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Best Day trips from Osaka

OSAKA, JAPAN - Touristic boat with tourists along the moat of Osaka Castle is one of the best activities you can experience around Osaka Castle area, Osaka, Japan.

Located on the Japanese island of Honshu, Osaka is known for its vibrant nightlife, modern urban architecture and a wide selection of delicious Japanese street food. Tourists in Osaka pilgrim to the city’s main historical landmark – the Osaka Castle from the 16th century. The palace is surrounded by beautiful gardens with plum and sakura (cherry blossom) trees. Osaka is also home to one of Japan’s oldest Shinto shrines, Sumiyoshi-Taisha.

Often compared to Tokyo, Osaka is smaller than the Japanese capital and offers fewer tourist attractions, but it is a great hub for day trips and excursions! Read through our list of the best day trips from Osaka, but before we start, make sure you have your Japan Rail Pass purchased and ready! It is your key to every train trip inside Japan – we will explain more below.

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Day Trip from Osaka to Naoshima Island

Commonly known as Japan’s Art Island, Naoshima is an island town in the Seto Inland Sea. Famous for its remarkable art museums, Naoshima Island also has astonishing pieces of modern and contemporary art braided into its public spaces. In the Miyanoura Port you will find one of the iconic dotted pumpkin sculptures by Japanese art legend, the controversial Yayoi Kusama (the installation is just a short walk away from another famous museum, Benesse House’s Park building).

Visit Naoshima’s Art House Project for a collection of architectural art pieces, and the Chichu Art Museum, apart from housing Monet’s “Water Lilies”, is famous for its unique location – the institution is built into a hillside!

You do not have to go inside a museum to admire stunning works of architecture; buildings designed by Tadao Ando are a part of the city’s urban scenery, alongside charming cafés and the famous Naoshima “sento” (bath house). The bright, colourful bath house was designed by Shinro Ohtake; the “sento” is a place where you can immerse yourself in both art and Japanese culture. 

The trip from Osaka to Naoshima Island goes through Okayama; first, you take the JR Sanyo Shinkansen Line to Okayama. Departing from Shin-Osaka Station, the journey will take approximately 45 minutes and is covered by Japan Rail Pass. Japan Rail Pass is a special, time-limited pass that can only be purchased from outside of Japan, before your arrival. The pass allows unlimited travel on Japan Rail trains.

From Okayama Station then take the JR Uno Line to Uno Station, from where you simply cross the street to access the ferry terminal to get on the boat to one of Naoshima’s two ports: the western Miyanoura Port or Honmura Port on the eastern side of the island. The ferry passage is not included in the JR Pass and costs 290 JPY (approx. 2,7 USD) one way.

Day Trip from Osaka to Naoshima Island

Naoshima, Japan-The area around the Benesse Art Museum on Naoshima island, incorporating a museum and a hotel, Park, and Beach, plus a restaurant, cafe, and shop open to the public.

Day Trip from Osaka to Kyoto

A Kyoto day trip from Osaka is one of the most popular among visitors to Japan, and one of the most convenient day trips from Osaka by train. For more than 1000 years, Kyoto used to serve as the Japanese capital. It is often referred to as “the city of tradition”, and it is an interesting contrast to bustling Osaka or busy Tokyo.

Kyoto is filled with stunning, well-preserved religious and cultural sites, one of the most popular being The Golden Pavilion (also known as Kinkakuji). The Golden Pavilion is a Zen Temple, remarkable for its top two floors decorated with gold leaf which makes the temple “shine”, as the sun rays are reflected in the gilded walls and roof tiles. The adjacent lake beautifully mirrors the temple structure – it is a great spot for photographs!

Apart from its impressive views, the Kinkakuji has an interesting, rather turbulent history! It has been rebuilt multiple times, most recently in the 1950s after an extremist monk set fire to the temple structure! A few decades younger than the Golden Pavilion is the Ginkakuji (Silver Pavilion). It is situated on the opposite side of the city, and it received its name because of its dark exterior that reflected the moonlight at night.

Kyoto has a unique atmosphere, so do take some time to simply wander around the small alleyways; you will naturally bump into countless religious and historical spots and discover some of the less touristy temples and shrines. One of the less crowded Zen temples is the Tofuku-Ji Temple in Southeast Kyoto. On the temple grounds, you will also find the 22-metre tall Sanmon Gate that dates back to 1425.

