31 Things to Do in Osaka, Japan on Your Next Trip

31 Best Things to Do & Places to Visit in Osaka — Including Free Activities!

Time to start exploring this city known as the Kitchen of Japan.

Osaka is arguably one of the three most popular travel destinations in Japan (with the other two being Tokyo and Hokkaido). While it is neither the giant metropolis that Tokyo is, nor does it possess the nearly transcendent natural beauty around Hokkaido, Osaka is a unique city in its own right. I mean, it even has its own dialect! A very rustic, charming dialect, I might add.

Naturally then, there are many wonderful things to do in Osaka for every type of traveller. Here’s a list to get you started!

Also read: 15 Airbnbs in Osaka That Are Even Better Than Hotels

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Fun things to do in Osaka

1. Gaze in awe at the beautiful and iconic Osaka Castle

things to do in osaka

Image credit: Nathan Boadle

As one of the most beautiful Osaka attractions, the Osaka Castle is a beauty to behold. It’s a great testament to Japanese history and architecture, with stone walls and citadels. Within the interiors of the castle tower, there’s a fascinating museum dedicated to the castle’s history. After exploring the museum, head to Nishinomaru Garden for unparalleled views of the castle. 

Last but not least, you have to stop by Osaka Castle Park. It’s actually one of the top free things to do in Osaka, let alone at this attraction. At this time of the year, the park is a famous cherry blossom viewing spot — you’ll find a lot of people sitting under the shade of the flowering trees with their loved ones, admiring the castle from afar. 

Also read: Cherry Blossom Season 2023: Must-Know Tips & Essentials

2. Enjoy pleasant scenery in Tsurumi Ryokuchi Park

On the note of pleasant scenery, there’s another spot in Osaka that you have to stop by for Instagrammable pictures! In Tsurumi Ryokuchi Park, prepare to fall in love with a world of rare plants and lush greenery. You’ll get to see all kinds of flowers, including sunflowers, baby blue eyes, tulips, and more! With the windmills and miles of vibrant flowers, the place might just remind you of your trip to the Netherlands. You’ll get to see It is not only a great place to take pictures, but it’s also one of the best Osaka tourist spots if you love nature. 

3. Admire the natural beauty of Meiji no Mori Mino Quasi-National Park

things to do in osaka

Image credit: Geoff Whalan

Likewise, Meiji no Mori Mino Quasi-National Park is one of many incredible places to visit in Osaka. The park’s natural beauty provides an escape from the bustling life in the city. Imagine a dreamy forest with nature trails, waterfalls, and trees that change colour every season. While the best time to visit is during autumn for the deep red foliage, the park is nonetheless beautiful throughout the year. 

On your first visit, admire the glorious beauty of Mino Waterfall and walk along Tokai Natural Trail. Next, head to the Mino Mountains where you can explore old temples, including Ryuanji Temple.

Also read: 11 Underrated Destinations in Japan That Are Worth Discovering

4. Pay a visit to the Shitennoji Temple — Japan’s first-ever Buddhist Temple

things to do in osaka

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Shitennoji Temple is one of Japan’s oldest temples, and it’s the first temple to introduce Buddhism to the state. Legend has it that it was built all the way back in the year 593 to enshrine the Four Heavenly Kings! One of its most distinctive features is the five-story pagoda that stands in the centre of the courtyard. Visitors can enter the pagoda and climb to the top for stunning views of the temple grounds. 

In addition to the pagoda, the Gokuraku-jodo Garden is another notable attraction at the Shitennoji Temple complex. It’s a wonderful spot for a peaceful stroll, as there are ponds, streams, and many cherry blossom trees in sight. Afterwards, do stop by the treasure house for themed exhibitions with paintings, scriptures, and many historic artefacts. 

Also read: 10 Must-See Temples and Shrines in Japan

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5. Pray for good fortune at Osaka’s most popular shrine

Image credit: Saigen Jiro

Are you in need of some good luck in your life? Look no further than Sumiyoshi Taisha. This shrine is one of the top Osaka attractions, and possibly the most famous Sumiyoshi shrine in Japan. Shrines of this kind are usually characterised by straight roofs that have forked finials (chigi) and five horizontal billets (katsuogi). The temple also has its roots in the maritime, as many people like to pray to the temple’s gods for safety before going on voyages and to ward off disasters of all kinds. In fact, the shrine was constructed to resemble a fleet of ships headed out to sea!

