One Day Osaka Itinerary: How to Efficiently Spend 1 day in Osaka as a First Time Visitor

Have only one day in Osaka and wondering what are the best things to do? This Osaka itinerary shows you the most efficient way to see the highlights of Osaka, as well as other practical travel information like where to stay and how to get around.

Osaka is one of the most popular cities in Japan to visit, especially on a first timer’s Japan itinerary. Located in Kansai, Osaka is a vibrant city known for its lively atmosphere, delicious street food, and rich cultural heritage. Whether you’re a foodie, history buff, or just looking to relax in the local vibes, Osaka has something for you.

This Osaka one day itinerary shows you the best things to see in Osaka, in an efficient way since I like to group things close together to save on commuting time. I will also show you where to stay and how to get around Osaka, as well as day trip ideas from Osaka if you have 2 days or more.

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Osaka Shinsekai - things to do in Osaka Japan

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Practical Things to Know Before Traveling to Osaka

Currency: Japanese Yen. Best to take out money from ATMs at 7-ELEVEN or Lawson.

Transportation Card: IC Card such as ICOCA card (Suica & PASMO cards work too)

Best Apps to Use: Google Maps, Japan Transit Planner, Japan Travel for navigation and train times

Best Food Website/ App: Tabelog for reviews (anything 3.5 or above is considered good). HappyCow is an app that help you find Vegan food near you

Best Time to Visit Osaka: Spring (March & April) for cherry blossom, and Fall (mid October to mid November) for foliage.

Worst Time to Visit Osaka: Summer months (July to September) because of hot and humid weather and potential typhoons. Also avoid Golden Week in early May.

Best Tour/ Attraction Booking Site: Klook specializes in tours in Japan (and the rest of Asia). Many foreign credit cards get declined on Japanese websites, so you can use Klook to book attraction tickets and sometimes you also get a discount.

Best Attraction and Transportation Pass: Osaka e-Pass includes 20 free activities/ boat rides (no public transportation) whereas Osaka Amazing Pass includes unlimited public transportation and 40+ Osaka tourist sites).

One Day in Osaka: Itinerary at a Glance

This Osaka one day itinerary assumes you are visiting Osaka for the first time and that you have one full day in the city. Therefore, this itinerary touches upon the most popular tourist attraction in Osaka.

If you know me, you know that I love to pack the itinerary (I mean, time is limited!), and I like to group things together by location, so you can walk and minimize going back and forth on trains and buses.

You can always take things off this itinerary if they do not interest you, but this should give you a pretty good idea on what you can see in Osaka in one day.

Morning: Umeda Sky -> Osaka Tenmangu -> Osaka Castle
Lunch: Kuromon Ichiba Market
Afternoon: Namba Yasaka Shrine -> Shinsekai -> Harukas 300 (optional)
Late Afternoon & Evening: Dotonbori -> America-mura -> Shinsaibashisuji -> TeamLabs Botanical Garden (optional)
Late Night: Hotspring (optional)

Osaka itinerary: Dotonbori area view

Is One Day in Osaka Enough? How Many Days in Osaka Do You Need?

One day in Osaka is enough to see the most famous attractions, but it is far from enough to fully explore the city and its surroundings.

There are a lot of museums, temples, and other cool things to do in Osaka that you simply cannot visit them all with one day in Osaka. There are also a number of nice day trips from Osaka that you can take.

Therefore, 2 days in Osaka is the minimum amount of time to explore the city, with another 2 to 3 days for day trips from Osaka.

This one day Osaka itinerary will be focusing on the most well known attractions in Osaka for a first time visitor.

One Day in Osaka: Itinerary in Detail

Now let’s dive right into how you can spend one day in Osaka with this super detailed itinerary. You will need to get up relatively early and will be out all day. So I suggest you get well rested before your big adventure in Osaka.

If you are visiting Osaka as a day trip from Kyoto, then try to catch an earlier train if possible. You may need to skip some of the things on this itinerary if you are crunched on time.

