20 Things To Do In Kobe

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It takes less than 30 minutes to reach Kobe from Osaka and a bit over that time to get there from Kyoto. Kobe is a city in Osaka Bay in central Japan, making it an excellent city to add to your Japan itinerary if you are visiting either of these other famous cities. Situated between the sea and the Rokko mountain range, Kobe is an attractive place to visit. Kobe is arguably most famous for its Kobe beef which you’ve got to try while visiting. For more things to do in Kobe check out the list below.

Kobe, Japan

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20 Things To Do In Kobe

1- Eat Kobe Beef

Premium Legendary Top Grade Kobe Matsusaka Japanese Beef Steak
Eating Kobe beef is one of the top things to do in Kobe Japan.

One of the first things you’ve got to do while in Kobe is enjoy the delicacy with the same name – Kobe beef.

Kobe beef is a type of wagyu beef, which many people will agree is one of the finest cuts of beef around.

This beef comes from Tajima Japanese Black cattle but be warned Kobe beef is an expensive cut of meat.

So, your travel budget will determine where the best place to eat this beef is.

If you see a black cow statue outside the restaurant then you can guarantee they will be serving Kobe beef.


You can try Kobe beef nigiri which is a special type of sushi with a thin layer of Kobe beef over the top of rice.

Just one piece of Kobe beef nigiri costs around 800 Yen (around US$5.30).

You can also get Kobe beef ramen or grilled over a charcoal brazier.

Recommended tour: Kobe: Eat Like a Local Private & Personalized Food Tour

2- Cross Akashi Kaikyo Bridge

Akashi Kaikyo Suspension Bridge And Apartment Buildings
Crossing the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge is one of the best things to do in Kobe Japan.

The Akashi Kaikyo Bridge links Kobe on Honshu Island to Iwaya on Awaji Island.

Construction on this impressive suspension bridge started in 1988 and in April 1998 it was open.

The bridge is 1,991 meters (6,532 feet) long and has three spans.

Akashi Kaikyo Bridge is the second longest suspension bridge in the world after the recently opened 1915 Canakkale Bridge in Turkey.

One of the best places to view the bridge from is Maiko Marine Promenade, which offers a walkway that goes right under the platform of the bridge.

There’s also the Bridge Exhibition Center which provides information about the planning and construction of the bridge.

The Akashi Kaikyo Bridge is at 4 Higashimaikocho, Tarumi Ward, Kobe, Hyogo 655-0047.

Recommended tour: Half-Day Private Guided Tour to Kobe City

3- Take The Cable Car Or Hike Up Mount Rokko

Port Of Kobe From Rokko Mountain View
Taking the cable car or hiking up Mount Rokko is one of the best things to do in Kobe for a great view.

This funicular cable car has been transporting visitors to the top of Mount Rokko since 1932.

It takes 10 minutes to get from the Rokko Cable Shita station at the base of the mountain to the top.

After riding the cable car, you will be standing at 932 metres (3057 ft) and if you fancy more of a challenge, hike up Mount Rokko.

This mountain hike takes around three hours and includes a variety of terrains and things to see along the way.

You can also walk from here down to Arima Onsen.

If you hike from Mount Rokko to Arima Onsen you might be lucky to see wild boar.

At the top you will be treated to wonderful views of Osaka Bay and Kobe.

Mount Rokko is at Arimacho, Kita Ward, Kobe, Hyogo 651-1401.

Recommended tours:

4- Walk Around The Picturesque Rokko Garden Terrace

While at the top of Rokko Mountain, check out the Rokko Garden Terrace.

Rokko Garden is a place to enjoy wonderful views of Kobe and the surrounding mountains as well as dining and shopping opportunities.

The terrace which opened in 2003 is an observatory with a beautiful garden that is filled with seasonal flowers.

Rokko Garden Terrace is at Gosukeyama-1877-9 Rokkosancho, Nada Ward, Kobe, Hyogo 657-0101.

Recommended tour: Kobe: Private Walking Tour with Local Guide

5- Hike To Nunobiki Falls

If you are looking for a hiking experience that ends in a beautiful waterfall, there’s no place better than Nunobiki Falls.

