2 Weeks Osaka Itinerary (Part 1): A Self-drive trip from Osaka to Kobe and Okayama

Some of you have asked for recommendations on the things to do in Osaka. You ask, I give. :) Check out my 2 Weeks Osaka Itinerary which offers inspirations on places to visit in and beyond Osaka, Kobe and Kyoto. With the help of a rental car, you’ll see us venture out to cute manga-theme towns, dipped in public hot spring and made a dangerous attempt up a mountain on a super-windy day.

It was also during this trip that I visited the best castle I’ve been to in Japan. The view literally took my breath away! 

Ki Castle Japan
Can you spot me? This is Ki Castle, the best castle I’ve visited in Japan

So, yes, we had a blast in Japan and I’ll like to share with you the things to do in and around Osaka. Read on as I’ll share useful tips, map locations, food recommendations and more.

Here’s a quick glance of the places we’ve been to in this 2 Weeks Osaka Itinerary. Osaka, Kobe and Kyoto are located on the bottom right of the map. From Osaka-Kobe, we traveled westwards towards Okayama and then make a north turn to Yonago and back to Osaka/Kobe via Tottori. 

15 Days Osaka Itinerary
Covered these prefectures – Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe, Hyogo, Okayama, Tottori and Shimane

Don’t forget to check back often as I’ll follow up with dedicated post(s) for each day and add the links here when they are ready. Subscribe so that you’ll get notified whenever a new post is published.

Related Readings:

 


2 Weeks Osaka Itinerary: Our Travelling Profile

We traveled to Osaka as a couple in late May (end of Spring) and are city dwellers from Singapore who love good food, nature and free-and-easy travel.

The only things we’d pre-booked prior to the trip were Yokoso ticket, Hankyu Pass, Airport Limousine Bus, hotels and a rental car. Yes, this is partially a self-drive Japan trip where we rented a car for half of the 2-Week Osaka trip. 

So, do we share similar traveling style? If yes, dive right in as I think you’ll like the places we’ve covered in this 2 weeks Trip in and Around Osaka.

15 Days Osaka Itinerary
This ticket offers great value and trimmed our transport costs substantially

 


DAY 1: SINGAPORE TO OSAKA ITINERARY

Hello, Osaka! All thanks to Scoot Airline, we enjoyed an ultra-value direct flight from Singapore to Osaka. You can read my review of Scoot Flight TR804.

The first thing we did after arriving at Osaka Kansai International Airport was to collect our transport passes. Then, we boarded a Rapi:t Airport Express Train and alighted at Namba Station where our hotel in Osaka – Ookini Ota-Road Apartment – was located.

Must-read: How To Get From Osaka Kansai Airport To City Centre At A Bargain? YOKOSO Ticket Review

As it was already 8.30pm by the time we deposited our luggage, we could only visit the few places that were still opened, such as Dotonbori.

Ookini Osaka Hotel
Ookini Ota-Road Apartment – our hotel in Osaka City

Late Night Osaka Itinerary at Dotonbori

Dotonbori, a vibrant and touristy street offered us a wonderful visual treat. We were entertained by the gigantic and creative 3D signage and the bustling street that was lined with food stalls and restaurants. Some of the common food sold here include Takoyaki, Melonpan, Okonomiyaki, Ramen and Sushi.

Dotonbori Osaka
Countless 3D gigantic signage in Dotonbori
Dotonbori Osaka
A bustling and touristy place in Osaka – Dotonbori

However, we were disappointed by the first street food we ordered – a soggy Takoyaki. We continued to explore Dotonbori but couldn’t settled on what else to try. The restaurants we were interested in had long queues, and the ones we weren’t keen on were priced above the norm.

15 Days Osaka Itinerary
Our first meal in Osaka – Soggy Takoyaki (Starch balls with Octopus filling)

After an unmemorable experience dining at a random sushi restaurant, we continued to do what tourists typically do in Dotonbori. One thing we did was to take photos with a “I’m-not-too-sure-why-this-is-so-popular” Glico Sign and then strolled by the Tombori River.

