A Travel Price Comparison for Japan Osaka vs. Sendai for Attractions, Food, Nightlife, and Families

Should you visit Osaka or Sendai?

Which is cheaper to visit? Which is more expensive for vacation?

If you're trying to decide where to visit between Osaka or Sendai, this travel comparison, which includes costs, can help. The overall cost of travel is usually a consideration when deciding where to go next, and the cost comparison down below can help you decide based on the average prices from other travelers along with your own travel budget.

Osaka

Osaka is a colorful, vibrant, and cultural city. Travelers will also find plenty of sights and attractions here, as it's a big city that attracts lots of visitors. Visitors also love the food, shopping, and museums.

Sendai

Sendai is a lively, high energy, and vibrant city. Because this is such a big city, visitors will find many sights and attractions around town. It's also popular because of the museums, nightlife, and food.

Osaka and Sendai: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Popular for food and cuisine
  • Active nightlife
  • Scenic old town
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Good for students
  • Big city activities
Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Popular beach
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
Things to Consider
  • Less popular for food


Is there more to do in Osaka or Sendai?

Travelers will usually find more to do in Osaka than Sendai, as it is bigger with more sights, attractions, and activities for visitors. Osaka is more popular for its museums, food, nightlife, historical sights, shopping, and big city activities, while Sendai is known for its beaches. Osaka is popular for its diverse street food, eclectic shopping and its economic roots as a port city. It is also home to Osaka Castle. Sendai is popular for the Tanabata Festival, which is the largest of its kind and held every August.

How is Osaka different from Sendai?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Sendai and Osaka. Then, you can decide for yourself which place is better for your next trip.

Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Osaka or Sendai?

Osaka
Sendai

Osaka is renowned for its museums and history. Also, Sendai is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its museums and landmarks.

The museums and tourist attractions in Osaka are world-renowned. The city is filled with impressive sights that are both old and new. A highlight is a visit to Osaka Castle, which dates back to the 1500s. The city's most well known temple is Shitennō-ji Temple and the Kobe Port Tower is another recognizable sight. Other highlights include the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan, the Tempozan Ferris Wheel, and the National Museum of Art.

You'll find a good number of museums and monuments packed into Sendai. The city grew up as a castle town, and today the castle ruins are a popular tourist destination. A park surrounds the area, Aobayama Park, and while only the stonewalls remain, you can visit the Sendai City Museum in the park as well. Zuihoden Temple is another landmark worth visiting, as is the AER observation terrace.


Is the Food Better in Osaka or Sendai? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Osaka
Sendai

Osaka is renowned for its restaurants. Also, Sendai is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its restaurant scene.

Known for it's food and restaurant scene, Osaka is always at the top of any foodie's travel list. It's one of the top culinary cities in Japan, and you'll find both local and regional dishes throughout. Street food is famous here, but there are also award winning restaurants and small traditional venues. Sushi and sashimi is a favorite, and it's focused simple and high quality ingredients. You'll find some great sushi restaurants around Kuromon Ichiba Market. Another unique experience is to visit a conveyor belt sushi restaurant. Land lovers should try the Yakiniku and Horumon, which is Japanese barbecue. And, of course, there's the ramen. Don't miss the ramen!

There are many up and coming restaurants in the Sendai area. There are a number of local specialties in the area and if you're an adventurous eater, then this is your place. Many of the dishes are influenced by the city's proximity to the ocean. Make sure you try the harako-meshi (rice with fish eggs), sea squirts, and sashimi. Another local favorite is beef tongue.

Is Osaka or Sendai Better for Nightlife?

Osaka
Sendai

Osaka is renowned for nightlife and partying. Also, Sendai is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its evening party scene.

Osaka is a destination that you simply have to visit at least once for nightlife. The city really comes to life after the sun sets. The buildings light up and the energy is palpable. In addition to the many world class restaurants, there are countless bars, pubs and izakaya, which are Japanese-style bars. Beer is popular, with many internationally recognized brands available. The most popular nightlife area is Dotonbori, which is along the Dotonbori River.

