Whether you have 2 days in Osaka or you’re looking for a 3 day Osaka itinerary, I’ve got you covered.
I’ve been to Osaka three times now, so I’ve got a good idea of what you should include in your 2/3 day Osaka trip.
Last time I went to Osaka for three days, I flew in to Kansai Airport from Heathrow on the Finnair flight arriving at 10am. My Osaka itinerary started from there.
This might seem pretty hectic, but if you’re only in a Japan for a week, like I was, you need to be brutal and get on Japan time ASAP.
Day one in Osaka and you’re not allowed to go to bed until earliest 10pm, ok?
If you only have one day in Osaka then I have a 24-hour Osaka itinerary here, but if you can spare bit more time (which I’d totally recommend) then here’s what to do with 2 days in Osaka. I’ve added a third to check out some of the many day trips from Osaka to enjoy.
Day one in Osaka
If you can, go and drop your luggage off at your accommodation and freshen up. If that’s too inconvenient many of the train and underground stations in Osaka will have lockers to let you keep your stuff safe for as long as you like. It’s so convenient.
Morning in Osaka
Hot off the plane and I’d recommend your first port of call to be the Abeno Harukas Tower. This is the tallest skyscraper in all of Japan, and here it is, in Osaka.
Visiting the Abeno Harukas Tower first thing in your 2-day Osaka itinerary is a great way to get some perspective on Osaka, and just how sprawling it is. You’ll see how Osaka stretches all the way out to the water and mountains, and really, there’s no more room. The only way is up!
Reach the top and you’ll be 300 metres from the ground, and 60 stories high.
One of the best things to do up the Abeno Harukas Tower is to visit the toilet. The ones by the restaurant and a gift shop – the mirror above the sinks is super trippy. I’m told it’s like this in the guys’ toilet too.
Gotta get a selfie here. Rude not to.
Also, this popular-in-Japan ice cream was the perfect refreshing antidote to my cotton mouth for being awake for an indecent amount of time after flying from England. It’s pineapple flavoured, and has popping candy on it. Amazing.
You can enjoy a snack in the Garden Terrace on the 16th floor, or there’s a full on restaurant inside if you prefer.
I was in Osaka on a press trip and so managed to get up on the helipad floor, right on the top of the skyscraper. I enjoyed windy impressive 360 views over Osaka, which on the beautiful day I was there, was just incredible. To be honest though, the views inside are enough.
If you don’t want to have lunch up the Abeno Harukas Tower, then get the lift down and take a look round Tennoji Park. Here you’ll find a few bars and pubs to enjoy a drink in, and to relax and admire the Abeno Harukas Tower from the ground.
Also, there’s a little doggy park if you want to see some cute Japanese dogs running around, and there’s the Osaka sign too.
Perfect photo opportunity!
READ MORE: For the best Osaka 1 day itinerary, click here!
Afternoon in Osaka
Next up on your 2-day Osaka itinerary, it’s time to head to the American Village. This is a really cool part of Osaka that I accidentally stumbled on the second time I visited Osaka. It wasn’t until the third time that I realised it had a name, and was a ‘thing’.
If you like shopping, or cool street art and design, then this is the area for you.
Visit the American Village and you’ll find lots of hipsters buying ‘second hand’ clothes and drinking coffee. Make sure you look up and take in the wonderful street lights – never seen a street light like them.
From here it’s easy walking distance to get to the Shinsaibashi / Dotonbori area. This is where most people will think of when they think of ‘Osaka’. It’s where you’ll find the cool street stands, the crazy restaurants and the quirky decorations.
Spend some time just mooching about here as there’s a lot to see.
Genuinely don’t think you’ve really ‘been’ to Osaka until you’ve visited the Dotonbori area. If you’re in Osaka for two days, you’ve definitely got time to visit this area.
The Kuromon Ichiba Market is fascinating, go underground at Namda to see some traditional Japanese food in the Takashimaya’s basement food court, and you’ll find all the shops you could want on the Shinsaibashi-suji Shopping Arcade. This is a great area to pick up any souvenirs for yourself or friends.
The Tonbori River Cruise is a popular thing to do here, and for the price (900Y / £6) I think it’s good. At least you get to sit down for 20 minutes! You’ll sail the waterways and get to see the Osaka madness from a different viewpoint. Look out for the iconic Glico running man and the Ebisu Tower ferris wheel.
Time your river cruise for sunset for the best effect.
Dinner in Osaka
Once that’s done, you have two choices. Find your favourite looking restaurant and settle down for some dinner, or wander over to Zauo, the Fishing Restaurant. You’ll have a great dinner either way, but Zauo is just that little bit more interesting.