You will easily get from Osaka to Kyoto. With Japan Rail Pass, take the high-speed Shinkansen train from Shin-Osaka Station to Kyoto Station. The journey will only take you 15 minutes! 

Day Trip from Osaka to Kyoto

Kiyomizu-dera buddhism temple and Kyoto city skyline in Japan, East Asia. Kiyomizu-dera is the famous landmark attracting tourist who visit Kyoto, Japan.

Day Trip from Osaka to Universal Studios Japan

Japan is lucky to have one of the world’s six Universal Studios Theme Parks. The Japanese branch opened its doors in 2001, and is located in the outskirts of Osaka! Some of the attractions you might recognize from Universal Orlando Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood, but Universal Studios Japan has its unique touch to it.

Check out Hello Kitty’s Fashion Avenue! A replica of the Hogwarts Express from Harry Potter is also unique to the Japanese branch. Apart from the movie-themed attractions, there are also many themed restaurants and cafés as well as boutiques where you can buy souvenirs, merchandise and accessories related to everyone’s all-time-favourite movies.

Universal Studios Japan has its own train station, so the theme park is within easy access from Osaka city. From Osaka Station, jump on the JP Osaka Loop Line, and after just 6 minutes, get off at Nishikujo Station. Then, board the train of JR Yumesaki Line; after just 5 minutes you have reached Universal Studios Japan!

1-day studio passes are 5400 JPY (around 50 USD) for children and 7900 JPY (approximately 72,5 USD) for adults. If one day is not enough, 2-day packages are also available, and there is a range of hotels that partners up with Universal Studios Japan, so you can make this getaway into an overnight trip and spend the night just next to the theme park.

Day Trip from Osaka to Universal Studios Japan

Osaka, Japan - The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal Studios Japan. Universal Studios Japan is a theme park in Osaka, Japan.The phylum of the pig eagle

Day trip to a Japanese Onsen 

Japanese natural hot springs are widely known as “Onsen”, however the term now also refers to the spa facilities and “ryokan” (traditional lodging complexes with tatami-matted rooms built around the hot springs). Because Japan is a volcanically active country, it has countless onsens spread throughout all of its major islands. 

There are many onsen around Osaka city, like Taihei no Yu, which is a sento (bath house) featuring not only baths of different types and styles (both outdoor, electric and cold water tubs) but also a food court, spa and wellness area, even a game centre!

If you want to go on an onsen day trip from Osaka, we suggest The Minoo Onsen Spa Garden. Located in the beautiful Minoo Park, only 20 kilometres from Osaka, it is the largest onsen complex in western Japan. Among the wide range of baths and various spa facilities, on its top floor, the Minoo Onsen features an open-air bath offering stunning views of Osaka by day and night. Expect to pay 3500 JPY (around 32 USD) for two hours, the onsen is free for hotel guests staying on-site. 

Due to the negative connotations of tattoos in Japanese culture, visitors with body-art risk not being let into a public onsen. If you have tattoos and want to visit an onsen, make sure you double-check before you go if that particular onsen har an open policy around tattoos. 

Day trip to a Japanese Onsen 

A Japanese Outdoor Onsen or Hot Tub in a forest for Nude bathing

Day Trip from Osaka to Mount Koya (Koyasan)

Mount Koya (also referred to as Koyasan) is considered Japan’s holiest mountain. Set in a remote location, it also includes a complex of several temples in the Wakayama Prefecture. This beautiful, religious oasis ranks high on many tourists’ itinerary. Koyasan day trip from Osaka is a popular pick, but you can also extend your day tour if you wish to retreat and spend a night in a Buddhist temple. Many visitors choose to stay at Koyasan overnight; you will be served vegetarian Buddhist meals and get a unique chance to experience the dawn prayer service.

Another noteworthy site on Mount Koya is the Okunoin cemetery. More than 200000 unique gravestones and monuments are spread around the forest, letting those who rest there be close to the founder of Shingon Buddhism, Kobo Dashi, on their final journey. The cemetery is also known for the mausoleum of Kobo Dashi himself; he is believed to rest there, immersed in eternal meditation, awaiting the Buddha of the Future.

