Translated by Takuya Erik Watanabe
A 2-Day Osaka Trip Itinerary - Things To See, Experience, And Eat
This recommended two-day trip itinerary in Osaka is ideal for travelers who want to see this lively Kansai city but have limited time. The trip includes Universal Studios Japan, Osaka Castle, and local food and shopping in popular areas. Enjoy the best of Osaka even during a short trip.
Written by Jumpei Kawashima
2 Days in Osaka - A Short Trip Plan for Amusement, Sightseeing, and Local Food
Osaka is the largest city in the Kansai region and is a major destination for travel and leisure in Japan. This metropolis is brimming with sightseeing and things to do, making it easy to spend multiple days here during a trip.
However, travelers with less time can also enjoy the major sites in Osaka. Continue reading for an activity-filled 2-day trip itinerary that includes entertainment at Universal Studios Japan, enjoying regional cuisine downtown, learning history at Osaka Castle, and shopping the city's most famous neighborhoods.
Day 1, Morning and Afternoon: Universal Studios Japan
Universal Studios Japan
First, head to Universal Studios Japan, a popular amusement park in Osaka. It is a destination filled with a number of rides, performances, and shopping, making it fun for all ages. It is ideal especially for traveling in a group or with family. You will be enchanted by the bright, imaginative atmosphere everywhere in the park.
A view of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Picture from UNIVERSAL STUDIOS JAPAN® - Prices, Access, Attractions And Tips
A major attraction is The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, a zone in the park that is transformed into a mysterious world straight out of the novels and films. Drink butter beer, buy a wand, and walk around the area filled with Harry Potter magic.
Universal Studios Japan is also known for its seasonal attractions, which have included spectacular shows and rides inspired by anime series, like "Evangelion" and "Detective Conan," and also include popular figures, like the musician and cultural idol Kyary Pyamu Pyamu.
This is a very popular amusement park, so it is suggested to plan your visit on a weekday and not during public holidays to avoid waiting in long lines. To make the best use of your time, arrive early and with a plan on which rides and shows to do. You can use your remaining time exploring the park, taking pictures, and going shopping. Universal Studios Japan requires between a half day and full day for most visitors.
Directions to Universal Studios Japan
Via JR Line: Osaka Station (JR Kansai Airport Express, bound for Kansai Airport)→Nishikujo Station (JR Yumesaki Line, bound for Sakurajima)→Universal City Station
Day 1, Afternoon and Night: Iconic Tsutenkaku Tower and Local Cuisine in Shinsekai
Shinsekai, Osaka. Picture courtesy of pixta
In the late afternoon or evening, head to Shinsekai, a lively downtown area in Osaka filled with small, local shops. With many older restaurants and drink establishments decorated with flashy signs and lights, the retro townscape of Osaka is very enjoyable. This is a go-to spot if you want to experience the local atmosphere.
The famous tower, Tsutenkaku, is also located here. There is an observatory in the tower (700 yen for adult admission*) that provides a great view of the surrounding downtown area.
*Admission will be 800 yen from July 1, 2019
Kushikatsu and dipping sauce.
One thing Shinsekai is famous for its mouthwatering kushikatsu. Kushikatsu is any type of skewered meat, vegetables, or seafood that is dipped in batter, then deep-fried until crispy. To enjoy this local dish, dip it once in the savory sauce. It also tastes delicious with a glass of refreshing beer and is great for enjoying an evening in Osaka.
You'll find many kushikatsu specialty restaurants where you can indulge in this fried delicacy. A popular restaurant is Kushikatsu Daruma (Japanese). With a variety of options on menus, this is a meal option suitable for groups with different food preferences.
Directions to Shinsekai
Via JR Train: Osaka Station (Osaka Loop Line, bound for Tennoji) → Shin-Imamiya Station
Via Osaka Subway: Midosuji Line Umeda Station (JR Kansai Airport Express, bound for Kansai Airport) → Dobutsuen-mae Station
Evening, Day 1: Gaze at the Cityscape from the HEP FIVE Ferris Wheel
HEP FIVE Ferris Wheel
After you've had your fill of kushikatsu, end the night with a Ferris wheel ride. HEP FIVE in the Kita and Umeda area of northern Osaka. HEP FIVE, a major shopping and entertainment complex popular with young customers, has a giant red Ferris wheel on its upper levels. A ride provides a spectacular view of the city.
The Ferris wheel runs until 22:45 and costs 500 yen per ride. After enjoying the stunning night cityscape, return to your lodging to prepare for the second day.
Directions to HEP FIVE
Day 2, Morning: Encounter Japanese History at Osaka Castle
Osaka Castle and its surrounding moat. Picture from Everything You Need To Know About Osaka Castle, The Symbol Of Osaka!
