Are you planning a trip to Japan and wondering what to do in Osaka and Kyoto? Look no further! These two cities are located in the Kansai region of Japan and offer a perfect blend of historical attractions, cultural experiences, nature and gardens, food and dining, shopping, and entertainment and nightlife.
Kyoto, once the capital of Japan, is known for its traditional temples, shrines, and gardens. You can spend days exploring the city’s historical attractions, such as the Kinkaku-ji Temple, Fushimi Inari Shrine, and Nijo Castle. On the other hand, Osaka is a modern city with a vibrant food and nightlife scene. You can indulge in Osaka’s famous street food like takoyaki and okonomiyaki, or visit the iconic Osaka Castle and the bustling Dotonbori area.
Whether you’re interested in history, culture, or food, Osaka and Kyoto have something for everyone. In this article, we’ll provide you with a comprehensive list of things to do in these two cities, so you can make the most of your trip to Japan.
- Osaka and Kyoto offer a perfect blend of historical attractions, cultural experiences, nature and gardens, food and dining, shopping, and entertainment and nightlife.
- Kyoto is known for its traditional temples, shrines, and gardens, while Osaka is a modern city with a vibrant food and nightlife scene.
- In this article, we’ll provide you with a comprehensive list of things to do in Osaka and Kyoto, so you can make the most of your trip to Japan.
If you’re a history buff, you’ll love exploring the many historical attractions in Osaka and Kyoto. Here are some of the must-see historical sites you should add to your itinerary:
Temples and Shrines
Kyoto is home to some of the most beautiful temples and shrines in Japan. The Fushimi Inari Shrine is a must-visit, with its famous torii gates that stretch for miles. This Shinto shrine is dedicated to Inari, the god of rice and agriculture, and it’s been attracting visitors for over 1,300 years. Other popular shrines and temples include Kinkaku-Ji, Ryoan-Ji, and Yasaka Shrine.
Both Osaka and Kyoto have impressive castles that are worth exploring. Nijo Castle in Kyoto is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was once the residence of the Tokugawa shoguns. The castle is surrounded by a moat and features beautiful gardens and a palace. Osaka Castle is another must-visit, with its impressive architecture and stunning views of the city.
Gion is a historic district in Kyoto that is famous for its geishas and traditional architecture. The Higashiyama District is another popular area to explore, with its narrow streets, temples, and shrines. Pontocho Alley in Kyoto is also worth checking out, with its traditional teahouses and restaurants.
Whether you’re interested in temples and shrines, castles, or historical districts, you’ll find plenty to explore in Osaka and Kyoto. Don’t forget to bring your camera and capture the beauty of these historic sites.
When it comes to cultural experiences, Osaka and Kyoto are two of the best cities in Japan to explore. Both cities offer a unique blend of traditional and modern Japan, making it an exciting destination for any traveller.
Kyoto, being the ancient capital of Japan, is home to countless traditional crafts and arts. One of the most iconic cultural experiences in Kyoto is the tea ceremony. This traditional ritual is a must-try for anyone visiting the city. You can experience the tea ceremony at various locations throughout the city, including heritage houses and tea houses.
Another traditional experience that Kyoto is famous for is the geisha and maiko culture. You can spot geishas and maikos walking around the streets of Gion, the most famous geisha district in Kyoto. You can also attend a tea ceremony performed by a geisha or maiko, which is a unique and unforgettable experience.
Osaka, on the other hand, is known for its modern and business-oriented culture. The city is home to some of the most impressive modern architecture in Japan, including the Umeda Sky Building and the Abeno Harukas skyscraper. These buildings offer stunning views of the city and are a must-visit for anyone interested in modern architecture.
If you’re interested in experiencing modern Japanese culture, Osaka is the perfect place to do so. The city is known for its vibrant nightlife, shopping, and food scene. You can explore the bustling streets of Dotonbori, which is famous for its neon lights and delicious street food.
In conclusion, Osaka and Kyoto offer a unique blend of traditional and modern Japan, making it an exciting destination for any traveller. Whether you’re interested in exploring the traditional side of Japan or experiencing its modern culture, these two cities have something for everyone.
Nature and Gardens
If you’re a nature lover, Osaka and Kyoto have plenty of options to offer. From beautiful gardens to lush green parks, you’ll find something for everyone. Here are two sub-sections of nature and gardens that you should definitely check out:
Arashiyama is a scenic district located on the western outskirts of Kyoto. It’s famous for its bamboo groves, which are a must-visit attraction. You can take a walk through the groves and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere. The sound of bamboo leaves rustling in the wind is truly mesmerising. You can also visit the Iwatayama Monkey Park, where you can feed and interact with monkeys. The park is located on top of a mountain, and you’ll need to climb a steep hill to get there. But the view from the top is worth it.
Parks and Gardens
Kyoto and Osaka have many beautiful parks and gardens that are perfect for a relaxing stroll or a picnic. Maruyama Park is a popular spot for cherry blossom viewing during the spring season. The park is home to over 800 cherry trees, and it’s a great place to take pictures. Another must-visit garden is the Kyoto Botanical Gardens, which is the oldest and most comprehensive public botanical garden in Japan. You can enjoy the ever-changing garden all year round with seasonal plants and deciduous trees. The garden is perfect for a picnic or cherry blossom viewing.
