Osaka Travel Guide: Explore The Best of Osaka in 2 Days

Table of content

Osaka is a large city and the economic hub of Japan. It is renowned for its cutting-edge architecture, vibrant nightlife, and filling street cuisine. There are many attractions to see in Osaka, but if you’re traveling with kids, I definitely suggest checking out Universal Studio Japan. However, if you enjoy shopping as much as I do, you must visit Shinsaibashi. 

Osaka, which is well-known for its nightlife, cuisine, and shopping, should be on your list while making your itinerary for Japan. In this 2 days in Osaka travel guide, I have included the top attractions to visit especially if it is your first time to Osaka. 

When Is The Best Time To Visit Osaka?

The weather in Japan varies from each season.

In my opinion, you can visit Osaka any time of the year because each season is a very unique experience in Osaka. The only period that you might want to avoid traveling is in mid June until late July as these months tend to be rainy. 

How Many Days In Osaka Is Enough?

Osaka is the third largest city in Japan and it is very rich in culture and history. At least 2 days is enough to get a taste of Osaka and definitely enough for you to visit all the major sights. If you are traveling in Osaka and other parts of the Kansai region like Kyoto and Nara, then you would need at least an extra two more days to explore. 

During my first trip to Japan, I spent four days traveling across Osaka, Kyoto and Nara. I had enough free time to roam the city and explore undiscovered sites while seeing all the famous sights. So if you are planning your first trip to the city, I would recommend to spend 2 days in Osaka city alone and 4 days if you want to explore Osaka, Nara and Kyoto. If you are planning to explore other part of Japan like Tokyo in the same trip, you may read this post to get the itinerary of the trip.

Glico Man at Dotonbori Osaka
The iconic Glico Man at Dotonbori.

Getting From Airport To Osaka

If you are traveling by flight to Osaka, you will arrive at the Kansai International Airport (KIX). From the airport, you have several options of transport to travel to the city center including train, bus and taxi.

Public transportation in Japan is very convenient. Depending on where you are heading, you can take a different train line from the airport to Osaka city.

Kansai Airport To Osaka By Train

Haruka Express – Fastest

The fastest way to travel is by Haruka Express. It starts from Kansai airport and the last stop is at Shin-Osaka station. If you hold a JR pass, you can directly board the train. Otherwise, you can get a ticket at 3000 yen (RM 100) to get to Shin-Osaka station.

Nankai Rapid

This is the mode of transport I chose when I was in the city.This train operates between Kansai airport and Namba station only. If you are staying in the Namba area, this train is an ideal fit for you as it is relatively cheaper. The ticket can be bought in advance online

Kansai Airport Rapid

If you want to stop at Osaka station but want to save some money on the train, you can take the Kansai Airport Rapid train. It is about 1200 yen (RM 40) and it is only 15 minutes longer than the Haruka Express train.

Kansai Airport To Osaka by Bus

The limousine bus service from the airport runs frequently and also stops at several stations including Osaka station, Namba Station, Kyoto Station and many more. The ticket can be bought at the ticket center in the airport but do check the timetable and the stop station here

Kansai Airport to Osaka by Taxi

Catching a taxi at the airport is pretty easy but the cost is much higher compared to public transport. Traveling to Osaka station costs around 17000 yen (RM 600) and takes about 50 minutes. One good thing about taking a Taxi from the airport is that you get to arrive in front of your hotel rather than at the train station. Hence, if you are traveling with large luggages, catching a taxi from the airport to your hotel might be a better choice. Else, if you are arriving in the midnight, taking a taxi ride will be the only option as most of the trains and buses stop service after 12am in the midnight.

Getting Around Osaka

Getting around Osaka is simple. Osaka has an efficient and well-run public transportation network and visitors can get to any of the popular attractions by taking the train and subway. 

You can either purchase the train ticket at the ticket machine at the subway station or if you plan your trip ahead of time, getting a day pass or transport pass that fits your journey will be much more convenient and faster.

Here are some of the Osaka passes that are very popular:

Nankai Line 2-day Pass : Unlimited access to all the Nankai line trains for 2 days. This pass is totally worth it as you can use it from the airport round trip to Osaka. Unlike other day passes, this one gives the user the flexibility to select 2 separate days. 

