Edited by Emma White
Famous for its fantastic food scene, vibrant nightlife, friendly locals, and bright city lights, Osaka is one of the best and most exciting places to visit in Japan. With so much to see and do in Osaka, it can be tricky to narrow down which sights to visit and how to best fill your time during your stay, especially for first-time visitors. Never been to Osaka but planning to go? Check out this Osaka travel guide for the top things to do in Osaka for first-time visitors. Discover the city’s best tourist attractions and activities as well as a few hidden gems and some local hot spots off the beaten path. See the best of Osaka with this Osaka trip itinerary and get to know the city like a local!
Visiting the Dotonbori district is an absolute must see for first time visitors to Osaka. This lively entertainment hub is Osaka’s beating heart and a place that encapsulates the city’s personality and spirit. Famous for its blinding neon lights, animatronic signage and its eclectic mix of different shops, restaurants and bars, Dotonbori is home to a never-ending party of busy tourists, curious crowds and frantic groups of merry locals letting their hair down at the end of a long of hard work. Be sure to take your time when exploring this animated district. Sample the local street food, check out the cool and quirky shops and admire the extravagant styles of the locals that pass you by. For those looking for things to do at night in Osaka, Dotonbori is a great place to start. It’s well-known and loved for having some of the best nightlife in the whole city with locals and visitors gathering together once the sun goes down to eat, drink, sing karaoke and party into the early hours of the morning. And don’t leave Dotonbori without going to the Ebisubashi Bridge to take that all important photo of the iconic LED Glico Man!
Discover Otaku culture
Den Den Town, or Nipponbashi, is a lively part of town tucked away in a small corner of southern Osaka famous for its display of Japanese otaku culture. This entertainment hotspot is home to an array of unique stores selling and showcasing anime and manga memorabilia as well as many electronic shops and other gaming stores. This place is heaven on earth for all anime-lovers and cosplay enthusiasts out there! With so much to see and do you you’ll be able to spend hours geeking out and delving deep into the world of Japan’s world famous animation phenomenon. This truly is one the most unique things to do in Osaka and must see for first time visitors to the city.
Sample the local street food
An essential part of Osaka culture is food! Osaka boasts a wide range of amazing restaurants serving both international food and traditional Japanese dishes, but it must be said that the star of the show is Osaka’s street food. From crispy deep fried dumplings to Japanese-style pizzas and juicy skewered meats, Osaka’s street food will have foodies from around the world licking their lips. There are countless street foods stores throughout the city waiting to welcome you in for a quick bite to eat. Try Osaka’s famous savoury pancake, okonomiyaki, made with flour, eggs, shredded cabbage and finished off with your choice of toppings and condiments. Try it at Chibo in Dotonbori, where you can watch the chefs cook your Okonomiyaki right in front of you. Stick to classic toppings like pork belly or experiment with crazy combinations like kimchi and cheese! Takoyaki, deep fried balls typically filled with octopus, and yakitori, grilled chicken skewers, are both also very popular street foods in Osaka. Many of these dishes actually originated in Osaka and form an important part of the city’s food culture. Be sure to give everything a try, you won’t regret it! Tip: Most eateries don’t take card so having cash is essential.
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