Kyoto for Free
You can spend a lot of money in Kyoto visiting all of the various temples, but there are also many great places you can go for free! Here are some tips for touring Kyoto on a budget!
Firstly, visit shrines! Temples usually charge money, while shrines are typically free. This is true throughout Japan, but Kyoto has many of the nation's most famous shrines! Fushimi Inari Shrine is always very popular. Kamigamo Shrine and Shimogamo Shrine both have a lot of history and are quite unique and beautiful. Kitano Tenmangu is beautiful when the plum blossoms are in bloom and Hirano Shrine is a great place to see the cherry blossoms. There are a lot of great shrines, but these are the most famous and popular.
Another good option is to visit the Imperial Palaces and Villas. In order to do that, you need a reservation however, it is completely free! You can apply online or stop by the imperial office on the morning of the day you wish to tour to see if there are openings. There are four: Kyoto Imperial Palace, Sento Palace, Shugakuin Imperial Villa, and Katsura Imperial Villa.
Some other places: In Higashiyama, Maruyama Park and many surrounding attractions are free! You can visit Yasaka Shrine, Gion, Pontocho, and Chion-in Temple (except the "seven wonders") for free! In Arashiyama, you can see the famous bamboo forest, Nonomiya Shrine, the Togetsukyo Bridge, and walk along the river for free, as well! Nishi Honganji and Higashi Honganji Temples are both free, and you can reach them on foot from Kyoto Station.
Kyoto is actually a great place to visit for a budget traveler. Most people will still want to see some temples, museums, etc. that do cost money, but knowing that there are equally great free options is a great way to save money and still have an amazing time!