Day Trips From Osaka – Osaka is one of the biggest three destinations in Japan for tourists who are visiting for the first time, and it’s not hard to see why. It’s an explosive city, full of glowing neon lights, massive crowds (both locals and tourists!), and hundreds of shops and restaurants crammed into small spaces … all of this alongside small, narrow alleyways hosting tiny bars, temples and shrines right in the middle of the cities, and famous rivers flowing right through its centre.
With so many things to see and do in the city itself, you might find it hard to make the time to do day trips, but due to the complex and intricate transport network within and around Osaka, day trips are as easy as 1-2-3!
We’ve listed below some of the best day trips you can do from Osaka, so strap on and prepare your pens!
The 10 Best Day Trips From Osaka
- Kobe & Arima Onsen
- Hiroshima & Miyajima Island
Kyoto, one of the other three big destinations for first-timers to Japan. What many people don’t realise is that whilst it’s quite special to be able to stay in the extremely aesthetic and nostalgic city itself, it can quite easily be done as a day trip from Osaka. After all, it’s literally only a 30-minute train ride away!
We actually don’t even know where to get started for Kyoto. There are just so many sights to see and activities to do, but if we absolutely had to pick, then the gorgeous Kiyomizu-dera Temple is a worthy trip for the views, as is a visit to the delightful Nishiki Seafood Market for some fresh seafood for lunch, a stroll through the stunning Gion District for some nostalgic photos (you might even be able to spot a Geisha!), Arashiyama Bamboo Forest for the unique experience of walking under towering groves of bamboo, the climb through the thousands of torii gates at the Fushimi Inari Shrine, and lastly, a peek at the Kinkaku-ji Temple (aka the Golden Temple).
If you want to be part of a cool tour to visit Kyoto from Osaka, feel free to book this tour online.
And to read up more about Kyoto, click here: Kyoto Travel Blog.
The wonderful city of Nara boasts eight UNESCO World Heritage sites, so if you think there are only deer here, you are way off the mark! In saying that, the deer are so very cute and should be the centre of your itinerary.
Nara was once an ancient capital of Japan, and to this day, the rustic charm of the city has not been lost. The area is littered with Buddhist temples and Shino shrines, you’ll spot people exploring in yukatas and wooden sandals, and during the sakura season, Nara presents one of the most beautiful landscapes you’ll ever come across.
If you want to visit Nara with a tour from Osaka, this one is our favorite.
For those who crave an experience with nature, but don’t want to travel too far outside of Osaka, then Minoo is the place to visit. It is literally a stone throw away from the busy city of Osaka (only 30-minutes via train!), but it may as well be hundreds of miles away as it’s peace and tranquillity is beyond what you would expect.
The town itself is quite humble, and the main attraction here is Minoo Park, particularly Minoo Waterfall. The 33m picturesque waterfall is a 40-minute easy hike from the beginning of the park, which is only a short walk from the station. Along the way, you’ll pass through beautiful foliage and temples. You’ll notice stalls at the beginning of the entrance selling maple leaf tempura – you must try this! They’re essentially maple leaves sprinkled with salt, mixed with sugar and wheat flour, deep-fried. They are some delicious biscuits.
Minoo is a great, green day-trip from Osaka, if we do say so ourselves!
Koyasan, or Mount Koya, is one of the most important religious landmarks of all of Japan. It’s located in the Kii Mountains of the Wakayama Prefecture and is revered by Japanese people and tourists alike. Whilst most past visitors will claim that Koyasan is a place that needs to be lived, not just visited, it can be easily experienced through a day trip. Whilst you might not get the full spiritual experience, it will still make for a memorable trip.
The trip to and from Osaka City to Koyasan, if organised property, will take 2-ish hours one way. If you want a leisurely trip, you will need to cut out some big sights (not the worst thing in the world!), but if you want to fit it all in, in one day, you will need to quicken your pace! Some notable things to include in your itinerary include Okunoion Temple, the temple where Kobo Daishi passed, Kongobuji Temple, Garan, the central temple complex, and the multiple pilgrimage trails in and around Koyasan, most of which take a few hours.
If you want to visit Koysana via a guided tour from Osaka, we highly recommend this day tour.
5. Kobe & Arima Onsen
Kobe is only a 15-minute train ride from Osaka City, and Arima Onsen is just over 30-minutes away from Kobe, thus making Kobe and Arima Onsen totally do-able in a day trip, and probably one of the easiest day trips you can whilst in Osaka!
Kobe itself is globally renowned as the centre point in Japan for experiencing melt-in-your Wagyu meat that most people can only dream of. Heading there, there are restaurants that serve those who are penny pinchers (Steakland Kobekan is a renowned establishment for offering premium-style yet affordable Kobe sets for lunch), and those after an A-grade Kobe beef experience (Kokubu, anyone?). Apart from that, the ropeway is a popular and romantic date option, Kobe Harborland is great for those who want to do some shopping, and Kobe’s Chinatown is a great option for those after a unique culinary experience!
Arima Onsen is a popular onsen option for those in Osaka because of its close proximity, and so the crowds here are slightly larger than other onsen towns, but the trip is still well-worth it. It offers a unique experience due to the water composition, which produces ‘gold’ and ‘silver’ water deposits into the hot spring baths.