The people in Sendai know how to have a good time. Head to Kokubuncho for the best nightlife scene in the area. This downtown neighborhood is filled with bars, clubs, and karaoke that come alive in the evening. For live music, check out Rensa, which is one of the city's largest live music venues.

Is Osaka or Sendai Better for Beaches?

Osaka
Sendai

Sendai is a nice place to visit for the beach. However, Osaka is not a beach destination.

Sendai has a beach worth visiting. There are a number of beaches in the area, but for the best options you'll want to head a bit out of town.

Osaka is not a beach destination.


Is Osaka or Sendai Better for its Old Town?

Osaka
Sendai

Osaka is an excellent place to visit for its old town. However, Sendai does not have a historic old town.

Many visitors go to Osaka to see the historical old town. If you want to step back in time, head to Shinsekai, which holds tight to its traditional street life scene. There are old-school arcades, traditional shops, and local street food to sample.

Sendai does not have a historic old town.

Is the Shopping Better in Osaka or Sendai?

Osaka
Sendai

Osaka is renowned for its shopping opportunities. Also, Sendai is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its shopping areas.

Known for shopping, Osaka draws large crowds to its stores. There is everything from grand shopping malls to specialty boutique shops that sell antiques or local trinkets. Umeda Shopping Arcade is a large mall that has everything. For international brands, head to America Mura, which is where many of the younger Japanese hang out. Shinsaibashi-Suji Street is a favorite shopping street in the city and also not-to-be-missed.

Browsing through shops is a popular activity in Sendai. You'll find shopping arcades in the downtown area like Ichibancho, which is one of the most popular shopping districts in the city. If you head out of town towards the suburbs, you'll find malls and other outlet stores.

Is Osaka or Sendai Better for Families?

Osaka
Sendai

Osaka and Sendai are both superb destinations for the whole family.

You'll find plenty of family-friendly things to do in Osaka. Kids will enjoy the view from the observatory of the Umeda Sky Building or taking a ride on the HEP Five Ferris Wheel. There is also the Kids Plaza Osaka as well as arcades along Tenjinbashi suji Shopping Street. A highlight of a trip to the city is a visit to the Osaka Castle and museum lovers will also appreciate visiting the Osaka Science Museum or the Osaka Museum of Housing and Living.

Sendai is a very family-friendly place to visit. The city has a number of green spaces that kids will enjoy including parks and playgrounds. There are also kid-focused museums like the Anpanman Children's Museum and the 3M Sendai City Science Museum. If the young ones really need a break from the history, you can check out Yagiyama Beny Land.


Is Osaka or Sendai Better for Couples?

Osaka
Sendai

Osaka is an excellent place to visit for its romantic activities. Also, Sendai is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for couples.

Osaka makes for a fun place to visit for a couple. The city's atmosphere is filled with an energy that couples will enjoy. You can take a walk along the Tombori Riverwalk. For a touch of nature, head to Minoh Park and check out Minoh Falls, or for a relaxing experience, visit the hot springs at Solaniwa Onsen. Other fun activities include taking a ride on the Hep Five Ferris wheel or sampling the city's famous street food.

Sendai is a good city for couples to visit. The city boasts beautiful temples as well as nice natural areas, parks, and gardens. If you have time to get out of town, Okama is a volcanic lake that is one of the most beautiful spots in the region, and well worth the excursion.

Is Osaka or Sendai Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Osaka
Sendai

Osaka is an excellent place to visit for backpackers and budget travelers. Also, Sendai is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for backpackers.

Many backpackers visit Osaka. There are plenty of hostels around town and street food is an affordable and fun way to enjoy the city's culinary scene.

Sendai is a good city to visit for backpackers. There are a couple of hostels around the town and many of the activities are free as they involve strolling through parks or wandering down shopping streets.