Image credit: Jerome Jome

One of the shrine’s most popular features is the Sorihashi Bridge. You see it as you make your way to the entrance of the main shrine grounds, and it’s a wondrous sight, especially with its high arch over the pond. 

6. Peer into the Gates of Hell at Senkoji Temple

One of the top things to do in Osaka is to visit Senkoji Temple, where you can get a glimpse of what your afterlife will look like. The temple grounds are divided in half to signify heaven and hell, and it’s up to you to choose which path to take first. 

If you choose to enter the “Hall of Hell,” you’ll be greeted by a looming statue of ​​Enma, the judge of the dead in Japanese Buddhism. On the other hand, those who choose to take the path to heaven will be greeted by the friendly faces of the Japanese gods of luck: Daruma, Saigyou, Jyorojin, and Hotei. 

A “fun” activity in the main temple hall is the afterlife fortune telling, also known as the Paradise or Hell Check. Basically, if you get a “bad result,” you are “punished” by a loud… ahem, well, something happens (#NoSpoilers).

7. Catch a traditional kabuki performance

When you want a taste of the Osaka arts scene on your trip, we recommend going to a traditional kabuki show. This style of Japanese theatre is usually characterised by dramatic dance performances and elaborate costumes. At the Osaka Shochizuka, you can catch an exciting kabuki performance for the first time. 

Although there are no English programs provided, the actors’ facial expressions and body language make up for it. Kabuki is known for its “exaggerated” movements, which are just as entrancing as the stories they mean to portray. 

Also read: 32 Things to See and Do in Japan for First-Time Travellers

8. Enjoy a Japanese puppet show at the National Bunraku Theatre

Besides kabuki, there’s another theatre form in Osaka that you can’t miss! Bunraku is essentially a traditional Japanese puppet theatre, featuring large wooden puppets in costumes, onstage puppeteers, and a chanter who speaks all the lines. The shows typically involve script adaptations, including tragic love stories and heroic legends. 

If the idea of catching a Bunraku show interests you, then head down to the National Bunraku Theatre. Unlike the previous location, the theatre does have English programs, and there are multiple performances held throughout the year. 

9. Get close to Japanese youth culture in Amerika-Mura

things to do in osaka

Image credit: fotoVoyager via Canva Pro

Amerika-Mura (affectionately nicknamed Amemura) is where you can find multiple shops selling hip and trendy fashion accessories and clothes. It’s Osaka’s version of Harajuku, especially with its youthful visitors and a huge range of many cafes and eateries. 

If it’s your first trip, expect a lot of stores selling both modern and vintage clothes. Oh, and you’ll definitely bump into people in unique outfits. After a shopping spree or two, treat yourself to a delicious meal at Amemura’s hip cafes and restaurants. 

Also read: 10 Best Thrift Stores and Vintage Shops in Japan

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10. Shop till you drop at the Tenjinbashisuji Shopping Arcade

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If you ever find yourself looking for hidden gems in Osaka, Tenjinbashisuji Shopping Arcade is the place to be. It’s a treasure trove of shops that are located along four streets which stretch up to over two kilometres. Thus, it’s the longest shopping arcade in the whole of Japan, making it one of the best places to visit in Osaka. You’ll find almost everything here, from books to home furnishings like futons. 

In case you start feeling hungry during your visit, you would be pleased to know that there are many old-fashioned tea shops, charming cafes, and tiny restaurants within this unique location.

11. Visit Den Den Town — Osaka’s version of Akihabara

things to do in osaka

Image credit: Janne Moren

If you’re an anime fan, then one of the best things to do in Osaka is to visit Nipponbashi (nicknamed Den Den Town). The neighbourhood is a true paradise for anime merch, electronics, and Japanese games. Challenge yourself to a claw machine game, or win yourself an adorable toy with a gachapon machine. After that, stop by a themed cafe for yummy food and drinks, or sing your heart out at karaoke. There’s so much to do for every kind of traveller, so let’s go now!

Also read: A Japan Guide: The Ultimate Must-Visit List for Gamers & Anime Fans!