In conclusion, Osaka and Kyoto have a lot to offer for nature lovers. Whether you want to take a walk through a bamboo grove or enjoy a picnic in a beautiful garden, you’ll find something to suit your taste. So, put on your walking shoes and explore the natural beauty of these two cities.
Food and Dining
When it comes to food, Osaka and Kyoto are a foodie’s paradise. From street food to fine dining, there’s something for everyone. Here are some of the best places to eat in Osaka and Kyoto.
The streets of Osaka and Kyoto are lined with food stalls selling all kinds of delicious treats. Some of the must-try street foods include takoyaki and okonomiyaki. Takoyaki is a ball-shaped snack made of batter and filled with diced octopus, green onion, and pickled ginger. Okonomiyaki is a savory pancake made with cabbage, meat, and seafood.
Restaurants and Dining
If you’re looking for a more upscale dining experience, there are plenty of restaurants to choose from. Sushi is a must-try in Japan, and there are many sushi restaurants in Osaka and Kyoto. Some of the best sushi restaurants include Sushidokoro Rakuichi in Kyoto and Endo Sushi in Osaka.
For a unique dining experience, try a kaiseki meal. Kaiseki is a traditional multi-course Japanese dinner that features seasonal ingredients and beautiful presentation. Some of the best kaiseki restaurants in Kyoto include Kikunoi and Gion Sasaki.
No trip to Osaka and Kyoto is complete without trying some of the sweet treats. Matcha is a popular flavour in Japan, and there are many matcha desserts to try. Some of the best matcha desserts include matcha ice cream, matcha mochi, and matcha parfait.
If you have a sweet tooth, be sure to try some wagashi. Wagashi is a traditional Japanese sweet that is often served with tea. Some of the best wagashi shops in Kyoto include Toraya and Nakamura Tokichi.
Overall, Osaka and Kyoto are a food lover’s dream. From street food to fine dining, there’s something for everyone. Be sure to try some of the local specialties and indulge in some sweet treats while you’re there.
If you’re a shopaholic, then Osaka and Kyoto are the perfect destinations for you. From markets to shopping malls, there is something for everyone.
One of the best places to shop for souvenirs and unique items is at the Nishiki Market in Kyoto. This market is known as “Kyoto’s Kitchen” and has been around for over 400 years. Here, you can find everything from fresh seafood to traditional Japanese sweets. You can also find unique souvenirs like Japanese knives, lacquerware, and pottery.
Another great market to visit is the Tempozan Market in Osaka. This market is located near the famous Osaka Aquarium and has a variety of shops selling souvenirs and gifts. You can find everything from Japanese snacks to traditional clothing.
Malls and Shopping Centres
For a more modern shopping experience, head to Namba Parks in Osaka. This shopping mall is built around a beautiful park and has over 200 shops and restaurants. You can find everything from high-end fashion to electronics.
If you’re looking for a traditional shopping experience, then head to the shopping streets in Kyoto. These streets are lined with shops selling traditional Japanese goods like kimonos, tea sets, and pottery.
There are also many shopping malls in both Osaka and Kyoto. One of the most popular is the Osaka Station City mall. This mall is located inside Osaka Station and has over 300 shops and restaurants. You can find everything from luxury brands to fast fashion.
Overall, Osaka and Kyoto are great destinations for shopping. Whether you’re looking for souvenirs or high-end fashion, there is something for everyone.
Entertainment and Nightlife
Looking for some excitement and fun in Osaka and Kyoto? You won’t be disappointed with the entertainment and nightlife options available. From lively nightclubs to thrilling theme parks, there’s something for everyone.
If you’re looking for a night out, Osaka and Kyoto have a vibrant nightlife scene. Pontocho Alley in Kyoto is a must-visit for those looking for a traditional Japanese experience. The narrow alley is lined with restaurants and bars, many of which offer live music performances.
In Osaka, Shinsekai is a popular destination for nightlife. The area is known for its lively atmosphere and delicious street food. Don’t miss out on trying the famous kushikatsu, a deep-fried skewer dish that originated in Osaka.
Music and Festivals
Music lovers will be pleased with the variety of concerts and festivals in Osaka and Kyoto. One of the biggest events in Kyoto is the Gion Matsuri, a month-long festival held in July. The festival features parades, traditional performances, and food stalls.
In Osaka, music fans can enjoy live performances at venues like Billboard Live Osaka and Zepp Osaka Bayside. The city also hosts several music festivals throughout the year, such as the Osaka Jazz Festival and the Summer Sonic music festival.
Theme Parks and Attractions
For a fun day out with family or friends, visit one of the many theme parks and attractions in Osaka and Kyoto. Universal Studios Japan in Osaka is a popular destination, with thrilling rides based on popular movies like Harry Potter and Jurassic Park.
