A Complete 3-Day Osaka Itinerary
Osaka is one of our favorite cities in Japan and just like Kyoto, every time we go back to Japan, we always make a point to visit Osaka. Osaka has amazing architecture, vibrant nightlife, shopping, and abundant street food that will make your mouth water!
This 3-day Osaka Itinerary will take you to the highlights of Osaka and introduce you to the many terrific dining experiences that are in Dotonbori and other areas of Osaka too! Read on to see why this city of neon has stolen our hearts.
Where is Osaka Located?
Osaka is a major port city located in the Kansai region of Japan. It is well known for its street food, architecture, and nightlife.
How to Get to Osaka
How to Get to Osaka by Plane
When booking your flights to Japan there are three airports that you are most likely going to consider flying to. The first two are Tokyo Narita (NRT) and Tokyo Haneda (HND) which are the two main airports in Tokyo or Osaka Kansai (KIX). Although there are some direct flights from destinations in the U.S. to Osaka, most airports fly into Tokyo. If this is the case for your itinerary you would fly into Tokyo then take another flight into Osaka Kansai (KIX) and then take an airport transfer to get into the city.
There are many different ways to get to the city of Osaka from KIX. The first is the Haruka Express train. The Haruka Express departs from KIX every 30 minutes and stops at Tennoji, Osaka, and Shin-Osaka Stations. It is covered by the JR Pass or you can purchase a ticket to ride the Haruka Express which is between 2,000-4,000 yen per person depending on the destination station. Reserved and non-reserved seats are available.
The Kansai Airport Rapid Line is another option to consider. This train is less expensive than the Haruka Express at 1,000-1,200 yen per person or is covered by the JR Pass and takes around 15 minutes longer because it makes more stops which also can make this option more convenient if you are staying near one of the stops on this line since the Haruka Express only stops at three Osaka stations.
The last way to get to Osaka from KIX by train is on the Nankai Rapid Line which connects Kansai Airport with Nankai Namba Station. The Nankai trains depart every 30 minutes and cost 1,340 yen one way per person. They are not covered by the JR pass.
How to Get to Osaka by Train
How to Get to Osaka from Kyoto
Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen: The fastest way to get to Osaka from Kyoto is by taking the Shinkansen from Kyoto Station to Shin-Osaka Station. This journey takes about 15 minutes and is covered by the JR pass or costs roughly ¥2,880 per person.
JR Kyoto Line: The JR Kyoto Line is the second fastest way to get to Osaka from Kyoto. This line leaves at Kyoto Station and arrives at Osaka Station or Shin-Osaka Station. It takes about 30 minutes and is also covered by the JR pass.
Hankyu Kyoto Main Line: These limited express trains run between Kyoto Kawaramachi Station in central Kyoto to Hankyu Osaka-Umeda Station. The journey takes about 45 minutes and costs 400 yen per person.
Keihan Main Line: The Keihan Main Line departs from a number of local stations in Kyoto and arrives at Yodoyabashi Station, Kitahama Station, or Temmabashi Station at around 410 yen per person. If taking the Keihan Main Line I recommend buying an additional reserved seat ticket from the vending machine outside of the train platform which only costs 1,000 yen per person. It gives you a guaranteed seat and a spot to put your luggage. This train takes about one hour so it is slower than some of the other options but the perk is that it departs from many of the smaller stations in Kyoto making it more convenient for those traveling with luggage if your hotel is along this route.
How to Get to Osaka from Tokyo
To take the Shinkansen to Osaka from Tokyo you’ll either depart at Tokyo Station or Shinagawa Station and take the Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen on the Nozomi, Hikari, or Kodama line (note that Nozomi trains are not included in the JR pass). From Tokyo Station or Shinagawa Station to Shin-Osaka Station takes about 2 hours and 15 minutes so my suggestion would be to book tickets at the station that works best for your itinerary!
Transportation in Osaka
Osaka is a very large city with many attractions spread out around the city but because of the vast train and subway system in Osaka, it is very easy to get around to most places!
