What to see in Osaka: the 16 best attractions and things to do

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Martí Micolau

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

Author and references

Osaka is the third largest city in Japan and, although it is not normally included in tourist itineraries, it can reserve pleasant surprises both from a historical and cultural point of view, but also from a culinary point of view. It is in all respects a modern Japanese city that offers its best at night, illuminated by neon. From a tourist point of view it cannot be defined as unmissable but, if you are traveling to Japan and you have some time left after your visit to Kyoto, you might think about taking a trip to Osaka.

We have therefore selected for you what to see in Osaka, the best attractions and things to do, with many useful tips and information.


  1. Osaka Castle
  2. Universal Studios Japan
  3. Aquarium (Kaiyukan)
  4. Minami District (Namba)
  5. Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine
  6. Shitenno-ji Temple
  7. Hozen-Ji
  8. Osaka Museum of History
  9. Bunraku puppet theater
  10. Minoo Park
  11. Umeda Sky Building
  12. Osaka National Museum of Art
  13. Shinsekai and Tsutenkaku tower
  14. Kema Sakuranomiya Koen Park
  15. Osaka Science Museum
  16. Osaka Bay
  17. Other attractions to visit
  18. 8 things to do in Osaka
  19. User questions and comments

Are you looking for a hotel in Osaka? We have selected the best offers on Booking.com for you.

1 - Osaka Castle

One of the symbols of the city, even if the current construction is nothing more than a copy of the original. It represents one of the treasures of Japanese architecture, and dating back to the th century AD, when it was conceived by Hideyoshi Toyotomi as the new political center of a reunified Japan; this function motivated the exceptional size and splendor of the work.

Several times destroyed and rebuilt in the course of agitated war events, today it houses a museum about its history. Numerous are the objects of art on display including weapons, armor, furniture, portraits, letters. From the top floor you can enjoy a panoramic view of the city and on the wonderful surrounding park where hundreds of trees rise, including magnificent cherry trees. The entire area is surrounded by vast moats and massive stone walls over 20 meters high.

Also visit the park: also take some time for a nice walk, before or after your visit to the internal museum, in the surrounding park! It is really worth a visit and we advise you to dedicate at least half a day to the whole complex.

  • in 1-1 Osakajo, Chuo Ward. Osaka Circular Line, Osakajokoen Station (East) or Morinomya Station (Southeast). Metro Tanimachi 4-chome (T23, C18) Otemon Gate entrance southwest of the castle - Get directions
  • every day 9: 00-17: 00, closed between December 28 and New Year
  • 600,00 Yen (€ 4,80)

2 - Universal Studios Japan

Universal branded theme park, the first of the Asian continent. Universal Studios Japan in Osaka opened in 2001 and is located at Osaka Bay. With its 39 hectares it is Japan's busiest theme amusement park, just after the Tokyo Disney Resort.

Currently Universal Studios Japan they have 8 sections: Hollywood, New York, San Francisco, Jurassic Park, Waterworld, Amity Village, Universal Wonderland and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Visitors can enjoy many attractions: Child-friendly rides, adrenaline-pumping roller coasters and simulators based on popular movies like Spiderman, Back to the Future, Terminator and Jurassic Park.

Book admission with transfer and skip the line: unmissable stop, especially if you are traveling with children, but also for adults with a passion for cinema. We recommend booking the entrance + transfer package online, which also guarantees priority access to skip the line.

  • in 2 Chome-1-33 Sakurajima, Konohana Ward. From Osaka Station, JR Osaka Loop Line subway to Universal City Station (11 min) - Get directions
  • every day from 10:00, closing times vary according to the season, between 18:00 and 22:00, consult the official website
  • full 7.400,00 Yen (€ 59,50), reduced 4-11 years 5.100,00 Yen (€ 41,00), senior 6.700,00 Yen (€ 53,85). Tickets subject to price changes based on experiences, entry time and season, consult the official website

3 - Aquarius (Kaiyukan)

Opened in 1990, it represents one of the largest structures in the world of its kind. Through 14 large pools, the natural environments of ten areas of the Pacific Ocean are recreated. Not only fish at the Osaka Aquarium, but also amphibians, reptiles, mammals, birds and plants, for a total of about 620 species and 30.000 subjects.

