Things to do in Osaka

Things to do in  Osaka

Fast trains, slow cooking

Packed with street food stalls, neon-fronted bars, and modern developments, Japan’s second city is a commercial hub whose streets come to life after dark. Either side of the Yodo River, ancient temples, museums, and Osaka Castle—one of Japan’s most visited attractions—stand testament to ancient Japanese tradition, while in the city center the America Mura and Dotombori neighborhoods thrum with modern vibrancy. A culinary tour is a must in Osaka and the city’s close proximity to Nara, Kyoto, and Kobe make it a convenient base from which to discover the diverse treasures of Japan.

Top 15 attractions in Osaka

Shitenno-ji Temple

Built in the 6th century by Prince Shotoku—a cultural hero who helped to bring Buddhism to the country—Shitenno-ji is one of Japan’s oldest temples. The complex includes a multi-tiered tower, pagoda, lecture hall, and gate. Though most of the current structures are from the 1963 rebuilding, they still reflect the 6th century design.More


Dotonbori (also called Dotombori) is a bustling nightlife district in Osaka’s Minami area. It stretches along the Dtomborigawa River, with a multitude of small restaurants, bars, and neon lights that come alive after nightfall. An entertainment neighborhood, Dotonbori is famous for its varied cuisine and huge animated signs.More

Osaka Castle (Osaka-jo)

Among the most famous castles in Japan, Osaka Castle (Osaka-jo) dates back to the 16th century, when it played a major role in unifying the nation. Today the reconstructed castle houses a museum filled with artifacts from the history of Japan and from the castle’s creator, Toyotomi Hideyoshi. The main tower provides a nice view over urban Osaka.More

Tsutenkaku Tower

Kitschy and cute Tsutenkaku, Osaka’s answer to the Eiffel Tower, rises 338 feet (103 meters) above the streets of Shin Sekai. The neon-outlined building was the tallest in town when it was first built in 1912. An observation deck offers stellar nighttime views and the chance to see beloved Billiken, god of “things as they ought to be.”More

Nara Park (Nara Koen)

Located in the heart of Nara City, Nara Park (Nara Koen) is famous for the more than 1,000 semi-wild sika deer that roam its grounds. Spanning 1,631 acres (660 hectares), the scenic public park is also home to several popular attractions, including the Todai-ji Temple, the Isuien Garden, and the Nara National Museum.More

Universal Studios Japan

Universal Studios Japan—Asia’s first Universal Studios theme park—is second only to the Tokyo Disney Resort as Japan’s most visited amusement park. Beloved characters like Shrek, Hello Kitty, and Spiderman are in attendance, and a spectacular variety of rides, movie simulators, and parades keep all ages entertained.More


A popular Osaka destination for shopping and entertainment for more than 350 years, Shinsaibashi is a 1,698-feet- (600-meter- long shopping arcade. Countless boutiques, specialty shops, department stores, cafes, and restaurants line either side of the strip, making it is a great place to both shop and people-watch.More

Kuromon Ichiba Market

A large covered market selling fresh and cooked food, Kuromon Ichiba Market is nicknamed “Osaka’s kitchen,” because many chefs and home cooks come here for supplies. It has since branched out from purely seafood options, and is typically bustling with locals and visitors hoping to get an inside look at local ingredients and cuisine.More

Sumiyoshi-taisha (Sumiyoshi Grand Shrine)

Built to protect fisherman and sailors, the 3rd-century Sumiyoshi-taisha (Sumiyoshi Grand Shrine) is Osaka’s most famous shrine. Renowned for its classic Japanese architecture and vivid red-and-white colour, the shrineMore


Minami, which translates as south, is the go-to Osaka district for a taste of the city’s entertainment scene. With shopping, dining, and nightlife venues stretching from Semba to Namba Station, Minami is ever-popular with visitors and locals.More

Himeji Castle (Himeji-Jo)

If you only have time for one day trip from Kyoto or Osaka, make it Himeji Castle (Himeji-Jo), renowned as Japan’s most beautiful historic citadel. Also known as White Heron Castle, the UNESCO-listed hilltop structure was built in 1580 and features a five-story central tower with surrounding moats, walls, and pagodas.More

Hozenji Yokocho

The narrow alleys, paper lanterns, and traditional tea houses of Hozenji Yokocho are a far cry from the neon lights and pulsing atmosphere of Dotonbori. The historic alley’s most famous attraction is the 17th-century Hozenji Temple, where devotees come to splash water over a moss-covered statue of the Buddha.More

Abeno Harukas (Osaka Harukas)

At 984 feet (300 meters) tall, Abeno Harukas (Osaka Harukas) takes the coveted superlative of Japan's highest skyscraper, narrowly rising above the former title holder, the Yokohama Landmark Tower. Part of the sprawling Abenobashi Terminal Building, it stands atop the Kintetsu Osaka Abenobashi Station and houses a department store, art museum, five-star hotel, and observation deck.More


In the heart of Osaka’s business district, Nakanoshima is home to some of the city’s most historic buildings, including City Hall, Nakanoshima Festival Tower, and the first branch of the Bank of Japan. This 1.8-mile- (2.9-kilometer- long island between the Dojima and Tosabori rivers is also home to the urban oasis of Nakanoshima Park.More

Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum (Cupnoodles Museum)