By the way, Arima Onsen has actually amazing Japanese traditional inns so if you want to stay overnight, check out our selection of the best Ryokan in Arima Onsen.
Wakayama is located down south of Osaka and is a great day-trip option for those who want to get back in touch with nature. There are plenty of unique sights and experiences to participate in here, but some of the stand-outs include visiting Mount Koya, exploring the Kumano area (made up of three significant shrines), and getting to know the city.
If you’re pressed for time, we recommend visiting Wakayama City only, as you can leisurely explore it without having to rush. Popular landmarks include the Wakayama Castle (an important historical site of the city which dates back to the 16th century and part of our 10 best castles in Japan selection), walking across the Ohashi Roka Bridge, the Kishu Toshogu Shrine where you can get stunning coastal views, and of course, the island resort of Marina City, which hosts Porto Europa (a fun amusement park), a fish market, a fresh fruit market, and an onsen onsite.
Amanohashidate is a small coastal town up north of Osaka. It’s one of the day trips that takes slightly longer to get to, but when you arrive, the slowed down time and leisurely atmosphere will loosen your mind and muscles and you can enjoy exploring the place at your own pace.
Amanohashidate is actually famous for its sandbar, a long pine tree covered phenomenon that connects Miyazu Bay to the main island. Many local tourists head here to get a glimpse of it because it is said to look like it depicts a pathway between heaven and earth! You can travel over to the other side of the bay and go bike riding and hiking for views.
Aside from that, there are shrines and temples that you can pay a visit to, but generally a trip here is quite toned down and you’ll be able to get the R&R that you’ve been ‘pining’ for.
To go to Amanohashidate with a tour from Osaka, we highly recommend you to book this one!
8. Hiroshima & Miyajima Island
Visitors to Hiroshima can attest that visiting this city can be very emotionally taxing and is better done overnight or even over a few days to really take in all the history and culture that this area has to offer. However, we understand that some people just don’t have the luxury of a few days to spare, so we can guarantee that, yes, Hiroshima and Miyajima Island can be done as a day trip from Osaka if planned properly (yes you’d start early, and yes it would actually be for the entire day!).
Some of the stand out things that you should include in your itinerary include paying a visit to the Peace Memorial Museum, which details the historic event that happened to Hiroshima in 1945, walking around the peace memorial park and viewing the Atomic Bomb Dome, and trying Hiroshima okonomiyaki (a local favourite!).
That is, of course, only half your day.
You would then take a train to the port nearby and catch a ferry across to Miyajima Island where you can spend the rest of the day (or the first half of the day, depending on how you want to travel) taking photos with the native deer on the island, eating to your heart’s content, and either hiking or catching the cable car up to the top of the mountains for the views. Don’t forget to capture an image of the famous Itsukushima Shrine whilst you’re there!
To visit Hiroshima and Miyajima with a guided tour, feel free to book this cool day trip.
Traveling from Osaka to Himeji takes less than an hour, which is why it’s a popular choice for those slightly pressed for time but also wanting an experience outside of the city life. The Himeji Castle, also known as the ‘white heron castle’ is one of the most popular and beautiful in Japan (as considered by the locals). Its pure white exterior is quite unique, and with its grand structure standing tall against the sky, it’s quite a favourite amongst photographers. And this is not even touching on its picturesque grounds and interior!
Himeji also offers visitors plenty of garden scenery to admire (Koko-en Garden is where it’s at!), temples to explore, food to discover (Himeji oden is said to be Japanese soul food…who can resist that?), and of course, the famous Taiyo Park, an attraction that features replicas of many of the famous landmarks around the world (such as the Pyramids of Egypt) right here in Japan. The purpose of this park was to allow people with travel difficulties to be able to see the world as well, and the park raises awareness for this issue as well as money. A great cause if we do say so ourselves!
Sitting at a relatively far distance of 2-hours away from Osaka, Ise is probably one of the day trips that need extra care and attention when planning a day trip for, as getting to and from there will take approximately four hours. However, if you’re the type to enjoy searching for off-the-beaten path shrines and temples and spots deep in nature away from crowds and noise to take in the beauty and atmosphere, then a trip to Ise is highly recommended.
The most famous attraction in Ise is the Ise Jingu Shrine, considered to be Japan’s most sacred shrine and quite often referred to by locals as the “Heart of Japan”. People make the effort to travel here as it is believed that spending time in the surrounding greenery and nature can reinvigorate the mind and soul and spirit.
Whilst you’re there, don’t forget to spend time perusing through Ohiraimachi, a quaint but bustling town full of olden-style buildings that boast shops, restaurants and souvenir stores. In the middle of Ohiramaichi is Okage-yokocho, a strip of re-created buildings that reflect the Edo Period and Meiji Period buildings back in history. Grab a meal of freshly made udon noodles, snap some photos of the historic buildings, and purchase some cute Japanese souvenirs before making your way back to Osaka.
Osaka City may pack a punch when it comes to jam-packed city activities for tourists, but when you’re willing to travel from 30-minutes up to 2-hours outside of the city centre, boy will your world be turned upside down the choices you have. Every single city and attraction listed above is beautiful and unique in its own right, and so if you want to spend less time in the city, we recommend you add a few to your itinerary the next time you’re in town.
And to get more info about Osaka, you can continue to read these blog posts: Osaka Travel Blog.