What is Glico Man? Glico Man is an ad ran by a popular confectionery company which is also behind the popular Japanese snack – Pocky. The reason why the signboard is so popular is because it has been around since 1935. Well, actually, this is not the original installation. It’s the 6th and was installed in 2014. :)

The river walk was flanked by pubs and eateries and reminded me of our boat quay in Singapore. There’s also a Don Quijote there if you are interested in loading up on Japan-must-buys.

And that ends the day. Tomorrow, we would start the day early to make good use of our One-day Unlimited Transport Pass that came bundled with the Yokoso! Ticket.

TIP: Tombori River Cruise is one of the 50 tourists activities included in the Osaka Amazing Pass. Check out the Osaka Amazing Pass to cut down your travel expenses.

Tombori River Walk
Strolled along Tombori River, located at Dotonbori, Osaka

Map Location for Day 1 Osaka Itinerary

Hello Osaka >> Osaka Kansai Airport >> Collect Osaka Transport Pass >> Take Rapi:t Airport Express Train (see review) >> Namba Station >> Check in Ookini Ota-Road Apartment (see location) >> Dotonburi >> Glico Sign >> Tombori River Walk

 


DAY 2: FULL DAY OSAKA ITINERARY (using 1-Day Subway Pass)

The Yokoso ticket gave us a One-day Unlimited Transport Pass which we could use on the day of redemption or the next day. We decided to use it on our second day in Osaka to optimize the usage hours.

15 Days Osaka Itinerary
One-day unlimited transport pass in Osaka

As such, we started the day early and visited Nambayasaka Shrine, which is probably the cutest shrine I’ve ever seen. Thereafter, we made our way to what ended up being the best sushi meal we’ve had in this trip.

Nambayasaka Shrine
Nambayasaka Shrine – the cutest shrine I’ve been to

Our first stop was Endo Sushi, a sushi restaurant located next to a fish harbor and quite inconvenient to get to. But it was well worth the effort! The sushi stood out for its presentation and freshness. We ordered four plates (¥1150 per set of five sushi) and gobbled up everything in no time.

Sushi in Japan
Endo Sushi – Highly recommended sushi restaurant in Osaka

The next activity was a ride on Tempozan Giant Ferris Wheel. We enjoyed a ¥100 discount after flashing our One-day Osaka Transport Pass. The ride was quite fun as we spent 15 minutes in our own private cabin. :)

If you like family-friendly activities, the Legoland Discovery Center Osaka and Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan are located in the same vicinity.

TIP: Remember, don’t forget to check out the Osaka Amazing Pass if you think you’ll be visiting a lot of attractions in Osaka. It’ll save you lots of money by letting you experience over 50 attractions and activities in Osaka!

15 Days Osaka Itinerary
Legoland Osaka, which is located near Tempozan Ferris Wheel

Osaka Castle was a place that we weren’t keen in visiting because it was too modern-looking for our liking. However, since we had the Unlimited One-day Transport Pass, we thought we would just drop by and take a look.

This place was so huge we expended lots of energy and time just to get a glimpse of the Osaka Castle.

TIP: How to Travel Cheap? 9 Ways to Save Money in Osaka

Osaka Castle
Osaka Castle – be prepared for lots of walking

Then, we tiredly and hungrily made our way to Kuromon Ichiba Market. Unfortunately, this place was a tad too touristy for our liking. And the food we ordered were mediocre and pricey.

Kuromon Ichiba Market
Kuromon Ichiba Market – a market priced for the tourists

On our way back to our hotel to recharge, we passed by a random Tempura Restaurant – Ichimizen – and decided to eat with the locals. Based on the photos pasted on the wall, this shop has apparently won some awards.

Ichimizen Tempura Osaka
Eating like a local, in a very narrow restaurant

After resting in our hotel for a while, we set off again in the evening and walked to Osaka Den Den Town, Shinshikei and Tsutenkaku Tower. It was raining by then and the streets were quiet with little activities and buzz.

