1 Day In Osaka: What To Do, See, And Eat

Osaka should be on every Japan itinerary. While being radically smaller than the popular Tokyo, what Osaka lacks in land size, it makes up for in charm, unexpected local warmth, and incredibly delicious food. This lively and energetic city can keep you busy for months—trust me I lived there for three. But if 1 day in Osaka is all you have, fear not, there is plenty you can fit into it.

Tokyo has its imposing skyscrapers, crowds, and vibrant neon lights, while Kyoto offers gorgeous temples, serene shrines, and a nostalgic old Japan vibe. Then there’s Osaka, with its wildly unique personality and unlimited supply of incredible food.

Seriously, no one prepared me for how cool Osaka is. I know it’s a popular city in Japan, but truly nobody talks about just how unique this city feels, especially after coming here right after Tokyo.

Assuming you are also starting your trip in Tokyo, you will probably be able to recognize the difference between both these cities as soon as you set foot in Osaka.

Osaka is an incredibly lively city, where the locals are unexpectedly warm, curious, and like to laugh out loud.

The streets are alive at all hours of the day, but not in the businessy way that Tokyos are, but in a more casual way, with people always on the hunt for their next great meal, and with locals loudly catching up with friends over sake.

It’s easy to see that food plays an important role in this city, after all, food is what Osaka is known for. There is even a saying that Osaka people eat until they drop. And while yes, food is a main factor while visiting Osaka, there are also beautiful things to see, and unique Osaka things to visit.

So let’s get to it, how to spend 1 day in Osaka, including the main sights to visit, the best foods to eat in Osaka, and the perfect way to finish your day of exploring.

1 Day In Osaka: What do, see, and eat

Breakfast at Cafe Tales

For those of you who, like me, don’t know how to start your day without a real breakfast meal, Cafe Tales is the place for you.

With a very minimalistic menu, you get to choose between savory french toast, accompanied by tasty sausage and a salad, or sweet french toast, with seasonal fruit and handmade whipped cream.

While this Osaka coffee shop is a Colombian specialty coffee shop, the most Osaka element about this place is the people that work there, incredibly friendly and welcoming Osaka people happy to meet new friends from around the world.

As well as the fact that they took one simple dish and perfected it to a T. Their french toast has now set the bar for what a french toast should be in my books!

This was the first coffee shop I walked into when I arrived in Osaka and it immediately became my go-to for the next three months due to both, the irresistible French toast and the incredibly friendly service.

They open from 8 am, so get in there before you start your day of exploring Osaka.

Address: Japan, 〒541-0056 Osaka, Chuo Ward, Kyutaromachi, 2 Chome−5−19, Maruchu 3rd.Bldg., 1階

Visit the historic Osaka Castle

If 1 day in Osaka is all you have, then one thing that you cannot miss in your itinerary is a visit to the iconic Osaka Castle.

To visit the beautiful Osaka Castle, you must make your way to the Morinomiya Station, which will drop you at the park entrance.

If a stop at Cafe Tales didn’t fit into your itinerary, don’t worry, there is a bakery at the entrance of the park as well as a Starbucks, and they both open at 7 am, in case you are more of an early bird.

The walk through the park is quite enjoyable, but the imposing castle is the cherry on top.

The impressive castle and its fortress are some of Japan’s most iconic landmarks, dating back to 1597. Having been rebuilt since then, the castle now houses a museum in its interior, which you can buy tickets for in advance.

However, if all you have is 24 hours in Osaka, I don’t think that going inside the castle is absolutely necessary. The view of the castle from the beautiful gardens that surround it is the main attraction here.

If you do decide to go in you can buy the ticket in advance, or right there at the entrance of the castle, which opens at 9 am.

Lunch at Hiyoko: A local favorite Takoyaki spot

While in Osaka we have to do as locals do, and that means to eat until we drop.

And one of the must-try foods in Osaka is takoyaki, a popular local street food. It consists of cooked dough balls filled with octopus chunks, green onion, and ginger covered in a takoyaki sauce and fish flakes. And trust me, they taste much better than they sound!

You will find no shortage of this dish while strolling around Osaka, but this wouldn’t be my blog without a super specific food rec, and the place that I have for you was recommended to me by a local friend who has been going to this same Takoyaki spot for years; Hiyoko.

Hiyoko is a hole-in-the-wall spot that specializes in this delicious local dish, and one that I visited many times while living in Osaka. So if you are a foodie at heart and want to try high-quality takoyaki make sure to stop by for lunch from 11:30-2:30 pm on weekdays.

Address: Japan, 〒542-0081 Osaka, Chuo Ward, Minamisenba, 2 Chome−10−21 日宝サンキュービル

Walk along the Shinsaibashi-Suji Shopping Street

After lunch make your way to the buzzing Shinsaibaishi-Suji shopping street, which you will particularly enjoy if you are visiting in the summer, as this street is covered and has AC running during those sticky summer months.

Along Shinsaibashi-Suji you will find anything from great shopping options such as the local and popular Onitsuka Tiger, Muji, and Asics, as well as a variety of restaurants, cafes, convenience stores, skincare stores, 24-hour karaokes, the options are endless.

Whatever you need this street will have it. This could also be a good place to find some souvenirs such as affordable quality sunscreens from the local convenience shops, or Ichiran instant ramen to take home as a souvenir.

Explore the lively Dotonbori

If you follow Shinsaibashi-Suji Street south you will arrive at the eccentric and famous Dotonbori district, where you will see exactly what you picture when you think of Osaka; the famous Glico man, the ginormous Don Quijote, flashy restaurants, and the crowds lining up for all kinds of tasty street food.

