Where to stay in Osaka First Time: 7 Best Areas

The best areas to stay in Osaka for first-timers are the neighborhoods of Kita, Minami, Honmachi, Shin-Osaka, Tennoji, Osaka Castle, and Osaka Bay. These districts are very popular and safe for tourists that offer a wide variety of attractions and amenities.

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 is the second largest metropolitan area in Japan after Tokyo. Osaka is one of the most popular places to stay in southern part of Japan, along with Kyoto. While Kyoto offers more of an authentic traditional Japanese experience, Osaka has better shopping and food, with some history and culture.

Kita and Minami are the downtown hubs and the most popular neighborhoods of Osaka. Kita is the area around Osaka and Umeda stations, Minami is the area around Namba and Shinsaibashi stations.

Kita district is the best place to stay in Osaka for first time travelers due to its central location and wide range of hotels, restaurants, bars, and shops. Kita is home to Osaka station and Umeda Station, which is only three stops from Shin-Osaka Station on the Midosuji subway line.

Minami is better to stay if you’re after lively nightlife and food. Minami, in particular, Dotonbori district is the 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 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 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. And try to book a hotel close to Midosuji subway line because it is Osaka’s most important transport route that offers easy access to almost everywhere.

Once you choose the area to book hotel, you need to decide How many days should I stay in Osaka? If you are a first-timers, I recommend spending at least 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

🎬 To get an overall idea of where to stay in Osaka for the first time, check out this video:

7 Best areas to stay in Osaka for tourists

1. Kita district, where to stay in Osaka for first-time travelers

Umeda Station, best area to stay in Osaka for first-timers

Kita district is the best area to stay in Osaka for first-timers due to its close proximity to JR Osaka station, as well as many tourist attractions, restaurants, bars, and shops. Kita district is the transport and business hub of the city. If you book a hotel here, you will be located in the middle of everything, within walking distance to some of Osaka’s best shopping, dining, and nightlife venues.

Also known as Umeda, or North district, Kita is the north side and the modern part of Osaka. Kita is the area around Osaka Station and Umeda Station. Kita is one of the main districts in Osaka along with Minami district in the south side of Osaka.

This downtown area is the best-connected area in Osaka, home to Umeda station and JR Osaka Station. 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), as well as three private lines of 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.

Kita district offers plenty of shopping opportunities at the Tenjimbashi-suji Shopping Street, the Hep Five, Grand Front Osaka, Links Umeda, Lucua Shopping Mall, and Yodobashi Camera.

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 that offers plenty of retro shops, restaurants and cafes.

Meanwhile, HEP (Hankyu Entertainment Park) 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 numerous museums to explore. The Osaka Museum of Housing and Living near the Tenjinbashisuji 6-chome Station, 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. 

Families with children can visit Kids Plaza Osaka, 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, 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 want to do a lot of day trips to other cities in Kansai region; you love modern cityscape; you love shopping, you want easy access to sights and attractions by public transport.

Best places to stay in Osaka in Kita district:


See more: 30 Best Things To Do In Osaka, Japan

2. Minami, where to stay in Osaka for nightlife

Namba parks

Minami is the area around Namba Station and Shinsaibashi Station. Minami offers lively nightlife, great shopping, and dining but in a more traditional way. Minami is one of the downtown hubs of Osaka along with Kita. It is better to stay in Minami than in Kita if you come to Osaka to enjoy nightlife and local food.

Minami is also an important transport hub and home to the stop of  three train lines including the Kintetsu Line, JR Line, and 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.

Minami is divided by the wide boulevard of Midosuji from north to south, and by Dotonbori Canal from east to west. There’re plenty of shopping, dining, and nightlife in this neighborhood.

Dotonbori is probably Osaka’s most famous part for nightlife, shop, and food. The street runs parallel to the Dotonbori canal, and packed with restaurants, bars and amusement arcades. The area comes alive at night, when all the neon lights and mechanized signs colour the strip.

Dotonbori Arcade is where 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. The Glico Running man is one of the most famous photo spots in Osaka.

If you are a foodie, 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 is the best place to learn about the history of Osaka. It 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.

Another history of Minami is, the central Dōtonbori canal was built during the Edo period of Japan’s history, when the country was first ruled from the town that would later become Tokyo.

Next destination in the Minami area is Nippombashi, located to the east of Dotonbori. In this area, you can find Kuromon Ichiba Market, a bustling market and foodie destination that 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. 

Shop lovers can also visit the 600 meters long Shinsaibashi-suji Shopping Street with more affordable items, while Midosuji avenue provides a luxury shopping experience.

You can also shop at the nearby hip and trendy America Village, Amerika-Mura (Amemura). The village has plenty of hip-hop wear shops, foreigner-friendly cafes, restaurants, and international food.

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

Stay in the Minami (Namba) area if you’re first-timers; 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 Minami district:


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

Namba Yasaka Shrine

Honmachi (Central Osaka) is the best area to stay in Osaka if you’re struggling to decide whether to stay in Kita or Minami because it is conveniently located on the Midosuji subway line, between Minami and Kita districts. Honmachi neighborhood is still in a central location but quieter than the North and the South district.

Honmachi is located within a short distance to Kita and Minami by both foot and 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 Minami. 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

Shin-Osaka neighborhood

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 area

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 Minami 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

Universal Studios

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

Tsutenkaku Tower osaka

Tennoji is the south end district of Osaka. It is the third major downtown hub after Kita and Minami.  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:


Where should I stay in Osaka for the first time?

Kita district is the best area to stay in Osaka for first-timers because it is the heart of Osaka that offers many choices in hotels, restaurants, bars, and shops. If you stay here, you will be located in the middle of action.

What are the best areas to stay in Osaka?

Kita, Minami, Honmachi, Shin-Osaka, Tennoji, Osaka Castle, and Osaka Bay are best areas to stay in Osaka. These neighborhoods are very popular and safe for tourists that offer a wide range of attractions and amenities.

How many days in Osaka is enough?

The ideal number of days to spend in Osaka depends on your interests and itinerary, but a minimum of 3-4 days is recommended to experience the city’s food, culture, and attractions.

What is the main area in Osaka?

The main area in Osaka is the downtown district of Umeda, also known as Kita, which features a variety of shopping, dining, and entertainment options.

See more:

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. If you stay here, you will be located in the heart of the city, within walking distance to many sights, as well as restaurants, bars, and shops.

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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