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Osaka vs Kyoto – Where to Stay

February 3, 2024
Osaka vs Kyoto – Where to Stay

Osaka and Kyoto are two popular destinations in Japan, offering a unique blend of history and culture. Osaka has a vibrant nightlife and delicious street food, while Kyoto is steeped in tradition with over 2,000 temples and shrines. Both cities have their unique charm and offer different experiences to travellers.

Overview of Osaka

Osaka is the third-largest city in Japan and is located on the island of Honshu. It is known for its vibrant street food scene, bustling nightlife, and friendly locals. Osaka is a great destination for travellers who are interested in experiencing modern Japanese culture.

Accessibility and Transportation

Osaka is easily accessible by air, rail, and bus. The city has two airports, Kansai International Airport and Osaka International Airport, which offer flights to domestic and international destinations. The city also has an extensive public transportation system, including subways, buses, and trains, which makes it easy to get around.

Major Attractions

Osaka has many major attractions that are worth visiting. Some of the most popular attractions include Osaka Castle, which is a beautiful castle that dates back to the 16th century, and Universal Studios Japan, which is a theme park that is popular with families. Other popular attractions include the Tsutenkaku Tower, the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan, and the Dotonbori district, which is known for its street food and entertainment.

Accommodation Types

Osaka has a wide range of accommodation options to suit different budgets and preferences. There are many luxury hotels in the city, as well as budget-friendly hostels and guesthouses. Some of the most popular areas to stay in Osaka include Namba, which is known for its shopping and entertainment, and Umeda, which is a business district.

Nightlife and Entertainment

Osaka is famous for its lively nightlife and entertainment scene. The city boasts numerous bars, clubs, and restaurants that remain open late into the night, making it an ideal destination for night lovers. Two of the most popular nightlife areas in Osaka are Dotonbori, known for its street food and neon lights, and Shinsaibashi, a famous shopping district with several restaurants and bars.

Overall, Osaka is an ideal place for travellers interested in experiencing modern Japanese culture. With its vibrant street food scene, bustling nightlife, and welcoming locals, Osaka is a city that is sure to leave a lasting impression on visitors.

Overview of Kyoto

Kyoto is a city in Japan’s Kansai region that was once the capital of Japan. Known for its rich cultural heritage, Kyoto is a popular destination for tourists seeking to experience traditional Japanese culture.

Cultural Heritage

Kyoto is home to many temples, shrines, and other historical sites that are important to Japanese culture. Visitors can explore the traditional architecture and gardens of these sites, and learn about the history and significance of each location.

Historical Sites

Some of the most popular historical sites in Kyoto include the Kiyomizu-dera Temple, Fushimi Inari Shrine, and the Kinkaku-ji Temple. Each of these locations offers a unique experience and glimpse into Japan’s past.

Accommodation Styles

Kyoto offers a variety of accommodation styles to suit different preferences and budgets. Visitors can choose from traditional ryokans, modern hotels, and guesthouses. Many of these accommodations offer traditional Japanese-style rooms and amenities.

Atmosphere and Pace

Kyoto is known for its relaxed, peaceful atmosphere, which is a welcome change from the hustle and bustle of other Japanese cities. The pace of life is slower, and visitors can enjoy the city’s natural beauty and cultural heritage at a leisurely pace.

Overall, Kyoto is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in Japanese culture and history. With its rich cultural heritage, historical sites, and traditional accommodations, Kyoto offers a unique and authentic experience that is sure to leave a lasting impression on visitors.

Comparing Costs

When deciding between Osaka and Kyoto for a stay, one of the important factors to consider is the cost. Here is a breakdown of the costs of staying in each city.

Average Hotel Prices

In general, Kyoto tends to have higher hotel prices than Osaka. This is due to Kyoto’s popularity as a tourist destination and the abundance of traditional Japanese-style accommodations. However, both cities offer a range of options for different budgets. In Osaka, budget hotels and hostels can be found for as low as $20-30 USD per night, while mid-range hotels can cost around $80-100 USD per night. In Kyoto, budget options start around $40-50 USD per night, with mid-range hotels averaging around $120-150 USD per night.

Dining and Shopping Expenses

Both Osaka and Kyoto offer a variety of dining options, from street food to high-end restaurants. However, Osaka is known for its food scene and is often called the “Kitchen of Japan.” As a result, dining out in Osaka can be slightly cheaper than in Kyoto. In terms of shopping, both cities have their own unique offerings. Kyoto is known for its traditional crafts and souvenirs, while Osaka has more modern shopping centres and department stores. Generally, prices for goods are similar in both cities.

Transportation Costs

Getting around Osaka and Kyoto is relatively affordable, but there are some differences in cost. In Osaka, the subway system is extensive and easy to use, with fares starting at around USD 1 per ride. Kyoto’s subway system is smaller, but the city has an extensive bus network that can be used with a day pass for around $6-7 USD. Taxis are also available in both cities but can be more expensive.

