During my first trip to Japan, I began my journey in Osaka.

This city is a must-visit if you plan on following Japan’s golden route, which passes through many of the country’s top destinations like Tokyo, Mount Fuji, Nagoya & Kyoto. I decided to maximize my itinerary by arriving at Kansai Airport (near Osaka) and flying out from Tokyo.

Osaka is famous for its exciting shopping districts and much sought after street food like Takoyaki and Okonomiyaki. It’s also the perfect base to explore nearby tourist spots in the Kansai region like Kyoto, Nara, Kobe & Himeji.

Of course, the best highlight of the trip to Osaka for Happy Potter fans is enjoying a view of Hogwarts Castle while sipping a mug of Butter Beer, at Universal Studios Japan.

Traveling to Osaka for the first time? Scroll down to get started on planning your trip. I’ve included a sample itinerary, places to visit/things to do, list of expenses/budget breakdown and extra travel tips.

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Osaka Itinerary

What to do in Osaka in 4 days? Here’s a 4 days & 3 nights (4D3N) itinerary for your do-it-yourself (DIY) trip. This itinerary will take you to Universal Studios Japan and top attractions in Osaka, as well as side trips to nearby destinations such as Nara, Kobe & Himeji.

Feel free to tweak the activities & timings below based on your traveling style, schedule & attractions that interest you the most.

Day 1: Osaka Arrival

Time Activity

Flight to Osaka

Arrive at Kansai International Aiport (KIX). Claim tours, passes & tickets booked online.

0805 PM

Osaka-KIX airport to Osaka city center/hotel transfer

Osaka hotel check-in

Cheapest ratesBest reviews

Day 2: Universal Studios & Osaka City

Time Activity
0830 AM

Osaka Castle

1000 AM

Universal Studios Japan

Umeda Sky Building

Help Five Ferris Wheel

Day 3: Osaka & Beyond

Time Activity
0800 AM

Osaka to Himeji train

Himeji Castle

Kobe Beef food trip

Harukas 300 Observatory

Start Dotonbori walking tour

Shinsaibashi Shopping Arcade

Hozenji Temple and Hozenji Yokocho

Kuromon Market & Dotonbori street food trip. Must try Takuyaki & Okonomiyaki.

Dotonbori Glico Sign, Ebisu Bridge & Tombori River

Dotonbori Gate (along Midosuji Street, near Yoshinoya)

Day 4: Osaka & Beyond

Time Activity

Osaka to Nara train

Start Nara sightseeing

Nara Park

Nara temples & UNESCO World Heritage sites

Train back to Osaka or onward to Kyoto

Osaka Budget

Your travel expenses will largely depend on your traveling style and how much you plan to spend on activities, accommodations & food. To help you set your own budget, here are budget estimates if you follow the 4 days and 3 nights (4D3N) itinerary posted above. Make sure to review all discounts & online booking prices.

Transport expenses breakdown
JPY 6,300 JR West Kansai Pass — Per person discount price online. Includes 4 days unlimited rides on JR trains in West Kansai area. Covers Kansai Airport-Osaka City Center train, JR trains within Osaka & JR trains to/from Kyoto, Nara & Himeji.Book here
Activities/attraction costs breakdown
JPY 7,400 Universal Studios Japan — Per person discount price online. Includes 1-day admission ticket/entrance fee. Must book this early to grab cheaper price online, at least 2 weeks ahead of travel date.Book discount here
JPY 600 Osaka Castle — Admission ticket/entrance fee per person.
JPY 1,500 Umeda Sky Building — Admission ticket/entrance fee per person.
JPY 600 HEP FIVE Ferris Wheel — Admission ticket/entrance fee per person.
JPY 1,248 Harukas 300 Observatory — Per person discount price online. Includes Admission ticket/entrance fee.Book discount here
Budget Trip – Backpacker expenses
JPY 6,300 Transport — Airport train & selected trains in Osaka-Kansai area
JPY 7,500 Accommodations — JPY 2,500 per night in a budget hostel dorm/bed x 3 nights
JPY 10,000 Food — JPY 2,500 per day inexpensive meals budget x 4 days.
JPY 23,800 Sub-total — Excluding attractions/activities & flights. Including accommodations, food & transport. Approximately PHP 11,424 / USD 214 / SGD 286. Or, a daily budget of JPY 1,700 / PHP 816 / USD 15 / SGD 20.
JPY 11,348 Activities — Admission tickets/entrance fee on selected activities above.
JPY 35,148 Total — Including activities & 4 days expenses above. Approximately PHP 16,871 / USD 316 / SGD 422. Or, a daily budget of JPY 2,511 / PHP 1,205 / USD 23 / SGD 30.

