If you’je planning a trip to Japan, you absolutely have to visit Osaka. A vibrant and exciting city filled with ancient temples, bustling shopping districts, delicious street food, and more, there’s an abundance of things to do in Osaka. But, my absolute favorite thing about the city is the plethora of incredible day trips from Osaka itself.
I consider myself to be quite the expert on Osaka. Not only is my mother a born-and-raised Osakan, but I’ve visited the city countless times as a child. Furthermore, when I lived abroad in Japan for a year, I spent most of my time in Osaka working as a digital nomad.
And regardless of the number of times I visit the city, I never get bored. Not only is Osaka surrounded by historic cities filled with cultural sites, like Kyoto and Himeji, but it’s also encompassed by stunning natural destinations, like Mount Koya and Takedao. So today, I’ve listed the 15 best day trips from Osaka that you have to check out during your trip to Japan.
Best Day Trips from Osaka
Before I start listing the most incredible day trips from Osaka, I just want to clarify that I totally recommend visiting most of these destinations for more than one day.
However, if you’re on a time crunch and you’re looking for the best places to visit near Osaka, then it is still possible to see all of these spectacular spots in a single day from Osaka. With that being said, let’s begin.
☞ Don’t miss our post on where to stay in Osaka, which includes the best areas and accommodations.
First up, one of the most popular, historic, and beautiful cities in all of Japan is Kyoto. Like Osaka, Kyoto is located in the Kansai region of Japan. As it takes less than an hour to get to Kyoto from Osaka by train, it’s no surprise that Kyoto is one of the most common day trips from Osaka.
Filled with spectacular historic and natural sites, from the Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavillion) Temple, Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kiyomizu-Dera Temple, and Arashiyama Bamboo Forest, it’s easy to spend days exploring all of Kyoto’s sights. I, myself, have visited Kyoto countless times, and yet I still find new places to visit each and every time.
Needless to say, it’s a great city to check out regardless of whether you’re traveling with family, friends, a significant other, or alone; Kyoto is filled with great things to do. Thanks to its popularity, it can become quite busy, especially during cherry blossom season.
Location: Kyoto Station is located 30 – 50 minutes northeast of Osaka Station, depending on the train you take. So, if you’re looking for easy day trips from Osaka, Kyoto is the place to go. Click here for directions.
Getting There: The best way to get to Kyoto from Osaka is by train. While you can also get there by car, it takes nearly an hour and the route includes tolls. Make sure you get a JR Rail Pass for your trip to Japan.
Best Tour from Osaka: If you want to book a tour from Osaka that takes you to all of Kyoto’s top spots, click here for a highlights trip.
Must-Do Activities: Some of Kyoto’s must-visit spots include the Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kiyomizu-dera Temple, and Arashiyama Bamboo Forest. Some must-do activities include taking part in a tea ceremony at Jotokuji Temple and joining a food tour around the Gion District.
Where to Eat: Kyoto is filled with incredible restaurants, including the popular and delicious Denshichi Sushi.
One of my absolute favorite Osaka day trips is to Nara. Famous for its friendly and nearly-domesticated deer, a popular activity is feeding and taking photos of these adorable creatures at Nara Park.
However, Nara has more to offer than just deer. Not only can you visit its ancient temples and shrines, like the Todaji Temple, Yakushi-ji Temple, Kofuku-ji Temple, and Kasuga Taisha Shrine, but this city is also home to the delightful and picturesque Mount Wakakusa which provides its visitors with some spectacular views.
Overall, Nara offers a wide variety of attractions that will appeal to all visitors, so I definitely recommend checking it out (as long as you’re not afraid of deer!).
Location: Nara Park is around one hour east of Osaka Station by train. Click here for directions to Nara Park.
Getting There: The best way to get to Nara Park from Osaka is by train. If you have a JR Pass, this route is included.
Best Tour from Osaka: If you want to explore both Kyoto and Nara in one day, check out this great bus tour from Osaka.
Must-Do Activities: Some of the best things to do in Nara include admiring the deer at Nara Park, climbing Mount Wakakusa, visiting Todaji Temple, going on a half-day walking tour around the city, or joining a Nara bike tour.
Where to Eat: I love tonkatsu (fried pork cutlet), which is why Tonkatsu Ganko Nara is one of my favorite restaurants in Nara.
