As one of the top destinations to visit, there are so many things to do in Japan. If you have been to Tokyo, Osaka should be next on your list. While Osaka is only a 2.5-hour shinkansen (bullet train) ride from Tokyo, it has a very different personality and vibe compared to Tokyo. Tokyo is polished and pricey, whereas Osaka is the opposite. It is laid back and down to earth. Once the capital of Japan, Osaka is a charming, relaxed city with some history and culture to experience. Also known as the “Nation’s Kitchen”, Osaka is well known for its delicious food. Dotonburi is the most famous food district in Osaka and is a must-visit for foodies. In this article, we share with you the best areas to visit in Osaka and the best Osaka hotels to stay in. A convenient area would be to stay near the Midosuji subway line, as it connects major districts like Namba and Umeda, as well as the Shinkansen bullet train if you wish to explore out of Osaka. You can easily spend a week in Osaka without running out of things to do. Let’s discover where to stay in Osaka and the things to do in Osaka!
This article was last updated on 1 February 2022.
Table of contents:
Where to Stay in Osaka
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Best Places to Stay in Osaka
Southern Central (Minami)
1. Namba & Dotonbori
Both located in the Minami area, Namba and Dotobori are often interchanged as they are geographically interlinked and are go-to places for delicious Japanese food, diverse and affordable shopping options and booming nightlife. Dotonbori one of the most popular areas among tourists which popularized neon lights as an essential Osaka symbol. It is easily accessible from Namba Subway Station (the main transport hub within the Minami district), just a few minutes by foot. You definitely wouldn’t mind hours of walking as shops are within walking distance from one another and the streets are beaming with a local Japanese vibe. For tourists who have only a few days in Osaka, this area is ideal as it offers an authentic Osaka experience without needing to head to other areas.
Things to do in Namba & Dotonbori:
- Explore Dotonburi and take a picture with the Glico Man, the famous giant crab
- Visit the Kuromon Market (Nippombashi) for the ultimate food trip
- Enjoy unlimited yakiniku barbeque and have an authentic Japanese dinner
Where to stay in Namba & Dotonbori: Swissotel Nankai Osaka
If you choose to stay in the Namba area, we greatly recommend spending your vacation in Swissotel mainly because of its excellent location and top-quality hospitality. Its 36 stories include modern rooms and suites with upgraded amenities and access to the Swiss Executive Club Lounge, spa treatments, gym workouts, an indoor pool, Jacuzzi and sauna. Guests are in for a gastronomic treat with 6 dining options to satisfy your varied cuisine cravings.
Located right above Nankai Railway’s Namba train station, it gives guests direct access to Kansai International Airport and a chance to visit other areas outside Osaka like Kyoto, Nara and Kobe.
2. Amerika-mura & Shinsaibashi
Loosely called the “Harajuku of the West”, Amerika-mura is a trendy area in Osaka where the youth hang out. Its name translates to “American Village” because of the presence of local warehouses that sold American goods back in the 70s. It has since become a hub for Japanese arts, fashion and modern culture, as the area is constantly vibrant and teeming with restaurants, fashion brands, music shops and clubs featuring live music from amateur artists. Compared to the mainstream music scene, artists in this area are into “visual kei”, a movement among Japanese musicians wherein they dress up in flashy outfits complete with unique hairstyles and colorful make-up.
Just a three-minute walk away is Shinsaibashi, considered to be the best area for shopping in Namba. Here you’ll find many shopping complexes like the Shinsaibashi Big Step (the largest in the area), Shinsaibashi OPA (a fashion building) and a Daimaru department store. Although it is not one of the areas often recommended for tourists to stay in, its underrated reputation and underground culture should not be missed by young travellers.
Things to do in Amerika-mura & Shinsaibashi:
- Shop til you drop in the many shopping options in Shinsaibashi
- Experience a Michelin-starred meal in Kitamura, known for its wagyu sukiyaki and hot pot
- Hang out in Sankaku Koen, a plaza filled with street performers, fashion shows and young people proudly dressed in their personal eclectic styles
- Party with local youngsters in Rock Rock, Café Absinthe, Bar Nayuta and other cool bars in the area
Where to stay in Amerika-mura & Shinsaibashi: Hotel Nikko Osaka
A tourist favorite in TripAdvisor, Hotel Nikko is a beautifully designed hotel mixing modern architecture with Japanese furnishings and accents. Its high-end services and amenities are akin to international hotel treatment, but done in authentic Japanese hospitality. Inspired by Japan’s gingko trees, its stylish rooms naturally give off a warm and cosy vibes and showcase peaceful views of Osaka Bay and nearby Kobe. Facilities include an indoor pool, gym, numerous beauty salons and 9 restaurants, bars and lounges mostly located in the hotel’s top floors.
