Skip to Content

EPIC Osaka 2-day itinerary: Perfect for first-timers (2023 edition)

Here is a 2-day Osaka itinerary to explore this lively metropolis. With 19 million inhabitants, Osaka is Japan’s second-largest city.

We recommend staying in Osaka for 2 days because two days are enough to see the main sights of the city without being too rushed.

In addition to the Osaka 2-day sample itinerary, we also share the best time to visit Osaka, how to get to Osaka, tips for two days in Osaka, and the best place to stay in Osaka. 

We also suggest some day trips in case you will be staying longer than 2 days.

Keep on reading and have fun exploring Osaka. 

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 

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.

Our Japan travel planner will help you plan your trip smoothly.

Are you feeling overwhelmed by all the things to see and to do in Japan? Can’t get a hold of Japan’s complex train system? Don’t worry! Check out our Japan travel planner. This document will help you plan a stress-free trip to the land of the rising sun.

In a hurry? Here we share an overview of our Osaka itinerary

If you don’t have time to read through the full Osaka two-day itinerary,  use this overview to get an idea of the things to do each day and save it for later.

  • Day 1: Visit Osaka castle, stroll through Nishinomaru Garden, grab a bite in the Kuromon Ichiba Market, feel the vibe of Japan in Namba, and go shopping in Shinsaibashi.
  • Day 2: Visit Osaka Aquarium, enjoy the views from the Ferris wheel, get up the roof of Osaka station and the Umeda sky building, go back in time in Shinsekai district and visit Tsutenkatu Tower.

If you have 3 days in Osaka: 

  • Day 3: Make a day trip to Nara or Himeji or visit Universal Studios Japan.

In case you only have 1 day in Osaka you can choose to focus on the first day of this itinerary or you can have a look at our special 1-day Osaka itinerary.

Osaka castle
Osaka castle

2 days in Osaka

Osaka itinerary 2 days: Day 1

Feel like a samurai in Osaka castle

Osaka Castle is a good starting point for your 2-day itinerary in Osaka. There are still a lot of Samurai castles everywhere throughout Japan. 

You should visit at least one and unless you’re very much into Japanese culture and history one may be enough as they’re all very much alike. Still, they are imposing structures and we visited at least 3 during our first trip to Japan.

The castle in Osaka is a reconstruction, as are most of the castles you find in Japan today.

If you want to visit an original castle you can do a side trip to Himeji.  The trip only takes 30 minutes with the Shinkansen.

Osaka castle was originally constructed in 1583 and completely destroyed in a battle in 1615. It was rebuilt but bad luck strikes again several years later when the main castle tower was struck by lightning in 1665. 

The whole castle burned down as a result. It took until 1931 before one decided to rebuild the castle. 

The current castle is a ferroconcrete reconstruction of the original one that used to be here several years ago.

It houses an informative museum about the castle’s history and Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the Samurai who lived in this castle and has been one of the most powerful men in Japan in his era.  

Osaka castle is very popular and therefore often crowded even on weekdays, therefore we recommend visiting the castle early morning.

Several cherry trees around the castle make this a nice place to relax during the cherry blossom season.  Access to the grounds around the castle is free with the exception of the Nishinomaru garden.

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
Buy your tickets here:

Osaka Amazing Pass

How to get there:

The nearest subway station is Tanimachi Yonchome Station.  You can get there with both the Tanimachi Subway Line and the Chuo Subway Line.

If you come by train you need to head to the Osakajokoen station which is conveniently located on the Osaka loop line served by JR.

Kema Sakuranomiya Park, Osaka, Japan
Stroll around Sakuranomiya Park during your Osaka itinerary.

Stroll through Nishinomaru Garden 

We are continuing our 2 days in Osaka by strolling around Nishinomaru.

This small garden adjacent to the Osaka castle is worth a visit during the Sakura season.  It’s Osaka’s most popular hanami spot. 

Hanami means doing a picnic underneath the cherry trees.

The garden contains 600 cherry blossom trees and it’s exceptionally beautiful when they are blooming during spring.

It’s also fun to see how the Japanese are celebrating the yearly Sakura season with their friends and family.  We’ve never before seen such large crowds of people enjoying picnics in the park.

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 illuminated from 6 pm.

Although some will say it is not as spectacular, or not as unique as the Sakura, the cherry trees turn beautifully red, yellow, pink, brown, and orange in autumn which makes this season another good moment to visit the park.

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
Click here for more information and tickets:
Osaka Amazing Pass

How to get there:

The nearest subway station is Tanimachi Yonchome Station.  You can get there with both the Tanimachi Subway Line and the Chuo Subway Line.

If you come by train you need to head to the Osakajokoen station which is conveniently located on the Osaka loop line served by JR.

