Destinations / Asia

3 Days in Osaka & Kyoto on a Budget: Best Dining, Sightseeing & Hotels

Located one hour apart, Osaka and Kyoto offer the perfect one-two combination for Japanese history, culture and entertainment. While Osaka has been infused with Japan’s contemporary style of neon-clad night clubs and boutique shopping, Kyoto retains a lot of its past through ancient temples and decades-old family restaurants. Together they offer a deep dive into Japanese culture.

With more than 400 million annual visitors to HotelsCombined, we’ve created the perfect three-day itinerary for experiencing Kyoto and Osaka on a budget. We’re talking about the best sights, restaurants and experiences for your enthralling holiday in Japan. Unsure about accommodation? Don’t worry, we’ve also highlighted the most popular budget hotels in both Kyoto and Osaka.

Osaka

How to Visit Osaka on a Budget

Situated on Osaka Bay, the port city of Osaka showcases a lot of Japan’s modern culture with its billboard high-rises, buzzing nightlife and upscale restaurants. However, you’ll also find a number of unique historical attractions, including the storied Osaka Castle and one of Japan’s oldest Shinto shrines. Don’t miss visiting the street markets for delicious street food and complete immersion into local life.

3 Quick Tips for Saving Money in Osaka

  1. Buy the Osaka Amazing Pass if you plan to do a lot of sightseeing.
  2. Find areas with street food for lunch and dinner.
  3. Stay in a capsule hotel.

Day 1

Osaka Castle

To See: Osaka Castle 

Dating back to the 1500s, Osaka Castle is one of the city’s most prominent historical landmarks. It typically only costs around $5 to enter the castle, where you can admire old samurai armour and treasured relics. However, if you prefer to keep your wallet in your pocket, you can walk around the Castle Gardens for free and see the fortress from the outside, including the citadels, turrets and gates. The garden is a particularly popular spot in spring during the cherry blossom blooms. 

To Do: Vintage Clothes Shopping in Amerikamura 

Amerikamura is a hub of creativity, fashion and entertainment. The shopping here is eclectic, with many stores selling punk, vintage, goth, alternative and rock fashion. It’s also the spot for cold-brew coffee and appeases bibliophiles with its unique book stores. If you’re looking for affordable vintage threads, head to Kinji in the Big Step building, which is known for selling trendy Japanese clothing. 

For Lunch: Tsuruhashi Shoutengai 

Sure, it might be a little strange to seek out Korean eateries in Japan, but Tsuruhashi Shoutengai (also known as Korea Town) boasts some of the city’s best and most affordable Korean eateries. And the food there is incredible. As you wander through the underground marketplace, you’ll pass book stalls and convenience stands before discovering (most likely through your nose) a gallery of street food-style stalls selling freshly prepared Korean delicacies. 

For Dinner: Dōtonbori District 

Running alongside the Dōtonbori Canal, this lively entertainment district is a blazing spectacle of neon and billboards at night. Osaka’s love of food is evident throughout Dōtonbori, where you can find a range of restaurants serving exotic dishes, such as pufferfish, takoyaki octopus dumplings and deep-fried kebabs. Avoid the bigger, more touristic restaurants and instead find the smaller local hangouts. 

Day 2 (Morning)

Fukutaro

To Do: Admire the City Views from Daisan 

Don’t leave Osaka without appreciating the city sprawl from above. The Daisan building, which is in front of Osaka Station, has panoramic views from its restaurants on the 32nd and 33rd floors. You can opt for a meal in these restaurants or even admire the views for free from the observation decks. 

For Lunch: Fukutaro

Want to try the local delicacy of okonomiyaki? Fukutaro is popular for these savoury pancakes, so much so that it’s become a staple for most locals. The restaurant has earned its popularity by providing consistently fluffy okonomiyaki and using market-fresh ingredients, including juicy pork ribs and soft-boiled eggs.