The nearest station to the start of this hike is Shin-Kobe Station on the Kobe Municipal Subway Hokushin Line.

From Shin-Kobe Station it’s only a 20-minute hike.

Nunobiki is a collection of four waterfalls: Mentaki, Ontaki, Tsutsumigadaki and Meotodaki.

It’s a beautiful place to connect with nature.

Nunobiki Waterfall is at Kobeko Jikata, Chuo Ward, Kobe, Hyogo 651-0058.

6- Relax At Arima Onsen Hot Spring

Soaking in hot springs is a quintessentially Japanese thing to do, and they are super relaxing and fun.

Arima Onsen is just 20 minutes’ drive from Kobe or 30 minutes on the train from JR Sannomiyae Station.

Arima Onsen Hot Spring is one of the three oldest hot springs in the country.

It is well known for its hot spring and the village that surrounds the springs.

There are a plethora of things to do at Arima Onsen, such as visiting Tosen Shrine, which is a guardian deity of Arima Onsen.

There’s Osenji Temple and Onsenji Misoshian.

Experience Arima geiko (or geisha).

These women perform a variety of traditional arts and it’s a super traditional Japanese experience.

The so-called “golden spring” has a large concentration of sodium and iron.

There are three large public baths that offer this relaxing hot spring experience.

There are many places in the village to enjoy indoor and outdoor baths.

Arima Onsen Hot Spring is at 833 Arimacho, Kita Ward, Kobe, Hyogo 651-1401.

7- Visit Kobe Port Tower The City’s Most Iconic Landmark

Skyline And Port Of Kobe In Japan
Enjoying the skyline is one of the things to do in Kobe Japan.

The Kobe Port Tower is Kobe’s most recognizable landmark.

The tower is 354 feet (107 m) tall and has several observational decks with 360-degree views of the city, the ocean and Mount Rokko.

It’s great to visit the Kobe Port Tower just before sunset for excellent daytime, sunset and evening shots of the city.

The Kobe Port Tower is at 5-5 Hatobacho, Chuo Ward, Kobe, Hyogo 650-0042.

8- Visit Kobe’s Most Famous Temple – Ikuta Shrine

Ikuta Shrine is a Shinto shrine in Chuo Ward in downtown Kobe.

It’s one of the oldest shrines in the country, with more than 1800 years of history.

It is not just a place of peace and worship, but it has a colourful history.

It was even the sight of several battles of the Genpei War.

Surrounding the shrine there’s the ikuta forest which features beautiful and imposing old trees and a tranquil stream.

It is a characterful and peaceful place to visit.

If you visit during the new year celebrations, then the shrine is flanked by street stalls.

The red gates (torii gates) that have made Kyoto so famous can also be seen at Ikuta Shrine.

Ikuta Shrine is at 1 Chome-2-1 Shimoyamatedori, Chuo Ward, Kobe, Hyogo 650-0011.

9- Wander Around Meriken Park

Night View Of Kobe Meriken Park
Wandering around Meriken Park is one of the things to do in Kobe.

If you want to spend some time outside, then head down to Meriken Park on the waterfront park in the port area.

The park is situated on reclaimed land and has been uniquely converted to feature a grassy lawn and courtyards.

You will also see several modern art installations as well as the Kobe Port Tower and the Kobe Maritime Museum.

When the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake struck Kobe, the area was devastated, and around 6,300 people lost their lives in the quake.

Today the park has a memorial to commemorate those who lost their lives.

Meriken Park is at 2 Hatobacho, Chuo Ward, Kobe, Hyogo 650-0042.

10- Feel Like A Child Again On The Mosaic Ferris Wheel

Wheel Of Japan
Riding the Ferris Wheel is one of the things to do in Kobe with kids.

If you are travelling with kids (or even if you aren’t) Mosaic Ferris Wheel is a fun attraction in Kobe.

This Ferris wheel is in the area known as Harborland in Hyogo prefecture.

When the sun goes down, the Mosaic Ferris Wheel lights up in a variety of colours.