Subway System in Osaka
There are two subway lines that are important to know when traveling in Osaka. The red Midosuji Subway Line and the green Chuo Subway Line. The Midosuji Line connects five of Osaka’s main hubs. This line runs north and south to Shin-Osaka, Kita, Central Osaka (Honmachi), Minami, and Tennoji. Alternatively, the Chuo Line runs from east to west connecting the Osaka Castle Area at Tanimachi 4-Chome Station with the Osaka Bay Area at Osakako Station. These two subway lines cross at Honmachi Station making it easy to transfer between the two.
Subway Passes in Osaka
- Osaka Amazing Pass
- Visit over 40 attractions in Osaka for free including Osaka Castle, Umeda Sky Building, LEGOLAND, EXPO ’70 Commemorative Park, and many others.
- Unlimited transportation on Osaka subway and train lines (except for the JR Osaka Loop Line)
- Discounts at other popular attractions and shopping.
- Available for purchase online or in person at ticket offices in Osaka’s train and subway stations.
- COST: 2,800 1-day pass or 3,600 2-day pass
- Osaka Kaiyu Ticket
- Currently unavailable but we will update you when this pass becomes active again.
- Enjoy Eco Card (Osaka 1-Day Pass)
- Unlimited rides on all Osaka Metro lines and Osaka City Bus for one day.
- Offers discounts to over 30 attractions in Osaka.
- Excludes buses bound for IKEA Tsuruhama/Universal Studios Japan, airport buses, and on-demand buses. Also not valid for Hankyu Railway, Kita-Osaka Kyuko Railway, and Kintetsu Railway.
- Purchase at ticket machines at Osaka subway stations and ticket offices.
- COST: 620-820 yen/adult, 310 yen/child
A JR pass will not work on Osaka’s subway system so if you do not get one of the passes above (or even if you do) I recommend getting an IC card for train and subway travel. This is by far the easiest way to get around Osaka! An IC card is a public transit card that you can purchase at most train stations. However, the easiest way to get an IC card is to add the Suica or PASMO transit card to your Apple Wallet if you have an iPhone and then add funds via Apple Pay. However, if you are traveling with young kids or want a physical card you can visit one of the ticket machines and purchase an IC card.
Keep in mind you’ll need one for each person in your group. You’ll have to fund the IC card with cash at the machine in order to purchase and you can load more money onto the card as needed. We usually start with 2,000 yen and add more as needed. If you are using a physical card you can see the balance on the card as you tap in or out of a station or you can always check your balance at one of the ticket kiosk machines.
JR Osaka Loop Line
Another way to get around Osaka is by using the JR Osaka Loop Line, as the name suggests this is a JR train so JR passes are covered on this train however you can alternatively use an IC card (as mentioned above) to ride the Osaka Loop Line as well. The Osaka Loop Line connects to 19 stations in central Osaka, 12 of which connect to other transportation lines. Here is a map of the current stations serviced on the Osaka Loop Line.
Last, there are two other types of transportation in Osaka you could consider – public buses and taxis. I personally wouldn’t recommend using the bus system in Osaka because they aren’t as frequent and will take up a lot of your time. As far as taxis go, they can be quite expensive so unless you are trying to move heavy luggage to your hotel or to a station I’d advise against using taxis in Osaka.
Where to Stay for Your 3-Day Osaka Itinerary
Unique Japanese ryokan in the heart of Dotonbori
Our room at Kaneyoshi Ryokan was perfect for our first experience in a budget-friendly Japanese ryokan. The room itself had tatami mats and traditional futons to sleep on. Our room also had a traditional table, TV, air conditioning, and a sitting room. The sitting room has two Western-style chairs, a small table, a mini-fridge, and a fantastic view of the canal. While Kaneyoshi Ryokan has smaller rooms with shared bathrooms, our room had an attached private bath with a shower/tub combo.
There are a few things to know about the Kaneyoshi Ryokan before your stay:
- Kaneyoshi has a curfew at 1 AM, and you won’t be allowed into your room if you arrive later than that time.
