30 Best Things to Do in Osaka

What to Do in Osaka: Bucket List

Things to Do in Osaka: Osaka Bucket List

Osaka is the capital city of Western Japan, and the second largest metropolitan city in Japan after Tokyo. It’s one of the most popular tourist destinations in Japan that attracts visitors from all around the world. Together with Tokyo and Kyoto, Osaka is one of three must-visit cities in Japan for every visitors to Japan.

There are countless tourist attractions in Osaka including delicious local food, trendy shopping streets, bustling districts lit by neon lights, modern skyscraper, the world’s greatest amusement park, and more. The unique culture and friendly locals are also two attractive points that add a distinctive character to the city like no other.

If you are planning your first visit to Osaka and wondering about the best things to do, see and experience in Osaka, please check out this Osaka Bucket List! The list includes 30 best things to do in Osaka from classic tourist attractions to trendy places that can help you to plan a perfect trip in Osaka!

In addition to the classic things to do in Osaka introduced below, the following article also recommends new tourist sites and cool accommodations just opening in 2023. The popular Universal Studio Japan offers the newest attractions collaborating with the hottest anime. There are various seasonal events you can experience only in 2023. If you’re planning to visit Osaka this year or want to keep up with the latest trends, be sure to check out such unique information for 2023. Information for Osaka in 2024 is also included for those planning for next year.

▶️12 Best Things to Do in Osaka 2023-2024

*Please note that this article contains affiliate links.


1. Experience the thrill of rides and attractions at Universal Studios Japan

The entrance of Universal Studios Japan
The Universal Studios Globe: famous landmark and photo spot at the park

Visiting Universal Studios Japan (USJ) is one of the best things to do in Osaka for friend groups, couples and families. It is the most visited theme park in Japan along with Tokyo Disney Resort (Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea). USJ offers numbers of fun and thrilling attractions with themes of popular movies and characters including Spiderman, Jurassic Park, JAWS, Harry Potter, Minions and Super Mario. Moreover, there have been also lots of collaborations with popular anime and manga lately such as Demon Slayer, Pokemon and Detective Conan.

Book your Universal Studios Japan Osaka e-tickets here! 

The park is divided in 10 areas of Hollywood, New York, San Francisco, Jurassic Park, Waterworld, Amity Village, Universal Wonderland, Minion Park, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Nintendo World. Seasonal events and limited-time attractions are also available at the park through the year such as Halloween and Christmas.

Besides attractions, Universal Studios Japan merchandise collections are hugely popular among visitors. You can find limited products of popular characters like Minions, Sesame Street, Hello Kitty and more! There are also cute character themed food and drinks available at the park.

Universal Studios Japan tickets can be purchased at the ticket booth of the park, however, it’s strongly recommended to purchase your ticket online in advance to save queuing time. There are also various types of tickets available, so please check the link below to learn about the best way to purchase Universal Studios Japan tickets.

Ticket Guide to Universal Studio Japan

2. Explore the vibrant streets and delicious food of Dotonbori

Dotonbori (道頓堀) is Osaka’s most touristic neighbourhood located in Minami area. The energetic and vibrant district is famous for billboards and shop displays with neon lights such as Glico Running Man and the moving gigantic crab.

Dotonbori is a popular area to dine out as a great number of restaurants are located within the area. As a center of entertainment in Osaka, the district has no shortage of spots for sightseeing, shopping, food, attractions, etc.. that you will never be bored!

Do you want to explore the neighbourhood of Dotonbori deeper?? You won’t miss the best bits of Dotonbori with “Osaka Local Foodie Tour in Dotonbori and Shinsekai”. This popular walking tour introduces a variety of local specialties in both Dotonbori and Shinsekai.

3. Indulge in the local cuisine of Osaka, known for its delicious and unique flavors

Local food is definitely a top attraction in Osaka. Some of Osaka specialties are nation’s favourite such as Takoyaki (Octopus Balls), Okonomiyaki (Japanese savory pancakes), Ikayaki (squid pancake) and Kushi Katsu (deep-fried skewered meat and vegetables). On the streets of Osaka, you can easily find shops and stalls offering authentic taste of local food with inexpensive prices. When in Osaka, you will never feel hungry as you might want to try all the delicious Osaka specialties!

Osaka is best-known for tasty and affordable local dishes, but if you wish to have a high-end dining experience in Japan, Osaka is also one of the best cities. Some of Japan’s top-rated restaurants are located in Osaka including fine Sushi restaurants and Michelin starred restaurants.

Check out the list of the best restaurants in Osaka ▶ 20 Best Restaurants in Osaka

Another great way to explore the glorious Osaka food culture is joining in a cooking class hosted by local teachers! Japanese cooking class has been one of the top tourist attractions in the country in recent years as you can experience the authentic food culture through the class as well as have a quality time with locals. Also, you can take the recipes at the end of the class so you can cook the dishes for your friends and family back home.

