Osaka – that’s like Tokyo. Or maybe not? To get straight to the point: Osaka may well be a modern Japanese city , but the flair of the city and the mentality of the people can hardly be compared to Tokyo. Osaka is less orderly and less tidy than Tokyo.
In Osaka there are far fewer sights than in traditional Kyoto or in the capital Tokyo. Nevertheless, we are of the opinion that a few days in Osaka are simply part of a trip to Japan. Our highlights and tips in crazy Osaka are revealed in this blog article.
1 . Osaka in Japan: What awaits you there Beauty is not necessarily Osaka’s forte. You won’t find anywhere near the traditional Japanese charm here as in nearby Kyoto. If you have temple hopping in mind, Kyoto is the place for you. Osaka, on the other hand, is the complete opposite of that. Osaka is a modern city. Everywhere you look you see concrete blocks.
Osaka is a paradise for fans of street food . Food is very important throughout Japan, but Osaka is the culinary capital of the country. Some Japanese specialties originate from Osaka, including okonomiyaki and takoyaki. (We’ll tell you later in this blog article what it is and why you should definitely try it.)
Osaka residents have a reputation for being “more rebellious” to be – if one can say that about Japanese people at all. And yes, we have to admit, walking the streets of Osaka is something you notice. Osaka is pretty crazy. You will notice that at the latest when you stand in front of the oversized neon signs in the Dōtonbori district.
How much time should I plan for Osaka? We would recommend two nights if you want to get to know the most important sights of Osaka. If you prefer to take it easy, then three nights is better. You don’t need as much time in Osaka as you do in Tokyo.
Our tip: Stay three nights in Osaka and plan during this time take a day trip to Nara. This is how we spent our time in Osaka and would do it again anytime.
2. Sights and activities in Osaka Unlike in Tokyo or Kyoto, the number of sights and activities in Osaka is rather manageable. In about two days, you can easily see the main highlights of Osaka.
Dōtonbori: Ebisu Bridge & Glico Sign Let’s start with what is probably the most important tourist district in Osaka: Dōtonbori. Dōtonbori’s hotspot is Dōtonbori Street, which runs parallel to the river of the same name. All hell breaks loose on Dōtonbori Street at (almost) any time of the day. Flashing neon signs, countless restaurants and lots of people: You won’t find any peace here.
The Ebisu Bridge is only a stone’s throw away from Dōtonbori Street. From this bridge you have a direct view of what is probably Osaka’s most famous lighted sign: the Glico Sign. You might think that this lighted sign is a sports advertisement, but the opposite is the case. The athlete is a symbol of the Glico company of the same name, which produces the Japanese candy called Pocky. You probably know Pocky by the name Mikado.
By the way, a good time to visit Dōtonbori is in the late afternoon or early evening. Then you can see the district both in daylight and at night. The flashing neon signs look even more impressive in the dark.
Arrival: There are several options e.g. to JR Namba Station or Osaka Namba Station (multiple lines).
Osaka Castle The most important historical attraction in Osaka is Osaka Castle, also known as Osaka Castle. Osaka isn’t exactly known for its wealth of cultural treasures, but Osaka Castle is an exception. Osaka Castle immediately catches the eye with its beautiful architecture and green roofs.
Go ahead know: Osaka Castle is actually a fairly expansive area. The main building (“Tenshu”) that you see in most of the photos is only part of it. There are also other towers, walls, gardens and moats.
The main tower houses a museum. In our opinion, the most exciting thing about the tour is the view from the top floor. From up here you can see in all directions. If you want, you can also admire Osaka Castle from the outside (also possible outside the opening hours of the castle).
You also have a nice view of Osaka Castle from the adjacent Castle Park (Nishinomaru Garden). A separate entry from 200 Yen due.