Kintetsu Rail Pass : This pass covers the area from Osaka to Kyoto and Nara. You can choose from a (1,2 or 5 day) pass for unlimited rides on the Kintetsu Railway and Nara Kotsu Bus Lines.

JR West Kansai Pass : This JR Pass also includes the Haruka Express from the airport to Osaka. It offers unlimited access for trains and buses over a 1-day to 4-day period to explore beyond Osaka to Kobe, Himeji, Nara, Kyoto and more.

Day Passes that include admission to attractions:

Osaka Amazing Pass : What could be better than a single pass that gives you access to both the transportation and the attractions?  Get a 1-day or 2-day Osaka Amazing Pass for unlimited rides on the subway and buses as well as free entry to 50+ iconic Osaka attractions such as Osaka Castle, Umeda Sky Building and a lot more. 

Kyoto-Osaka Sightseeing Pass : If you are planning to explore Osaka and Kyoto in the same day or across 2 days, then this pass is a fit for you. Get unlimited access to Keihan Line and you get to select 2 non-consecutive days to use the card too!

Where To Stay in Osaka?

Osaka is well-covered by the extensive public transportation network which can get you anywhere conveniently. When choosing where to stay in Osaka, I would recommend staying near the train station. 

In regards to which area to stay in Osaka, that depends on your itinerary. If you like shopping and nightlife, you will find that Namba is the perfect place to stay because it is surrounded by the popular Dotonbori, Shinsaibashi and Nipponbashi which are full of restaurants and shopping streets.

On the other hand, if you prefer cityscape and accessibility to the transportation then Umeda is the perfect place for you. Umeda is the transportation hub and you could easily get direct trains to the major sights beyond Osaka such as Kyoto, Nara and more.

Another gem is Osaka Castle. Osaka Castle is a popular area to stay if you’re visiting in the spring because the cherry blossom season makes it a famous location.

Where to Stay in Namba?

Budget:

Agora Place Osaka Namba : The location of this hotel is exceptional. Easy access to the public transport and also to the livelier area in the neighborhood.

 

Mid-range:

Onyado Nono Namba Natural Hotspring : The popular Dotonbori and Shinsaibashi is just a walking distance from this hotel. Additionally, this hotel earns bonus points for including a hot spring bath!

 

Luxury:

Konjaku-So Dotonbori Garden Spa : This luxury hotel is perfect for you to experience living like a Japanese.

Where to Stay in Umeda?

Budget:

The Lively Osaka Honmachi : Strategically located in the center of Umeda, this budget hotel is very well-equipped. This hotel is undoubtedly a bargain at only about RM166 per night.

 

Mid-range:

Mitsui Garden Hotel Osaka Premier : This hotel has luxurious style at a mid-range price. The only thing is that the distance of this hotel from the train station is slightly further which is about 15 minutes walk away.

 

Luxury : 

The Ritz-Carlton Osaka : If you are looking for a luxurious stay in Osaka, Ritz-Calrton Osaka is definitely the one high on the list. An opulent stay at this hotel is worth every penny because of the outstanding service, the cozy rooms, and the ideal position close to the railway station.

Osaka Itinerary : Day 1

Visit Dotonbori and The Glico Man

Glico Man at Dotonbori Osaka
The iconic Glico Man at Dotonbori.

Exploring Dotonbori streets is one of my favourite things to do in Osaka.  Dotonbori is very well-known for its entertainment, arcades and the vast variety of street food!

The street especially comes lively at night and the neon lights up the district make you feel like walking into the future. 

Take a stroll through Dotonbori, enjoy some arcade games, pose for pictures next to the famous Glico man, and sample some of the best cuisine there, including takoyaki (octopus dumplings), ramen, and yakitori!

If you love shopping, then Shinsaibashi is your shopping paradise. The district is full of shopping retailers , restaurants,  video game bars and nightclubs. Hundreds of shops lining up this long street and the street is always crowded with locals and visitors. 

From fashion brand stores like Uniqlo, Gucci to Japanese pharmacy stores, you can easily spend one whole day in Shinsaibashi if you enjoy shopping a lot.

