Perfect 1 & 2-Day Osaka Itinerary – Things to do, where to stay, shop & eat!

Whether you have 2 days or only one full day to explore the quirky city of Osaka, in this itinerary we will tell you exactly how to best divide your time in order to make the most of your visit to Osaka!

Osaka is one of the largest cities in Japan and quite popular among tourists. And we can definitely see why, Osaka is certainly a fun city to spend some time in. Especially when it comes to food, shopping and nightlife! But, Osaka is also home to some amazing sights that you should not miss on your trip to Japan!

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How to spend 1-2 days in Osaka – Complete Osaka Itinerary

This 1- and 2-day Osaka itinerary only includes sights within the city of Osaka itself. Popular day trips from Osaka, such as Nara, the Universal Studios Japan or Mt. Koyasan, will be treated in separate posts (coming soon).

Our 2-day itinerary is moderately paced, giving you a few suggestions in terms of sights, food and experiences to choose from in each area of the city. We also tell you the easiest public transport connection to move from one spot to the next.

Since essentially, the 2-day Osaka itinerary contains everything the 1-day itinerary does, we will start with the more elaborate 2-day itinerary and then give you the shortened 1-day Osaka itinerary version afterwards.

What you should know before you go

Before delving into the itinerary itself, we will go over a few planning details that will be useful to you while determining the framework of your Osaka trip. You will learn how much time to plan for Osaka, how to get there, how to get around and other useful information!

However if you have already booked everything and only wish to know how to spend 1 or 2 epic days in Osaka, go ahead and jump right to the Osaka itineraries itself using the “Go To” button in the top left corner of the page!

The canal of Dotonbori area on a rainy day.
Inside Dotonbori’s famous Shinsaibashi-Suji Shopping Street.

How to get to Osaka

Since Osaka is the third largest city in Japan, getting there is fairly easy, be it from abroad or via inland travel.

By Airplane

If you are traveling to Osaka from outside of Japan, your best option is flying into Kansai International Airport. The latter is frequented by numerous airlines and just as good an option as flying into Tokyo if you are traveling to Japan from overseas.

From nearby countries you will find a number of budget airlines heading to Kansai International Airport. The latter is also home to the Japanese budget airline Peach, which connects nearby cities such as Shanghai, Seoul, Taipei, Hong Kong etc. with Osaka’s airport.

✈️ Search for flights via Trip.com*

By Shinkansen

The city of Osaka (more precisely, Shin-Osaka Station) is the connecting point of two major shinkansen lines:

  • the Tokaido Shinkansen Line, which runs from Tokyo to Osaka via e.g. Odawara (connection to Hakone), Nagoya and Kyoto.
  • the Sanyo Shinkansen Line, which runs from Osaka to Fukuoka via e.g. Himeji, Okayama and Hiroshima.

That is why it is fairly easy to travel to Osaka by shinkansen from a lot of major cities in Japan. Traveling by shinkansen is actually a very comfortable and fast, but also unfortunately a slightly more expensive way to get around Japan.

🚅 If you only plan on taking the shinkansen once while in Japan, we recommend booking your tickets via 12goasia*!

🚅 If you plan on using a lot of JR trains and do numerous shinkansen trips, consider getting a JR Pass to save money.
By Bus

If you are traveling Japan on a budget, then bus travel could be an option for you as well. While it is the slowest travel option (especially if you are traveling big distances), it is by far the cheapest one.

Truthfully though, to get to Osaka, the only route that really makes sense by bus is the one from Tokyo to Osaka. This route is not unpopular and you have a number of options to choose from.

In front of Osaka Station located in Umeda, Osaka.

Travel Time from Tokyo (Shinjuku) to Osaka by bus takes around 9-10h. Most busses operate as night busses, which would also save you one night worth of accommodation. Whether you are able to sleep much on a night bus, however, is a question you will have to answer for yourself.

A bus trip from Tokyo to Osaka will cost approximately 3.600-4.800¥ per person.

How to get around Osaka

Osaka has an awesome public transportation system that will easily get you anywhere. As a tourist, you can reach most locations either via the extensive train and/or subway system!

Navigate around Osaka using Google Maps. The latter will give you real-time information on the best public transport connection for your specific trip.

As a tip: Get yourself an Icoca Card to facilitate paying for public transport!

Map with information on the train lines going through Osaka and how they connect the city to nearby towns.

