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Looking for a Sustainable Option? Ride a Bike to See Kyoto City

Kyoto City’s ancient landscape is best experienced with a bicycle. Discover everything you need to know about riding throughout the city and beyond.
Cycling in Kyoto

Japan might be known for its impressive Shinkansen trains that whip around the country at incredible speeds, but it's possible to explore the ancient city of Kyoto at a much slower pace.

By using a bicycle to navigate the city's alluring streets, you’ll have the most convenient mode of transport to explore the endless canals, forests, and temples found around every corner. 

With Kyoto City home to exceptional cycling infrastructure, safely navigating the streets on an eco-friendly adventure is never a problem. Here, we explain everything you need to know before getting on two wheels.

INDEX

Why Kyoto is perfect for cycling

Top places for bicycle rental in Kyoto City

  • Kyoto Eco Trip
  • Kyoto Cycling Tour Project
  • Fuune
  • J-Cycle

Safety, rules, and manners

  • Local regulations
  • Where do you park?

The best Kyoto City cycling routes to explore

  • Ride the Philosopher’s Walk
  • Arashiyama to Tenryuji Temple
  • Museum of Kyoto to Nijo Castle

Coastal City Bike Excursion

Explore the wonders of Kyoto City

Why Kyoto is perfect for cycling

Upon arriving in Kyoto City, it won’t take long to realize that many locals use bicycles to get around. So, can you bike around Kyoto City? Absolutely! As the municipality has taken clear steps to develop a forward-thinking cycling culture, Kyoto City is routinely named one of the best cities to explore on a bike.

Unsurprisingly, this culture is helped by the city's relatively flat location and logical grid structure. Meanwhile, there has been heavy investment in bike parking lots and sharing services like PiPPA. With locals often preferring to ride than drive, consider renting a bicycle during your stay.

Top places for bicycle rental in Kyoto City

You're never far from professional bicycle rental in Kyoto City when staying within reach of sightseeing wards like Higashiyama, Kamigyo, or Nakagyo. Below, we take a brief look at the best spots to find your ride.

Kyoto Eco Trip

Kyoto Eco Trip

Located just a short walk from Kyoto Station, the team at Kyoto Eco Trip is ready and waiting to supply you with a great bicycle. In fact, there are 11 types of bicycles to choose from, ranging from easygoing city bikes to electric bikes that ensure you have more energy left at the end of the day. The store also offers a variety of helpful services, such as early morning rentals from 6.30 am, late-night return until 10 pm, free city maps, and even delivery to your hotel.

Address: 58, Higashikujo-Muromachi, Minami-ku, Kyoto City, 601-8001, Kyoto Prefecture 
Opening times (Basic times): 9:00 am to 6:00 pm 
Contact Information: (+81)75-691-0794

Kyoto Cycling Tour Project 

Kyoto Cycling Tour Project 

Within a five-minute walk from Kyoto Station, the Kyoto Cycling Tour Project is another excellent place to rent a reliable bicycle. The store accepts same-day rental requests while allowing users to return their bikes to a different drop-off terminal for a small fee. Find city bikes, electric bikes, and mountain bikes for adults and kids.

Address: 552-13, Higashiaburanokojicho, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto City, 600-8235, Kyoto Prefecture 
Opening times: 9:00 am to 6:00 pm 
Contact Information: (+81)75-354-3636

Fuune

Fuune

If you’re spending time in the Shimogyo Ward – home to the soaring Kyoto Tower – Fuune has got you covered for all your bicycle rental needs. This store has several bicycles available, including electric bikes and tandem bicycles. Plus, the rental cost spans the entire 24-hour period, so you can cover a huge amount of ground.

If you wish to rent outside of normal business hours (9 am to 4 pm), you must make a reservation before 4 pm the previous day. However, returns can be made at any time of the day or night, ensuring you get the most out of your bike rental experience.

Address: 163 Komeyacho, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto City, 600-8229, Kyoto Prefecture 
Opening times (Basic times): 9:00 am to 6:00 pm 
Contact Information: (+81)75-354-7070

J-Cycle

J-Cycle

Situated close to Karasuma Street in Shimogyo, J-Cycle is perfectly positioned for exploring landmarks like the Nishiki Market and The Museum of Kyoto. With top prices on a range of bicycles, as well as accessories like kids’ seats, phone holders, and helmets, you can quickly rent a bike and get moving.

Address: 192 Nakanono-cho Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto City, 600-8435, Kyoto Prefecture 
Opening times: 9:00 am to 6:00 pm 
Contact Information: (+81)75-341-3196

Safety, rules, and manners

Kyoto City is a wonderfully bike-friendly city, but you should always learn about the local laws and manners before you arrive. Since the regulations are likely different from your home country, consider these tips and enjoy a hassle-free visit.

Local regulations

Driving and riding take place on the left side of the street in Japan. Naturally, you must head in the same direction to avoid going against the traffic flow and causing a dangerous situation. However, pedestrians walk on the right, so keep this in mind when you find yourself on a sidewalk.