Best Budget Hotels in Osaka

Roots Hostel Osaka

Roots Hostel OsakaBudget-savvy travellers will love the value for money found at Roots Hostel Osaka, which offers high-end hostel dorm and private rooms near the centre of Osaka. The timber bunk beds in the dorms have individual reading lights, outlets and curtains. Along with female-only dorms, the hostel has private rooms with double beds, bunk beds or two double beds.

In addition to with complimentary Wi-Fi, all guests receive slippers, hangers and hair dryers free of charge. There’s also an on-site laundry and a modern shower room. Start your day off right with a healthy breakfast at the on-site cafe and return in the evening for delectable takoyaki side dishes and cold beer. 

Hotel Highlights 

  • Hosts social events, such as takoyaki classes.
  • Across the street from Orix Theater.
  • Dorm and private rooms to suit smaller budgets.

Star Rating: 4*
Price: USD 28 – USD 133
Guest Rating: 7.5
Address: 1-9-11, Itachibori, Nishi, Osaka, Japan

Hotel Sobial Osaka Dome Mae

Hotel Sobial Osaka Dome MaeHotel Sobial Osaka Dome Mae showcases Japan’s technological innovations with its robot concierge, Nami. It’s also known among HotelsCombined visitors for its exceptional on-site dining, which includes a healthy breakfast and lunch buffet with salad and sandwich bars. Visit the on-site library to relax with a book or revitalise your tired muscles in the public open-air bath.

The budget-friendly rooms include the affordable Economy Double and Twin rooms with private bathrooms and fridges, along with Business Double Rooms with work desks. Most rooms also have flat-screen TVs. Outside you’ll find Taishobashi Park, which is nestled at the junction of four rivers. 

Hotel Highlights 

  • A range of low-cost room options.
  • Located next to the Osaka Loop Line.
  • Welcome drinks and sweets in the lobby.

Star Rating: 4*
Price: USD 94 – USD 139
Guest Rating: 8.8
Address: Taisho-ku Sangenyahigashi 1-17-29, Taisho, Osaka, Japan

Hotel Mystays Shin Osaka Conference Center

Hotel Mystays Shin Osaka Conference CenterThe modern Hotel Mystays Shin Osaka Conference Center is slightly north of the Yodo River and features a range of affordable room options, including single, twin, double and semi-double. All of these rooms include flat-screen TVs, complimentary Wi-Fi and work desks. Alternatively, you can upgrade to a Superior Twin for more space and lounge seating.

On-site dining is highlighted by innovative steaks and burgers at Steakhamburg RIVAGE, which combines Japanese and Western flavours. Venture outside to discover a wealth of local restaurants and shops in the streets surrounding the hotel, along with sprawling parkland and walking paths along the Yodo River. 

Hotel Highlights 

  • Budget rooms with desks and flat-screen TVs.
  • Gourmet on-site dining headlined by a Grand Chef.
  • A five-minute walk from the Shin-Osaka station.

Star Rating: 3*
Price: USD 65 – USD 139
Guest Rating: 7.3
Address: 6-2-19 Nishinakajima, Yodogawa, Osaka, Japan

Hotel Wing International Shin-Osaka

Hotel Wing International Shin-Osaka

Located slightly north of Osaka’s city centre, Hotel Wing International Shin-Osaka keeps you well-connected to the rest of the city via nearby subway stations. The low-maintenance rooms come in single, double and twin variations, some of which have lounge seating. Families can also book connecting rooms or opt for the larger Family Room. All of the rooms have Wi-Fi, air conditioning, humidifiers and pay-per-view movies.

Start your day right with a hearty Japanese-Western buffet in the on-site restaurant, which also offers a bar in the afternoon. You’ll find a range of coffee shops, Japanese and Korean restaurants and steakhouses in the streets outside.

Hotel Highlights 

  • Interconnecting rooms for families or groups.
  • Located in a less touristy neighbourhood with excellent public transport connections.
  • Has an on-site banquet hall that can also be used as a meeting room.