- You also have to leave your room key at the front desk every time you leave.
- A big perk of Kaneyoshi Ryokan is that it’s literally in the heart of Dotonbori.
Hotel Brighton City Osaka
Quiet mid-range hotel just outside of the main areas.
The Hotel Brighton City Osaka is a bit farther from the main areas of the city like Dotonbori, but it’s a great location for those who want to stay in an area that is a bit quieter but still very close to public transportation. There are also two Konbini (convenience stores) across the street from the hotel and a grocery store inside the
Swissôtel Nankai Osaka
Stunning hotel close to everything in Osaka!
On our last few trips to Osaka, we stayed at the Swissôtel Nankai Osaka which has been our favorite hotel in Osaka (hence why we keep going back to it!). It is located inside Namba Station making it incredibly convenient for transportation around Osaka and is still within walking distance from Dotonbori and Shinsaibashi. The rooms are spacious and comfortable and each one has a great view of the city!
Places to Eat in Osaka
If you’ve already started planning your Osaka itinerary then you’ve probably read countless articles about how Osaka is a foodie city! In fact, it might be one of the most famous foodie cities in the world. You’ll find delicious markets, smoky street food alleys, and posh Wagyu restaurants, all of which will lead you to discover that the heart and soul of Osaka is its food. I have written extensively about must-try foods in Osaka as well as my favorite recommended restaurants in this Osaka food guide, but I’ve also included a couple of favorites in this Osaka itinerary.
On our first trip to Osaka, we found Tsurutontan Soemoncho, which makes some of the best udon dishes that we had while in Japan. We’ve honestly been back once every time we go back to Osaka! Not to mention that you can get a double or triple order of noodles for no extra cost! My personal favorite thing to order from Tsurutontan Soemoncho is the udon and tempura set. The location for this restaurant is right on the canal in Dotonbori so before or after getting dinner make sure you enjoy the sunset on the bridge outside.
Location: 3-17 Souemoncho, Chuo Ward, Osaka, 542-0084, Japan // MAP
If you’re looking for sushi I recommend visiting a small, family-owned shop called Sushi Hayata. They have an a la carte menu for those who want to pick their own sushi but I suggest ordering the omakase menu. Omakase translates to “I’ll leave it up to you” meaning the chef will select the fish that pairs well together and is the freshest.
Our omakase had seven different kinds of sushi including unagi (eel), maguro (tuna), ebi (shrimp), sake (salmon), ika (squid),
Location: 2 Chome-6-4 Fushimimachi, Chuo Ward, Osaka, 541-0044, Japan // MAP
Kushikatsu is skewers of meat and veggies that
Location: Japan, 〒530-0001 Osaka, Kita Ward, Umeda, 3 Chome−1−3 ルクア大阪 10F – Located in Osaka
Hours: 11am-10pm daily
Creo-Ru is a great spot in Dotonbori to grab some takoyaki. Just grab a spot in line at the food stall outside of the restaurant. The queue is usually long but the line moves pretty quickly.
Matsuzakagyu Yakiniku M, Hozenji Yokocho
Matsuzakagyu Yakiniku M, Hozenji Yokocho offers unique culinary experiences where you can enjoy yakiniku which translates to “grilled meat.” Here you cook your own steak and choose your own cuts of Matsuzaka beef. It’s not cheap but if you’re wanting to try some of Japan’s finest steak, this is a meal worth savoring.
DAY 1: 3-DAY OSAKA ITINERARY
- Sumiyoshi-taisha Shrine
- Den Den Town
- Kuromon Market
- Doguyasuji Shopping Street
- Namba Yasaka Shrine
- Namba Parks
The first stop on this Osaka itinerary is a bit off the beaten path, Sumiyoshi Taisha (住吉大社). Sumiyoshi Taisha is one of the largest Shinto shrines and the oldest in Japan which also makes it one of the most popular to visit. It was founded in the 3rd century before the introduction of Buddhism in Japan and has a unique style of architecture that has straight roofs on the temple buildings.