More cherry-blossom eye candy: We couldn’t get enough of the beautiful cherry blossoms.

If you feel the same you should make a small detour to the nearby Kema Sakuranomiya Park. 

A pedestrian bridge takes you to a waterfront promenade along the O river.  Close to 5000 cherry trees line this boardwalk.  As you stroll along the boardwalk you will also get great panoramas of the city’s skyline.

During the Sakura season, the water buses such as the aqua liner will also offer special Sakura cruises that take you along the park.

Grab a bite in the Kuromon Ichiba Market

Kuromon Ichiba Market, nicknamed Osaka’s kitchen, is an indoor marketplace that has been around for more than 150 years.

Vendors sell everything from rare fruits to vegetables, meat, and fresh seafood. Inside the market, there are several restaurants where you can enjoy delicious local dishes like Takoyaki ( a ball-shaped snack typically filled with diced octopus) and okonomiyaki ( an Osaka favorite, a sort of pancake made with egg and flour).

Everything is sold in small servings so you can taste more than one dish. It’s an excellent place to wander around and to try different Japanese specialties.

Info icon
Address: Kuromon Ichiba Market 2 Chome-4 Nipponbashi, Chuo Ward,  
Osaka Prefecture 542-0073, Osaka
Event icon
Opening hours: Vary by store
Shops and restaurants open typically around 8 am-10 am and close by 5 pm
Tickets: Entry is free
kuromon Ichiba Market Osaka, Japan

How to get there:

The closest metro station is Nippombashi Station. From this station take Exit 2, and walk for about 2 minutes, veering to the left, and you’ll be at the market.

The fastest option from Osaka Castle would be to first take the Tanimachi line at Tanimachiyonchome station and change for the Sen-Nichimae line at Tanimachikyuchome station.

The closest JR station is JR Namba station, it’s the terminal of the Yamatoji line.  Leaving Osaka Castle you take the JR Loop Line in Osakajokoen station towards Tennoji station.  You can change trains in Tennoji station or any of the subsequent stations. From Tennoji station onwards until Imamiya Station both trains stop in all stations.

Get a real sense of the Japanese vibe in Namba 

The Namba district is alive day and night and it’s a popular shopping and entertainment district.  The main street Dotonbori is a lovely place to stroll and feel the (crazy) vibe of Japan. 

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.

It’s also a good place to stay in Osaka if you like to stay in a place that’s very vibrant and has a good and broad selection of bars, restaurants, and other nightlife.

Foodies should definitely take a look at these 9 best restaurants in Osaka for cheap eats. A lot of them can be found near Dotonbori.

How to get there: The Namba district is just a 10-minute walk from the Kuromon Ichiba market.

The nearest subway station is Namba station. You can choose from the Midosuji line, Sen-Nichimae line or Yotsubashi line to get here.

The closest JR station is JR Namba station, it’s the terminal of the Yamatoji line.  Leaving Osaka Castle you take the JR Loop Line in Osakajokoen station towards Tennoji station.  You can change trains in Tennoji station or any of the subsequent stations. From Tennoji station onwards until Imamiya Station both trains stop in all stations.

Osaka Namba

Shop till you drop in the Shinsaibashi shopping Area

Shinsaibashi is right next to Namba’s famous Dotonbori. 

It is one of the most visited and fastest-growing shopping areas in Osaka with lots of high-end stores such as Chanel and Cartier.

But no worries, If you do not have a well-stocked wallet, you can also score plenty of bargains or find 100 yen shops where you can buy your souvenirs.

Even if you don’t want to buy anything it is a nice place to do some window shopping and admire the expensive handbags, handmade jewelry, kimono, and yukatas. 

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.

Besides shops, there’re also a lot of restaurants, bars, and nightclubs. 

Tip: If you are a foodie and want to discover Osaka’s food scene, then this Osaka Food Tour might be something for you.

How to get there:

The main street starts right at the Dotonbori bridge and runs all the way up to the Shinsaibashi subway station. The Midsosuji and the Nagahoritsurumiryokuchi trains stop at this station.

The nearest subway station to the Dotonbori bridge is Namba station. You can choose from the Midosuji line, Sen-Nichimae line, or Yotsubashi line to get here.

The closest JR station to the Dotonbori bridge is JR Namba station, it’s the terminal of the Yamatoji line.

2 day Osaka itinerary: Day 2

Admire colorful fish at the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan

We start the second day of our Osaka two days itinerary at the Osaka Aquarium. The Osaka Aquarium is one of the largest public aquariums in the world.

The aquarium is organized into 15 tanks each representing different habitats around the Pacific Rim.

