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Where You Should Stay in Osaka: Best Areas & Hotels for Visitors

Where You Should Stay in Osaka: Best Areas & Hotels for Visitors

Date published: 21 August 2022

Osaka is Japan's third-biggest city. It offers all the pleasures of a port city, including great food, historical buildings, and even theme parks. Osaka is an excellent place to stay and has convenient access to the smaller port city of Kobe, the famed deer-filled city of Nara, and of course, Kyoto.

Main image: PIXTA

Table of Contents
  1. 1. How to select where to stay in Osaka City
  2. 2. Where is the best area to stay in Osaka City?
  3. 3. Types of accommodation in Osaka
  4. 4. When is the peak season for visiting Osaka?
  5. 5. Where to search if Osaka is booked

1. How to select where to stay in Osaka City

Photo: PIXTA
Photo: PIXTA

Osaka being a massive city means it is essential to think about what you want to do, where you want to go, etc., when considering where you want to stay. Osaka City itself is the capital of Osaka Prefecture, the second-smallest prefecture in Japan by size.

It is important to remember the difference when selecting accommodation in Osaka Prefecture rather than Osaka City. Given the city's proximity to sightseeing areas in Japan's Midwest, some visitors prefer to fly in to Osaka instead of Tokyo.

a. Ease of access to/from the airport
Kansai International Airport opened in 1994 on an artificial island in Osaka Bay, and landing at this airport is quite an experience in itself! As the plane lands, it almost feels like you are going to land in the ocean.
・By train: The JR Kansai Airport Rapid Service gets travelers to Osaka Station in roughly 65 minutes (1,190 yen o/w). You may use a Japan Rail Pass on this line. There are also rail connections to Tennoji, Nankai Namba, and Shin-Osaka, the last one of which allows onward travel to Kyoto.
・By bus: There is also a direct bus from the airport to Osaka Station, which takes around an hour (1,550 yen o/w).

Osaka International Airport (also known as Itami Airport) used to be the region’s top airport for international flights, but since 1994 has primarily handled domestic flights.
・By train: Take the Osaka Monorail from the airport to Hotarugaike Station (2 minutes), and then the Hankyu Takarazuka Line to Osaka-Umeda Station (20 minutes) (430 yen o/w). There are also rail connections to Tennoji, Nankai Namba, Shin-Osaka, and Kyoto.
・By bus: There is a direct bus from the airport to Osaka Station, which takes around 30 minutes (650 yen o/w).

b. Ease of getting to sightseeing spots outside and within Osaka City
Osaka allows excellent access to the rest of Japan. Shin-Osaka gives access to the Shinkansen (bullet train) network, which enables travel to the southwest, such as Hiroshima and Fukuoka, and east toward Tokyo via Kyoto and Nagoya.

Osaka also has great connections to sightseeing spots outside of Osaka, such as Nara and Kobe, via local trains, as well as bus services to the rest of Japan. Osaka also has two airports (Kansai International Airport – KIX, and Osaka International (Itami) Airport – ITM), making it possible to reach the breadth of Japan.

c. What is Osaka City like?
Osaka City is a bustling metropolis with everything one could want from a city. From the bright lights of Dotonbori, the beautiful and towering Osaka Castle, and the Umeda Sky Building, which provides one of the top 100 night views of Japan, the city is teeming with things to see and do.

d. What’s there to do in Osaka City?
Across Osaka, you can find a wide range of restaurants that offer up the best that Japan has. In fact, Osaka has been dubbed ‘Japan’s Kitchen,’ and when you visit, you’ll soon discover why! In particular, this city is famous for outstanding cuisines such as okonomiyaki, kitsune udon, and kushikatsu.

In this fantastic city, you can let your emotions go wild at Universal Studios Japan, enjoy the sights of Tempozan Harbor Village (home to Japan’s largest Ferris wheel), and experience traditional performing arts at Bunraku Theatre. Choosing where you will stay is important so you can make the most of your time in Osaka City.

e. What kinds of hotels are there in Osaka City?
Accommodation in this city runs the full gamut of options, from 1-star to 5-star hotels, and includes terrific guesthouses and hostels. Whatever kind of place you are looking for, you will find it.

