25 Top Things to Do in Osaka: Osaka Bucket List 2020
Best Things to Do in Osaka, Japan
Osaka is the capital city of Western Japan, and it’s one of the most popular tourist destinations in Japan. There are a lot of attractions in Osaka that fascinate tourists from all around the world such as the vibrant cityscape with neon lights at night, delicious local food, modern and trendy shopping streets, the world’s greatest amusement park, and more.
In this article, I have listed 25 best things to do in Osaka 2020 including classic and trendy sightseeing spots for day and night. If you are planning your first visit to Osaka, you should definitely check out this Osaka Bucket List 2020 and plan a perfect trip in Osaka!
Due to prevention of the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), numbers of facilities and tourist attractions are temporarily closed in Osaka. Please check the below article for further information.
Universal Studios Japan (USJ) is the most visited theme park in Japan along with Tokyo Disney Resort (Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea). USJ offers numbers of fun and thrilling attractions in 9 different zones of Hollywood, New York, San Francisco, Jurassic Park, Waterworld, Amity Village, Universal Wonderland, Minion Park and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. There are also seasonal events and limited-time attractions available through the year such as Halloween and Christmas.
Besides attractions, Universal Studios Japan merchandise collections are hugely popular among visitors. You can find limited products of popular characters like Minions, Sesame Street, Hello Kitty and more! There are also cute character themed food and drinks available at the park.
Instant e-tickets can be purchased online.
Ticket info ▶ Buy Universal Studios Japan Tickets!
Dotonbori (道頓堀) is Osaka’s most touristic neighbourhood located in Minami area. Famous shop displays (such as Glico Running Man and the moving gigantic crab) and flashy neon lights at night attract millions of visitors. It’s also the best area to dine out as numerous restaurants are located in Dotonbori area. Shopping, food, entertainments.. you will never be bored of this vibrant and energetic neighbourhood!!
Wanna explore the neighbourhood deeper?? You won’t miss the best bits of Dotonbori with “Dotonbori Food Crawl & Food Sample Tour” by Magical Trip! This popular walking tour in Dotonbori area takes to both popular and hidden spots in the area as well as delicious street food and food sample making! Check the link below for more details and book the tour with discount!
▶ Book Osaka Local Foodie Tour in Dotonbori and Shinsekai!
Local food is definitely a top attraction in Osaka. Osaka’s local food includes some of nation’s favourite dishes, such as Takoyaki (Octopus Balls), Okonomiyaki (Japanese savory pancakes), Ikayaki (squid pancake), Kushi Katsu (deep-fried skewered meat and vegetables), etc. You can find many food stalls on the street of Osaka offering real taste of local with inexpensive prices. When in Osaka, you may be unable to try all the delicious local food of Osaka in one day!
Although Osaka is famous for affordable and local friendly regional dishes, If you are wishing to have a high-end dining experience in Japan, Osaka is also one of the best cities. Some of Japan’s top restaurants are located in Osaka including fine Sushi restaurants and Michelin starred restaurants.
Check out the list of the best restaurants in Osaka 2020 ▶ 10 Best Restaurants in Osaka 2020
Another great way to explore the glorious Osaka food culture is participating in cooking classes hosted by local teachers! Japanese cooking class has been one of the top tourist attractions in the country in recent years as you can experience the real local food culture through the class as well as have a quality time with local teachers. Also you can take the recipes home so you can cook the dishes for your friends and family back home.
There are various kinds of cooking classes available in Osaka, today such as the classic Sushi making, trending Ramen making, authentic home cooking dishes like Udon noodle and Gyoza dumplings, making unique character Bento box, and let’s not to forget the significant Osaka food, Takoyaki (octopus balls) and Okonomiyaki (savory pancake).
See the link below for more cooking classes available in Osaka today!