There are various kinds of cooking classes available in Osaka today such as the classic Sushi making, trending Ramen making, authentic home cooking dishes like Udon noodle and Gyoza dumplings, making unique character Bento box, and let’s not to forget Osaka specialties such as Takoyaki (octopus balls) and Okonomiyaki (savory pancake).

Check out the best cooking classes available in Osaka ▶ Best Osaka Cooking Classes

4. Marvel at the beauty and history of Osaka Castle

Osaka Castle and cherry blossoms
The majestic Osaka Castle is a popular place for cherry blossom viewing

Osaka Castle(大阪城) is a symbol of Osaka and one of the greatest castles in Japan. Osaka Castle is an important historic monument that represents the great history of Azuchi-Momoyama period during the sixteenth century. The castle was built in 1583 by the order of Hideyoshi Toyotomi, the one of the most famous unifying warlords of Japanese history. The castle is located within the Osaka Castle Park, which is a popular spot for cherry blossom viewing, with approx 3,000 cherry trees flourishing during the season.

The castle grounds, which cover approx 61,000 square metres, consist of gates, turrets, fortifications and moats (inner and outer) including 13 structures designated to “important cultural assets” by the Japanese government. The castle stores valuable documents and materials, and the rich history of Osaka Castle and Hideyoshi Toyotomi can be explored in the museum inside. The castle also has an observation deck on the top floor (8F) where you can gaze the astonishing view of Osaka City.

Looking for a unique way to explore around Osaka Castle? The “Osaka Bike Tour to the Neighborhoods of Osaka Castle” is highly recommended half-day tour for active travellers, which you can cycle around the neighbourhood of Osaka, feel the breeze and skip the crowds! The tour includes delicious Okonomiyaki lunch, too!

Find out more details about the tour! ▶ Book Online: 4-Hour Osaka Highlights Bike Tour

5. Discover the wonders of marine life at Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan

In front of the Kaiyukan Aquarium entrance
Kaiyukan Aquarium is one of the most impressive aquariums to visit in the world and it’s home to nearly 30,000 creatures

Kaiyukan (海遊館) is one of the biggest aquariums in the world, displaying over 600 kinds of different marine life such as turtles, dolphins, penguins, sea lions, rays, jellyfish and more. It’s a great place both for kids and adults to explore the underwater world. It’s located in the Tempozan Harbor Village of Osaka’s bay area (not far from Universal Studios Japan).

The walk-in aquarium boasts 15 fish tanks in total with each one recreating a region of the Pacific Rim including Japan Forest, Aleutian Islands, Antarctica, Tasman Sea and Great Barrier Reef. The Aqua Gate allows you to experience what it’s like to be under the sea by passing through the transparent undersea tunnel. The largest fish tank the “Pacific Ocean” with the size of 9m deep and 34m long consists of 5,400 tons of water and holds a wide variety of sea creatures including two whale sharks, the largest fish species in the world.

▶ Book e-tickets to Kaiyukan Aquarium!

Map: http://bit.ly/2FvjQBi

6. Enjoy panoramic views of the Osaka Bay area from the Tempozan Ferris Wheel

The colourful Ferris wheel of Tempozan after sunset
Tempozan Ferris Wheel is recommended to visit along with Kaiyukan Aquarium

The Tempozan Ferris Wheel (天保山大観覧車) is a Ferris wheel located at Tempozan Harbor Village, next to the Kaiyukan Aquarium. It opened to the public in 1997 as the largest Ferris wheel in the world at that time. The wheel has a height of 112.5m (369 ft) and diameter of 100m).

You can enjoy a panoramic view of the Osaka Bay area and surroundings during a 17-min ride including Mt Ikoma, Akashi Kaikyo Bridge, Kansai Airport and Rokko Mountain when the visibility is good. It’s also a popular place to visit at night as the Ferris wheel is lit-up by colourful LED lights after dark and you can enjoy a romantic night view of the city. A fun fact of the Ferris wheel is that the colour of the light indicates a weather forecast for the next day (orange for a sunny day, green for a cloudy day and blue for a rainy day).

Osaka has another symbolic Ferris wheel in the city center. The Hep Five, a popular shopping complex in Umeda area, is home to approx 170 shops, restaurants and amusement facilities including an iconic vivid red Ferris wheel with 75m diameter. With the highest point reaching 106m above the ground, you can enjoy the breathtaking view of Osaka city with some of iconic landmarks.

Map: http://bit.ly/2SilI54

7. Immerse yourself in the retro atmosphere of Shinsekai

The street of Shinsekai district with colourful shop signs and Tsutenkaku Tower
Shinsekai is a photo-worthy area in Osaka, attracting photographers by its unique and retro streetscape

Shinsekai (新世界) is a unique and attractive district in Osaka where you can feel the authentic vibe of Osaka in old times. Shinsekai literally means “New World” as the distric was developed as a new tourist attraction in 1912, yet, it suffered from a massive economic corruption by 1930, then was heavily damaged during the war. After the war, Shinsekai became infamous for Osaka’s most poor and dangerous area, however, the bad reputation slowly faded away in 90s, then it became one of the most popular tourist spots in the city.

