Whether you’re looking for culture, fun or delicious food, our list of the best things to do in Osaka, Japan will help you make the most of your next trip!
Osaka however, can somewhat be overlooked when compared to these other cities.
In my opinion, Osaka honestly stands out as a must-see and port city on Honshu Island that is just as incredible as Japan’s more touristy places.
Whether it be touring a Buddhist temple, eating local food, or just admiring the neon lights of Osaka city, there are many ways to enjoy yourself and experience Japanese culture here.
READ MORE: Check out our list of the top places to see in Japan
Table of Contents
- The Best Things to Do in Osaka Japan
- 1. Drive a Go Kart Around the City Dressed as a Video Game Character
- 2. Legoland Discovery Center
- 3. Eat the Street Food in the Dotonbori District
- 4. Visit Nishiki Beach
- 5. Universal Studios Japan
- 6. Hattori Ryokuchi Park
- 7. Check Out Osaka Castle
- 8. Hit Up the Market in Kuromon Ichiba
- 9. ATC Asobi Mare
- 10. Sumiyoshi Shrine
- 11. Hozenji Temple
- 12. Osaka Science Museum
- 13. Tower of the Sun
- 14. Tempozan Ferris Wheel
- 15. Utsubo Park
- 16. AVOID the Osaka Aquarium
- 17. Nagai Botanical Garden
- 18. Umeda Sky Building
- 19. Instant Ramen Museum
The Best Things to Do in Osaka Japan
Osaka Bay is an economic powerhouse with several fun activities, whether they have cultural roots or they are just commercially based.
Activities and things to do in Osaka can easily suit anybody, whether it be riding a bike or taking a stroll through a classic park setting, or visiting Universal Studios Japan.
The first thing you should do is pick up an Osaka Amazing Pass, which gives you unlimited transport, as well as entrance to many of the main Osaka attractions, including the castle.
The Klook website in the link above is the cheapest place to buy this and is what we personally used on our trip to Osaka in 2019.
BONUS – Use the coupon code “NMDSKLK” on Klook when checking out and you’ll get $5 off your first booking!
From visiting theme parks like Universal Studios and Legoland, to standing on the observation deck of Osaka’s tallest building, there is no limit to the attractions in Osaka!
NOTE: We recommend AVOIDING the horrible Osaka Aquarium. Read more about it below.
1. Drive a Go Kart Around the City Dressed as a Video Game Character
This is not even a joke. By far the funniest Osaka activity you can do is to get dressed up as your favourite video game or anime character, and zip around the city in a go-kart!
Starting close to the Namba station, you go through a quick safety briefing, get dressed up, and then hit the streets.
How this is legal we have no idea, but it’s honestly one of the coolest things to do in Osaka!
The cheapest place to book this is online on the Klook website.
BONUS – Use the coupon code “NMDSKLK” on Klook when checking out and you’ll get $5 off your first booking!
2. Legoland Discovery Center
Legoland is a beloved, Lego-themed amusement park with unique and fascinating locations all over the world.
Legoland in Japan is one of the most interesting and unique places to visit in Osaka, and a must-do if you’re traveling to Osaka with kids.
Visiting Legoland can be a pleasant and somewhat otherworldly experience for you and your children.
Kids will love entertaining themselves with the endless toy tables and lego bricks. There is also a 4D cinema and plenty of rides.
Visit the Legoland Discovery Center for some gifts and toys to take home as souvenirs.
- Address: Tempozan Market place, which resides in the Minato Ward
- Opening hours: 10am – 4pm, closed Tuesday and Wednesday
- Price: vary per ticket based on age, starting from 3200 to 1600 yen, and 2000 yen after a certain time
3. Eat the Street Food in the Dotonbori District
Experiencing some of Osaka’s best attractions could not be complete without tasting and trying the street food.
If you’re a real foodie, Dotonbori should be on the top of your list of places to visit in Osaka.
Dotonbori is highly known for its entertainment and activities, but the street food is superb, so much so that just the thought of it should excite those with curious taste buds.
Which are the best dishes to try? Takoyaki, authentic Ramen, and Yakitori are some of the most delectable street food meals offered.
From sweet to savoury, and even unique food items such as grilled octopus, Dotonbori pretty much has something in store for every intrigued visitor.
For all food lovers wondering what to do in Osaka, the Dotonbori district is an Osaka must-see! It’s open all day and night.
- Address: Chuo Ward of Osaka, Japan
4. Visit Nishiki Beach
If you’re looking to spend a relaxing day at the beach, then add a visit to Nishiki Beach to your list of things to do in Osaka.
You can amp up your experience at Nishiki by jet skiing or trying other water sports and activities.
