Osaka, Japan’s second-largest city, is a vibrant metropolis with a unique character that sets it apart from Tokyo and Kyoto. Famed for its food, shopping, and nightlife, Osaka has plenty to offer visitors looking for an authentic Japanese experience.
From the iconic Osaka Castle to the neon-lit streets of Dotonbori, there’s something for everyone in this bustling city. Whether you’re interested in history, culture, or just soaking up the atmosphere, Osaka has plenty of exciting things to see and do.
In this article, we’ve compiled a list of 20 popular activities and attractions to help you plan your trip and make the most of your time in Osaka. So, pack your bags and get ready to explore the sights, sounds, and flavors of this incredible city!
- Top 15 recommended things to do in Osaka
- 1. Osaka Castle: Step into a Timeless Wonder
- 2. Indulge in the Vibrant Atmosphere of Dotonbori
- 3. Experience the Best of Kuromon Ichiba Market on a Street Food Tour
- 4. Enjoy the Views from Harukas 300 Observatory
- 5. Join A Bar Hopping and Explore Nightlife in Osaka
- 6. Get Thrilled at Universal Studios Japan
- 7. Shitennoji Temple – Osaka’s Ancient Buddhist Temple
- 8. Take in the Views from the Umeda Sky Building
- 9. Shop at the Tenjinbashi-suji Shopping Street
- 10. Take a river cruise on the Okawa River
- 11. Join a Bike Tour and cycle through Osaka
- 12. Create Your Own Ramen at CupNoodles museum
- 13. Visit the Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine
- 14. Kaiyukan Aquarium – One of the Largest Aquariums in the World
- 15. Visit the Hep Five Ferris Wheel
- 16. Visit the National Bunraku Theater
- How many days to stay in Osaka?
- Day trips from Osaka – Kyoto, Nara, Kobe
- Have fun in Osaka!
Top 15 recommended things to do in Osaka
1. Osaka Castle: Step into a Timeless Wonder
This iconic landmark is one of the most popular attractions in Osaka. Built in the 16th century, Osaka Castle has been beautifully restored and offers visitors the chance to explore its impressive interiors, climb to the top of the castle tower, and enjoy the stunning views of the surrounding city from the observation deck.
Tip for travelers: Visit early in the morning to avoid the crowds and make sure to check out the various exhibits inside the castle.
2. Indulge in the Vibrant Atmosphere of Dotonbori
This lively district is known for its neon lights, giant billboards, and incredible food scene. Walk along the canal, explore the various shops and restaurants, and make sure to try some of the famous local dishes like takoyaki or okonomiyaki. Tip for travelers: The best time to visit is in the evening when the area is at its liveliest.
3. Experience the Best of Kuromon Ichiba Market on a Street Food Tour
This lively market is a must-visit for foodies. Joining a street food tour will allow you to taste a variety of local specialties like fresh seafood, grilled meat, and delicious sweets.
Tip for travelers: Go with an empty stomach and be prepared to try new foods.
4. Enjoy the Views from Harukas 300 Observatory
Located on the 58th to 60th floors of the Abeno Harukas building, this observation deck offers stunning panoramic views of Osaka. It’s the perfect place to take in the city’s skyline while enjoying a drink or meal at the on-site cafe. Tip for travelers: Visit in the late afternoon to see the sunset and stay until the evening to see the city lights.
5. Join A Bar Hopping and Explore Nightlife in Osaka
Experience the vibrant pulse of Osaka after sundown by joining a bar hopping tour! As night falls, the city becomes a neon-lit wonderland filled with diverse bars, from traditional Izakaya to modern themed pubs. Bar hopping tours offer you the chance to sample local drinks, from craft beers to sake, accompanied by delicious regional snacks, all while meeting friendly locals.
Guided by knowledgeable hosts, these tours provide a convenient and exciting way to explore the nightlife scene in Osaka. So, why wait? Immerse yourself in the captivating nocturnal spirit of Osaka with a bar hopping adventure!
6. Get Thrilled at Universal Studios Japan
This world-class theme park offers a variety of rides and attractions based on popular movies and TV shows. It’s a must-visit for families and anyone who loves theme parks.
Tip for travelers: Get there early to avoid the long lines and consider purchasing an Express Pass to skip the queues.
Universal Studios Japan Pass and Express Passes
7. Shitennoji Temple – Osaka’s Ancient Buddhist Temple
This ancient Buddhist temple is one of the oldest in Japan and is known for its beautiful architecture and serene atmosphere. Visitors can explore the various buildings and gardens on the grounds, and even participate in traditional ceremonies like incense burning. Tip for travelers: Join a guided tour to learn more about the history and significance of the temple.
8. Take in the Views from the Umeda Sky Building
This unique building features an observation deck that offers panoramic views of the city from 173 meters above ground. It’s a great spot for photos and enjoying the skyline.
Tip for travelers: Go during the daytime to see the city in natural light and stay until the evening to see the sunset.
9. Shop at the Tenjinbashi-suji Shopping Street
This long shopping street is the longest in Japan and is lined with a variety of shops, restaurants, and cafes. It’s a great place to buy souvenirs, try local food, and immerse yourself in Osaka’s shopping culture.
