How to spend three perfect days in Kōbe, Japan

Phillip Tang

Jan 8, 2021 • 5 min read

The heart of Kobe, Japan is its port

The heart of Kobe, Japan is its port © I.Hirama / Getty Images

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Walkable, compact Kōbe is so easy to get to know. Strutting between the mountains and the sea, this cosmopolitan Japanese city near Osaka on the southern side of the main island of Honshū, has a sea-breezy charm.

Accessible via a 30-minute train ride from Osaka – or just 60 minutes by train from Kyoto or 90 from Kansai Airport – Kōbe offers world-renowned cuisine, waterfalls, revolving restaurants and more, with far fewer tourist crowds than neighboring Osaka. Wondering where to start? Here’s our guide to spending three perfect days in Kōbe.

Kobe_Nunobiki Falls.jpg

Day 1: See Kōbe – herb gardens, famous falls and live jazz

Kōbe is a trim package of four strollable central neighborhoods, that are ideal to explore on foot, with plentiful English signposting making navigation easier for visitors. An alternative for less active travelers is to hop on the Kōbe City Loop bus, which links all the city’s key sights including Chinatown and the Waterfront. 

Willing ramblers should start their exploration at Shin-Kobe station, where most people alight the bullet train from Osaka or Tokyo . From here it’s an easy five-minute walk to the ropeway that carries you in a (usually) quiet gondola to the lofty Kobe Nunobiki Herb Gardens with 400m-high views across Kōbe nuzzling against the sea.

Meander back down through greenhouses and landscaped herb- and flower-gardens, pausing occasionally to admire the view and enjoy the free outdoor foot spa, where you can soak tired feet in warm herb-infused waters. If you’re travelling with a special someone, make sure to stop by the “lovers’ bell” and ring it together to ensure a long and happy relationship. Continue on down to Nunobiki Falls – a set of waterfalls that has inspired numerous Japanese artworks and poems (“Which, I wonder, is higher, this waterfall or the fall of my tears.”)

Kobe_Sone jazz.jpg

Back in the center of town, international bars and restaurants abound on its the trim streets of Sannomiya district. Dinner at a convivial izakaya (Japanese pub–restaurant) is a must, sampling local Kōbe delights such as misodare gyoza (dumpling with miso sauce) and sobameshi (a mixture of fried noodles and rice).

Finish the evening at Sone , Kōbe’s top live-jazz bar where eclectic visitors to the port-town have been coming since 1969. Stained glass and ornate tables make for a classy yet casual night watching Japanese musicians get into the swing of things.

Kobe_Sake at Sawanotsuru Museum.jpg

Day 2: Taste Kōbe – local sake and some world-renowned beef

To kickstart Day 2 of your Kōbe tour, take a 15-minute train ride from the downtown area to Nada-gogō district, a major sake brewing center that produces a distinctive, butch-flavored version of the Japanese tipple that is sharp and strong. To sip and run, visit the Hakutsuru Sake Brewery Museum (near Hanshin Sumiyoshi train station) where the history of sake brewing is explained in English, and sake tastings take place in a modern brewery set inside traditional buildings.

For lunch, head back to Sannomiya in central Kōbe and explore the local boulangeries and patisseries. Kōbe loves its bakeries; the city was where bread was first taken seriously in Japan, and Kōbe remains one of the country’s top three bread consumers. Famous Isuzu Bakery has that Japanese touch of blending sweet and savory French-style baked goods. Its iconic lunch snack is ‘curry pan’ – beef curry stuffed into a fluffy crisp doughnut. It might sound a little strange, but it tastes fantastic.

Kobe_Beef.jpg

Another of Kōbe’s specialties and must-tries is its namesake beef, loved worldwide for its tender, melt-in-the-mouth quality. What makes this type of wagyu beef special? It’s the high-grade marbled fat that sizzles when it hits the butter in the pan and the rich, smooth flavor it creates. Only a handful of restaurants outside of Japan can sell the real deal (the name ‘Kōbe beef’ is not protected in many countries). For guaranteed deliciousness, head to a registered Kōbe beef restaurant such as Misono , which invented the Japanese teppanyaki steak (Kobe Beef set-meal upwards of ¥23,000).

Perhaps one last sake to finish off the day? The waterfront Sake Taru Lounge inside the red Kōbe Port Tower offers a tasting experience of local sake with exceptional views out over the sea towards Mount Rokko (giving you a taste of what awaits you tomorrow.) The bar rotates 360 degrees, providing ever-changing panoramic views through its floor-to-ceiling windows.

Kobe_MtRokko.jpg

Day 3: Beyond Kobe – a 10-million-dollar view and rejuvenating onsens

The time has come to ascend the green sentinel looking over Kōbe. Float up Mount Rokko in a cable car for one of the most gorgeous views in Japan. The 10-minute ride is soundtracked by bird song and the rustle of cherry blossom branches from April to June, or burnished autumn leaves in November.

At the top is visual poetry, with the layered mountain greenery and the sparkling white Kōbe cityscape standing out against a smudge of blue sea and sky. Focus into the distance to spot silvery Osaka threaded across the horizon. At sunset, cicadas chirp into life, announcing the coming city lights, which dazzle with a view dubbed the ‘10-million-dollar nightscape’.

Kobe_Arima Onsen.jpg

Cap off your Kōbe trip in Japan’s oldest onsen (hot spring) town. Ropeway carriages slink above the white-blossomed dogwood trees of Mount Rokko in a 12-minute shortcut to Arima Onsen. Check into Arima Onsen ryokan for the traditional Japanese lodging experience complete with sliding doors and rice-straw tatami mats.

Before stripping off, take some time to head out and explore the temples nestled into the hills surrounding the 1,000-year-old town, or meander the pretty laneways lined with wooden shop fronts.

In the resort area, head on a quest for your favorite onsen. Choose between iron-rich Kinsen ‘gold waters’ (actually opaque brown, handy if you are feeling coy) to refresh your skin and muscles; or the clear, carbonate- and radium-rich Ginsen ‘silver waters’ to ease your joints. Or just slip into the onsen attached to your ryokan and tiptoe to your room, refreshed for dinner.

Most ryokan serve a kaiseki set meal of seasonal tidbits in a menagerie of cute dishes that evoke ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ – a fitting end to your time experiencing Kōbe and its surrounds.

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20 AMAZING Things to Do in Kobe, Japan (2023 Guide)

Planning a trip to the beef capital of the country? Don’t miss all the great things to do in Kobe, Japan.

Beef, beef, beef – is that all there is to Kobe? Absolutely not. Kobe has an awesome selection of nature and city activities to satisfy anyone looking for a good time.

In Japan’s southern side of the main island of Honshu is Kobe, its sixth-largest city. Only 30km west of Osaka, Kobe has developed a name for itself among foodies around the world thanks to the infamous Kobe beef.

And while tourists may flock here chasing a taste of a juicy steak, there are a lot of other things to do in Kobe if beef isn’t your thing.

While most people only visit Kobe on a day trip from Osaka or Kyoto, spending a couple of days here will give you time to explore the mountains, the coast and the city in between.

READ MORE: Here’s the ultimate list of best places to visit in Japan !

Things To Do In Kobe Japan

Table of Contents

1) Eat Kobe Beef

2) cross akashi kaikyo bridge, 3) visit the takenaka carpentry tools museum, 4) mount rokko, 5) hike to nunobiki falls, 7) tour a sake brewery, 8) visit the kobe earthquake memorial park and museum, 9) kobe port tower, 10) explore fruit flower park, 11) visit ikuta shrine, 12) visit nankinmachi (chinatown), 13) watch a baseball game, 14) have a night out with some jazz, 15) or check out the jazz festival, 16) visit hyogo museum of art, 17) check out rokko island, 18) attend kobe luminarie, 19) catch a rugby match, 20) explore kobe harborland, the best hostel in kobe – yume nomad, the best budget accommodation for couples – hotel meet me kobe motomachi, best mid-range hotel – seaside hotel maiko villa kobe, best luxury hotel in kobe – hotel la suite kobe harborland, best restaurants in kobe, top things to do in kobe, japan.

Since the city is sandwiched between the coast and the mountains and is overall a vibrant and exciting city to visit, there are plenty of awesome things to do for city or nature lovers.

From the views at the top of the iconic Kobe Port Tower, to the world famous Kobe beef, to all the museums and day trips into nature, there is something here for everyone.

As if it weren’t already blatantly obvious, the biggest of all Kobe attractions is of course what is considered some of the most delicious steaks in the world due to its flavour, tenderness, and fatty, well-marbled texture.

For foodies out there who are passionate about their beef, the first thing to know about Kobe beef is that it’s actually a brand name – not a breed or type of beef.

The brand is maintained by the Kobe Beef Marketing & Distribution Promotion Association and was formed to protect the integrity of the brand.

Kobe beef is a wagyu beef from the Tajima strain of Japanese Black cattle born, raised and fed in Japan’s Hyogo prefecture. The Association sets out a specific set of rules for raising cattle and for beef to qualify as Kobe beef, there are many different criteria including:

  • the BMS level must be 6 or higher on  Japan’s 12-point scale
  • the meat quality score must be a 4 or 5 (out of 5)
  • the gross weight of beef from the animal must be 470 kg or less.

There’s also a bit of a myth around the cattle getting massages while being raised. While some ranchers may practice this, it’s more likely that there’s been a mistranslation of the practice of brushing Kuroge Washu to remove dirt in order to reduce stress.

You cannot miss out on the most delicious part of your Kobe sightseeing adventure!

Definitely plan a night to visit this awesome restaurant (featured on Klook!) that has friendly staff and real Kobe beef!

Kobe Beef

At a length of almost four kilometres, the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge is the world’s longest suspension bridge and the tallest of its kind in Japan.

Located in the west of Kobe, stands at a height of 283 metres and straddles the Akashi Strait.

While you can’t exactly cross the bridge itself, the Maiko Marine Promenade has observatory hallways under the bridge’s platform. You can access the platform via an elevator from the base of the bridge on the Kobe side.

The walkaway is nearly 50 metres above ground and spans some 320 metres.

The floors are made of glass to give a stunning and panoramic view over the straight so those afraid of heights should beware of getting some serious triggers.

Akashi Kaikyo Bridge

For lovers of the ancient world wondering what to do in Kobe, this museum is for you!

Takenaka Carpentry Tools Museum showcases a range of ancient tools and relics including axes fashioned from stone that would have existed in the Jomon Period.

You will also find more modern artifacts on display and can browse through some of the interactive exhibits here that will take you back in time.

It is located right next to Shin Kobe Station so it’s easy to reach by public transport.

  • Address:  7 Chome-5-1 Kumochicho, Chuo Ward
  • Opening hours: every day from 9:30 AM – 4:30 PM (closed on Mondays)
  • Price: 1200 yen

READ MORE: Check out our complete travel to Japan guide .

The highest peak in the Rokko mountain range, Mount Rokko is 931 metres high and provides the serene and beautiful green backdrop to the city.

Nature lovers keen to get out of the hustle to explore what to see in Kobe outside of four walls should hike up in the late afternoon to enjoy a spectacular sunset or at night. It’s truly one of the most beautiful places to visit in Kobe.

For those not so keen on hiking, there’s a cable car that takes 10 minutes to get to the top for 590 yen one way or 1,000 yen for a round trip ticket.

Kobe Night View

It’s crazy to think that you can find a blissful piece of nature amongst the wild city. Near Shin-Jobe station is a few waterfalls that are relatively easy to get to.

Ontaki Falls is the largest and to get there, there is a pleasant hike along a well-made path. From there, you can continue hiking up to a viewpoint of Kobe before reaching a reservoir. The viewpoint is worth the hike, it should be on top of your list of things to see in Kobe.

The entire area is also connected by the Shin Kobe Ropeway, a cable car that links a few of the points around Mount Rokko.

Riding the Shin Jobe Ropeway is a great way to see some of the surrounding scenery.

6) Visit Arima Onsen And Give Your Body Rest

If you’re already in the area visiting Mount Rokko and have just enjoyed a stunning sunset, finish off your evening and soak your feet at one of the onsens in Arima Onsen.

Arima Onsen is a popular hot spring town on the opposite side of Mount Rokko. With a thousand-year-old history, the town is considered one of Japan’s oldest hot spring resorts.

In town, you’ll find two types of hot spring waters: Kinsen (gold water) which is a brown coloured water with iron deposits and is said to be good for skin ailments and muscle pain; and Ginsen (silver water) which is clear water that contains radium and carbonate and is said to cure various muscle and joint ailments.

There are two public bathhouses or several ryokan that have onsens for visitors to use. We recommend visiting the public bathhouses (they’re cheaper) unless you plan on staying in a ryokan.

Kin no Yu is the larger of the public bathhouses and features two indoor kinsen water baths of varying temperatures for each gender. Outside the bathhouse are a free foot onsen and a drinking fountain fed by thermal waters.

  • Address: 833 Arimacho, Kita
  • Opening hours: every day from 8 AM – 10 PM (closed the second and fourth Tuesday each month.
  • Admission: 650 yen or 850 yen for entry to both Gin no Yu and Kin no Yu.

Gin no Yu is located further back in the town and only has one large indoor bath for each gender with ginsen water.

  • Address: 1039-1 Arimacho, Kita
  • Opening hours: every day from 9 AM – 9 PM (closed the first and third Tuesday each month)
  • Price: 550 yen or 850 yen for entry to both Gin no Yu and Kin no Yu.

READ MORE: Check out all these amazing things to do in Japan !

Besides its beef, Kobe is also famous for sake , a Japanese rice wine made with water from the mountains nearby.

Be sure to visit the main tourist information office along your Kobe travels to pick up a map showing you the locations of the different breweries offering tours.

Some of. the popular breweries are Sawa-no-Tsuru Museum, Hakutsuru Sake Brewery Museum and Kiku-Masamune Sake Brewery Company .

The breweries usually offer a guided tour explaining the history of sake and usually have some samples for you to try too!

Sawanotsuru Sake Museum

  • Address: 1 Chome-3-29番1号 Oishi Minamimachi, Nada Ward
  • Opening hours: every day from 10 AM – 4 PM (closed on Wednesdays)
  • Price: Free of charge

Hakutsuru Sake Brewery Museum

  • Address: 4 Chome-5-5 Sumiyoshi Minamimachi, Higashinada Ward
  • Opening hours: every day from 9:30 AM – 4:30 PM

Kiku-Masamune Sake Museum

  • Address: 1 Chome-9-1 Uozaki Nishimachi, Higashinada Ward

Sake Museum Things To Do In Kobe

Kobe was hit by the Great Hanshin Awaji Earthquake on 17 January 1995 resulting in the death of more than 5,000 people and the destruction of tens of thousands of homes.

The Museum was opened in 2002 to commemorate the tragic event and to provide resources and education about earthquakes and disaster prevention.

The museum has a theatre that shows a documentary about the recovery process after earthquakes as well as images of the destructiveness of them.

Kids can also enjoy the museum via interactive games aimed at teaching about disaster prevention.

There is also a Kobe Earthquake Memorial Park located downtown near Harborland and the Kobe Maritime Museum.

Kobe Earthquake Memorial Park is a small green space that commemorates the people who died during the earthquake.

  • Address: 1 Chome-5-2 Wakinohamakaigandori, Chuo Ward
  • Opening hours: 9:30 am to 5:30 pm daily. Closed Mondays.
  • Price: 600 yen

Considered the national symbol of the city, Kobe Port Tower is definitely a must-visit Kobe attraction.

The Kobe Port Tower dates back to 1962 and was the first of its kind in Japan built using a complex series of pipes.

At a height of 108 metres, there are several observatories here that offer more scenic views over central Kobe. A Kobe must see!

  • Address: 5-5 Hatobacho, Chuo Ward
  • Opening hours: every day from 9 AM – 8:30 PM
  • Price: 700 yen

Kobe Port Tower

One of the charming Kobe, Japan points of interest is this Fruit Flower Park that has all different species of flowers all around.

Fruit Flower Park is a popular spot for Japanese weddings. Head here on the weekend to spot some dressed up couples taking their wedding photos.

If you’re visiting Kobe in spring, be sure to come by Fruit Flower Park and witness the 10,000 tulips that blossom annually as well as the infamous cherry blossoms.

Thought to be dated back to around 201 AD and one of the oldest in Japan, Ikuta Shrine is a wooden shrine closely linked to the sake producing industry.

Be sure to catch the two Noh plays regularly performed at the Ikuta Shrine for insight on culture and arts in Japan.

If you’re lucky, you might also witness some wedding ceremonies taking place at the shrine.

  • Address:  1 Chome-2-1 Shimoyamatedori, Chuo Ward
  • Opening hours: every day from 8 AM – 5 PM

This is a great lunch stop if you want to take a little break from Japanese cuisine and feast on some other Asian favourites.

Kobe’s Chinatown is one main street filled with plenty of restaurants, souvenir shops and supermarkets.

Be Kobe

Kobe is home to two baseball teams – Orix Buffaloes and Hanshin Tiers. The Tigers is the more famous team of the two and is also the oldest and one of the most popular teams in the country.

