There are myriads things to do in Osaka and as an avid Japan lover, I couldn't wait to explore what Osaka has to offer. Like many Japanese cities, Osaka is vibrant, energetic and has a lot going on. The food is great, the infrastructure is fantastic and Osakans are fun and friendly. We previously spent two weeks in Japan but we decided to start with Osaka this time. We arrived at the Kansai International Airport and took a rapid train straight to the centre, at the Osaka station. The ride took roughly 70 minutes and cost 1190 yen. This is covered by your Japan Rail Pass. You can get a limited express for 1430 yen which takes only 35 minutes, but you need to reserve your seat in advance. As this is a special service, this is not covered by your Japan Rail Pass.
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Things to do in Japan
I remember how excited I was to see Osaka for the first time. I had no idea what to expect from this city. I spent months exploring Japan but never Osaka. So it was a fun exercise to finally discover all the top things to do in Osaka, and share them with you all.
Universal Studios Japan
Most people come to Osaka specifically to enjoy the great rides in Universal Studios Japan. If you are a 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.
This wonderful castle is one of Japan's most famous landscapes which dates back to 1583. The Osaka Castle covers an area of about 15 acres. The castle itself has been renovated and changed into a museum. Although it looks lush from the outside, we weren't that impressed with its interior. However, we absolutely loved the gardens. We arrived in Osaka just on time for the cherry blossom festival so as you can imagine, everything looked pretty incredible.
Address: 1-1 Osakajo, Chuo Ward, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture 540-0002, Japan
Fee: ¥ 600 per adult or FREE with Osaka Amazing Pass
The Osaka Aquarium is one of the world's largest aquariums and offers the chance to see whale sharks, Arctic and tropical marine life. The inside of the aquarium features an amazing seating area overlooking the big tank where you can relax whilst admiring a variety of sharks and beautiful rays. It was definitely a highlight of our visit. Towards the end of the tour, you can touch actual real rays. Please respect the rules and be gentle.
Address: 1 Chome-1-10 Kaigandori, Minato Ward, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture 552-0022, Japan
Fee: ¥ 2,300 per adult
Osaka Tempozan Ferris Wheel
We love seeing cities from above, hence we really wanted to experience the Ferris wheel. There are a few things to do consider. The Ferry wheel has two queues. One which allows you to join any cart, or a special queue for carts with a transparent floor. The special queue can be very long, whilst the other queue is virtually empty. We went for the normal cart as I am a little afraid of heights anyway. Honestly, I can't see the benefit of the transparent floor but a novelty really. So ultimately it's up to you, but we would recommend the normal carts as the view is no different. You have English commentary throughout the ride so you know where to look and what is going on. An experience I would strongly recommend! We loved it.
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
This is the main tourist area in Osaka. It's amazing after dark, as the place gets crowded and illuminated. It's like being at a festival. There are a lot of photographic opportunities here and this is the place to enjoy street food. However, as mentioned before, this is a tourist attraction, hence prices are a bit higher and places are not as authentic as you would otherwise expect. Still, it is a must whilst in Osaka.
Address: Dotonbori, Chuo Ward, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture 542-0071, Japan
Hours: Open 24 hours
Fee: Not Applicable
Tsūtenkaku is a tower located in the Shinsekai district in Osaka. The tower itself is a symbol of Osaka and appeared in many movies. It features an amazing observatory deck on the 5th floor so you can get some seriously cool photos from up there.
Address: Japan, 〒556-0002 Osaka Prefecture, Osaka, Naniwa Ward, Ebisuhigashi, 1 Chome−１８−６
Fee: 700 yen or FREE with Osaka Amazing Card
Umeda Sky Building
The Umeda Sky Building is a wonderful high rise building which measures 173 meters tall. It has two towers connected by the Floating Garden Observatory on the 38th floor. The last entrance is at 10PM so you can expect to photograph the beautiful Osaka from above.