▶ Book Online: Best Osaka Cooking Classes
4. Osaka Castle
Osaka Castle(大阪城) is a symbol of Osaka and one of the greatest castles in Japan. Osaka Castle is an important historic monument that represents the great history of Azuchi-Momoyama period during the sixteenth century. It was built in 1583 by the order of Hideyoshi Toyotomi, the one of the most famous unifying warlords of Japanese history. The castle is located within the Osaka Castle Park, and it’s especially popular to visit during cherry blossom season.
Cycle around Osaka Castle and feel the breeze! “Osaka Bike Tour to the Neighborhoods of Osaka Castle” is the unique way to explore the neighbourhood of Osaka, and perfect for active/fit travellers! And of course, the tour includes Osaka’s best street food “Takoyaki” for snack 🙂
Click the link below to find out more details about the tour! Booking is now available with discount!
▶ Book Online: 3-Hour Osaka Highlights Bike Tour
Kaiyukan (海遊館) is one of the biggest aquariums in the world, displaying over 500 kinds of different marine life such as dolphins, penguins, sea lions and more. It’s located in the Tempozan Harbor Village of Osaka’s bay area (not far from Universal Studios Japan).
The walk-in aquarium is home to 15 fish tanks in total including the one with 34m x 9m that holds a variety of fish including manta rays and 2 whale sharks swimming freely. The new interactive exhibition opened in 2013 that allows visitors to see the animals up close and touch some of them.
▶ Book e-tickets to Kaiyukan Aquarium!
6. Tempozan Ferris Wheel
The Tempozan Ferris Wheel (天保山大観覧車) is one of the largest Ferris wheels in Japan (height of 112.5 metres (369 ft) and diameter of 100 metres). It’s located Tempozan Harbor Village, next to the Kaiyukan Aquarium. When the visibility is good, you can gaze the view of Osaka City and surroundings including Mt Ikoma, Akashi Kaikyo Bridge, Kansai Airport and Rokko Mountain. The Ferris wheel is lit-up at night with colourful LED lights.
Shinsekai (新世界) is Osaka’s old downtown district where the nostalgic atmosphere strongly remains, and it’s the best place to feel the real vibe of the city. The streets are filled with colourful and retro shop displays which makes Shinsekai one of the best photo spots in town. The symbol of Shinsekai, Tsutenkaku Tower is a great spot to enjoy the overlook view of this charming neighbourhoods and Osaka City. The tower was built in 1912 resembling the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
Shinsakbashi (心斎橋) is the best district for shopping in Osaka. There are numbers of shopping malls and boutiques located within the area from luxury brands to fast fashion retailers. Shinsaibashi-suji is the famous shopping arcade which is 600m long and consists of hundreds of shops from small boutiques to large departments stores. Not only clothing items, but there is a wide variety of shops in this arcade such as drugstores, variety shops, restaurants, cafes and more. It’s the place to shop till you drop!
America Mura or American Village (アメリカ村) is known as the center of young culture in Osaka, often compared with Harajuku district in Tokyo. Numbers of trendy and fashionable shops, boutiques, cafes and restaurants are located within this area. If you are into Japanese street fashion, vintage clothes and trendy street snacks, this is the area you should visit in town.
Umeda Sky Building (梅田スカイビル) is a high rise building with a spectacular observation deck in the Kita district in Osaka, near Osaka and Umeda Stations. It’s one of the most applauded architectures in the world for its unique shape and structure. The observatory called “Kuchu Teien”(means The Floating Garden) is situated at 173 m high and 360° panoramic view of the city can be enjoyed at an open-air deck. You can enjoy the spectacular night view of Osaka.
▶ Umeda Sky Building Floating Garden Observatory Tickets
One of the most unique and coolest shrines in Japan, Namba Yasaka Shrine (難波八阪神社) is often called “the Lion Shrine” as it houses the massive lion head shaped statue. The 12 m high x 11 m wide statue has become a popular photo spot in Osaka in the past year.
