Sapporo japan

22nd April 2024

18 Best Things to Do in Sapporo: Must-Try Activities (2023)

Are you eager to discover the best things to Do in Sapporo, the vibrant gem of Hokkaido? If so, you’ve stumbled upon the perfect guide!

From our last visit to this place, we learned that Sapporo is brimming with cultural wonders, breathtaking scenery, and mouthwatering delights.

So get ready to immerse yourself in the wonders of Sapporo – a journey filled with excitement and unforgettable memories awaits!

Let’s dive in and explore the very best Sapporo has to offer.

Interesting Facts about Sapporo

  • Sapporo is the capital city of Hokkaido, the northernmost island of Japan.
  • It was originally designed and built in 1869, making it one of Japan’s youngest major cities.
  • Sapporo is famous for hosting the annual Sapporo Snow Festival, featuring stunning ice sculptures.
  • The city is home to the Sapporo Brewery, Japan’s oldest beer brand, known for its flagship Sapporo Beer.
  • Sapporo is surrounded by beautiful natural landscapes, including nearby mountains like Mount Moiwa.

Best Things to Do in Sapporo

1. Experience the Hokkaido Shrine

At the heart of Sapporo lies the Hokkaido Shrine, a hidden gem nestled within the picturesque Maruyama Park. Here, visitors can escape the city’s fast pace and immerse themselves in the spiritual tranquility of this Shinto sanctuary.

Adorned with vibrant red torii gates and surrounded by majestic trees, the Hokkaido Shrine offers a stunning backdrop for cherry blossom viewing during spring and a breathtaking display of fiery colors during autumn.

Nature enthusiasts and photographers will find delight in exploring the park’s trails, capturing moments of serenity and grace.

  • Location: Maruyama, Sapporo
  • Best Time to Visit: All year round, but especially during cherry blossom season in spring and autumn foliage season.
  • Famous For: Tranquil Shinto shrine surrounded by a lush forest, offering a serene retreat from the urban bustle.

2. Admire the architecture of the Former Hokkaido Government Office Building

An emblem of Sapporo’s rich past, the Former Hokkaido Government Office Building stands tall with its distinctive red-brick facade, exuding an aura of elegance and grandeur.

Constructed during the late 19th century, this architectural masterpiece served as the center of Hokkaido’s government affairs.

Visitors can step inside the building and explore its well-preserved interior, which houses historical exhibits and artifacts from the region’s early days.

The exterior’s snow-covered beauty during winter adds a magical touch, making it a favorite spot for both history enthusiasts and photographers seeking to capture the essence of Hokkaido’s heritage.

  • Location: Chuo-ku, Sapporo
  • Best Time to Visit: All year round, but particularly captivating during winter when the building is covered in a blanket of snow.
  • Famous For: Iconic red-brick structure, symbolizing Sapporo’s history and showcasing European-influenced architecture.

3. Visit Odori Park

Spanning over 1.5 kilometers and dividing the city center into two halves, Odori Park is a delightful oasis where locals and tourists alike converge to enjoy nature’s beauty and cultural festivities.

With twelve themed gardens, including the enchanting Sapporo Lilac Garden, Odori Park mesmerizes visitors throughout the year with its ever-changing scenery.

Winter, however, transforms the park into a spectacular wonderland during the Sapporo Snow Festival, as gigantic ice sculptures line the promenade, captivating hearts and imaginations.

The park also hosts concerts, food fairs, and art installations, making it a vibrant hub of entertainment and relaxation.

  • Location: Chuo-ku, Sapporo
  • Best Time to Visit: Throughout the year, with vibrant seasonal events such as the Sapporo Snow Festival in winter and the Sapporo Lilac Festival in spring.
  • Famous For: Sprawling urban park boasting beautiful gardens, and sculptures, and hosting various events and festivals.

4. Explore the Sapporo TV Tower

Rising 147 meters above the city, the Sapporo TV Tower stands tall as a symbol of Sapporo’s progress and prosperity.

The tower’s observation deck grants visitors a bird’s-eye view of the cityscape, stretching from the bustling urban landscape to the majestic peaks that embrace Sapporo.

In the evening, the city lights illuminate the skyline, creating a captivating spectacle. The tower also houses a variety of shops, cafes, and restaurants, making it an ideal spot to savor local delicacies while relishing the stunning vistas below.

  • Location: Chuo-ku, Sapporo
  • Best Time to Visit: Evening, to witness the breathtaking city lights from the observation deck.
  • Famous For: Iconic landmark offering panoramic views of Sapporo’s skyline and the surrounding mountains.

