Uncover the 10 best things to do in Osaka, Japan below!
Osaka is a vibrant and bustling city that offers a wide array of attractions and activities for visitors to enjoy. Known for its vibrant street food scene, bustling shopping districts, and historical landmarks, Osaka is a destination that captivates visitors from around the world. With its warm hospitality and exciting attractions, Osaka is a must-visit destination that offers a unique and unforgettable experience for travelers of all interests.
Keep reading to discover the 10 best things to do in Osaka for the ultimate visit.
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10 Best Things to Do in Osaka, Japan
Visiting Dotonbori is one of the top things to do in Osaka. Located in the heart of the city, this bustling entertainment district offers a unique blend of vibrant street life, delicious food, and iconic landmarks.
As you step into Dotonbori, you’ll find yourself surrounded by illuminated billboards, signs, and huge advertisements. Take a stroll along the canal, known as the Dotonbori River, and admire the iconic Glico Running Man sign, a symbol of Osaka’s nightlife. Dotonbori is a great place for foodies with local favorites such as takoyaki (octopus balls), okonomiyaki (savory pancakes), and kushikatsu (deep-fried skewers). Be sure to keep an eye out for the famous Kani Doraku crab sign, an emblem of the area’s seafood delicacies.
Try the Famous Jiggly Cheesecake
Trying the famous jiggly cheesecake is one of the top things to do in Osaka. This light and fluffy confection has gained worldwide popularity for its unique texture and delicate flavor. Originating in Japan, the jiggly cheesecake has become a must-try treat for food enthusiasts around the globe.
What sets the jiggly cheesecake apart is its airy and soft texture, which is achieved through a special baking technique. The result is a cake that literally jiggles and wobbles when touched, hence its playful name. The cakes are often freshly baked and served warm, ensuring maximum enjoyment of their fluffy texture.
Where to find Jiggly Cheese Cake? Rikuro’s!
View Osaka Castle
Osaka Castle is an iconic symbol of Japan’s rich history. Visiting it and admiring the architectural beauty is one of the top things to do in Osaka.
The castle was originally built in the 16th century and is complete with huge stone walls, fortified gates, and moats, transporting you to Japan’s past. Climbing up to the main tower rewards you with breathtaking views of Osaka’s skyline and the beautiful surrounding gardens. Inside, the museum showcases various exhibits, including armor, weaponry, and artworks, shedding light on the castle’s historical significance.
The castle’s surroundings are equally beautiful, with lush green spaces, serene ponds, and wonderfully manicured gardens all combined to create an oasis amidst the bustling city. Whether you’re into history, photography, or simply seeking a peaceful retreat, a visit to Osaka Castle promises an unforgettable experience.
In the heart of Osaka, Shinsekai is a bright and bustling neighborhood that offers a unique blend of old and new. This district is known for its retro charm, delicious street food, and vibrant atmosphere, making it one of the top things to do in Osaka.
Shinsekai, meaning “New World,” was originally made in the early 20th century with the intention of recreating the atmosphere of Paris and Coney Island. The colorful streets are complete with neon lights and retro signs making it an exciting place to wander around and admire!
One of the highlights of Shinsekai is its foodie scene. The area is renowned for its kushikatsu, a beloved local specialty consisting of skewered and deep-fried ingredients. Numerous restaurants and food stalls line the streets so you can easily sample a variety of street foods, from takoyaki (octopus balls) to okonomiyaki (savory pancakes). Shinsekai also offers an array of entertainment options. From quirky shops, arcades, and game centers, you can easily enjoy a few hours of entertainment.
Enjoy Universal Studios Japan
Heading to Universal Studios Japan is easily one of the top things to do in Osaka. This thrilling and enchanting theme park promises a day filled with fun, excitement, and unforgettable memories. Step into a world of fantasy as you explore the park’s attractions, shows, and movie-themed rides.
Universal Studios Japan is complete with some of the most iconic and popular worlds in fiction! Dive into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, where you can wander through the enchanting streets of Hogsmeade, sample butterbeer, and experience the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride. Embark on an adrenaline-pumping adventure with attractions like Jurassic Park – The Ride, where you’ll encounter lifelike dinosaurs, or join the Minions on a whimsical journey in Despicable Me Minion Mayhem. The park also offers a Super Nintendo World!
Although this is a great place to visit it’s important to note it can get EXTREMELY busy! Try to plan a visit during the week and avoid holidays.
Price: ¥8,600 (€57.70) for an adult day pass.
Take a Day Trip to Nara
Take a 1-hour train ride from Osaka (Saka Loop Line Sub Rapid towards Nara – JP¥820 – €5.50) and arrive at the wonderful town of Nara! Best known for its friendly deer roaming freely in Nara Park but also for the Todai-ji Temple, home to the world’s largest bronze Buddha statue, as well as beautiful gardens and historical sites. Heading to Nara is one of the top things to do in Osaka to see and experience more of Japan.
Upon arrival in Nara, you’ll immediately notice the friendly deer that roam freely throughout the city. Considered sacred messengers of the gods, these gentle creatures have become a symbol of Nara and provide a unique charm to the town. You can feed them deer crackers, known as shika senbei, and interact with them in designated areas such as Nara Park.
