Kobe is a seaside city located in Hyogo prefecture and is most importantly the home of the famous Kobe beef. Many people overlook Kobe as a destination for their trip, thinking that all there is to see is beef restaurants. Kobe is a great day trip from Osaka or Kyoto.
There are many things to do in Kobe and I found it to be the perfect date city; easy to get to, close to the ocean, beautiful gardens and the best lunch of my life. My partner and I used our Japan Rail Pass from Osaka and the ride only took us 35 minutes.
Destination 1: The World’s Most Beautiful Starbucks
You can easily navigate the city by foot and by train. Described as the ‘World’s Most Beautiful Starbucks’ this was the first destination. The Kobe Starbucks is located in Kitano, an area well known for its European style architecture. Kobe was one of the first cities to open its harbour to European trading, so many merchants built their houses in European style. You can find it inside one of these picturesque houses, filled with art and leather couches. I would recommend picking a seasonal Starbucks’ treat (when we were there it was American Cherry Pie!). Then head upstairs to cuddle on leather sofas and big comfy armchairs.
Destination 2: Spring Blossoms and City Views
After a caffeine pit stop, we walked uphill through the streets of Kitano, admiring the houses and the cherry blossoms. It was about a 25-minute walk from the Starbucks to Kobe Nunobiki Herb Garden & Ropeway. When you take the Ropeway up the mountain it provides spectacular views of the city. At the top, the Herb Garden will be filled with flowers that are in full bloom for spring.
From the Kobe Tourism website, I had printed off a page of discount vouchers for attractions in the area, specifically for the Ropeway and Herb Garden. Entry was easy and the ride to the top of the mountain took around 15 minutes. At the top was a villa that I would expect to see in the Swiss Alps. It was idyllic, with flowers blooming everywhere and special exhibits set up for photos. It’s a perfect opportunity to take some cheesy couples photos together. I enjoyed walking hand in hand through the garden, looking at the little exhibits and spa products to try. After strolling through the gardens, sit down and enjoy a relaxing foot spa. You can enjoy breathtaking city-wide views from here also.
Destination 3: Luxury Kobe Beef Lunch on A Budget!
We made our way down the garden to go to the final destination; Wakkoqu. There are hundreds of Kobe beef restaurants to choose from, making it hard to pick just one. You will find that places like Steakland are filled with many tourists and don’t have the most romantic atmosphere. Wakkoqu is one of the highest rated by locals and the lunch special set was only 5500 yen! The average price of Kobe beef is around 7500 yen so you will be getting a good deal.
You can make a reservation through the website a few months in advance and get a seat right next to the grill. The atmosphere inside the restaurant is elegant with mood lighting and hushed whispers. It makes for a very romantic and intimate occasion.
Each customer gets their own chef who prepares the meal in front of you. The beef was pure heaven and melts instantly. The portion was a perfect size, it’s so rich that you don’t need a huge serving. Most of all, order the special fried rice that is cooked in the juices from the steak. It was absolutely delicious and full of flavour. We were so full after the 5 courses that we decided to walk back to the station to burn some of it off.
Kobe is a great place to slow down a hectic travel schedule, you can literally sit back and smell the roses. I would recommend visiting for at least half a day, taking your time walking the streets and sampling the flavours of the region.
Are you exploring the Kansai area? Here are some great articles to help you plan your trip!
- The Budget Traveller’s Guide to One Week in Osaka
- The Budget Traveller’s Guide to One Week in Kyoto
- 10 Reasons I Love Osaka: My Favourite City
- Best 50 Places to Eat in Osaka
- Best 50 Places to Eat in Kyoto