Kobe, the sixth largest city in Japan, is a beautiful and popular spot within easy reaching distance of both Kyoto and Osaka, making it an ideal area to visit. It is well-known for its scenic mountains which frame the harbour and its marbled Kobe beef, as well as one of the oldest Shinto shrines in the country. If you are planning to visit the Kansai area, no doubt you’re thinking of going to Kobe, too! Here are things to do in this beautiful city.
You can’t visit Kobe without visiting one or more of the many breweries of sake, Japan’s famous rice wine. There are thousands of sake brands in Japan and this tour allows you to taste just a few of them. Visit the Hakutsuru Sake Brewery Museum to see old traditional Japanese houses, learn about how sake is made, and taste some different kinds. Afterwards, there is a shop where you can buy some of your own sake if you wish. Sake lovers will not want to miss this!
Booking details: Kobe: Explore the Sake Breweries
See Kobe in style from a boat while chowing down on delicious local food! This two-hour tour includes a cruise around the bay including Hyogonga, where your meal will be served. You get a choice of monjayaki, a delicious pan-fried dish, yakiniku, which is barbequed meat, and wagyu, Japanese beef. An all-you-can-drink option can be added for an extra fee. Sail on the bay with great city views and fill up on delicious food!
Booking details: Try Monjayaki or Yakiniku on a Yakata Boat in Kobe
From Mt. Rokko, the view of Kobe city at night is fantastic. Seeing this famous “million-dollar landscape” is possible on your own, but if it’s your first time in the city or your time frame is small, why not book for an English-speaking guide to guide you there? Ride the cable car up to the observatory and enjoy the stunning night view. You can also have a meal at Rokko Garden Terrace. Hotel pick-up is available on this tour or you can meet at either Shin-Kobe Station or Sannomiya Station in the city center.
Booking details: Enjoy Rokkosan Night View Tour with English Guide in Kobe!
Those staying in Tokyo might be interested in this two-day trip where you fly from the capital to Kobe, see Himeji Castle and Takeda Castle ruins, have a feast at Chinatown, and take in the view of Kobe from a hot spring on Mt. Rokko. On the second day, you’ll head back to Tokyo. Check out the link below for more information about this guided two-day trip to Kobe.
Booking details: Visit Himeji and Takeda Castles in a 2-Day Tour from Tokyo!
Riding in a helicopter is an amazing experience. You can see gorgeous mountains, the sea, and one of Japan’s most attractive cities from the sky on this exciting and affordable activity. Book a choice of three courses of varying lengths of time and enjoy the magnificent view from the air! Insurance and tax are included in the price.
Booking details: Enjoy the Amazing View from a Helicopter in Kobe!
What better way to get around Kobe than by private car? A professional guide will show you the unmissable spots of Kobe including Himeji Castle, Mount Rokko Observatory, and Kobe Harbourland, a shopping complex with attractions. Grab some souvenirs and miss none of Kobe’s best areas with this fun and professional tour.
Booking details: Shore excursion from Kobe Port (w/ private car and guide)
This exciting boat tour takes you to see Kobe Port, Akashi Kaikyo Bridge, and Osaka Bay, all while feasting on a delicious Chinese-Cantonese meal prepared by a world-class chef. Listen to a relaxing night performance and take in the magnificent night views this tour has to offer. Check out the link below for further details.
Booking details: Enjoy Romantic Dinner While Cruising Around Kobe
This tour is specifically for Muslims with the consideration that things like sake and pork can’t be included. Explore Kobe’s shopping area, pray at the Kobe Mosque and purchase some halal food. If you visit a restaurant together, the host will help you with ordering food free from pork and alcohol. If you are Muslim and visiting Kobe, consider booking this nice day out with a local.
Booking details: Book an exciting Muslim-friendly tour in Kobe
If you’re only going to be in Kobe for a day and would like to see as much of the city as possible, this private tour might be for you! Explore the highlights of Kobe such as Chinatown, the seaside, Mt. Rokko, and the world’s longest suspension bridge, Akashi Kaikyo. Have a stress-free day guaranteed to cover the best of Kobe in just a few hours. There are two courses you can choose from, so click the link below and check out what’s available.