Osaka Castle
Osaka Castle in the summer

Built in 1583 and reconstructed in 1931, Osaka Castle is one of the oldest historical buildings in Osaka to visit. The castle is surrounded by a garden and the river. The castle’s facade is extremely distinctive and hints at Japanese architectural design. 

The castle is most crowded during the cherry blossom season (March and April) because the scenic view of the cherry blossom and the Osaka Castle together is really wonderful.

The castle opens at 9am to 6pm daily and the admission to the castle is 600 yen per adult. If you have Osaka Amazing Pass, then you can visit the Castle museum with that pass instead of buying the ticket.

Osaka in 2 days : Umeda Sky Building
Umeda Sky Building from the ground

In addition to its well-known historical structures and shrines, Osaka also has a number of unique modern architectural styles. The best known in Osaka with its stunning modern architecture design is the Umeda Sky Building.

Umeda Sky Building has two office towers joined together at the top by a 360 panoramic platform. The rooftop platform is one of the main attractions in Osaka. The sky building’s two unique escalators, which extend across the two buildings, provide a breathtaking view from 170m above ground but for those who are afraid of height may experience shivers down their spines. However, the visit is definitely worth your time as the Floating Garden Observatory at the top is where you can view the amazing city of Osaka.

The access to the top opens from 9.30am to 10.30pm daily and it costs about 1500 yen per person. However, if you hold the Osaka Amazing Pass you can access it without any extra cost.

If you are afraid of heights, you can admire the sky building from the ground as it is an iconic modern piece of architecture. 

Get the tickets to Umeda Sky Building in advance here with discounts.

Osaka Itinerary : Day 2

The wizarding world of Harry Potter in Universal Studio Japan
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal Studio Japan

The theme park has quickly become a popular attraction since its debut in Japan. Even if you only have 2 days in Osaka, do not pass up the chance to visit Universal Studio Japan! Considering how busy and congested Universal Studio Japan is, it is recommended to purchase an express ticket to avoid the long lines.

Over the years, the Universal Studio Japan has been constantly expanding to welcome more visitors. There are several highlights and rides in the theme park that must not be missed such as The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Jurassic Park : The Ride, Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem, The Flying Dinosaur and a lot more! It was so much fun in the theme park and there were some snacks to try out at each of the sections too. One of the most famous one is the Butterbeer at the Harry Potter ride! 

Get Universal Studio Japan Pass here.

Get Universal Studio Japan Express Pass here.

Kuromon Ichiba Market

Kuromon Ichiba Market
Kuromon Ichiba Market

If you are a foodie, Kuromon Ichiba is a paradise for you to explore Japanese street food. Kuromon Market is a covered public market that is massive with more than 150 shops selling seafood, meat, food, snacks and even clothes too.

Out of so many things offered, Kuromon Ichiba is best known for its fresh seafood. Locals like to come to Kuromon Ichiba market to buy fresh ingredients for their home cooked food too. All you need to do at Kuromon Ichiba is sample the street cuisine and seafood like a local.

Take a ride at Hep Five Ferris Wheel

Hep Five Ferris Wheel - 2 days in Osaka
Hep Five Ferris Wheel

Hep Five is one of the landmarks in Umeda, Osaka. The Ferris Wheel is 106-metre high and the view up from the top is amazing! I recommend taking the ride at night to enjoy the best night view of Osaka.

The ride costs about 4 USD for one adult and there is always a queue lining up so it is best to get the ticket online and plan ahead.

The Best Local Food in Osaka

Every region in Japan is unique in its own way. Everywhere I go, I usually hunt for the local cuisine because it’s the simplest way to learn about the region through its signature dishes. 

If you like to explore local food in the city, it is best to join the local food tour :

Downtown Osaka and Local Food Walk

Instagrammable Osaka-style Food Tour

Explore 5 Hidden Gem Eateries and Bars in Osaka

I hope you find this 2 days in Osaka travel guide useful for planning your trip to Osaka. If you want to see the major sights of Osaka in 2 days, the list of best things to do is tailored to the schedule. If you have any suggestions, feel free to let me know in the comments. If you are traveling to Tokyo and Osaka in your upcoming Japan trip, you may read about my Japan itinerary here.