A Travel Price Comparison for Japan Kyoto vs. Sendai for Attractions, Couples, Food, and Nightlife

Should you visit Kyoto or Sendai?

Which is cheaper to visit? Which is more expensive for vacation?

Trying to figure out where to travel next? This travel comparison between Kyoto and Sendai can help. It includes a travel cost comparison in addition to other factors. For many travelers, the cost of a destination is a primary consideration when choosing where to go.

Kyoto

Kyoto is a cultural, fascinating, and traditional city. It's a large city, so you'll find plenty of things to do around town. It's considered by many to be an absolutely beautiful destination, too. Visitors also love the food, shopping, and museums.

Sendai

Sendai is a high energy, vibrant, and cosmopolitan city. It's a large city, so you'll find plenty of things to do around town. And you can't forget about the nightlife, food, and beaches.

Kyoto and Sendai: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Scenic old town
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Good for students
  • Impressive beauty
Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Popular beach
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
Things to Consider
  • Less popular with couples


Is there more to do in Kyoto or Sendai?

You'll generally find more things to do in Kyoto than Sendai. Kyoto is bigger than Sendai, and it also has more attractions and activities for travelers. Kyoto is better known for its museums, food, historical sights, and impressive beauty, while Sendai is more popular for its nightlife and beaches. Kyoto is well known for its Buddhist temples, cultural activities, and rich history. Also, Kyoto is famous for Kinkaku-ji. Sendai is well known for the Tanabata Festival, which is the largest of its kind and held every August.

How is Kyoto different from Sendai?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Sendai and Kyoto. Then, you can decide for yourself which place is better for your next trip.

Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Kyoto or Sendai?

Kyoto
Sendai

Kyoto is renowned for its museums and history. Also, Sendai is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its museums and landmarks.

The museums and tourist attractions in Kyoto are world-renowned. With its long-running history, there are many traditional buildings and temples in town. Nijo Castle is stunning to explore, but also make sure you visit the Fushimi-Inari Taisha Shrine, the Golden Pavilion, and Kiyomizu-dera Temple.

You'll find a good number of museums and monuments packed into Sendai. The city grew up as a castle town, and today the castle ruins are a popular tourist destination. A park surrounds the area, Aobayama Park, and while only the stonewalls remain, you can visit the Sendai City Museum in the park as well. Zuihoden Temple is another landmark worth visiting, as is the AER observation terrace.


Is the Food Better in Kyoto or Sendai? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Kyoto
Sendai

Kyoto is an excellent place to visit for its restaurants. Also, Sendai is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its restaurant scene.

Kyoto has a huge number of terrific restaurants. The local cuisine is as beautiful as it is delicious. There is a long running history to many of the dishes, and the recipes are expertly prepared by world class chefs at many of the restaurants. You can enjoy everything from a tea ceremony to multi-course meals, referred to as kyo kaiseki.

There are many up and coming restaurants in the Sendai area. There are a number of local specialties in the area and if you're an adventurous eater, then this is your place. Many of the dishes are influenced by the city's proximity to the ocean. Make sure you try the harako-meshi (rice with fish eggs), sea squirts, and sashimi. Another local favorite is beef tongue.

Is Kyoto or Sendai Better for Nightlife?

Kyoto
Sendai

Sendai is a great destination for nightlife and partying. Also, Kyoto is still popular, but not quite as popular for its evening party scene.

The people in Sendai know how to have a good time. Head to Kokubuncho for the best nightlife scene in the area. This downtown neighborhood is filled with bars, clubs, and karaoke that come alive in the evening. For live music, check out Rensa, which is one of the city's largest live music venues.

If you're looking for night time activities Kyoto has a few options to choose from. While it isn't known for its wild nightlife scene, there is a relaxed and active energy in the evenings here. You can visit the beautiful Arashiyama Kimono Forest or explore some of the riverfront areas such as Kamo Riverside.

