Hokkaido is one of the four main islands of Japan. It is a skiing and snowboarding hotspot in winter and is home to the indigenous people of Japan, the Ainu. The region is renowned for its breathtaking beauty, its February Snow Festival, and its amazing seafood. A great place to visit for sports in winter and its blooming flower fields in summer, this lovely region is not to be missed during your trip to Japan and is a popular vacation spot among Japanese people from all over the country.
Whether you visit in summer to catch the flower fields and fireworks, or in winter to experience seasonal events and skiing, Hokkaido has something for everyone. Check out these 100 things to do in Hokkaido to help you experience as much as you can of this beautiful island.
This activity is ideal in summer and involves exploring the area around Lake Toya in the southwestern area of Hokkaido. It is part of Shikotsu-Toya National Park and has a perimeter of 43 kilometers. Marvel at the scenery, discover waterfalls, take amazing photographs and even try harvesting corn or potatoes on this exciting outdoor adventure.
The tour is three hours long and offered only to one group per day, meaning you will get a completely private experience when you go. This activity is available until October.
Booking details: Private Customized Tour around Toya Lake in Hokkaido!
If you’re the adventurous type, there’s no way you can miss this night trekking course with an experienced guide. Go walking in total darkness, leaving your nose and ears in charge of your senses. View the spectacular stars without light pollution and ponder life amidst nature. Learn a bit about the local wildlife all in the safe hands of a professional. This tour is available all year except in winter, so book it for something a little different.
Booking details: Go Night Trekking in Sapporo!
Why not experience some of Hokkaido’s breathtaking nature next summer and go sea kayaking? All levels, including complete beginners, are welcome. During the day, the guide will take you to a quiet spot for lunch. This activity takes place at Maruyama Park, one of the nicest parks in Hokkaido, and it is available for those three years old and up.
Booking details: Go Sea Kayaking in Hokkaido!
Due to its breathtaking views, clean air, and pleasant weather, Hokkaido is ideal for cycling in summer. You can explore some gorgeous natural sites of this lovely island including flower fields, mountains, rivers, and more. Why not join a professionally-guided cycling tour to experience Hokkaido from a bicycle?
There are many courses you can choose from and there are three levels:
- Beginner level for those who can ride a bicycle and want an easy and relaxing journey.
- Intermediate level for those who enjoy faster-paced and more difficult routes.
- Advanced level for experienced cyclists.
Booking details: Summer Cycling in Hokkaido
Furano Cheese Factory is known for its rich quantities of milk and high-quality cheese. You can visit the factory to make your own butter, your own ice cream, your own cheese, and your own bread! Each workshop has its own time frame and rules, so check them out in the link below. The workshops are held between April and October.
Booking details: Make cheese, butter and ice-cream at Furano Cheese Factory!
40 minutes from downtown Sapporo is the opportunity to go horse riding, an experience that is relatively rare in Japan. Tour the beautiful Hakkenzan eight-peaked mountain and even have fun feeding the horses. You can choose between a 40-minute, 60-minute, and 90-minute trek and you don’t have to worry about getting to the farm because the booking also includes taxi pickup service to and from Sapporo.
If you love horse riding and would like to see the eight-peaked mountain from horseback, don’t miss this from your itinerary. There is also the opportunity to go horse riding near Lake Toya if you would prefer.
Booking details: Horseback Riding in Sapporo with Taxi Pick-Up Service
In winter, there is an opportunity to ride a real dog-pulled sled in the snow! This affordable package includes the dog sled, a ride on a snowmobile, and a ride on the snow version of a banana boat. Have a hilarious and fun-filled day in the snow.
Children must be 13 years old and above to ride the dog sled, over 5 years old to ride the banana boat, and over 15 years old to ride the snowmobile by themselves. This tour is available in winter, so be sure to keep an eye on the calendar. The tour will be resumed when the host knows the predicted snowfall.
Booking details: Ride a dog sled, snow mobile and a banana boat near Sapporo!
An izakaya is a traditional pub serving snacks and alcoholic drinks that Japanese people continue to enjoy today. Meet up with a local in Sapporo and visit his favourite izakaya with him! Try pub food such as tempura, seafood, sushi, and skewered chicken. The host is not a professional tour guide but he’ll make sure you have a fun evening in Sapporo like the locals do.
