Skip to Content

EPIC 1-day Osaka itinerary: Lots of highlights in 1 day

Have you been looking for a simple 1-day Osaka itinerary to make the best of your time in Osaka? We have you covered.

Visiting various cities in Japan can be overwhelming with the sheer size and variety of things to do.

From traditional aspects of culture to modern pop culture, it can be hard to know where to start.

With this Osaka itinerary, we bring you to the best of Osaka that can be seen within a short time.

There is a really good chance that this post contains affiliate links. If you click one of them, we may receive a small commission (for which we are deeply grateful) at no extra cost to you.

Japan Essentials 

  • We almost always find the best flights to Tokyo and Osaka on Momondo.  It may be worthwhile to compare these with Skyscanner and a new but promising flight aggregator, WayAway.
  • Don’t lose time upon arrival at the airport and order your Japan travel SIM or portable WiFi device in advance so that it’s ready and waiting for you at the airport when you arrive.

Osaka Essentials 

Is this your first Japan trip and are you feeling a bit overwhelmed about planning this trip, what to see, and what to do in Japan? Check out our Japan travel planner. This document will help you plan your trip smoothly.

Osaka Tours

Do you only have 1 day in Osaka? If you want to make the most of this short period you could consider joining a guided tour.

A private Osaka tour might be a good choice because thanks to the guide you can still learn all kinds of things about the culture, history, and Osaka’s kitchen in just a few hours.

We always appreciate small-group walking tours like the ones we share here because the guides can give you an insight into their city that you wouldn’t be able to get on your own.

Here are 2 highly-rated Osaka tours.

Osaka Walking Tour

During this 3-hour tour, your guide will show you the many faces of this bustling city.

From the lively Dotonbori nightlife district to the Hozenji Temple, the most famous cultural landmark of Osaka.

Osaka is sometimes called Japan’s kitchen for its many gastronomic options, therefor this tour wouldn’t be complete without some food tasting.

At Shinsekai you will get to taste Osaka’s soul food, Kushikatsu, and deep-fried meat skewers.

Previous travelers have given this tour excellent reviews for the informative and helpful guides.

Check prices and availability:
Osaka Walking Tour

Private Osaka Tour with a local

While the previous tour has a fixed route, this one is fully customizable.

This is ideal if you have certain interests.

You can share them with the tour company and they will put you in touch with a like-minded guide that will arrange a personalized itinerary.

Even if you have no idea what to do you can trust your host to guide you through the city as a local. Based on a short questionnaire about your personality and interests he will arrange a personalized and flexible tour that can always be adjusted on the day itself.

You can choose from a duration of 3 to 8 hours, enough to discover some off-the-beaten-track locations in Osaka.

Check prices and availability:
Private Osaka Walking tour

Shinsekai at night

Osaka

Osaka is sometimes overlooked as just being the middle city between Tokyo and Kyoto.

While Tokyo is known for its modern, bustling futuristic style and Kyoto for its abundance of temples, shrines, and castles, Osaka can be forgotten.

However, Osaka has some of the strongest heart and soul in the country.

Known as the ‘kitchen of Japan, Osaka has a number of amazing foods to try. There are also a number of unique places to visit, with the city sticking to neither the traditional or modern stereotype.

Osaka has a strong identity as the home of comedians, with many people believing the people of the city to be more outgoing, friendlier, and warmer than those in other cities in Japan.

So don’t be surprised if you find louder and more outgoing people than in Tokyo or Kyoto.

Spending a day in Osaka is a great way to see a number of the sights of the city. However, if you have more time in Osaka, check out this Osaka itinerary for a 2-day trip.

Tip: Be sure to become a member of our Japan Travel Planning and Tips Facebook group. The purpose of this group is to help you plan an amazing vacation to Japan.  You can ask questions and exchange tips with fellow travelers.

24 Hours in Osaka

Osaka is home to a number of different tourist attractions.

While often less well-known than those in Tokyo or Kyoto, they are no less interesting or exciting to visit.

Here we share some of the best attractions to visit within one day.

