If you’re looking for the an underrated day trip destination from Osaka, check out Wakayama. 

Picture this: you’re planning your Osaka itinerary and you realize that you’re sick of Universal Studios Japan, you’re bored of the shrines in Kyoto, and you’re tired of feeding deers in Nara. 

Hence, head southwest a little more to visit some of the most sacred sites and beautiful beaches in the whole of Japan. Here are the eight best things to do, the best cafes and restaurants, and our recommended hotel, at Wakayama, Japan. 

What to do in Wakayama?

Wakayama attractions
1. Senjojiki Rock Plateau
2. Engetsu Island
3. Tenjin-zaki Cape
4. Adventure World

Wakayama cafes and restaurants
5. Fukubushi Kagerou Cafe
6. Carosso 
7. Toretore Ichiba

Wakayama hotels
8. Hamachidorinoyu Kaisyu Hotel

Best tourist attractions at Wakayama

1. Senjojiki Rock Plateau 

Located at the far west of Wakayama, Senjojiki Rock Plateau is probably the most Instagrammable spot in the entire city. It’s also our favourite attraction there because you can take so many nice photos.

Translating to “one thousand tatami mats”, the enchanting layers you see on the rocks are a result of years of erosion caused by the waves of the Pacific Ocean.

While the photo at the roadside is more than aesthetic enough for Instagram, we recommend venturing in deeper all the way to the edge of the cliffs, where the even more picturesque spots are.

In addition to taking photos, you can also dine with a view at the nearby restaurant — Kaisen-ya Senjo.

Location: 2927-72, Shirahama, Nishimuro District, Wakayama 649-2211, Japan

2. Engetsu Island

If you love sunsets, you’ll be blown away by the view on the west coast of Wakayama.

Engetsu Island is an uninhabited island with a hole in the middle. Many locals and tourists alike love

To get the best view of Engetsu Island, as well as other photo opportunities nearby, we recommend heading down to anywhere along this stretch of road. You’ll find a few flights of stairs to the shore, where you can have an unobstructed view of the island during sunset.

Location: 500, Shirahama, Nishimuro District, Wakayama 649-2211, Japan (viewing spot, not the island)

3. Tenjin-zaki Cape

Tenjin-zaki Cape might seem like an ordinary cape at first glance, and you’re absolutely right.

The highlight of this attraction is actually the body of water surrounding the cape. On good days, where there are no strong winds and drizzles, the water surrounding Tenjin-zaki Cape is so clear that it’s almost like a mirror.

We recommend visiting during sunset for the best photos.

Location: Tanabe, Wakayama 646-0000, Japan

4. Adventure World

Adventure World Wakayama - panda
One of the rare chances we see a panda eating in an enclosure

Wakayama is well-known as a cultural site with enchanting natural areas. So here’s an underrated thing to do while you’re there — a zoo!

Adventure World isn’t just your regular zoo though.

Enter their Safari World, where animals roam freely in the open space. No nets, no cages, you’ll be able to interact with herbivores and carnivores (in a safe way of course). To explore this area, you can either board the Kenya train or walk — both are free. Alternatively, for a more exclusive adventure, you can top-up for a cart, bicycle or a jeep.

Location: 2399 Katata, Shirahama, Nishimuro District, Wakayama 649-2201, Japan
Opening hours: 10am-5pm

What to eat at Wakayama

5. Fukubushi Kagerou Cafe

Kagerou at Fukubushi Kagerou Cafe in Wakayama
Set B, containing Custard and Fresh Cream, Darjeeling, Pine, Salted Milk, Matcha Tiramisu, and Lemon

If you’re looking for a quaint cafe in Wakayama, head down to Nishimuro for this seaside cafe.

Fukubushi Kagerou Cafe sells kagerou, a speciality in the city, which is essentially a soft cake with cream in the middle.

Each Kagerou is priced from ¥200 per piece, with the premium flavours costing more. To enjoy a variety, opt for either one of their sets, which cost ¥1,200 for six pieces.

Location: 1279-3, Shirahama, Nishimuro District, Wakayama 649-2211, Japan
Opening hours: 8am-6pm

6. Carosso

"Today's Special" - Matsusaka Beef at Wakayama yakiniku restaurant
“Today’s Special” – Matsusaka Beef (¥2,500)

One thing we love about underrated destinations like Wakayama is all the hidden gems you can find. One of the best restaurants in the area is Carosso, a Japanese yakiniku speciality place.

Affordable, yet premium, expect to spend an average of ¥4,000 per person here.

As they are almost always fully booked, you have to make a reservation by calling +81 50-5262-6766.

Location: 510-41, Nakanoshima, Wakayama-shi, Wakayama, 640-8392
Opening hours: 11:30am-2pm, 5-10pm (closed on Wednesday)

7. Toretore Ichiba

grilled scallops at toretore ichiba wakayama
Grilled Scallops

One of the most popular fish markets in Japan, Toretore Ichiba, or Toretore Market, is where you can shop for fresh seafood and eat them on the spot — either as sashimi or grilled.

It’s the perfect fish market for tourists, especially if you’re not fluent in Japanese, as many of their staff can speak basic English.

The most important thing to know about Toretore Ichiba — if you want to dine there, especially if you want to use their charcoal grill, be prepared to pay ¥1,000 per person. As long as you’re sitting in their dining hall, which is a separate area beside the fish market, you will be charged regardless of whether you’re eating. The ticket includes utensils and free flow drinks, including oolong tea, Coca-cola, and more.

Location: 2521 Katata, Shirahama-cho, Nishimuro-gun, Wakayama-ken
Opening hours: 8:30am-6:30pm

Our recommended hotel in Wakayama

8. Hamachidorinoyu Kaisyu Hotel

Living room area in the Wakayama Onsen Hotel

More than just a pitstop, Hamachidorinoyu Kaisyu Hotel is a gorgeous traditional Japanese onsen hotel in Wakayama.

In addition to the comfortable rooms and cosy onsens, you’ll be delighted to learn that the rooms are also equipped with a private onsen.

Visit earlier to enjoy their amenities, and if you’re there before 7pm, you can even enjoy free warabimochi and fishcakes at the lounge area.

Make a reservation in advance on their official website or on Booking.com.

Location: 1698-1, Shirahama, Nishimuro District, Wakayama 649-2211, Japan

Travelling to Japan? Check out our travel itineraries for these cities

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