Star Rating: 4*
Price: USD 51 – USD 182
Guest Rating: 8
Address: 2-32-9 Higashimikuni, Yodogawa, Osaka, Japan

Hotel Location

Kyoto

How to Visit Kyoto on a Budget

Kyoto is surrounded by some of Japan’s most beautiful natural attractions, including snow-capped mountains and glassy lakes. This former capital city transports you back in time with old-world wooden houses, revered Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples and regal imperial palaces. It’s also filled with traditional experiences, such as family-run tea ceremonies and kaiseki dining with geishas.

3 Quick Tips for Saving Money in Kyoto 

  1. Get one of the ICOCA & Haruka cards for discounter train travel to and from Kansai International Airport.
  2. Buy breakfast from the 24-hour Super Tamade convenience stores, like bento, sandwiches and onigiri (rice balls)
  3. Bring your passport shopping for discounts at the Japan Tax-Free shops.

Day 2 (Afternoon)

Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine

To Do: Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine

One of the most iconic sights in Kyoto is the 5,000-plus vibrant orange torii gates of Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine. This pathway takes you through the hillside behind the shrine, passing a number of graves and smaller shrines. The entire five-kilometre walk takes between two and three hours or you can simply snap some memorable photographs from the beginning. 

For Dinner: Kyoto Station Area

Spend your first evening in Kyoto around Kyoto Station. Transport hubs aren’t typically ideal hang-out spots, but Kyoto Station is perfect for budget travellers seeking cheap, yet delicious food. Eat Paradise is a food hall comprising several sit-down restaurants, which serve tempura and Japanese pork cutlets. Head to Kyoto Ramen Koji to choose from eight regional styles of ramen. 

Day 3

Arashiyama Bamboo Forest 

To See: Arashiyama Bamboo Forest 

Arashiyama Bamboo Forest transports you to a beautiful haven of towering bamboo stalks. You’ll feel dwarfed by this otherworldly forest as you stroll along the walking paths and watch the stalks sway slowly in the wind. The forest is easily combined with the neighbouring Tenryu-ji Temple, which is known for its immaculate gardens and mountain vistas.

To Do: Funaoka Onsen

Considered by many to be the best public baths in Kyoto, Funaoka Onsen is completely made out of wood and features carvings depicting important historical moments in Japan. The actual bathing area offers a number of tubs, from a tannin-hued herbal bath and electric bath to a wooden bath and an extra-hot bath. Don’t miss a soak in the outdoor bath, which sits next to a sauna.

For Lunch: Nishiki Market 

The world-famous Nishiki Market is affectionately known as ‘Kyoto’s Kitchen’ because it boasts more than 100 shops and restaurants specialising in local ingredients and delicacies. As you wander through the five-block marketplace you’ll discover stalls selling fresh seafood, Japanese sweets, sushi and dried seafood. Keep an eye out for stalls offering free samples. 

For Dinner: Gion 

Discover how one of Japan’s oldest traditions influences the modern-day culture in Gion, Kyoto’s most famous geisha district. Here you’ll find a range of restaurants and teahouses with geishas and geisha apprentices entertaining the patrons. These are typically housed in traditional wooden machiya merchant houses.

Best Budget Hotels in Kyoto

Guest House Oumi

Guest House Oumi

Discover an authentic local experience at Guest House Oumi, where you can stay in the Japanese-Style Superior Room with bamboo interiors, tatami mats, futon beds and a private garden. You can save even more money by opting for the Mixed Dormitory Room, which has two bunk beds with curtains and reading lights.

Along with a communal kitchen, Guest House Oumi has a TV lounge, garden terrace and laundry. Accommodation here is about a five-minute walk from Nijo Station and surrounded by some of Kyoto’s top attractions, including the circa-1603 Nijō Castle and Kyoto Imperial Palace. 

Hotel Highlights 

  • Close to public transport.
  • Japanese-style rooms with traditional furnishings.
  • Social communal areas for meeting fellow travellers.

Star Rating: 4*
Price: USD 30 – USD 102
Guest Rating: 8.1
Address: 19-11 Nishinokyo-Nagamotocho, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto, Japan

Kyoto Uraraka Guest House

Kyoto Uraraka Guest House

Kyoto Uraraka Guest House has won over numerous HotelsCombined visitors with its comfortable rooms and friendly staff. This budget Kyoto hotel offers a range of on-site services, including fresh bread and tea and coffee every morning for breakfast, free refills of coffee and tea all day, complimentary bike rentals and a communal lounge.