The nostalgic, old downtown Shinsekai attracts visitors with the unique post-war atmosphere. The streets of Shinsekai is filled with colourful and retro shop displays which make the district one of the most popular photography spots in Osaka. Tsutenkaku Tower is a must-visit landmark in Shinsekai, which was buit in 1912 resembling the Eiffel Tower in Paris. There is an observation deck in the tower where you can enjoy the view overlooking the charming neighbourhood and the central city.

If you want to dig Shinsekai deeper, visit Janjan Yokocho, a 180m long retro shopping alley filled with shops, restaurants and bars. Kushikatsu (fried skewer) is a particularly popular dish from the district and there are several restaurants where you can enjoy crispy and delicious Kushikatsu at very reasonable price.

8. Shop for trendy fashion in the trendy district of Shinsaibashi

The entrance of Shinsaibashi-suji shopping arcade
Enjoy “rain-free” shopping all day at Shinsaibashi Suji Shopping Arcade!

Shinsaibashi (心斎橋) is the best district for shopping in Osaka. From luxury brands to fast fashion retailers, there are numbers of shopping malls and boutiques gathering within the area. Shinsaibashi-suji is a famous shopping arcade which is 600m long and consists of hundreds of shops from small boutiques to large departments stores.

The covered arcade always offers a comfortable shopping experience without concerning a weather condition. There are not only clothing stores, but also a wide variety of shops in this massive shopping arcade such as drugstores, variety shops, restaurants, cafes and more. It’s the place to shop till you drop in Osaka!

Parallel and one block west of the Shinsaibashi-suji shopping arcade, there is another shopping avenue called Midosuji. Often described as the Champs Elysee of the Orient, Midosuji is lined with luxury boutiques and department stores, and approx 1,000 ginkgo trees are planted along the avenue. It’s a popular spot for autumn leaves viewing as the ginkgo leaves turn yellow during the season as well as for winter light-up as the avenue is illuminated by romantic lights.

Best Things to Do in Shinsaibashi

9. Discover the diverse culture of America Mura (American Village)

The chic street of America Mura with vintage shops and street arts
Discover the young street culture of Osaka at American Village!

Exploring America Mura or American Village (アメリカ村) is among the premier things to do in Osaka. The vibrant district is known as the center of young culture in Osaka, often compared with Harajuku district in Tokyo. It’s filled with over 2,000 outlets including boutiques, vintage clothing shops, cafes, galleries and record shops. The district has been a center of Osaka’s young culture for over 40 years. If you are into Japanese street culture including trendy fashion, vintage clothes and street food, this is the area you should visit in Osaka.

The landmark of America Mura, Sankaku Koen (Triangle Park) is situated in the center of the district where people meet up and hang out, and some street performances, flea markets, and even fashion shows take place on some weekends. Another symbol of America Mura is the Peace on Earth wall painting drawn by Japanese artist Seitaro Kuroda. You can spot a lot of graffiti and street art in this area. America Mura is also known as a vibrant nightlife and entertainment district as many bars and clubs in the district get crowded after dark.

10. Marvel at the stunning architecture of Umeda Sky Building

Umeda Sky Building (梅田スカイビル) is a high rise building located in the Kita district, near Osaka and Umeda stations. The 173m tall building was designed by Japanese architect Hiroshi Hara, is known as one of the most renowned architectures in the world for its unique shape and structure with two 40-story towers that are connected with bridges and escalator crossing in the center.

This modern landmark of Osaka has a observatory called Kuchu Teien (means The Floating Garden) on the 39th, 40th floors and the rooftop. It’s one of the top attractions in Osaka, offering a panoramic city view from the 360-degree open air deck. The observatory features a newly refurbished corridor “Lumi Skywalk” filled with luminous stones which glows in dark and offers a dreamy walk as if going on a journey through the galaxy.

At 39th and 40th floor, there are cafe, restaurant and bar where you can be indulged with delicious food and drinks while watching an astonishing view of the city. Umeda Sky Building is a popular date destination among couples as the souvenir shop on the observatory floor sell heart-shaped padlocks which you can engrave your names and lock them at the observatory or take them home as a souvenir.

▶ Umeda Sky Building Floating Garden Observatory Tickets

Map: http://bit.ly/2BelLWK

11. Experience beachfront fun and relaxation at the spacious Sennan Long Park

Sennan Long Park
Enjoying nature and outdoor activities at the urban beach resort Sennan Long Park © 2019 SENNAN LONG PARK

Sennan Long Park (泉南ロングパーク), also known as Sennan Rinku Park, opened in the seaside area of Sennan City, on the opposite shore of Kansai International Airport in 2020 as a modern nature spot in Osaka. The large recreation park offers a range of facilities and activities including palm tree lined promenade, beach, playground, sports facilities, cafes, onsen and glamping site. Many events are also held at the park including food festivals, live concerts and fireworks.

