Are you going to Japan and want to visit Osaka in 2, 3, 4, or 5 days? Here are the top 14 things to do in Osaka, the famous landmarks to see, our tips, and itineraries for an unforgettable trip!
- Itinerary to visit Osaka in 2 days 🏯
- What to do in Osaka in 3 days 🎎
- Where to eat in Osaka 🍣
- Neighborhoods and accommodations 📍
- Tips and good deals 👍
How many days to spend in Osaka?
The ideal number of days to spend in Osaka is 3 days. However, if you optimize transportation and skip some places, you can visit in 2 full days. If you want to discover Nara National Park or visit Universal Studios in Osaka, plan for at least 4 days of travel.
Visiting Osaka in 2 days: itinerary and best things to do
Here are the 7 best things to do in Osaka in 2 days.
1. Visit Osaka Castle and its park
Osaka Castle might resemble a veritable fortress, as a fortified wall and a moat protect it. Entry to the castle park is free. However, there is an admission fee to visit the interiors and collections (over 10,000 items ranging from artworks to military objects). This visit also includes the observation deck (50 meters high), allowing you to discover a beautiful view of the castle’s surroundings.
2. Discover the Shinsaibashi district
The Shinsaibashi district is the must-see district to visit in Osaka! At night, this district lights up, creating a unique atmosphere. During the day, it’s much quieter. It is the most commercial district in Osaka with the covered street Shinsaibashi-suji, but it’s also an ideal area for eating and strolling.
The district’s highlight is, of course, the Dōtonbori River. You can even take a boat ride on the river to discover the illuminations from the river!
3. See Dōtonbori Street
Among the streets not to miss is Dōtonbori Street. Here, you will see fantastic restaurant decorations and a great atmosphere. Don’t hesitate to get lost in other alleys of the Shinsaibashi district. It is an amazing place to see in Osaka, especially at night.
Good to know. As with almost everywhere in Japan, when you spot a restaurant with good reviews, expect to wait. Plan for at least 15 minutes or even 30. It depends on the current crowd and the restaurant’s opening hours. Nonetheless, waiting is expected. Find some tasty places to eat in Osaka further down.
4. Admire a beautiful panorama over Osaka
Here are 3 viewpoints during a trip to Osaka: Umeda Sky Building, Abeno Harukas, and Kuchu Teien Observatory.
Umeda Sky Building. The construction of this skyscraper was completed in 1993. It offers a particular architecture and is located 10 minutes on foot from Osaka Station. The observation deck has an admission fee, but you can go to the 39th floor for free.
Abeno Harukas is the tallest building in Osaka! It is a 15-minute walk from Tsūtenkaku Tower (see right after), so you can easily see these two places on the same day.
Kuchu Teien Observatory. This observation deck is far away but offers a superb view of Osaka. You can enjoy a panoramic view of the city by going to the bar, which is already 140 meters high! And if you wish to go higher, it will be at a fee.
5. See Tsūtenkaku Tower and visit the Shinsekai district of Osaka
If you spend 3, 4, or 5 days in Osaka, the Shinsekai district is another must-see! It is much smaller than the Shinsaibashi district, but it is worth the visit! The view opening up to Tsūtenkaku Tower is just incredible. The restaurant decorations are, as usual, astonishing! You don’t have to go at night for this visit; it is already fantastic during the daytime.
6. Take a tour at Kuromon Ichiba Market
The visit to Kuromon Ichiba Market is a fun activity to do in Osaka! Be careful: from 5 pm the market empties, and it is less attractive for the visit. Come here in the morning or during the day to make the most of the place’s atmosphere and to discover Japanese street food. This market is covered. So it’s an excellent visit to do when it rains in Osaka!
7. Visit the Buddhist temple Shi Tennō-ji (Shitennoji)
The Shitennoji Temple was founded in 593. It is one of the oldest temples in Japan. Its five-story pagoda is beautiful! This peaceful and relaxing place is also known for its pools populated with turtles. It is an excellent place to visit in Osaka! Plan for at least 1 hour for this visit.
Visiting Osaka in 3 days
If you spend an extra day in Osaka, here are 3 interesting places not to miss.
8. Visit Osaka Aquarium: Aquarium Kaiyukan
If you want to take a break from the shrines, you can visit the magical Aquarium of Osaka. It is on one of the islands of Osaka Bay. This is an opportunity to see the city from a new angle while discovering another district.
Tip. Just steps from the aquarium is the Osaka Ferris wheel: Tempozan. It’s an ideal place to discover Osaka from the heights! It is also a good alternative to skyscrapers and observation points we mentioned above. Moreover, you can even buy a ticket that combines a visit to the aquarium and the Ferris wheel. It’s a fun activity to do in Osaka!
