Kobe is surrounded by the majestic mountain of Rokko and is home to more than 1.6 million inhabitants. This port city located just outside Osaka Bay is also an extremely effective place to relieve stress and fatigue where you can enjoying a traditional Japanese hot spring bath (Onsen), enjoying aromatic sake wine and tasting the authentic Kobe beef. So, what to do and how to visit Kobe for the first-time? Let’s check out our Kobe travel blog (Kobe japan blog, Kobe japan travel blog) with the fullest Kobe travel guide (Kobe guide, Kobe japan travel guide) from how to get there, where to stay, best time and best places to visit, top things to do as well as suggested Kobe travel itinerary for 2 days to find out the answer!
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Kobe is also the birthplace of the world famous Kobe beef. These cows are fed with young grass, listen to symphonic music, drink beer, and massage to produce premium meat at a high price.
Kobe travel guide: Overview of Kobe
Kobe is one of the six largest cities in Japan, located on Honshu Island, in Hyogo Prefecture, and is also one of the most active, busiest commercial port cities and is also one of the first cities to open business with Western countries since 1868. Kobe’s area is about 552.8 km2 and the population is nearly 1.6 million people.
After the port was opened in 1868, Kobe has become a gathering place for many foreign tourists and businessmen, so Kobe’s city landscape is very characteristic. That is why Kobe is a symbolic city with Western style.
Kobe is one of the main seaports of Japan, known as a miniature Europe of the East. With beautiful architecture of Western luxury style combined with vibrant natural scenery all year round brings a strong attraction to this city. The special thing is that although this is considered as a miniature Western city, the pace of life is not in a hurry or hustle.
5 reasons why you should visit Kobe:
- To learn about the traditional Sake rice wine
- Enjoy the world-wide famous Kobe beef
- Experience amazing mountain hiking trails
- Visit the countless museums in Kobe
- Check-in at landmark buildings with unique architecture
Kobe guide: When to visit?
Kobe city is located in the southern part of Japan. Therefore, the weather and climate in Kobe is somewhat warmer and more pleasant than other cities located in the North. Winter is not too cold and there is no snow. However, in summer, the temperature is quite high, it is very hot, moreover, it often rains. Therefore, you should not go in summer. For the rest of the year you can visit Kobe at anytime you want.
Kobe has a temperate climate, warm all year round and the everage temperature is about 15 degrees Celsius. However, there is heavy rainfall throughout the year, with December being the driest month. You remember to bring a raincoat or umbrella if you travel Kobe in June.
Kobe travel guide: How to get to Kobe?
Kobe Airport (UKB) is located 10km from the city center. There is also Kansai International Airport (KIX) which is 70km from the city. From Kobe Airport, you can take the Port Island Line (“Port Liner”) train to Kobe-Sannomiya station for a fare of 330 yen.
If you want to travel from Kansai International Airport to Sannomiya Station, you can take the airport Limousine bus which costs about 1.980 yen/one-way.
If you traveling by Japan Railways from Osaka, Tokyo and Kyoto, you will stop at Sannomiya Station in Kobe. Or arrival at Shin-Kobe Station (JR Kobe) if you take the shinkansen bullet train, 1km from that to the north. The traveling costs around 310 – 600 yen.
From Osaka to Kobe: Take the JR train at Shin-Osaka Station or Osaka Station directly to JR Kobe Station or Sannomiya Station which takes about 30 minutes. Take the S.Rapid train is the fastest and no need to change the train.
From Kyoto to Kobe: Take the JR train from JR Kyoto Station directly to JR Kobe Station or Sannomiya Station which takes about 1 hour. This train is similar to the train as Osaka above, it will go from Kyoto to Osaka first and then to Kobe later.
If you choose to go by bus from Osaka or Tokyo, you can count on the express bus services offered by many carriers. The journey takes about 9-10 hours and costs around 5.000 – 11.000 yen. You can refer to and book tickets here.
Kobe travel blog: Getting around Kobe
Public transportation in Kobe includes subway, light rail and buses. You should buy one-day or two-day pass if you want to explore many places, priced at only 1000 yen for adults and 500 yen for children. The daily ticket called Hankyu Tourist Pass (1 Day or 2 Day), see more and buy here.
Alternatively, you can travel by taxi. Fares start at a fixed rate from 650 yen for the first km then go up to 324 yen for each subsequent kilometer. (1 mile = 1.6 km ~ 517 yen, so I calculated 1km ~ 324 yen).
