Osaka is known to be the second largest metropolitan city in Japan after Tokyo. Known for its electric city lights, modern architecture, and world renowned street food, Osaka stole our hearts as easily one of our favorite places in all of Japan! We fell in love with the funky vibe of the city and the people that inhabited it. Generally most people only spend a few nights in Osaka. However, during our trip we decided to dedicate an entire week to explore all that this city has to offer!
We hope this blog post is helpful for you and can give you some tips on things to do and places to see during your Osaka adventure.
One of the main questions we had prior to visiting Japan was in regards to the transportation. With dozens of different metro line companies, trains and taxis, we were lost from the start. For detailed information regarding transportation in Japan, check out this blog post Here.
Nevertheless, the main method of transportation that we used whilst in Osaka was the metro system. We highly suggest that upon arrival to Japan, you purchase a pocket wifi. This is because with the pocket wifi you will have access to Google Maps, which proved to be the most valuable resource when getting around! Since everything is in Japanese, Google Maps made it easy for us to navigate the appropriate lines, platforms and times of the metro system throughout the city. We would have been so lost without it!
Not only did we take public transportation such as the metro, but we also walked loads on our trip! We averaged 8-10 miles of walking a day, which was insane. The two of us were just so excited to be in Japan, that we wanted to see it all from above ground and on foot.
Alternatively, and definitely the most expensive option, is to take taxis around the city. Although they can be convenient they come at a much higher cost than the alternativ, so just bare that in mind before you hail one down.
The Perfect Guide To Osaka
Things To Do
Day Trip To Nara
Using our Kansai Wide Area Pass, we took a day trip just outside the city to visit Nara Park. This stunning, expansive park is filled with a wide variety of different temples and gardens to explore. We spent an entire day there walking about and also playing with the deer. The deer in the park are not shy and will actually come right up to you, especially if you give them food. In the park there are a number of vendors who will sell deer food for you to feed them. Nara Park was also a great way to escape the city for a moment. With so many beautifully manicured gardens to walk through you will definitely find yourself here for a couple of hours.
Day Trip To Kobe
If you are a foodie, and specifically one who loves good beef, you must take a quick trip to Kobe. Kobe is well known for the beautifully marbled beef and its location, which is just below the mountains along the harbour. Roughly an hour long train ride from Osaka, Kobe is a great place to stop to stop by and try the famous Kobe beef if you get the chance.
Day Trip To Okayama & Okayama Castle
Another great day trip we took using our Kansai Wide Area Pass, was to Okayama. Okayama is a smaller, less hectic city, home to the beautiful Okayama Castle, as well as the Korakuen Gardens. Both make for a fantastic afternoon, as they highlight the beautiful nature in Japan. The Korakuen Gardens also have small public houses, where local families go to have picnics. Looking back, we definitely would have loved to bring some food, so if you go to consider that as a great afternoon pit stop.
This is a great castle to consider stopping by to see on your way back from Okayama. A train ride outside of Osaka city itself, but such a wonderful castle to see if you have the time. It was by far one of the largest and most intricate we saw on our entire trip! It also had peaceful grounds and gardens to walk around once inside.
Day Trip to Lake Biwa
We were told to visit this beautiful lake by some friends of ours, and boy were we thrilled we went! Lake Biwa is absolutely stunning and the water is extremely fresh and clear. Bring your bathing suit so you can swim. Just about a 10 minute walk from the train station is a 7/11, we highly recommend you stop there and grab some food for a picnic to bring down to the lake with you. The two of us just sat and enjoyed the sunset at the lake for hours!
Osaka Castle is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Osaka. To walk around the castle and the grounds is free, however to go inside, you must purchase a ticket. The castle itself is enormous and a famous sixteenth-century landmark for Japan.
Kuromon Ichiba Market
Now, if you are like us…you love food. Osaka is famous for their street food vendors who dish out the most delicious traditional Japanese cuisine. Kuromon Ichiba Market is a great place to go to get the taste of a proper Japanese market. Fresh produce, shellfish, sushi, and even souvenirs can be found within the walls of this market. If you go, we suggest you try the following dishes: Okonomiyaki, Takoyaki, Uni, Sashimi. We promise it won’t disappoint!