12. Tea Ceremony
The Japanese Tea Ceremony Workshop provides an engaging induction to the traditional tea ceremony. This activity dates back hundreds of years and is the most idealistic pastime of ancient Japan. You can experience tea ceremony for yourself, and even learn how to prepare your own perfect cup of matcha, through airKitchen tea ceremony classes in Osaka. There are many classes where you can both experience the tea ceremony and learn how to make wagashi, traditional Japanese confections enjoyed with green tea. Japanese hosts will guide you through the ritual in English, and you can even learn how to make other Japanese dishes as part of your experience!
See the link below for more tea ceremony classes available in Osaka today!
▶ Book Online: Best Osaka Tea Ceremony Classes
If you wish to explore Osaka in one day, you should definitely do something really fun at night! There are several great drinking spots and Izakaya alleys in Osaka offering authentic and wonderful nightlife.
A great way to explore the rich food culture of Osaka is joining a local food tour. Bar hopping is definitely the most recommended to explore the authentic nightlife in Osaka as there are numbers of hidden areas for drinking that are not on guidebooks.
If you want to try best izakaya food and drink in Osaka at night, try this Osaka Bar Hopping Nightlife Tour with Magical Trip. You’ll get to experience authentic Osaka foods and drinks by pub crawling local izakaya bars including Hozenji Yokocho Alley (法善寺横丁) , the old-fashioned drink alley near Dotonbori area.
For a quicker and more affordable option, we’d also recommend “Night-time Namba Walking Tour In Osaka” by Hang Out Japan who organises 1.5 hours night walking tour in Dotonbori area. You can explore the neighbourhood deeper with a local guide and visit hidden spots where locals hang out.
▶ Namba Night Walking Tour in Osaka
14. Abeno Harukas
Abeno Harukas (あべのハルカス) is a multi-purpose commercial building opened in 2014, which consists of shops, restaurants, museum, hotel, office, etc. It’s now one of the most popular landmarks in Osaka, and the tallest building in the city.
The 300 m tall skyscraper has the observatory “Harukas 300” on 58–60 floors, offering the panoramic view of Osaka City from glass-enclosed and open-air spaces, which is especially recommended to visit at night.
▶ Book e-tickets to Harukas 300 Observatory Now!
15. Kuromon Market
Kuromon Market or Kuromon Ichiba (黒門市場) is one of the largest markets in western Japan that consists of 180 stores. The market has over 190 years history and it’s known as “Osaka’s Kitchen” as all kinds of fresh food products can be found at this market.
Kuromon Market is always crowded by locals, and also many professional chefs come here to shop quality ingredients. It’s also the best spot to enjoy authentic street foods of Osaka. If you wish to learn Osaka’s food culture deeper, Kuromon Market is the right place to visit.
Explore Osaka’s most delicious street with a local expert! “Osaka Food and Drink Tour at Kuromon Market and Dotonbori Area” is a 3-hour walking tour that can show you around the market with delicious must-have local food! Check the link below for more details and book the tour with discount 🙂
▶ Book Online: Kuromon Market Food and Drink Tour
Shitennoji Temple (四天王寺) is one of the oldest temples exist in Japan. Considerably, the temple was founded by Prince Shotoku in 593 as the first Buddhist temple in the country although the temple buildings have been rebuilt over the centuries.
The temple owns a beautiful Japanese garden “Gokuraku-jodo Garden”, and it’s also home to numbers of national treasures and Important Cultural Properties.
17. Osaka Expo Park
Osaka Expo Park (万博記念公園) is a large park located about 20 km away from the central area of Osaka. The park was created as the site of Osaka Expo ’70, and now it’s a popular sightseeing spot, best known for the symbolic “the Tower of the Sun (太陽の塔)” created by the famous Japanese artist, Taro Okamoto.
Osaka Expo Park is especially popular during cherry blossoms and autumn leaves viewing seasons, and visitors can have a pleasant time in rich nature.
Hanshin Tigers is a professional baseball team based in Hyogo Prefecture, and hugely popular in Kansai region. Tigers fans are said to be the most enthusiastic of whole Japanese baseball league. Their home ground, Hanshin Koshien Stadium is only 15 km away from central Osaka. The baseball league runs annually from March to September, and numbers of exciting games can be watched at Hanshin Koshien Stadium.