Tsutenkaku Tower
A rainy day at Shinshikei

Here’s the Best Experience in Osaka City

Our final tourist activity of the day was to visit Harukas 300. The admission was quite expensive but we thought it was well worth the experience. The million dollars view I’ve enjoyed was the best I’ve seen in a while and all photos turned out so amazing I had a hard time shortlisting them for this post.

If you want to visit the tallest building in Japan, you must include this in your Osaka must-visit list.

TIP: You can pre-book your HARUKAS 300 Observatory E-Ticket online.

Harukas 300
Harukas 300 – The million dollars view is worth the ticket price
Harukus 300
At the highest building in Japan – Harukas 300

Map Location for Day 2 Osaka Itinerary

Nambayasaka Shrine >> Activated One-day Osaka Transport Pass >> Endo Sushi >> Tempozan Giant Ferris Wheel >> Osaka Castle >> Kuromon Ichiba Market >> Ichimizen Tempura Restaurant >> Osaka Den Den Town >>  Shinshikei >> Tsutenkaku Tower >> Harukas 300

 


DAY 3: A DAY IN KOBE CITY (SANNOMIYA) 

This is the day when we would leave Osaka and head to Kobe. In case you wonder why we spent so little time in Osaka, that’s because we would be back in the second half of the trip. 

I still recall struggling at Osaka-Namba station trying to figure out how to buy the train ticket to Kobe. On hindsight, we should have gotten the Hanshin Transport Pass which would save us money and make life easier.

Anyway, after a 45-min train ride, we reached Kobe-Sannomiya Station and was happy that our hotel – Kobe Sannomiya Tokyo REI Hotel – was located just next to it. 

Must-Read: 7 Budget-friendly Hotels in Osaka & Around

15 Days Osaka Itinerary
On a train ride, heading from Osaka to Kobe
Kobe Sannomiya Tokyo REI Hotel
The DHC skincare offered by our hotel in Kobe (Tokyo REI)

We deposited our luggage with the hotel concierge and took a train ride to The Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake Memorial. There, we learnt about the tragic history that destroyed Kobe City in 1995.

TIP: Once again, we regretted not getting the Hanshin Transport Pass because that would make our trip to the Earthquake Memorial free. 

Then, we enjoyed a delicious Minced Tuna Rice Bowl at Blumer Mall, a heartland mall located opposite the museum.

Klook.com
The Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake Memorial
Video screening at The Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake Memorial

Self-Drive Around Osaka & Kobe for 8 Days 

By late afternoon on Day 3, we made our way to a car rental shop – Budget Car Rental – located near our hotel in Kobe. Yay! This “white” rental car of ours would bring us to places off the beaten path for the next one week.

TIP: Consider getting a car if you are comfortable driving on foreign land. We got our rental car at just S$60 per day, which is good value especially in a country where public transportation cost isn’t exactly cheap. Here’s where you can find the latest car rental price. You can also compare it with Klook’s car rental rates.

If you prefer public transport, check out Japan Rail Pass and these transport passes that can help you cut down transport costs in Japan. 

15 Days Osaka Itinerary
Say hello to our white Mitsubishi rental car

We must have been gutsy (foolish?) to drive our rental car up a mountain for our first destination. Something scary happened along the way. I’ll share the story with you guys later.

Anyway, we arrived at Rokkosan Garden Terrace close to sunset and were presented with a panoramic view of Osaka Bay and the city of Kobe.

TIP: To those who plan to visit Rokkosan using public transport, check out Kobe Rokkosan Tourist Pass. It provides a bundle deal and covers rides on bus, train and cable car which you need to use to get to Rokkosan. 

Prefer a hassle-free trip? This day tour from Osaka will bring you to Rokkosan, Arima Onsen and Kobe-Sanda Premium Outlets.

Rokkosan Garden Terrace
One of the view points at Rokkosan

The next view point at Mt. Rokkosan was at Tenrandai Observatory, a view deck located by Rokko Cable Station. The night view there was superb, but can’t beat what we would be seeing next.