Booking details: Explore the beautiful port city Kobe with a private guide
Kobe is famous for its high quality and delicious Kobe beef. With this activity, you can explore the Kobe Harbourland with its shops and seaside promenades. In the evening, you will try the delicious beef in a top-class restaurant and then take in the beautiful night view of the harbour on the waterfront. Book this trip for a romantic evening out.
Booking details: Enjoy Kobe beef and a “10-million-dollar night view”!
The city’s attractions aren’t the only place in this area worth seeing. Why not visit Arima Onsen, one of the best hot spring towns in Japan? Visit this interesting place, learn a little about local history, and even dip your feet into hot spring water and feel the health benefits! Explore this interesting town for a day during your stay in Kobe.
Booking details: Walk around the splendid hot spring town Arima Onsen
While in Kobe, you can make your own Japanese candy! Learn from a professional artisan, knead the piece of candy to create a shape you like, and even take it home afterward. This sweet activity is suitable for any age! Check out the link below for further details.
Booking details: Make handmade Japanese candy
For those who love walking and light hiking, Mt. Rokko can’t be missed on your trip to Kobe! Starting in Sannomiya, you will meet your guide at 8:00 am and take you on a route to see Pearl Bridge and a mountain hut where you’ll enjoy a delicious breakfast before heading back down, reaching Sannomiya Station again at around noon. Have a fantastic hike with someone who knows what they’re doing and see a lovely morning view of Kobe.
Booking details: Hike and have Breakfast on Mt. Rokko
Around 30 minutes from Kobe city is a charming ranch and some of it is open to the public! Take a break from the city to pet cute animals and even try exciting activities such as milking a cow or riding a horse! Sample handmade cheese or ice cream and feel first-hand the life of a Japanese farmer. This is ideal for families with children and those interested in animals!
Booking details: Explore the Kobe Countryside at a unique Ranch
Kobe might not be the only place you’re interested in seeing. Explore more of the Kansai area such as Osaka, Kyoto, and Nara by booking and customising one of the tours below. Pick and choose what you’d like to do and relax while the host takes care of everything and makes sure you get to see and do exactly what you want! There are two of these to choose from.
- The half-day tour. See your favourite spots in Kansai in a couple of hours.
- The full-day tour. Have an entire day out and see and explore more.
This is ideal for those who have several places in Kansai in mind but aren’t sure how to get there by themselves. Customise your own perfect day and enjoy Kansai in one day or half a day.
Booking details: Customise and embark on a Private Half Day Tour in Kansai
— Decoist (@decoist) January 9, 2015
For an interesting look into the history of earthquakes in Japan and the advances in protecting against them, take a trip to the Kobe Earthquake Memorial Museum. This modern museum features a theater and film showings, information about major earthquakes, and disaster prevention guides.
Located just at the foot of the Rokko mountains, Kitano is an area which used to be a hub of foreign trade and international residents. Visitors love to come here to see the beautiful western-style mansions which still remain from those days, some of which are now open as museums for the public. Visitors can also find some nice boutique stores and restaurants.
— kobemosque_staff (@kobemosque) September 9, 2016
This mosque was the first to have been built in Japan in 1935 and has beautiful marble interiors and paintings. This mosque is one of only a few buildings which stood its ground during the Second World War, and nowadays it attracts visitors from all over the world to admire its architecture and history.
— NYCbromo (@techbro8) November 8, 2017
Kobe Chinatown, also known as Nankinmachi, is a small but exciting area right in the center of Kobe City. You could spend an afternoon or evening here, trying some amazing Chinese street food such as dumplings and tapioca (bubble) tea. There are also some shops selling Chinese goods and some great restaurants to spend the evening at!
— Japan Embassy DC (@JapanEmbDC) February 22, 2017
Kobe Harborland is a vast seaside area with hotels, shops, department stores, amusements, a gorgeous promenade, and a hot spring. You are bound to find something you want to do here! You could go on the giant Ferris Wheel which offers great sea and cityscape views or try one of the many restaurants here.
The view from Mount Rokkō (that's Kobe at the bottom and Osaka in the distance) pic.twitter.com/P2zRhx0fn7
— Have a Craig Day! 🏳️🌈 (@craigdsf) September 29, 2015
Nature lovers will adore Mount Rokko which sits close to Kobe City. You can hike or take a ropeway to the top and can enjoy some amazing views over the bay or the city. Rokko also has plenty of shops and restaurants where you can relax and refresh and has a garden, museum, and observatory you can also visit.