Visiting the aquarium is like taking a trip across the entire Pacific Ocean: from the bottom to the surface, starting from a passage in the water crossing a tank shaped like a tunnel and then continuing through the environment of the forest, to end at a tank of 5.400 tons of water, which houses the whale shark.

One of the main themes is that linked to the volcanic belt that surrounds the Pacific; do not miss the jellyfish in the "Pavilion of floating jellyfish" and the "Design Room", where various exhibitions are held.

  • in 1 Chome-1-10 Kaigandori, Minato Ward. From Osaka Station, Subway Osaka Loop Line to Bentenchō Station, then Chuo Line to Osakako Station (25 min) - Get Directions
  • every day 10: 30-19: 00. Possible changes based on the weekend, consult the official website
  • full 2.400,00 Yen (€ 19,30), senior 2.200,00 Yen (€ 17,70), reduced 1.200,00 Yen (€ 9,65)

4 - Minami District (Namba)

One of the busiest neighborhoods in the city, where entertainment, shops and restaurants are concentrated. You will find yourself passing through here several times and, if you are looking for fun, it is a great area to stay.

Here you can find Dotonbori, the nightlife area, Shinsaibashi Shopping Arcade, the shopping street wild, America-mura, the American-style village and Den Den Town, the area reserved for electronics and otaku shops: anime, manga, videogames, action figures, doujinshi, and much more.

District that develops in the center of Osaka, easily reachable from any point of the city thanks to the Namba Station (Nankai Line, Nankai-Koya Line, Nankai-Limited Express) and the Osaka-Namba Station (Hanshin-Namba Line, Kintetsu Limited) Express, Kintetsu-Nara Line) - Get directions

Don't get lost, visit it with a local: At first glance it can seem really confusing and give a sense of total disorientation! The advice is to take a guided tour with a local, in order to identify the landmarks and move more easily. Plus, it's also one of the best neighborhoods to stay in! Here you will be in the center of the city, with numerous amenities and close to the main hubs of the Osaka transport system.

5 - Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine

One of the most important and ancient Shinto shrines in Japan. It dates back to the rd century AD and is the leader of all the Sumiyoshi shrines in the country. It is made up of numerous buildings that express a unique style, free from foreign influences, which has become paradigmatic in Shinto architecture such as one of the ancient styles preceding the spread of Buddhism.

Like all ancient shrines, it presents simple architectural forms which emphasize its purity. The honden, the heart of the place of worship that houses the kami, is made up of four identical wooden buildings, raised, fenced, with walls composed of side by side boards and gabled roofs without curvature of the eaves. The white-crimson chromatic combination of the pillars and walls and the roofs with the soaring chigi (the characteristic ornamental elements that cross over the ridge of the roof) are very elegant.

As usual, the sanctuary is immersed in a wood which separates it from the profane world and leads the visitor back to the harmony of communion with Nature.

  • in 2 Chome-9-89 Sumiyoshi, Sumiyoshi Ward. Reference station Sumiyoshitaisha Station (Nankai Line). From Osaka Midosuji Line Station to Namba Station, then Nankai Line to Destination (25 min) - Get Directions
  • every day 6: 00-17: 00
  • free

6 - Shitenno-ji Temple

Ancient Buddhist temple which, exactly like the famous Horyu-Ji of Nara, was founded in the th century AD by the prince Shotoku, the one who introduced Buddhism to Japan. To make it happen, the prince invited architects from the Kingdom of Baekje (today's Korea). One of these founded the Kongo Gumi company which has since operated independently for over 1400 years in the construction of important temples and palaces in Japan.

Of particular beauty are thefive-story high pagoda and main hall, the kondo, where the spirit of Prince Shotoku is worshiped. Destroyed several times, it has always been rebuilt according to the original architecture. As was the will of its founder, the Shitenno-Ji took on a mission of civilization by carrying out a central role in the cultural and social life of the Osaka community. A collection of works of art is kept in the Treasury Room. The beautiful garden is also worth visiting inspired by the Buddhist cosmological doctrine.

