Osaka covers a huge area, but it’s all connected by a superb public transport system. Here's how to get around the city easily.
JR Osaka Station
- Subways and trains are the best way to get around Osaka.
- A prepaid Icoca card is the BEST way to pay for transport (but a Suica or Pasmo card from Tokyo will also work just fine).
- Taxis are excellent but expensive.
- Buses aren’t recommended for short-term visitors.
- See below for full details.
- Osaka is huge but it’s very easy to get around using the city’s excellent public transport system. Five of the city’s main hubs are conveniently located on the Midosuji subway line, that runs north/south right through the heart of the city. From north to south, here they are: Shin-Osaka, Kita, Central Osaka (Honmachi), Minami, and Tennoji.
- There are only two main tourist centers – the Osaka Castle Area and the Osaka Bay Area – that are off the Midosuji subway line. The Osaka Castle Area is easy to reach from Kita by the JR Osaka Loop Line, or from Honmachi via the Chuo subway line. The Osaka Bay Area is also reached by the Chuo Line or the JR Yumesaki Line.
- Other parts of Osaka Prefecture (ie, not Osaka City) are reached by either various JR lines or by various private rail lines.
- You can ride the JR Osaka Loop Line with a Japan Rail Pass, but if you just want to explore Osaka for the first few days after arriving in Japan, it’s best to activate your pass on the morning you leave Osaka and use it for your long-distance train travel (ie, use the pass to pay for expensive intercity travel, not for cheap local travel).
- A prepaid Icoca card is easily the best way to pay for train and subway travel in Osaka. If you’re coming from Tokyo, your prepaid Suica or Pasmo card will work just fine. See below for full details.
- Subways and trains are the best way to get around Osaka. For full details, see my Osaka Trains and Subways page.
- Osaka’s buses are extensive and efficient, but they’re not ideal for tourists. Still, if you do want to give them a try, you’ll find all the details on my Osaka Buses page.
- Osaka’s taxis are an excellent way to get around the city, especially outside of rush hour or if you have to go to a place not close to a train or subway station. However, they’re not cheap. For full details, see my Osaka Taxis page.
- A prepaid stored value card like Icoca is easily the best way to pay for trains and subways in Osaka. If you’re coming from Tokyo, a Suica or Pasmo will work in all the same places you can use Icoca, so there’s no need to buy a new card just for Osaka (and the rest of Kansai). You can also use these prepaid cards for purchases at convenience stores and many other places. For full details, see my Prepaid Cards – Icoca, Suica and Pasmo page.
- For information on travel between Kansai International Airport and Itami International Airport and Osaka, see my Osaka Airport Transport page.
Where Are These Places Located?See these places on the Inside Osaka Google map:
- Open the Osaka map
- You will see the list of places on the left hand side. (Click the 3-line icon in the top left corner if not). Scroll down or use the map search (the magnifying glass icon) to find the place you want.
- Click the name of the place in the list. Its location pin will be highlighted on the map.
- Map pins are color coded - BLUE: Hotels / Ryokan / Guesthouses | VIOLET: Ryokan | PINK: Places to Eat | GREEN: Shops | YELLOW: Things to See and Do
- If you're using the map on your phone, open the map and then search for the name of the place. The map will then zoom in on its location.
Osaka Vacation Checklist
- For all the essentials in a brief overview, see my First Time In Osaka guide
- Check Osaka accommodation availability and pricing on Booking.com
- Need tips on where to stay? See my one page guide Where To Stay In Osaka
- View my comprehensive Packing List For Japan
- Compare Japan flight prices and timings on Skyscanner
- If you're visiting more than one city, get your Japan Rail Pass
- Get travel insurance for your Japan trip - book online with World Nomads