Kobe is one of the Kansai region’s three major cities. The central areas can be explored on foot, but trains, taxis, and buses allow you to cover more ground quickly and easily. Here are all the details on getting around Kobe.
Mount Rokko cable car: Michael Gordon / Shutterstock.com
Most of Kobe’s main attractions are clustered in the central part of town. Energetic walkers will be able to cover plenty of ground on foot, particularly around the Sannomiya and Motomachi areas. Alternatively, getting around by the city’s efficient train or bus system is easy enough.
If you want to cover as much of the city as possible in a day, you may wish to consider buying one of the day passes. There’s the Kobe Meguri 1-Day Coupon, which costs JPY950 and gives you unlimited rides on the subways, non-JR trains such as the Hanshin or Hankyu lines, and certain buses around Kobe. The Subway and Bus Day Pass, on the other hand, gives you unlimited rides on Kobe’s subway lines and the city buses.
Alternatively, there’s the City Loop Day Pass for JPY680. This is for the tourist-oriented loop bus. It’s similar to a “hop-on, hop-off” bus which runs on a loop around the city’s major tourist attractions, including Kitano-cho, Meriken Park, Chinatown, and Harbourland. It’s a good way to save money on travel.
Otherwise, you can pay per journey. This is best done with a prepaid IC card such as Suica, Pasmo, or Icoca, which can be used on almost all trains, subways, and buses in Kobe.
Shin-Kobe station: Korkusung / Shutterstock.com
Kobe’s main railway stations are Sannomiya, Kobe, and Shin-Kobe Station. If you have a Japan Rail Pass, it’s useful for travelling to Sannomiya and Kobe stations, which are both served by Japan Railways. Sannomiya Station is located right in the heart of downtown Kobe near most major attractions. From here, it’s easy to get to most tourist-friendly districts, like Motomachi or Nada. Shin-Kobe Station is not particularly central, and is more useful as a pitstop for the San’yo line bullet train.
With the exception of destinations like Arima Onsen or Koshien Stadium, tourists are probably less likely to use the Hankyu and Hanshin lines for travelling within Kobe. This is also true of Kobe’s two subway lines – the Kaigan and Seishin-Yamate lines – which cost more per ride than the other train lines mentioned here.
As we outline in our How To Get To Kobe page, travelling between Kobe and other cities in the Kansai area is best done by train. Once you get to Kobe, taking the subway or train between places is convenient if you prefer not to walk too much, though you may like to use them in tandem with the buses for expediency.
Kobe City Loop Bus: Mirko Kuzmanovic / Shutterstock.com
In addition to Kobe’s excellent city bus system – use Google Maps or an app like Jorudan for real-time information – the city operates a bus service designed specifically for tourists that loops in one direction around the city. You’ll know the City Loop buses by their distinctive green colour. They stops at 15 of Kobe’s major attractions between Shin-Kobe and Harbourland. Running at 15–20 minutes, the boarding points are easy enough to find. Look for the red and green signs on the roadsides.
Pick up the City Loop Day Pass mentioned above for JPY680, which gives you unlimited uses of this tourist bus. Buy the pass on the buses, at the Kobe Information Centre in Sannomiya, or at the Tourist Information Office in Shin-Kobe. Use the pass 3 or more times to recoup its cost.
The best way to travel up to Mount Rokko is by ropeway or cable car. One of the most convenient is the Shin-Kobe Ropeway near Shin-Kobe Station. Riding this takes you to the Nunobiki Herb Garden, but also gives you some truly gorgeous scenic views on the way up.
As in most major cities, taxis in Kobe are generally easy to find but not a particularly cheap mode of transportation. Most base rates for taxis begin at around JPY600 for the first 2km. If budget is a concern, we suggest sticking to trains or buses.
Kobe Travel Guide:
- Kobe Travel Guide Overview
- Things To Do In Kobe
- Places To Eat In Kobe
- Kobe Itineraries
- Family-friendly Attractions in Kobe
- Kobe Cherry Blossoms
- Kobe Fall Foliage
- Kobe Districts
- Kobe Ryokan
- Kobe Hotels
- Kobe Map
- How To Get To Kobe
- Getting Around Kobe
- Best Time To Go To Kobe
Kyoto Vacation Checklist
- For all the essentials in a brief overview, see my First Time In Kyoto guide
- Check Kyoto accommodation availability on Booking.com – usually you can reserve a room with no upfront payment. Pay when you check out. Free cancellations too
- Need tips on where to stay? See my one page guide Where To Stay In Kyoto
- See my comprehensive Packing List For Japan
- Buy a data-only SIM card online for collection when you arrive at Kansai International Airport (for Osaka and Kyoto) or Tokyo's Narita Airport. Or rent an unlimited data pocket wifi router
- Compare Japan flight prices and timings to find the best deals
- If you're visiting more than one city, save a ton of money with a Japan Rail Pass – here's my explanation of why it's worth it
- A prepaid Icoca card makes travelling around Kyoto easy – here's how
- Get travel insurance for Japan - World Nomads is well-regarded (and here's why)