Its location is ideal, directly connected to the Metro Shinsaibashi Station and just a walk away from Minami shopping center Daimaru department store right across the hotel. It’s also an easy travel via metro to the popular Umeda and Namda districts.
Northern Central (Kita)
Tourists often compare Umeda and Namba in deciding where it is best to stay in Osaka. To that we answer, it depends on the kind of vacation you’re planning. Two of Osaka’s downtown centers, they are both known for their limitless options of shopping and entertainment. Although Namba is livelier in ambiance, Umeda’s advantage is its stunning city skyline and its convenient location. Apart from dining and shopping, staying in Umeda will give you all the Japanese cosmopolitan feels as you gaze at its many skyscrapers and high-rise buildings. For tourists looking to explore in and out of Osaka, Umeda is the perfect base for you. Umeda Station is Osaka’s main northern railway terminal and most-connected transportation hub, easily connecting you to Kyoto, Nara and other cities in the Kansai region.
Things to do in Umeda:
- Go crazy at the Tenjinbashi-suji shopping street, Osaka’s longest shopping arcade
- Learn about Osaka’s history and see a replica of the Edo era at the Osaka Museum of Housing and Living
- Appreciate Japan’s Buddhist religion through local temples like Joshin-ji and Taiyu-ji
- Devour delicious Japanese seafood in popular izakaya, Isomaru Suisan
- Make your own takoyaki in Tako no Tetsu
- Enjoy majestic views of Osaka from the Umeda Sky Building or aboard the Hep 5 Ferris Wheel if you’re feeling adventurous
- Explore the area’s nightlife by dining and wining in the many restaurants and bars
- Go beyond Osaka and explore the equally charming cities of Kyoto, Nara and Kobe
Where to stay in Umeda: The Ritz Carlton Osaka
Mixing Osaka’s rich history and Umeda’s cosmopolitan city life, the Ritz Carlton is a tourist attraction in itself. Its interiors are designed with European inspiration and its guests are treated with Japanese class. Apart from its lavish rooms and complete facilities, guests also have access to the Club Lounge where they can enjoy 5 exquisite meals throughout the day, a club concierge to serve you, and a complimentary Limo drop-off service in chosen areas. Dining here is a luxury, as its renowned list of restaurants includes Michelin-starred French restaurant, La Baie, Tempura by Hanagatami and many more mouth-watering cuisines.
Getting around is easy as it is located beside the Herbis Osaka business and shopping complex, while the closest train station is only a 7-minute walk away.
Honmachi is one of the major business districts of Osaka, home to regional headquarters of many large-scale banks and corporations. Although it is not typically known for its cultural scene or tourist attractions, you may want to consider it for its central location. At the center of Central Osaka, Honmachi is one of areas the Midosuji Boulevard runs along, connecting the northern (Kita) and southern (Mimasi) areas of the city and making it explore both city centers by foot. It is also one of Osaka’s cheapest neighbourhoods to stay in where you’ll find quaint lodging options and tasty Japanese restaurants still well within your budget.
Things to do in Honmachi:
- Relax at Utsubo-Koen Park, just a short walk from the Honmachi subway station
- Discover the food scene in Central Osaka. Try the Japanese delicacy, unagi (eel) at Yoshitora, the okonomiyaki at Jibundoki, the ramen at Chukasoba Kazura or a Michelin-starred kaiseki meal in Ajikitcho Bunbu-an
- Visit the Osaka Science and Technology Museum
Where to stay in Honmachi: The St. Regis Osaka
One of the more upscale hotels in the Honmachi area, The St. Regis is a sophisticated hotel that promises comfort and class for its guests as they offer butler services for a more personal experience. All 160 rooms are styled with silk beddings and elegant warm wood, and equipped with flat-screen TVs, complimentary WiFi, a mini bar and a bathroom full with designer toiletries. There is also a spa, fitness center, 2 restaurants and a stylish café for hotel guests to enjoy.