Nishiki Beach also goes under the name of Nishikinohama Beach Park, and for good reason.
There is also a park section in addition to the beach, where you can go barbecuing and enjoy picnics with friends and families.
It is best to visit Osaka in the summer if you are planning to enjoy some sun and fun activities at Nishiki Beach, as it is only open from July 1 to the end of August.
- Address: Kaizuka-shi, Osaka
READ MORE: Don’t miss out on our detailed itinerary for the perfect 3 days in Osaka!
5. Universal Studios Japan
One of four Universal Studios theme parks located all over the world, Universal Studios Japan is one unique theme park located in Osaka that is fun for you and the whole family.
Akin to the other Universal Studios parks, the main attractions are the rides based on famous movie franchises.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Jurassic Park are two popular themed mini worlds full of rides and activites.
For the younger children, a world of entrancing activities featuring the beloved cartoon character Curious George is also located in the park.
Universal Studio park is always among the top Osaka tourist attractions for every cinema buff!
- Address: Sakurajima , Konohama Ward of Osaka
- Opening hours: Opening and business hours in the park actually vary and change by month, so it is important to check the website for more specific details.
- Price: around 7670 Japanese Yen (prices may vary based on time and ages)
6. Hattori Ryokuchi Park
Hattori Ryokuchi Park is a large park comprised of several steep and exquisite hills as well as mountainous terrain, and is located in the northern part of Osaka.
The setting and true aesthetics of this park are a bit rustic when compared to the booming nightlife of Osaka and other Japanese cities as a whole.
It is truly beautiful and peaceful with elegant fountains and playgrounds for children to enjoy.
It should come as no surprise that many locals, and sometimes tourists, use this park to relieve stress and achieve the ultimate relaxation time.
Tennis courts and horse riding centers are readily available for those looking for more of a thrill.
The park generally stays open at all times, as there are so many activities to experience and enjoy.
- Address: Hattori Ryokuchi, Toyonaka-shi Ward, Osaka
- Opening hours: 24h/7
7. Check Out Osaka Castle
If you are looking to experience a real cultural and historical landmark in the city, Osaka Castle is the perfect place to visit based on the true significance of helping the now close-knit nation of Japan to be unified.
It’s one of the oldest of its kind, constructed in 1583. But it was destroyed shortly after by the Tokugawa.
So really, the Osaka castle that you can see now was reconstructed in 1931.
This landmark would be best to visit during the Cherry Blossom season, often in March and April, as it is a popular spot for hanamis (the act of enjoying flowers).
Not only should you visit the castle as it is one of the most beautiful things to see in Osaka due to the elegant design, but the inside contains different activities and artifacts to see.
Historic materials dating from the Castle’s first construction are on display.
It’s definitely a mandatory highlight without which the Osaka sightseeing experience wouldn’t be complete!
One of the most fun activities to experience within Osaka Castle is getting the chance to wear Japan’s iconic clothes and accessories – kimonos, helmets, and even surcoats.
You could get your photo taken while wearing these different items.
Surrounding the park is the Nishinomaru Garden, an archery placement.
Get your Osaka Castle ticket here.
- Address: Osakajo, in the Chuo Ward of Osaka
- Opening hours: every day from 9 AM – 5 PM
- Price: 600 Japanese Yen
8. Hit Up the Market in Kuromon Ichiba
Like Dotonbori, Kuromon Ichiba is a paradise for exploring street food and different vendors.
The market is lively and takes up a good amount of space in Osaka, allowing you to try various dishes from its vendors.
Fresh food is the ultimate treat when visiting Kuromon Ichiba, as many vendors can simply just prepare your food for you right then and there.
If you’re into seafood then you’re in for a treat, as Kuromon Ichiba is best known for its fish dishes.
If you’re a first-time tourist, definitely try the different fresh street foods offered as it is a one-of-a-kind experience.
- Address: Nipponbashi, within the Chuo Ward of Osaka
- Opening hours: every day from 9 AM – 6 PM
9. ATC Asobi Mare
If you’re looking for the top things to do in Osaka with kids, then you absolutely have to check out ATC Asobi Mare. This place is more for families and is referred to as an entertainment center or indoor amusement park.
It is one of the more enjoyable Osaka attractions for the young ones.
This center is ideal for children of all ages, with there being a softer and safer zone for toddlers and a more fascinating shopping arcade for older children.
There is even a place for your child to play dress up, and experience hours of fun.
Because it is an indoor park, you won’t be bothered by the weather outside – perfect for those rainy days.