Sumiyoshi Taisha is best known for Sorihashi Bridge, a beautiful orange bridge with surrounding water features. But one other thing you should do isn’t as distinct. Next to one of the four main buildings of Sumiyoshi Taisha is an area with small stones. There are three different kinds and can be tricky to find! But if you do happen to find all three then they act as an amulet for granting a request from one of the shrine’s deities.
Another thing you’ll notice is an area where wooden plaques are placed. These small wooden plaques are known as ema and they are used to write prayers or wishes at shrines and temples. It is believed that if you leave your ema hanging up at the shrine then the kami (gods or spirits) can easily receive them.
Location: 2 Chome-9-89 Sumiyoshi, Sumiyoshi Ward, Osaka, 558-0045, Japan // MAP
Cost: Free to visit
Nipponbashi Den Den Town
After visiting Sumiyoshi Taisha head back to the city near Namba and visit Nipponbashi Den Den Town. For those of you who are familiar with the Akihabara shopping area in Tokyo, Den Den Town is very similar. It is a haven for those who enjoy anime or manga paraphernalia and all sorts of electronic items like cameras and computers. But even if you aren’t interested in any of those items it’s still really fun to look around during your 3-day Osaka itinerary!
Location: 4 Chome-12 Nipponbashi, Naniwa Ward, Osaka, 556-0005, Japan // MAP
By now you’ll probably be pretty hungry for lunch or at least a snack (I know we were!) so it’s time to enjoy some of the infamous Osaka street food. Kuromon Market is a lively food market known as “Osaka’s kitchen.” Pop in and pick a stall to have your food freshly prepared right in front of you!
We enjoyed some grilled king crab (it was only 100 yen!), barbecued eel, yakisoba, grilled
Location: 2 Chome-4-1 Nipponbashi, Chuo Ward, Osaka, 542-0073, Japan // MAP
Cost: Most items are under 500 yen each
Sennichimae Doguyasuji Shopping Street
Osaka is called the “Kitchen of the World” and for a rather terrific reason. Chefs from all around the globe come to Sennichimae Doguyasuji Shopping Street, also known as “Kitchenware Street,” to find professional tools such as cookware, and the best Japanese chef knives, and to visit the food markets.
We loved seeing all of the different bowls, plates, tea sets, and of course, the fun plastic food items that are often seen in the windows of restaurants. If you want to purchase some Japanese kitchenware, cooking items, or even fun souvenirs this is the perfect place to do so!
On our last trip to Osaka, we went to Sennichimae Doguyasuji Shopping Street to finally purchase some Japanese kitchen knives. We purchased ours from Yamashita, a smaller, family-owned shop. The owners are incredibly knowledgeable about all of the brands of Japanese knives they carry. In fact, even though we had spent some time researching Japanese kitchen knives and thought we knew what we wanted they took extra time and care to discuss the differences between a single-bevel knife (Japanese style) and a double-bevel knife (Originally Western style).
Although we thought we wanted a single bevel, we learned that most of the time only professional chefs use them because they are more difficult to use and harder to sharpen. Although we like to think of ourselves as chefs we are by no means professional so we ended up purchasing some quality double-bevel kitchen knives.
Location: 14-5 Nanbasennichimae, Chuo Ward, Osaka, 542-0075, Japan // MAP
Namba Yasaka Shrine
After doing a little shopping and eating you’re on to your next shrine on this 3-day Osaka itinerary! While most shrines in Japan have similar features, Namba Yasaka Shrine (難波八阪神社) has a unique sense of retro nostalgia and is far different from what we expected
The main attraction of Namba Yasaka Shrine is the large lion with an open mouth. It is believed that the lion’s mouth swallows evil spirits and brings good luck. In the spring, the area becomes even more picturesque with rows of fragrant sakura (cherry blossom) trees close to the shrine. Another popular time to visit is during the summer for the Namba Yasaka festival in which dance rituals are performed on the stage within the lion’s mouth!