This is a famous street to see, especially at night when it is all lit up! Lined with a number of restaurants and bars it is a lively street to check out if you are in Osaka. This street also offers you a great view of the famous Umeda Sky Tower!
This is one of the most famous Buddhist temples located in Osaka. If you are looking to see some traditional temples within the city itself and you don’t have the time to go on various day trips to do so, this is a great option for you. We visited it on a holiday where entry was free and we actually had a chance to see a prayer ceremony inside which was extremely special.
Dotonbori is the Times Square of Japan! There you can find many buildings lit up, restaurants, bars, and shopping till no end. This is such a lively part of the city and a fun place to explore by day and night. We had dinner in this area twice and had no problem at all finding some of the best restaurants in all of Japan.
If you are in the Dotonbori area, make sure you find Hozenji Yokocho alley. This is a quaint, yet magical alleyway located in the middle of all the chaos. We loved this small street and found an incredible sushi restaurant and yakitori restaurant along its walls.
The Perfect Guide To Osaka
Where To Eat
Kura Sushi – 100 Yen Sushi
If you are looking for a fantastic and fun dining experience be sure to check out Kura Sushi. All plates are only 100 yen and the conveyor belt sushi dining experience is a must try in Japan. Even at a low price, we found the quality of fish at Kura to be great. Obviously not five star, but decent enough and we left full!
Arguably our best dining experience during our entire trip in Japan! This street side vendor gained his fame from his feature on the popular Netflix food documentary series ‘Street Food.’ Be sure to carefully check the hours on Google before you show up. People will start queuing up right after it opens, so to avoid a long wait time we suggest you get there no later than 1 hour post opening time. We got there 30 minutes after it opened and only had to wait about 20 minutes for a table.
The menu is simple, but the ingredients are fresh and amazing. It is famous for tuna. You can select a wide variety of tuna grades sashimi, grilled tuna, crab claws, fish eggs roe, and uni. They also have sake and beer. It was so delicious and we still dream about this dining experience! Hanna even got the chance to help him cook on the grill! It was such a fun time!
If you want to try some traditional Japanese tempura definitely give this restaurant a go. The food was so yummy and filling and we were so happy to have found it.
We had seen photos of this fluffy cheesecake online and knew we had to try it for ourselves. We went one morning as a breakfast treat and it was beyond delicious. Light, fluffy, eggy and an overall great morning snack.
Mizuno Okonomiyaki Restaurant
Osaka is famous for serving traditional Japanese street food. Okonomiyaki is one of those dishes. Essentially a savory pancake filled with a variety of different ingredients such as squid, scallops, and green onion, Mizuno has earned Michelin stars for their take on this dish. We went for lunch and we were pleased to have tried it at the most famous restaurant for it!
7/11 and Family Mart
One key way that we saved money whilst in Japan was dining out in convenience stores. Unlike the reputation of convenience stores back home, the ones in Japan are actually phenomenal. Fresh chicken, pancakes in the morning, crispy corn dogs, you name it they had it! We ate at one at least once daily on our trip and it definitely helped us to cut down costs.
Bar Freedom Sake
If you are looking to try some traditional Japanese sake, definitely check out Bar Freedom. Located right off the busy street in Dotonbori, this small intimate bar has such a great selection of various sakes for you to try.
The Perfect Guide To Osaka
Places To Stay
Due to the fact that we were travelling to Japan on a budget, we relied heavily on Air B n’ B during our trip. Hotels averaged at $100 + a night and hostels were too small for us. We recommend doing your research on Air B n B and always look for properties that are close to the metro station.
Japan has recently enforced strict laws in regards to Air B n B, so don’t be surprised if your hosts requires you to submit detailed information and even a copy of your passport. They also will always make you ‘check in’ via a tablet once inside the house.
We will link the place we stayed Here.