There are also sections of the street known as pedestrian roads. Although you're allowed to ride on these when the shared road sign is displayed, you must take caution and dismount if too many people are walking. If an accident occurs in these areas, the cyclist is often held responsible.

You must also always use a bike light after dark. Plus, there are a variety of prohibited actions when cycling around Kyoto City that may result in a 50,000 yen fine. These include using your smartphone, using earphones, using an umbrella, riding side-by-side, and riding intoxicated, among many more.

Where do you park?

Laws about riding in Kyoto City also include how and where you park your bicycle. This is because you aren't allowed to leave your bike parked on a regular or pedestrian road – even if you're only planning on stopping for a brief moment. If you do so, it may be removed, plus you'll be hit with a 2,300 yen fee.

Instead, numerous bicycle parking lots have been positioned around the city. For example, there are approximately eight large-scale parking lots in the downtown area, while many more are located near major train stations and landmarks. With these typically costing around 150 yen a day, storing your bicycle in the appropriate place should never be an issue.

The best Kyoto City cycling routes to explore

Now that you know where to rent a bicycle and the basic road rules, it’s time to plan your journey around the city. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of fascinating cycling around Kyoto City, with routes spanning the entire city and beyond. Here are three sightseeing trips that provide visitors with a rewarding experience.

Ride the Philosopher’s Walk

Philosopher’s Walk

There are charming pedestrian paths all over Kyoto, but few are as serene as the Philosopher’s Walk. Situated in the Sakyo Ward between the temples of Ginkaku-ji and Nanzen-ji, this 2.3-kilometer stretch runs alongside a tranquil canal with lush trees and plantlife swaying overhead.

With shrines, galleries, and cafes positioned along the path, you'll also find cherry blossoms if you visit at the right time of year. However, keep in mind that the Philosopher’s Walk is a popular destination, so you may need to dismount during your ride to navigate some areas safely.

Arashiyama to Tenryuji Temple

Arashiyama

Located on the western edge of Kyoto, cycling in Arashiyama ensures you discover a stunning wilderness area featuring idyllic rivers and bamboo forests. But at 18 kilometers from the city center, this rambling adventure takes plenty of energy to complete. However, your efforts will be richly rewarded, with picturesque scenery changing alongside the seasons.

Visitors are also welcome to stop and admire several ancient temples dotted throughout the surrounding streets and pathways. These include the Adashino Nenbutsuji Temple and the Tenryuji Temple, recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and considered one of Kyoto’s five great Zen temples.

Museum of Kyoto to Nijo Castle

Kyoto City Hall

Departing from Kyoto City Hall in the Nakagyo Ward, the Museum of Kyoto to Nijo Castle cycling route takes travelers on a laid-back ride through the heart of the city. As you pedal along the tree-lined Oike Street from east to west, you’ll soon take a left turn on Takakura-dori Street to arrive at the Museum of Kyoto.

After heading inside to see the latest exhibition and displays about Kyoto's enduring history, you’ll return to Oike Street and ride to Horikawa Street. Here, take a right-hand turn to arrive at the world-famous Njio Castle, built in 1603. With around 30 minutes’ total riding time, this is a relaxed way to explore some of Kyoto's top destinations.

Coastal City Bike Excursion

Amanohashidate

Exploring Kyoto just doesn’t mean you have to stay within the bounds of the city. The northern reaches of Kyoto Prefecture spread to the scenic Sea of Japan, making it the ideal place to embark on a coastal city bike excursion.

Departing from Shotenkyo Beach in Kyotango City – approximately three hours from Kyoto via the JR Hashidate limited express train – travelers will discover a sandy shoreline with clear and shallow waters. From here, you'll ride slightly inland to the awe-inspiring Kirifuri Falls, which cascade down the rocks through the dense forest.

After about two hours of riding through the countryside, travelers will arrive at the historic village of Ine, where they’ll stop for a seafood lunch at Funaya Shokudo. Then, it’s a lovely ride along the coastline to reach Kasamatsu Park. Here, a world-class vantage point looks across the Tango-Amanohashidate-Ōeyama Quasi-National Park – another striking UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Before the end of this day-long excursion, you’ll pedal around the edge of the Asoumi Sea and head for the Kanabiki Falls. Listed as one of Japan’s Top 100 Waterfalls, you can observe the onrushing water from a small gazebo and shrine. Then, it's a short distance to the stunning conclusion at the breathtaking Imafuku Waterfall.

Explore the wonders of Kyoto City

Explore the wonders of Kyoto

Explore Kyoto City with an eco-conscious mindset, with several bike rental stores making it easy to find a dependable ride to navigate the city. As one of Japan’s most renowned cities, reaching Kyoto from Tokyo is also painless.

For example, you can fly to Osaka International Airport in 1 hour and 15 minutes or Kansai International Airport in 1 hour and 30 minutes. Meanwhile, the JAL Japan Explorer Pass is a hassle-free way to explore the entire country, with incredible domestic airfares for over 30 cities.

Getting There