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Last Updated on March 3, 2023 by Jella Erhard

Why choose Osaka over Tokyo

Do you have only a few days in Japan? Go to Osaka! You’ll get more for your money in Osaka and will have a better overall experience. When planning a holiday to Japan, most people look around in Tokyo only. It is the capital, the biggest and the most known. But is it the best choice for everyone?

Well, do not think we are against Tokyo, it is a great city worth to visit. The reason for raising this question is to help plan an active, eventful time in Japan in a considerably low budget. There are loads to see and experience in the capital, but did you know how much Osaka has to offer? In the “nation’s kitchen” you get to see such amazing things as the Osaka Castle, the Aquarium, Floating garden and the famous Universal City (including the Harry Potter Park). 

Besides the many sights in the city, there are great programs nearby, including hopping over to Kyoto for a day or two, spending another day in Nara. Or enjoy a spa day and relax in Kinosaki Onsen. Right, right, there is plenty to see in and around Tokyo as well, why do we make you choose? The answer is easy, just the accommodation prices are much more budget friendly in the smaller city. So the money saved on your room/flat can be spent on all the great attractions.

A few tips before you arrive at Osaka

If your flight lands late, do not worry, there are frequent trains to the center, just pick the closest stop to your base and worst case a taxi will take you there. Taxis are quite expensive (a 2 km ride will be around $7), so try to find a station nearby!

It is a common mistake to think Japanese don’t speak English. Almost everyone will understand you and definitely will be able to show you in the right direction or help you out. That doesn’t mean they don’t appreciate if you are able to say hello or thank you in Japanese.

Traveling off-season (January, February October-December) would save you money and time in cueing, however, you better bring warm clothing! End of January and whole February, October are quite nice.

A flat on Airbnb suitable for up to 4 people: $16/night. In the center with everything in 15 mins reach most. While in Tokyo, you are lucky to find a room for two twice the price.  

JR train 5-day pass to travel in and around (including Kansai airport, Kyoto etc…) 9000 Yen ($80). Might sound expensive, but getting around will not be cheaper in any parts of the country and you already saved that on accommodation.

Food & Drinks

Eating can be easily sorted on a budget. There are small eateries all over the city, even in the center (Hommachi Station for instance), where you get a noodle soup for 400-600 Yen ($3.5-5.3) or various dishes in similar price range.
You can also buy bento boxes and sushi (8-piece nigiri set) in supermarkets for 500 Yen ($4.4) to eat at home. The cheapest restaurants do not offer seats. You can eat standing by the counter. Drinks aren’t cheap nor expensive in Osaka. A beer (330 ml) in restaurants is around 300 Yen ($2.6) and soft drinks are between 200-300 Yen ($1.9-2.6).

Here are our favorite things to visit in Osaka

Osaka Castle

Depending on the time of your visit (the best is the end of March when cherry and apricot trees blossom), a colorful park welcomes you surrounded by the biggest stonewall in Japan. Both the Park and the Castle had seen tough times of wars since of its 1583s completion. In the museum, you get to dip into this architectural wonder’s long and colorful history. Entering the museum costs 1000 Yen ($9) to grant a memorable time in this remarkable building.


Osaka’s shopping center, a street filled with dozens of various tech, beauty shops, cafes, bars, and restaurants. Walking through the illuminated street, where you can never tell it’s past sunset, you will be invited by shopkeepers, host(ess)s to take advantage of their great offers or try their products.
The crowd thickens as the sun goes down and you see people lining up at some particular vendors to have a delicious bite. The colorful, shiny, moving signs above your head make you forget where you were headed and just decide to pop in for a drink or a meal.

Universal World

A  day ticket 7400 Yen ($65) adult and 4980 Yen ($43) children. Add $60 (price varies depending on the number of attractions you want to gain express entry to) for a fast track to all activities. In this huge amusement park, you will definitely spend at least a day. Plan ahead by knowing which attractions you do not want to miss! As mentioned, there are different types of fast track ticket upgrades.
You can geek out here for sure! You can visit the Terminator and Jurassic Park experience with the Harry Potter world, you have to book it specifically. It is highly recommended not to spare the extra expense as in high season (March-October) your fun may be ruined by standing in lines.
Food is pretty expensive. 2000 Yen, $18 for a single meal, so no one will blame you for packing a lunch with you.

Meet Pepper

With its cute appearance and voice, Pepper is a memorable encounter with the AIs’ predecessor. You can find him at many metro stations and shops as well. most of them only speaks Japanese but in bigger media outlets and information spots you can find English speaking peppers as well.
Do you want to learn more about Japan? Here are some amazing reasons why you should visit Japan and spend more time here! You can also check out our Tokyo budget guide to have some really amazing time in the city of wonders!

Thank you for reading!