Riding the Ferris wheel provides guests with a unique perspective of the Kobe Port Tower, the harbour, and the Meriken Park Oriental Hotel.

The Mosaic Ferris Wheel is at 1 Chome-6-1 Higashikawasakicho, Chuo Ward, Kobe, Hyogo 650-0044.

11- Shop At Kobe Harborland

Night View Of Meriken Park Harborland City
Shopping at Kobe Harborland is regularly listed as one of the top 10 things to do in Kobe.

So, you are in Kobe and fancy a spot of shopping? Then head to Kobe Harborland.

This is a great clothes shopping mall close to the harbour and the Mosaic Ferris Wheel.

You can also dine at the mall in one of the restaurants with a view of Osaka Bay.

Harborland is at 1 Chome Higashikawasakicho, Chuo Ward, Kobe, Hyogo 650-0044.

12- Take A Cruise Around Kobe Bay

Panorama Of Landmark Tower In Kobe, Japan
Taking a cruise around Kobe Bay is one of the things to do in Kobe.

As Kobe is a city on the water, seeing the city skyline from a cruise boat is one of the things to do.

The Kobe Bay Cruise offers two different luxury cruisers and there’s the Royal Princess or the Atake Maru.

Enjoy the views of the city from the roofless sky decks.

It’s a great idea to take the sunset cruise time so you can enjoy Kobe Bay during the day and when it lights up.

Cruises usually last for around 45 minutes and you will also be able to see the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge from the boat.

Kobe Bay Cruises depart from Kamomeria Bus Stop, 7-1 Hatobacho, Chuo Ward, Kobe, Hyogo 650-0042.

13- Try Chinese Food In Nankin-Machi

Street Food In Nankin-Machi, Chinatown, Kobe
Eating Chinese food in Nankin-machi is one of the things to do today in Kobe.

While you will be admiring Japan’s culinary superiority at nearly every meal, there are also excellent spots to eat other cuisines.

Head to Kobe Chinatown at Nankin-machi for all things China.

Kobe’s Chinatown is in the Kansai Region of the city.

While it’s relatively small there’s a lot of Chinese culture packed into a tiny area.

The areas were developed by Chinese merchants who settled in Kobe and opened for trade in 1868.

The area was named Nankin machi after China’s former capital Nanjing (during the Ming dynasty).

Shop for Chinese goods, play a game of majang and tuck into some incredible Chinese (and Japanized) food.

Nankin-Machi is at 1 Chome-3-18 Sakaemachidori, Chuo Ward, Kobe, Hyogo 650-0023.

14- Shop Until You Drop At Motomachi Shopping Street

Another excellent place to go shopping in Kobe is Motomachi Shopping Street.

This long street (around five blocks in all) is filled with stores, cafes and restaurants.

There are around 230 stores and the street features famous local brands as well as international stores.

If you visit during the Motomachi Charming Sale (held at the end of February and September) then you can expect to find many discounts but alos a ton of people!

Motomachi Shopping Street is at Motomachidori, Chuo Ward, Kobe, Hyogo 650-0022.

15- Learn About The Great Hanshin Awaji Earthquake At The Earthquake Memorial Museum

On January 17th, 1995, the Great Hanshin Earthquake struck the southern part of Hyogo prefecture including Hanshin.

The earthquake was 6.9 on the Richter scale.

6,434 people were killed in the earthquake with around 43,000 injured and 310,000 people displaced.

This was one of the worst earthquakes in Japanese history.

The Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake Memorial Museum also known as The Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake Memorial Disaster Reduction and Human Renovation Institution is well-worth a visit if you want to learn more about the earthquake and pay your respects to those affected.

The Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake Memorial Disaster Reduction and Human Renovation Institution is at 651-0073 Hyogo, Kobe, Chuo Ward, Wakinohamakaigandori, 1 Chome−5−2.

16- Sample Japanese Rice Wine At A Sake Brewery

Sake Barrels Near Entrance Of Meiji Shrine
Sampling Japanese rice wine at a Sake Brewery is one of the top 10 things to do in Kobe.