Since 1936, the Tigers have been playing at Koshien Stadium in Nishinomiya and are a very supported team. Here, you’ll find Japanese baseball fans to be loud and vocal with songs and chants throughout the entire game – completely different to how Japanese are typically in their daily lives.

You don’t have to be a baseball fan to enjoy yourself here – the experience is for old and young alike and is definitely one of the most fun things to do in Kobe.

  • Website for booking tickets: https://www.hanshin.co.jp/koshien/global/en/ticket/
  • Price: From 2,200 yen

Baseball Kobe

Kobe has a claim to being the home of jazz in Japan and Sone Jazz Bar is one of the best live music venues in the city where you’ll find some awesome Jazz musicians.

If you’ve never experienced a jazz bar before, this is the perfect place to begin your initiation. The building itself also some historical significance as the owner’s grandmother originally opened a ryokan here in 1960.

Today, visitors can enjoy nightly sets in a spacious room elegantly decorated with period furniture and an ornate bar with stained glass fittings. The restaurant offers a set course as well as an a la carte menu and a full range of drinks.

  • Website: https://www.kobe-sone.com/schedule/
  • Opening hours: 5 PM – 12 AM. Live performances at 6:50 PM, 8 PM, 9 PM and 10:20 PM.
  • Price : 1,140 yen cover charge which includes up to four live performances.

Jazz Music What To Do In Kobe

The annual Kobe Jazz Street Festival was started in 1981 and is held every autumn in October.

Historically, Kobe was a routine stop for ships and ocean liners so the city was the perfect place for jazz to flourish. Duke Ellinton and Louis Armstrong even visited during the post-war jazz boom!

The festival commences with a parade down Kitanozaka Dori with non-stop events and fun held over two days.

  • Website: https://www.kobejazzstreet.gr.jp/

Don’t miss the beautiful Hyogo Museum of Art if you are a fan of modern art. Located on the waterfront, the museum was built as part of the Earthquake recovery and is the largest of its kind in Western Japan.

Throughout the year, you can find various exhibitions of prints, paintings, sculptures and other artwork by Japanese and international artists.

Kobe City Museum is another great option where you can see art, history, and archaeology all mixed together.

  • Address: 1 Chome-1-1 Wakinohamakaigandori,
  • Opening hours: every day from 10 AM – 6 PM (until 8 PM on Fridays and Saturdays during special exhibitions). Closed Monday.
  • Price: 510 yen (permanent exhibition), admission fee varies for special exhibitions.

Located in the Port of Kobe, Rokko Island is a major artificial island with hotels, markets, an amusement park, schools, the Kobe Fashion Museum among other things that makes it one of the best Kobe, Japan points of interest.

The island is only 3.4 km by 2 km but was one of the hardest-hit areas during the Great Hanshin Earthquake and is certainly worth a visit.

One of the main festivals held in the city is held annually in early December and is pretty much a huge celebration of spectacular and colourful lights.

The festival pays tribute to the Hanshin Earthquake victims as the lights are said to represent the life of someone who died.

If you’re visiting Kobe during this time, don’t miss out!

Rugby is a popular spot in Japan, and one of the best things to do in Kobe is attend a match.

Kobe Misaki Stadium is where you can see all the games, and this is where the 2019 Rugby World Cup was hosted.

That was the first time that the Rugby World Cup has been held in an Asian country, so it was an exciting time for locals in Kobe.

Even though the Rugby World Cup is over, the Kobelco Kobe Steelers, sometimes just called “Kobe Steel”, is the local rugby team. Head over to Kobe Misaki Stadium to watch an exciting game!

  • Location: Kobe Misaki Stadium, 1 Chome-2-2 Misakicho, Hyogo Ward
  • Kobe Steel Website : https://www.ultimaterugby.com/kobelco-steelers

Rugby World Cup

This is the main entertainment district of Kobe City, so it’s a fun place to stop for some drinks, food, games, and shopping.

There is a South Mall and a North Mall for all your shopping needs. There is also lovely waterfront views where you can see Kobe Port Tower.

Also consdier riding the giant Ferris wheel or visiting the Kobe Maritime Museum.

Kobe Maritime Museum is one of the best museums in the city. It highlights the history and culture of Kobe city as it became a prominent port of Japan.

Kobe Harborland is one of the most visited areas of the city center, so chances are you’ll pass through here while sightseeing anyway!

Kobe Travel Guide

We’ve put together this short and sweet Kobe travel guide to help you make the most of your time in this city complete with where to stay in Kobe and some great restaurant recommendations.

Best Accommodation – Where To Stay In Kobe

Whether you’re a budget backpacker, a mid-range traveller or someone with some serious cash to spend, accommodation in Kobe city is plentiful and there’s something to suit every budget.

We’ve picked some awesome places to stay that are close to some of the main stations as well as other convenient and sightseeing spots around Kobe.

Yume Nomad is a quirky guesthouse that took a 50-year-old building and renovated it in the most stylish and artistic fashion.

The hostel offers a selection of private rooms or a mixed dorm room. Dorm rooms here are affordable and among the cheapest in Japan.

Bathrooms are quite small to just keep in this mind if you’re someone who prefers a larger bathing space.

With a lounge room and kitchen for guests to use, it’s a bit more social than other hostels you’ll come across in Japan. The accommodation is basic and simple so if you’re a no-frills traveller who just needs a bed to sleep in, there’s no doubt that you’ll have fun staying here!

This hotel is a great and affordable little gem with all the basics for couples looking for budget accommodation.

The rooms and bathroom are spacious by Japanese standards, beds are clean and you even get a big-screen TV. Expect uncomplicated, basic and satisfactory amenities.

The hotel is in a great location right near Kobe Port and a 10-minute walk to the Motomachi JR Station. The area is fairly quiet and peaceful with a big Family Mart nearby. You will also find plenty of restaurants and shops within walking distance.

Breakfast isn’t typically included in the price of the room and is a mix of Western and Japanese cuisines. We recommend saving yourself and heading out to feast elsewhere throughout your stay in Kobe.  

The hotel is definitely good value for money given a private room between two is almost the same as two beds in many of the dorm rooms around Kobe.

For a room with a view, it doesn’t get much better than this stunning Seaside Hotel. Only a short walk from JR Maiko Station, the hotel is situated on a hill but has an elevator that brings you up from the road to save your tired legs.

Rooms are large, clean, offer all the basics that you will need and more. Beds are pretty firm here (though still comfortable) so if you’re someone looking for super soft beds to sleep in, this might not be the place for you.

The hotel offers buffet breakfast and dinner but we recommend eating out at the many restaurants in Kobe instead. The hotel also has access to an onsen with a good rate for guests from hotel so be sure to check that out at the end of a long day of Kobe sightseeing.  

Tip: Make sure you ask for a room with a sea view to get some of the best seats in the house.  

For those with a budget to spoil themselves a little, look no further. This hotel is the epitome of luxury with its grand and stunning design and is on par with some of the most luxurious hotels in the world. The hotel

The rooms are ridiculously spacious, especially for Japan, and have been tastefully decorated to be stylish and modern without being too over the top. If you get yourself a room with a view, you can enjoy a stunning and expansive view of the harbour.

Rooms are equipped with large comfortable beds, a sofa and other seats as well as a massive flat-screen TV and a minibar for those wanting to spend a little more time in than out. The bathroom is also large and features your own private hot tub!

Hotel La Suite features a couple of swimming pools, an on-site restaurant, room service and concierge. It’s in a great location and close to some popular landmarks such as The Former Foreign Settlement of Kobe and Tor Road.

As you already know, this city is famous for its Kobe beef so we’re not surprised that you’re searching for some of the best places to try it.

If all you care about is having the best of the best and budget isn’t a factor, visit Kobe Steak Restaurant Royal Mouriya – the number one restaurant in Kobe for good reason. The dishes here are French-inspired and the selection of food is fairly limited so be sure to check out the menu before heading there and definitely make a reservation.

For a Kobe twist on a well-known dish, check out Yoshoku no Asahi , a restaurant serving Bifkatsu – the version of the traditionally crumbed pork cutlet Tonkatsu. The restaurant is pretty popular and can get busy to head there early.

Tired of Kobe beef and want to return back to some good ol’ ramen? For under 1000 yen, you can dig into a delicious bowl of ramen. Ramen Taro serves ramen with a mild and tasty kimchi topping as well as your other familiar toppings in a yummy thick broth.

Since we’re suckers for Vietnamese food, we can’t help but shout out to Thang Cafe for offering some non-Japanese Asian cuisine that is tasty, filling and fresh.

DISCLAIMER: Some of the links in this article are affiliate links, which means if you book accommodation, tours or buy a product, we will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. These commissions help us keep creating more free travel content to help people plan their holidays and adventures. We only recommend the best accommodations, tours and products that ourselves or our fantastic editorial team have personally experienced, and regularly review these. Thanks for your support, kind friend!

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About the Author - Amanda Tran

I'm Amanda Tran, a young Aussie travel writer exploring the world one adventure at a time. I run Explore Wider and am a huge lover of nature, landscapes, food and adrenalin. I share my experiences through photos, videos and fun stories with the aim of inspiring adventurous, affordable and sustainable travel. Having lived in Japan, I am the NOMADasaurus expert guide on travelling this beautiful country, along with Australian road trips (I've done them all), Asia trips and plenty more. Follow me on Instagram .

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2 thoughts on “20 AMAZING Things to Do in Kobe, Japan (2023 Guide)”

Thanks for sharing the amazing tips. I will surely try this.

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must visit in kobe japan

Kobe (�_��, Kōbe) is the capital of Hyogo Prefecture and one of Japan's ten largest cities . Located between the sea and the Rokko mountain range, Kobe is also considered one of Japan's most attractive cities.

Kobe has been an important port city for many centuries. Its port was among the first to be opened to foreign trade in the 19th century alongside the ports of Yokohama , Nagasaki , Hakodate and Niigata.

In 1995, Kobe was hit by the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake , which killed over 5000 people and destroyed tens of thousands of buildings. Today the city is completely rebuilt, and few signs of the terrible event remain.

Top attractions in Kobe

must visit in kobe japan

Kobe Beef •

must visit in kobe japan

Arima Onsen •

must visit in kobe japan

Earthquake Museum •

must visit in kobe japan

Nunobiki Ropeway

must visit in kobe japan

Sorakuen Garden

must visit in kobe japan

Mount Rokko

must visit in kobe japan

Sake Breweries

must visit in kobe japan

Akashi Kaikyo Bridge

must visit in kobe japan

Hyogo Museum of Art

must visit in kobe japan

Kobe Harborland

must visit in kobe japan

Kobe City Museum

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Meriken Park

must visit in kobe japan

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Home » Travel Guides » Japan » 15 Best Things to Do in Kobe (Japan)

15 Best Things to Do in Kobe (Japan)

The city of Kobe is located on the island of Honshu and is known for being one of the most vibrant cities in Japan. The city is located on a scenic harbor and also has its own mountain which offers sweeping views across the region.

Kobe is also known for its devastating earthquake which hit in 1995 and razed parts of the city to the ground, and now you can visit a range of memorials that are dedicated to honoring those who lost their lives during this challenging period of Kobe’s history.

As well as monuments and memorials you can also check out scenic gardens, impressive waterfalls, and of course try the city’s most famous foodstuff – the toothsome Kobe beef.

Here are the 15 best things to do in Kobe …

1. Visit the Takenaka Carpentry Tools Museum

Takenaka Carpentry Tools Museum

The Takenaka Carpentry Tools Museum is a great spot if you want to know more about ancient tools that would have been used in Japan in the days of old.

There are a range of relics on show here which include axes fashioned from stone which would have existed in the Jomon Period.

There are also more modern artifacts on show and you can also try a range of interactive exhibits here to make you feel as if you have gone back in time.

2. Walk across Akashi Kaikyo Bridge

Akashi Kaikyo Bridge

Akashi Kaikyo Bridge is located in west of Kobe and has the claim to fame of being the tallest bridge in Japan of its kind.

It stands at a height of some 283 meters and straddles the Akashi Strait.

To check out this amazing feat of engineering you need to head to Maiko Marine Promenade and you can cross a walkway here which is 47 meters above the ground and spans some 320 meters.

One thing to note here however is that the floors are made of glass to give you panoramic views over the strait, so make sure you have a head for heights before you visit!

3. Try the local food

Kobe Beef, Japan

Kobe is known for one foodstuff more than any other which is the famous Kobe beef.

This beef is known for being so delicious as it is marbled with fat which makes it tender and juicy, but one thing to keep in mind is that it is not cheap if you eat it in restaurants.

Other top dishes in Kobe include sobameshi which is an unusual mix of fried rice and fried noodles and offers you a cheaper option if you want to dine out in Kobe.

4. Explore Oji Zoo

Oji Zoo, Kobe

If you are traveling with younger visitors then you may want to head to Oji Zoo which is one of the main zoos in Kobe.

Here you will find a range of animals and one of the best things about the zoo is that it also has an amusement park attached.

This has rides which are suitable for young children so with that in mind this makes a good family day out.

One thing to keep in mind is that some of the enclosures here are a little small by Western standards, so you may wish to skip a visit here on those grounds, or just visit the amusement park portion of the facility.

5. Climb Mount Rokko

Mount Rokko

Mount Rokko, also known as Rokko-san is one of the premium attractions in Kobe and you can either walk up the mountain or take a cable car to the top.

Some people choose to hike to the top as part of a day trip but the big draw here is really the night views which are said to be one of the Three Great Night Views in the whole of Japan.

Once at the top you can look out over gorgeous Osaka Bay and also enjoy the scenic Rock Garden that is located here.

6. Tour a sake brewery

Hakutsuru Sake Brewery Museum

Kobe is famous for its sake which is a kind of Japanese rice wine which is made with water from the nearby mountains.

There are a number of different breweries dotted around town which you can tour and there is a good map which will show you the different locations that is available from the main tourist information office.

Some of these include Sawa-no-Tsuru Museum as well as Hakutsuru Sake Brewery Museum and Kiku-Masamune Sake Brewery Company.

Many of these companies offer you a guided tour to explain the history of sake and you can also sample a range of blends.

7. Explore the Fruit Flower Park

Fruit Flower Park, Kobe

The Fruit Flower Park is a charming attraction in Kobe and is the ideal spot to visit if you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city center.

There are flowers of all different species all over the park and this is a popular spot for traditional Japanese weddings, so you may get to check out couples dressed in wedding attire taking photographs here.

If possible try and come here in the spring time as some 10,000 tulips bloom here every year and you can also check out the opulent cherry blossom.

8. Attend Kobe Luminarie

Kobe Luminarie

Kobe Luminarie is one of the main festivals held in town and usually takes place annually in early December.

The festival is basically a riot of lights of different colors which is spectacular to see but which also has a deeper and more moving meaning.

The lights are said to represent the life of someone who died during the Hanshin Earthquake that hit Kobe in 1995 and this is a tribute to that dark period in the city’s history.

If you are in town at this time then make sure not to miss it.

9. Visit Nunobiki Herb Garden

Nunobiki Herb Garden

Nunobiki Herb Garden spans an impressive 40 acres and is located at the stunning Mount Rokko.

To get to the garden you need to take a cable car and once there you can spend time exploring this quirky and engaging attraction.

The garden is dotted with some 200 different kinds of herbs and you can also explore greenhouses and exhibitions that tell you all about the various varieties of herbs used in Japanese cookery.

10. Check out the Tetsujin 28 Statue

Tetsujin 28 Statue

The Tetsujin 28 Statue is basically a large robot which was used when Kobe was crippled by an earthquake in the 1990s.

After the robot rebuilt much of the Nagata ward, it was put on display as a reminder of this dark period of Kobe’s history and also its subsequent revival.

If you like robotics then it is well worth checking out.

11. Explore Kobe Maritime Museum and Kawasaki Good Times World

Kobe Maritime Museum

The Kobe Maritime Museum and the Kawasaki Good Times World are actually two separate attractions located inside one main building.

The Kobe Maritime Museum has a range of different model ships and you can also learn more about the history of the maritime industry in this part of Japan.

If you like motorcycles then you need to check out Kawasaki Good Times World which will tell you how the Kawasaki industry got its start and you can even tour a Shinkansen high speed train here as well as some models of airplanes.

12. Visit the Port of Kobe Earthquake Memorial Park

Port of Kobe Earthquake Memorial Park

In January 1995 an earthquake hit Kobe which was one of the strongest ever to hit Japan.

6,000 residents in Kobe were killed and 300,000 buildings were razed to the ground.

If you want to know more about the earthquake then you can visit the Port of Kobe Earthquake Memorial Park and you watch videos of the devastation as well as tour a range of galleries which include artifacts found in the rubble.

Part of the docks here have been left much as they would have been after the earthquake hit which really gives you an idea of the damage that Kobe endured.

13. Admire the Nunobiki Falls

Nunobiki Falls

Kobe is primarily thought of as a cosmopolitan city but it also has a range of gorgeous natural attractions that you can easily visit as part of a day trip.

These include the Nunobiki Falls which is actually a series of waterfalls which dip down the mountain side in four separate sections.