Breakfast: Grab Food from Local 7-ELEVEN or Lawson

If this is your first time in Japan and Osaka is your first stop, then this may come as a shock to you. Why would I suggest getting breakfast at a 7-ELEVEN? Well, hear me out here. Convenience stores in Japan are no ordinary convenience stores! They are actually really awesome and totally worth visiting.

Unless your hotel provides breakfast, if you want a fast and cheap (and still delicious) meal, then a convenience store would be your best friend.

You will find very good tasting food from convenience stores in Osaka, such as origini (Japanese rice balls), cold and hot meals, fried chicken (they are really good), yummy desserts (don’t miss the tiramisu), and a large variety of drinks. We actually went to 7-ELEVEN and Lawson to grab food almost every morning when we were in Japan.

Morning Osaka Itinerary: Stop 1. Umeda Sky (Kuchu Teien Observatory)

Opening Hours: 9:30am to 10:30pm
Tickets: 1500 Yen (~USD 10). Get tickets here. Free with Osaka e-Pass and Osaka Amazing Pass
Nearest Station: Nakatsu Station, Osaka Station, Umeda Station, Osaka-Umeda Station

Located in the Kita district, Umeda Sky Building is known for its distinctive design, with two adjacent buildings connected at the top with a circular open air observation deck called Floating Garden Observatory (Kuchu Teien Observatory).

Admire Umeda Sky from the outside, you can see the said two buildings and the “hole” in the middle on top. If you look closely, you will also see the escalators from one of the towers connecting to the other tower, making them one of the most unique escalators in the world.

While on top of Umeda Sky, there is an area with locks where you can put colorful personalized locks. You actually have to buy the locks online ahead of time since they are so popular. There is also a cafe, bar and Chinese restaurant on top of Umeda Sky.

In the basement of Umeda Sky Building, you will find a food court with a lot of restaurants serving Osaka food.

Stop 2. Osaka Tenmangu

Opening Hours: 9am to 5pm
Tickets: Free admission
Nearest Station: Minami-morimachi Station, Osaka temmangu Station

Osaka Tenmangu, a Shinto shrine dedicated to Sugawara no Michizane, the deity of scholarship and learning, is a popular destination for students and scholars seeking blessings for academic success.

The annual festival of Tenjin Matsuri takes place in July at Osaka Tenmangu to celebrate the shrine’s deity. The festival features traditional performances, boat parades and even fireworks.

If you have time, also stop by the nearby Tenjinbashi-suji Shopping Street, a covered shopping arcade with hundreds of stores/ stalls.

Stop 3. Osaka Castle

Opening Hours: 9am to 5pm (hours are extended during cherry blossom season, Golden week and summer)
Closed on: December 28th to January 1st
Tickets: 600 Yen, purchase tickets here; free with Osaka Amazing Pass
Nearest Station: Tanimachiyonchome Station

Originally built in the late 16th century, Osaka Castle is one of the most historically significant sites in Osaka. After it was built, the Osaka Castle was burned down multiple times and was also rebuilt, with the most recent reconstruction dating back to the 1930s.

It is not a royal residence, but a museum with 8 stories of exhibits. The different floors display different artifacts, replicas of rooms and a miniature castle model, historical facts, etc. On the 8th floor you will have access to an observation deck.

Even if you have no interest in going inside Osaka Castle itself, it is worth a visit to its beautiful garden called Nishinomaru Garden. You will have a nice view of Osaka Castle across the moat. The garden has an entrance fee but it is well worth going to. It is also a beautiful place to visit especially during cherry blossom season.

In addition, you can explore the Osaka Castle Park area as there are other buildings and shrines, namely Hokoku Shrine.

Hokoku Shrine in Osaka Castle Park

Tip: If you want to visit a real castle and not a museum, you should visit the Himeji Castle, one of the 12 original castles in Japan (never destroyed by war or fire or earthquake).