Osaka castle is a must see on every Osaka 1-day itinerary.
Osaka castle

Osaka Castle and Surroundings

Osaka Castle

If you ask any resident of Osaka to recommend somewhere for tourists to Osaka to visit, the first answer will always be Osaka Castle. (In Japanese this is Osaka-jo, with the surrounding park being Osaka-jo koen).

To most residents, this is considered one of the biggest, most famous, and best starting points for tourists to Osaka.

History of Osaka Castle

The history of Osaka Castle begins in 1583 when construction began at the request of Hideyoshi Toyotomi, one of the key figures in Japanese history.

It was intended to be a centered ruling point and was the largest castle in the country at the time.

After Toyotomi’s death, the 1600’s resulted in the castle being destroyed, rebuilt, and destroyed again by a lightning fire.

It was largely left as is until the early 1900s when it was rebuilt with a traditional exterior and a more modern interior.

This interior functions as a museum that visitors can explore as they move up to the highest stage of the castle.

Osaka Castle was one of the few castles left untouched by WWII.

While the castle itself is largely a reconstruction, many of the surrounding structures are original and were left untouched. This includes the impressive stone walls, surrounding moats, and more.

Osaka castle is one of the main attractions of Osaka and often crowded even on weekdays. To avoid the crowds we recommend visiting the castle early morning.

Persons with reduced mobility will appreciate that they don’t need to climb the steep flight of stairs anymore.  They can now use the elevator instead.

Info icon
Address: Osaka Castle 1-1 Osakajo, Chuo Ward, Osaka,
Osaka Prefecture 540-0002, Osaka
Event icon
Opening hours: Daily 9 am – 5 pm (last admission 4.30 pm)
Open until 9 pm during Sakura season
Closed from December 28th to January 1st
 
Tickets: Adult: 600 Yen / Children 15 years and below free. Free access with the Osaka Amazing Pass
Osaka Castle, Japan

The Osaka Amazing pass includes access to Osaka Castle:
Osaka Amazing Pass

Ninomaru Gardens

Attached to the castle is the Ninomaru Gardens, which is a large garden containing a tea house, the former Osaka Guest House, 600 cherry trees, and great views.

There is an entrance fee to visit the gardens and opinions if a visit to the park is worth it are mixed.

We recommend visiting during the sakura season since we found it absolutely stunning when the trees were blooming. Autumn is also a great season to visit.

During the Sakura season, the Nishinomaru garden can also be visited after sunset.  The opening hours are extended until 9 pm and the trees are lightened starting from 6 pm.

Info icon
Address: Nishinomaru Garden 2 Osakajo, Chuo Ward 
Osaka Prefecture 540-0002, Osaka
Event icon
Opening hours: Daily 9 am – 5 pm (last admission 4.30 pm)
Open until 9 pm during Sakura season
Closed from December 28th to January 1st
Closed on Monday or the next day if Monday is a national holiday
 
Tickets: Adult:  200 Yen (350 yen during Sakura season) / Children 15 years and below free. Free access with the Osaka Amazing Pass
Nishinomaru garden Osaka, Japan

The Osaka Amazing pass includes access to the gardens:
Osaka Amazing Pass

Osaka Castle with cherry blossoms

Osaka Castle Park

Surrounding Osaka Castle is Osaka Castle Park, over 2km² of beautiful parkland.

As you leave Osakajokoen train station, you walk directly into the park.

It is then about a 15-minute walk to the main castle.

However, it is easy to spend hours enjoying the park.

There are many facilities on-site and small festivals or fairs are often taking place.

This is also one of the most popular hanami (cherry blossom viewing picnic) spots during April.

However, this does not exclude other times of year for enjoying the park.

There are a range of seasonal displays celebrating Autumn foliage, summer hydrangeas, and more.

There are also a number of cafes and restaurants spread throughout the park if you’re looking for a morning tea pick-me-up.

It’s very easy to lose a few hours simply wandering through the park, exploring the castle itself and the surroundings.

How to get there

If you are arriving in Osaka in the morning or as part of an Osaka day trip, you will most likely arrive in Umeda, at the JR Osaka station.

This is the main station of Osaka city and is often considered a central starting point.

From here, there is a direct train to Osakajokoen, also known as Osaka Castle Park.