  • in 1-11-18 Shitennoji, Tennoji Ward. Shitennōji-mae Yūhigaoka reference station (Tanimachi Line). From Osaka Tanimachi Line Station to Destination (12 min) - Get Directions
  • every day 8: 30-16: 00
  • indoor area 300,00 Yen (€ 2,40) / garden 300,00 Yen (€ 2,40) / Treasure room 500,00 Yen (€ 4,00)

7 - Hozen-Ji

Small and very nice temple that represents an oasis of peace and serenity not far from the chaotic Namba and Dotombori. Just behind one of the main avenues, in this cramped old-looking corner dotted with restaurants and tea houses, you perceive silence and the scent of incense.

A statue of Fudō Myō-ō is kept here (Japanese name of Acala) covered with moss, particularly loved by the faithful. The statue is the only work that survived the US bombing fire.

In 1 Chome-2-16 Nanba, Chuo Ward. Accessible on foot from the Dotonbori bridge (170 m, 2 min). Osaka-Namba Station (Hanshin-Namba Line, Kintetsu Limited Express, Kintetsu-Nara Line) - Get Directions

8 - Osaka Museum of History

Also known as Naniwa Rekihak, the Osaka Museum of History is housed within one very modern construction. The peculiarity of this museum is that the visit starts from the top floor, the tenth, which can be reached with a comfortable lift. It begins with an exhibition dedicated to ancient Japan, with a partial reconstruction of the Daikokuden, from the Nara Period.

The visit proceeds to the floors below, where the various historical periods of the city are reproduced, like the Osaka at the time of the Hongan-ji Temple, the Early Modern and Contemporary Period Floor, which houses the reconstruction of the ancient and modern atmosphere of the Shinsaibashi and Dotombori area, ending on the first floor with souvenir shops and a restaurant.

  • in 4 Chome-1-32 Otemae, Chuo Ward. Easily accessible on foot from Osaka Castle (500m, 7 min). Osaka Circular Line, Osakajokoen Station (East) or Morinomya Station (Southeast). Metro Tanimachi 4-chome (T23, C18) - Get directions
  • Wed-Mon 9: 30-17: 00, Fri until 20:00, closed Tue and from 28 December to 4 January
  • 600,00 Yen (€ 4,80)

9 - Bunraku puppet theater

An attraction not to be missed to try to understand, at least in part, the Japanese millenary culture is the bunraku, traditional puppet theater.

Osaka was even its capital for many years, especially in the Edo period, when the popularity of this form of entertainment was widespread. In fact, bunraku (like kabuki) became a type of entertainment not only reserved for the nobility but dedicated to the common public.

  • in 1 Chome-12-10 Nipponbashi, Chuo Ward. Easily reachable on foot from Dontobri (800 m, 9 min). Reference Stop Kintetsu-Nippombashi Station (Kintetsu-Nara Line) - Get directions
  • Bunraku shows are usually held for three weeks in January, April, June, July, August and November. Consult the official website
  • variable costs, from 2.000,00 Yen (€ 16,00) to 6.000,00 Yen (€ 48,00)

10 - Minoo Park

If your visit takes place in the fall and look for a place where fully enjoy the spectacle of the foliage, go to Minoo Park, north of Osaka city.

There are various trails to choose from, all paved to facilitate hikers. Autumn is a particularly busy time as many come to admire the park's main attraction: a waterfall set against a magnificent backdrop of crimson leaves. Inside the park it is also possible to admire the Ryuanji temple.

North of the city. From Osaka Takarazuka Main Line Station to Ishibashi handai-mae Station, then Hankyu-Mino Line to Minoo Station. Then continue on foot towards the park - Get directions

Come in the fall or spring: to visit absolutely in autumn and spring, when it gives its best, to admire the foliage and cherry blossoms! Furthermore, it is also ideal to discover with children, thanks to the many paths and nature.

11 - Umeda Sky Building

One of the tallest and most famous skyscrapers in Osaka. Consisting of two separate towers 173 meters high and joined at the top by a huge one panoramic observatory, the Kuchu-Teien, also known as the Floating Garden Observatory. From here, from the 39th floor, it is possible to observe the city at 360 degrees, both day and night.

The building was designed by Hiroshi Hara, the architect who created the Kyoto Station; the similarity between the two buildings is evident, especially with regard to construction materials: glass and steel.

Watch out for the wind: at the top of the panoramic terrace there is almost always wind. Bring something for shelter such as a hat or a hooded windbreaker jacket.

