Where to stay in Osaka for first time: 7 Best areas

My partner and I visited Japan a few years ago, spending 10 wonderful days exploring Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka. I understand that finding the right place to stay in Osaka as a first-time visitor can be a bit challenging. 

That’s why, in today’s article, I will share with you what I believe are the best areas to stay in Osaka for first-time travelers, along with a map. I’ll also share where we stayed in Osaka and recommend some of the best hotels for various budgets.

Osaka is a major city in Japan, located on the island of Honshu in the Kansai region. It is one of Japan’s largest cities, known for its vibrant culture, historic landmarks, and modern infrastructure. 

The city has a rich cultural heritage, with historical sites like Osaka Castle and Shitenno-ji Temple. It is often called the Kitchen of Japan due to its vibrant street food culture, with popular dishes like takoyaki (octopus balls) and okonomiyaki (savory pancakes).

Osaka also has a lively nightlife, theaters, and entertainment districts like Dotonbori, known for its neon signs and bustling atmosphere.

Osaka is well-connected both within Japan and internationally, boasting two major international airports: Kansai Airport and Osaka Airport. We were able to find affordable flights from Kansai International Airport back to Melbourne and had a layover in Cairns.

The city also has an efficient and extensive public transportation system, including trains, subways, and buses. You can consider purchasing an IC card like “ICOCA” or “Osaka Amazing Pass” for convenient and cost-effective travel around the city.

In addition to its historic sites, you can explore Universal Studios Japan and theOsaka Aquarium Kaiyukan, one of the largest public aquariums in the world.

While many people in tourist areas of Osaka speak some English, you can learn a few basic Japanese phrases to enhance your experience and show respect to the local culture.

Choosing where to stay in Osaka for your first visit depends on your preferences, budget, and what you want to experience in the city. Osaka is a diverse city with several neighborhoods, each offering a unique atmosphere and attractions. 

Where to stay in Osaka for the first time?

The best areas to stay in Osaka for first-time tourists are Umeda (Kita), Namba (Minami), Shin-Osaka, Honmachi, Tennoji, Osaka Castle, and Universal Studios/ Osaka Bay. 

You can consider staying near a subway station or JR train line to make it easier to explore the city and take day trips to Kyoto, Nara, and Kobe.

Most first-time visitors choose to stay in Umeda (Kita) and Namba (Minami). Namba is one of Osaka’s most vibrant districts and is known for its entertainment options, shopping streets, and delicious street food. You’ll find Dotonbori, a famous food and entertainment district, in this area.

Umeda is a major commercial and entertainment district located in the northern part of Osaka. It is one of the city’s primary transportation hubs, home to the JR Osaka Station. There are plenty of shopping malls, restaurants, and entertainment options in the area.

During my first trip to Osaka, my partner and I stayed in the Kita district, at the popular Hotel Intergate Osaka Umeda. The hotel is located in a convenient location only 2 minutes walk from the train station. 

Below is a map of the popular areas in Osaka for first-time travelers. You can scroll down to view the live map.

Map of the best areas to stay in Osaka
Map of the best areas to stay in Osaka

Let’s get into the details of the recommended areas to stay in Osaka, especially for first-time visitors. I’ll provide you with some suggestions for the best places to stay in each area, catering to every budget. 

All hotels in Osaka have been carefully selected by me, with guest review scores of at least 8.0 or higher at the time I chose them. If you don’t like my suggestions (perhaps they don’t suit your budget or preferences), you can click the “MORE HOTEL DEALS” button where you can choose your own hotel.

7 Best areas to stay in Osaka for first-time tourists:

1. Umeda (Kita)

Umeda/Kita, without a doubt, is one of the most popular areas to stay in Osaka for tourists, especially if it’s your first time. Umeda is one of the main commercial and transportation hubs in Osaka. 

Umeda has several railway stations converging in the area, including Osaka Station, Umeda Station, and JR Osaka Station. These stations connect Osaka to other cities in Japan, making it a convenient gateway for travelers for day trips to nearby cities like Kyoto, Nara, and Kobe.

One of the most iconic landmarks in Umeda is the Umeda Sky Building, a unique twin-tower structure connected by a floating garden observatory at the top. You can enjoy panoramic views of Osaka from the observation deck.

Umeda is known for its shopping opportunities, with numerous department stores, shopping malls , including Hankyu Department Store, Daimaru Umeda, Hankyu Sanban Gai, Osaka Station City, Grand Front Osaka. It’s a great place to indulge in retail therapy. 

The area boasts a wide range of dining options, from street food stalls to high-end restaurants. You can try both local and international cuisine.