Throughout the ages in Japan artists have taken inspiration from this beautiful natural attraction and you can even find some stone tablets here which are an ode to the falls.

One thing to note is that you will need to trek along a path that stretches some 400 meters to get to the falls which is very steep in parts.

14. Visit Ikuta Shrine

Ikuta Shrine

Ikuta Shrine is thought to date from around 201 AD and is made of wood.

It is also closely linked to the sake producing industry in Kobe and this makes it a fascinating place to come and feel as if you have been transported back in time.

The shrine is also encircled by a forest which is made up of impressive camphor trees and this makes it the perfect spot to relax and unwind after a long day of sightseeing.

15. Scale Kobe Port Tower

Kobe Port Tower

Kobe Port Tower is the place to come if you want to get a look at what many locals think of as the national symbol of the city.

The tower dates from 1962 and was the first structure of its kind to be built in Japan using a complex series of pipes.

The tower stands at a height of some 108 meters and you can check out a range of observatories here that let you look out over the port of Kobe.

15 Best Things to Do in Kobe (Japan):

  • Visit the Takenaka Carpentry Tools Museum
  • Walk across Akashi Kaikyo Bridge
  • Try the local food
  • Explore Oji Zoo
  • Climb Mount Rokko
  • Tour a sake brewery
  • Explore the Fruit Flower Park
  • Attend Kobe Luminarie
  • Visit Nunobiki Herb Garden
  • Check out the Tetsujin 28 Statue
  • Explore Kobe Maritime Museum and Kawasaki Good Times World
  • Visit the Port of Kobe Earthquake Memorial Park
  • Admire the Nunobiki Falls
  • Visit Ikuta Shrine
  • Scale Kobe Port Tower

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15 Things to do in Kobe, Japan

11/01/2023 By Traveling Canucks Leave a Comment Categories: Japan Kobe Popular Rugby World Cup Travel Stories Trip Ideas

Kobe Harborland night scene, Kobe Port Tower, things to do in Kobe, Japan

Things to do in Kobe, Japan

While it may not have the prestige and quirkiness of Tokyo , or the history and culture of Kyoto , the city of Kobe deserves a spot on your Japan travel itinerary. In this Kobe travel guide, we share some of the fun things to do in Kobe, from dipping your toes in ancient hot springs to sampling the delicious wagyu beef that shares its name. 

If this is your first time learning about the city of Kobe, you are not alone.

Kobe is not typically ranked high on the list of places to visit in Japan . It’s often overlooked and most certainly underrated. We hope to change that with this Kobe blog post.

Located 30 km (19 miles) west of Osaka, many visitors will travel to Kobe as a day trip from Osaka or Kyoto. If you don’t have a lot of time, this might be your best option.

When we visited Japan back in 2009, that was our approach. We made Kyoto our home base and took day trips to Kobe, Osaka, Nara and Hiroshima. The Japanese rail system is fast and efficient, so it’s easy to cover a lot of ground.

However, if you have a couple of days in Kobe, you’ll find plenty of fun and interesting things to keep you busy and entertained. This blog post highlights the things we did during our three days in Kobe .  

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Table of Contents

Related post – 25 Japan travel tips for first timers

Kobe beef street food in Kobe Chinatown, things to do in Kobe Japan

1. Try some delicious Kobe Beef

First on the list of things to do in Kobe is to indulge in the delicacy that shares it’s name – Kobe beef.

Unless, of course, you don’t eat meat. If that’s you, skip to the next recommendation.

Kobe is famous for wagyu beef , arguably the finest cut of beef in the world, which comes from the Tajima strain of Japanese Black cattle. People travel from far and wide to taste this mouth-watering, perfectly-marbled beef. 

Similar to drinking Champagne in Champagne, France or sipping port wine in Porto , Portugal, you must try Kobe Beef in Kobe. There are specific rules about what beef can be classified as true Kobe Beef and Kobe is where you’ll find the real deal.

The moment you step off the train at Kobe-Sannomiya Station you are reminded that Kobe Beef is a big deal in these parts. Signs and advertisements are scattered throughout the city promoting a variety of ways to indulge yourself, from Kobe beef teppanyaki to Kobe beef sushi.

Kobe beef is an expensive cut of meat , so your travel budget will dictate the best way to experience this celebrated Japanese cuisine. High-end steakhouses offer multi-course meals that serve a variety of cuts and styles of wagyu beef . Go ahead and splurge; you’re worth it!

Related – Beginner’s guide to eating food in Japan  

must visit in kobe japan

Most restaurants that serve Kobe beef will have a black cow statue outside the restaurant. This is the Japanese Black, which is the breed of Japanese beef cattle known as wagyu. 

Kobe beef sushi at ramen restaurant in Kobe, Japan

Kobe beef sushi

Many ramen and sushi restaurants in Kobe will serve Kobe beef sushi. If you’re not interested in dropping big coin at a fancy Kobe beef restaurant, beef sushi is an inexpensive way to sample the goods.

A single piece of Kobe beef nigiri costs 800 Yen (approx $10.00 CAD).

kobe beef ramen, things to do in Kobe Japan

Kobe Beef Ramen

There are many ways to get the tasty wagyu in your belly. The above was captured at a small ramen restaurant in Kobe that was recommended by friends.

This miso ramen dish is served with four different ways to eat Kobe beef .  

photo of Kobe beef ramen Yazawa near Kobe-Sannomiya in Kobe, Japan

Above is a photo of Kobe beef ramen Yazawa . It’s small, so you might miss it. 

must visit in kobe japan

2. Kobe Port Tower

The most recognizable landmark in Kobe is the Kobe Port Tower. The 354 foot tower has multiple observation floors that offer 360 degree panoramic views of the city, harbor and Mount Rokko.  

Kobe Port Tower is open year round. Depending on when you travel to Kobe, the best time to visit the Port Tower observation deck is just before sunset. The city sparkles at night. 

Admission to the Port Tower is 700 yen for adults ($9.00 CAD) and 300 yen for children ($4.00). 

More info about the Kobe Tower here .

must visit in kobe japan

3. Meriken Park

Meriken Park is a waterfront park located in the Kobe port area. It is home to some of Kobe’s most iconic architecture, including the Kobe Port Tower, Kobe Maritime Museum (pictured above) and Meriken Park Oriental Hotel . 

The Kobe Maritime Museum is also home to Kawasaki Good Times World , a museum dedicated to the 100+ year history of Kawasaki and it’s many products, including Shinkansen trains, jet planes, helicopters and motorcycles. More info about the museum here .

You will also find the Port of Kobe Earthquake Memorial Park on the east side of Meriken Park .

The Kobe Japan earthquake, or Great Hanshin earthquake, occurred on January 17, 1995 in the southern part of Hyogo Prefecture. The earthquake killed 5,378 people, damaged or destroyed 152,000 buildings, and is said to the most expensive earthquake ever to strike an urban area [ source ]. 

Mosaic Ferris Wheel at Kobe Harborland, Things to do in Kobe with Kids

4. Mosaic Ferris Wheel

If you’re visiting Kobe with kids, the Mosaic Ferris Wheel at Kobe Harborland is a fun activity. Similar to the observation deck at the Port Tower, the Mosaic Big Ferris Wheel offers 360 degree views of the waterfront, port, city and mountains. 

The Kobe Big Ferris Wheel operates from 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM.

Each ride costs 800 yen for adults ($10.00 CAD). The air conditioned gondolas can fit up to four people.

All smiles inside the Mosaic Ferris Wheel at Kobe Harborland

All smiles inside the Mosaic Ferris Wheel at Harborland.

Views of the Kobe Port Tower and Mount Rokko from inside the Mosaic Ferris Wheel, things to do in Kobe Japan

Panoramic views of the Port Tower and Mt. Rokko from inside the Mosaic Ferris Wheel.

Mosaic Ferris Wheel at night, Kobe Harborland night photography

 Mosaic Ferris Wheel has over 120,000 LEDs that put on a show at night. 

must visit in kobe japan

5. Kobe Harborland

Kobe Harborland is a large shopping complex located on the waterfront across from the port, facing Kobe Port Tower and Meriken Park Oriental Hotel.

Harborland has become one of Kobe’s top tourist attractions with over 200 stores, restaurants, museums and entertainment. 

If you only have one night in Kobe, we recommend you visit Kobe Harborland and dine at one of the waterfront restaurants at Mosaic. The Fisherman’s Market at Kobe Mosaic is quite popular.

The Mosaic boardwalk is arguably the best place in Kobe to watch the sunset. 

Kobe Harborland is home to Anpanman Theme park and Kobe Anpanman Children’s Museum , located behind the Mosaic Ferris Wheel. It also has video arcades and games room, so you’re kids will have plenty to keep them entertained. 

While you’re in the neighborhood, take a stroll down Kobe Gaslight Street and check out the 9th-century red brick warehouses called Renga Soko .

must visit in kobe japan

We ate dinner at the conveyor belt sushi restaurant at Kobe Harborland (also called rotation sushi, sushi train  and  kaiten sushi) . 

It’s a fun and easy way to sample a variety of sushi. Not only does the sushi come out quickly, you can actually see the items as they pass your table. This is ideal for first timers who are nervous about trying sushi and raw fish for the first time.

Related – Your travel guide to eating Japanese Food in Japan

must visit in kobe japan

6. Kobe Bay Cruise

Get a different perspective of this bustling port city by taking a Kobe Bay Cruise . Cruises sail around the bay and last about 40 minutes.

The boat is docked at Meriken Park beside the red Port Tower. See photo above. You can purchase tickets directly at the dock. Boats depart every hour, so you have options. 

Another option is the Kobe Concerto cruise.

The ship is docked in front of Harbourland (see photo below) and offers a dining experience while cruising around the bay. You can join a lunch cruise that typically departs at 12:00 noon, tea cruise that departs at 2:30 PM, twilight cruise that departs at 5:15 PM and a night cruise that departs at 7:30 PM. 

Read more Japan blog posts .

must visit in kobe japan

7. Rokko Cable Car

The Rokko Cable Car is a Japanese funicular that transports guests to the top of Mt. Rokko. The cable car opened in 1932 and is one of the top Kobe tourist attractions. 

It takes 10 minutes to get from the Rokko Cable Shita station , located at the base of the mountain, to Rokko Sanjo station at the top of the mountain. The elevation gain is approximately 500 metres. 

It’s best to get the Rokkosan Tourist pass for 1200 yen. This pass includes bus fare to get to Rokko Cable Shita station, the cable car ride, and the bus to the Mount Rokko Tourism Area. More info here .

Outside the Rokko Cable Car station in Kobe Japan

Outside the Rokko Cable Car station. This is at the base of Mount Rokko . 

Mount Rokko Garden Terrace | Things to do in Kobe Japan

8. Rokko Garden Terrace

Rokko Garden Terrace, pictured above, is the perfect place to get panoramic views of the city, ocean and mountains.

It’s a tourist complex with viewing platforms, an observation tower, multiple restaurants and small retail shops that sell souvenirs, ice cream, drinks and snacks.

Grilling meat and vegetables at Rokkosan Genghis Khan Palace restaurant on Mount Rokko in Kobe, Japan

Rokkosan Genghis Khan Palace

For a unique lunch, visit the Rokkosan Genghis Khan Palace . Grill fresh meats, seafood and vegetables on a hot cast iron plate that sits on your dining table.

It’s a fun dining experience for everyone. 

Related – Quick Guide to Japanese Food for Tourists

Cook food at your table at Rokkosan Genghis Khan Palace, Things to do in Kobe Japan

Map of things to do on Mount Rokko in Kobe Japan.

You can easily spend a full day visiting the small tourist attractions on Mount Rokko. It has a botanical garden, forest adventure park with zipline and treetop obstacle course, the music box museum, small golf course and the Rokko Garden Terrace .

Rokko Shidare Observatory on Mount Rokko in Kobe, Japan

The beehive structure in the above photo is the Rokko Shidare Observatory. 

Observation platform at Mount Rokko, Things to do in Kobe for tourists

The best views of Kobe and Hyogo Prefecture are found at the top of Mount Rokko.

views of Kobe city from Mount Rokko viewing platform at Rokko Garden Terrace, things to do in Kobe for tourists

9. Rokko-Arima Ropeway

The Rokko-Arima Ropeway is an aerial tramway that travels 2.8 kilometres (1.7 miles) from Rokko Sancho station to Arima Onsen. You can walk from the Rokko Tourist Area to the Rokko Sancho station, so it’s an easy addition to your Kobe day trip.

The one way trip from Mount Rokko to Arima Onsen takes 12 minutes and costs 1030 yen ($13.00 CAD). Round trip tickets cost 1850 yen ($23.00).

You might also want to visit the Maya Ropeway and Shin-Kobe Ropeway during your visit to Kobe. 

Related –  25 Japan travel tips for first timers

Inside Rokko Sancho station at the Rokko-Arima Ropeway to Arima Onsen Kobe Japan

Rokko Sancho station at the top of the Rokko-Arima Ropeway.

Kobe travel - Traveling down from Mount Rokko inside the tram on the Rokko-Arima Ropeway towards Arima Onsen Hot Springs

 Inside the aerial tram descending from Mount Rokko to Arima Onsen . 

Mountain views from the Rokko-Arima Ropeway tram to Arima Onsen Hot Springs, Kobe travel guide

Lush mountain landscapes from the Rokko-Arima ropeway . 

Aerial tram at Mount Rokko-Arima ropeway at Arima Onsen Station, Kobe travel guide

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Arima Onsen village, things to do in Kobe Japan

10. Arima Onsen

One of the most popular Kobe attractions is Arima Onsen . We’re told it’s Japan’s oldest and most famous hot spring town.

Wandering the narrow streets of Arima Onsen offers a glimpse into Japan’s ancient past. It’s said that emperors and samurai would visit Arima Onsen to soak in its healing hot springs. 

Arima Onsen is accessible by taking the Rokko Cable Car and Rokko-Arima Ropeway , which makes for a fun day trip from Kobe. Plan for a full day if you want to include time on Mount Rokko. Or stay overnight at a traditional Japanese ryokan .

There are only two public bath houses in Arima Onsen. Some ryokan hotels will open their private baths to visitors during the day. Admission ranges between 500 and 2500 yen ($6.00 CAD to $30.00 CAD).

See a list of hot spring baths in Arima Onsen here .

If you’re travelling with kids, it’s important to know that there are special rules for bathing at Japanese onsen . We were not allowed to bathe as a family at the public bath house at Arima Onsen (men and women cannot bath together, even with kids). Keep this in mind and plan accordingly.

must visit in kobe japan

If you’re not keen to spend time at a bath house or ryokan, you can soak your feet at Taiko no Ashiyu . It’s a free public foot bath in Arima Onsen .

It is located outside Kin no Yu (Arima golden Hot-spring public spa).

The water is kept at 42.3 degree Celsius, so it’s hot! I don’t think any of us lasted longer than one minute. 

family travel at Arima Onsen in Kobe, Japan

The town of Arima Onsen has small retail shops, restaurants and shrines. 

shrine at Arima Onsen, things to do in Kobe with kids, Japan travel guide

Related –  50 Photos of Kyoto that will inspire you to visit

Kobe travel guide - the gazebo in Nankinmachi Square in Kobe Chinatown

11. Nankin-machi – Kobe Chinatown

More than 100 restaurants and shops make up Kobe’s Chinatown, also known as Nankin-machi .

It’s one of Japan’s largest Chinatowns, although it only covers a geographical area of approximately 200 x 100 meters. 

The lively streets of Nankinmachi see a constant flow of people, especially in the evening. This is a great place to sample a variety of street food in Kobe, including steamed dumplings, pork buns, Peking duck wraps, noodle soups and deep fried croquettes. 

street food in Kobe Chinatown, things to do in Kobe Japan

Kobe Chinatown has several street food vendors with small bites for sale.

A vendor in Kobe Chinatown sells a variety of street food, including fatty pork buns

Tasty steamed pork buns for sale in Chinatown. 

Kobe Chinatown buildings at night. Traditional Chinese Architecture in Kobe. night street photograph

Chinatown is a fun place to experience Kobe at night.

The gazebo in Nankinmachi Square in Kobe Chinatown - things to do in Kobe Japan

The iconic gazebo in Nankinmachi Square in Kobe Chinatown .

Choanmon Gate welcomes visitors to Kobe Chinatown, night photo of big gate at entrance to Kobe Chinatown

Choanmon Gate welcomes visitors to Kobe Chinatown.

ornate Seian-mon Gate in Nankin-machi Kobe Chinatown, night photo of big gate to Kobe Chinatown in Kobe, Japan

Above is the ornate Seian-mon Gate in Nankin-machi.

covered shopping street in central Kobe, tourist shopping area Kobe Japan

12. Motomachi Shopping Street

One of the things we love about Japan is its pedestrian only shopping streets.  Motomachi Shopping Street is a shopping district in central Kobe with hundreds of retail shops and restaurants. 

The popular street is located in the center of Kobe near some of its top tourist attractions, such as Nankinmachi (Kobe Chinatown), Kobe City Museum, Meriken Park and Harborland.