The main attraction of the Osaka aquarium is a pair of gigantic whale sharks which can be seen in the central tank, representing the Pacific Ocean.

Info icon
Address: Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan 1 Chome-1-10 Kaigandori, Minato Ward,  
Osaka Prefecture 552-0022, Osaka
Event icon
Opening hours: Daily 10 am – 8 pm (last admission one hour before closing)
Open from 8.30 or 9.30 on special occasions 
Closed: January 16-17 and February 20-21
Tickets: Adult : 2400 Yen / 65+ : 2200 Yen / 7-15 : 1200 yen / 3-6 : 600 yen. Discount with the Osaka Amazing Pass
Osaka aquarium Tempozan Ferris Wheel Japan
Buy your tickets here:
Osaka Amazing Pass

How to get there:

The Osaka Aquarium is located at Osakako Station on the Chuo subway line. (take exit 1)

Osaka aquarium Tempozan Ferris Wheel Japan
Making a ride on the Tempozan Ferris Wheel should be on every Osaka 2-day itinerary.

Enjoy panoramic views from Tempozan Ferris Wheel

A 5-minute walk from the Osakako subway station, and steps away from the Kaiyukan aquarium you will find the Tempozan Ferris Wheel.

This was once the world’s largest wheel and is still in the TOP 25 today. Its diameter spans 100 meters and it is 112.5m high.  It holds 60 cars, each of which can accommodate up to eight passengers. 

A ride takes about 15 minutes and offers panoramic views of the bay and Osaka’s skyscrapers.

Info icon
Address: Tempozan Ferris Wheel 1 Chome-1-10 Kaigandōri, Minato-ku, Ōsaka-shi 
Osaka Prefecture 052-0022, Osaka
Event icon
Opening hours: Daily 10 am – 10 pm (last admission 9.30 pm)
Tickets: 800 Yen Free with the Osaka Amazing Pass
Osaka aquarium Tempozan Ferris Wheel Japan
Buy your tickets here:
Osaka Amazing Pass

How to get there:

Tempozan Ferris Wheel is located at Osakako Station on the Chuo subway line. (take exit 1 or 2)

Get up to the roof of the Osaka station

The former station was completely rebuilt and reopened in 2011 as Osaka Station City.  The new construction is much more than just a station, it also houses shops, a sports club, a movie theatre, and travelers can choose from a wide range of restaurants to satisfy their hunger before they hop on board.

The station consists of 2 buildings that are on either side of the tracks. 

Both buildings have a rooftop terrace, in the Northern building the terrace is on the 10th and 11th floor and it is called the Healing Garden.

This terrace offers nice views on the Umeda Sky building. Further up, but only reachable by stairs, is a vegetable and fruit garden.

The Southern building houses the terrace, called the Sun Plaza, on the 15th, 16th, and 17th floors.

This is a nice plaza to take a break while you enjoy the view of the skyscrapers in the Umeda district.

How to get there:

Osaka station is the main JR hub in central Osaka.  7 JR lines connect this station to the rest of Japan including the Osaka loop line, the Hida line, and the Hamakaze line.  

The closest subway station is Umeda Station on the Midosuji line.  To reach Osaka Station from the Osaka Bay Area you first take the Chuo line until Hommachi station where you change for the Midosuji line.

Sunset From Osaka Station
Enjoying the sunset from Osaka Station.

See the city from above at the Umeda sky building

One of the best ways to see the city from above is from the Umeda Sky Building. The futuristic building is only a 10-minute walk from Osaka station. 

 The 173-meter tall construction consists of two towers that are connected with each other by the “Floating Garden Observatory” on the 39th floor.

From here you will have 360-degree views of the city through its windows and from the open-air deck.

At night the views are quite spectacular

Also on the 39th floor are a Chinese restaurant and a cocktail bar called Stardust.  On the 1st basement floor, you will find Takimi Koji, a food alley of over 20 eateries, that replicates a nostalgic townscape of the Showa period. 

Info icon
Address: Kuchu Teien Observatory 1 Chome-1-87 Oyodonaka, Kita, 
Osaka Prefecture 531-6023, Osaka
Event icon
Opening hours: Daily 9.30 am – 10.30 pm (last admission 10 pm)
Open until 9 pm during Sakura season
No closing days.
Tickets: Adult: 1500 Yen / Children 4-12 years: 700 yen Free access with the Osaka Amazing Pass until 6 pm
Umeda building Osaka, Japan
Buy your tickets here:
Osaka Amazing Pass

How to get there:

Osaka station, the main JR hub in central Osaka, is the closest JR station.  7 JR lines stop at this station including the Osaka loop line, the Hida line, and the Hamakaze line.  

The closest subway station is Umeda Station on the Midosuji line.

