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Osaka is famous for many great things, from rich flavors to the scenic locations one can find; just the name Osaka can invoke anyone’s adventurous spirit! Osaka is too vast to be easily explored, but here is a 3-day itinerary to maximize your Japan trip!
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Japan has a lot to offer and Osaka is one of them. Attractions here can cater to any type of tourist, so surely it can satisfy their needs especially with the foods they offer which is why it’s called Japan’s Kitchen.
Unique experiences await as you explore Osaka even just for 3 days. Maximizing your tour is the key - we will just focus on fun activities but at the same time, you can still relax as you’re on vacation!
Morning Schedule: Exploring Dotonbori
Dotonbori is the heart of Osaka. Here, there's a bunch of different alleys, and they have restaurants, food stands, arcades, clothes stores, and other stalls that surely can offer what you desire.
Takoyaki is probably one of Japan's most famous street foods, and it is done best in Dotonbori, Osaka. Each stall offers different ways on how to cook it and what they will put in it, but surely the taste is amazing. Finding the longest lines usually indicates the best places or something that was recently featured on TV, guaranteeing the best tastes.
One of the draws of Dotonbori is the canal. You can take a boat on the canal with a guide who makes the trip entertaining. You may want to make sure they speak English because otherwise you won’t understand much, but it will be a great way to view the area nonetheless. Dotonbori has always been the entertainment center of Osaka; it is a fun place to come at night, too, when you have extra time to spare! The neon lights are dazzling!
Dotonbori is just a 5-minute walk from Namba Station. To get to Dotonbori, the first thing to look for is Takashimaya department store by Namba Station (or follow the signs and maps in the station leading to Dotonbori). When you do, continue onto Ebisubashi-suji street, and when you see a huge crab signboard and the Glico running man, that's the sign you've reached Dotonbori.
Afternoon and Evening schedule: Tsutenkaku Tower at Shinsekai
Tsutenkaku is the “Eiffel Tower of Osaka” located at Shinsekai. Shinsekai is a food street where there are so many restaurants and amusement stores available. Before heading to the tower, try the popular “Kushikatsu” which consists of skewered seasoned meat and other deep-fried foods. Some restaurants are open for 24 hours, so night-time snacks will not be a problem when you want to stay here a little longer. The place is lovely at night time; if you’re looking for Osaka Instagram worthy pictures, you should definitely visit this place.
There is an observatory at the top of the tower, which is open from 10:00am - 8:00pm, but their cut-off time to enter is 7:30pm. Viewing from the regular observatory will cost you 800 yen, but if you wish to go higher than the regular observatory, you will need to pay an additional 500 yen. If you’re scared of heights, better not try this one.
※ Tsutenkaku Tower Official Site, "Business Information"
For more information, read our article about it here:
From Namba station, you should take the Nankai-Koya Line to Shin-Imamiya station to get to Shinsekai - that's the easiest route. Tsutenkaku is just 10 mins walk from the station, and the street toward the tower is easily visible upon exiting.
On another note, you might want to visit the Tennoji Zoo in Shinsekai, especially if you have children with you. The habitats in Tennoji Zoo are recreated closely to the natural home of their respective animals, giving an authentic feel while being engaging to both young and adult audiences. Strolling the zoo is a fun, yet educational tour by observing the different animals not by pictures or videos but through a real life experience. Plus the zoo is right near Tsutenkaku so it’s easy access to do together.
The great thing about this Day 1 plan is, you can do them in any order! You can go to Tsutenkaku during the day and eat kushikatsu for lunch, go to the zoo then drop by Dotonbori at night instead, during which both sides of the canal are lit up and magical. Or you can follow this plan above and go back to Dotonbori at night!
Before heading to Universal Studios, bear in mind that their opening hours vary a lot, so check out their website for more information. Day passes will cost you 7,800 yen, including tax for adults, 5,400 yen for children, and 7,100 yen for senior citizens (at the time of publication). To avoid queues, you can also consider purchasing an express pass; they offer various types that include various attractions. It’s best to check out their website to choose which pass best suits you.