So, at Zauo, you fish for your dinner. There are lots of different fishes swimming around in the waters and you’re given a fishing rod to try and get one to catch. Once they’ve taken the bait, you lift it up, the bells are rung, and you can choose how you want it cooked in the kitchen.
I’ve never caught my own dinner before. I was equally thrilled and disturbed as I was encouraged to stand there with a bream flipping about on the end of the rod while they took photos.
Honestly though, sliced up into sashimi it was blummin delicious. And we had a fried one too. We had a lot of food in fact. If you want your dinner to show the quirkier side of Japan, then this is the place for you.
Evening in Osaka
After that feast I couldn’t wait to get back to my hotel, but if you’ve got the energy, then a night out at all you can drink karaoke on the Dotonbori awaits!
Day two in Osaka
Morning in Osaka
Get a feast for breakfast from your hotel to set you up for the day. And then, let’s go and see the number one tourist attraction in Osaka shall we?
We’re not going to see it in the normal way though, I mean, who wants to be normal these days?
No, we’re going to dress up as a samurai or ninja, get a pic by the castle, and then have a full on fighting experience in our new outfits. The Samurai/ Ninja Experience in Miraiza Osakajo is FUN.
It’s also hard work, and I think I might’ve been one of the worst samurais our teacher had ever seen, based on my complete inability to follow spoken instructions. But I did learn how to fight with a pretend sword, so it was totally worth the humiliation.
Once the class was over we dressed normally (boring) and went to enjoy Osakajo Park and the Osaka Castle Tower. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to look around the museum inside the castle, so make sure you leave at least a few hours for this experience.
Lunch in Osaka
Once you’re done, and ready for a coffee and a sit down, head over to the rooftop cafe at Bluebirds Rooftop Cafe, in the Osaka Castle grounds. There are loads of shops inside, so make the most of them, and then it’s time to chill, and admire the castle. They do all kinds of food up here from Katsu to ramen, and cakes too.
Ready for your next Osaka adventure?
Afternoon in Osaka
Let’s go and get even higher with the Umeda Sky Building Observatory.
This observatory is an incredible feat in building technology. It’s actually two separate buildings, brought together by a sky garden which was added afterwards. Inside you can learn all about how they did it, which is fascinating, and kinda scary.
Go to the top and it’s more 360 views across Osaka, as well as a love lock garden and a cafe inside too. I went at night and it was amazing to see the lights twinkling across the city.
Go to the very bottom and you’ll find Takimi Koji Underground Eat Street. The perfect place to admire the local foods and pick up a snack too.
Dinner in Osaka
Just around the corner from the Umeda Sky Building Observatory is the Grand Front Osaka Umekita Floor. I’m recommending it for the range of restaurants on the top floor, with Japanese, Italian, American and Chinese all catered for. It’s open till 4am, so the perfect place for a late night snack, and there are 36 restaurants to choose from!
The Grand Front Osaka Umekita Floor is also a huge shopping centre with over 250 stores. Shops are open till 9pm so you can literally shop till you drop.
Day three in Osaka
If you have three days in Osaka then I’d totally recommend you going on one of the many awesome day trips from Osaka.
– Visit Sakai for the Daisen Kofuns if you want to know more about the Japanese pyramids. While you’re there see the knife museum, make some traditional confectionary, visit a really cool izakaya and learn about the tradition of Japanese tea houses.
– Head up to Koyasan for a buddhist temple stay, and to see the incredible Okunoin memorial park. This is the birthplace of Kobo Daishi. One for the more spitirual among us.
– Harry Potter lovers unite, and get to Universal Studios Japan. Also, check out the Jurassic Park ride, and Super Nintendo World opens in summer 2020.
Or check out the other 8 awesome day trips from Osaka to keep you busy!
Where to stay in Osaka
I went pretty fancy for my three days in Osaka, and stayed at some of the nicest hotels in the city.
Hotel Nikko Osaka
I stayed at the Hotel Nikko Osaka which is just above the Shinsaibashi Subway Station. Felt weird not to even go outside to get around Osaka, you could just go to the basement. This was a really nice business style hotel, right in the centre of the city.
Breakfast was great too!
Hotel Vischio Osaka
And then, once I got back from my overnight temple stay in Koyasan, I stayed at the Hotel Vischio Osaka by Granvia. This was another business-style hotel, in another great location, by Osaka Station. Nice little cafe downstairs here, too.
The Stay Osaka Shinsaibashi
If you’re looking for somewhere a bit cheaper then I strongly recommend The Stay Osaka Shinsaibashi. It’s a capsule hostel, but with bigger capsules than you might be expecting.
Females and males are separated and it’s quiet and peaceful and warm and lovely. The social area is really nice and the staff are lovely. I like this place so much that even though they made me pay twice because I accidentally booked two beds, I’d still recommend it. It was also in a great location.
And right next to a cat cafe too!