Osaka is an incredible city that combines ancient temples and traditions with modern technology. From traditional theatres to museums to some of the best restaurants in Japan, you’ll never be short of things to do in Osaka while exploring this cultural capital.
Things to Know about Osaka
|Major Airports||Itami Airport (Osaka International Airport)
Kansai International Airport
|Main JR Stations||Osaka Station
JR Nara Station
|Fun Facts||Osaka has served as Japan’s capital multiple times throughout history|
Best Time to Visit Osaka
Osaka and its surrounding cities of Kobe and Nara are wonderful to visit all year round. If you want to watch cherry blossoms bloom, the best time to visit is around March and April.
June to August are the hottest months in Osaka and coincide with typhoon season. For the best weather, visit the city from March to May or September to November.Compare cheap flights to Osaka
Best Things to Do in Osaka
1. Universal Studios
Universal Studios Japan is a theme park that appeals to all ages. For those craving a bit of nostalgia, the Back to the Future, Terminator, Spiderman, and Jurassic Park sections of the park will have you feeling as though you’ve time traveled back to childhood. You can also pay homage to the Peanuts characters, Sanrio characters (Japan is Hello Kitty crazy, after all), and try your hand at witchcraft at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
Universal Studio Osaka tickets start from $96.89 on Klook, not inclusive of the Universal Express Pass. The full list of authorized travel agencies in Australia selling Universal Studios tickets can be found here.
2. Osaka Castle
Osaka Castle is one of the most iconic structures in the country. Built in 1583 by the Toyotomi Hideyoshi empire as an impressive form of one-upmanship where Toyotomi Hideyoshi wanted a castle that was similar to that of his rival, Oda Nobunaga, but better. After a series of battles, the castle was overtaken by other conquerors.
With makeshift theaters and comedy bards, food stands, restaurants, flashing lights, and an atmosphere that is always lively, Dotonbori is one of the most popular areas of Osaka among locals and travellers alike. Dotonbori embraces the Japanese concept of “kuidaore,” which roughly translates into “eat until you can’t anymore.” If you’re a foodie with a penchant for trying new things, Dotonbori will easily be one of the highlights of your trip.
4. Minoo National Park
To step away from the chaos of the busy city, head to Minoo Park. Here, you can become mesmerised by the cascades of Minoo Waterfall, walk past temples, and admire the vibrant foliage no matter the season.
For a local snack, stop at one of the handful of shops selling momiji tempura, which is a battered and fried maple leaf.
5. Shitennoji Buddhist Temple
Shitennoji Temple is one of the oldest temples in the country that was finished in 593 by Prince Shotoku, who had a goal of encouraging Japanese people to practice Buddhism. Unfortunately, while the original no longer exists, architects and the Japanese government has gone through great lengths to rebuild the temple to look as it once was.
6. National Bunraku Theatre
If you look closely around Osaka, you’ll see a motif of puppets with white painted faces placed around the city. Bunraku is a type of performance that uses traditional Japanese puppets to tell a story. Most puppets need require three puppeteers to move the face, the arms, and the legs.
The National Bunraku Theatre was the first bunraku theatre ever built, and still hosts performances today.
One of the best things to do in Japan is unwind at an onsen, a hot spring where visitors can bare all and relax in water heated by Japan’s geothermal volcanic activity. To fit right in, obey onsen etiquette by bathing before you enter an onsen and keeping to yourself.
8. Umeda Sky Building
For an incredible bird’s eye view of Osaka and the surrounding are, visit the Umeda Sky Building. On the 39th floor, guests can enter an observatory that has guides to point out some of Osaka’s picturesque spots. Visit at the beginning of your trip to Osaka to get your bearings.Keep exploring at our Experience Japan Guide
Hidden Gems in Osaka
1. Hozenji Yokocho
Hozenji Yokocho is an area of solitude surrounded by chaos and noise. In the midst of Minami, you’ll find a small, Buddhist temple, shops and restaurants selling authentic Japanese fare, and a glimpse of what life was like in Osaka long before the advent of modern technology. Tea houses and food stands offer a quick drink or meal to those making the pilgrimage here.
2. Shochikuza Kabuki Theatre
In the Dotonbori district of Osaka, you can watch Japanese performers dressed in elaborate costumes and painted faces perform Kabuki. Kabuki is a dramatic style of story telling that has existed for centuries in Japan and makes use of exaggerated gestures and props to tell a story — meaning you don’t need to be fluent in Japanese to enjoy the show.
3. Mount Tenpo and the Tenpozan Ferris Wheel
Mount Tenpo is more like a small hill rather than a foreboding mountain like Fugi, but it’s still worthy of walking nonetheless. At just 4.5 meters high, Mount Tenpo is the second smallest in the country and was created as a navigation point for ships. For novelty purposes, be sure to get your certification of ascent from the Mount Tenpo Expedition Society to take home after you’ve strolled to the top.
4. Osaka Museum of Housing and Living
After World War II, much of Osaka was left in ruins — with many of the ancient temples and buildings completely demolished. Fortunately, at the Museum of Housing and Living, you can capture a small glimpse of what life was like during the Meiji, Taisho, Edo, and Showa eras.Get around with our Japan Rail Pass Guide
Best Places to Stay in Osaka
1. Conrad Osaka
Conrad is a five-star hotel in the heart of the city that offers incredible views from the top. The rooms are modern, stylish, and come with a flat-screen TV, minibar, coffee machine, and more. Onsite, guests can enjoy the 24-hour fitness centre and spend time sipping cocktails at the 40 Sky Bar and Lounge.
2. HOTEL THE FLAG Shinsaibashi
HOTEL THE FLAG Shinsaibashi is in the heart of all the action, walking distance from Dotonbori. With clean rooms, a stellar location, and buffet breakfast included in your stay, HOTEL THE FLAG Shinsaibashi is likely the best value hotel in Osaka.
3. Home Hostel
Home Hostel in the Shinsekai district is a great option for travellers on a budget. Dorm room beds are spacious, private, and equipped with individual outlets. Kitchen access, Wi-Fi, lockers, slippers, and toiletries are included in each stay. The hostel is walking distance from a multitude of restaurants and rents bicycles to those who want to explore the city on two wheels.Compare hotels in Osaka
How to Get Around Osaka
The subway and train system in Osaka is well-connected, with train stations very close to Osaka’s main attractions. It’s easily the best way to get around the city. Alternatively, travellers can take a bus or taxi to their destination — though these options don’t tend to be as efficient as the subway. Travellers can also rent a car, but this is not a recommended method due to limited parking and congestion.