Is Kyoto or Sendai Better for Beaches?

Kyoto
Sendai

Sendai is a city with good options for the beache. However, Kyoto is not a beach destination.

Plenty of visitors enjoy relaxing on the beach in Sendai. There are a number of beaches in the area, but for the best options you'll want to head a bit out of town.

Kyoto is not a beach destination.


Is Kyoto or Sendai Better for its Old Town?

Kyoto
Sendai

Kyoto is renowned for its old town. However, Sendai does not have a historic old town.

The old town of Kyoto is one of the most recognized in the world. This is among the most historic cities in Japan and there are many traditional buildings and temples. Higashiyama is filled with interesting districts and it has many UNESCO World Heritage temples.

Sendai does not have a historic old town.

Is the Shopping Better in Kyoto or Sendai?

Kyoto
Sendai

Shopping is a popular activity in both Sendai and Kyoto.

Kyoto is a popular shopping destination with plenty of stores. There's a mix of modern shopping venues and traditional boutiques. Shijo Street is a popular shopping area, as is the area around JR Kyoto Station.

Many visitors explore the shopping areas in Sendai. You'll find shopping arcades in the downtown area like Ichibancho, which is one of the most popular shopping districts in the city. If you head out of town towards the suburbs, you'll find malls and other outlet stores.

Is Kyoto or Sendai Better for Families?

Kyoto
Sendai

Both Kyoto and Sendai are high quality to visit with kids.

Kyoto is a very kid-friendly city. Kids will enjoy exploring Nijo Castle as much as adults. If the weather isn't great, you can head to the Kyoto International Manga Museum which is a bit like a library and is perfect for Manga fans. There are also markets to explore such as the Nishiki Markets, which are lined with shops and restaurants.

You'll find plenty of family-friendly things to do in Sendai. The city has a number of green spaces that kids will enjoy including parks and playgrounds. There are also kid-focused museums like the Anpanman Children's Museum and the 3M Sendai City Science Museum. If the young ones really need a break from the history, you can check out Yagiyama Beny Land.


Is Kyoto or Sendai Better for Couples?

Kyoto
Sendai

Kyoto is renowned for its romantic activities. Also, Sendai is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for couples.

Kyoto has so much to offer for a romantic couple's vacation. This is one of the most historic cities in Japan, and it has many romantic neighborhoods where you can enjoy the atmosphere. Visit Sanneizaka Slope for its traditional shops and restaurants or take a ride on the Sagano Romantic Train. Other romantic highlights include Kimono Forest, which is an art exhibit, and Suzumushidera Temple.

Sendai is a good city for couples to visit. The city boasts beautiful temples as well as nice natural areas, parks, and gardens. If you have time to get out of town, Okama is a volcanic lake that is one of the most beautiful spots in the region, and well worth the excursion.

Is Kyoto or Sendai Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Kyoto
Sendai

Kyoto is an excellent place to visit for backpackers and budget travelers. Also, Sendai is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for backpackers.

Many backpackers visit Kyoto. It's a popular destination in Japan and there are plenty of hostels and free activities that backpackers can enjoy.

Sendai is a good city to visit for backpackers. There are a couple of hostels around the town and many of the activities are free as they involve strolling through parks or wandering down shopping streets.

Is Kyoto or Sendai Better for Students?

Kyoto
Sendai

Kyoto is an excellent place to visit for its student-friendly activities. However, Sendai is not popular with students.

Kyoto is a great city to visit as a student. It's a great student city with world class universities and a large student population.

Sendai is not popular with students.


Is Kyoto or Sendai Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Kyoto
Sendai

You'll find somewhat comparable public transit options in both Kyoto and Sendai.

Public transit in Kyoto can get you to some places easily. The city has an extensive system of trains, subways, and buses that make it easy to get around.

Many visitors use the public transit system in Sendai. There are two subway lines the north-south Namboku Line and the east-west Tozai Line. These lines cross at Sendai Station.