The tropical beach park is divided into four areas: the Activity Area for sports, the Community Area for BBQ and restaurants, the Marché Area for fresh seafood from Okadaura Fishing Port and the Glamping Area for staying in the luxury villas. The park is bordered by Sennan Marble Beach and Tarui Southern Beach, which are listed on the 100 best sunset spots in Japan.

Map: https://goo.gl/maps/jLb5bmsRqsHgKaU87

12. Discover the unique Namba Yasaka Shrine, featuring a massive lion head shaped statue

Namba Yasaka Shrine has become one of the most popular places to visit in Osaka among instagrammers

One of the most unique and photo-worthy shrines in Japan, Namba Yasaka Shrine (難波八阪神社) is located in the Namba district. It’s often called “the Lion Shrine” as it features Ema-Den, a massive lion head shaped building with its mouth wide open. The lion head measures 12 m high and 11 m wide and  became a popular photo spot in Osaka over the past years. Inside the lion month is a stage where several shrine events are held through the year.

The shrine has been worshipped as the tutelary deity of the Namba district, yet has no remaining records of original establishment. It is believed that the wide-opened mouth of the lion swallows up evil spirits of worshippers and calls for victory and success. Namba Yasaka Shrine is accessible from the city center of Osaka (only 15 mins walk from the popular Dotonbori area).

Map: https://goo.gl/maps/HZoituDpuG6HGfmQA

13. Experience the tranquility and beauty of traditional Japanese tea

You can explore the beauty of green tea in various ways in Osaka

Green tea is one of the most facinating things about Japanese culture and a top tourist attraction today. The taste and health benefits of Japanese green tea are well recognised and highly praised worldwide, and this is one thing that shouldn’t be missed out while travelling in Japan. There are various ways to experience Japanese green tea such as tea plantation, tea ceremony, green tea cafes and matcha desserts, and they can be enjoyed here in Osaka, too.

An interesting fact is that tea was once cultivated in Osaka in the area called Chayamadai in Sakai City. Sakai City is a birthplace of the legendary Japanese tea master Sen no Rikyu, and there is Sen no Rikyu Chanoyu (Tea Ceremony) Museum where you can learn about the history and experience a traditional Japanese tea ceremony. Although there is no longer commercial tea cultivation in Osaka, there are still some tea-related facilities remaining in the city such as tea trees in Osaka Castle Park and a tea garden in Osaka Expo Park.

If you are a green tea lover, you should definitely join a traditional tea ceremony, which is dates back hundreds of years and is the most idealistic pastime of ancient Japan. airKitchen introduces various tea ceremony classes available in Osaka where you can learn how to prepare matcha tea and some classes offer also wagashi (traditional Japanese sweets) making that goes along with the tea. Classes are usually guided in English and give you a great opportunity to learn about Japanese culture through the experience with local hosts!

Check more tea ceremony classes available in Osaka today ▶ Book Online: Best Osaka Tea Ceremony Classes

14. Hop between bars and enjoy the nightlife of Osaka

Izakaya Alley in Osaka by Night
Bar hopping is the best way to explore the nightlife and drink culture of local Osakan

Osaka is one of the best cities in Japan when it comes to nightlife. To enjoy the city of Osaka to the fullest, you should definitely try something really fun at night! There are several great drinking spots and Izakaya alleys in Osaka where you can experience authentic and wonderful nightlife.

One of the greatest ways to explore the rich food culture of Osaka is joining a local food tour. There are many types of food tours available today, and bar hopping is highly recommended to experience the  nightlife of Japanese people. There are numbers of hidden drinking spots in Osaka that are not on guidebooks, but you may be able to visit some of off-the-beaten-track places with a local expert!

The Osaka Bar Hopping Nightlife Tour is a highly recommended bar hopping tour that takes you on a journey of exploring Osaka’s nightlife with a friendly local guide. Through the tour, you can try various delicious Izakaya food and drinks by hopping several Izakaya bars in popular areas such as Hozenji Yokocho Alley (法善寺横丁) , the old-fashioned drink alley near Dotonbori area.

For more fun activities in Osaka at night, please check this out ▶ Best Things to Do in Osaka at Night

15. teamLab Botanical Garden: Immerse yourself in the Digital Art Space

https://prcdn.freetls.fastly.net/release_image/7339/830/7339-830-5061fd85569f43d96ecf60efc9b10c43-3900x2376.jpg?format=jpeg&auto=webp&quality=85%2C65&width=1950&height=1350&fit=bounds
© teamLab

The digital art museums of teamLab have been taken the world by storm in recent years, and following the huge success with the two museums in Tokyo (teamLab Borderless and teamLab Planets), teamLab’s new “permanent” venue has opened in Osaka recently.

The teamLab Botanical Garden Osaka (チームラボ ボタニカルガーデン 大阪) is an open-air museum located at the botanical garden inside Nagai Park, one of the largest parks in Osaka with a space of 240,000 sqm. The botanical garden is open during the day and turns into the digital art museum once it gets dark. The teamLab Botanical Garden Osaka consists of 6 areas with various digital art works which interactively changing according to the behavior of nature and the presence of people. As the museum has been extremely popular since opening in 2022, it’s recommended to buy tickets in advance!

