Where to stay in Osaka First Time: 7 Best Areas

The seven best areas to stay in Osaka for first-timers are the neighborhoods of Kita, Miami, Honmachi, Shin-Osaka, Tennoji, Osaka Castle, and Osaka Bay. These districts are safe, have easy access to public transport, and a wide variety of tourist attractions and amenities such as hotels, restaurants, bars, and shops. In this guide, we will be looking at where to stay in Osaka for tourists, for nightlife, shopping, family, cheap, and near universal studios.

Osaka and Kyoto are the two most popular places to stay in southern part of Japan. Osaka is the better detination between these two if you want more shopping and food. It is better to stay in Kyoto if you want an authentic traditional Japanese experience. If hotels in Kyoto are fully booked, you can stay in Osaka, which is only less than one hour by train from Kyoto.

Kita district is the best area to stay in Osaka for first time traveller due to its central location and well-connected public transportation. It is home Umeda which is the main transport hub of Osaka, with plenty of shopping, dining, and accommodation options. Almost all lines run through Umeda Station including the Shinkansen bullet train station.

If you are travelling with family, I recommend staying in Osaka Bay. Osaka Bay is a family-friendly area with plenty of activities for kids with Universal Studios Japan and Tempozan Harbor Village.

If you’re after vibrant nightlife, Minami and Dotonbori district are your best bet. This liveliest part offers the wildest nightlife in Osaka, vibrant street food and late night shopping. Meanwhile, Honmachi and the Shin-Osaka area are the best places to stay for budget travelers. These neighborhoods have well-connected transport, and offer bigger hotel rooms with cheaper prices compared with the Osaka Downtown.

If you are after the best area to stay in Osaka for Cherry Blossoms, look no further than Osaka Castle. There are more than 5,000 cherry blossom trees along the river banks for hanami picnics.

You can find all types of accommodation in Osaka from budget guesthouses, traditional Japanese style inns – ryokan, B&Bs, vacation rentals to luxury international hotels. The hotels in Osaka can get fully sold out far in advance for a busy season such as the cherry blossom season from late March to mid-April and the autumn foliage season in November. Be sure to Book well in advance at least 3 to 4 months ahead during peak seasons.

Once you choose the best area to book hotel, you need to decide How many days should I stay in Osaka? Well, if you are a first-timer traveler, I recommend spending three days in Osaka to see all the famous tourist attractions in the city without being too rushed. If you have more time in both Osaka and Kyoto, you can take a day trips to Nara, Kobe and Himeji.

💖 Best Area for first-timers:Kita district (Umeda area)
💎 Best luxury hotel:Rihga Royal Hotel
🏨 Best mid-range hotel:Hotel Monterey Le Frere Osaka
💰 Best budget hotel:Hotel Wing International Select Osaka Umeda

7 Best areas to stay in Osaka for tourist

1. Kita district, Umeda Station, where to stay in Osaka for first-timers

Kita is the best area to stay in Osaka for first-timers because it the transport and business hub of the city. Also known as Umeda, Kita (the north side) is the modern part of Osaka. It is one of the main districts in Osaka along with Miami (the south side) district.

You will also find Umeda station in this downtown’s hub which is one of the main stations in the area. Umeda Subway Station offers easy access to the Shinkansen trains at Shin-Osaka station.

JR Osaka Station is the heart of the district, and is actually part of a facility called Osaka Station City. Kita is home to the stop of  four train lines including JR Line (JR Osaka Loop Line, JR Kobe Line, and JR Kyoto Line), Hankyu, Keihan and Hanshin. 

It offers easy access to Himeji, Kobe, Kyoto and Nara with direct trains, and easy access to the airport with Kansai airport limousine bus and JR Kansai Rapid Airport train. You can also easily reach Osaka Castle and Sakuranomiya Park for cherry blossoms by public transport within no time.

The Kita district is filled with skyscrapers, office buildings, shops, restaurants and bars, entertainments, hotels, big brand department stores, and several underground shopping malls. This “North” district also offers clean, safe, wide pedestrian-friendly sidewalks, making it an enjoyable place to explore the city on foot.

In the north side district of Umeda, within a 10 minute walk from the north gate of JR Osaka Station sits the Umeda Sky Building in Shin Umeda City. Umeda Sky Building is a 173 meter tall skyscraper with an open-air observation deck on its roof. It’s one of the tallest and most impressive buildings in Osaka. You will find the Westin Osaka hotel nearby.

If you are looking for the best area to do shopping, Kita district offers you plenty of choices such as the Tenjimbashi-suji Shopping Street, the Hep Five, Grand Front Osaka, Links Umeda.