It stretches between Motomachi Station and Kobe Station, so it’s easily accessible from anywhere in the city.

street in Kobe Japan will lots of neon signs and lights

13. Ikuta Shrine

The most famous temple in Kobe is Ikuta Shrine , said to be one of the oldest shrines in Japan.

Ikuta Shrine is centrally located and easy to access by foot from Sannomiya Station . 

There are many temples, shrines and tori gates within the grounds at Ikuta Shrine.

Plan to spend at least one hour exploring the this beautiful shrine. The temple is free to enter. 

main gate at the entrance to Ikuta Shrine, things to do in Kobe Japan

Above is the main entrance gate to Ikuta Shrine. 

Row of bright orange torii gates inside Ikuta Shrine, Kobe Japan

Row of bright orange torii gates inside Ikuta Shrine. 

must visit in kobe japan

The temples and shrines in Japan are remarkable and worth visiting, even if you’re not religious.

must visit in kobe japan

14. Kobe Oji Zoo

The Kobe Oji Zoo is conveniently located a few train stations from central Kobe-Sannomiya Station. Admission to the zoo is only 600 yen for adults (approx $7.00 CAD) and kids are free, making it an inexpensive family activity in Kobe.  

The zoo is home to over 850 animals and birds from 150 different species, including rarely seen animals like the giant panda, golden snub-nosed monkey, Amur tiger, polar bear and snow-leopard. 

Learn about Oji Zoo and see a list of animals here .

rare giant panda at Kobe Oji Zoo, things to do in Kobe with kids

The giant panda is the star attraction at Kobe Oji Zoo.

must visit in kobe japan

An unusual amusement park at the Kobe Zoo

The amusement park inside Kobe Zoo is  interesting , to say the least. We expect a little weird and wacky from  Japan . It’s what makes Japan such a fascinating country to visit, in our opinion.

As soon as we entered the amusement park we were instantly transported back in time. While the zoo has an impressive line up of animals, the park facilities appear to have been left behind.  

Watch this short video from the Kobe Zoo amusement park.

Read more – The unusual amusement park at Kobe Oji Zoo

Rugby Match at Kobe Misaki Stadium, things to do in Kobe Japan

15. Rugby Match at Kobe Misaki Stadium

Even if you’re not a rugby fan, it’s fun to watch a live sporting event at Kobe Misaki Stadium .

Also known as Noevir Stadium Kobe , it has a retractable roof and capacity of 30,000 people. It’s home to the Kobelco Steelers , a rugby union Top League team. Check the team schedule prior to your visit to see if the team is playing. 

The stadium is also home to Vissel Kobe , a Japanese professional football club in the J1 League. It’s the top tier of football in Japan. Kobe Misaki Stadium hosted matches at the 2002 FIFA World Cup.

We were fortunate to watch a live Rugby World Cup match here. The 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan is the first Rugby World Cup to be held in Asia. 

Read about our experience at the Rugby World Cup in Japan .

Inside Kobe Misaki Stadium at the Japan Rugby World Cup

Inside Kobe Misaki Stadium at the Japan Rugby World Cup.

must visit in kobe japan

Other things to do in Kobe

During our first trip to Kobe, before having kids, we visited these attractions that are also worth visiting.

  • Nada Sake District – sample sake at a variety of Sake Breweries in Kobe. More info here .
  • Shin-Kobe Ropeway – located beside the Shin-Kobe train station. If you’re taking a day trip from to Kobe to Osaka or Kyoto, you will likely arrive at this train station. We recommend you take this cable instead of the Rokko Cablecar, to maximize your time. 
  • Nunobiki Waterfall  – if you’d rather go for a hike in the mountains, skip the Skin-Kobe Ropeway and hike to this 43 meter waterfall. The trail also passes the Miharashi Observatory , which offers nice views of the city.
  • Kitano Ijinkan – also located near the Kobe Shinkansen station, this historical district is home to a number of foreign residences and mansions, known as Ijinkan. Some of them have converted into public museums. More info here .

Read more Japan blog posts here:

  • 25 Japan travel tips for first timers
  • 50 Photos of Kyoto that will inspire you to visit
  • The perfect 3 day Tokyo itinerary for tourists
  • Your Guide to Food in Japan for first time visitors
  • 100 Photos of Tokyo Disneyland, Japan
  • Staying at a Tokyo Disney Resort – Sheraton Grande Tokyo Bay Review

must visit in kobe japan

Have you visited Kobe? What did we miss?

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18 Things To Do In Kobe, Japan – The Ultimate Kobe Travel Guide

View of Kobe, Japan

From taking in the views from Kobe’s Port Tower and the ferris wheel, to exploring the old district of Kitano or getting lost in colourful streets of Chinatown, these are the top things to do in Kobe, Japan.

After my first trip to Japan last year, I was SO excited to be invited back to explore some more of the country. This time I was off to Kobe, a city around twenty minutes west of the metropolis of Osaka.

So why go to Kobe, Japan? What is Kobe famous for? First up, the food. Kobe beef is reckoned to be some of the best beef in the world (more on that coming up).

What else? Well this year is a particularly big year for the city. The Rugby World Cup 2019 has just taken place, and Kobe was one of 12 host cities. In fact, England’s second match against the USA took place at Kobe Misaki Stadium. The atmosphere in the city was incredible!

So if you’re planning a visit for your next holiday, it’s time to show you the best things to do in Kobe, Japan!

Watch the video, then scroll down to find out about what I got up to in Kobe!

Top Things To Do In Kobe – The Ultimate Kobe Travel Guide

Cruise around kobe at sunset  .

One of the highlights of my trip to Kobe was the Luminous 2 sunset cruise. Setting off late afternoon, we were treated to one of the most stunning sunsets I’ve seen in a long time.

It was a great way to get a different perspective of Kobe and see how far the city stretches. Plus, it offered great views of Akashi Kaikyo Bridge – the longest suspension bridge in the world. But not just that, as the sun went down, the city’s twinkly lights switched on – the most magical view of all!  

Sunset views in Kobe

Enjoy Kobe Beef

People travel to the city just to try the delicious Kobe beef, and before my trip, it was one of the only things I knew about the city!

So why is Kobe beef so good? Well, Kobe beef is a type of wagyu beef known for its high level of fat marbling. It’s a soft kind of fat, with a low melting point, so it cooks quickly, stays very soft and tender and has a rich, indulgent flavour. It basically melts in your mouth.

Kobe beef at Kobe Plaisir Restaurant

I enjoyed it at Kobe Plaisir , a restaurant I’d 100% recommend. They cook the beef right in front of you, which is very entertaining to watch. For ‎¥‎7,500 you can enjoy a large set menu including soup, salad, amuse bouche, rice and 100g Kobe beef steak. Trying beef here is one of my top things to do in Kobe.

Kobe beef at Kobe Plaisir Restaurant

Discover Nature, Moments From The City At Nunobiki Falls

One minute you’re at Shin-Kobe station, one of the city’s major train stations, the next you’re standing in front of a stunning waterfall. Our hike to Nunobiki Falls was another highlight of my time in Kobe.

I always think it’s so lovely to discover beautiful nature spots SO close to the city centre. It’s the best thing to do near Shin-Kobe station, so even if you’re passing through and have some time free, don’t miss the opportunity to visit the waterfalls.

The hike to Nunobiki Falls, Kobe

There are a few waterfalls to see, with Ontaki Falls being the largest. There’s a great hike along well-made paths to get there, plus you can keep hiking up to a spectacular viewpoint of Kobe, then to a reservoir. If you don’t fancy the hike up or down, you could catch the Shin Kobe ropeway – a cable car that links a few of the points around Mount Rokko.

Nunobiki Falls, Kobe

Take A Wander Through Merikan Park

Merikan Park gets its name from when the Americans docked in Kobe and set up the US consulate moments away from this spot. It’s a big open space, with lots of places to wander around.

If you like modern architecture, you’ll love Kobe Maritime Museum, with its interesting sail-like architecture, and the iconic Kobe Port Tower.

Merikan Park, Kobe

There’s also the ‘Be Kobe’ sign, which gets busy at weekends, with people queuing up to snap a photo there! It’s also where Kobe’s fan zone for the Rugby World Cup 2019 will be set up.

'Be Kobe' sign in Merikan Park, Kobe

Enjoy Lunch In Chinatown

I really enjoyed exploring Chinatown in Kobe, known to locals as Nankinmachi. There’s one main street, with big gates at each end, plus a square with a Chinese temple and strings of traditional red lanterns. 

Chinatown (Nankinmachi), Kobe

If you like food, then there’s SO much to take in! From dumplings in the shape of pandas, to steamed rice parcels and sugarcoated strawberries, it’s a fun place to grab lunch. We stopped off for a tasty meal at Minsei restaurant in Chinatown – somewhere recommended by a few of the locals.

Chinatown delicacies, Kobe

Enjoy A Special Evening At Sone Jazz bar

What to do in Kobe at night? Head to Sone! One of the best live music venues in Kobe, Sone Jazz Bar and Restaurant is THE place to see the very best jazz musicians in the city. There are nightly sets, in a relaxed restaurant/bar setting. We enjoyed a three-course meal, metres from the talented musicians. It was a really lovely experience!

Sone Jazz Bar, Kobe

Get Your Ramen Fix In Kobe

As a self-confessed ramen addict, I couldn’t wait to devour a bowl of ramen within hours of arriving in Kobe! One of the locals recommended Tensonkourin , moments from Sannomiya Station. The ramen was really tasty, with a pork-based broth, seaweed and perfectly cooked noodles.

I’ll admit it was a little hazardous buying our ramen tickets from the machine without any English translation, but that’s all part of the fun of visiting Japan! Along with this one, I’d recommend Ichiran and Ippudo (2 ramen chains) from my previous trip to Japan.

Ramen at Tensonkourin, Kobe

Have Your First Crème Brulee Crepe

Along with trying plenty of local delicacies including fish, seafood and Kobe beef, there are plenty of quirky delicacies for sale too! ComCrepe is located on a side street between Motomachi’s busy shopping street, and Nankinmachi (Chinatown).

This tiny shop’s most famous crepe is the ‘crème brulee in a crepe’, complete with that crisp bruleed top! Delicious!

Creme brulee in a crepe at ComCrepe, Kobe

Explore Picturesque Kitano  

Walking around Kitano might not be a highlight for western tourists, as it doesn’t feel very different to being at home! But, don’t let that put you off, as it’s very pretty and definitely one of the top places to visit in Kobe.

It’s the neighbourhood where western merchants and diplomats settled after arriving through the Port in the 1800s, so there are several historic mansions to look around. There are also some cute cafes, tourist shops and a nice paved park area with sculptures and olive trees too. 

Kitano district in Kobe

Explore Kobe At Night

I never felt overwhelmed in Kobe as I did in cities like Kobe and Osaka. I felt that the city had a nice pace to it. Saying that, at night it certainly cranks up a notch. If you’re looking for things to do in Kobe at night I’d suggest spending some time a few streets back from Sannomiya Station – it’s a fun area in the evenings.

So what’s on offer? Well, there are lots of ‘hole in the wall’ eateries, serving everything from Korean fried chicken, to burgers and sushi. There are 10-floor towers with bars and restaurants on each floor. Oh and there are plenty of places to enjoy Japan’s favourite pastime – karaoke!

Visit Kobe’s Earthquake Memorial

As you wander Kobe’s streets, it’s hard to believe that in 1995 a huge part of the city was destroyed in the Great Hanshin Earthquake. Over 6,000 people died, many from the city itself. It’s a hugely sad memory for many, so if you do visit Merikan Park, take time to visit the Earthquake Memorial Park.

While the rest of the city was reconstructed, this one small area was left in its damaged state, as a poignant reminder of the power of natural disasters, and how the city has rebuilt itself since.

Kobe Earthquake Memorial

Wander Along Kobe’s Longest Shopping Arcade

Packed full of a variety of shops, Motomachi is a must-visit on your Kobe city trip. Crossing several streets, the covered shopping arcades are a great place to pick up some gifts, shop for clothes or pick up a few daily essentials.

Sample Sake At Kiku-Masumune Sake Brewery Museum

Kobe is a key player in the sake world, and much of the country’s best sake is brewed in the area. What makes it so good? Access to high quality rice, clean water from Mount Rokko and good weather conditions.

We spent a morning at Kiku-Masamune where we enjoyed a tour of the museum, saw skilled craftsmen at work making the sake barrels, and then got stuck into a sake tasting. I’ve never been much of a sake drinker, but it was great to try several and distinguish the differences. I really liked the one that was aged in sherry barrels, with its mellow, woody flavour.         

Kiku-Masamune sake tasting, Kobe

Enjoy Some Of The Best Views Of Kobe

There are a few options if you’re looking for ultimate views of the city… You could head to the ferris wheel in Harborland. Views are pretty as you look over the water to the built up city centre. Or you could head up to one of the higher floors in the city’s icon – Kobe Port Tower. Or for a free view, I heard the observation deck at Kobe City Hall is hard to beat! 

Kobe ferris wheel, Japan

Enjoy A Quirky Coffee At Jessy’s Coffee Shop

Continuing the quirky treats on offer in Kobe, if you’re wandering around the Motomachi shopping district, stop off for a coffee with a twist at Jessy’s Coffee Shop . I went for the ponpon latte – a coffee topped with whipped cream and colourful sugary balls!

Fun coffee in Kobe

Spend An Afternoon At Kobe Harborland

If you’re looking for somewhere with lots of food options, Kobe Harborland has it all. Relatively new, it’s now one of the top places to visit in Kobe.

It’s in a lovely location right on the water, with views of Kobe Port Tower, tourist boats, and when I visited there was an ice rink too. There were lots of trendy restaurants and cafes serving up a number of different cuisines including Italian, Hawaiian and of course Japanese to name a few!

One evening we ate at Hop Stand – a restaurant specialising in yakitori (skewers of meat) and local craft beer.

Craft beer at Hop Stand,, Kobe

Catch A Rugby Match At Kobe Misaki Stadium

As mentioned, Kobe is gearing up for a BIG autumn, as one of the host cities of the Rugby World Cup 2019. Several games will be taking place at Kobe Misaki Stadium. It’s the first time that it’s been held in an Asian country, and the first time outside of a tier 1 nation.

It was lovely chatting to people in and around Kobe, and hearing their excitement for the games. Hopefully lots of people will visit during this time, and base themselves in Kobe. When I last checked there were still tickets available .  

Head Off On A Day Trip From Kobe  

So I’ve shared some ideas for what to do in Kobe, but what else is there to do in the Kansai region?

With such an efficient train network, it’s really easy to base yourself in Kobe and explore some other amazing places.

You can travel from Kobe to Osaka in around an hour, and once there I’d recommend splitting your time between Osaka Castle and the vibrant area of Dotonbori.

Osaka Castle with Osaka city skyline, Japan

The city of Himeji also has a beautiful castle (one of the most famous in Japan!) along with beautiful Japanese gardens.

A highlight was our trip to Arima Onsen, one of Japan’s premier onsen towns. We spent an afternoon relaxing in the hot springs and enjoying traditional ryokan food. 

Or for some of the best views of the Kansai region, I’d recommend taking the cable car up to the top of Mount Rokko. There’s a great observatory up there, plus a café, restaurant and gift shop. Watching the sunset over Kobe and Osaka was absolutely magical!

Night view from the terrace at Tenran Cafe, Mount Rokko

How to get to Kobe, Japan?

If you’re travelling from abroad, the easiest way to get to Kobe is to fly into Osaka Kansai Airport. The bus from Kansai Airport to Kobe takes just over an hour and costs  ‎¥‎1,950 (around £13).

There’s also the Kobe-Kansai Airport bay shuttle service – a high-speed ferry that links the airports. We couldn’t experience this on the day we arrived as the weather wasn’t great, but I saw they were running a promotion for foreign visitors, costing just ‎¥‎500 per ticket. From Kobe Airport, you can then hop in a taxi or on the train.

You can also travel from Tokyo to Kobe by train (hurrah for those speedy shinkansen services!), which takes around three hours. Don’t forget to reserve a seat in advance if possible. Find out why in my Japan for first timers guide – guaranteed to help you avoid awkward situations on your trip!  

A big thanks to Visit Kobe for inviting me to explore the region! As always, all opinions are my own.

18 Amazing Things To Do In Kobe

Chloe Gunning

With a passion for food, fun and adventure, Chloe is the content creator behind one of the UK's top travel blogs Wanderlust Chloe. From volcano boarding in Nicaragua, to sailing around Sicily and eating her way around Japan, her travels have taken her to some of the coolest spots on the planet. Named Travel Influencer of the Year in 2022, Chloe regularly works with a number of tourism boards, producing inspirational travel content across multiple platforms. Find out more about Chloe here.

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Home » Asia » Japan » Kobe

17 Things to do in Kobe That’ll Stay With You Forever

Kobe is one of Japan’s largest cities and one of it’s most important ports. Kobe is steeped in history, and as one of the only places of foreign settlements in pre-industrial Japan, it has a fascinating story to tell.

