Japan is a land of fascinating contrast – a blend of ancient and modern culture that creates a unique travel experience. Among the must-visit cities in Japan, Osaka and Nara top the list. In this 3-day itinerary, you’ll get to explore both of these cities, experiencing their vibrant atmosphere, discovering hidden gems, and indulging in culinary delights. So pack your bags and get ready to explore Osaka and Nara in 3 days!
Day 1: Discovering Osaka
Overview of Osaka
Osaka is the third-largest city in Japan, located on the island of Honshu, which is known for its nightlife, shopping arcades, and rich culinary scene. It is a city that never sleeps – illuminated signboards, karaoke bars, restaurants, and shopping streets remain open until late at night.
Dotonbori is the heart of Osaka and a must-visit district. The bustling center is home to endless shopping arcades, food outlets, and nightlife.
Must-See Attractions in Dotonbori
- Glico Man: This beloved icon in Osaka was first introduced in 1935 and is one of the most recognized landmarks in the area.
- Dotonbori Ferris Wheel: Enjoy panoramic views of the city from 77 meters above the river.
- Shinsaibashi-suji Arcade: Find culinary delights and shop for souvenirs in this shopping arcade.
After exploring Dotonbori, head to Namba, where you can experience traditional and modern Japanese culture.
Highlights in Namba
- Namba Yasaka Shrine: A beautiful shrine with a unique lion-shaped stage.
- Hozen-ji Temple and Hozenji Yokocho: Discover this hidden gem and its moss-covered statue, Mizukake Fudo.
- Namba Parks: This is a shopping complex with rooftop gardens and stunning views.
Day 2: Osaka Castle and Umeda District
Begin your second day with a visit to Osaka Castle, a symbol of Japanese history and culture.
Osaka Castle Information
- Opening Hours: 9 am – 5 pm daily
- Admission: JPY 600 for adults; free for children under 15
After exploring Osaka Castle, head to the Umeda district, known for its shopping and breathtaking skyline views.
Top Attractions in Umeda
- Umeda Sky Building: Admire the stunning views from the Floating Garden Observatory.
- HEP Five Ferris Wheel: Enjoy another perspective of Osaka from this 106-meter high Ferris wheel.
- Grand Front Osaka: This is a shopping complex with various shops, restaurants, and entertainment options.
Day 3: Nara Day Trip
Overview of Nara
Nara is Japan’s ancient capital, located less than an hour from Osaka. The city attracts visitors because of its historic temples, its unique culture, and its friendly deer.
Getting to Nara from Osaka
By train: Take the JR Yamatoji Rapid Service or the Kintetsu Nara Line. The journey takes around 30-45 minutes.
Top Attractions in Nara
- Todai-ji Temple: Home to the Great Buddha statue, one of the largest bronze statues in the world.
- Nara Park: Meet the famous Nara deer and explore the park’s beautiful gardens and temples.
- Kasuga Taisha Shrine: Admire the 3,000 stone lanterns and the shrine’s unique architecture.
Where to Stay in Osaka
Stay close to the action in centrally located hotels in Dotonbori or Namba. Budget-conscious travelers can opt for accommodations in Umeda district offering a mid-range budget.
Exploring Osaka and Nara in three days is an absolute adventure as both cities hold a charm that is truly unique. You’ll have a chance to witness a mix of ancient and modern culture, culinary delights, and must-visit attractions. So come along and experience the best of Japan in Osaka and Nara, and make memories that will last a lifetime!
If you’re planning to visit Tokyo too, have a look at our Top 10 Things to Do in Japan guide for more travel inspiration. And for information on what to see and do in Tokyo, check out our Tokyo Guide and Advice.