Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine
This is a must visit when in Kyoto however it is also one of the busiest tourist spots. It is located a short walk from the JR Inari Station and the streets between the train station and the grounds are lined with food and market stalls. The shrine buildings are beautiful and the trail throughout the wood forest hike to Mount Inari is a great walk. There are thousands of torii gates located along the hiking trail. The hike to the top of the mountain takes around 3 hours return and is well worth it. The higher up the mountain you get, the less tourists there are which allows for some great photo opportunities.
Another popular spot to visit in Kyoto and for very good reason, the bamboo forest is unique with it’s tall towering bamboo trees. It is located about 30 minutes from the city however you could easily spend a half day exploring the forest and the surrounding area. The bamboo forest can get very busy with tourists so it is best to go early to beat the crowds.
A day trip to Nara Park
Nara Park was top of the list for me when visiting Kyoto as it is home to thousands of wild deer that roam free throughout the park. The park is located in the city of Nara which is about a 45 minute journey on the train from Kyoto. The deer are very used to interacting with humans and are very friendly and inquisitive. They are very peaceful animals and many of them have no issues with being photographed or petted however always use caution and never approach them from behind. There are vendors throughout the park that sell special deer rice crackers if you wish to feed them however the deer have learned the tricks of the trade and will surround you in numbers until they are fed. It is super important not to feed the deer anything other than the crackers.