Osaka is the food capital of Japan so pack your appetite! Here’s your Osaka travel guide. Scroll to the end of the post to see my photo gallery.
The JR Rail Pass makes travelling around Osaka really simple. The Osaka Loop Line takes you to every major attraction within the city and links to lines to take you to major attractions outside the city too, all covered by the rail pass so you don’t have to worry about buying tickets all the time.
There’s so much to see and do in Osaka and it can’t be done in just a few days. We spent five days in the city and saw the highlights, discovering hidden wonders on the way. Here are the attractions I’d recommend you visit.
We visited Osaka during cherry blossom season so a lot of where we visited revolved around where we’d see the blossoms. Head to Okawa River where you can try some of Osaka’s infamous street food. Walk from here along the river to Osaka Castle beneath a canopy of cherry blossoms.
When you reach the castle there will be a line to enter but it moves quite quickly. Be prepared to climb a lot of stairs! The castle is seven stories high. The museum is within the castle so you can learn about the region’s history on the way up and down to make you forget about all those stairs you’re walking. Once you reach the top you can stand outside and marvel at the view of Osaka below.
Tip: Outside the castle are a number of food stalls serving Osaka’s popular street foods. It’s a great place to try okonomiyaki and ice cream!
The castle is surrounded by a number of beautifully landscaped gardens. Wander around and enjoy a picnic lunch or matcha ice cream. During cherry blossom season the parks are filled with market stalls and families enjoying a picnic as part of Hanami.
From here, walk to the Osaka Museum of History where you can wander the floors of exhibitions and learn more about the diverse and extensive city.
Catch the train to Osaka station and walk to the Umeda Sky building where you can catch an elevator, extremely long escalator and another elevator to the rooftop and look over the city. On your way back, head into the Pokemon Centre in Osaka station, filled with all your Pokemon souvenirs.
If you have the time, be sure to head out to Nara Park! The journey takes just under an hour by train from Osaka station. You can easily spend half a day exploring Nara, feeding wild deer, venturing into temples and shopping.
If you have a spare day, catch the bullet train (Shinkansen) to Hiroshima. The beautiful city lies to the south of Osaka and takes around two and a half hours to get to. From here you can catch a train and ferry to Miyajima Island and marvel at the floating torii gate. In Hiroshima, wander the streets to the A-bomb dome and Peace Memorial Park.
For the best for shopping and dining in Osaka, head to Dotonbori and Shinsaibashi. The streets are lined with neon signs and shops of every variety. From Starbucks and McDonalds for those who need access to free WiFi and a western-style bathroom, to dollar shops, clothing stores and every knick-knack in between. We spent an entire afternoon and evening shopping until we literally dropped in to a bar.
Tip: Head to Floresta Nature Doughnuts for the cutest animal doughnuts you’ve ever eaten!
Where to stay
We stayed in Osaka Sobial Hotel, right near Taisho, one of the Osaka Loop Line stations.
What do you love most about Osaka? Let me know in the comments below!