Osaka has something to offer to almost any type of traveler. For tourists seeking family-friendly fun, there’s Universal Studios Japan, which is one of the most visited theme parks in the world. History buffs will find a visit to its cultural landmarks like the enormous Osaka Castle an enlightening experience. Foodies can dig into its rich and insanely delicious cuisine. How about the inner shopaholic in all of us? Well, the Dotonbori-Shinsaibashi area can certainly take care of that.
Osaka is also a great base if you want to explore other parts of Kansai Region. From here, you can easily travel to other cities within the region including Kyoto, Kobe, and Nara. If you want to go farther, you’ll find plenty of transportation options that can take you to other regions in Japan.
After you’ve exhausted everything Osaka can offer, here are our favorite destinations that can be easily accessed from Osaka!
Wakayama Prefecture is located south of Osaka in the Kansai Region. Its capital is Wakayama City. The prefecture is hailed as the Spiritual Heart of Japan with its pilgrimage routes for both Shinto and Buddhist temples and shrines. Mount Koya (Koyasan) is the heart of Shingon Buddhism. One of the only two pilgrimage routes in the world listed in the UNESCO World Heritage Site is the Kumano Kodo, which is an extensive network of pilgrimage routes stretching across the mountains. The prefecture is also known for its plum wine factory, traditional soy sauce production, onsen, and beaches.
Other attractions include Wakayama Castle, Shirahama, fruit picking, factory tours, and tuna filleting tour, among others.
How to Get There:
From Osaka Station, take the JR Yamatoji Rapid Service for Kamo to Tennoji Station. From Tennoji, transfer train bound for Wakayama via JR Hanwa Line Rapid Service. Alight at Wakayama Station. Travel duration is around 80 minutes. The fare is ¥1240.
Nara is one of Kansai Region’s popular tourist stops alongside Osaka and Kyoto. It is the capital of Nara Prefecture. Apart from being less than an hour away from Osaka, Nara’s charm comes from its bountiful historical and cultural sites. Being the ancient capital of Japan more than a thousand years ago, the city is dotted with numerous UNESCO-recognized historical and cultural sites and Japan’s National Treasures. Most of these attractions are ancient shrines and temples with a strong Buddhist influence.
Nara Park is the usual go-to place for those who want to experience not only the temples and shrines but also the famous Nara deer! Among other favorite attractions in Nara are Naramachi, Todai-ji Temple, Heijo Palace, Isuien Garden, and Sarusawa Pond.
How to Get There:
- Option 1: From Namba Station, take the Kintetsu Nara Line going to Kintetsu Nara Station. Travel duration is around 40 minutes. The fare is ¥560.
- Option 2: From JR Osaka Station, take the JR Yamatoji Rapid Service for Nara. Travel duration is around 50 minutes. The fare is ¥800.
You can also take the Nara Day Tour from Osaka offered by Klook. The tour covers English-speaking guide, admission fees, transportation, and hotel pick up (drop off at Osaka Namba Station). The itinerary includes Nara Park, Todai-ji Temple, Kasuga Taisha Shrine, and souvenir shop stop.
Kobe is one of those cities in Japan bustling with life and diversity. It is the capital of Hyogo Prefecture. This port city, nestled between the sea and mountains, was one of the first to open their ports to Western traders, welcoming not only an active exchange of products but also of culture. The business hub and most of Kobe’s attractions are located near Sannomiya Station. The current state of the city is the result of the dynamic exchange between the East and the West.
The city made its mark internationally with its signature premium grade beef product. Kobe beef is king here! For those who love food, Kobe is also famous for its Chinatown, also called Nankinmanchi, which is a short walk from Sannomiya Station. Other attractions in Kobe include Earthquake Museum, Mount Rokko, Sorakuen Garden, Kitano Foreign Houses, Kobe Harborland, and Akashi Kaikyo Bridge.
How to Get There:
- Option 1: From either Hankyu-Umeda Station or Hanshin-Umeda Station, take the Tokkyu Express going to Sannomiya Station. Travel duration is around 30 minutes. The fare is ¥310.
- Option 2: From JR Osaka Station, take the JR Kobe Line Rapid Service or JR Special Rapid Service going to JR Sannomiya Station. Travel duration is around 25 minutes. The fare is ¥390.
Himeji is another city which can be easily accessed from Osaka. The city used to be the capital of then Himeji Prefecture until its merger with Hyogo Prefecture. In the past, the city was a prosperous castle town, which gave Japan one of its national treasures and UNESCO World Heritage Site – the Himeji Castle. This four-century old castle, which withstood the test of time, is the most popular landmark of the city.
Other attractions in Himeji include Mount Shosha, Kokoen Garden, Engyo-ji Temple, Yukata Matsuri Festival (in June), and Asago Art Village.
How to Get There:
- Option 1: From JR Osaka Station, take the JR Special Rapid Service for Himeji. Travel duration is more or less 60 minutes. The fare is ¥1490.
- Option 2: For holders of the multiple-day pass for Kansai’s private railway system, take either the Hanshin Railway or the Sanyo Railway going to Himeji. Travel duration is around 90 minutes. The fare is ¥1250.
