Things to do in Osaka

Flying high: The ultimate guide to Airports in Osaka

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Did you know Osaka is the food capital of Japan? They call it the "Kitchen of Japan" because the city has a huge variety of food options. From street food to fancy restaurants, Osaka offers a true culinary adventure if you’re a foodie!

And of course, you can't miss the historic landmarks like the Osaka Castle, the skyline of Umeda sky building and entertainment theme-parks like Universal Studios Osaka! So much to do and so much more fun to have.

So, if you're planning to visit Osaka, let's make sure you're well prepared to get there! There are two airports to choose from: Kansai International Airport (KIX) and Osaka International Airport (ITM). Both airports are easy to get to and offer access to city attractions.

This ultimate airports in Osaka guide will uncover essential information you need to know from facilities to airport transfers and much more!

Kansai International Airport (KIX)

Kansai International Airport

Terminals: 2 active terminals - Terminal 1 and Terminal 2. Both of them are situated on individual ‘airport islands’. Terminal 1 is also one of the longest terminals which is about 1.7 km!
Airport code: KIX
Distance from city center: 55.6 km / 34 miles

Built on a man-made island, the Kansai International Airport (KIX) is the world’s first off-shore airport! It’s also the only international airport in Osaka, since it took over all international operations from the Itami Airport. The KIX was opened in 1994 to manage the huge influx of passengers due to the excessive crowd at the Itami Airport. The airport carries out operations for domestic flights as well but faces stiff competition from other airports like Itami and Kobe.

Some noteworthy information about the KIX – It was awarded ‘Best Airport Staff’ in the World and in Asia and also for ‘Best Baggage Delivery’ in 2020 by SKYTRAX! That definitely speaks volumes of the operational services, setting high standards in the aviation industry.

🛬 Getting to/from

  • Via bus: Buses are available to KIX Airport and from the KIX Airport to your desired destination! You can catch buses from both terminals. Disclaimer- The buses don’t operate post 10pm.
  • Via taxi: You can opt to use a taxi to get to the airport and leave from the airport. Heads-up though, buses and trains don’t function overnight. That leaves you with the taxi option if you’re in urgent need to leave. The fares are expensive too.
  • Via high-speed ferry: If you’re coming from Kobe Airport on the other end, you can take the high-speed ferry up to the Pier and then get on a shuttle bus to the airport terminals. You can also go back the same way.
  • Via train: There are many rapid trains available to reach KIX. Disclaimer- The trains do not operate after 10pm just like the buses.

Kansai Airport Sim Card (KIX)

The Sakura Sim Card is an excellent choice for travelers who want to stay connected during their trip to Japan. With its fast and reliable 4G/LTE connection, you can easily access the internet, check emails, and keep in touch with loved ones. The unlimited data plan ensures that you won't have to worry about additional charges or cut-off limitations. Plus, the easy pick-up and disposal process at Kansai International Airport makes it a convenient option for short-term visitors.

ℹ️ Facilities

The airport has a range of services:

  • For your money-related matters: ATMs, Currency Exchanges and Banks.
  • Medical Facilities for any health-related emergencies. There is a Pharmacy available to buy medication.
  • Laptop & Mobile charging spots for your devices and free WIFI available.
  • Help Desks for customers requiring assistance.
  • Traveling with kids can be a handful. That’s why the airport offers additional services for people traveling with kids!
  • Luggage & postal service.
  • Kids play area for children to have some downtime before the next flight.
  • Accommodation services if you’d like to stay at a hotel nearby are available too!

🍽️ Dining

The airport offers 3 different cuisines – Japanese, Chinese & Western. You can grab a bite at the food court or have a proper dining experience at a fancy cafe or a restaurant - some recommendations are San Marco Curry (T1) and COCO’S Airport Dining (T2)!

🛍️ Shopping

Shopping opportunities are endless here with so many duty-free stores. You have access to stores for – Beauty, Fashion, Jewellery, Electronics, Books, Kids, Travel, Gifting, Liquor & Tobacco. Additionally, convenience stores to shop for essentials needed and even a pharmacy!

💤 Sleeping Options

Being a busy international Airport, you can head to the Refresh Square in Aeroplaza for a comfortable snooze. Aeroplaza is a 24-hour lounge that offers sleeping facilities apart from dining. If you’re traveling with a group, you have the option to stay overnight at Hotel Nikko Kansai by sharing a room.

🚿 Showering Facilities

Long overnight layovers can be too much, we get it. So, if you’re looking to freshen up, there are coin-operated showers available at Aeroplaza and in Terminal 1. If you fancy something more luxurious, a Bathing facility is available too in Aeroplaza.

