16 Best Kyoto Food Tours

By Ryan Noble
Updated: March 1, 2024

Kyoto, the historic capital of Japan, has been a foodie hotspot for centuries. These hallowed streets have birthed no end of Japanese classics, such as the sophisticated kaiseki cuisine and the wagashi sweets of traditional tea ceremonies. Its world-renowned food culture is nowadays marked by over 100 Michelin-starred Kyoto restaurants!

But with a language barrier and waiting lists as long as your arm for some restaurants, much of this exciting Japanese food culture can be closed off to foreigners. That’s where these Kyoto food tours come in. 

With the help of an expert guide, you can unlock the best of Kyoto’s local culinary scene without worrying about committing some fatal faux pas in Japan's ancient capital.

Downtown Kyoto food tours at night

Dive straight into Japanese culture with the hustle and bustle of Kyoto’s downtown area, tempting you into charming izakaya for traditional snacks, alcohol, local foodie nights, and strolls through the memorable nightlife scenes of this historic city.

1. Evening in Pontocho food tour

Kyoto’s Pontocho Alley is hands-down one of the most beautiful streets in the world; all cobblestones, traditional buildings, and hanging lanterns. However, the lack of English information for many of the traditional restaurants around there can make it somewhat impenetrable for foreigners. But don’t worry, this Kyoto food tour comes to the rescue!

During this evening in Pontocho food tour, your friendly local guide will take you to four different places across the 3-hour tour. You’ll have the chance to try some authentic traditional Kyoto cuisine, such as sumi yakiniku, handmade noodles, and delicious sake — a truly panoramic food of Japan tour. 

The restaurants and shops in Kyoto’s traditional districts can be a little intimidating for the uninitiated, but this culinary tour takes off all the pressure, giving you a window into the rich culture which has thrived on the streets of Pontocho for centuries.

Spend an evening in Pontocho with this local food tour!

2. Kyoto night food tour

Looking out over the river at night in Kyoto.

An otherworldly feeling descends upon the historic streets of Kyoto after sunset — you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time to an age of samurai and geisha. It’s not all somber and silent, though. In fact, Kyoto’s nightlife is as vibrant as it is varied, and this lively, intimate 3-hour Kyoto night food tour showcases the local experience!

Starting in the Gion district, your guide will fill you in on all the things you need to know about this remarkable pocket of culture and history, then take you to a standing bar to eat and drink like a local. 

A walk across the river to Pontocho Alley brings you closer to the vibrant downtown action, where you’ll enjoy more Japanese food and drink at a bar on the famous street — lined with dozens of cool bars and night spots. Who knows, maybe you and your tour-mates will keep the drinking going into the morning hours!

Explore Kyoto at night in this Kyoto night food tour!

3. Downtown Kyoto local food tour

A tour guide talks to a guest outside a traditional building in Kyoto.

A fast-paced journey through Kyoto’s local food culture in just 3 hours, this downtown Kyoto food tour is the perfect way to maximize your time in Kyoto by unlocking the secrets of its bustling downtown district. 

From modern favorites, such as department store food halls and cafes, to historic traditional sweet shops and grocers, your local food tour guide will give you insight into all of these places and the role they play in the local food scene.

Of course, you’ll get to chow down on some mouthwatering samples yourself, with local seafood, tsukemono pickles, takoyaki, and much more on the menu. With a knowledgeable local food tour guide by your side, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of each of these delicious foods and leave wanting more.

Book the downtown Kyoto food tour!

4. Bar hopping in downtown Kyoto tour

Guests on a bar-hopping food tour in Kyoto smile at the camera, standing outside of a lantern-lit izakaya.

Explore Kyoto’s nightlife alongside tourists and locals by joining this downtown Kyoto bar hopping tour, where you’ll enjoy the food, drink, and conversations of multiple Kyoto izakaya. See iconic Kyoto spots at night, from the lantern-lit Kamogawa River to the narrow alley of Pontocho, as packed with locals as it is with traditional izakaya food and drinks.

Explore downtown Kyoto with this bar-hopping tour!

5. Private Kyoto izakaya and street food tour

A Kyoto food tour group take a picture on the streets of Kyoto at night, with a pagoda behind them.

