3-Day Itinerary in Osaka
Osaka is a foodie paradise in Japan, famous for delicious bites like, takoyaki, okonomiyaki and kushikatsu. I recently went to Osaka in July 2023 and I have fond memories when I think of the city. I think of the grand views from Abeno Harukas, Umeda Sky Building/Kuchu Teien Observatory and delicious bites found at Dotonburi. I was told that the character of people in Osaka is to make people laugh and help people have a good time. I definitely felt a great impression of the people, the food and wanted to stay longer.
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Where to stay in Osaka, Japan
OMO5 Kyoto Gion by Hoshino Resorts
A modern and stylish hotel in the heart of Kyoto's Gion district, offering a blend of contemporary design and traditional Japanese charm.
OMO5 Kyoto Sanjo by Hoshino Resorts
A trendy and conveniently located hotel in Kyoto's Sanjo area, providing a comfortable and lively atmosphere for exploring the city.
Zentis Osaka is a stylish and contemporary hotel in the heart of Osaka, combining modern design, exceptional comfort, and convenient access to the city's vibrant attractions and cultural landmarks.
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Things to do in Osaka, Japan
Day 1: Check-In, explore city views and enjoy the foodie destination
Top places to stay are nearby Namba Station, which is near Dotonbori and Umeda Station, which is next to the Osaka Station if traveling by the shinkansen. Leave your baggage at the hotel desk before checking into your hotel or coin lockers at train stations. Traveling around Osaka is accessible by different train lines throughout the city.
Umeda Sky Tower/Kuchu Teien Observation: If you stay near Umeda Station, the architecture is a sight to behold. Enjoy scenic views of Osaka during the escalator ride up and at the air garden and observatory at the top. This is a popular destination with long lines, especially during sunset, so be prepared to wait and book ahead. After enjoying the scenery, check out the different shops in the area.
There are plenty places to shop near Umeda Station. Check out Links Umeda, Grand Front Osaka and Daimaru Umeda.
Abeno Harukas: If you stay near Namba station, Abeno Harukas is a short train ride away. Harukas means “to brighten, to clear up.” All the way to floors 58-60 are the impressive views that will surely brighten up your day. There are plenty of shops of floors B2-14F.
Shinsekai and Tsutentaku: You can catch views of the Tsutentaku, the iconic tower in Osaka built in 1912, while walking through Shinsekai, which has many different eateries and shops for souvenirs. There is an option to head up to the top of the Tsutentaku. This is a smaller tower and another option to see the vast views of Osaka, especially during the sunset.
Dotonburi: This is an iconic spot in Osaka with the Glico man portrait and known as the place to try iconic bites of Osaka, such as takoyaki and okonomiyaki. Stroll through here and see the amazing storefronts with a huge crab or giant takoyakis. There are delicious places to try popular food at any corner of Dotonburi.
TeamLab Botanical Garden Osaka: By night, catch Team Labs for a stroll through fluorescent light displays. The vibe is mysterious and it will leave a strong impression on you. There are plenty of photo-ops to take. Since this is outdoors, it is a leisurely walk through the garden without large crowds.
Universal City Walk: The vibe here is similar if you’ve been to Universal Hollywood and Universal Orlando, yet a very different feel in Japan, as there are opportunities to try Japanese food and shop for souvenirs.
Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan: This is the most famous aquarium in Japan. In fact, it is the largest aquarium in the world. The famous whale sharks here are named Kai and Yu.
Day 3: Check-Out and Osaka Castle Area
Check-out of your hotel and leave your luggage at the front desk. Also, you may use a luggage delivery service to send your luggage to your next destination in Japan. This is inexpensive and very efficient. Any hotel front desk will happily help you out.
Osaka-Jo (Castle): The self-paced tour of Osaka Castle and the area will take about half a day. Osaka Castle is the largest castle in Japan built in the 16th century, so this is a can’t-miss. The river cruise around this castle is recommended ‘Osaka Castle Gozabune’ or golden boat to see different perspectives of the castle. It is worth going to the top of the castle for the beautiful views and to feel the nice breeze. The castle tour may take 1-2 hours and there are plenty of spots to stroll around Osaka Castle, including Nishinomaru Garden, famous for cherry blossoms in spring. Osaka castle is also worth seeing during the night view.
Places to eat & drink in Osaka, Japan
Osaka has endless places to eat around every corner, so it’s hard to pinpoint just one. It will all depend on which location you happen to be in. Friendly competition causes each restaurant to serve their best, so it’s hard to go wrong with anywhere you choose. In Osaka, it’s especially exciting to see the storefronts that have massive displays of caricatures and food.
Okonomiyaki: Grilled pancake dish made right in front of your eyes on a grill. It is made of batter, cabbage, meat and/or seafood, with savory sauce, mayonnaise and ginger. Check out Okonomiyaki Chitose, Okonomiyaki Kiji, or Fugetsu, which is a popular chain worldwide.
Takoyaki: Batter shaped in a ball, which usually has octopus at the center and toppings vary, such as ginger, pickles and green onion. This is the ultimate street food. Check out Juhachi-ban in Dotonbori, which is famous for the humongous Takoyaki on its storefront or Shirangana, which is famous for the angry octopus cartoon, as its storefront.
Tonkatsu: Fried pork cutlet. In Osaka, I found the meat extra juicy and with a nice mouthfeel. Check out Tonta nearby Osaka Castle which has set meals for only $7.
Hashikatsu: Deep-fried skewers of meat, vegetables or seafood. Perfect with an ice cold beer on a summer day. Try this at Kushikatsu Daruma.
Monjayaki: Similar to okonomiyaki, but is softer and more gooey texture. Check this out from Ajinoya Honten.
Need to Know
For more travel tips, check out Fora Advisor MaryAlexa Divver’s guide, Guide to New Years Skiing (Ja-Pow!) in Niseko, Japan.
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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Japan.