5. Discover the Sapporo Clock Tower

Nestled amid the city’s modern structures, the Sapporo Clock Tower is a timeless marvel that takes visitors on a journey back in time. The iconic structure, built-in 1878, once served as a drill hall and is now a cherished symbol of Sapporo’s development.

Within its graceful walls, the Sapporo Clock Tower houses a museum, showcasing artifacts and photographs that recount the city’s past.

The tower’s serene surroundings in Odori Park create a delightful setting for visitors to relax and bask in the nostalgia of bygone days.

  • Location: Chuo-ku, Sapporo
  • Best Time to Visit: Anytime during the year, but especially during the blooming seasons of spring and autumn.
  • Famous For: Historical wooden building with a timeless charm, encapsulating a piece of Sapporo’s early history.

6. Learn at the Sapporo Science Center

The Sapporo Science Center is a haven for inquisitive minds of all ages. Boasting an array of interactive exhibits and educational displays, the center sparks curiosity and ignites a passion for science and technology.

From hands-on experiments to immersive displays, visitors can unravel the wonders of physics, astronomy, and biology. The Planetarium Show, with its stunning celestial projections, is a highlight not to be missed.

The center also features special exhibits, workshops, and events, ensuring that every visit offers something new to discover.

  • Location: Atsubetsu-ku, Sapporo
  • Best Time to Visit: Year-round, with a particular emphasis on family visits during school vacations.
  • Famous For: Interactive and engaging exhibits, promoting science and technology education.

7. Wander around the Historic Village of Hokkaido

Nestled in the outskirts of Sapporo lies the Historic Village of Hokkaido, an enchanting open-air museum that whisks visitors back in time to experience the region’s rural past.

The village showcases around sixty meticulously restored structures, including homes, schools, and churches, providing insight into the lives of early settlers. With each season, the village offers a different ambiance, from vibrant autumn foliage to peaceful snow-covered landscapes in winter.

Witnessing traditional handicrafts and experiencing demonstrations of traditional farming practices adds an interactive and immersive touch to the journey through time.

  • Location: Nishi-ku, Sapporo
  • Best Time to Visit: All year round, with unique charm in each season, particularly autumn for vibrant foliage.
  • Famous For: Open-air museum preserving Hokkaido’s heritage through traditional buildings and lifestyle demonstrations.

8. Shop at Tanukikoji Shopping Street

For an unforgettable shopping experience, stroll through the bustling Tanukikoji Shopping Street, where an abundance of shops, boutiques, and eateries await. This lively arcade offers everything from fashion and cosmetics to local souvenirs and culinary delights.

As you explore the vibrant street, be sure to try some regional delicacies, like freshly made Hokkaido soft-serve ice cream or savory Jingisukan (Genghis Khan) grilled lamb.

At night, the neon lights illuminate the street, creating an electric atmosphere that captures the essence of modern-day Sapporo.

  • Location: Chuo-ku, Sapporo
  • Best Time to Visit: Day and night, as the street comes alive with diverse shops, dining, and entertainment options.
  • Famous For: Vibrant shopping arcade boasting a wide range of stores and restaurants.

9. Taste local delicacies at Nijo Market

Embark on a culinary adventure at Nijo Market, a gastronomic haven where Sapporo’s finest seafood takes center stage. This bustling market offers an array of fresh catches from the surrounding seas, including delectable Hokkaido crabs, succulent scallops, and sashimi-grade fish.

Delight your taste buds with a mouthwatering sushi breakfast or try Uni (sea urchin) prepared right before your eyes. With a myriad of food stalls and restaurants, Nijo Market promises a memorable and authentic seafood dining experience.

  • Location: Chuo-ku, Sapporo
  • Best Time to Visit: Morning to early afternoon, when the market is bustling with fresh seafood and produce.
  • Famous For: Wide selection of fresh seafood, including Hokkaido’s renowned crabs, sushi, and other local specialties.

10. Discover the Ishiya Chocolate Factory

Indulge your sweet cravings at the Ishiya Chocolate Factory, renowned for its signature Shiroi Koibito cookies. Take a factory tour to witness the meticulous process of crafting these delectable treats and savor their deliciousness right at the source.

The factory also features a charming European-style park where you can relax and enjoy the delightful creations in a picturesque setting. Don’t forget to pick up some souvenirs, as these treats make for perfect gifts for loved ones back home.