Learn all about the history and development of instant ramen noodles at the Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum (Cup Noodles Museum Osaka Ikeda. Located in the birthplace of instant ramen, the popular museum features colorful displays, interactive exhibits, and allows visitors to make their own unique flavor of cup noodles.More

Trip ideas

Top activities in Osaka

Osaka Food Tour (10 Delicious Dishes at 5 hidden Eateries)
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Osaka's Best and Brightest by Private Vehicle
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Osaka's Best and Brightest by Private Vehicle

per group
Deep Backstreet Osaka Tours

Deep Backstreet Osaka Tours

Osaka Backstreet Night Tour

Osaka Backstreet Night Tour

Day Trip to Kyoto from Osaka/Kyoto
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Day Trip to Kyoto from Osaka/Kyoto

PRIVATE 4-Hour Best of Osaka Local Walk with Castle
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Osaka Departure - 1 Day Hiroshima & Miyajima Tour
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Sagano Romantic Train & Arashiyama, Kiyomizudera, Fushimi Inari Taisha Day Tour
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Kyoto : Immersive Arashiyama and Fushimi Inari by Private Vehicle
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All about Osaka

When to visit

April and May are excellent months for visiting Osaka. Temperatures are warm, there’s little rainfall, and in early April you can see the cherry blossoms. Spring is, however, also Osaka’s busiest season, so be prepared for crowds. Summer is uncomfortably hot and humid, but it is also festival season. The dazzling Tenjin Matsuri—which starts in late July and is one of Japan’s most famous festivals—includes everything from floats and food to fireworks and bonfires on boats.

Getting around

Osaka has an excellent public transportation system. Trains and subways are typically more useful for visitors than buses; a prepaid IC card (a rechargeable card) such as Pasmo or Suica is the best way to pay your fare. If you’ll be traveling a lot on a given day, consider a 1-Day Pass that allows unlimited rides on subways and buses. You can also choose the Osaka Amazing Pass, which includes unlimited bus and train travel along with entry to more than 40 attractions.

Traveler tips

Osaka’s most famous local specialty is takoyaki (octopus in fried dough), and it’s available everywhere from street stalls to restaurants. Once you’ve tried takoyaki from a few different spots, head over to Takohachi, a restaurant in Tennoji, to try some akashiyaki. This specialty, which originated in Hyōgo Prefecture, is a lighter version of the Osaka favorite. It is made with an egg-rich batter and is dipped in a light dashi broth instead slathered in mayonnaise.


A local’s pocket guide to Osaka

Ichiro Ando

Ichi is an office worker-turned-tour guide in Osaka, his home city. Here, the locals have a reputation for being comedians (just joking) and the food is some of the best in Japan.

The first thing you should do in Osaka is...

go to Dotombori and eat takoyaki (fried balls stuffed with octopus) on the street.

A perfect Saturday in Osaka...

starts in Shinsekai with Smart Ball, a pinball-esque arcade game, and a okonomiyaki (savory pancake). Afterwards, visit the Imamiya Ebisu Shrine, and walk to the Namba neighborhood.

One touristy thing that lives up to the hype is...

the Osaka Castle. The tower, moat, stone walls, and park that surrounds the castle are beautiful.

To discover the "real" Osaka...

go to Karahori Shopping Street, which still has a traditional vibe. Visit salted kelp and green tea shops; browse at local supermarkets; and eat at affordable noodle restaurants alongside Osakans.

For the best view of the city...

go to the observation deck of the Umeda Sky building that was ranked as one of the most beautiful buildings in the world.

One thing people get wrong...

is thinking Osakans are all both stingy and funny. We’re frugal, sure, but we won’t all make you laugh. And Osaka Castle wasn’t rebuilt by Samurai!


People Also Ask

What is Osaka best known for?

Osaka is known for its friendly, down-to-earth residents, lively nightlife, and outstanding street food. The takoyaki (balls of octopus in fried dough) and okonomiyaki (savory pancakes) served by Osaka’s street vendors are some of the best in Japan. The Dotonbori canal and Osaka Castle are two of Osaka’s best-known attractions.

What is there to do in Osaka?

Eat your way around Osaka’s street food stalls, make new friends at the neon-fronted bars around glittering Dotonbori, go shopping in the retro-futuristic America Mura, explore ancient temples and the 16th-century Osaka Castle, and get sweeping views of the city from the towering Umeda Sky Building.

How many days should you spend in Osaka?

While you could easily spend a week or two in Oska without getting bored, three days should be enough time to see all of the main attractions, get a feel for the city, enjoy the restaurant scene and nightlife, and even take a day trip to Nara or Himeji Castle.

What is cool about Osaka?

Osaka’s greatest asset is its people. Osakans are typically more casual and blunt than people elsewhere in Japan. They also are known for their sense of humor and distinctive accent (Osaka-ben). So take a seat at a bar and get chatting with some locals: it may be the highlight of your trip.

What do locals do for fun in Osaka?

Osakans are famous for their sense of humor, so it’s no wonder that the city is home to a number of comedy clubs. Japanese-speakers can enjoy traditional rakugo (one-man storytelling) at the Rakugo Theater Tenma Tenjin Hanjo Tei, while English-speakers can head for the exclusively English ROR Comedy Club.

Is Osaka dangerous?

No. While Osaka does have a higher crime rate than most Japanese cities, it is a very safe destination to visit compared to American or European cities of its size. However, visitors should keep their wits about them in and around Tobita Shinchi (the red light district), and preferably not drink alone in the area’s bars.

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