As one of Japan’s largest and most vibrant cities, trying to design an Osaka itinerary can be a challenge. There is just so much to see and do, you could easily spend weeks in Osaka and not see it all.
That said, even if you only have one day in Osaka, you can still get a real taste of what makes this Japanese city tick.
In this guide, we’ll show you how to make the most of your time in Osaka, whether it’s for just one great day or a fun-filled week.
The itineraries are designed so that the places you shouldn’t miss in Osaka are on the first and second days, while the days after will give you a more in-depth look at the area and its surrounds.
So pick and choose the number of days you’ll be in Osaka, from 1 to 5.
If you’re planning a longer stay in the area, here are some amazing Osaka day trips you will love!
- What you need to know about visiting Osaka
- Osaka Itinerary – 5 Days
- Osaka 1 Day Itinerary
- Osaka 2 Day Itinerary
- Osaka 3 Day Itinerary
- Osaka 4 Day Itinerary
- Osaka 5 Day Itinerary
- Where to stay in Osaka
What you need to know about visiting Osaka
Osaka is located on the coast in southern Japan and is one of the country’s most important port cities.
It’s also close to Kyoto, and there is an Osaka to Kyoto train which makes travelling between the two Japanese cities a cinch.
The excellent train network in Japan also means it’s definitely do-able to plan an Osaka and Tokyo itinerary back to back, as well, and Japan is such an amazing country if you’re able to spare the time here are some other places to include on your cross Japan itinerary too.
The Osaka region is fascinating to visit, thanks to its long and interesting history as well as its modern advancements.
It has much of the appeal of frenetic Tokyo but its size makes it a little more approachable and friendly.
Osaka is a good city to choose if you want to see the best of Japan without being totally overwhelmed.
It also offers great food, exceptional shopping and you’ll never run out of Osaka places to go!
When is the best time to go to Osaka?
The region has a moderate climate, which means there is really no bad time to visit Osaka.
In the summer (June/July/August) it can get warm and humid, with average temperatures in the low 30’s℃ while winter in Japan (December/January/February) can be a touch chilly but not unbearable with average temperatures around 10℃.
Arguably, the best times to visit Osaka is in spring and autumn when the temperatures are comfortably warm. A good month to go is in May, when the average temperature is 25℃ and the flowers are blooming.
If your goal is to see cherry blossoms, aim for the last week of March or the first week of April but keep in mind that the season can be unpredictable.
How to get around Osaka
Like much of Japan, Osaka’s transportation system is excellent, which makes travelling around Osaka a breeze.
Public transport is the easiest way to get around, as it is safe, affordable and very efficient.
The underground metro line covers most of the city and has nine lines, however, most of the most famous attractions in Osaka are found on two: the Midosuji Line and the Chuo Line.
You can buy tickets at the subway station before you get on the train or buy a pre-paid pass that you load up with money before you go.
For travel from Osaka to Kyoto and other cities, there’s Japan Rail (JR) and other private lines.
Japan Rail passes are exclusively for foreign visitors to Japan on a tourist visa and if you’re planning on doing some intercity travel, it’s best to purchase your Japan Rail pass online before you go.
Osaka JR trains can be paid for using your pre-paid pass, or with private lines, you can buy a ticket online or at the station.
Travel tip for Osaka: save money with passes!
One of the best ways to save money during your Osaka trip is to make the most of the great passes that are on offer. These passes offer you discounted public transport and entry to some of the most important places of interest in Osaka.
Here are some of the best value Osaka passes:
- Osaka Amazing Pass: available for either one day (¥2500) or two days (¥3300) gives you free access to public transport as well as about 35 attractions, such as the Osaka Castle (but not the Osaka Aquarium). It also entitles you to discounted prices at a lot of shops and restaurants.
- OSAKA 1 Day Pass & 2 Day Pass: this pass can save you a lot on your Osaka travel. It allows you to use all of the metro line and city buses in Osaka for either one day (¥700) or two non-consecutive days (¥1300). Just be aware that the train to Universal Studios Japan is not included.