  • Location: Nishi-ku, Sapporo
  • Best Time to Visit: Anytime throughout the year, especially for those with a sweet tooth.
  • Famous For: Famous Shiroi Koibito cookies and a delightful factory tour experience.

11. Tour the Sapporo Beer Museum

For beer enthusiasts, the Sapporo Beer Museum is a must-visit destination. Learn about the history and culture of brewing, while discovering the story of Sapporo Beer, Japan’s oldest beer brand.

The museum houses fascinating exhibits, vintage advertisements, and interactive displays that bring the brewing process to life. At the end of the tour, indulge in a tasting session to savor the distinct flavors of Sapporo’s finest brews.

With its charming red-brick architecture and beautiful garden, the museum also offers a perfect spot for a leisurely stroll after the enlightening experience.

  • Location: Higashi-ku, Sapporo
  • Best Time to Visit: Anytime, with guided tours available throughout the day.
  • Famous For: Showcasing the history and brewing process of Japan’s oldest beer brand – Sapporo Beer.

12. Explore the Sapporo Art Park

Immerse yourself in creativity and artistry at the Sapporo Art Park, a cultural oasis that showcases a diverse range of artistic expression. The park’s vast outdoor grounds are adorned with impressive sculptures, and its beautiful gardens serve as a serene backdrop for contemplation.

Step inside the art galleries to admire contemporary and traditional artworks from local and international artists. The park also offers art workshops and events, making it an inspiring space for artists and art enthusiasts alike.

  • Location: Minami-ku, Sapporo
  • Best Time to Visit: Spring and summer, when the park’s outdoor sculptures and gardens are in full bloom.
  • Famous For: Expansive cultural complex featuring art galleries, sculptures, and beautiful gardens.

13. Enjoy the views from Mount Moiwa

For breathtaking vistas of Sapporo city and its scenic surroundings, take a cable car ride to the summit of Mount Moiwa. As the city lights come alive in the evening, the view from the observation deck becomes an enchanting tapestry of twinkling lights.

In winter, the mountain is a popular spot for stargazing and witnessing the awe-inspiring “Diamond Dust” phenomenon, where suspended ice crystals create a magical sparkle in the air. With its serene atmosphere and captivating views, Mount Moiwa is a haven for romance and contemplation.

  • Location: Minami-ku, Sapporo
  • Best Time to Visit: Evening to night, when the city lights twinkle below, creating a mesmerizing spectacle.
  • Famous For: Panoramic views of Sapporo city and the surrounding natural beauty.

14. Attend the Sapporo Snow Festival (Yuki Matsuri) in February

Experience the magic of winter at the Sapporo Snow Festival, one of Japan’s most iconic winter events. Each February, the city transforms into a snowy wonderland, with magnificent ice sculptures lining Odori Park and the bustling streets of Susukino.

Marvel at the meticulously crafted artworks, some towering over 15 meters in height, and intricately illuminated at night. Warm up with a steaming bowl of soup curry, a local favorite, as you soak in the festive atmosphere.

The festival also features concerts, snow slides, and various activities, making it a family-friendly winter extravaganza.

  • Location: Multiple venues in Sapporo, including Odori Park and Susukino.
  • Best Time to Visit: Early February, during the festival’s duration.
  • Famous For: Spectacular ice sculptures, illuminations, and vibrant winter celebrations.

15. Ski or snowboard at nearby resorts in winter

Sapporo’s winter wonderland extends beyond the city’s boundaries, with an array of top-notch ski resorts dotting the surrounding landscapes.

Winter sports enthusiasts can indulge in skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing adventures at resorts like Niseko, Teine, and Kiroro, known for their reliable powder snow and thrilling slopes.

Whether you’re a seasoned athlete or a first-timer, these resorts cater to all skill levels, providing lessons and rental equipment for a memorable snow experience.

Rejuvenate in the healing waters of hot springs after a day on the slopes, and savor the unique charm of Hokkaido’s winter wonderland.

  • Location: Various ski resorts within a short distance from Sapporo.
  • Best Time to Visit: Winter, from December to March.
  • Famous For: Abundance of ski resorts offering world-class slopes and winter sports facilities.

16. Take a day trip to Otaru City

Venture beyond Sapporo and embark on a day trip to the charming Otaru City, a coastal gem renowned for its nostalgic allure and picturesque canal.

Stroll along the Otaru Canal, lined with well-preserved stone warehouses that have been transformed into delightful cafes, shops, and galleries.

The city’s glassware heritage is on full display at shops like the Otaru Glass Studio, where you can witness skilled artisans crafting exquisite glass artworks.