3. Mount Koya
An essential day trip from Osaka is undoubtedly Mount Koya (otherwise known as Koyasan). Located far away from the hustle and bustle of Osaka, Mount Koya is a peaceful mountain town located in the Wakayama Prefecture. It’s also home to the Okunoin Cemetery, which is the largest graveyard in all of Japan.
While I loved wandering around the Okunoin Cemetery, my favorite parts of visiting Mount Koya are the spectacular hiking trails and the historic temples. I also recommend visiting Mount Koya in the fall, if possible, as the autumn foliage is absolutely stunning. Overall, if you love history and nature, then Mount Koya is the perfect day trip for you.
Location: Koyasan Station is around 2.5 hours south of Osaka Station by train. Click here for directions.
Getting There: The best way to get to Koyasan Station from Osaka is by train. Take the Nankai-Koya Line from Namba Station, get off at Gokurakubashi Station, then take the Nankai Koyasan Cable. A portion of this route is included in the JR Rail Pass. Click here for directions to the Koyasan Station.
Best Tour from Osaka: If you’re looking for an easy way to explore Mount Koya, I recommend this private walking and train tour of Mount Koya from Osaka.
Must-Do Activities: Some of the best things to do in Mount Koya include wandering around the Okunoin Cemetery, visiting Torodo Hall, admiring the Daimon Gate, and taking a private walking tour with a local guide.
Where to Eat: For a straightforward and satisfying meal after exploring the Okunion Cemetery, check out Hachiyo.
For another popular one-day trip from Osaka, consider checking out the beautiful and historic Himeji. Located less than an hour outside of Osaka, Himeji is home to one of Japan’s largest and most iconic castles, Himeji Castle.
However, my absolute favorite place to visit in Himeji is Mount Shosha. While you have to take an additional bus to access the mountain, it’s well worth it. With a temple complex on top of a 371-meter mountain, Mount Shosha holds over 1,000 years of history. Filled with ancient shrines and enchanting views (especially in autumn), Mount Shosha is definitely worth a visit.
Location: Himeji Station is around 45 – 60 minutes west of Osaka Station by train. Click here for directions.
Getting There: The best way to get to Himeji Station from Osaka Station is by train. Either take the Tokaido-Sanyo Line or take the Shinkansen (bullet train) from Shin-Osaka Station. This route is included in the JR Pass. Click here for the best routes via train.
Best Tour from Osaka: If you want to skip the stress of planning a long day trip to Himeji by yourself, check out this amazing tour of Himeji Castle, Kokoen Garden, and Engyo-ji Temple from Osaka.
Must-Do Activities: My favorite things to do in Himeji include visiting Himeji Castle, walking up Mount Shosha, and wandering around Koko-en. I also recommend taking a customized tour around the city for a unique experience.
Where to Eat: If you’re looking for vegetarian or vegan options in Himeji, you have to check out Sakurasaku.
Kobe is a convenient and popular day trip from Osaka that’s definitely worth adding to your itinerary. Not only is Kobe well-known for its stunning ocean views, but it’s also favored for its incredible culinary delights (you have to try Kobe beef when you’re in Kobe – of course).
I’ve visited Kobe several times throughout the years, and yet there are still so many Kobe attractions that I haven’t seen yet. Nevertheless, my favorite things to do in Kobe include climbing Mount Rokko, which provides spectacular views of the city and the ocean, walking along the Kobe Harborland, and visiting the Ikuta Shrine.
Overall, Kobe is the perfect city for both nature lovers and food enthusiasts.
Location: Kobe Station is located around 25 to 45 minutes west of Osaka Station by train. Click here for directions.
Getting There: The best way to get to Kobe from Osaka Station is by train. There are a few train lines that you can choose from, including the Tokaido-Sanyo Line, Kobe Line, and Hanshin Line. Osaka to Kobe is included in your JR Pass as well.
Best Tour from Osaka: If you want a private day tour of Kobe from Osaka, click here.
Must-Do Activities: Some must-do activities in Kobe include visiting the Ikuta Shrine, climbing Mount Rokko, joining a private walking tour, wandering around Kobe Harborland, and exploring Chinatown. This private day trip takes in many of those destinations.