If you are staying elsewhere in Osaka, This is part of the Osaka Loop Line, one of the most convenient JR train lines in Osaka.

Ebisu Bashi-Suji Shopping Street a must see on every Osaka 1 day itinerary.
One of the many covered shopping streets in the Shinsaibashi district

Shinsaibashi and Namba

From Osaka Castle Park we head to the bustling center of Namba.

So far, we have been referring to Namba and Shinsaibashi interchangeably.

Technically Namba is a larger area, with Shinsaibashi being a small part of it.

Namba and Shinsaibashi is a key hub of Osaka and home to a number of symbolic icons of Osaka.

It is also a great place to visit for shopping, food, and more.

The district is especially impressive at night when hundreds of neon lights and billboards illuminate the streets. It is one of the famous landmarks of Japan.

Go shopping in Shinsaibashi

Shinsaibashi generally refers to the Shinsaibashisuji, one of the most famous and popular shopping streets in Osaka, and the many off-shoot streets from it.

Wandering through Shinsaibashi-suji is great for those who enjoy shopping and is an amazing sight even for those who aren’t interested in shopping.

The main street of the Shinsaibashi shopping area is the Shinsaibashi-suji street, a covered pedestrian street, that is almost 2 kilometers in length. It starts at the world-famous Dotonbori bridge and runs the full length of the Shinsaibashi district.

The Glico running man at the Dotonbori canal in Osaka
The Glico running man, one of the most famous sights of the city

Dotonbori

At one end of Shinsaibashi is the famous Dotonbori canal with the well-known “Glico Man” sign.

This sign is considered symbolic of Osaka and has been in place for decades.

Dotonbori is a lovely place to stroll and feel the (crazy) vibe of Japan. 

Grab a bite

Perpendicular to Shinsaibashi-suji you will find a number of streets full of restaurants with a range of different specialties.

This is a great place to experience some of Osaka’s best foods.

From the fast-cooking street food of Takoyaki to the group-focused okonomiyaki, there is a range of foods to be found.

Of course, there are also a number of general Japanese cuisine-focused restaurants such as sushi and ramen shops.

Americamura

If you are interested in the subculture aspect or fashion aspect of Osaka, Americamura, or Amemura for short, is a short 5-minute walk into another part of Namba.

Americamura means American village and was once the heart of fashion, pop culture, and alternative culture, largely deriving from American culture.

While it is more generalized these days, there are still many unique and interesting shops, including many vintage American-style shops.

The Triangle Park signifies the center of Amemura and can be a great people-watching spot.

The peaceful Yasaka temple in the bustling Namba district
The peaceful Yasaka temple in the bustling Namba district

Namba Yasaka Shrine

If you are looking for something a bit different while still in Namba, we have the Namba Yasaka Shrine.

Despite being in the middle of this fast-paced district, Yasaka Shrine manages to exist peacefully.

This contrast can be likened to the juxtaposition found within Osaka as a whole.

Namba Yasaka Shrine is quite small but has some very unique features.

The stand-out feature is the 12m tall lions head stage of the shrine.

The large, open lion’s mouth is supposed to swallow evil spirits and bring good luck to those who visit.

The lion’s head was only built in 1975, making it quite new among the various shrines and temples, but it is very unique and definitely creates an impression among those who visit. Yasaka Shrine is around a 15-minute walk from Amemura or Dotonbori.

How to get there

To get to Shinsaibashi from Osaka Castle Park, you will need to leave to the Morinomiya Station gate, and use the subway metro Nagahoritsurumiryokuchi line.

From here it is a short 8-minute ride to Shinsaibashi station.

This will take you to the heart of Namba.

Shi-Tennoji Temple in Osaka

Shi-Tennoji Temple

One of the best things about Osaka is the co-existence of fast-paced bustling areas like Namba with traditional, deeply spiritual places like the upcoming Shi-Tennoji temple.

A short history of the temple

Interestingly, while Kyoto is known as home to some of the oldest temples and shrines, Shitennoji is held up as one of the oldest temples in the country and the first to be built by the state.

It was commissioned to be built in 593 by Prince Shotoku as part of the introduction of Buddhism into Japan.

