All it takes is 3 (Autumn) days to fall in love with Osaka

Autumn foliage in Osaka

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Most people liken Osaka to Tokyo with its hustle and bustle and skyscrapers. Osaka’s cultural draw also doesn’t quite shine as bright as Kyoto’s. Still, this second largest city in Japan exudes its own form of individuality – be it in its brilliant history or the culinary scene, Osaka is just waiting to be explored. Also, given that Autumn is just around the corner, here’s how you’ll fall head over heels in love with Osaka in just 72 hours.

Day One

Breakfast set at La Terrasse Cafe et dessert

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Start your day early with a hearty breakfast set at La Terrasse Cafe et dessert. This humble cafe located just outside Umeda Station serves generous portions of breakfast items from 10am. Enjoy Insta-worthy breakfast sets like Eggs Benedict, fluffy pancakes and sandwiches that are sure to fill your tummy up for the jam-packed day ahead (well, till lunch at least!)

Address: Umekita Hiroba B1, 4-1, Ofukacho, Kita-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka, 530-0011
Nearest station: Umeda Station
Opening hours: 10:00am – 10:00pm daily
Phone: +81-6-6485-7788

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Umeda Sky Building

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After filling your stomachs, head over to the Umeda Sky building, one of the top recommended places to visit when you’re in Osaka. Standing tall at 173 metres, this building is just a walking distance away from the cafe and houses a Floating Garden Observatory on the 39th floor. Enjoy landscape views of the city from the observatory’s open-air deck, where walls are made completely out of glass. Definitely not for the ones with a fear of heights!

Address: 1-1-88 Ooyodonaka, Kita-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka
Nearest station: JR Osaka Station
Opening hours: 10:00am – 10:30pm daily
Phone: +81-6-6440-3855

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Kasuga Taisha Shrine

And when you’re done enjoying the views of the city, head on back to your hotel and you’ll be just in time for a Nara Afternoon tour! After your hotel pickup, you’ll be headed for the famous Nara Park, home to UNESCO World Heritage Sites that include Todai-ji Temple and the Kasuga Taisha Shrine. Prepare to be amazed because some of these religious sites were around since the 8th century! Also at Nara Park, you’ll be walking amongst the hundreds of deer that roam freely around, so don’t be shy and say hi!

Todai-ji Temple

Did you know Todai-ji Temple is referred to as one of the world’s largest wooden structures? Learn more about how this iconic symbol played a crucial role during the Nara Period, and also about its main attraction, the 15-meter bronze Great Buddha.

Aerial view of Nara

And at the Nara Nagomikan, Nara’s largest souvenir shop, you’ll be able to shop for cute keepsakes for the ones back home!

Okonomiyaki at Ajinoya Okonomiyaki

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When the tour ends at the Osaka Namba Station, your stomachs will start to growl, obviously hinting that it’s time for dinner. And since you’re in Japan, you really can’t miss out on eating okonomiyaki right?

Take a short walk from the station to Ajinoya Okonomiyaki, the most recommended okonomiyaki restaurant in Namba, mainly due to its great presentation, awesome taste and unique menu options. Good news, the restaurant also offers an English menu, so here’s to an Okonomiyaki feast to end your first day in Osaka!

Address: 1-7-16, Nanba, Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka, 542-0076
Nearest station: Osaka Namba Station
Opening hours: Mondays: 6:00pm – 10:45pm / Tuesdays – Fridays: 12:00pm – 10:45pm / Saturdays, Sundays & Public Holidays: 11:30am – 10:45pm
Phone: +81-6-6211-0713

Day Two

Gyro drop at Universal Studios Japan

And now, welcome day two with a bang by spending your day at Universal Studios Japan! USJ has undoubtedly always been the biggest attraction in Osaka and today, it is home to a handful of parks and rides that cater to both the daredevils and the faint hearted.

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With rides such as Spiderman’s 4K3D and The Flying Dinosaur, you can expect lots of screaming and waving of arms in the air as you take the many thrilling rides.