2. Where is the best area to stay in Osaka City?

Photo: PIXTA
Photo: PIXTA

The following are the best, most convenient areas to stay in Osaka, beginning with the most recommended places.

a. Umeda/Osaka Station/Kitashinchi (Kita) Area: Handy for getting around the city
The area of Umeda, Osaka Station and Kitashinchi forms a massive commercial district full of department stores, offices and sightseeing spots. There are actually several train stations operating in this area, with access to the JR, Hankyu, and Hanshin lines, as well as the Osaka Metro subway.

Umeda includes the Umeda Sky Building, while Osaka Station itself is one giant commercial facility, and Kitashinchi is packed with hundreds of bars and restaurants. Osaka Station is also perfect for travelers who are looking for convenience as the Umeda area benefits from being so well connected, and is the 4th biggest station area in the world.

i. Ease of getting to sightseeing spots outside and within Osaka
As well as being connected to local airports for onward travel across Japan, Osaka Station is just a 4-minute train ride to Shin-Osaka Station via the JR Tokaido-Sanyo Line. The Shinkansen network offers access west to Hiroshima and east toward Kyoto and Tokyo. This station also has local train services to Kobe (25 minutes; JR Tokaido-Sanyo Line) and to Nara (51 minutes; JR Osaka Loop Line & Yamatoji Line).

In addition, the Hankyu Line also enables travel to Kyoto (44 minutes) and Kobe (25 minutes).

Thanks to this area’s hub status for transportation, it is very easy to get around the city from here. It is possible to get to Namba in 9 minutes, to Osakajokoen (for Osaka Castle) in 9 minutes, and to Tennoji in 18 minutes. In addition, Universal-City Station (for USJ) is a mere 13-minute train ride, so staying in this area is perfect for getting where you want to go, fast!

ii. Type of neighborhood/atmosphere
Around Osaka Station and Umeda, the streets are teeming with people, and there are many department stores. When you go toward Kitashinchi, you can feel a completely different vibe. This area is one of the most famous entertainment districts in Osaka. It is easy to say that Osaka Station, Umeda, and Kitashinchi represent the beating heart of Osaka.

iii. Nearby sightseeing points of interest
This area is bustling, so that needs to be kept in mind when looking at accommodation nearby. Must-see points in this area include the Umeda Sky Building and the HEP FIVE Ferris Wheel. While there are many benefits, and it is certainly convenient, public transport is packed with commuters in the morning and evening, while office workers sit shoulder to shoulder in the bars of Kitashinchi.

・Recommended hotels in the Umeda/Osaka Station/Kitashinchi area:
-Luxury: Intercontinental Hotel Osaka
-Mid-range: Hearton Hotel Nishi Umeda
-Budget: Hotel Kansai
-For families: Osaka Dai-ichi Hotel
-Vacation rental: Bon Condominium Umeda – Vacation STAY

Photo: PIXTA
Photo: PIXTA

b. Namba/Dotonbori/Shinsaibashi Area: Enjoy the bright lights of Osaka
The areas of Namba, Dotonbori, and Shinsaibashi encompass another famous entertainment district of Osaka, including many restaurants toward Dotonbori and the superb shopping opportunities of Shinsaibashi. Generally, due to the nightlife in this area, the accommodation is better suited for travelers who like to be close to the action.

i. Ease of getting to sightseeing spots outside and within Osaka
The train stations in this area connect to a variety of major sightseeing areas both within Osaka and in the vicinity. JR Namba Station, Osaka-Namba Station, and Namba Station are distinctly different stations, so it can be somewhat confusing to navigate the area.

JR Namba Station connects to Nara Station via the Yamatoji Line. Osaka-Namba Station connects to Kyoto Station via the Kintetsu Line.

