I’ve visited Osaka a bunch of times, and let me tell you, it never gets old – especially those fun nights exploring Dotonbori and tasting every kind of street food I could find, and not to mention all the fun and interesting people I met there. I’m excited to help you figure out your perfect Osaka trip and decide how many days in Osaka will make your adventure unforgettable. While it really depends on what you like to do, most folks find that 3 to 5 days do the trick. But whether you’re thinking about a quick one-day whistle-stop tour or settling in for a week or more, I am sure this article will help you. But let’s start with a rock-solid 3-day plan, and we can tweak from there!
I assume that your Japan journey will begin by landing at one of the two Tokyo International Airports. All of my journeys did start like that. So here is a guide on how to reach Osaka from Tokyo. And if by any chance you are landing in Japan at the Kansai Airport near Osaka, that’s even better for you! You can skip this section then, see you in the next paragraph! Okay, now I assume all of you that kept reading are starting their trip in Tokyo.
For starters, traveling to Osaka is refreshingly simple and efficient, especially if you’re setting out from Tokyo. The backbone of Japan’s transportation, the shinkansen (bullet train), is your best bet. Not only is it a marvel of engineering and speed, but it also provides a unique opportunity to soak in Japan’s picturesque landscapes.
The journey from Tokyo to Osaka usually takes around 2.5 to 3 hours on the Tokaido Shinkansen line. As you speed southwards, you’ll witness a mesmerizing transition: from Tokyo’s urban sprawl to idyllic countryside scenes, and finally, the urban renaissance of Osaka. During the ride, keep an eye out for the majestic Mount Fuji, especially if you’re traveling on a clear day. Its iconic silhouette against the skyline is a sight many cherish.
For added convenience, consider getting a JR Rail Pass, especially if you plan on exploring multiple cities in Japan. It’s an economical option that provides unlimited travel on JR trains, making your trip not just comfortable but also pocket-friendly. And after all, there are many interesting sights and cities along the way. With the JR Rail Pass, you can spread out the trip to Osaka and stay at a different town every night.
Once you arrive at Shin-Osaka station, the city’s main shinkansen hub, you’re just a quick local train ride or taxi away from diving deep into the vibrant pulse of Osaka. Whether you’re eager to bite into the city’s culinary delights or immerse yourself in its rich history, rest assured, the journey to get there will be as memorable as the destination itself!
In order to know how many days in Osaka you should stay, you need to figure out how interested you are in what the city has to offer. Since I think that 3 days in Osaka are enough for first time visitors, I decided to put together this Osaka itinerary that covers a three day stay in the city but also hints at some things you can do if you end up staying longer. So let’s jump in!
Day one in Osaka means a visit to the big and bold Osaka Castle. Every time I’ve been, I felt like I stepped into a huge, giant world because of its giant walls, wide moats, and massive stones. The inside of the main fort and the central keep always leave me without words. The inside of the keep hosts a museum, and exploring it is something I insist all history buffs and samurai fans do!
After that, calm things down a bit at the Shitenno-ji Temple, the oldest Buddhist temple in the country, soaking in some peaceful vibes. When your stomach starts to rumble, make your way to the Kuromon Market. My first taste of Wagyu beef happened right here, and it was not only melt-in-your-mouth good but easy on the wallet, too! So I highly recommend it if you are travelling on a budget and want to try this iconic bef This market isn’t just a feast for your tummy, but your eyes too, with so much more tasty stuff to check out.
As evening falls, it’s all about hitting Dotonbori. Those bright lights, busy streets, and the famous Glico Man sign are all just shouting out the fun and energy Osaka is known for. I’ve spent so many nights here just soaking in the atmosphere, visiting bars, checking out clubs, or just chilling by the canal. If you’re young – or young at heart – this place is for you! And for dinner? Forget sitting down – wander, explore, and nibble your way through all the street food stalls. There is so much to try, but you can’t go wrong with some delicious takoyaki! That’s my kind of Osaka dinner!
