Three cable cars scale Mt. Rokko, providing spectacular views of lush forests. If you think it's beautiful during the day, time you trip so you'll descend after dusk, when you can see the city lights twinkle against the black sea.
You can do this trip in a half day, but you may want a full day to explore the area. To get to Rokko-san, take the Hankyu Kobe Line from Hankyu San-no-miya Station to Hankyu Rokko Station (¥200). From there take a taxi or a bus to Rokko Cable-Shita Station. A funicular railway travels up the mountain to Rokko-sanjo Station (¥570). You can return to Kobe by cable car or by rail. Take the Kobe Dentetsu to Tanigami Station and change for the subway back to San-no-miya (¥900).
The Japanese were already enjoying the thermal waters at Arima Onsen 有馬温泉before the 7th century. Arima is on the north slope of Rokko-san and consists of a maze of tiny streets and traditional houses. Some 30 ryokan use the curative powers of the water to attract
guests. Although the water gushes up freely from springs, some ryokan charge as much as ¥10,000 for use of their baths. Go instead to the public bath, Arima Onsen Kaikan, in the center of the village near the bus terminal. Here ¥520 gets you a soak in the steaming waters. Arima Onsen Kaikan is open daily 8 am–10 pm (closed the first and third Tuesday of the month). Take the subway north from JR Shin-Kobe Station, transferring at Tanigami and ending at Arima (¥740).