10 Best Things To Do In Osaka, Japan
Osaka is one of my favorite places to visit in Japan. The city offers some of the country’s best food, culture, and nightlife. Also, Osaka is a good base if you plan to visit Kyoto, Nara, Kobe, and the surrounding areas.
In this article, you’ll find the list of the best things to do in Osaka and my travel tips. And trust me, with this handy guide, you’ll never find yourself wondering what to do in Osaka.
Have a fun day at Universal Studios Japan
I had so much fun at Universal Studios Japan with some new friends I met on the trip.
USJ is the biggest attraction in Osaka, and today, it is home to dozens of parks and games that cater to adventurous visitors.
The main attractions to visit would be The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Jurassic Park, Minion Park, and The Flying Dinosaur.
The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter is undoubtedly my favorite area. We rode twice, and I had butterbeer for the first time.
Note: I recommend buying Universal Studios Japan tickets in advance, so you don’t need to wait for a long time and get a discount.
Also, you should download the USJ app on Android or iPhone. The map feature is excellent. You can save your favorites, and there is real-time information about wait times for the attractions.
- Accommodation: Check availability and read reviews of hotels here.
- Ticket: Book your Universal Studios Japan ticket here.
- Transport: Explore Osaka without a hassle with YOKOSO! Osaka ticket. The ticket includes a day’s use of the Osaka Municipal Subway, New Tram, and bus with unlimited rides. You can get discounts at 32 tourist spots in Osaka as well. Alternatively, you can get an ICOCA card to travel easier.
Explore the Dotonbori food night market
The night is the busiest time in Osaka. The streets are busy and light up with bright lights and advertisement banners.
I visited Dotonbori street every night during my one-week trip to Osaka.
When passing the neighborhood, the scent of food is everywhere from the restaurants and restaurants along the road.
Dotonbori street gathers many famous Japanese dishes, especially: Takoyaki, Yakisoba, Yakiniku, Ramen, and Sushi.
Besides culinary, Dotonbori is famous for attractive entertainment services such as karaoke, sauna, massage, specialty shops, theaters, or galleries where you can enjoy works of art, ceramics, and paintings.
- Transport: Most of the area in Doronbori is only accessible on foot. If you want to enjoy the view from the river, you can rent a boat.
- Food: I recommend joining the Osaka food tour. You’ll get to explore the hidden gems of Osaka and try delicious local dishes.
Visit Osaka Castle
Osaka Castle is undoubtedly one of the most popular places to visit in Osaka. The castle is a symbol of Osaka city and the pride of the architectural and cultural quintessence of the Japanese.
Osaka castle was built in the late 16th century by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, a famous lord who ruled over the entire country of Japan in the 1590s. This castle was burned and rebuilt many times.
The castle has a total of 8 floors.
From the first floor to the seventh floor displays the previous century’s weapons, armor, and folk items. On the 8th floor, you can find an observatory and sightseeing area.
The tile roofs of the eight floors are designed in the traditional Japanese style, and all are gilded.
- Guide: Check out my Osaka Castle guide for more information.
- Ticket: You can book Osaka castle tickets online to skip the waiting line.
Relax at Solaniwa Onsen
No trip to Japan is complete without a relaxing dip in an onsen – the natural hot springs fueled by volcanic activity.
I love my experience at Solaniwa Onsen, a relaxing onsen theme park with a beautiful garden. This place has both outdoor and indoor hot springs, saunas, an icy cold water pool, and indoor landscapes by the poolside area.
I had a lovely time and especially enjoyed the footbaths outside! Everything is so pretty, and I will be back here again.
Enjoy the panoramic view from Abeno Harukas 300
Abeno Harukas 300 is one of the tallest skyscrapers in Japan and the highest in Osaka. The building houses a department store, an art museum, a hotel, restaurants, and an observation deck.
It’s incredible to see Osaka from atop its tallest building. The views are spectacular! The building itself is beautiful, which adds to the whole experience.
Plan to go around 4:30 pm if you love to capture the sunset. There’s a lovely cafe where you can sit and enjoy the views. After the sunset, Osaka is so pretty with all the lights. You can see the night scene from all angles, and it’s beautiful.
Go shopping at Tenjinbashisuji.
Tenjinbashisuji is the longest shopping street in Japan, with a total length of about 2.6 km.
In addition to the approximately 600 stores, including knife, ceramic, and kimono shops, many restaurants and dining venues sell signature Osaka dishes.