Nara is also home to some of Japan’s most renowned temples and shrines. The Todaiji Temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and houses the Great Buddha, a colossal bronze statue that is truly awe-inspiring. Explore the tranquil gardens of Kasuga Taisha, an ancient Shinto shrine known for its beautiful lanterns. Wander through the picturesque Isuien Garden and enjoy its serene ponds, stone lanterns, and meticulously manicured landscapes.
Soak in the peaceful ambiance of Nara as you stroll along its historic streets, lined with traditional wooden houses and charming shops. Indulge in local delicacies such as kakinoha-zushi (sushi wrapped in persimmon leaves) or try some delicious mochi (rice cakes) from one of the traditional confectionery shops.
Try Conveyor Belt Sushi
When visiting Japan, one culinary adventure that you shouldn’t miss is trying conveyor belt sushi, also known as kaiten-zushi. This unique dining experience combines convenience, variety, and deliciousness all in one. Step into a sushi restaurant and take a seat at the counter, where various colorful plates filled with different sushi creations rotate right in front of you on a conveyor belt.
The beauty of conveyor belt sushi lies in its simplicity and efficiency. As the plates pass by, you can select the ones that catch your eye and indulge in an array of sushi options, ranging from traditional favorites like salmon, tuna, and shrimp to more adventurous choices like eel, octopus, or even fusion sushi rolls. Each plate is color-coded to indicate its price, allowing you to keep track of your selections. This is one of the most unique and fun things to do in Osaka that you do not want to miss!
Note: I only eat veggie sushi so I asked for certain rolls from the waiter specially and this was super easy!
Embark on a Day Trip to Kyoto
Just a short train ride away from Osaka lies the beautiful city of Kyoto. Reachable in just 13 minutes on the bullet train (JP¥3,080 – €20.66) this is a place you do not want to miss! Kyoto is rich in history, cultural treasures, and serene beauty. A day trip to Kyoto is a chance to immerse yourself in the essence of traditional Japan, making it one of the top things to do in Osaka!
The top place you will want to visit is the district of Higashiyama and explore its narrow streets lined with traditional wooden houses, shops, and charming teahouses. Marvel at the exquisite architecture of Kiyomizu-dera, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that offers panoramic views of the city from its wooden terrace. With only one day in Kyoto, you may spend the majority of your time here.
If time permits head to Fushimi Inari Taisha shrine, known for its iconic vermillion torii gates that lead you on a mesmerizing path through a forested hillside. This shine gets incredibly busy by 8 AM so if you want to enjoy it with fewer people go here early!
No visit to Kyoto is complete without indulging in a traditional tea ceremony. Find a tea house tucked away in the city’s tranquil gardens, where you can savor the delicate flavors of matcha tea while learning about the art and rituals of this ancient Japanese tradition.
A day trip to Kyoto offers a glimpse into Japan’s past and showcases the enduring traditions that continue to thrive in this culturally rich city. From its awe-inspiring temples to its serene gardens and traditional arts, Kyoto is a testament to the beauty and elegance of Japanese culture. Only one day in Kyoto is not nearly enough to see and do everything so I’d highly suggest spending 2-3 nights here if you can.
Go Shopping on Shinsaibashi-Suji Shopping Street
Shinsaibashi-Suji Shopping Street in Osaka is a shopaholic’s dream come true. Spanning over 600 meters, this bustling street is a vibrant and energetic hub of fashion, accessories, and local finds. As you stroll along the street, you will notice the endless neon lights, bustling crowds, and a wide variety of shops catering to every taste and budget. From international brands to local boutiques and unique specialty stores, Shinsaibashi-Suji has it all. A visit here is one of the top things to do in Osaka for shopping lovers!
Take your time to explore the hidden alleys and side streets branching off from the main strip, as they are often home to hidden gems waiting to be discovered. Don’t forget to indulge in the delicious street food offered by the food stalls, treating yourself to traditional Japanese delicacies while you shop. Shinsaibashi-Suji Shopping Street is not just about shopping, but also about immersing yourself in the vibrant atmosphere and culture of Osaka.
Try Your Luck With a Claw Machine or Arcade
If you’re in the mood for some good old-fashioned fun and a chance to test your skills, make sure to visit the numerous claw machines and arcades scattered throughout Osaka. These are EVERYWHERE in Japan and enjoying a game or two is one of the top things to do in Osaka to unleash your inner child! Step up to one of these machines and try your luck at grabbing a plush toy, keychain, or other prizes. With a little skill and strategy, you might just walk away with a fantastic prize to remember your time in Osaka.
For those seeking a wider range of gaming options, the arcades in Osaka are a paradise for gamers. Step inside and you’ll find rows upon rows of arcade games, from classic retro machines to cutting-edge virtual reality experiences. Challenge your friends to a game of air hockey, showcase your dancing skills on the dance machines, or test your reflexes on the rhythm games. The choices are endless, and the excitement is contagious.
Best Tours in Osaka
Where To Stay in Osaka
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