What to do in Osaka: an Amazing 4-Day Guide
Osaka is a great place to visit for a number of reasons. The neon-lit alleys and buzzing canal draw you in to just wander and explore. Adding to that the endless tasty food options and out-there shopping facilities make it hard to choose what to do in Osaka and what to skip out on. The following fun-filled guide shows you the best things to do in Osaka in four amazing days.
Also check out my guide for what to do in Osaka at night.
What to do in Osaka
Start your day the proper way – with a coffee in Horie
Horie in Shinsaibashi is a great area to sample some of Osaka’s best coffee. Trendy coffee shops like Mel Coffee Roasters and Lilo Coffee Roasters serve fresh iced or steaming brews in a cozy urban setting.
Shop for trendy fashion in Amemura
Amemura refers to the “American Village”, well known for its one-of-a-kind clothing stores with everything that fashionistas want: goth, punk, designer vintage and urban chic. Some of the best vintage shopping is at Kinji in the Bigstep building, while Fugs has some of the most bizarre and unique vintage items on the shelves.
Eat Osaka’s most famous street food takoyaki
These balls of batter cooked with bite-sized chunks of octopus are an absolutely must-eat when in Osaka. Check out some of the most popular takoyaki joints like Kogaryu Takohayi or Donaiya America-mura for the most authentic taste.
Take a cruise along Dotonbori
Hop on board and learn the backstory os Osaka’s most famous sightseeing spot. The Osaka Wonder Loop Bus combi ticket is a great option as it includes unlimited boarding for the Wonder Loop Bus, one ride ticket for the Dotonbori Cruise and a subway ticket for Osaka.
Wander around Hozenji Yokocho Alley
This photogenic stone-paved street offers a plethora of delicious Japanese dining options. Don’t forget to drop by Hozenji temple and splash some water on the moss-covered Fudo-myo statue while saying a praper and making a coin offering.
Eat okonomiyaki in Uranamba Torame Yokocho
Made from a flour, yam, egg and cabbage batter with added ingredients like pork and squid, you absolutely have to try Osaka’s iconic dish okonomiyaki. Torame Yokocho serves some of the best okonomiyaki in Osaka and is hidden behind a large vermillion torii gate.
What to do in Osaka
Have a picnic in Osaka Castle Park
Depending on the weather, one of the best things to do in Osaka is spreading a picnic blanket at the expansive grounds of Osaka-jo Koen. Enjoy breathtaking views of the stunning Osaka Castle while munching on an authentic Japanese bento lunchbox. What could be better than this?
Look at the city from Abeno Harukas
For amazing 360-views of Osaka, take the elevator to the top of Japan’s tallest building Abeno Harukas. On 300 meters over the ground, you have the best views of the city – but if you want to go even higher, take a helicopter ride over the city.
Catch the tram to Sumiyoshi Shrine
Head to the photogenic Sumiyoshi-tashida by taking a streetcar from Tennoji. Don’t forget to take an iconic shot at the arched vermillion bridge and explore the beauty of the shrine grounds.
Eat kushikatsu in Shinsekai
Shinsekai is not only one of Osaka’s most down-to-earth neighborhoods, it’s also the birthplace of kushikatsu. These deep-fried meat and veggie morsels on a stick are best eaten at Daruma, one of the first joints of this kind very close to the iconic Tsutenkaku Tower.
Drink sake in a standing bar
Standing bars are a common way for business professionals to end the day. Try out a classic drop of local sake at one of Ura-Namba’s standing bars, like Kujira.
What to do in Osaka
Drink matcha at Cafe Osaka Chakai
One of the best things to do in Osaka is enjoying a traditional cup of matcha green tea. Drink the finest tea from delicate Japanese pottery at the tranquil Cafe Osaka Chakai. They also serve a variety of other teas and traditional Japanese tea snacks.
Say a prayer at Osakatemmangu Shrine
Don’t forget to visit one of Osaka’s most important Shinto shrines. Osakatemmangu Shrine is famous for hosting the massive annual festival called Tenjin Matsuri. The festival started in the 10th century and takes place on July 24 and 25 every year.
Stroll around the Museum of Housing and Living
Travel back in time and experience what Osaka was like in the Edo period (1603-1867) at the Museum of Housing and Living. You can wander around recreated houses and neighborhoods here while borrowing a kimono for a small fee.
Go shopping in the Tenjinbashisuji Shopping Arcade
A visit to Japan’s longest shopping arcade shouldn’t miss on this list of what to do in Osaka. After browsing quirky shops, enjoy some fresh sashimi at the popular seafood restaurant Tottsuan before heading to Beer Belly for some local Minoh craft beer.
See the city lights at Umeda Sky Building
Head up to the observation platform of Umeda Sky Building in the Kita district to see the Osaka cityscape lit up beautifully at night.
What to do in Osaka
Roam the shops of Nakazakicho
This retro neighborhood is filled with nagaya – old Japanese wooden buildings. Today, most of them house artsy shops and cafes, making this the perfect place to roam and explore. 1930 Cafe and Public Kitchen Cafe serve some delicious brunch options. Also worth a visit is Jam Pot, selling jewelry and accessories from over 80 different Japanese artists.
Watch Sealife at Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan
Osaka Aquarium is one of the best in the world showcasing exciting sealife on 8 floors. Its innovative presentation and state-of-the-art facilities make this a truly exceptional experience while in Osaka.
Eat sushi in Shinsaibashi
You can’t visit Osaka and not eat sushi. Some of the most famous sushi joints include Jinen Unagidani and Hasegawa Shinsaibashi.
Order a nightcap at a trendy bar
The only thing left now is a cheeky cocktail at one of Osaka’s best bars. Cafe Absinthe and The Suite are always a great choice.
Osaka Hotel Recommendations
Where to stay in Osaka
Fuku Hostel Nagomi Namba
This hostel is ideal for budget travelers who still want to stay in a central location. Only a minute’s walk from Namba Station, Fuku Hostel offers dormitory rooms as well as private rooms in the heart of Osaka.
Those looking for a more luxurious experience, Conrad Osaka might be the best choice. Boasting stunning views of Osaka city, 4 dining options and a heated indoor pool, Conrad Osaka offers luxurious rooms in modern decor. Higobashi Station is just a 5-minute walk and JR Osaka Station is a 7-minute train ride away.
Moxy Osaka Honmachi
My favorite hotel option in Osaka is the Moxy. Moxy Hotels is a hotel chain managed by Marriott International and is primarily focused on millennial guests. The first Moxy opened in Milan in 2014 and they have expanded to multiple locations in the US, Europe and Asia. What’s unique about the Moxy concept is that it combines stylish design with approachable service at a reasonable price point. The guestrooms are tech-savvy and the common areas are instagrammable spaces.
The subway stations closest to the hotel is Sakaisuji Hommachi (10 minutes). This station is part of Midosuji subway line, one of the most convenient subway lines in Osaka, allowing you to visit any major tourist attraction in a short time. You can even walk to Osaka Castle, the most famous landmark in the city, in only 30 minutes!