  • in 1 Chome-1-88 Oyodonaka, Kita Ward. Walkable from Osaka Station (700m, 9 min) - Get directions
  • every day 9: 30-22: 30
  • full 1.500,00 Yen (€ 12,10), reduced 700,00 Yen (€ 5,60)

12 - Osaka National Museum of Art

Particular underground museum developed on four floors, including three underground floors. From the outside, the museum is recognizable because it is well marked by a particular engineering architecture made of metal arches.

Inside it houses collections of modern art created after World War II. Possibility to admire works by Cezanne, Picasso and Ernst. Temporary exhibitions are also set up periodically.

Combined visit: the visit takes from one to two hours. You could include a visit to the adjacent Osaka Science Museum in your program or head east to Nakanoshima for a leisurely stroll along the riverside and park.

  • in 4 Chome-2-55 Nakanoshima, Kita Ward. Easily accessible on foot from the Osaka Science Museum (70m, 1 min). Reference Station Nakanoshima Station (Nakanoshima Line) - Get directions
  • Tue-Sun 10 am-00pm, Fri until 17pm, closed Mon
  • full 430,00 Yen (€ 3,40), students 130,00 Yen (€ 1,00), under 18 and over 65 free

13 - Shinsekai and Tsutenkaku tower

The Shinsekai district is a place with a retro charm, where everything has remained practically as it was 50 years ago. Literally it means "new world", and in fact, at the time of its creation in 1912, the neighborhood was inspired by faraway places, specifically Coney Island and Paris. It was born as a redevelopment project to host the National Industrial Exhibition and was later developed to give new impetus to the city.

The symbol of the district is the Tsutenkaku Tower, whose silhouette resembles the Eiffel Tower. Despite being destroyed by bombing in the Second World War, the tower was then rebuilt faithfully to the original, with the exception of the height: today the structure is 103 meters high, almost double the previous one! Inside there are two observatories placed at two different levels; both offer beautiful views of the city and the neighborhood.

  • tower in 1 Chome-18-6 Ebisuhigashi, Naniwa Ward. Neighborhood served by Ebisucho Station (Hankaidenki-Hankai Line and Sakaisuji Line) - Get Directions
  • neighborhood always accessible / Torre every day 9: 00-21: 00
  • 700,00 Yen (€ 5,60)

14 - Kema Sakuranomiya Koen Park

Immense park that stretches for over four kilometers along the Ogawa River, with its banks thick with cherry trees. There are about 5.000 cherry trees present!

Every spring, locals flock here in large numbers to admire what is the magic of cherry blossoms. The splendid view and the temperate climate during the month of April make it the ideal place for walks and picnics.
If you go to Osaka between April and May, this is definitely the first choice to admire the cherry blossoms, which explode here in all their beauty.

In 5 Chome-2-12 Nakanocho, Miyakojima Ward, along the Ogawa River. Reference Sakuranomiya Station (Osaka Loop Line) - Get directions

15 - Osaka Science Museum

Un science museum dedicated to space and energy. Opened in 1989, the museum was built to celebrate the th anniversary of the city of Osaka. The main permanent exhibition of the Science Museum consists of four floors of mainly interactive science exhibits, for a total of 200 objects, with each floor focusing on a different theme. There is also a live science show with science demonstrations several times a day.

His collection of books and magazines, largely on astronomy, is the most complete in western Japan.The planetarium and exhibition space on the fourth floor were renovated in March 2019. Adults and children will enjoy learning science through tangible experiences and visuals in an interactive and exhibition space.

Look at the stars: just look up on one of the largest domed screens in the world to see representations of stars that couldn't be closer to reality!

  • in 4 Chome-2-1 Nakanoshima, Kita Ward. Easily accessible on foot from Osaka National Museum of Art (70m, 1 min). Reference Station Nakanoshima Station (Nakanoshima Line) - Get directions
  • Tue-Sun 9 am-30pm, closed Mon
  • Full museum 400,00 Yen (€ 3,20), reduced 350,00 Yen (€ 2,80) / Planetarium full 600,00 Yen (€ 4,85), reduced 450,00 Yen (€ 3,60)

16 - Osaka Bay

Last but not least, take at least an afternoon to explore the Osaka Bay area, which is a grouping of neighborhoods built on artificial islands.

These districts represent the entertainment area of ​​the city and offer a wide variety of tourist attractions, such as the Aquarium. In fact, there are amusement parks, such as Universal Studios Japan, large shopping centers, but also museums and observatories. Sports enthusiasts cannot miss a visit to Maishima Sports Island, island with a huge sports complex that includes stadiums and various playing fields.