Where to Eat: If you’re interested in sampling some Kobe beef, you have to check out the Kokubu Steak House.
6. Arima Onsen Town
When you’re traveling to Japan, one of the most essential things you have to do is to visit an onsen (hot springs). And while there are many amazing onsens scattered around the country, the onsens in Arima Onsen Town are some of the best by far.
Containing both gold and silver hot spring water, there are a plethora of onsens to choose from. However, as well as the onsen, I also simply love visiting the adorable town. Perfect for exploring on foot, the wooden buildings of Arima Onsen Town are filled with cute shops and cafes to wander around.
And, just a side note, Arima Onsen Town is actually contained within the city limits of Kobe. However, I’m labeling it as a separate day trip as it takes an additional 45 minutes to get there by bus. Overall, Arima Onsen Town is one of the best day trips from Osaka by bus and definitely worth visiting if you love spas.
Location: Arima Onsen Station is located around one hour and 20 minutes west of Osaka Station by train. Click here for directions.
Getting There: The best ways to get to Arima Onsen Town from Osaka are by car or by train. While it only takes 40 minutes by car, the route includes tolls. In contrast, it takes one hour and 20 minutes by train and bus. Click here for the best routes via public transport.
Must-Do Activities: While you’re in Arima Onsen Town, check out some of the spas, visit the Tosen Shrine, and drop by the Arima Toys and Automata Museum.
Where to Eat: For a quick and relaxing lunch break, I recommend stopping by Café de Beau.
7. Takedao Abandoned Railway
Next, let’s talk about one of the best hidden gems near Osaka: the Takedao Abandoned Railway. While it’s not well-known or popular, it’s one of my absolute favorite day trips from Osaka – I always go to the Takedao Abandoned Railway whenever I visit Osaka.
The Takedao Abandoned Railway is a flat and enchanting hiking trail that connects Namaze Station and Takedao Station. And, unsurprisingly, the Takedao Abandoned Railway follows an abandoned railway. The trail meanders deep into dark tunnels (bring your cellphone to use as a flashlight), and passes a tranquil river in a deep valley surrounded by dense trees.
The main reason I love the Takedao Abandoned Railway is that its simple yet charming scenery reminds me of a Hayao Miyazaki film. So, if you want a relaxing day out of the city, I highly recommend checking it out. And, just as a tip, start the hike at Namaze Station and end it at Takedao Station.
Location: Takedao Station is located around 35 minutes north-west of Osaka Station by train. Click here for directions.
Getting There: The best way to get to Takedao Station from Osaka is by train, via the Tokaido-Sanyo Line. Click here for the best routes via train.
Where to Eat: After enjoying your picturesque hike, I recommend eating at 畑熊商店 (don’t worry, they offer English menus).
8. Awaji Island
If you’re looking for one of the most fun day trips from Osaka, then look no further than Awaji Island. Located on an island southwest of Osaka, it’s famous for the large Akashi Kaikyo suspension bridge that connects it to Kobe.
There are many things to do on Awaji Island; from visiting the Izanagi Shrine to admiring the Naruto whirlpools. However, Awaji Island is particularly well-suited for families, as it also offers Nijigen no Mori (Awaji Island Anime Park) and Hello Kitty Smile. So, if you’re looking for a fun-filled day on an island, Awaji Island is the place to go.
Location: Awaji Island is located around two hours southwest of Osaka Station by train and bus. Click here for directions.
Getting There: The easiest way to get to Awaji Island from Osaka is by car or tour. However, it is also accessible by train and bus. Click here for the best routes via public transport.
Best Tour from Osaka: Visit the Naruto whirlpools and explore Awaji Island on this day trip tour from Osaka.
Must-Do Activities: Some popular activities include visiting Nijigen no Mori (Awaji Island Anime Park), Hello Kitty Smile, Sumoto Onsen, and Awaji Hanasajiki Park.
Where to Eat: If you’re craving some straightforward hamburgers after gorging yourself on too much sushi, (if there’s such a thing), you have to visit Awajishima Onion Kitchen.
9. Wakayama City
Heading down south from Osaka, you’ll find the delightful city of Wakayama. Located in the Wakayama Prefecture, Wakayama City offers historic shrines, an impressive castle, and delicious food.
