Osaka is Japan's commercial centre and an important industrial location. But this lively city, located at the mouth of the Yodo, with its fun-loving inhabitants, has plenty to offer tourists as well. Osaka is just as much a destination city as the capital, Tokyo. Book your flight from Zurich (ZRH) to Osaka (KIX) and discover the many faces of this sometimes underrated metropolis.
With a population of 2.7 million, Osaka is the third largest city in Japan. If you've always wanted to experience that unique atmosphere only found in Japanese cities, you've come to the right place. Colourful neon signs, curious attractions and temples that are centuries old – Osaka has it all. And in contrast to Tokyo, the sights are relatively close together. Many are even within walking distance of one another. Longer distances can be covered quickly thanks to the well-developed public transport network. So take it all in and dive into another world – a culinary one as well. Japan is generally known for the importance that is attached to eating with enjoyment and warm-heartedness. Osaka in particular is known for its food: the culinary choice here is huge. It’s no wonder that it’s known as the city of “kuidaore," which roughly means to "eat until you drop"; this is exactly what the most delicious dishes here tempt you to do. The slogan also reflects the mentality of the city’s spontaneous and fun-loving residents.
When you’re ready to plan your holiday, book a flight from Zurich (ZRH) to Osaka (KIX) for you and your fellow travellers.
When is the best time to travel to Osaka?
A flight from Zurich (ZRH) to Osaka (KIX) is a good idea any time of the year. In spring, the blooming cherry blossoms are a spectacular sight, as are the changing leaves in autumn. The mild temperatures in spring and autumn are perfect for visiting the city’s sites. In the summer, the city’s fantastic beaches make for a perfect seaside vacation. A trip during winter is nothing to shy away from, however, as the temperatures are relatively mild.
How do I get from the Osaka airport (KIX) to the city centre?
When you travel from Zurich (ZRH) to Osaka (KIX), your flight will land in the Kansai International Airport. It is located on an artificial island about 50 km from Osaka’s city centre. Its excellent connections make it easy to reach by both train or taxi. The Nankai Airport Express takes about 45 minutes to reach the centre. A ticket for the Nankai Limited Express Rapi:t is somewhat more expensive, but also faster and not as crowded.
What are some things to consider when going to a restaurant?
Like in the rest of Japan, it’s common to go out to eat in Osaka. For this reason, the region’s specialities are best enjoyed in a restaurant. Restaurant patrons don’t seat themselves. Rather, the server determines how large your party is, and then leads you to your seat. Prior to your meal, you will be handed an oshibori, a hot wet hand towel. Clean your hands with it before eating. It is recommended to learn how to eat with chopsticks before your trip, as many restaurants will not have knives and forks available.
How much of a tip is it common to leave?
You won’t need to worry about leaving a tip at all during your trip. It’s already included in the price. Whether in a restaurant or after a taxi ride – good service is a given in Japan. Leaving a tip is actually considered rather rude.
Some things you won’t want to miss
With its colourful neon lights and ancient temples – Osaka is multifaceted. Regardless of whether your flight from Zurich (ZRH) to Osaka (KIX) brings you to the city for just a short layover or if you’re planning on staying for a longer visit, there are a few sites you won’t want to miss:
- Osaka Castle
- Umeda Sky Building
- Tsūtenkaku Tower
The Osaka Castle and its park is especially worth a visit. The eight-story building is ornately decorated and surrounded by fortress walls. A museum is located inside. The observation platform offers an impressive panoramic view of the city. Both the museum and the observation platform require a ticket. Getting into the park is free, however. A visit is definitely worth it, especially in the spring when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom.
The Umeda Sky Building is located in the Umeda business district. It is one of the city’s most special landmarks, largely because the building’s two towers are connected by an observation platform. To get there, you first have to climb an escalator at a height of 150 m that leads to the other tower. The view of Osaka is unlike any other and is especially romantic as the sun sets.
During your trip to Japan you should also make sure to visit a temple. The Buddhist Shitennō-ji-Temple is among the most well-known in Osaka. It was built in 593 and since then has been partially destroyed and carefully reconstructed multiple times. Today, most of the original structure remains standing. The temple and pagoda themselves are stunning, but so too are the surrounding grounds. Take a look at the treasure house as well as the rock garden and Gokuraku-jodo Garden.
Dōtonbori is even more colourful and crazy than the rest of the nightlife and entertainment district of Namba, where it’s located – and in a good way. Neon signs are everywhere, countless casinos, bars and restaurants line up one right after the other. Just go and walk around in this unique ambience for a few hours and take it all in. Don’t forget to take a photo in front of the famous “Glico Sign”. It is perhaps the most famous billboard ad in Osaka and is also a popular attraction among Japanese visitors.
The nightlife area of Shinsekai is also highly recommendable. It’s similar to Namba but somewhat smaller. This is where the Tsūtenkaku Tower is located. From the observation platform, you’ll have a great view of Osaka. It’s also worth a visit if you like Billiken sculptures. These figurines, which are very popular in Japan, are of a small grinning man and are said to bring good luck. All you have to do is rub the soles of his feet.
Osaka for families with children
Colourful Osaka is also a great travel destination for families with children. The neon lights are sure to amaze most young travellers. But the city has even more to offer – including one of the largest public aquariums in the world. The Osaka Aquarium Kaiyūkan is located near the port. The underwater glass tunnel and the gigantic main tank are especially worth seeing. In the interactive exhibit area, visitors can get up close and personal with small rays and sharks. A visit to Universal Studios is another excellent option, but requires somewhat more time. For many, the highlight there is undoubtedly Harry Potter World. In addition to many famous attractions that can also be found in other Universal Studios around the world, you will encounter some that are typically Japanese. It’s a good idea to get Express Passes in order to avoid waiting in long queues for rides.
Discover the city of “kuidaore”
If you’re taking a flight from Zurich (ZRH) to Osaka (KIX), you should make sure that the relatively long trip is actually worth it. That’s why you should try the authentic cuisine. There’s something for every price point. Gourmet food lovers should indulge in a Wagyū steak from the Kōbe or shellfish dishes of the highest calibre – Osaka’s proximity to the sea means they are especially fresh. You should also make sure to try Yakiniku (Japanese BBQ) and Kushikatsu, which are fried treats usually made of breaded meat or fish. If you’re a bit more daring, then order Fugu. In many restaurants, you can even watch the Fugu-master prepare the puffer fish. Fugu-masters require a license to prepare this in part extremely toxic fish. For lots of selection all in one location, head over to the Kuromon Ichiba Market. This covered market includes about 600 metres of food stalls that are open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Dive into Osaka’s nightlife
Namba and Shinsekai are perfect for going out at night. They both have plenty of bars and restaurants. In the Izakayas, a type of Japanese pub, you can drink sake and beer while eating typical bar food. Tachinomi are especially typical for Osaka. These are standing bars where people meet up after work for a beer. The Amerika-mura area is home to a flourishing creative and music scene. The quarter is just about five minutes away from the Dōtonbori Bridge and offers an exciting mix of clubs, concert venues and bars.
The best places to shop
Do you want to shop at the boutiques of famous designers? You’ll find a large selection at the intersection of Midōsuji (which runs from north to south) and Nagahori-dōri (which runs from east to west). You’ll find the styles from younger designers in Amerika-mura. Shinsaibashi-suji offers an overwhelming amount of different shops: Osaka’s most famous shopping mile is completely covered and a few kilometres long. Clothing, shoes, electronics, spices, or souvenirs – you’ll find everything you need in the shops there. If you’re looking for typical Japanese utensils for your kitchen, the Sennichimae Doguyasuji shopping street is where you’re sure to find them.