- Eco Tower Card: another pass to save money travelling around Osaka. It gives you unlimited travel on the Osaka metro and city bus, as well as discounted entry to about 30 attractions. It is ¥800 for a weekday and ¥600 for weekends and public holidays.
- Osaka Kaiyu Set: this Osaka transport pass includes admission to the Osaka Aquarium, as well as all-you-can-ride on the metro line and city buses (again, not to Universal Studios). You can also get some great discounts to other attractions and restaurants. It is ¥2550 for adults.
- Hankyu Tourist Pass: if you are travelling from Osaka to Kobe and/or Kyoto, this Osaka rail pass presents great value. It gives you free travel on the Hankyu lines between Osaka, Kobe and Kyoto, for one (¥700) or two (¥1200) days.
- Kintetsu Railway Pass: if you are staying in Osaka for a longer period and travelling between places including Osaka to Nara, Nagoya and Kyoto. It allows for free travel on the Kintetsu trains for five days. It is ¥3600 if purchased outside Japan, or ¥3800 if you buy it once you arrive. You can also add in free travel on the NARA and ISE bus areas for an extra ¥4800 (outside Japan) or ¥5000 (inside Japan).
- Kansai Through Pass: if you’re planning to travel around the Kansai region, this pass offers unlimited rail and bus rides in Osaka, Kyoto and Nara as well as discounts to attractions.
Osaka Itinerary – 5 Days
Osaka 1 Day Itinerary
If you only have one day in Osaka, then you’ll want to make the most of it and see Osaka’s must-see attractions.
You could also enjoy this itinerary as an Osaka day tour from Kyoto.
If you’re only in Osaka for one day, then it’s a great idea to grab an Osaka 1 day pass, which will give you unlimited rides on the subway.
You’re going to want to cover a lot of ground to make the most of your Osaka one day itinerary!
One day in Osaka at a glance
- Visit Osaka Castle
- Admire the Shitennō-ji Temple
- Marvel at the Osaka Aquarium
- Shopping and dining in Kita
Osaka Castle is one of the most famous buildings in Japan, thanks to its distinctive architecture and its significance in history.
You can’t miss it if you’re looking for what to do in Osaka for a day.
The castle was built in 1583 by the famous warrior and samurai, Toyotomi Hideyoshi who hoped to reunify Japan.
It was reconstructed in 1931 after having been almost destroyed by fire.
Inside, the castle is very modern (it even has an elevator!), however, it has many of its traditional features such as the deep moat and beautiful gardens.
Osaka Castle is undoubtedly one of the most popular stops during an Osaka one-day tour.
Address: 1-1 Osakajo, Chuo Ward, Osaka, 540-0002, Japan | Phone Number: +81-6-6941-3044 | Entry Fee: ¥600 (free for under 15s) free with the Osaka Amazing Pass.
Osaka Castle might be old, but Shitennō-ji is really old. It’s also one of the most significant Buddhist sites in Osaka, and an easy walk from Osaka Castle.
The foundation of the temple is more than 1400 years old, making it an incredible piece of Osaka’s history and one of the very oldest temples in Japan.
It’s well worth a quick stop on your Osaka itinerary.
Address: 1-11-18 Shitennoji, Tennoji Ward, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture 543-0051, Japan | Phone Number: +81 6-6771-0066 | Entry Fee: ¥300 or free with the Osaka Amazing Pass.
Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan
Visiting the Osaka Aquarium is a must do if you are looking for what to do in Osaka.
The aquarium is widely considered to be one of the very best in the world and is one of the few aquariums that have whale sharks.
The sight of these beautiful creatures swimming gracefully is sure to be a highlight of your Osaka one day itinerary!
There are so many other marine animals as well, including stingrays, otters and an amazing variety of tropical fish.