12. Hop on the Osaka Aqualiner for a scenic evening river cruise

No matter the time of the year, a trip to Osaka isn’t complete without a sightseeing tour. If you’re seeking a unique experience on your trip, why not hop on the Osaka Aqualiner for a night cruise along the Okawa River. Within an hour, you’ll pass through many huge Osaka attractions such as Osaka Castle and Nakanoshima. Feel the cool breeze as you fall in love with the glittering structures in front of you. By the end, you’ve most probably fallen in love with the city (if you haven’t already!). 

13. Enjoy a scenic view of Osaka from the observation deck of Umeda Sky Building

things to do in osaka

Image credit: Paul Cuoco

In case you’re not a fan of boat rides, there are plenty of spots for you to see the Osaka skyline! The Umeda Sky Building is one of the best tourist spots in the city, which means you can’t skip this location on your trip. The 173-metre-tall building consists of two towers connected by the Floating Garden Observatory on the 39th floor. Once you’ve reached the observation deck, prepare yourself for unparalleled views of Osaka. It will amaze you, and you’re going to find yourself staring at the sky for hours!

14. Pay a visit to Japan’s tallest skyscraper

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Image credit: Sho K

Yes, you read that right! Standing at 300 metres in height, the Abeno Harukas is the country’s tallest skyscraper and another famous addition to our list of Osaka tourist spots. If you thought the Floating Garden Observatory wasn’t high enough, then wait till you see the Harukas 300. It occupies floors 58 to 60, with the 60th floor known for its 360° views of Osaka. On the other hand, the 58th floor has a wooden deck and cafe, which makes it perfect for travellers who want to sit back and enjoy the scenery with a cup of coffee. 

Afterwards, you can go shopping at Japan’s largest department store that is Abeno Harukas Kintetsu Department Store, or admire Buddhist art at the Abeno Harukas Art Museum. 

15. Take a walk around Nakanoshima Park

Fancy a leisurely stroll in Osaka? Nakanoshima Park is a stunning waterfront park cutting through the Dojima and Dosabori Rivers. It’s a piece of nature and tranquillity in the heart of Osaka Business District, with its lovely rose garden and abundant greenery. 

During the day, many people come here to bask in the sun and go people-watching. At night, the park is beautifully illuminated, making the many surrounding cafes an ideal date spot. Thus, the park is the perfect spot if you’re looking for free things to do in Osaka. 

16. Relax and enjoy the ambience of Minato-Machi River Place

Image credit: cotaro70s

Likewise, a stroll along the promenade of Minato-Machi River Place is another addition to the list of free things to do in Osaka. Once you’re done exploring Nakanoshima Park, come over to Minato-Machi to see the building complex light up. The public square is usually bursting with all kinds of outdoor events, including flea markets and live performances from street musicians. 

At the edge of the square, take the stairs and walk down to the riverside promenade. You’ll love how peaceful the place is, and watch the reflection of the city lights in the dark waters. 

17. Stay overnight in a capsule hotel

As futuristic as Japan can be, capsule hotels are an experience like no other. Contrary to popular belief, their origins can be traced back to Osaka. In 1979, architect Kisho Kurokawa introduced this unique hotel concept to the bustling Umeda district. Since you’ll be in the hometown of capsule hotels, why not book a stay in one and experience it for yourself? 

These make for a fun alternative to the standard hotel, and are much cheaper too! For these reasons, staying overnight in a capsule hotel is one of many top things to do in Osaka. Plus, they look cool!

Also read: Your Guide to Staying in a Capsule Hotel in Japan

18. Hit the food trail at the iconic Dotonbori Food District

things to do in osaka

Image credit: Koi Visuals

There’s a reason why Osaka has been named the Nation’s Kitchen! Historically, the city is the food capital of Japan, and much of Japan’s gastronomic culture is said to come from here. Regardless if you’re a foodie or not, one of the best things to do in Osaka is to go on a food hunt in Dotonbori Food District. 

From traditional street food like takoyaki and yakitori, to exceptionally fragrant ramen and messy okonomiyaki dinners, you’ll eat till you can eat no more. There are going to be so many things you want to eat in Dotonbori, so let’s hurry to the first food stall!