Let’s kick off day two with a trip to the forward-thinking Umeda Sky Building. Trust me, the Floating Garden Observatory is a must-see with its wide, sweeping city views. If heights aren’t your thing or you’re after a different kind of experience, consider strolling around the Umeda district instead. There’s plenty to see and do with its myriad of shops, cafes, and the HEP Five Ferris Wheel – which also offers its own stellar city views!
Ready to swap sky for sea? Let’s visit Kaiyukan, one of the largest aquariums on the globe. Meandering through the Pacific Rim exhibits gives you a close-up look at the stunning marine life of the Pacific Ocean. A little personal tidbit: visiting this place was a big deal for me. Growing up, I never set foot in an aquarium, so my first trip to Kaiyukan blew me away. If you have even a bit of interest in marine life, it’s a must-visit. You can even see a whale shark. A whale shark! Who wouldn’t want to see that up close?
As the day winds down, let’s wander through the lively and somewhat nostalgic streets of Shinsekai, centered around the well-known Tsutenkaku Tower. This district is like stepping back in time with its Showa-era vibes; you’ll find it buzzing with energy and fun. There’s no shortage of quirky shops to pop into and fascinating restaurants to explore. It’s more than just a place; it’s an experience, especially with all the lights, colors, and tempting aromas wafting from the food stalls. Whether you’re hunting for souvenirs or keen to try kushikatsu (Osaka’s famous deep-fried skewers), Shinsekai’s vibrant and somewhat crazy streets are ready to welcome you with open arms. Plus, there is a great spa there in which you can relax after a day of sightseeing.
Get ready for a day straight out of the movies as we dedicate our third day to the wonders of Universal Studios Japan! Dive headfirst into a world where your favorite films come to life, filled with thrilling rides and captivating shows. From the enchanting realms of Harry Potter to the heart-pounding excitement of Jurassic Park, there’s an adventure waiting for everyone.
Any fans of Nintendo games here? You will be happy to hear that Super Nintendo World is also open within the Universal Studios Japan complex. Families, thrill-seekers, gamers, and movie buffs alike will find something to enjoy here, making it a day well spent in the heart of Osaka!
If you’ve got extra days up your sleeve, why not use Osaka as a jump-off point for more adventures? There’s a whole host of day-trip possibilities just a train ride away!
Nara, with its friendly deer and impressive Todai-ji Temple, is well worth a visit. If you’re into history and maybe want to see another castle, Himeji Castle is a striking white structure only a short distance away. And Kobe is right next door. Or perhaps a trip to Kyoto, where you can wander through the bamboo groves of Arashiyama and explore the historic streets of Gion and hopefully meet some geisha.
People often ask me: should I stay in Kyoto or Osaka? You should stay in Osaka because it offers great nightlife and more shopping opportunities, and you can still easily reach Kyoto and other locations in less than an hour. With Osaka’s convenient location and superb transport links, you have a truly huge amount of options. That is why I always recommend Osaka as a base in Kansai, especially if you are into nightlife.
Even with just one day in Osaka, you can soak in its vibrancy and charm! Start early with a visit to Osaka Castle, immersing yourself in the city’s rich history.
From there, make your way to the bustling Kuromon Market to enjoy the delicious street food delights for lunch. Dedicate your afternoon to Dotonbori, perhaps taking a nice cruise along the canal before diving into the energetic nightlife, with neon lights guiding your exploration.
Whether it’s enjoying street food, discovering unique finds in local shops, or simply soaking in the lively atmosphere, your single day in Osaka will undoubtedly be bursting with unforgettable memories.
And there you have it, a journey through this iconic and vibrant city of Osaka! Whether you choose to explore for a single day or spread your adventure across a week or more, every moment in Osaka offers something new and exciting. With its seamless blend of traditional and modern, local and international, Osaka invites you to discover its many faces and wonders. So, how many days in Osaka will make your journey complete? In my opinion, 3 days in Osaka is an ideal number. But whatever you choose, a fun adventure will await you!