Located in the Kansai Region of Japan, Osaka was once the ancient capital city before the Nara Period. Today, Osaka is a modern city with abundant history, vibrant nightlife and undeniable good food.
If you are planning your first solo trip to Osaka, and wondering what to do in the city, the you must follow my Osaka 2-day itinerary. There is so much to see as Osaka as it is the third-largest city and also one of the top cities to visit in 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.
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.
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Table of Contents
Before starting your Osaka 2 day itinerary
Before you start your 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 during your 2 days Osaka itinerary:
- Osaka is a safe city for solo female travellers.
- 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.
- Carry cash with you, as many eateries accept cash only.
- There are a handful of cashless restaurants. So it is a good idea to have both cash and credit card.
- 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) – the 2-day event at Tenmangu Shrine is Osaka’s biggest and Japan’s top three festivals.
- Sumiyoshi Matsuri (July 30 to August 1) – 3-day summer event at Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine where the mikoshi (portable shrine) are the highlights of the parade.
How to get to Osaka Japan
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 50 Limited Express: 32 minutes to Tennoji Station; ¥2,170
- JR Train on Kansaikuko Line: 53 minutes to Tennoji Station; ¥1,080
- Nankai Train on Nankai-kuko Line: 45 minutes to Namba Station; ¥930
All the train options will take you to Tennoji Station or Namba Station. And at that point, you can transfer to other JR trains or Osaka metro.
If you are already in Japan, many trains on the Japan Railways can take you to Osaka. And you can even try taking the Shinkansen (bullet train). Check Hyperdia website for schedule and cost.
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 at various areas in Osaka.
How to get around Osaka for 2 days
Most attractions are within walking distance for this 2 day Osaka itinerary.
However, you should take Osaka Metro for certain destinations like Osaka Castle, Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan and Tennoji and Abeno Districts. A single subway ride costs between ￥240-290.
Get the ICOCA card, a rechargeable IC card for the Kansai Region. This will be very useful when you take the subway 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.
How many days in Osaka as first time solo traveller
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 so you can see the best highlights of the city.
However, I highly recommend staying a few more days to explore other parts of Osaka.
Map: 2 Day Osaka itinerary for First-Timers
I put together an easy-to-follow Osaka 2-day itinerary with my favourite Osaka tourist attractions. Everyone has different sets of criteria when it comes to sightseeing. Mine mainly focuses on cultural places, historical sights and unique things to see in Osaka.
All the top things to do in Osaka are pinned on the interactive map. 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. Osaka Castle
A trip to Osaka must include Osaka Castle, the most iconic landmark in the city. 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 pay an entrance fee of ¥600, see the museum displays in the Castle Tower, and climb to the 8th-floor observation deck to see the city from above.
Or you can enjoy Osaka Castle by roaming around the castle ground. See 13 structures deemed “important cultural assets” around the inner and outer moats. Or roam around the beautiful Nishinomaru Garden, a favourite spot for visitors, especially during the Sakura season (late March to early April) when all 600 cherry trees are in full bloom.
Osaka Castle opens from 9am-5pm. Go first thing in the morning to avoid the crowd.
2 & 3. Osaka Tenmangū Shrine & Tenjinbashisuji Shopping Street
As Osaka’s most famous shrine, Osaka Tenmangū Shrine is 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 Tenjin Matsui, one of the biggest annual festivals in Japan. The 2- day celebration honours the god of scholarship and turns the quiet shrine into a fun-filled parade with big crowds and fireworks.
Right next to the shrine is Tenjinbashisuji Shopping Street, Japan’s longest shōtengai (traditional Japanese covered shopping street). The shopping street is over 2km long and has many local shops to buy clothes, books, and groceries.
Umeda District is considered the northern downtown area of Osaka. If you are taking day trips to Kyoto, Himeji and Kobe, stay in Umeda since there are many excellent accommodations in the area and it is close to JR Osaka Station, the main transport hub.
While you are in Umeda, you can go up to 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.
5. 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.
Besides all the shops along the main street, check out some smaller streets perpendicular to Shinsaibashi. If I am not travelling with 7kg of luggage, I would buy many things here!
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 as the area was known for its furniture production after WWII.
7. Hozenji Temple
In 1637, Hozenji Temple was built in the Namba area and many food stalls and teahouses were set up soon after 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 as it represents good morals and discipline.
But what is unusual about this Fudo Myo-o 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, check out Hozenji Yokocho, the narrow cobblestone street with many local eateries.
Dōtonbori has to be Osaka’s best known area and a must-see. The area is full of bright lights, giant neon signs, over-the-top restaurants signages and delicious street food.
To end your first day in Osaka, try some of the best Dōtonbori street food, like takoyaki or eat okonomiyaki or kushikatsu 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 dfiferent perspective.
Osaka Itinerary: Day 2
1. Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan
Start day 2 in Osaka by hopping on the subway to Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan near Osaka Bay.
The giant aquarium has 15 tanks, each with aquatic animals from different regions along the Pacific Rim. See over 600 species of marine animals, including the giant fishes in the main fish tank, like whale sharks, tiger sharks and manta rays.
There are also interactive exhibits where you can get up close and personal with some of the cutest sea habitats, like penguins and stingrays.
Admission is ¥2,400. It is not cheap, but you can see the largest aquarium in the world! Plus, you should go first thing in the morning to avoid the crowd.
2. 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 a market for locals to buy home goods and groceries. And for visitors, it 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 an early lunch at Kuromon Ichiba Market before seeing more sights on your 2 day tour of Osaka.