Is Kyoto or Sendai a more walkable city?

Kyoto
Sendai

Kyoto is renowned for its high level of walkability. Also, Sendai is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its ease of walking around.

It's very easy to get around on foot in Kyoto. It's one of the most walkable cities in Japan and there are many sidewalks and pedestrian-friendly areas.

Sendai is a very walkable destination. There are many parts of the city that are walkable, especially around Sendai Station as well as in the Chuo-dori arcade and the the Kokubuncho neighborhood.

For even more information, also check out Is Kyoto Worth Visiting? and Is Sendai Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Sendai or Kyoto?

How long in Kyoto or Sendai?

Visitors can find plenty of fun things to do in both Kyoto and Sendai. In our opinion, Kyoto has more to see and do, so we recommend that you spend more time in Kyoto than Sendai. However, 2-3 days is a good amount of time to spend in either destination.

Families should spend more time in Kyoto than Sendai. Because of the many family-friendly attractions and fun things to do for kids in Kyoto, it's a great place to visit with the whole family.

Couples should spend more time in Kyoto than Sendai. You'll find plenty of romantic sights and fun activities in Kyoto that are great for a weekend getaway or a longer couple's trip.

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Kyoto than Sendai if your budget allows for it. With a larger number of budget-friendly sights, good nightlife, and active things to do, anyone traveling on a budget would have a good time in Kyoto.


  • How many days in Kyoto or Sendai? Ideal Length of Stay
    Kyoto 2-3 
    Sendai 2-3

One day in Kyoto or Sendai?

Many travelers enjoy the museums and nightlife when visiting the destination of Kyoto. The old town is one of the main draws for visitors. But since there are so many activities, you'll likely want to spend more than one day exploring.

In Sendai, many people enjoy the shopping and museums that this high energy destination offers. This city offers a variety of activities to choose from. Since there is so much to do in the area, one day is probably not enough for all of it.


A weekend in Kyoto or Sendai?

Kyoto is a great place to explore. It is common to spend a weekend here. Don't miss the museums, as that's what most people do. With all of its activities, you can easily fill a weekend here. Your budget might influence how long you stay.

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Sendai. For many, it makes a great getaway for a weekend. This would be the perfect place to spend a weekend, as it has just the right amount of activities. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision.

Five days in Kyoto or Sendai?

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Kyoto. Don't miss the museums, as that's what most people do. Make sure you visit the old town while you're here. Five days may feel like too much time unless you plan to do a lot of relaxing. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do.

Sendai is a fun place to experience. Travelers enjoy the nightlife and food when visiting the destination of Sendai. Most people find that five days is more than enough time to see everything.

A week in Kyoto or Sendai?

Travelers enjoy the shopping and museums when visiting the traditional destination of Kyoto. This city offers a variety of activities to choose from. Most visitors spend time around the old town while in the area. Most people find that one week is more than enough time to see everything.

You'll find food and shopping around the high energy destination of Sendai. Take your pick from the many activities offered here. One week is plenty of time to see everything, even with extra days to spare.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best 10-Day Tours from Tokyo, The Best 2-Week Tours from Tokyo, The Best Family-Friendly Tours to Japan, and The Best Hiking & Trekking Tours in Japan.


Which place is cheaper, Sendai or Kyoto?

These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.

The average daily cost (per person) in Kyoto is $96, while the average daily cost in Sendai is $105. These costs include accommodation (assuming double occupancy, so the traveler is sharing the room), food, transportation, and entertainment. While every person is different, these costs are an average of past travelers in each destination. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for Kyoto and Sendai in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Kyoto $63
    Sendai $59
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Kyoto $126
    Sendai $118
Compare Hotels in Kyoto and Sendai

Looking for a hotel in Kyoto or Sendai? Prices vary by location, date, season, and the level of luxury. See below for options and compare which is best for your budget and travel style.