When he raises to greet the Buddha, so will the ones resting next to him, the legend says. Remarkable within the grounds of the Okunoin Cemetery is also the Hall of Lamps. It is known for the 10,000 lanterns that fill the building and illuminate the darkness, hanging side-by-side. Their light is said to shine “till eternity”.

Involving several steps, the journey from Osaka to Mount Koya is almost entirely covered by your Japan Rail Pass. First, you must travel between Shin-Osaka Station and Wakayama. The journey will take approximately 1 hour. From Wakayama, your journey continues to Hashimoto, using the JR Wakayama Line.

The journey will take you around 1 hour 20 minutes. The third step of the trip, taking the private Nankai Line from Hashimoto to Gokurakubashi is not covered by the Japan Rail Pass. This journey of 45 minutes will costs you 440 yen (around 4 USD). The last, quite fun step of your journey (that also needs to be paid separately) is the Gokurakubashi funicular that takes the visitors up to Koyasan bus station in a cable car. Have your camera ready and prepare for stunning views!

Day Trip from Osaka to Mount Koya (Koyasan)

Koyasan, Japan - Ancient graves at forest in Mount Koya, Japan. Koyasan is primarily known as the world headquarters of the Shingon sect of Buddhism.

Day Trip from Osaka to Himeji

Located in Japan’s Kansai Region, Himeji is known for its stunning, centuries-old white Himeji Castle. The castle dates back to Japan’s feudal times, and it is now listed as one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites in Japan. The castle is surrounded by beautiful castle grounds that feature gardens and open areas for a relaxed walk. The castle is only open until 5 PM (with last admissions at 4 PM), but the grounds only close at night, so you can stay around the palace for a calm stroll after exploring the inner compounds. The fee for entering the castle is 1000 yen (around 9,2 USD).

Many visitors to Himeji enjoy the local flea markets! Second-hand markets are quite rare in Japan, but when you come across one, you can be sure to make some good bargains! Himeji’s Flea Markets offer second-hand clothing, accessories and knickknacks, but they are also spots for local vendors and local designers who sell their brand new jewellery and decoration. Another popular market in town is the Himeji Ceramics Market.

Browse through an array of small stalls where local sellers present their carefully crafted pieces of ceramics and homeware. Loads of “kawaii” (the Japanese word for “cute”, “adorable”) plates, mugs and vases; a unique souvenir from your trip to Japan or a perfect gift for someone back at home. While browsing through the market, you might even be lucky to catch a pottery maker in action!

Last, but not least, Himeji’s street food markets are also worth mentioning. Himeji is known for its frequent food stalls that give way to delicious (and budget-friendly!) foodie finds. The weekend markets held around the Himeji Castle are also well known for their baked goods stalls that sell bite-size pastries, an interesting (and delicious) sneak peek into Japan’s unique baking tradition!

A Himeji day trip from Osaka is one of the easiest and most convenient day excursions. The fastest way to get from Osaka to Himeji is with the Shinkansen train from Shin-Osaka Station, directly to Himeji station. The trip will be 30 minutes long, and it is fully covered by your Japan Rail Pass. 

Day Trip from Osaka to Himeji

Himeji Castle the Unesco world heritage site in Himeji City Hyogo Japan in Summer

Day Trip from Osaka to Nachi Waterfalls

Nachi in Japan is a small coastal town in the Wakayama Prefecture, and it is home to the country’s tallest waterfall. The stunning Nachi Falls (Nachi no Taki) is 133 metres high and they are surrounded by various temples and shrines. One of the most popular religious sites close to the magnificent waterfalls is the Kumano Nachi Taisha Grand Shrine. The shrine complex includes several building structures and torii gates.

It is popular among tourists to walk up to the Nachi Taisha Grand Shrine, by hiking up The Great Gate Slope (Daimonzaka). You will walk up a stone-paved stairway winding for 600 meters through a forest of ancient trees. The final part of the climb goes through an area filled with small souvenir shops where you can buy pilgrim souvenirs and spiritual ornaments. The shrine is open at all times and free to enter. If you wish to enter the treasure hall where selected religious items and artefacts are displayed, you have to come between 8 AM and 4 PM and pay the entry fee of 300 yen (approx 2,75 USD).