Kobe japan travel guide: Best places to visit and top things to do in Kobe
Arima Onsen is a famous town for its many hot springs (Onsen) within the city territory, but is located on the opposite side of Mount Rokko from the center view. The town is set in a natural mountainous area, close enough to Kobe and Osaka to make a day trip easily. This is a popular getaway for locals and tourists on weekends.
A representative hot spring and one of Japan’s three oldest hot springs. There are 2 hot springs called “Golden Spring” and “Silver Spring”. Golden spring is a famous spring with reddish brown water that warms your body and soul. While The carbon-covered silver spring and gentle hot water will slowly blow away the fatigue and stimulate your feeling of eating.
Kitano Tenman Shrine
Kitano Tenman-jinja Shrine is a popular sightseeing spot. Built in 1180, the temple dedicated to Sugawara no Michizane – is the Japanese God of academics, scholarship, learning. On festival occasions, visitors can watch many traditional rituals taking place at the shrine.
Address: 3 Chome-12-1 Kitanocho, Chuo Ward, Kobe, Hyogo 650-0002, Japan
Kobe Earthquake Memorial Museum
On January 17, 1995, at 5:46 a.m., the city of Kobe suffered a massive earthquake called the Great Hanshin Awaji Earthquake. This led to the tragic deaths of more than 5.000 people and the destruction of tens of thousands of houses. So in 2002, the Kobe Earthquake Memorial Museum was established to commemorate this horrifying disaster, as well as to show to visitors about earthquakes and how to prevent disasters.
Address: 1 Chome-5-2 Wakinohamakaigandori, Chuo Ward, Kobe, Hyogo 651-0073, Japan
Hours: 9:30AM–5:30PM/Friday, Saturday: 9:30AM–7PM/Monday: Closed
Shin-Kobe Nunobiki Ropeway
The Shin-Kobe Ropeway is one of three ropeway services in Kobe that takes visitors up the southern slopes of the Rokko mountain range. The cable car departs from the side of Shin-Kobe Station and Shinkansen Station. A little higher up, the cable car will cross Nunobiki Waterfall and Kobe Nunobiki Herb Gardens, giving visitors a wonderful natural view from above. The highlight of this cable car route is the observatory located next to the last terminal, where visitors can admire the majestic landscape and is a famous night view of Kobe.
Sorakuen is a traditional Japanese garden located in the center of Kobe city. The garden was once part of the residence of Kodera Kenkichi, the former mayor of Kobe, but was opened to the public in 1941.
Address: 5 Chome-3-1 Nakayamatedori, Chuo Ward, Kobe, Hyogo 650-0004, Japan
Hours: 9AM–5PM/Thursday: Closed
Mount Rokko is the highest peak in the Rokko Mountains, bringing a pleasant green backdrop to the entire city of Kobe. From the top of the mountain, you can enjoy a panoramic view of the largely urbanized Hanshin region (including Kobe and Osaka), and a beautiful sunset from above.
Mount Maya (Kikuseidai Observatory)
At the Kikuseidai Observatory on top of Mount Maya, near Mount Rokko, Kobe, you can admire the beautiful scenery from Osaka, Kobe, the Akashi Bridge from very far. The night scene “capturing the whole starry sky” is true to the origin that makes up its name, from a distance visitors can admire the wonderful light covering the night scene and admire the beautiful scenery that is indescribable.
Sake Breweries in Nada District
Nada is the most famous sake produce district througout Japan. Sake has long been a specialty of this region thanks to its delicious rice grains, abundant water resources, and ideal weather conditions. So there are a lot of Sake Breweries located in Nada prefecture.
Sake production in this land was formed and developed 700 years ago, maintained and preserved until today. Therefore, Sake is not only a specialty but also a symbol, brand, the national spirit of Japan.
Traveling to the land of cherry blossoms, you have ever enjoyed famous sake rice wine? But do you know where the famous Sake is produced? If in doubt, please visit the Nada district, located in the east of Kobe city, and visit the Hakutsuru Sake Brewery Museum. This is Japan’s 6th largest Sake production site located in Kobe, where the famous sake is produced.
Climbing Rokko mountain, do not miss the beautiful scenery of Nunobiki waterfall. This waterfall has 4 separate levels: Ondaki, Mendaki, Tsusumigadaki, Meotodaki. In addition, behind this waterfall, there is also a very beautiful mysterious cave.
Nunobiki is a must-see natural scenic spot in Kobe, and along with Kegon Falls and Nachi Falls become the trio of majestic waterfalls that the most beautiful and also the most famous in Japan.
Address: Chuo Ward, Kobe, Hyogo 651-0058, Japan
Sannomiya is Kobe’s central quarter, the neighborhood is always bustling.
