Osaka is the second largest city in Japan and well known for its nightlife, business districts and incredible street food. Our 4 day Osaka itinerary will help you see the best sights of the city, photograph its coolest corners and eat some of the best Japanese food. Let’s get started!
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4 day Osaka Itinerary
During this Osaka itinerary, you will explore various attractions, including Universal Studios and the Osaka Castle, explore the romantic Osaka Bay, eat your way through the centre of the city and visit various bonus attractions which are totally off the beaten path.
Best accommodation for your Osaka Itinerary
Kita tends to be the prefered accommodation option for most first time travellers in Osaka. I tend to agree, although I personally prefer the quieter quarters of Osaka Bay. I also prefer Osaka Bay because, although further away from attractions, offers luxury accommodation for much cheaper prices. Whether you are a budget, midrange or luxury traveller, we curated our favourite accommodation in Osaka to make sure you are comfortable and enjoy your stay. Alternatively, please check where to stay in Osaka for more options.
Day 1 in Osaka
The first day of your Osaka itinerary will be spent in Kita, which means “north” in Japanese. Kita is also known as Umeda, which is the name of one of the main train stations here. Kita is the daytime heart of the city because it is considered the transport and business hub of Osaka. You will find plenty of restaurants and shopping options. It's an exciting district and a great ease into your trip around Osaka.
Umeda Sky Building
This is a wonderful tall building where you can enjoy amazing views over Osaka from above. It is 173 meters tall and its two towers are connected by the Floating Garden Observatory on the 38th floor. If you like photographing cities at night, you can visit just before 10 PM to admire the beautiful city flooded by colours and lights.
Hours: 10 AM-10:30 PM
Fee: 1000 yen or FREE with the Osaka Amazing Pass
Osaka Castle dates back to 1583 and covers an area of about 15 acres. If you decide to enter the castle, you can enjoy a museum type interior with various exhibitions. What makes the Osaka Castle incredible are its grounds which are free to the general public. You can purchase popular Japanese food from street vendors and admire the many cherry blossom trees which look outstanding.
Address: 1-1 Osakajo, Chuo Ward, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture 540-0002, Japan
Hours: 9 AM-5 PM
Fee: ¥ 600 per adult or FREE with Osaka Amazing Pass
Tenjimbashi-suji Shopping Street
How would you like to enjoy a shopping arcade which is 2.6km long? It is a covered network of streets dotted with various shops, restaurants and cafes. You can easily spend hours just marvelling at the merchandise and enjoying the many delicious types of street food you will find in the area.
This is the first public park opened by Osaka in 1981. It's great for visits during the rose bloom season as the park features beautiful rose gardens. The park is surrounded by many restaurants and cafes, making this place great for people watching.
National Museum of Art
The National Museum of Art, Osaka located underground. The exhibitions focus on Japanese and foreign contemporary art.
Address: 4 Chome-2-55 Nakanoshima, Kita Ward, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture 530-0005, Japan
Hours: Tuesday - Sunday10 AM - 9 PM
Fee: 430 yen
Osaka Science Museum
Whether you want to enjoy a great selection of Imax films or check out the four floors full of interactive exhibits, The Osaka Science Museum is a great addition to any Osaka itinerary, for kids and adults alike.
Address: 4 Chome-2-1 Nakanoshima, Kita Ward, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture 530-0005, Japan
Hours: Tuesday - Sunday9:30 AM - 5 PM
Fee: 400 yen or FREE with the Osaka Amazing Pass
Where to eat
Osaka is well known for okonomiyaki, hence you should totally give it a try on your first day of your itinerary. We recommend Kiji, a budget restaurant with very tasty food.
Address: Japan, 〒530-0017 Osaka Prefecture, Osaka, Kita, Kakudacho, ９−２０ 新梅田食堂街
Takuya is a budget restaurant which serves very good pork cutlet (tonkatsu). Reservations are required. You might want to head there, book your spot, then come back when you are ready.
Address: 2 Chome-5-37 Sonezaki, Kita, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture 530-0057, Japan
When in Japan, irrespective of the city you visit, you must have a bowl of Ramen. Gunjo won't disappoint, that's for sure. The location is a little obscure and it may be difficult to find at first. We recommend using your google maps for directions. And hey, if you find another place which catches your eye in the meantime, don't ever hesitate to try. In all honesty, you can't really go wrong with food in Japan.
Tenjinbashi, Kitaku, Osaka 531-0041, Osaka Prefecture
Day 2 in Osaka
The second day of your Osaka itinerary will be spent in Minami, which is the most vibrant district of Osaka. Here, you can explore Osaka's creative nightlife, delicious restaurants and endless shopping opportunities. Welcome to Osaka's world of jumbo ads and crazy neon streets.
Start the day fresh and go on a shopping spree. Midosuji is Osaka's main street and the place where you will find the most well-known brands and boutiques. In a way, this is the equivalent of shopping in Ginza, so expect luxury brand and outlets. Even if shopping is not your favourite sport, this is a great place to people watch and sit down for a morning cup of coffee.
How would you like to explore one of those incredible atmospheric Japanese alleyways? Hozenji Yokocho is a narrow street, 80m long, 2.7m wide. This stone-paved alley will take you on a journey back in time and you will even be forgiven for thinking you are in one of Kyoto's old quarters. It is one of the most beautiful streets in Osaka and an absolute must-see during any Osaka itinerary. Just make sure to bring your camera to snap some incredible pictures.