The Tenjimbashi-suji Shopping Street is the 2.6km shopping arcade that stretches from the Tenjinbashi-suji Rokuchome Subway Station to the Tenjinbashi Bridge. It’s the longest shotengai in Osaka. You will find plenty of retro shops, restaurants and cafes.

HEP (Hankyu Entertainment Park) is located within a short walk east of Umeda and JR Osaka stations. It is a huge shopping, entertainment, and dining complex including the HEP FIVE and HEP Navio buildings, east of the Hankyu department store. The HEP FIVE has a red Ferris wheel on its roof that offers a great view over the city of Osaka.

For history buffs, there are a few museums to explore such as Osaka Museum of Housing and Living, Kids Plaza Osaka with science museum, Museum of Oriental Ceramics, National Museum of Art.

The Osaka Museum of Housing and Living is located near the Tenjinbashisuji 6-chome Station. The museum has recreated buildings and streets that show the entire city during the Edo Period. Visitors can learn all about what life was like in Osaka in the past. 

For families with kids, Kids Plaza Osaka is a must-see. It is the first museum in Japan dedicated to child education. There’re plenty of activities for young kids to enjoy.

The Museum of Oriental Ceramics is a Japanese art museum and regarded as one of the best ceramic-collections in the world. The museum displays collections of Chinese and Korean, and Japanese ceramics.

Located near the Osaka Science Museum is the small National Museum of Art, Osaka. It’s on underground floors on Nakanoshima Island in central Osaka. It shows works of Japanese and foreign contemporary art.

For a nice little stroll, visit the 11 hectare park, Nakanoshima-koen Park. It is sandwiched between Tosabori  and Dōjima Rivers. The is home to a stunning rose garden, Museum of Oriental Ceramics, Osaka Prefectural Nakanoshima Library, Osaka Central Public Hall, and close to the City Hall of Osaka building.

Located in the renowned nightlife Tenma district, Osaka Tenmangu Shrine (Ohatsu Tenjin Shrine) is one of the most important shrines in Japan. It’s famous for the Tenjin Matsuri festival, which is held each year on July 24 and 25. During the festival, there are land marches and a river procession with fireworks.

Not only shopping, sightseeing, there are plenty of restaurants for you to try. There are a wide selection of bars and restaurants near the stations, on the street, and inside department stores. The cuisine served varies greatly from Japanese food like yakitori to Western food.

The area offers plenty of activities to do at day but pretty quiet at night. If you want a great nightlife, head to Dotonbori. 

There are a wide variety of luxury and upper mid-range tourist hotels such as The Ritz-Carlton Osaka, Hilton, Granvia, dai-ichi, ANA Hotel, InterContinental Hotel Osaka, Westin, New hankyu. It offers more spacious rooms compared to Japanese standards.

Stay in Kita district if you area a first time traveller; you love modern cityscape, you want to do a lot of day trips to other cities in Kansai region, you love shopping, you want easy access to sights and attractions by public transport.

Best places to stay in Osaka in Kita district:


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2. Minami, Namba Station, Dotonbori district, and Shinsaibashi – South District

The “South” district – Miami is one of the downtown hubs of Osaka along with the “North” district – Kita/Umeda. It offers great nightlife, shopping, and dining but in a more traditional way.

Minami is also an important transport hub and home to the stop of  three train lines including the Kintetsu Line, the JR Line, and the Nankai Line. It offers easy access to southern Osaka, Wakayama, and Nara.

The Midosuji subway line stops at Namba station and Shinsaibashi station. Namba station is well-connected by train and subway, making it the best place to stay in Osaka to travel to other parts of Osaka, Kansai airport, Nara, and Kyoto.

Namba Station contains multiple interconnected subway and train lines which are within walking distance from each other. They are Namba Nankai Station, Namba Station Subway Line, and JR Namba Station.

Miami is divided by the wide boulevard of Midosuji from north to south, and by Dotonbori Canal from east to west. There’re plenty of things to do and see in this area from the Dotonbori nightlife and dining district, Midosuji shopping street, Shinsaibashi-suji shopping arcade, trendy Amerika Mura district,and  Den-Den Town, the Nippombashi with the Kuromon Market.

Located within easy walking distance from Namba station, Dotonbori district offers vibrant nightlife, shopping, and dining. If you’re looking for the best places to stay in Osaka for nightlife, Dotonbori is the best area for you.

Running parallel to the southern bank of the Dotonbori canal is the Dotonbori Arcade. You can find the most famous and largest restaurants, and Osaka symbols such as the renowned Glico running man above Ebisubashi Bridge, the huge crab sign and neon lights. 

If you are a foodie, be sure to check this colorful area! You must try octopus dumpling in Kukuru restaurant,  authentic Japanese beef shabu shabu in Hariju restaurant, deep fried kebabs of skewered meat fish in Kushikatsu Daruma restaurant, and crab in Kani Douraku restaurant with its huge moving crab in front of the shop.

