How to Spend 1 Day in Osaka
Don’t overlook Osaka, Japan’s 3rd-largest city—lest you miss out on experiencing a metropolis that is charmingly easy-going, visually striking, and passionate about eating. Wall-to-wall neon lights compete for attention with a lovely river and some of Japan’s best dining. With only one day in Osaka you’ll want to do as much as possible. Here’s how.
Morning: See the Sights
One of the best ways to maximize your short time is by booking a private tour and visiting only places of most interest. Aboard a chartered bus, limo, or van in the company of just your party, you can set your own itinerary and explore Osaka’s sights—such as Osaka Castle, Shitennoji Temple, and the vibrant Dotonbori district—at your own pace, either independently or with a guide. Alternatively, a hop-on hop-off bus and boat tour allows you to create your own sightseeing plan, disembarking along the route at your leisure. Tours typically include a public transit pass for further exploration.
Afternoon: Explore Deeper
Having taken in the sights from a vehicle, hit the streets on foot for a closer look. Afternoon walking tours reveal local culture and gems hidden amongst the city’s main attractions by heading off the beaten path to lesser-known neighborhoods such as Shin-Sekai, Namco, and Tennoji. Another option is to embark on a tour specifically focused on a certain aspect of Osaka culture, such as a temple and shrine tour that takes you to the most important sacred sites, or one focused on otaku (manga and anime enthusiast) culture through visits to cosplay theaters, game shops, and maid cafés.
Night: Enjoy the Nightlife
Osaka really comes to life after dark, when the neon glows brightly and the bars and restaurants fill up with revelers. Get a taste of Osaka’s buzzing nightlife culture on a food and/or drink-focused tour. Your options include pub crawls that hop between bars and finish up in a nightclub; street food tours that introduce you to local casual specialties, such as takoyaki (battered octopus balls); and tours that take you down the city’s backstreets and into hidden away bars and izakaya (casual taverns).