Overall, while Kyoto may have slightly higher hotel prices, the difference in cost between the two cities is not significant. However, those on a tight budget may find that dining out and transportation costs are slightly cheaper in Osaka.

Traveler Profiles

When deciding between Osaka and Kyoto, it’s important to consider the type of traveller you are and what you hope to get out of your trip. Here are some traveller profiles to help guide your decision:

Best for Families

Families travelling with children may find Osaka to be the better option. The city is home to Universal Studios Japan, which offers a variety of rides and attractions that are sure to please kids of all ages. Osaka also has a bustling downtown area with plenty of shopping and dining options, as well as a lively nightlife scene. Families can also enjoy a day trip to nearby Nara, where they can visit the famous deer park and Todai-ji Temple.

Ideal for Solo Travelers

Solo travellers looking to immerse themselves in Japanese culture may find Kyoto to be the better choice. The city is home to numerous temples and shrines, including the famous Fushimi Inari Shrine and Kiyomizu-dera Temple. Kyoto also has a rich history and cultural heritage, with traditional arts and crafts such as pottery, calligraphy, and tea ceremony. Solo travellers can also take advantage of the city’s many walking tours and cultural experiences.

Couples and Romantic Getaways

Couples looking for a romantic getaway may find Kyoto to be the more enchanting option. The city’s picturesque streets and historic buildings provide a charming backdrop for a romantic stroll. Couples can also enjoy a traditional Japanese tea ceremony or indulge in a kaiseki dinner at a local restaurant. Kyoto also has several scenic spots for couples to enjoy, such as the Philosopher’s Path and Arashiyama Bamboo Grove.

History Enthusiasts

History enthusiasts will find plenty to explore in both Osaka and Kyoto, but Kyoto is the clear winner when it comes to historical sites. The city was the capital of Japan for over 1,000 years and is home to numerous UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the famous Golden Pavilion and Nijo Castle. Kyoto also has a rich cultural heritage, with traditional arts and crafts such as pottery, calligraphy, and tea ceremony. History enthusiasts can easily spend several days exploring all that Kyoto has to offer.

Seasonal Considerations

Best Time to Visit Osaka

Osaka is best visited during spring and autumn when the weather is mild and pleasant. Spring is the season of cherry blossoms, while autumn sees fewer crowds. Summer can be hot and rainy, while winter is cold but decorated with beautiful illuminations.

Best Time to Visit Kyoto

The best time to visit Kyoto is during spring and autumn. Spring, from March to May, is the season of cherry blossoms, while autumn, from September to November, offers cool and pleasant weather with less crowd. Summer can be hot and humid with heavy rainfall, while winter is cold but decorated with beautiful illuminations. Ultimately, the ideal time to visit depends on personal preferences and travel plans.

Practical Tips

Language and Communication

Both Osaka and Kyoto are major tourist destinations, so most people in the hospitality and service industries speak English to some degree. However, it’s always a good idea to learn a few basic phrases in Japanese, such as “hello” (konnichiwa), “thank you” (arigatou gozaimasu), and “excuse me” (sumimasen). This shows respect for the local culture and can help make interactions smoother.

It’s also worth noting that Japanese people tend to be indirect in their communication, so it’s important to pay attention to nonverbal cues and tone of voice. For example, a hesitant “maybe” might actually mean “no.” Additionally, it’s considered impolite to say “no” outright, so people may use phrases like “it’s difficult” or “let me think about it” instead.

Local Etiquette

Japan is known for its strict social codes and customs, so it’s important to be aware of some basic etiquette rules while staying in Osaka or Kyoto. For example, it’s customary to remove your shoes before entering someone’s home or a traditional Japanese restaurant. It’s also considered impolite to speak loudly in public or to blow your nose in front of others.

Tipping is not customary in Japan, and may even be seen as insulting. Instead, good service is expected as a matter of course. When paying for goods or services, it’s polite to hand the money to the cashier or server with both hands and to receive change with both hands as well.

Safety and Emergency Information

Japan is generally a very safe country, with low levels of crime and violence. However, it’s still important to take precautions while travelling. Keep an eye on your belongings in crowded areas, and be aware of pickpockets and other scams.

In case of emergency, dial 110 for the police or 119 for an ambulance or fire department. It’s also a good idea to carry a copy of your passport and other important documents with you at all times, in case of loss or theft.



Osaka is a lively city with a diverse range of food options and attractions, ideal for solo travellers or those looking to immerse themselves in Japanese culture. Kyoto offers a more traditional and peaceful atmosphere, with numerous temples, shrines, and gardens to explore, perfect for those interested in Japanese history and culture. So the Kyoto vs Osaka title might be misleading pitting the two against each other might be overdoing it as the choice ultimately depends on personal preferences and travel goals.

osaka vs kyoto where to stay

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