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Kobe in Japan is definitely less visited by tourists than the popular Cities of Japan like Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Hiroshima and doesn’t seem to make many travellers Japan Itinerary however with Kobe’s location on the Shinkansen Line just a few minutes away from Osaka on route to the famous Himeji Castle and Hiroshima, and only 20 minutes from Kyoto on a fast train it really should be a place you visit in Japan. If anything just to get away from the crowds and see somewhere a little different!
I really enjoyed visiting Kobe, so in this Kobe Japan guide and Japan travel blog, let me tell you what to do in Kobe, places to visit in Kobe and where to stay in Kobe.
To SEE my time in Kobe, have a watch of my YouTube video here:
Things To Do in Kobe Japan.
What to do in Kobe.
Kobe offers enough Kobe things to do to keep visitors happy for a good few days and thanks to Kobe being sandwiched between the Ocean and Mountains you can really see a lot of things to do in Kobe and a lot of different sides of the City very easily.
For the most popular Kobe attractions, head to Kobe Harbour to see the iconic Kobe Port Tower, the BE KOBE sign and the colourful Ferris Wheel.
You can go up the Kobe Port Tower for views over the City and Harbour.
From Shin Kobe Train Station walk 10 minutes to Nunobiki Waterfalls to be totally in Nature.
Walk around Kobe’s Chinatown and eat as many street foods as you can manage for some more Kobe sightseeing.
When thinking about what to do in Kobe Japan, museums may not be high on your list but there are many museums in Kobe.
Visit the Earthquake Memorial from the terrible Earthquake in 1995.
Visit the Kobe National Maritime Museum.
Visit the Sake Museum in Nada.
Go on a Walking Shopping Street Tour with Guesthouse Maya around Nada if you stay there.
Head up Mount Maya or Mount Rokko which are top Kobe Japan points of interest, for views of the city and area of Kansai. Once up there you can go for a walk and enjoy nature.
Head up Mount Maya or Mount Rokko just before Sunset to see the sunset over Kobe and Osaka and see the famous night view of both Cities and the Harbour.
Take a Sunset Cruise to see the sunset over the City on a fancy Luminous 2 Cruise. Book tickets in advance here.
Warm-up in an Onsen. I went to a local one in Nada recommended by Guesthouse Maya however Arima Onsen is a popular Onsen in Kobe too.
For things to do with Children in Kobe go to the Anpanman Children’s Museum in Harbourland (next to the Ferris Wheel).
Enjoy a Coffee which is celebrated in Kobe as Kobe was the first place to have Coffee in Japan!
Not only did Kobe get Coffee but it also got Jazz and a good thing to do in Kobe at night is to find a little bar playing Jazz and have a Beer or Sake alongside it.
Day Trips from Kobe.
Kobe is well connected by train to the rest of Japan so you could easily use Kobe as your base to explore the area of Kansai which it’s located in with your JR Pass. (Which you need to get BEFORE arriving in Japan!)
Day trips from Kobe you could do are Osaka, Kyoto and Himeji Castle. All 3 take between 20 minutes to 1 hour to reach (depending on if you end up on a local JR Train that stops a lot or get the fast Shinkansen Bullet Train) which makes Kobe a great base in Japan to do day trips to these popular Cities from.
Another good Day Trip from Kobe is to Nara to visit Nara Park and see the Deer, this will take you a little longer on the train- about 90 minutes and is easier to do from Osaka or Kyoto but if you’re not going there you can go on a day trip to Nara from Kobe too.
Where to Eat in Kobe, Japan.
Let’s start with- What to Eat in Kobe? And if you are a meat eater you’ll probably already have Kobe Beef on the top of your list and it seems that most people know Kobe for its Beef!
I didn’t try it as I’m a veggie however I have heard that it melts in your mouth and is a must-eat in Kobe.
There are restaurants all over the city promoting Kobe Beef so you will definitely not miss out on it.
In terms of the best places in Eat in Kobe, like the rest of Japan, there are restaurants everywhere. A good place to eat in Kobe is Chinatown, not only are its streets filled with street food during the day but there are plenty of restaurants open all day there too.
I found an Udon restaurant randomly which was brilliant, and it was so local there were not even any seats, just a bar to eat around and slurp my Udon from!
Another good place to eat in Kobe is in Mosaic which is in the Harbourland area of the Harbour (next to the Ferris Wheel), there are many shops and restaurants in Mosaic offering cuisine from all around the world including Japan. I ended up in a Hawaiian Place called Eggs and Things offering huge pancakes and Maccha House took my fancy for all things Matcha although I was too cold for Matcha Ice Cream at the time!
For a local Japanese experience head to the neighbourhood of Nada which is where I stayed. Nada is full of little Japanese restaurants that will give you a fully local experience.
How to get to Kobe in Japan.