Otaru’s enchanting atmosphere is further enhanced by its illuminations during winter, making it a dreamy destination for an evening walk along the romantic canal.

  • Location: 35 kilometers northwest of Sapporo, accessible by train or bus.
  • Best Time to Visit: All year round, with distinct seasonal charm.
  • Famous For: Romantic canal, historical buildings, and glassware boutiques.

17. Visit the Hokkaido University Botanical Garden

Nurture your connection with nature at the Hokkaido University Botanical Garden, a serene sanctuary in the heart of Sapporo.

The garden boasts an extensive range of plant species, from delicate cherry blossoms to vibrant autumn leaves, offering visitors a captivating display of colors throughout the seasons.

Take a leisurely stroll along winding paths, marvel at the tropical greenhouse, and discover the beauty of alpine plants from Hokkaido’s mountains.

The garden also serves as a research center for botanical studies, making it both a scenic escape and a hub of botanical knowledge.

  • Location: Kita-ku, Sapporo
  • Best Time to Visit: Spring for cherry blossoms, and autumn for foliage, but open throughout the year.
  • Famous For: Serene botanical garden featuring a diverse collection of plants and flowers.

18. Have fun at the Maruyama Zoo

For an exciting day out with family and friends, head to the Maruyama Zoo, where a diverse collection of animals from around the world awaits. From playful pandas to majestic tigers, the zoo’s residents captivate visitors of all ages.

Enjoy the interactive animal exhibits and learn about conservation efforts to protect endangered species.

The zoo’s beautiful surroundings in Maruyama Park also offer ample opportunities for picnics and leisurely walks, making it a perfect spot for a fun-filled day amidst nature and wildlife.

  • Location: Chuo-ku, Sapporo
  • Best Time to Visit: Spring and autumn, when the weather is mild and the animals are active.
  • Famous For: A wide variety of animal species and family-friendly attractions.

Best Time to Visit Sapporo

The best time to visit Sapporo is during the seasons of spring (April to May) and autumn (September to November). These periods offer pleasant weather with mild temperatures, making it ideal for outdoor activities and sightseeing.

Spring welcomes the blooming of cherry blossoms, adding a touch of beauty to the city’s landscapes, while autumn showcases vibrant foliage, painting the surroundings in stunning hues.

Additionally, winter (December to February) is perfect for those who enjoy winter sports and want to experience the magic of the Sapporo Snow Festival.

How to Get to Sapporo

  • By Air: Sapporo has its own international airport, New Chitose Airport (CTS), which receives direct flights from major cities in Japan and various international destinations. From the airport, you can take a train or bus to reach the city center.
  • By Train: Sapporo is well-connected by rail, and you can reach the city by taking the Shinkansen (bullet train) from Tokyo to Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto Station, then transferring to the Hokkaido Shinkansen to Sapporo.
  • By Bus: Long-distance buses also operate between major cities and Sapporo. The journey may take longer than other options, but it can be a cost-effective choice.

Where to Stay in Sapporo

1. Sapporo Grand Hotel – Experience luxury and elegance at the Sapporo Grand Hotel, a prestigious accommodation located in the heart of the city. With well-appointed rooms, exceptional dining options, and top-notch amenities, this hotel promises a memorable stay. Its prime location allows easy access to major attractions like Odori Park and the Sapporo Clock Tower.

2. JR Tower Hotel Nikko Sapporo – Rising high above the city, JR Tower Hotel Nikko Sapporo offers breathtaking panoramic views and unmatched convenience. Situated atop Sapporo Station, this upscale hotel boasts modern rooms, impeccable service, and exquisite dining experiences. Guests can explore nearby shopping districts, the Sapporo TV Tower, and enjoy seamless access to transportation.

3. Dormy Inn Premium Sapporo – For a comfortable and affordable stay, Dormy Inn Premium Sapporo is an excellent choice. Embrace the Japanese onsen experience with its relaxing hot spring baths, complemented by cozy and well-designed rooms. Located close to Susukino entertainment district and public transportation, this hotel is a great base to explore the vibrant nightlife and attractions of Sapporo.

Where to Eat in Sapporo

1. Soup Curry Garaku – Indulge in the unique and flavorful world of soup curry at Soup Curry Garaku. Known for its rich and aromatic broth, this restaurant offers a variety of customizable options, from spicy levels to toppings. With a cozy ambiance and friendly staff, it’s the perfect spot to warm up and savor this beloved Hokkaido specialty.