- Address: Osaka Prefecture, within the Suminoe Ward of Osaka
- Opening hours: every day from 10 AM – 7 PM
- Price: 900 Japanese Yen (weekdays) and 1100 Japanese Yen (weekends)
10. Sumiyoshi Shrine
Also known as the Sumiyoshi Taisha, this shrine was founded in the 3rd century. It is one of the most famous Buddhist temples you could visit in the entire country.
Visiting this shrine can be a peaceful and enlightening experience, making it one of the best things to do in Osaka.
Located on the Shrine’s grounds is the breathtaking Sorihashi bridge that stands out with its sleek red color.
Strolling around the shrine is relaxing and has some unique insights, with you being able to witness blessings given to children during different times of year
- Address: 2 Chome-9-89 Sumiyoshi, Sumiyoshi Ward
- Opening hours: Open from 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM, however, this time setting changes from October to March to 6:30 AM.
- Price: This specific Buddhist temple currently holds no admission fee which is akin to several other Buddhist shrines outlining Osaka and Japan as a whole.
11. Hozenji Temple
The Hozenji temple is a significant and cherished Buddhist temple within Osaka.
This Buddhist temple is located near the busy and popular shopping and tourism street of Dotonbori.
However, the aesthetic and appeal of the temple are still peaceful, complete with elegant lanterns and several statues and lamps crafted from different materials.
There is even water that is blessed with luck to bring you good fortune and harmony available.
Fortunately, this Buddhist temple is easily accessible as it is closer to the popular city and commercial tourist areas like Nanba, within the Chuo ward of Osaka.
- Address: 1 Chome-2-16 Nanba, Chuo Ward
- Opening hours: Business hours for this temple are from 7 AM – 5 PM
- Price: Free of charge
12. Osaka Science Museum
This is one of the most significant and mesmerizing museums in Japan, and one of the best places to visit in Osaka.
It might be difficult figuring out what to see in Osaka when you’re traveling with kids, but this science museum is interesting for kids of all ages.
The displays are interactive, educational, and enjoyable.
The interactive exhibits were mainly designed to help educate and inform children, although anyone could find something they would enjoy learning about within the museum.
Exhibits at this Osaka Museum include the history of science, electricity, and the basic foundation of chemistry.
Fees for the exhibits differ between adults and children, or students, with prices starting ranging from 300 to 600 yen.
Opening times can vary and change, especially now that the museum is currently closed for renovation, and will be reopening in April of 2019.
For those who would plan to see two museums, the Osaka Science Museum is located near the National Museum of Art in Nakanoshima, Kita. Head to the National Museum of Art before or after your trip to the Science Museum.
- Address: 4 Chome-2-1 Nakanoshima, Kita Ward
- Opening hours: Tuesday – Sunday from 9:30 AM – 5 PM
- Price: 400 Japanese Yen for adults 300 yen for students (extra cost for special exhibitions)
13. Tower of the Sun
The Tower of the Sun is a unique and extravagant building and is a prime example of Japanese architecture.
Read our extensive guide for traveling to Japan!
It is located right in the Osaka prefecture, so it is well known and perfect for those who are staying in a central location.
The tower was built in dedication and as a symbol of the Osaka Expo in 1970.
There is lots of incredible artwork around the tower, including the Tree of Life exhibition space.
With the tower’s height being 70 meters, the top floor observation deck is easily accessible thanks to moving staircases and lifts.
Tower of the Sun is a one-of-a-kind sight, and the exhibitions including the Tree of Life are stunning.
- Address: 1-1 Senribanpakukoen, Suita
- Opening hours: every day from 10 AM – 5 PM
- Price: 300 – 700 Japanese Yen (depending on age)
14. Tempozan Ferris Wheel
Instead of being entrapped within an amusement park, the Tempozan Ferris wheel is located within the Tempozan harbor village.
It stands out due to its massive size and height of 112 meters.
With the booming nightlife and bright scenery, the Ferris wheel doesn’t seem out of place as it adds a nice touch to the harbor.
You can visit and ride the wheel both during the day and at night, though the glittering lights are especially scenic after dark.
Rides on the Ferris wheel usually last 15 minutes. Riding this iconic wheel is one of the most entrancing and captivating activities when wondering what to do in Osaka.
The ride is obviously thrilling due to its height and is not for the faint of heart, but the view is stunning and ultimately worth a try.
- Address: Kaigandori, within the Minato ward of Japan
- Opening hours: every day from 10 AM – 9:30 PM
- Price: 800 Japanese Yen
15. Utsubo Park
Both a public and urban-centered park, Utsubo Park is built on the remains of a former airfield, giving it the appearance of an airplane runway.
