Japan is a pretty incredible country to explore, with so many incredible places to see. That being said, Japan also has a huge mix of amazing cities to visit that you should definitely make time to explore. This is why I want to share some of the very best things to do in Osaka on your next visit to Japan.
Now, as the second largest city in Japan, Kyoto has some incredible history, culture and vast neighbourhoods to dive right into and explore. After all, that’s what makes Osaka so special.
For instance, in one moment you can be exploring some of the age-old histories, then getting up close and personal with the new side of Osaka at the Umeda Sky Building.
There’s so much to see and loads of the best things to do in Osaka that you’ll be spoilt for choice.
With that in mind, take a look at some of the very best things to do in Osaka on your next adventure. Have the best time!
Best Things To Do In Osaka
1.) Explore to the Osaka Castle in Chuo-ku
Osaka Castle is one of the most recognisable sites and best things to do in Osaka if you love history. Plus, it’s a spot you really shouldn’t miss if you’ve made it all the way to Japan.
Now, this 16th-century temple-seeming structure was actually a castle and hillfort and hearkens back to the days when the warring states were trying to combine Japan into a single country. It’s got a shed load of history and is really beautiful to see, even if it does get a little busy.
whilst there, make sure to hop on over to the beautiful (and nearby); Jp Umeda Hōkoku Shrine, Nishinomaru Gardens and the Osaka Museum of History that’s right next door.
If you manage to get here in March and April you’ll see it during cherry blossom season and it is hands down the most beautiful, iconic Japanese thing you’ll see. 🌸
2.) Go back in time at Hozenji Tokocho
Hozenji Tokocho may seem like just an alleyway, but it’s one of the best preserved common relics of the Imperial Era. This alone puts it right up there as one of the best things to do in Osaka, especially to explore the cities history.
For instance, one minute you’re on the main street, the next you’re in the Edo period. Plus, see if you can find the statue to Fudomyoo, and pour some water over it to take away what ails you.
If you’ve worked up an appetite, head over to Matsuzakagyu Yakiniku M Houzenji Hanare, which is quite a mouthful in both name and food. Top tip, make sure to arrive ravenous and ready for a feast.
Once here, try some of their famous Matsusaka Beef Set. Yes, it can be a little pricey but well worth the treat.
Also, for a great hotel, check into the Hotel New Otani Osaka which is close to the Castle Park and totally gorgeous.
3.) Learn to drum at the Taiko Lab
Another great interactive vacation option – learn to drum! Traditional drumming is called Taiko and the Taiko Lab offers you hour-long sessions in the instrument as well as the culture behind it.
It’s a really fun way to spend an afternoon, with the added bonus of exercising those arm muscles. It’s totally fun and one of the best things to do in Osaka if you wanna leave with a skill.
Plus, who needs the gym when you’ve got Taiko drumming!
4.) Cook then Eat with Eat Osaka
Now, it’s said that lots of traditional Japanese cuisine derive from Osaka, so this alone is a good excuse to gobble up everything. If you want a hands-on meal whilst in the city, Eat Osaka is easily one of the best things to do in Osaka itself.
They’ll walk you through the easy, traditional dishes before you get to feast on it yourself! It’s a great way to actually have a taste of traditional Japanese cuisine, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the city or the best places to go.
5.) Ride the Ferris Wheel
This gigantic wheel is perched on the modern side of the city which glitters by night.
There are quite a few opportunities to shop at Hep but in my opinion, the big draw is the giant Ferris wheel which has a great view of the city. No wonder it’s a popular date spot.
Also for a tasty, almost secret spot in Osaka, gorge at Yakumido which is a warm and friendly spot. Nothing fancy but the food and company is really good here.
6.) Catch the views from the Umeda Sky Building
Touted as ‘the triumphal arch of the future’ this skyscraper has a few outdoor walkways and observation decks where you can enjoy the views of the city, as well as the ‘floating gardens’ it plays host to. It’s a distinctly Japanese, modern building and proper fun for a little visit.
It’s one of the best things to do in Osaka for the views and is totally gorgeous on a clear day.
Also, for a special treat, head over to Hokuto Gems Namba for dinner. They make the best Sukiyaki in all of Osaka!
7.) Cycle across the city
Less of a single thing you must see and more of an everything you must see (if that makes any sense?!?).
Once in Osaka, you can hitch a bike ride with the company Cycle Osaka and visit by bike many of the unique place like; Namba and the downtown areas as well that are too good to miss.
Most of the routes are short and easy, especially as Osaka is mostly flat, so no need for any mad biking skills here. It’s one of the best things to do in Osaka, though you might wanna give this a miss if it’s wet or rainy.
8.) Make your own Instant Ramen
If you’re looking for one of the quirkiest museums in Japan, Osaka has it! At the Instant Ramen Museum, you can see the illustrious history of a now international food that is now my guilty pleasure when at home!
If you’re a real ramen buff, the museum will even let you make your own with all your own handpicked flavours and trimmings! 🍜
9.) Go to the Sumiyoshi-Taisha Shrine
Like most places in Asia Osaka is brimming with incredible shrines and best things to do in Osaka.
Now, even though I don’t have favourites, if you’re only able to visit one, I’d choose this. The Sumiyoshi-Taisha Shrine is quite special in Osaka: it actually predates Buddhism in Japan and is instead dedicated to the Shinto religion, which is actually indigenous to this beautiful island nation.
The shrine is so beautiful and still an iconic part of Osaka. You’ve got to see it.
10.) Take a cruise on the Osaka River
This peaceful river-ride will go all the way from the sea up the river itself and over to Osaka Castle.
There are day trips and also night services for the Twilight Boat, which gives you a totally different experience as the city lights up along the banks. It’s a really relaxing day and one of the best things to do in Osaka if you’re feeling a little sluggish.
11.) Stroll through Dotonbori
Dōtonbori is perched right along the Dōtonbori canal and well worth a stroll once the sun has set. Lit up by the huge neon lights and buildings, this area (and quite similar to the one in Tokyo).
Also, make sure to keep your eyes peeled for one of the areas famous local residents, Kuidaore Taro. He’s a mechanical clown that has built up something of a notoriety in this part of town.
If you’re looking for something a little more peaceful, head over to the Hozenji Temple to witness the fury of Fudo Myoo. It’s said to protect the city and people that visit.