12 Amazing Day Trips From Osaka Japan

The vibrant city of Osaka is not only a treasure trove of attractions but also a splendid base to explore the Kansai region’s captivating cities and scenic spots.

I’ve taken several day trips from Osaka, Japan, and each promises a rich tapestry of experiences, whether you’re a culture vulture, a history buff, or a nature lover.


Kyoto is more than just a day trip from Osaka; it’s a journey back in time.

As you step off the train and into the city, you’ll feel a nostalgic breeze, rich with beautiful buildings and ancient traditions.

Sagano Bamboo Forest Kyoto Japan rickshaw
Arashiyama Bamboo Forest.

The charming city was once the epicenter of Japanese culture and power, and that aura still resonates through its cobblestone streets.

There are so many things to do in Kyoto!

If you’re on a tight schedule, here’s a tip: the Arashiyama Bamboo Forest is a must. The towering bamboo seems to touch the sky here!

Arashiyama Bamboo Grove Kyoto Japan

Next, the Kinkakuji Temple (Golden Pavilion) is a shining example of Japan’s knack for intricate design.

Kyoto is an excellent day trip from Osaka Japan
Kinkakuji temple is a fascinating place to visit in Kyoto.

And let’s not forget the Fushimi Inari Shrine with its iconic red gates – an excellent spot for those Instagram-worthy photos.

Fushimi Inari Shrine Kyoto Japan
Fushimi Inari Shrine.

Don’t miss the quaint traditional tea houses and take a leisurely stroll along the Philosopher’s Path. The Geisha district of Gion is where the past dances gracefully with the present.

Travel Tips:

  • Price: Mostly free, though temples have entry fees.
  • Best time: Spring for cherry blossoms, autumn for fall foliage
  • How to get there: From Hankyu Umeda Station in Osaka, a scenic train ride takes you to Arashiyama in Kyoto, with a quick transfer at Katsura Station to the Arashiyama Line.
  • Tips: Start early to beat the crowds, and wear comfortable shoes. Kyoto’s historic sites are best explored on foot.


Located just about 1 hour by train, Nara is a perfect day trip destination from Osaka. 

Nara feels like a page out of a fairy tale, especially with its adorable resident deer.

It’s like the city said, “Why have pigeons when we can have Bambi?” Kidding aside, these deer are sacred, so be respectful.

Nara Deer Park Japan
Getting up close with the deer and exploring the ancient temples is nothing short of amazing!

Start at Nara Park for some deer greetings. You can buy some deer-safe crackers for a fun interaction with the furry residents.

Continue your historical exploration to Todaiji Temple, housing a giant Buddha statue, and then to the serene surroundings of Kasuga Taisha Shrine.

Todaiji Temple Nara Japan
Todaiji Temple

Travel Tips:

  • Best time: Spring or Autumn
  • How to get there: A direct train from Kintetsu Osaka Namba Station will take you to Kintetsu Nara Station in about 40 minutes.
Kofukuji Temple in Nara, Japan.
Kofukuji Temple in Nara, Japan.


The port city of Kobe is undoubtedly one of my favorite day trips from Osaka.

From savoring the world-renowned Kobe beef to exploring the well-preserved foreign settlements, there’s a story etched in every corner.

Begin your day at the iconic Kobe Port Tower for a panoramic view of the city, followed by a stroll in Meriken Park.

Best things to do in Kobe Port, Japan.
View of Kobe Port, Japan.

The bustling Nankinmachi (Chinatown) is also a great place to stop by, with many eateries offering delicious dumplings and other Chinese delicacies.

For lunch or dinner in Kobe, don’t miss your chance to try Kobe beef.

cheap Kobe beef in Kobe Japan.

The moment of slicing through a tender piece of Kobe beef is etched in my memory. The blend of flavors exploded with each bite, justifying the global acclaim.

Travel Tips:

  • How to get there: A short 30-minute train ride from JR Osaka Station to JR Motomachi Station on the JR Kobe Line whisks you into the heart of Kobe.
  • Tips: Make a reservation if you’re keen on a high-end Kobe beef experience; it’s well worth the splurge.


This picturesque town is like a page from a history book, with its well-preserved Edo-period (1603-1868) buildings along the iconic Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter.

It makes a perfect day trip from Osaka if you ask me!

Best places to visit in Kurashiki Canal, Japan.
Kurashiki Canal, Japan.

