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Osaka Solo Travel Guide: 2-Day Itinerary for First-Time Solo Travellers

Located in the Kansai Region of Japan, Osaka was once the ancient capital city before the Nara Period. Today, it is a modern city with abundant history, vibrant nightlife, undeniable good food, and an excellent destination for any first-time solo traveller to Japan.

You can easily spend many days in Osaka as there is so much to do in the city. But ideally, you want to stay at least 2 days in Osaka to see all the best attractions and eat a ton of good food. And if you have more time, you can use Osaka as a home base and see many towns and cities outside of the city centre.

Keep reading, and I’ll show you exactly how to make the most of your Osaka solo trip with my efficient 2-day Osaka itinerary and what you can see beyond Osaka.

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Osaka Solo Travel: what you need to know

Before you start your solo Osaka itinerary, take a look at my post on everything you need to know before going to Japan. I included a lot of information, including how to get around Japan and other travel tips.

Here are additional travel tips that you may find useful when you are spending 2 days in Osaka alone:

  • It is possible to spend 2 days in Osaka on a budget. There are affordable accommodations, cheap street food and many free things to do.
  • There are a handful of cashless restaurants. So, having both cash and credit cards is a good idea.
  • Plan your visit with one of the three major festivals in Osaka:
    • Aizen Matsuri (June/July) – celebrating Aizen Myo-oh, one of the greatest Buddhist guardian gods, at Aizendo Temple in Tennoji.
    • Tenjin Matsuri (July 24-25) – a two-day event at Tenmangu Shrine, is Osaka’s biggest and one of Japan’s top three festivals.
    • Sumiyoshi Matsuri (July 30 to August 1) – a three-day summer event at Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine, during which the mikoshi (portable shrine) are the highlights of the parade.

Is Osaka Safe for Solo Female Travellers

If you are travelling to Japan for the first time, you must wonder if Osaka is safe to travel alone. Like many other Japanese cities, Osaka is safe for female solo travellers. Violent crime rate is very rare and even petty theft is unheard of.

In fact, if you drop your wallet, someone will pick it up and run after you to give it back. That’s how honest Japanese people are.

As for my own experience, I’ve been to Osaka five times, spent over two months in the city collectively, and stayed at multiple places in different parts of the city. I felt safe throughout the day and at night (although I don’t go out very late at night but would walk around in the evenings).

Tips for staying safe in Osaka

Even though Osaka is a safe city, I still recommend practicing regular travel safety precautions. Here are some safety travel tips to keep in mind:

  • Be aware of your belongings (bags, mobile phone, etc), especially in crowded areas.
  • Leave your passport, (large sums of) money and other valuables at your accommodation.
  • Avoid poorly lit alleys when you are walking home at night.

2 Day Osaka itinerary for First-Timers: Summary & Map

Here is the summary of my solo Osaka itinerary:

Osaka Itinerary: Day 1

  1. Umeda
  2. Tenjinbshisuji Shopping Street
  3. Osaka Tenmangu Shrine
  4. Izakaya Toyo
  5. Osaka Castle
  6. Shinsekai

Osaka Itinerary: Day 2

  1. Namba Yasaka Shrine
  2. Namba
  3. Sennichimae Doguyasuji Shopping Street
  4. Denden Town
  5. Kuromon Ichiba Market
  6. Shinsaibashi-suji Shopping Arcade
  7. Amerika-mura
  8. Hozenji Temple
  9. Dotonburi

Below is an interactive map with all the highlights for my Osaka itinerary. Red-numbered pins are all the must-see attractions on Day 1, purple-numbered pins are things to see in Osaka on Day 2, blue pins are other things to do in Osaka if you are staying longer, and green pins are day trip ideas from Osaka.

Osaka Itinerary: Day 1

1. Umeda

Start your first day in Osaka in the Umeda. The area is considered to be the city’s northern downtown, and it is full of shops, dining, and entertainment options. It is also Osaka’s busiest transportation hub.