You’ll never be short of things to do in Kobe, or far away from a hearty meal. The city specializes in cuisine, particularly its internationally acclaimed Kobe Beef. It’s quickly become one of Japans most popular travel destinations, and our handy guide will highlight why!

The city is fast becoming known for its trendy suburbs and upmarket cafe culture. We will show you why this is one of our favorite destinations among tourists and locals alike, who adore its spacious streets, proximity to the ocean as well as its beautiful mountains.

must visit in kobe japan

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Top Things to Do in Kobe

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Kobe is a city steeped in culture and crowed by nature, and the plethora of things to do reflect this. First, let’s take a look at the absolute best the city has to offer.

#1 – Indulge in the City’s Acclaimed Cuisine

Indulge in the City’s Acclaimed Cuisine

Backpacking Japan is a taste sensation. You surely know about Kobe Beef, the exclusive meat that is bred and butchered only in Kobe.  Throughout the city, you’ll find lots of street food stalls and restaurants that serve this local delicacy.

However, there’s more to Kobe’s culinary scene than just this exquisite meat. Devouring ramen dishes, croquettes and having lots of Sake to drink, are among some of the essential things to do in Kobe.

Kobe is also home to Japan’s second-largest ChinaTown, which makes it a great place to explore Chinese cuisine too. You simply have to try the gyoza (dumplings with beef and vegetables) which is a very popular Chinese dish while you’re in Kobe.

#2 – Stroll Through the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge

Akashi Kaikyo Bridge

Situated in Western Kobe, this almost 300-meter long bridge stretches over the Akashi Strait. The bridge lays claim to the titles of the world’s longest suspension bridge, and Japan’s highest, at almost 50-meters above ground.

You can gain access to the bridge by a dedicated pedestrian walkway but watch your step, jut as the path is getting started the floor turns to glass, making for a hair-raising crossing.

The bridge extends for over 300-meters and makes you feel like you’re floating above the water, it’s surely one of the most surreal and unique outdoor things to do in Kobe.

Kobe Sannomiya R2 Hostel best hostels in Kobe

Kobe has a few neighborhoods that are ideal for tourists to stay. Yet, the best nightlife, restaurants and shopping experiences are had in Sannomiya.

  • Shop until you drop at the Gai Shopping Street
  • Visit one of Japan’s Oldest Shrines, Ikuta
  • Visit the city’s oldest nightclub, Sone

#3 – Witness the Rokko Meets Art Exhibition

Witness the Rokko Meets Art Exhibition

Wherever you are in Kobe your view is ultimately dominated by the Rokko Mountain. The lush rolling green foothills encircle the landward side of the city and provide visitors with spectacular views and a great selection if gentle hikes.

If you’re looking for some creative inspiration whilst in Kobe, then the modern art exhibition held at the peak of the mountain is perfect for you. The artists who display their work there, collaborate with the natural features.

It;s not often you have to catch a cable car up a small mountain to visit an art gallery, which only adds to the whimsy of this great gallery.

#4 – Visit Shukugawa Park

Visit Shukugawa Park

In this suburban park almost 2000 Cherry Blossom Trees have been planted along a 3-kilometer path. They were strategically placed along the river in the park to maximize their aesthetic impact.

The park has been decorated as the best place to view Cherry Blossom Trees in Japan by the country’s Cherry Blossom Association, no small clam. It’s a beautiful space and should be at the forefront of any nature-loves itinerary.

The park is situated in Nishinomiya, which is 20-minutes from Kobe’s Harbor. Note that the best time to visit is in April, as this is when the Cherry Blossoms are in full bloom.

#5 – Walk Through the City and then Onto the Mountain

Walk Through the City and then Onto the Mountain

One of Kobe’s many blessings is its location, neatly tucked between a mountain and the ocean. The city is interspersed with many hills and rivers that provide the city with some of the best drinking water in the world.

If you begin a walking tour in Kitano, then we suggest you pack some hiking gear too and head toward the mountain. This is because you’re in close proximity to the Shin-Kobe hiking trail.

Along the trail, you’ll pass the Nunobiki Falls where you can stop for a picnic. On the peak of the mountain, should you pursue a further hike, you’ll arrive at Mt. Tenjoji Temple. Here you’ll enjoy panoramic views of the city and the sea below.

#6 – Unwind in the Arima Onsen

Unwind in the Arima Onsen

After your hike, what better way to unwind than a visit to one of the country’s oldest hot spring resorts. There are two bathhouses in a small suburb that you’ll be granted access to, and all of the baths vary in temperature.

The baths also are highlighted in different colors – there are gold and silver-colored baths that contain minerals that are conducive to skin restoration.

The calm ambiance and thermal treatments will ensure that you feel tranquil and rested after a long day of exploring!

must visit in kobe japan

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Kobe offers interesting activities to commemorate its past. Whether to pay homage to those deceased from earthquakes, or learn about the foreign settlers, you’ve got tons of choices.

#7 – Visit Buildings Retrofitted to Survive Earthquakes

Visit Buildings Retrofitted to Survive Earthquakes

January 1995 signifies a sad day for Kobe. It is the month wherein the mass destruction occurred as a result of a devastating earthquake. Although some buildings survived the quake, the ones that replaced them are engineering masterpieces.

The city reinforced older buildings to endure even the most destructive of earthquakes, and the engineering behind it is seriously impressive . There is even an Earthquake Memorial Park in the city that displays the remnants where the city’s port originally was.

#8 – Take a Walk in Europe Town

Take a Walk in Europe

In the late 19th-century, Kobe became accessible and known to the international community at large – it actually served as Japan’s only port for a long time. Subsequently, foreign nationals filled the city, and there is still a strong presence today. Especially in the Kitano suburb, known as Kobe’s ‘piece of Europe’.

In this district, 30 western-influenced mansions sit untouched and act as a relic of that period. They are now open to the public and tourists to visit as museums.

There are all different kinds of European influence here – German, Austrian, Dutch and more!

#9 –  Visit an Abandoned Hotel

Visit an Abandoned Hotel

Also known as the Maya Hotel, this hotel has been through the wars, literally. It was built in the late 1920s. and during WWII most of the surrounding suburb was destroyed in bombing raids.

The art-deco hotel was reformed for more practical usage and was utilized as the military site for some time. Following the war, the hotel was fixed up and went back on the market. That was, until disaster struck – a typhoon significantly damaged the property.

After a second attempt at repairing the hotel, it was once again reopened yet for different purposes – it became a student center. Then, in 1995, the building suffered one last time when a devastating earthquake sieged the city and put it into disrepair.

Presently, it can be visited but only to be viewed from the outside.

Many of Kobe’s districts are extremely affluent, there is even a traditional Japanese saying that you should go to Kobe if you can’t go to Paris!

Tourists are welcomed here, and ex-pats are common in this city. The relationship between the foreign nationals in the city (almost 50 000) and the locals is an overwhelmingly positive one!

The city only poses a threat in terms of natural disasters such as the occasional typhoon in the month of September. Yet, still act cautiously in both the day and night when in unknown places, and do research as to which months possess less threat weather-wise. Check out our roundup of  the best travel insurance .

Active Roots Security Belt

Stash your cash safely with this money belt. It will keep your valuables safely concealed, no matter where you go.

It looks exactly like a normal belt  except for a SECRET interior pocket perfectly designed to hide a wad of cash, a passport photocopy or anything else you may wish to hide. Never get caught with your pants down again! (Unless you want to…)

Kobe is a vibrant city at night and the area of Sannomiya is bustling with life. The music scene in this area is thriving, with a flourishing Jazz Club, and Sone too. Let’s take a look at some of the cities best spots after dark!

#10 – Have a Drink at The Rooftop Bar J.W Hart

Nighttime bars in Kobe

This cafe/bar offers visitors a dining and drinking experience and consists of a mix between Japanese and Italian cuisine. This means that you can get a plate of sushi, and even a bowl of Pasta.

With an extensive cocktail menu and incredible views of the city, the rooftop bar is situated in the esteemed Oriental Hotel. It is also one of the best things to do in Kobe on a rainy day because there’s plenty of indoor seating with uninterrupted views.

#11 – Eat Kobe Beef at Kokubu

Eat Kobe Beef at Kokubu

Situated in the trendy Sannomiya district, this is undoubtedly the best place to eat Kobe Beef in Japan ( A bold claim, we know). It would honestly be a crime to go to Kobe and not eat at this venue if you’re a fan of the culinary arts.

Kokubu Steakhouse is your must-visit because of the personalized experience you’ll have with the chef. Their hospitable and friendly nature matches their food – stellar. It is voted among locals and tourists alike as the top place to eat Kobe Beef in the city.

Need help deciding where to stay in Kobe? Then keep reading!

Best Hostel in Kobe – T&K Hostel Kobe

T&K Hostel Kobe, best hostel in kobe

Located in Sannomiya’s Eastern region, this Kobe hostel boasts many beds, as well as being a 10-minute walk from Sannomiya’s station. This hostel offers really cool extras as well: a sun terrace, bicycle rental and 2 shared kitchens.

Best Airbnb in Kobe – Traditional Japanese Interior

Traditional Japanese Interior, best airbnb in kobe

Having an entire apartment to yourself is a great luxury when you’re on holiday. This apartment is sparkling clean and offers free bicycle use, as well as WiFi to enjoy your stay. You’ll also have the use of a kitchen, dryer, and iron to take care of all your holiday needs.

Best Hotel in Kobe – Hotel Monte Hermana Kobe Amalie

Hotel Monte Hermana Kobe Amalie

In the heart of the city center and a 4-minute drive from Gai Shopping Street, this beautiful hotel comes attached to an Italian restaurant! It is themed as European, and the architecture and food reflect this. Every morning, you’re entitled to an extensive free breakfast.

Between the world class cherry blossoms, natural hotsprings, and incredible food, it’s pretty easy to put together a stellar date whilst you’re in Kobe. That been said, we’ve picked out afew other highlights that might help get the sparks flying, let’s take a look.

#12 – Romantic Deluxe Concerto Cruise in Kobe

Romantic Deluxe Concerto Cruise in Kobe

Float away from the city and into the sunset with your partner on a luxurious cruise. You’ll pass many Kobe attractions on your way, while being served a traditional Japanese meal prepared by  decorated chefs. While you and your partner reconnect, you’ll be treated to a series of classical music performances. This is one of the most charming things to do in Kobe for couples.

Weather-permitting, you can sit on the cruise’s deck and watch the sun drop under the horizon, then you’ll see Kobe city entirely illuminated and its reflection on the water.

#13 – Soak in the Tarumi Onsen Taiheinoyu

Tarumi Onsen Taiheinoyu

An onsen is a hot spring, and Kobe is littered with them. You and your partner can visit the Tarumi Onsen, which comprises of four different hot springs. Each of the four baths is distinct in terms of experience.

One is infused with therapeutic herbs! The baths are extremely relaxing and ideal for unwinding with your partner from the bustling city.

The hot springs are attached to a beautiful pre-colonial era house that looks onto the city, making it a true oasis.

#14 – Get Drunk for Free at Nada Sake Breweries

Get Drunk for Free at Nada Sake Breweries

If you’re searching for things to do in Kobe on a budget, then you’ve hit the jackpot! Sake is a Japanese alcoholic beverage that originates from fermented rice. The Nada district of Kobe manufactures the most Sake in all of Japan.

Due to the fact that there is such a high production rate in this area there are plenty of breweries. So if you’re looking for indoor things to do in Kobe, this is ideal.

There are roughly 40 breweries in the district that require no pre-bookings, and some offer tasting bars that are completely free. This can be done at Hamafukutsuru Ginjo Brewery. There’s also Museums and Breweries that offer free tours.

#15 – Enjoy the Best View of the City

Enjoy the Best View of the City

Want a view but don’t want the hike? Well, what if you were able to elevate to the 24th-floor of a building, and have a panoramic viewing deck of the city? And what if we told you it’s free too?

We’re referring to the Kobe Observation Deck, which definitely places this site as one of the unmissable things to do in Kobe Japan. This is because you get a panoramic view of the mountains, city, and sea all in one! And the building it’s located in is no ordinary building either – it’s Kobe City Hall.

So, you’ll be ticking two destinations off of your ‘what to do in Kobe, Japan’ list.

Lonely Planet Japan Travel Guide – It’s always worth having a Lonely Planet packed away, plenty of useful info on routes and where to go.

A Geek in Japan: Discovering the Land of Manga, Anime, ZEN, and the Tea Ceremony  – Comprehensive and well informed, the book covers a wide array of topics with numerous photographs, providing a lively digest of the society and the unusual culture of Japan.

Kaffka on the Shore  – When you talk about Japanese literature, Murakami is the first name that comes to mind. A master craftsman of words, this guy is one of the coolest writers in the genre of magical realism. This book is an elegant and dreamlike masterpiece.

must visit in kobe japan

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Kobe and Japan in general are very child friendly  destinations. Incredible public transport and genuinely helpfull locals really help lift the burden of even the most bodacious brood. There’s lots to treat your kids to in Kobe, here’s some of the highlights.

#16 – Visit Japan’s Largest Herb Garden

Visit Japan’s Largest Herb Garden

Just a 10-minute cable-car lift out of Kobe is the Nunobiki Herb Garden. There are over 70 000 herbs and flowers within these gardens.

There are even 12 different gardens that are each themed differently. There’s also a plaza that’s architecture resembles a German castle, with an outdoor deck and restaurant. At night-time, the view is dominated by the lit-up city, and you’ll then understand why this is one of the biggest Kobe Japan points of interest.

If you’re worried about things to do in Kobe in winter, fear not because there are around 200 types of flowers that bloom at different times of the year.

There’s a spice and fragrance musuem in the compex aswell, where you and the little ones can explore a whole world of olfactory delights.

#17 – Let Loose at Anpanman Children’s Museum & Mall

Let Loose at Anpanman Children’s Museum & Mall

Kobe port has been enhanced with an interactive children’s museum. Here children enter into the world of Apanman, a Japanese red bean bun-headed cartoon character ( EVERYTHING has a mascor in Japan). Children can meet the character, and play in his purpose built wonderland.

Certianly one of the best things to do with kids in the city, especially if they’re western, as this playground is bombastically and unapologetically Japanese! Many different activities are offered here for the kids, such as baking, playing in the ball pools, an event stage and a playground.

The mall has souvenir shops to buy Apanman merchandise – it is completely dedicated to children’s entertainment!

Kobe is situated in close proximity to other iconic Japanese cities which makes day-trips abundant.  We’ve sourced the best day trips from Kobe to help you make the most of the region in a short timeframe.

Mineyama Kogen Ski Day Tour

Mineyama Kogen Ski Day Tour

Looking for snow? You’ve found it! Mineyama Kogen Ski Resort is located in the same prefecture as Kobe, Hyogo. Here, winter sports are abundant and you can rent all the equipment you need.

The opening time frame is between December until late March, but winter sports aren’t all that can be done here, for the resort also hosts Western Japan’s largest children’s park!.Regardless, skiing here is a dream, and there are different courses assigned for different skill levels.

The resort is one of the country’s newest and is situated only 1.5 hours away from Kobe. This is definitely the most obvious choice for things to do near Kobe.

Spend the Day in Nara

Spend the Day in Nara

If you’re looking for historic destinations and things to do outside Kobe, then you’ll love Nara. The city was the former Japanese ancient capital at the beginning of the 8th-century.

Throughout the town are Japanese gardens, parks, shrines as well as the world’s largest wooden Buddha Temple. What’s more is that the city parks have deer in them, so you truly feel close to nature. There are a few historic grounds that are now considered UNESCO-World Heritage Sites.

These consist of 5 Buddhist Temples, the primeval forest and an imperial residence.

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Kobe is known to be one of Japan’s most walkable cities In Japan, with it’s wide roads and rolling hills. If you find yourself unwilling to walk, the public transit system consists of a bus and subway system. All this is a blessing with so much to see and do in Kobe, and we’ve mapped out some itineraries to help you make the most of your visit.

Day 1 – Stroll Through the City and up the Mountain

Your first day in Kobe is going to be busy.  You’ll begin with walking in the city center until after 20-minutes, you’ll reach the suburb of Kitano. Here, you’ll notice the Western influences and you can vist some of the quirky western houses.

Stroll Through the City and up the Mountain

Thereafter, it’s time to hike up the mountain. Embark on the Shin-Kobe trail which leads off of Kitano. The trail provides a number of different routes and return points to suit all abilities and timeframes – you can pass the Nunobiki Herb Garden to stop for a meal, as well as the waterfalls on the way! If you decide to reach the top, you’ll marvel at the summit’s view.

To reward yourself, eat dinner like a local at Kokubu, with the best Kobe Beef in town!

Day 2 – Explore Kobe’s Attractions

Today we’ll start off with some sightseeing in the morning, and then let those legs rest in the best way possible. You’ll begin with walking the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge, the longest in the world and a gratifying experience!

Explore Kobe’s Attractions

To calm your nerves from the glass floor of the bridge, you’ll walk for 15-minutes back into Kobe and to the Tarumi Onsen. Here you can unwind for the rest of the day and simply absorb all the nutrients from the water.