Spend the morning in nature and experiencing history at the iconic Osaka Castle. This castle was originally constructed in the 16th century. Toyotomi Hideyoshi, a military lord famous for helping unify Japan at the time, made his residence here. The castle has been rebuilt due to fires, but is considered one of the most stunning castles in Japan.
In addition to its beauty and history, the castle surroundings and park are stunning with cherry blossoms in the spring and foliage in the fall. However, the castle is lovely to visit year-round. Have a relaxing morning strolling around the park and visiting the castle museum.
Directions to Osaka Castle
Via JR Train: Osaka Station (Osaka Loop Line, outer loop) → Osakajo Koen Station
Via Osaka Subway: Umeda Station (Midosuji Line, bound for Tennoji)→Honmachi Station(transfer to Chuo Line, bound for Nagata or Gakken Nara-Tomigaoka) → Tanimachi 4-chome Station
Day 2, Mid-Morning: Shop for Souvenirs in Namba, Osaka's Premier Shopping Area
Namba is a spot in southern Osaka and is known for its great shopping. In front of Namba Station, there are large shopping complexes like Namba Marui and Namba Parks. In addition to these prominent malls, there are countless shops underground, like Namba Walk, which are great to visit on rainy days, and nationwide-famous stores, like Tokyu Hands and Don Quijote.
After shopping to your heart's desire for gifts and souvenirs at Namba, head north to go to Shinsaibashi on foot. It is around a ten-minute walk depending on where you are in Namba.
Directions to Namba
Address: Osaka, Osaka, Chuo
Day 2, Afternoon: Snack and Stroll in Dotonbori and Shinsaibashi
Dotonbori and Shinsaibashi
Dotonbori is an area where there used to be many traditional theaters and is now a major entertainment district in Osaka. The iconic Glico sign and giant crab (Kani Doraku) are located here, so be sure to bring your camera.
Dotonbori also has many shops where you can find inexpensive and delicious Osaka food of all varieties, like takoyaki (cooked batter balls filled with octopus and other ingredients). We recommend strolling around the area with a light snack in hand. Be sure to take plenty of photos, too!
Directions to Dotonbori
Shinsaibashi is just north of Dotonbori, located within walking distance. It's an area popular with young residents, with its shopping streets and various casual fashion shops.
In Shinsaibashi, be sure to check out Amerika-mura in the western area of Shinsaibashi. Here, there are many thrift shops and stores selling imported goods. This area is even referred to as the Harajuku of Osaka. If you're in the Shinsaibashi area, we recommend stopping by Amerikamura as well.
In between your shopping, you might want to take a break in the Horie area, which is comparatively less crowded than the main streets of Shinsaibashi. Many fashionable cafes and shops are found in Horie, so sit down and have some tea when you find a cafe to your liking. There is also a small park where you can relax.
Directions to Shinsaibashi and Horie Areas
Address: Osaka, Osaka, Chuo, Shinsaibashi
Day 2, Evening: View Osaka at Twilight From Abeno Harukas
In the evening, head to Abeno Harukas by Abeno Station. The building boasts a height of 300 meters and is known as the tallest building in Japan.
Abeno Harukas has a 360-degree, glass-walled observatory called Harukas 300 between the 58th and 60th floors. From here you'll be able to enjoy a spectacular sunset view over Osaka.
Directions to Abeno Harukas
Via JR Train: Osaka Station (Osaka Loop Line, bound for Wakayama) → Tennoji Station
Via Osaka Subway: Umeda Station (Midosuji Line, bound for Tennoji) → Tennoji Station
Day 2, Night: Indulge in Okonomiyaki
Okonomiyaki is a Japanese dish known globally. It is cooked on a hot plate and is made from flour, water, seafood, vegetables, and various fillings. It is cooked into a circular shape and then topped with sauce, mayonnaise, and other ingredients. The result is something like a savory pancake, full of flavor. Okonomiyaki has been eaten for decades, mainly in Osaka and the Kansai area. This is a must-try food when visiting the Osaka area.
There are many okonomiyaki specialty restaurants in Osaka. At some restaurants, the cooks will prepare your okonomiyaki right in front of you, and at some establishments, you can even make your own. Okonomiyaki Tsuruhashi Fugetsu near Umeda Station is a specialty okonomiyaki shop with a multi-lingual menu in a convenient location. There is also a nice view of the HEP Five building and surrounding area.
This traditional Japanese dish will leave your tastebuds and stomach very satisfied. It is highly recommended to try this unique Japanese dish.
Enjoy 2 Days in Osaka, the Lively Center of Kansai
This itinerary contains some of the main sightseeing activities in Osaka, from local food to amusement and stunning views. As Osaka is the largest city in the Kansai region, it can be challenging with limited time for travel, but the city can be seen in just two days with some planning.
After spending time in Osaka, Osaka's central location allows for easy access to Kyoto, Nara, and Kobe--all places with sightseeing, history, and much to offer travelers. Continue to experience the Kansai area and continue your travels.
Main image courtesy of pixta