If Umeda is the northern downtown of Osaka, then Namba is the southern downtown of Osaka.
As one of the main shopping areas in Osaka, there are many shops along Ebisubashi-suji, a covered shopping street and an extention to Shinsaibashi-suji. Plus, there are specialty stores on Doguya-suji, another covered shopping street that sells kitchenware, lucky cats, and other restaurant-related items.
Also Den Den Town in the nearby Nipponbashi District is home to many electronic stores and a hub for all anime and manga lovers.
4. 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, visit Namba Yasaka Shrine, as it is an excellent place to see cherry blossoms in full bloom. And visit the shrine on the third Sunday in January to witness the Tug-of-War Ritual.
5. Tennoji and Abeno Districts
Tennoji and Abeno Districts are located at the southeast end of Osaka city. The area is known for its busy transportation hub, beautiful Tennoji Garden and the modern revitalization of the area.
For this Osaka itinerary, there is enough time to either see Shitennoji or Abeno Harukas.
If you pick Shitennoji, you can see the Buddhist temple named after the four heavenly kings and the oldest temple in Japan. It is free to visit the temple and only the inner temple complex, the Treasure House and Gokuraku-jodo Garden require a fee.
As for Abeno Harukas, it is the tallest skyscraper in Japan and it has an art museum, a train station and large department store. Go up to Harukas 300, which is a three-level observation deck from floors 58 to 60 for ¥1500. Or see the view from the garden terrace on the 16th floor for free.
Shinsekai in Osaka is an old district built before WWII and redeveloped after the 1903 National Industrial Exposition. Today, Shinsekai is an entertainment district with many big and bold bright neon lights and signages.
Look for Tsutenkaku Tower, the symbol of Shinsekai which is modelled after the Eiffel Tower in Paris. And find Billiken (mascot of Shinsekai) at the Billiken Shrine. It is said that if you touch the sole of his feet, you will get good luck.
To finish your second 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? Shinsekai is the birthplace of kushikatsu, one of Osaka’s food specialties.
Other suggested attractions for your Osaka itinerary
There are so many things to do in Osaka that it was difficult to choose what to do in just two days. 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.
- teamLab Botanical Garden – experience interactive light installations at the Nagai Botanical Garden.
- Osaka Kizu Market – an excellent seafood market with a few restaurants. Go early to have fresh sushi for breakfast.
- Nakazakicho – visit Osaka’s young hipster neighbourhood and find vintage stores and hang out at modern coffee shops hidden in small alleys.
- 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.
Day trips from Osaka
If you spend more than 2 days in Osaka and want to venture outside of Osaka, consider adding a few excursions from the city.
Day trips from Osaka are super easy because of the efficient train system. All the places mentioned below are accessible by train and can be reached under 2 hours.
- Minoo Park – an easy 3km hiking trail to see temples, gardens, and Minoo Waterfall. And Minoh Beer Warehouse is nearby.
- Mount Koya – see hundreds of sacred temples and Japan’s biggest graveyard. Koyasan is one of the most spiritual towns in Japan.
- Kyoto – see an abundance of historical temples and experience culinary delights. If you only have one day, check out Kinkaku-ji, Arashiyama and Fushimi Inari. But I highly recommend spending two days in Kyoto to see many more sights.
- Kobe – spend a day in Kobe to see cultural neighbourhoods and eat Kobe beef.
- Himeji – see Himeji Castle, aka the White Heron Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage site, during a day trip to Himeji.
- Nara – see Buddhist temples and wild deer and get lost in the Old Nara City on a day trip to Nara.
Where to stay in Osaka for 2 days
These are some of the hotels I’ve stayed in while in Osaka. They are all similar in price but in three different areas: Namba, Honmachi and Umeda. I like all three neighbourhoods for a short travel itinerary because they are close to the metro stations.
- First Cabin Midosuji Namba ($) – try a modern capsule hotel in Namba. Check Agoda for prices & reviews.
- hotel androoms Osaka Hommachi ($$) – a clean and simple boutique hotel with small modern rooms. Near Hommachi Station. Check Agoda for prices & reviews.
- Nest Hotel Osaka Umeda ($$) – a 3-star hotel with modern guest rooms in Umeda. I like Nest Hotels because I had good experiences staying at Nest Hotels in Okinawa. Check Agoda for prices & reviews.
What to eat in Osaka
Osaka is a food lover’s paradise! Many food stalls and restaurants are in Dōtonbori, Namba, Umeda, and Shinsekai areas, but you can find good food anywhere in the city.
- 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, Japan?
Osaka is one of the best cities to visit in Japan because there are so many things to do. It might be overwhelming as a first-time visitor, so I put together the most comprehensive and easy to follow 2 days Osaka itinerary so you can concentrate on having a good time rather than planning all the details.
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.
Let me know in the comment if you like the recommended places in this Osaka solo travel guide or if you have any suggestions to make this itinerary better.
Thank you for reading my Osaka itinerary
You might also like these other posts on solo travel in Japan:
Introduction to Japan
- Solo Travel to Japan: 17 best cities for solo travellers
- Things I wish I knew before going to Japan
- 11 Off-the-beaten-path places in Japan
- Japanese Food Culture: 11 must-try food
- One month in Japan: from Tokyo to Hiroshima
- Kyoto 2-day itinerary
- Uji day trip from Kyoto
- Nara day trip from Kyoto or Osaka
- Where and What to Eat in Osaka, Japan
- Osaka to Kobe day trip: 1-day itinerary
- Best food in Kobe: Where and What to Eat
- Himeji day trip from Osaka