2. Ramen Shingen – For an authentic ramen experience, head to Ramen Shingen, where you’ll be treated to a bowl of hearty and delicious noodles. Their signature miso-based ramen is a crowd favorite, featuring tender chashu pork and fresh vegetables. The bustling atmosphere and quick service add to the overall charm of this beloved ramen spot.

3. Jingisukan Daruma JR Sapporo Stellar Place – Delight in the savory delights of Jingisukan (Genghis Khan) at Jingisukan Daruma. This restaurant serves up succulent lamb grilled to perfection, accompanied by a variety of mouthwatering side dishes. Located in JR Sapporo Stellar Place, it’s a convenient stop for a memorable dining experience in the heart of Sapporo.

Travel Tips & Suggestions

  • Visit Odori Park: Stroll through the beautiful central park and enjoy seasonal events.
  • Try Hokkaido cuisine: Sample local dishes like soup curry and fresh seafood at the Curb Market.
  • Experience the Sapporo Snow Festival: Witness stunning ice sculptures during the winter festival.
  • Explore Sapporo Beer Museum: Discover the history of Japan’s oldest brewery and taste their beers.
  • Relax at Jozankei Onsen: Unwind in natural hot springs surrounded by picturesque mountains.
  • Visit Shiroi Koibito Park: Indulge in sweet treats and learn about chocolate production.
  • Take a day trip to Otaru: Enjoy the quaint canals, glassware shops, and delicious sushi.

Conclusion – Best Things to Do in Sapporo

So, there you have it – the best things to do in Sapporo! From strolling through Odori Park, savoring mouthwatering Hokkaido cuisine, to being awestruck by the mesmerizing Sapporo Snow Festival, this charming city has it all. And let’s not forget the rejuvenating Jozankei Onsen, the delightful Shiroi Koibito Park, and the enchanting day trip to Otaru.

Each experience is a delightful blend of culture, flavors, and natural beauty, leaving you with unforgettable memories of your time in Sapporo. So, pack your bags and get ready for an adventure like no other!

FAQs – Best Things to Do in Sapporo

What are the best things to do in Sapporo?

 Oh, you’re in for a treat! Some must-do activities include exploring Odori Park, trying out delicious Hokkaido cuisine, and experiencing the jaw-dropping Sapporo Snow Festival. Don’t miss the relaxing Jozankei Onsen, the sweet adventure at Shiroi Koibito Park, and the charming day trip to Otaru. These top-notch experiences will make your time in Sapporo truly unforgettable!

Where can I taste authentic Hokkaido cuisine in Sapporo?

 Look no further than the Curb Market! It’s a foodie paradise with stalls offering the best of Hokkaido’s culinary delights. From savory soup curry to fresh seafood, your taste buds will thank you. You’ll get a true taste of the local flavors and immerse yourself in the region’s gastronomic wonders.

When is the Sapporo Snow Festival held, and what can I expect?

 The Sapporo Snow Festival takes place in February, and it’s a winter wonderland you won’t want to miss! You’ll be amazed by the jaw-dropping ice sculptures, illuminated art, and lively events. Bundle up, embrace the chilly weather, and witness the magical transformation of Sapporo into an icy spectacle!

What’s so special about Jozankei Onsen, and how do I get there?

 Jozankei Onsen is a blissful haven nestled amidst scenic mountains. To get there, you can take a short bus ride from central Sapporo. Once there, immerse yourself in the natural hot springs, relax your muscles, and enjoy the therapeutic benefits of the mineral-rich waters. It’s the ultimate escape from city life!

What can I expect at the Sapporo Beer Museum, and is it free?

 At the Sapporo Beer Museum, you’ll dive into the fascinating history of Japan’s oldest brewery. The best part? Admission is free! Explore the exhibits, learn about the brewing process, and enjoy beer tasting sessions. It’s a delightful experience for beer enthusiasts and history buffs alike.

Is Shiroi Koibito Park suitable for kids?

 Absolutely! Shiroi Koibito Park is a delightful destination for the whole family. Kids will love the chocolate-themed amusement park and the interactive cookie-making workshops. And don’t worry, adults will find it just as charming. Don’t forget to bring home some delectable treats as souvenirs!

How can I plan a day trip to Otaru from Sapporo?

 Planning a day trip to Otaru is a breeze! Hop on a quick train ride from Sapporo Station, and you’ll find yourself in this picturesque town, known for its canals and glassware shops. Explore the quaint streets, indulge in mouthwatering sushi, and make sure to capture the town’s unique beauty in your travel memories!
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