Is Osaka or Sendai Better for Students?

Osaka
Sendai

Osaka is an excellent place to visit for its student-friendly activities. However, Sendai is not popular with students.

Osaka is a great city to visit as a student. There's a colorful energy and a lively atmosphere that appeals to students. The city is also the second largest economic center in the country.

Sendai is not popular with students.


Is Osaka or Sendai Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Osaka
Sendai

Osaka is renowned for times when you don't have a car. Also, Sendai is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its public transit.

Osaka has a great public transit system. The best way to get around town is by subway or train. The main tourist areas are located along the Midosuji subway line, which runs north to south.

Sendai offers a very effecient public transportation network. There are two subway lines the north-south Namboku Line and the east-west Tozai Line. These lines cross at Sendai Station.

Is Osaka or Sendai a more walkable city?

Osaka
Sendai

Sendai is an excellent place to visit for its ease of walking around. Also, Osaka is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its walkability.

Sendai is a very walkable destination. There are many parts of the city that are walkable, especially around Sendai Station as well as in the Chuo-dori arcade and the the Kokubuncho neighborhood.

Osaka is somewhat walkable. There are parts of the city that are fun to explore on foot.

For even more information, also check out Is Osaka Worth Visiting? and Is Sendai Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Sendai or Osaka?

How long in Osaka or Sendai?

Visitors can find plenty of fun things to do in both Osaka and Sendai. With generally more activities and things to do, visitors tend to spend more time in Osaka than in Sendai. Usually, 2-4 days is a good amount of time for Osaka, and 2-3 days is enough time in Sendai.

Families should spend more time in Osaka than Sendai. Because of the many family-friendly attractions and fun things to do for kids in Osaka, it's a great place to visit with the whole family.

Couples should spend more time in Osaka than Sendai. You'll find plenty of romantic sights and fun activities in Osaka that are great for a weekend getaway or a longer couple's trip.

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Osaka than Sendai if your budget allows for it. With a larger number of budget-friendly sights, good nightlife, and active things to do, anyone traveling on a budget would have a good time in Osaka.


  • How many days in Osaka or Sendai? Ideal Length of Stay
    Osaka 2-4 
    Sendai 2-3

One day in Osaka or Sendai?

Osaka is a bustling city that offers something for everyone. The old town is one of the main draws for visitors. But since there are so many activities, you'll likely want to spend more than one day exploring.

In Sendai, many people enjoy the shopping and museums that this lively destination offers. This city offers a variety of activities to choose from. Since there is so much to do in the area, one day is probably not enough for all of it.


A weekend in Osaka or Sendai?

Osaka is a great place to explore. It is common to spend a weekend here. With all of its activities, you can easily fill a weekend here. Your budget might influence how long you stay.

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Sendai. For many, it makes a great getaway for a weekend. This would be the perfect place to spend a weekend, as it has just the right amount of activities. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision.

Five days in Osaka or Sendai?

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Osaka. Make sure you visit the old town while you're here. Five days may feel like too much time unless you plan to do a lot of relaxing. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do.

Sendai is a fun place to experience. Travelers enjoy the nightlife and food when visiting the destination of Sendai. Most people find that five days is more than enough time to see everything.

A week in Osaka or Sendai?

Travelers enjoy the shopping and museums when visiting the vibrant big city of Osaka. This city offers a variety of activities to choose from. Most visitors spend time around the old town while in the area. Most people find that one week is more than enough time to see everything.

You'll find food and shopping around the cosmopolitan destination of Sendai. Take your pick from the many activities offered here. One week is plenty of time to see everything, even with extra days to spare.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best Coach Bus Tours in Japan, The Best Adventure Tours to Japan, The Best Sightseeing Tours in Japan, and The Best Cultural Tours in Japan.


Which place is cheaper, Sendai or Osaka?

These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.