Stop 4. Lunch at Kuromon Ichiba Market (Avoid Sundays)

Opening Hours: 9am – 6pm; many stalls are closed on Sundays
Tickets: No admission
Nearest Station: Nippombashi Station

Osaka itinerary things to do: Kuromon Ichiba market for street food

Located about 35 minutes from Osaka Castle is the popular Kuromon Ichiba Market, one of the most famous indoor covered public food markets in Osaka.

Known as “Osaka’s Kitchen”, this hundred year old market has over 150 stalls inside, with plenty to eat for lunch. You will find fresh produce and cooked food (mostly seafood) at this market as well as cute souvenirs (we bought a really cute Totoro towel there)!

Since the market is known for its seafood, you will find plenty of seafood like scallops, crab legs, cooked oysters, eel, uni, and raw fish. Of course you will also find egg cakes, wagyu beef, chestnuts, traditional Japanese snacks and even iced coffee.

So grab some lunch and relax here before moving onto the next stop: Namba Yasaka Shrine.

Afternoon Osaka Itinerary: Stop 5. Namba Yasaka Shrine

Opening Hours: 9am – 5pm
Tickets: Free admission
Nearest Station: Namba Station, Osaka-Namba Station, JR Namba Station

Namba Yasaka Shrine is one of the most popular shrines to visit in Osaka thanks to social media and its unique design.

Photo of the lion building at Namba Yasaka Shrine in Osaka

The shrine itself is not big, and the most striking feature that attracts tourists is its lion’s head-shaped hall at the entrance, which is said to guard the sacred grounds and protect against evil spirits.

The shrine is a popular destination during festivals, with events like the Namba Yasaka Shrine Summer Festival in July, where you can see lion dances and other performances.

You probably will only spend 10 to 20 minutes here for the photo; it is a quick stop on your one day Osaka itinerary.

Stop 6. Shinsekai (New World)

Opening Hours: depends on store hours
Nearest Station: Ebisucho Station

Osaka Shinsekai - Osaka itinerary

Shinsekai is a vibrant neighborhood in Osaka that everyone should visit at least once. It was established in the early 20th century, and it was supposed to be an entertainment and shopping district. Today, you will still find many old school eatery, bars, and shops in Shinsekai.

Osaka Shinsekai with view of Tsutenkaku observation deck

One of the most iconic symbols (and views) in Shinsekai is the Tsutenkaku Tower, where you can actually go up to an indoor observatory for the panoramic views of the city. You can also pay more to experience the open air observation deck.

Tsutenkaku Tower tickets to the indoor observatory as well as Tower Slide (60 meter long slide) are free for Osaka e-Pass and Osaka Amazing Pass holders.

Osaka itinerary must do: Shinsekai

Wandering through Shinsekai feels like stepping back in time, with narrow streets lined with traditional izakayas, street food stalls, and quirky shops.

When it comes to food, Shinsekai is known for kushikatsu, a popular local dish featuring skewered and deep-fried ingredients. You can literally find so many restaurants selling this in Shinsekai everywhere you go.

Next to Shinsekai is a beautiful park called Tennoji Park. If you are looking for some tranquility (or the OSAKA sign), you can stop by to check it out. The park is big, with a zoo and art museum inside, so you probably won’t be able to see the entire place since you only have one day in Osaka.

Osaka Itinerary Late Afternoon: Stop 7. Shinsaibashi

Shinsaibashi is perhaps the most famous area in Osaka. This area is super busy with tourists as it offers shopping, dining and entertainment experiences.

Photo of inside of Shinsaibashi-shopping-street

At the core of Shinsaibashi is Shinsaibashi-suji, a busy covered shopping arcade that stretches for over 600 meters. This pedestrian street is lined with a myriad of shops, boutiques, street food and department stores. You will find things like souvenirs, cosmetics, clothing, jewelry, shoes, etc. that you can basically do all of your shopping there.

Shinsaibashi-suji is not the only place to shop in the area, in fact, just a couple of blocks away outside of the shopping arcade, you will find high end designer stores like Chanel, Balenciaga, Celine, etc. You will also find cafes like Le V like the one in Ginza in Tokyo.