▶ Book teamLab Botanical Garden Osaka Ticket

16. Take in the stunning views from the observation deck of Abeno Harukas

Abeno Harukas (あべのハルカス) is a 300m tall multi-purpose commercial building opened in 2014, which consists of 62 floors with shops, restaurants, museum, hotel, office, etc. It’s the tallest building in Osaka and one of the most popular landmarks in the city. The 300 m tall skyscraper has an observatory “Harukas 300” on 58–60 floors, offering the panoramic view of Osaka City from glass-enclosed and open-air spaces, which is especially recommended to visit at night.

One of the largest department stores in Japan, Kintetsu Department Store Main Store Abeno Harukas spans from B2 to 14th floor of the building, consisting of shops, restaurants and service facilities with a wide range of products including luxury brands, beauty items, souvenirs, grocery, etc, in a sales area of approx 100,000 sqm in total. The Foreign Customer’s Salon is located on 3.5F of the Wing Building, providing various useful services to foreign visitors including English guide, luggage storage, delivery service and free Wi-Fi.

Abeno Harukas has a great accessibility as it can be accessed directly from both Osaka Abenobashi Station and Tennoji Station. There are many tourist attractions in the neighbourhood including Shitennoji Temple, Tennoji Zoo and Osaka City Museum of Fine Arts, and the Shinsekai distric is also situated nearby.

▶ Book e-tickets to Harukas 300 Observatory Now!

17. Delight in the flavors of Osaka’s Kitchen at the vibrant Kuromon Market

people inside building
See what locals eat and shop at Kuromon Market

Kuromon Market or Kuromon Ichiba (黒門市場) is one of the largest markets in Western Japan, located in Minami area in central Osaka. The market has over 190 years history and has been adored by locals as “Osaka’s Kitchen”. The covered market stretches about 580m and consists of approx 150 stores selling a wide variety of food products including fresh seafood, meat, vegetables, fruits, pickled food, dried food, sweets, street food and souvenirs. There are also some rare products such as blow fish and soft shelled turtle.

Kuromon Market is always crowded by locals and tourists, and also many professional chefs come here to shop quality ingredients. It’s also the best spot to enjoy authentic street foods of Osaka. If you wish to explore Osaka’s food culture deeper, Kuromon Market is the right place to visit.

18. Visit the historic and revered Shitennoji Temple

The 5-story pagoda and the middle gate of Shitennoji Temple
Explore the historical side of Osaka by visiting Shitennoji Temple, one of the most important temples in Japan

Shitennoji Temple (四天王寺) is one of the oldest Buddhist temples existing in Japan today. It’s also known as Arahakaji, Nanbaji, or Mitsuji. The temple was founded by Prince Shotoku in 593 and regarded as the first and the oldest Buddhist temple in the country to be administered officially in Japan. The temple complex has been destroyed from disasters and wars and rebuilt over the centuries with the last reconstruction which took place in 1963.

The large temple complex consists of gates, halls, a five-story pagoda, cemetery and museum. It also owns a beautiful Japanese garden “Gokuraku-jodo Garden”, and is home to numbers of national treasures and Important Cultural Properties. Shitennoji is located in Tennoji area, which is close to many popular tourist attractions including Abeno Harukas, Shinsekai district and Tennoji Zoo.

19. Get up close with animals at Osaka Tennoji Zoo

Osaka Tennoji Zoo
Meeting diverse animals at Osaka Tennoji Zoo

Tennoji is the Osaka’s town famed for Osaka Tennoji Zoo (天王寺動物園), the large zoo with a long and distinguished history. It’s the third oldest zoo in Japan after Ueno Zoo in Tokyo and Kyoto City Zoo in Kyoto, and has been loved by both locals and tourists since opening in 1915. The zoo is home to about 1,000 animals of about 200 species and recreates natural habitats as far as possible. You can meet hippopotamuses and lions in African Savanna Zone; deer and chimpanzees in Asian Tropical Rainforest Zone; polar bears and black swans in Aviary Zone.

Tennoji Zoo is located inside Tennoji Park which consists of several other facilities and establishments including a greenhouse, Osaka Municipal Museum of Art, a Japanese landscape garden Keitaku-en, Chausuyama Tomb and Tenshiba Ina a new lawn area with shops, cafes, futsal court and a variety of activities. There are several notable tourist attractions nearby such as Shinsekai district, Shitennoji Temple and Abeno Harukas.

Map: https://goo.gl/maps/iUW5yoEbCsc8cZQA7

20. Visit Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine, one of the greatest shrines in Japan

Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine
The traditional Sumiyoshi-zukuri building at Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine

Sumiyoshi Taish Shrine (住吉大社) or Sumiyoshi Grand Shrine is one of the oldest Shinto shrines in Japan located south of central Osaka. According to the old Japanese chronicles, the ancient shrine was founded in the 3rd century before the arrival of Buddhism from China. It’s the most is the most important shrine of the many Sumiyoshi shrines located across the country. The unique style of shrine architecture is known as the Sumiyoshi-zukuri.

Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine is a popular shrine to visit among Western Japan residents for Hatsumode, the first shrine visit of the year. The shrine invites over 2 million visitors in the first 3 days of every year, making it one of the most visited shrines of all Japan. For Hatsumode, people wait in a long line before tossing a coin and giving a first prayer for good fortune for a new year.

21. Explore the beautiful gardens and exhibitions at Osaka Expo Park

The Tower of the Sun by Taro Okamoto
The Tower of the Sun at Osaka Expo ‘70 Park is a well-known landmark in Osaka

Osaka Expo Park (万博記念公園) is a large park located about 20 km away from the central area of Osaka. The park was originally founded in 1970 as the site of Osaka Expo ’70, and now it’s a popular sightseeing spot. It’s best known for the symbolic “the Tower of the Sun (太陽の塔)” created by the famous Japanese artist, Taro Okamoto. The park has about 264 ha of space with lawn, forest, and education and recreation facilities.

The Natural and Cultural Gardens where pavilions were placed during the expo, is now the area filled with nature with large lawn, over 470,000 trees and a wide variety of seasonal flowers. There is also a large Japanese Garden with landscape garden, pond, waterfall, rock garden teahouse, historic buildings, etc, in a 26 ha space. The garden expresses the passage of time in four eras: the ancient period, the medieval period, the early modern period and the modern time.

Osaka Expo Park is a popular place to visit especially during cherry blossoms and autumn leaves viewing seasons, and you can relax and enjoy the tranquility in rich nature away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Map: http://bit.ly/2A4Q6Fz

22. Watch Baseball Games (Hanshin Tigers and Orix Buffaloes)

Kyocera Dome Osaka
Kyocera Dome Osaka where Hanshin Tigers and Orix Buffaloes play their home games during the Japanese baseball league season

Baseball is one of the most popular sports in Japan, and the Japanese professional baseball league runs from March to September annually with numbers of exciting games that can be enjoyed at each stadium. There are two professional baseball teams that are popular among Osaka residents; Hanshin Tigers from the Central League and Orix Buffaloes from the Pacific League.

The Hanshin Tigers is actually based in Nishinomiya City, Hyogo Prefecture, but has a huge funbase in Osaka. Their home field is Koshien Stadium, which is used for high school baseball tournaments. The team uses Kyocera Dome Osaka as their home field during the period of the high school baseball tournaments.

The Orix Buffaloes, formerly known as Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes, is based in Osaka City with Kyocera Dome Osaka as their home field. As both teams play in Osaka City, it’s highly recommended to go and enjoy watching the baseball game at the stadium, surrounded by local fans with energetic atmosphere, especially if you are a baseball enthusiast.

23. Embrace the thrill and adventure at Hirakata Park, a popular amusement destination in Osaka

Hirakata Park
The local amusement park Hirakata Park is recommended to family visitors © Hirakata Park

While Universal Studios Japan has been under the spotlight in recent years, Osaka has another fun and beloved amusement park, Hirakata Park (ひらかたパーク), located in Hirakata City in northeastern Osaka Prefecture. It’s the oldest amusement park in Osaka which was founded in 1910. The park can be accessed easily from both central Osaka and Kyoto.

In a space of 160,000 square metres, the park owns 45 attractions and rides that can be enjoyed by visitors of all ages including thrilling roller coasters, Ferris wheel, kids-friendly rides and seasonal attractions including swimming pool in summer and colourful illumination and skating rink in winter. Enjoying a day out at Hirakata Park is one of the best things to do in Osaka for both kids and adults.

Map: https://goo.gl/maps/yqAj9nMqJB7CuFgb9

▶ Book Hirakata Park Admission Ticket

Besides Universal Studios Japan and Hirakata Park, there are more fun and thrilling amusement parks in Osaka ▶ Best Theme Parks in Osaka

24. Experience the excitement of go-karting on the streets of Osaka

Rental Go-Kart is one of the most popular and trending tourist activities in Japan today, and it’s available at several cities including Osaka. It’s the most unique and extraordinary way to explore the city by dressing up in your favourite character’s costume and driving go-karts through the city with friends!

▶ Book Street Go Kart Experience by Akiba Kart Osaka! 

Another great spot in Osaka for car enthusiasts is Amazing Kart ISK Osaka Maishima store, a go-karting circuit with four courses for adults and children. The circuit provides regular karts as well as kids kart, junior karts and 2-seater karts which can be enjoyed from small kids to adults and great fun for families, couples and friends. The site also has a cafe, kids space and nursing room.

25. Visit the Pokemon Cafe Osaka for a fun and playful dining experience

Pokemon Cafe Osaka opened as the second Pokemon Cafe in Japan after Tokyo (and the first one in Western Japan!). The cafe serves a variety of Pokemon themed food, desserts and drinks including seasonal and limited-time items. Besides the special menu, the cafe sells original merchandise that is exclusively available including the tableware that are used in the cafe and Pikachu plush toy in chef, waiter and patisserie costumes.

