Spring and autumn are good seasons for a bicycle tour. Cycling in Kyoto is fun, but the traffic environment is not good for cyclists particularly in the east downtown and Higashiyama tourist district. It is recommended in central city area because it’s safe and comfortable to run with no up and down. You will see a lot of traditional wooden houses in this area and a variety of shops selling Japanese tea, paper fan, or traditional confectionery etc. are spotted all around. Restaurants in this area are also nice.
Here is an example of three-hour bicycle tour in the central city area which includes Kyoto Imperial Palace Park and Nijojo Castle.
You start at the Nishiki Market station of KCTP bicycle rent shop which is situated in the building of Co-op Inn Kyoto Hotel -Rokkaku and Yanagino-baba street, 10 minutes walk from Kawaramachi station (Hankyu Line): opening from 9am to 7pm. The rate is 1000 yen for a standard bike a day. They don’t have hourly rate. See their website for more information: http://www.kctp.net/en/
Let’s go westbound to Nijojo Castle. You have to pay 200 yen to park your bicycle in front of the Castle’s entrance. It takes about 90 minutes to see the castle. Then you go to the Imperial Palace Park. If you want to see inside the Palace, join their official tour which is conducted 10am and 2pm each day (prior booking is required). You can enjoy just looking around the park by cycling on a lane where other riders have swept away the gravel.
Between those two sites, you can enjoy shopping and eating in the area. Some shops offer hands-on activities of traditional artwork such as paper making, dyeing cloth etc. Then you return the bicycle by 7pm. Near the KCTP’s station is the famous food market of Nishiki.
You might have some trouble using a bicycle. First, you have to pay the expense to repair the bicycle if it’s damaged or even get flat tire. Second, if you leave the bicycle in the parking-prohibited area and it’s took away by the administration, you have to pay a lot of compensation to KCTP for their losses.
You should also notice no-bicycle signs on most of the arcade streets and main street of Shijo where cars are allowed. They are indicated by the red lines on the map below.
KCTP has three other locations to get and return bicycles, Kyoto station, Kinkakuji Temple, and Fushimi. You can return your bike at a different location for an extra 400 yen.
Why not ask a volunteer guide to accompany your cycling tour and enjoy exploring the city?