Address: 1 Chome-1-10 Kaigandori, Minato Ward, Osaka, 552-0022, Japan | Phone Number: +81-6-6576-5501 | Entry Fee: ¥2300 (adults), ¥1200 (7 – 15), ¥600 (4 – 6), 3 and under free. Book your Osaka Aquarium tickets online to avoid the queues.
Shopping in Kita
Osaka’s shopping is amazing, so resign yourself to dropping some yen on souvenirs.
There are lots of shopping hotspots and you’ll find plenty of great shops around the hub of Kita (also known as Umeda) selling everything from ultra-chic clothing to souvenirs and electronics.
Tenjimbashi-suji Shopping Street in Kita is the longest shopping arcade in Osaka and close to the Kid’s Plaza Osaka, which is great fun if you’re travelling with little ones.
Address: Tenjinbashi, Kita Ward, Osaka, 532-0011, Japan | Entry Fee: free to look!
What to Eat in Kita
There is so much amazing food in the city but if you only have time for an Osaka one-day trip, then you’re best off going for the absolute classic: sushi and sashimi.
If you want to treat yourself, book a table at the two Michelin-starred Tenjinbashi Aoki but make sure you well book ahead as this small restaurant is extremely popular.
A cheaper option is Harukoma honten (along Tenjinbashi Shopping Street), which is casual and friendly and a lot easier on the wallet!
Osaka 2 Day Itinerary
If you’ve got two days in Osaka, pick up an Osaka two-day pass to save money and see the top sights.
Osaka 2 day itinerary at a glance
- Watch the sun come up at Sumiyoshi Taisha
- Visit the Central Fish Market
- Go sky high on the Tempozan Ferris Wheel
- Take in the pop culture of the Minami District
The beautiful Sumiyoshi Taisha shrine is one of the oldest in the country and a great addition to any Osaka, Japan tour.
It was built around 211 and its architectural style is uniquely Japanese, with no outside influence, which is why it’s considered one of the most significant shrines in Japan.
The shrine is beautiful at any time of day but for a magical atmosphere, get there at sunrise (it opens at 6 am) when there are no crowds.
Address: 2 Chome-9-8-9 Sumiyoshi, Sumiyoshi Ward, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture 558-0045, Japan | Phone Number: +81 6-6672-0753 | Entry Fee: free
Osaka Central Wholesale Fish Market
Osaka is a foodie’s paradise by the sea and to see where some of the city’s best produce is traded, head to the Osaka Central Fish Market.
If you don’t mind a very early start, there is an exuberant tuna auction every day at 4.15 am.
It’s amazing to see so many bidders vying for the best tuna which is destined to become the best sashimi in Osaka.
You can go alone but booking a tour is recommended to find out more about the history and significance of the market.
Address: 1 Chome-1-8-6 Noda, Fukushima Ward, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture 553-0005, Japan | Phone Number: +81 6-6469-7955 | Entry Fee: free
Tempozan Ferris Wheel
Right next to Osaka Kaiyukan Aquarium you’ll find the Tempozan Ferris Wheel standing at more than 110 metres high.
Hop aboard and you’ll be rewarded with amazing views out over Osaka from the Ferris wheel. It’s especially beautiful at night when it is lit up in neon colours!
Address: 1 Chome-1-10 Kaigandori, Minato Ward, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture 052-0022, Japan | Phone Number: +81 6-6576-6222 | Entry Fee: ¥800 or free with the Osaka Amazing Pass.
Experience the pop culture of Minami District
The city’s second busiest area is definitely a place to spend some time if you are looking for what to see in Osaka.
Also known as “South”, Minami is a young and vibrant area that’s filled with quirky shops and places to visit such as Dotonbori for its neon lights and glitzy giant signs.
Amerikamura is Osaka’s answer to Harajuku and Den-Den town is famous for manga, anime and electronics shops.
It’s definitely worth including Minami on your Osaka itinerary!
Here are some fun and quirky experiences in Osaka:
- Ninja workshop: Dress up as a ninja and learn to fight
- Samurai Cafe: See a show at the Samurai Cafe
- Maid Cafe: Experience the entertainment and attentive service
What to eat
Minami has so many fantastic restaurants, so it’s the perfect place to enjoy yet another amazing meal in Osaka.