Hotels in Kyoto


Hotels in Sendai


Kayak helps you find the best prices for hotels, flights, and rental cars for destinations around the world. Compare prices for multiple destinations when planning your next trip.


Our Analysis
We've analyzed the average and typical hotel prices based on guest reviews, star ratings, and hotel amenities here: Kyoto Hotel Prices and Sendai Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Kyoto $7.56
    Sendai $18

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Kyoto

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Kyoto:

  • Shared Departure Transfer: Kyoto City to Osaka Itami Airport: $68
  • Shared Departure Transfer : Kyoto City to Kansai International Airport: $68
  • Private departure transfer from Kyoto city to Osaka Itami International airport: $79
  • Private departure transfer from Kyoto city to Kansai International airport: $108
  • Osaka City to/from Kyoto City Private transfer: $225
  • Osaka (Itami) Airport to/from Kyoto City Private Transfer: $139
  • One-Way Private Transfer to/from Itami Airport: $321
  • Customizable Private Tour with Hotel Transfers: $506
  • Kyoto to Osaka Kansai Airport (KIX) - Departure Private Transfer: $73
  • Kyoto hotels to Kansai Airport (KIX) - Departure Private Transfer: $68
  • Kyoto Early Bird Half Day Private Tour with Transfer: $296
  • Kyoto City to Osaka City Private Taxi Transfers: $175

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Sendai

Also for Sendai, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Sendai Airport to/from Sendai City private transfer: $156

Is it cheaper to fly into Kyoto or Sendai?

Prices for flights to both Sendai and Kyoto change regularly based on dates and travel demand. We suggest you find the best prices for your next trip on Kayak, because you can compare the cost of flights across multiple airlines for your prefered dates.





Food
  • Food Meals for one day
    Kyoto $24
    Sendai $33

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Kyoto

Also, here are some specific examples of food and dining related activities in Kyoto.

  • Private Cooking Class Udon in Kyoto Japan: $41
  • Japanese Washoku Bento Cooking Class with Lunch: $45
  • Nishiki Market Brunch Walking Food Tour: $46
  • Japanese Home Cooking Lesson with Local Hosts in Peaceful Kyoto Suburb Otsu: $49
  • Private Guided Traditional Buddhist Cooking in Japan: $57
  • Kyoto Nishiki Market & Depachika: 2-hours Food Tour with a Local: $59
  • Afternoon Japanese Izakaya Cooking Class: $60
  • Morning Japanese Bento Cooking Class: $60
  • Japanese Cooking Class: $61
  • Sushi - Authentic Japanese Cooking Class - the best souvenir from Kyoto!: $62
  • Japanese Udon and Sushi Cooking Class with Tastings: $63
  • Wagashi(Japanese sweets) Cooking :Kyoto near Fushimiinari: $64

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Sendai

For Sendai, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:

  • Miyagi, Shiogama Local Food Tour with Premium Tuna and Sushi Town: $129

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Kyoto $13
    Sendai $18

Tours and Activities in Kyoto

Here are a few actual costs in Kyoto for available activities, ticket prices, and tours:

  • 2 Hour Walking Historic Gion Tour in Kyoto Geisha Spotting Area: $300
  • Bar Hopping Private Tour in Kyoto: $49
  • Kyoto Private Full-day Walking Tour from Kyoto Station: $151
  • Osaka Kyoto Experience Japanese Homogi: $131
  • Walking Tour in Kyoto with Sake in Hand: $74
  • "Unlock Kyoto's Charm: Government-Certified Group Tour: $90
  • 1 Day Hiking Tour in the Mountains of Kyoto: $171
  • 1 Day Kyoto Tour with a Local Guide: $145
  • 1-Hour Japanese Archery Experience in Kyoto: $39
  • 1-Hour Japanese Archery Experience in Kyoto: $43
  • 1.5 Hours Kyoto Insider Sake Experience: $64
  • 10 Hrs Full day Kyoto Tour w/Hotel Pick-up: $578

