Hokkaido is a great place to visit and enjoy nature in every season. It is also known for its beautiful powdered snow and fresh seafood!
I have been travelling to Hokkaido for a few times, and I have compiled this guide especially for those who are planning to travel to Hokkaido in Japan.
If you want to know what are the top recommendations and things to do in Hokkaido, this is the guide for you!
Here are some of the things that you can do that give you a reason to visit Hokkaido!
1. Visit the Sapporo Snow Festival
Held during the winter season in February, be sure to visit the Sapporo Snow Festival in Odori park where there are many snow sculptures and events!
2. View The Ice Sculptures In Susukino
Held during the same period as the Snow Festival, the ice sculptures in Susukino are not to be missed as beautiful works of art carved out of blocks of ice are on display on the road of Susukino.
3. Snowboarding or Skiing In Snow Resorts
Hokkaido has the best snow for snow boarding and skiing. Due to its geographical location, the snow is soft and powdery which is excellent for skiing activities.
There are many snow resorts in Hokkaido which you can stay in.
- Furano Ski resort
4. Experience Snowfall in Hokkaido
Hokkaido has one of the heaviest snowfalls during winter every year. So if you have not experienced snow falling on your face, here is the place to be! You can see snow flakes!
5. View The Sapporo TV Tower At Night
The Sapporo TV Tower makes a good dating idea to view as it lights up in the night. Perfect for Instagram shots.
6. Visit The Entertainment District In Susukino
Susukino is one of the largest entertainment districts in Hokkaido. There are many restaurants, karaoke shops, pachinko parlours and the red light district of hostess and host bars.With brightly lit bill boards all around, it’s one of the night life you should experience in Hokkaido.
With brightly lit bill boards all around, it’s one of the night life you should experience in Hokkaido.
7. Eat Jingisukan (Gengis Khan grilled lamb)
One of must eat in Hokkaido is the Jingisukan which is the Japanese style grilled lamb. It’s a speciality in Hokkaido for the cold weather.
It is popular with the locals as they are eaten as dinner or supper. Best paired with an ice cold Sapporo beer! You can eat them at the Sapporo Beer garden or at the famous jingisukan restaurant called Daruma.
8. Drink Local Produced Beer
Beers taste the best when they are sold in the same region where they are produced. Because of the purity of the waters, beers produced from Hokkaido are the most famous in Japan. That goes to whisky too.
9. Eat Hokkaido Ramen
Sapporo is the place of having extremely delicious ramen that you should eat. There are a few places that you can eat ramen.
My Personal Recommendations:
10. Savour Hokkaido’s Special Spicy Soup Curry
Only available in Hokkaido, you must eat their version of curry, which is more like a soup. You can decide on how spicy you want to soup to be! It’s extremely satisfying to have during a cold weather!
My Personal Recommendation:
11. Visit Nijio Seafood Market
Sapporo’s market for fresh seafood and local produce. There are many seafood which you can eat and buy there such as sea urchin, crabs, ikura, mentaiko, scallops, etc. You can buy and they’ll cook for you immediately. There are a few donburi shops which you can eat fresh seafood donburi there.
12. Eat Seafood Donburi
Seafood is the freshest in Hokkaido due to their cold weather and seafood fished from the cold seas in the northern region. And you must eat their seafood donburis when you are in Sapporo! Topped with freshest ingredients of your choice such as sea urchins (uni), scallops, crab meat, salmon, etc!
13. Eat The Freshest Uni and Grilled Scallop
If you asked anyone who had visited Hokkaido, they would have told you that the freshest uni is found there! Uni is an acquired taste for those who are eating it for the first time. But when you eat more of it, you’ll fall in love with the taste of uni.
There is a difference in taste between a fresh uni in Hokkaido and ones you eat from Tokyo or flown from Japan. There is no fishy taste if you tasted fresh uni from Hokkaido’s market. Some people who used to dislike uni come to love the taste of it when they are in Hokkaido.
Grilled scallop is so good that you’ll just dream of it when you are back from your holiday. Flamed with Hokkaido’s butter, the taste is just so ‘buttery’ smooth! Recommended eat.
14. Eat The Most Delicious Crabs
This is why Hokkaido is a seafood heaven. You are missing out one of the best in Hokkaido if you do not eat crabs there. Sourced from the Alaskan seas, there are so many crabs to be eaten, cheap! Starting from the hairy crabs (Kegani) to the expensive King and Queen crabs! Must try them all! (Depends on seasons)
Some recommended places and restaurants for crabs
- Sapporo kanihonke (reservation required)
- Sapporo Kani Shogun
- 5 Restaurants in Sapporo where you can eat crab dishes
15. Take a Walk In The Most Beautiful University In Japan
Located in Sapporo, the Hokkaido University is rated as one of the most beautiful universities in Japan and maybe the world. Take a stroll around the campus and admire the beautiful greenery or white snow. Also feel free to attend any exhibitions held within the campus.
16. Visit the Sapporo Clock Tower
The clock tower is a symbol of Sapporo. Today it serves as a museum which displays the building’s history.
17. Enjoy a Quiet Moment In Odori Park
Located in the centre of Sapporo city, this park stretches over 12 city blocks and offer lots of greenery and pretty flowers during the summer period. Many events are held in this park especially the important Sapporo Snow Festival.
So if you like spend some time to sit by the fountain and enjoy some street food or an ice cream.
18. Visit The Sapporo Beer Museum
If you like beer (I’m sure most do!), then you should take a visit to the Sapporo beer museum.
It has a museum which has displays of the history of its most popular beer and there is a paid tour if you like.
At the end of the free/paid tour, you can visit the beer hall which you can sample their different beers for 200 Yen.
To get there, there is a loop bus service 88 which has one of the stops in Odori Park and Sapporo Station.
19. Shop In Ario Shopping Mall
Located just beside the Sapporo beer museum, there is a large shopping mall with many retail shop to satisfy your shopping cravings.
20. Drink Hokkaido Milk
The best milk I’ve ever drunk was milk from Hokkaido.
It’s one of the only milk that doesn’t have an overpowering taste and doesn’t give me lactose intolerant diarrhoea. A warm milk makes it even better during the cold winters! Recommended!
21. Shop In Tanukikoji Shopping Arcade
Tanukikoji is an extremely long shopping arcade that has many shops and restaurants.
There are many pharmacy and souvenir shops for you to shop for your beauty products and Hokkaido food souvenirs!
There is also the famous Don Quijote shop there which sells almost any category you can think of!
22. Shop at Sapporo JR Station
The Sapporo station has many shopping centres around and underground. Plus there’s a Daimaru there where the food section is a heaven of cute and pretty looking desserts and cakes. It’s a place to satisfy your shopping needs. The Ramen Republic is located there too in the JR tower.
Tip: If you shop at the food section of many supermarkets close to their closing time, many bento and food are on discounts making it a cheap meal for dinner or supper.
23. Visit The Shiroi Koibito Chocolate Factory
If you are in Hokkaido, you should also visit the famous chocolate factory Shiroi Koibito. This is where your special Hokkaido chocolate souvenirs are made. You can learn the history of the chocolate making factory too.
There is also a toy museum and a park for your pretty photos and Instagram worthy shots. And you get to eat pretty and delicious chocolates too!
24. Take a Day Trip to Otaru
Otaru is a small harbour city, which is just about a 45 min train ride from Sapporo Station.
In the early 1800s, it used to serve as a major trading port. The beautifully preserved canal area makes it a wonderful place to visit.
There are a quite a few glass museums, a music box museum and many cafes there to explore.
25. Visit The Otaru Aquarium
Often overlooked by visitors, Otaru actually has an aquarium!
It might look small, but Otaru aquarium is highly raved by visitors for its shows because you can see them up close! It’s a must visit if you are in Otaru!
To get to Otaru Aquarium, you just need to take a bus from the bus terminal in front of Otaru JR station.
26. Eat Different Soft Ice Cream
Hokkaido is well known for their soft milky ice cream. If you are there you must eat their ice cream!
In Otaru only, you can find shops selling 7 layered ice cream! It’s a must try even during cold winters!
27. Visit The Otaru Snow Light Festival
The Otaru Snow Light Festival is a winter festival which is held every February in Otaru.
The whole city will be lit with beautiful and romantic lights making it an ideal place to celebrate Valentine’s Day with your loved ones.
This festival usually runs the same time as the Sapporo Snow Festival which makes your Hokkaido trip a very worthwhile visit!
28. Relax with a Cup of Coffee and Slice of Cheesecake
In Otaru, there are many good cafes for a coffee and also many famous cheesecake pastry bakeries like LeTAO.
So take some time to sit and enjoy some tea and cakes in Otaru!
Be sure to buy some cheesecakes back to eat, especially LeTAO’s double fromage cheesecake!
29. View The Beautiful Night View From Mt Moiwa
Mt Moiwa is one of the new top 3 night views you should see in Japan. The other 2 top night views one should admire is in Kobe and Nagasaki.
You’ll stop at the ropeway station which will bring you to the top of Mt Moiwa.
There are quite a few things to do at the top such as watching free 3D movie and a romantic dinner with a view at the JEWELS restaurant (reservation recommended).
30. Savour The Sweet Melons of Hokkaido
Japan’s musk melons are the most valued in the world because they are so distinctively sweet! A single Japanese musk melon can fetch at least a hundred dollars. And the most famous melons come from Hokkaido.