If you’re looking for another classic Japanese dish, try the shabu shabu (a traditional Japanese hotpot) at Hariju, which has a great menu and traditional decor.
Fugu (puffer fish) is another specialty to try in Osaka and can only be prepared by chefs who are licenced to serve the dish, such as Zuboraya in Namba. Despite being known for its toxic poison, tetrodotoxin, fugu has been a delicacy in Japan for hundreOkonomiyaki
Osaka 3 Day Itinerary
An Osaka itinerary for 3 days allows you a bit more time see some of the city’s hidden gems.
Osaka 3 day itinerary at a glance
- Visit Munoh Falls
- Explore Expo City
- Take in the view from the sky
With three days in Osaka, it’s time to head out and see some of the sights away from downtown, such as Munoh (or Minoo) Falls.
Although damaged by the typhoon, this beautiful area has been reopened and is a lovely place to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Walk through the dense jungle to a gorgeous waterfall, which is especially beautiful in spring and autumn.
Address: 1-18 Minookoen, Minoh, Osaka Prefecture 562-0002, Japan | Phone Number: +81 72-721-3014 | Entry Fee: free to enter
One of the newer additions to ever-growing Osaka, Expo City offers plenty to see, eat, buy and do.
You can easily spend an afternoon checking out all the attractions.
It’s especially beautiful in cherry blossom season (late March/early April), but it’s fun all year round.
It’s also home to a slightly terrifying Ferris wheel, which is Japan’s tallest and the bottom of the gondolas are glass!
It’s on the Osaka Monorail so be sure to check it out.
Address: 565-0826 2-1 Senribampakukoen, Suita-shi, Osaka, Japan | Phone Number: +81 06-6170-5590 | Entry Fee: free to Expo City, ¥1000 for the Ferris wheel, which is free with the Osaka Amazing Pass.
Abeno Harukas 300
Once you’ve visited Osaka by day, it’s time to check it out at night!
There are several observation decks in Osaka but the most impressive one is the Abeno Harukas building, which at 300m is the tallest skyscraper in Japan.
The observation deck is on the 58th to 60th floors and, as you can imagine, the views over Osaka are mindblowing.
Another option is the Kuchu Teien Observatory (170m) in the Umeda Sky Building, which is free for holders of the Osaka Amazing Pass.
Address: 1 Chome-1-4-3 Abenosuji, Abeno Ward, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture 545-0052, Japan | Phone Number: +81 6-6621-0300 | Entry Fee: ¥1500 (adults), ¥1200 (12 – 17), ¥700 (6 – 11), ¥500 (4-5). Click here to book your ticket.
What to eat
If you visit Minoo Park during autumn, try the region’s specialty: Momiji tempura.
Basically, it’s deep-fried leaf – give it a go and see what you think! Also try Takoyaki, Osaka’s most famous street food.
Another favourite in Osaka is Okonomiyaki, a special type of pancake, easily found in local eateries.
Osaka 4 Day Itinerary
The most fun way to spend the day in Osaka is a trip to Universal Studios Japan. If you’re travelling with kids, there’s no way you will get away with not going to USJ but it’s worth going even if you’re not on a family trip.
Osaka 4 day itinerary at a glance
- Let your inner child loose at Universal Studios!
Universal Studios Japan
With four days in Osaka, you have the chance to let your inner child free at Universal Studios Japan (USJ).
This theme park is all about bringing your favourite movies to life and is full of fun attractions.
You can get there by catching a JR train in Osaka but note that some passes do not include the ticket to USJ.
Once you arrive, you’ll be ready for a fun-filled day eating in themed cafes, meeting famous characters and being thrilled on all kinds of rides.
At the top of the list, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is an amazingly realistic recreation of the set that will enthrall fans of the books or movies.