Location: 2 Chome-9-19 Motomachi, Naniwa Ward, Osaka, 556-0016, Japan // MAP
Cost: Free to visit
Namba Parks is a beautiful architectural shopping mall that features over 200 stores and has romantic gardens on the top floors for viewing (which is my favorite part!). The stores are really fun to stop in but if you aren’t looking for more shopping head to the top to see the gardens and on a nice day lay in the grass while looking up at the sky. It’s the perfect place to relax! If you happen to be visiting Japan in fall or winter they often have a stunning light display to view.
Location: Japan, 〒556-0011 Osaka Prefecture, Osaka, Naniwa Ward, Nanbanaka, 2−10−70 // MAP
Cost: Free to visit
DAY 2: 3-DAY OSAKA ITINERARY
- Osaka Castle
- Osaka Castle Park
Osaka Castle & Osaka Castle Park
Osaka Castle is one place you cannot miss on this 3-day Osaka itinerary. It is truly marvelous and the park it is located in makes it even more beautiful. The original castle was built around 1583 for the wife of the 16th-century ruler Toyotomi Hideyoshi, but it has suffered a lot of damage throughout history.
The first disaster was in 1615 when it was destroyed by Tokugawa troops. It was later rebuilt in the 1620s but was destroyed again in 1665 by lightning causing a massive fire. Many years passed and in 1931 it was rebuilt again and refinished in 1997. Whew, talk about a lineage!
Although Osaka Castle is beautiful to view from the outside, it’s just as interesting on the inside too. When you first go in you’ll notice that it has been restored in many ways but also remodeled into a museum with a number of artifacts and interesting pieces of history about the castle. You can learn even more about the battles fought, the destruction of the castle, and its role in Osaka. I lost track of time, but I know we spent at least an hour here reading as much as we could about Osaka Castle!
After our visit to the castle, we stopped by one of the many food stands and small shops that are in the park for a snack. In the spring, Osaka Castle Park is known for its cherry blossom trees! It is by far one of Japan’s most cherished cherry blossom viewing spots.
Location: 1-1 Osakajo, Chuo Ward, Osaka, 540-0002, Japan // MAP
Cost: 600 yen/adults, free for junior high students and younger – Osaka Castle, free to visit Osaka Castle Park
Shinsaibashi-suji Shopping Street
Shinsaibashi is located close to Dotonbori and is known for its tax-free shopping stores from high-end fashion to mid-range items as well. Shinsaibashi-suji Shopping Street (心斎橋筋商店街) is a 600-meter-long street full of places to shop and is one of the most popular places in this area.
A few of the stores we recommend visiting are GU, UNIQLO, and Daimaru which are Japanese department and clothing stores. As you continue to walk you’ll also notice a number of smaller independent boutiques to shop from too!
Location: 2 Chome-2-22 Shinsaibashisuji, Chuo Ward, Osaka, 542-0085, Japan // MAP
Hours: 11am-8pm daily
There is something so alluring about Dotonbori (道頓堀). Maybe it’s the neon lights, the smell of street food, the infamous Glico man sign, or the charming sunsets over the canals. Who are we kidding? It’s all of it. We love Dotonbori so much that we find ourselves here almost every evening when visiting Osaka. We loved the hustle and bustle of these busy streets, not to mention there are so many street foods to eat in Osaka!
One last thing before we move on, I want to point out that you will see Dotonbori spelled with an ‘m’ instead of an ‘n’ like “Dotombori.” We asked a friend of ours in Japan and he said the most common spelling is Dotonbori. But rest assured, if you see Dotombori, it’s the same place. 🙂
Location: 1 Chome Dotonbori, Chuo Ward, Osaka, 542-0071, Japan // MAP
DAY 3: 3-DAY OSAKA ITINERARY (Option 1)
Universal Studios Japan
Universal Studios Japan is one of the most popular amusement parks to visit in Japan! But this park has not only Universal Studios but also Harry Potter World too. Depending on your interest in amusement parks you may want to do an entire day here, a half-day, or skip it altogether.
Regardless of what you choose, we’ve got you covered with some additional activities for the last day of this 3 day Osaka itinerary. Also, if you want to do both USJ and the other activities we included then you can add an additional day to this itinerary if time permits!