While you are in Umeda, you can go up to the Umeda Sky Building, two skyscrapers connected by a “donut roof,” and see a 360-degree view of Osaka from the 40th floor at the Kuchu Teien Observatory for ¥1,500. Alternatively, go to the 11th-floor of Luca Osaka and see the view from Kaze-no-hiroba rooftop garden for free.

Umeda also has excellent shopping malls and department stores. Hep Five is a trendy shopping mall with a red Ferris wheel on top, and I really like Hankyu Department Store and Hanshin Department Store.

Address: Umeda, Kita Ward, Osaka | Hours: 24 hours | Admission: free

2 & 3. Tenjinbashisuji Shopping Street & Osaka Tenmangū Shrine

Walk over to Tenjinbashisuji Shopping Street, Japan’s longest shōtengai (traditional Japanese traditional covered shopping street). The street is over 2km long and has many local shops for clothes, books, and groceries.

Start from the north end and make your way all the way to the south. Near the south end, find the Osaka Tenmangū Shrine. It is Osaka’s most famous shrine and one of many shrines dedicated to the deity of scholarship, Sugawara Michizane. Many students visit the shrine and pray for luck in passing their studies and exams.

If you are in Osaka on July 24 and 25th, see the parade for Tenjin Matsui, one of the biggest annual festivals in Japan. The two-day celebration honours the god of scholarship and turns the quiet shrine into a fun-filled parade with big crowds and fireworks.

Osaka Tenmangū Shrine Address: 2 Chome-1-8 Tenjinbashi, Kita Ward, Osaka | Hours: 5:30am-6:30pm | Admission: free

4. Izakaya Toyo

If you are in Osaka on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday or Saturday, have lunch at Izakaya Toyo and see Osaka’s famous flamethrower chef, who was featured on Netflix Street Food Asia.

I wasn’t sure if I should include this in the itinerary, but after seeing Chef Toyoji Chikumoto and his animated performance, I realized he is just as charming in real life as he was on the show.

When I went, I ordered the fatty tuna (two servings), which comes with a plate of sashimi, scallops, and crab in vinegar. I couldn’t order the famous flame-seared tuna cheek because that’s too much food for me, but I got the closest table to the chef and had the first row to the cooking show.

From Osaka Tenmangū Shrine to Izakaya Toyo: take the JR train from Osakatemmangu Station to Kyobashi Station or walk 30 minutes.

Address: 3 Chome-2-26 Higashinodamachi, Miyakojima Ward, Osaka | Hours: 1-5pm Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays; 12-5pm Saturdays

5. Osaka Castle

A trip to Osaka must include Osaka Castle, the city’s most iconic landmark. It was originally built in 1583 on the site of a former temple and has survived many attacks and natural disasters over the years.

Today, you can see the museum displays in the Castle Tower and climb the stairs (or take the elevator) to the 8th-floor observation deck to see the city from above.

Or you can enjoy Osaka Castle by roaming around the castle grounds. See 13 structures deemed important cultural assets around the inner and outer moats. Or roam around the beautiful Nishinomaru Garden, especially during the Sakura season (late March to early April) when all 600 cherry trees are in full bloom. 

From Izakaya Toyo to Osaka Castle: take the metro on Osaka Loop Line from Kyobashi Station to Osakajokoen Station and walk 20 minutes or walk the entire way for 30 minutes.

Address: 1-1 Osakajo, Chuo Ward, Osaka | Hours: 9am-5pm | Admission: ¥600

6. Shinsekai

Shinsekai in Osaka is an old district built before WWII and redeveloped after the 1903 National Industrial Exposition. Today, It is an entertainment district with many big, bold, bright neon lights and signage.

Look for the Tsutenkaku Tower, the symbol of Shinsekai, which is modelled after the Eiffel Tower in Paris. And find Billiken (the mascot of Shinsekai) at the Billiken Shrine. It is said that if you touch the soles of his feet, you will get good luck.