To end off the peaceful day, grab a drink at the Rooftop Bar J.W. Hart and if you’re up for it, explore Sannomiya’s music scene.

Day 3 – End Off On a High

On your final day you’ll start the morning with either visiting the ancient town of Nara (if it’s summer) and if it’s winter, you should go skiing at the Mineyama Kogen Ski Resort. Both of these provide a great  way to see a broader picture of the region on your trip, without over stretching yourself,

End Off On a High

Upon your return, visit Kobe’s City Hall and traverse to the 24th-floor, in order to arrive at the Observation Deck. Take some pictures here and bid farewell to the beautiful city.

To end off an adventurous three days, go Sake tasting in the Nada district.

Don’t forget your travel insurance for Kobe

ALWAYS sort out your backpacker insurance before your trip. There’s plenty to choose from in that department, but a good place to start is Safety Wing .

They offer month-to-month payments, no lock-in contracts, and require absolutely no itineraries: that’s the exact kind of insurance long-term travellers and digital nomads need.

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SafetyWing is cheap, easy, and admin-free: just sign up lickety-split so you can get back to it!

Click the button below to learn more about SafetyWing’s setup or read our insider review for the full tasty scoop.

Here are some quick answers to common questions about what to do and see in Kobe.

What are the best things to do in Kobe?

A visit to Kobe has to mean Indulging in the Local Cuisine ! Airbnb Experiences and GetYourGuide offer incredible activities and days out for all types of visitors, too.

Are there free things to do in Kobe?

Kobe Observation Deck offers some of the best views in the city, and it doesn’t cost a penny! We have to recommend the Nada Sake Breweries, too, where you can enjoy free drinks.

What crazy things can I do in Kobe?

Visit Buildings Retrofitted to Survive Earthquakes or check out the abandoned Maya Hotel, for unique activities in Kobe. Take a day trip to Mineyama Kogen for the best Snow and Skiing Experiences , too!

Are there good things are families to do in Kobe?

Anpanman Children’s Museum & Mall is created specifically for kids to get a great time! The Nunobiki Herb Garden is also a great place for people of all ages to explore.

So, visiting Kobe is a guaranteed fun time. Whether you’re searching for culture, cuisine or nature, Kobe is multi-faceted and boasts all three!

There’s a reason it’s a favorite among Japanese locals as a holiday destination, because there simply is no other city in Japan like it! With luscious rolling mountains in and around the city, a beautiful port and some high-end buildings, this city simply has to be on your travel list.

must visit in kobe japan

And for transparency’s sake, please know that some of the links in our content are affiliate links . That means that if you book your accommodation, buy your gear, or sort your insurance through our link, we earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you). That said, we only link to the gear we trust and never recommend services we don’t believe are up to scratch. Again, thank you!

Aaron

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The best things to do in Kobe, Japan for an epic 72-hour adventure

Kobe may not be as large as Tokyo or as famous as Kyoto, but this Japanese port city has a lot to offer. A food and history lover’s paradise set against the backdrop of rolling mountains and glittering sea, Kobe makes a fantastic destination on any tour of Japan. When you join us on the Kobe extension of our Japan for Solo Travelers: Tokyo, Mt. Fuji & Kyoto tour (one of our bucket list tours for 2023 ), you’ll have three days to experience all of the best things to do in Kobe, Japan. 

strips of raw kobe beef seasoned with sesame seeds and green onion

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must visit in kobe japan

Things to do & Places to visit in KOBE

In this article, we introduce things to do in Kobe which make your Japan trip more enjoyable. This definitely be useful for your next trip to Japan, so don’t forget to bookmark!

Basic information about Kobe

Access / Geography / History

4 experiences you can’t miss in Kobe

Kobe Beef / Nada Sake / Arima Onsen / Night Views

  • 8 recommended areas to visit in Kobe

Meriken Park and Harborland / Kitano / Shin-Kobe / Kyu-Kyoryuchi / Sannomiya / Nankinmachi / Rokkosan / Akashi Kaikyo Bridge

Access to Kobe is really simple and convenient. It is within an hour from Kyoto and Osaka, as well as the major regional airport, Kansai International Airport (KIX), and transport options include trains, buses, and also the Shinkansen (bullet train).

We recommend you to stay and take enough time to enjoy everything in Kobe, but transport access is so convenient that you can make a day trip from Osaka or Kyoto.

Learn more about Aceess to Kobe

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Downtown of Kobe is surrounded by the sea and mountains to the south and north, literally it is sandwiched between mountain and sea.

Kobe is such a small city, which allows you to explore the downtown, sea side and mountains in one day. Most of the main attractions are within walking distance, but if you would like to roam around efficiently, public transportation is also available.

If you have limited time in Kobe, we recommend you to take the ” City Loop Bus” which is the most tourist friendly bus service, and you can get discount at over 30 attractions along or near the route by showing the pass.The ropeway and cable car are available in the mountain area, if you are not fond of hiking.

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Learning about history of Kobe will make your trip more enjoyable. Since the late 19th century, the Port of Kobe has developed as one of Japan’s leading international trade ports. People, goods, and cultures from all over the world had been gathered to Kobe. These cultures from all over the world and Japanese culture mixed together in Kobe and created a unique culture.

World famous Kobe Beef is one example. Japan didn’t have a meat eating culture originally. But after 19th century, English people visiting Kobe ate cows used for farming, they found out that it was extremely delicious.

The cityscape of Kobe also reflects a strong influence of foreign countries. Kobe’s leading sightseeing spots such as “Kitano” and “Kyu-kyoryuchi(The Former Foreign Settlement of Kobe)” are good example. In these areas, there are many western-style buildings built by merchants and diplomats who came from Europe and the United states. Furthermore “Nankinmachi (Kobe China Town)” in Kobe downtown is one of the 3 biggest Chinatowns in Japan.

1. Try authentic “Kobe Beef”

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Kobe is known as the home of world famous Kobe Beef. These days, there are many restaurants around the world serving Kobe Beef. But here in Kobe, you can enjoy Kobe Beef with freshness only available at the place of production, served by expert chefs.

Kobe Beef has a lot of fat, which breaks down over time when shipped long-distance, reducing the quality, so it is best to eat it where close to the place of production. The meat is also very tender, so it takes expert techniques to cook it properly. There are many Kobe Beef restaurants in Kobe, and chefs try hard every day to improve their skills.

Kobe Beef is served in many kinds of ways, from Yakiniku and Shabu-Shabu to Sushi and even Ramen, but our recommended serving style is “Teppanyaki (Cooking on a hot steel plate)”! The chefs grill a beautifully marbled Kobe Beef steak in your presence, so you can enjoy Kobe beef not only with your taste, but also with your eyes.

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Kobe Beef has a very strict certification system for both the meat and restaurants to maintain the quality and brand. Restaurants certified by the Kobe Beef Association display a bronze statue, and real Kobe Beef is stamped with a chrysanthemum mark. Please check these out when you consider choosing a restaurant for Kobe Beef.

Learn more about Kobe beef

Kobe Beef / Official Travel Guide of KOBE

Kobe Beef Marketing & Distribution Promotion Association – You can find certified Kobe beef restaurants in this page.

Recommended Kobe Beef Restaurants

Kobe Beef Gallery – There is a gallery where you can learn about the history and production background of Kobe Beef. In the restaurant, you can actually taste Kobe Beef at reasonable prices.

Misono -A high class teppanyaki restaurant, which is recommended for those who want to eat the finest Kobe Beef.

Ishida – This restaurant offers a good balance of price and quality, so you can enjoy your fill of authentic Kobe Beef.

STEAKLAND KOBE – This restaurant is popular among tourists, and you can enjoy Kobe Beef teppanyaki at very reasonable prices.

2. Enjoy “Nada Sake” in Japan’s No.1 Sake production area

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Along with Kobe Beef, Japanese Sake is also famous in Kobe. There are lots of Sake breweries in the area called “Nada-gogo (five brewing areas in Nada)” ,and it is one of Japan’s leading areas for sake brewing.

Nada-gogo has the perfect water, rice, and climate for sake brewing, and sake brewing has been popular for a long time, and many breweries produce Sake there in traditional way even today. Some breweries offer tours about the history and culture & process of sake brewing, plus some even offer tastings of freshly-brewed sake.

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Sake made in Nada-gogo is typically spicy and dry, and very tasty. Recently, the popularity of sake is growing worldwide. If you’re interested in sake, we definitely recommend visiting the breweries in Nada-gogo, Kobe.

Learn more about Nada-gogo sake

Nadagogo Sake / Official Travel Guide of KOBE

Recommended Sake Breweries in Nada-gogo

Hakutsuru Sake Brewery Museum – At the Museum, there is multilingual audio guidance to make it easy to understand process of making Sake, and also free tasting is offered.

Kiku-Masamune Sake Burewery Museum – This museum is renovated in a traditional sake brewery with a nice atmosphere. You can experience the history and traditions of sake brewig. Free tasting is offered.

Kobe Shushinkan – They make sake which is served at receptions for the Nobel Prize. There is sake exclusive to this store, and it is recommended for souvenirs to Sake-lovers.

3. Soak in historical “Arima Onsen” to improve your health

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Arima Onsen in Kobe is one of the most famous hot springs in Japan, and it takes only about 30 min from downtown of Kobe. We can say that it is the closest hot spring town from the big cities such as Kobe and Osaka.

This onsen is so old that its name appears in Japan’s oldest history book, and it was a favorite of many famous historical figures. Arima Onsen hot springs have mainly two types of onsen, one is the “Kinsen (Golden onsen)” and the other is “Ginsen (Silver onsen)”.

Kinsen is the signature hot spring of Arima Onsen. The hot spring water has high iron content, giving it a reddish brown color, and the salt content is even higher than sea water. In Japan, there are 9 hot spring ingredients specified for their therapeutic effects, and this spring has 7 of them, so in addition to the warming and hydrating effects, it’s also great for beautifying skin and promoting health.

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The streets of Arima Onsen district have a good old-fashioned Japanese atmosphere. It is nice for buying traditional crafts like bamboo crafts, or enjoying street food like Manju (Japanese sweet bun) and croquettes after warming up in the hot spring.

Learn more about Arima Onsen

Arima Onsen / Official Travel Guide of KOBE

Recommended Onsen at Arima Onsen

Kin no yu – One of the leading public baths in Arima Onsen. Tattoos are allowed to enter the bathroom!

Taikou no yu – An onsen theme park at Arima Onsen. There are many types of bathtubs, and you can also enjoy meals and relax inside.

4. Admire the most beautiful “Night View” in your life

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You can not miss the beautiful night view of Kobe. Especially the night view from the mountains is called “Million dollar night view” which is one of the most 3 beautiful night views in Japan.

There are two mountains north of downtown Kobe, “Rokkosan (Mt.Rokko)” and “Mayasan (Mt.Maya)”. It takes about an hour to reach the top of the mountain from downtown Kobe by train, bus, ropeway or cable car. From the observatory, you can admire the dynamic night view of Kobe, as well as the city lights of Osaka, Kyoto, and Wakayama in the distance.

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You do not have to climb to the top of the mountain to enjoy the beautiful night view. In Meriken Park and Harborland, the waterfront near downtown, which has lots of landmarks such as Kobe Port Tower and MOSAIC, and they have beautiful lighted up at night. You can make unforgettable memories with romantic night view of Kobe while taking a night cruise.

Recommended Night View Spots

Kikusei Dai (observation deck) at Mt.Maya – The steep mountain slopes let you enjoy Kobe’s most dynamic night view.

Rokko Garden Terrace at Mt.Rokko – You can spend all day at this place since there are shops and restaurants, and the observation deck.

Meriken Park and Harborland – Perfect spot for night viewing when you are in downtown.

8 Recommended Areas to visit in Kobe

Kobe has many areas with different aspects, such as sea and mountains, urban and natural environments, and Eastern and Western styles. Here are some of the best places to visit in these varied areas of Kobe.

Meriken Park and Harborland

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Meriken Park and Harborland in Kobe waterfront are Kobe’s leading sightseeing spots, with many photogenic buildings that are symbols of Kobe, making it the perfect area for taking memorable photos.

There are also some cruise ships departing from Port of Kobe, so it is good idea to feel the sea breeze on the deck.

Recommended Spots in Meriken Park and Harborland

BE KOBE monument – The No.1 photo spot in Kobe.

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Kobe Port Tower – The charming red silhouette is a symbol of Kobe. * Currently closed until spring 2024 for renovation.

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Kobe Harborland umie / MOSAIC – A shopping mall on the waterfront with a good atmosphere.

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Kotano is multicultural area north of Sannomiya downtown where many people having foreign roots are living. The streets are lined with European-style homes built in the early 20th century, creating an atmosphere that might make you forget you’re in Japan.

There are many Western-style buildings around the area that have been renovated and turned into cool cafes and restaurants, so it’s a good idea to take a walk and visit the buildings and shops that interest you.

Recommended Spots in Kitano

The weathercock house (former Thomas residence) – This western-style home is a symbol of Kitano famous for the weathercock on the roof. * Currently closed until spring 2025 for renovation. During the period, visitors are not allowed to enter the building, but can view the exterior.

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Uroko House & Observation Gallery – This photogenic western-style building has a distinctive facade that looks like fish scales.

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Kitano Meister Garden -This is a facility that reused a closed elementary school, and inside the building there is a souvenir store and handmade experience facilities.

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In Kobe, the Shinkansen stops at “Shin-Kobe” Station. There are mountains next to the station, and beautiful waterfalls and gardens are just a short walk away. Taking a stroll or riding the ropeway to the hill to enjoy the natural beauty and view is recommended.

Recommended Spots in Shin-Kobe

Nunobikii Falls – Beautiful waterfalls just 15 min from the station on foot. There are well-maintained trails around the area, so you can enjoy hiking casually.

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Nunobiki Herb Gardens & Ropeway – A beautiful garden with seasonal flowers and plants. There is also a fantastic sweeping view of downtown Kobe.

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Takenaka Carpentry Tools Museum – The only museum in Japan to specialize in Japanese traditional carpentry tools.

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Kyu-Kyoryuchi (The Former Foreign Settlement of Kobe)

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The Kyu-Kyoryuchi area is lined with many brick buildings built as foreign trading houses and consulates since the late 19th century, making it a European atmosphere. The area has a department store and shops for high-end brands, so it’s Kobe’s premier shopping area with sophisticated tastes.

Recommended Spots in Kyu-Kyoryuchi

Kobe City Museum – There are free exhibits where you can learn about Kobe’s history and culture.

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Daimaru Kobe – A longstanding department with a gorgeous façade, good place to buy souvenirs of Kobe.

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Sannomiya, the center of Kobe, is crowded with restaurants and shopping centers. It is recommended area for eating Kobe Beef and buying souvenirs. Sannomiya Station is also a transport hub for trains and buses. Staying at a hotel in this area is very convenient for sightseeing in Kobe, as well as in Osaka, Kyoto, and Himeji.

Recommended Spots in Sannomiya

Ikuta Shrine – One of Kobe’s foremost shrines. Even though it is located in the middle of the downtown area, it is surrounded by greenery, creating an oasis in the city.

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Kobe Sannomiya Center Gai Shopping Street – A huge shopping street. They have it all, from fashion and accessories to cosmetics.

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Nankinmachi (Kobe China Town) / Motomachi

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Nankinmachi with Chinese restaurants lining the streets, many people have roots in China and Taiwan live there, making it one of Japan’s biggest Chinatowns. There are food stalls everywhere, so you can enjoy a snack like meat buns or dumplings while you walk around.

Recommended Spots in Nankinmachi / Motomachi

Nankinmachi Hiroba – The square in the center of Nankinmachi. This is a photogenic spot with Chinese-style architecture and monuments.

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Sorakuen – A large Japanese style garden which is located in the middle of the city, and unchanged for over a century.

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Rokkosan (Mt.Rokko)

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Mt.Rokko, a 900-meter-high mountain neighboring the north side of Kobe, is full of nature and a great spot for those who love the outdoors. You can access the top of the mountain from downtown Kobe in about an hour by train, bus, and ropeway or cable car. From the observatory, you can enjoy the dynamic view of Kobe and Osaka. The view after dark is especially gorgeous.

There are many sightseeing spots such as botanical gardens, museums, cafes restaurants, and observatories, so you can spend the whole day there.

Recommended Spots in Rokkosan

Rokko Cable Car – The cable car connects the sea side of Kobe to the top of Mt. It climbs 500m high in about 10 minutes.

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Rokko Garden Terrace – The observatory on the top of Mt.Rokko. It also has shops and restaurants.

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Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge

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The seaside district stretches along the west side of Kobe, featuring beautiful beaches like Suma Beach and a spacious outlet mall. The Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge connecting Awaji Island with Kobe, the world’s second longest suspension bridge, is a must-see. The sheer size of it will blow you away!

Recommended Spots near Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge

Akashi Kaikyo Bridge – The world’s second longest suspension bridge. There is a facility that allows visitors to see the inner structures, and there are also tours that take you up to the top of the pillars.

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Suma Beach – The seacoast features beautiful beaches and rows of pine trees. There are also cafes and restaurants along the coast.