This prince was a key figure in Japanese history due to his influence surrounding Buddhism’s introduction.

Similarly to Osaka Castle (and many other temples, shrines, and castles in Japan) Shi-tennoji has been burned and destroyed and then rebuilt a number of times.

The reconstructions have always been careful to reflect the original design and so it is still a unique look into a history long gone.

5 storied pagoda

The temple has a number of buildings on the grounds, such as the 5 storied pagoda.

This pagoda is interesting as it is one of the few which visitors are able to enter and climb to the top.

This provides a unique view over Osaka.

However, photos are not permitted inside the pagoda or from the top.

This makes the experience even more special, as it is exclusive to those who have climbed to the top and can’t be viewed elsewhere.

The Main Hall and Treasure Hall

There is also the Main Hall, where Prince Shotoku has been enshrined, as well as a Treasure Hall containing a number of important cultural assets of the temple, such as paintings, scriptures, and more.

These are organized by period and can be interesting to explore the history of the temple.

The Gokuraku-jodo Garden

The Gokuraku-jodo Garden is also nearby and is said to have been designed based on descriptions of the Western Paradise of the Amida Buddha.

It is a traditional Japanese strolling garden with many of the traditional features of Japanese gardens, such as a pond, rock features and seasonal plants.

There are a number of cherry trees which bloom beautifully during Spring.

How to get there

From Namba Yasaka Shrine, it is a 10-minute walk to the nearby JR Namba Station.

From here, you can take the Yamatoji line to Tennoji Station and then make a 15-minute walk to Shi-tennoji temple.

It is also possible to walk from Namba to Shi-tennoji in about half an hour.

Shinsekai
Shinsekai is at its best after dark

Shinsekai

Next we head to Shinsekai, a district of nostalgia and love for eras past.

Shinsekai is actually quite close to Shitennoji at just a 15-minute walk.

The area first emerged as a happening new area in the early 20th Century. It was developed to represent a combination of Paris and New York, resulting in a unique mix of architectural styles.

Tsutenkaku Tower

In 1912 the area was topped with the addition of Tsutenkaku Tower, which at 64m was one of the tallest structures in Asia at the time.

It was often referred to as the Eiffel Tower of Osaka due to its similar shape and with Shinsekai’s already existing cosmopolitan image, the area was very popular.

The tower was damaged by a fire in 1943 and later disassembled during wartime for the steel in the structure.

After a public campaign in 1956, the current tower was built to replace it.

The new tower is 103m tall and while it is not exactly the same, it holds true to the retro style of Shinsekai.

Tsutenkaku Tower has three observation decks.  The two themed indoor observation decks are at 84m and 87.5m respectively. Recently a third outdoor observation deck was added at 94.5m.

From the observation deck, you will have a beautiful view of Tennoji park and Tennoji Zoo. 

You can buy a ticket to the 1st observation deck or a ticket to visit both.

Info icon
Address: Tsutenkaku Tower 1 Chome-18-6 Ebisuhigashi, Naniwa Ward,
Osaka Prefecture 540-0002, Osaka
Event icon
Opening hours: Daily 9 am – 9 pm (last admission 8.30 pm)
 
Tickets:  Adult: 700 Yen / Children: 400 yen /Outdoor observatory: extra 500 yen The Osaka Amazing Pass gives free access to the Indoor observatory and a 300 yen discount for the outdoor observatory
Shinsekai Tsutenkaku Tower Osaka, Japan

The Osaka Amazing pass includes access to the Tsutenkaku tower:
Osaka Amazing Pass

Over the following century, Shinsekai lost popularity and was regularly overlooked in regards to development.

The area has retained a unique style and atmosphere of 20th-century Japan. It is also possible to go inside the tower with an observation deck at the 4th and 5th floors.

There are also various amusements and shops on the other floors of the tower, making it a fun place to explore.  

Tsutenkaku tower

Have a Drink or go dining

The Shinsekai district is also home to more of Osaka’s iconic foods, and in this case, drinks.

Mix Juice

Shinsekai was the birthplace of ‘Osaka mix juice’, a milk-based drink with blended fruits added – usually banana and orange among others.