While Wakayama City is the perfect destination for any kind of traveler, it’s particularly well-suited for history lovers. Home to Wakayama Castle, Kimii-dera Temple, Kishu Toshogu Shrine, and Momijidani Teien Garden, it’s easy to fill a whole day with its incredible sights.
Location: Wakayama Station is located around one hour south of Osaka Station by train. Click here for directions.
Getting There: The best way to get to Wakayama City from Osaka is by train, via the Kuroshio Line. Osaka to Wakayama is included in the JR Pass. Click here for the best routes via train.
Best Tour from Osaka: While there’s no tour to Wakayama City from Osaka, you can book this private walking tour of Wakayama City that meets at JR Wakayama Station.
Must-Do Activities: Some of the best things to do in Wakayama City include touring Wakayama Castle, visiting Kimii-dera Temple, admiring the Momijidani Teien Garden, and taking this private tour to Wakayama’s best spots.
Where to Eat: For some great-quality, local, and fresh sashimi, I recommend Ginpei Wakayama.
I can’t talk about the best day tours from Osaka without mentioning Iga. Located west of Osaka in the Mie Prefecture, Iga is famously known to be one of the two birthplaces of the ninja.
Needless to say, there are plenty of amazing things to do in Iga. From visiting the Ninja Museum of Iga-ryu to exploring Iga Ueno Castle, this former castle town is the perfect destination for both history lovers and families. So, if you’re interested in learning more about ninjas and their role in Japan’s history, you have to visit this incredible place.
Location: Iga is located around two and a half hours west of Osaka Station by train and bus. Click here for directions.
Getting There: The best way to get to Iga from Osaka is either by car or tour. However, it is also accessible by train. Click here for the best routes via public transport.
Best Tour from Osaka: For an immersive, full-day experience learning about the history of ninjas in Iga, I recommend checking out this tour.
Must-Do Activities: Some essential places to visit in Iga include Iga Ueno Castle, the Ninja Museum of Iga-ryu, and Moku Moku Farm.
Where to Eat: If you love tofu as much as I do (or if you’re looking for some vegetarian and vegan-friendly restaurants in Iga), you have to check out Wakaya.
Another one of the best day trips from Osaka by train (specifically, by Shinkansen or the bullet train) is Nagoya. Now, within Japan, Nagoya has the reputation of being a large but kind of boring city. However, I assure you it’s not.
Not only can you explore Nagoya Castle on your trip to the city, but you can also visit the Atsuta Shrine, the Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology, the Osu Kannon Temple, and the Nagoya City Science Museum. The city is also filled with superb shopping and dining options; making it one of the top day trips from Osaka.
Location: Nagoya Station is located around one hour northeast of Osaka Station by Shinkansen (bullet train). This is an included trip in the JR Pass. Click here for directions.
Getting There: The best way to get to Nagoya from Osaka is by Shinkansen (bullet train), which is included in the JR Pass.
Best Tour from Osaka: While there aren’t any tours that take you to Nagoya from Osaka, I recommend booking this incredible highlight tour of Nagoya for when you arrive from Osaka.
Must-Do Activities: I definitely recommend visiting the Atsuta Shrine and the Nagoya City Science Museum when visiting Nagoya. You can also visit the Nagoya Castle and Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology on a full-day tour of Nagoya.
Where to Eat: If you love meat, you have to eat at the Midtown BBQ Nagoya.
12. Takeda Castle Ruins
To experience a more remote yet absolutely stunning spot near Osaka, visit the Takeda Castle Ruins. Otherwise known as “the castle in the sky,” the Takeda Castle Ruins sits on top of Mount Kojo in the Hyogo Prefecture.
Initially built in 1411, the castle has been abandoned for centuries. While most of the castle has since been destroyed and disintegrated, you can walk among the foundations and learn about its history. On cold mornings in October and November, you can frequently admire the “floating castle”, where the entire mountain, minus its peak, is surrounded by a cloudy mist.
Overall, the Takeda Castle Ruins is one of the best day trips from Osaka by car and totally worth visiting if you love nature and history.
Location: The Takeda Castle Ruins are located around two hours north-west of Osaka Station by car. Click here for directions.
Getting There: The best way to get to the Takeda Castle Ruins from Osaka is by car. Click here to search for the best price on rental cars. While it is technically possible to get there by train and bus, it takes a minimum of three hours.
