Osaka, Japan‘s third-largest city, is a vibrant metropolis known for its modern architecture, nightlife, and hearty street food. Situated in the Kansai region, Osaka offers a blend of traditional and contemporary attractions, making it a must-visit destination for travelers. This guide will take you through the best places to visit, where to eat, and how to experience the rich culture and history of Osaka.


Getting There

By Air

Kansai International Airport (KIX) is the main gateway to Osaka, located on an artificial island in Osaka Bay. It serves numerous international and domestic flights, making it easily accessible from major cities around the world. From the airport, you can reach the city center by train, bus, or taxi.

By Train

Japan’s efficient railway system connects Osaka to other major cities. The Shinkansen (bullet train) is the fastest way to travel from Tokyo to Osaka, taking around 2.5 hours. The JR Pass, available to foreign tourists, offers unlimited travel on JR trains, including the Shinkansen.

By Bus

Long-distance buses are a budget-friendly option, with overnight services from cities like Tokyo, Kyoto, and Hiroshima. While slower than trains, buses provide a comfortable and economical way to travel.

Where to Stay

Osaka offers a range of accommodations to suit all budgets, from luxury hotels to budget hostels.

Luxury Hotels

The Ritz-Carlton, Osaka: Located in the Umeda district, this hotel offers elegant rooms, a spa, and fine dining.

InterContinental Osaka: A modern hotel with spacious rooms, an indoor pool, and excellent service.

St. Regis Osaka: Known for its impeccable service and luxurious amenities, situated in the heart of the city.

Mid-Range Hotels

Hotel Granvia Osaka: Conveniently located above Osaka Station, this hotel offers comfortable rooms and easy access to transportation.

Cross Hotel Osaka: A stylish hotel in the Namba area, perfect for shopping and nightlife.

Mitsui Garden Hotel Osaka Premier: Offers modern rooms with stunning views of the city and a rooftop garden.

Budget Accommodations

Hostel 64 Osaka: A chic and cozy hostel in the heart of the city, ideal for budget travelers.

Osaka Hana Hostel: Located in Shinsaibashi, it provides clean and comfortable rooms at an affordable price.

Capsule Hotel Asahi Plaza Shinsaibashi: Experience a unique stay in a capsule hotel, offering basic amenities and a central location.

Top Attractions

Osaka Castle

Osaka Castle, a symbol of the city’s history, is a must-visit. Built in the late 16th century, the castle played a pivotal role in the unification of Japan. The surrounding park is especially beautiful during cherry blossom season.


Dotonbori is Osaka’s entertainment district, known for its neon lights, bustling atmosphere, and iconic Glico Running Man sign. It’s a food lover’s paradise, with numerous restaurants and street food stalls offering local delicacies.

Universal Studios Japan

A major attraction for families and movie fans, Universal Studios Japan features themed rides and shows based on popular movies and TV shows. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is a highlight, offering an immersive experience.

Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan

One of the largest aquariums in the world, Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan showcases marine life from the Pacific Rim. The central tank, home to a whale shark, is particularly impressive.

Shitennoji Temple

Shitennoji Temple, founded in 593 AD, is one of Japan’s oldest temples. It features a five-story pagoda, a beautiful garden, and a tranquil atmosphere, offering a glimpse into the country’s spiritual heritage.

Umeda Sky Building

The Umeda Sky Building is an architectural marvel with a “Floating Garden Observatory” offering panoramic views of Osaka. The building’s unique design and rooftop observatory make it a popular spot for photographers and tourists.

Sumiyoshi Taisha

Sumiyoshi Taisha is one of Japan’s oldest Shinto shrines, dating back to the 3rd century. Its distinctive architectural style, known as Sumiyoshi-zukuri, and picturesque setting make it a serene place to visit.

Cultural Experiences

Tea Ceremonies

Participating in a traditional Japanese tea ceremony is a unique cultural experience. Various tea houses in Osaka offer ceremonies where you can learn about the art of tea preparation and enjoy matcha (green tea) in a tranquil setting.