In this unforgettable private izakaya and street food tour in Kyoto, you’ll get to experience the best of both worlds — all the cultural knowledge from your expert guide and all the traditional Japanese izakaya foods, courtesy of Kyoto’s local bars, including gyoza, yakitori, side dishes, sake, and beer.

Flexible experience: If there’s a specific place you’d like to visit or type of Japanese food you’d like to try, let your guide know! He may be able to change the schedule to meet your desires.

Book your place on this izakaya and street food tour in Kyoto!

Kyoto’s Arashiyama food tours

Let’s face it — if you’re visiting Kyoto, you’re likely also visiting Arashiyama for its stunning bamboo forest, beautiful scenery, and traditional streets. So, how about saving time for a Kyoto food tour in Arashiyama?

6. Arashiyama food tour in Kyoto

A group of people walking through the path of Arashiyama's Bamboo Forest.

Find your zen during the Arashiyama food tour in Kyoto, located in the northern part of Kyoto, an area that's famous for being the heart of Buddhist culture. Here you’ll find some of the most significant temples in the country, along with the famous bamboo forest. This outstanding culinary tour is a great way to take in the highlights of the history and culture of Arashiyama, with a generous helping of food thrown in!

Across the 2.5-hour tour, you’ll make pit stops to try authentic dishes like deep-fried fish cakes, wagashi sweets, and a soy milk "tofu" donut! If a stroll through the bamboo forest after filling up on traditional Japanese food doesn’t leave you feeling enlightened, nothing will. 

Book the Arashiyama food tour in Kyoto!

Kyoto’s Nishiki Market food tours

For a real taste of local Kyoto, you need to join one of our Nishiki Market food tours, taking you directly to the source of Kyoto’s food scene. Explore and sample your way through these small shops and stores with the help of an expert.

7. Kyoto Nishiki Market food tour

A customer is being handed a bag from one of the small stores in Kyoto's Nishiki Market.

Right in the center of downtown Kyoto, this market has been the heart of the old capital’s food scene for 400 years — many of the greatest restaurants throughout history originated here. Every day is a festival of delightful Kyoto food at Nishiki Market, with locals and tourists descending for street food, shopping, and fine dining.

If you dive into this bustling gourmet labyrinth alone, you might suffer from sensory overload — just where are you supposed to start? It’s far better to go with a local food tour guide on our Kyoto Nishiki Market food tour, as they can help you get the most out of your time there with recommendations for the best stores and insights into the market’s food culture.

Alongside the market’s signature pickles, fish cakes, and tofu, you’ll also enjoy a cup of Japanese tea and have some extra time for shopping — the perfect time to pick up a few Kyoto souvenirs or ingredients.

Save your space on the Nishiki Market food tour in Kyoto!

8. Kyoto food tour of Nishiki Market, Gion, and Fushimi Inari

A family smile at the camera, enjoying their Nishiki Market food tour.

While the sheer variety of Kyoto’s foodie scene can be daunting, this Kyoto food tour of Nishiki Market, Gion, and Fushimi Inari is a crash course that will turn you into an expert on its dishes and culture within just 4 hours! 

You’ll start at Nishiki Market — the hub of Kyoto’s food culture for four centuries and now an amazing place to try the city’s famous street food. Afterwards you’ll head down to the historic districts of Pontocho and Gion, the latter being the heart of the exquisite kaiseki dining style. 

A trip down to Fushimi Inari Shrine caps off the journey, with thousands of red torii gates dedicated to the gods of rice, sake, and tea (so you can thank them personally for Kyoto’s amazing culinary culture).

By the time you’re done for the day you’ll have tried seven kinds of local food and visited some of the most important sites in the city. You’ll basically be an expert!

Book this Nishiki Market, Gion, and Fushimi Inari food tour in Kyoto!

Kyoto fine dining food tours

If you have a taste for the finer things in life, discover our fine dining Kyoto food tours, surrounding you with the finest and freshest of ingredients, including high-grade wagyu beef. 

9. Private rickshaw tour and wagyu cuisine in Kyoto

A man pulls a women through the streets on Kyoto in a private rickshaw food tour.

For a private tour through Kyoto that has you feeling like you belong in the halls of Edo royalty, book this rickshaw tour and wagyu cuisine experience in Kyoto. Without having to take a single step, you’ll be paraded around the various temples, shrines and streets of Kyoto for 45 minutes while the guide tells you more about the area.