Crowds and all, exploring Dotonbori is a must if 1 day in Osaka is all you have.

Here you can browse the packed miscellaneous floors of Don Quijote, get some souvenirs from your trip, or even take their Ferris wheel ride, marvel at the highly creative and unique 3D food displays outside of restaurants, eat your body weight in Japanese street food, or even visit one of the many super specific cafes, such as the Shiba Inu cafe.

There are just so many options and little places to get lost in, so make sure to take your time wandering around, you never know what you might find in this eccentric part of Japan.

Shop at Sennichimae Doguyasuji: The Kitchen Street

Once you are done, or overstimulated, from exploring Dotonburi, make your way south to Sennichimae Doguyasuji.

Sennichimae Doguyasuji is a market street where you will be able to find homeware items, and kitchen supplies, perfect for souvenir shopping since you can get yourself beautiful chopsticks, rice bowls, miso soup bowls, and even a takoyaki maker.

One of my favorite shops in this area is the plastic food shop called Food Samples Design Pocket, they create the plastic food replicas that you see outside of restaurants all over Japan, and they also make some practical fake food items such as very realistic-looking sushi pieces on a key chain, sardine earrings and even little breads on an elastic to work as an umbrella charm.

Address: Food Samples Design Pocket 10-11 Nanbasennichimae, Chuo Ward, Osaka, 542-0075, Japan

Mandatory stop for anime fans: Nipponbashi Denden Town

Just a couple of blocks away from the Kitchen Street we have the Akihabara of Osaka; Nipponbashi Denden Town.

Nipponbashi Denden Town is a small—compared to Tokyo’s— area of Osaka packed with high-tech, hobby, video games, anime, and manga shops, with prices that you would never find in North America or Europe.

Here you will also find second-hand shops selling old-school video games and consoles, figurines, old-school posters, merch, and more.

Coffee break at Brooklyn Roasting Company Namba

If you need a little afternoon pick me up after all that walking around, make sure to stop at Brooklyn Roasting Company Namba, one of the best coffee shops in Tokyo and that luckily also offers some locations in Osaka.

Brooklyn Roasting Company is the perfect pit stop for a cup of coffee as is just around the corner from Nipponbashi, and is exactly on the way to our next exciting stop.

If your battery is running low, this place offers plenty of seating space, so you can rest for a little bit before continuing with our itinerary.

Address: 1 Chome-1-21 Shikitsuhigashi, Naniwa Ward, Osaka, 556-0012, Japan

Visit the unique Namba Yasaka Shrine

An unmissable spot while spending 1 day in Osaka is the iconic Namba Yasaka Shrine.

This quirky shrine looks like no other, with a structure in the shape of a lion head—that up until now I thought was a demon—this shrine intensely contrasts all the other delicate and serene shrines you have seen up until now during your Japan trip.

The entrance to the grounds is also completely free, and the area is very small, so it’s a great cultural stop on your itinerary through the city.

The best dinner you will have at Niigata Katsudon

After visiting the Namba Yasaka Shrine, slowly return to Shinsaibashi for dinner at Niigata Katsudon, one of my favorite things to eat in Osaka, and one of my favorite things I ate in Japan, period.

It might seem counterintuitive to go back north, but walking around Osaka’s small pedestrian-friendly streets is part of the experience, especially at night when the city comes alive with friends heading out to dinner together and businessmen piling into the bars.

Besides, once you arrive at Niigata Katsudon you will see it is absolutely worth it to retrace your steps to Shinsaibashi.

The menu at Niigata Katsudon consists of different meal sets of breaded fried things over rice, with the popular choice —and my favorite— being the breaded lean pork. It comes with a tasty miso soup, a surprisingly flavorful little side salad, and unlimited tea. All for less than 15 USD.

The breaded pork is dipped into the tonkatsu sauce and then placed on top of the rice bowl so the rice absorbs a bit of the magical sauce as well. It is simply incredible!

I had different groups of friends and family visit us in Osaka and most of them agreed this was the best thing they ate during the trip, so I would highly HIGHLY recommend you to not miss this life-changing meal!

Address: 1 Chome-2-25 Shinsaibashisuji, Chuo Ward, Osaka, 542-0085, Japan

Finish the perfect 1 day in Osaka at a local sake bar

The Shinsaibashi area is packed with some of the best bars in Osaka, but to keep things simple and authentic we are heading to a hidden sake bar, Sake Ichiro.

This unassuming sake bar is tucked away on the third floor of a building behind a nameless door, so really, you would never come across this place if you are not actively looking for it.

The bar is snug as Japanese bars are, but there’s a decent amount of stools at the bar and even a small four-seating table at the back.

The food menu is all in Japanese, so we just saw what other people ordered and pointed at their plates to request food, and the sake ordering part was made a little bit easier by an English chart that explains the different sake flavor profiles.

The bartender doesn’t speak much English but the service is still warm and friendly, the perfect spot to finish your 1 day in Osaka surrounded by the Osaka essence, good food, good drinks, and friendly people.

Address: Japan, 〒542-0083 Osaka, Chuo Ward, Higashishinsaibashi, 2 Chome−7−12 ホワイトビル 302

Known for its incredible culinary scene, its loud and eccentric vibe, and its unique city highlights, Osaka is a fantastic city to experience a whole other side of Japan that you would not get by only visiting Tokyo.

I hope this itinerary helps you squeeze in the best of the city if 1 day in Osaka is all you have time for.

Happy travels!

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