— Andi Dean (@anditweetxo) October 8, 2017
The wonderful Shin-Kobe Ropeway takes you from just near Shin-Kobe Station right up to the Rokko Mountains and stops at Nunobiki Herb Garden. This is a popular attraction and offers spectacular day or nighttime views over Kobe City. Admission is 1400 yem roundtrip (800 yen after 17.00 pm), and includes admission to the gorgeous herb garden at the top!
— MOSUN (@MOSUNdigital) October 15, 2015
Sorakuen is a traditional Japanese garden right in the center of the city and is well worth a stroll. It’s a 10-minute walk from Motomachi Station and is in a quiet residential area away from the bustling city streets. This is the perfect place to relax, stroll quietly, and reflect, whilst taking in the beauty and serenity of a landscape garden.
— Y.Asakawa (@m2_yumiko) June 2, 2017
You could easily spend a good few hours learning about the interesting maritime history of Kobe at this museum. It is a modern museum which includes several exhibits showcasing model ships, navigational instruments, and historical and cultural items and records. The museum is convenient and well-constructed and is a nice way to spend an afternoon.
Fisherman’s market is a popular buffet restaurant located in Kobe Harborland Mosaic Department Store. It features beautifully fresh seafood such as crab legs, sushi, paella, and varieties of fish. make sure you come here on an empty stomach because you will want to try everything on the menu! It’s a quality dining establishment and a great evening indulgence!
— Chris Luckhardt 📸 (@chrisluckhardt) February 3, 2015
Mount Maya can be reached by foot or by cable car, and offers great views over the city and fresh air! On a clear day, you can even spot Osaka City from the observation deck at the top! There are several scenic hiking trails, a temple, a nature garden, and good facilities to be able to spend a whole day here!
— Craig Hoffman (@CraigHoffman11) January 10, 2017
Kobe Oji Zoo is a very popular zoo in Japan, known for its majestic Giant Panda and quality facilities. Animal-lovers will appreciate the spacious setting and the array of unique animal species here. Animal enclosures are well-maintained, and visitors can enjoy a variety of souvenir shops and restaurants.
Nunobiki Falls is a group of stunning waterfalls close to Kobe City, accessible by the Shin-Kobe Ropeway or by foot if you are feeling energetic! They are popular and well-known in Japan and nestled in surrounding forest area with lovely hiking trails to enjoy. You will really feel far away from the city here, even though it is very close!
If you plan to visit Kobe during the month of December, you won’t want to miss the spectacular light festival, Kobe Luminarie. This amazing light-up stays up for around two weeks and attracts literally millions of visitors! If you don’t mind crowds, you will love walking the shining streets and feeling like you have stepped into a glittering new world!
This well-known dumpling house situated in Kobe Chinatown is well worth a visit if you fancy some reliably delicious Chinese-style meat dumplings! You can eat in or take away, and expect a line of people waiting during peak hours! The steamed pork buns that are so popular here are hot, cheap, and absolutely delicious!
— Kevin O'Shea (@jlandkev) January 16, 2018
This Shinto shrine is known to be one of the oldest in Japan and is an impressive historic site and well worth visiting. The grounds of the shrine are serene and well-maintained, and visitors can enjoy festivals, events, and ceremonies throughout the year.
Sone is a popular jazz bar in Kobe, which features great live shows with both classic and more modern acts. Open since 1969, guests can also take jazz classes on Sunday afternoons!
At Rokkosan Pasture today 🐴🐮🐑🐰 pic.twitter.com/2GVWV3ner6
— Princess Peach (@mel2cool4you) March 16, 2015
This great farm area costs 500 yen for admittance and is well worth the price! It’s a great place to take a family and features sheepdog herding, horses and other farm animals you can pet, craft and cooking workshops, and plenty of green space to enjoy.
Tomato ramen at Ramen Taro in Kobe 🍜 🍅 pic.twitter.com/FsTO4x0eEI
— Bruce Gatenby (@kingdomabsurd) March 29, 2017
This ramen shop is one of the most popular in Kobe. You can enjoy cheap, delicious ramen which is served efficiently and in a friendly atmosphere. Although it is busy, it is well worth a visit and has many classic and unique ramen toppings to chose from!
