Usually overshadowed by the bustling Tokyo metropolis or romantic and charming Kyoto, Osaka holds its own as a gourmands’ land. An underrated city that is also known as Japan’s Kitchen, Osaka is undeniably a food lover’s paradise. Dishes such as okonomiyaki, takoyaki, and kitsune udon are adored by many around the world and originated here.

With an extensive history, elaborate shopping districts and Universal Studios, you will be spoiled for choice for things to do in Osaka. 

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1. Food and Shopping: Dotonbori

dotonburi streets of osaka
Image Credit: Ray in Manila | Flickr

Nestled in Namba district or as the locals call it, Minami (South), Dotonbori is a street most popular for food and shopping. This area is a former theater zone that turned into the heart of Osaka’s legendary food culture. People flock nightly to this area for succulent tastes of Osaka’s famous dishes. It is also the place you are most likely to find cheap hotels.

2. Shopping: Umeda (Kita District)

glass building skyscraper in umeda japan
Image Credit: Vulnerant Omnes | Flickr

Umeda is a major shopping, dining, entertainment, and commercial zone with an expansive underground shopping mall. It is one of Osaka’s main city centers (the other being Namba) and a busy transportation hub. 

While there, visit Grand Front Osaka for its modern design and trendy mall. Most noteworthy is Umeda Sky Building, an impressive two-tower building with a floating garden observatory at the top.

3. Seeing the Skyline: Harukas 300 Observatory

glass skyscraper in japan
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Abeno Harukas is Osaka’s tallest building standing at 300 meters with 62 floors. Connected to Kintetsu Osaka Abenoshi station, it features department stores, dining restaurants, an art museum, a floating garden and 2 floors of the Harukas 300 observatory. 

Get your Harukas 300 ticket from Klook which comes with an Osaka Municipal subway and bus pass.

You can now also test your fear of heights at the top of the building with a thrilling Edge of Harukas experience!

4. History and Culture: Osaka Castle

osaka castle in japan
Image Credit: Anthony G. Reyes | Flickr

With a history stemming from the late 1400s, Osaka Castle is considered the symbol of Osaka. The castle is centered in Osaka Castle Park and is a good spot for both being historically cultured and kicking it back with a picnic basket. The castle with its museum, the Osaka Castle Museum, is adorned with a myriad of cherry blossom trees and surrounded by a pool of water.

Gain entry to the Osaka Castle and more with the Osaka Amazing Pass on Klook! This pass entitles holders to discounted entry and free transportation all around the city.

5. Being one with nature: Minoo Park

trees in a park with a bridge
Image Credit: Geoff Whalan | Flickr

Mino Park (alternative spelling Minoo, Minoh) is a quasi-national park popularly known for its waterfall, Mino Falls. The waterfall drops from heights of 33 meters and is 5m wide. The park is one of Japan’s oldest. Located north of Osaka city, this peaceful paradise is 30 minutes away from Umeda.

It’s perfect for a day out with a little bit of hiking involved. To reach the waterfall, you embark on a scenic 3km walk along the river passing the iconic red bridge. The best season to go is in late August when the beauty of the park is enhanced by red maple leaves. It is, however, still beautiful all year round. 

6. Food and Culture: Kuromon Ichiba Market

fresh seafood in market
Image Credit: Waychen c | Flickr

The Kuromon Ichiba market is where you find everything fresh. Starting out as a fresh vegetable, fruits, and seafood bazaar, it now has clothing, electronics and street food stalls amongst others. 

Pop up restaurants and food stands grant the chance for a taste of fresh seafood meals for lunch. The market has been around for about 190 years and it got popular because of top chefs from famous restaurants buying their ingredients here.

For fresh and sumptuous seafood snacks and meals, Kuromon Ichiba is highly recommended. This is a daytime market; opening hours vary between 8:00am and 5:00pm.

7. Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan

blue and red building of aquarium
Image Credit: Clio1789 | Flickr

Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan exhibits over 30,000 marine creatures of 620 different species hence it is considered one of the largest aquariums in the world. This gigantic aquarium houses favorites like whale sharks, dolphins, and penguins. It was voted as Asia’s Best in Tripadvisor Traveller’s Choice Awards. You can get your Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan passes at a discounted price on Klook! It opens from 10 am to 8 pm daily.

8. History and Culture: Sumiyoshi Taisha

red bridge over lake
Image Credit: Aurélien REMOND | Flickr

Sumiyoshi Taisha also called Sumiyoshi Grand Shrine is one of Japan’s oldest Shinto shrines built in the 3rd century. The Shrine is said to protect sailors, travelers, and fishermen while the Taiko-Bashi Bridge serves as a cleanser from impurities and is a great photography spot. It receives about 2 million people annually during the New Year when people come for their first temple visit.

9. Shitennoji Temple

red pagoda in temple
Image Credit: jpellgen (@1179_jp) | Flickr

Shitennoji Temple is a five-storey pagoda temple complex built in 593AD, the first of its kind. The temple is, however, not in its original state and has been rebuilt according to the first design and in Buddhist style. 

Roam the inner grounds, see the four guardian kings and visit the first two floors of the pagoda for free. You can visit the other three floors for ¥300.

10. Theme Park: Universal Studios Japan

crowd at theme park in japan
Image Credit: Andrea Hale | Flickr

And finally, probably the most popular of all Osaka attractions and one of the reasons many tourists find themselves in Osaka. Universal Studios Japan (USJ) offers a variety of thrilling rides inspired by blockbuster movies. 

You must visit the most famous attraction in USJ which is the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Cast some spells and join your favorite House and sip on some delicious Butterbeer!

This article was originally published on Klook.

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