On my first visit to Osaka I lined up a walking tour so I could better understand Japan’s second-largest city. Although I had good intentions, I went to the wrong train station and missed meeting up with the group for the tour. This resulted in my idiot’s guide to Osaka, a comical take from the misinformed. With my recent return to Osaka, I got to right some wrongs. This is my three days in Osaka itinerary including my take on what they see, do, eat and drink.
What Is There to See in Osaka?
From restaurants featuring moving signage to Japan’s favourite castle, there is no shortage of things to see with three days in Osaka. Here are a few of my favourites.
Shinsaibashi-Suji Shopping Street
Osaka’s covered shopping street stretches 600 meters and dates back 380+ years. It features countless cosmetic, pharmaceutical, and duty-free shops as well as flagship stores from big brands. This popular strip is jammed with both locals and tourists and is great for people watching and discount shopping.
For a uniquely Japanese experience head into a department store and head to the grocery area. On display, you will find beautifully packaged strawberries and melons at astronomical prices.
What makes this sign so popular? Glico is a household name in Japan and dates back to 1921 with the introduction of a caramel that was marketed as an energy booster. On the box, the Glico Man crossing a finish line. Although today Glico is known for the incredibly popular Pocky, the Glico Man sign is a homage to the company’s past and has stood proud since 1935.
Arguably Japan’s most recognizable castle, the 16th-century palace is a must-see if spending three days in Osaka or just passing through.
Surrounded by 15 acres of greenery with a walled moat, visiting the Osaka Castle grounds is, in my opinion, the best part.
Entrance to the castle costs 600 yen and features a museum as well as an observation deck. Interestingly, unlike the Umeda Sky Building as I wrongly stated in my idiot’s guide to Osaka, the Osaka Castle WAS destroyed by Godzilla in the 1951 film, Godzilla Raids Again!
Last up on what to see with three days in Osaka is the incredibly retro Tsūtenkaku Tower.
This locally loved landmark is known as the “tower reaching heaven“ and rises 130 m in the air. It features an observation deck and was once the second tallest building in all of Asia! Be sure to visit at night when the tower (and the area) comes to life. There’s no shortage of great (and cheap restaurants) in the area including a sushi restaurant that is as fun as it is delicious.
What Is There to Do in Osaka?
Osaka is so much more than massive neon signs and tax-free shopping. From building your own Cup Noodles to riding an escalator in the sky, there is plenty of unique activities to do in Osaka.
Ride an Escalator in the Sky – Umeda Sky Building
On my first visit to Osaka, I only saw the Umeda Sky Building from a distance. I determined it was the result of a Godzilla battle where the middle was punched out. On my three days in Osaka return, I was able to visit the tower and its incredible observation deck. Spoiler, a run-in with a giant lizard is not to blame for its unique design.
Turns out the Sky Building was the result of a vision of a city in the air with several towers connecting at the top. The economic downturn in the ’80s limited this vision to just two towers but don’t let that deter you, the escalators in the sky connecting them is not to be missed. The view from the floating garden observatory is also amazing.
Go to a Baseball Game
Japan loves them some baseball. This is evident in the fever pitch and electric atmosphere you can only find at a baseball game in Japan. If you have three days in Osaka I highly recommend catching a game and experiencing it for yourself!
Osaka has two teams, the Orix Buffaloes and the Hanshin Tigers. With my three days in Osaka, I chose to go to the historic Koshien Stadium and watch the Tigers take on the Hiroshima Carps.
Getting tickets the baseball game is comical as the official site does not translate, rather provide instructions on how to muddle your way through the booking process in Japanese. I will be posting a full write up and how-to on this experience shortly!
Build Your Own Instant Ramen
Being a foodie town it shouldn’t come as a surprise that instant ramen originated from the Osaka area. You can learn all about it at the Cup Noodles Museum Osaka in Ikeda. There you can walk through the history of Cup Noodle and even craft your own creation!
READ MORE: Visiting the Cup Noodles Museum in Osaka
Take a Cooking Class
It’s one thing to try all the awesome food Osaka has to offer. It’s another to learn how to make it. Eat Osaka offers fun cooking classes featuring Osaka’s best-known dishes like Okonomiyaki and Udon noodles. I took the Japanese street food class and highly recommend!
READ MORE: Eat Osaka Cooking Class Review
Play Retro-Video Games at a Bar
There are plenty of arcades throughout Osaka but Space Station takes the nerdy cake. This PC and retro video game bar has an endless selection of Nintendo and Sega video games for you to play while enjoying an Asahi or two. Who doesn’t like nostalgia over cocktails?
What Should I Eat & Drink in Osaka?
Osaka is known as Japan’s kitchen. As such, there is no shortage of restaurants and dishes to try on the cheap. So much so that I wrote a dedicated post on my favourite Osaka eats and where to find them. Be sure to check out that post before tucking into this foodie town!
Here’s a quick rundown of my favourite dishes:
- TAKOYAKI – Gooey balls with an octopus centre.
- OKONOMIYAKI – Savoury Japanese pancake that is made at your table!
- KUSHIKATSU – Battered and fried food on a stick. What’s not to love?
- WAYGU BEEF – marbled beef that melts in your mouth!
- SOUFFLÉ PANCAKES – They take 20-minutes to make but worth the wait!
READ MORE: My Favourite Osaka Eats and Where to Find Them
A big part of Osaka’s food culture is the drinks served with the dish. Kushikatsu, for example, comes on a stick so you can easily drink a beer with it. Although you can find self-pouring Asahi pretty much everywhere, there is some craft beer in Osaka.
Locally made and loved Minoh Beer is available at many bars and restaurants around town. To sample it from the source, head to Beer Belly brewpub. I recommend the Tenma location as the area known for its nightlife and bar hopping. You can also get really good Okonomiyaki there.
Japan takes its Whisky seriously. As such, they produce some of the best in the world and consistently take home international awards. I had some amazing Nikka Whisky at Bar Country and can recommend it for the selection and adorable lifetime bartender!
Best of Both World’s – Osaka Bar Hopping Food Tour
If you’re looking for a fun night out experiencing Osaka‘s food and drink culture you should take a food tour! I had a great night out with Magical Trip on their Osaka Bar Hopping Night Food Tour and highly recommend it! It’s a great way to get a local’s take on Osaka culture as well as meet new friends and try all the things!
Where Should I Stay in Osaka?
Ready to book your 3 days in Osaka? Check out my choice hotels listed by cost. And yes, I have stayed at all of these recommendations over the last few years!
$$$ – The Bridge Hotel Shinsaibashi
Modern rooms in Nishishinsaibashi. It has a cute rooftop terrace and free massage chairs in the lobby. There is also free Ramen, dumplings, and booze during happy hour!
$$ – Best Western Hotel Fino Osaka
Traditional rooms with included breakfast. It’s steps from the Nagahoribashi metro station and, even better, next to a 7-11!
$ – Osaka Hana Hostel
Basic dorm and private rooms located steps from Shinsaibashi shopping street. Also includes free Japanese treats on check-in!
Three Days in Osaka – Bring Your Buffet Pants
Are you full up on Osaka yet? No doubt the area’s food comes first but as I found on my three days in Osaka, there’s so much more to the city than its tasty, tasty, eats. With a better understanding of Osaka, I can now claim it as my favourite city in Japan. It’s definitely a place I will always return to for seconds!Ready to tuck into this foodie town? Compare prices on flights to Osaka with Skyscanner!
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