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This post takes you around all the top things to do in Kobe Japan. Known for its Kobe beef and sake this city took me by surprise – an underrated city with a diverse culture you do not want to miss!

Although Kobe is the 6th largest city in Japan with a population of 4 million, there are still many travelers who overlook this city.

Kobe is famous for its oceanfront port, foods, sake, and spectacular mountain surroundings – Mt. Rokku being the most popular one. 

My mission with this post is to shed light on the unique culture and diversity of Kobe and inspire you to one day visit. 

This video shows you all the top things to do in Kobe Japan – many from this list and more. I recommend you watch it when you’re done reading this post.

Psst. . . Looking for more guides around Japan? Check out my other posts.


top things to do in kobe

Kobe skyline and Meriken Park from our hotel balcony. We stayed at


Getting Around Kobe

The City Loop is a bus that takes you to all the major attractions in Kobe stopping in 17 different locations.

If you’re wanting to see top landmarks then get the city bus. We purchased the all-day pass and took it to Kitano Dori street followed by the Maya view line which is said to have one of the best viewpoints in Japan.

The all-day pass for adults was 660 Yen for 260 Yen for single-use.

As will many metropolitans, subways operate all around the city. If you’re coming from somewhere else in Japan like Osaka or Tokyo, you might already have a Suica card, which can also be used in Kobe. This was great for us because we still had money left on our Suica card from Tokyo. 


Top Things to do in Kobe Japan

For three days non-stop I was exploring the city and am pleased to share my top 11 things to do in Kobe Japan. 

top things to do in kobe

Sandro holding the best sake we have ever tasted. I’m not a fan of sake but this did not taste like sake. It was clean and high quality. So good!

Sake Tasting

Of all the top things to do in Kobe Japan, Sake tasting takes the top three. The first stop on the sake tasting tour was Hamafukutsuru – an award-winning distillery.

They have a small museum you can walk through and see how they strip the rice and turn it into sake. At the end of the tour, you will be back in the shop/tasting room. You’re here for sake so make your way to the counter and choose what flight you want to enjoy.

Top-shelf sake will run you more but don’t be discouraged. Even the cheaper ones are incredible (we tried both). Before the tasting, you will be handed a pamphlet explaining how to enjoy sake. Just like wine, there is an art to drinking sake. Who knew?!

Our biggest regret was not pulling the plug and purchasing a bottle to bring home with us. It was the best sake I have ever had!!

Hakatsuru is another sake brewery that has been brewing for over 270 years. They too offer samples and a tour but nowhere near the intimacy as Hamafukutsur, yet still great sake.

That’s the great thing about visiting distilleries – everything tastes better because it’s handled with love and served correctly.

One cool thing about Hakatsuru is they do have a tasting room in Los Angeles in an effort to spread Japan’s sake to the rest of the world.

top things to do in kobe

Map of the Kitano neighborhood.


Kitano Street

Here in Kobe, you will find a ton of European Influence, especially in the Kitano Injankan-Gai neighborhood.

The reason for this was back in the day Kobe was the only entrance into Japan for foreigners, therefore, you had a ton of Europan merchants and diplomats settling here and bringing their old-world influences along with them.

A few houses we came cross where France, Denmark, Switzerland, and England.

top things to do in kobe

View from the gondola going up to the Herb Garden


Herb Garden

For 1500 YEN you can take the ropeway gondola to the top of a beautiful herb garden. If you do get the city loop bus pass you can get it at a discounted rate at 1200 YEN.

The gondola makes two stops along the way. Some passengers will get off at mid-way station and hike the remainder of the way to the top. I enjoyed the views and rode the gondola to the top station. You get gorgeous views from the mountain overlooking the entire city. It will easily be one of your favorite things to do in Kobe. It was for me.

Similar to the Kitano neighborhood, the Herb Garden looks very European. Germany especially. You are surrounded by herbs. The smell is divine! The herb garden is the largest in Japan with over 75,000 herbs and flowers growing every year. 

While you’re here, I highly encourage you to eat lunch at the restaurant, Herb Dining.

