Taking a trip to Osaka, Japan and wondering what the best things to do in Osaka for first timers is? Then look no further because we went and rounded up the most amazing spots and places that you shouldn’t miss when visiting Osaka. We personally hit almost all of these spots ourselves when we visited Osaka for the first time, so we know they are must do!
If you’re a laid back traveler who likes to explore the city at a leisurely pace or a jam packed traveler who likes to have a crowded itinerary, we made sure that this Osaka Bucket list fits a good medium between the two types.
So let’s get started and see what makes visiting Osaka so amazing! Don’t worry we also made sure to include some need to know info for exploring the city and some personal tips from our very own experience.
Things You Can’t Miss When Visiting Osaka For The First Time!
- Experience a taste of history at the Osaka Castle
- Enjoy a day at Universal Studios Japan
- Shop around or grab a bite at Dotonbori
- Learn about marine life at the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan
- Visit one of the oldest shinto shrines in Japan, Sumiyoshi Taisha
- Take a ride on the famous Tempozan Ferris wheel
- Experience some family fun at LEGOLAND
- Enjoy a nice scenic dinner on the Harukas 300 observation deck and Sky Garden 300 restaurant
Visit The Iconic Osaka Castle
This beautiful castle is most famously known for its traditional japanese architecture, large fortified stone walls and scenic park surrounding it. The castle itself has been turned into a modern museum feauturing important historical elements of both Japan and Osaka.
If you’re looking for a great panoramic view of Osaka then be sure to head up to the top of the castle for the best view of the city! Otherwise, if you’re not one for heights or museums then you can simply enjoy the view from the outside and take a nice stroll through the park.
Est Entrance fee
- Adults- 600 yen
- Youth (15 and under)- free
Est Hours: 9am-5pm
If you have time head to the museum shop located next the palace, they have a ton of cute items and even a penny press machine! We got these super cute Hello Kitty Osaka pennies from there.
Have Fun At Universal Studios Japan
If you’re one of those theme park obsessed tourists, like us, then you won’t want to miss out on Universal Studios Japan! Whether you’re a Harry Potter enthusiast or a huge Mario Kart fan, you’ll surely have an amazing time at Universal.
Dotonbori is a very popular shopping, dining and nightlife area in Osaka. This area has the best vibe at night with a peaceful, calm environment alongside some great views. The way the various glowing sign boards reflect off of the canal in the most picture perfect way also makes it such a cute photo backdrop.
Wander Through Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan
The aquarium in Osaka is one of the largest in the world featuring almost 11,000 tons of water that hold some of the coolest marine life exhibits. The inside of the aquarium has such a cool layout and vibe that makes you feel like you’re underwater. If you decide to visit this huge aquarium be sure to give yourself at least 2-3 hours for the visit!
Hours: Typically hours will be between 9:30am/10am up until a closing time of 8pm.
Est Entrance fee:
- 2 and under: free
- Ages 3-6: 700 yen
- Ages 7-15: 1400 yen
- Ages 16+: 2700 yen
Explore Sumiyoshi Taisha
Sumiyoshi Taisha is the head of all the Sumiyoshi shrines in Japan. Definitely don’t skip out on visiting! It really is a privilege to see one of the oldest and most sacred shrines in all of Japan. If you plan on visiting please remember to treat the shrine and the people around you with the utmost respect!
Entrance fee: Free
Take A Ride On The Tempozan Ferris Wheel
Definitely recommend taking a ride on this ferris wheel at night to enjoy the vibrant night views of Osaka! Plus if that’s not cool enough for you, the wheel itself lights up at night! On the other hand, if you’re riding during the day you can enjoy amazing views such as Mt. Ikoma, Osaka Bay, Akashi Kaikyo Bridge and of course Osaka itself!
- General admission (ages 3+): 900 yen
Hours: Typically opens at 10am, closes at 9pm/10pm depending on the day.
Piece Together Your Imagination At LEGOLAND
Whether you enjoy building Legos, watching Lego movies or even racing in a virtual VR lego race you and your family can surely find something for everyone to enjoy!
Amazing Panoramic Views Of Osaka At The Sky Garden 300
Visit one of the most popular observation decks in Osaka that offers some of the best views of the city! Plus, you can enjoy a great meal or drink at the Sky Garden 300 cafe dining bar alongside these amazing views! Whether you decide to enjoy these views day or night you’re sure to have a great experience and get to see the city in a whole new light, literally.
Delicious Foods To Try In Osaka!
- Jiggly cheesecake
- Udon Suki
Things To Know Before Your Trip To Osaka!
What To Bring In Your Daily Bag
When out exploring Osaka, you will quickly realize how much of a waste of time it is to have to keep making trips back to your stay because you want to freshen up, grab something, or because you forgot an item.
We wanted to make sure we didn’t have to keep making these wasteful trips early on, so we packed a daily bag with essentials that would be useful during our time in Osaka.
These are the must haves that we personally had to have!
- Mini Garbage bags for separating waste: You’ll notice there isn’t really a lot of waste disposal areas. So we like to travel with some bags for this purpose and then dispose of the waste in the proper bins at the end of the day.
- Sunscreen: Having sun screen spray was a total game changer for reapplication and a sun stick for our face. It gets pretty hot in Osaka and the sun rays are harsh, but even during the winter SPF is important.
- Reusable Cutlery: When it was time to eat we like to have our own plastic spoon, and fork for eating food during our breaks. (Just make sure not to eat and walk, as it’s frowned upon in Japan)
- Freshening Wipes: These are great for wicking away sweat and freshening up.
- Sanitizer and cleaning wipes: You never know when you might need to clean something.
- Mini umbrella and or ponchos: This is important for rainy seasons.
Grab Your Tickets Ahead Of Time For Transport and Places
The last thing you want is to be waiting in long ticket queues for tickets, so booking them ahead of time is key for wasting less of your precious travel time.
The great news is for transportation most of the transportation you’ll be using takes the Icoca, Pasmo, and Suica transit cards. These handy transit cards can be used on various modes of transportation such as the metro and buses. We used ours so much and it was super handy for going between cities like Kyoto and Tokyo and intercity travel.
Be Flexible With Your Plans!
One of the biggest disappointments you can set yourself up for is to be rigid in your plans, It’s good to be flexible because you never know when things suddenly close or open. That’s why we like to look at time schedules of each of the places we want to visit and we create an itinerary that can easily be moved around for sudden changes.
For example, If Osaka Aquarium closed earlier for an event, we would move that planned event to a different day and substitute it with another item on our Osaka Bucket list that matches the time slot.
Osaka Travel Guide Wrap Up
That wraps up our Osaka for first timers guide! We know traveling to Japan as a first timer can be super overwhelming so we wanted to make sure to be thorough without overloading you guys with too much information.