Top Things To Do In Osaka, Japan For First-Timers (Update 2024)

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Let’s dive into the top things to do in Osaka Japan for first-timers in 2024. You might be wondering what is there to do in Osaka Japan since it seems pretty overwhelming. 


From exploring historic landmarks to indulging in delicious street food, this guide has everything you need to make the most of your trip to this vibrant.




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Best Time to Visit Osaka


Osaka truly shines in spring and autumn, making these seasons perfect for your visit. However, be prepared for larger crowds as these are peak tourist times. 


The cherry blossoms start blooming at the end of March and are in full splendor during the first week of April.


Autumn arrives a bit later here compared to other regions. If you’re keen on seeing stunning fall foliage, plan your trip for late November or early December.


We find September and May ideal, with their pleasantly warm temperatures and minimal rainfall.


June and July are the wettest months, and August is both the hottest and most humid— we’d recommend avoiding a visit during July and August if possible.


For a quieter and more budget-friendly experience, consider visiting in winter. January and February are the coldest months, but temperatures rarely drop below freezing.



Navigating Osaka


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Metro and Trains


Osaka’s public transport system might seem daunting initially, but with clear station signs, you’ll quickly get the hang of it. The train and metro are the most convenient and affordable ways to explore the city.


Seven train lines and eight metro lines crisscross Osaka and connect to nearby cities. The JR Osaka Loop Line is especially handy for tourists, looping around the city and reaching Kansai Airport. 


Metro lines are color-coded with English commentary, ensuring you won’t miss your stop.





Taxis in Osaka can be quite expensive, with fares from the airport to the city reaching a couple of hundred US dollars. If you’re traveling on a budget, it’s best to avoid them. Note that services like Uber and Lyft are not available in Japan.




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Cycling is a popular way to get around Osaka. Renting a bike or joining a cycling tour offers a local’s perspective of the city. Several bike rental companies are available, but it’s wise to book in advance. 


For spontaneous riders, Umegle-Chari offers a convenient bike-sharing service, with instructions in English and affordable rates.




Top Things to See in Osaka Japan


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Osaka Castle


One of the most iconic Osaka attractions Osaka Castle offers breathtaking views over the city. Visit in early April to see the castle park adorned with over 5000 cherry blossom trees—a truly spectacular sight.




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This vibrant and colorful neighborhood is a must-visit. The bustling street along the Dotombori Canal is famous for its neon lights, moving mascots, and mouth-watering street food. If you only have time for one place in Osaka, make it Dotonbori!




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Harukas 300


Standing at 300 meters, Abeno Harukas is Japan’s second-highest building. The observation deck offers stunning views, especially at sunset. For 1500 yen (about 10 USD), you can enjoy a drink from the 60th-floor terrace bar while soaking in the scenery.




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Shitennoji Temple


As Japan’s oldest officially administered Buddhist temple, Shitennoji Temple has a serene and mysterious atmosphere. 


Despite being rebuilt due to natural disasters and war bombings, it remains a spiritual haven with beautiful koi ponds, a Zen garden, and weekend markets.




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Universal Studios Japan


The first Universal Studios outside the United States, this theme park is massive. Allocate a full day to experience attractions like the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Jurassic Park rides, and Despicable Me Minion Park.




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Kaiyukan Aquarium


One of the world’s largest aquariums, Kaiyukan is located in Osaka Bay and features 17 interactive exhibits. It offers an educational journey from the Arctic to the Ecuadorian jungle, making it a must-visit for all ages.




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Join a Food Tour


Osaka’s nickname, “The Nation’s Kitchen,” reflects its rich culinary culture. From street food stalls to fine dining, the city has it all. Joining a food tour allows you to sample diverse dishes and discover hidden gems, making it the ultimate foodie adventure.




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Best Shopping Spots in Osaka


Osaka Station City


Around Osaka Station, you’ll find several shopping malls and department stores, including Grand Front Osaka, Lucua, Hankyu Department Store, HEP Five, and Daimaru. These spots offer everything from souvenirs to high-end fashion.



Shotengai (Covered Shopping Streets)


Namba and Dotonbori are famous for their covered shopping arcades, known as shotengai. These streets are steeped in history and offer a unique shopping experience with specialty shops, street food, and international brands.



Orange Street


A trendy area known for its cafes, bars, fashion boutiques, and craft ateliers. Originally famous for furniture production, Orange Street has evolved into a fashion hub blending modern and traditional Japan.





Amerikamura, or American Town, is a symbol of youth and pop culture. Its streets are lined with American streetwear boutiques, cafes, and burger joints, with hidden treasures in thrift and vintage stores.




Must-Try Foods in Osaka



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Originating in Osaka, these octopus balls are a beloved street food. They’re gooey inside, topped with takoyaki sauce, nori, and green onions. Don’t miss Akaoni in Dotonbori, listed in the Michelin guide for its exceptional takoyaki.




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This savory pancake is crunchy on the outside and creamy inside. There are two styles: Hiroshima, with noodles, and Osaka, filled with cabbage. Both are delicious, but I prefer the Osaka style.



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A fish-shaped pastry filled with sweet red bean paste, taiyaki has been a popular treat for over a century. Today, you can find variations filled with matcha, vanilla custard, and chocolate.



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Battera Sushi

Also known as pressed sushi, battera sushi features thin slices of fish like mackerel or salmon, stacked with kombu seaweed and sushi rice. It’s a delicacy that originated in Osaka.



