With its numerous museums, historical attractions, food markets, and interesting culture, Japan’s second largest city is worth even a brief visit. From the bustling streets to the high-end shopping centers, from aquariums to gardens in the sky, Osaka will never fail to amaze you. If you’re planning a weekend in the city, here’s a helpful guide to make your memories of Osaka unforgettable.
Where to stay
To ensure a comfortable visit and easy access to all the places you want to see, the first thing you should consider is the location of your hotel. The InterContinental Osaka near Osaka Station is a good choice for experiencing top-notch Japanese hospitality. It’s in the Kita area around Umeda Station, where you’ll find stops for major subway and rail lines. This neighborhood is also known for its incredible shopping and great local attractions.
First Day in Osaka
On your first day, take the glass-covered elevator to the top floor of the Umeda Sky Building and marvel at the city’s panoramic views. From there, head to Ame-Mura, where you’ll experience contemporary Japanese culture at its best. Sit in one of the cafés and watch the young, hip, and trendy locals pass by. From time to time, you’ll spot teenagers participating in cosplay, wearing colorful and unique outfits that will make you smile. With over 3,000 shops in this neighborhood, you might also be tempted to buy something for yourself.
If you don’t mind walking for 25 minutes, check out Den Den town. It is a paradise for everything electronic. You’re going to be dizzy looking through 150 shops selling discounted electronics.
In the afternoon, wander to the Osaka Aquarium KAIYUKAN, the world’s largest aquarium and home to a variety of sea creatures found in the Pacific Ocean. Start your aquarium adventure from the top floor, and as you descend, you’ll encounter aquatic life found in each ocean zone. Don’t miss the whale shark inside the central tank. Before you exit, watch a fun 4-D movie to complete your marine life experience!
From the aquarium, walk to the Tempozan Ferris Wheel, the most technologically advanced Ferris wheel that predates the London Eye. Take the 15-minute ride and watch the sunset from the top. You can also ride it after sunset to see the city at night.
Have dinner at Dotonbori Namba, the heartbeat of the city and home to many ramen restaurants. If you decide to experience Japanese nightlife, simply walk around and find a bar that speaks to you.
Second Day in Osaka
On your second day, you’ll experience a range of culture and history. Eat your breakfast early and head to Osaka Castle, one of Japan’s most-visited tourist attractions. Inside the castle, you’ll learn about the history as you ascend to the eighth floor. When you’re done, explore the surrounding park on your way to the Osaka Museum of History. If you visit in the spring, take a selfie among the cherry blossom trees.
Ride the subway to Shitennoji Buddhist Temple, the oldest of its kind in Japan. Here, you’ll find ancient pagodas. Peace and serenity await you in gardens that feature waterfalls and a turtle sanctuary.
Your next stop is the Osaka Museum of Housing and Living. Wander along the ancient street and get a feel for life in Imperial Japan. The museum has several lifelike recreations of houses from the Edo Period, when the nation experienced scientific and artistic enlightenment.
Catch a puppet show at National Bunraku Theater. It’s an art form that originated in Osaka. The show uses Japanese instruments with talented puppeteers who have completed decades of training.
For dinner, try okonomiyaki (a Japanese pancake) at Mizuno, the city’s oldest okonomiyaki restaurant. The yam okonomiyaki is very popular dish here.
If you visit in March, don’t miss the sumo wrestling tournament, which lasts for 15 days. If you’re traveling with kids, you might like to spend a day at Universal Studios Japan.
With all these things to do and see in just two days, you’ll leave Osaka with great memories of the culture, history, food, art, religion, architecture, and local life.
OH, THE PLACES YOU'LL GO!
- Open Museum of Traditional Houses
- Dotombori Namba is the heartbeat of Osaka
- The Glorious Osaka Castle
- Osaka Skyline from Umeda Sky Building
- Japan: Gay Osaka
- World’s Largest Ferris Wheel and Largest Aquarium Tank in Osaka
- Japan: Fushimi-inari Temple
- The Golden Pavilion in Kyoto
- Ninja Museum
- Capsule Hotel in Tokyo
- Inside a Sake Factory in Japan
- An early morning at Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo
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