Not only famous for its street food scene, Dotonbori also has some famous culture and history attractions such as the Hozen-ji Yokocho Alley and Hozen-ji Temple, the National Bunraku Theatre, and the Konamon Museum.

Next destination in the Miami area is Nippombashi. Nippombashi is located to the east of Dotonbori with, and well-known for its Kuromon Ichiba Market. Kuromon Ichiba Market is the best area to stay in Osaka for foodies. The bustling market offers  fresh fruits, cheap bento boxes, and grilled seafood.

Nippombashi is also home to Den-Den Town, where you can bargain shopping on electronics, computers, and cameras. It’s similar to Tokyo’s Akihabara district.

Neighboring Dotonbori is Osaka’s Shopping Center, Shinsaibashi. Shinsaibashi is home to the famous shopping arcade in Osaka called Shinsaibashi-suji Shopping Street and Midosuji avenue. 

The  600 meters long Shinsaibashi-suji Shopping Street offers more affordable items while Midosuji avenue provides a luxury shopping experience. Shinsaibashi is the best area where to stay in Osaka for shopping lovers.

On the west side of  Midosuji avenue is the hip and trendy neighborhood, Amerika-Mura (Amemura). This America Village has plenty of hip-hop wear shops, and foreigner-friendly cafes, bars and restaurants, and international food.

Other attractions in the Miami area are the Namba Yasaka Shrine (Lion Shrine), Namba Parks, Kamigata Ukiyo-e Museum, and Namba Grand Kagetsu (NGK) Theatre.

Stay in the Miami (Namba) area if you’re looking for the best places to stay in Osaka for first time travelers; you want vibrant nightlife, great shopping, dining, sightseeing and convenient access to Downtown Kyoto, Nara, and Kansai airport.

Best places to stay in Osaka in Miami district:


3. Honmachi (Central Osaka), where to stay in Osaka on budget

Located between Minami and Kita Downtown districts, Honmachi (Central Osaka) is the best area to stay in Osaka if you’re struggling to decide whether to stay in Kita or Miami. It is still in a central location but quieter than the North and the South district.

Honmachi is within a short distance to Kita and Miami by foot and  the Midosuji subway line. This office district has plenty of restaurants and a few bars, and most importantly it provides more affordable accommodations with many mid-priced hotels. 

In Central Osaka, you will find Utsubo-koen Park which is located within a short walk from Honmachi subway station. Utsubo-koen Park has a rose garden, fountain, and a tennis center. It’s a good place for a walk, a picnic, and is the most popular spot for cherry blossoms in Spring.

Honmachi is only a 20 minute walk from the biggest attraction in Osaka, Osaka Castle Park. It is a great option to stay in Honmachi for cherry blossoms. 

Honmachi doesn’t have many sights but you’re within walking distance to the nightlife, shopping, and food in Kita and Miami. You can easily see attractions like Namba Yasaka Shrine, Nishinomaru Garden,  Osaka International Peace Center, Osaka Kigyoka Museum, and Chukasoba Kazura.

Stay in Honmachi if you’re looking for where to stay in Osaka cheap as you want cheaper hotels than downtown areas; you want a quiet neighborhood close to the centre; you want to stay close to the cherry blossoms area.

Best places to stay in Osaka in Honmachi:


4. Shin-Osaka area, easy access to shinkansen line

Located on the north of the Yodo-gawa River, Shin-Osaka area offers easy access to shinkansen (Japan’s famous bullet train) lines and a few minutes train ride to downtown Osaka with the Midosuji subway line. Shin-Osaka station provides easy access around Japan with Japan Rail Pass to Himeji, Kyoto, Hiroshima, and other parts of Osaka.

There’s nothing to do in the Shin-Osaka area, but this important transport hub has plenty of places to stay and many places to eat around Shin-Osaka station. You can easily find decent hotels here with good deal prices from budget hotels to mid-range hotels but you can find more luxury hotels in the downtown area.

Some of the best hotels are the budget hotel Hotel Wing International Shin-Osaka, the luxury Courtyard by Marriott Shin-Osaka Station, the mid-range hotel Remm Shin-Osaka, and the family-friendly hotel Shin-Osaka Station Hotel Honkan.

If you want affordable accommodation, a convenient location with well-connected transport to travel around Japan, the Shin-Osaka area is the best area to stay for you.

Best places to stay in Osaka in Shin-Osaka:


5. Osaka Castle area, where to stay in Osaka for cherry blossoms

Osaka Castle and Osaka Castle Park are the popular tourist attractions in spring when visiting Osaka for the beautiful cherry blossoms. Osaka Castle is easily reached by the  JR Osaka Loop Line, the private Keihan Line, and two subway lines.