Tip for travelers: Visit during the daytime to avoid the crowds.
10. Take a river cruise on the Okawa River
The Okawa River is a beautiful waterway that runs through Osaka, and taking a river cruise is a great way to see the city from a different perspective. There are several companies that offer river cruises, ranging from short 20-minute rides to longer dinner cruises. The boats are typically decorated in a traditional Japanese style, and passengers can enjoy views of the city’s skyline and landmarks from the water.
11. Join a Bike Tour and cycle through Osaka
Joining a bike tour in Osaka offers an efficient and engaging way to explore the city’s numerous attractions. As you cycle through the city, you can take in the splendor of Osaka Castle, immerse yourself in its rich history and marvel at its grandeur. Enjoy the tranquility and stunning views as you pedal along the picturesque Okawa River. The bike tour also leads you to the retro charm of Tenjinbashisuji Street, the longest shopping street in Japan, where a myriad of shops await your exploration. Don’t miss the opportunity to sample local street food along the way, such as Osaka’s famous Takoyaki. With a bike tour, you can experience the best of Osaka at a comfortable pace.
12. Create Your Own Ramen at CupNoodles museum
The CupNoodles Museum is a unique museum that offers a fun and interactive experience for visitors of all ages. The museum showcases the history and evolution of instant noodles, particularly the CupNoodles invented by Nissin Foods. Visitors can learn about the invention of instant noodles, design their own CupNoodles package, and even make their own instant noodles from scratch. The museum also has a restaurant that serves unique instant noodle dishes from around the world. The museum is open from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm, and the admission fee is 500 yen for adults and free for children under 18.
13. Visit the Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine
Sumiyoshi Taisha is one of the oldest and most important shrines in Japan, and it is dedicated to the Sumiyoshi Sanjin, the three gods of the sea. The shrine’s architecture is unique, with the main hall featuring a distinctive curved roof and vermillion-colored pillars. The shrine is surrounded by a peaceful forest and several ponds. Visitors can enjoy the serene atmosphere, stroll around the grounds, and watch traditional Shinto rituals. The shrine is free to enter and is open from 6 am to 5 pm.
14. Kaiyukan Aquarium – One of the Largest Aquariums in the World
Kaiyukan is the largest aquarium in Japan, and one of the largest aquariums in the world, nestled in the heart of Osaka. This awe-inspiring destination invites you to embark on a dynamic journey through the Pacific Ocean without ever leaving the city.
Kaiyukan boasts massive tanks where majestic whale sharks glide effortlessly through the water, captivating visitors of all ages. It provides immersive areas designed to recreate natural habitats, allowing you to encounter a wide array of marine life in environments that mirror their home in the wild.
From the delicate dances of jellyfish to the playful antics of sea otters, Kaiyukan promises a myriad of unforgettable experiences. Dive into this undersea adventure and let the wonders of the oceanic world unfold before your eyes at Kaiyukan Aquarium.
15. Visit the Hep Five Ferris Wheel
The iconic Ferris wheel located in the Umeda district is a popular tourist attraction that offers breathtaking views of the city. The Ferris wheel, which is 106 meters high, features glass-enclosed cabins that take you on a 15-minute ride, giving you a panoramic view of Osaka’s skyline. The best time to ride the Ferris wheel is during sunset, as the view of the city lights is simply stunning.
16. Visit the National Bunraku Theater
Bunraku is a traditional Japanese puppet theater, and the National Bunraku Theater in Osaka is one of the best places to experience it. The theater hosts regular performances, and visitors can see a live performance or take a behind-the-scenes tour to learn about the history and craftsmanship of the art form. English audio guides are available to help non-Japanese speakers understand the performances.
How many days to stay in Osaka?
To get the best of Osaka, we recommend staying at least three to four days. This will give you enough time to explore the city’s top attractions, try its famous street food, and experience its unique culture.
Day trips from Osaka – Kyoto, Nara, Kobe
In terms of day trips, there are several destinations near Osaka that are worth visiting. Kyoto, for example, is just a short train ride away and offers a completely different atmosphere with its numerous temples, shrines, and traditional neighborhoods.
Nara is another popular day trip destination from Osaka, known for its ancient temples and friendly deer that roam the city. Overall, Nara offers a nice contrast to the hustle and bustle of Osaka and provides a glimpse into Japan’s rich cultural heritage.
If you’re looking for a coastal retreat, Kobe is also a great option, offering scenic views and delicious beef cuisine.
Have fun in Osaka!
Osaka is a city that never sleeps, full of energy, and teeming with exciting activities and attractions. With a unique character and endless opportunities for exploration, this metropolis is an ideal destination for anyone seeking an authentic Japanese experience. From its ancient temples and historic sites to its modern shopping districts and vibrant nightlife, Osaka truly has something for everyone.
We hope that our list of 20 popular things to do in Osaka has inspired you to plan your trip and explore all that this amazing city has to offer. Don’t forget to try the local delicacies, immerse yourself in the culture, and enjoy the friendly hospitality of the locals.
So, pack your bags and get ready for an unforgettable adventure in Osaka!