To finish your first day in Osaka, have dinner at one of the retro Japanese-style restaurants on Janjanyokocho Nanyodori-shotengai or main avenues of Shinsekai. Maybe try kushikatsu? After all, Shinsekai is the birthplace of kushikatsu, one of Osaka’s food specialties.

From Osaka Castle to Shinsekai: take the metro on Tanimachi Line from Tanimachiyonchome Station to Tennoji Station and walk 12 minutes.

Address: 2 Chome-5-1 Ebisuhigashi, Naniwa Ward, Osaka | Hours: 24 hours | Admission: free

Osaka Itinerary: Day 2

1. Namba Yasaka Shrine

One of the more interesting temples you will find in Osaka is the Namba Yasaka Shrine. The unique part about the shrine is a ginormous 12-meter tall lion head surrounding the shrine itself, where the lion’s mouth is part of the shrine. It is said that the lion’s mouth swallows evil spirits and leaves you with good luck. The post-war constructed shrine is surely an Instagram-worthy photo!

If you are in Osaka during spring, this is an excellent place to see cherry blossoms in full bloom. Also, visit the shrine on the third Sunday in January to witness the Tug-of-War Ritual.

Address: 2 Chome-9-19 Motomachi, Naniwa Ward, Osaka | Hours: 6am-5pm | Admission: free

2. Namba

If Umeda is the northern downtown of Osaka, then Namba is the southern downtown of Osaka. The area is well-known for shopping and entertainment.

Here, you will find many souvenir shops, Takashimaya department store, shopping centres (Namba Parks, 0101 Namba Marui), pachinko parlours, street food, and local eateries connected by a maze of covered pedestrian walkways. The maze will lead you to Ebisubashi-suji, the main covered shopping street that extends to Shinsaibashi-suji.

3 & 4. Sennichimae Doguyasuji Shopping Street and Denden Town

One of the highlights in Namba has to be Sennichimae Doguya-suji, a covered shopping street that sells all things kitchen. You can find kitchenware, Lucky Cats, and other restaurant-related items here. And all the plastic fake food you see at the touristy restaurants—they sell it here, too!

On the way to the next destination, you can visit Denden Town in the nearby Nipponbashi District. The two streets main streets in Denden Town are home to many electronic stores and a hub for all anime and manga lovers.

Sennichimae Doguya-suji Address: 14-5 Nanbasennichimae, Chuo Ward, Osaka | Hours: 10am-6pm | Admission: free

Denden Town Address: Nipponbashi, Naniwa Ward, Osaka | Hours: 11am-7pm | Admission: free

5. Kuromon Ichiba Market

Kuromon Ichiba Market, also known as the Black Gate Market, is a covered shopping street full of vendors selling all kinds of fresh produce and seafood. The food market has grown to over 150 stores, and it’s been around for more than 170 years.

This is an excellent place to try different types of fresh seafood. From fresh sashimi to grilled seafood, and everything type of seafood you can imagine, you will find it here. There are other Japanese food if seafood isn’t your game.

Have lunch at Kuromon Ichiba Market before seeing more sights.

Address: 2 Chome Nipponbashi, Chuo Ward, Osaka | Hours: 9am-5pm | Admission: free

6. Shinsaibashi-suji Shopping Arcade

Shinsaibashi-suji Shopping Arcade is Osaka’s most popular covered shopping street. Many shoppers visit the 600-meter-long shopping arcade and shop in trendy clothing stores, department stores, and tax-free drug stores selling cosmetics.

In addition to all the shops along the main street, check out some smaller streets perpendicular to Shinsaibashi. If I were not travelling with 7kg of luggage, I would buy many things here!

Address: 2 Chome-2-22 Shinsaibashisuji, Chuo Ward, Osaka | Hours: 11am-8pm | Admission: free

7. Amerika-mura

West of Shinsaibashi-suji is Amerika-mura, an area known for Japanese youth culture. The area adopted its name, “America Town,” in the 80s due to all the American-related imported goods.

Like many places in Osaka, Amerika-mura has many shops selling trendy clothes and local cafes, restaurants and pubs.