It was invented in 1948 as a way to save money by reusing cut fruit for another day.

The original café which invented mix juice is still in operation and has a great menu of nostalgic foods.

Kushikatsu
Kushikatsu, popular street-food in Osaka
Kushikatsu

However, at this time in the itinerary, it may be closer to dinner time, and luckily there are also many dinner foods in the area.

One of the most famous is kushikatsu.

Kushikatsu is skewers of deep-fried crumbed meat and vegetables.

The most common meat is pork, however, other meats are available.

Shinsekai is the best place to try kushikatsu as there are many different restaurants offering this delicacy.

It is sometimes considered street food and not as high cuisine as some other Japanese food, but for a true Osaka experience, kushikatsu is an ideal meal.

However, if it isn’t your type of food, there are also many other cuisines available in the area.

Spa World Osaka Entrance
Entrance of Spa World (photo credits: Cheng-en Cheng)

Spa World

Finally, after a long and tiring day of exploring Osaka, you will probably want some time to relax.

Before heading back to your accommodation, visiting Spa World is a great way to ensure full relaxation.

Japan is famous for its natural hot springs and onsen cultures.

Sentos ( public baths)

In areas without natural onsens, sentos, or public baths, were developed.

The difference is that onsens are naturally occurring while sentos either transport onsen water from elsewhere or use normal, non-hot spring water to create a similar experience.

From sentos sprung the idea of super sentos.

These are large complexes featuring multiple baths, saunas, and similar services.

Some super sentos have multiple buildings, while some, like Spaworld in Osaka, have multiple floors.

Asia and Europe zone

Spa World has two main spa floors – the Asia Zone and Europe Zone.

These two floors alternate between different genders depending on the month.

In one month men will have the Asia Zone and women will have the Europe Zone, the next month they will swap.

Each zone has a variety of different baths and saunas.

For example, the Europe Zone features an Ancient Greece-themed herbal bath, a Finnish sauna-themed area, and Blue Grotto cave bath among others.

The Asia Zone has a few different Japanese-themed baths, as well as a Bali resort-style bath, a Singapore Spa themed bath, and more.

Both floors also have various other spa services, such as massage available.

Other floors have a pool and waterslides during summer, a gym, restaurants, and a Korean hot stone bath.

Onsen etiquette

Spaworld follows the general rules and etiquette of onsens and sentos in Japan.

This means all visitors are naked while using the spa areas – swimsuits aren’t allowed except for in the pool.

It is required to have a shower before entering the baths in order to preserve the cleanliness of the water.

Visitors are provided with a towel that can be used for modesty while changing bath areas and drying themselves.

While some of these rules may be daunting to a first-time sento/onsen user, it is very easy to get used to after about 5 minutes.

Info icon
Address: Spa World Osaka 3 Chome-4-2 Ebisuhigashi, Naniwa-ku,
Osaka Prefecture 556-0002, Osaka
Event icon
Opening hours: Onsen Daily 10 am – 8.45 am (the following day)
Pools and Bade zone  Daily 10 am – 10 pm
 
Tickets: Adult : 2700 Yen / Children under 12 : 1500 yen. Discount with the Osaka Amazing Pass
Spaworld Shinsekai Osaka, Japan

Spa World hotel

Spa World also has an attached hotel for those who want to enjoy the spas as much as possible.

Check prices and availability:
Agoda

How to get there

Spa World is a mere 3-minute walk from Tsutenkaku Tower, at the center of Shinsekai.

Spaworld is open almost 24 hours a day (They close one hour of the day for cleaning). This means that no matter how late you finish dinner and exploring, you can still drop into Spaworld to relax.

If you aren’t a fan of spas, check out this post in which we share an overview of fun things to do in Osaka after dark.

The fast Shinkansen trains

How to get to Osaka

It’s easy to get to Osaka. The city has its own airport and fast and reliable train connections to Tokyo and Kyoto.

By Plane

Check out Skyscanner and Momondo for cheap flights. Once at the airport you can take the Rapi:t train, the JR Haruka Airport Express, or the Limousine bus to get to your hotel.

The JR Haruka Airport Express is covered by the JR Pass, this will probably make it the best option.

