Osaka is a fascinating Japanese city.
Over 19 million people live in Osaka so it’s certainly busy.
Consequently there are plenty of sights and activities to visit at any time of the day or night.
Osaka is a brilliant city to experience authentic Japanese culture, discover heritage, and have fun.
So we’ve researched all the popular attractions and refined our list to the 20 best things to do in Osaka for your next trip.
1. Osaka Castle
Construction of Osaka Castle began in 1583.
It was built by Toyotomi Hideyoshi who intended it to become the centre of his rule.
Interestingly it was the largest castle of its time.
Nowadays the castle tower which was rebuilt in 1997, is a modern museum.
The Castle has plenty to see such as citadels, turrets, walls and beautiful gardens.
Therefore one of the best ways to see it is on a guided walking tour.
In addition the tour also includes seeing other famous sights and a 1 hour river cruise.
2. Umeda Sky Building
Umeda Sky Building is an impressive building.
It looms 173 meters tall, and is actually 2 skyscrapers which connect via the ‘floating garden’ 39 stories high.
You will get stunning panoramic views from the observatory and it’s open air deck.
In addition the 360 degree views allow you to see as far as Awaji Island.
Visit at sunset for amazing views of Japan’s Cityscape.
Alternatively join a walking tour with entry to the floating garden observatory to learn more.
3. Universal Studios Japan
Fans of Hollywood should make time to see Universal Studios Japan.
Especially as it’s one of only 2 Universal Studios theme parks in Asia.
Similar to its LA and Orlando counterparts, there is a wide variety of rides.
Themed rides include Despicable me Minion Mayhem and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
Or have your photos taken with infamous characters on parade such as, Hello Kitty, Snoopy and Minions.
Families will also love discovering the themed districts.
In particular kids will love the exciting Water World, Jurassic park, and Hollywood districts.
4. Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan
Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan is one of the worlds largest Aquariums, so there is plenty to see.
Admire the cute sea otters, or marvel at the giant salamander.
The impressive 11m (36 ft) long glass tunnel will give you a sense of what life below the sea is like.
It’s also great for families, especially the touch pool.
Follow your guided half day tour to Osaka’s Aquarium with an Osaka bay cruise.
Dotonbori is a lively district that’s a great place to spend your evening at.
The small restaurants have cultural remnants from it’s history as a pleasure district.
However, Dotonbori is probably the best place to find a great restaurant.
Especially as there’s a variety of Japanese food or Western Cuisine.
It’s also a great place to go shopping.
You could easily spend the best part of a day discovering boutiques or enjoying tea and sushi stops.
Alternatively, visit at night to see the Neon lights and soak up the cool vibe.
Step back in time and experience vintage Japan.
Snap amazing photos and absorb the vintage atmosphere of Shinseki.
The area is inspired by 1920s-1950s Japan.
However, as it’s popular with locals and off the main tourist route, the best way to explore is with a local guide.
Discover hidden gems and try different foods and drinks at small street stalls.
Finally you will visit the place where ‘mixed juice’ one of Osaka’s specialties, was created.
7. Namba, Shinsaibashi & Amerikamura District
Namba, Shinsaibashi and Amerikamura all have amazing little restaurants and bars.
Join a unique walking tour to discover the best backstreet delights from the three districts.
Sample local food including fresh sushi, grilled yakitori and takoyaki.
In addition enjoy the robust atmosphere of downtown Osaka.
The relaxed tour will go wherever the night takes your group, which is often to a Karaoke Bar.
Minami is a cultural hub of Osaka.
It includes the bustling entertainment scene of Dotomori.
As a result there is almost always something open.
Along with plenty of dining and shopping options there are also several museums to discover.
The best way to see Minami is on foot with a local guide who knows the best cultural places to visit.
9. Shitennoji Temple
Shitennoji temple has been reconstructed several times since its 6th Century origins.
Furthermore, the impressive gateway dates from 1294 and is also the oldest in Japan.
Therefore it’s one of Osaka’s must see attractions.
Additionally a visit here can easily be combined with a walking tour of Osaka’s highlights.
Alternatively choose a bicycle tour if you wish to cover more ground.
10. Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine
The Shrine is one of the most popular in Osaka due to it’s uniqueness.
It was built in the 3rd century, with no influences from mainland Asia.
It’s reached by crossing a stunning orange arched bridge, which is also a great place for taking photos.
Sumiyoshi shrines were built for Kami (Shinto gods).
As a result they are usually found near harbors as they protect fishermen, sailors and travelers.
11. Hozenji Yokocho
Hozenji Yokocho is actually an alley in Osaka, close to the bustling area of Dotombori entertainment district.
It will come as no surprise then, that the narrow alley is a popular area to eat and drink.
Furthermore there are over 60 restaurants here, most of which are beautifully restored in a traditional way.
A walk along Osaka’s most beautiful alley is like stepping back 200 years.
Particularly on an evening visit when the street is lit by traditional lanterns.
12. Osaka Museum of History
Osaka museum of history holds a wealth of knowledge and heritage.
Exhibitions include Osaka’s history as a capital city.
Explore galleries such as the Age of the Naniwa Palace and the Age of the Hongan-ji Temple.
If you have plenty of time the complete tour will show you the whole museum.
Or opt for the highlights tour if you are limited for time.
Another draw is the great views of Osaka Castle nearby.
13. Street Osaka GoKart Tour
Enjoy a fun filled tour day by exploring Osaka on a go cart while wearing a costume!
Dress up as your favorite character for a tour that’s bound to be filled with plenty of laughter.
The tour visits most of the best sights of Osaka in Namba, Dottonbori, Tsutenkaku Tower, and Kitashinchi areas.
14. Tea Ceremony in a Kimono
One of the most common Japanese culture activities to experience is a tea ceremony.
Dress in a traditional Kimono and learn how to make Matcha tea during an authentic tea ceremony.
Its a brilliant way of immersing yourself in ancient Japanese culture.
You will also enjoy a popular drink that can now be found worldwide.
15. Japanese Traditional Taiko Drum Experience
For another amazing cultural experience try Taiko Drumming.
During the 1 hour lesson you will learn about the history of Taiko Drumming and its components.
Next you will learn how to play the drums with traditional Japanese songs.
At the end of the lesson your group will perform one of these traditional songs.
The class is particularly great for families, as most children love making noise!
16. Sushi Cooking Class
Under guidance from a professional chef you will learn the art of making sushi.
For instance you will roll sashimi (thinly sliced fish) and rice into nori (dried seaweed).
You will leave the hands-on class with great sushi making skills.
Afterwards you will eat your sushi along with other traditional Japanese food.
The class also includes a tea ceremony.
17. Food & Drinks at Tenma and Kyobashi
Tenma and Kyobashi are 2 of the best dining areas in Osaka.
Your local guide will make it easy for you to experience authentic Japanese food.
As a result it’s a great way of seeing the real Osaka.
Your small group of a maximum 6 people ensures you have a close encounter with local dining culture.
Additionally your guide will also show and tell you about local history.
18. Osaka Walking Tour
An Osaka walking tour is a great way to experience as much of authentic local culture as possible.
You will also see the most popular sights in Osaka.
Discover exciting and nostalgic districts including Dotonbori and Shinsekai.
In addition try tasty local food and drink during your tour.
Your friendly and informative local guide will tell you about the history and culture of Osaka.
It’s a great introduction to Osaka for first time visitors or those who have a short time in the city.
19. Kyoto & Nara from Osaka in 1 day
Discover two of the best local areas outside Osaka in one day.
Start at Kyoto to see Nijo Castle and the Golden Pavilion.
Visit in late April during cherry blossom season or November for autumn colors.
You will dine on a Japanese buffet lunch.
Nara park will be the next destination.
This is also a large deer park that encompasses Todai-ji Temple.
Furthermore, the temple is a UNESCO world heritage site.
Your guide will then take you to one last stop where you can buy some souvenirs.
20. Himeji Castle and Akashi Kaikyo Bridge
Himeji Castle is one of Japans National treasures, and unsurprisingly a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The 14th century castle is enclosed by walls built to look like a white heron.
Hence why its also called Shirasagi Castle (White Heron Castle).
Your knowledgeable guide will take you around the castle and grounds.
Along the way they will tell you interesting facts and tales of Kimei Castle’s history.
Akashi kaikyo bridge is also the longest suspension bridge in the world.
It’s a staggering 3911 meters long with the longest span stretching 1991 meters.
From the 8 story high observation deck you can really appreciate the vast scale of the bridge.
Osaka is a city filled with historical, cultural and culinary gems.
It is a must see city during your visit to Japan.
From this list, you can see there are plenty of popular tourist sights in Osaka.
There are interesting places to visit in the surrounding areas, different cultural experiences, and districts to explore.
If you want to find even more things to do in Osaka, have a look at our extensive tour and activity offers.