Tours and Activities in Sendai

For Sendai, here are a few prices for actual activities, tours, and tickets provided by various companies:

  • Japanese Taiko Drum Experience at Sairi Yashiki : $72
  • Local Foodie Tour, wander around the gourmet town: $114
  • Sendai, Okama: Private tour from Sendai city to Okama: $256

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Kyoto $12
    Sendai $11

Sample the Local Flavors in Kyoto

Also in Kyoto, these are the prices for nightlife and alcohol related activities from various tour providers:

  • Japanese Sake Brewery and Fushimi Inari Sightseeing Tour: $18
  • Sake Brewery &Great Yakitori Experience: $77
  • Sake Brewery and Tasting Tour in Fushimi: $81
  • Kyoto Sake Brewery & Tasting Walking Tour: $83
  • Insider Sake Brewery Tour with Sake and Food Pairing: $83
  • Rural Brewery Town Walk: Half-Day Private Tour Near Kyoto: $99
  • Kyoto Sake Brewery Tour: $156
  • Rural Villages & Brewery Town: Private 1-Day Cycling Near Kyoto: $184
  • Kyoto Sake Bar and Pub Crawl (Food & Sake Tour): $193
  • Kyoto Sake Bar and Pub Crawl (Food & Sake Tour): $197
  • Kyoto Sake Brewery Tour with Lunch: $236
  • Kyoto Nightlife: Local Bar Crawl Experience: $442


When comparing the travel costs between Kyoto and Sendai, we can see that Sendai is more expensive. However, the two cities are actually relatively comparable in price, as the difference is somewhat minimal. Generally, this means that you could travel with generally the same travel style and level of luxury in each place. Since both cities are in Asia, it's no surprise that their costs are relatively close, as many destinations here have somewhat similar travel prices overall.

If you're trying to decide if either of these two destinations are within your price range, also see Is Kyoto Expensive? and Is Sendai Expensive?.


Which is Bigger, Kyoto or Sendai?

Kyoto has a larger population, and is about 41% larger than the population of Sendai. When comparing the sizes of Kyoto and Sendai, keep in mind that a larger population does not always imply the destination has more attractions or better activities. So, always research the type of place that you want to visit along with the activities and attractions that interest you.


When is the best time to visit Kyoto or Sendai?

Both places have a temperate climate with four distinct seasons. As both cities are in the northern hemisphere, summer is in July and winter is in January.

Should I visit Kyoto or Sendai in the Summer?

The summer brings many poeple to Kyoto as well as Sendai. Most visitors come to Kyoto for the city activities and the family-friendly experiences during these months. Additionally, the summer months attract visitors to Sendai because of the beaches, the city activities, and the family-friendly experiences.

Kyoto is a little warmer than Sendai in the summer. The daily temperature in Kyoto averages around 27°C (81°F) in July, and Sendai fluctuates around 23°C (73°F).

In the summer, Kyoto often gets more sunshine than Sendai. Kyoto gets 183 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Sendai receives 124 hours of full sun.

It's quite rainy in Sendai. Kyoto receives a lot of rain in the summer. Kyoto usually gets more rain in July than Sendai. Kyoto gets 236 mm (9.3 in) of rain, while Sendai receives 151 mm (5.9 in) of rain this time of the year.


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Kyoto 27°C (81°F) 
    Sendai 23°C (73°F)

Should I visit Kyoto or Sendai in the Autumn?

Both Sendai and Kyoto are popular destinations to visit in the autumn with plenty of activities. The autumn months attract visitors to Kyoto because of the city's sights and attractions, the shopping scene, and the natural beauty of the area. Also, the city's sights and attractions and the shopping scene are the main draw to Sendai this time of year.