Location: 2 Chome-1-33 Sakurajima, Konohana Ward, Osaka, 554-0031, Japan // MAP
Hours: Make sure you check the USJ calendar for the most up-to-date schedule
Cost: 7,800 yen/adults, 5,400 yen/children, 7,100 yen/seniors
DAY 3: 3-DAY OSAKA ITINERARY (Option 2)
- Osaka Aquarium
- Osaka Station
- Umeda Sky Building
- Tsutenkaku Tower
Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan
If you decide to do a half-day at Universal Studios Japan or skip USJ then you can head over to Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan. This aquarium is one of the largest and most impressive aquariums in Japan. Marine life is in 15 different tanks representing different areas of the Pacific Rim. You’ll start your journey on the top floor making your way down a spiraling ramp while gazing at beautiful marine mammals.
We recommend buying tickets ahead of time on their website so you can immediately go
Location: 1 Chome-1-10 Kaigandori, Minato Ward, Osaka, 552-0022, Japan // MAP
Hours: 10am-8pm daily
Cost: 2,300 yen/adults (age 16+), 2,000yen/adults (age 60+), 1,200 yen/child (ages 7-15), 600 yen/child (ages 4-6), children under 3 are free.
After eating lunch, it’s time to explore Osaka Station. I know what you’re thinking… a train station might not seem like a top place to visit on this Osaka itinerary. But you’ll be surprised at how much there is to do at Osaka Station. It is considered to be one of the largest shopping complexes in Japan! If you are interested in shopping we suggest visiting the Daimaru Department Store, LUCUA, Yodobashi Camera, and Hankyu Umeda Department Store which have a lot of unique items and souvenirs. There are also quite a few green spaces to enjoy outside on a nice day!
Location: 3 Chome-1-1 Umeda, Kita Ward, Osaka, Japan // MAP
Umeda Sky Building Observatory
The Umeda Sky Building has an incredible observation spot known as the Kuchu Teien Observatory which offers an unobstructed 360-degree view of the city. If you visit day or night the view is spectacular and different. We enjoyed visiting at night in order to see all the city lights and trains rushing by!
Location: 1 Chome-1-88 Oyodonaka, Kita Ward, Osaka, 531-6023, Japan // MAP
Cost: 1,500 yen/adults, 700yen/children (ages 4-12)
Shinsekai meaning “New World” was once a bustling entertainment district during the early 20th century, much like today’s Dotonbori. But even though it’s an “older” area, it’s still thriving with a ton of unique places to shop, eat, and browse.
Be sure to stroll down the covered shopping area of JanJan Yokocho to hunt for bargains or stop at a Pachinko pinball parlor. There are tons of inexpensive
Location: 1 Ebisuhigashi, Naniwa Ward, Osaka, 556-0002, Japan // MAP
While visiting Shinsekai you can’t miss Tsutenkaku Tower. This timeless tower was originally built in 1912 and at the time, was quite an impressively tall tower at 64 meters (the tallest in the area for its time). After a fire destroyed part of the tower in 1943 it was taken apart to supply steel during World War II. It was later rebuilt in 1956 which is the tower you can see today.
MEGA Don Quijote
Before you head back to your hotel be sure to stop at the MEGA Don Quijote in Shinsekai! Don Quijote is a HUGE chaotic yet thrilling souvenir store that is sure to check something on everyone’s list. It has electronics, costumes, clothing, kitchen supplies and appliances, luggage, Japanese food items, beverages, you name it, Don Quijote probably has it, and for an inexpensive price.
This MEGA Don Quijote is one of the largest and most impressive we shopped at while in Japan. Even if you aren’t interested in shopping here, you could easily kill an hour looking around at all the crazy, yet cool finds at Don Quijote.
Location: 3 Chome-4-36 Ebisuhigashi, Naniwa Ward, Osaka, 556-0002, Japan // MAP
Hours: 9am-5am daily
Even after visiting Osaka multiple times we always find something new to see or eat. We absolutely love this city!