View the city from Tsutenkaku
Tsutenkaku was built in 1912 and is located in the Shinsekai food district.
With a height of about 103m, it was the tallest building in Asia at the time. However, it was burned down by a massive fire in 1943 and rebuilt in 1956.
Although Tsutenkaku is no longer the tallest tower, it’s still an exciting spot to visit if you’re in the area.
Head to the top to get a pleasant view of the city. Here, you can also see exhibits and artifacts showing the area’s vibrant history. Also, don’t forget to find the statue of the Billiken good luck charm.
On the weekend, check out Tsutenkaku Theater in the basement for a variety of weekend cultural performances.
- Address: 1 Chome-18-6 Ebisuhigashi, Naniwa, Osaka
- Opening hours: 9 am to 9 pm (last admission 8:30 pm)
Have fun at LEGOLAND Discovery Center
LEGOLAND Discovery Center is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a family experience. This indoor theme park offers several activities for adults and children, and you can spend half a day here.
LEGOLAND has indoor playgrounds, rides, 4D movies, and even classes to teach the kids how to make their toy models. It’s next to the Osaka aquarium, so you can also plan this as a full-day activity.
Explore Osaka in a go-kart
Ever dream of go-karting in the streets of Osaka while sightseeing popular places? This is your chance!
You can explore Osaka’s historical sites, tourist spots, and downtown areas in a go-kart while dressing as your favorite character.
Please note that you need a Japanese driver’s license, a Japanese SOFA license, or an international driving permit for this activity, as you will be driving on the road, side by side with cars, buses, and trucks.
You can ask the guide to take photos for you with their phones. They will then send you the pictures or videos via WhatsApp/ airdrop, etc. Also, you can wear your action camera on your body to capture your adventures.
Note: At the moment this activity is unavailable.
Take a day trip to Nara.
And when you’ve explored Osaka, join Nara Tour!
You’ll visit the famous Nara Park and Arashiyama bamboo forest on this tour.
Prepare to be amazed as some religious monuments in this place date back around the 8th century.
Also, at Nara Park, you can walk among the hundreds of deer that roam freely around, so don’t be shy and say hello to them.
The only two things I did when I was in Osaka was to visit Nara and explored the city at night. I wish I had known about others especially Universal Studios and Legoland, I would have definitely visited them. I will go back to Osaka someday and I will make sure I visit them. Thanks for this list, I realized how many things I missed during my visit and I need to make a trip again.
We had a busy two days in Osaka and saw a lot. But it is clear we need to go back and see more! Night markets like Doronbori are always a great way to see a city in a different light. And get tasty treats too. We would definitely try the Kobe beef! But exploring by go-kart might be such a fun thing to experience. Good thing we always travel with an international driver’s license. Lots of reasons to return.
It looks like I need to add Osaka to my list! The night food crawl, the castle, but you really got my attention with Solaniwa Onsen. Now that’s exactly what I would want to do.
Coincidentally I was thinking about Japan the other day while planning my future travels abroad. Osaka is not as famous a tourist attraction as Tokyo but reading your post definitely made me curious about the city. Would like to visit it!
I didn’t there is a Universal Studios in Osaka, I love butterbeer! But, the Dotonbori food night market would be the highlight for me and I would likely be there every night too. Although, dressing up in costume for a go-kart tour would be a close second for sure!
There are so many thrilling options at Osaka, I’m definitely visiting whenever I’m in Japan! I absolutely love the idea of go-karting in the middle of the city while going gaga over touristy spots haha! A dip in the natural hot water springs followed by a seat in the cafe watching the setting sun is totally my way of unwinding!! My last experience at a night food market was in Bangkok, and I can imagine how exciting must the Dotonbori be!
Enjoying Osaka from a go-kart sounds really interesting! I would like to do that. I think I will have dinner at Dotonbori every night like you, too. I believe you can have different food every time you go there. And of course the onsen sounds relaxing for after a long day.
Japan is on my bucket list for a long time and I am adding Osaka to it. A day trip to Nara is worth doing from Osaka as there are so many beautiful temples there. Dotonbori looks fun street for all sorts of entertainment and nightlife.
Great list – I would add the Osaka Aquarium. It is one of the biggest in the world. On my last visit, I found a parlor with old pinball machines in Ame-mura. That was great fun too. And the view from the Umeda sky building is also amazing.