The average daily cost (per person) in Osaka is $88, while the average daily cost in Sendai is $105. These costs include accommodation (assuming double occupancy, so the traveler is sharing the room), food, transportation, and entertainment. While every person is different, these costs are an average of past travelers in each destination. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for Osaka and Sendai in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Osaka $45
    Sendai $59
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Osaka $90
    Sendai $118
Compare Hotels in Osaka and Sendai

Looking for a hotel in Osaka or Sendai? Prices vary by location, date, season, and the level of luxury. See below for options and compare which is best for your budget and travel style.

Hotels in Osaka


Hotels in Sendai


Kayak helps you find the best prices for hotels, flights, and rental cars for destinations around the world. Compare prices for multiple destinations when planning your next trip.


Our Analysis
We've analyzed the average and typical hotel prices based on guest reviews, star ratings, and hotel amenities here: Osaka Hotel Prices and Sendai Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Osaka $14
    Sendai $18
Typical Local Transportation Prices in Osaka

Here are some examples of typical transportation prices from actual travelers in Osaka:


  • Subway
    $7.83

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Osaka

Also for Osaka, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Universal Studio Japan Private Transfer : from USJ to Osaka City (One Way): $97
  • Shared Departure Transfer: Osaka City to Osaka Itami Airport: $25
  • Shared Departure Transfer : Osaka City to Kansai International Airport: $68
  • Shared Arrival Transfer: Osaka Itami Airport to Osaka City: $26
  • Shared Arrival Transfer: Osaka Itami Airport to Kyoto City: $68
  • Shared Arrival Transfer : Kansai International Airport to Kyoto City: $68
  • Roundtrip Transfer from Osaka Airport ITM to Arima-Onsen Resorts: $109
  • Private departure transfer from central Osaka city to Itami airport (ITM): $128
  • Private arrival transfer from Kansai airport to Kobe City & Arima Onsen: $94
  • Private arrival Transfer from Osaka Itami Airport(ITM) to central Osaka city: $121
  • Private Transfer from Osaka hotels to Osaka Cruise Port: $72
  • Private Transfer from Osaka city hotels to Osaka Cruise Port: $65

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Sendai

Also for Sendai, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Sendai Airport to/from Sendai City private transfer: $78

Is it cheaper to fly into Osaka or Sendai?

Prices for flights to both Sendai and Osaka change regularly based on dates and travel demand. We suggest you find the best prices for your next trip on Kayak, because you can compare the cost of flights across multiple airlines for your prefered dates.





Food
  • Food Meals for one day
    Osaka $25
    Sendai $33

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Osaka

For Osaka, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:

  • Osaka:Food Tour & Shopping(Grand Opening Limited Time Offer): $26
  • 2-Hour Kuromon Market Walking Street Food Tour: $27
  • Private Takoyaki Cooking Class by Natives in Osaka: $36
  • Japanese home cooking class in Osaka Umeda: $46
  • Osaka Okonomiyaki Cooking Experience!: $50
  • Home Cooking Class: $51
  • Enjoy artistic TEMPURA Cooking Class: $60
  • Ramen and Gyoza Cooking Class in Dotonbori: $62
  • Kimono experience and Japanese home-cooking lesson Osaka: $65
  • Osaka Authentic Tempura & Miso Soup Japan Cooking Class: $66
  • RAMEN and 2 types GYOZA (dumplings) Cooking Class: $66
  • Homemade Gyoza Cooking Class in Osaka: $66

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Osaka $20
    Sendai $18
Typical Entertainment Prices in Osaka

Below are a few sample prices from actual travelers for Osaka's activities, tours, and tickets:


  • Osaka Aquarium (for 2)
    $30

Tours and Activities in Osaka

For Osaka, here are a few prices for actual activities, tours, and tickets provided by various companies:

