Osaka…a city I didn’t really know what to expect from before we visited Japan. Would it be a city like Tokyo, or something different altogether? Once we started doing our research we realized two things; first, it’s a great base to explore the Kansai region and second, it is a city known for its FOOD. Every YouTube video or blog about Osaka is about food in its many forms: street food, high end restaurants, fresh sea food and local specialties. Osaka, really a city where foodie dreams come true….
We used Osaka mainly as a base to travel to other cities such as Nara and Himeji, so we explored the city mainly in the afternoon when returning from our day activities. Our airbnb was located near Namba, which was a perfect location and walking distance to most bars – which is necessary when there is no public transportation after midnight!
What not to miss in Osaka!
Dotonbori: Dotonbori is probably the most well known street in Osaka, famous for it’s blown-up restaurant signs of various foods & people, it is colourful, loud, full of people and lined with restaurants. Read about my Dotonbori foodie adventure in this post.
Street food/markets: Osaka also has a few really good food markets, where you can taste some specialties such as Kobe beef and o-toro – the softest and most fatty part of the tuna.
- Osaka Fish Market – a great place to try super fresh sushi and sashimi! I’m sad I did not have a chance to visit, but heard from locals it’s easier to access than Tokyo’s market and less crowded as well!
- Dotonbori – So many stalls along the street selling food, if you have limited time in Osaka, definitely a good place to go.
- Kuromon Ichiba Market: we visited this market during our last morning in Osaka. We had super fresh o-toro (fatty tuna) for breakfast, and it was so soft and delicious! It really melted away in my mouth! When I return to Osaka I will definitely return here and try more of the different foods!
Cinquecentro – our favorite bar in Osaka: I visited this bar three times in a the five days we were in Osaka. The people that work at the bar are AMAZING, really super friendly and real! The vibe is relaxed and fun and it’s easy to get into contact with other guests. One big benefit…everything (cocktails/food/etc.) is 500 yen, which translates to €4.16 (!!). Needless to say, I usually left this bar in a merry mood….
Day trips from Osaka: Osaka is centrally located in the Kansai area and has great rail connections to many places in the area. We used it as a base to explore the cities and towns around Osaka during the day, and exploring Osaka in the evening.
- Himeji Castle: A beautiful white castle from 1333, which is still in it’s original state! We visited in an afternoon, and it is absolutely worth a visit! You can combine it with a visit to Kobe, it’s on the same bullet-train route!
- Nara: Only a 30/40 train ride away, Nara is a beautiful town with a eight temples and shrines and a big park filled with around 1200 deer. If you have time, this is a real recommendation – small enough to walk through, beautiful temples and cute deer you can pet & feed (only with deer crackers please!). Read more about our fun day trip to Nara here!
- Kobe: Due to time constraints we did not visit Kobe, which was a pity. I read about beautiful views, great food and great sake! Maybe you can visit Himeji early in the day and spend the afternoon & evening in Kobe.
- Kyoto: we stayed in Kyoto for a few days, but day trips from Osaka are very easy. Local trains run frequently between the two cities, and it only takes 30 minutes. Blog post about Kyoto soon to follow!
Universal Studios Japan: After visiting so many temples, we needed some time immersing ourselves in a different world. Universal Studios Japan during Halloween really allowed us to do just that! about 60% of the visitors were in costume, which really added to the atmosphere. We bought a fast-pass…expensive but really worth it! The Harry Potter ride is my favorite ride of all times…and even if you’re not a HP fan, worth the wait! Publishing a post about our visit to USJ soon!
Sushi: If you visit Japan, I am sure that you will have sushi at some point during your journey! However, I read so many good reviews for sushi restaurants in Osaka, I think it offers a wide variety of price levels to enjoy sushi. We visited Kura sushi which was great & cheap, but also saw restaurants where you would not spend less than €200. Also read great reviews for Endo sushi, which is a restaurant next to the fish market. Read more about our first conveyor belt sushi experience here!
There is still so much more to explore in Osaka itself – the castle, the many temples and shrines, beautiful city views, which I hope to visit next time!
Let me know what you think of my first ‘city guide’ type blog post! If you enjoyed it, please share!