Want to escape the buzz of Osaka? Set your compass for some of the best day trips from Osaka. Spending time in Osaka puts some of Japan’s best travel destinations within reach. From ancient cities like Nara and Kyoto to the tranquil beaches of Naoshima Island, great spots surround the bustling city.
Need help choosing a destination? Add some spice to your Osaka trip with this guide to the best Osaka day trips.
Top-rated Osaka side trips
Nara is a short trip from Osaka and is a necessary part of any trip to Japan. Nara is the original capital of Japan. The city is only a forty-minute train ride away from Osaka.
You’ll several amazing places to visit in Nara to check out on a day trip. None is more worthy of attention than the sprawling Nara Park.
Nara Park is home to a large population of free-roaming deer. The deer are considered Shinto messengers from God. They’re friendly & majestic and love being fed by tourists.
There’s more to Nara Park than deer, though. The park also houses a thousand-year-old temple, shrines, and botanical gardens. You’ll also find vendors selling sticky, sweet treats here.
Nara also has several shopping districts and many cocktail bars. You can tour the sites in the morning, go shopping in the afternoon, and finish your one day in Nara with a couple of drinks. You can fit a full day into your itinerary before hopping back on the train to Osaka.
How to get to Nara
The easiest way to travel between Osaka and Nara is via the Kintetsu Nara Line. You can travel from Osaka Namba Station on the Rapid Express train and arrive at Kintetsu Nara Station about 40 minutes later. You’ll also get dropped off within walking distance of Nara Park.
For a shorter commute, you can use the limited express services that run between the two stations. Be aware that this train costs about twice the price compared to the rapid express train and only saves you about ten minutes.
Kobe is even a shorter trip from Osaka compared to Nara. You can get there in a half an hour and enjoy one of the biggest port cities in the country.
The best part about visiting Kobe is the food. The crowded streets near the harbor are full of vendors. They offer everything from steamed buns to yakitori, which is skewered chicken seasoned with tare sauce.
Of course, the city is also home to world-renowned Kobe beef. While visiting the city, make sure that you stop at a restaurant to indulge in a steak or a Kobe beef burger.
Besides street food and Kobe beef, you can enjoy a stroll through the Sorakuen Gardens or visit cultural museums in the area.
In the evening, the city really starts to come to life. The nighttime Kobe cityscape is an impressive sight full of lights. You can get a great panoramic view by visiting the Shin-Kobe Ropeway. It’s accessible via the top of the station at Mount Maya. Besides a great view of Kobe, you’ll also see Osaka off in the distance.
How to get to Kobe
Getting to Kobe is incredibly easy. You can get on the JR Rapid Service or JR Kobe Line and travel directly to Kobe in just 30 minutes. The direct trip costs ¥640.
Arima Onsen Town
While Arima Onsen Town is technically within the city limits of Kobe, it’s located on the other side of Mount Rokko. It takes about an hour to travel from Osaka to this natural hot springs escape.
If you’re not familiar with onsen towns, they’re centres built around bubbling hot springs. These towns often attract tons of Japanese tourists. They contain a wide array of hotels and resorts, each with its own access to the hot springs.
You can spend your day soaking your bones and muscles in the hot water. The onsen’s waters contain trace elements of iron, believed to aid muscle aches.
You don’t need to stay in one of the resorts or hotels to enjoy the hot springs. Many of these spots gladly welcome day visitors. Most know that most tourists visit for a soak in the water.
Besides bathing, there are other things to do in Arima Onsen Town. You can walk along charming alleyways and explore the winding paths that lead to temples & shrines.
How to get to Arima Onsen Town
Travelling by train from Osaka to Arima is not a direct trip. You need to take several trains to get there, but it typically only takes a little over an hour. Hop on a train from Osaka to Sanad and then to Arimaguchi. From there, you can transfer to Arima Onsen Town.
If you want a direct route, you’ll need to get on a bus. There are several direct bus routes that travel from Osaka to Arima Onsen. They tend to cost more than the trains due to their convenience.
With so much to do in Osaka and the surrounding area, it’s easy to overlook some of the nearby islands. Case in point: Awaji Island. This small island is attached to the city of Akashi by the longest suspension bridge in the world. The bridge itself is a site to see. It even has its own tourist centre.
