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When I planned this itinerary for Japan, I never expected to have so much fun exploring all the amazing things to do in Osaka. Besides all the beautiful sights, there are many restaurants, delicious street-food stalls, and awesome souvenir shops which makes it obvious that Osaka is known as the food capital of Japan.

This article is filled with all the incredible places that I visited during my 3 days in Osaka, how to get there, and many more extra tips, which make it easier for you to plan your visit to Japan.

READ ALSO: The perfect itinerary for Japan in 3 weeks

Welcome to Osaka

How to get to Osaka?

By plane: The easiest way to get to Osaka is by flight as there are several flights a day from all over the world arriving at Osaka International Airport, which makes it the fastest way to get to the city.

It is also possible to take a domestic flight if you want to go from Tokyo to Osaka for example.

By train: If you’re coming from Kyoto, Nara, or Tokyo to Osaka, you can go by train, which is the most popular way of getting around. Trains in Japan are a very fast, reliable, comfortable, and very easy way of transport for long distances.

If you plan to explore Japan as I did, consider buying a JR Rail Pass that covers all Japan Rail trains and certain Shinkansen trains.

By bus: Traveling around Japan is also possible by bus, which not many people know. Although, the bus is a much cheaper option to explore Japan it might take longer to reach your destination. From Osaka to Tokyo is about 3h 30, while a bus can take up to 8 hours.

So when you travel for 3 weeks in Japan and you have a bit more time, consider this option to save money. For this Japan itinerary, I used only the bus (except from Nara to Osaka) and it was very comfortable.

I used 12GoAsia, which was the best app/website to find busses to every destination in Japan.

Train Osaka to Minoo Waterfalls

Best hotels in Osaka

There are countless options on where to stay in Osaka from cheap hostels to trendy hotels in all the amazing neighborhoods, which can be overwhelming to search for which one is good for your trip.

The best area to stay in the city is Namba, which includes Shinsaibashi (where I stayed), Dotonbori, and Nipponbashi. From these places, it is very easy to discover the city by walking or with public transport as most of the highlights are easy to reach by metro.

Below, I listed some great places to stay in Osaka with a good location, positive reviews and fair prices.

Best things to do in Osaka

Visit Osaka Castle and walk around the surrounding park

One of the best things to do is visit Osaka Castle, which is only 25 min. from Nipponbashi and easy to reach with public transport. I went in the afternoon as it is beautiful with sunset and spent about 2 hours exploring the castle and its beautiful gardens.

There is an option to visit the inside of the Castle, Although I didn’t go inside as it was getting late and there was a long queue, so it is recommended to go a bit earlier if you like to learn more about the history of Osaka Castle.

COST: The entrance fee is JPY 600 per person to visit and enter the Castle, You can visit the gardens and around the Castle for free.

TIP: It is not allowed to fly your drone around the castle and inside the park is prohibited. Although some people do, there are signs everywhere that drones are prohibited.

BOOK: Explore the Castle, the beautiful Gardens, and much more during a locally guided tour.

Osaka Castle
Osaka Castle
Osaka Castle

Do some shopping in Shinsaibashi

For those who like shopping, the Shinsaibashi district is the place to go in Osaka as the area has many stores and shops. On the main shopping street, you’ll find shops such as Zara, Nike, Apple, and Gucci, however, many other boutique shops are in the small alleys in the surrounding area.

LOCATION: Shinsaibashi Shopping Street

Osaka -Shinsaibashi - BLOGPOST HQ

Stroll through the streets of America-Mura 

This area is popular and known as the American Village and it is only a few minutes from the Shinsaibashi Shopping area. America-Mura is kind of a hipster neighborhood and the place to be if you like to visit vintage shops, beautiful street art, and art galleries.

You will even find some great restaurants and American-style burger shops in America-Mura.

LOCATION: America-Mura

America-Mura - Osaka
America-Mura - Osaka

Walk around the Dotonbori district at night

One of the best things to do in Osaka at night is to explore the most famous district, Dotonburi. Let your senses take in all the colors and flavors as Dotonbori is famous for its bright neon lights, vibrant bars, and many arcade halls.

Probably if you stay in a hotel near Dotonbori you’ll pass the area a few times and experience the different atmospheres, however, sunset is also one of the best times to cross the bridges and see the orange glow on the buildings.

TIP: Walk into some buildings next to the river as most of them have different restaurants with amazing views in the same building. 

