Osaka–it’s Japan’s second biggest city and one of the most popular tourist destinations in Japan, attracting visitors from all around the world. The unique culture and warm hospitality are two attractive points that add a distinct character to the city like no other. There are countless things to do in Osaka, from eating delicious local food under neon lights to visiting trendy shopping streets or amusement parks.
With a population of nine million people, there truly is no shortage of things to do while you are there. If you are planning to visit Osaka and wondering what the best things to do, see, and experience in Osaka are, keep on reading because we’ll cover the best things to do in the city!
One of the most impressive buildings in Osaka, modeled after the Azuchi Castle. If you’re looking for a real cultural and historical landmark in the city, Osaka Castle is the perfect place to visit. It’s one of the oldest of its kind, constructed in 1583, but it was destroyed shortly after by the Tokugawa shogunate. So really, the Osaka castle that you can see now was reconstructed in 1931.
Not only should you visit the castle as one of the most beautiful things to see in Osaka, with an elegant design, but the inside contains different activities and artifacts to see. Historic materials dating from the Castle’s first construction are on display.
One of the most fun activities in Osaka Castle is getting the chance to wear Japan’s iconic clothes and accessories – kimonos, helmets, and even surcoats. You can even get your photo taken while wearing these different items. Also, head to the observatory on the top floor for amazing views of the city.
Located a few minutes from Osaka station, this architectural masterpiece is one of the top things to do in Osaka. It’s one of the most recognizable landmarks with two 40-story towers connected by bridges and an escalator at the uppermost levels.
Don’t miss the awesome rooftop observation deck, the Floating Garden Observatory, on the 39th floor. Here, you can get amazing 360-degree views of Osaka while enjoying a walk in the sky. We also recommend checking out the basement floor, which recreates streets of Osaka in the past.
One of Osaka’s number one tourist spots with a history as the local theater district. It features a beautiful canal where you can enjoy a 20-minute Tombori river cruise tour and learn all about the hidden highlights and the backstory of famous spots in Dotonbori.
There’s also many shops and arcades offering everything you could possibly want. The nightlife is super lively, and definitely don’t forget to check out the famous Glico running man sign.
Although Dotonbori is highly known for its entertainment and activities, the street food is superb. Takoyaki (grilled octopus balls), authentic Ramen, and Yakitori (chicken skewers) are some of the best street food meals offered, known to be filling, delicious, and inexpensive. With everything from sweet to savory, and even unique foods like grilled octopus, Dotonbori pretty much has something for every intrigued visitor to enjoy, open all day and night.
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One of only four locations in the world, Universal Studios Japan Amusement Park is always among the top Osaka tourist attractions for cinema buffs! Inspired by blockbuster Hollywood movies, it has more than 8 million visitors annually.
Immerse yourself in the mayhem of the Minions at the world’s largest Minions area, or fly around Hogwarts Castle at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Discover many other fun attractions at Jurassic Park, the Amity Village, Sesame Street, and the Super Nintendo World.
It can get a bit crowded, especially on weekends, so we recommend an express pass if you want to make the most of your time.
It’s well-known that ramen noodles are a must-try when visiting Japan. So why not visit an Osaka Museum dedicated to them? Located in Ikeda, the museum is dedicated to educating people about instant ramen, cup noodles, and its creator, Momofuku Ando, the inventor of the world’s first instant noodle.
Some exhibits in the museum include: the Chicken Ramen Factory, where you can watch and make chicken ramen by hand; the My CUPNOODLES factory where you can customize your own special cup noodles package; and “the birth of chicken ramen”, where you can learn about how the first instant ramen product came about. The instant noodles tunnel displays a large and extensive line up of different brands, flavors, and other variations of instant ramen.
There is even a tasting room, where popular brands and your favorite flavors of instant ramen are tried and tested, as well as a museum gift shop. There are even some limited items, making them valuable and rare, especially since they’re only sold and marketed at this specific shop. Also, don’t miss the opportunity to make your very own instant cup noodles at this unique Japanese Cup Noodle Museum!
The Osaka aquarium is one of the largest aquariums in the world, housing an impressive variety of marine life from all over the Pacific Rim. Each of the 15 large water tanks represents a different geographical region, creating a magical place to explore.
The large central tank which is 9 meters (29.5 feet) tall represents the Pacific Ocean and allows visitors to see sea creatures at various depths. This tank is also where the building’s main attraction lives, a fully grown whale shark.
The aquarium also has many smaller exhibits to explore and is a worthwhile place for both children and adults. You can also see penguins up close and pet some of the sea creatures near the exit. It’s a fun, educational activity and a definite must-see destination in Osaka.
Not to mention, the Tempozan Ferris Wheel is right next door. So after visiting the aquarium, you can head to the 112 meter (367 feet) ferris wheel for spectacular views of the city.
Another of Osaka’s must-visit places is the old downtown district called Shinsekai (new world). Osaka may be the urban capital of western Japan, but some nostalgic parts still remain, making it one of the best places to see the real side of the city. In Shinsekai, you can enjoy shopping and food among flashy signboards and a lively atmosphere.
Located in the heart of Shinsekai is an iconic observation tower that’s considered the symbolic tower of Osaka. Originally, the tower was built in 1912, modeled after the Eiffel Tower in Paris, but it was largely destroyed during the war and rebuilt in 1956. The Tsutenkaku is 103 meters tall and offers a complete view of Osaka’s cityscape.
Check out the tower at night when it lights up. The LED lights change monthly, reflecting the season’s colors (after sunset till 23:00).
While the above activities are perfect anytime of year, these are fun and refreshing activities if you’re planning a trip to Osaka during the summer.
If you’re looking for a Japanese beach experience, then add a visit to Nishiki Beach to your list of things to do in Osaka. Nishiki Beach also goes by the name of Nishikinohama Beach Park, and for good reason. There is a park section in addition to the beach, where you can enjoy barbecuing or picnics with friends and families.
You can even enjoy jet water sports like boating and riding water scooters. It’s best to visit Osaka in the summer if you’re planning to enjoy some sun and fun at Nishiki Beach, since it’s only open from July 1 to the end of August.
If your trip takes place around the end of July, the Tenjin Matsuri Festival is nothing less than magnificent. This Osaka festival is ranked as one of Japan’s top three festivals, along with Kyoto’s Gion Matsuri and Tokyo’s Kanda Matsuri. The festival started in the 10th century and it takes place on July 24th and 25th annually.
Shrines are built and carried through the streets in a parade of color and pageantry. The highlight is the Hanabi (Japanese fireworks) that starts around 7:30pm on July 25th, with a huge crowd. In Japan, a summer festival is not complete without Hanabi, and this must-see event displays 3000 shots of awesome fireworks. Don’t miss this amazing festival for a first-hand experience of how the Japanese celebrate summer.
What are you most excited to explore in Osaka? Did we miss any of your favorite spots in the city? Let us know in the comments below!
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