💺 Layover Tips and Fun Things to Do at the Airport

If you have a layover at the airport, there are plenty of eateries and plenty of stores to shop or just indulge in plain old window shopping. If you want to explore more places around, you can obtain Japan's Transit visa, which is available for passengers during long layovers. For those who don’t want to venture out, the Sakura Lounge is comfortable enough to relax and kill some time!

Itami International Airport (ITM)

Itami Airport

Terminals: 1 terminal, divided into north and south for departures! The North Tower handles JAL/AMX airlines while the South deals with ANA/IBEX airlines.
Airport code: ITM
Distance from city center: 10 km/6 miles

The Osaka International Airport more commonly known as Itami Airport (ITM) is the primary airport for domestic travel in the region. Before the Kansai International Airport came into existence, the ITM was the main airport in the region for both Domestic and International travel. But the airport was overflowing with passengers and a new airport had to be constructed to manage such traffic. That’s when the Kansai International Airport came into operation in 1994 and took over the international arrivals & departures. Though ‘international’ still stands in its name, it operates only domestic flights! The ITM is the hub for all domestic flights like Japan, IBEX and Amakusa Airlines, while All Nippon Airways maintains the largest base here constantly.

🛬 Getting to/from

  • Via bus: 3 types of buses operate to and from the Airport: Long-Distance Highway buses, Airport Limousine Buses and Short-distance buses. Bookings for each vary, so make sure you book accordingly!
  • Via taxi: There are two points for pick-up and drop-off. You can leave the airport from the Taxi stand. While the Taxi Drop is the point where you must get off to reach IMT Airport.
  • Via train: You should take the Hankyu Takarazuka Line to Hotarugaike station and from there you should transfer to the Osaka Monorail headed to IMT Airport.

ℹ️ Facilities

The facilities and services at ITM cover almost everything you need. ATMs and Currency Exchange, Medical Facilities, Free WIFI and Charging spots, Lounges, and facilities for those with disabilities. And of course luggage and transport services too.

🍽️ Dining

The renovation has created so many new eateries and dining experiences at IMT Airport. You can’t miss the pizza at Wolfgang Puck Pizza. If you’re craving Japanese food, there are many options to pick from like Katsukura and Umi Kitchen Kinosaki . And coffee lovers, Starbucks has got you covered!

🛍️ Shopping

Since the time the Airport was renovated in 2020, there have been many additions but mostly to shop for sweets, local delicacies and other confectioneries like Patisserie Moncher.

💤 Sleeping Options

There are no dedicated spaces or sleeping pods! The ITM Airport has 5 lounges, so passengers must make do by just resting at the lounge designated as per their airline!

🚿 Showering Facilities

Unfortunately, the ITM Airport doesn’t provide any showering facilities.

💺 Layover tips and fun things to do at the airport

If you have a layover at the airport, there are plenty of eateries and plenty of stores to shop or just indulge in plain old window shopping. If you want to explore more places around, you can obtain Japan's Transit visa, which is available for passengers during long layovers. For those who don’t want to venture out, the Sakura Lounge is comfortable enough to relax and kill some time!

  • The Itami International Airport may be small compared to other airports, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take advantage of what it has during your layover. With plenty of restaurants, you should definitely indulge in a traditional Japanese meal by savouring local delicacies like sushi or spicy ramen bowls.
  • Since its renovation, the ITM has MANY confectionaries of different types. Hopping from one store to another isn’t a bad idea to dig into your sweet tooth.
  • With a Japan Transit pass, you can even go out to explore the city of Osaka if your layover is pretty long!
  • Roof-top Observation Deck: You can head to the roof-top observation deck at IMT for some splendid views around the airport to watch flights take off and land up-close. It also serves great views during sunset and is a perfect spot for some downtime during layovers.
  • Ginza Bodycare / Queensway: Body massage after all that travel and more to go? Sign yourself up! This place is great for some nice massaging and reflexology, all while your clothing is still on and there is no need to change!
  • Coin-operated Massage Chairs: Drop a few coins into the slot and get started with a massage on the chair! If you’re not up for the salon massage at Ginza Bodycare, this is your alternative for some relaxation!

Choosing between Kansai International Airport and Itami International Airport

Kansai International Airport operates both Domestic and International flights, while Itami Airport operates only domestic flights!

For international flights, the only option you have is the KIX Airport – which took over ITM Airport’s international operations since its opening in 1994.

For domestic flights, both KIX and ITM give each other tough competition. But, if you’d like to be near the city, then Itami Airport is your best option!

Airports in Osaka