A day trip to Nachi falls from Osaka requires long travelling time, but it is worth it! The nearest train station to the Nachi Falls is Kii-Katsuura Station, and it will take you 4 hours by high-speed train to arrive there from Osaka. From Kii-Katsuura Station you can take a bus directly to the Falls (travel time will be approximately 30 minutes) or get off at Daimonzaka for the picturesque hike. 

Day Trip from Osaka to Nachi Waterfalls

Nachi no taki waterfall in Nachi katsura, Wakayama, Japan

Day Trip from Osaka to Nara

Located in south-central Honshu, Nara is known for its long historical and cultural heritage. In the 8th century, it served as Japan’s capital (the first permanent capital of Japan), and there are still temples and selected artefacts that date back to that period. One of the city’s most popular attractions is the “Eastern Great Temple” (also known as Tōdai-Ji), famous for its impressive, 15-metres high bronze Buddha statue (the biggest bronze Buddha in the world), displayed in a large wooden hall.

The Tōdai-Ji is located on the grounds of Nara Park, and the park is known for… its free-running tame deer! You can buy fodder from one of the street vendors and spend some time feeding the animals. Entering Nara Park is free of charge, and the grounds can be accessed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The temples within the park have opening hours and will charge you a small entrance fee though!

Another noteworthy mention is the Shinto Shrine Kasuga Taisha. Located on the park’s east side, it dates back to 768, and it is often referred to as “Temple of Ten Thousand Lanterns”. There are in fact around 3000 stone lanterns; they symbolize the 3000 Kasuga shrines that are spread throughout Japan, but the lanterns are also interpreted as a symbol of guidance and illumination.

Your trip from Osaka to Nara is fully covered by your Japan Rail Pass, and it is one of the easy day trips from Osaka by train. From JR Osaka Station, the Yamatoji rapid trains to Nara run every hour, and the journey takes 45 minutes.

Day Trip from Osaka to Nara

NARA, JAPAN - Evening in Nara Park with autumn colors in Nara, Japan

Day Trip from Osaka to Miyajima Island

Less than an hour away from the city of Hiroshima, you will find the small island of Miyajima, also known under the name “Itsukushima”. The island is a popular day-trip destination from both Hiroshima and Osaka and is often said to be one of the most scenic spots in Japan.

One of the most remarkable sites on the island is the Itsukushima Shrine Complex, dedicated to the sanjoshin or “three female deities”. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the shrine consists of two main buildings: the Honsha shrine and the Sessha Marodo-jinja and features 17 other building structures within the complex. Its most remarkable point is the Torii gate that seems to be floating on water when it is high tide.

When visiting Miyajima Island, make sure to carve out time to stroll around its old town. The isle is sometimes referred to as “the island of the gods” because simply by walking around, you will come across countless small shrines or Jizos, each with their history and origin. Itsukushima is a true heaven for architecture enthusiasts; while walking around you can still admire unique, old fashioned techniques used in the building structures and simply observe the simple life of the islanders.

The journey to Miyajima Island from Osaka involves several steps. First, you must get to Hiroshima. With a Japan Rail Pass, you can take the Sakura train from Shin-Osaka Station (travel time will be 1 hour 32 minutes), or the slightly slower Hikari (2 hours 13 minutes). From Hiroshima Station, jump on a train to Miyajimaguchi (departing every 15 minutes). After 26 minutes on the JR Sanyo line, get off at Miyajimaguchi Station, walk over to the ferry terminal and board a boat bound for Miyajima Island. The cruise will only take 10 minutes, and both the train and the ferry are covered by your Japan Rail Pass. 

Day Trip from Osaka to Miyajima Island

Miyajima is a small island in Hiroshima and has most famous for its giant torii gate which at high tide seems to float on the water. It is a romantic place, best enjoyed by staying overnight at one of the island's ryokan.

Day Trip from Osaka to Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park

Hiroshima is known worldwide as the location of the world’s first nuclear bombing that took place during the Second World War. Nowadays the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park commemorates the tragedy with featured sites like the Genbaku Atomic Dome, Children’s Peace Monument and Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum.

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park is located in Nakajima. Nakajima used to serve as the city centre and, before the fatal bombing, it was home to about 6500 inhabitants. The specific target of the atomic bombing was a distinctive, easy to recognize from the air, T-shaped bridge named Aioibashi, slightly north from where the park stands now. After the war, the area was chosen by the city of Hiroshima as the place for the Peace Memorial Park, and the construction was completed in 1954.

