If you’re planning an Osaka family trip and wondering what the best things to do in Osaka with kids are, then you’re going to love this Osaka with children travel guide. This guide covers some of the best Osaka attractions for kids, so you can determine what’s on your Osaka must see list.
In this Osaka for families guide, I cover off on not only what to do in Osaka with kids but also provide practical information such as locations, opening times and ticket pricing to make planning the places to visit in Osaka so much easier.
As well as listing all the best things to do in Osaka with family, this guide will cover getting to Osaka, how best to travel around the city and some tips on the best place to stay in Osaka for family.
This post may contain compensated links. Please refer to my disclaimer here for more information.
- 1 The Best Things to do in Osaka with Kids
- 1.1 Umeda Sky Building
- 1.2 Tenjinbashi suji Shopping Street
- 1.3 HEP Five Ferris Wheel
- 1.4 Go Karting
- 1.5 Osaka Science Museum
- 1.6 Osaka Museum of Housing and Living
- 1.7 Kids Plaza Osaka
- 1.8 Osaka Castle
- 1.9 See the Gigantic Billboards in Dotonbori
- 1.10 Hozenji-Yokocho and Hozenji Temple
- 1.11 Shinsaibashi Shopping Arcade
- 1.12 Tombori River Cruise
- 1.13 Tombori Riverwalk
- 1.14 Ebisu Tower Ferris Wheel
- 1.15 Round 1 Stadium
- 1.16 Kuromona Market
- 1.17 Spa World
- 1.18 Tsutenkaku Tower
- 1.19 Tennoji Zoo
- 1.20 Shitennoji Temple
- 1.21 LEGOLAND Discovery Centre
- 1.22 Osaka Aquarium
- 1.23 Tempozan Ferris Wheel
- 1.24 Universal Studios
- 1.25 Harukas 300 Observatory
- 1.26 Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine
- 1.27 Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum
- 1.28 Children’s Museum BIG BANG
- 2 Day Trips from Osaka
- 3 Where to Stay in Osaka: Best Place to Stay in Osaka for Family
- 4 Getting to Osaka
- 6 Getting Around Osaka
- 7 Stay Connected with Pocket Wi-Fi
- 8 Our Verdict
If you’re taking the kids to Japan – click here to see our super-detailed Japan Itinerary with Kids.
The Best Things to do in Osaka with Kids
Throughout this section I have provided a comprehensive guide to all the top things to do in Osaka, Japan. I have tried to provide as much information as possible to make your planning easier, including locations, opening hours and ticket prices.
You will note that for many of the Osaka tourist attractions I often recommend that you purchase your tickets in advance from Klook. Yes, I will receive a small commission if you do purchase from these sites, but as you will see, in most cases, you will save yourself quite a bit of cash in doing so. Other times the price may be the same, but you will save time by not having to line up for tickets. Plus with Klook you earn credit points that you can cash in for even bigger discounts. I regularly use Klook myself to book tickets for our travels around the world.
Please note that all prices mentioned were correct at the time of writing and may fluctuate depending upon changes to currency conversion and rate increases. To check the rate in your local currency, click here.
Umeda Sky Building
If you’re looking for things to do in Umeda, go check out the amazing Umeda Sky Building. At 173 metres, the Umeda Sky Building is one of the tallest buildings in Osaka and with its unusual shape and design is also one of the most recognisable buildings in the city.
The Umeda Sky Building consists of two 40 storey towers that are connected by the Floating Garden Observatory on the 39th floor. The observatory provides great views of Osaka sights across the city through its windows and open-air deck.
Location: 1 Chome-1-８７ Oyodonaka, Kita Ward
Opening Hours: Daily from 9.30am to 10.30pm (last admission 10pm)
Price: ¥1500 (approx. $17 AUD) adult | ¥700 yen (approx. $8 AUD) child (4-12) | Under 4s are free – Click here to book tickets online
Tenjinbashi suji Shopping Street
If you’re a family who loves to shop, then pop Tenjinbashi suji on your Osaka things to do list– one of the longest shopping arcades in all of Japan. The arcade runs for 2.6 km starting at Tenjimbashi-suji Rokuchome Subway Station and leading south until close to the Tenjinbashi Bridge. This undercover arcade has around 800 stores and places to eat.
Also in the area, you will find the Osaka Tenmangu Shrine as well as a bustling nightlife.
Location: Tenjinbashi, Kita Ward
Opening Hours: Daily 10am to 9pm
Price: Free to window shop
HEP Five Ferris Wheel
One of the fun things to do in Osaka with the kids is to ride one of the many Ferris Wheels in the city. One of the most iconic Ferris Wheels in Umeda is the giant HEP Five Ferris Wheel. This huge red Ferris Wheel is situated in the heart of the city, jammed in between all of the Osaka city skyscrapers. At its peak, the Ferris Wheel will take you to a height of 106 metres, where you will be able to see right across the Osaka city skyline – get your Osaka sightseeing out of the way on the Ferris Wheel!
The HEP Five Ferris Wheel is at the HEP FIVE Shopping Mall, which has a stack of great stores and places to eat.
Location: FIVE 7F 5-15 Kakudacho, Kita Ward
Opening Hours: Daily from 11am to 11pm (last boarding 10.45pm)
Price: ¥600 (approx. $7 AUD) per person | Under 5s are free – Click here to book tickets online
Sorry this one is not one of the Osaka activities for the kids!!! But the kids can come along and watch. One of the cool things to do in Osaka is to go Street Go Karting!! This is such an awesome way to explore all the best sights around Osaka. Get dressed up in costumes and drive around the city up to 60km/h.
