Kobe to Kansai Airport

Ferry, train or bus?

 By Bonson Lam   Dec 10, 2016

Sannomiya in Kobe is just across the bay from Kansai Airport, being the gateway to Hyogo Prefecture, the Setouchi Inland Sea and the International Cruise Ship Terminal in Kobe Port.

There are three ways to go to Kobe from Kansai Airport. So what is the cheapest, most comfortable and quickest way to travel? It all depends on your preference.

Airport Limousine Bus

A dedicated airport bus operates express between Kansai Airport and Sannomiya Station in Kobe. The trip takes approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes and the one way fare costs ¥1,950 for adults and ¥980 for children. The bus bypasses Osaka city on the expressway, allowing a shorter and quicker trip than the train. The return fare is ¥3,080 which must be used within 30 days of the first trip. They accept cash and most credit cards, including American Express, JCB, Mastercard, Union Pay and Visa at the ticket office. Buses operate generally from 5am to 10pm, with a bus running on average every 20 mins.

My rating - Speed 10/10, Convenience 10/10, Frequency 7/10, Value 7/10

Who is this option best for?

Passengers with a lot of luggage/ a preference for a direct and most comfortable service.

Those not wanting to activate the JR Pass for this trip, for example visitors staying in Kobe for one or two days before activating the railway pass.

Ferry -  Osaka Bay 

The quickest and most scenic way to and from Kobe is by the Fast Ferry. It only take 30 mins from Kobe Airport, and if you buy the ticket (one way or return) the day you arrive at Kansai Airport, you can get it for ½ price of 900 yen (normally 1800 yen each way, or 3,000 yen return)

You need to buy the tickets at bus stop no 12 at Kansai airport. It will take you 10 mins to the Kansai Airport ferry terminal, and then another 31 minutes to Kobe Airport Ferry terminal. You can then connect by train to Sannomiya/ Shin Kobe.

It should be noted that the ferry goes to the Kobe Airport Ferry Terminal, not the International Cruise Passenger Terminal. From Kobe you can also take the ferry to Takamatsu, the gateway to the Art Islands of the Setouchi Inland Sea.

My rating - Speed 9/10, Convenience 7/10, Frequency 7/10, Value 9/10 (with Rail pass)

Who is this option best for?

Passengers wanting a scenic trip who does not mind several transfers, or those going to Kobe airport.

Train - Japan Railways (JR)

Japan Rail operates two services from Kansai Airport to Tennoji and then on to Osaka or Shin Osaka, both of which are covered by the JR pass or the JR West Kansai rail passes.

The fastest service to Shin Osaka is the Haruka, however the only problem is that the Haruka only runs hourly in the middle of the day. From Shin Osaka you can take the bullet train to Shin Kobe or the rapid train to Sannomiya.

On the other hand you can board a normal express called the JR Kansai Airport Rapid Service which is a limited stops semi-express train to Tennoji, before continuing around the loop to Osaka (Umeda) 70 minutes later. You will need to change at Osaka (Umeda) for a rapid service to Sannomiya. This train is not as fast, but more frequent, running approximately every 20 minutes.

If you don’t have a rail pass, this costs 2880 yen with the total trip being just under 90 mins.

My rating - Speed 8/10, Convenience 8/10, Frequency 8/10, Value 8/10 (with Rail pass), 7/10 (otherwise)

Who is this option best for?

Passengers who want to get to Shin- Kobe or those who want to use the JR pass.

Train - Nankai Railways

The Nankai and Hanshin train is a cheap option, but you will have to change at Namba and Umeda. They also have an access pass that can take you to Kobe.

My rating - Speed 8/10, Convenience 7/10, Frequency 9/10, Value 9/10

Who is this option best for?

Passengers wanting to travel quickly and want value for money, with not a lot of luggage, and can navigate their way with two transfers in Osaka’s two busiest stations.

Written by Bonson Lam
Japan Travel Partner

Explore nearby

Join the discussion

Preethu 10 months ago