Right below the hotel is the Honmachi Subway Station, or you can take a short leisurely walk towards nearby sites like the Osaka Science Museum, Utsubo Park and the Osaka Central Public Hall.
The Nakanoshima landscape is often how Osaka is portrayed in photos, with its skyline of skyscrapers and high-rise buildings amidst blue waters and lush greenery. In this stretch, you’ll find many government buildings (City Hall) and commercial offices (Bank of Japan), as well as cultural attractions like a park, library and art and science museums. Contrary to its high-rise buildings and tourist activities, the vibe is actually calm and relaxing where tourists can tuck away in its quaint cafes or roam the streets in admiration of surrounding modern architectures alongside trees and flowers. This place is ideal for travellers who want to experience Osaka’s beautiful cityscape in the most relaxing way possible.
It is close to multiple railway and subway stations, making it easy to get round and travel between north and south city centers.
Things to do in Nakanoshima:
- Take a break from all bustle of the city and relax in Nakanoshima Park, Osaka’s first ever park, and Nakanoshima Rose Garden, which grows more than 80 kinds of roses
- Learn more about Japan’s history by visiting the Osaka City Central Public Hall and the National Museum of Art
- Gaze over the beautiful Nakanoshima Library, drown yourself in its collection of book or simply take a photo with its European architecture
- Go on a cruise round the Nakanoshima area
- Have sunset drinks or a romantic dinner in Kitahama Terrace overlooking the bay’s beautiful blue sea and city lights
Where to stay in Nakanoshima: Conrad Hotel Osaka
Conrad Hotel is one of the most premium and sophisticated hotels in the whole of Osaka. Its luxury extends to all its rooms blessing guests with panoramic city and ocean views, as well as top-notch amenities like digitally controlled lighting, curtain and temperature settings. Its 5-star services include the Conrad Spa, beauty salon, well-equipped fitness center, a heated indoor swimming pool, 3 restaurants and lounges and a breathtaking Sky Bar.
Located in the highest floors Nakanoshima Festival West Tower, guests are just an elevator ride away from the tower’s shops, restaurants and an art museum, as well as directly connected to a train station.
6. Osaka Bay
Not many know this, but Osaka Bay’s waterfront islands and peninsulas are actually man-made complexes that have been beautifully transformed to house some of Osaka’s hottest attractions. Set along the bay, touring families, couples and groups of friends choose to set up camp in this area because of its aesthetic views of the skyline against blue waters, as well as its proximity to two theme park complexes – Universal Studios and Tempozan Harbour Village. Tempozan Harbour Village includes Osaka’s famous giant Ferris wheel, a market place and Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan, one of the largest museums in the world featuring 30,000 sea creatures from all over the world.
Although it lies outside Central Osaka, public transportation is easily accessible from Osaka Bay through the Chuo Subway Line. Get off the Osakako Station and take a 5-minute walk to Tempoza Harbour Village.
Things to do in Western Osaka:
- Spend a whole day in Universal Studio in Sakurajima Island
- Explore Tempozan Harbour Bay and its many entertainment features – Osaka Aquarium, Tempozan Marketplace and Tempozan Ferris Wheel
Where to stay in Western Osaka: The Quintessa Hotel Osaka Bay
The Quintessa Hotel is one of the 29 partner hotels of Universal Studios, making it an ideal choice for tourists looking to spend most of their vacation exploring theme parks around Osaka Bay. It offers free shuttle rides to both Universal Studios and Osaka Aquarium, as well as to the JR Osaka Station if you decide to venture outside Osaka Bay area.
Start your day with a hearty breakfast buffet to give you energy for the fun day ahead. And after a long day spent lining up for rides and walking through tourist spots, come home to instant relaxation. Have a cup of tea with cake at the Café & Lounge, eat to your heart’s content at Amiable restaurant, or simply melt into the comforts of your bed.
