12 Hours in Osaka: What to See and Do


After Tokyo, Osaka is the third-largest city in Japan, dripping in rich history and boasting vibrant culture. It is no surprise Osaka is one of the most visited tourist destinations in Asia as the city offers visitors a wide range of attractions.

A city of both modernity and antiquity: Osaka’s history dates to the mythological days of the Japanese Empire whilst modern-day Osaka is said to be Japan’s most modern city, flaunting its futuristic skyline and impressive contemporary architecture. Have a read of our rundown, highlighting the top attractions to see and do on your trip to Osaka.

Osaka Castle and Osaka Castle Park

Osaka Castle

Among the most famous landmarks in the city, as well as in Japan, is Osaka Castle. The current castle is a mix of reconstructed and restored elements with pieces of the original building standing behind the walls and gates. Even if you’re visiting the city for a few days, this is a site you don’t want to miss.

Osaka Castle played a vital role in Japanese history as it ensured the unification of Japan during the 16th century. The castle houses a Japanese history museum, offering you the perfect place to learn about the Azuchi-Momoyama and Edo periods of Japan’s past.

Situated on the lovely public park grounds of Osaka Castle Park, thousands of trees, including hundreds of cherry blossoms, surround the castle. Osaka Castle Park is the second-largest urban park in the city and occupies a large proportion of Osaka’s city centre.

Tempozan Ferris Wheel

Tempozan Ferris Wheel

Grab your camera and hop on the Tempozan Ferris Wheel for the best views over Osaka. Dominating the Tempozan Harbour Village at 112.5 metres high and 100 metres wide, this Ferris wheel is one of the largest in Asia!

Cruise1st Tip: Take an evening ride when the wheel is illuminated in a spectrum of colours that change with the weather.

Hozenji Yokocho

Hozenji Yokocho

Just a stone’s throw away from the hustle and bustle of Osaka’s main shopping district, you’ll find Hozenji Yokocho. This narrow, stone-paved alleyway was preserved in the style of 17th to 19th-century Imperial Japan.

Lined with traditional food stalls and izakayas (Japanese taverns), Hozenji Yokocho transports you to the past and allows you to experience the sights and sounds of the Edo period.

Sumiyoshi-taisha (Sumiyoshi Grand Shrine)

Sumiyoshi-taisha Shrine

Osaka is overflowing with Buddhist shrines, but Sumiyoshi-taisha is one of the city’s most unique. Surrounded by beautiful grounds and breathtaking natural scenery, the shrine is truly magnificent.

Predating the spread of Buddhism throughout Japan, the shrine honours Shinto, Japan’s indigenous religion. Of all Sumiyoshi shrines in the country, many regard Sumiyoshi-taisha as the main shine.

Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan

Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan

The Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan, one of the most expansive public aquariums in the world, is home to a colossal collection of aquatic life. Located near Osaka Bay, exhibits showcase marine life from the Arctic to the tropics.

Follow the spiral design of the aquarium and dive deeper as you explore each floor. Starting at the top floor of the aquarium, you’ll find animals that live on the shore, such as sea otters, seals, and penguins. Work your way deeper underwater, and you’ll encounter whale sharks, stingrays, and other fish and marine life. Once you make it to the ground floor, the touch tanks will allow you to pet some of the marine animals!

Umeda Sky Building

Umeda Sky Building

As one of Osaka’s most recognisable landmarks, the Umeda Sky Building attracts thousands of visitors every year. The striking modern landmark consists of two 40-storey office towers with a wide atrium uniting the top storeys. The atrium features a network of bridges and an escalator that allow for passage between the two towers.

Are you ready to explore the history, beauty, and splendour of Osaka? Check out our selection of cruise deals taking you to Japan. Alternatively, ring our friendly Australia-based cruise experts on 1300 857 345 for more information.

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