If you are in Hokkaido during the melon season (late June to early August), you are in luck because there are plenty of sweet musk melons to eat and can be bought for as little as under 1000 yen for a single fruit.
The melons sold have labels to tell you where they are from. The most famous and commonly you can see sold everywhere is the Yubari melons.
To fully savour the richness of musk melons, eat them when they are fully ripe because that’s where the maximum sweetness and when you bite into it, it will melt in your mouth like ice cream!
31. Visit The Lavender Farm In Furano
Hokkaido is a popular destination to visit during the summer because there will be blooms of lavenders and sunflowers.
One of the places to visit is the lavender farm in Farm Tomita.
There is a special train station nearby where it is only operational for a limited time during summer. This is the only way to get to the farm without driving a car.
Over at Farm Tomita you can take Instagram worthy photos, buy many lavender products and also take a bite of lavender ice cream!
32. Visit Various Flower Gardens Around Biei
There are many flower farms that are worth the visit during the summer season of Hokkaido, where you can see many pretty flowers neatly and painstakingly planted in neat, beautiful rows.
It would be good if you can drive as some locations are quite far away from the nearest train station. Alternatively, you can rent a bicycle and cycle over!
Flower farms to visit:
33. Cycle Along The Rolling Hills in Biei
With lush greenery, beautiful hills and pretty flowers, why not take the freedom to cycle around Biei and visit all these famous places?
You can cycle to visit cow farms, pass by vegetable farms, even visit the blue pond via cycling! If you are lucky, you can catch a glimpse of the wild life around Hokkaido like the fox! I did!
Some places to cycle to near Biei:
34. Visit The Famous Blue Pond
There is the famous Shirogane blue pond that everyone will visit for an Instagram shot.
The pond is blue due to the aluminium mineral that is mixed with the waters due to the construction of a dam to prevent volcanic mud flow into the town of Biei.
One can get there by driving or cycling. There is a bus to the place too!
And some distance away you can visit the beautiful Shiarhige waterfall too.
35. Go Hiking In The Mountains of Asahidake
For Hikers and nature lovers, rejoice. There are many mountains in Hokkaido which gives you great hiking experience and beautiful scenery.
Take a short hike in the mountains of Asahidake! A short round hike will take you about 1 hour or 2 to complete.If you want to climb to the summit, it will take about another hour to reach
If you want to climb to the summit, it will take about another hour to reach to the top of the mountain. However, it’s a very steep climb with lots of rock! So do wear proper hiking boots for the hike!
There is a bus to the Asahidake ropeway station from Asahikawa bus terminal.
36. Stay In Ryokans and Soak In Onsens
In Hokkaido, there are many natural hot springs around due to the volcanic locations around.
One of the places is the Sounkyo area which has a few big hot spring ryokans suitable for couple and family stay (they do not have rooms for single travellers).
Sounkyo is located on the other side of Asahidake mountain which the mountain is Mt Kurodake. Another great place for hiking into the Daisetuzan National Park and beautiful views of the interior mountains. You can take the ropeway from the Sounkyo visitor centre.
37. Visit The Asahiyama Zoo and Watch Penguins Marching
Ever see penguins marching live instead of on TV?
You can see live penguin march in the Asahiyama Zoo! The zoo is worth a visit to see many different animals!
38. Visit The Hell Valley In Noboribetsu
Next, if you are gonna hike more, travel to Noboribetsu and take a hike into the mountains of hell valley.
There are many hot springs ryokans there too, so take a day hike and stay the night and soak up the natural healing hot springs which are believed to have many healing properties.
39. Have a Foot Bath in a Natural Hot Spring River
Further up from Hell Valley take a longer hike along the hiking path and you’ll reach the Oyunuma Natural Hot Spring Footbath to soak your cold and tired feet during winter.
Then hike further and you’ll be rewarded with a fantastic view of Oyunuma pond!
It’s a great place for an Instagram worthy shot!
It's really beautiful to take a hike to Oyunuma pond. It's going to be dark soon, hence I could hike no further and return back to my hotel for a soothing hot spring bath! ♨️ .⠀ .⠀ ⠀ #japan #team_jp_ #travel #travelblog #travelblogger #instagramjapan #jp_gallery #bestjapanpics #ig_japan #thecoffeeshoptrader #sgig #team_jp #日本 #picoftheday #photography #fujifilm_xseries #fujifilmx100t #fujifilm #fujifilmasia #noboribetsu #北海道 #hokkaido #登別市 #地獄谷温泉 #lovers_nippon #hotspring #hellvalley #onsen #hiking
40. Visit the Noboribetsu Ninja Village
If you are ever a fan of Naruto, samurais and ninjas, then you should take a short visit to the Norboribetsu Date Jidaimura.