Keep in mind that you do need to be between 150cms and 190cms and no more than 100kgs in weight to drive. Make sure to bring your passport and International Driver’s License that is valid in Japan. Also there are no passengers, only one person per car – everyone must drive.
Unfortunately Akiba Go Karting has temporarily closed due to COVID, we hope it opens again soon when you visit Osaka!
Location: The Akiba Kart Osaka shop is at 3-3-9, Nipponbashi, Naniwa-ku.
Opening Hours: Daily 10am to 8pm
Price: ¥6000 (approx. $66 AUD) per person for 2 hours – Click here to book your discounted tickets
Osaka Science Museum
If you’re looking for great Osaka kids activities, you should definitely take a trip to the Osaka Science Museum. The whole museum was designed with children in mind and is spread over four floors with heaps of displays and interactive exhibits the kids will love on subjects like chemistry, the universe and energy.
There are also shows regularly throughout the day, but be aware that they are only in Japanese. For an extra fee, you can take a tour around the planetarium and watch the hourly show.
Location: 4 Chome-2-1 Nakanoshima, Kita Ward
Opening Hours: Daily 9.30am to 5pm (last admission 4.30pm)
Price: ¥400 (approx. $5 AUD) adult | ¥300 (approx. $4 AUD) school child | Under 9s are free.
For the planetarium it’s an extra ¥600 (approx. $7 AUD) adult | ¥450 (approx. $5 AUD) high school kids | ¥300 (approx. $4 AUD) for children over 3.
Osaka Museum of Housing and Living
When it comes to what to do in Osaka with family, how about checking out what life was like during the Edo period at the Museum of Housing and Living. The museum has buildings and entire streets you can explore to see what life in Osaka was like in the past and there is also a model of the whole city during the Edo period.
The museum is interesting to explore for slightly older children and even little ones will probably enjoy exploring the houses. There are also interactive exhibits that let you experience different ways of life in the city throughout history. It’s a great opportunity to learn all about Osaka’s development over the years.
Location: 530-0041 Osaka Municipal Housing Information Centre, 6-4-20 Tenjinbashi, Kita-ku
Opening Hours: Daily 10am to 5pm | Closed Tuesdays
Price: ¥600 (approx. $7 AUD) adult | ¥300 (approx. $4 AUD) high school students | Younger children are free – Click here to book tickets online
Kids Plaza Osaka
On your family vacation in Osaka, you cannot miss the Kid’s Plaza… it is a super cool children’s educational museum centre which is basically heaven for kids! Without a doubt this is the best museum in Osaka for kids and the perfect place if you’re after things to do in Osaka with toddlers or younger school-aged children.
This place is huge and really nothing like I’ve ever been to before. It’s part science centre, part museum, and part playground. I think they’ve just taken the best bits of every science centre and museum from around the world and put them here over multiple levels.
Some of the activities at Kids Plaza include a giant playground type thing in the centre of the plaza which goes across multiple levels. The kids can climb through hidey holes, up ladders and down a slide. Then there is a cute area where kids can try out a range of occupations such as shop keepers, firefighters, postman and more. There are also sections where they can play musical instruments and take part in science experiments; there’s even a TV studio where the kids can have a go at working in front or behind the camera.
You can easily spend at least half a day here – but even a few hours is still worthwhile if that’s all the time you have available. If you’re travelling to Osaka with toddlers or younger school-aged children – don’t miss Kids Plaza Osaka.
Location: 2 Chome-1-7 Ogimachi, Kita Ward
Opening Hours: Daily 9.30am to 4.30pm (last entry 3.45pm) | Closed every 2nd and 3rd Monday of the month
Price: ¥1400 (approx. $16 AUD) adult | ¥800 (approx. $9 AUD) school kids | ¥500 (approx. $6 AUD) preschoolers | Under 3s are free
Osaka Castle is one of the most popular Osaka places of Interest. The castle was built in 1583, on the former grounds of the Honganji Temple. It’s surrounded by citadels, gates, turrets, stone walls and moats. The Osaka castle park covers around 2 square kilometres which include a hall, sports facilities and lots of lovely greenery. The park is most popular during the cherry blossom season in April – as it has around 3,000 cherry blossom trees on the grounds, definitely one of the Osaka things to see if you’re here during this time.
The castle has been destroyed and rebuilt several times, with its current state being a rebuild in 1997. Due to this, the interior of the castle is now very modern and even includes an elevator – perfect for prams and those in wheelchairs. The castle also features a museum where you can learn all about its history.
Location: 1-1 Osakajo, Chuo Ward
Opening Hours: Daily 9am to 5pm
Price: ¥600 ($8 AUD) adult | Under 15s are free- Click here to book tickets online
See the Gigantic Billboards in Dotonbori
What to do in Dotonbori at night? See the famous, gigantic billboards all lit up of course! Sure, you can go and see the billboards at any time, and they are certainly impressive, but night time is when they are really at their best.
Spend an evening taking yourselves on your own Dotonbori tour, wandering around and marvelling at the huge gaudy, neon signs that people so frequently associate with modern day Japanese cities. It’s bright, it’s in your face and it’s something that you will never forget! When you’ve had enough, the area is full of great restaurants to grab some dinner.
