Osaka is famously one of the most exciting places to visit in Japan. People from all over the world flock to Osaka to experience the vibrant nightlife and incredible street food that this city has to offer.
For anyone planning a trip to Japan, Osaka is an absolute must! But, when visiting any new city, figuring out how to get around can be daunting.
To help you out, we’ve put together this ultimate guide to transport options in Osaka. As one of Japan's most well-connected cities, travelling around Osaka is easy - once you know the basics! Check out our ultimate guide below to find out what you need to know.
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For such a small country, Japan has quite a few different airports. But, wherever you're coming from, travelling after touching down can be a stress-free experience.
In Osaka, there are two airports that you could be arriving into: Osaka Kansai International Airport (KIX) and Osaka Itami Airport (ITM). Make sure to check your ticket ahead of time to ensure you correctly plan your journey from the airport to your accommodation.
It can be tempting to just opt for a taxi straight from the airport, but this is an expensive way of getting around in Osaka. From Osaka Kansai Airport, a taxi fare could set you back as much as ¥16,000 to ¥20,000 (approximately $206 to $250). Luckily, public transport in Japan is so cheap and efficient that there is no need to splash your cash on cabs. Instead, the best options to travel from the airport into Osaka are by:
Your method for getting to Osaka from the airport by rail will depend on whether or not you have a JR pass (more on that below). For those with a JR pass, the JR Haruka Airport express train can get you as far as Shin-Osaka or Tennoji. Alternatively, the Nankai Rapi:t airport express train is another fast way to travel straight after landing, which goes directly to Namba station.
The buses in Osaka are a reliable way to move around the city. When coming from one of the airports into Osaka, buses are a great way to get to your final destination once you've taken the train part of the way. For more information on buses in Osaka, keep reading below!
Surprisingly, travel by ferry is another top transport option in Osaka. When coming directly from the airport, ferries are a good option for the latter part of your journey into the city - if you've figured out where your accommodation is located.
The river boats, like other forms of transport in Japan, always run on time and can be an exciting and scenic way to travel around the city. The boats are far more than just a novelty though. For tourists that are wanting to fit in a lot of sightseeing in one day, boat rides can be a welcome and quiet interlude that takes you directly to Osaka's best neighbourhoods and landmarks.
Are you inspired to plan a trip to Japan? See our guide to flying to Osaka!
Getting around on the train and subway system in Osaka is easy once you have the hang of it. Make sure you have an up-to-date and quality map of the lines to help you pre-plan your route - but that's a given for any new city you are visiting in the world!
Trains run from 5am to midnight across the subway lines in Osaka. The two lines you will likely use the most during your stay in Osaka are the Midosuji Line (red) and the Chuo line (green).
Using bullet trains is an absolute must if you are travelling around Japan from city to city. They are an incredibly fast and efficient way to travel, and aren’t particularly expensive given the service provided.
To get to Osaka via bullet train, you'll need to use the JR Shinkansen bullet train, stopping at the Shin-Osaka Station. For getting both in and out of Osaka, this station is useful as it's on the Midosuji subway line as well.
The JR (or Japan Rail) pass is available to all foreign tourists visiting Japan, and for most people, it is an affordable way to travel.
It covers JR routes across Japan through one up-front payment, meaning that the accumulated costs usually acquired through multiple journeys are kept down. This is especially the case in instances where you want to travel across most of the country during your visit, rather than staying in one place.
If you want to visit Osaka, the JR Osaka Loop Line is a great option to get around. However, the real advantages of the JR pass are for long-distance travel as it covers the fast trains that would otherwise be expensive.
For this reason, the JR pass is best for travellers wanting to go from city to city, rather than those just staying in one area. The beauty of the JR pass is that it does not have to be activated before you travel, so you can simply start the clock whenever you’re ready to.
Osaka has plenty of taxis looking to take tourists wherever they need to go, but it is worth remembering that they will be expensive.
If the Japanese language is not your strong point, it's important to note that many taxi drivers won’t speak English - so try to prepare clear instructions on where you need to go with the help of your hotel concierge or an English-Japanese phrasebook.
The public buses in Osaka are incredibly efficient, but it's worth noting that you can't just get on and pay with cash (as you can in many other cities). You have to use a pre-paid bus card. It costs ¥210 per adult ticket when using the bus system in Osaka.
The main area of the city, Umeda, also has Umegle tourist buses on offer. These are easy to spot because of their bright green colour. If you are keen on travelling by bus in Osaka, this is probably the easiest option.
Japan is a safe place to visit for international travellers, but it is still incredibly important to consider protecting your trip with travel insurance.