Similar to arcades in Asakusa district in Tokyo, Doguyasuji has a wealth of shops which specialise on kitchen and cooking supplies. This is a great place to purchase Japanese useful souvenirs. During our 2 weeks in Japan, we bought a variety of ramen bowls, chopsticks and beautiful norens. We also bought them for friends and family who very much loved the idea.
This is essentially the equivalent of Harajuku (Tokyo) in Osaka. It's a more fun shopping district with teenage fashion and a lively atmosphere. The merchandise might not be what you are after unless you are still in your early 20s, but worry not, as you will find lots of budget eateries and inviting cafes in the area.
This is Osaka's equivalent of the Akihabara electric town in Tokyo. Best place for electronics and cosplay cafes. It's actually here that I started looking for Fujifilm lenses. You can find things ranging from computers, electronics and cameras, to pop culture shopping and manga characters.
Alas, Dotombori at night, one of the coolest light and neon spectacles in the whole of Osaka. This is going to be crowded with locals and tourists alike so prepare to queue for your street food and most delicious restaurants. There is an arcade called the Dotombori Arcade where you can find many budget shops selling sweets and cosmetics. This is the best place to sample street food, enjoy a fun and loud atmosphere and admire the craziest restaurants facades with giants faces and sea creatures on the walls. Head to Ebisu-bashi Bridge where you can photograph the area in full action.
Where to eat
Tsuki no Odori
This is a great Japanese gastropub where you can enjoy yakitori. The chicken skewers are absolutely delicious and you can enjoy a cosy and warm welcome. You can order tempura chicken which is a must in this restaurant.
Address: Japan, 〒542-0077 大阪府大阪市 中央区道頓堀1-1-11 2F
You can't go wrong with Ichiran, it's one of my favourite ramen places in Osaka. Some of you might know of Ichiran Tokyo, which to me is one of the coolest Tokyo restaurants. It's definitely different: you have to purchase your food from a vending machine, then you will sit down in a cubicle waiting for your yummy portion.
Day 3 in Osaka
The Osaka Bay Area was one of my favourite places in the city. It is unusually quiet for a Japanese district, especially in a large city such as Osaka. But I very much loved the eerie feeling of the Bay at night. We stayed in a hotel in the Osaka Bay area because our 4-star hotel was amazing, and cost half the price because of its location. Since we had a SUICA card we didn't mind travelling by subway when we wanted to visit the downtown of Osaka. Our hotel was called La Raison and we can't recommend it enough. Included in the price you will get a welcome drink and daily breakfast which is so varied, you will probably want to spend the whole day eating your way through all the options.
The Osaka Aquarium is one of the world's largest aquariums and offers the chance to see whale sharks which is why we wanted to visit it in the first place. We were surprised by how large the aquarium was and what a variety of marine life we could see. Towards the end of the tour, you can see stingrays up close and even gently touch them. Just make sure you respect the rules.
Address: 1 Chome-1-10 Kaigandori, Minato Ward, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture 552-0022, Japan
Fee: ¥ 2,300 per adult
Tempozan Ferris Wheel
No Osaka itinerary is complete without a visit to the Ferris Wheel. For less than 1000 yen you can admire Osaka Bay from above. It's really tall so it's not ideal for those suffering from vertigo. You can pick a carriage which has a transparent floor but the queues for those are usually long. Alternatively, you can opt-in for a normal carriage where there are no queues. That's what we did and we could still admire the landscape and enjoy the excitement of being so high up.
Address: 1 Chome-1-10 Kaigandori, Minato Ward, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture 552-0022, Japan, next to the aquarium
Fee: 800 yen or FREE with Osaka Amazing Pass
An unusual little attractions, Mount Tenpō is the lowest mountain in Japan. Its elevation reaches 4,53 metres (yes, you are reading this correctly). Mount Tenpō was formed in 1831 as the deposit for earth dug up from dredging the Ajigawa river. People started planting cherry blossoms and pine trees in the area as people began to use the location to set up new shops. Nowadays is a tourist attraction.
Where to eat
There are various shops and restaurants in the Tempozan Marketplace. You will find an array of Japanese dishes as well as Western chains such as KFC and Subway.
Naniwa Kuishinbo Yokocho
A bit of an odd food court which is trying to imitate the 60s and 70s. You will find plenty of food here which is sort of classed as street food, even though you are indoors. It's a great place to try many things including lots of popular Osaka snacks.
Day 4 in Osaka
Day 4 of your Osaka itinerary is all about spending it having fun in Universal Studios. So many people come to Osaka specifically to enjoy the epic rides. So, what can you actually do during your full day exploring the theme park?
For Jurassic Park or Harry Potter fan, then you must absolutely spend one day exploring the Universal Studios Japan. Make sure to book your tickets in advance and arrive as early as possible. As soon as you arrive at the Park, please contact a member of staff to book an entry time for the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, which is one of the most popular rides.
With so many ride attractions you can easily spend a full day here. You can enjoy a headlong drop on a boat to escape a dinosaur, a speedy ride through beautiful stars or the thrill of a backward rollercoaster. Of course, most people visit for the Harry Potter attractions, shops, street entertainment and Potter-themed restaurants.
Where to eat
Hog's Head is a pub where you can enjoy a broad selection of drinks as well as the classic Butterbeer. Absolutely delicious.
For traditional British fish and chips, this is the best place for lunch. Don't forget to order some pumpkin juice as well as a great butterbeer.
Did you enjoy our Osaka itinerary? Please let us know what you think in the comments section below. And we don't mind if you wish to send us a picture or two from your visit, as we sure love Japan.