provide in-depth knowledge of the history and culture of the tea ceremony before getting into the different steps of the ceremony. You will even be able to prepare your own bowl of matcha!
- Learn about the history and culture of the Japanese tea ceremony from a knowledgeable host
- Prepare your bowl of matcha
7. Evening in Kyoto Pontocho Food Tour
The atmospheric alleys of Pontocho are a wonderful way to truly experience the traditional side of Kyoto, and this evening tour is the perfect way to explore it.
Pontocho is stunning at any hour of the day, but at night, with the warm lights washing over you as you slowly move from alley to alley, taking in the unique Japanese architecture and admiring the cobblestone streets – it is when Pontocho truly becomes a thing of beauty.
In this food tour, you will be transported back in time as you stroll the streets with a local guide. They will give you interesting insights into the local cuisine whilst taking you to some of the best local eateries on offer.
You will be shown around off-the-beaten-path areas and mingle with locals to truly make the most of your experience.
- Try authentic Kyoto cuisine and seasonable dishes
- Stop at 4 different food and drinks shops
- Enjoy sake at a local standing bar
8. Nishiki Market and Gion Tour in Kyoto
Nishiki market is a fun and vibrant seafood market in the middle of Kyoto, offering delicious fresh produce and food. It is a small and narrow market where you will rub shoulders with locals as you peruse the hundreds of stalls selling everything from chirashi bowls to high-quality sake.
The famous Gion district is one of Kyoto’s most famous attractions. It’s characterized by traditional Japanese buildings and cobblestone streets, effortlessly transporting you back to the Edo period as you leisurely walk the streets.
This guide will have you ticking off two essential Kyoto sites whilst filling up your tummy with delicious Japanese food and your Instagram with beautiful images of Kyoto.
- Discover the best of what Nishiki Seafood Market has to offer
- Learn about the local regional dishes
- Take photos of the stunning Gion Geisha district
- Discover Gion’s rich history
If you want to visit similar places in Kyoto, make sure you read our list of the 6 best street food spots in Kyoto.
9. Kyoto Whiskey and Sake Tasting Tour
Did you know that there is a “Flower Town” in Kyoto?
This “Flower Town” is made up of five popular districts in Kyoto, including Gion and Pontocho. Within “Flower Town”, elite and upper-class patrons will enjoy Geisha entertainment within Ocha-ya, traditional Japanese tea houses.
Whilst this is somewhere fairly hidden from the public eye, in this whiskey and sake tour, you will get to visit one such hidden place. If you’re lucky, you might even come across a Geisha or Maiko heading to their next destination!
After exploring the area, you will enjoy some of Kyoto’s best sake and get some local insights into Japanese wine. Enjoy some delicious Kyoto regional dishes before heading off to Pontocho to try a variety of whiskies.
- Visit an award-winning hidden gem bar
- Stroll around the ancient capital with a knowledgeable local guide – fingers crossed you get to witness a Geisha!
- Enjoy traditional seasonable Kyoto cuisine
- Taste some delicious Kyoto sake and whiskey
10. Downtown Kyoto Local Food Tour
The likes of downtown Kyoto rarely gets as much coverage from traveller’s. You may think that it’s because it doesn’t have much to offer, but we beg to differ.
Downtown Kyoto is full of life, culture, history, and of course, amazing local cuisine.
This local food tour of downtown Kyoto will have you taken all around the area, sampling some delicious food whilst visiting some local favorite shops along the way.
This is the perfect tour for those looking to learn more about Kyoto’s in-depth food culture, be taken to some hidden gem artisanal stores for some shopping, and discover things they may not even know existed, such as the unique underground food halls in department stalls!
Explore downtown Kyoto through its food stalls, generational shop owners, snack samples, and much more on this tour.
- Learn about the history and culture of Kyoto through a knowledgeable local guide
- Discover some hidden restaurants and food shops
- Try some quintessential Japanese dishes, such as takoyaki, taiyaki, omelet, and more!
We hope you enjoyed our list of the 10 best food tours in Kyoto!
There is no better way to get to know about a culture than through its food, and through these 10 various food tours, you will come back more knowledgeable and appreciative of the Japanese culture than ever before.
For more food experiences in Kyoto, you can also read our list of the 7 best cooking classes in Kyoto.