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We hope that this article will inspire you to visit Kobe choose it as your next travel destination in Japan!

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19 Best Things to Do in Kobe: Attractions, Fun Tours & More

One of western Japan’s most popular cities, Kobe is well known for its resiliency following 1995’s Great Hanshin Earthquake, its international flavor, and, of course, world-famous Kobe beef. Around 30 minutes west of Osaka and located on a scenic harbor, Kobe is a natural addition to any western Japan itinerary and a great weekend destination. Here are the 20 best things to do in Kobe , perfect for any first-time visitor.

What’s Kobe like? How do you get there?

Get to know kobe itself, find rest and relaxation in and around kobe, explore around kobe port, embark on delightful day trips from kobe, sample kobe’s signature eats.

Neighboring Osaka Prefecture to the west, Hyogo Prefecture similarly has a number of tourism-centric cities. It’s well known abroad, seeing a yearly rate of 1 million visitors from overseas. From the sea to the mountains , its vast area is home to many sightseeing locations. Kobe is one of Hyogo Prefecture 's most popular tourist destinations. Getting to Kobe is very straightforward. ・From JR Osaka Station , take the Tokaido-Sanyo Line to JR Sannomiya Station (the trip is covered under the Japan Rail Pass). Depending on the train, the trip can take around 21 minutes. ・From Kyoto, take a Shinkansen bullet train to Shin- Kobe Station (around 28 min.). From Shin- Kobe , take the Seishin-Yamate Line to Sannomiya Station (around 5 min.).

must visit in kobe japan

1. Stroll through historical Kitano-cho

(Photo: PIXTA)

At the foot of Mt. Rokko , you’ll find Kitano -cho (or Kitano Ijinkan), a historical district in Kobe that was home to foreign dignitaries and merchants in the mid-1800s and into the early 20th century. The neighborhood’s Western-style homes and buildings offer a fascinating peek into Kobe ’s colorful history and international influences. Several of the well-preserved buildings are open to the public for minimal admission fees. In this area, you can also find several stylish cafes and restaurants. Visitors to Kitano -cho who wish to enjoy a deeper experience in the neighborhood may wish to stay at the Kobe Kitano Hotel , an auberge hotel with architecture featuring the atmosphere of the area.

must visit in kobe japan

2. Tantalize your senses at Kobe Nunobiki Herb Gardens

(Photo: KLOOK)

Japan’s largest herb gardens , Kobe Nunobiki Herb Gardens are home to over 75,000 herbs and flowers from about 200 varieties. Twelve different gardens showcase seasonal flora in bloom and are reached via a 10-minute ropeway ascent that offers an amazing view of Kobe . The gardens are an excellent place to thrill your senses and treat yourself to an extravaganza of color and fragrance. The Fragrance Museum features nearly 80 essential oils to compare and delight your senses, and the Herbal Footbath is soothing for both body and mind. Open all year round, the gardens welcome guests of all ages. Kobe Nunobiki Herb Gardens are simultaneously relaxing, romantic, educational, and inspiring, well-suited to any type of visitor.

3. See the spectacular night view from the Rokko Garden Terrace or Mt. Maya

View of the bay from Kikuseidai, a mountaintop park on Mt. Maya

If you’re lodging around Kobe City, there’s a scene you’ll want to see – a sight said to be worth 10 million dollars. Kobe is known as one of Japan’s three most beautiful cities at night, and you’ll find the best view up north, atop the mountains of Mount Maya or Mount Rokko . Reaching an altitude of 932m, Mt. Rokko is the place for a magnificent view of Kobe . By day, Rokko Garden Terrace is a relaxing place for a stroll, with its exotic buildings, garden , and cozy cafes . By night, the entire experience is transformed into a spectacle of light, with a dazzling view of Kobe and Osaka below. Like many of Kobe ’s sights, the Terrace is open to all ages and seasonal events add to the allure of this scenic location. Even better, Kobe ’s bay area lights up after the sun sets. We encourage you to take a walk as you take in the beautiful, romantic scenery. Sightseeing in the morning, world-class lunch in the afternoon, and a stroll against amazing scenery at night. Taking a trip to Kobe has something to offer for every part of the day, we encourage you to set up a schedule and plan out your sightseeing trip.

4. Take a sake-tasting tour of the Nada & Gogo areas

(Photo: KLOOK)

Kobe 's Nada District produces a staggering one-third of Japan’s sake, so if you’re a sake connoisseur – or want to become one – a tour of this area is a memorable way to satisfy your interests. Tours come in a variety of flavors, from taxi tours to guided tasting tours. They often include scenic locations related to sake production and Kobe ’s brewing history. Knowledgeable guides introduce you to breweries’ histories and Kobe ’s sake culture. Best of all, you’ll be able to sample several types of high-quality sake!

5. Enjoy fine art at the Yokoo Tadanori Museum

Image: Rakuten Travel Experiences

One of Japan’s most well-known artists, Yokoo Tadanori has been receiving attention since the mid-1960s. At the Yokoo Tadanori Museum of Contemporary Art , art lovers can see nearly 3,000 pieces created by Yokoo himself, as well as exhibitions by other artists. Located in Kobe ’s Nada Ward, museum entry is free for high school students and younger, and the museum also offers lectures, workshops, and more for guests of all ages.

6. Take a trip back in time in Arima Onsen

(Photo: PIXTA)

One of Japan’s three oldest hot springs and recognized as one of the best in the country, Arima Onsen is near Kobe (on the opposite side of Mt. Rokko ), yet still secluded and peaceful. There you can bathe in hot springs that are beneficial to the skin and soothing for muscles and joints and multiple hotels and bathing facilities. There’s also a distinctly artistic aspect to the area with traditional bamboo crafts produced in Arima and performances by local geisha. Getting around town is easy with tourist maps available in English, Chinese, and Korean at the tourist information center .

must visit in kobe japan

8. Let go of your cares at Tsuki-no-yufune Onsen

(Photo: KLOOK)

A public bath within Kobe itself, Tsuki-no-yufune has nine baths sourced from both underground springs and the Seto Inland Sea, a feature unique to the facility. With both indoor and outdoor baths and saunas, it’s a relaxing spa that’s great for unwinding after a day of sightseeing and recharging for the next leg of your tour. With modern stylings, Tsuki-no-yufune also features a variety of salons and restaurants for your all-around well-being. Guests of all ages are welcome, but please note that entrance is prohibited for persons with tattoos and services are offered in Japanese only.

8. Stroll around Sorakuen Garden

Also in the heart of the city, Sorakuen Garden is an oasis of nature in the midst of Kobe ’s thriving urban cityscape. Completed a century ago, it’s an easily accessible place to take in the artistry of a classic Japanese garden and is beautiful throughout all four seasons , with the spring azalea festival and autumn chrysanthemum exhibit serving as annual highlights.

Sorakuen Garden

  • Address 5-3-1, Nakayamatedori, Chuo-ku, Kobe-shi, Hyogo, 650-0004 View Map
  • Nearest Station Kenchomae Station (Seishin-yamate Line) 5 minutes on foot
  • Phone Number 078-351-5155

9. Enjoy snack-walking around Kobe’s Chinatown - Nankin-machi

(Photo: PIXTA)

Central Kobe ’s famed “ Chinatown ,” Nankin-machi is a fascinating little pocket of international history and culture in the hear of the city. It’s a fun place for a stroll as you explore the city and easily fits into a full day of sightseeing. It has a somewhat retro vibe to it and many people like to stop by for an authentic Chinese meal at one of the neighborhood’s many shops and restaurants. Nakin-machi is a colorful addition, figuratively and literally, to Kobe ’s cultural landscape .

Nankin-machi

  • Address Motomachidori, Chuo-ku, Kobe-shi, Hyogo, Sakaechodori, 650-0022 View Map
  • Nearest Station Kyukyoryuchidaimarumae Station (Kaigan Line (yume-kamome)) 2 minutes on foot
  • Phone Number 078-332-2896

10. Snap a selfie with Kobe Port Tower

Plenty of landmarks, starting with the bright red Kobe Port Tower

Although it’s currently closed for renovation (planned to reopen in July 2023), Kobe Port Tower still stands as one of the skyline’s iconic members and is a trademark photo op for any Kobe trip. Since it’s just around the corner from Kobe Station and easily visible, be sure to, at least, take a quick snapshot if you’re in the area.

Kobe Port Tower

  • Address 5-5, Hatobacho, Chuo-ku, Kobe-shi, Hyogo, 650-0042 View Map
  • Nearest Station Minatomotomachi Station (Kaigan Line (yume-kamome)) 7 minutes on foot
  • Phone Number 078-391-6751

must visit in kobe japan

11. Go shopping at Kobe MOSAIC

(Photo: PIXTA)

Speaking of the Kobe Port Tower, the Kobe MOSAIC shopping center offers an excellent vantage point for Tower pics. As for the shopping center itself, this four-floor facility is a popular destination for souvenir shopping, multi-ethnic dining, and a great view of the waterfront. The Ferris wheel gives MOSAIC and added element of fun for families.

12. Go on an anime mission at Nijigen No Mori Theme Park

(Photo: KLOOK)

Nijigen No Mori Theme Park is located on nearby Awaji Island , and the anime and manga theme park has areas for popular entertainment franchises, including Naruto & Boruto, Godzilla, Dragon Quest, and Crayon Shin-chan. Interactive games and obstacle courses will get you right into the story of your favorite anime as you solve puzzles and tackle both physical and AR challenges. There’s so much to see and do, it might be challenging to see the entire park in one day. But each area has a separate entry fee, so you can pick your favorite and make it the focal point of your day. With accommodations nearby, an overnight stay makes it easier to experience all the parks . Displays and pamphlets are available in English and Chinese, so Nijigen No Mori can be enjoyed by international visitors of all ages.

must visit in kobe japan

13. Take a half-day trip to see Himeji Castle

Cherry blossom season is the best time to visit Himeji Castle

Himeji Castle , Japan’s first UNESCO World Heritage site (registered in 1993), is a short trip from Kobe and makes for an essential half-day trip. Built on a site that’s been fortified since 1333, Himeji Castle was constructed in 1346 and has remained intact through wars and natural disasters for nearly seven centuries. Towering above Himeji City, the castle is an impressive, imposing structure that stands as a monument to Japan’s feudal history, since the age of famous Japanese warriors such as Nobunaga Oda and Hideyoshi Toyotomi. The first thing you’ll notice is the refurbished white walls. The castle is beautiful – beautiful enough to be likened to an egret. It’s also well-regarded as a military facility, so we recommend checking out every inch of the castle ’s interior. Let your imagination run through the age of samurai as you leisurely walk about it! Please note that preschool children are not admitted to the castle , but there is a wheelchair-friendly route around the castle grounds. Guided tours are available in English and last for 1 hour and 45 minutes. However, groups are limited to 10 participants per tour, and there are only two daily tours on select dates.

Himeji-jo Castle

  • Address 68, Honmachi, Himeji-shi, Hyogo, 670-0012 View Map
  • Nearest Station Himeji Station (JR Kobe Line / JR Kishin Line / JR San-yo Line / JR Bantan Line) 20 minutes on foot
  • Phone Number 079-285-1146

must visit in kobe japan

14. Enjoy the season at scenic Koko-en Garden

(Photo: KLOOK)

Designed in the classic style of Japan’s Edo Period, Koko-en Garden is located near Himeji Castle and opened in 1992. Koko-en hosts multiple blossom viewing and cultural events and exhibitions throughout the year and is actually comprised of nine different gardens . Used as a filming location for multiple movies and television dramas, visitors can also experience the garden in a uniquely historical way through the “Kimono Experience” and Tea Ceremony . What better way to stroll through a perfectly landscaped Japanese garden than dressed as a member of ages past?

15. See how katana are forged & make your own knife with Kikyo Hayamitsu

(Photo: KLOOK)

If you’ve ever wanted to see a real Japanese katana being forged, you dreams can come true as you watch classically trained Kikyo Hyamitsu continues a centuries-old legacy of artistry. As an added bonus, you can even try your hand at making your own souvenir knife. The swordsmith is about a 45-minute drive from Himeji or about an hour away by train.

16. Take a day trip to Kinosaki Onsen

Kinosaki Hot Springs were loved by many Japanese writers (Photo: Rei Imagine / Shutterstock.com)

If you like Japanese scenery, you would do well to visit Kinosaki Onsen in Toyooka City, located in the northeast. With over 1,300 years of history and seven public baths, the sight of town buildings by willows leaning over the river is very photogenic. This traditional Japanese scene draws in tourists from all around the world. After walking through the town, you can refresh yourself in the hot springs . A notable differentiating facet of Kinosaki Onsen is that all seven public baths welcome tattooed bathers, unlike the vast majority of Japan’s hot springs . Onsen bathing is often a family experience in Japan. In fact, that’s one of Hyogo Prefecture ’s appeals: it has a particularly high number of storied hot spring towns. Especially famous is Arima Onsen , reachable by train from Kobe , and Yumura Onsen in the northwest. You can drive to these hot spring towns, but since you might have to pass through cramped mountain roads, you’ll want to take a train or bus instead.

17. Treat yourself to Kobe Beef

17. Treat yourself to Kobe Beef

Kobe beef is the kind of delicacy you’ll want to eat no matter how much you have to spend. The title of Kobe beef is only given to the highest class of Hyogo brand Tajima Wagyu cows , and in the already high-class wagyu beef world, it stands at the top. One of its traits is the shimofuri, the delicate marbling of high-quality fat in the red meat. If you want to really get the true taste of Kobe beef, order a simple steak. There are plenty of steakhouses around the prefecture, most of which are in Kobe , that grill their steaks on an iron plate in front of you. Though dinner at these restaurants will often go over 10,000 yen, there are some restaurants with reasonably-priced Kobe beef lunches . If you enjoy eating meat, it’s a taste you simply must experience at least once in your lifetime.

must visit in kobe japan

18. Chow down on Akashiyaki

18. Chow down on Akashiyaki

Akashiyaki is very similar to takoyaki , but isn’t garnished like the latter. As round balls, they bear a close resemblance to Osaka’s takoyaki ; however, Akashiyaki has no sauce, seaweed or bonito flakes on it. Instead, you dip them in a bonito-based dashi soup. The coating is soft and made with egg, and its lightness lets you really feel the firmness and sweetness of the octopus inside. Also, the simplicity of the coating and dashi lets each establishment that offers Akashiyaki put its own spin on the dish.

19. Enjoy Kasumi Crab

19. Enjoy Kasumi Crab

Bordered by seas on both its north and south sides, Hyogo is blessed with the bounty of the ocean. Of particular note are the snow crabs caught up north in winter . They have a particularly classy sweetness to them, especially the Kasumi Crabs caught in Kasumi Port. Known for their sweet flavor and can be eaten at reasonable prices, Kasumi crabs are a tasty delicacy any true seafood aficionado may want to try. They’re often served at hotels and other lodgings, and visitors come from all over Japan during crab season . Kobe has several restaurants serving crab, especially in the Sannomiya area that are worth checking out. Also, on the Seto Inland Sea side to the south, Akashi City’s port is famous for its octopi and sea breams. There are also plenty of restaurants in the city that serve the morning’s catch. You’ll find high-quality seafood at reasonable prices in the form of kaisen-don, otsukuri, and other dishes.

Text by: Gabriel Wilkinson

must visit in kobe japan

  • Area Kobe, Sannomiya, Kitano
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Kobe

ITINERARIES Kobe in 1 Day Discover architecture, history, and unforgettable waterfront views

One of japan's most culturally eclectic cities, kobe is easily accessible from osaka and kyoto by train, how to get there, from tokyo: 2 hours 45 minutes.

Take the Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen from Tokyo Station to Shin-Kobe Station.

From Osaka: 25 minutes

Take the JR Kobe Line from Osaka Station to Sannomiya Station.

must visit in kobe japan

Photo: ©Kobe Nunobiki Herb Gardens & Ropeway

Begin your adventure through Kobe by taking the Kobe Nunobiki ropeway up to the Kobe Nunobiki Herb Gardens, home to a variety of herbs and flowers spanning 200 species. Take in sweeping views of the city from the top of the mountain.

must visit in kobe japan

A short walk from the base of the ropeway on foot is Kitano, a historic district once home to many of the city’s foreign merchants.

Foreign trade boomed around the 19th century, and several of the homes in the Kitano area remain relatively untouched. Many of these former mansions, known as Ijinkan, have been repurposed into museums and are today open to the public.

must visit in kobe japan

Photo: ©KOBE TOURISM BUREAU

Running down towards the port is Kobe Tor Road, one of the city's most culturally defining streets.

Just to the east of Tor Road are the towering torii gates of Ikuta-jinja Shrine. Founded in the year 201 A.D. this shrine has deep ties to Kobe. The surrounding area is the core of Kobe's modern downtown, and the shrine hosts many major festivals throughout the year.

must visit in kobe japan

Consider a visit to the Kobe Animal Kingdom, a flower and animal park situated on Port Island. Perfect for children but with plenty of attractions for adults too, the park features a hands-on petting zoo and a giant greenhouse, great for exploring when the weather is less than ideal.