It’s a theme park dedicated to the Edo era with traditional performances, food and games. You can also learn about the tools and tricks that real ninjas used during the era.
It’s also worth to watch the performances!
41. Visit Lake Toya
Take a trip and visit Lake Toya, which never freezes even during winter.
And nearby is Mount Usu, which is one of the most active volcanoes in Japan. The last eruption was in the year 2000.
42. Visit The Shiretoko National Park
Visit the Shiretoko National Park, which is one of Japan’s most beautiful national park.
It’s listed as one of Japan’s UNESCO world heritage sites for its irreplacable ecosystem and biodiversity.
The park has a rich variety of wild life including wild bears, deers and foxes
There are also activities you can do during winter which includes walking on drift ice and killer whale watching!
43. Visit Hokkaido’s Most Northern Point
Cape Soya is the northern most point of Hokkaido and it’s a great place to visit and view the spectacular view of the sea.
44. Catch The Sunrise Above The Clouds At Unkai Terrace
What a better way to catch the sunrise while above the sea of clouds!
A beautiful sight to behold, you can catch the view of the sea of clouds at the Unkai Terrace when the condition is right while having a cup of coffee.
45. Visit Hakodate
Moving away from Sapporo, you can take a 3h 48min JR train ride from Sapporo train station to Hakodate Train station.
Located at the southern tip of Hokkaido, Hakodate is best known for their seafood and squid.
Also, being a harbour, it is influenced by overseas culture and there are many western style buildings and also churches around Hakodate.
46. Catch and Eat Live Squid Sashimi
Head to the Hakodate Morning market and catch a glimpse of the many seafoods caught fresh from the sea.
If you are adventurous, try squid fishing which you can catch live squid and if you are successful, it will be quickly made into fresh sashimi.
Not for the squeamish, the squids can still move when you pour soya sauce over it!
47. Eat Lucky Pierrot in Hakodate
The most popular fast food chain only found in Hakodate, Lucky Pierrot serves a wide variety of western and Chinese style food such as burgers, omelette rice, fried noodles, etc.
Their most delicious and popular food will be the Chinese Chicken burger which consists of deep fried chicken, sweet sauce, mayo, lettuce and sesame bun.
Best eaten during the cold winter as it is served fresh and hot!
48. Visit the Goryokaku Fort
Another significance of Hakodate is the Goryokaku Fort which is a very special star shaped fortress surrounded by a moat.
The fort can be seen from the observation deck of Goryokaku Tower which is 107m tall.
The fort is the most beautiful during the sakura season where the whole park turns flowery pink.
49. Enjoy the Night View of Hakodate
Awarded the highest rating of three stars in the “Michelin Green Guide Japan”, the Hakodate night view is a worth visit if you are visiting Hakodate.
Viewed from the top of Mt Hakodate, catch the sunset and watch as the city transit from day to lighting up in the night.
To get there, you’ll have to take the ropeway up at the Mt Hakodate Ropeway.
Because it’s a popular sightseeing spot, be prepared to squeeze with many tour groups at the top just to get a view of the city.
*Tip if you have the time, be there at the sunset which has fewer tour groups around.
50. Shop souvenirs at New Chitose Airport
When it’s time to leave Hokkaido, be sure to save some space for Souvenirs because there’s more to shop in New Chitose Airport!
If you think there is nothing to shop in the small domestic airport, then you are wrong!
Head down to the domestic flight terminal and you’ll find the place is full of souvenir shops, there are just so many things to buy!
In addition, you can get exclusive souvenirs only found in Hokkaido such as cheesecakes and popcorns!
There is nothing much to shop in the transit area, so make sure you shop all the souvenirs in the public area in the domestic terminal!
51 and More….
Of course, there are more things to do and visit in Hokkaido that I cannot fully cover. But these top 50 is much enough to give you an exciting and enjoyable trip to Hokkaido!
Till next trip, see you!
- Amazing Japan 11D10N: Day 1 (Singapore – New Chitose – Sapporo)
- Amazing Japan 11D10N: Day 2 (Sapporo – Nijio Market – Odori Park – Mt Moiwa)
- Amazing Japan 11D10N: Day 3 (Sapporo – Wholesale Curb Market – Hokkaido University – Otaru)
- Amazing Japan 11D10N: Day 4 (Sapporo – Noboribetsu)
- Amazing Japan 11D10N: Day 5 (Noboribetsu – Hakodate – Mt Hakodate)
- Amazing Japan 11D10N: Day 6 (Hakodate – Yamadera – Yamagata)
- Amazing Japan 11D10N: Day 7 (Yamagata – Mt Zao – Tokyo)
- 7D6N Summer Hokkaido
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