19. Make your own takoyaki at the Konamon Museum

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Takoyaki is a famous Japanese snack that is made of wheat flour balls and typically stuffed with octopus. It’s topped with generous amounts of bonito flakes, takoyaki sauce, and mayo. While trying freshly-made takoyaki is an amazing experience on its own, did you know that you can make them yourself in Dotonbori? 

Image credit (L-R): Wally Gobetz; jpellgen (@1179_jp)

Many may not know this, but there’s actually a museum on the second floor of Takoya Dotombori Kukuru. Specifically, the Konamon Museum is an Osaka attraction dedicated to the history of this yummy snack. On your first visit, learn more about the secret takoyaki sauce and other Konamon varieties (flour-based dishes). 

However, on the third floor, is where the real fun begins! You can make your own takoyaki and take a few sample home. They’re a great souvenir to have, especially for the foodies in your family. 

20. Head to Yoshino Sushi for a satisfying meal

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Hako sushi is a type of pressed sushi (oshi) that originated in Osaka. It’s made with the use of a rectangular wooden mould. The chef typically starts by lining the bottom of the oshibako box with the desired topping (e.g. fish) before covering it with sushi rice. After that, the lid will press down the sushi, thus creating a compact piece of sushi. 

Yoshino Sushi is the most famous sushi restaurant that serves boxed sushi and boxed lunch sets. They’ve been operating for more than 150 years, and it’s one of the best places to try authentic hako sushi. The ambience is relaxing, and many restaurant-goers love the fresh ingredients. Therefore, if you ever find yourself in Osaka, do come here!  

21. Sample the freshest sashimi (and other tasty snacks) at Kuromon Market

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Image credit: Helga Christina

Besides sushi, Japan is also famous for its fresh seafood. One of the best things to do in Osaka is to try sashimi at Kuromon Market. The market is home to 150 shops selling fish, meat, and produce. Some of the food you can find here include oysters, eel, sea urchins, and more! On a different note, you’ll also find yakitori and takoyaki here, as well as seasonal fruit and traditional sweets. 

22. Pour your own beer at the Asahi Beer Museum

Image credit: Kirakirameister

Asashi is one of four of Japan’s top beer producers and a world-renowned brand. If you love beer, then you should definitely sign up for an immersive tour of the Asashi Beer Museum in Osaka. The museum encompasses exhibits dedicated to Asashi’s history, beer-making, and most importantly, the breweries. 

They’ve got a cinema where you can watch videos about Asashi’s past and present, but many travellers love the Super Dry Go Ride exhibit. This is where you follow the journey of an Asashi Super Dry Can as it moves from production to distribution. At the end of your visit, stop by the Fla-bar for a chance to customise and pour your own draft beer from the tap. Hell, you even get to decorate the foam. Cheers! 

23. Ride the Ferris wheel for the best views of the Osaka Bay Area

The Osaka Bay Area is a collection of districts situated on artificial waterfront islands. You can find a lot of tourist attractions here, including museums, theme parks, observatories, and shopping centres. One of the more fun things to do in Osaka is to ride the Tempozan Ferris Wheel. When you reach the top, you get to see the whole bay at your feet, as well as soak in the views of the city’s skylines. 

24. Fulfil your magical fantasies at Universal Studios Osaka

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Image credit: Alexis Banaag

Are you ready for some adrenaline rush on your trip? If you answered yes to that question, let’s go to Universal Studios Osaka! The park currently consists of ten sections, including Waterworld, Minion Park, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Hollywood, Jurassic Park, and more! On your trip, treat yourself to the thrills of a rollercoaster or a simulator ride inspired by your favourite action movies. Remember to have a lot of fun… and scream all the pain of an expensive ticket away!

Also read: A Guide to the Best Theme Parks Around the World Worth Travelling For

25. Dive into the world of Mushroom Kingdom at Super Nintendo World!

things to do in osaka

Image credit: Roméo A.

At Universal Studios Osaka, a theme park has opened in recent years! Super Nintendo World is a paradise for all the gamers out there, especially for those who grew up playing Mario Bros. Explore the dreamy world of Mushroom Kingdom as you experience a real-life Mario Kart ride and interact with your favourite Mario Bros. characters. 

