The Top Things to Do in Kobe, Japan

Photo by Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

The Top Things to Do in Kobe, Japan

A short train journey from Kyoto and Osaka, Kobe is a great side trip for anyone visiting the Kansai area, and interesting enough to make the trip down there alone worthwhile. With the sea on one side and mountains on the other, Kobe is full of exciting things to do.

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The Top Things to Do in Kobe, Japan

Kobe Port Tower

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The symbol of Kobe that defines the city's skyline, Kobe Port Tower features a simple but beautiful design, built in 1963. The tower has five levels of observation decks for public use, from which you can get beautiful views over the coastline, Kobe city and beyond. After heading up to the top, make sure to view the tower during the evening, when it's all lit up.

Sample Kobe Beef

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Once known worldwide for the devastating earthquake that destroyed much of the city in 1995, Kobe is shedding its negative history and becoming famous worldwide for its delicious beef. A type of wagyu from cattle raised in Hyogo Prefecture around Kobe, the beef is known for its flavor and marbling, giving it a buttery, melt-in-the-mouth texture. While it's not a cheap meal, even budget travelers should put aside some yen to try some of the local beef.

Akashi Kaikyo Bridge

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The world's longest suspension bridge, the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge connects Kobe and Akashi with Awaji Island and onward to Shikoku. It's not possible to walk or cycle along the bridge, however you can catch a bus to cross it or take a ferry to Awaji Island which will give you great views of the bridge along the way. For those that want to get closer to the bridge, there are tours that need to be booked in advance, after a safety briefing you'll be taken on the bridge and have the chance to go up one of the bridge's towers. While it's a little outside of the city, it makes for a great day trip combined with exploring the north part of Awaji Island.

Kitano Ijinkan

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The perfect side trip after exploring the endless temples of Kyoto and Nara, Ijinkan is a a district of the city at the foot of the mountains, covered with western houses built by merchants and diplomats after Japan opened up to western trade. Many of these former mansions are open to the public as museums, while it's recommended to walk along the quaint un-Japanese streets here, the inside of the houses are truly spectacular. Filled with expensive decorations and furniture, it's a great insight into 19th century Japan.

Mount Maya

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Known as one of the 'top three night views in Japan' the view over Kobe and Osaka Bay from Mount Maya is nothing short of spectacular. Getting to the top is easy, just take the cable car at Shin-Kobe Ropeway, a few minutes walk from Shin-Kobe Station. If you have more time you can also take the hiking trail that leads up the mountain from the station, taking around an hour to get to the top.

Arima Onsen

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One of the oldest hot spring or onsen towns in Japan, Kobe's Arima Onsen has a history of over a thousand years. Here you'll find a number of quaint traditional Japanese streets that make you feel like you're being transported to feudal Japan. The hot spring town is nestled in the mountains outside of Kobe and offers a number of great hiking spots in the vicinity.


Easy to get to, be it by bullet train or regular train, Kobe offers plenty to do no matter if you're heading for one day or several days.