Where to Eat: For some delicious soba after a long hike into the sky, visit Ito Soba Noodle.
13. Okayama and Kurashiki
Another one of my most highly-rated day trips around Osaka is Okayama and Kurashiki. Located in the Okayama Prefecture west of Osaka, Kurashiki is a lovely and historic city that surrounds a canal filled with willow trees. Well-known as a merchant district, there are a plethora of amazing shops to check out in Kurashiki.
Furthermore, Kurashiki is located next to the bustling city of Okayama, which is filled with incredible sights, from the imposing Okayama Castle to the charming Okayama Korakuen Garden. Learn more about the things to do in Okayama.
Location: Kurashiki Station is located around 1.5 hours west of Osaka Station by Shinkansen (bullet train) and train. Click here for directions.
Getting There: The best way to get to Okayama from Osaka is by Shinkansen (bullet train), which is included in the JR Pass. Click here for the best routes via train.
Best Tour from Osaka: While there isn’t a tour that takes you to Okayama from Osaka, you can book this private half-day tour around Okayama for when you arrive at Okayama Station.
Must-Do Activities: Some of the best things to do in Okayama include touring Okayama Castle, wandering around Okayama Korakuen Garden, visiting the Kibiji Museum of Literature, and exploring Kurashiki. Luckily, you can do all of this and more on a full-day private tour of Okayama.
Where to Eat: If you’re interested in visiting an authentic teppanyaki restaurant, check out Teppan Ku-Ya Okayama.
14. Naoshima Island
If you’re looking for one of the best day trips from Osaka by boat, then you’ll want to visit Naoshima Island. Located south of Okayama and Kurashiki, (and three hours west of Osaka), Naoshima Island is famous for housing an abundance of incredible contemporary art galleries.
Some of the top attractions on Naoshima Island include the Chichu Museum, the Art House Project, the Benesse House, and the Lee Ufan Museum. But, its most well-known sight is Yayoi Kusama’s iconic yellow pumpkin, placed on a pier overlooking the endless Pacific Ocean. Overall, Naoshima Island is the perfect destination for any art enthusiast.
Location: Naoshima Island is located around three hours west of Osaka Station by Shinkansen, bus, and boat. Click here for directions.
Getting There: The best way to get to Naoshima Island from Osaka is by tour or by Shinkansen (bullet train), bus, and boat. Click here for the best routes via public transport.
Must-Do Activities: Some of the best art galleries on Naoshima Island include the Chichu Museum, the Lee Ufan Museum, and the Benesse House. But, if you’re interested in doing something else, I recommend taking this private walking tour around the island.
Where to Eat: For a cozy curry restaurant offering traditional tatami rooms, I recommend Cin.na.mon.
15. Hiroshima and Miyajima Island
Last but by no means least, one of the best day trips from Osaka is to Hiroshima and Miyajima Island. Located in the Hiroshima Prefecture west of Osaka, Hiroshima is one of the most famous travel destinations in all of Japan.
Unsurprisingly, some of the best attractions in Hiroshima commemorate the tens of thousands of civilians killed by the atomic bomb in 1945. This includes the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, the Peace Memorial Park, and the Atomic Bomb Dome.
However, Hiroshima offers a plethora of additional sights, including Hiroshima Castle, the Mazda Museum, and the Itsukushima Shrine on Miyajima Island. Hiroshima is the perfect day trip for any traveler.
Location: Hiroshima Station is located around one hour and 40 minutes west of Osaka Station by Shinkansen (bullet train). Click here for directions.
Getting There: The best way to get to Hiroshima from Osaka is by Shinkansen (bullet train). Click here for the best routes via train.
Best Tour from Osaka: If you want to reduce the stress of planning a full-day trip to Hiroshima and Miyajima, check out this great tour to Hiroshima and Miyajima from Osaka.
Must-Do Activities: Some of the best things to do in Hiroshima include touring the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, observing the Atomic Bomb Dome, and visiting the Itsukushima Jinja on Miyajima. Alternatively, you can explore Hiroshima’s Peace Park by bike or on foot.
Where to Eat: For some truly delicious okonomiyaki, you can’t miss Nagataya. They specialize in vegan and vegetarian dishes too.