▶ Ticket info: Osaka Hanshin Tigers Baseball Tickets & Schedule for Koshien
Rental Go-Kart is one of the most popular tourist activities in Japan today, and it’s available at several cities including Tokyo and Osaka. It’s the most unique and extraordinary way to explore the city by dressing up in your favourite character’s costume and driving go-karts with friends! Check out the link below for more detail about the activity and don’t miss the special discount for booking!
▶ 25% OFF Rent a Go-Kart and ride around Osaka with Guide
A brand new Pokemon Cafe Osaka has opened in autumn last year, which is the second Pokemon Cafe in Japan (the first one in Western Japan!) offering Pokemon themed food and special menu. Pokemon Center DX Osaka has also opened along with the cafe, offering a large selection of Pokemon products.
21. Mozu Tombs
Mozu Tombs (百舌鳥古墳群) are a group of ancient tombs in Sakai City, Osaka. The site has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2019. The tombs which are large mounds of earth, were built between the 3rd and the 6th century, and there used to be over 100 of them, yet only less than half of them remain today.
One of the best ways to explore Mozu Tombs is by cycling! Check out the popular day-trip tour offering an unique cycling experience around the tombs and off the beaten path spots in Osaka City! Use the coupon code “50WYT3RA” to get special discount for booking!
▶ Book Online: A cycling tour to travel one of the world’s best 3 tombs in Sakai
22. Hoshida Park
Hoshida Park (ほしだ園地) is a vast park located in Katano City, within the forest park (Osaka Fumin no Mori). It’s one of the most popular hiking spots as well as autumn leaves viewing spots in Osaka Prefecture. The park is famous for a massive wooden suspension bridge called “Hoshi no Buranko”. The 280 m long bridge is built at 50 m above the ground and surrounded by rich nature.
One of the top attractions in Japan during winter is light-up illuminations held across the country including in Osaka. There are several winter illumination events held in the city including the Midosuji Boulevard, Kaiyukan Aquarium, Osaka Castle and Universal Studios Japan, and visitors can enjoy the romantic scenery until late night.
Osaka is one of the best cities in Japan for souvenir shopping as numbers of unique and original souvenir products are sold. Dotonbori is a great area to shop and souvenir shops can be found in every corner. Don’t miss shopping local products or snacks with “Osaka only flavours”!
▶ What to Buy in Osaka
In case you forget to buy something or run out of time for shopping while travelling in Osaka, don’t worry, the last minute shopping can be done at Kansai Airport (KIX), the second largest airport in Japan that offers the great selection of souvenirs from all around western Japan.
▶ What to Buy in Kansai International Airport
25. Go to Kyoto
Speaking of western Japan, you can not miss Kyoto along your trip to Osaka. Kyoto and Osaka are two must-visit cities for every first time visitor to Japan, and they are located next to each other. While Osaka offers the unique, energetic and modern culture, Kyoto represents the calm and historic traditional Japanese culture. These two contrasting cities are both very much worth visiting. It very is possible to visit Kyoto from Osaka for a short trip and enjoy the best highlights in one day.
Here are best things to do in Kyoto 2020 ▶ Kyoto Bucket List
These two cities are located next to each other and it’s very convenient to move around. Check out the link below and find out the best way to travel between Osaka and Kyoto.
▶ Transportation Guide: How to Travel between OSAKA and KYOTO
Also if you are planning to explore more in western Japan (Osaka, Kyoto, Hiroshima, etc) , you may wanna check out these articles, too!
So how did you enjoy the list?? If you are planning your first visit to Osaka, you should definitely add listed things to do on your bucket list and have a perfect trip in Osaka! Although you may need 2–3 days to see all spots, it is also very possible to see Osaka in one day! For short visit to Osaka, pick the best highlights from this Osaka Bucket List and plan your perfect itinerary in Osaka in one day!
▽Check out more Bucket Lists in other popular areas in Japan!▽
For more ideas about travelling in and around Osaka, please check out my other articles listed below, too!