Among the many ancient castles that exist to this day in Japan, Himeji is an ancient castle that less suffers from the effects of wars or natural disasters. Himeji Castle today still retains its original architecture as it was when it was originally built. Himeji Castle is recognized by Unesco as a world cultural heritage and is considered a treasure of Japan.
Address: 68 Honmachi, Himeji, Hyogo 670-0012, Japan
Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art
The museum is built based on the design of famous architect Tadao Ando, is a very harmonious combination between indoor and outdoor spaces, bringing a bright, green color to building.
As an art museum, visiting Hyogo museum, you will admire the rich art collections of Japan and the world. The artistic works of famous artists are: Ryohei Koiso and Heizo Kanayama are regularly displayed at the museum for visitors to admire. There are also many pictures, paintings in Western style, paintings and sculptures of many Japanese and international artists are also exhibited here.
Address: 1 Chome-1-1 Wakinohamakaigandori, Chuo Ward, Kobe, Hyogo 651-0073, Japan
Hours: 10AM–6PM/Monday: Closed
Kobe Port Tower
Kobe Port Tower is a famous symbol of Kobe port city. The tower was built in 1963 with a height of 108 meters, the main color is pink and red. The tower’s architecture is inspired by a traditional musical instrument, called the Tsuzumi drum.
On top of the tower there is an observatory with a view of the bay and Rokko mountain. At night is the most beautiful time of the port tower, standing at the top of the tower, you will admire the whole beautiful scene with the charming and impressive light show of the entire port area and the suspension bridge of Akashi Kaiko.
Address: 5-5 Hatobacho, Chuo Ward, Kobe, Hyogo 650-0042, Japan
Maiko is a seaside park – a relaxing and enjoyable spot for visitors, also ideal spot for admiring the beauty of the Akashi Kaiko suspension bridge beyond the Kobe Port Tower site.
Address: 4-2051 Higashimaikocho, Tarumi Ward, Kobe, Hyogo 655-0047, Japan
Suma Rikyu Park
Suma Rikyu Park was built to commemorate the wedding of Emperor in 1967. The park is a place where you can both see the sea and admire the splendor of flowers in four seasons. From spring to autumn, with more than 4,000 flowering plants of 180 types of roses in full bloom, this splendid landscape attracted many tourists to visit. There is also a grounds for viewing cherry blossoms, dahlia flowers and red leaves.
Address: 1-1 Higashisuma, Suma Ward, Kobe, Hyogo 654-0018, Japan
Hours: 9AM–5PM/Thursday: Closed
Nunobiki Herb Gardens
Nunobiki Herb Gardens is the most high-end parks in Japan with 75,000 flowers of more than 200 different types of flowers. Spring with cherry blossoms, summer with lavender, wisteria flower, and chrysanthemum in autumn, each season has its own beauty. Whatever season you come here, you can admire the beautiful flowers.
Address: 1 Chome-4-3 Kitanocho, Chuo Ward, Kobe, Hyogo 650-0002, Japan
Akashi Kaikyo Ohashi
Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge suspension bridge connects Honshu Island with Awaji Island, Shikoku. The suspension bridge not only has a beautiful and sturdy architecture, but its beauty is also embellished with the multi-color lighting system integrated on the bridge, the lighting system will change color in each season and time.
Address: 4 Higashimaikocho, Tarumi Ward, Kobe, Hyogo 655-0047, Japan
Kawasaki Good Time World
The exhibition is located in the Kobe Maritime Museum and belongs to the Kawasaki Heavy Industries with a history of more than 100 years. Here, visitors will be delighted to see and experience the Shinkansen bullet train, motorbikes and helicopters.
Address: 2-2 Hatobacho, Chuo Ward, Kobe, Hyogo 650-0042, Japan
Hours: 10AM–5PM/Monday: Closed
Nankinmachi is Kobe’s Chinatown, always bustling, busy with many activities during the day, and always emits a complex aroma from Chinese restaurants with a Japanese twist. Nankinmachi Chinatown in Kobe was formed in the late 1800s. Traditional Chinese culture is still fully preserved in this Nankinmachi neighborhood.
Kitano-cho was inhabited by many Japanese merchants and diplomats in the 19th century. Their residence, called ljinkan, nowadays become museums to opening for visitors. There are also many Western cafes and restaurants in the Kitano area. Sitting down and sip a cup of coffee and watching people passing by or walking on tree-lined roads, widely iron gates, roadside reliefs. The special thing is that although this is considered as a miniature Western city, the pace of life is not in a hurry or hustle. Visitors can relax, watch the gardens, admiring architectural beauty of the houses.
