So you’ve decided to add Osaka to your Japan itinerary, good choice! Osaka is the third largest city in Japan and is a popular destination with lots to see and do. In case you couldn’t set aside more than 3 days to explore the city, I’ve assembled the top must see’s and do’s so that you can get as much as possible out of your Osaka trip. Got a little extra time on your hand? I’ve gathered some extra spots for you at the end. Let’s start!
Umeda Sky Building
Start the day by enjoying the views in the futuristic Umeda Sky Building, a high rise building with a spectacular observation deck near Osaka and Umeda Stations. The observatory is an open-air deck situated at 173 m high and offers 360° panoramic view of the city. The entrance fee to the deck is 1500 Yen (~14 dollar), but you can still go up the tower and enjoy the view behind glass for free.
Perhaps the most famous landmark in Osaka is its beautiful castle. Osaka Castle is an important historic monument that represents the great history during the sixteenth century. The castle is located within the Osaka Castle Park, and it’s especially popular to visit during cherry blossom season. It is definitely worth paying the 600 Yen (~6 USD) entry fee and explore the inside of the castle too. Don’t miss the 360° panoramic view of the city from the top floor.
Dotonbori is Osaka’s most touristic neighbourhood, with lots of shopping, entertainment and restaurants. You can easily spend a couple of hours here, and the best time to get here is around sunset so you can experience it in both daylight and during nighttime. Here you can see famous shop displays (such as Glico Running Man and the moving gigantic crab) and flashy neon lights. Don’t miss the enormous Don Quijote shop with its own ferriswheel! It offers a great view of the nearby area but – not gonna lie – it was a little scary!
Namba Yasaka Shrine
Probably one of the most unique and coolest shrines in Japan, also called “the Lion Shrine” as the 12m high and 11m wide statue houses a massive lion head.
Shinsaibashi is the best-known shopping area in Osaka, with a history of 380 years! Here you’ll find shops of all kinds and for all ages, under a 600m long roofed arcade.
Amerika Mura (American Village)
Amerika-mura is an area just west of the Shinsaibashi shopping district that has for over 40 years been a well-known center of Japanese youth culture. Within this small area there are over 2,000 stores selling local and imported fashions, cafes, restaurants, bars, and clubs. Even if American street clothes aren’t your style, it’s definitely worth taking a stroll around this area.
A visit to Osaka’s old downtown district is a must! Here you’ll experience a nostalgic atmosphere and streets filled with colourful and retro shop displays (truly one of the best photo spots in town!). In the middle of Shinsekai, you’ll find Tsutenkaku Tower, a great spot to enjoy the overlook view of this charming neighbourhoods and Osaka City. The tower was built in 1912 resembling the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
Universal studios Japan
Universal Studios Japan (USJ) is one of the most visited theme parks in Japan (along with Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea). If you’re a fan of Harry Potter then a visit here is a must! USJ offers lots of fun and thrilling attractions in areas such as Hollywood, New York, Jurassic Park, Waterworld, Universal Wonderland, Minion Park and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. If you’re into it, go there all dressed up as your favourite character! I guarantee you that the majority of the guests will do the same.
Got a little extra time? Check out these places!
- Shitennoji Temple is one of the oldest temples exist in Japan, founded in 593!
- Visit Osaka Aquarium (Kaiyukan), one of the biggest aquariums in the world, displaying over 500 kinds of different marine life such as dolphins, penguins, sea lions and more.
- Explore Kuromon Market or Kuromon Ichiba, one of the largest markets in western Japan that consists of 180 stores, and is known as “Osaka’s Kitchen” as all kinds of fresh food products can be found at this market. Beware that this place gets seriously crowded by locals.
- Try som local food! Osaka is famous for its Takoyaki (Octopus Balls), Okonomiyaki (Japanese savory pancakes), Ikayaki (squid pancake) and Kushi Katsu (deep-fried skewered meat and vegetables).
- Rent a Go-Kart and try one of the most popular tourist activities in Japan today. Dress up as your favourite character and enjoy this unique and extraordinary way to explore.
- Go to the new Pokemon Cafe and enjoy some Pokemon themed food. Pokemon Center DX Osaka does not only offer a cafe, but also a large selection of Pokemon products.
- Take a stroll in Hoshida Park, located in Katano City, within the forest park (Osaka Fumin no Mori). It is a very popular hiking spot, specially during the autum. The park is famous for a massive wooden suspension bridge called “Hoshi no Buranko”. The 280 m long bridge is built at 50 m above the ground and surrounded by rich nature.