As USJ is busy all year-round, it’s a good idea to work out which passes you need and order them online before you go. Here are some tips:
1- Buy a 1-day e-ticket online before you go: This standard ticket allows you entry into the park without having to line up. Click here to buy a 1-day e-ticket.
2- Grab a VIP Wristband for Harry Potter World: The USJ VIP Wristband offers fast-tracked entry to Harry Potter World, allowing you to be first in line for the rides! Click here to buy your VIP wristband!
3- Purchase a 7 Ride Express Pass: Skip the lines on 7 popular rides in the park with this express pass. Waiting times for rides can be over an hour so this pass will save you time. Click here to buy your USJ 7 Ride Express Pass.
Address: 2 Chome-1-33 Sakurajima, Konohana Ward, Osaka, 554-0031, Japan | Phone Number: +81 570-200-606 | Entry Fee: ¥7315 (adults), ¥5000 (children under 12)
What to eat
There are some great themed restaurants within USJ, where you’ll feel like you’re dining in your favourite movie!
Try the butterbeer at the Three Broomsticks in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
Osaka 5 Day Itinerary
Osaka 5 day itinerary at a glance
Spa World Osaka
By now you’ve probably done enough walking to through your Fitbit steps off the Richter scale, so, a few hours at Spa World is a relaxing way to rejuvenate those tired muscles.
Osaka’s Spa World is a spa theme park with two zones (European and Asian) offering 20 themed baths and saunas from around the world.
Besides three types of Japanese onsen (a Japanese Hinoki Bath and two outdoor baths), there’s a Finnish sauna house, Blue Grotto designed to resemble the island of Capri, an ancient Roman jacuzzi and Greek herbal bath.
Address: 3-4-24 Ebisu-higashi Naniwa-ku, Osaka-shi
One of the largest and oldest markets in western Japan, Osaka’s Kuromon Market has over 180 stores.
With a history going back 190 years, this market is always packed with locals doing their grocery shopping while many restaurant chefs shop for produce and ingredients here too.
Wander around, look at the sights and hear the cacophony of sounds at the market or join a guided tour to learn about the history and food culture in Osaka. Click here to book a Kuromon market tour.
Address:1 Chome-5 Nipponbashi, Chūō-ku, Ōsaka-shi, Ōsaka-fu 542-0073
Where to stay in Osaka
Given the size of the city, choosing where to stay during your Osaka travel itinerary can be a challenge. You might have even read “where to stay in Osaka” blogs, and found they all have different opinions.
This is because choosing the best place to stay largely comes down to personal preference.
Whether you like to be right in the heart of the action or tucked away in a local’s corner, will make a big difference.
Osaka is a good base from which to travel to Kyoto, Nara and Kobe. Plus, it’s a beautiful, vibrant city with so much going on.
Here are some areas to stay in Osaka.
Kita is an extremely convenient and central place to stay in Osaka as you’ll never be far from the main Osaka train lines.
Also close to some of the city’s best shops, food and nightlife, if you want to be right in the heart of the action of Osaka then Kita is a great choice.
After Kita, Minami (or “South”) is the next main area in Osaka.
Like Kita, it enjoys excellent public transport, being a hub for the main Osaka railway lines and it’s easy to do all of your Osaka sightseeing from Minami.
Plus, it offers plenty of amazing restaurants, bars and shopping, as well as high-quality hotels.
Although Shin-Osaka is a little bit further away from the heart of downtown Osaka, its convenience for Osaka trains makes it a great pick.
This area also has plenty of amenities such as restaurants and shops.
If you are planning to do a lot of day tours from Osaka and out beyond the city, then the fact it is so well located for the JR train in Osaka – and private rail lines – is a real benefit of Shin Osaka.
If you’re planning a trip to Osaka on a budget, then the up-and-coming Tennoji area might be the perfect place to stay.
While it’s a little rougher than some of the other options on this list, it is still extremely safe and there are lots of great restaurants, shops and bars.
It’s got a fun, youthful energy that makes it perfect for your Osaka budget trip!