Kyoto has one of the most vibrant cafe cultures in Japan with its own unique vibe that you can only find in the charming old capital. However, with the plethora of cafes comes the headache of trying to decide which ones to check out, since you can’t possibly visit all of them during your trip.
To help make your trip planning a little easier, we have rounded up 22 of the best cafes in Kyoto. These cafes are not only famous tourist hotspots but are also popular amongst locals, so you can be sure that they are the real deal and not just tourist traps!
1. Cafe Bibliotic Hello
A short walk from Kyoto Shiyakusho mae subway station, this quirkily named cafe is a must-visit for coffee lovers and bibliophiles alike. Here you can peruse a wide array of interesting books on architecture and design while sipping on their coffee.
Feeling peckish? Their food menu is available with delicious pasta, salads, curry as well as tarts and cakes for dessert.
Cafe Bibliotic Hello: 650 Seimei-cho, Yanaginobanba-higashi-iru, Nijo-dori, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto, Japan
2. % Arabica Higashiyama
% Arabica has been all the buzz in the coffee scene in Singapore, but did you known Kyoto is where the coffee chain started? They currently have three locations in Kyoto but the one in Higashiyama is the flagship store and the most popular outlet with lines forming from before opening all the way till closing.
% Arabica Higashiyama: 87-5 Hoshino-cho, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto, 605-0853 Japan
3. Inoda Coffee
Inoda Coffee has been around for more than 70 years and is one of the most popular coffee shops to the people in Kyoto. The coffee here is typically served with milk and sugar that go well with the stronger taste of their deep roasted beans. The interior is elegantly decorated with a retro, old-world aesthetic that reminds one of traditional Japanese coffee shops.
Inoda Coffee: 140 Doyu-cho, Sakaimachi-dori, Sanjo kudaru, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto, Japan
4. here Cafe
here Cafe is founded by 2014 Latte Art World Champion Junichi Yamaguchi (if his name sounds familiar to you, you might have heard of him as the former head barista at % Arabica Higashiyama). Their rather compact menu only consists of coffee and canelé, but the quality more than makes up for the lack of variety, if the staggering number of Instagram posts of the iconic here coffee and canelé combo is anything to by.
here Cafe: Anenishinotoin-cho 524,Nakagyo-ku,Kyoto 604-8273 Japan
5. Saryo Tsujiri
Kyoto is home to the famous Uji matcha, so of course you can’t visit the city without checking out their tea houses to try out the best matcha drinks and desserts. One of the most famous cafes in Kyoto that specialise in all things matcha is Saryo Tsujiri. Expect a long line of customers in front of the shop especially during peak hour or on the weekend.
Must-try items on their menu include their various parfaits made with matcha, houjicha and genmaicha as well as matcha shaved ice.
Saryo Tsujiri: 573-3, Giommachi Minamigawa, Higashiyama-ku Kyoto-shi, Kyoto, 605-0074 Japan
6. Starbucks Coffee Kyoto Ninenzaka Yasaka Tea Parlor
It’s true that Starbucks can be found anywhere in the world. But if there’s one thing Japan does exceptionally well, it’s their ability to turn even the most common item into something uniquely Japan, and Starbucks is no exception. Housed in a traditional Japanese building, the Starbucks outlet located in the historic Ninenzaka street is the world’s first tatami-style Starbucks where you can enjoy your cuppa while resting on tatami mats and zabuton cushions.
Starbucks Coffee Kyoto Ninenzaka Yasaka Tea Parlor: 349 Banchi, Masuya-cho, Shimogawara Higashi-iru, Kodaiji Minamimon-dori, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto, Japan
7. Weekenders Coffee
For those who take their coffee seriously, Weekenders Coffee is a cafe not to be missed. Hidden inside a parking lot on Tominojkoji street, with wooden exterior framed by small trees, Weekenders Coffee offers a breathing space to their customers away from the hustle and bustle of the city outside. The menu features an expansive selection of coffee drinks with beans roasted in house.
Weekenders Coffee: 560, Honeyanocho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto, Japan
8. Ogawa Coffee
Another must-visit destination for coffee-lovers, Ogawa Coffee is located just outside Kyoto subway station and is among the pioneers in Kyoto’s third wave coffee boom. With highly skilled baristas and carefully sourced beans, Ogawa Coffee serves up a variety of coffee drinks that are both delicious and surprisingly affordable.
Ogawa Coffee: Kitashosakai-cho 75, Nishikyogoku, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto, Japan
9. Koe Donuts
Whether you are a self-proclaimed donut enthusiast or not, Koe Donuts is worth checking out both for their artisanal donuts and the exquisite interior design with 550 bamboo-woven baskets hung from the ceiling to create a rustic, naturalistic vibe. As for their donuts, not only are they some of the most beautiful and Instagram-worthy food items we have seen, they also taste heavenly with a wide variety of flavours to choose from.
Don’t forget to check out their selection of quirkily illustrated merchandise including tote bags, tumblers, mugs and more.
Koe Donuts: 557 Nakano-cho, Shinkyogoku-dori Shijo-agaru, Nakagyoku, Kyoto 604-8042, Japan
Can’t get enough of matcha treats? Jouvencelle is just the cafe for you! The shop combines Western-style desserts such as fondue, pound cake with Japanese ingredients such as matcha, red beans and warabimochi. The signature Gion Fondue features fresh fruits and Japanese rice cakes dipped into a chocolate matcha sauce. You can also add milk to the leftover sauce and turn it into a matcha chocolate milk drink.
The cafe offers a great view of Higashiyama mountain from its terrace, where you can rest your feet and enjoy delicious desserts after a full day of shopping and sightseeing!