Kabuki Theater

Kabuki, a classical Japanese dance-drama, can be experienced at the Shochikuza Theatre in Osaka. The elaborate costumes, makeup, and expressive performances provide insight into Japanese performing arts.

Cooking Classes

Osaka is renowned for its cuisine, and taking a cooking class is a great way to learn about local dishes. Many cooking schools offer classes where you can learn to make sushi, okonomiyaki (savory pancakes), and takoyaki (octopus balls).

Food and Drink

Street Food

Osaka is often referred to as “Japan’s kitchen,” and its street food is legendary. Don’t miss these must-try items:

Takoyaki: Ball-shaped snacks filled with diced octopus, tempura scraps, and green onions, topped with takoyaki sauce and bonito flakes.

Okonomiyaki: A savory pancake made with flour, eggs, cabbage, and various toppings such as pork, seafood, and cheese.

Kushikatsu: Deep-fried skewers of meat, vegetables, and seafood, served with a dipping sauce.


Ichiran Ramen: Famous for its tonkotsu (pork bone) broth, Ichiran offers a unique dining experience with individual booths for focused enjoyment.

Mizuno: A popular okonomiyaki restaurant in Dotonbori, known for its delicious and customizable pancakes.

Harukoma Sushi: A local favorite in the Tenjinbashi-suji Shopping Street, offering fresh and affordable sushi.


Izakayas are Japanese pubs that serve a variety of small dishes and drinks. They’re perfect for experiencing Osaka’s nightlife and socializing with locals.

Tachibana: A cozy izakaya with a wide selection of sake and delicious small plates.

Torikizoku: A popular chain offering affordable yakitori (grilled chicken skewers) and drinks.

Hanako: Known for its friendly atmosphere and extensive menu of Japanese and international dishes.


Shinsaibashi-Suji Shopping Street

This covered shopping street offers a mix of high-end boutiques, department stores, and souvenir shops. It’s a bustling area perfect for an afternoon of retail therapy.


Often compared to Harajuku in Tokyo, Amerikamura (American Village) is a trendy district with vintage shops, cafes, and street art. It’s a hub for youth culture and fashion.

Nipponbashi (Den Den Town)

For electronics and anime merchandise, Nipponbashi is the place to go. Similar to Tokyo’s Akihabara, it offers a wide range of gadgets, games, and collectibles.

Day Trips from Osaka


Just a short train ride away, Kyoto is famous for its temples, gardens, and traditional tea houses. Highlights include the Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion), and the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove.


Nara, also close to Osaka, is home to the Great Buddha at Todai-ji Temple and Nara Park, where friendly deer roam freely. It’s a place rich in history and natural beauty.


Kobe, known for its beef and scenic harbor, makes for a delightful day trip. Visit the Kobe Harborland, Mount Rokko, and the Kobe Earthquake Memorial Museum.

Tips for Travelers


IC Cards: Purchase an IC card like ICOCA for convenient travel on trains, buses, and subways.

Osaka Amazing Pass: This pass offers unlimited travel on subways, trams, and buses, as well as free entry to various attractions.


While English is not widely spoken, most tourist areas have English signage. Learning a few basic Japanese phrases can enhance your travel experience.

Best Time to Visit

Spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November) are the best times to visit Osaka. The weather is pleasant, and you can enjoy cherry blossoms in spring and vibrant foliage in autumn.


Shoes: Remove your shoes when entering homes, traditional accommodations, and some temples.

Tipping: Tipping is not customary in Japan and can be considered rude. Instead, offer thanks verbally.

Queueing: Always stand in line and wait your turn, whether at train stations, bus stops, or elevators.

Travel visa: Click here for travel visa information


Osaka is a city that seamlessly blends the old with the new, offering a rich tapestry of experiences for travelers. From its historic castles and temples to its bustling shopping streets and delectable cuisine, Osaka has something for everyone. Whether you’re a history buff, a foodie, or a shopaholic, this dynamic city will leave you with unforgettable memories. Plan your trip to Osaka today and immerse yourself in the heart of Japan’s Kansai region.