Here’s our list of the best things to do in Osaka so you can make the most of your time in the city.
Osaka Castle: cowardlion / Shutterstock.com
This page is an overview of the best things to do in Osaka to give you a quick but comprehensive overview. Click any of the links below for more details on each of the Osaka attractions we've listed here.
Things To Do In Osaka List:
Experience Dotombori in the Evening
If you want to see the heart of Osaka, take a stroll along the Dotombori Arcade in the evening. Be sure to spend some time standing on Ebisu-bashi Bridge just taking it all in. Check out our full Dotombori page.
Dotombori arcade: Avigator Fortuner / Shutterstock.com
Shop `Til You Drop
Osaka is all about shopping, and the entire city is like one giant bustling market. From tiny underground shops around train stations to the finest department stores and boutiques, Osaka is a shopping paradise. Check out our Osaka Shopping page.
Namba Parks shopping complex: cowardlion / Shutterstock.com
Eat Yourself Broke
The motto of Osaka is “kuidaore,” which means “eat yourself broke.” Any city where the people are willing to eat themselves into poverty is a place where food is taken seriously. Osaka is crammed with great restaurants, many of them surprisingly cheap and most of them very welcoming to foreign guests. Check out our Osaka Restaurants page. And, if you’re adventurous, check out our Eat Like a Local in Osaka page.
Osaka restaurant: THMEYA / Shutterstock.com
Take the Family to Universal Studios Japan
If you’re traveling with kids, you should definitely spend a day or two at Universal Studios Japan. It’s less than 30 minutes from central Osaka and it’s the best theme park in Japan, especially with the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter attraction. Check out our full Universal Studios Japan Guide.
Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan: DRN Studio / Shutterstock.com
See the Whale Sharks at Osaka Aquarium
Osaka Aquarium (Kaiyukan in Japanese) is arguably the best aquarium in the world. It’s one of the few aquariums on earth where you can see whale sharks (not to mention tiger sharks). You don’t need to be a kid to enjoy this place. Check out our Osaka Aquarium page.
Whale shark at Osaka Aquarium: f11photo / Shutterstock.com
Wander Through a Shotengai (Shopping Arcade)
Osaka is famous for its seemingly endless shotengai, which are covered shopping arcades. Strolling through a shotengai is the quintessential Osaka experience. While you’ll find them in most Osaka neighborhoods, our two favorite shotengai in the city are Shinsaibashi-suji in Minami and Tenjimbashi-suji in Kita.
Tenjinbashi-suji shopping arcade: beeboys / Shutterstock.com
Marvel at the View From Abeno Harukas in the Evening
Abeno Harukas is the tallest building in Osaka and the views from the top include not just Osaka, but also Kobe, the Inland Sea and parts of Nara and Wakayama prefectures. The view is particularly spectacular after dark. Check out our Abeno Harukas page.
Enjoying the view at Abeno Harukas: twoKim images / Shutterstock.com
Spend an Afternoon at Expocity and Banpaku Memorial Park
About 30 minutes from central Osaka by trains, the attractions clustered in Expocity and Banpaku Memorial Park are some of the best in the city. There’s great stuff for both adults and children here, including the brilliant National Museum of Ethnology, a hands-on aquarium, a sprawling shopping center and some excellent restaurants. There’s enough here to keep a family occupied for a full day.
Expocity: twoKim images / Shutterstock.com
Climb the Steps of Osaka Castle
The symbol of Osaka and a memory of Japan’s samurai past, this photogenic castle and its surrounding park make a great half-day activity. Check out our Osaka Castle page.
Osaka Castle with cherry blossoms: Shuttertong / Shutterstock.com
Step Back in Time at Shinsekai
For something completely different, head down to the Tennoji Area to check out Shinsekai. The name means “New World” but Shinsekai is a funky retro entertainment district where you can get a glimpse into what Japan was like before it got rich. Check out our Shinsekai page.
Shinsekai in the evening: beeboys / Shutterstock.com
Tour Some Great Museums
Osaka has some great museums, including the Osaka Museum of History, the National Museum of Ethnology, and the Osaka Museum of Housing and Living.
Osaka Museum of History: Google Nonprawich / Shutterstock.com
Take a Breather in a Soothing Green Space
Osaka can seem like an endless sea of concrete and neon but there are some great parks and nature spots scattered around. Check out our Osaka’s Best Green Spaces page.
Utsubo-koen Park: Sakonboon Sansri / Shutterstock.com
Get Some Perspective on the Ratrace
To really appreciate Osaka, it helps to get up high and get a view of the whole place. Some great spots to check out the city from high up include Abeno Harukas, the Umeda Sky Building, Tempozan Ferris Wheel, and Mt Ikoma.
Umeda Sky Building: Benny Marty / Shutterstock.com
Keep the Kids Happy
I’ve got two kids so I know the best places for kids in Osaka. For the lowdown on the best parks, attractions and places to stay with children, check out our Osaka With Children page.
Osaka Aquarium: Joshua Davenport / Shutterstock.com
Take a Daytrip Out of the City
If you’ve got more than three days in Osaka, you might want to take a day trip out of the city. Our Best Day Trips Out of the City page gives the rundown on where to go and how to get there.
Yasaka-no-to Pagoda in Kyoto: f11photo / Shutterstock.com
If you need some ideas about how to put it all together, check out our Osaka Itineraries page. And, if you need some help planning your trip, we’d be happy to help you plan things with Japan Travel Consulting.
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 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
- Get a prepaid Icoca card to make travelling around Osaka easy – here's how
- World Nomads offers simple and flexible travel insurance. Buy at home or while traveling and claim online from anywhere in the world