How many days do you need in Osaka?

In order to properly answer this question, we need to divide it into two similar but slightly different ones. First we will answer how much time you should spend on sightseeing in Osaka itself. And then we will answer how long you should stay in Osaka, including days spent visiting the city as well as days spent on day trips from Osaka.

How many days do you need to visit the city of Osaka itself?

While Osaka is the third largest city in Japan, you don’t actually need that much time to see most of its ‘sights’. So if you are here solely for the purpose of sightseeing, we think that one day is definitely enough time to visit Osaka.

However, if you are someone who enjoys food, nightlife and shopping, then it might be worth it to add one more day to your Osaka trip. Because, with its endless colorful side streets filled with shops, restaurants and gaming alleys, Osaka is certainly a fun city to spend some time in!

In short, if you are visiting Osaka for its major sights, planning one day will be enough. If you enjoy exploring a little deeper especially in terms of food, shopping and nightlife, plan two days.

Takoyaki stall with colorful decor in Osaka.
Trying takoyaki in Dotonbori.
How long should you stay in Osaka?

Now, some of you might be confused by this question because at first glance it sounds eerily similar to the first one. But, bare with us for a second.

While Osaka does not have that many attractions itself, it is a perfect starting point for various day trips. So, one day might be enough to visit Osaka city center. However, ideally you stay at least three days in Osaka and use it as your base for exploring the cities’ surroundings.

Typically we would recommend to stay in Osaka for three to four days. Thereof you spend one or two days exploring Osaka itself, one day at Universal Studios Japan and one day bowing to deer in Nara🦌.

Marveling at the deer in Nara.
On our way to Universal Studios Japan.

Osaka Travel Essentials

💳 Icoca Card. Get yourself an Icoca Card to pay for public transportation!

📱 Japanese Unlimited Data SIM Card*. Book your SIM Card even before heading to Japan. That way you can easily pick it up at the airport once you arrive.

🚅 Kansai International Airport Transfer*. There are a number of ways you can get from Kansai International Airport into Osaka. One of the faster and more popular options is the JR Haruka Express Train. Tickets can be booked in advance via Klook.

🎡 Osaka Amazing Pass*. This pass functions as an unlimited Metro Card and gives you access to around 40 sights all around Osaka, including Osaka Castle, Tsutenkaku Tower, Shitennoji Temple and garden, Umeda Sky Building, etc. Price: 3.300¥ for a 1-Day Pass. Note: the pass is valid for 1 day from 00:00 - 24:00, and not for 24h upon activation!

Ultimate 2-Day Osaka Itinerary

Spending two full days in the city of Osaka gives you the opportunity to explore more areas and see more sights as compared to spending only one day in the city. But most importantly, you will have extra time to stroll around, shop and eat to your hearts content!

In this section we will now go over the 2-day Osaka itinerary in detail and tell you exactly where to go, what to see and do as well as where to eat in order to make the most of your time in the city.

Day 1: The one focused on sightseeing!

Visit Osaka Castle

The first stop of your day in Osaka is the famous Osaka Castle! You cannot visit Osaka and not see one of Japan’s most famous landmarks at least once. Osaka Castle was built in the 16th century, however, it was destroyed and rebuilt numerous times over the centuries with the latest reconstruction being completed in 1997.

Today the castle hosts a museum that narrates the story of the castle and an observation platform on the last floor. The castle is situated in a lovely park surrounded by the castle walls and a moat.

🏯 Entrance fee : ¥600 for the museum and observation deck (included in the Osaka Amazing Pass); entrance to the park is free.

🕙 Opening hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

🚋 How to get to Osaka Castle : JR Osaka Loop Line, JR Chuo Line or Nagahoritsurumiryokuchi Metro Line to Morinomiya Station OR Tanimachi Metro Line to Temmabashi Station.

Stroll around Osaka’s bustling Umeda Area

Umeda is a major business, commercial and entertainment district as well as the home of Osaka station, which is why it is very lively during day and night. From Osaka Castle you can catch the JR Osaka Loop Line from Ōsakajōkōen Station to Osaka Station OR the Tanimachi Metro Line from Temmabashi Station to Higashi-Umeda Station.