Kobe does have an airport which is on an island just off of the City however if you are flying into Japan and heading straight to Kobe the cheapest and best option in terms of having more flight options will be to fly into Kansai Airport which is also the Airport for Osaka.
Kansai Airport is also located on its own island and from Kansai Airport to Kobe you have 3 options:
Ferry – The high-speed ferry goes between Kansai Airport and Kobe Airport very quickly and then you’ll need to get a train into the Centre of Kobe afterwards. Note that this option is weather dependent.
Bus – Although Trains are generally the best way to travel around Japan, in this case, a bus from Kansai Airport to Kobe is better as there is a direct bus service taking about an hour.
Train – For a train from Kansai Airport to Kobe you will probably have to change in Osaka station.
Kansai Airport is fully set up for tourists and has lots of information points to help you so once you have your baggage, follow the signs to the public transport and you’ll see lots of ways you can get to Kobe and tickets to buy.
If you aren’t coming from the Airport then the train is the best way to get to and from Kobe. Shin Kobe is the main train station however there are many JR (Japan Rail) stations lining the City too.
Do you still need to get your JR Pass? Remember you need it BEFORE you get to Japan. Japan Rail Pass offers quick & free delivery so you can get it here!
Shin Kobe is the station for the Shinkansen train. I got the Shinkansen from Hiroshima to Kobe with a stop at Himeji Castle on the way.
I left Kobe by local train to Osaka which was then heading onto Kyoto. The Shinkansen also goes from Tokyo to Kobe in a few hours.
Basically, Kobe is very well connected by train and you’ll be able to get there easily and leave easily.
Where to Stay in Kobe, Japan.
There is a good selection of Hotels in Kobe along with Hostels and Guesthouses in Kobe however it is not a city that is overrun with accommodation, therefore, you are best to book accommodation in Kobe in advance, especially if you are visiting for or during the Rugby World Cup in Japan!
Hostels and Guesthouses in Kobe.
I stayed at Guesthouse Maya Kobe which I really recommend! It’s in the Nada neighbourhood which is just a short JR train away from the very centre of the City (and this line is included in your JR pass if you have one). The Guesthouse is really homely and cosy with great staff. They have dorm rooms perfect for backpackers on a budget in Japan but also nice private rooms for a great price.
I really enjoyed seeing the neighbourhood of Nada too, it gave me that ‘local’ feeling and partnered with the fact that Guesthouse Maya in Kobe offers a walking shopping street tour to meet the locals and taste their foods, I had a great experience feeling like I lived in Kobe for 2 days!
Check Rates and Availability for Guesthouse Maya here.
Hotels in Kobe.
For Hotels in Kobe in a good central location with good reviews I recommend:
For more Hotels in Kobe have a look Booking.com here. I always use Booking.com as it’s a great way to compare hotels and get the best deal.
Hotels at Arima Onsen.
Not far from Kobe is Arima Onsen which is a popular Onsen in Japan offering you the chance to fully relax and experience the Onsen and Ryokan Culture in Japan.
For hotels in Arima Onsen which is easily accessible from Kobe have a look at:
How to get Around Kobe.
Kobe is very well connected however I won’t lie, I got a little bit confused and got on a few wrong subways!
To get around Kobe you can use the JR Train Lines, the Subway and the Bus.
Remember that if you have a JR Pass as you’re travelling around Japan, you can use any of the JR Train lines free of charge (well, they’re included in your pass). You don’t need to purchase tickets, you just show your JR pass to the inspectors at the barrier and they let you through.. easy!
To use the metro/subway in Kobe it’s best to get an Icoca Card. These are purchased for 2000Yen which included 500Y for the card and 1500Y credit to get around and then you can tap in and tap out on the subway.
The ICOCA card is also worth getting if you are travelling elsewhere in Japan as they are valid in all of Kansai aka Osaka, Kyoto and Hiroshima which means you do not need to worry about buying individual subway tickets in any of these Cities including Kobe.
If you’d rather get an Icoca Card in advance for the same price to save the stress when you arrive, buy an Icoca Card here.
Kobe is also well connected by bus. I didn’t use the buses in Kobe to get around Kobe however there are lots of regular stops and I’ve seen the Kobe City Loop online which is a bus with 17 stops around the City included. A bit like a hop-on, hop-off bus I believe which would be a great way to explore Kobe.
To get up the mountains like Mount Maya and Mount Rokko there are Cable Cars and Ropeways to the top!
The Subway and JR lines are quite confusing with lots of lines and signs pointing in all directions however my biggest tip for getting around Kobe as a foreigner is to seek help from the information counters and ticket counters and ask them where to go as everyone in Kobe and Japan, is very happy to help.
I hope this helps you plan your trip to Kobe, Japan! It really is a great city, I’d go as far as saying it was my favourite place to visit in Japan!
To SEE my time in Kobe, have a watch of my YouTube video here.
For more posts on Japan see:
I stayed at Maya Guesthouse complimentary but I had a great experience and fully recommend it to you.