Shinsekai Tsutenkaku Tower Osaka, Japan
The colorful Shinsekai District in Osaka

Go back in time in the Shinsekai district and visit Tsutenkaku Tower

The Shinsekai area was developed before the war and remained largely untouched afterward.

If you want to experience a truly retro Osaka atmosphere, this is your go-to spot.

The Janjan Yokocho alley, officially Nanyo-Dori, is one of the main shopping arcades that has recently regained some of its old glory.

Locals love the street for the broad selection of so-called B-grade gourmet restaurants that serve flavor-rich dishes at inexpensive prices.

Shinsekai is also where you find Spa World, a huge bath complex with a large number of onsen from around the world which are to be enjoyed naked and gender-separated.  

During uneven months the men get to enjoy the Asian-styled rooms and the women the European-styled rooms.  During even months the roles are reversed. 

There is also a family section with several water slides, pools and jacuzzis so don’t forget your swimsuit!

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 : 1500 Yen / Children under 12 : 1000 yen. Slides are extra. Discount with the Osaka Amazing Pass
Spaworld Shinsekai Osaka, Japan
Buy your tickets here:

Osaka Amazing Pass

Tsutenkaku Tower, also known as the Eiffel Tower of Osaka, is 103 meters high and one of the symbols of Osaka. Tsutenkaku Tower has three observation decks.  The two themed indoor observation decks are at 84m and 87.5m respectively. There’s a third outdoor observation deck at 94.5m. This deck also has a small catwalk with a see-through floor extending over the edge of the tower.

All of the observation decks offer beautiful 360-degree views and particularly nice vistas of Tennoji park and Tennoji Zoo. 

At the end of your visit, you can exit the tower in style thanks to the latest edition, the tower slider, a 60-meter-long slide that starts at the tower’s third floor.

The standard ticket gives access to the inside observation platforms.  Both the outside platform and the tower slider require an additional ticket.

With your Osaka Amazing Pass you have free access to the inside observation platforms and discounts on the other attractions.

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: 900 Yen / Children: 400 yen /Outdoor observatory: extra 300 yen The Osaka Amazing Pass gives free access to the Indoor observatory and the slide, and a discount for the outdoor observatory
Shinsekai Tsutenkaku Tower Osaka, Japan
Buy your tickets here:

Osaka Amazing Pass

How to get there: 

The nearest subway stations are Dobutsuen-Mae station in the South and Ebisucho station in the North.  The first is served by the Midosuji line and Sakaisuji line, the latter by the Sakaisuji line.

The closest JR station is Shin-Imamiya on the Osaka loop line and Yamatoji line.

To get here from the Umeda Sky building you can either take the JR Loop line at Osaka station towards Shin-Imamiya or the Midosuji subway at Umeda station.

Other Highlights of Osaka

If you have more than 2 days we recommend a day trip to either Nara or Himeji or you might opt for a day of thrills and fun in Universal Studios.

Universal studios

Universal Studios Japan

Universal Studios is a great place to come with kids but you don’t need to have children to enjoy this theme park. 

There is a good amount of thrill rides for both children as well as adults. 

The Harry Potter section is done with such an eye for detail that you might think that you accidentally ended up in the movie itself.

The park itself is not that large but it is often very crowded.  Popular attractions often have waiting lines of +2 hours. 

If you want to be able to do all the rides in 1 day we highly recommend to pay the extra fee for the Express Passes.  The express passes need to be bought separately from the entry tickets. A limited number of express passes is available for each day so these may be sold out on the day itself.

Info icon
Address: Universal Studios 2-1-33 Sakurajima, Konohana-ku,  
Osaka Prefecture 554-0031, Osaka
Event icon
Opening hours: At least 9 am – 7 pm but often longer.
Check the website for the exact opening hours.
Tickets: Adult: 7400 Yen / Children 4-11 years: 5100 yen.
Universal Studios Japan
Buy your tickets here:


How to get there: 

Take the JR Osaka Loop Line towards Nishikujo Station and switch to the JR Yumesaki Line to Universal-city Station.  Once you exit the train at Universal-city station you just need to follow the crowds through the shops to the entrance of the park.

Nara Todaiji Japan
The Todaiji Temple, the largest wooden structure

Day trip to Nara

If you have more time in Osaka a day trip to Nara which is only about a 35-minute train ride away is highly recommended.

Nara was the original capital of Japan but once Buddhism became too powerful in the country the government decided to move it.  You can still see traces of this as Nara is literally littered with temples.

The city is relatively small and most of the main sights can be covered on foot.

A highlight of your day trip is a visit to the Todaiji Temple which is the largest wooden building in the world.  It is a popular UNESCO World Heritage site. Inside the building, you will find a large bronze, Buddha.