Check out Orange Street or Tachibana-dori, an 800-meter street full of upscale fashion. The chic street is also full of furniture and interior goods stores, and the area was known for its furniture production after WWII.

8. Hozenji Temple

In 1637, Hozenji Temple was built in the Namba area, and soon after, many food stalls and teahouses were set up to welcome visitors.

During WWII, this area of Osaka didn’t survive except for one temple statue, Fudo Myo-o. The Buddha statue became the symbol of the area, representing good morals and discipline.

But what is unusual about this statue is that it is covered entirely in green moss. Legend has it that a lady made a wish for the Buddhist statue by pouring water over it. And her wish came true. So everyone visits Hozenji Temple and pours water over the statue, and eventually, lush green moss covers the entire statue.

Besides making a wish at the shrine, visit Hozenji Yokocho, a narrow cobblestone street with many local eateries.

Address: 1 Chome-2-16 Namba, Chuo Ward, Osaka | Hours: 24 hours | Admission: free

9. Dotonbori

Dotonbori is Osaka’s best-known area and a must-see. It is known for its bright lights, giant neon signs, over-the-top restaurant signage, and delicious street food.

To end your second day in Osaka, try some of the best Dōtonbori street food, like takoyaki or eat okonomiyaki at one of the many restaurants.

Make sure you take a photo in front of the Glico Running Man, the most famous neon sign in Osaka. And see the famous Dotonburi mascot, Kuidaore Taro, at the Nakaza Kuidaore Building.

And if you have time, take a 20-minute round-trip river cruise on the Dotonbori canal for ¥1,200. It is a wonderful way to see Osaka from a different perspective.

Other places to explore in Osaka on your own

There are so many things to do in Osaka that choosing what to do in just two days was difficult. But if you are staying longer in Osaka or want to change up the itinerary, here are some suggestions:

  • Universal Studios Japan – spend the entire day at USJ and go on rides, watch shows, and visit Super Nintendo World and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
  • Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan – see giant aquariums with over 600 species of aquatic animals from different regions along the Pacific Rim.
  • teamLab Botanical Garden – experience interactive light installations at the Nagai Botanical Garden.
  • Kamigata Ukiyoe Museum – the only museum in the world with a collection of ukiyoe (Japanese woodblock prints). See prints inspired by Kabuki actors during the Edo Period and make your woodblock print. 
  • Osaka Kizu Market – an excellent seafood market with a few restaurants. Go early and eat fresh sushi for breakfast.
  • Tennoji – visit Osaka’s busy transportation hub and see Tennoji Garden, Shitennoji and Abeno Harukas.
  • Nakazakicho – visit Osaka’s young hipster neighbourhood and find vintage stores and hang out at modern coffee shops hidden in small alleys.

Solo Day Trips from Osaka

Taking solo day trips from Osaka is super easy because of the efficient train system. If you spend more than two days in Osaka and want to venture outside the city, consider adding a few excursions; they are accessible by train and can be reached in under two hours.

  1. Minoo Park – an easy 6km hiking trail with temples, gardens, and Minoh Waterfall. Minoh Beer Warehouse is nearby.
  2. Mount Koya – see hundreds of sacred temples and Japan’s biggest graveyard. Koyasan is one of the most spiritual towns in Japan.
  3. Kyoto – offers an abundance of historical temples and culinary delights. If you only have one day, check out Kinkaku-ji, Arashiyama, and Fushimi Inari. However, I highly recommend spending two days in Kyoto to see many more places.
  4. Kobe – spend a day in Kobe to see cultural neighbourhoods and eat Kobe beef or other famous Kobe food.
  5. Arima Onsen – experience the golden hot springs in one of the oldest Japanese onsen towns.
  6. Himeji – see Himeji Castle, aka the White Heron Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage site, during a day trip to Himeji.
  7. Nara – see Buddhist temples and wild deer and try unique Nara food on a day trip to Nara.

