While there are plenty of things to do in Osaka, one can’t ignore that it makes an excellent base to visit other places in the region.
What are the best day trips from Osaka, Japan? Here are my suggestions for a great weekend getaway.
While Kyoto deserves more than just one day, if you have a short time, you can have a quick glimpse at this amazing city.
The ancient capital of Kyoto was once the most important city of the Japanese empire and is home to many fascinating cultural destinations.
While Fushimi Inari is outstanding with more than 10,000 temple gates and the majestic Omokaru stone, the Kinkakuji temple attracts its visitors with the golden layers and impressive architecture.
How to get from Osaka to Kyoto: From Hankyu Umeda Station, take the Hankyu Kyoto Line, get off at Katsura Station, and change to the Arashiyama Line. Get off at Arashiyama Station (about 50 minutes in total).
Located just about 1 hour by train, Nara is a perfect destination for a day trip from Osaka.
Nara has a harmonious combination of nature, spirituality, and historical sites.
Take a stroll through the beautiful Nara Park, and you’ll come face-to-face with the friendly deer roaming free.
You can’t miss the Kasuga Taisha Shrine and Todaiji Temple, housing the largest Buddha statue in Japan.
How to get from Osaka to Nara: From Kintetsu Osaka Namba Station, take the train to Nara and get off at Kintetsu Nara Station (about 40 minutes).
Home to world-renowned beef and a thriving Chinatown, the port city of Kobe is undoubtedly one of my favorite day trips from Osaka.
There are many outstanding architectural works in Kobe, such as the port tower, the Okura Hotel, the town hall, and the Maritime Museum.
Also, you can’t miss the former foreign settlement Kyu-Kyoryuchi.
Japan opened its ports to trade with foreign countries during the Edo period, and this place was a settlement for foreign merchants. Strolling around this area, you can find a lot of old Western-style buildings once owned by foreigners.
Nankinmachi (Chinatown) is also a fascinating stop with several restaurants on small streets. Deep-fried squid and meat dumplings are a must-try here.
After visiting these areas, it’s time to try Kobe beef. In Kobe, beef is grilled directly on a hot pan right in front of the diners.
How to get from Osaka to Kobe: From JR Osaka Station, take the JR Kobe Line to JR Motomachi Station (30 minutes).
Know as the islands of flowers, Awaji is an excellent place for nature lovers.
Awaji has flowers blooming brilliantly throughout the four seasons of the year.
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.
The island is also famous for the longest rope suspension bridge in the world – Akashi Kaikyo. This bridge connects the island with Kobe, helping the transport much more convenient.
Once you’ve reached Awaji, you’ll be spoiled for choice with sightseeing options. There are plenty of choices from Akashi Kaikyo park, majestic Sumoto Castle ruins, to Awaji World Park Onokoro.
How to get from Osaka to Awaji:
You can get from Osaka to Kobe by train, then take a bus or ferry to Awaji.
- By ferry: From Shin-Kobe Station, walk about 5 minutes to Akashi Port. From here, buy a ticket to Awaji Island. The ferry is smooth and fast (15 minutes), and the ferry fare is 500 yen/ adult.
- By bus: You can buy tickets for the express bus to Awaji Island. Travel time is about 60 minutes.
Himeji Castle is an excellent surviving example of early 17th-century Japanese castle architecture.
It’s also known as “White Heron” because the Japanese believe that the image of the white heron – a noble bird, symbolizes the noble purity of the gentleman.
Himeji Castle was built in 1333 on Himeyama hill, 45.6m above sea level. This castle is famous for its large main tower and its network of 83 buildings with fortified defense systems from the feudal period.
Biwa is the largest freshwater lake in Japan, and you can get there from Osaka within 40 minutes.
Biwa lake was formed at least four million years ago and is believed to be the oldest lake in the world.
Popular places are Omimaiko Beach (west side) and Shirahige shrine. Island hopping, causing, and fishing are also popular.
You definitely should not miss Okishima – the cat island. It’s the only inhabited lake island in Japan, and there are more than 120 cats on the island.
How to get from Osaka to Biwa lake: From Shin-Osaka station, take a train to Otsu station (35 minutes).
Just about 1 hour by train from Osaka, you can get to Wakayama, home to beautiful sights, unique festivals, a magnificent castle, and delicious food.
A must-see here is Wakayama castle, which was built in 1585 on a hill overlooking the city of Wakayama. The castle is surrounded by a traditional Japanese garden, a zoo, and plenty of trees.
Other famous landmarks to visit in Wakayama are Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage Trails, Kumano Hongu Taisha temple, and Nachi no Otaki waterfall.
Wakayama is also famous for several hot springs scattered throughout the city. Visiting one of the hot springs after a long day trip is an excellent way to finish your journey.
How to get from Osaka to Wakayama: From Nankai Dentetsu Namba Station, take the express train bound for Wakayama and get off at Wakayama Station (50 minutes). Take the 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.
I recommend spending a meaningful day exploring the world-class Chichu Art Museum and Benesse House Museum. Then, walk to the shore for a cool breeze from the sea and visit the villages of Miyanoura and Honmura.
About 2 hours by train from Osaka, Mie prefecture offers excellent cultural experiences, incredible scenery, and plenty of hot springs.
In Mie prefecture, you’ll find Ise Jingu Shrine, the most sacred shrine in the Shinto religion.
In addition to the religious experience, Mie also offers excellent retreats on Shichiri Mihama Beach, Nagashima Spa Land amusement park, and Toba Aquarium.
You also should try Matsusaka beef, the world-famous Japanese Black cattle.
Famous for the events during World War II, Hiroshima is a city not to be missed if you are in Osaka.
I highly recommend visiting the Peace Memorial Park to learn more about the history. Then, take the train and ferry to Miyajima to see the famous vermilion torii in the bay.
Take the one-hour hike up Mt. Misen for a fantastic view if you have more time.
Don’t forget to try Okonomiyaki, a famous Japanese pancake with meat and cabbage, before heading back to Osaka.