15 Best Things To Do in Kobe, Japan

Kobe is a port city in the land of the rising sun, the scenery flanked by mountains in the backdrop. Located in the Kansai region of Japan, it is only a 30 min train ride from Osaka, an hour away from Kyoto station and therefore easily accessible. With its stylish European architecture, it deserves much more attention than it currently receives, for it offers a range of tourist attractions to anyone willing to explore all the things that it has to offer. Some of the best places to visit in Kobe are Mount Maya and Nunobiki Falls. Other Kobe points of interest include Kobe Harbourland and Ikuta Shrine.

Kobe has a whole range of experiences for the visitor with the motive to travel and see the sights. From beautiful scenes to places rooted in the traditional Japanese culture, here is a list of 15 best things to do in Kobe, Japan:

1. Kobe Harborland

To see Kobe as the port city it is, a visit to the Kobe Harborland is a must. It is a vast multi-complex facility that faces the sea and is amusing to adults and children alike. The area consists of the Anpanman Museum, a huge Ferris wheel, brick warehouses and Gaslight Street which form some of its many attractions. Entry to the area is free, but prices vary depending on your choice of entertainment. 

2. Mount Maya 

Daylight has its appeal, you can see things clearly and in thorough detail. But the nights in Kobe have its own appeal as well. Mount Maya is one among the three main nightscapes in the city and with its twinkling lights of the “urbanscape” offers a sight poles apart from the daytime view. Located at the center of the Rokko Mountains in Japan, the 609m high peak takes you to the other end of the city of Kobe, the opposite end of the sea. The Maya View Line which is a combination of a ropeway and a cableway can take you up to the peak so you can get a panorama shot of the Osaka Bay from the observation point. For a one way ride up the prices vary from 800 JPY for an adult and 440 JPY for a child. 

3. Nunobiki Falls

Along with the mountains and the sea, get closer to nature with the Nunobiki Falls at Kobe, Japan. It is a 10-minute hike from the Shin-Kobe Station. The destination is a cluster of waterfalls named Ontaki, Mentaki, Meototaki, and Tsutsumigataki, of which Ontaki is the highest fall, at 43m. You reach the destination by walking, the place has no closing time, and there is no entry fee required to go see this magnificent waterfall. 

4. Kobe Port Tower

Speaking of panoramic views, nothing beats the one at Kobe Port Tower which you will be treated to once you decide to visit. A revolving cafe is located from which completes a full rotation in 20 minutes, covering the sea, the port, and the Rokko Mountains. A skywalk with a transparent floor shows how the structure is a product of true Japanese engineering and architecture. The venue is opened at night as well granting access to a breathtaking view, at 700 JPY for adults and 300 JPY for kids. 

5. Earthquake Memorial Park 

Japan is the land of earthquakes. Located at the margins of the earthquake circle on the Earth’s surface, tremors of the earth and the wrath of the sea are familiar occurrences. The Great Hanshin Earthquake was one among many that wrecked Japan. To remember the calamity, a stretch of 60m breakwater at the Meriken Wharf has been preserved for people to see. The park shows the ferocity of the earthquake through video and photographs, grants free entry and remains open from 9 am to 9 pm.

6. Kitano Cho 

Japan has a short-lived history as a colony. Following the opening of the Kobe Bay, a stretch of the land became the residential area for the foreigners who came. They constructed here houses, in style familiar to them and unfamiliar to the colonized natives. This area is known as the Kitano Cho which still has 30 preserved western style houses from the Meiji and Taisho eras. Restaurants, boutiques, and establishments in the area represent many countries. Prices depend on the establishment that you visit.

7. Kobe Nunobiki Herb Gardens and Ropeway

An extension from the Nunobiki Falls, the ropeway leads to another prime destination in Kobe Japan, to the biggest herb garden in the country. 75,000 herbs and plants representing approximately 200 species can be found in the gardens. A 10-minute ropeway ride will take you there, over the Kobe-Keihanshin area beneath. At the gardens there is also a restaurant incorporating herbs in its cuisine. A round trip ticket will cost 1700 JPY and 700 JPY each, for adults and kids respectively. 

8. Ikuta Shrine

The 1800-year-old shrine is the cultural root of the origins of the city. The name 'Kobe' is derived from the name 'Kanbe' referring to the family charged with protecting the Ikuta God. It is open for visit every day and is free, situated at the heart of the Sannomiya commercial area. The shrine is particularly recognised for its association with pleasant and successful matchmaking.

9. Fisherman’s Market

At the Kobe Harborland, find out the true taste of living in a port city, literally. Venture into the Umie mall in the Harborland Area and treat yourself to an all you can eat buffet centered on seafood at the Fisherman’s market located in the mall. 

10. Hot Springs in Aroma Onsen

There are two hot springs in the city of Kobe- the Kinsen or the Golden Spring and the Ginsen or the Silver Spring. The hot springs are located at some distance from the city itself and attract a lot of locals. Venture out to experience the traditional naked dip at the baths in the relaxing naturally-heated water. 