Osaka’s Umeda area is pretty modern, filled with department stores, restaurants and entertainment of all sorts which makes it perfect to get lost in and delve into the many facets of a modern Japanese city. You will find modern high-rise buildings, but also covered streets filled with small restaurants, bars and izakaya. Make sure to be on the look-out for lunch here, you will not be short on options!

Random street in Umeda Doyama area.
Umeda, 8-10 lane road leading to Osaka Station.

Down below you can find a list of some of the highlights this area has to offer. As always, go for the ones that peak your interest the most and have fun exploring!

Things to do in Kita/ Umeda Area:
🔭 Umeda Sky Building*. Quite a famous building in Osaka with a great observation deck at the top. Entrance fee: ¥1500. Note: The Umeda Sky Building is included in the Osaka Amazing Pass*. Also, you will get the opportunity to visit Harukas 300 observatory later in the day, we would recommend to only visit one of the two.
🏙️ Gate Tower Building. This building literally has a highway going right through it! (Address: 5-chōme-4-21 Fukushima, Fukushima Ward, Osaka, 553-0003, Japan). Click here to read more.
🎡 Hep Five Ferris Wheel*. Giant red Ferris wheel located on top of the Hep Five shopping center. Entrance fee: ¥600. Note: The Hep Five Ferris Wheel is included in the Osaka Amazing Pass*.
🏺 Museum of Oriental Ceramics. A small museum with a collection of Chinese, Korean and Japanese ceramics. Quite worthwhile if you are truly a fan of ceramics and can make some time to visit! Entrance fee: ¥500.
🛍️ Department stores. For those interested in shopping, there are a lot and by that we truly mean a lot of stores and shopping centers in this area. Among many others you will also find a Nintendo store, Pokemon Center, One Piece store and Disney store here.
🏯 Tenman-gū shrine. A Shintō shrine dating back to the 10th century and the location of one of the biggest matsuri/festivals in all of Japan. Entrance: free.
Marvel at Shitennō-ji Temple

Founded in the 6th century, this temple is one of the oldest Buddhist temples in all of Japan! Since Shitennōji Temple closes at 4p.m., make sure to arrive before that!

🏯 Entrance fee : ¥300 for the central temple & ¥300 for the gardens (included in the Osaka Amazing Pass).

🕙 Opening hours: 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

🚋 How to get to Shitennō-ji Temple: Take the Tanimachi Metro Line from Higashi-Umeda Station to Shitennōji-mae Yūhigaoka Station.

Stroll around Shinsekai Area

From Shitennōji Temple you can make your way to Shinsekai area on foot via Tennoji Park. The latter is home to a few shrines, a museum and Keitaku Garden, which might be of interest depending on the time of day you arrive here. Shinsekai is quite a popular area, known for its colorful streets filled with mostly restaurants and Tsūtenkaku Tower in the background! Therefore it is a perfect area to go around dinner time!

There are numerous restaurants to choose from so you should not be short on options. If you cannot decide whatsoever, our recommendation would be to try okonomiyaki at ‘Okonomiyaki Usagiya’ (Address: 1 Chome-14-5 Ebisuhigashi, Naniwa Ward, Osaka, 556-0002, Japan).

If you have never been to one, make sure to stop at ‘MEGA Don Quijote Shinsekai’! Don Quijote is a huge Japanese discount store that sells literally everything and, honestly, in our opinion the word that describes this store most accurately is madness!

You absolutely do not need to buy anything while in there, however it is quite fun to roam around their stores and explore. Also they do have quite a decent selection of Japanese snacks if you wish to sample a few!

End the evening above Osaka at Harukas 300

After a trip down the rabbit-hole that is every Don Quijote store, it is time to clear your head a little. And, where better to do that than 300 meters in the sky above Osaka? Harukas 300 is the tallest building in Osaka and one of the tallest in all of Japan.

Harukas 300 observation deck via Klook.
View from Harukas 300 observation deck, via Klook.

The Harukas 300 observatory is located on the 58th – 60th floor of the Abeno Harukas building and includes an open-air plaza, restaurant and 360° glass observation deck.

🏯 Entrance fee : 2000¥.

🕙 Opening hours: 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.

🚋 How to get to Harukas 300 : Midosuji Metro Line from Dobutsuen-Mae Station to Tennōji Station.

Day 2: The one with all the food and shopping!