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Melon Pan

This sweet bun is covered with a layer of cookie dough, giving it a crunchy texture. While it doesn’t taste like melon, its shape resembles one. Try the freshly baked versions or the ones from 7-Eleven.



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Kushi Katsu

These skewers of meat or vegetables are battered and deep-fried to perfection. Kushi katsu originated in Osaka and pairs wonderfully with beer or sake.



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Kitsune Udon

This udon noodle dish features a light broth and deep-fried tofu simmered in a sweet sauce. The name “kitsune” means fox, reflecting the belief that foxes love tofu.




Where To Stay In Osaka


Osaka offers a diverse array of hotels, catering to every budget and preference. Whether you’re looking for affordable stays or luxurious 5-star accommodations near things to see and do in Osaka, there are so many options available. 


The city’s comprehensive transportation system, including subways, buses, local trains, Shinkansen, and Kansai Airport, makes it easy to explore. 


Here are some of the top and most popular districts/areas to consider when visiting Osaka:



Shin-Osaka Station Area


Shin-Osaka Station, with “Shin” meaning new, is a key hub for Shinkansen lines.


This area is ideal for travelers planning to visit other cities like Kyoto (15 minutes), Nara (30 minutes), Kobe (15 minutes), Tokyo (2.5 hours), and even Fukuoka on Kyushu Island.


The Shinkansen’s speed and compatibility with the JR PASS make Shin-Osaka Station perfect for those who prioritize exploring other cities. While the area is quieter than central Osaka, it’s a convenient base for regional travel.



Namba and Shinsaibashi Districts


Namba is one of the liveliest districts in Osak, bustling with shops, restaurants, large department stores, entertainment venues, bars, and clubs.


For things to do in Osaka Namba, it’s close to major attractions like the Shinsaibashi shopping street and the vibrant Dotonbori area. Staying in Namba means you can shop, drop off your purchases at your hotel, and head out for more shopping with ease.


Local train lines in Namba connect to various parts of Osaka and beyond, but it’s not as convenient for JR PASS users. This district is perfect for travelers planning to stay in Osaka for several days to fully enjoy the nightly vibrant atmosphere.



Osaka Station and Umeda District


Osaka Station is a major rail hub with connections throughout Osaka and to neighboring cities like Kyoto, Nara, and Kobe, as well as Kansai Airport. 


The area around JR Osaka Station, particularly Umeda, is a chic and central part of the city, offering numerous shops and restaurants. 


You’ll find a wide variety of hotels here, ranging from budget-friendly to luxurious options. Although the area lacks Shinkansen services, it’s ideal for those planning to explore both Osaka and nearby cities without using a JR PASS.




Hotel Near Hommachi Station — Lub d Osaka Hommachi 


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Discover the perfect blend of affordability and convenience at Lub d Osaka Honmachi, a highly sought-after accommodation choice in Osaka. Nestled near Hommachi Station, this hotel offers unbeatable accessibility to the city’s vibrant attractions.


Just a 15-minute stroll from the iconic Dotonbori, guests can immerse themselves in Osaka’s renowned culinary and entertainment district.


Moreover, Lub d Osaka Honmachi is situated merely a 10-minute walk from the stunning Midosuji Illumination, providing an effortless gateway to one of the city’s most enchanting experiences.


Ideal for budget-conscious travelers seeking a central location, Lub d Osaka Honmachi stands out as a top choice for experiencing the essence of Osaka’s dynamic urban charm.


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Day Trips from Osaka




Just an hour by train, Himeji is famous for its stunning white castle, one of Japan’s 12 remaining original castles. Don’t miss Shoshazan Enyo-ji Temple, a hidden gem in the surrounding mountains.



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Less than an hour from Osaka, Kyoto deserves more than a day. Explore its rich history and cultural landmarks with a 3-day itinerary.




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A 30-minute train ride away, Kobe offers more than just its famous beef. Enjoy the port, galleries, cable car rides to Mount Rokko, and the Nunobiki Waterfalls.




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Famous for its park with over a thousand free-roaming deer, Nara is a charming town with amazing temples, gardens, and a unique food scene.




Helpful Tips and Fun Facts

No Tipping

Tipping is not customary in Japan and can even be seen as offensive. However, it’s nice to tip tour guides.


Convenience Stores and Vending Machines

These are everywhere in Japan. Remember to stop and consume your purchases rather than walking while eating or drinking.


Quiet on Trains

Trains are quiet places in Japan. Avoid loud music, phone calls, and conversations.


Always Have Cash

Japan still relies heavily on cash. ATMs that accept international cards can be found at 7-Eleven stores.


Walk on the Right

In Osaka, people walk and stand on the right side of the sidewalk and escalators, unlike in other Japanese cities.






Osaka, Japan, is a city that seamlessly blends tradition with modernity, offering a myriad of experiences for first-time visitors. 


From exploring historic landmarks to indulging in delicious street food and experiencing the vibrant nightlife, Osaka has something for everyone. 


By immersing yourself in the local culture and exploring the city’s top attractions, you’re sure to create unforgettable memories in this dynamic and captivating destination.




Read Also: 


Osaka, Nara, Kyoto & Kobe: Here’s A 6-Day Kansai Adventure Guide

Osaka Expo 2025: Insights, Attractions, and Event Highlights

Top Famous and Lesser-Known Places in Osaka and How to Get There

Top 5 Must-Visit Dazzling Osaka Winter Illumination Near Train Station