Best Day Trip Tours from Osaka
Now that we’ve gone through the 15 most spectacular day trips from Osaka, here’s a quick summary of the best day trip tours from Osaka:
1. Kyoto Top Highlights Day Trip: Departing from either Umeda Station or Namba Station, this incredible tour takes you to all of Kyoto’s best spots, including Fushimi Inari, Kiyomizu-dera, Kinkaku-ji (the Golden Pavilion), and Arashiyama Bamboo Forest.
A knowledgeable tour guide will lead the way and spend 10 hours giving you the scoop on all of these gorgeous Kyoto highlights. You can book the tour here.
2. From Osaka: Guided Day Trip to Kyoto and Nara: Meeting at either Umeda Station or Namba Station in Osaka, this delightful tour leads you to two amazing Osaka day trips: Kyoto and Nara. With 7-to-9.5 hours being spent visiting Arashiyama Bamboo Forest, Kinkaku-ji (the Golden Pavilion), and Nara Park, it’s the best way to explore both cities in one day. Click here to book the tour.
3. Mt. Koya Private Walking and Train Tour: This is a lovely and convenient tour lasting nine hours, guiding you to the enchanting Mount Koya with a local guide. Click here to book.
4. Kobe Private Trip: This is a relaxed, private tour – no rushing around. You’ll visit the Herb Gardens and the Nunobiki Ropeway, plus there’s a sake tasting included. Click here to learn more and book the tour.
5. Hiroshima and Mirojima Trip: This full-day trip from Osaka takes you to Hiroshima by bullet train, followed by a boat to Mirojima. You’ll visit the Itsukushima Shrine, see the remains of the Genbaku Dome, a see exhibits at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. Click here for more details.
Day Trips Around Osaka: FAQs
The most popular day trips from Osaka are definitely either Kyoto or Nara. Not only are both cities super close and convenient to reach from Osaka, but they also offer a wide variety of unique and alluring attractions, from temples and shrines to museums and gardens.
At the very least, you’ll need three days in Osaka. That’ll give you enough time to visit some of Osaka’s top attractions, like Osaka Castle, Dotonbori, Shitenno-ji Temple, and the Kuromon Ichiba Market, while also leaving enough time to go on at least one amazing day trip from Osaka.
While most of the day trips from Osaka are easily accessible by train, some of the top day trips from Osaka by car include Arima Onsen Town, Awaji Island, Iga, and the Takeda Castle Ruins.
Some of my favorite day trips from Osaka by train include Kyoto (30 minutes by train), Nara (50 minutes by train), Himeji (50 minutes by bullet train), and Hiroshima (90 minutes by bullet train).
In my opinion, the most beautiful place near Osaka is Kyoto. From the stunning views from Mount Inari, the dense bamboo forests of Arashiyama, the enchanting Kamo River, and the various delightful gardens scattered around the city, Kyoto is filled with breathtaking sights.
The easiest way to get to Kyoto from Osaka is by train, which will take you around 30 minutes. Alternatively, you can book this bus tour that will take you to some of the most popular and incredible sights in Kyoto, including Fushimi Inari, Kinkaku-ji (the Golden Pavilion), and Arashiyama Bamboo Forest.
Yes, with Kobe Station only being around 25 to 45 minutes west of Osaka Station by train, Kobe is a popular and convenient day trip from Osaka.
Yes, you can certainly do a day trip from Osaka to Hiroshima. While it may be a long day (it takes one hour and 40 minutes to get to Hiroshima from Osaka by bullet train), you’ll still have plenty of time to visit several of Hiroshima’s top attractions, including the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, the Atomic Bomb Dome, the Mazda Museum, and Hiroshima Castle.
I hope this article provided you with some fun and inspiring ideas on the best day trips around Osaka. Regardless of whether you’re visiting Osaka for a few days, a week, or a month, I definitely recommend trying to fit in at least one or two of these Osaka day trips onto your itinerary.
And remember, while you can visit these incredible destinations in a single day, I 100% recommend spending more time in them, if possible. Kyoto and Hiroshima in particular are vast cities filled with spectacular sights, so I totally endorse adding them to your must-see spots in Japan.
Overall, I hope you have fun planning your adventures around Japan, and happy travels.