Location: 1 Chome-9 Dotonbori, Chuo Ward
Opening Hours: 24 hours a day
Hozenji-Yokocho and Hozenji Temple
Once you’ve finished checking out all the quirky sites and things to do in Dotonbori – I recommend you go find the area called Hozenji-Yokocho. This area is where you will find sweet narrow laneways, paved in stone that head in the direction of the Hozenji Temple. These laneways are lined with quaint little Japanese restaurants and bars and makes you feel like you’ve stepped back in time.
In this area, you will also find Hozenji Temple which was built in 1637. The temple, amazingly, survived World War II, when most of the buildings surrounding it were destroyed during a bombing raid.
I loved strolling around this area. The laneways are filled with small food shops and cafes. Too bad we didn’t have long here as I would have loved to have eaten in a few of these restaurants. The area is known to be one of the best places to come for teppanyaki grills, okonomiyaki savory pancakes, kushiage kebabs, and katsudon pork cutlets on rice.
Location: 542-0076 Around 1 Namba, Chuo-ku
Opening Hours: 24 hours a day
Shinsaibashi Shopping Arcade
If you are hoping to fit in a bit of retail therapy while in Osaka, the Shinsaibashi shopping arcade should be on your list of things to do in Namba. This covered shopping arcade is about 600 meters long and one of the city’s busiest and oldest shopping destinations in Osaka. What to do when it’s raining? Head to the arcade as it’s all under cover – when you tire of shopping the people watching is wonderful too!
There is something for every type of shopper here and it really is a marvel to see. From huge department stores to little independent boutiques, you’re sure to find everything you’re looking for. The arcade is also full of great cafes and restaurants dotted here and there or tucked down little laneways so make sure to do some exploring.
Location: 2 Chome-2-22 Shinsaibashisuji, Chuo Ward.
Opening Hours: Daily 11am to 8pm
Price: Free to window shop
Tombori River Cruise
If you’ve only got one day in Osaka or just generally short on time – like us – I’d recommend heading straight for the area of Dotonbori and take a quick Tombori cruise down the canal. Even better – if you can do the cruise at night so you can see all the neon billboards lit up. A cruise or at least a walk around this area is definitely one of the fun things to do in Osaka at night.
These 20-minute canal tours run regularly throughout the day and provide you with a brief overview of the area.
Location: 1 Chome-6-7 Dotonbori, Chuo Ward
Opening Hours: Tuesday – Thursday: 1pm to 9pm | Friday – Monday: 11am to 7pm | Cruises depart every 30 minutes
Price: ¥1000 (approx. $11 AUD) adult | ¥400 (approx. $5 AUD) child
If you’re not keen on a cruise or looking for free things to do in Osaka – just take a walk up and down the Tonbori Riverwalk. Both sides of the canal are jam-packed with restaurants, cafes and shops, and even a huge Ferris wheel type thing. This is one of the things to do Osaka has on offer that is easy, free and the kids will love!
Location: 6 Dotonbori, Chuo Ward, Osaka, 542-0071, Japan
Opening Hours: 24 hours a day
Ebisu Tower Ferris Wheel
The various Ferris wheels in Osaka offer some great things to do with kids in Osaka. One of the many Ferris Wheels in town is the Ebisu Tower Ferris Wheel, named so because it’s decorated with a huge picture of Ebisu, the god of shopping!
This Ferris Wheel is actually the only oval-shaped one in the world and when you first look at it you would be forgiven for not realising it’s a ride at all! Set into a storefront, the wheel is 77 meters tall and a full-ride takes around 15 minutes. You’ll get to see the whole of the shopping district and some other attractions in Osaka too.
Location: 7-13 Souemoncho, Chuo Ward, Osaka, 542-0084
Opening Hours: Daily 2pm to 8pm | Closed Tuesdays
Price: ¥600 (approx. $7 AUD) per person
Round 1 Stadium
When it comes to what to do in Osaka with kids to keep them entertained – it doesn’t get much better than Round 1 stadium! This enormous arcade is full to the brim with all sorts of fun games and is one of the best Osaka indoor activities for kids – particularly if the weather is too hot, rainy or cold.
You may feel a little overwhelmed when you first step inside the stadium by the sheer number of games, sporting activities and video games on offer. Nearly everything is sports-themed with basketball, tennis, boxing, mini golf and so much more, but there are also things like karaoke rooms and a manga lounge, so you’re sure to find something for all the kids.
Location: 1 Chome-3-1 Nanba, Chuo Ward
Opening Hours: 24 hours / 7 days
Price: Usually pay per game, but you can book hourly rates at the ticket office
Food lovers will really enjoy a visit to Kuromona Market, stretching around 600 metres and containing about 150 shops this market dates back to the Edo Period. There is a huge range of fresh seafood and produce on offer as well as traditional sweets and snacks. This market is a street food fans dream and makes for a great leisurely stroll to try local delicacies.
Location: 2 Chome-4-1 Nipponbashi, Chuo Ward
Opening Hours: Daily 9am to 6pm
If you’re looking for an attraction to add to your Osaka kid friendly itinerary – then don’t miss out on, Spa World, it is one of the great Osaka tourist places where the family can relax and have fun. Described as a “hot springs theme park”, parents can relax in one of the large and beautifully decorated Asian or European themed onsens and kids will love the amusement pools complete with huge water slides and rides.
Just something to note, if you have tattoos you will not be able allowed to use the onsen facilities, which is pretty common in Japan.