Booking details: Izakaya Experience in Sapporo
Niseko is a fantastic ski resort in Hokkaido, but there is more to do there than just skiing and snowboarding. Try a snowshoe tour, where you’ll wear special snowshoes to walk through the forest or down a mountain slope, observe wild birds, and enjoy the beautiful nature of Mt. Niseko and Mt. Yotei. You can even have some tea and cookies during your break. This refreshing day in the great outdoors might be what you need to shake off the stress of the city.
Booking details: Try snowshoe experiences in Niseko, Hokkaido
If you visit Hokkaido in winter and it’s your first time going, consider booking a five-day ready-made itinerary. You’ll be picked up from New Chitose Airport and taken to your hotel. In the entire package, you’ll see some of Sapporo city’s best attractions, enjoy a feast of Hokkaido crab, a tour of Otaru City, a trip to Lake Shikotsu, Toya, and Noboribetsu, and much more. This package is available between the 2nd of December and the 31st of March. Check out the link below for full details.
Booking details: 5-day Winter Package Tour from Sapporo in Hokkaido
Hiking has to be part of your Hokkaido holiday if you’re visiting in the warmer months. Be picked up from Sapporo Station or your hotel and join locals on a hike in the mountains where the air is clean and refreshing. Choose your preferred itinerary depending on your time frame and enjoy a special coffee at the summit. You can request English, Spanish, or Korean language guides for this activity.
Booking details: Enjoy hiking and get great coffee at the summit of Sapporo!
You may be visiting Hokkaido to escape the busy life of the city. If this is the case, consider staying at resort spa Mizuno Uta for a day. Choose from a choice of a facial oil massage, a half body treatment, or a foot treatment, relax in the establishment with comforting music and aromas, and take advantage of the on-site facilities such as a foot bath, sauna, and baths.
You can also have a meal of seasonal Hokkaido ingredients. This is for two people, so book it with your mum, sister, or best friend to be truly spoilt during your stay in Hokkaido.
Booking details: Enjoy a Relaxing Time with a Spa Treatment in Hokkaido!
This five-day tour best taken in summer takes you to places such as Lake Masshu, Furano, Biei, Sapporo, Asahiyama Zoo, and much more to ensure you get the most out of your stay. Some meals are also included in the price and there is an upgraded version available. Click the link below for more details on this action-packed vacation.
Booking details: 5-day dynamic tour around the highlights of Hokkaido
The tea ceremony is a tradition that has been passed down in Japan for generations. You can experience this elegant culture in Sapporo where you’ll dress in a kimono, learn how to use chopsticks, and make green tea before enjoying it with “wagashi”, Japanese traditional sweets that go well with the tea. Authentic tea sets are available to buy, too. Experience this interesting culture in Japanese, Chinese, or English and take photographs with the staff afterwards.
Booking details: Experience Tea Ceremony in Sapporo, Hokkaido
Relive your special day in the beautiful nature of Hokkaido. Professional photographers will take gorgeous photographs of you and your special one among flowers, snow, and mountains and later, you can stay in Sapporo in a hotel included in the price. For the ultimate romantic getaway with amazing photographs to keep, book this fun, three-day package.
Booking details: Have amazing wedding photos taken in the nature of Hokkaido
This two-day tour includes transportation and takes you to many lovely places around Hokkaido. These include Muroran City, where you’ll see Cape Earth and Sokuryozan Observatory Tower, and Makkari, where you’ll be able to buy tofu products. Stay at a hot spring hotel near Lake Toya and sample delicious food on your journey. There is much more involved in this tour, so click the link below for all the information.
Booking details: 2 Days Private Guided Tour in Muroran, Otaru & Sapporo!
This tour is for you if you’d prefer to see the sights of Sapporo from the comfort of a bus. This reasonably-priced tour includes a trip to Okurayama Ski Jump Stadium to see some marvelous views and Sapporo Central Wholesale Market where you can go shopping for souvenirs. This hassle-free tour is best suited to those who can’t or don’t enjoy walking.
Booking details: Join And Enjoy City Sightseeing Bus Tour in Sapporo!
Niseko is a great place to go for winter sports. Head there with a local to see some private backcountry areas to avoid the crowds. Learn some tips with skiing or snowboarding and find out where the best slopes are. After that, your guide will show you some good places to eat and relax. This activity is for intermediate to advanced skiers and snowboarders.