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Wizarding World of Harry Potter

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The biggest attraction of the park? The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter, of course! No more waiting endlessly at home for that Hogwarts letter that never came because right here, you can witness magic happen right before your eyes and even purchase your own wand!

Pro Tip: USJ actually regulates entry to the Wizarding World Of Harry Potter during peak periods, so purchasing a USJ VIP wristband is a fantastic way to skip the queue and enjoy a hassle-free visit.

Spiderman Ramen at Universal Studios Japan

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And come on, no one wants to get on the rides or yell “Expecto Patronum” on an empty stomach, right? At USJ, there are a wide variety of food options and most offer too-cute-to-eat food that includes Spiderman Instant Noodles and the Minion Pulled Pork Bun and Mochi.

Minion pulled-pork bun

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Minion Mochi

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Good news, most hotels offer shuttle services to USJ! However, if your particular hotel doesn’t, take a train ride and alight at the Universal City Station, on the JR Yumesaki Line.

Pro Tip: The admission crew are REALLY strict on the validity of the tickets so purchasing them via official partners is highly recommended. And navigating through the USJ official website might be a feat considering that their primary language is Japanese, so finding a quality and reliable site is important!
Click here for a fuss-free ticketing experience.

Address: 2 Chome-1-33 Sakurajima, Konohana Ward, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture 554-0031, Japan
Nearest station: Universal City Station
Opening hours: 8:30am – 9:00pm daily
Phone: +81 570-200-606

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And once the sun sets, you’re all ready to welcome Osaka’s nightlife at its most vibrant in Dotonbori. Just a 10-minute walk from the shopping street, this lively part of Osaka consists of huge neon lights and LED displays as well as its bars and restaurants that are enough to offer you a glimpse into the Japanese nightlife.

And for dinner, enjoy a plate of Osaka’s most popular version of the takoyaki (think generous portions and fluffy texture) at the Takoyaki Kukuru.

Dotonburi at night

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As the day filled with screaming, magic and food quickly goes by, your body starts aching and screaming for help and since you’re in the lovely country of Japan, what better way to end the day than to spend it at an onsen?

Ginsen at Arima Onsen Taikounoyu Spa

Soak your poor legs into Arima Onsen Taikounoyu Spa’s large golden and silver springs that are open till 11pm, perfect to end off the day right? The silver springs or the ginsen, contains silky and translucent waters that help accelerate metabolism and stimulate the appetite.

Kinsen at Arima Onsen Taikounoyu Spa

The golden springs, or the kinsen on the other hand, contains dark red waters and are said to be rich in iron, offering benefits such as thermal insulation and moisturising effects.

Fish spa at Arima Onsen Taikounoyu Spa

Arima Onsen Taikounoyu Spa is located in the oldest onsen town in Japan, with Emperors, court nobles and even Samurais coming here, boasting a history of over 1400 years! There are also other facilities that visitors can enjoy such as the fish spa, and sauna.

Sauna at Arima Onsen Taikounoyu Spa

Getting here is simple, with just a 60-minute bus ride away from Osaka. And don’t worry about the bus fares, just purchase the Kansai Thru Pass and you’ll get to enjoy unlimited bus, railways and subway rides!

Address: Arima-onsen, Arimacho, Kita Ward, Kobe, Hyōgo, Japan
Nearest station: Arimaonsen Station
Opening hours: 10:00am – 11:00pm daily
Phone: +81 78 904 0708

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Day Three

Breakfast set at Nadaman

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What better way to start your last day in Osaka than to have a traditional Japanese breakfast? Known as one of the go-to breakfast spots in Osaka, Nadaman serves up breakfast items that will fill the whole table (and your stomach), all in a traditional tatami mat room. The restaurant also boasts its presentation skills, so prepare your cameras before you indulge in your first meal of the day!