Location: 3 Chome-4-２４ Ebisuhigashi, Naniwa Ward
Opening Hours: 7 days a week – times vary pending what section you want to visit, check operating times here
Price: Entry including use of hot springs and pools: ¥1500 (approx. $17 AUD) adult | ¥1000 (approx. $11 AUD) school children. There are additional fees for use of the waterslides and kid park – check fees here.
One of the most well-known Osaka Landmarks in the Shinsekai area is the Tsutenkaku tower. It was originally built in 1912 and inspired by the Eiffel tower in Paris but, after being damaged by fire, it was rebuilt in 1956 and now stands at 103 meters tall. This is one of the Osaka points of interest for history buffs out there or anyone interested in architecture.
Today the tower is filled with souvenir shops and there are two observation decks on the 4th and 5th floors and even a small museum dedicated to a famous Manga character. You can also take a look at a detailed model of the original tower and Luna Park which featured various rides.
Location: 1 Chome-18-6 Ebisuhigashi, Naniwa Ward
Opening Hours: Daily 10am to 8pm (last entry 7.30pm)
Price: ¥900 (approx. $10 AUD) adult | ¥400 (approx. $5 AUD) child (5-15) | Under 5s are free – Click here to book tickets online
Tennoji Zoo is one of the city’s popular Osaka children attractions thanks to its 1000 hectares of grounds and over 200 animal species. Here you can see lions, chimpanzees and much more and the zoo is one of the few places in the world you can see a New Zealand Kiwi. If you’ve been visiting loads of temples and the kids are craving some some familiarity, the Tennoji Zoo is one of the things to do around Osaka they’ll love!
Location: 1-108 Chausuyamacho, Tennoji Ward
Opening Hours: Daily 9.30am to 5pm (last entry 4pm) | Closed Mondays
Price: ¥500 (approx. $6 AUD) adult | ¥200 (approx. $2 AUD) child | Under 4s are free
Escape the hustle and bustle of the city centre and visit the Shitennoji Temple – the first and oldest Buddhist temple in Japan.
This temple is a perfect example of Japan’s ancient architecture and contains national treasures and items of cultural importance dating as far back as when the temple was built in 593. For one of the unique things to see in Osaka, on the 21st and 22nd of every month there are temple festival days which draw large crowds for the celebrations as well the local antiques vendors and stalls.
Location: 1-11-18 Shitennoji, Tennoji Ward
Opening Hours: Daily 8.30am to 4pm
Price: ¥300 (approx. $4 AUD) adult | ¥200 (approx. $3 AUD) child | Preschoolers are free | You can also pay extra to enter other areas – see further prices here
LEGOLAND Discovery Centre
If your kids are creative and love LEGO, the best place in Osaka to go is to the LEGOLAND Discovery centre. It caters to older but especially younger kids, whilst also including activities that are fun for the whole family.
There are plenty of great Lego-based activities here. Of course, kids can play with Lego, but you can also go on a tour of the brick factory, check out Miniland which is completely made from Lego, watch a 4D movie or do a Lego workshop. At Legoland Discovery Centre there is also a playground and a super cool laser shooting ride.
Location: Tempozan Market Place – 1 Chome-1-１０ Kaigandori, Minato Ward
Opening Hours: Daily 10am to 6pm
Price: ¥2800 (approx. $32 AUD) per person | Under 3s are free – Click here to book tickets online
Take a visit to one of the largest aquariums in the world and you’ll have a chance to see 620 different species of marine animals from the pacific rim. Even the exterior of the aquarium is impressive with its impressively decorated walls.
Once inside the aquarium, you’ll be able to see cute rockhopper penguins, touch rays and sharks and watch feeding time for 12 different species. The best thing about Osaka aquarium though has to be the chance to see the largest fish in the world, the majestic whale shark.
Location: 1 Chome-1-10 Kaigandori, Minato Ward
Opening Hours: Weekdays 10.30am to 8pm | Weekends 9.30am to 8pm
Price: ¥2400 (approx. $27 AUD) adult | ¥1200 (approx. $14 AUD) child 7-15 | ¥600 (approx. $7 AUD) child 3-6 | Under 3s are free
Tempozan Ferris Wheel
If you’re down in the Osaka Bay visiting the Aquarium, other things to do near Osaka Aquarium include a ride on the Tempozan Ferris Wheel. This giant Ferris Wheel has a height of 112.5 metres and is a massive 1000 metres in diameter, so you will undoubtedly get spectacular views across Osaka on the Tempozan Ferris Wheel.
Location: 1 Chome-1-10 Kaigandori, Minato Ward
Opening Hours: Daily 10am to 9pm
Price: ¥800 (approx. $9 AUD) per person
When it comes to popular Osaka tourist spots for the kids, it doesn’t get much better than Universal Studios. The kids will absolutely love Universal studios and so will the whole family!
Read any Osaka travel blog and you will hear how incredible Universal Studios in Japan is. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter being the feature, even non-believers will have a ball. From the meticulous attention to detail, Hogwarts castle is a special feature where you can explore the classrooms and corridors of Hogwarts.
There are many more attractions for other fans such as Universal wonderland which includes Hello Kitty fashion avenue, Sesame Street fun world for those younger kids, the Jurassic Park ride is a fan favourite, not to mention all the shops, merchandise, restaurants and amazing shows on offer. Just a tip – look at purchasing an express pass if you’re concerned about long queues.
If you’re visiting Osaka with kids, make sure you put Universal Studios on the top of your must do in Osaka list.
Location: 2 Chome-1-33 Sakurajima, Konohana Ward
Opening Hours: Daily 9am to 7pm
Price: ¥8600 (approx. $94 AUD) adult | ¥5700 (approx. $62 AUD) child 4-11 | Under 4s are free – Click here to book tickets online
Harukas 300 Observatory
Harukas 300 is the observation deck of the tallest skyscraper in Japan and well worth a visit for incredible 360 degree, panoramic views over the city. There is a fully glassed walkway around the edge of the building and even a small café and souvenir shop.
If you’re feeling a little adventurous, try the Edge the Harakus experience where you can venture outside the building and hang from the edge with a climbing harness.
Location: 1-1-43 Abenosuji, Abeno Ward, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture 545-8545
Opening Hours: Daily 9am to 10pm
Price: ¥1500 (approx. $17 AUD) adult | ¥1200 (approx. $14 AUD) child 12-17 | ¥700 (approx. $8 AUD) child 6-11 | ¥500 (approx. $6 AUD) child 4-5 | Under 4s are free – Click here to book tickets online
Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine
Founded in the 3rd century, this shrine is the most important in the whole of Osaka as it is the head shrine for the country’s approximately 2300 Sumiyoshi shrines. Every year over 2 million people visit between January 1st and 3rd alone for the traditional first shrine visit of the year… so maybe not one of the places to see in Osaka over this time.
There are several buildings to explore, but make sure you don’t miss the stunning Sorihashi Bridge.
Location: 2 Chome-9-89 Sumiyoshi, Sumiyoshi Ward, Osaka, 558-0045
Opening Hours: Daily 6.30am to 5pm
Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum
One of our favourite Osaka places to visit was without a doubt, the Cup Noodles Museum. I mean who would have thought that a museum dedicated to instant noodles could be so cool!!!
The first part of the museum takes you through various exhibits, which show you how Momofuku came to make the instant noodles back in 1958. The exhibits are interactive which is great for kids. The information around the exhibits is in Japanese, so it is recommended that you download the App in advance and this way you will have the information provided for you in English.
The best part about the museum is the CUP NOODLES Factory. Here, you get to create your very own cup noodles soup. First you must design your own packaging and then you choose your very own ingredients to make your soup.
This museum was absolutely packed when we went, which was on a weekend. I’d suggest weekdays are quieter or go as soon as the museum opens to avoid long lines.
Location: 8-25 Masumicho, Ikeda
Opening Hours: Daily 9.30am to 4.30pm (last entry 3.30pm) | Closed Tuesday
Price: Free to enter; however it is ¥500 (approx. $6 AUD) to make the Cup Noodles.
Children’s Museum BIG BANG
What to do in Osaka Japan when it’s raining? Head to Children’s Museum BIG BANG. This indoor four levelled, space-themed museum is designed for kids of all ages, with heaps of hands-on activities and would be an absolute highlight of your trip for any kids obsessed with outer space and astrology.
There is so much to do here; you’re sure to have a great day. One floor is filled with an adventure playground for climbing, swinging, and sliding. There are also displays filled with everything from rocket engines to astronaut outfits and the museum even has areas dotted around with toys for little ones. Other highlights include a space kitchen and electronic zoo where kids can have drawings of their own animals come to life.
Location:１-9-1 Chayamadai, Minami Ward, Sakai
Opening Hours: Daily 10am to 5pm (last entry 4.30pm) | Closed Monday
Price: ¥1000 (approx. $11 AUD) adult | ¥800 (approx. $9 AUD) school-aged child | ¥600 (approx. $7 AUD) child 3+ | Under 3s are free.
Day Trips from Osaka
For many families staying in Osaka, popular day trips from Osaka include the Nara Deer Park, Kyoto and Hiroshima. All these side-trips from Osaka are possible on your own or as part of organised group tours.
Nara Deer Park
Nara is just under an hour’s train ride from Osaka Station. It is easy to reach on your own – simply take the Osaka Loop line to Nara Station and from here, the deer park is a 20 minute walk away, or you can take a bus right from the station to the park.
Nara Park is home to over 1000 deer, which are considered by the Shinto religion as messengers from God and have been in the area since 1177. Today you can still see the wild deer and families can purchase deer crackers and feed the deer around the park. However, just a word of warning, we found the deer fairly aggressive and would do whatever it took to get the crackers. It was a little frightening for a our little one and even I found it a bit confronting.
I’d recommend NOT buying the crackers and walking further into the park, where I’m guessing the deer go after a good feed. These deer were calmly lying around and happy for a little pat.
Nara is home to the famous Daibatsu (Great Buddha) at Todai-ji Temple and Nara-koen Park which is renowned for its wild deer. It is also one of the best places to see the cherry blossoms as the parks, gardens, temples and shrines are lined with cherry trees.
Other Attractions in the park include:
- Todai-ji Temple: The Great Buddha Hall is the world’s largest wooden structure and houses the Great Buddha Statue. Here there is also the Todai-ji Museum.
- Kohfuku-ji Temple: An old temple known for its 50-metre-high five story Pagoda and Ashura-zo sculpture. Here there is also the Kohfuku-ji Golden Hall and the National Treasure Museum.
- Nara National Museum: This building was the second national museum in Japan in 1895, however now it is open to the public as Nara Buddhist Sculpture Hall.
- Kasuga Taisha Shrine: This shrine was founded in 1300 and is to pray for the prosperity of the nation’s people and their happiness.