Namba Station offers a direct line to Shin-Osaka Station via the Osaka Metro Midosuji Line. At Namba Station, you can also catch a Nankai Limited Express train to Wakayamashi Station if heading toward Koyasan or other sightseeing areas in Wakayama.

When traveling within Osaka City, always double-check which exact station in Namba you need to travel from – otherwise, you might have trouble finding the correct line you need. Furthermore, if you are using the Japan Rail Pass, then you can use train lines via JR Namba Station for free, but using train services via the other two stations will require you to buy a ticket. This area is very convenient for travel around Osaka City while putting you right at the center of all the action.

ii. Type of neighborhood/atmosphere
This area offers sights that match the image of Japan many have: busy streets, bright lights, and numerous stores and restaurants left, right, and center. Dotonbori is famous for its massive electric advertisements that plaster the exteriors of numerous buildings. Meanwhile, Shinsaibashi has a famous shopping arcade and a lot of bars and clubs.

iii. Nearby sightseeing points of interest
The combination of Namba, Dotonbori, and Shinsaibashi represents a very vibrant part of Osaka City, and there is so much to see. For example, there is the famous Dotonbori Canal, Namba Yasaka Shrine, Kuromon Ichiba Market, and Shochikuza Theatre. During the day, the crowds stream by for shopping, but at night people really let their hair down.

・Recommended hotels in the Namba/Dotonbori/Shinsaibashi area:
-Luxury: Swissotel Nankai Osaka
-Mid-range: Hiyori Hotel Osaka Namba
-Budget: bnb+ Namba
-For families: Karaksa Hotel Osaka Namba
-Vacation rental: Yeah Room Namba
-Capsule hotel: First Cabin Midosuji
-Love hotel: Hotel Bali An Resort Nambadotonbori

Photo: PIXTA
Photo: PIXTA

c. Osaka Castle/Tenmabashi/Kyobashi Area: Experience a traditional Japanese castle!
If you like wide spaces and green parks, this is your area. On top of that, there is a beautiful Japanese castle! A short walk from the castle on one side allows you to experience the stores and restaurants of Kyobashi, while on the other side of the castle, you can feel the fresh air of Temmabashi’s waterways and even go on a river cruise. All in all, this is a great area for families.

i. Ease of getting to sightseeing spots outside and within Osaka
Kyobashi Station offers direct access to Kyoto via the Keihan Main Line (47 minutes, 480 yen o/w), and is a mere 6 minutes from Osaka Station, which offers easy onward travel to Shin-Osaka Station and the Shinkansen train network.

The nearest station to Osaka Castle is Osakajokoen Station, which is on the Osaka Loop Line and is covered by the Japan Rail Pass. The Osaka Loop Line directly connects you with Kyobashi Station, Osaka Station, and Tennoji Station, as well as many other major stations and areas around Osaka City. Kyobashi Station is really convenient as it serves as a hub for the Osaka Loop Line, Gakkentoshi Line, JR Tozai Line, the Keihan Main Line, and the Nagahori Tsurumi-ryokuchi Line.

ii. Type of neighborhood/atmosphere
This area offers a unique atmosphere of a towering castle and spacious park areas, which are also within easy reach of the busy streets and waterways of Kyobashi and Tenmabashi. You can enjoy both quiet walks along the nearby rivers and parks, but also see a bit of more the hustle and bustle of Osaka city life.

iii. Nearby sightseeing points of interest
This area is full of restaurants, so you won’t be lacking choice for eating destinations, and you can enjoy great shopping at the same time. However, while the Osaka Castle Park itself does offer a bit of peace and quiet, it must be kept in mind that Tenmabashi and Kyobashi stations can be quite busy in the morning and evening with office workers.

