Two days is the perfect amount of time to spend in Osaka. This 2-day itinerary allows you to get the best of the city without tiring yourself out.
Osaka Castle and Kitahama Area
- Two days allows you to experience the main neighborhoods of Kita and Minami as well as the Osaka Bay Area.
- Base yourself somewhere central to save time.
- On Day 1, visit the Osaka Bay Area and Kita.
- On Day 2, visit Minami and Tennoji.
Day 1: Osaka Bay Area and Kita District
- 9:30am: Start Traveling to the Osaka Bay Area: Start by heading out to the Osaka Bay Area, which is near Osakako Station on the Chuo subway line. If you’re coming from Minami, Kita or Shin-Osaka Station, you can take the Midosuji subway line to Honmachi Station and switch there to the Chuo line. Try to arrive around 10am, when the aquarium opens.
- 10am: Osaka Aquarium (Kaiyukan): Osaka Aquarium is the main attraction in the Tempozan complex in the Osaka Bay Area. It might be crowded (even on a weekday morning) but it’s worth it because this place is awesome! Spend a good hour or two exploring the aquarium.
- 11:30: Lunch at Tempozan Marketplace: Next to the aquarium, you’ll find Tempozan Marketplace, which has the best selection of restaurants in the Osaka Bay Area. Try to get there before the lunchtime rush, which usually starts around noon. Most of the restaurants in Tempozan Marketplace have English menus and child seats. Alternatively, if you’re not too hungry, you can eat in the next stop: Kita.
- 1pm: Travel from Osaka Bay Area to the Kita District: From Tempozan, return to Osakako subway station and take the Chuo subway line back two stops to Bentencho Station and switch to the JR Loop Line and take it to JR Osaka Station.
- 1:30pm: Explore the Kita District: JR Osaka Station is right in the middle of the Kita District. The station is literally surrounding by huge shopping malls and department stores. Check out the Kita District page for some recommended shops and malls and (in case you haven’t eaten yet), restaurant picks.
- 3pm: Travel to the Osaka Castle Area: After exploring the Osaka Bay Area and Kita, you might well be ready for a rest back at the hotel. If you’ve still got energy, you can head down to Osaka Castle. From JR Osaka Station, the easiest way is the Osaka Loop Line to Osakajokoen Station.
- 3:30pm: Visit Osaka Castle: Go up to the observation deck of the castle and admire the views over the city. Then, after exploring the surrounding park, take either the subway or the Osaka Loop Line back to JR Osaka Station (be sure to board the northbound direction when returning via the Loop Line to Osaka Station).
- 6pm: Dinner: After a long day of sightseeing, you’ll probably be starving. For some restaurant picks, check out our Kita District, Minami District and Central Osaka Area pages for some picks.
Day 2: Minami District and Tennoji
Note: If you didn’t visit Osaka Castle on Day 1, then you could start Day 2 by visiting the castle. Otherwise, start with Minami.
- 9:30: Travel to the Minami District: From most parts of Osaka, the easiest way to reach Minami is to take the Midosuji subway line to Shinsaibashi Station.
- 10am: Explore Minami: Take exit #2 from Shinsaibashi Station and walk for three minutes to arrive at Tokyu Hands Department Store, which opens at 10am. This is one of the coolest hobby and gadget stores in the world. After checking out Tokyu Hands, cross south over Nagahori-dori Street and walk one block west and then enter Shinsaibashi-suji, one of Osaka’s famous shotengai (covered shopping arcades). Walk south through Shinsaibashi-suji. This will take you south into the real heart of Minami.
- Noon: Dotombori Area and Lunch: Walk south through the Shinsaibashi-suji arcade and you’ll eventually get to Ebisu-bashi Bridge over the famous Dotombori Canal. This is the most iconic sight in all of Osaka. Just south of the bridge you’ll find yourself in the Dotombori arcade. This street is line with restaurants that have incredibly flashy signs and symbols outside to attract customers. This is a good place for lunch. Check out our Minami District page for some restaurant picks.
- 1:30pm: Visit Hozenji Yokocho: A short walk south of the Dotombori Canal is the incredibly atmospheric Hozenji Yokocho, a narrow pedestrian-only lane lined with traditional restaurants. Be sure to check out Hozen-ji Temple, where you’ll find the moss-covered Mizu-kake Fudo statue. For details on these sights, see our Minami District page.
- 2:30pm: Walk through Doguyasuji Arcade: Another short walk south of Hozenji Yokocho, you’ll find Doguyasuji Arcade, Osaka’s famous kitchen-supply street. Here, you will find an almost endless variety of kitchenware and tableware. For details, check out our Minami District page.
- 3:30pm: Visit Den-Den Town: If you walk to the south end of Doguyasuji Arcade, you’ll come out on a relatively wide street. If you turn left and walk straight east to the second traffic light, you’ll be at the north end of Den-Den Town, which is Osaka’s electronics district. This is a great area for people with an interest in gadgets, Japanese pop culture and computers. Alternatively, if you’re more interested in fashion, you could visit Amerika Mura, which is a short walk from Dotombori. For details, check out our Minami District page.
- 5:30pm: Eat dinner in Minami: Minami has the greatest concentration of good restaurants in Osaka. To help you decide, check out our recommendations on the Minami District page.
- 7:30pm: Evening views from the Abeno Harukas 300 observation decks in Tennoji. After dinner, take the Midosuji subway line south from Minami to Tennoji Station and follow the signs to Abeno Harukas. Take the elevators up to the Abeno Harukas 300 observation decks, which are open until 10pm daily (ticket sales stop at 9.30pm). The sunset and evening views here are absolutely awesome!
Hints, Comments and Variations
- If you’re only going to be in the city for two days, choose a hotel in a central location so you don’t waste time on transport. The most convenient areas are Kita, Central Osaka, and Minami. For more on where to say, check out my Where to Stay in Osaka page.
- For hotel recommendations in Osaka, check out our Osaka Hotels page.
- If you’re not a big fan of aquariums, you could start Day 1 with a visit to the museums on Nakanoshima, which are described on our Kita District page.
- Don't try to do any more than this on two days in Osaka – you’ll tire yourself out. If you want to relax, subtract one or two places from this itinerary. As usual, it’s better to enjoy a few places properly than to sprint through many places.
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 - usually you can reserve a room with no upfront payment. Pay when you check out. Free cancellations too.
- Need tips on where to stay? See my one page guide Where To Stay In Osaka
- You can buy a Japan SIM card online from Klook for collection on arrival at Osaka's Kansai International Airport. Or rent an unlimited data pocket wifi router.
- View my comprehensive Packing List For Japan
- Compare flight prices and timings to find the best Japan flight deals
- If you're visiting more than one city, save a ton of money with the Japan Rail Pass - here's why it's worth it
- Find out why it's essential you have travel insurance for Japan - we recommend World Nomads.