Although Japan’s second largest city offers feudal castles and ancient temples to satisfy a visitor’s thirst for history, it also upends many preconceptions with its uncommonly brash character. Locals are said to be louder, friendlier and whole a lot more fun than their counterparts in the capital, and the city’s wealth of entertainment and nightlife offerings support that claim. World-class amusement parks and shopping malls push up against frenetic thoroughfares lined with eye-popping neon signage and gritty holes-in-the-wall unconcernedly slinging Michelin-approved food to the happily inebriated crowds. It’s a heady mix of culture, commerce and hedonism and you’re going to love it.
When to go
While Osaka can be enjoyed year-round, the mild temperatures of spring (March–May) and fall (October–November) combined with the natural beauty of cherry blossoms and autumn foliage make a visit during these times particularly worthwhile.
How to get around
Serviced by an extensive network of Japan Rail (JR), subway and private train lines, Osaka is easy to navigate. There are also buses and the historic Hankai tram line for further-flung explorations. The easiest way for visitors to get around is by using a rechargeable transport card called Icoca, available at JR stations and accepted on most public transport. There is also a version targeted at tourists called the Kansai One Pass that offers additional discounts at popular attractions.