Osaka Castle Visit Information Getting there: The nearest station is Tanimachi Yonchome Station (Chuo Line, Tanimachi Line). You can also walk to the castle from Osakajokoen Station (Osaka Loop Line) in just a few minutes. Entry: 600 Yen (main building of Osaka Castle), 200 Yen (Nishinomaru Garden) Opening hours: daily from 9 to 07 o’clock (last admission 05: 20 hours, sometimes longer at certain times of the year)
Kuromon Ichiba Market The most famous market in Osaka is the covered Kuromon Ichiba Market. It consists more or less of just one street – which has it all. Mainly fish and seafood are sold. So if you want to see or try really unusual fish specialties, you’ve come to the right place.
Osaka’s speciality, too , Takoyaki, you can try here. (You can find out exactly what that is later in this blog article.) Kuromon Ichiba Market may be more touristy than you might think, but it’s still worth a visit – and not just when it’s raining.
Info on visiting Kuromon Ichiba Market How to get there: From Nippombashi Station (Sakaisuji Line, Sen-Nichimae Line ) and Kintetsu-Nippombashi Station (Kintetsu-Nara Line) are within walking distance. Opening hours: daily from 9 am to 18 (Most shops are open during this time window.)
America-mura & Orange Street America-mura is one of the trendy districts in Osaka. The name is no coincidence: the many small shops from which loud hip-hop music is blaring are reminiscent of the USA. Quite curious: There is even a replica of the Statue of Liberty perched on a roof.
In America-mura you will also find some cafes and bars. Our tip for caffeine fans: We drank very good coffee at Streamer Coffee. The hip café is perfect for a short break.
From America-mura it is only a stone’s throw to the so-called Orange Street. This could hardly be more opposite. In the quiet Orange Street you will find some great boutiques (especially furniture and interior) and stylish cafes. The concept store Biotop, for example, is quite well known – a café and interior design shop rolled into one.
Orange Street is a lot more relaxed and also more manageable than we would have expected. If you’re not in the mood for shopping, you’ll have walked it off pretty quickly.
Arrival: There are several options e.g. to JR Namba Station, Osaka Namba Station (several lines) or Shinsaibashi Station (Midosuji Line, Nagahori Tsurumi-ryokuchi Line) . From all stations you need about 5 to 10 minutes walk.
3. The best view of Osaka: Our tips Osaka is a sea of skyscrapers. Accordingly there are many viewpoints to visit in Osaka. We introduce you to two of the most famous ones, each located in different parts of the city. So the view is different in each case, which is of course exciting.
Umeda Sky Building (Kuchu Teien Observatory) The viewing platform on the Umeda Sky Building is probably the most famous in Osaka. We’re not surprised, because from up there you have a fantastic view over Osaka. From 170 meters high, you can see in all directions.
Not only the view is spectacular, but also the architecture: after the lift ride (only after that the tickets are bought!) a Glass escalator to the viewing platform.
The interior of the Kuchu Teien Observatory is quite impressive, but it gets even more exciting one floor up: there is an open air waiting -Platform (“Rooftop”) on you. This outdoor area of the viewing platform is a kind of round skywalk – without any window panes that could interfere with taking pictures.
If the weather cooperates, then it’s the most beautiful time for a visit is of course the sunset. However, this time of day is also the busiest time. Due to time constraints, we went to the Umeda Sky Building in the morning and didn’t regret it.
Information on the view from Umeda Sky Building Arrival: From Umeda Station (Midosuji Line) or Osaka Station (JR) you are about 10 Minutes walk at Umeda Sky Building. Entry: 1.500 Yen Opening hours: 9: 30 until 22: 170 o’clock (last entry 21 Watch)
Tsutenkaku Tower In the crazy night district of Shinsekai, the Tsūtenkaku Tower rises up. The tower itself is not a beauty, but the view from the top is really impressive.
We ourselves were at the tower just before sunset. At this time of the day, the outside platform is no longer accessible because it is already closing around 18 Watch. But the view from the inside is also great, despite the glass panes.