The Western-style rooms have modern furnishings, along with flat-screen TVs, fridges, balconies and work desks. They come in single, double and twin configurations. You can also upgrade to a Deluxe Twin Room for a fully-equipped kitchen, making it one of the cheapest self-contained rooms in Kyoto. 

Hotel Highlights

  • A 10-minute walk from Nijō Castle.
  • Modern rooms with more amenities than most in its price bracket.
  • On-site laundry and rental services at the front desk.

Star Rating: 3*
Price: USD 44 – USD 90
Guest Rating: 8.7
Address: Kamigyo-ku Marutamachi dori Chiekoin Higashi iru Kitaiseya-cho 740, Kamigyo Ward, Kyoto, Japan

The Palace Side Hotel

The Palace Side Hotel

Nestled next to the manicured national gardens around Kyoto Imperial Palace, The Palace Side Hotel complements its enviable location with friendly hospitality. The on-site Cafe Fermata has alfresco seating overlooking the Imperial Palace Garden, while Sabai offers traditional Thai massages. You also have access to a communal kitchen and library stacked with books.

The Single and Double rooms are the most affordable, with the Double option having lounge seating to go with the standard work desk. You can upgrade to a Special Twin for more floor space or enjoy self-contained accommodation in the Double or Twin room with a kitchenette.  

Hotel Highlights 

  • Budget-friendly self-contained accommodation.
  • About 550 metres from Kyoto Imperial Palace.
  • An on-site art shop, communal lounge, computer corner and coin laundry.

Star Rating: 3*
Price: USD 71 – USD 120
Guest Rating: 7.8
Address: Karasuma Shimodachiuri Agaru, Kamigyo-ku, Kamigyo Ward, Kyoto, Japan

Amenity Hotel Kyoto

Amenity Hotel Kyoto

If you want to experience Japan’s unique capsule accommodation, book a night or two at Amenity Hotel Kyoto, which has capsule rooms with two beds, an LCD TV and sofa bed. You can also book one of the Japanese-style rooms, which offer a deeper immersion into the local culture with their tatami bats, tea rooms and futon beds.

The on-site restaurant is renowned for its Japanese-Chinese fare that’s created using fresh local ingredients, including Kyoto’s original ramen, Negifoba. You also have access to a snack room, coin laundry and a flexible banquet/meeting room. The hotel is conveniently located for admiring the handicrafts at the Kiyomizu Sannenzaka Museum or the beautiful Japanese portraits at Maiko-Henshin Studio Shiki. 

Hotel Highlights 

  • Close to noodle shops and restaurants selling Japanese sweets.
  • Traditional Japanese rooms with authentic furnishings.
  • The secret dumplings and mango pudding at the on-site restaurant.

Star Rating: 4*
Price: USD 55 – USD 133
Guest Rating: 7.3
Address: 4-171, Kiyomizu, Higashiyama-ku, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, Japan

Hotel Location

Spend Less While Experiencing More in Osaka & Kyoto

You don’t need to spend a lot in Osaka and Kyoto, which are both blessed with cultural attractions that highlight Japan’s history and future. There are an array of free attractions that are world-famous for their beauty or history, while the budget-friendly hotels typically offer modern furnishings, multiple room types and on-site dining.

Where will you stay in Osaka? Let us know in the comments below.

Author: Ben Stower

I'm enamoured with travel, whether it's finding the quiet, local sanctuaries in touristic cities, venturing into rock vaults in a distant jungle or spending hours on a Spanish beach. I can't see an end to my travelling. Just another chapter and another story to tell.

Ben Stower
I'm enamoured with travel, whether it's finding the quiet, local sanctuaries in touristic cities, venturing into rock vaults in a distant jungle or spending hours on a Spanish beach. I can't see an end to my travelling. Just another chapter and another story to tell.
Posted on Categories Asia, DestinationsTags , ,

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