Then, as if you weren’t feeling spoiled enough, you’ll take a seat at Nikukappou Futago, a yakiniku restaurant at THE JUNEI HOTEL that specializes in high-grade meat. Take in your beautiful surroundings and relax… this experience is all about you.   

Make memories in this rickshaw tour and wagyu cuisine experience!

Kyoto cafe tours

For the urban pleasures of cafe-hopping with a local, explore the best Kyoto cafe and coffee shop tours below. 

10. Private Kyoto cafe tour

A tour guide and two guests smile while sitting in one of Kyoto's cozy cafes.

When you want to put your finger on the pulse of Kyoto’s best cafes and coffee shops, there’s nothing better than this coffee shop and shopping tour in Kyoto, taking you to two coffee shops and a few of Kyoto’s must-see attractions and shops along the way. 

Your tour guide, Midori, has lived in Kyoto for almost 50 years and can craft a food and cafe tour for all groups and paces, so whether you’re looking for a slow-paced, family-friendly Kyoto tour or a fast-paced cafe tour for two, it can be arranged.

Customize your experience: If you’re looking for a vegetarian, vegan, halal or gluten-free food tour in Kyoto, let your host know. Midori knows all the best cafes in Kyoto for every dietary restriction.

Book your spot on this cafe-hopping and shopping tour in Kyoto!

Kyoto tea farm and Japanese tea tours

As the capital of Japan’s green tea production — thanks to the bountiful tea fields of Uji in the south — you’d be missing out if you didn’t try one of these Japanese tea farm tours, often combining matcha tastings with a scenic lunch.

11. Kyoto tea farm tour, tasting, and lunch in Wazuka

Japanese tea is an indispensable part of traditional Kyoto cuisine, as the spiritual home of the Japanese tea ceremony. The place which supplies the region’s tea is Wazuka, a countryside town just a short trip south of the city.

During this Kyoto tea farm tour in Wazuka, you’ll be blown away by rolling green hills covered in tea farms, and enjoy a tour of the Kyoto Obubu Tea Farm’s fields and factory. 

After seeing how they harvest and produce the Japanese sencha green tea, you’ll get a taste for yourself — in noodle form! A lunch of bright green cha soba noodles will fill you up before you head on to taste nine different tea varieties brewed with artisan methods.

Try your hand at using a chasen (bamboo whisk) to make an authentic cup of matcha, and enjoy the fruits of your labor along with traditional wagashi sweets, typically served during tea ceremonies.

Book this Kyoto tea farm tour in Wazuka!

12. Kyoto matcha green tea tour in Uji with lunch

All the utensils required for creating matcha tea, lined up at a matcha green tea tour in Kyoto.

The health benefits of matcha tea are becoming famous across the world. The secret to its healthiness lies in the way it’s grown, before being ground into a powder that's packed with antioxidants and nutrients. A Kyoto food tour is the perfect way to discover the history of matcha and to snag the best cup you’re ever likely to have in your life.

Just a short trip south of Kyoto, the town of Uji is known to have the best matcha in the world. Join the Kyoto matcha green tea tour in Uji to learn about the hard work and dedication that goes into making it, then try your hand at brewing a cup using traditional utensils (instant matcha sachets will never feel the same again!).

As if that’s not enough, you’ll also be treated to some matcha ice cream, a traditional lunch at a local restaurant, and a trip to the town’s gorgeous Byodoin Temple.

Book this matcha tea tour in Uji, Kyoto!

Kyoto sake and whisky Tours

If you’ve come to Kyoto with a thirst for traditional sake and Japanese whisky, pour yourself a cup or two in our Kyoto brewery and sake tours!

13. Kyoto sake brewery tour in Fushimi Sake District

No Japan trip is complete without sampling some Japanese sake — the nation’s famous rice wine — and there’s no better place to do it than Kyoto’s Fushimi Sake District. Since the Edo period, this has been a hotspot of sake production, with around 40 breweries operating there to this day, thanks to the area's beautifully crystal-clear underground springs.

On this 3-hour Kyoto sake brewery tour in the Fushimi Sake District, you’ll visit one of the oldest sake producers in Japan — Gekkeikan Okura Brewery, established in 1637. Touring its historic buildings and museum, you’ll learn all about how the ingredients are carefully balanced to produce an incredible variety of flavors. 