How to get to Osaka, Japan

Plane

Kansai International Airport (KIX) is about 40km south of Osaka. The best way to travel from the airport to Osaka is by train, and there are several options:

  • JR Train on Haruka Limited Express: 34 minutes to Tennoji Station; ¥2,370
  • JR Train on Kansaikuko Line Kanku-Rapid: 53 minutes to Tennoji Station; ¥1,080
  • Nankai Train on Nankai-kuko Line Airport Express: 50 minutes to Namba Station; ¥970

All the train options will take you to Tennoji Station or Namba Station. You can transfer to other JR trains or the Osaka metro.

Train

If you are already in Japan, many trains on the Japan Railway can take you to Osaka. And you can even try taking the Shinkansen (bullet train).

Long-distance bus

Another excellent option for travelling to Osaka is by long-distance bus. Generally, they are cheaper than taking the train, but the journey can be quite long (depending on where you are coming from).

Buses operated by West Japan JR Bus Company arrive at the north gate building at JR Osaka Station and Minatomachi Bus Terminal at JR Namba Station. Willer Express buses drop off passengers in various areas of Osaka.

How to get around Osaka on your own

Osaka is an excellent city for solo travellers as most attractions are within walking distance. This is true for most places in this two-day itinerary.

However, you could take the Osaka Metro or JR Train to go to certain places like Izayaka Toyo, Osaka Castle and Shinsekai on your first day. A single subway ride and train ride costs between ¥190-240.

Get the ICOCA card, a rechargeable IC card for the Kansai Region. This will be very useful when you take the subway and train around Osaka. Or, if you already have a Pasmo or Suica card or other IC cards from different regions in Japan, top up your card and use it in Osaka.

Where to stay in Osaka for solo travellers

These are some of the hotels I’ve stayed in before while travelling solo to Osaka. They are similar in price but in three different areas: Kita (Umeda), Honmachi (Central Osaka), and Minami (Shinsaibashi and Namba). I like all three neighbourhoods for a short itinerary because they are within walking distance of major attractions and close to the metro stations.

  • Kita Area: Nest Hotel Osaka Umeda (Book with Agoda or Booking)
  • Honmachi Area: The Lively Osaka Honmachi (Book with Agoda or Booking)
  • Minami Area: First Cabin Midosuji Namba (Book with Agoda or Booking)

What to eat in Osaka Japan

Osaka is a food lover’s paradise! Many food stalls and restaurants are in the Dotonbori, Namba, Umeda, and Shinsekai areas, but good food can be found anywhere in the city.

Aside from the typical Japanese food, there are a few Osaka specialties you must try during your 2 days in Osaka:

  • Takoyaki – a small doughy octopus snack made with a special metal ball-shaped pan. This is the most famous street food in Osaka!
  • Okonomiyaki – Japanese savoury pancake made with flour batter, shredded cabbage, and various toppings, including seafood and pork.
  • Kushikatsu – skewered and deep-fried meat, seafood and vegetables.
  • Kitsune Udon – originated in Osaka, a bowl of udon noodles with soup and topped with a big piece of fried tofu.

Are you ready to spend 2 days in Osaka by yourself?

Osaka is a very vibrant city with many things to do. If this is your first time visiting Osaka, stay for at least two days to see the city’s best highlights. You can see all the attractions on your own and there are free walking tours in Osaka if you want to follow a group roaming around the city. Either way, you will have a grand old time in Osaka.

However, I highly recommend staying a few more days to explore other parts of Osaka.

Moroever, Osaka is an excellent home base for taking day trips to Kyoto, Nara, Kobe, and Himeji. Plus, there are excellent hikes outside of the city like Minoo Park.

Let me know in the comment if you like the recommended places in this Osaka solo travel guide or if you have any suggestions for improving this itinerary.

Thank you for reading my solo Osaka itinerary

You might also like these other posts on solo travel in Japan:

Introduction to Japan

Kansai region

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About Author

Hi, my name is Queenie, and I've been a solo traveller for 20+ years and currently based in Hong Kong. Follow me on my adventures through Instagram and my blog!

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