Umeda has a vibrant nightlife scene with bars, clubs, karaoke establishments, and entertainment venues. The area comes to life after dark, making it a popular destination to enjoy the city’s nightlife.

While it’s more commercial, Umeda is not far from cultural attractions and parks like Osaka Castle, Shitenno-ji Temple, and Sakuranomiya Park.

Depending on the time of year, accommodation prices in Umeda/Kita can be relatively high, so it’s a good idea to book well in advance to secure the best rates.

Best places to stay in Osaka in Umeda (Kita) for first-timers:

  • Luxury ($$$): Zentis Osaka, 5-star hotel set in a great location close to Osaka station, within easy access to major attractions and restaurants both on foot and by public transportation.
  • Mid-range ($$): Hotel Intergate Osaka Umeda, a very popular 4-star hotel, located in the downtown area of Osaka, with easy access to attractions such as Jissoji Temple, Octopus Pine and Dojima Yakushido.
  • Budget ($): Hotel Elcient Osaka, great 3-star hotel, located within easy access to popular sights such as Taiyū-ji Temple, Sonezaki Ebisu Shrine, and Nozaki Park. Complementary water, comfortable rooms, and great breakfast.

2. Namba (Minami)

Namba, also known as Minami, is a popular choice for many travelers visiting Osaka, especially those who want to experience the lively side of the city. It is located in the southern part of the city and is known for its vibrant nightlife, shopping streets, entertainment, and dining options.

Namba Station is a major transportation hub with connections to various train lines and buses, making it convenient for exploring not only Osaka but also the wider Kansai region such as Wakayama and Nara.

Namba offers a lively nightlife scene with bars, clubs, and entertainment venues. It’s a great place to experience Osaka’s nightlife culture.

Dotonbori is perhaps the most famous area within Namba. Dotonbori is known for its lively atmosphere, illuminated billboards, and a wide variety of restaurants serving Osaka’s famous street food, such as takoyaki (octopus balls) and okonomiyaki (savory pancakes). The Glico Running Man sign is an iconic landmark in this area.

Namba is a shopper’s paradise, with several shopping districts and malls. You can explore places like Shinsaibashi Shopping Arcade and Namba Parks for fashion, electronics, and souvenirs.

Namba Grand Kagetsu (NGK) a famous comedy theater in Namba where you can watch traditional Japanese comedy performances known as “manzai.”

A popular spot for visitors seeking blessings and good fortune is the Namba Yasaka Shrine, a Shinto shrine is known for its unique lion-shaped deity statue and is

You can take a stroll along the Hozenji Yokocho, a narrow, atmospheric alley lined with traditional Japanese restaurants and izakayas. It offers a more intimate dining experience.

If you’re into gadgets, anime, or manga, you’ll find plenty to explore in Nipponbashi (Den-Den Town), located near Namba, is known for its electronics and anime shops. 

Namba is well-connected to various attractions within Osaka. You can easily reach places like Osaka Castle, Tsutenkaku Tower, and Kuromon Ichiba Market from here.

Best places to stay in Osaka in Namba (Minami) for first-time visitors:

  • Luxury ($$$): Swissotel Nankai Osaka, 5-star hotel, centrally located above Nankai Railway’s Namba Station, which provides direct services to the Kansai International Airport on the Limited Express Train. It’s only a 20 mins  subway ride from Shin-Osaka Shinkansen Station.
  • Mid-range ($$): Hotel Royal Classic Osaka, great 4-star hotel, in an amazing location, a short walk from Motomachinaka Park, easy access to the subway station.
  • Budget ($): Sotetsu Fresa Inn Osaka Namba, 3-star budget-friendly hotel, located in  Shinsaibashi, within walking distance from Namba Station. Easy access to the Glico Man Sign, Shinsaibashi Shopping Arcade and Kamomecho Park.

3. Honmachi (Central Osaka)

Honmachi is a great base for travelers who prefer a more central and upscale atmosphere in Osaka. It is a district located in the Chuo Ward of Osaka, Japan. 

It’s a bustling commercial and business area in the heart of the city, on the Midosuji subway line, between the popular Umeda and Namba. It is known for its modern buildings, shopping streets, and convenient access to various attractions and transportation hubs in Osaka.

Honmachi is a significant business district in Osaka, housing many corporate offices, including financial institutions and multinational companies.

Just a short walk from Honmachi, Nakanoshima Park is a scenic riverside park where you can relax and enjoy the natural beauty of the city. It’s a great place for a leisurely stroll or a picnic.

Honmachi is close to various cultural institutions, including the Osaka Science Museum and the Osaka International Peace Center (also known as the Peace Osaka or Osaka International Peace Center).