Other highlights are the Nandaimon gate, Nigatsu-do, Kasuga Taisha, and Kofuku-ji.

You will probably also meet some deer as they roam freely through Nara and they will approach you unabashedly to beg for cookies.

How to get there:

If you have a Japan Rail pass, you can use the JR Yamatoji line. The trajectory is completely covered by the Japan Rail Pass, as well as the Kansai area pass, and takes about 50 minutes.

If you don’t have a JR Pass you might prefer the Kintetsu Nara Line.  The Rapid Express Kintetsu train reaches Nara in only 39 minutes and the Kintetsu station is more centrally located in Nara.

Kintetsu has a faster limited express train but it costs twice as much and it only saves you 5 minutes.

The Kintetsu trains leave from Osaka Namba station.

Tickets for the JR trains ( without having the JR pass) as well as the Kintetsu trains are 810 yen.

Himeji Castle Japan

Day Trip to Himeji

The prime landmark of Himeji is the magnificent castle that towers above the city.  The castle is a UNESCO world heritage site and is one of Japan’s most impressive original castles that can still be visited. 

Next to the castle is a well-maintained Japanese-style garden.

Mount Shosha is located at the city’s border and is home to the Engyo-ji Temple.  The temple’s buildings are spread across the densely forested top of the mountain. A fairly strenuous path leads up the mountain to the temple.

Otherwise, the ropeway offers a quicker and less exhausting alternative.

The temple has a rich history of over 1,000 years.  The impressive wooden buildings, beautiful scenery, and absence of any modern elements have attracted many filming crews. 

The temple is often featured in both national and international movies.  The most famous movie is probably “the last samurai”.

The temple has always been popular amongst locals and its popularity amongst foreign tourists has grown since it was featured in “the last samurai”.

How to get there: 

You can use both regular JR trains as well as the Shinkansen. 

Regular JR trains leave from Osaka station and take about one hour to reach Himeji.

The one-way fare is 1520 yen but they are covered by the Japan Rail pass as well as the Kansai Area Pass.

The Shinkansen leave from Shin-Osaka station and reach Himeji in only 40 minutes.

The one-way fare for the Shinkansen is 3820 yen but the Sakura, Hikari, and Kodama trains are covered by the Japan Rail Pass and the Kansai Wide Area Pass.

Learn to cook Japanese with a cooking class

One of the highlights of our Osaka trip was the cooking class we followed. We had so much fun learning to cook typical Japanese dishes such as Ramen and Gyozas.

You can read more about it here. 

What is the best time to visit Osaka?

Osaka can be visited all year round because the weather is quite moderate but ideally, we would recommend visiting Osaka during spring (March-May) or fall (October-November).

Read on to learn the pros and cons of each season if these two periods don’t work for you.

Tsutenkaku tower in Shinsekai


In spring everything starts to bloom and being in Osaka during the cherry blossom (Sakura) period is an unforgettable experience.

Keep in mind that spring is also the most touristy and therefore most expensive season.

The Sakura not only draws tourists from all over the world but also Japanese go crazy over this yearly event.  At lunchtime and during the weekends they head into the parks en masse to picnic and take selfies. 

It’s lovely to see the Sakura but being a witness to the enthusiasm of the Japanese was what really made our experience complete.

If this is your first visit to Japan, we recommend reading our 15 tips before traveling to Japan.

Although April and May are very good months to travel late April and early May also mark the “Golden Week”, a week with 4 Japanese holidays in which many Japanese take a local trip. It may, therefore, be very busy during this period. 


The end of the golden week announces a less touristy period. 

The climate is still very enjoyable with many sunny days. 

Fewer crowds mean a better experience and shorter queues in many of Osaka’s top attractions.

Until the end of June, it is still a perfect time to discover Osaka.

Towards the end of June, the rainy season starts and it starts to become hot and humid. 

The rainy season usually goes from mid-June to late July.

Whilst it usually does not rain every day we wouldn’t recommend visiting Osaka during this period if you’re not used to a hot and humid climate.


Fall is another excellent period to visit Osaka. 

In general, you will experience a mild climate. 

The colorful autumn foliage makes the various parks spread across Osaka very photogenic although you need to head into the national parks or the mountains to fully appreciate the beauty of this season.

The autumn foliage attracts many tourists but the crowds are not nearly as massive as during the Sakura season.


Winter (December – February) in Osaka is cold but not too cold to travel.

It’s a great time to visit Osaka if you don’t like the crowds.

How to get to Osaka?

By Plane

How to find cheap tickets to Osaka

The best websites to find cheap flights to Osaka are Momondo and Skyscanner.  Both are flight aggregators that compare several hundreds of booking sites and give you an overview of the best flights and the cheapest online travel agents to book them. 