・Recommended hotels in the Osaka Castle/Tenmabashi/Kyobashi area:
-Luxury: Hotel New Otani Osaka
-Mid-range: Hotel Keihan Kyobashi Grande
-Budget: Via Inn Osaka Kyobashi
-For families: Hotel Sun White
-Vacation rental: Sakura Garden Hotel – Vacation STAY

Photo: PIXTA
Photo: PIXTA

d. Shinsekai/Tennoji/Tsuruhashi Area: Make sure to try the Kushikatsu!
Shinsekai has a fairly traditional vibe, but is packed full of restaurants, while toward Tennoji Station, you can experience the massive Tennoji Park and Osaka Tennoji Zoo, along with slightly more up-market shopping.

Toward Tsuruhashi, you can experience the largest Korean neighborhood in Japan! The area around Tennoji is suitable for both families and other types of travelers.

i. Ease of getting to sightseeing spots outside and within Osaka
Tennoji Station has train services to Kansai International Airport and Shin-Osaka Station. It also has rail service to Wakayama Station in Wakayama Prefecture, Nara, and Kyoto. Being so well connected makes it a great area to travel in before continuing your journey outside Osaka City.

For traveling within Osaka City, this station is well connected via multiple lines, including the Osaka Loop Line for stations like Osaka Station, the Yamatoji Line for JR Namba Station, and the Hanwa Line for stops toward the south of the city.

ii. Type of neighborhood/atmosphere
Shinsekai, while being quite a busy area, can be somewhat seedy at night. The area around Tennoji is more relaxed, but you can definitely see some interesting characters in Tennoji Park. In Tsuruhashi, you can enjoy the very different atmosphere of Korean restaurants.

iii. Nearby sightseeing points of interest
Shinsekai has many restaurants, but in particular, it is the place to be for eating kushikatsu, a specialty of Osaka. Be sure to check out the Abeno Harukas Tower, Tennoji Zoo, and Shitenno-ji Temple.

・Recommended hotels near the Shinsekai/Tennoji/Tsuruhashi area:
-Luxury: Osaka Marriott Miyako Hotel
-Mid-range: Miyako City Osaka Tennoji
-Budget: Peace House Suzunami
-For families: Hotel Trusty Osaka Abeno
-Vacation rental: Abeno House

Photo: PIXTA
Photo: PIXTA

e. Shin-Osaka Area: The best spot for convenient travel
The Shin-Osaka Station area is basically a transport hub. It is supremely convenient for accessing the Shinkansen (and getting to Kyoto in mere minutes) or traveling into Osaka City itself. Still, in itself, it is lacking in any particular attractions. It is suitable for travelers who value convenience and want quick access to Osaka and onward travel.

i. Ease of getting to sightseeing spots outside and within Osaka
Shin-Osaka Station is unbeatable for travel outside of Osaka. Besides the Shinkansen network, which allows easy travel to both the east (Tokyo, etc.) and west of Japan (Hiroshima, etc.), there is a direct line to Kansai Airport, local trains to the cities of Kyoto and Kobe, and also trains to other prefectures like Wakayama Prefecture.

Shin-Osaka is also on the Midosuji Line, the oldest line in the Osaka subway but also, at times, the most congested line in the city! This line allows direct access to major stations within Osaka City like Umeda (and Osaka Station), Shinsaibashi, Namba, Tennoji, and more. However, it is best to avoid this line at peak times!

ii. Type of neighborhood/atmosphere
The local area mainly caters to the station’s hub status, so there are restaurants, shops and hotels, as well as other conveniences for travelers and commuters on the go. Public transportation can be very busy at peak times.

iii. Nearby sightseeing points of interest
There are a lot of restaurants in this area, as well as hotels.

・Recommended hotels in Shin-Osaka
-Luxury: Courtyard by Marriott Shin-Osaka Station
-Mid-range: Remm Shin-Osaka
-Budget: Toyoko Inn Shin-Osaka Chuo-guchi Honkan
-For families: karaksa hotel grande Shin-Osaka Tower
-Vacation rental: Ostay Shin-Osaka Hotel Apartment
-Capsule hotel: Capsule Hotel J Garden Shin-Osaka