In Kyoto, the Kyoto Aquarium offers a unique experience with its interactive exhibits and underwater tunnel. For a quirky attraction, visit the Cup Noodles Museum in Osaka, where you can learn about the history of instant noodles and even create your own cup of noodles.
No matter what your interests are, Osaka and Kyoto have plenty of entertainment and nightlife options to keep you entertained.
Day Trips from Osaka and Kyoto
If you’re looking to explore beyond the cities of Osaka and Kyoto, there are plenty of options for day trips. Here are two great options to consider:
Nara is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to Japan. It’s just a short train ride from both Osaka and Kyoto. Once you arrive, you’ll be greeted by friendly deer that roam freely throughout the city. Nara is home to many historical sites, including the Todai-ji Temple, which houses the world’s largest bronze Buddha statue. You can also visit the Kasuga-taisha Shrine, which is famous for its many lanterns, and explore the beautiful Isuien Garden.
|Distance from Osaka||42 km|
|Distance from Kyoto||42 km|
|Travel time from Osaka||45 minutes by train|
|Travel time from Kyoto||35 minutes by train|
|Approximate cost||¥560 one way from Osaka, ¥710 one way from Kyoto|
Hiroshima is a bit further away from Osaka and Kyoto, but it’s still possible to visit as a day trip. The city is famous for being the site of the first atomic bomb, and there are many historical sites related to this event, including the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and the Atomic Bomb Dome. You can also visit the beautiful Itsukushima Shrine on Miyajima Island, which is just a short ferry ride from Hiroshima.
|Distance from Osaka||345 km|
|Distance from Kyoto||380 km|
|Travel time from Osaka||1.5 hours by bullet train|
|Travel time from Kyoto||2 hours by bullet train|
|Approximate cost||¥18,000 one way from Osaka, ¥19,000 one way from Kyoto|
Whether you choose to visit Nara or Hiroshima, both destinations offer unique experiences that you won’t want to miss. So, hop on a train and start exploring!
Getting around Osaka and Kyoto is easy and convenient thanks to the extensive public transportation network. The metro and JR lines are the most popular modes of transportation, and you can purchase a Japan Rail Pass or JR Pass to save money on travel. The Kansai International Airport is the most convenient airport to both Osaka and Kyoto, and you can take a direct train to either city from the airport.
When it comes to finding a place to stay in Osaka and Kyoto, there are plenty of options to choose from. In Osaka, you can find a variety of hotels, hostels, and guesthouses in popular areas like Namba and Umeda. In Kyoto, staying in a traditional ryokan or a modern hotel near the city center is a great option. Some popular areas to stay in Kyoto include Gion, Higashiyama, and Arashiyama.
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit Osaka and Kyoto is during the spring and autumn seasons when the weather is mild and comfortable. The cherry blossoms in Osaka and Kyoto bloom in late March to early April, making it a popular time for tourists. However, summer can be hot and humid, so it’s important to stay hydrated and wear light clothing if you visit during this time.
Overall, Osaka and Kyoto are great destinations to explore the culture, history, and food of Japan. With a little bit of planning and research, you can have an amazing trip to these two beautiful cities.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are some fun day trips to take from Osaka during winter?
Winter in Osaka can be chilly, but it’s also a great time to explore the surrounding areas. Some fun day trips to take from Osaka during winter include visiting the Himeji Castle, skiing in Biwako Valley, or soaking in the hot springs of Arima Onsen.
What are some nearby cities to visit when in Osaka?
Osaka is located in the Kansai region of Japan, which is home to many other cities worth exploring. Some nearby cities to visit when in Osaka include Kyoto, Nara, Kobe, and Himeji. Each city has its own unique attractions and cultural experiences to offer.
What are the must-see attractions in Osaka, Kyoto, and Nara for a 9-day itinerary?
A 9-day itinerary is a great way to explore the best of Osaka, Kyoto, and Nara. Some must-see attractions in Osaka include the Osaka Castle, Dotonbori, and the Umeda Sky Building. In Kyoto, don’t miss the Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kinkakuji Temple, and Arashiyama Bamboo Grove. In Nara, be sure to visit the Todaiji Temple and Nara Park.
What are the top things to do in Osaka with family?
Osaka is a great destination for families with plenty of kid-friendly attractions. Some top things to do in Osaka with family include visiting Universal Studios Japan, exploring the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan, and taking a ride on the Tempozan Ferris Wheel. Don’t forget to try some of Osaka’s famous street food like takoyaki and okonomiyaki.
What are the best summer activities to do in Osaka?
Summer in Osaka can be hot and humid, but there are still plenty of fun activities to enjoy. Some of the best summer activities to do in Osaka include visiting the Osaka Bay Area, taking a river cruise, and watching the Tenjin Matsuri festival. You can also escape the heat by visiting indoor attractions like the Osaka Science Museum and the National Museum of Art.
Is it possible to visit both Osaka and Kyoto in one day?
While it is possible to visit both Osaka and Kyoto in one day, it’s not recommended. Both cities have so much to offer that it’s best to spend at least a full day in each. If you’re short on time, consider taking a guided tour that will allow you to see the highlights of both cities in a single day.
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