I’ve included backpacker budget estimates for food & accommodations to give you an idea of how cheaply you can do the trip. If you have money to splurge on hotels, food, and luxuries, simply use the expenses posted to calculate your own budget.

Other expenses
JPY 1,067 Japan local SIM card — 1GB data for 6 daysBook discount here
JPY 500 Japan pocket WIFI hotspot — Per day device rental.Book discount here
Japan travel insuranceBook online

Osaka Itineraries & Travel Blogs

More travel tips coming once the detailed Osaka travel guide is out. In the meantime, feel free to check out my Pinterest board and list of helpful Osaka travel blogs below for inspiration.

Follow updates on Pinterest@detourista.

1 Day

What to do in Osaka in 1 day (24 hours or less).

Visit One Day in Osaka, Japan: A Complete Itinerary – Treksplorer
Visit 5 Places to Visit If You Only Have 1 Day in Osaka – Yoga Wine Travel
Visit One-Day Suggested Osaka Itinerary: Osaka Castle and Dontonburi – Missus Chewy
Visit One-Day Itinerary: Osaka, Japan – Foodicles

2 Days

What to do in Osaka in 2 days (48 hours or less).

Visit Osaka: a 2-days itinerary with an Osaka Amazing Pass – Miss HappyFeet
Visit Osaka travel guide (2 days budget + itinerary – The Pinay Solo Backpacker

3 Days

What to do in Osaka in 3 days.

Visit 3 days in Osaka Itinerary: Complete Guide + Nara Day Trip– The Invisible Tourist
Visit The Only Osaka Itinerary You’re Ever Going to Need – Leave Your Daily Hell
Visit Osaka itinerary 3 days — What to do in Osaka for 3 days? – Living Nomads

4 Days

What to do in Osaka in 4 days.

Visit A 4 Day Osaka Itinerary – You Could Travel
Visit Osaka and Kyoto: Budget Travel Guide – The Poor Traveler

5 Days

What to do in Osaka in 5 days.

Visit 5 Days Easy Relaxing Osaka Itinerary – Goldilocks Lifestyle Travel
Visit Kansai: See the Best of Japan in 5 Days With This Itinerary– Wee Gypsy Girl

6 Days

What to do in Osaka in 6 days.

Visit 6 Day Osaka Itinerary for First Time Visitors – Life As An Aussie
Visit My 6 Days 5 Nights Osaka, Kyoto and Tokyo Trip Itinerary – Symphony of Love
Visit The Only 7D6N Tokyo-Osaka-Kyoto Itinerary You’ll Need For Your Japan Trip – Have Halal Will Travel

1 Week

What to do in Osaka in 1 week (7 days or more).

Visit The Budget Traveller’s Guide to One Week in Osaka – Konnichiwa Japan
Visit 7 Days Suggested Itinerary in Kansai region (Kyoto, Osaka, Nara, Kobe, etc), Japan – Japan Wonder Travel Blog
Visit The Perfect 7 Day Itinerary for Osaka, Kyoto, Nara and Hiroshima, Japan – The Atlas Edit
Visit The Perfect Itinerary for Osaka and Kyoto – Kansai Travel Guide – iWandered

Don’t Stop Here

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Check out these pages for more travel inspiration beyond Osaka: