Heading to Japan for holiday? This is why Osaka should be on your travel bucket list in 2023.
If you’ve already visited Tokyo and had your fill of shopping and counter culture, put Osaka next on your list. This foodie haven is known for being the culinary capital of Japan. But that’s really just the tip of the iceberg. It’s also filled with bustling shopping streets, stunning historical sights and thrilling theme parks. Excited for your next vacay? Check out our list of the best things to do in Osaka (especially if you’re a first-timer).
Best things to do in Osaka
1. Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan
We love the S.E.A. Aquarium in Singapore, but it can’t hold a candle to this attraction in Osaka. The Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan is the world’s largest aquarium, and features the beautiful aquatic animals of the Pacific Rim in recreated natural habitats. Tickets start at $6 for young children and go up to $24 for adults. Pop down and interact with adorable critters like sea lions, penguins, capybaras and river otters. We’re particularly obsessed with the majestic whale sharks in the Pacific Ocean tank.
Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan, 1 Chome-1-10 Kaigandori, Minato Ward, Osaka, 552-0022, Japan
2. Shinsaibashi-suji Shopping Street
This shopping street in Osaka is a shopper’s paradise. Think duty free stores, cosmetic brands and 100-yen shops like Daiso to fill your bags with. There’s something for everyone. You’ll find high-end brands like Chanel and Cartier next to crowd-favourite fashion stores like Uniqlo and Onitsuka Tiger. Need a boost after all that shopping? This street is also filled with cafes to keep you fueled. We love stopping by Green Bar for a smoothie or two.
Shinsaibashi-suji Shopping Street, 2 Chome-2-22 Shinsaibashisuji, Chuo Ward, Osaka, 542-0085, Japan
Remember how we said Osaka is the culinary capital of Japan? Well, you can experience the best of this at Dotonbori. This iconic food street runs along the Dotonbori canal, and is chock full of bars, restaurants and vendors hawking mouthwatering treats. We love coming here for our fill of hot takoyaki and yakisoba. Don’t forget to snap some pictures in front of the famous Glico billboard when you’re in the area.
Dotonbori, 1 Chome Dotonbori, Chuo Ward, Osaka, 542-0071, Japan
4. Osaka Castle
You’ve probably seen this castle in stock photos of Osaka. But nothing beats the beauty of this gorgeous landmark when you behold it with your own eyes. Come and observe Japanese architecture at its finest, and marvel at stunning views of nature from the castle’s top floor when you visit. You’ll want to drop by Osaka Castle Park when you’re here, too. It’s the perfect destination to stroll through during Japan’s beloved cherry blossom season.
Osaka Castle, 2-1 Osakajo, Chuo Ward, Osaka, 540-0002, Japan
5. Namba Yasaka Shrine
You can’t visit Japan without stopping by a shrine for luck and blessings. And the Namba Yasaka Shrine is an unmissable stop when you’re in Osaka. Also known as the Lion Head shrine, this place of worship sports an impressive 12-metre high lion head. It’s known to swallow up evil and grant its worshippers victory, success and good fortune. You know what we’ll be praying for when we’re there.
Namba Yasaka Shrine, 2 Chome-9-19 Motomachi, Naniwa Ward, Osaka, 556-0016, Japan
6. Universal Studios Japan
And of course, what’s a holiday without a trip to a theme park? Universal Studios Japan holds the key to amazing rides and experiences modelled after top blockbuster movies and entertainment. Think Despicable Me, Super Nintendo World and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. And you can’t miss Hollywood Dream – an exciting roller coaster for thrillseekers that’ll knock the wind right out of you.
Universal Studios Japan, 2-chōme-1-33 Sakurajima, Konohana Ward, Osaka, 554-0031, Japan
7. Cup Noodles Museum Osaka Ikeda
Delve into the birthplace of the world’s first instant noodles at this museum in Osaka. You’ll be able to visit a recreation of the work shed where these beloved noodles were invented. And follow the timeline of the growth of this thriving industry. Plus, there’s even an opportunity for you to customise and design your very own cup noodles at the museum’s factory.
Cup Noodles Museum Osaka Ikeda, 8-25 Masumi-cho, Ikeda-shi, Osaka 563-0041 Japan
8. Umeda Sky Building
There’s no better place to catch a birds eye view of Osaka than from the top of the Umeda Sky Building. This landmark in Japan features a doughnut shaped observatory – meaning you get 360-degree unobstructed views of this charming metropolitan city. If you feel a little peckish while you’re up in the clouds, just pop down to the basement’s Takimi-Koji gourmet street for delish kushikatsu and okonomiyaki.
Umeda Sky Building, 1 Chome-1-88 Oyodonaka, Kita Ward, Osaka, 531-6023, Japan
9. Take a day trip
And if you feel like you’ve already seen all there is to see in Osaka, consider popping out for a day trip to neighbouring cities. Hop on a rapid express train to Nara (just a quick 45-minute journey), and mingle with peaceful deers down at Nara Park. Or, make a stop at Kobe to visit the idyllic flower fields of England Hill – this looks right out of a Studio Ghibli movie.
Pack your bags and pop over to Japan! You don’t want to miss out on the best things to do in Osaka.