To really experience Osaka you need to understand the different parts of Osaka and what each area includes. I suggest starting with these 3 core areas right in the center of the city, and from there you can decide to explore further away if you choose to.
Umeda / Central Osaka
The city’s main business hub is packed with hotels, restaurants, shops, and sights. You can explore the Whitty Umeda underground shopping mall and more. Note that the Kita/Umeda area is often packed and crowded.
Dotombori / South Central Osaka
Just 20 minutes south by train, the Dotonbori / Minami area of Osaka is one of my absolute favorites as it’s a walking food palace! There are packed clubs, huge shops, and tons and tons of street food. If you want to experience the best street food Osaka has to offer then you need to spend the day here!
Osaka Castle / East Central Osaka
These are the top 3 areas that are must-see in Osaka and you can not miss them to truly experience the city!
What to do in Osaka
Shop and Shop
Osaka has always been a market city since ancient days, and the entire city is one giant marketplace. Shopping is the thing to do! Find everything from small underground shops to large underground complexes to massive above-ground train stations and incredible department stores. One such place shopping place in Osaka is called Whity Umeda, the largest underground shopping town in Japan. You can easily get lost in the tunnels. In fact, it’s possible to turn the wrong corner and feel like you’re in just another subway station with nothing to do and suddenly turn another corner and find miles of shopping. It’s incredible!
Eat and Eat
Street food, amazing restaurants, and delicious experiences are quintessential to the Osaka experience. Stroll through Dotombori to experience incredible street food and seafood, or stop by any of the fabulous restaurants Osaka has to offer and eat until you’re penniless! The food in Osaka is magical and often surprisingly cheap.
My first time in Osaka I went to a sit-down sushi restaurant and ordered about 20 different pieces. Expecting them to each be anywhere from $2 to $5, I expected to be dropping up to $100. I got my bill and it was about $25! I was floored! Too bad I don’t remember where.
Getting street food is the best of the Osaka food experience. Kushikatsu is a particular kind of seasoned, skewered grilled meat. Takoyaki are delicious batter balls with octopus inside. Yakiniku is just any kind of grilled meat. You can also get sugar-coated strawberry skewers for just a few dollars! All of these are delicious!
Visit Universal Studios
While it’s not an essential part of Japanese culture, Japan has an incredible version of Universal Studios located in Osaka. It’s considered by many to be the best theme park in Japan. The attention to detail at this park is out of this world.
It’s easy to reach Universal Studios Osaka by train as the Osaka Loop runs directly to Universal City, a mere 30 minute trip from the center of Osaka.
Go to the Aquarium
Osaka’s Kaiyukan has whale sharks, tiger sharks, and tons and tons of marine life. Osaka has been a bustling oceanside city for generations and the knowledge and wealth of the sea really comes to life here. The aquarium features 29,000 animals and 420 different species, and over 2.5 million people visit each year. It offers some incredible underwater views from all kinds of angles, making for an experience unlike anywhere else. In fact the largest pane of acrylic glass in the aquarium weighs over 10 tons by itself.
If you’re thinking about visiting, learn how much it costs to get here!