We enjoyed a wonderful buffet for $25. The food options blew me away. This price is a steal because the quality of food was amazing and fresh using ingredients grown around the herb garden. You also get tea and a dessert of your choice. 

top things to do in kobe

This Be Kobe sign was installed to mark the passage of the earthquake that took many lives and destroyed the post. Behind the sign, you can see the Oriental Hotel where we stayed.

Meriken Park

Meriken Park is a waterfront park located near the port. Here will find the Be Kobe sign, running trails, grass to kick back and relax, breathtaking water views, and the Maritime Museum. 

The Be Kobe sign is very significant in this city. It was installed a few years ago to mark the passage of the massive earthquake that struck this city nearly two decades ago. Today it’s a great spot for getting active outside.

Hotel Lounge

We were lucky enough to stay at the Kobe Meriken Park Oriental Hotel which has a top floor lounge offering panoramic views of Kobe. Come here at night to see the pier and city light up while sipping at one of their perfectly crafted cocktails.

Like many bars in Japan, they do charge a cover which gives you snacks to enjoy at your table. Because of this charge, I did not frequent many bars but this one was worth it simply for the views and the fact it was at our hotel. We wanted to experience some piece of where we were staying outside the room.

While on the topic, I enjoyed this hotel for the waterfront views, the cocktail lounge on the top floor, and easy access to the city loop bus stop. There was also a Starbucks across the street, as well as, Meriken Park. You can’t beat this location.


top things to do in kobe

The main square in Chinatown at night.


Namkinmachi the most famous China town in western Japan. It has over one hundred shops and restaurants within a tiny-area.

Be prepared to see interesting food options. Some looked good and some made me sad (shark fin soup). However, I thoroughly enjoyed walking around, especially at night. The main square looked so pretty lit up. 

If you are an adventurous foodie and enjoy eating street food, this is the place to be.

top things to do in kobe

Waiting for our City Loop bus in front of Kobe Tower.

Kobe Tower

Kobe Tower is an iconic landmark offering a 360-degree view of the city. On the top floor, you can view the harbor and cityscape including sights of Rokko mountains.

Visitors can come for the day or night views, or both!

Admissions to the Port Tower is 700 yen for adults, 600 yen for the Maritime Museum, or 1,000 Yen for a multi-use ticket that can be used as access to both. Kobe tower is open all year long.

Daimaru Kobe

If you’re looking to shop, I recommend going to Daimaru Kobe. An old foreign settlement building turned 60 store department store.


top things to do in kobe

Ituka Road is a popular street in Kobe filled with restaurants, shops, and nightlife options. At the end of the road is one of the oldest shrines in Japan.

Ituka Road

Ituka Road is a bustling area of town. I great hang out spot for shopping and dining. If you’re looking for Kobe Beef, this would be a great street to begin your search.

At the end of the road hidden between modern skyscrapers is Ituka Shrine.

Ituka Shrine in Kobe, Japan

Handwashing stations meant to clean unwanted spirits before entering the shrine.

Ituka Shrine

Ituka Shrine is among the oldest shrines in Japan similar to the one you see in Kyoto.

Osaka is the second-largest and Kyoto attracts mainly Instagrammers. I’m sure there are many wonderful things about Kyoto besides the famous shrine but we decided Kobe was the one and we did not regret it one bit which is why you need to go.

Tappenaki (Kobe Beef)

One thing you will notice around town are the various Spiderman statues found outside Kobe Beef Steakhouses.

The reason for this was when the first steakhouse owner bought a bull statue he was offered a random Spiderman statue as a package deal and said sure, why not. Now, it’s become a popular icon to have placed outside of your steakhouse.

PRO TIP: many of the popular steakhouses will book up so if you have your stomach set on enjoying a nice steak dinner you will want to make reservations in advance. If you don’t care where or how much then walk-ins will be available somewhere.

We found a high-end steakhouse, Royal Mouriya Kobe which ran us $270 for two. No regrets because OMG was the fried rice delicious!

Needless to say,  Kobe exceeded all expectations I had. I hope this post did enough justice in convincing you to visit Kobe, Japan. 

I encourage you to jump on the train to lesser-known regions. They will surprise you (in a good way more) times than none. While everyone goes to well-known places, you will be enjoying your time in Kobe – Japan’s most underrated big city.

Psst. . . Looking for more guides around Japan? Check out my other posts.

Do you prefer traveling to lesser-known places? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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