Here’s an in-depth guide about the different options.

By Train

This is your chance if you’ve always wanted to ride the iconic Shinkansen. The bullet trains connect Osaka with Tokyo and Kyoto. The Hikari Shinkansen is covered by the JR Pass. The journey from Tokyo takes 3 hours and getting to Kyoto only takes a mere 12 minutes.

The Shinkansen may be a bit excessive to travel the short distance from Kyoto to Osaka. It also requires you to dig deep in your pockets if you don’t have a JR Pass. The JR Kyoto line is a good alternative. It’s 10 minutes slower, but worth it for a third of the price.

We have more detailed information about these train options in our 2-day Osaka itinerary.

Abeno Harukas
Abeno Harukas, one of the modern skyscrapers of Osaka

Where to stay in Osaka

If you plan on spending the night in Osaka, we advise you to stay in Central Osaka or around the Osaka Castle Area.

In this post, you can find more info about the best place to stay in Osaka. We also share some hotel suggestions suited for every budget. If you are looking for a list of cool hotels in Osaka, click here.

For a more traditional stay, check out this list of ryokans in Osaka.

If you prefer a self-catered apartment, click here.

More Osaka travel tips

Osaka Amazing Pass

The Osaka Amazing Pass is a one-day or 2-day pass for tourists.

With the pass, you get unlimited use of the Osaka subway, tramway, and bus network.  It also gives you free entry to more than 38 of Osaka’s top tourist attractions such as the Osaka Castle, Osaka Zoo, the Umeda Observatory, and the Nagai Botanical Gardens.

You can also take a free trip on the famous Tombori River with a classic river cruise or a Tombori River jazz boat tour.

The guidebook that comes with the pass includes two pages with extra coupons for discounts at various attractions, restaurants, and shops.

This is the perfect pass if you plan on visiting a lot of the included tourist sites.  The website lists the normal entry price of the attractions so you can see if and how much you will save with this pass.

Check prices and availability:
Osaka Amazing Pass

IC card

While in Japan, and especially in Osaka, it is useful to have an IC card for transport.

While you may have the JR Rail Pass which provides transport on all JR lines, Osaka has a number of other train companies.

Being able to use these companies without buying individual tickets can make getting around a lot easier.

IC cards can be bought from the ticket machines or ticket offices at all key stations.

The card cost is ¥500 and you can then charge any amount to the card.

Cash

While Japan is slowly catching up in terms of card and cashless apps being accepted in business, a number of smaller businesses still accept cash only.

This is especially true of small, independent shops and restaurants.

When exploring Osaka, these are some of the best businesses to visit – offering the best food and most unique items. Therefore, it is best to keep cash on you.

Dotonbori must not be missed while visiting Osaka even if you have only 1 day.
Dotonbori

Wear comfortable shoes

A common complaint when visiting Japan is the amount of walking.

This is especially true when trying to visit many places in one day.

There are many places where it is best to walk between, a lot of places include a lot of stairs or hills and it isn’t always the most taxi/car-friendly.

For this reason, its best to make sure you’re wearing clothes and shoes which are comfortable for walking.

It’s also important to pace yourself so as not to tire out too fast and feel free to adapt itineraries to your own needs.

Travel insurance

Did you already think about travel insurance?  Accidents happen when you least expect them.

Drawing up a travel insurance policy that covers theft, damage and all kinds of medical expenses may seem expensive at first but it can potentially save you a significant sum, significantly more than the small insurance fee. 

The good news is that it’s never too late to get cover with World Nomads and SafetyWing, you can even get their travel insurance online while you’re traveling.

Check prices and availability:

WORLD NOMADS

SafetyWing

or read our in-depth post with everything you need to know about Japan travel insurance. 

Conclusion

While visiting Japan there are so many things to do and see that planning can become daunting.

Here we have the ideal 1-day itinerary for those visiting Osaka who want to take in some of the best sights and experiences the city has to offer.

From relaxing temples to bustling shopping streets, this Osaka itinerary helps cover a range of locations.

Our 1-day Osaka itinerary will help take the stress out of planning your next Japan trip!

If you have 2 days in Osaka, check out this post.

Tags

Tags