— Project Kobe (@projectkobe) June 8, 2017
Higashi Yuenchi Park is a peaceful and calm green space which is especially good for picnics and walks in the warmer months. It also features regular farmer’s markets where you can find amazing fresh produce!
— House of Kawasaki (@houseofkawasaki) November 1, 2016
This fun and interactive museum features exhibits on the history of the famous Kawasaki company, which originated in Kobe. It is great for children, and all enthusiasts of motorbikes, engineering, and technology.
— くらたん (@kuratan316) October 18, 2016
This popular restaurant is true to its name, with the specialty being famous Kobe beef, cooked to perfection. It is known for its reasonable prices, great atmosphere, and popularity among both locals and visitors. If you are looking for a guaranteed great steak, this is a good choice.
— オカン (@saku0591) October 16, 2017
Kobe Port Tower is a landmark tower standing at 108 meters and dominating the Kobe skyline. It is shaped like a traditional Japanese drum and is well worth a visit as it has a great observation deck, glass floors, a revolving cafe, and a souvenir shop.
— 飛騨高山料理 花里 神戸 (@HanasatoKobe) July 22, 2012
This elegant and traditional restaurant is hugely popular. It offers a traditional Japanese kaiseki (set course) menu and features dishes such as sashimi, beef, and local seasonal dishes. It also offers private dining.
Kobe Meriken Park 2017/12/13 pic.twitter.com/Qyl9VdoSfB
— maido2016 (@tyautyau2009) December 13, 2017
This lovely waterfront park features beautiful fountains, modern art pieces, open courtyards, picnic spaces, and plenty of grassed lawn space for relaxing. It’s a great place to have a walk relax, or take a family.
At this popular a vast outlet area, you can find many brand item clothes and homeware items at great prices. Brands include Vivienne Westwood, Nike, and Japanese brands, and there are plenty of choices!
— 意屋 (@kokoroya_kobe) February 2, 2012
This modern, relaxing restaurant is very popular among locals and visitors and serves dishes including Kobe beef, sashimi, and set menu options. It is a great place to come for a nice meal in a cozy and welcoming environment.
This interesting museum has been open since 1987 and features fascinating exhibits detailing the culture and history of coffee. The museum also plays jazz tunes while you walk around, and there are of course many chances to try great coffee!
— のんのん (@0729Nonnon) August 9, 2016
If you really want to treat yourself to the famous beef of Kobe, then visit this hugely popular restaurant. It serves only the finest quality beef cuts, and although it isn’t cheap, it is well worth the price, given the exceptional quality of the cuisine.
— アン (@wonderosa) February 3, 2018
This less touristy Shinto shrine is a serene and relaxing place in which to reflect, worship, or simply visit. You won’t find too many crowds here, but it has lovely lanterns, gates, and traditional architecture to admire.
— 律子 (@ritsukoneko) September 3, 2017
If you fancy a change from Japanese cuisine, why not try Vietnamese food at Thang Cafe? This cozy and welcoming place serves staples such as warming Pho, spring rolls, and healthy vegetable dishes. It is popular for its cheap, quick, and casual dining experience!
Kobe land mark, Kazamidori no Yakata, old western house. pic.twitter.com/AklEufLKJR
— Miyuki; Simpson (@Miyuki_Simpson) May 16, 2013
This wonderful museum located in Kitano-Cho is an old Germanic house which is decorated with old European interiors, wonderful architecture, and fascinating exhibits showcasing traditional artworks. It is worth a visit for anybody who is interested in the old history of westerners in Kobe.
Soba is a classic Japanese dish, and you can get top-class soba dishes here at Sakabayashi. The venue has a lovely traditional garden, gorgeous wooden interiors, and great selection of sake to try alongside your soba and sashimi!
Garage Paradise is a very popular night venue which is known for its eclectic mix of jazz, R&B, soul, and house music. It features great live acts and musicians, a relaxing yet buzzing atmosphere, and a nice selection of cocktails and snacks.
Kobe is not to be missed during your stay in Japan’s fascinating Kansai area. Whether you’re there to go shopping, take in marvelous views, hike, or try local food, there is something for anyone in this lovely city. Book something to do there and start creating some unforgettable memories!