I’ve been to Osaka a fair few times – it’s one of the coolest spots in Japan. Last time I went, I was only in Osaka for 24 hours. A buzzing city, there’s no shortage of things to do but the architecture, nightlife and amazing food are what it’s best known for.
In fact, it’s even nicknamed ‘the nation’s kitchen’ – the variety of food served here is amaaaazing.
This article will help you plan your 24 hours in Osaka down to a tee. If you just have a day for the city, you can still fit a lot in – with my help!
As with any Japanese city, there’s plenty of pretty shrines to see as well as a good old dose of history to be had at national landmarks. I knew I was lucky enough to be going back very soon but I’d recommend you put a few days aside to see the city. If you’re struggling for time though, this is how I’d spend 24 hours in Osaka.
24 Hours in Osaka
– You can’t miss the Dotonbori on your 24 hours in Osaka!
Your morning in Osaka
To pack the most in, I’d get an early start and begin by going up the Abeno Harukas, Japan’s tallest building. It opens at 6.30am and if you try and time a visit for sunrise you’ll get some great city views. Entrance costs 1500 yen (£10.50) to go up to the Harukas 300 observation deck on floors 58 to 60.
Back inside, visit the Abeno Harukas Art Museum on the 16th floor before heading to nearby Muu Muu Diner for a quick pancake breakfast. From here, you can walk it off in Tennoji Park and its botanical Keitakuen Garden. This used to belong to a family of wealthy merchants but is now open for the public to enjoy for 150 yen (£1).
How to do your day in Osaka for cheaper
If you want to see as much as possible in your 24 hours in Osaka it’s well worth getting a YOKOSO Osaka ticket. It gives you discounts at all the top tourist attractions in the city, for one great price.
“Get discounts at 32 tourist spots all over Osaka including the Tsutenkaku Tower, Osaka Water Bus, the Umeda Sky Building and more. Ticket includes a day’s use of the Osaka Municipal Subway, New Tram and bus with unlimited rides”.
Check out the latest prices for the YOKOSO Osaka ticket on Klook.
Lunch in Osaka
If you exit east of the park, you’ll then come out in the Shinsekai neighbourhood. Although often viewed as the seedy part of town, it has an interesting design – half of the district is based on Paris and the other half on Coney Island. With all of its bright lights, cheap eats and the Tsutenkaku Tower, it’s a fun area to explore and a great place to grab a midday snack.
Here, kushikatsu are popular belly liners. These are deep fried meats, cheese or veggies served on a skewer that you can often fry yourself. You’re going to need to keep your strength up if you want to make the most of your day in Osaka.
Wash it all down with a bottle of ramune, a favourite fizzy drink with the locals.
Second lunch in Osaka
Be sure to leave enough room to enjoy sushi in one of the restaurants by the Kuromon Ichiba Market. Just a 25-minute walk from Shinsekai, you can see where the locals buy their fresh produce, pick up some souvenirs and sample some of the seafood in the 580 metre indoor market. I did a terrible food tour here last time I was here – there was no need. That’s £25ish I’ll never see again.
Just mooch around and sample the food as you please. Eat lots.
Did you even go to Osaka if you didn’t end up with a sushi baby, aka the roundest tum courtesy of too much nigiri?
Once you’re satisfied, head north to Japan’s most visited castle, Osaka Castle. This is certainly a pretty one with its curved awnings and green, white and gold facade but there’s also loads of fascinating history to learn about. Dating back to 1583, it costs 600 yen (£4.25) to enter.
I’d put aside two or three hours to make sure you have enough time to wander around the interior, explore the Nishinomaru Garden and go up to the eighth floor observation deck. This is a great way to get a good overview of the city if you only have the one day in Osaka.
Evening in Osaka
Come nightfall, the Dotombori district is the place to go if you only have 24 hours in Osaka. This is the area that slightly resembles Times Square with all of its big billboards and flashing lights. It dates back over 400 years and one of the best ways to see it is to jump on a canal cruise which will take you by popular landmarks like the Ebisu Bridge and the Glico Running Man.
Once you’ve disembarked, walk along Hozenji Yokocho, which is a historic street that runs alongside the river and has you feeling like you’ve travelled back in time. All narrow with cobblestones, it’s where many people to come to sample Osaka of the olden days. The sacred Hozenji Temple is said to grant you good luck if you splash water on the statue inside.
If you’ve got room, duck into one of the more sophisticated restaurants off this 80 metre long alley. Hozenji Sanpei is one of the favourites and serves the city’s best loved dish okonomiyaki, which is a savoury stuffed pancake topped with onions.
From here, it’s back out into Dotombori for a sip of sake in one of the many bars. I really feel like you can’t say you’ve had the best 24 hours in Osaka ever if you don’t go here. The Dotombori is what Osaka is all about.
Afterwards, you could catch a traditional kabuki play at Osaka Shochikuza, enjoy some karaoke at The Drunken Clam or spend a few hours inside one of the country’s biggest and best spas, Spa World. It has 16 different baths, 8 different saunas and is open 24 hours a day so you can bubble away until the early morning.
Remember it’s all about being naked in the onsens of Japan though, just as a side note there.
If you’re still hungry when it’s time to go home grab an octopus ball or 5, better known as takoyaki, at Atchichi Honpo and enjoy it as you head to bed. This is one of the most iconic foods here, and the perfect way to round off your day in Osaka.
Where to stay in Osaka
Seeing as you only have 24 hours in Osaka you have every right to stay out all night and party. Up to you. I mean, I didn’t. Bed is calling me too much these days.
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!
Your day in Osaka
If you’ve only got a day in Osaka then I hope I’ve given you an insight into how you can make the most of it. Obviously longer would be great, but if it’s not possible you can get a good idea from this 24-hour Osaka itinerary.
I hope you have the most amazing time. I’ve been three times I like Osaka that much!