Bucket List: 15 Best Places to Visit in Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan
Set in the beautiful nature of Hokkaido, Sapporo welcomes its visitors with a wide range of activities to enjoy and indulge in. From exhilarating winter adventures to a relaxing Sakura viewing session, Sapporo is the perfect place for outdoor lovers.
Sapporo’s peak season is the summer and winter seasons. The pleasant and warm climate of summer colors the landscape with different seasonal flowers. The cold months of the winter season offer some of the famous winter festivals and attract skiers and snowboarders to its snow-capped mountains. Sapporo has the longest winter in Japan and this brings winter-themed events that celebrate the beauty of its cold climate.
Sapporo Odori Park
Sapporo Odori Park is a popular site often visited by locals and tourists. Smack-dab in the middle of Sapporo, the park stretches for more than a kilometer and divides the city into North and South. Located near the park is the Sapporo TV Tower which has an observation deck with an impressive eye on the park. The park is also the site of many festivals.
The Sapporo Lilac Festival is held every May when the weather is warm and the 400 lilac trees in the Sapporo Odori Park are blooming. The Sapporo Summer Festival, held every July, and the Sapporo Autumn Festival, held every September, are some of the best food festivals in Japan. Some 13,000 locals and tourists feast on the cuisines of the Hokkaido region. The festivals also bring Sapporo’s best beers from different beer companies.
What makes the park famous is the biggest winter festival in Japan held every February: the Sapporo Snow Festival. Amassing millions of visitors annually, the festival displays large snow and ice sculptures competing in the International Snow Sculpture Contest.
Shiroi Koibito Park
Shiroi Koibito Park is a chocolate theme park and chocolate factory owned by a local chocolate company, Ishita. The park was named after the company’s flagship product, the Shiroi Koibito cookie. It is a popular souvenir that tourists and visitors take home from Hokkaido. The park has two areas, one which is free to visit and the other which visitors pay to enter. The free area is where the souvenir shop, café, and restaurant are located. The paid area has chocolate-related exhibits, a museum on the history of Ishita, a viewing area where visitors can watch the production of the Shiroi Koibito cookies, and a hands-on workshop to create cookies.
Mount Moiwa is popular for its scenic views of downtown Sapporo. From its summit, visitors can see the striking sunrise and witness the night sky glow with the city lights. Visitors can use the ropeway and then a mini cable car to reach its summit where an observation deck is located. Mount Moiwa is also a popular local hiking spot, especially during autumn. Visitors can take the easy trails in casual clothing and be surrounded by the changing leaves of the season.
Springtime brings Japan’s iconic cherry blossoms out, and Sapporo is not one to miss out. These seasonal flowers attract millions of visitors from all over the globe, and locals and tourists alike marvel at their beauty. Some of the popular spots to view the Sakura are Maruyama Park, Nakajima Park, Moerenuma Park, Hiraoka Park, and the Former Hokkaido Government Office Building. These locations paint a quaint picture of how nature in Hokkaido remains protected, preserved, and untouched.
Maruyama Zoo and Maruyama Park
Maruyama Zoo and Maruyama Park are some of the best day trips for families with kids.
Maruyama Zoo is vast by standards, but it does house about a thousand animals of different species, including endangered animals. Maruyama Park is another relaxing and pleasant outdoor destination where Sakura can be viewed in springtime. The park grounds have many sports facilities, like a baseball diamond and a baseball stadium. Both the zoo and park play an integral role in Sapporo’s recreational culture, thanks to the expansive wild forest of the park and the variety of animals housed in the zoo.
The Flower Fields of Furano and Biei
Hokkaido is a popular winter destination thanks to its harsh winter climate, but when summer comes, the snow-capped landscape turns into stunning, colorful fields of flora. Aside from being the coldest island in Japan, Hokkaido is famous for its lavender season. The cold climate of the island is ideal for cultivating lavender, most of which can be seen in the city of Furano and the town of Biei. In Furano are two small towns, Nakafurano and Kamifurano, famous for their wide fields of lavenders, poppies, and sunflowers. Lavender season in Hokkaido lasts for more than a month, unlike the Sakura season which stays less than a week.
Nakafurano has Farm Tomita and Lavender East. Farm Tomita represents the city of Furano, thanks to its iconic lavender fields and Irodori Field, consisting of purple lavenders, white baby’s breaths, red poppies, pink garden catchflies, and orange California poppies. Four kilometers east of Farm Tomita is Farm Tomita – Lavender East, where perfume ingredients are produced. Tourists and visitors can take a ride on the lavender bus and enjoy a relaxing ride through the flower fields. Saika no Sato has 6 hectares of land filled with sunflowers, lupines, and lavenders. Other notable flower fields are Saika no Sato and Choei Lavender Farm.
Kamifurano has Kanno Farm, Miyama Pass, and Hinode Park Lavender Garden. Kanno Farm has a wide variety of flowers, from lavenders, poppies, marigolds, blue sages, and blue/red salvias. There is a souvenir shop on the farm where visitors can purchase lavender-themed goods and agricultural products. Miyama Pass Lavender Garden is a road along the National Highway Route 237 where tourists can take a scenic road trip during the lavender season. Hinode Park Lavender Garden is a popular wedding destination thanks to the view of the rolling hills of flower fields from the wedding bell.
Biei has two popular flower fields: Shikisai no Oka and Zerubu-no-Oka & Atomu-no-Oka. Both flower farms in the Biei area offer spectacular views of colorful flowers that thrive in the summer.