Dotonbori Osaka at night
Dotonbori Osaka at night
Dotonbori Osaka at night

Discover the Hozenji Yokocho Alley

Osaka has many small and hidden alleys in the city but Hozenji Yokocho was my favorite one and it’s located in the bustling Dotonburi district. The Hozenji Yokocho alley is hidden right in front of the Hozenji Temple and as there are many restaurants around it’s a great place to explore at night time as well.

Make sure you bring your camera to take some amazing photos of authentic Japanese restaurants and the cultural atmosphere.

LOCATION: Hozenji Yokocho Alley

BOOK: A guided walking tour that shows you around Dotonbori and the Hozenji Yokocho Alley

HOZENJI YOKOCHO ALLEY
HOZENJI YOKOCHO ALLEY

Wander through the Kuromon Ichiba Market and try local food

Around Dotonbori and this area it is all about food and if you like fresh seafood or you want to try many different local snacks for a cheap price then make sure you visit the Kuromon Ichiba Market.

It is a covered market and is open to the public every day from 9 AM to 6 PM and for those who don’t like seafood, there are also many souvenir and craft shops.

BOOK: Walk around and discover new flavors in Dotonbori and the Kuromon Markets with a guided tour

KUROMON ICHIBA MARKET

Experience a Japanese maid cafe in Osaka

If you want to experience something unique in Japan then visit a Japanese Maid Cafe as this is actually amazing to see. Most people think a Maid Cafe is related to sexual activities, which is not. They are just themed cafes or restaurants where the Maids are dressed up as anime characters to entertain you.

It is a place where people come to have fun and enjoy the Maid’s company while they have some drinks or eat something, although don’t expect the best food in a Japanese Maid Cafe but you have to visit it for a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

PRICE: When you visit a Maid Cafe in Osaka, you can choose from their deals. Expect something around JPY 2000 or $18,5 which includes 1 meal, a drink, and a picture souvenir with the maids.

LOCATION: Maidreamin Namba and Maidreamin Nipponbashi

BOOK: Join a unique experience at Maid Cafe Experience at Maidreamin Osaka

Japan - Osaka Nipponbashi- BLOGPOST HQ
Maid Cafe in Osaka

Explore Nipponbashi

The electric city of Osaka is Nipponbashi, just a 20-minute walk from Shinsaibashi and here you will find all the bright neon lights, Manga stores, and many electronic shops. The area is often compared to Akihabara in Tokyo but Nipponbashi is a bit more compact.

TIP: If you are into photography, this district is one of the best things to do in Osaka at night. 

LOCATION: Nipponbashi

Osaka - Nipponbashi

Explore Shinsekai and its vibrant foodie culture

One of the busiest districts I have seen while traveling was the bustling area of Shinsekai. Hundreds of food stalls and shops decorated with the weirdest exteriors selling everything you can imagine.

The area is mostly famous for the Tsutenkaku Tower, which is the symbol of Osaka and you can even visit the top of the tower, where you will have stunning views over the city.

COST: JPY 500 per person to go to the top of the Tsutenkaku Tower

BOOK: An entry ticket for the Tsutenkaku Tower or join a guided food tour to learn more about the Japanese food in the Shinsekai District.

Osaka-Shinsekai- BLOGPOST HQ
Osaka-Shinsekai- BLOGPOST HQ
Osaka-Shinsekai- BLOGPOST HQ

Discover the Shitennō-Ji Temple

This Buddhist Temple is one of the best places to visit in Osaka as it is just beautiful, especially when you go there around sunset. When I visited the Shitennō-Ji Temple, I had the whole Temple complex for myself with barely any other tourists.

The vibrant Tsūtenkaku District is near the Shitennō-Ji Temple, which makes it a great place to explore and escape from the busy area around Shinsekai.

ENTRANCE: JPY 300 per person entrance fee

INFO: Read here other reviews and find more info about the Shitennō-Ji temple 

Shitteno-Ji Temple - Osaka

Go to Tennoji Park in the afternoon

Tennoji Park is actually between Shinsekai and Shitennō-Ji and it’s a great spot to have a lunch break or walk around to spend your afternoon. In the park, you have amazing views of the surrounding skyline with skyscrapers, a huge pond with a beautiful bridge, and playgrounds for the kids.

TIP: There is a nice supermarket in the park where I bought the cheapest veggies in the whole of Japan 🙂

Japan - Osaka Tennoji Park

Become a ninja

Japan is known for its weird activities and experiences and in Osaka, you can become a Ninja for a day. During this workshop, you get dressed as a ninja and you learn more about the history and Japanese fighting skills.

A super fun activity for when you travel with kids or to do on a rainy day.