26. Spend a day at the Osaka Aquarium

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Image credit: Andrés García

If you’re constantly fascinated by the idea of what lies underneath the sea, then let us lead you to the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan. It’s one of the largest aquariums in the world, with more than 30,000 creatures encompassing 620 species. Inside the aquarium, you’ll get to see some of your favourite marine animals, explore interactive exhibitions, and look through some of the widest glass tanks you’ll ever see! 

Occasionally, the aquarium is illuminated by more than one million lights, adding another layer of beauty to the spectacular experience. 

27. Take a day trip to Nara Park and hang out with Bambi’s cousins

things to do in osaka

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Besides dolphins and whales, there’s another place you have to visit if you love animals! Nara Park, in particular, is a famous tourist spot in Osaka. It’s home to hundreds of wild deer, which you’ll see freely roaming around the park. Most of them are generally very friendly and tame, and one of the best things to do in Osaka is to feed them. 

Deer crackers are easily found in the park, and you might even see a few deer bowing their heads to visitors to be fed. Just don’t get freaked out when they start hoarding you for (deer) cookies.

Also read: 14 Animal Attractions, Parks and Islands to Visit in Japan

28. Pamper yourself silly with an onsen at Spa World

No matter where you are in Japan, one of the top things to do on your trip is to treat yourself to an onsen. They typically consist of traditional hot springs and bathing facilities and are found anywhere in Japan. In Osaka, Spa World is a gigantic hot spring theme park in the Shinsekai area

They have literally everything you may need to pamper yourself, from themed hot springs to massage services. If you’ve got a lot of time to kill, do come here. We promise it’s a fun place to visit with the whole family!  

Note: Spa World doesn’t allow visitors with tattoos. 

Also read: 12 Hot Spring Towns in Japan to Relax & Unwind on Vacation

29. Explore the century-old streets of Shinsekai

Image credit: Domenico Convertini

After treating yourself to Spa World’s spas and hot springs, why not explore the rest of Shinsekai? Its name translates to “New World,” although it’s actually quite the nostalgic neighbourhood. In the early 1900s, Shinsekai was initially established with visions of the future. Today, the streets are filled with old-school shops, neon lights, and tons of arcade machines. You’ll also find hidden bars and tons of delicious street food, namely kushikatsu

Kushikatsu is essentially deep-fried meat and vegetable skewers. But a single skewer isn’t enough, so do remember to order more — you’re going to regret it if you don’t! After all, indulging in this dish is one of the best things to do in Osaka, especially for foodies. 

30. Study the city’s origins at the Osaka Museum of History

Image credit: shankar s.

As with its local cuisine, Osaka’s history is just as rich as its food recipes. If you’re a bit of a history nerd, one of the perfect things to do on your trip is to visit the Osaka Museum of History. On the upper floor, visitors are treated to an immersive exhibition that highlights the city’s beginnings, with numerous dioramas showing how Osaka served as Japan’s first capital. At the end of the exhibit, you’re led to the lower floors, which consist of a restaurant, a shop, and a spacious lobby. 

31. Fall in love with paintings and more at the National Museum of Art

Image credit: Miha TAMURA

Similarly, you can visit the National Museum of Art for a thought-provoking experience. The art museum houses both Japanese and foreign contemporary art among several exhibitions. Visitors are introduced to a large collection of masterpieces created by icons such as Picasso, Ernst, and Cezanne. At the same time, you’ll also get to learn more about Japanese art through the works of Tsuguharu Foujita and Yasuo Kuniyoshi. 

Also read: LOOK: Japan’s New Luxury Sightseeing Train Cuts Across Osaka, Nara, and Kyoto

And there you have it, 31 must-do things in Osaka! Of course, there’s even more than what this list contains, and the only way to experience it all is to visit Osaka personally! So, start planning now.

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About Authors

Darren Yeoh
Darren Yeoh

Darren enjoys the finer things in life and loves exploring unfamiliar places on foot, guided with nothing but instinct and a good-old fashioned map. He enjoys cultural experiences and exciting adventures and is not a stranger to travelling alone. When he's not putting his travel experiences into words, he's probably sitting behind his laptop, planning his upcoming adventure.


Natasha Effendy
Natasha Effendy

Natasha is a wordsmith and digital content creator who's been trying to write her way into the adventure of a lifetime. If she's not writing, you'd definitely catch her nursing her addiction to romance and fantasy novels with a cup of tea.