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OSAKA

3-Day Osaka Itinerary for First-Time Visitors

By Annika Hotta
Updated: February 8, 2024

As the culinary heart of Japan, Osaka is a necessary addition to any Japan travel itinerary. That being said, in a city with so many things to do (and so many things to eat), it can be overwhelming trying to fit everything in. 

Luckily, we've put together a 3-day itinerary to inspire you for your upcoming trip to Osaka. Whether you're planning to stay for exactly 3 days or not, this list is sure to give you some ideas about how to spend your time in the big city!

Getting to and Around Osaka

Osaka Shinsaibashi

But first, what's the most convenient way to get there? If you're landing at Haneda or Narita Airport, you can fly to Kansai International Airport (KIX) in about an hour and a half. If you prefer to take the bullet train, it will take just under 3 hours. As a bonus, you'll get to see Mt. Fuji! 

Another budget option is taking an overnight bus. This is the longest option, but it is perfect if you land at nighttime or want to save your money for later in the trip. 

If your entry point to Osaka is KIX, you can take the airport shuttle bus from Terminal 1 to Osaka Station. From there, you can take the subway to your final destination. 

Alternatively, you can rent a car or a bike. Sightseeing taxis are also available at an additional cost. Or, for an experience true to Osaka's nature — take a water bus! All methods of transportation show a different side of the multi-faceted Osaka. 

Day 1

Osaka Castle

Explore the famous Osaka Castle 

Starting with the iconic landmark, Osaka Castle is the perfect appetizer for the city's history. Spend time exploring the museum within, and then enjoy a stroll around the beautiful castle grounds. 

Eat your heart out on this guided food tour in Dotonbori 

Once you've worked up an appetite, head to Dotonbori for a guided tour of famous Osakan foods such as takoyaki and kushikatsu. This is a great family-friendly option and also a great way to avoid the crowded nighttime streets. 

Rainy day option: visit the world's largest aquarium

If the weather isn't cooperating for a visit to the castle, why not go to Kaiyukan, one of the world's largest aquariums? Open until 8pm, this Osaka aquarium is a fun way to observe Japan's marine life. 

Day 2 

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Spend the day at Universal Studios Osaka 

Home to Super Nintendo World, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and the Minion Park, Universal Studios truly has something for everyone, regardless of age. Due to its sheer size, Universal Studios is a full-day excursion, but one that you won't want to leave before it closes!

Try one of Osaka's signature dishes: okonomiyaki

Okonomiyaki is a cabbage pancake of sorts, with different toppings and drenched in a blend of savory sauces. One of Osaka's beloved dishes, it's a must-try while in the city. Line up at Okonomiyaki Chitose, one of the top-rated okonomiyaki restaurants, for a delicious lunch or dinner.

Have an immersive experience at teamLabs Osaka

If the bustling streets of Osaka at night aren't your scene, teamLab Osaka is a fitting alternative. This botanical garden boasts stunning art installations that will make everyone on your social media feed jealous! Just be sure to book tickets ahead of time on the teamLab Osaka website.

Day 3

Omakase Sushi

Gain good luck at Namba Yasaka Shrine

If there's one shrine you should visit while in Osaka, it's Namba Yasaka Shrine. The lion head building is said to chase away evil spirits, leaving visitors with good luck after leaving. 

Shop away at Shinsaibashi

At 600 meters, Shinsaibashi has everything you may need for a worthwhile shopping spree, from high-end fashion outlets to traditional retailers, with plenty of food to sustain you throughout. 

Enjoy fine dishing with omakase sushi 

Looking for a luxurious and delicious end to your trip? Top off your Osaka itinerary with omakase sushi from this list of 8 omakase sushi restaurants in Osaka

Still looking for more things to do in Osaka? Check out this list of 20 things to do in Osaka if you want even more activities to add to your itinerary.

FAQ

How far is Osaka from Tokyo?

To get to Tokyo from Osaka (and vice versa) will take you a little under 3 hours by bullet train and about 1.5 hours by airplane. 

When is the best time to visit Osaka?

Osaka is a bustling city year-round, but the best time of year to visit depends on your preferences. If you want pleasant weather and beautiful scenery but don't mind the crowds, spring and fall are great options. To avoid the worst of the summer heat, plan your trip outside of mid-July to late August. If you don't mind the cold, going during the winter can offer the perfect excuse to fill up on warm street food. Whenever you go to Osaka, you're likely to enjoy the lively, friendly atmosphere of Osaka. 

Osaka Dotonbori

What are some day trips you can do from Osaka?

While there are plenty of things to do in Osaka city, Osaka prefecture has much to offer in the way of day trips. Here are a few day trip options for those looking to venture out into greater Osaka. 

Hoshida Park: If you're searching for an Instagram-worthy spot to view the fall foliage, look no further than Hoshida Park. Located 1 hour from the city, you can even cross the Hoshi-no-Buranko suspension bridge for an unparalleled view of the autumn leaves! 

Mt. Kongo: For a hiking option, try out one of the various pathways on Mt. Kongo, a mountain that is as historical as it is scenic. The view of the trees covered in snow during winter is second to none, although Mt. Kongo is a great hiking option during any season. 

Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter: About 1.5 hour by bullet train from Shin-Osaka Station, Kurashiki is home to the Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter, an area of the town that looks straight out of the Edo period. Take a ride along the picturesque canal and enjoy an afternoon in 1600s Japan!

Browse food experiences in Japan and check out our YouTube channel for more travel inspiration!

We strive to be as accurate as possible and keep up with the changing landscape of Japan’s food and travel industries. If you spot any inaccuracies, please send a report.
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Annika Hotta
After studying abroad in Shiga prefecture in 2019, Annika moved to Japan in 2021. In her writing, she highlights the best dishes and places to eat in Japan for both the picky and the adventurous.
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