11. Nada-Gogo

America has its bourbon and Russia has its vodka. The kind of alcohol traditionally associated with Japan is the sake. Nada Gogo is the sake brewing area in the city of Kobe in Japan. Take a walk through and breath in the sweetened air. Stop at the local Hakatsuru Sake Brewery for an authentic taste, just for the 'sake' of it. 

12. Akashi Kaikyo Bridge

Japan is known for its architectural and engineering innovations. One such example can be found in the local city of Kobe itself. The Akashi Kaikyo Bridge, or the Pearl Bridge, is the longest suspension bridge not only in Japan but in the world at large. Try to fit it into your lens and keep the photo in your memory bank for your lifetime. 

13. Himeji Castle

Amidst all the geography and architecture, add a little history to the mix with a visit to Himeji Castle. Known as the Shirasagi-jo, or the White Egret Castle, you can take a train to the venue and easily spend the day roaming in its cavernous halls and passageways. 

14. Animal life in Kobe 

There are two main spots to experience wildlife in the urban city of Kobe. One is the Kobe Suma Marine Aquarium which allows first-hand interaction with Japan’s marine life, involving sharks, stingrays, dolphins, and other marine animals. The Oji Zoo offers interaction with terrestrial wildlife, like pandas, koalas, and other animals. 

15. City Hall Observation Deck

For one comprehensive panoramic view of the city, visit the City Hall Observation Deck. Take the elevator up to the twenty-fourth floor and experience the beautiful view free of charge. 

The Japanese city of Kobe is relatively obscure in the tour plans compared to other cities in the country. Kobe with its mountains and seas, temples and bridges, hot springs and waterfalls, offers all of Japan in a nutshell.

Author: Revati Tamboli
Raised in an unconventional and feminist family, Revati believes in hope and love more than anything else in the world. She was still waiting for her Hogwarts letter or a spider to bite her while pursuing engineering, so that she could become a wizar...

Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Kobe, Japan

Must see places in Kobe ranked on popularity. Here is the complete list of Kobe tourist attractions & points of interest.

  1. # 1 of 192 Things To Do in Kobe | Added 2703 times in trip plans
    Kobe Nunobiki Herb Garden And Ropeway

    Tags: Garden, View Point, Ropeways

    Address: Japan, 〒650-0002 Hyōgo-ken, Kobe-shi, Chūō-ku, Kitanochō, 1 Chome−4

    Timings: 10:00 am - 04:45 pm Details

    The layout of this attraction can be mildly confusing to foreigners: the thing to remember is that this is TWO attractions, a cable car ropeway from the foot of the hill, and the herb garden the cable...Read more

  2. # 2 of 192 Things To Do in Kobe | Added 2085 times in trip plans
    Kobe City Oji Zoo

    Tags: Zoo

    Address: 3-1 Ojicho, Nada Ward, Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture 657-0838, Japan

    Timings: 09:00 am - 05:00 pm Details

    The 80000 square metres of the zoo are home to around 850 different animals from 150 different species. A pleasant number of the species are quite rare - giant panda, koala, golden snub-nosed monkey, ...Read more

  3. # 3 of 192 Things To Do in Kobe | Added 2395 times in trip plans
    Sannomiya Center Town

    Tags: Cafe, Street Market, Shopping Center, Street Food

    Address: Sannomiyacho, Chuo-ku, Kobe 650-0021, Hyogo Prefecture, Japan

    Timings: 24-hrs Details

    It would be easy to end up spending an entire day in this commercial complex without realizing where the time has flown. The main attraction here is the Sannomiya Centre Street underground shopping ma...Read more

  4. # 4 of 192 Things To Do in Kobe | Added 2003 times in trip plans

    Tags: Museum, Cafe, Restaurant

    Address: Kitanocho, Chuo-ku, Kobe 650-0002, Hyogo Prefecture

    Timings: 24-hrs Details

    In 1860, the city of Kobe opened up to foreign traders, after a treaty signed by Japan and several western nations. These merchants established themselves in the Kitano district, and once upon a time ...Read more

  5. # 5 of 192 Things To Do in Kobe | Added 1946 times in trip plans
    Ikuta Shrine

    Tags: Entertainment, Festival

    Address: 1 Chome-2-1 Shimoyamatedori, Chuo Ward, Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture 650-0011, Japan

    Timings: 07:00 am - 06:00 pm Details

    This is one of the oldest and most historically significant shrines in the country. It was built in the 3rd Century AD in worship of the deity (kami) Wakahirume, and is one of the three major shrines ...Read more

  6. # 6 of 192 Things To Do in Kobe | Added 1351 times in trip plans
    Kobe Port Tower

    Tags: Landmark, Tower, Observation Deck

    Address: 5-5 Hatobacho, Chuo Ward, Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture 650-0042, Japan