Pokemon Center DX Osaka has also opened along with the cafe, offering a large selection of Pokemon merchandise products. At the entrance of the shop, there are three life-sized statues of legendary Pokemon characters; Articuno, Zapdos, and Moltres, greeting visitors. Both Pokemon Cafe and Pokemon Center are located on the 9th floor of Daimaru Shinsaibashi Store, the large department store in the heart of Shinsaibashi, the vibrant shopping district in Osaka City. It’s a new must-visit spot for every Pokemon fans in Japan!

26. Learn about the ancient history and culture of Osaka at Mozu Tombs

Mozu Tombs
Japan’s largest ancient tombs, Mozu Tombs are located in Sakai City, Osaka

Mozu Tombs (百舌鳥古墳群) are a group of ancient tombs situated in Sakai City, Osaka. The site was designated to a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2019, and ever since then, it became one of the hottest tourist attractions in Japan over the past years.

The tombs (called Kofun in Japanese) are in different shapes and forms such as key-hole, round and rectangular and they were built between 3rd to 6th century. There used to be over 100 of them but only less than half remain today. The largest tomb of all is the Daisenryo Kofun, which is 800m long and 600m wide. The large key-hole shaped tomb is believed to have been built for the late Emperor Nintoku and constructed over 20 years in the mid 5th century.

Next to Daisenryo Kofun, there is Daisen Park offering rich nature and some attractions to visitors such as the Japanese Garden, a picturesque traditional Japanese style garden and the Sakai City Museum where you can learn the history of Sakai City and the tombs.

Map: http://bit.ly/2KF34QQ

27. Hike to the picturesque Minoh Waterfall

Minoh Waterfall
Minoh Park is one of the best spot to hike in Osaka, featuring Minoh Waterfall

Minoh Falls (箕面大滝) is a waterfall with a height of 33 meters. It’s chosen as one of the 100 most beautiful waterfalls in Japan. The waterfall is a symbol and a main nature attraction of Minoh Park, a national park located near Itami Airport (Osaka International Airport). The hiking trail in the park is approx 3km long and it takes about 45 mins. You can enjoy the pleasant walk in the nature along the Minoo River until you reach the waterfall.

Minoh Park consists a vast area of 838,000 sqm and is home to various plants and different species of insects and other wildlife. It’s a popular getaway from Osaka City and visitors enjoy hiking and relax in the nature away from the hustle and bustle of the city. It’s especially popular during autumn leaves season as the leaves of the forest in the park turn into warm autumn colours and display spectacular scenery.

Map: https://goo.gl/maps/3NC1bjff5JKQ9KyQ9

28. Uncover stunning autumn leaves and invigorating hikes at Hoshida Park

Hoshida Park in autumn
Osaka’s hidden beauty, Hoshida Park is a nature gem for autumn hiking

Hoshida Park (ほしだ園地) is a vast park in Katano City, within the forest park Osaka Fumin no Mori, situated near the border with Nara Prefecture. It takes about 1 hour to get to the park from the central area of Osaka. The 105 ha park is one of the most popular hiking spots as well as autumn leaves viewing spots in Osaka Prefecture.

The park is famous for a massive wooden suspension bridge called “Hoshi no Buranko”. The 280 m long bridge is built at 50 m above the ground and surrounded by rich nature. You can enjoy thrilling walk across the bridge with the breathtaking, panoramic view of the beautiful forest. The park has various hiking trails as well as a 16.5 m high rock climbing wall.

29. Celebrate the lively Tenjin Matsuri Festival

Copyright: Keiko Shih

Tenjin Matsuri or Tenjin Festival (天神祭) is a must-see traditional summer festival held in Osaka on 24 and 25 July annually. The festival originally started in 10th century to celebrate Sugawara no Michizane, the deity of scholarship. It’s counted as one of Japan’s three greatest festivals along with Gion Matsuri in Kyoto and Kanda Matsuri in Tokyo.

Tenjin Matsuri is known for its vibrant and lively parade with music and dance, and breathtaking fireworks. The 2-day festival involves land procession, river procession and a spectacular fireworks display along the river for the grand finale on the second day. The ceremonial processions features traditional music, dancers in costumes and floats, starting from Tenmangu Shrine to Okawa River, taking place through the streets of Osaka.

30. Admire the dazzling winter illuminations throughout the city

Romantic winter illumination in Osaka at night
One of the most spectacular winter light-up events in Japan, Festival of the Lights Osaka ©Festival of the Lights in Osaka Executive Committee

One of the top attractions in Japan during winter is light-up illuminations that take place across the country including Osaka. Spectacular winter illumination can be enjoyed at several locations in Osaka such as the Midosuji Boulevard, Kaiyukan Aquarium, Osaka Castle Park and Universal Studios Japan. Visitors can enjoy the romantic scenery until late night only this time of the year.

Along with the illuminations, Christmas markets will be open at some places during the Christmas season, offering delicious food and Christmas goods with festive decorations and warm lights.