Kyu-kyoryuchi district is famous for many high-end fashion brands such as Gucci or Versace. There is also a district where many foreign consulates are located.
Meriken Waterfront Park
The Meriken harbour used to be where foreign ships unloaded but later moored at larger harbours nearby. The area is now Mariken Park and the marina there is only for cruises. The port tower in the park is 108m high and is the symbol of the port. From the top of the tower, visitors can see a beautiful view of the city, furthermore the city of Osaka and the island of Shikoku. Kobe’s largest shopping district is Sannomiya, located in the north of the port, between Sannomiya and Motomachi stations.
Address: 2-2 Hatobacho, Chuo Ward, Kobe, Hyogo 650-0042, Japan
You can walk out to Kobe Harborland from JR Kobe Station (step right out of the station you will see the signpost). On the way from JR Kobe to Harborland, there are also many beautiful spots to see and take pictures. Harborland is a shopping and entertainment area overlooking the port, so the scenery that both modern and romantic, very suitable for young people or couples. You can spend the whole day in this area because there are places to eat, shops, admire the scenery, especially sparkling and vibrant at night. If you come here in the summer (early August), you should not miss the spectacular fireworks festival.
Address: 1 Chome-3 Higashikawasakicho, Chuo Ward, Kobe, Hyogo 650-0044, Japan
Kobe guide: Where to stay in Kobe?
If you are looking for a luxury accommodation, you should book a room in Hotel La Suite Kobe Harborland (Agoda.com or Booking.com) or experience the Monterey Kobe Hotel (Agoda.com or Booking.com). The more classic Kobe Motomachi Tokyu REI hotel (Agoda.com or Booking.com), meanwhile, is a comfortable mid-range option.
Below we recommend more best cheap, budget, mid-range and upscale hotels with good ratings and reviews you can refer to.
- Hotel Okura Kobe, a top rated 5-star hotel with room rates from $95/night (Check rates on Agoda.com or Booking.com).
- Hotel Piena Kobe, a top rated 4-star hotel with room rates from $81/night (Check rates on Agoda.com or Booking.com).
- Kobe Portopia Hotel, a top rated 5-star hotel with room rates from $68/night (Check rates on Agoda.com or Booking.com).
- Kobe Meriken Park Oriental Hotel, a top rated 5-star hotel with room rates from $131/night (Check rates on Agoda.com or Booking.com).
- ANA Crowne Plaza Kobe, a top rated 5-star hotel with room rates from $103/night (Check rates on Agoda.com or Booking.com).
In addition, you can refer to one of the best Airbnb in Kobe:
- Comfy city apt for 4 | help you book “KOBE BEEF”! at $75/night
- Kobe -15mins to JR sannomiya- “Sarang Guesthouse” at $27/night
- Bunny Hutch Kobe 202 at $38/night
- Clean Blue&White Studio Apt. Osaka, Higashimikuni at $20/night
–> The Airbnb link that discount up to $35 for the first booking here: https://www.airbnb.com/c/anht5185
Kobe travel blog: What and where to eat?
Kobe beef is highly regarded by many diners in Japan and is probably the most widely known dish in Japan. Kobe beef is usually prepared in teppanyaki style, shabu shabu hotpot (thin slices of meat quickly dipped into a fragrant hot pot) or sukiyaki (sliced beef are cooked in a hot pot). One of the best ways to enjoy Kobe beef is teppanyaki, where chefs grilled beef on an iron table in front of diners.
Wakkoqu Restaurant near Shinkobe Station (New Kobe Station)
1 set lunch includes 1 piece of wagyu 150g made into 2 dishes, plus appetizer soup, rice, coffee, ice cream, the total cost is 4.500 yen, totally worth it. The outer edge of the steak is chopped and stir-fried with bean sprouts; The inside part is grilled (teppanyaki) with little salt, black pepper and then cut into bite-sized pieces, not marinated at all. Seeing the skillful-chef prepares this dish also very interesting.
Address: 1-1 Kitanocho, Chuo-Ku Shinkobe Oriental Avenue 3F, Kobe 650-0002 Hyogo Prefecture
Another one is Ryu-en in Umie Mosaic area, 2nd floor. This shop specializes in grilled beef (yakiniku). The lunch costs 980 – 1.700 yen / person, while diner costs 3.000 yen / person or more. For buffet (tabehodai) is about 5.000 yen / person. I always have lunch here because there is a lunch set with reasonable prices, but still have the opportunity to enjoy Kobe beef. This restaurant has a nice location, the window facing the port, so it’s good to have lunch while watching the scenery.