Stop 8. America-Mura

Another cool area to shop is America-Mura, a western-oriented area known to sell imported clothes from the US. But you will also find Japanese local brands, cafes, restaurants, etc. To me this area feels like the Harajuku of Tokyo, with its youth fashion and street fashion scenes.

If you are in America-Mura, be sure to stop by Bar Nayuta, a really nice speakeasy known for their creative cocktails and unique vibe. You actually have to look for the entrance and there is no menu so you can get personally created cocktails. They open at 5pm so don’t get there before then.

Stop 9. Dotonbori

Can you say you’ve been to Osaka without visiting Dotonbori? You may not know anything about Osaka but you probably can recognize the symbolic riverfront walk with the eye-catching sign of the Glico running man above Ebisubashi Bridge.

Dotonbori at night with Gilco Running Man

If you prefer to enjoy the view from the river without the crazy crowd, then I would highly recommend this cheap 20 minute boat ride. The boat is covered so you can do it even in the rain. This boat ride is free for Osaka e-Pass and Osaka Amazing Pass holders.

Osaka-Itinerary-Dotonbori-streets

The best way to explore Dotonbori is to just walk around. You will see tons of restaurants, cafes, bars and dessert shops in the area. A few other noteworthy streets in Dotonbori include Hozenji Yokocho, where you will find restaurants, stalls, bars and even a temple and Sennichimae shopping street, known for kitchenware products.

What to Eat in Dotonbori

One of the most famous foods in Osaka is Takoyaki (octopus balls made with batter and covered with takoyaki sauce and mayo) and you will find a number of stalls near the river in Dotonbori. We went to Acchichi Honpo for Takoyaki but you can find other ones as well.

We’ve eaten quite a lot of things near Dotonbori, such as the famous gyoza from Osaka Ohsho, ramen from Hanamaruken, the famous cheesecake from Pablo, and the Crab House (the one with a huge crab on the outside).

Another cool place to eat at is Zauo Fishing Restaurant, where you have to catch your own fish to be cooked. Lastly, if you want to try Okonomiyaki (Japanese pancake made with batter and different types of ingredients), then you should go to Fukutaro, which was highly recommended to us.

As you can imagine, Dotonbori is super touristy and food is more expensive and catered to tourists. It’s almost like trying to eat at Times Squares in New York City. There are definitely places that are less touristy, but these places are usually not the ones with huge signs and English words.

Stop 10. teamLabs Botanical Garden (optional)

Opening Hours: 6:15pm – 9:30pm daily
Tickets: 1800 Yen (you can book here)
Nearest Station: Nagai Station (JR train)

If it’s too late or you are really tired, then finish your one day in Osaka at Dotonbori. Otherwise if it’s still relatively early and you want to maximize your day in Osaka, head to teamLab Botanical Garden, about 30 minutes away from Dotonbori.

If you know teamLabs, you know they create beautiful immersive art with technology and lights. This particular teaLabs is actually outdoors at night in a botanical garden, with lights and some interactive elements that light up the garden. It is not as impressive as the teamLabs in Tokyo, but if you want to see something unique, you can consider going to this.

Late Night in Osaka: Stop 11. Hot Spring (optional)

I told you this is a super packed itinerary (but of course, you don’t have to go to a hot spring at night). But hey, if you really want to pack it in, you can go to a hot spring (onsen) late at night to relax.

The two hot springs I had in mind for this Osaka itinerary include Tennen Onsen Naniwanoyu as well as Hinata no Yu (located near Shin-Osaka station). Both of these public hot spring bathhouses are open till 1am with last the entry at midnight.

Both hot springs are located on the 8th or 9th floor of an apartment building and there are different rooms, saunas and outdoor baths at these facilities. From the outdoor baths you can see airplanes flying above you, making it a pretty cool experience.

Hinata no Yu is included for free on the Osaka e-Pass.

2 Days or 3 Days in Osaka: Other Things to Do + Day Trip Ideas

If you have 2 days or even 3 days in Osaka, then there is so much more you can do! There are both things to do in Osaka as well as take some cool day trips. Below is a list of things and day trips if you can spend more than 1 day in Osaka.