    Timings: 09:00 am - 09:00 pm Details

    Completed in 1963, this hyperboloid tower is a classic tourist trap. The tower is 108 meters tall and there is an observation deck at 90 meters, with 360 degrees panoramic views of the city. It looks ...Read more

  7. # 7 of 192 Things To Do in Kobe | Added 1269 times in trip plans
    Kobe City Hall

    Tags: Cafe, Performance, Neighborhoods , Hall

    Address: Japan, 〒650-0001 Hyogo Prefecture, Kobe, 中央区加納町6-5-1

    Timings: 08:15 am - 10:00 pm Details

    This beautiful observation hall, on the 24th story of the Kobe City Hall building has two sides. The north side looks out to the Rokko mountain range and the Sannomiya neighborhood. The south side loo...Read more

  8. # 8 of 192 Things To Do in Kobe | Added 70 times in trip plans
    Kobe-sanda Premium Outlets

    Tags: Restaurant, Entertainment, Shopping Center

    Address: 7-3 Kozudai Kita-ku, Kobe 651-1515, Hyogo Prefecture

    Timings: 10:00 am - 08:00 pm Details

    North of the city of Kobe you will find this sprawling, charming shopping complex. There are about 260 foreign and local brand shops here selling everything from clothes, antiques, furniture and sport...Read more

  9. # 9 of 192 Things To Do in Kobe | Added 348 times in trip plans
    Kobe Animal Kingdom

    Tags: Botanical Garden, Bird Watching

    Address: 7-1-9 Minatojima-minami, Kobe 650-0047, Hyogo Prefecture

    Timings: 10:00 am - 05:30 pm Details

    The name of this attraction can be a little misleading. It is not a zoo, but rather a bird and flower park, although some people now call it an animal cafe. It used to be called the Kobe Botanical Gar...Read more

  10. # 10 of 192 Things To Do in Kobe | Added 50 times in trip plans
    Kobe City Suma Marine Aquarium

    Tags: Amusement Park, Aquarium, Rides

    Address: 1 Chome-3-5 Wakamiyacho, Suma Ward, Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture 654-0049, Japan

    Timings: 09:00 am - 05:00 pm Details

    This is another fun tourist trap for the family - an aquarium next to Suma Beach. Opened in 1957, the main attraction here is the live dolphin pavilion, where the marine mammals perform tricks. On the...Read more

  11. # 11 of 192 Things To Do in Kobe | Added 1044 times in trip plans
    Meriken Park

    Address: 2 Hatobacho, Chuo Ward, Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture 650-0042, Japan

    Timings: 24-hrs Details

    In 1868, when Japan started letting in foreign tourists and visitors, this area was the wharf where the ships could come in. The name comes from the Japanese translation for 'American'. In the latter ...Read more

  12. # 12 of 192 Things To Do in Kobe | Added 228 times in trip plans
    Kawasaki Good Times World

    Tags: Museum, Automobile Museum

    Address: 2-2 Hatobacho, Chuo-ku, Kobe 650-0042, Hyogo Prefecture

    Timings: 10:00 am - 05:00 pm Details

    The Kawasaki Heavy Industries Group has been around in the city of Kobe for over a hundred years. Though most people think of the Kawasaki brand as associated to motorcycles, the company started out a...Read more

  13. # 13 of 192 Things To Do in Kobe | Added 335 times in trip plans
    Nunobiki Falls

    Tags: Waterfall

    Address: Kuchishiroyama-1-2 FukiaichoChuo-ku, Kobe-shi, Hyogo-ken 651-0058 Japan

    Timings: 24-hrs Details

    The importance of this series of waterfalls for Japanese history and Japanese literature cannot be overstated. There are four separate major cascades known as Ondaki, Mendaki, Tsusumigadaki, and Izumo...Read more

  14. # 14 of 192 Things To Do in Kobe | Added 358 times in trip plans
    Hakutsuru Sake Brewery Museum

    Tags: Museum, Brewery

    Address: 4-5-5 Sumiyoshi-minami-machi, Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture

    Timings: 09:00 am - 04:30 pm Details

    Kobe is one of the foremost brewing centers for the Japanese alcoholic drink Sake. And the Hakutsuru is one of the most important breweries in town. Your tour through this delightfully charming tradit...Read more

  15. # 15 of 192 Things To Do in Kobe | Added 667 times in trip plans
    Rokko Cable Car

    Tags: Cable Car

    Address: Nishiyama-8-2 Takaha, Nada Ward, Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture 657-0001, Japan

    Timings: 07:10 am - 09:30 pm Details

    This is part of a series of the attractions of Mount Rokko. Technically this is not a cable car but rather a funicular. The car departs from Rokko Cable Shita Station and goes to the RokkoSanjo Statio...Read more

Activities And Tours

Explore these activities and tours for awesome experiences in Kobe: