Osaka is a large and modern city in Japan - it’s vibrant and bright with so many things to do and see. People wondering what to do in Osaka will find endless ways to spend their time.
There is no shortage of Osaka tourist attractions, so which should be your top priority? Take a look at some of the best things to do in Osaka, from theme parks to temples and shrines.
See the top 10 things to do in Osaka below:
Osaka Castle is an architectural highlight, standing amongst the cherry blossoms when they’re in season. Many important buildings have been constructed and rebuilt on the site of Osaka Castle, with the latest iteration created in the early 1930s. Today, you'll find a museum inside the castle and outside it is the Nishinomaru Garden.
With a tea house and more than 600 cherry blossom trees, the Nishinomaru Garden is the only part that you'll have to pay for. The rest of Osaka Castle Park can be enjoyed free of charge, with April being the best time to visit to see the cherry blossoms blooming.
But, it is beautiful to visit all year, especially when the autumn foliage appears, too!
Dotonbori is a busy street that runs alongside the canal in Osaka. It's often named amongst the top attractions Osaka has to offer for tourists, with restaurants, bars and shops all lit by glowing neon signs.
Whether you simply take a walk along the canal, or stop and enjoy a bite to eat, a visit to Dotonbori is an amazing opportunity to immerse yourself in the city’s hustle and bustle. There's no better way to decide where to eat than walking past the restaurant doors and looking in. You'll find every type of food you could ever imagine here in Dotonbori!
Whilst you're also in this area, consider a riverboat cruise. The yellow boat spends every afternoon going up and down the canal, providing a different viewpoint of the city and a chance to dodge the crowds.
One of the world's leading theme parks, Universal Studios, is one of the best attractions Osaka offers for visitors of any age. Enjoy the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, where you can buy a wand at Ollivander's and ride on a high-speed Hippogriff, or visit the colourful Universal Wonderland created with children in mind. There are enough rides, attractions, restaurants and shops to fill several days of your visit to Osaka.
Towering high above its surroundings, the Umeda Sky Building has a city observatory with an open-air deck. From the top of the tower, you can look out over the modern-day city of Osaka. Meanwhile, in the basement of this building, there is a replica of a 1920s street. You can shop and dine underground here, whilst feeling like you have gone back in time.
The Umeda Sky Building is an Osaka attraction not to miss. It is 173 metres tall with panoramic views up top, and a landscaped garden forest at its base.
As the world's largest aquarium, Kaiyukan is easily a leading Osaka attraction. A visit is one of the best activities in Osaka for families with children, though adults can enjoy the sights just as much on their own.
You’ll come across water tunnels, an indoor forest and many tanks and exhibits, bringing you close to a vast array of creatures from otters to dolphins. See the penguins, sharks, turtles and jellyfish all in stunning replica environments.
The Kaiyukan Aquarium changes as daytime turns into evening. With different music, there's a whole new atmosphere for Kaiyukan Night Aquarium events. Everything goes dark, with artificial moonlight creating a sense of calm. After your visit, you can explore the nearby Tempozan Harbor Village, too!
Shinsekai is an interesting fusion of historic and modern-day Japan. Left to fall into a state of disrepair following the Second World War, this part of Osaka has now returned to its former glory. Modelled partly on Paris and partly on New York, Shinsekai's a great place to shop. There are many restaurants serving Japanese specialities, often open 24/7 for your convenience.
After you've shopped and dined, indulge in the luxury of Shinsekai's Spa World attraction. Soak in a hot spring bath, soothing your aching muscles while escaping from the buzz of the city.
A walk along Ebisu Bridge is another top activity in Osaka. This bridge is a landmark, crossing over the Dotonbori canal.
One of the most popular reasons to visit Ebisu Bridge is the famous Running Man sign. This is a huge billboard as an advert for Glico, which is one of Japan's most popular confectionery companies. Despite only being an advert, the Glico Man is now amongst Osaka's leading landmarks and has been there for over 80 years. Expect to see the Running Man in many Japanese travel guides, and to find hundreds of people standing on the bridge trying get a photo with this Osaka icon.
One of the oldest shrines in Japan is the Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine, with its iconic red bridge that spans the pond in its grounds. The Sorihashi Bridge, with its high arch and steep steps, is a landmark in its own right. If you're looking for impressive photo opportunities, the bridge is the perfect spot.
This shrine is often surprisingly quiet, which makes for a very peaceful visit. You can walk around the well-kept grounds and be immersed in Japanese tradition.
During cherry blossom season, there is no better place to be than the Kema Sakuranomiya Park in Osaka. Pink blossoms spread as far as the eye can see, lining the Ogawa River where they reflect in the water. During the spring, many stands and stalls serve up Japanese street food. At other times of year, you'll be able to stroll quietly along the water's edge.
Kema Sakuranomiya Park is best enjoyed at the start of April. But, at any other time, you won't be disappointed. A quiet park like this is the perfect escape from the vibrant and busy Osaka streets.
For a unique perspective on Osaka, take a ride on the Tempozan Ferris Wheel. You'll reach a height of just over 110 metres, with an ever-changing view of the city as it sprawls out below you. Visitors get a pod on the wheel and the ride lasts for roughly 15 minutes.
If you time it up right, you can ride the Ferris Wheel just as the sun starts to set. This beautiful sight is one to remember, though there is never a bad time to climb aboard and do some bird's-eye-view sightseeing.
If you're feeling brave, queue for a red pod on the Tempozan Ferris Wheel. You may have to wait a little longer, but will score a glass-bottomed pod so you can see straight down to the ground underneath your feet.
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