Wandering along the quarter, with its old-world charm, was like stepping back in time. The artistic vibe of the town, especially the diverse collection at Ohara Museum, was one of my favorite moments there.

You’ll also enjoy the troll along the willow-lined canal. The Kurashiki Ivy Square is a beautiful complex with ivy-covered red brick buildings.

Best things to do in Kurashiki Canal, Japan.
Kurashiki canal boat tour, Japan.

Travel Tips:

  • How to get there: Take a train from Osaka Station to Okayama Station, then a local train to Kurashiki Station.
  • Tips: The scenic canal area is a perfect spot for photography enthusiasts.

Himeji castle

If you’ve ever dreamt of visiting a castle straight out of a fairy tale, Himeji Castle is it.

Often called the “White Heron Castle” because of its brilliant white exterior, this UNESCO World Heritage site is not just a beauty to behold but also rich in history.

Himeji castle Japan.
Himeji Castle

As you wander through the serene pathways and explore the vast network of 83 buildings, each corner of the Himeji Castle tells tales of a bygone era.

The gardens, the moats, the walls – it all feels very regal.

Don’t forget to wear comfy shoes because there’s quite a bit of walking (and some stairs) involved. But the views from the top? Totally worth it.

Travel Tips:

  • Price: Entry fee required
  • Hours: 9 AM to 4 PM
  • Best time: Spring for cherry blossoms, autumn for cooler weather
  • How to get there: From Osaka, take a Shinkansen to Himeji Station; the castle is a 20-minute walk or a short taxi ride away.
  • Tips: Arrive early to beat the crowds and have a peaceful exploration.

Kinosaki Onsen

Just a 2-hour train ride from Osaka, Kinosaki Onsen is one of the most charming onsen towns in Japan.

This quaint town, with its willow-lined river and old-fashioned charm, invites you to a realm of relaxation and rejuvenation.

Best things to do in Kinosaki onsen, Japan.
Kinosaki is beautiful in spring with cherry blossoms.

The heart of Kinosaki Onsen lies in its seven public bathhouses, each with its own unique ambiance and healing waters.

Tips: You can also stay in one of the ryokans in Kinosaki, and enjoy hot springs there.

Kinosaki Yamamotoya is where to go for onsen in Kinosaki Onsen, Japan.
Kinosaki Yamamotoya in Kinosaki Onsen, Japan.

The stroll along the Otani River, adorned with charming footbridges and picturesque views, is the highlight. As night falls, the lantern-lit streets evoke a captivating nostalgic charm.

You can embrace the local tradition by donning a Yukata as you explore the town, hopping from onsen to onsen.

And definitely try the local specialty, Matsuba crab, if you visit in the winter season.

Crab dish Japanese food in ryokans in Japan.

Travel Tips:

  • Best time: Winter for a magical snow-soak experience
  • How to get there: Take a Limited Express train from JR Osaka Station to JR Kinosaki Onsen Station. The journey is scenic and takes about 2.5 hours.
  • Tips: Get the Onsen-hopping pass for the ultimate experience!


The city of Hiroshima stands as a poignant reminder of the past while showcasing a resilient spirit and a hopeful outlook toward peace and harmony.

Atomic bomb dome is one of the best places to visit in Hiroshima, Japan.

Your first stop should be the Peace Memorial Park and Museum, which bears testimony to the events of World War II.

A short ferry ride will take you to Miyajima Island, home to the iconic “floating” torii gate of Itsukushima Shrine.

Itsukushima Shrine Hiroshima Japan.

Also, don’t miss the Hiroshima Castle, a reconstruction that houses a museum of Hiroshima’s history before the atomic bomb.

Take the one-hour hike up Mt. Misen for a fantastic view if you have more time.

Mt. Misen hiking trail view in Hiroshima.
Mt. Misen hiking trail view.

And don’t forget to try Okonomiyaki, a famous Japanese pancake with meat and cabbage, before heading back to Osaka.

Travel Tips:

  • Best time: Spring or Autumn
  • How to get there: Take a Shinkansen from Shin-Osaka Station to Hiroshima Station. From there, local trams and ferries can take you around.

Read more: Best things to do in Hiroshima.


Known for its beautiful Korakuen Garden, one of the top three landscape gardens in Japan, and the imposing black Okayama Castle, Okayama offers a blend of natural beauty and historical significance.

Start your day at the serene Korakuen Garden and the historic Okayama Castle. The juxtaposition of the black castle and the vibrant garden is a sight to behold.

Best things to do in Okayama castle, Japan.
Okayama Castle.