Daisetsuzan National Park
Daisetsuzan National Park is the largest national park in Hokkaido and one of the best places to see the autumn verdure and the flurry of snow each year. The entirety of the national park has hiking trails for hikers of all levels, hot spring resorts, sprawling mountain ranges, and rich wildlife. The highest peak in Hokkaido, Asahi-Dake, is a popular hiking spot. Other notable peaks to hike are Hakuun, Kurodake, Tomuraushi and Ch?betsu.
Sapporo Sato Land
Sapporo Sato Land is a family-friendly farm-themed park in Sapporo City where children can play in the open spaces and the adults can appreciate the idyllic scenery painted in the colors of autumn. The park can be visited year-round and offers tourists and visitors a variety of recreational activities to enjoy. The park is a relaxing adventure of butter feeding, crop harvesting, and riding on a horse-drawn carriage.
Takino Suzuran Hillside National Park
Takino Suzuran Hillside National Park is a popular outdoor destination that can be visited year-round. Visitors can snowshoe during the winter or view the changing leaves during autumn. In the springtime, every corner of the national park is blossoming with spring flowers. Fields of tulips cover the grounds of the national park. Other activities that visitors can enjoy are wall climbing, golfing, cycling, and waterfall hopping. One of Japan’s Top 100 Waterfalls, Ashiribetsu Fall, is also located within the national park.
Historical Village of Hokkaido
The Historical Village of Hokkaido is an outdoor museum that exhibits historical structures of Hokkaido built in the Meiji and early Showa eras. This open space museum gives visitors a chance to get a glimpse of life in the mid-19th century and early 20th century. The old Sapporo Station building serves as the entrance to this open space museum. Visitors should be prepared for a day trip as the museum cover a lot of ground. In the summer and winter, the museum has horse-drawn carriages that visitors can take to see the village.
Hokkaido University’s Gingko Avenue
Autumn at Hokkaido University is a wonderful experience. The campus grounds have historic buildings and manicured lawns lined with gingko trees. This area is known as the Gingko Avenue of Hokkaido University. Locals and visitors walk along the 380-meter-long avenue to appreciate and view the autumn leaves of Sapporo. Aside from Gingko Avenue, the university has other spots where visitors can see the autumn verdure. This includes the Central Lawn, Elm Forest, Hokkaido University Museum, and the Botanical Garden.
Jozankei Onsen and Hoheikyo Onsen
Just like Iceland and New Zealand, Japan has a strong hot spring culture. Dipping in a Japanese hot spring, or onsen is a must for every visitor to Japan. Jozankei Onsen and Hoheikyo Onsen are some of Sapporo’s popular hot springs resort towns. During the spring and winter seasons, it is not surprising why locals and visitors alike stay warm in a hot spring. But even in the autumn and summer season, hot springs are a crowd favorite.
Jozankei and Hoheikyo have indoor and outdoor baths. This gives guests a nice experience while being surrounded by spring flowers, autumn foliage, and winter diamond dust. Hot springs are also the last destination of adventurers, especially for those who spend their time in the many outdoor and recreational activities in Jozankei.
Sapporo Beer Museum
Probably the most fun thing to do in Sapporo is to visit the only beer museum in Japan — the Sapporo Beer Museum. It exhibits the process of beer-making and the story of one of Japan’s most successful beer brands — Sapporo Beer. The beer museum is a Sapporo landmark that beer lovers will take interest in. Visitors can tour the museum and indulge in a tasting session of Sapporo’s famous beverage.
Ski and Snowboard the Powder Snow of Sapporo
Sapporo has some of the best snow in the world and the Sapporo Ski Area takes advantage of this. Every year, fresh coats of snow cover the slopes.
Sapporo Bankei Ski Area has runs for skiers of all levels. It is very accessible, an hour’s ride from the city proper, and offers skiing and snowboarding lessons. Sapporo Mt. Moiwa-yama Ski Resort is another accessible ski resort where night skiing is allowed. Skiers can see Sapporo’s city lights as they ski downhill. Note that snowboarding is not allowed in Sapporo Mt. Moiwa-yama Ski Resort.
Fu’s Snow Area Ski Resort and Sapporo Kokusai Ski Resort are trusted for the good snow that covers the slopes. Both ski resorts are also located near the Jozankei onsen, perfect for those looking for a nice dip after a run. Aside from ski resorts, visitors should check the popular ski jumping venue in Sapporo, the OKurayama Ski Jump Stadium.
Sapporo’s Ramen Alley, otherwise known as Ganso Sapporo Ramen Yokocho, is a popular food street that made “Miso Ramen” and “Sapporo Ramen” a household name. “Yokocho” in Japanese means “alleyways off to the side of the main street”. Ramen Alley started with eight ramen houses in 1948 and now has 17 different ramen restaurants on the street.
Some of the recommended stalls and dishes are Ichikura Ramen Yokocho and their Scallop Ramen, Teshikaga Ramen and their Char Siu Miso Ramen, and Hokkaido Miso Ramen.
How to get to Sapporo
Sapporo is a year-round destination for fans of snow, beer, and unspoiled nature. The most common access points to Sapporo are via the Otaru Ferry Terminal and Tomakomai West and East Port Terminals, by train via the Hokkaido Shinkansen Line, and by train plane via the New Chitose Airport. To travel around the city, visitors can take the train via the Sapporo Municipal Subway, the tram via Sapporo Streetcar, or the taxi and bus via the Sapporo Station.
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Sapporo Travel and Tour Packages
Searching for the best hotels, resorts, and affordable flights in the nearby Cities? Check out our list of cheap Hokkaido hotels and resorts via Agoda, Booking, or you may also see available Airbnb properties in the city.
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