There are several cities on the island that you can visit, depending on how early you arrive. Start with Awaji Yumebutai. It’s home to long walking paths, gardens, and the largest garden greenhouse in Japan.
After walking through the parks, visit the main city. Sumoto is the biggest city on the island. It offers natural hot springs and is home to the famous Sumoto Castle.
How to get to Awaji Island
If you have your own vehicle or choose to take a taxi, you can cross the suspension bridge to reach the island. However, taking a taxi can be costly.
The easiest option is to take a ferry. You can take a train from Osaka to Akashi. This should take about 40 minutes. You can then walk a few minutes to the port and ride a ferry to the island. The total trip takes just over an hour.
Wakayama City is a little further from Osaka than the previous destinations. It’s still close enough for a short, fun trip. Wakayama is a bit of a one-stop shop. It includes many onsens, parks, temples, and a towering castle.
You should start your day trip in the centre of the city to get a closer look at the castle tower. You can then spend the rest of the day exploring the old stone streets and winding pathways. On the way, you’ll stumble upon shops, restaurants, and old residential areas.
If you’re a fan of temple sightseeing, you’ll love this city. There are several temples and shrines here. They’ll surely take your breath away with their tranquil architecture and setting.
How to get to Wakayama
You can take a direct route from Osaka to Wakayama. You just need to take the JR Kansai Airport Rapid Service. The trip takes about an hour and a half. Start early.
When you think of a canal city, Venice likely enters the mind. However, Japan has a few of its own canal cities. One of the finest is Kurashiki. Several hundred years ago, Kurashiki was essential to transportation in the area. While it is no longer a center of commerce, many of the old concrete warehouses are still intact and well-preserved.
Of course, you’ll need to take a boat ride through the canals. You can sit back and relax as your guide takes you through the waterways under drooping willow trees and past ancient buildings.
You can also take in a bit of culture during your day trip. The city has several of its own museums, including a toy museum dedicated to Japanese toys.
How to get to Kurashiki
Kurashiki is a bit of a trek from Osaka. The fastest trip is by train. You can get there in just over an hour and a half by getting on the train at the Yodoyabashi Station. At Shin-Osaka Station, you’ll transfer to the Okayama route, which is the longest leg of the journey. From there, take a train to Kurashiki.
Most of the Osaka day trips discussed provide opportunities for shopping, dining, and sightseeing. If you prefer to relax on a beach instead, Naoshima Island is a great destination.
This beautiful oceanside town is a quaint place to get away from the busy streets of Osaka and the neighbouring region. You can spend all day on the beach and fill up on snacks and meals from nearby resorts.
Besides dipping your toes in the water and walking the white sand beaches, you can experience original and unique art. Naoshima Island is also called Naoshima Art Island. There’s a variety of unique museums and art pieces here. The most famous is “Yellow Pumpkin,” by celebrated Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama. The sculpture, installed near the beach, depicts a large and colourful spotted pumpkin.
How to get to Naoshima Island
Get on the train at Shin-Osaka Station and head toward Okayama. Like travelling to Kurashiki, this is the longest part of the journey. From Okayama Station, take a train or bus to Uno Port, the main gateway to the island.
Where to stay in Osaka for day-trippers
With the immense size of Japan’s third-largest city, figuring out where to stay in Osaka can sometimes present a challenge. Namba is usually a good choice for travellers. For day-trippers, though, staying around Osaka Station or Shin-Osaka Station is more convenient. Here are a few recommended hotels…
- ibis Osaka Umeda is one of the better hotels in Umeda for those on a tighter budget. This stylish chain hotel offers spacious rooms in a fantastic location. It’s connected to the train station and metro.
- Hilton Osaka Hotel is a superb pick in the mid-range/luxury segment of the market. The hotel is located right around the corner from Umeda Station. It delivers large rooms with spectacular city views. Extra amenities like a swimming pool, fitness centre, hot tub, and sauna add to the experience.
- The Ritz-Carlton Osaka is one of the top luxury hotels in Osaka. This 5-star hotel offers accommodations like none other in the city. You’ll enjoy luxurious suites & rooms along with world-class amenities. Included are an on-site Michelin-starred French restaurant, sauna, hot tub, swimming pools, and a spa.