7. Osaka Castle
Eastern Osaka is technically zoned as a separate city where you’ll find the popular Osaka Castle and Osaka Castle Park, a must-see for anyone on a trip to Japan. Often called the tourist heart of city, travellers coming from other parts of Japan often include a few days in Osaka because of this particular cultural attraction. The perfect landscape of the castle’s glistening tower surrounded by blossoming greens is definitely enough for Osaka to earn its reputation as one of the top tourist destinations in Asia, especially during cherry blossom season.
This area is also home to the Osaka Museum of History and the Naniwa-no-Miya Palace Ruins, other sites that will make you appreciate Osaka’s rich history. Another place worth visiting is Tsuruhashi, the largest Korea neighborhood in Japan where you can enjoy authentic Korean food and experience their pop culture without boarding a plane to Korea. Other than these cultural sites, it is known among locals as one of the major residential areas of Osaka where you’ll find many quiet neighborhoods.
Things to do in Eastern Osaka:
- Visit Osaka’s most popular tourist attraction, the Osaka Castle
- Learn more about Osaka’s history in the Museum of History and Palace Ruins
- Admire the beautiful cherry blossoms while you take an afternoon stroll around Sakuranomiya Park, just north of the Osaka Castle
- Go on a food trip in Tsuruhashi Korean town
Where to stay in Eastern Osaka: Hotel New Otani Osaka
Hotel New Otani is a luxury hotel perfectly situated just walking distance away from the Osaka Castle, showcasing beautiful views of its magnificent tower and abundant park lands from hotel windows. It is a good option for solo travellers, couples and families alike as the hotel offers many room options – single, twin, triple and quadruple beds, as well a Japanese-themed Suite, modelled after a traditional Japanese home complete with kotatsus (low wooden tables) and tatami mats. Guests can further immerse themselves in the Japan’s culture as they are given complimentary “Yukata” robes, fine cotton wear and Japanese tea for a relaxing night in true Zen fashion. Guests in deluxe and suite rooms are also entitled to the hotel’s Gold Key Service which offers additional premium amenities like complimentary fitness club access, complementary happy hour drink at the Sky Lounge, express laundry service.
8. Tennoji & Shinsekai
Although Tennoji is not commonly found in Osaka must-see lists, we believe it is well on its way to becoming a tourist district for more reasons than one. First off, it is where you’ll see Japan’s tallest skyscraper, the Abeno Harukas which houses Kinetsu’s flagship department store and the Osaka Marriott Miyako Hotel. Also around the area are seven malls in close proximity, giving tourists a wide range of shopping options. Its commercial atmosphere is well balanced out by a number of cultural sites like the Shitennoji Temple, Tennoji Park, Tennoji Zoo and the Osaka Municipal Museum of Fine Art.
Right beside Tennoji park is a food and entertainment district called Shinsekai, a nostalgic symbol of Osaka’s past. It was built in the early 1900s, drawing inspiration from international cities like Paris and New York and was meant to be a cultural hotspot for enjoyment. Now it is known for its kushikatsu (an Osaka specialty of skewered and battered deep friend food) and the Spa World, a large bathing complex for men and women.
This up-and-coming area is good for people who have already explored most of Osaka’s popular tourist sites and wish to go off the beaten path to discover hidden gems.
Things to do in Southern Osaka:
- Get a spectacular view from Abeno Harukas, the country’s tallest skyscraper
- Enjoy an afternoon spent in the Tennoji Park and Tennoji Zoo
- After exploring the cultural attractions in the area, go on a food trip in Shinsekai and try their famous kushikatsu, or experience a relaxing bath in Spa World
Where to stay in Southern Osaka: Osaka Marriott Miyako Hotel
A clear standout in this area is the Osaka Marriott Miyako Hotel, a 5-star hotel with excellent service and tasteful décor. Throughout the hotel, guests are greeted by jaw-dropping sights of the city as rooms are rooms are decked with floor-to-ceiling windows. From the stylish aesthetics of your own room to the culinary indulgence from the many restaurant choices, you’re sure to feel pampered throughout your stay.
Residing in the 38F to 57F of the Abeno Harukas, it allows its guests easy travelling around the area. It is also connected to the Osaka-Abenobashi train station if you wish to explore other Osaka districts.
We hope that our guide on where to stay in Osaka & the best Osaka hotels has helped you! Please share it with your friends and family. Do also check out our other Osaka reads below!
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