Momondo and Skyscanner are both very good at finding good deals, of the two, Momondo is probably the one with the most intuitive user interface.

Those who are always on the lookout for the best deals should join the Dollar Flight Club.  Joining is free and once you’ve joined you will get alerts in your mailbox whenever cheap flights out of your home airport have been found. 

I recently joined the club and already saw some incredible deals.  Joining is free and it can literally save you thousands of dollars.

Osaka has 2 international airports, Kansai International Airport (KIX) and Osaka International Airport (better known as Itami; ITM).

Kansai International Airport

Kansai International Airport is Osaka’s international airport and lies about 37 kilometers southwest of downtown Osaka. 

It also serves some domestic flights from other parts of Japan.

It’s well connected to Osaka by train, limousine buses, and taxis.

Japan Rail Pass

If you have a Japan Rail Pass, the fastest, cheapest, and easiest way to get to Osaka is with the JR Haruka airport express.

This airport express train is free for holders of a JR pass and offers direct access to the major train stations of Tennoji and Shin-Osaka.

The train offers easy transfers to, amongst others, the Osaka loop line, the Midosuji subway line, and the Shinkansen.

The Rapi:t train

If you don’t have a Japan Rail Pass, you might prefer the Rapi:t airport express operated by the private Nankai Line. 

The Rapi:t train is a limited express train that runs between the airport and Namba station. It is somewhat slower but also cheaper compared to the JR Haruka. 

The Rapi:t train is certainly a good choice if you’re staying near Namba, according to us one of the best places to stay in Osaka.

In Namba, you can transfer to the Midosuji, Sennichimae, or Yotsubashi subway lines to reach other destinations in Osaka. 

JR West offers a Haruka airport express/Icoca combination ticket that is a great deal to save money.

We have more information about this in the Osaka money-saving tips below. 

Rapi:t tickets are also sold online at discounted rates and the Yokoso! ticket can be interesting as it combines the Rapi:t train with discounts on attractions and free unlimited use of subway, tram, and city-busses for one day. 

There’s more info about the Yokoso ticket in the Osaka money-saving chapter below.

Limousine bus

If you aren’t staying near Tennoji, Shin-Osaka, or Namba, or if you have a lot of luggage and don’t want to take the subway, taking a limousine bus might be a better option. The buses run along three routes, stopping at popular hotels and destinations in Osaka and Kyoto.

You can find the routes and purchase the bus ticket here with Klook:
Limousine bus

The most comfortable option of all would be a shared or private transfer.  If you’re not looking forward to train, subway or bus rides in your first hours in Osaka you could book this service and your driver would be waiting for you in the arrivals hall of the airport.  

More information and bookings:

Shared transfer

Private Transfer


You could also take a taxi from KIX to Osaka, but we wouldn’t recommend it because it’s quite expensive.  A ride to Osaka’s center will cost approximately €90.

Osaka International Airport

Osaka International Airport or Itami is Osaka’s domestic airport.  Despite its name, it handles no international flights. It lies about 11 kilometers north of central Osaka.

Itami is not as good connected as KIX.  If you take the Osaka Monorail you will most probably need to change to another train or subway.  The monorail doesn’t stop at any of the major stations or near any of the major tourist sights.

Because you need to switch trains we would rather recommend the Osaka Airport Limousine bus if you have a lot of luggage.   The journey from the airport to central Osaka costs 650 JPY and takes about 30 minutes.

An even more comfortable way is to take a shared transfer or private transfer.

Click here to get more information about these transfers:

Shared Transfer

Private Transfer

You could also take a regular private taxi. The ride will take around 25 minutes and will cost around Y5000.

Haruka airport express Osaka Japan

By Train

From Tokyo

The high-speed Shinkansen or “bullet train” provides the fastest transport service between Tokyo and Osaka. 

If you have a JR Pass, you can ride the Hikari Shinkansen at no additional cost. The journey from Tokyo Station to Shin-Osaka Station takes 3h. The Nozomi Shinkansen is faster and rides more frequently but is not covered by your JR Pass. 

The Kodama Shinkansen is also covered by the JR pass but is slower than the Hikari Shinkansen.

If you do not have a Japan Rail Pass then the fare will be 13,870 yen one way with an unreserved seat. 

From Kyoto

The easiest and fastest way to get from Kyoto to Osaka is by train. 

There are several options depending on your location in Kyoto and your destination in Osaka.

Below is how to reach Shin-Osaka station and Osaka station. These are the major transportation hubs In Osaka. Both stations offer transfers to several other trains and the ability to easily reach places all over Osaka.