Address: 1 Chome-6-1 Higashikawasakicho, Chuo Ward, Kobe, Hyogo 650-0044, Japan
This is one of representative dishes of Japan cuisine and is famous all over the world. You can taste the meat cooked with soy sauce with vegetables, tofu and raw eggs. The dish has a strong flavor but still does not overwhelm the distinct flavor of the beef, making the hotpot even more delicious.
Gyudon (Japanese beef rice)
Typical stir-fried rice with belly and brisket beef. This meat is not used to prepare beefsteak, and will be delicious when combined with gyudon rice.
Ramen in recent years has also become very popular dish in Kobe, a land of rich cuisine. There are a variety of ramen noodles in traditional local eateries from beloved pork ribs ramen or sardines, and salted chicken ramen noodles which is trending.
Fried soba noodle rice
Soba noodles that are fried in a pan mixed with rice make the delicious Sobameshi dish. This Kobe dish may not be very familiar to tourists, but just enjoying it once you can understand why it is so famous in Japan.
This dish also called Tamagoyaki is a small round dumpling with main ingredient of octopus which raised in Seitouchi waters with fresh and delicious octopus tentacles fried with hot sauce.
Sake rice wine
Kobe is the most famous Japanese wine-making prefecture, especially Sake rice wine. Visiting Hakutsuku’s art museum near the sea of famous winemaker Hakutsuku, visitors will be able to enjoy all kinds of Japanese favorite wines in which Sake, specialty in Kobe.
At Fukuju brewery in Nada district, you will have the opportunity to taste and purchase hand-crafted wines.
Kobe Western Wine is processed at Kobe Winery Agriculture Park (Address: Takawa-1557-1 Oshibedanicho, Nishi Ward, Kobe, Hyogo 651-2204, Japan/Hours: 9AM–5PM). The raw materials for wine processing are grapes grown in the Setouchi waters with a favorable climate and soil. All stages of fermentation and bottling are carried out in low temperature environments. Although with high temperature, the efficiency will be higher, but it will take away the characteristic wine taste. Therefore, the temperature here will be adjusted low enough to produce fine wines.
Signature Kobe beer with 100% malt ingredients. This special beer is famous for its rich foam and sweet flavor made from the water source of Rokko mountain. Visitors will visit the Rokko beer factory.
Kobe is a place where cultures of the countries of the world have been blended into people’s lives since ancient times. Therefore, there are many delicious cakes that you cannot find elsewhere such as cream cakes, chocolate … All the fine pastries in Kobe are called “Kobe Cakes”. Every time you come to Kobe, you will have the opportunity to enjoy different types of pastries.
In Kobe, there are fresh fruits such as grapes, pears, peaches, figs. It is one of the rare cities across the country that produces a wide variety of fruits.
It is a specialty cake of Kobe processed in the shape of a tile roof. The cake is made from rice added sugar and egg, so it bringing both Japanese style and Western flavor.
Kobe travel guide: Shopping
Umie is a large shopping mall located in Harborland Kobe – a typical sightseeing spot in the Kobe port area. This place not only has the sea, the city and the people but also has high-end fashion shops, more than 225 stores with fine food, is a place where you can go out all day without getting bored.
Address: 1 Chome-7-2 Higashikawasakicho, Chuo Ward, Kobe, Hyogo 650-0044, Japan
Kobe guide: Suggested Kobe schedule 2 days
- Explore the Sannomiya Center Gai shopping center
- Strolling in Kobe Port
- Visiting Ikuta Shrine
- Visit Hakutsuru Sake Brewery Museum
- Have fun in Chinatown (Nankinmachi)
- Take the Shin-Kobe cable car
- Hiking mount Rokko
Some best day tours, trips, activities and transfer services, tickets in, from and to Kobe you can refer to
- Private Kansai Airport (KIX) Transfers for Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe, or Nara
- Private Kansai International Airport Transfers (KIX) for Osaka, Nara, & Kobe
- Kyoto Arashiyama, Golden Pavilion Temple, and Kobe MOSAIC Day Tour
- Todaiji Temple, Kobe Kitano-chō Ijinkan, & Kobe Harborland Day Tour from Osaka
- Naruto Whirlpool, England Hill, and Kobe Full Day Tour from Osaka
- 4G Prepaid Sim Card (JP Airports Pick Up) for Japan
- 4G WiFi (Japan Pick Up) for Japan
- JR Pass for Whole Japan (7, 14, or 21 Days)