Located in the very centre of the Memorial Park is The Cenotaph for Victims of the A-bomb inscribed with the phrase “Let all the souls here rest in peace, for we shall not repeat the evil.” The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum is situated to the south. There you will find scientific explanations of the bombing and its aftermath as well as exhibits of items that belonged to the victims.

Across the river, slightly to the north from the museum, there is the famous A-bomb Dome (also known as the Genbaku Dome). It is a brick building that as completed in 1915 and used to house government offices. It was located a mere 160 metres from the epicentre of the bombing, and even though most of the building collapsed, parts of the structure remained upright!

As described above, the journey from Osaka to Hiroshima is fully covered by your Japan Rail Pass. Take the Sakura train from Shin-Osaka Station (92 minutes), or the Hikari train (slightly slower: 2 hours 13 minutes) to Hiroshima station. From Hiroshima Station, The Peace Memorial Park is located only 20 minutes by tram; the nearest stops are Genbaku Dome–Mae, Hondōri, and Fukuromachi.

Day Trip from Osaka to Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park

HIROSHIMA, JAPAN - Atomic Bomb Dome or A-bomb dome (Genbaku Dome-mae) , A part of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, Japan.

Day Trip from Osaka to Kobe Mountains (Rokko Mountain Range)

Popular among tourists and locals looking for an escape from Osaka’s urban bustle is a day trip to the mountains and hot springs near Kobe. With its 931 meters, Mount Rokko (also town as “Rokkōsan”) is the highest peak in the Kobe Mountains. It is bustling with small tourist attractions like a botanical garden and a music box museum as well as Japan’s first golf course. Popular among tourists is also the Rokko Garden Terrace, a commercial complex with an observation deck as well as a couple of restaurants and boutiques. The observation deck is a perfect spot to enjoy panoramic views of the urban region of Hanshin (with both Osaka and Kobe), and the viewing platform is especially popular for sunsets.

You’ll ascend to the top of Mount Rokko by a historic cable car that has been in operation since the 1930s. There is a circular bus line running on Rokkosan; it connects the attractions with the top stations of both the Rokko Cable Car (to and from central Kobe) and the Rokko Arima Ropeway that goes down to the popular Amira Onsen. If you book a trip to Kobe Mountains with an agency, you will very likely be offered a visit to Amira Onsen on your trip! After walking around the Japanese peak, you will get the chance to relax and unwind in hot spring baths. 

To explore the Kobe Mountains, you need to travel from Osaka to Kobe first. With your Japan Rail Pass, there are two ways you can get from Osaka to Kobe. You can either take the Sanyo Shinkansen from Shin-Osaka Station to Shin-Kobe Station (travel time: approx. 15 minutes) or you can choose to board a JR Special Rapid Train at Osaka Station.

The latter will arrive at Kobe Sannomiya Station, and the trip duration is around 20 minutes. Once in Kobe, you can take the bus no. 16 that goes to the base station of the Rokko Cable Car. You can board the bus at Rokko Station, JR Rokkomichi Station (travel time: 15 minutes) or Hanshin Mikage Station (travel time: 25 minutes), and from any of the three stations, the cost is 210 Yen, less than 2 USD.

If you want to make sure that your day trip will include both the Kobe Mountains, Botanical Gardens and the hot springs (especially if you are travelling as a group or with family) we recommend booking a private day trip with an agency.

Day Trip from Osaka to Kobe Mountains (Rokko Mountain Range)

Birdeye view of Kobe cityscape, mountain,forest and Nunobiki waterfall from ropewape to mount Rokko in Kobe,Hyogo,Japan. Selective focus.

Recommended Day tours from Osaka

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Best Day trips from Osaka

Best Day trips from Osaka

Best Day trips from Osaka

Article written by:

Hi, my name is Samantha, Finance Managing Guru by day, Travel Blogging Enthusiast by... well... day too! Haha! Travelling King is the destination hotspot for the wannabe traveller! Showcasing affordable, luxurious getaways for the budget conscious! With the combination of my financial knowledge and travelling experiences I aim to show you, with a little planning, the right budget and a realistic goal you can fulfil your travel fantasies and explore the world whatever your budget or desires may be!