The stunning castle, Osaka Castle (Osaka-jo) is a famous landmark in Japan. It was built by Hideyoshi Toyotomi and was destroyed several times, most recently during WWII. 

Located in the north of Osaka Castle is the Sakuranomiya Park. The park has more than five thousand cherry blossom trees along the charming river bank. During the cherry blossom season from late March to early April, the park is filled with people having hanami picnics under the trees on the Osaka park grounds.

Other attractions are Osaka Museum of History and Naniwa-no-Miya Palace Ruin. The  history museum, Osaka Museum of History is located near the Tanimachiyonchome Station and Osaka Castle Park. You will learn more about the history of Osaka and enjoy beautiful views of Osaka Castle from its 7th to 10th floor.

The Naniwa-no-Miya Palace Ruin is located within walking distance from the Osaka Museum of History to the south. It’s a great place to relax and take a break from the crowd in Osaka Castle Park.

If you’re looking for where to stay in Osaka for cherry blossoms, the Osaka Castle area is the best area to stay in. The benefits of staying near Osaka Castle are that you will be convenient for cherry blossoms and beautifully illuminated at night time and you will have bigger rooms with cheaper prices compared with the Kita and Miami area. 

Best places to stay in Osaka Castle area:


6. Osaka Bay and Universal Studios, where to stay in Osaka for families for theme parks

Located 30 minute by train from Osaka Downtown, Osaka Bay is home to two entertainment hubs including American-style theme parks – Universal Studios Japan, and Tempozan Harbor Village with its  giant Ferris wheel, Osaka Aquarium, and a shopping and dining center. 

If you’re looking for the best places to stay in Osaka for the theme parks, look no further than Osaka Bay! Osaka Bay is the best area to stay in Osaka for families with children and want a lot of family-friendly activities.

Osaka Aquarium (Kaiyukan) is one of the best aquariums in the world. The entry ticket is pretty expensive but it’s well worth it.

The Tempozan Ferris Wheel (Ferris wheel) is located between Osakako subway station and Osaka Aquarium. It offers a fantastic view of the Bay Area, Kobe, and Osaka.

Universal Studios Japan (amusement park) is a massive American-style theme park. It’s not cheap, and I suggest you buy an express pass to avoid spending all day in a queue. 

Other attractions that are worth mentioning are Nanko Bird Sanctuary, Naniwa Kuishinbo Yokocho, and the Universal City Walk Osaka.

Best places to stay in Osaka Bay:


7. Tennoji area, home to Shinsekai and Tsutenkaku Tower

Tennoji is the south end district of Osaka. It is the third major downtown hub after Kita and Miami.  This up-and-coming shopping, dining and entertainment district offers a lot of things to do and see.

Stay in Tennoji, you will be close to popular attractions such as Abeno Harukas, Shinsekai retro entertainment district, Tennoji-koen Park, Tennoji Zoo, Liberty Osaka Museum, Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine and Shitenno-ji Buddhist Temple.

Rising 300 meters above Kintetsu Abenobashi Station, the skyscraper Abeno Harukas is one of Japan’s tallest buildings. The Harukas observatory offers a fabulous view over the city of Osaka, Kobe, Wakayama, and the Inland Sea. If you want to stay in this area, the Osaka Marriott Miyako Hotel is a good option for you. There’s also the Abeno Harukas Art Museum inside the building.

The retro entertainment area of Shinsekai Neighborhood (New World) is home to Tsutenkaku Tower (Osaka Tower), Spa World, and the famous dish kushikatsu. Tsutenkaku Tower looks very much like the Eiffel Tower.  Spa World is a large bath complex with a great number of pools on an Asian themed floor and a European themed floor.

Located very close to Tennoji Station, you will find a gorgeous Tennoji Park, a great play to visit for families with children. The park grounds are home to  an art museum, Tennoji Zoo, a pond, Shitenno-ji, a Buddhist temple.

If you are looking for budget accommodations close to the city center, the Tennoji area, particularly the Tennoji station, is the best place to stay in. You will be close to the Osaka loop train line and the Midosuji metro line.

Best places to stay in Osaka in Tennoji:


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Osaka has excellent public transport. You can easily do day-trips from Osaka to Kyoto, Himeji Castle, Kobe, and Nara, Hiroshima, and Koyasan by train. 

Overall, Kita district is the best area to stay in Osaka for first-timers because it is the most convenient location and it has wide range of accommodation for all budget travelers. With its central location, you can easily explore the city by foot and public transport. It also offers the widest range of shopping, dining, and nightlife options.

By now you should know which neighbourhood is best for you to stay in Osaka. And you have a better idea of where to stay in Osaka, it’s time to get booking your dream vacation and head off on your once in a lifetime trip.

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