Explore the stunning Sumiyoshi Taisha

Even though most of your second day in Osaka will be focused on exploring the streets of Osaka, shopping and food, there is one sightseeing spot left that you definitely should not miss: Sumiyoshi Taisha, a Shintō shrine dating back to the 3rd century!

The grounds of Sumiyoshi Taisha are quite decent in size, which is not surprising, since the latter is the head shrine of the approximately 2300 Sumiyoshi shrines spread all over Japan. The shrine is also quite famous for the stunning Sorihashi bridge!

🏯 Entrance fee : free

🕙 Opening hours: 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

🚋 How to get to Sumiyoshi Taisha : Midosuji Metro Line from Umeda Station to Namba Station, where you need to transfer to the Nankai Train Line. Get off at Sumiyoshitaisha Station.

📖 More information on the history of the shrine can be found on the official Sumiyoshi Taisha website!

Shop your way from Nipponbashi Denden Town to Namba

🚋 Take the Nankai Train Line from Sumiyoshitaisha Station all the way back to Namba Station. From here, make your way to Nipponbashi Denden Town on foot, which is only about an 8 min walk.

Nipponbashi Denden Town is famous for being Osaka’s hub for all things electronics, video games, anime figures and manga! On weekends you will encounter quite decent crowds in this area of town with the occasional cosplayer among them.

Since Nipponbashi, Namba and later Dotonbori area are all located next to each other and for the most part connected via covered streets, you can easily make your way from one area to the other on foot. It is a fun area of Osaka to just go with the flow and explore the unique shops, street food stalls and hidden temples/shrines to your hearts content!

Things to do in Namba Area:
🏯 Namba Yasaka Shrine. A Shintō shrine famous for its huge lion head, which contains a small stage for rituals.
🥟 Eat at 551 Horai. Try butaman (soft buns) at the Osaka based food chain 551 Horai (Address: 3 Chome-6-3 Namba, Chuo Ward, Osaka, 542-0076, Japan).
🍣 Kuromon Market. A decently sized food market, selling seafood, fruit and vegetables as well as street food and some souvenirs!
🛍️ Sennichimae Doguyasuji Shopping Street. A covered shopping street containing shops specialized on ceramics, kitchenware and all things needed in gastronomy.
🍈 Melon Pan. Try some delicious melon pan from a Japanese bakery! (Name: pane pane, Address: 2 Chome-5-1 Nipponbashi, Chuo Ward, Osaka, 542-0073, Japan)
Eat your way through Dotonbori Area!

Dotonbori is probably one of the most popular areas of Osaka. Famous for its canal, the Glico sign and colorful streets filled with street food, arcades and shops, Dotonbori is the perfect place to spend a fun evening in!

Things to do in Dotonbori Area:
🌆 Glico Sign. Head to Ebisubashi bridge to marvel at the famous Glico Sign and neon signs above the Dotonbori canal. 
🛥️ River Cruise*. If you wish to see the colorful signs from another angle you have the option to go on a river cruise. Entrance fee: 1200¥. Note: The cruise is included in the Osaka Amazing Pass* and we would mostly recommend doing it if you already got the pass anyway!
🏯 Hozen-ji Temple. A small Buddhist temple nestled in between the busy streets of Dotonbori and Namba area, famous for the moss-covered statue of Fudo Myo-o, a Buddhist spirit.
🏮 Colorful decor. Marvel at the restaurant fronts in Dotonbori area, which are decorated quite extravagantly!
🐙 Try takoyaki. Osaka is the birthplace of takoyaki, a dish that consists of ball-shaped snacks made of wheat-flour batter with a piece of octopus inside. Numerous stalls sell this famous dish in Dotonbori. Note: The dish is really hot, so be careful when eating!
🛍️ Shinsaibashi-Suji Shopping Street. A covered street filled with numerous shops, from international brands to typical Japanese stores. Tip for Anime fans: head to the 9th floor of the Daimaru Shinsaibashi Shopping Center. Here you will find a Pokemon Center, Pokemon Café as well as a Jump Shop!
🗽 Amerika-Mura. An area filled with US-inspired vintage clothing stores, restaurants and bars as well as a small replica of the statue of liberty.

If you do not wish to organize your evening in Dotonbori yourself, a great way to spend your time here is actually to book a food tour. There are numerous tour options from a simple market walk-through to an elaborate food tour and/or bar-hopping at various price points.

