Along with Tokyo, Osaka is one of the most urbanized cities in Japan. This harbor city is widely known for its’ unique atmosphere and lively and welcoming people living there. The entire city is (quite literally) full of energy, and offers a totally different experience to visitors from what you can experience in Tokyo. The tasty local dishes, entertaining theme parks, and historical spots co-exist within the small, but also rapidly developing city. Let us help you understand the different areas of Osaka and their respective highlights!
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- Best places to visit in Central Osaka (大阪中央エリア)
- Best places to visit in North Osaka (北大阪エリア)
- Best places to visit in South Osaka (南大阪エリア)
- Best places to visit in East Osaka (東大阪エリア)
- Best places to visit in the Osaka Bay Area (大阪湾エリア)
- Best Tours in Osaka
- Where to stay in Osaka
- Japan Wonder Travel Tours in Osaka
Osaka (大阪, Ōsaka) is a large metropolitan port city, located in the Kansai region on the south side of the main island of Honshu. It is the nation’s third largest city by population with over 2.6 million inhabitants. Osaka has played an important role in the economic development of Japan and because of its’ location with direct access to the sea, it has been serving as a main gateway for foreign companies to enter the country and the distribution of goods throughout the country. Because many foods were distributed from a port city, there has always been a rich variety of food available. This abundance of food led to the city its nickname: the Kitchen of Japan. Osaka is also the birthplace of some delicious Japanese dishes such as okonomiyaki and Takoyaki.
Osaka can be divided into two major urban city centers: the Dotonbori and Namba area which is called minami (south in Japanese) and kita (north in Japanese) referring to the Umeda area. Minami is the most famous and popular tourist destination in Osaka filled with numerous bright neon lights and an enormous variety of restaurants and bars. Kita, or Umeda, is the city’s transportation and business hub. The area has undergone a major facelift over the last few years and has become the political, economic, and cultural center of Osaka and Kansai district.
Besides the tasty street food, Osaka also has a rich culture. Despite being a more modern city, the city also has a lot of historical highlights, like the oldest Shinto shrine, and traditions to offer. The main historical landmark is the beautiful Osaka Castle which is surrounded by Osaka Castle Park, where in spring hundreds of cherry blossom trees show their beautiful colors.
Best places to visit in Central Osaka (大阪中央エリア)
Central Osaka covers the famous district known as Dotonbori and Namba area. Dotonbori refers to a specific area where you can find a large variety of stores and restaurants offering tasty local foods and experiences. The iconic Dotonbori Street is home to some of the most popular tourist attractions. Also, here you can find the famous billboards and signboards which play a key role to make a unique landscape full of neon lights at night. Dotonbori is also the perfect place to try Japanese izakaya.
If you are interested in Osaka’s local food, trying Takoyaki should definitely be on your list. This delicious snack is a must-try that you can enjoy while exploring the area. There is an informative museum called Konamon Museum, where you can learn about the history of the Dotonbori district and Takoyaki. They also offer an exciting experience to make your own Takoyaki with your favorite ingredients.
Kuromon Market is another must-visit place full of lively small shops selling a large selection of products including fresh seafood, fruit, vegetables, and more! The main street is about 600 meters long and packed with over 180 shops handling Osaka’s best specialties. Walking around the area is a fun experience for you to enjoy the local food and feel the vibrant atmosphere at the same time!
Best places to visit in North Osaka (北大阪エリア)
North Osaka is widely known under another name: Umeda. Umeda is often referred to as a business hub with urbanized skyscrapers. It also serves as the very heart of commercial and entertainment attractions. The area is always packed with people because of the accessible location from the main railway stations. Huge shopping complexes such as Hep5 are close to the stations, and you can easily check the latest trends in Japanese fashion and culture there!
Grand Front Osaka, and Osaka Station City are representative buildings that are both directly connected to the JR Osaka station. They offer a wide variety of shops and services including restaurants, trendy shops, showrooms, and even movie theaters. Another similar complex called Umeda Sky Building is the perfect place for tourists to enjoy the stunning view of Osaka’s urban area from the observation deck on the 39th floor!
Best places to visit in South Osaka (南大阪エリア)
If you want to experience the real Osaka from a different perspective, South Osaka might be just what you are looking for! It has a famous district called Shinsekai, which literally translates as new world. Shinsekai has been attracting many tourists for the past decades. The landscape reminds you of the old days back in the Showa era in Japan, whereas newly opened tourist spots such as Abeno Harukas, the tallest building in Japan, bring you a brand-new experience!
Within the Shinsekai area, there is a covered shopping alley called Janjan Yokocho packed with small stalls, restaurants, and cozy standing bars where you can enjoy drinks while spending time with the welcoming locals.
The symbolic structure called Tsutenkaku Tower has been loved by locals as an important landmark in Osaka. It has an observation deck where you can enjoy the entire view of the Shinsekai area. When you pay another ¥500 you can enter the open-air observatory on the 5th floor, but the view from there is even better and worth paying a few extra yen!
Best places to visit in East Osaka (東大阪エリア)
East Osaka is home to one of the most iconic, famous, and important landmarks of the city: Osaka Castle. This huge castle was originally built in 1583 by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who lived during the Sengoku era and is seen as responsible for the unification of Japan later in the 16th century. Although the original castle was unfortunately demolished over the centuries, the current one is perfectly restored and equipped with convenient facilities such as an elevator taking the visitors upstairs within seconds. From the observation deck on the 8th floor, you can have another amazing view of Osaka!
Besides the castle, there are several places strongly related to the history of the city. Hokoku Shrine is also situated in Osaka Castle Park, enshrining the Toyotomi family. The beautiful Osaka Castle Park is also great for a relaxing stroll while surrounded by plenty of nature. Osaka Tenmangu Shrine and Taiko-en Garden are also famous spots, and each of them maintains a sacred atmosphere.
Best places to visit in the Osaka Bay Area (大阪湾エリア)
Osaka Bay Area is full of modern, exciting entertainment spots situated on a number of artificial islands. The most famous place is Universal Studio Japan, the huge theme park that opened in 2001. Outside the park, there is a shopping complex area called Universal City Walk a shopping and dining complex where you can also buy your USJ merchandise, and stay overnight.
Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan is among the largest public aquariums in the world. The several tanks display a wide range of marine creatures that live in the Pacific Rim. The entire building is designed to enable visitors to watch the creatures from up-close and from different perspectives. They also hold interesting events and organize exciting guided tours to offer an opportunity to learn about sea life!
Best Tours in Osaka
If you need some help organizing your trip to Osaka, you should definitely check out our private tour including an English guide. We can help you plan your trip and ensure you make the most out of your time in the culinary capital city of Japan!
▶Osaka Highlights Private Walking Tour
This is one of our most popular tours in the Kansai area. Explore the highlights of Osaka with a fun and knowledgeable bilingual guide! You can check out historic Osaka Castle, eat delicious lunch at Kuromon Market, see the vibrant streets of Dotonbori, and so on!
Where to stay in Osaka
We recommend you stay in either the Namba or Umeda areas. Both central areas are well connected to all sorts of transportation and offer lots of shops, restaurants, and hotspots. If you are looking for the best place to enjoy Osaka’s nightlife, you should consider staying in the Namba area. Other good places to stay in Osaka are hotels near the Midosuji subway line (the most important transport route in Osaka that gets you almost everywhere), Osaka Castle, or Universal Studios.
Our recommendations in Namba:
Our recommendations in Umeda:
By now you must be very eager to add Osaka to your to-do list. It is a 100% guaranteed fun experience. the city offers a great mix of culture, history, and delicious cuisine. In addition, Osaka is also a great starting point for trips to other tourist destinations such as Hiroshima, Nara, Kyoto, and Kobe. These places are 1-2 hrs. by public transportation from Osaka and offer different, and memorable experiences for you to make your trip even better! Please check our other blogs to find out more about them.
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Japan Wonder Travel Tours in Osaka
If you are planning on visiting Osaka and need some help organizing your trip, you came to the right place! We would be more than happy to help make your trip the best it possibly could be. We can advise you on where to go, or even better, hook you up with a local English speaking guide that can show you all of the best spots. Let us help you make fun, safe, and unforgettable memories in Osaka!
▶Osaka Highlights Private Walking Tour
On this full-day private tour of Osaka, we will take you to Osaka’s highlights that include Osaka Castle, Kuromon Market, the popular Dotonbori area, etc. Learn about the rich history of the area, local lifestyle, and of course delicious Osaka food!
▶Osaka Tenjinbashi Local Street Walking Tour
Walk around the Tenjinbashi area with an experienced and knowledgeable English speaking guide! You can find all of the local secret hidden gems along the way. This tour also includes some delicious street food and drink.
▶Kyoto Food and Drink Tour @Nishiki Street & Gion
If you’re planning on visiting Kyoto along with Osaka and are looking to learn more about the culture and local cuisine, this is definitely the perfect tour for you! Take part in this fun food and drink tour and explore the 400-year-old market and the famous Gion district.
Find the Other Tours
If you want to make travel easier, we suggest you look into tour packages.There are a wide range of tour packages out there to suit the accomodate for each traveler needs. Click the button below to find the best tour package from various Tour Operators!