While not as famous as some other nightlife districts in Osaka like Dotonbori, Honmachi does have its share of bars and entertainment options for those looking to enjoy the city’s nightlife.

Best places to stay in Osaka in Honmachi for first-time visitors:

  • Luxury ($$$): Courtyard by Marriott Osaka Honmachi, 5-star hotel, located above Sakaisuji-Hommachi station, Osaka Metro, Exit 8, within walking distance from a convenience store, lot of restaurants, and easy access to Shinsaibashi-Suji Shopping Street, Kuromon Market.
  • Mid-range ($$): Osaka Excel Hotel Tokyu, great 4-star located located a 70 mins train ride from  Kansai International Airport, within a short walk from Namba Shrine and TKP Shinsaibashi Ekimae Conference Center.
  • Budget ($): APA Hotel & Resort Midosuji Hommachi Eki Tower, 3-star hotel, within walking distance from  Nanba Betsuin Temple. Close to OSTEC Exhibition Hall, Hongan-ji Temple Tsumura Betsuin and Mitama Shrine.

4. Shin-Osaka

Shin-Osaka is an area located north of Umeda or Namba, home to Shin-Osaka Station, one of Japan’s major Shinkansen (bullet train) hubs. It is the best location for travelers who plan to use the Shinkansen frequently or want easy access to other cities like Kyoto, Okayama, and Hiroshima. 

While not as central as Umeda or Namba, it’s well-connected by train. You can easily reach the city’s main attractions like Umeda, Namba, Osaka Castle, and more.

Shin-Osaka is connected to Kansai International Airport and Itami Airport by direct airport buses, making it convenient for travelers arriving by air.

Best places to stay in Osaka in Shin-Osaka for first-timers:

  • Luxury ($$$): karaksa hotel grande Shin-Osaka Tower, 4-star hotel, located close to KP Garden City Shin Osaka, TKP Shin Osaka Ekimae Conference Centre, Hinode Park, and Hinode Minami Park.  Easy access to the  Eki Marche Shin-Osaka , Arde! Shin-Osaka, and Shin Osaka Station.
  • Mid-range ($$): Ostay Shin-Osaka Hotel Apartment, great apartment in Shin-Osaka area, short walk from Yamaguchi Honcho Park, close to Shin-Osaka Marunouchi Building Annex, Hinode Minami Park and Nakajimasosha Temple.
  • Budget ($): remm Shin-Osaka, this 3-star hotel has direct access to JR Shin Osaka Train Station, which is a very convenient location for travelers without a car. It has laundry services, a short train ride from JR Osaka Train Station, Osaka Castle, and Universal Studios Japan.

5. Tennoji

Tennoji is another great option with a mix of shopping, dining, and cultural attractions. It’s home to the Tennoji Zoo, Shitennoji Temple, and Abeno Harukas, one of Japan’s tallest buildings.

The area is home to Tennoji Station, a major transportation hub with connections to various train lines and buses, making it convenient for exploring other parts of Osaka.

You can visit the Shitenno-ji Temple, one of Japan’s oldest Buddhist temples, and the nearby Abeno Harukas, which is Japan’s tallest skyscraper and houses a museum and observation deck.

Tennoji Park is a spacious park in the area that offers a relaxing environment with green spaces, a zoo, and beautiful cherry blossoms in the spring. It’s a great place for a leisurely stroll or picnic.

Tennoji is home to several shopping complexes, including Tennoji Mio and Q’s Mall, where you can shop for fashion, electronics, and souvenirs.

Best hotels in Osaka in Tennoji for first-time tourists:

  • Mid-range ($$): Waqoo Shitaderamachi, 4-star hotel, located in Tennoji, within walking distance from popular areas such as Tsutenkaku and Shinsekai. Also easy access to Shitennoji and Namba CITY shopping mall.
  • Mid-range ($$): Centrage Ark Ueshio, 3-star hotel, located within a few mins walk from Kintetsu Department Store Uehonmachi, Tanimachi 9-chome Subway Station, Osaka-Uehonmachi Station, where you can take the airport limousine bus from/to Osaka Itami Airport and Kansai International Airport.
  • Budget ($): Daiwa Roynet Hotel Osaka-Uehonmachi, this 3-star hotel is only a few mins walk from Osaka-Uehonmachi Train Station, Tanimachi Kyuchome Subway Station. Around an hour on a limousine bus ride to Kansai International Airport and a 30 mins ride to Itami Airport from the Osaka-Uehonmachi Train Station.