Osaka food tour options with great reviews*:

Ultimate 1-Day Osaka Itinerary

If you are only spending one full day in Osaka, you can easily shorten our 2-day itinerary by picking 4-5 sections that you are most interested in and put them together to a 1-day itinerary. Down below you can find our suggestion for spending one perfect day in Osaka, putting some of Osaka’s biggest highlights into one day!

For more details on each activity, click the ‘More on …’ button and the relevant section of the 2-day Osaka itinerary will open in a new tab, so you can easily jump between sections as needed!

As suggested before, no visit to Osaka would be complete without stopping at Osaka Castle at least once!

🚋 How to get to Osaka Castle : JR Osaka Loop Line, JR Chuo Line or Nagahoritsurumiryokuchi Metro Line to Morinomiya Station OR Tanimachi Metro Line to Temmabashi Station.

Osaka Castle.
Shitennō-ji Temple Osaka, via Klook.

From Osaka Castle, make your way to Shitennō-ji Temple!

🚋 How to get to Shitennō-ji Temple from Osaka Castle : Take the Tanimachi Metro Line from Tanimachiyonchome Station to Shitennōji-mae Yūhigaoka Station.

Marvel at Tsūtenkaku Tower, grab lunch and explore the area! Make sure to stop at ‘MEGA Don Quijote Shinsekai’!

🚋 Via Tennōji Park, you can make your way to Shinsekai on foot.

Tsūtenkaku Tower.
View from Harukas 300 at night via Klook.

Relax 300 meters above the ground and take in the stunning views of Osaka from the cities’ tallest building!

🚋 Midosuji Metro Line from Dobutsuen-Mae Station to Tennōji Station.

To end your day in Osaka, head to Dotonbori area and delve into the street food, sights and entertainment of this colorful district in Osaka!

Our suggestion would be to book a food tour, if you wish to deep dive into the food and/or bar hopping scene of Osaka!

🚋 Midosuji Metro Line from Tennōji Station to Namba Station.

Trying takoyaki in Dotonbori.

Where to stay in Osaka

Since Osaka is such a huge city, there are of course numerous neighborhoods. And you could stay in any of them during your visit. However, we will only elaborate on -in our opinion- the two top-picks when it comes to areas to stay in while in Osaka!

Umeda Area

First up is Umeda Area. The latter is a great choice if you are in Osaka for the first-time as well as for those who wish to do day trips outside of Osaka while there.

Close to Osaka Station, there is no better place to be when it comes to public transport connections! Umeda Area is where we stayed as well during our last trip!

Hotel recommendations for Umeda, Osaka
📌 Hotel Elcient Osaka Umeda*. Located slightly further away from Osaka Station (~700m), this hotel offers quite good value for money! We stayed here and can definitely recommend!
Price: ~70€ per night | Reviews on Agoda: 8.7

📌 Hotel Granvia Osaka*. While it comes at a slightly higher price point, the location of this hotel - right next to Osaka Station & on top of a major shopping center containing e.g. the Umeda Pokemon Center - is unbeatable!
Price: ~100€ per night | Reviews on Agoda: 8.5
Hotel Granvia Osaka, via Agoda.
Elcient Osaka Umeda Hotel room.

Dotonbori/ Namba Area

Dotonbori and Namba Area are the best choice if you are a night owl and want to enjoy nightlife in Osaka. When staying here you are never far from any action – be it arcades, bars or street food!

Hotel recommendations for Dotonbori/Namba, Osaka
📌 APA Hotel Namba Shinsaibashi Nishi*. APA is a well-known Japanese hotel chain and this particular branch is located within walking distance to all sights & attractions of Dotonbori! 
Price: ~80€ per night | Reviews on Agoda: 8.8

📌 Candeo Hotels Osaka Namba*. While located slightly further away from the heart of Dotonbori, this hotel was one of the best-selling hotels in Osaka on Agoda in 2023!
Price: ~120€ per night | Reviews on Agoda: 8.7
Entrance of APA Hotel Namba, via Agoda.
Room layout, Candeo Hotels Osaka Namba, via Agoda.

Final thoughts on visiting Osaka

Whether you end up staying one day or two days, Osaka is definitely worth a visit! Due to its location, the city is easily accessible and a great base for day trips in the area as well!

Especially if this is your first time in Japan, Osaka should be part of your Japan itinerary! Not only for its colorful- and quirkiness, but also for the street food, shopping and vibes!

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