Once you have visited all the attractions in the park, head on to the area of Nakatanidou for some shopping or something to eat. I also highly recommend you stop by to see the guys pound the mochi (Japanese rice cakes) – in fact, if you want to see the Mochi pounding (check out the video here – so cool!) – go here first before Nara park, as they do finish up early. Unfortunately we missed them during our visit.
If you prefer to join an organised day trip here are a few you might like that leave from Osaka:
- Nara Park with Fushimi Inari Shrine: On this full day tour while getting to see the deer in Nara you will also get the opportunity to explore the vibrant orange path of the Fushimi Inari Shrine. Tour is ¥7200 (approx. $79 AUD) per person – Click here for more information.
- Nara Park and Arashiyama: If you’re not spending any time in Kyoto, I highly recommend this tour to Nara Park which also includes Arashiyama – one of my favourite places in Kyoto. This full day tour is ¥17,500 (approx. $190 AUD) per person – Click here for more information.
- Nara Park and Matcha Experience: If you’re looking to for an authentic Matcha experience, you can’t go past this full day tour which also includes a visit to the deer park. This tour is ¥10,000 (approx. $109 AUD) per person – Click here for more information.
If you are headed to Kyoto after Osaka or vice versa – as we did – you can easily visit Nara on your way. We popped our luggage into one of the lockers at Nara Station – did our sightseeing, then grabbed our bags and continued on our way to Osaka.
Kyoto Day Trip
On the Tokaido-Sanyo line, it’s only 30 minutes to Kyoto Station from Osaka Station, so it is very possible to make a few day trips to Kyoto. However do factor in that you will need to add time to get to Osaka station from your Osaka accommodation as well as get to the various attractions from Kyoto Station – so I would say it’s more like 1 hour between the two cities.
There are so many things to do in Kyoto – it really is up to your personal preference as to what you do there. You can check out our guide here on things to do in Kyoto and make a plan for yourself.
If however you prefer to join an organized tour guide, here are a few you might like to consider:
- Kyoto Temples and Arashiyama: If you’ve just got one day in Kyoto – this is a great tour to consider as it covers all the highlights. On this tour, you will see all the most popular temples and shrines, as well as the beautiful area of Arashiyama. This tour is ¥7000 (approx. AUD $76) per adult and ¥6000 (approx. AUD $65) per child. Click here for more information.
- Kyoto Temples, Shrines and Textile Center: If you’re keen to see some of the unmissable sightseeing in Kyoto, then this full day Golden Route Tour is for you. This tour is ¥16,100 (approx. $175 AUD) per person – Click here for more information.
Hiroshima Day Trip
You really should spend at least two days in Hiroshima, but if you don’t have the time, it is possible to make a day trip, but it makes for a super long day.
From Shin-Osaka Station it is only 1.5 hours to Hiroshima via the bullet train. But just remember you need to add on time to get to Shin-Osaka Station as well as from Hiroshima to the attractions. The bullet train will cost around ¥10,630 (A$117) each way.
The main place of interest in Hiroshima is the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and Museum, which is easy to reach from the main station. Simply take a bus from outside the station to the Museum. The bus ride is about 15 minutes.
You could easily spend an entire day at the Museum and Park, but if you’re just here on a day trip, allow a few hours before moving on. Usually tourists would then head to the Hiroshima Castle, which is a short bus ride away.
For a super big day – many people visit Miyajima Island as well. This in itself is a full day trip from Hiroshima – but it is possible to get a glimpse of the highlights of the island. To reach the island, you will need to head back to Hiroshima Station and take a 45-50 minute train ride to Miyajimaguchi Station and from here take a 10 minute ferry ride across to the island. The train will costs around ¥450-510 (approx. $5 AUD) each way depending on whether you take the JR or not as well as ¥180 (approx. $2 AUD) each way for the ferry ride.
For a day trip and to save time – you are probably best to take the Aqua Net Ferry from the Memorial Peace Park directly to Miyajima, which takes 45 minutes. The boat costs ¥4000 (approx. $45 AUD) per adult and ¥2000 (approx. $23 AUD) per child return. The boats regularly leave around every 30 minutes – you can check out the timetable here.
If you want to see both the Peace Memorial Museum and park as well as Miyajima Island – I’d skip the Hiroshima Castle.
If you prefer you can take an organized tour which pretty much covers the above route. Tours are ¥38,500 (approx. $424 AUD) per adult and ¥30,500 (approx. $336 AUD) per child – Click here for more information.
Where to Stay in Osaka: Best Place to Stay in Osaka for Family
Now that we’ve covered what to see in Osaka and what to do Osaka…. let’s look at where to stay. When it comes to finding a good area to stay in Osaka, I recommend you work out where most of the attractions are that you want to visit and then choose an area that is closest to the most places on your itinerary. Wherever you book, make sure it’s within walking distance to a subway station.
If you still can’t decide which area is best to stay in Osaka, I’d personally recommend staying in either Namba or Umeda – both these areas are well-positioned in terms of transport and also have plenty of places to eat and shop. Families also spending a lot of time in the bay area may consider accommodation here.
It’s also essential to be realistic about your budget when it comes to Osaka accommodation with kids – even the cheapest family hotel is likely to exceed $200 AUD per night. It’s also important to note that family size rooms are rare, so expect rooms to be super tiny as well as beds. If your children are older, it’s often better to book two double rooms.