Jouvencelle: Higashiyama-ku, Yasakatoriimae Minami-iru, Kiyoi-cho 482 Kyoban Bldg 2F, Kyoto, Japan
11. Walden Woods
Inspired by Henry David Thoreau’s book “Walden” about simple living in nature, Walden Woods cafe embraces minimalism with bare white walls and no tables inside. On the second floor, you will find amphitheatre seats that face an empty space in the middle of the room. While this may be unsettling and not exactly a chill, relaxed way of enjoying our cup of coffee that most of us are used to, it is certainly different and worth checking out just for the novelty of the experience.
Walden Woods: 508-1 Sakae-cho, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto, Japan
When it comes to cafes with Instagram-worthy decor, perhaps nothing beats Mashola, a cafe that is taking social media by storm. The interior is decorated to resemble a bathroom with vibrant pink and purple walls featuring eye-catching neon signs. The drinks themselves, called Snow Bottles, also deserve a spot on your Instagram feed with magical ombre effect in various colours depending on your chosen flavour.
Mashola: 406 Sakuranocho, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto, 604-8035, Japan
13. Kissa Soiree
Kissa Soiree will transport you back into the past with its charming retro, Western-style decor including the many vintage painting adorning its walls. The blue tinted lighting inside the cafe will give your photos a vintage and nostalgic touch without the need for any filter. The most famous item on their menu is the Jelly Punch with colourful jelly cubes inside a fizzy soda drink that sparkle prettily under the light.
Kissa Soiree: 95 Shinmachi Shimogyo-ku Kyoto, Japan
14. Dandelion Chocolate Cafe & Cacao Bar
For all things chocolate, head to Dandelion Chocolate Cafe & Cacao Bar for their Kyoto-exclusive menu offering exquisite pairings of alcohol and chocolate desserts made from single origin cacao beans. This Kyoto store of the San Francisco-based chocolatier occupies a century-old traditional Japanese townhouse and is designed by architect Fumihiko Sano. The interior features off-white walls with cedarwood panels and furniture for a cosy and laid-back feel.
Dandelion Chocolate Cafe & Cacao Bar: 363-6 Masuyacho, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, 605-0826, Japan
15. Sarasa Nishijin
Housed in a former sento (Japanese public bathhouse), Sarasa Nishijin retains many elements of the original structure, which gives it a nostalgic, out-of-time feel. The whimsical store front as well as the retro tile-covered walls will make you feel as though you were in a Studio Ghibli movie.
Sarasa Nishijin: 11-1 Murasakino Higashifujinomoricho, Kita Ward, Kyoto, 603-8223, Japan
16. Pancake Room
Pancake Room makes an art out of this popular breakfast food. Their pancakes are soft and fluffy with just the right amount of sweetness. Don’t miss out on their signature menu item Kyo Matcha Pancakes served with a scoop of matcha ice cream that both looks good and taste heavenly!
Pancake Room: 736, Higashi Shiokoji-cho, Shichijo-sagaru, Akezu-dori, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto, Japan
17. Quil Fait Bon
If you find yourself craving some sweet treats, definitely check out Quil Fait Bon for their famous fruit tarts. The staggering variety of flavours available, including a regularly updated seasonal menu, will give you such a hard time deciding that you might just end up ordering more than one for yourself.
Quil Fait Bon: 534-18, Ebisu-cho, Ebisubashi-kado, Sanjo Agaru, Kiyamachi-dori, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto, Japan
18. Hard Rock Cafe Kyoto
Besides Starbucks, Hard Rock Cafe is another international coffee chain that has opened a cafe in a heritage machiya, a traditional Japanese townhouse. Here you can find on the menu special Japanese dishes made from locally grown ingredients on top of standard Hard Rock food items such as burgers and steaks. They also have a gift shop named Rock Shop carrying Kyoto-exclusive handicrafts if you are looking to get some souvenirs.
Hard Rock Cafe Kyoto: 67 Motoyoshi Cho, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, 605-0087, Japan
19. Wife & Husband
Take your cafe experience to a whole new level with Wife & Husband’s picnic basket service. For ¥1,000, they will give you a basket filled with biscuits, fresh coffee in a thermos, cups and a table cloth, which you can then bring to the grassy banks of Kamo river to chill out and soak in the warm and breezy weather. You can of course enjoy your coffee inside the quaint little coffee shop as well.
Wife & Husband: 106-6 Koyamashimouchikawaracho, Kita Ward, Kyoto, 603-8132, Japan
20. Litt Up
Litt Up has one of the most Instagram-worthy menus you could find. With popular items such as the Sky Vibes on Toast with pastel-hued cream cheese toppings or their colour-changing drinks, Litt Up is the place to visit if you are looking to jazz up your Instagram feed.
Litt Up Kyoto: 14 Honmachi, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, 605-0981, Japan
21. Rocca & Friends Truck
Rocca & Friends Truck is a coffee and tea stand that is an extension of popular cafe Rocca & Friends in Osaka. The cafe is known for their beautifully decorated drinks topped with whipped cream and garnished with biscuits that come in Japan-related shapes such as kanji characters or the traditional Japanese torii gate.
Rocca & Friends Truck: 370 Yasaka Kamimachi, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, 605-0827, Japan
Shin-setsu has a quirky, retro decor with a vibrant colour palette that instantly catches the attention of passers-by, but it is their famous cream soda that draws a constant stream of customers, both locals and foreigners alike, to the shop. Consisting of flavoured soda with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a cherry on top, Shin-setsu’s cream soda comes in 24 mouthwatering flavours in all sorts of colours that will make the most striking photos for your Instagram feed.
Shin-setsu: 277 Enpukujimaecho, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto, 604-8045, Japan