  • 1-Day walking tour in Osaka:Castle, temples and Ukiyoe: $137
  • 150 mins Deep Samurai Experience near Osaka Castle: $182
  • 2 Hours Private Guided Walking Tour in Osaka: $26
  • 2-Hour Kendo Experience with English Instructor In Osaka Japan: $119
  • 2-Hour Osaka Go-Kart Experience with Local Guide from Namba: $141
  • 3 Days Private Osaka Kyoto and Nara Tour with English Driver: $1,617
  • 3 Hours Historical Tour of Princess Saio on an Electric Cart: $33
  • 3-Hour Osaka Local food Hopping tour in Namba: $40
  • 3/4/5 Hours Private Tour in Osaka with Local Guide: $119
  • 4-Day Private Kyoto Osaka Nara Sightseeing tour with Guide: $2,427
  • 4-Hour Osaka Bike Tour to the Neighborhood of Osaka Castle: $62
  • 4-hour Private Walking Tour to Historical Town of Saiku: $73

Tours and Activities in Sendai

For Sendai, here are a few prices for actual activities, tours, and tickets provided by various companies:

  • Japanese Taiko Drum Experience at Sairi Yashiki : $73
  • Sendai, Okama: Private tour from Sendai city to Okama: $257

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Osaka $12
    Sendai $11

Sample the Local Flavors in Osaka

Here are a few nightlife and alcohol tours and activities from local tour providers in Osaka:

  • Osaka Bar Crawl & International Mixer by Team Wild: $17
  • Osaka Namba Hidden Places Bar Crawl: $17
  • Osaka Pub Crawl and Nightlife Tour: $23
  • Pub Bar Crawl Enjoy Unique Japanese Drinks: $33
  • Pub Bar Crawl Enjoy Unique Japanese Drinks: $34
  • Local Bar Crawl in Dotombori and Uranamba Area: $39
  • Osaka Local Bar Crawl in Dotombori & Uranamba Area: $40
  • 3 Hour Osaka Pub Crawl Weekly Welcome Guided Tour in Namba : $52


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Osaka and Sendai, we can see that Sendai is more expensive. And not only is Osaka much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Osaka would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Osaka and be able to afford a more luxurious travel style by staying in nicer hotels, eating at more expensive restaurants, taking tours, and experiencing more activities. The same level of travel in Sendai would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Sendai than you might in Osaka.

If you're trying to decide if either of these two destinations are within your price range, also see Is Osaka Expensive? and Is Sendai Expensive?.


Which is Bigger, Osaka or Sendai?

Osaka has a larger population, and is about 2 times larger than the population of Sendai. When comparing the sizes of Osaka and Sendai, keep in mind that a larger population does not always imply the destination has more attractions or better activities. So, always research the type of place that you want to visit along with the activities and attractions that interest you.


When is the best time to visit Osaka or Sendai?

Both destinations experience a temperate climate with four distinct seasons. And since both cities are in the northern hemisphere, summer is in July and winter is in January.

Should I visit Osaka or Sendai in the Summer?

Both Sendai and Osaka are popular destinations to visit in the summer with plenty of activities. The summer months attract visitors to Osaka because of the city activities and the family-friendly experiences. Also, the beaches, the city activities, and the family-friendly experiences are the main draw to Sendai this time of year.

In July, Osaka is generally a little warmer than Sendai. Daily temperatures in Osaka average around 28°C (82°F), and Sendai fluctuates around 23°C (73°F).

Osaka usually receives more sunshine than Sendai during summer. Osaka gets 183 hours of sunny skies, while Sendai receives 124 hours of full sun in the summer.

It rains a lot this time of the year in Sendai. It's quite rainy in Osaka. In July, Osaka usually receives around the same amount of rain as Sendai. Osaka gets 157 mm (6.2 in) of rain, while Sendai receives 151 mm (5.9 in) of rain each month for the summer.


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Osaka 28°C (82°F) 
    Sendai 23°C (73°F)

Should I visit Osaka or Sendai in the Autumn?

Both Sendai and Osaka during the autumn are popular places to visit. The city's sights and attractions and the shopping scene are the main draw to Osaka this time of year. Also, many travelers come to Sendai for the city's sights and attractions and the shopping scene.