Below I have listed some suggestions for where to stay with kids in Osaka based on the hotel’s ability to accommodate a family of 4 in the one room, have private bathroom facilitates and be within walking distance to a train station.
For cheaper rooms than what I have suggested below, you may want to consider staying somewhere that has shared bathroom facilities. For accommodation close to the main train stations, you will need to be prepared to significantly increase your budget.
Bon Condominium is only 500 metres to Umeda Station making it a great central place to stay. Its self contained too which is fantastic for families wanting to save a little by preparing some of their own meals. Rooms can accommodate families of between either four or five people and there is the option of partitioning off one of the beds which is great for little ones needing to go to sleep earlier or for older kids just wanting some privacy.
Each apartment at Bijou Suites can accommodate families of four on Japanese style floor beds, when not made up for sleeping, the living area also doubles as a small dining area and there is a flat screen television as well. The small kitchen is in a separate room and comes with everything you will need to prepare simple meals. The bathroom has both a shower and a bathtub, and there are also laundry facilities and a drying rack for clothes.
The suites are around the corner from the Kuromon market for street food, fresh produce and even some souvenir shopping. Shinsaibashi shopping street is a little further away (about 1km) and Dotonburi is about 900m away, Nippombashi subway station is less than 200m away.
Crystal Exe is a two-bedroom self-contained apartment in a great location in Namba. This apartment comes with enough bedding for up to six people – a double, two singles and sofa bed so plenty of room for everyone. Plus having a separate lounge, balcony, kitchen and laundry are all great features for families.
Crystal Exe is in a good location – just 77 metres to Kintetsu-Nippombashi Station and super close to the heart of the Dotonbori area, Shinsaibashi Shopping Street and the Kuromon Market.
Getting to Osaka
In most cases, you will reach Osaka either by arriving at Osaka (domestic) or Kansai (international) Airports; alternatively you may come by fast train from another city into Osaka Tokyo – so I will cover both below.
From Kansai International Airport
Kansai International Airport is located about 50 kms from the city and so transportation is fairly expensive. The two main ways people get to Osaka from Kansai Airport is either by train or bus. You can also take a taxi or arrange a private transfer but it works out much cheaper and more convenient to take the train or bus.
JR Airport Express Haruka
For those with a JR Pass (see more in the getting around section), the Haruka train is the best option for you as your tickets are covered with your pass. The train station is in Terminal 2 building. There is a free shuttle bus outside terminal 1 to take you to terminal 2 if need be.
The Haruka train takes 35 minutes to reach Tennoji and 50 minutes to arrive at Shin-Osaka. Get off the train from whichever station is closest to your Osaka accommodation. From here you can take a local train or taxi to your accommodation.
Ticket prices are ¥1710 (approx. $20 AUD) to Tennoji and ¥2330 (approx. $27 AUD) to Shin Osaka. Tickets can be purchased at JR stations.
Kansai Airport Rapid
Another good option for JR Pass holders is the Kansai Airport Rapid. This train service is similar to the Haruka train – however it makes more stops on route and does not go on to Shin-Osaka. The train station is in Terminal 2 building. There is a free shuttle bus outside terminal 1 to take you to terminal 2 if need be.
This train stops at various stations, including Tennoji, Shin-Imamiya (with a connection to JR Namba), Nishikujo and Osaka. The train takes 45 minutes to reach Tennoji and 1 hour and 5 minutes to reach Osaka. Get off the train from whichever station is closest to your Osaka accommodation. From here, you can take a local train or taxi to your accommodation.
Tickets are ¥1060 (approx. $12 AUD) to Tennoji and ¥1190 (approx. $14 AUD) to Osaka. Tickets can be purchased at JR stations.
It is important to note that if you take Kansai Airport Rapid from Osaka TO the airport – the train splits at Hineno Station and only the first four carriages continue to the Airport, so please ensure you board on one of the first four carriages. The train departs from the airport multiple times each hour.
Nankai Line Airport Express and the Rapi:t
If you are staying close to Namba Station, the Nankai Airport Express or Rapi:t is a good option as these trains travel from the airport to Namba Station.
The Rapi:t is much faster at around 35 minutes to Namba and costs ¥1340 (approx. $16 AUD) per adult and ¥770 (approx. $9 AUD) per child. You are required to make seat reservations for this train.
The Nankai Rapid Airport Express takes 45 minutes and costs ¥920 (approx. $11 AUD) per adult and ¥460 (approx. $6 AUD) per child one way. No reservations are required – so keep in mind this train can get busy at times. This train departs the airport every 20 minutes – Click here to book tickets online
Ensure you get on the express and not the local trains otherwise this will add around 1 hour to your trip.
The Limousine Bus stops at both terminal 1 and 2 at the airport and takes passengers to a range of drop off points in Osaka and the Bay Area. Note that the bus doesn’t stop at all hotels and so you may need to take additional transportation from drop off to reach your hotel. Click here to find out more about departure time and drop off points.
The bus to areas in Osaka takes around 1 hour or so (depending upon the drop off location) and costs ¥1600 (approx. $18 AUD) per adult and ¥800 (approx. $9 AUD) per child. You can buy tickets at the airport or at the ticket desks near the airport – click here for more information. Alternatively, you can purchase online via Klook – Click here to book tickets online
From Osaka Airport
Osaka Airport is located about 20 kms from the city and transportation is expensive. The two main ways people get to the city from Osaka Airport is either by train or bus. You can also take a taxi or arrange a private transfer but it is much cheaper and more convenient to take the train or bus.
