Looking for family-friendly activities to add to your Kyoto itinerary? There are so many things to do in Kyoto with kids that are also fun for adults!

Kyoto is one of the most family-friendly cities in Japan for kids — more than Tokyo. While still a bustling city, there is more of a relaxed atmosphere in Kyoto that makes it easier for kids to handle.

From a monkey park to a samurai museum, here are a few favorite Kyoto attractions for when you’re traveling to Japan with kids. 

Is Kyoto city family friendly?

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Although Kyoto city may seem like a destination more suited to adult visitors, there are plenty to captivate younger audiences. Besides temples and shrines, there are several other sightseeing destinations which can be enjoyed by tourists of all ages.

If you are traveling with younger children and plan on exploring with a stroller, we recommend checking to see if your chosen destinations are wheelchair friendly. It can be difficult at times to tell whether a location allows strollers or is accessible with them, but in most cases, we’ve found that wheelchair-friendly locations are also stroller-friendly.

Family friendly ideas to add to your Kyoto travel itinerary

We’ve listed some of our favorite destinations and activities to enjoy while visiting Kyoto city below for inspiration for your next Japan trip!

Kyoto Aquarium

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Aquariums are the quintessential kid-friendly attraction, and Kyoto has a great one. Kyoto Aquarium is a small but nicely laid out aquarium with a wide variety of habitats. It’s in Umekoji Park, less than a mile from Kyoto Station, so it’s easy to get to.

There are many Japanese and Asian sea creatures that you might not see at aquariums in the West, like Japanese giant salamanders (they grow up to 5 feet long!) and spotted garden eels. 

There is also a dolphin stadium with performances throughout the day, a penguin habitat with South African penguins, a seal habitat, and more. You’ll also find a small Japanese-style garden at the end of the aquarium, which makes a relaxing place to take a short break!

Kyoto Railway Museum

If there are train enthusiasts in the family, add Kyoto Railway Museum to your Kyoto itinerary right now! It’s located near Kyoto Aquarium, also in Umekoji Park.

Dozens of retired Japanese trains are exhibited, from iconic steam locomotives to record-breaking bullet trains.

There are plenty of other exhibits, including a factory and a huge diorama with miniature trains. The museum also has hands-on activities where you can experience driving a train and being a train conductor,

When you need to rest your feet, head to the observation deck or the restaurant, both of which offer views of active trains on the Tokaido Shinkansen Line and JR Kyoto Line.

Kyoto City Zoo

In addition to classic zoo animals like gorillas, lions, and giraffes, Kyoto City Zoo has native species like Japanese macaques (also known as snow monkeys). The zoo makes a great stop in Kyoto with kids, as there’s a petting zoo and a mini amusement park with a Ferris wheel.

Kyoto City Zoo is in Northern Higashiyama, a sightseeing district of Kyoto, near the Heian Shrine. It will take you about 2 or 3 hours to see everything at the zoo, so it makes a great afternoon stop and a nice break from the temples and shrines in the district.

TOEI Kyoto Studio Park

To experience what a Japanese village would have been like in the Edo period, visit TOEI Kyoto Studio Park. It’s a film set for historical movies and tv shows, but it’s also open to visitors as a theme park.

Aside from roaming the “town” and marveling at the recreations of historical buildings, there are exhibitions and activities, such as ninja performances, filming demonstrations, and a 360-degree 3D theater.

To really get into character, you can rent historical attire (samurai, ninja, geisha, and more) to take photos in or to wear as you explore the park.

Arashiyama (Monkey Park)

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Arashiyama is a major sightseeing area in Kyoto, with plenty of temples and shrines. One of the coolest attractions here is Iwatayama Monkey Park.

More than 100 Japanese macaques call Monkey Park home. They’re semi-wild; they roam free without enclosures! From the park’s entrance, it’s a light 20 to 30-minute walk uphill to the area where you can see the monkeys. The walk is easy enough for kids, but keep in mind that smaller children may tire from the hike up. 

There’s an area for feeding the monkeys, as well as a playground and a rest area where you can get a sweeping view of Kyoto.

Bus Tours and Train Rides (Sagano Romantic Train)

There are so many things to do in Kyoto, it can be overwhelming trying to find your way around. Luckily, there are buses and trains that are made just for sightseeing!

The Kyoto Sky Bus is an open-top, double-decker tour bus that takes you to all the top attractions in Kyoto. You can do a hop-on-hop-off tour or a tour in which you stay on the bus for the duration.

The Sagano Romantic Train, despite the name, it’s not specifically for couples. The train takes you on a 25-minute cruise through the quaint countryside where you can enjoy views of mountains, forests, and (if it’s spring) cherry blossoms.

Rickshaw Rides

Aside from taking the bus or train, rickshaw rides are a unique way to explore Kyoto. It’s an especially good idea in the afternoon if the kids (or you!) are tired from a full morning of walking.

There are several companies that offer sightseeing rickshaw rides. You can book a rickshaw ride in advance or, in some places such as Higashiyama and Arashiyama, you may find rickshaws that can be booked on the spot. To ensure that you have an English-speaking guide, we recommend booking your rickshaw beforehand.

Wear a Kimono or Yukata

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A fun way to experience Japanese culture during your trip is to wear a kimono or yukata. There are kimono stores in Kyoto and all around Japan. You can choose to dress up in kimonos and take photos in the store or rent kimonos for a few hours while you sightsee. 

In Kyoto, it’s not uncommon to see people walking around in kimonos — both locals and tourists. It’s more common in the summer, when you’ll see people in yukatas, which are more lightweight than kimonos, participating in the famous Gion Festival.

Some stores also have different traditional garb that are fun to take photos in, like ninja and samurai costumes.

Kyoto Samurai and Ninja Museum

Speaking of ninjas and samurais, one of the top things to do in Kyoto with kids is to visit the Kyoto Samurai and Ninja Museum.

Exhibits include a wide range of historical samurai and ninja garb and weapons. Tickets for the museum come with free basic English tours, as well as fun activities that the whole family can participate in, such as throwing ninja stars.

Kyoto Samurai and Ninja Museum is right next to Nishiki Market and is easy to add to an itinerary with other nearby destinations like Yasaka-jinja Shrine and the Kyoto International Manga Museum.

Staying in a Traditional Japanese House (Machiya)

The living room at Marikoji Machiya House

Sightseeing and exploring Kyoto city is a must, but why not experience the unique atmosphere and history of the city at your accommodation? By choosing to stay in a machiya (traditional Japanese house) during your Japan travels, you’ll have the chance to experience firsthand the culture of Kyoto while making special memories of your vacation with your family.

Choose from a variety of locations throughout Kyoto city. Each machiya house is designed for our guests to immerse themselves in local life for a truly unique experience. Each machiya house is renovated to maintain traditional Japanese designs while offering updated modern facilities. 

See our recommended accommodations in Kyoto: MACHIYA RESIDENCE INN KYOTO

Top Family Friendly Activities in Kyoto City

Where to stay when in Japan


Stay in a traditional Japanese-style accommodation during your next visit to Japan.

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