Don’t miss the Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter, a short train ride away, for a taste of Edo-period architecture.

Travel Tips:

  • Best time: Spring for cherry blossoms, autumn for fall foliage
  • How to get there: Take a Shinkansen from Shin-Osaka Station to Okayama Station.

Awaji island

Awaji Island, known as the Island of Flowers, is a vibrant tapestry of nature’s hues.

An hour away from Osaka, this island blooms in a riot of colors through the seasons, each one painting the landscape with its own unique palette.

Awaji island flower field walking path.
Awaji Island flower field.

Spring is famous for the cherry blossoms and tulips, and summer is the best time for hydrangeas and sunflowers.

If you visit in the autumn, you can see mimosas. And when winter comes, Awaji Island is even more brilliant with chrysanthemums and camellias. 

Start your day with a visit to the spectacular Akashi Kaikyo Bridge, the world’s longest suspension bridge that seems to stitch the sky to the sea.

Akashi Kaikyo Bridge is one of the best things to do in Awaji island, Japan.
Akashi Kaikyo Bridge in Awaji, Japan.

Venture into the heart of the island to witness the timeless beauty of Sumoto Castle ruins and the playful Awaji World Park Onokoro.

Ferry wheel Awaji World Park Japan.

Travel Tips:

  • Best time: Spring for cherry blossoms, Summer for hydrangeas
  • How to get there: From Osaka, travel to Kobe by train, then catch a bus or ferry to Awaji Island. The ferry ride from Shin-Kobe Station to Awaji is swift and scenic.
  • Tips: Bring a good camera; the scenic beauty of Awaji is something you’d want to capture forever.

Lake Biwa

A 40-minute train ride from Osaka will bring you to the shores of Lake Biwa, Japan’s largest freshwater lake.

This ancient lake, estimated to be over four million years old, is a haven for nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts.

Biwa lake Japan.

Here, you can explore the tranquil Omimaiko Beach, venture to the Shirahige Shrine, or set sail on the calm waters to explore the lake’s many islands.

The cat island of Okishima is a quirky and cute highlight, where feline friends outnumber humans. It’s a purr-fect escape for cat lovers!

Travel Tips:

  • Best time to visit: Summer for water activities, spring for cherry blossoms
  • How to get there: From Shin-Osaka station, catch a train to Otsu Station, and you’re at the doorstep of Lake Biwa.


An hour’s journey from Osaka unfolds the coastal beauty of Wakayama.

With its magnificent castle, unique festivals, and inviting hot springs, Wakayama is a blend of history, culture, and relaxation waiting to be discovered.

Your day should kick-start at Wakayama Castle, a majestic fortress that stands as a sentinel overlooking the city.

Best things to do in Wakayama Castle, Japan.
Wakayama Castle, Japan.

Continue your journey through history along the Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage Trails, leading you to the sacred Kumano Hongu Taisha temple and the celestial Nachi no Otaki waterfall.

Nachiyama Pagoda Wakayama Japan.
Nachiyama Pagoda with a beautiful Nachi Falls in the background.

Don’t miss a soothing soak in one of the city’s many hot springs. The onsen will melt away your fatigue, prepping you for your next adventure.

Travel Tips:

  • Best time: Autumn for a colorful foliage backdrop
  • How to get there: Catch an express train from Nankai Dentetsu Namba Station to Wakayama Station, and then a bus to Kouen Mae stop.


Heading to Kagawa, you’ll find the tiny island of Naoshima, a fascinating blend of unique modern art and nature.

Naoshima, often known as Japan’s art island, hosts three major contemporary art museums and art projects.

Begin your exploration at the Chichu Art Museum, where art and architecture are in a harmonious dialogue with nature.

Benesse House Museum is your next stop, with its impressive collection of modern art. Don’t miss the iconic yellow pumpkin sculpture by Yayoi Kusama; it’s a great photo-op!

pumpkin art Benesse House Museum Japan..
The outdoor artwork “Pumpkin” at Benesse House Museum, Naoshima Island, Japan.

The serene seaside villages of Miyanoura and Honmura are a peaceful wander, with quaint cafes and art installations dotted along the way.

Travel Tips:

  • Hours: Museums typically open from 10 AM to 6 PM
  • Best time: Spring or Autumn
  • How to get there: Take a train from Osaka to Okayama, followed by a ferry ride to Naoshima.
  • Tips: Renting a bicycle is a fun and convenient way to explore the island.

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