Hello, my name is Shir and welcome to my guide on the best things to do in Osaka! I’m from Israel and at the moment I live in Tel Aviv. Ever since I was a kid, I was interested in the culture of Japan and later on in Asia in general. I fell in love with Japan through anime and as soon as I learned more about Japanese culture, it immediately became my dream to visit.
After solo traveling Asia for a few months in 2022 and experiencing some of its culture, I made myself a promise to solo travel to Japan as well. Prior to that, I had already visited Japan with my family for 10 days in 2019. This time I went for three weeks in the middle of September. I visited Osaka, Kobe, Hiroshima, Miyajima, Kyoto, Himeji, Kanazawa, Kawaguchiko and Tokyo.
The first time I found out about Osaka was when I started to plan my trip to Japan in 2019. When I researched places, Osaka made it onto my list. On my first visit, I could only experience the city for a day and I left with the feeling that I missed out on a lot. So, I wanted to go back and visit again!
This time Osaka was my first destination and I made sure to experience more of what it has to offer. Since I was alone, I could experience the amazing nightlife of Osaka. Dotonbori was one of my favorite spots to be. There are lots of food options, and bars and clubs. The vibe there is lively!
I checked out Osaka Castle and a shrine in the shape of a lion or demon (Namba Yasaka Shrine). I also went to a nice street that I didn’t know about before called Shinsekai or the Tsutenkaku Tower. It was a cool street with boutique stores and a yummy food market. Another place that I really enjoyed was the area named Amerika-mura – a colorful place full of fashion stores, relaxing cafes, and boasting a Western style and student vibe.
Osaka was one of my favorite places I visited on my most recent trip to Japan. I had the chance to make new friends and some of them were locals – since I stayed in hostels and went clubbing. In Osaka I ate the best food of all of my Japenese travels. I had the best sushi and ramen in Namba. I loved the vibe of the city and would recommend it. I would rate it 9.5/10!
10 Best Things To Do in Osaka
1. Stay in a Hostel in Osaka
Japan has one of the world’s best hostel scenes! The hostels are much cheaper than hotels and are just as clean as them. Some places feel like a hotel and others like a family house – both are great experiences. This type of accommodation also allows you to connect with other travelers.
2. Stroll Around the Namba & Dotonbori Area
This area is bursting with restaurants, bars and clubs. It’s a lively and colorful place, especially at night. The first time I saw Namba and Dotonbori at night, I felt like this was the Japan I’ve always heard about. To arrive, you can take the train to Namba Subway Station and walk from there.
3. Experience the Delicious Food of Osaka
Known as “Japan’s Kitchen”, Osaka lives up to its reputation as a foodie paradise! The street food is epic, with local specialties such as takoyaki (octopus balls) and okonomiyaki (savory pancakes) being highlights. Travelers can savor these delights in Namba or Dotonbori, or at the Kuromon Ichiba Market or Hozenji Yokocho. Additionally, visitors can attend a cooking class or book a food tour to take the experience to the next level!
4. Discover the Youth Culture at Amerika-Mura
Amerika-mura is a vibrant and stylish part of Osaka that’s full of clothes stores and cute cafes. Located close to the Shinsaibashi shopping district, this area is famous for its youth culture and student-life. The centerpiece of Amerika-mura is the plaza – Sankaku Park – where youngsters hang out and show off the latest fashion. Staying for the nightlife here is also fun!
5. Marvel at the Osaka Castle
Osaka is home to a beautiful castle that you can see from afar or enter. If you don’t feel like going inside, make sure to at least visit the beautiful park that surrounds it. The photo opportunities here are fantastic, especially during the cherry blossom season which runs from late March to early April.
6. Check Out Shinsekai or the Tsutenkaku Tower
From the top of the Tsutenkaku Tower, visitors are afforded breathtaking views of the city of Osaka. That being said, if you’re scared of heights, you can take a stroll around the area and visit the market. You can shop for interesting Japanese souvenirs and eat authentic street food. Also, the shopping in Shinsekai is top-notch with plenty of colorful shops to admire.
7. Take Photos at the Namba Yasaka Shrine
The Namba Yasaka Shrine is one of the coolest shrines I’ve visited in Asia. With its Shinto and Buddhist elements, the shrine (shaped as a lion or demon’s mouth, depending on how you perceive it) is a cultural gem – attracting many visitors with its unique design and spiritual ambiance.
8. Visit the teamLab Botanical Garden Osaka
The teamLab Botanical Garden Osaka is honestly so cool! It’s an outdoor museum with artwork made by fusing art and lights. This immersive experience showcases digital art installations that dynamically respond to visitors’ movements – transforming the botanical setting into a vibrant, interactive wonderland that blends technology and the natural world.
9. Go to a Shiba Cafe to See Cute Dogs
In Japan, you have the chance to go to a cafe to have a drink while petting cute puppies. It’s a dream come true for dog-lovers! There are lots of different dog-cafe options all over the country but if you like shiba inu dogs, you have to check these specific places out! It’s a really unique sight.
10. Sing Your Heart Out at a Karaoke Bar
Karaoke is a must-do in Japan, at least once. It’s usually done while clubbing or hanging out at a cool bar, and ending your night with a karaoke session with your friends or some random people you just met! Singing loudly with nobody judging you is one of Japan’s greatest offerings.
If I had to choose one or two of these activities as my favorite, it would have to be the food tour in Osaka (this could be an independent one, just walking around and tasting everything on offer) and meeting random people while clubbing/karaoking. The teamLab Botanical Garden visit was also one of my top experiences in Osaka, so be sure to pay it a visit!
Where to Stay in Osaka
When visiting Osaka, I suggest staying in Namba. It’s central, lively and fun. I stayed in two hostels during my visit. One was in Namba and walking distance from Dotonbori. It’s called The Stay Osaka Shinsaibashi. It was clean and the staff were kind. The rooms were also quiet, and it had a kitchen and work space. Lots of families stayed here, so the vibe wasn’t as young as I expected, but I still managed to find friends to hang out with.
The second place I stayed at was called R Guest House Namba. It’s situated a bit further from the central area but it wasn’t too far to walk. This hostel was much smaller and a lot cozier. The staff were so sweet and helpful, and they gave great ideas of where to go and what to do in Osaka. It was more chill and had a great atmosphere. Since the hostel was small, it was easy to make friends with travelers. The only downside: it had no elevator.
Tips for Your Visit to Osaka
The main tip I can give is to come with an open mind and try new things! Japan has so much to offer but some people are too afraid to try them out. Another tip is to book your stays in advance. I tried to be spontaneous but I didn’t realize how busy Japan can get. Book a place with a good rating and in a central area, so you can easily find all the gems of Osaka.
Traveling to Osaka in the cherry blossom season is also a great idea. It only lasts for a few weeks but it’s worth it to see the streets filled with pink trees and a happy vibe. If you wish to explore more places in Japan, I suggest getting the JR Rail Pass. With this pass you can ride the bullet train. It all depends on where you go and for how long, so don’t forget to check it out!
When it comes to eating in Osaka, one of the best places is Sakae Sushi for quality sushi made right in front of you. It’s cheaper than the sushi in Israel and 100 times better! I still have the taste of it in my mouth and miss it a lot. Another spot is Hanamaruken Namba Hozenji, a true hidden gem. I came here by accident in 2019 and since then I’ve been wanting to return.
This ramen restaurant is on the corner of a shopping center in Namba (on the inside). I couldn’t remember the name of this restaurant and only managed to find it on my last day in Osaka. They usually have a line outside, since the place is so small and can only fit about 12 people. Hanamaruken Namba Hozenji has the best ramen I have had in Japan!
I didn’t expect to have so much fun in Osaka and, to be honest, it’s probably my favorite city in Japan (yes, even better than Tokyo). Be sure to try new things and make the effort to meet new people while you’re there, especially if you’re traveling on your own. Osaka will blow you away!