BOOK: Become a Ninja during this workshop in Osaka

Japan - Osaka-1-2- BLOGPOST HQ

Visit the top of the Umeda Sky Building with the super cool escalators

About 30 minutes with the metro from the Midosuji Line from Shinsaibashi, you will find the spectacular Umeda Sky building. The Umeda building is famous as it has the world’s highest escalator that will bring you to an observation platform, the Kuchu Teien Observatory. 

As a reward, you get a stunning 360-degree panoramic view over the city and you can even wander around the floating gardens, absolutely impressive and worth the train ride to come here.

COST: The entrance fee is about JPY 1500 per person

BOOK: Buy your entrance tickets for the Umeda Sky Building Observatory in advance to avoid the queue.

Osaka- Umeda Skybuilding
Osaka- Umeda Skybuilding

Join a German Christmas Market

If you visit Japan between November and January, you can explore the German Christmas Market just in front of the Umeda Sky Building entrance. The market is really fun with German influences and specialties such as Bratwurst, glühwein, and of course a giant Christmas tree.

I traveled around Japan in November and when I came to the Umeda Sky Building, I was so happy to see this Christmas Market. In the end, it was more than worth taking the 30-min train ride from Shinsaibashi to the Umeda Sky Building.

Osaka Christmas market
Osaka Christmas market

Discover the Minoo Waterfalls with the cutest train

When I visit a place, I always search if there are waterfalls in the surrounding area as these are mostly the places where you can relax and unwind from the bustling city vibes.

Just outside the city, you can find the Minoo Waterfalls, which you can reach with a 40-minute beautiful train ride. Once you arrive at the end station, you need to follow the signs to the waterfall and after 2.8km you will reach the amazing falls.

Although, Minoo Park is also worth a visit as it is very beautiful, especially during autumn or cherry blossom season when the foliage is changing its colors.

COST: The waterfalls and park are free to visit. The train ride is about JPY 500 per person/one-way

TIP: Go in the early mornings, avoid weekends and take a half-day to visit Minoo Park and the waterfalls

BOOK: When you travel solo, you can join a guided walking tour in Minoo Park and the Waterfalls

Japan - Osaka Minoo Waterfalls-2- BLOGPOST HQ
Japan - Osaka Minoo Waterfalls

Visit the Cup-noodles Museum and create your own

On my last day, I met this guy from Indonesia and he told me to visit the Cup-noodles Museum as it is a really enjoyable activity just outside the city center.

You get to know more about the popular Japanese instant noodles and you can even create a cup of noodles with your favorite flavors.

However, I couldn’t visit it this time as it was my last day and it takes about 50 minutes from Shinsaibashi to get there.

PRICE: Entrance is JPY 500 per person + JPY 300 per cup of noodles

INFO: Cupnoodles Museum

Osaka-36- BLOGPOST HQ

Spend a day at Universal Studios

Japanese people love entertainment, fun, and adrenaline and besides the many fun things to do in Osaka, spending a day at Universal Studios must be on your list too as it is home to the #1 theme park rides in the world.

From interactive-themed shows to dazzling rollercoasters, I bet you’ll have an amazing day in the second-largest theme park in Japan.

BOOK: Book your tickets for Universal Studios in advance to avoid the queue

Osaka-71- BLOGPOST HQ

Osaka has it all, from strolling through vintage and luxury shopping street to flashy billboards and sky-rocking panoramic views. With only 3 days in Osaka, I was able to explore most of the highlights. Although there is so much more to do that I have to come back someday.

Have you been to Osaka or are you planning to go there soon? Tell me more about your trip in the comments.

Umeda - Osaka

Save these pins for later

Best Things to do in Osaka3
Best Things to do in Osaka
Best Things to do in Osaka

Plan the best things to do in Osaka with my favorite travel apps

To plan my adventures, I use these FREE websites and apps as they provide the best information, the best deals, and they are user-friendly. 

PICTURES AND EDITING

All the pictures on this page are made and owned by me. If you are interested in some pictures to use for your magazine, website, blog, or any other purpose, just send me an email and we’ll figure it out.

Do you like the edits? My Presets will be online soon so you can edit your pictures in just one click!

The camera gear I used for this trip

I never go out without my camera and many people ask me which gear I use. So to make it quite easy, I listed all the gear I used for this trip below.

Most of the time, I travel with the Sony A7III and the Sony 24-105mm/f4 as my primary lens but depending on the location, I change to another setup. However, I love the Tamron 17-28 to shoot in the big cities.

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