  • Harukas 300: The tallest observation deck in Osaka; this 3 level observation deck offers panoramic views of Osaka and it’s best to visit around sunset and into the evening. In addition, on the 16th floor of the same building, you can get a free view of the city from the Abeno Harukas Art Museum atrium. Buy tickets here.
  • Hep Five Ferris Wheel: This giant ferris wheel is not too far from Osaka Station. Located on the top floor of the shopping center, you can get a good view from this ferris wheel. It is also covered on both the Osaka e-Pass and Osaka Amazing Pass. Buy tickets here.
  • Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan: The largest aquarium in Japan and one of the largest in the world, the Osaka Aquarium covers 286000 square feet in area and has over 2.5m visitors each year. There are 16 exhibits and 27 tanks; you can see two whale sharks at the Osaka Aquarium. Buy tickets here.
  • Universal Studios Japan (USJ): USJ needs no introduction and it is the home of the first Super Nintendo World as well. If you love theme parks, this is one not to miss. If you are on the fence about getting the Express Pass, it is worth it, otherwise you will be waiting in line for hours. Buy tickets here.
  • Kobe: Located about 35 minutes away from Osaka, Kobe is known for its beef but there is a lot more to Kobe. You can shop on Sannomiya Center Street, visit the oldest Shinto Shrine, Ikuta Jinja, ride the gondola up to visit the herb garden and check out Japan’s largest Chinatown, and of course eat delicious Kobe beef for dinner!
  • Miyajima & Hiroshima: If you want to see the floating shrine, then take a day trip to Miyajima (and you can combine it with Hiroshima). Read more about this day trip on my Osaka to Miyajima and Hiroshima guide.
  • Nara: Nara is about an hour from Osaka and it is one of the most popular day trips from Osaka (and from Kyoto). You can visit the various temples in and around Nara Park and see all the deers roaming around.
  • Himeji Castle: One of the 12 original castles in Japan, Himeji Castle is a beautiful white castle and also a UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Nara day trip with deers

How to Get Around Osaka

It is easy to get around Osaka with public transportation, such as subways and trains.

To pay for trains and subways, it is the easiest with an ICOCA Card (or other IC cards such as Suica or PASMO). The Icoca card is for the Kansai region so if Osaka is your first stop on your Japan itinerary, then you most likely will get the Icoca card. You can buy the Icoca card from the airport and train stations or just add it to your Apple Wallet.

If you have a JR Pass, you can use that on JR trains in Osaka too. There are other train lines in Osaka, you have to pay for those on top of the JR Pass.

The best way to navigate directions for the train and subway is to use Google Maps. Other apps such as Japan Transit Planner and Japan Travel also work well with train times, directions and even costs!

If you need to catch a taxi, you can download the GO Taxi App or Didi App. Uber is also available in Osaka, but it will just help you hail a taxi as there is no car share like they do in the US.

Where to Stay in Osaka

The two most popular areas for tourists to stay in Osaka are Kita (near Umeda Sky) and Minami/ Namba (near Dotonbori). Both areas have good access to trains, shopping, and eating.

Personally we have only stayed at Cross Hotel Osaka both times we visited Osaka due to its cleanliness and convenient locations. We were minutes away from Dotonbori and it was easy to take the train everywhere we wanted to go. Another great hotel to consider is Hotel Monterey Grasmere near the Namba station.

Other hotels that you can consider include Hotel Hankyu RESPIRE near Umeda and Karaksa Hotel in Namba.

Is Osaka Worth Visiting?

Osaka is definitely worth visiting for at least a day or two and you certainly cannot miss other cities like Kyoto, Hiroshima and Arashiyama in the Kansai area.

You should certainly visit Osaka if you enjoy food, since the best activity in Osaka is to eat! Sample all the street food, Okonomiyaki, takoyaki, ramen, sushi and udon in Osaka.

Read My Other Japan Blogs

I have written a number of articles on the most popular places in Japan. Check out my other blogs to plan your perfect Japan vacation.

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