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What To Do And See In Kobe Japan (10 Best Attractions To Explore)

must visit in kobe japan

Nestled between Osaka Bay and Mount Rokkō, Kobe is one of Japan’s largest and most scenic cities. After experiencing a catastrophic earthquake in 1995, parts of Kobe were rebuilt and are now more vibrant and prosperous than ever. Famous for its delicious Kobe beef , the port city offers numerous activities and cultural sites for visitors to enjoy. 

Here are the 10 best attractions to explore in Kobe, Japan:

Arima Onsen

Kobe earthquake memorial museum.

  • Kobe Fruit ; Flower Park

Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge

Mount rokkō, hyogo prefectural museum of art, ikuta shrine.

  • Nunobiki Falls

Kobe Beef Restaurants

Arima Onsen is one of Japan’s oldest hot spring resorts. 

Located on the opposite side of Mount Rokkō from the main city, this secluded retreat is the perfect place to wind down while visiting Kobe. In fact, many publications rank it among the greatest onsen (hot spring resorts) in the country.

must visit in kobe japan

The small town has two types of hot spring water: 

  • Kinsen – “Gold Water” – Hot springs that are brownish-orange due to iron. The natural iron and salt in the water are said to help with skin issues and arthritis.
  • Ginsen – “Silver Water” – Clear spring water that contains radium and carbonate. It can relieve muscle aches and treat poor blood circulation.

In addition to the hot springs, tourists can stroll Amira Onsen’s narrow streets lined with small wooden shops and shrines .

Visitors interested in the hot springs have the option of visiting the public bathhouses that are open daily. Tourists can stay at one of many serene and hospitable onsen ryokan inns.

Arima Area Onsen Official Website

On January 17, 1995, the Great Hanshin Earthquake tragically struck Kobe. This natural disaster leveled many parts of the city. 

However, the resolute citizens of Kobe and the surrounding areas worked together to rebuild. And in 2002, the Kobe Earthquake Memorial Museum was opened to immortalize lost lives and commemorate the resilience of survivors.

must visit in kobe japan

The museum is an excellent place to learn about Kobe’s recent history. It features multiple floors and video presentations chronicling the earthquake’s effects on the city and the aftermath. Many of the exhibits are also interactive, making them more engaging for children and teens.

The museum is located east of the city center and is a ten-minute walk from Iwaya Station on the Hanshin Main Line. Admission is ¥600 for adults (~$5.25) and free for children.

Kobe Earthquake Memorial Museum Official Website

Kobe Fruit And Flower Park

Kobe Fruit and Flower Park is an amusement park, hotel, onsen , and botanical garden all in one. Beloved for its wide array of colorful flowers, the park is the perfect place for a family vacation.

From July to October, Kobe Fruit Flower Park offers fruit picking for visitors. While there are many delicious fruits to choose from, the park is most famous for its Japanese white peaches (momo).

After picking fruit, tourists can treat themselves to a serene ride on the Ferris wheel. Or stop at the park’s barbecue restaurant and enjoy smoked meats while taking in the views.

must visit in kobe japan

Kobe Fruit Flower Park has a distinctly Bavarian look to its architecture. This design is in part meant to commemorate the history of European merchants visiting Kobe’s ports. 

The park also has a dazzling winter lights show that runs from November to December. So if you’re in Kobe during the colder months, make sure you don’t miss it. 

Admission for seeing the winter lights event is ¥1,200 (~$10.50) for adults and ¥600 for children. Entrance to the park at other times is free.

Kobe Fruit Flower Park Official Website

Spanning the Akashi strait between Honshu and Awaji, the Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge is one of Japan’s most magnificent engineering feats. At just under 2.5 miles long, it was also the world’s longest suspension bridge when finished in 1998.

Tourists can walk across the bridge via the Maiko Marine Promenade. Those who do are privy to sweeping views of Kobe city in the shadow of Mount Rokkō and the shimmering blue waves of Osaka Bay .

must visit in kobe japan

Akashi Kaikyo Bridge Official Website

One of the features that make the bridge especially appealing for a stroll in the glass-paned flooring. Pedestrians can watch the waters of Akashi Strait churn below them as they occasionally stop for pictures. So if you’re afraid of heights or suffer from vertigo, you may wish to avoid this spot or don’t look directly down.

Admission to the bridge’s promenade is usually ¥250 (~$2.20) for adults and free for children.

Looking like a neighborhood out of time long ago, Kitano-chō is a district in Kobe known for its 19th-century European-style mansions. 

When Kobe opened its ports in 1868, the city quickly became a focal point of international trade. As a result, many foreigners made the city their home and built gorgeous villas overlooking Kobe. 

must visit in kobe japan

Kitano-Cho Points Of Interest Via Tripadvisor

These former residences, called Ijinkan , are now mostly open to the public as museums . In addition, virtually all of them charge a very modest admission fee.

Kitano-chō itself has retained much of its European and English influence in terms of aesthetics. Along its streets, you can find all sorts of quaint European-themed cafes and shops. 

The old town aura and peaceful mountain vistas make Kitano-chō especially popular for couples.

Mount Rokkō is the highest mountain in the Rokkō mountain range that flanks Kobe to the North.

The mountain provides a dramatic backdrop to the sights of the city. Additionally, the hike to the top of Mount Rokkō offers sweeping panoramic views of Kobe and Osaka below.

must visit in kobe japan

Mount Rokkō is considered one of the Three most amazing Major Night Views of Japan. With the city lights flickering below and the stars twinkling above, the top of the mountain has an ethereal beauty to it. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more majestic vista, especially once night falls.

Additionally, tourists can enjoy numerous attractions on the mountain. These include an observation deck, music box museum, and even Japan’s first-ever official golf course.

Getting around the mountain is easier than you might expect. A circular bus line connects most of the major sites to save you time and effort.

Mount Rokko Official Website

Built after the 1995 earthquake, Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art is an excellent contemporary art museum found along Kobe’s waterfront.

Designed by famed architect Tadao Ando, the minimalist aesthetic of the sprawling complex is mesmerizing. Inside, you’ll find paintings, sculptures, and prints from both Japanese and international artists.

must visit in kobe japan

Hyogo Prefectural Museum Of Art Official Website

The museum also has auditoriums where it can hold special events and performative art exhibitions. As a result, it’s one of the most significant cultural and artistic sites in Kobe.

There are a couple of ways to get there. The museum is a ten-minute walk from Iwaya Station on the Hanshin Main Line. Alternatively, you can reach on foot in 15 minutes from Nada Station on the JR Kobe Line. Admission for the permanent (main) exhibit is ¥500 (~$4.40).

At 1800 years old, Ikuta Shrine is one of the most historic sites in Kobe.

Ikuta Shrine features a large red wooden Torii outside the building. In the Japanese religion of Shinto, passing through these large structures represents a transition from the normal into the sacred.

must visit in kobe japan

In addition to its religious significance, the shrine was also the site of significant turmoil. During the Genpei War, the Battle of Ichi-no-Tani took place around and inside the shrine.

While you can’t usually enter Ikuta Shrine, that doesn’t mean it’s not worth seeing. 

In addition to its beautiful exterior, the shrine often holds Noh plays for visitors. These performative dance dramas are the oldest form of drama still performed today. They give tourists a glimpse into the rich history and vibrant traditions of Japan.

Ikuta Shrine Official Website

Nunobiki Waterfalls

Not all of Kobe’s great attractions are made by people. 

Located surprisingly close to downtown Kobe, the Nunobiki Waterfalls are the subject of many Japanese paintings and poems. In fact, there are stone tablets near the falls with some of these poems and odes etched onto them.

Nunobiki Waterfalls is a must-see for nature-loving tourists. The secluded and overgrown look of the paths makes visitors feel like they’re in a tranquil forest far from the city.  

must visit in kobe japan

Getting to Nunobiki Waterfalls is much easier than some of Japan’s other famous falls. You can walk directly there from Shin Kobe station. Or, if you have a rental car , you can park near the hiking paths to the waterfalls.

Nunobiki Waterfall Via Tripadvisor

No visit to Kobe is complete with trying Kobe beef.

Kobe beef is one of Japan’s most acclaimed delicacies. It’s a type of wagyu beef derived from Tajima Japanese Black cattle raised in Hyōgo Prefecture (where Kobe is located).

Numerous restaurants offer this legendary meat, usually in the form of steak or teppanyaki (similar to and often confused with hibachi ).

must visit in kobe japan

Misono in downtown Kobe is one of the best places for visitors to try Kobe Beef. This pricey but luxurious restaurant is world-renowned for its delectable Kobe beef dishes. It is also the birthplace of teppanyaki .

Best Kobe Beef Restaurants In Kobe Japan Via Tripadvisor

For tourists who don’t want to spend too much money, there is also Gyudon Hiroshige. They’re most famous for their Gyudon bowls, which also utilize delicious Kobe beef.

Kobe Japan Official Website

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must visit in kobe japan

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  2. 10 Best Things to Do for Couples in Kobe

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  3. 11 Best Things to Do in Kobe

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  4. 20 AMAZING Things to Do in Kobe, Japan (2023 Guide)

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COMMENTS

  1. The best things to do in Kobe, Japan

    Day 1: See Kōbe - herb gardens, famous falls and live jazz Kōbe is a trim package of four strollable central neighborhoods, that are ideal to explore on foot, with plentiful English signposting making navigation easier for visitors.

  2. 20 AMAZING Things to Do in Kobe, Japan (2023 Guide)

    Absolutely not. Kobe has an awesome selection of nature and city activities to satisfy anyone looking for a good time. In Japan's southern side of the main island of Honshu is Kobe, its sixth-largest city. Only 30km west of Osaka, Kobe has developed a name for itself among foodies around the world thanks to the infamous Kobe beef.

  3. THE 15 BEST Things to Do in Kobe

    Things to Do in Kobe, Japan - Kobe Attractions Things to Do in Kobe Popular things to do Cultural Tours Private Sightseeing Tours Parks Food, Wine & Nightlife Airport & Hotel Transfers Points of Interest & Landmarks Walking Tours Luxury & Special Occasions Specialty Museums Ports of Call Tours Top Picks Historic Sites Outdoor Activities

  4. Kobe Travel Guide

    1 Kobe Beef• World famous local brand of wagyu meat. 4.4 ★★★★★ 737 2 Arima Onsen• Celebrated hot spring resort within the city limits. 4.0 ★★★★★ 503 3 Earthquake Museum• Commemorating the 1995 earthquake 3.6 ★★★★★ 484 4 Nunobiki Ropeway Ropeway with great views over the city of Kobe. 3.9 ★★★★★

  5. 25 Best Places To Visit In Kobe, Japan

    Some iconic things to do here include trying the famous marbled beef, visiting one of the oldest shrines, Ikuta Shrine, and taking a vintage cable car. What are you waiting for? Kobe ought to be your next travel destination! Check out this list of the best places to visit in Kobe, Japan. Top 8 Muslim-Friendly Hotels In Osaka, Japan

  6. 15 Best Things to Do in Kobe (Japan)

    2. Walk across Akashi Kaikyo Bridge Source: cowardlion / shutterstock Akashi Kaikyo Bridge Akashi Kaikyo Bridge is located in west of Kobe and has the claim to fame of being the tallest bridge in Japan of its kind. It stands at a height of some 283 meters and straddles the Akashi Strait.

  7. - Official Travel Guide of Kobe

    Places to go Kobe has innumerable attractions and activities: fine dining, downtown shopping, animal petting, wonderful seafront and mountaintop views and more. Enjoy the city in every dimension! Things to do & Places to visit Sightseeing Accomodations Shopping Festivals & Events Kobe Luminarie 2024 Art Marble 2024 @Kobe Lampwork Glass Museum

  8. 15 Things to do in Kobe, Japan

    1. Try some delicious Kobe Beef 2. Kobe Port Tower 3. Meriken Park 4. Mosaic Ferris Wheel 5. Kobe Harborland 6. Kobe Bay Cruise 7. Rokko Cable Car 8. Rokko Garden Terrace 9. Rokko-Arima Ropeway 10. Arima Onsen

  9. The Perfect Kobe Day Trip (One Day Itinerary)

    1. Take the train from Osaka to Kobe To start your day trip to Kobe, get on the train from Osaka (or Kyoto, depending on where you're staying!). The journey itself shouldn't take longer than 30-45 minutes. Try to leave early though. Especially if you only have one day in Kobe, you want to make sure you make the most of it. 2. Explore Kitano

  10. 18 Amazing Things To Do In Kobe, Japan

    From taking in the views from Kobe's Port Tower and the ferris wheel, to exploring the old district of Kitano or getting lost in colourful streets of Chinatown, these are the top things to do in Kobe, Japan. After my first trip to Japan last year, I was SO excited to be invited back to explore some more of the country.

  11. 15 Best Things To Do In Kobe, Japan

    With its skyscrapers, multicultural history, oodles of old-school Western-style buildings to admire, beef, traditional gardens, and ancient shrines, Kōbe is definitely a cool place to visit in Japan. When it comes to the best things to do in Kōbe, we get that it can be tricky to pick and choose, so we've done the hard work for you.

  12. 17 UNIQUE Things to Do in Kobe [in 2024]

    Devouring ramen dishes, croquettes and having lots of Sake to drink, are among some of the essential things to do in Kobe. Kobe is also home to Japan's second-largest ChinaTown, which makes it a great place to explore Chinese cuisine too.

  13. The Best Things to Do in Kobe, Japan for an Epic 72-hours

    Join us on our Kobe Beef Dinner excursion offered on the Kobe extension of our Japan for Solo Travelers: Tokyo, Mt. Fuji & Kyoto tour and see what all the fuss is about. days. from. with Hiroshima & Osaka extension. 10 or 13 days. from $4,379*. 9 or 12 days. Cherry Blossoms in Japan: Tokyo to Kyoto. or 12 days.

  14. THE 15 BEST Things to Do in Kobe (Updated 2024)

    Top Things to Do in Kobe, Japan: See Tripadvisor's 99,334 traveller reviews and photos of Kobe tourist attractions. Find what to do today, this weekend, or in January. We have reviews of the best places to see in Kobe. Visit top-rated & must-see attractions.

  15. - Official Travel Guide of Kobe

    8 recommended areas to visit in Kobe Meriken Park and Harborland / Kitano / Shin-Kobe / Kyu-Kyoryuchi / Sannomiya / Nankinmachi / Rokkosan / Akashi Kaikyo Bridge Basic information about Kobe Access Access to Kobe is really simple and convenient.

  16. 19 Best Things to Do in Kobe: Attractions, Fun Tours & More

    1. Stroll through historical Kitano-cho (Photo: PIXTA) At the foot of Mt. Rokko, you'll find Kitano -cho (or Kitano Ijinkan), a historical district in Kobe that was home to foreign dignitaries and merchants in the mid-1800s and into the early 20th century.

  17. Kobe in 1 Day

    Running down towards the port is Kobe Tor Road, one of the city's most culturally defining streets. Just to the east of Tor Road are the towering torii gates of Ikuta-jinja Shrine. Founded in the year 201 A.D. this shrine has deep ties to Kobe. The surrounding area is the core of Kobe's modern downtown, and the shrine hosts many major festivals ...

  18. Kobe

    From Hakutsuru Sake Museum In Kobe - A Must-See For Liquor Lovers Kobe's Hyogo prefecture produces the largest Japanese sake amount in Japan. Many sake breweries are located in an area called Nada. Established more than 270 years ago, the Hakutsuru Sake Brewery includes the Hakutsuru Sake Brewery Museum. The warehouse was previously used for ...

  19. What To Do And See In Kobe Japan (10 Best Attractions To Explore)

    Nunobiki Falls Kobe Beef Restaurants Arima Onsen Arima Onsen is one of Japan's oldest hot spring resorts. Located on the opposite side of Mount Rokkō from the main city, this secluded retreat is the perfect place to wind down while visiting Kobe. In fact, many publications rank it among the greatest onsen (hot spring resorts) in the country.

  20. Kobe Itineraries

    Kobe is a great city to explore over several days, or if you're pressed for time, even as a day trip from another city in the Kansai region. Our one-day and two-day itineraries allow you to make the best use of your time. Kobe Sannomiya Center Gai - image © Florentyna Leow

  21. THE 10 BEST Things to Do in Kobe

    per adult. Private Shore Excursion Kobe Port - Best of Kobe with a local. 2. Rail Tours. from. S$154. per adult (price varies by group size) KYOTO Custom Tour with Private Car and Driver (Max 9 Pax) 25.

  22. THE 10 BEST Things to Do in Kobe

    Things to Do in Kobe, Japan: See Tripadvisor's 99,331 traveller reviews and photos of Kobe tourist attractions. Find what to do today, this weekend, or in January. We have reviews of the best places to see in Kobe. Visit top-rated & must-see attractions.

  23. Tokyo Creative on Instagram: "Planning a trip to Kobe soon? Here are a

    475 likes, 6 comments - tokyocreative.jp on January 19, 2024: "Planning a trip to Kobe soon? Here are a few things you might want to add to your travel bucket l..." Tokyo Creative on Instagram: "Planning a trip to Kobe soon?