Fee: 1000 yen or FREE with the Osaka Amazing Pass
Osaka Science Museum
One of the great things to do in Osaka is to spend some time explore four floors of interactive exhibits and displays at the Osaka Science Museum. The Science Museum has a planetarium with multiple daily shows and an Imax Dome Theater, called "Omnimax", with a rotating selection of Imax films at additional cost.
Address: 4 Chome-2-1 Nakanoshima, Kita Ward, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture 530-0005, Japan
Hours: Tuesday - Sunday 9:30AM - 5PM
Fee: 400 yen or FREE with the Osaka Amazing Pass
National Museum of Art
This quirky museum is located underground. The museum focuses on Japanese and foreign contemporary art and it also features special exhibitions. What is cool about the Osaka National Museum of Art is that it was designed to represent the growth of a bamboo. Awesome, right?
Address: 4 Chome-2-55 Nakanoshima, Kita Ward, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture 530-0005, Japan
Hours: Tuesday - Sunday 10AM - 9PM
Fee: 430 yen
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.
Sumiyoshi Taisha is one of Japan's oldest shrines. It was founded in the 3rd century before the introduction of Buddhism. This shrine is different because of its architecture. One of the most obvious difference is that its roof is straight and curved as the usual Japanese shrines.
Address: 2 Chome-9-89 Sumiyoshi, Sumiyoshi Ward, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture 558-0045, Japan
Hozenji Yokocho Alley
Japan is all about food, and what better place to experience local delicacies than by heading to this amazing alley, dotted with over 60 traditional restaurants and izakaya. Are you ready for a food marathon?
Hōzen- ji Temple is a small Buddhist temple with a moss covered statue of Fudomoyo. It is a popular attraction so best to get there first thing in the morning of just before closing time.
Address: 1-2-16 Nanba, Chuo Ward, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture 542-0076, Japan
Nagai Botanical Garden
We wouldn't leave Osaka without checking out the botanical garden located in the southeast corner of Nagai Park. We are nature lovers and any excuse to enjoy the local flora, we are in!
Address: 〒546-0034 1-23 Nagaikoen, Higashi-Sumiyoshi-ku, Osaka City
Fee: 200 yen or FREE with the Osaka Amazing Pass
Namba Station and Minami
Minami is located around the Namba station is basically one of the two major city centres in Osaka. This is an entertainment district with lots of shopping and dining options.
Shinsaibashi Shopping Arcade
How do you feel about 600 m long shopping arcade dotted with all sorts of shops? Here you can find top designer labels as well as smaller brands and boutiques. Shopper's paradise!
This is essentially the equivalent of Harajuku (Tokyo) in Osaka. It's a more fun shopping district with teenage fashion and a lively atmosphere.
Den Den Town
Den Den Town is to Osaka what Akihabara is to Tokyo. Best place for electronics and cosplay cafes.
Osaka Museum of History
This excellent museum which exhibits incredible details of Osaka history from ancient to present times.
Address: Japan, 〒540-0008 Osaka Prefecture, Osaka, Chuo Ward, Otemae, 4 Chome−１−３２
Hours: Wednesday to Monday 9:30AM-5PM
Fee: 600 yen or FREE with Osaka Amazing Pass
Natural Open-air Hot Spring Spa Suminoe
An amazing onsen where you can relax after sightseeing around Osaka. The hot springs are surrounded by beautiful bamboos. I would not miss this for the world! Make sure you familiarise yourself with the rules and learn how to use an onsen. Remember that people with tattoos cannot use this onsen.
Address: 1-1-82 Izumi Suminoe-ku, Osaka 559-0023, Osaka Prefecture
Fee: 650 yen or FREE with Osaka Amazing Pass
Are you excited about your trip to Osaka? When are you going and what is the first thing you are going to do in Osaka? Let me know in the comments section below.
P.S. Want more info? Check out our 7 days Japan itinerary.