Tenrandai Observatory Kobe
Scenic night view at Tenrandai Observatory, Kobe

Best Night View in Kobe 

Check out Kikuseidai Observatory! This must be the most entertaining and fun viewpoints I’ve ever been to. Not only was the night view awesome, you get to play with neon lights that can transform you into a zombie instantly. It was such a fun-filled night!

Kikuseidai Observatory
Zombie night at Kikuseidai Observatory – So fun!
Kikuseidai Observatory Kobe
The best view point we’ve been to in Kobe – Kikuseidai Observatory

Map Location for Day 3 (Osaka-Kobe Itinerary)

Take train to Kobe >> Deposit Luggage at Kobe Hotel >>  The Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake Memorial >> Blumer Mall >> Check in Kobe Sannomiya Tokyo REI >> Collect rental car (shop location) >> Rokkosan Garden Terrace >> Tenrandai Observatory >> Kikuseidai Observatory

 


DAY 4: SELF-DRIVE FROM KOBE TO OKAYAMA

Kobe was just a stopover for us to collect our rental car. We would be back to explore Kobe in the second half of the trip. Right now, let us bid farewell and venture deeper into the less explored places in West Japan.

Our first stop was to view the longest suspension bridge in the world – Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge. We spent more time than we thought we would at the promenade, strolling about and observing the local activities and charming architectures.

Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge
The longest suspension bridge in the world – Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge

Lingered Around at Ako City

Next up was Ako Castle Ruins which took us 2 hours to reach by car. This small and ancient-looking castle, with its large wooden door reminded me of the medieval period.

We also walked to the nearby Ako Oishi Shrine which has 47 samurai statues lining the entrance.

Ako Castle Ruins
Ako Castle Ruins and its’ huge wooden door

Surprisingly, the most memorable experience within Ako City was at a popular bakery shop – Okayama Bakery. The aroma of freshly-baked bread enveloped us when we stepped in and made us buy more bread than we could consume.

15 Days Osaka Itinerary
Okayama Bakery

Okonomiyaki at Kashira Island

Having done some prior food research, we then made a detour to Kashira Island in search of Oyster Okonomiyaki. When we arrived at the homely-looking restaurant, non one there speaks or understand English. Through awkward gesturing and guesswork, we figured that the oyster season could be off.

Using hand signs and google voice translate, we succeeded in ordering a Shrimp Okonomiyaki and a “too-huge” bowl of desert.

15 Days Osaka Itinerary
Had Okonomiyaki at this homely eatery on Kashira Island

Arriving at Final Destination – Okayama City

Finally, we reached Okayama City, our end destination of the day and checked into Hotel Maira. But that’s not the end of the day yet.

After depositing our luggage, we explored a few shopping malls in Okayama and was impressed by how modern and huge Aeon Okayama was. I had an amazing time shopping there and bought lots of stuff, including my Japan must-buys.

Must-Read: Here’re 11 things I love about Japan and I know you would too

15 Days Osaka Itinerary
Hotel Maira in Okayama

Map Location for Day 4 (Kobe-Okayama Itinerary)

Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge >> Ako Castle Ruins >> Ako Oishi Shrine >> Okayama Bakery >> Kashira Island >> Okayama >> Check in Hotel Maira (see location)>> Okayama Takashimaya >> Aeon Okayama

 


DAY 5: A SCENIC DAY IN OKAYAMA

Today, we would be spending time with nature. The first place was Ojigadake Hill which offered a great panoramic view of the ocean, with magical-looking islets jutting out from the horizon.

 

15 Days Osaka Itinerary
Amazing view at Ojigadake Hill Okayama

Next up was Washuzan Observatory, which was located a short drive away. What can I say? The view just kept getting better. Here, we could see Seto Bridge in a distance and were mesmerized by the view.

This view by the way greatly surpassed that of the Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge. Yes, the one we saw on Day 3.

Washuzan Observatory Okayama
The views just kept getting better in Okayama – Washuzan Observatory

Let’s Shop for Japan-made Jeans

By noon, we were done with nature and made our way to Kojima Jeans Street. I thought this would be a touch and go place as I’ve read how expensive things were over here (about ¥30,000 per pair of jeans).

