While Tokyo is more fast-paced with its vibe and energy – we adore the laid-backness and cultural side of Osaka. In this list, we go through the 12 Best free things to do in Osaka Japan and provide you with a free map of where to find them.
Don’t get us wrong, Osaka is just as much of a modern city as Tokyo but the difference is it’s a bit cheaper, it’s more “relaxed,” and the people are also a little bit more different.
Furthermore, food is the center of this city, especially street food. And what’s even more amazing is that nearby, there are a variety of amazing cities within the Kansai region.
You can take a trip back to a more “traditional” Japan feeling by traveling to Kyoto or the charming town of Nara, famous for its adorable deer park. We’ll get to those in another blog post. For now, enjoy this article on the 12 best free things to do in Osaka Japan!
Go Shopping at Shinsaibashi
Shinsaibashi is one of the best free things to do in Osaka for window-shopping.
This street is a huge shopping arteria with all kinds of stores and all kinds of promos. If you’re looking for clothes, skincare products, take-home giveaways – find it here!
Bask in Nature at Sumiyoshi Taisha
Sumiyoshi Taisa is a historic Shinto Shrine amidst a scenic backdrop. The area surrounding the shrine is a peaceful garden and there is a beautiful red footbridge.
If you simply want to get away from all the noise and just sit with nature, this is the place to go and one of our favorite free things to do in Osaka.
Discover Old School Japan at Tsutenkaku - Shinsekai
We love this place and in this entire, Tsutenkaku is our top one free things to do in Osaka! It’s a little more of “grungy” Japan vibe, but this old TV Tower is amidst some really cool shops, restaurants and stores that are illuminated in some very hip neon signs.
It’s the perfect spot to get those cool cyberpunk shots just like we did in our Hong Kong Hidden Neon and Cyberpunk Photo Spots Guide.
Uncover How the Locals Live at Temma
A little hipster neighborhood in Osaka. If you want to see how locals in Osaka live, we recommend a visit to this spot and it costs you nothing to check it out!
A definite must-see amidst the best free things to do in Osaka. Also, don’t forget to try out their street food.
Appreciate the Beauty of the Osaka Castle Park
Leading to Osaka Castle is a beautiful park with little streetside vendors. We personally did not enter the castle and just sat outside eating ice cream, marveling at its beauty.
If you choose to witness this landmark without entering, then it’s one of the best free things to do in Osaka.
Indulge in the Lights and Street Food of Dotonbori
We adore Dotonbori, from its riverside alleys to its bright lights. Here you can find the perfect takoyaki, okonomiyaki, green tea ice cream, ramen shop, fish pancake – you name it!
It’s the center for all kinds of street food and restaurants in Osaka. Not to mention, you should come and take a look at the famous glico man. This is truly one of the best free things to do in Osaka Japan!
Go Izakaya Hopping
So you might be wondering – what is an Izakaya? It’s a small bar that serves various small dishes and drinks in a very laid-back atmosphere.
These bars mostly have just a few seats and they all feel very cozy. It’s a great place to soak in the local culture as it’s uniquely Japanese.
They’re practically everywhere in Osaka but we recommend checking out the areas of Umeda and Shinsaibashi.
Play Mario Cart and Pachinko in the Arcades
What’s a trip to Japan without a visit to the arcades? You can find them everywhere and anywhere. Usually, they are floors on floors of various games and aside from the games you play, there’s no entrance fee which makes it one of the best free things to do in Osaka!
Our favorite ones are Mario Cart and Pachinko, the Japanese version of a slot machine. You can find these games at Round 1, which has everything from karaoke, bowling, and arcade games.
Party at One of Osaka’s Buzzling Bars and Clubs
Osaka has a buzzling and great night life. We had a friend who was living there at the time and he took us to different clubs amidst the side streets of Dotonbori. These clubs are free for women.
The clubs to look at in this area are Giraffe and Club Pure. They’re also just walking distance from one another. They host a fun and mixed crowd of foreigners and locals, with both modern and progressive music.
But anyway whichever club you end up in, watching the Japanese party is a great experience on its own and one of the cool free things to do in Osaka.
Final Thoughts on the 12 Best Free Things to do in Osaka Japan
So there we have it. If you’re searching for the best free things to do in Osaka Japan, then this google maps itinerary has got you covered.
Osaka is truly an amazing place, and some would argue it may be more of an experience than Tokyo – just because of how cultural it is.
Nonetheless, whichever city you prefer, we definitely think Osaka is hands down a must-see city in Japan and that you should absolutely include it in your Japan itinerary!
If you have any other favorite free things to do in Osaka that you think should be part of this list, let us know in the comments below.
9 thoughts on “12 Best Free Things to Do in Osaka Japan (+ Map)”
This is such a good read. Initially, we plan to just visit Tokyo but I agree with you that Osaka is also a great destination especially if you plan to enjoy their street food. We would also love to see the Osaka Castle Park.
Thank you for sharing these free things to do. Will consider these once we finalize our itinerary.
I love the idea of local neighborhoods like Temma! It sounds like a delightful way to get to know the real Osaka. Of course, I would want to visit Kuromon Market and taste genuine cuisine. I haven’t been to Japan, but I do like the idea of going somewhere other than Tokyo for sure!
Osaka has always appealed to me more than Tokyo. I particularly liked Sumiyoshi Taisa in this list. The shinto shrine exudes so much calm. I would not say no to window shopping. You mention that it is great for picking up give-aways. How expensive are those shops?
I’ve only been to Japan once and I wish I had been smart enough to research cool things to do back then. The only interesting thing I did that is worth mentioning is probably staying in a capsule hotel. But hey, I can always visit again, right? I haven’t been to Osaka yet. Saving this for my future reference. 🙂
Been dreaming of a travel to Japan! If the pandemic didn’t hit the world this year, we could have been there already! Oye. On the other hand, it’s good to know and read highly recommended things and free to do! Osaka seems to be a laid-back, yet bustling city for me compare to Tokyo. Consequently, I’d go for Izakaya. I heard from my Japanese friends that they’re fanatic of Izakaya, and so true; they’re cozy and bring good vibes. Most of all, Japan is such heaven!
I really wish I had known about these things before. I traveled to Osaka a long time ago and I did not do any of the things that were free other than walking along in some parks and streets with the cherry blossoms. I would love to go back to Osaka again someday.
Free always appeals, even if it is a small little item. And hence on a holiday anything which is free would certainly be appealing. Thanks for these wonderful tips. Making a note for our trip to Japan which has been in our plans for sometime now.
Japan is always on my wish list and it is great you shared some of the wonderful things to do in Osaka that too for free. I love walking and so walking on the streets of Namba would be my first thing to do here. I would love to soak myself into the beautiful nature surrounding Sumiyoshi Tais. Thanks for sharing wonderful tips.
Japan has a great mix of everything, don’t they? The peaceful and serene countryside, gardens and temples to the fast pace urban centres full of people, nightlife, markets and shopping. I think Japan needs to go on my travel list!