Flowers and different bushes line the park, and there is also an elegant rose garden. Towards the northern side of the park, there are souvenir shops and other touristy stores.
Other attractions in Utsubo Park include tennis courts, botanical gardens, a science and technology center, and a flower and sculpture exhibit. The latter is only open in the fall months of October and November.
- Address: Chome Utsubohonmachi, within the Nishi ward of Osaka
- Opening hours: 24h/7
- Price: Activity fees vary per location and activity.
16. AVOID the Osaka Aquarium
It might seem strange to tell you NOT to do something on a list of things to do in Osaka, but there’s a good reason for it.
The Osaka Aquarium is known for being one of the city’s top attractions. In fact on most other blog posts and articles you’ll read about Osaka, they’ll have this as being in the top 3 activities.
This place is touted as being the best aquarium in Japan, and one of the best in the world. But the truth is it is a horrible, sad place.
The marine life are kept in abysmally small tanks, often exposed to loud noises and intense crowds.
The penguins for example are constantly surrounded by hundreds of people, literally only centimetres away from them.
There’s a whole section where people can actually touch the fish, and you’ll find lots of visitors playing with them, with no care at all for their wellbeing.
Perhaps the worst of all though is the two whale sharks that depressingly circle their tiny enclosure.
The biggest fish in the world is kept in a tank that barely gives them enough room to move.
To make matters worse, there are reports that the whale sharks actually die every few years due to being kept in captivity.
When a whale shark dies, the aquarium just buys another one to put on display.
The management claim they are doing some conservation work, but whatever small amount of good they may be doing is overshadowed by their blatant disregard for the wellbeing and health of the animals they own.
Of course, you can make your own decision about visiting, but there’s no way we would ever, ever recommend anybody to go there.
If you care about animals at all, you will not support this tragic attraction.
Not much else makes it on our list of places to avoid in Osaka, but the Osaka Aquarium should be avoided at all costs.
17. Nagai Botanical Garden
Following the theme of flowers and botany, the Nagai Botanical Garden is an elegant garden full of varying flower and plant species.
Seasonal flowers also line the park and are a popular favourite for locals and tourists alike.
You can visit the park during any season, as the gardens differ slightly based on the time of year.
The garden is even enjoyable during the wintertime, with the inclusion of the Christmas rose being prominent in the colder months.
Trees of varying species also line the park, including the sequoia, a massively large and extravagant tree.
To accompany these trees, there are over 1,000 other species scattered throughout the large garden, all paired with different bird species.
- Address: Nagaikoen, within the Higashisumiyoshi Ward in Osaka
- Opening hours: Tuesday – Sunday from 9:30 AM – 4:30 PM
- Price: 200 Japenese Yen
18. Umeda Sky Building
The Umeda Sky Building is one of the most well-known landmarks in Osaka. It is located near Osaka Station and is a real sight to see.
Consisting of two giant towers, each at 40 stories tall, the building is super modern and almost other-worldly looking.
The two towers are joined at the top by an entire floor known as the Floating Garden Observatory. From here, you can enjoy a fantastic view over the entire city.
Heading up here is not for those who are afraid of heights, however. The observatory is suspeded over the air, since it acts as a bridge between the two towers.
But even from the ground, the Umeda Sky Buildings is an iconic piece of modern architecture in Osaka.
- Address: 531-0076 1-1-88 Oyodonaka, Kita-ku, Osaka
- Hours: 9:30am – 10:30pm daily
- Price: 1500 Yen
19. Instant Ramen Museum
It is well known that everybody loves ramen noodles when visiting Japan. So why not visit an Osaka museum dedicated to them?
Definitely one of the most unique Osaka points of interest, the Instant Ramen Museum is dedicated to educating people about the food known as instant ramen.
While it is certainly bizarre with its topic of choice being instant noodles and the famous brand “Cup Noodles”, it is certainly worth a visit as it is one of the most memorable things to do in Osaka.
Some exhibits within the museum are the Chicken Ramen Factory where you can watch and make chicken ramen by hand, the My CUPNOODLES factory in which you can customize your own special cup noodles package, and “the birth of chicken ramen” where you can learn about how the first instant ramen product came about.
The instant noodles tunnel displays a large and extensive line up of different brands, flavours, and other variations of instant ramen.
There is also a tasting room, where popular brands and favorite flavors of instant ramen are tried and tested, as well as a museum gift shop.
Some items are even limited, making them valuable and rare; especially as they are only sold and marketed from this specific shop within this Osaka museum.
- Address: 8-25 Masumicho, Ikeda
- Opening hours: every day (except Tuesday) from 9:30 AM – 4:30 PM
- Price: 500 Japanese Yen
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