From Kansai International Airport Terminal 1 or 2, take the hourly bus service bound for Himeji Station. Travel duration is more or less 2 hours and 30 minutes. The fare is ¥3300.
Kyoto is one of Japan’s tourism sacred trinity alongside Tokyo and Osaka (well, Nagoya too, since Osaka and Kyoto are oftentimes considered one destination). It is brimming with history and serves as the cultural landmark of the country, preserving and, at the same time, spreading Japan’s heritage and identity. Once the seat of imperial power for more than a thousand years, Kyoto is dotted with many important ancient temples, shrines, palaces, and other historical structures; hence, it gained the UNESCO World Heritage Site Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto recognition.
Some of the many attractions in Kyoto aside from the 17 UNESCO-recognized locations, are the Imperial Palace, Katsura Imperial Villa, Shugakuin Imperial Villa, Nijo Castle, Nishiki Market, Higashiyama, Fushimi Inari Shrine, Arashiyama, and the several museums and festivals.
How to Get There:
- Option 1: From JR Osaka Station, take the JR Special Rapid Service and alight at Kyoto Station. Travel duration is more or less 30 minutes. The fare is ¥560.
- Option 2: Coming from Kansai International Airport, take the JR West Haruka Kansai Airport Limited Express train going to Himeji. Travel duration is around 70 minutes. The fare is ¥2850 (inclusive of ¥970 unreserved seat fee).
For foreign visitors, getting a one-day JR West Kansai Area Pass will lessen the fare cost as it is given at a discounted price of ¥2300. Passports and return flight tickets are required in purchasing the pass.
Note: Kyoto has a vast transportation system, so these are just two of the many ways to reach the city from Osaka via train.
From Kansai International Airport arrival lobby, purchase a limousine bus ticket bound for Kyoto. Limousine buses run twice per hour, stopping and picking up guests at Bus Stop #8. Travel duration is more or less 2 hours. The fare is ¥2500 for adults and ¥1250 for children.
You can also take the Kyoto Day Tour from Osaka offered by Klook. The tour covers English-speaking guide, traditional Japanese meal, and tour bus transportation. The itinerary includes Kiyomizu-dera Temple, Kinkaku-ji, and Fushimi Inari Shrine.
Of the cities listed here, Tottori is the farthest from Osaka, over 3 hours away. But it is worth every journey!
Tottori city is the capital of Tottori Prefecture in Chugoku Region, Western Honshu. Unlike other destinations, Tottori is not crowded or touristy at all. But there’s a lot to see in the city and the prefecture as a whole. While other items on this list can offer history and culture in big doses, Tottori has chunks of everything that can make your trip a well-rounded one.
It is best known for its sand dunes, one of the largest in Japan. Nature lovers can also gawk at the beaches and rock formations along Uradome Coast. Foodies will certainly enjoy its abundant fresh seafood catch, 20th-century pears, Tottori beef, and the gyukotsu ramen, a unique and rare type of ramen which uses beef bone soup. The otaku will want to get lost in the worlds of Detective Conan, GeGeGe no Kitarō, and Spirited Away, which were all inspired by the place. In fact, not far from the city is the town of Hokuei, also known as Conan Town. This town is the birthplace of the father of the popular manga and anime series, Detective Conan, so fans of Conan will enjoy a quick visit to this quirky town.
Other interesting attractions are the Tottori Castle Ruins, Kawahara Castle, and Watanabe Museum. Even the historically worshipped Mt. Daisen and Misasa Onsen are easily accessible from Tottori.
How to Get There:
From Kansai International Airport, take the limousine bus bound for OCAT-Namba. Once at OCAT-Namba, purchase a bus ticket going to Tottori Bus Station. Travel duration is more or less 4 hours. The fare is ¥2050, which covers Kansai Airport to OCAT-Namba fare (¥1050) and OCAT-Namba to Tottori Bus Station fare (¥1000).
From Kansai International Airport, take the JR Kansai Airport Rapid Service train to Osaka Station. From Osaka Station, take the Limited Express Super Hakuto train to Tottori. Travel duration is more or less 2 hours and 30 minutes. The fare ranges from ¥3000 to ¥6000.
For more information about getting to Tottori from Osaka/Kansai Airport, check How to Get to TOTTORI from OSAKA or KANSAI AIRPORT: The Cheapest Way
How to Get to Osaka
Kansai International Airport (KIX) is the primary gateway to Osaka and the rest of Kansai Region. A lot of airlines fly from Manila to Kansai Airport. If you book way in advance, you’ll get the best deals from Cebu Pacific Air. CEB flies to Osaka five times a week. Their lowest year-round fare is at P6399, which is a great deal already.
You can also wait for a SEAT SALE! For one of our trips, I was able to score a roundtrip Cebu Pacific ticket from their P20 SALE. The base fare per leg was only P20, but including all the taxes, I only paid PHP 5984 for the roundtrip ticket (PHP 2992 per way). That includes a prepaid baggage allowance of 20 Kg. Not bad. Not bad at all.