The bay develops in the eastern part of the historic center and can be reached by public transport. There are several metro stops, the most important being Universal City Station (for Universal Studios, Osaka Loop Line) and Ōsakakō (for the aquarium, Chuo Line) - Get directions

Other attractions to visit

For a 360 ° view of Osaka we advise you to climb to the top of Abeno Harukas, which is 300 meters high the tallest skyscraper in Japan. At the top, in addition to the viewpoint, you will also find a shopping center, a hotel and an art museum (1.500,00 Yen / € 12,00).

Worth a day in the Kita ("North") district, also known as Umeda. Here, you will find Osaka Station City, various shopping centers (Hankyu, Hanshin, Daimaru, Isetan), HEP (Hankyu Entertainment Park), Yodobashi Camera Umeda, Kitashinchi. Peace Osaka, also known as Osaka International Peace Center, a museum that documents the horrors of the Second World War (250,00 Yen / € 2,00).

Out of town, the Sakuya Konohanakan is one of the largest botanical conservatories in Japan (500,00 Yen / € 4,00). Leaving the classic tourist trails you can visit them Sakai and Kishiwada, ancient cities which preserve a good number of testimonies of the history of the region.

8 things to do in Osaka

  1. Taste the Takoyaki: taste takoyaki, the tasty octopus meatballs symbol of Osaka gastronomy, perhaps with a street food tour to eat like a local
  2. Dotonbori River Cruise: the cruise on the Dotonbori bridges is an unmissable and very suggestive experience, especially in the evening
  3. Discover the Kansai: enjoy a tour in the soul of Kansai to discover this ancient region, visiting the neighborhoods and discovering daily life, without forgetting to taste the typical local dishes
  4. Take a tour of Hiraka T Site: this is a book lover's paradise. This place has high walls completely covered with shelves full of books and also represents one of the most instagrammable places in the city
  5. Travel on a Shinkansen "bullet train": this is the Japanese high-speed railway and the first connection built was the one between Osaka and Tokyo. So take advantage of this experience and take one of these trains, perhaps for a trip out of town in the surrounding area. Info and prices here
  6. Noh Theater Show: attend a show by Teatro Noh, the oldest theatrical art in the world famous for its simple and essential movements, the beautiful and artistic masks and its unique form of dialogue
  7. Attending a Sumo match: definitely an experience to do in Japan! But the competitions are not that frequent, they are held at certain times of the year, during the big tournaments. The month of March is one of these periods
  8. Osaka Museum of Building and Daily Life: Visit this museum to immerse yourself in a neighborhood perfectly reconstructed in the typical style of the Edo Period

Plan your stay in Osaka: flights and hotels

To get to Osaka there are no direct flights from Italy. Numerous companies operate the route with one or two stopovers. Consider a duration between 18 and 30 hours, depending on the stopovers, and a cost hardly less than € 500,00 (compare flights to Osaka).

Namba is the liveliest neighborhood and that offers various services, the best therefore where to sleep. Accommodation costs are very low compared to European standards (compare accommodation on Booking.com - from € 25,00) .Whatever neighborhood you choose to stay in, our advice is to find a hotel near the metro stop.

For those in search of nightlife, the fun is h 24 in Namba and Dotonbori! While if you are traveling with children you must absolutely include in your program at least one day at Universal Studios and one at the Aquarium. Most of the temples are free as well as the parks where you can enjoy a wonderful nature.

To move around the city it is certainly recommended to use trains and metro, which connect all the main points of interest in the city. Some districts are to be explored on foot, especially the most animated and which have the greatest attractions. The use of cars, buses and taxis is not recommended due to heavy traffic!

Any time of year is good for visiting Osaka; the ideal would be the months of April and May to attend hanami, or cherry blossom, but it is one of the most expensive periods. October and November are ideal for immersing yourself in the magic of autumn!

Buy the pocket wifi router to connect to the internet: for a good internet connection on your mobile phone, useful for using Google Maps and all the apps without problems, in Japan we use the Unlimited Pocket Wi-Fi Router Rental, a portable and unlimited Wi-Fi router, complete with charger and cable USB, which will allow you to have access to the internet at any time.

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