Photo: PIXTA
Photo: PIXTA

f. USJ/Nanko Port (Osaka Bay area) Area: Go wild at USJ, but be sure to try a tour boat!
USJ stands for Universal Studios Japan, a theme park with 11 different worlds! The latest world, Super Nintendo World, opened in 2021. The nearby Nanko Port area is made up of interconnected islands that extend out into Osaka Bay. This is the best area to stay in if you are up for theme parks, shopping, and beautiful views that extend into the ocean.

i. Ease of getting to sightseeing spots outside and within Osaka
This area is not really recommended for travelers planning onward travel outside Osaka to the rest of Japan, as it is somewhat out of the way compared with other touristy spots. However, you can catch ferries from this port to Busan in South Korea and Shanghai in China!

Universal-City Station is the nearest station to USJ, and it is served by the JR Yumesaki Line (free for Japan Rail Pass holders), which only has 4 stops. However, the first stop, Nishikujo Station, is also on the Osaka Loop Line and JR Kyoto Line and is also served by other non-JR lines. With the one transfer at Nishikujo Station, it is possible to get to Osaka Station in less than 15 minutes.

ii. Type of neighborhood/atmosphere
The area around USJ is pretty busy, and you can feel an electric feeling in the atmosphere, but walking or taking public transport over to Nanko Port is quite refreshing. There are plenty of spots for relaxation and getting great ocean views. Take a walk along the Seaside Cosmo park and enjoy the view back toward Osaka City.

iii. Nearby sightseeing points of interest
Both USJ and Nanko Port have many restaurants and stores. In addition, the nearby Maishima Sports Island is really interesting for its many parks and stadiums. It is also exciting to see all the shipping around, including container ships and ferries, plus there is the Sakishima Cosmo Tower Observatory, the Mizuno Sportology Gallery, and tour boats and ferries that you can ride around the port.

・Recommended hotels in the USJ/Nanko Port (Osaka Bay area) area:
-Luxury: Hyatt Regency Osaka
-Mid-range: Hotel Universal Port
-Budget: Business Hotel Urbanty Nishikujo
-For families: LIBER Hotel at Universal Studios Japan
-Vacation rental: Sakurajima Parkside House

Photo: PIXTA
Photo: PIXTA

g. Outside Downtown Osaka
When visiting Osaka, it is best to keep in mind that Osaka is more than just a city, it is also a prefecture. There is also a lot to see outside of the city, and all of the areas above also have local train services to the wider prefecture area as well as other prefectures that are nearby.

・Kansai International Airport
There are both hotels at Kansai International Airport and in the nearby city of Izumisano, which are really suitable for people who have just arrived in Osaka or who are leaving.

In particular, Izumisano has beaches and parks, which can create a perfect last day for your stay in Japan. In addition, just outside Kansai International Airport is Rinku Premium Outlets, home to around 210 shops in a resort-like atmosphere.

3. Types of accommodation in Osaka

Photo: PIXTA
Photo: PIXTA

a. Ryokan
A ryokan is a kind of traditional accommodation in Japan that features tatami (straw mat) rooms, sleeping on futons (bedding) which is placed directly on the floor, and which often allows you to enjoy the experience of an onsen (hot spring bath) and to wear traditional Japanese clothing (yukata). They offer up the history of Japan, with many aspects of this kind of accommodation bringing travelers into direct contact with the very fabric of what it is to be Japanese.

Best ryokan in Osaka

b. Hotels
・Best luxury hotels in Osaka
・Best mid-range hotels in Osaka
・Best hotels in Osaka for families
Best value hotels in Osaka (Booking.com)

c. Business hotels
・These kinds of hotels tend to be very economical, so the rooms tend to be quite small and basic. However, they are often found near train stations and the price per night can be quite reasonable. They are quite a good choice when you just literally need a bed and aren’t too concerned about creature comforts.

d. Capsule hotels (pod hotels)
・Capsule hotels offer a very different and unique kind of stay, one which first started in Japan. At these hotels you can stay in a small capsule! Typically, you are given a small chamber which is about the size of a small bed, while facilities like toilets and showers are shared. They are very cheap, but are not really suitable for people uncomfortable with being in a small space.