Sake is Japan’s special rice wine, an alcoholic beverage made by fermenting rice.

This is also a popular drink in other Asian countries, in China it’s called mijiu.

Kobe’s Nada district is one of the top sake producing areas in Japan.

Owing to the locally grown, high quality rice, suitable water, and good weather conditions, it’s no wonder it has become a popular place for sake production.

You can spend around half a day exploring Nada, popping into sake breweries, shops and even the Hakutsuru Sake Brewery Museum.

Kobe Shushinkan Brewery is an excellent place to visit with a large shop that has many different sakes to choose from.

The Hakutsuru Sake Bewery Museum is at 4 Chome-5-5 Sumiyoshi Minamimachi, Higashinada Ward, Kobe, Hyogo 658-0041.

Kobe Shushinkan Brewery is at 1 Chome-8-17 Mikagetsukamachi, Higashinada Ward, Kobe, Hyogo 658-0044.

17- Admire Japanese Art At Hyogo Prefectural Museum Of Art

Even when you are not specifically looking at art, Japan is one of those places that oozes creativity and style.

If you love art or are just interested in Japanese culture, then you must visit the Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art when you are in Kobe.

The museum itself is a work of art, designed by Tadao Ando.

The museum has several foreign and Japanese collections including sculptures, prints, paintings, and Japanese great works from the modern and contemporary eras.

The museum also has an auditorium and event space and regularly hosts performing arts and live music as well.

Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art is at 1 Chome-1-1 Wakinohamakaigandori, Chuo Ward, Kobe, Hyogo 651-0073.

18- Look At The Foreign Architecture In Kitano-Cho

Kitano-Cho is an area of Kobe known for its Western-style mansions that were built for the diplomats and merchants who arrived in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Many of the houses in this area have been preserved for the interest of people visiting.

Head to The English House and you can even visit the “Sherlock Holmes” room.

As you stroll around the streets you will almost feel as if you have left Japan.

Pop into boutiques, cafes, or antique stores for a relaxing and interesting morning in Kobe.

Kitano-Cho is at Chuo Ward, Kobe, Hyogo 650-0002.

19- Walk, Relax Or Picnic At Maiko Park

Maiko Park also known by its longer name Hyogo Prefectural Maiko Park is a 7.8-hectare oceanside park that provides visitors with excellent views of the Akashi Kaikyo Suspension Bridge.

As well as admiring the awe-inspiring suspension bridge you can also walk along the promenade, let the kids play in the playground and take a stroll through the pine forest.

Maiko Park is at 2051 Higashimaikocho, Tarumi Ward, Kobe, Hyogo 655-0047.

20- Explore The Kobe Maritime Museum

Night View Of Kobe City, Meriken Park Harborland
The Kobe waterfront.

The Kobe Maritime Museum is a wonderful attraction in Kobe’s port area.

This museum is in Meriken Park and is dedicated to showcasing the city’s maritime history.

The museum opened in 1987 to commemorate the 120th anniversary of Kobe opening as a Treaty Port to the world.

This was an important moment at the end of the Edo Period and a big part of Japnese history.

Inside you can see some impressive maritime collections.

The HMS Rodney was a 90-gun Royal Navy ship built in 1822.

You can see it in all its grandeur in the foyer of the museum.

At the museum you can learn more about ship construction from the early days all the way to modern day cruise ships which regularly dock at Kobe port.

It’s a wonderful museum that the whole family will enjoy.

The Kobe Maritime Museum is at 2-2 Hatobacho, Chuo Ward, Kobe, Hyogo 650-0042.

Recommended tour: Private:Full day Kobe City Tour w/Hotel Pickup

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Harriet Comley
Harriet Comley is a travel enthusiast, freelance travel writer and a lover of safaris. Since 2017 she has been travelling the globe living in the UK, Canada, Vietnam, China and now Zambia, where she is completing her PhD in Sustainable Tourism. For 3 1/2 years she taught English in Vietnam and China. Now she has turned her attention to writing, having contributed to a number of travel blogs and websites always focusing on what she loves most…exploring!