You can discover a true Universal Studio experience through several themes inspired by many famous movies like Jurassic Park and Harry Potter. Iconic movie scenes and locations are there for you to visit. Other themes include New York City and the adorable Minion Park from Despicable Me. There are a lot of other assorted attractions for a wonderful trip, and souvenir shops to remember them by.
※ Universal Studios Japan, "Studio Pass (Park Entry Ticket)"
Avoid visiting here during the weekend and be as early as you can. If you wanna make the most of your time here, make a list of your favorite sections to visit among the eight themed sections of Universal Studios. Familiarize yourself with the map of the whole place to make use of your time efficiently.
Another tourist attraction just outside the park is the Universal Citywalk Osaka. This is the best place for tourists who cannot take the theme park's thrilling rides. You could just roam around this shopping mall and shop till you drop.
You can get to Universal Studios by finding your way to Nishikujo Station. You will then need to transfer to the JR Sakurajima Line.
One of the biggest attractions in Osaka is Osaka Castle. One of the coolest things about this castle is its huge complex called Osaka Castle Park. Osaka Castle is one of Japan's best castles with its stunning gold and green theme, highlighting Japanese architecture.
There's a bunch of things you can do here; if you're not into walking around the whole park, you can take the Osaka Castle road train or ride a boat, but that will cost you a little more money.
The castle is open from 9:00am - 5:00pm, but their cutoff is 4:30pm, and it costs 600 yen. Start your tour by walking through the outer castle park, cross the castle moat, and check out the Osaka Castle shopping mall shops. You can get entertained by the performers in front of the castle, too. The castle has eight floors that you can climb up to, and when you reach the top, which is where the castle's observatory deck is, you can finally admire the panoramic view that the castle is well known for. Osaka Castle won't consume much of your time, especially if you just want to get a glimpse of it; 2 hours roaming around here is more than enough. You can maximize your last day by visiting another attraction nearby.
※ Osaka Castle, "Information on Osaka Castle Museum"
Read more about Osaka Castle here:
To get to Osaka Castle, the easiest way is to take the JR Loop Line to Osakajokoen Station from Osaka Station.
After exploring Osaka Castle, you can still visit the giant ferris wheel in Osaka, the Hep Five Ferris wheel. This is something you could do real quick just before leaving Osaka, be able to ride this crazy big Ferris wheel, and be on the top of a skyscraper of Japan.
The Hep Five Ferris wheel is just part of the Hep shopping mall, which also has a stretch of shopping centers, restaurants, and the game centers, where you can purchase and enjoy your last-minute shopping experience in Osaka.
The best part of having a DIY trip is that you can control your time exploring and visiting such attractions, so make sure to allocate some more time roaming nearby places, not just one destination alone. Like before going to Osaka Castle, you could first visit the Abeno Harukas, a tower on top of Kintetsu Osaka Abenobashi Station.
Planning ahead is very important when you’re going to unfamiliar places. This itinerary will be helpful if you want to know what to expect. Given the attractions above, if you have any elderly with you, you should minimize walking around and focus on the main thing you want to see or try in that specific destination.
A number of restaurants are all over Osaka. Don’t just explore the places around what we mentioned but also try eating in different restaurants each day. Also, the Japan experience is not complete if you aren’t able to try at least one onsen place, especially in a ryokan, a traditional Japanese inn or dining in a local Izakaya restaurant. Find time to relax, chill out a bit, and ease your tiredness after a whole day of traveling.
Osaka may be compact but it is still packed with very exciting things. It offers a variety of delicious food, has the best sights, accessible tourist destinations, and things that are uniquely available to them. Your three-day tour is not enough to discover and explore Osaka but at the very least, it’s the start of an unforgettable experience in Japan!
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