By the way, the ambience in the tower is quite bizarre: One of the two indoor levels is transformed for example at night in a kind of disco (with loud music and disco balls). You will also encounter the so-called Billiken throughout the tower ) figure reminiscent of a Buddha statue. You can also buy this figure on site – just like many a Other souvenirs too, by the way. All in all, you don’t just ask yourself what the concept behind the Tsūtenkaku Tower is supposed to be. Typical Japan.
Information on the view from the Tsūtenkaku Tower Getting there: There are three stations, each of which you can reach about 5 to 10 Walking distance needed: Dobutsuen-Mae Station (Sakaisuji Line, Midosuji Line), Shin-Imamiya Station (JR trains and others ), Ebisuchō Station (Sakaisuji Line, Hankai Line). Entry: 800 Yen Opening hours: 9 am to 22 o’clock (last entry 19: 30 Watch)
4. Eating & drinking: Culinary specialties in Osaka Osaka is one of Japan’s culinary hotspots. Many of the country’s specialties have their origin here. Therefore, Osaka is also known as “Kitchen of Japan”. Two must-try specialties in Osaka are okonomiyaki and takoyaki. We’ll tell you exactly what it is and where you can try these delicacies.
Okonomiyaki Okonomiyaki is often referred to as a Japanese omelette, although we think it has little to do with that. The basic ingredients of this Japanese specialty are eggs, cabbage and flour. Other vegetables, meat or fish are added as desired.
Then the okonomiyaki grilled on a iron plate. Most of the time, the chef does it in front of you. Or even better: directly at the table. There are special okonomiyaki restaurants with tables equipped with griddles. The dish is rounded off with mayonnaise and a special okonomiyaki sauce that is a bit reminiscent of barbecue sauce.
You should definitely not leave Osaka without having tasted okonomiyaki at least once. For example, we can recommend the Restaurant Mizuno in Dōtonbori. Good to know: They also offer a vegetarian option, which is not always the case.
Takoyaki A typical street food in Osaka is Takoyaki. They are sold in many markets. Takoyaki are small balls of dough baked in a special plate. A small piece of octopus is placed in each ball of dough by hand.
Before serving, the balls are sprinkled with a sauce and wafer-thin fish flakes called katsuobushi. The whole thing tastes less fishy than you might think.
On Dōtonbori Street you will find countless eateries and street stalls where takoyaki are made and sold before your eyes. Otherwise, the Kuromon Ichiba Market is also a good place to try Takoyaki.
5. Hotel tip for Osaka We spent three nights at Hotel Moxy Osaka, which we can highly recommend if you are looking are looking for a young hotel. The rooms are quite small (as almost always in Japan), but very comfortable and hip furnished. The bed is very comfortable – we slept really well.
The hotel is a good 5 minute walk from a metro station. From there you are about two stops in Dōtonbori. The breakfast is not necessarily a highlight. In Japan, we generally recommend going out for a bite to eat in a café. Breakfast in Japan is mostly adapted to the Asian palate and Western dishes are in the minority.
A little tip: When booking, make sure that you book a room with a window (stands by Booking.com right there). This is because there are some rooms in the Moxy Osaka without windows. That would be nothing for us – we need daylight. With the right room, the hotel is definitely recommended.
You can book the hotel here: Moxy Osaka
Transparency: Invitation & Affiliate Links We were invited to Japan by All Nippon Airways (ANA) – thank you very much for this great opportunity! So that you are familiar: The outward and return flights as well as the program for the first 5 days (Tokyo, Hakone, Osaka) were financially taken over by ANA. We were free to organize the program – we were on our own the whole time. We decided to extend our stay in Japan at our own expense.
This blog article contains our personal recommendations in the form of so-called affiliate links. If you book or buy something through the links, we will receive a small commission. For you, this does not change the price at all. A thousand thanks from both of us!
Have you ever been to Osaka? In your opinion, what do you have to do? Are there any other highlights that you would recommend? What are your tips for Osaka? We look forward to hearing about your experiences!