Address: 5-3-68 Nakanoshima Kita-Ku | Rihga Royal Hotel B1, Osaka 530-0005, Osaka Prefecture
Nearest station: Nakanoshima Station
Opening hours: 9:30am – 6:00pm daily
Phone: +81 6-6443-7101

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Animal sculptures at Tennoji Park

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When you’re done with breakfast, take a 20-minute train ride from Nakanoshima Station to Tennoji Station and you’ll arrive at the Tennoji Park, Osaka’s only park that has a zoological park and art museum in one. You’ll be greeted with the different (and almost bizarre) animal structures located around the park, obviously directing you to the Tennoji Zoo nearby.

Lake at Tennoji Park

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There is also the art museum, lake and traditional garden in the park that have all seen the likes of cherry blossom lovers during the season. But not to worry, the park is equally beautiful during Autumn with golden hued landscapes all around, so don’t forget to take plenty of pictures!

Address: 1_108 Chausuyamacho, Tennoji-ku, Osaka 543-0063, Osaka Prefecture
Nearest station: Tennoji Station
Opening hours: 7:00am – 10:00pm daily
Phone: +81 6-6771-8401

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Female Lion at Tennoji Zoo

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From Tennoji Park, take a short walk down to the Tennoji Zoo and say hello to the lions, elephants, red pandas, koalas and more! Opened in 1915 and known as the second largest zoo in Japan, the Tennoji Zoo is home to over 300 species of animals, including the one and only Kiwi bird in Japan.

Giraffe at Tennoji Zoo

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The best part? You can have a go at feeding the animals here! Simply purchase a packet of food from the vendors and you’re good to go. The animals here are relatively friendly, so don’t worry, they won’t bite!

Address: 1-108 Chausuyamacho, Tennoji Ward, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture 543-0063, Japan
Nearest station: Tennoji Station
Opening hours: 9:30am – 5:00pm daily
Phone: +81 6-6771-8401

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Dotunburi at night

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Dotunburi at night

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Before you say goodbye to Osaka, spend your last few hours in this amazing city by visiting Dotonbori one more time! Now’s the time to check off the last remaining items from your shopping list. Also, you’re here earlier today as compared to yesterday, so most, if not all of the shops will be open!

Dotunburi at night

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Takoyaki stall at Dotunburi

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Don’t forget to grab yourself a piece of the very famous Pablo Cheese Tart as well! The Pablo store in Dotonbori features an eat-in area unlike the one in Himeji, so you can sit comfortably amidst the cosy ambience of the cafe while savouring the very delicious yet healthy cheese tart. Takeouts are also available so the ones at home aren’t missing out!

Pablo Cheese Tart

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And if you’re still worried about the lack of time, and how navigating through the different variety of shops may take up too much of your time, here’s a detailed map on where to eat, shop and sing (ahem, there’s always time for karaoke!).

Map of Dotunburi

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Address: 2-3-15 Shinsaibashisuji, Chuo-ku, Osaka 542-0085, Osaka Prefecture
Nearest station: Nankai Namba Station
Opening hours: 11:00am – 11:00pm daily
Phone: +81 662110826

Omurice at Hokkyokusei

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As you slowly approach dinnertime, take a short walk down to Hokkyokusei, an omu-rice (a Japanese dish that consists of an omelette that’s filled with rice, alongside variations of meat such as chicken, beef, pork and more), restaurant that was founded in 1922! Considered as one of the founders of the iconic omu-rice, this restaurant serves up hearty portions of the dish and offers a perfect form a comfort food to end the last day of your Osaka trip.

Address: 2-7-27 Nishishinsaibashi, Chuo-ku, Osaka 542-0086, Osaka Prefecture
Nearest station: Nankai Namba Station
Opening hours: 11:30am – 10:00pm daily
Phone: +81 6-6211-7829

It’s love at first sight in Osaka

Osaka clearly isn’t “just like Tokyo”, and with its Autumn beauty, you’re bound to fall in love with this city in no time. Embark on your 3-day Osaka adventure now!

Take me to Osaka!