Shin-Osaka Station

The high-speed Shinkansen will get you from Kyoto Station to Shin-Osaka Station in 12 minutes for 1440 yen.

This is the fastest and most comfortable route into Osaka and might be worthwhile if you have a Japan Rail Pass to cover the cost.

If you don’t have a JR pass, you can also opt for a cheaper alternative. 

The JR Kyoto line takes 23 minutes to reach Shin-Osaka station from Kyoto. 

The fare for this service is 570 yen.

Osaka station

If you want to go to Osaka station, you can take the Special Rapid Train on the JR Kyoto line. This train will get you to Osaka station in about 30 minutes for 570 yen.

How to get around Osaka

We visited Osaka as part of a 3-week itinerary throughout Japan.  We owned a JR Pass and used the JR trains to get around Osaka.

Osaka has a very extensive public transportation system and with either the JR trains or the subway you will be able to quickly get near all major sights and attractions.

The cheapest and most efficient way to use the metro is with an Osaka Metro Pass. You get unlimited rides on the Osaka Metro Lines as well as the city bus. In addition, you enjoy a discount at 30 popular tourist sights including the Osaka Castle, the Umeda Sky Building, the Tempozan Giant Ferris Wheel, and the Shitennoji Temple. You can buy this pass for 1 or 2 days.

The Osaka Amazing Pass makes traveling around Osaka a breeze. It covers rides on the Osaka Metro, several private train lines (excluding the JR lines), and most city buses. The pass also offers free access to over 50 popular tourist attractions and discounts at several more. This is the best pass for those who are serious about discovering everything that Osaka has to offer.

Check prices and availability:

Osaka Amazing Pass

Osaka Metro Pass

Travel Insurance for Japan

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.

Get a free quote:



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

Osaka money-saving tips

When traveling around Osaka, you can choose from a variety of discount tickets. Here we list the most important ones.

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 50 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 other 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.

Click here for more information or to buy your Osaka Amazing Pass:
Osaka Amazing Pass

Osaka Metro Pass for 1 or 2 days

This pass gives you unlimited and fast travel around Osaka on Osaka Metro-operated city buses and subways and gives a discount to  30 famous sightseeing facilities such as Osaka Castle, the Umeda sky building, the Tsutenkaku Tower, etc.

A very cheap option if you plan on using public transportation a lot and don’t have a Japan Rail Pass.

This pass is strictly only available to foreign tourists with short-stay entry status.  You will need to present your passport when you pick up your pass at the airport.

Read more information or buy your pass here:
Osaka Metro Pass

Yokoso! Osaka Ticket

Note that the pass is not available at the moment

This ticket includes a Nankai Electric Railway Train ticket valid on the Rapi:t train, a discount at 31 tourist spots, and free unlimited use of the subway, tramway, and city buses for one day. 

Some of the popular attractions that offer a discount are the Osaka Castle, the Nishinomaru garden, the Shitennõ-ji temple, the Umeda Sky building observatory, and the Tsutenkaku tower.

This pass is an interesting option to get from the airport to the city if you don’t have a JR Pass.  The ticket for the rapi:t train itself costs 1,130 yen.  If you do 2 subway rides and visit one of the sights you have saved with this pass.

More information and bookings:
Yokoso Osaka Ticket

As our 2-day itinerary focuses on the sights within Osaka’s city limits the Osaka Amazing or Osaka Unlimited pass are probably the best options.

JR Passes

But for the sake of those who have more time in Osaka and want to do some side trips to Nara, Himeji, Hiroshima, Takayama, or Kanazawa we mention the JR Passes for completeness.

The Kansai area pass is the most popular pass. It covers Himeji, Nara, Kobe, Osaka, and Kyoto. This pass is also valid on the Haruka express so you can use this pass to get from the airport to the city.

This pass is available for periods ranging from 1 day to 4 days.  The other variants can only be bought for longer periods starting at 5 days.

Click here to get more information or to buy your JR West Pass:

To visit Hiroshima you would need the Kansai – Hiroshima pass. Trips to Takayama and Kanazawa are included in the Kansai – Hokuriku pass.

ICOCA & Haruka discount ticket

This combi ticket is a combination of a rechargeable IC Card and a discounted ticket for the Haruka express train that connects Kansai airport with Osaka.  The IC Card comes pre-charged with 1,500 yen.  This credit can be used on JR trains, the subway, buses, and several private railways.

This ticket can only be bought at the JR desks at the airport.

If you already hold an ICOCA card you can buy the discounted Haruka train tickets only.  You just need to show your ICOCA card at the JR desks at the airport.

Best Osaka Organized Tours

Here is an overview of the best-organized tours in Osaka.

  An organized tour can save you a considerable amount of time and, moreover, the tour guide will enlighten you about the different sights you visit.

We partnered up with GetYourGuide and Viator for these activities. 

We love both because they’re flexible.  Sometimes your plans change last minute and then you want to be able to cancel your tickets and get your money back.  It’s also good to know that GetYourGuide and Viator have your back when the local tour operator doesn’t show up or cancels your trip.

GetYourGuide and Viator are reliable platforms where you can book thousands of tours anywhere in the world.  We selected 3 excellent tours in Osaka just for you.

Deep backstreet Osaka tour

This award-winning tour offered by Viator shows you the historic districts and local traditions of Osaka.

You will learn a lot about Osaka and Japan in general and you will also have the chance to try delicious food.

The guide has in-depth knowledge about the area and is also very entertaining.

Highly recommended if you want to get a glimpse of the backstreets of Osaka.

Less suitable for children.

Check prices and availability:
Deep backstreet Osaka tour

Discover Osaka with a private walking tour

One of the best ways to start your visit to Osaka is by making a private walking tour with a local host. 

Nothing is more fun than getting a first impression of this fantastic city from somebody who lives here.

The local guide will tailor the tour to your taste.

It’s also a great opportunity to ask insider tips about where to eat, what to do besides Osaka highlights, and more. You can book this tour with GetYourGuide.

More information and booking:
Private Walking Tour

Osaka food tour

This small-group tour offered by Viator ( maximum of 8 people) takes you to the backstreets of Shinsekai.

Here you have the chance to visit 5 eateries and try 10 local dishes such as kitsune udon ( Japanese Udon soup), gyoza ( dumplings), takoyaki ( octopus dumplings), etc.

There are also 2 drinks (one alcoholic and one nonalcoholic) included in the tour.

This food tour takes you off the beaten path. Guests also love the fantastic guides.

This is the perfect tour if you want to visit Osaka’s most famous areas at night and learn more about Osaka history and culture.

More information and booking:
Osaka Food Tour

Where to stay in Osaka

For first-time visitors, the best place to stay in Osaka is somewhere in Central Osaka (Kita, Minami, or Honmachi).

This will save you a lot of time on trains and subways that can be better spent exploring the many sights Osaka has to offer. 

Kita is the absolute favorite if you fancy some day trips to nearby places like Nara. 

You will be able to leave directly from Osaka station without the need to take the subway first.

Here we share a good hotel in that area.

ANA Crowne Plaza Osaka

Crowne Plaza Ana Osaka

This Crowne Plaza hotel is relatively close to several subway stations, they also offer a free shuttle service.

The rooms are spacious, comfortable, and quiet. Guests also love the delicious breakfast that you can enjoy while admiring the view over the river.

More information and booking:


Looking for a place to stay in Osaka? We’ve got you covered:


The 2 days we spent in Osaka were an absolute thrill!   The city has quaint charmful districts like Shinsekai as well as vibrant areas such as Namba.  Every place we visited showed us another aspect of this versatile city.

After 2 days you probably won’t have enough of this city, at least we didn’t, but there are so many sites around the city that are worth exploring as well. We enjoyed Nara and the incredible tranquility that this place radiates.

If you can’t get enough of the robust impressive castles you should head to Himeji, which may be Japan’s best-preserved castle.

Osaka was our number 1 city in Japan.  If you love this city as much as we do you can also opt to stay in Osaka while you visit Kyoto.  The 2 cities are just a 30-minute train ride away.

Japan travel tips

Tips when traveling to Japan:

We took a little bit of cash with us but most things we paid with our credit card. Expenses abroad can be seriously inflated by fees from your bank or credit card.  That’s why I’m a huge fan of my N26 account.  The account is available to most EU residents. The checking account is free as well as the associated Mastercard and there’s no exchange rate provision when you use the card for payments abroad.  There’s a 1,7% exchange rate provision when you withdraw money abroad but even that is free with the premium Black Mastercard.

The app is another great feature of the card, you can follow your expenses in real-time and instantly block your card if you see any signs of fraud.

A local SIM card or pocket WiFi device comes in handy. We have often used Google Maps to find our way around major cities. If you want to purchase a local SIM card, you can find our detailed post here. If you want to compare the different WiFI devices you can rent in Japan, click here. 

When you’re traveling by train it’s also a good idea to forward your baggage.  You can read these tips and much more in our separate article about traveling to Japan for the first time.

We traveled around Japan by train and could save a few bucks by buying a Japan Rail Pass in advance.

Get more information on the Japan Railpass here:
Japan Railpass

Or read this article in which we describe how you can find out whether you would also benefit from a Japan Rail Pass.

Wondering what to wear in Japan? Take a look at our complete Japan packing list. 

If you like this article, pin it

Osaka 2 days