▶ Best Illumination Events in Osaka in Winter

+ Go to Kyoto

Maginificent temple in Kyoto
Want to learn Japanese history deeper? Then take a short trip to the great neighbouring city, Kyoto!

Speaking of Western Japan, you can not miss Kyoto along your trip to Osaka. Kyoto and Osaka are two must-visit cities for every first time visitor to Japan, and they are located next to each other. While Osaka offers the unique, energetic and modern culture, Kyoto represents the calm and historic traditional Japanese culture. These two contrasting cities are both very much worth visiting. It very is possible to visit Kyoto from Osaka for a short trip and enjoy the best highlights in one day.

▶ Best Things to Do in Kyoto: Kyoto Bucket List 

These two cities are located next to each other and it’s very convenient to move around. Check out the link below and find out the best way to travel between Osaka and Kyoto.

▶ Transportation Guide: How to Travel between OSAKA and KYOTO

Also if you are planning to explore more in western Japan (Osaka, Kyoto, Hiroshima, etc) , you may wanna check out these articles, too!

▶ Western Japan Bucket List

▶ Best Day Trips from Osaka

Travel Tips in Osaka

-WiFi and Internet Access in Osaka

Having internet access during your trip in Japan is essential, and it would be even better with a fast and stable connection. While free WiFi is offers at many places in Japan including hotels, shopping malls and tourist information, it’s highly recommended to rent a pocket WiFi for internet access with faster speed, bigger data and a convenience of using it whenever you like and wherever you are

▶ Best Pocket WiFi in Japan

-Transportation in Osaka

Kansai International Airport
There are various ways to travel between airports and Osaka city

If you are arriving in/departing from airports in Osaka (Kansai International Airport or Osaka International Airport), here are useful tips for how to move between airports and Osaka city. Also if you are planning to visit Tokyo before or after Osaka, you can check the below link to find the best way to travel between Tokyo and Osaka!

▶ How to Get to Osaka from KIX

▶ Ways to Move from Osaka International Airport (Itami Airport)

▶ How to Get to Osaka from Tokyo

-Itinerary in Osaka

Looking for some ideas for sightseeing in Osaka according to the duration of your stay? If you wish to travel around Osaka smoothly without wasting time, I advice you to plan your trip and decide what to see/where to go in advance. Check out suggested itineraries for 1/2/3 day in Osaka, which may help you to plan your Osaka trip!

▶ 1 Day Itinerary in Osaka

▶ 2 Days Itinerary in Osaka

-Hidden Gems in Osaka

Have you already been to major tourist sites in Osaka already? Then how about exploring the city’s lesser-known gems that are waiting to be discovered? Osaka offers a lot more than just local delicacies and glittering neon light. From nature spots to amusement facilities, you can check unique and authentic Osaka’s hidden gems from the link below.

▶ Best Hidden Gems in Osaka

-Souvenir Shopping in Osaka

Taro Sabure: the iconic Kuidaore Taro shaped cookies
Osaka offers various souvenirs with local ingredients, dishes and motifs

Osaka is one of the best cities in Japan for souvenir shopping as a wide variety of unique and original souvenir products are sold such as regional specialties, Takoyaki flavour snacks and character merchandise at Universal Studios Japan. The tourist center of Osaka, Dotonbori is a great area for shopping as there are many souvenir shops. Don’t miss shopping local products or snacks with “Osaka only flavours”!

▶ What to Buy in Osaka

In case you forget or run out of time to shop souvenirs while travelling in Osaka, don’t worry, the last minute shopping can be done at Kansai Airport (KIX), the second largest airport in Japan that offers a great selection of souvenirs from all around Western Japan.

▶ What to Buy in Kansai International Airport


So how did you enjoy the list?? If you are planning your first visit to Osaka, you should definitely add listed things to do on your bucket list and have a perfect trip in Osaka! Although you may need 2–3 days to see all spots, it is also very possible to see Osaka in one day! For short visit to Osaka, pick the best highlights from this Osaka Bucket List and plan your perfect itinerary in Osaka in one day!

Tourist Information Center Osaka in JR Osaka Station will also give you Osaka itinerary suggestions including top-ranked landmarks, best-kept secrets and insider tips for Osaka sightseeing.

For first-time visitors, this 1-day Osaka tour is highly recommended to join. A professional guide will take you to several must-visit spots including Osaka Castle, Kuromon Market, Dotonbori and Umeda Sky Building. Let’s explore Osaka efficiently in a day!

<<Check more details about Osaka Highlights Private Walking Tour!>>

▽Check out more Bucket Lists in other popular areas in Japan!▽

For more ideas about travelling in and around Osaka, please check out my other articles listed below, too!

▶︎15 Best Places to Visit in Osaka
▶︎How to Get to Osaka from Tokyo
▶︎10 Best Activities in Osaka

▽Related Articles▽

▶︎1 Week Itinerary: the Very Best of Japan for First Timers
▶︎Tokyo vs Osaka: Which One Should You Travel??
▶️3 Best Places to See Cherry Blossoms in Osaka