Osaka Travel Guide

osaka cherry blossoms

Osaka was the last stop on my recent trip to Japan, and it definitely left a lasting mark in my memory. It’s a bustling city with an insane food scene, amazing shopping, and incredible local attractions. Although the weather wasn’t perfect, we still had a fantastic time indulging in street food, late night imbibes, and even a half day trip to Nara to experience the famous deer park.

Here are my recommendations on what to check out on your next trip to Osaka.

osaka castle

osaka castle and cherry blossoms

Where To Stay

  • Airbnb: I love mixing up a multi-city trip with different accommodation styles. Sometimes we’ll spring for a budget pod hotel, others we’ll splurge on a luxury stay, and usually we’ll do a night or two in an Airbnb. Since we visited Osaka during cherry blossom season and on a weekend, nearly all hotels in the city were sold out, so staying in an Airbnb was our best option. Our Airbnb was a cute studio apartment in the perfect location, just a short walk from Shinsaibashi and the rail station. I love staying like a local, especially when the price is right!

osaka dotonbori

osaka lanterns

osaka nightlife

osaka asahi sign

What To See

  • Dōtonburi: Osaka’s iconic rivers is a must-see, even if only for a photo opp. We saw tons of boats cruising down the river at night, some with parties and bands aboard. It looked like so much fun, so a ride on the river is definitely on the list for my next visit.
  • Ebisu Bridge: the glimmering Glico man ad on this bridge is one of Osaka’s most notable icons. It’s absolutely mesmerizing late at night, like a mini Times Square in Osaka right over the Dōtonburi.
  • Shinsaibashi: this shopping street is a must see experience in Osaka that you could probably spend a whole day in. There’s a perfect mix of luxury and bargain shops, designer and indie. Shinsaibashi flows into the Ebisu Bridge area, so nightlife, food, and bars are close at your fingertips.
  • Osaka Castle: the beauty of this local monument is unreal. Situated on a hill, separated by three bridges and moats, Osaka Castle is just stunning. While we didn’t go inside to the top, we loved roaming the grounds and admiring the black, white, mint, and gold architecture from the outside. This is an amazing spot for sakura in the spring.
  • Nara Park: if you’d like to adventure a bit outside of Osaka or Kyoto, Nara is where you need to go. Deer roam free around the park and local vendors sell bundles of wafers you can feed them. The deer are adorable but can be a little fiesty, nibbling at any loose zippers, ties, or straps hanging from your clothes or backpack.

nara deer park

Where To Eat & Drink

  • Mizuno: okonomiyaki is the dish to indulge in while in Osaka, and the queue outside this place says it all. Okonomiyaki is an explosion of flavor and is the total comfort food, perfect enjoyed with a beer on a chilly night.
  • BirthDay Coffee Bar: hipster coffee is a must for me, in any city I visit. This adorable coffee counter is connected with a luxury consignment shop, just steps from Shinsaibashi.
  • Space Station: Osaka has a ton of themed bars, and this one is a must for video game lovers! However, it’s a tiny space so arrive early to get a good seat with your favorite game and console. Just look for the stairs that lead to the 2nd floor with the space invaders LED display, and you’re in the right place!
  • Obama Fried Chicken & Waffles + The Drunken Clam English Karaoke Bar: American tourists will get a crack out of these two neighboring businesses on the 2nd and 3rd floors. It’s a total hole in the wall, perfect for a late night snack and nightcap. There are a ton of themed bars in Osaka, so I recommend trying the ones that most speak to you. We stumbled upon Obama when looking for the Drunken Clam, and even after a huge okonomiyaki dinner, we had to pop in to try the fried chicken and waffles.

matcha frozen yogurt in osaka

Like this post? Be sure to read some of my other travel or Asia posts for more inspiration. Plus, my Seoul and Hong Kong guides are coming soon! A lot more travel content is to follow as I work towards my 30 by Thirty travel goal. Thanks for reading!

6 Responses

  1. Rachel Ritlop June 20, 2017 / 4:16 am

    Ahh this looks awesome Chelsea!!! I’ve always wanted to visit!

  2. Lorna June 20, 2017 / 4:44 am

    Actually on my bucket list, ha! I’d love to see Nara and the cherry blossoms, and that ice-cream in real life!

    Lorna x

  3. justine @ June 20, 2017 / 8:17 am

    How fun! I want to visit Osaka sometime soon. We’ll be moving to Vietnam next year and I know it’s a cheap 2 hour flight to Japan. Yes, Tokyo is on the list too, but I heard its soooo crowded there!
    dying over that “american bar” name tho lol!

  4. Jasmine Eclipse June 21, 2017 / 5:42 pm

    Your photos are so beautiful! I’ve never been to Japan. I went to China once, but my next few trips are Hawaii and Europe!

  5. Mykki January 31, 2019 / 7:26 am

    Osaka looks like so much fun – my Japanese teacher was from Osaka and she was really surprised when I was able to place her right away just based on her accent! Did you learn any Osaka-ben when you were there? 🙂

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