6. Osaka Castle

If you want a more historic atmosphere, consider staying near Osaka Castle. This area is rich in history and offers beautiful parks and gardens. It’s slightly quieter compared to Namba and Umeda.

The area is easily accessible by public transportation, including the taking Osaka Loop Line from Osaka Station to Osakajokoen Station near the castle. You can also reach the castle by walking from other nearby train stations such as Morinomiya Station, Tanimachi 4-chome Station, and Temmabashi Station.

Osaka Castle is a historic Japanese castle that dates back to the 16th century. It played a notable role in the unification of Japan during the Azuchi-Momoyama period and is closely associated with the well-known samurai and military leader Toyotomi Hideyoshi. 

The current castle is a reconstruction, as the original was destroyed and rebuilt multiple times over the centuries. It features a large stone wall, a moat, and a striking white exterior.

The area around Osaka Castle is known as Osaka-jo Koen or Osaka Castle Park. It has extensive gardens, plum and cherry blossom trees, walking paths, and open spaces for picnics and leisure activities. The park is especially beautiful during cherry blossom season in spring when the cherry trees are in full bloom.

Located within Osaka Castle Park, Nishinomaru Garden is a beautiful Japanese garden with walking trails, a tea house, and various seasonal flowers and plants. It offers picturesque views of the castle, particularly during cherry blossom season.

Situated near Osaka Castle, Osaka Museum of History provides insights into the history of Osaka and the surrounding region. It offers panoramic views of the city from its observation deck.

Best places to stay in Osaka Castle area for first-time travelers:

  • Luxury ($$$): Hotel New Otani Osaka, 5-star hotel, located in a quiet location, near the train station, and right in front of Osaka Castle, a 5 mins walk from JO-TERRACE OSAKA shopping complex. 10 mins train ride from Osaka Station, 1 hour train ride from Kyoto and Nara, easy reach the Kansai/ Itami Airports by train
  • Mid-range ($$): Luxcare Hotel, great 4-star hotel, right next to Osaka Castle, easy access to the subway station, within walking distance from Dawn Center.
  • Budget ($): KKR Hotel Osaka, comfortable accommodation, located only  20-minute walk from both Osaka Castle and Osaka-jo Hall. Easy access to the Kyocera Dome  and Universal Studios Japan by train.

7. Osaka Bay/Universal Studios

Staying in the Osaka Bay area, which includes the vicinity of Universal Studios Japan (USJ), is an ideal choice for travelers interested in theme parks and family-friendly entertainment. 

If your main attraction is Universal Studios Japan, staying in this area provides convenient access to the park. You can maximize your time at USJ and even return to your accommodation for breaks if needed.

In addition to Universal Studios Japan, the Osaka Bay area offers other entertainment options like the Tempozan Harbor Village, which includes attractions like the Kaiyukan Aquarium (one of the world’s largest), Legoland Discovery Center, and the Suntory Museum.

There are shopping complexes like Universal CityWalk Osaka, which offers a variety of shops, restaurants, and entertainment options.

Universal City Station provides easy access to other parts of Osaka via train, making it convenient for day trips to places like Namba, Umeda, and Osaka Castle.

Best places to stay in Osaka Bay/Universal Studios area:

  • Luxury ($$$): The Royal Park Hotel Iconic Osaka Midosuji, a great 5-star hotel in the OSaka Bay area, offering a buffet breakfast, 24-hour front desk, and currency exchange. Short walk from Hommachi Station.
  • Mid-range ($$): Hotel It Osaka Shinmachi, 4-star hotel, conveniently located a short distance from Wakoji Temple, Samuhara Shrine, Kokoni Sunaba Ariki Monument, and Amida Pond.
  • Mid-range ($$): Liber Hotel At Universal Studios Japan, this accommodation is located in the Osaka Bay district of Osaka, only one station away from Osaka Universal Studios (USJ).

In conclusion, Umeda (Kita), Namba (Minami), Shin-Osaka, Osaka Castle, Honmachi, Tennoji, and Osaka Bay are the best places to stay in Osaka for first-time travelers. These areas are very popular and well-connected to public transportation, making them great bases to explore the city.

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There you have it, my recommendations for the popular hotels, neighborhoods, and areas that you can stay during your first trip to Osaka. I hope you found my article helpful and enjoy your holiday!

About Author: Ocean Cameron

I'm Ocean, founder and main editor of travelhotelexpert.com. I’m a passionate traveler who specializes in uncovering the best hotels and locations in every city, especially for first-timers, all without the need for a car.

Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links. This means that, at absolutely no additional cost to you, I'll earn a small commission if you click through and purchase something I've recommended. I only recommend products that I use myself or firmly believe in. Thank you!

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