Osaka is a little warmer than Sendai in the autumn. The daily temperature in Osaka averages around 19°C (66°F) in October, and Sendai fluctuates around 15°C (59°F).

In the autumn, Osaka often gets around the same amount of sunshine as Sendai. Osaka gets 159 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Sendai receives 149 hours of full sun.

Sendai gets a good bit of rain this time of year. It rains a lot this time of the year in Osaka. Osaka usually gets around the same amount of rain in October as Sendai. Osaka gets 108 mm (4.3 in) of rain, while Sendai receives 103 mm (4.1 in) of rain this time of the year.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Osaka 19°C (66°F) 
    Sendai 15°C (59°F)

Should I visit Osaka or Sendai in the Winter?

The winter attracts plenty of travelers to both Osaka and Sendai. Many travelers come to Osaka for the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine. Also, many visitors come to Sendai in the winter for the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine.

Sendai can get quite cold in the winter. In the winter, Osaka is much warmer than Sendai. Typically, the winter temperatures in Osaka in January average around 6°C (42°F), and Sendai averages at about 2°C (35°F).

Osaka usually receives around the same amount of sunshine as Sendai during winter. Osaka gets 140 hours of sunny skies, while Sendai receives 149 hours of full sun in the winter.

In January, Osaka usually receives more rain than Sendai. Osaka gets 46 mm (1.8 in) of rain, while Sendai receives 42 mm (1.7 in) of rain each month for the winter.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Osaka 6°C (42°F) 
    Sendai 2°C (35°F)

Should I visit Osaka or Sendai in the Spring?

The spring brings many poeple to Osaka as well as Sendai. Many visitors come to Osaka in the spring for the activities around the city. Also, most visitors come to Sendai for the beaches and the activities around the city during these months.

In April, Osaka is generally a little warmer than Sendai. Daily temperatures in Osaka average around 15°C (59°F), and Sendai fluctuates around 10°C (51°F).

In the spring, Osaka often gets around the same amount of sunshine as Sendai. Osaka gets 176 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Sendai receives 188 hours of full sun.

Osaka receives a lot of rain in the spring. Osaka usually gets more rain in April than Sendai. Osaka gets 137 mm (5.4 in) of rain, while Sendai receives 94 mm (3.7 in) of rain this time of the year.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Osaka 15°C (59°F) 
    Sendai 10°C (51°F)

Typical Weather for Sendai and Osaka

Osaka Sendai
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 6°C (42°F) 46 mm (1.8 in) 2°C (35°F) 42 mm (1.7 in)
Feb 6°C (43°F) 61 mm (2.4 in) 2°C (35°F) 49 mm (1.9 in)
Mar 9°C (48°F) 99 mm (3.9 in) 5°C (40°F) 68 mm (2.7 in)
Apr 15°C (59°F) 137 mm (5.4 in) 10°C (51°F) 94 mm (3.7 in)
May 20°C (67°F) 140 mm (5.5 in) 15°C (60°F) 111 mm (4.4 in)
Jun 24°C (74°F) 204 mm (8 in) 19°C (66°F) 133 mm (5.2 in)
Jul 28°C (82°F) 157 mm (6.2 in) 23°C (73°F) 151 mm (5.9 in)
Aug 29°C (84°F) 95 mm (3.7 in) 25°C (77°F) 165 mm (6.5 in)
Sep 25°C (77°F) 170 mm (6.7 in) 21°C (69°F) 187 mm (7.4 in)
Oct 19°C (66°F) 108 mm (4.3 in) 15°C (59°F) 103 mm (4.1 in)
Nov 13°C (56°F) 65 mm (2.6 in) 9°C (49°F) 69 mm (2.7 in)
Dec 8°C (47°F) 35 mm (1.4 in) 4°C (40°F) 36 mm (1.4 in)