Osaka 5 thrilling activities and must visit spots.

Osaka: 5 thrilling activities and must-visit spots

If Tokyo’s big personality drains your energy, the quaint but lively city of Osaka is a wonderful alternative.

The bustling street food scene, exciting nightlife, myriad shopping attractions, and a strategic location close to Kyoto and Nara (in the rare case you get bored) mean you can plan your trip as you go.

Below, I’ve listed five exciting ideas to help you get started. Let’s dive in!

Nintendo's mario world in tokyo, japan.

Relive your favorite films and characters at Universal Studios Japan

Universal Studios Japan, or USJ for short, is the first Universal Studios brand in Asia and a close rival of Disneyland in Tokyo.

There are dozens of amusement rides, such as child-friendly carousels and heart-thumping roller coasters all based on movies and characters.

But here’s the big news: USJ ushers in 2021 with Super Nintendo World!

It’s the 10th addition to the different zones, which already include Universal Wonderland, Hollywood, New York, San Francisco, Jurassic Park, Waterworld, Amity Village, Minion Park, and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

There’s Yoshi’s Adventure, a treasure hunt activity, but inside a recreation of Bowser’s Castle lies the main attraction.

Mario Kart: Koopa’s Challenge uses augmented reality, projection mapping, and fully dimensional environments to bring the series’ popular courses to life. If you’ve been meaning to visit here, now’s the perfect time!

Buy USJ merchandise

Apart from the rides, you can also buy USJ merchandise and limited edition products of popular characters like Sesame Street, Hello Kitty, and more.

Don’t forget to pose with mascots of Snoopy and the Muppets while holding a character-themed snack.

You can watch the night parade featuring illuminated floats.

Or, schedule your trip around Halloween and Christmas times to catch the special events and limited-time attractions on offer.

A large blue ball in the middle of a plaza.


Visit the massive Kaiyukan Aquarium

Also known as Osaka Aquarium, Kaiyukan (海遊館) in Tempozan Harbor Village of Osaka Bay is only a short drive away from USJ.

With eight floors of exhibits featuring over 500 kinds of marine life, it aims to be the biggest aquarium in the world!

There are special interactive exhibits but the mainstays won’t disappoint too.

Meet and read about the Japanese giant salamander in the Japan Forest, tufted puffin in Aleutian Islands, largha seal in Monterey Bay, red piranha in Ecuador Rain Forest, adelie penguin in Antarctica, and the whale shark in the Pacific Ocean.

If you have kiddos in tow, they’ll have fun in the main tank, home to colorful tropical fish and mystical marine animals like seahorses. 

Some say that staring at the sea is a relaxing activity.

If you agree, stay for a while.

When the clock strikes 5 in the evening, the aquarium shifts from daytime to reveal an enchanting underwater scene.

The music changes and the fishes dance in the moonlight. Magical!

A city street in tokyo.


Go on retail therapy at Shinsaibashi

Ask any local or friends that have been here before for the best shopping destination, and they’ll most likely point you to Shinsaibashi (心斎橋).

From luxury to fast fashion brands, there’s an oversupply of boutiques and department stores within the complex.

But that’s not all! There’s also a wide variety of shops such as variety shops, dining spots, and more.

In reality, this shopping district is really a collection of arcades.

That means it’s pretty much an endless maze where you can pick up souvenirs, handicrafts, household objects, and every knickknack imaginable until your energy and your wallet drain.

You can spend half an hour to an entire afternoon here. Which is perfect since your next stop will just be a hop away: Dotonbori.

Enjoy the nightlife in Dotonbori

If you want a deep dive into local culture, the touristic neighborhood of Dotonbori (道頓堀) is where you’ll get it.

People smoking, drinking, and noshing on street food brush past each other as they enter and exit the shops, bars, and entertainment centers. 

It may sound busy, yes.

But evening welcomes a relaxed atmosphere best enjoyed from the roof terraces of a cafe or restaurant while listening to live music or looking out to the twinkling neon lights and billboards that glitter off the river.

This scene is what makes the city Dotonbori. 

Go on a discovery walk. Or, have your picture taken against the Kuidaore clown slowly banging his drum and the most photographed Glico Man running across the world. 

Make Don Quixote your last stop and buy an interestingly-flavored KitKat to snack on back at the hotel.

A display of seafood in a glass case.


Try local food at Kuromon Market

Osaka is a city for the food-obsessed, and Kuromon Market is hailed as the “kitchen of the nation”.

Most shops here are family-owned and have been existing for more than a century, carrying more history and charm than modern shopping malls. 

With over 130 street food stalls, it’ll be difficult for you to decide which foods to try first.

Thankfully, there are tours available so you can focus on just eating!

Most tours will gladly accommodate requests if you mention you’re vegetarian or vegan when you inquire.

Food Tour

Magical Trip’s food tour will take you to the best spots for sampling regional snacks, fresh seafood, and hot-pot dishes.

As you gather your thoughts on each treat, your guide will share interesting facts about the Osaka food culture and the market’s history.

Tip: take advantage of this opportunity to ask your guide for insider tips on what to try, where to go, and what to do in Osaka for the rest of your stay. Locals know best!

To cap off the tour, you’ll head to a street named Doguyasuji to browse kitchenware, tableware, and cooking equipment.

It’s a quirky remembrance of the nation’s kitchen and a practical gift for your loved ones who enjoy cooking.



Osaka is a delightful city with a perfect blend of modernity and tradition, offering you a wide range of exciting activities and places to explore.

From thrilling rides at Universal Studios Japan to the magical underwater world at Kaiyukan Aquarium, and the bustling shopping arcades of Shinsaibashi to the vibrant nightlife of Dotonbori, Osaka has something for everyone.

Would you rather book tours or are you a D.I.Y traveler?

Sound off in the comments below what’s the best way to explore a city like Osaka!

For more trip-planning hacks and food guides, check out my Travel posts.

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