However, the good quality and unique design of apparels sold in this town made us linger longer than we’d planned to. My partner spent a long time at some of the shops and almost bought some stuff…if only they allowed trying before purchase.

Kojima Jeans Street Okayama
Let’s shop for jeans at Kojima Jeans Street

Near to Kojima Jeans Street was a mall called Happy Town where we could seek shelter from the sweltering heat! We did something unplanned and played Pokemon games on the upper floor arcade center. Honestly, we just hit all buttons “aggressively” because we couldn’t understand Japanese and didn’t know what we were doing.

After expending “palm” energy, we were starving and made do with a simple Udon noodle at the limited eateries in the mall. This was also the first time we were ripped off in Japan – I’ll share more in my day-to-day post later.

TIP: Most of the places visited today require a rental car to get to. You can either drive from Osaka/Kobe like us, or take a train/express bus to Okayama, and then pick up your pre-booked rental car at Okayama Station. 

Touristy Old-World Charm – Kurashiki Old Quarter

Having spent more time than we should at Kojima Jeans Street, we hastened to Kurashiki Old Quarter thinking that this place would require a few hours to explore.

It’s a scenic place with an old-world charm and would serve as a perfect photo spot for those donned in Kimono (yes, they have Japanese traditional costumes for rent). However, it’s just a little too touristy for our liking. Many of the things sold here didn’t feel like they were authentically made in Japan or priced for the locals.

INFO: This full-day Okayama tour can pick you up from Osaka and bring you to Okayama attractions, which include a visit to Kurashiki Old Quarter, Okayama Fruits Orchard and Sapporo Winery Factory

Kurashiki Old Quarter
Kurashiki Old Quarter offers an old-world feel, but a tad touristy

Which Jeans Street is Better? 

Apparently, there’s also a jeans street at Kurashiki Old Quarter. Many of the jeans products I checked out were mass-produced and weren’t made in Japan.  Sorry, I’m only interested in buying products made in that country when I’m in that country. :)

On the contrary, Kojima Jeans Street offered a more authentic Japan-made jeans experience.

Best Castle Ruin I’ve Been to in Japan

Lastly, we found ourselves at the most scenic place I’ve set foot on in this 2 Weeks Osaka trip. It’s none other than Ki Castle. I can’t even tell you how breathtaking the view was in real life.

You can see me using the photo of Ki Castle in my Facebook cover page, homepage and even my phone wallpaper. Oops, you can’t see my phone over here. :)

Ki Castle Japan
One of the best places we’ve been to in this 15 Days Osaka Trip (and around)

Dinner was at The Central Buffet, a buffet restaurant in Aeon Okayama. Hmm, let’s just say that you pay for what you get in Japan (buffet costs ¥1999+). This place made me lose appetite on minced tuna for the rest of the trip (till today).

Map Location for Day 5 (Okayama Itinerary)

Ojigadake Hill >> Washuzan Observatory >> Kojima Jeans Street >> Happy Town Mall >> Kurashiki Old Quarter >> Ki Castle >> Aeon Okayama

 


Conclusion

That’s all to Part 1 of my 15 Days Osaka Itinerary. Don’t miss other parts of the Osaka travel series: 

What’s next? I’ll be coming up with more detailed posts of key attractions and activities in and around Osaka. Such posts would provide more tips, price and logistics info. Stay tuned and revisit this post often as I’ll link the day-by-day posts here when they are ready!

And last but not least, don’t forget to click the button below If you like to get notified of my new posts. Thank you for reading.

Oh, would you consider sharing this with your friends if you’ve found this Osaka travelogue useful? Thank you very much! :)

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2 thoughts on “2 Weeks Osaka Itinerary (Part 1): A Self-drive trip from Osaka to Kobe and Okayama”

    1. Thank you. It was fun driving to the quieter and less-touristy places around Osaka. I have a lot more to share in Part 2 and 3. Stay tuned! And thanks for your support. :)

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