Recommended Osaka Capsule Hotels

e. Guesthouses
・Guesthouses and hostels, like the world over, offer really great accommodation at a reasonable price. In Japan, they are typically safe, clean, and quite often well located. Generally, they are perfect for solo travelers or people in a small group, but some places have accommodation that is also suitable for families.

f. Vacation Rentals
・Vacation rentals really took off in Japan after a change in the law in 2018, and now it is possible to stay at a range of different accommodation types. Although they can be more expensive than even budget hotels, there are many options available and often include entire apartments. However, it has to be kept in mind that the people in neighboring apartments are living there, so you need to avoid creating disturbances; and in addition, Japan can have some quite strict garbage separation rules, which you will need to follow.

Browse our list of recommended vacation rentals in Osaka

g. Love hotels
・Love hotels might sound a bit seedy, the original concept being a hotel where couples can have some private time, but over time these kinds of hotels have also become popular with tourists because they can be inexpensive, the rooms can be quite big, and also because theme-type love hotels can be quite interesting! Another benefit is that you can typically book a room by the hour, so they are convenient for very short stays.

Browse recommended love hotels in Osaka

4. When is the peak season for visiting Osaka?

Photo: PIXTA
Photo: PIXTA

・February (college entrance exam season)
Depending on where you are from, it might sound surprising that hotels in Osaka can be quite busy in February because of college entrance exams.

In February, high school students across the country descend on the colleges they want to study at in order to take entrance exams, with a lot of accommodation in Osaka and Tokyo being booked out by students, teachers, and even the families of students. It is a very important moment in the lives of these students, and understandably they want to get a good night’s sleep before taking their exams.

・Golden Week (end of April / beginning of May)
Golden Week is one of the biggest public holidays in Japan, and depending on the days that the various public holidays fall on every year, it can last longer than a week. The particular dates to look out for in terms of transport are the beginning and the end when public transport bulges with domestic travelers.

In normal times Golden Week would usually herald the exodus of urban dwellers into the countryside, leaving big cities like Osaka more empty than usual. However, the pandemic in recent years has led to a trend in local staycations or for people to stay in hotels closer to home, making city hotels busier than they normally have been before 2020.

・New Year Holiday
This is perhaps the second biggest public holiday of the year, with many people traditionally heading to their hometowns for family celebrations on New Year’s Eve. However, similarly to Golden Week, in recent years there has been a bigger trend to staying in hotels closer to home and this makes hotels in cities like Osaka busier at this time of year.

・Obon/Summer holidays
This is another major holiday that coincides with the summer holidays for students and workplace closures. It isn’t an actual public holiday, so generally speaking it is a smaller holiday than Golden Week or the New Year holidays. Hotels can be quite busy, with many families choosing this time to travel domestically.

5. Where to search if Osaka is booked

Photo: PIXTA
Photo: PIXTA

Kobe City is an adorable little city nestled between green mountains and the sea, which is about 25 minutes by train from Osaka Station (410 yen o/w). Generally less busy than Osaka, this city has a cozy vibe with many areas being reachable by foot, yet at the same time, it offers easy access to Osaka City. This city has its own attractions, including Kobe Port Tower, water buses that tour the port, and breathtaking, yet slightly tough on the legs, trails up into the mountains.

Kyoto is a beautiful traditional city that overflows with Japanese culture, being most famous for shrines, temples and geishas. Kyoto Station is also a mere 29 minutes from Osaka Station by train (570 yen o/w). Staying in Kyoto offers the best of both worlds, spend the day exploring the old-world atmosphere of Kyoto, and then the evening amongst the bright lights of Osaka City.

・Away from major stations
Another option if you are finding that your preferred hotels near major stations are full is to look a bit off the beaten track at hotels that are not so conveniently located. However, hotels in less known parts of Osaka offer the unparalleled opportunity to make all kinds of discoveries, from local independent restaurants to parks and museums that are not generally so well known.

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.

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