After the theory portion, you’ll get a chance to put your new knowledge into practice with a tasting of some of the brewery's different bottles. All that drinking works up an appetite, so you’ll then head along to a local restaurant for lunch. Feel free to order another sake on the side if you feel like keeping the party going!

Book this Kyoto sake brewery tour!

14. Create a handcrafted sake cup on this Kyoto sake brewery tour

Join this memorable Kyoto sake brewery tour and not only will you get to make your very own sake cup — available in a variety of designs and scented woods — but you’ll get to use that same cup to drink a selection of sake samples straight from the barrel. Of course, not before experiencing a traditional teishoku meal (a set meal) at a Japanese restaurant, crafted with seasonal, local ingredients. 

Book your sake brewery tour in Kyoto!

15. Kyoto whisky and sake tasting tour

A bartender pours a cocktail in our Kyoto sake and whisky tour.

Visiting an award-winning cocktail bar in Kyoto already sounds fancy enough, but join this whisky and sake tasting tour in Kyoto and you can even enjoy a cocktail or dish made just for you, based on your preferences and mood. While you’re there, taste a few Kyoto bar snacks while sipping on your cocktail and chatting to your fellow travelers or tour guide.

Then, stroll through Kyoto at night — with a few pictures on the way, of course — and experience dinner at a family-run restaurant, known for the chef’s unique mochi and Peking duck appetizers.

Oh, you thought we were done? After dinner, you’ll head to a chic bar in Pontocho, where you’ll be treated to a Japanese whisky tasting and chocolate pairing. An alternative drink can also be provided, if whisky isn’t your kind of thing.

Start sipping and sampling in this whisky and sake tasting tour in Kyoto!

16. Personalized Kyoto food tours

With our VIP Gourmet Concierge service, craft a personalized food tour in Kyoto that suits your needs and your schedule. Just let us know what you’re looking for — whether it’s a vegetarian or vegan food tour, an izakaya or Kyoto street food tour, a family-friendly Kyoto food tour, or anything in-between — and we’ll get our experts on the case.

There’s something for everyone among these Kyoto food tours; whether you want to drink yourself merry on top-grade sake, deepen your understanding of traditional tea, or gorge on some traditional Kyoto delicacies. If you’re planning on visiting Japan’s gorgeous cultural capital sometime soon, this is the place to be!

Still looking for the perfect food adventure in Japan's former capital? Check out our best Kyoto tea ceremony experiences, explore our 23 best Kyoto cooking classes, or browse the full list of food tours in Kyoto.

Best Kyoto food tours FAQs

What food is Kyoto most famous for?

The most famous Kyoto foods may be tofu (especially yuba, thin slices of dried beancurd), soba, shojin ryori (Buddhist cuisine, featuring a selection of soybean and vegetable dishes) and wagashi (traditional Japanese sweets) served with the high-grade matcha of nearby Uji, Kyoto’s green tea capital.

Perfect for pairing with these dishes are Kyoto’s locally brewed sake.

Where are the best Kyoto food tours?

The best of Kyoto’s food tours are right here on the byFood platform, of course! Discover our Kyoto food tours for traditional izakaya, delicious street food, cozy cafes, premium wagyu dinners, Kyoto nightlife, and so much more!

Not only do we have insider access to English-speaking Japanese guides with insight that only locals would have, but with our Food For Happiness initiative, every single food tour that’s booked helps us donate 10 school meals per guest to children in need. How’s that for making priceless memories?

What are Kyoto’s must-try foods?

Kyoto is famous for all sorts of Japanese cuisine, from the beloved Kyoto street food of takoyaki and dango to the more refined and seasonal shojin ryori and matcha, making its way into all kinds of unique matcha foods and drinks in Kyoto, including ice cream, ramen, and beer!

We strive to be as accurate as possible and keep up with the changing landscape of Japan's food and travel industries. If you spot any inaccuracies, please send a report.
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Ryan Noble
Ryan’s love for Japan may have begun with Naruto — something he refuses to hide — but it only grew once he truly understood the beauty of this country’s language, culture, and people. He hopes to use that passion to bridge the gap between Japan and the rest of the world, shining the spotlight on its hidden gems and supporting the revitalization of rural regions.
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