Monorail and Train
The cheapest option to reach downtown Osaka from the Osaka Airport is to take the Monorail and then train.
From the airport, take the monorail just two stops to Senri-Chuo Station and from here change to the Kita Osaka Kyuko / Midosuji line. The other option is to take the Monorail to Hotarugaike Station and then take the Hanku-Takarazuka Line. From here, you can get off at the stop that is closest to your accommodation. The entire trip only takes around 35 minutes (depending on the location of your accommodation) and costs around ¥430-760 (approx. $5 to $9 AUD) per person, depending on which line you choose and where you depart the train.
The Limousine Bus stops at both terminal 1 and 2 at the airport and takes passengers to a range of drop off points in Osaka including the Bay Area. Note that the bus doesn’t stop at all hotels and so you may need to take additional transportation from drop off to reach your hotel. Click here to find out more about departure time and drop off points.
The bus to areas in Osaka (Namba, Umeda etc) takes around 30 minutes or so (depending upon the drop off location) and costs ¥650 (approx. $8 AUD) per adult and ¥350 (approx. $4 AUD) per child. The bus to Universal Studios takes around 45 minutes and costs ¥940 (approx. $11 AUD) per adult and ¥470 (approx. $6 AUD) per child.
You can buy tickets at the bus stop from a ticket machine or ticket attendant.
Fast Train to Osaka
If you have not started your Japan trip in Osaka, then the best way to reach the city is via the Shinkansen – Japan’s fast bullet trains.
A ticket on the Shinkansen trains must be booked in Japan at one of the JR offices – lookout for the green signs or online using the SmartEX App. We used this App to book all our Shinkansen trains. The App is great because you can see exactly how much each train is and what seats are available. For the most part, we just booked trains the day before or sometimes the same day – but just keep an eye on how busy the trains are to avoid not getting tickets on the train of your choice. You will still need to pick up your tickets at the train station – either from the ticket machines or by going inside a ticket office.
Alternatively, many people travel around Japan with a JR pass. These passes provide unlimited travel on JR operated buses and trains as well as the Miyajima Ferry. There is a range of JR travel pass options with the most popular option being the 7 day pass. However, while the pass is designed to save you money – this may not always be the case. It’s recommended that you sit down and plan out your itinerary and compare the cost of the individual trips to the cost of the pass and see what provides you better value. You can check the price of individual trips here.
Getting Around Osaka
The best way to get around Osaka is by making use of the JR trains and subway system. It’s important to note that one train station may have both a subway train and a JR train. So, when arriving at a station be aware of whether you are looking for the JR or subway part of the station. Also note that if you are changing from a subway train to a JR train at the one station, you will need to exit the ticket gates prior to getting on your next train.
To use both the JR trains and subway system, you will need a prepaid ICOCA card – but if you already have a Suica or Pasmo card from Tokyo this works just fine too. These cards can be used on either the metro or JR. You can purchase the cards from vending machines at the station. To add value to your cards, simply insert your card into any ticket machine (it doesn’t matter if it’s the ICOCA, Suica or Pasmo machine).
If you are on a family trip to Japan, you will need to have your children’s passports handy to be able to purchase the kid’s cards. It’s quite funny actually as you push a button to say you’re buying kids’ cards and almost immediately a little man pops his head out just above the ticket machine to see the passports.
Once you have your cards and loaded some cash on them you are ready to get on the train!
If you prefer to organise your card before you go, you can pre-purchase on Klook. Click here to purchase an ICOCA Card online with 1500 yen pre-loaded.
The trains may seem a little daunting at first, but once you get the hang of them, they are straightforward. Google Maps is your best friend here as it will tell you which entrance to use and platform number. Everything is super organised in Japan – I just loved it! Plus there are heaps of signs at the stations and they are in English. If all else fails just ask someone – everyone is super friendly and helpful in Japan.
If you have a JR pass (see above section) you can travel for free on the JR trains just by showing your pass.
Another alternative is to use subway passes, which allow unlimited travel during a certain period of time, such as 1 or 2 days. Before purchasing these tickets, make sure you compare the prices of individual tickets compared to the passes to work out whether they offer good value. You can check the price of individual trips here. Also note that they cannot be used on JR trains. Click here to purchase subway passes.
Stay Connected with Pocket Wi-Fi
I recommend you ensure you are connected to the internet at all times in Osaka and the best way to do this is by arranging pocket Wi-Fi. We pretty much lived on Google Maps to get around the city as well as navigate the trains. Pocket Wi-Fi is also great of course for things like using social media, and if you travel Japan with kids, it’s great to let the little ones play games and stream Netflix when you’re on the long train rides between cities.
With the pocket Wi-Fi you just pick it up from the airport when you arrive and then pop it in the post when you arrive at the airport for your return flight home – easy! You can purchase pocket Wi-Fi from Klook here.
We didn’t get to spend much time in Osaka at all, but the small amount of time we did we really loved it.
We found that Osaka had a really cool and fun vibe to it – and we would love to come back and spend more time exploring this fun city.
For families there is heaps to do – loads of fun attractions, heaps of cool shopping and lots of cool places to go for food too.
We really liked Osaka and highly recommend it for families.
Hopefully you found this Osaka sightseeing guide helpful. We have reviews on other cities in Japan including Tokyo activities and Tokyo accommodation, and if you decide to visit Legoland, check out our Legoland guide.