In the autumn, Kyoto is a little warmer than Sendai. Typically, the autumn temperatures in Kyoto in October average around 18°C (64°F), and Sendai averages at about 15°C (59°F).

Kyoto usually receives around the same amount of sunshine as Sendai during autumn. Kyoto gets 159 hours of sunny skies, while Sendai receives 149 hours of full sun in the autumn.

It rains a lot this time of the year in Sendai. It's quite rainy in Kyoto. In October, Kyoto usually receives around the same amount of rain as Sendai. Kyoto gets 111 mm (4.4 in) of rain, while Sendai receives 103 mm (4.1 in) of rain each month for the autumn.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Kyoto 18°C (64°F) 
    Sendai 15°C (59°F)

Should I visit Kyoto or Sendai in the Winter?

Both Sendai and Kyoto during the winter are popular places to visit. The museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine are the main draw to Kyoto this time of year. Also, many travelers come to Sendai for the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine.

Be prepared for some very cold days in Sendai. It's quite cold in Kyoto in the winter. In January, Kyoto is generally much warmer than Sendai. Daily temperatures in Kyoto average around 5°C (40°F), and Sendai fluctuates around 2°C (35°F).

In the winter, Kyoto often gets around the same amount of sunshine as Sendai. Kyoto gets 140 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Sendai receives 149 hours of full sun.

Kyoto usually gets more rain in January than Sendai. Kyoto gets 50 mm (2 in) of rain, while Sendai receives 42 mm (1.7 in) of rain this time of the year.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Kyoto 5°C (40°F) 
    Sendai 2°C (35°F)

Should I visit Kyoto or Sendai in the Spring?

The spring attracts plenty of travelers to both Kyoto and Sendai. Many travelers come to Kyoto for the activities around the city and the natural beauty. Also, many visitors come to Sendai in the spring for the beaches and the activities around the city.

Kyoto is a little warmer than Sendai in the spring. The daily temperature in Kyoto averages around 14°C (58°F) in April, and Sendai fluctuates around 10°C (51°F).

Kyoto usually receives around the same amount of sunshine as Sendai during spring. Kyoto gets 176 hours of sunny skies, while Sendai receives 188 hours of full sun in the spring.

Kyoto gets a good bit of rain this time of year. In April, Kyoto usually receives more rain than Sendai. Kyoto gets 153 mm (6 in) of rain, while Sendai receives 94 mm (3.7 in) of rain each month for the spring.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Kyoto 14°C (58°F) 
    Sendai 10°C (51°F)

Typical Weather for Sendai and Kyoto

Kyoto Sendai
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 5°C (40°F) 50 mm (2 in) 2°C (35°F) 42 mm (1.7 in)
Feb 5°C (41°F) 63 mm (2.5 in) 2°C (35°F) 49 mm (1.9 in)
Mar 8°C (47°F) 110 mm (4.3 in) 5°C (40°F) 68 mm (2.7 in)
Apr 14°C (58°F) 153 mm (6 in) 10°C (51°F) 94 mm (3.7 in)
May 19°C (67°F) 154 mm (6 in) 15°C (60°F) 111 mm (4.4 in)
Jun 23°C (73°F) 251 mm (9.9 in) 19°C (66°F) 133 mm (5.2 in)
Jul 27°C (81°F) 236 mm (9.3 in) 23°C (73°F) 151 mm (5.9 in)
Aug 29°C (83°F) 146 mm (5.7 in) 25°C (77°F) 165 mm (6.5 in)
Sep 24°C (75°F) 196 mm (7.7 in) 21°C (69°F) 187 mm (7.4 in)
Oct 18°C (64°F) 111 mm (4.4 in) 15°C (59°F) 103 mm (4.1 in)
Nov 12°C (54°F) 68 mm (2.7 in) 9°C (49°F) 69 mm (2.7 in)
Dec 7°C (45°F) 40 mm (1.6 in) 4°C (40°F) 36 mm (1.4 in)