9. Visit the Ōsaka Tenman-gū Shrine
This Shinto shrine’s history dates back to the 10th century. It was burned down several times. The current building dates from 1845. Today, this shrine is known for one of the biggest festivals in Japan: Tenjin Matsuri.
10. Visit the Namba Yasaka Jinja Shinto Shrine
The Namba Yasaka Jinja Shrine stands out, thanks to its dragon structure. The visit takes 15 minutes. Nonetheless, it is a place to see in Osaka if you are nearby and wish to experience something different.
4 or 5 days to spend in Osaka: what to do?
If you are going to visit Osaka for 4 or 5 days, or even more, here are 3 possible sightseeing ideas:
- Visit the Nara National Park from Osaka (one day)
- Visit Universal Studios in Osaka (one day)
- Continue exploring the city of Osaka with the Nipponbashi Denden Town district and the Sumiyoshi-taisha Shrine (at least 4 hours)
11. Visit the Nara National Park from Osaka
If you are going to Japan, add Nara National Park to your travel itinerary (our article: 2 weeks in Japan)! It’s a beautiful place to discover. You will see stunning and impressive temples, a nice park, and deer wandering freely here. It takes a good hour to reach Nara from downtown Osaka. Plan at least 6 hours for this visit, including round-trip travel and lunch.
12. Visit Universal Studios in Osaka
This amusement park is superb! It is located in Osaka Bay, near the city center, which is very convenient. Universal Studios Osaka is known for its Harry Potter saga universe section. So, don’t miss this opportunity to dive into the atmosphere of Hogwarts! Plan a full day for this visit.
13. Nipponbashi Denden Town District
If you spend four or five days in Osaka, you can continue exploring the city. Come and see the Nipponbashi Denden Town district in Osaka! This area has stores specializing in used video games, anime, and manga. It is a bit like the Akihabara district in Tokyo but smaller.
14. Visit the Sumiyoshi-taisha Shrine of Osaka
The Sumiyoshi-taisha Shrine is out of the way but worth the detour. It is a pleasant, restful place with a soothing atmosphere, and access to it is free.
Tasty Places to Eat in Osaka
Important! Tipping is not practiced at all in Japan, and it’s even considered rude. Do not leave a tip in Japan. Additionally, it is common in Japan to queue up for eating. Expect to wait 15-30 minutes, depending on the time of day and the restaurant.
To eat a delicious ramen (Japanese noodle soup) accompanied by gyozas, here is a good place in the central district of Namba in Osaka: Shodoten. Unbeatable prices!
If you fancy trying tonkatsu (Japanese breaded and fried pork), come discover this typical dish at Gyukatsu Motomura. They have two locations in Osaka: one in Osaka Station and one in the Namba district.
And here is an excellent place to eat Kobe beef: Kobe Beef “Steakhouse Kozai”.
Konbini. These are convenience stores (7 Eleven, Family Mart) found all over Japan. They are open 24/7, and you can find pre-made dishes, salads, and local specialties there. If you’re short on time, this is a convenient solution for a quick lunch.
Districts and Hotels to Stay in When Visiting Osaka
The best districts to stay in when visiting Osaka are in the following wards:
- Chūō-ku: this ward includes the Namba and Shinsaibashi districts and Osaka Castle. For example, Citadines Namba Osaka (spacious studios and very well located).
- Kita-ku, specifically the Umeda district where Osaka Station is located.
- Tennōji-ku: this ward includes the Shinsekai district and the Tsūtenkaku Tower.
Find more information in our article: Where to Stay in Osaka.
Tips for Visiting Osaka and Traveling in Japan
Here are some tips for spending 3, 4, or 5 days in Osaka, Japan.
What to do in Japan? Find here our blog post for a complete itinerary for a two-week trip to Japan.
Traveling with the JR Pass in Japan. If you visit several cities in Japan, the JR Pass might be a good idea (but not always). Instead of buying individual trips, you can take this pass, including your train travel. However, the JR Pass does not cover the whole country, and you must purchase it several weeks before you depart for Japan (it is sent by mail!). More information here.
Taxi. The Uber app works in Osaka. Taxis are generally more expensive than public transport, but they can be worth it depending on the routes and the number of passengers.
How to pay in Tokyo? Cash is still widely used. It’s not uncommon to see restaurants that only accept cash.
Even though Osaka is a large city (more than 2.5 million inhabitants), it is much smaller than Tokyo. The city of Osaka allows you to discover a new facet of Japan.