Booking details: Enjoy a Niseko Backcountry ski & snowboard tour
In winter, gigantic blocks of ice float on the surface of the water, creating a haunting and beautiful sight. Embark on a boat to see this drifting ice up close for some amazing pictures of this natural phenomenon. Later, you can visit a local shop for famous seafood products and a delicious lunch. If you’d prefer to see drifting ice from the land without having to ride a boat, check out this walking drift ice tour.
Booking details: Monbetsu Garinko II Ice Drifting Tour From Sapporo!
This English guided tour visits some impressive volcanic sights including Lake Toya, Mt. Usu’s ropeway, and the stunning Hell Valley, amongst others. Let the comfortable coach guide you to these places where you can take some amazing photographs of some of Hokkaido’s most stunning natural beauty.
Booking details: Shore Excursion From Muroran to Lake Toya & Noboribetsu!
You can’t make a visit to Hokkaido without sampling some of its exquisite food! Ramen, a noodle broth dish, is famous in Hokkaido and with this activity, you can try ramen in Sapporo along with a delicious mutton barbeque. With this affordable price, you can see some nice places in Sapporo such as Hitsujigaoka Observation Hill, Odori Park, and the Clock Tower, sampling the delicacies along the way. Have a delicious and fun-filled day in Sapporo with this tour.
Booking details: Enjoy Sapporo and try Sapporo ramen and mutton BBQ!
Already seen Sapporo? No worries! Otaru is another wonderful area in Hokkaido that has been one of the main port towns of the region for years. Stroll down Sakaimachi district and enjoy some local specialties. Make your own glass beads and even tour the beautiful canal area on a traditional rickshaw. You’ll also get to see Herring Palace. Set a day of your Hokkaido trip aside to see this charming port town!
Booking details: Find historical assets and try fresh seafood in Otaru
This activity takes you to the largest wetland in Japan in Kushiro Shitsugen National Park. From the comfort of your seat in a car, you can see rivers and endangered Japanese cranes flying over the marshland. Choose your departure point and check the full itinerary in the link below.
Booking details: Shore Excursion to Kushiro, a Natural Wonderland in Hokkaido
In the town of Yoichi, just an hour by public transportation from Sapporo, is the Yoichi Whisky Distillery featuring spirits by Nikka. It was opened in 1934 and you can go on either a guided tour (Japanese only) or a self-guided tour with English brochures (though on the self-guided tour, some buildings are off-limits).
See how whisky is made and how it changes with age, and learn about the romantic love story between Nikka’s founder and the love he found when he travelled to Scotland to learn about authentic whisky.
This hotel package tour allows you to stay at JR Tower Hotel Nikko where you’ll sleep on an airweave mattress and enjoy the gorgeous view from the guestroom. Make use of the sky resort spa and spoil yourself during your stay. What better way to enjoy your vacation in Hokkaido than a luxury stay with one of Sapporo’s best views?
Booking details: Enjoy a Sky Spa & Sleep on an Airweave Mattress in Hokkaido!
Just outside Sapporo is a beautiful English-style garden with hundreds of kinds of herbs and flowers. Visit this garden and have a buffet lunch at the Yubari Hotel before visiting the Northern Horse Park and then visiting Sapporo city in the afternoon. This delightful day out is great for families. Please note it’s only available during certain times in summer and that guidance is in Japanese only.
Booking details: Enjoy 1-Day Tour, Yuni Garden & Northern Horse Park, Sapporo
Is it your first time in the biggest city in Hokkaido? See the best of Sapporo hassle-free with this tour.Try amazing sushi and fresh seafood at Sapporo Central Wholesale Market and visit Hokkaido Shrine and Shiroi Koibito Park. You’ll also pass by many other attractive buildings and landmarks and get to know Sapporo. You can also get discounts at select restaurants if you show your tour ticket. This day out is great for groups and families.
Booking details: Afternoon Tour to Explore Sapporo’s Best Highlights
With this lovely day out that departs from Sapporo, you can visit the glass museum in Otaru, see the Nikka Whisky Distillery and take a trip to the cookie factory in Sapporo’s Shiroi Koibito Park. The tour is adjusted slightly depending on whether you embark in winter or summer; for example, in summer you can also visit Otaru Canal. Guidance is only available in Japanese.
Booking details: Shiroi Koibito Park and Otaru tour, from Sapporo Hokkaido
Have a local guide show you round some beautiful spots in Hokkaido. Visit Otaru and walk the canal area and local districts, and see the Yoichi Whisky Factory on the way to Niseko, where you’ll spend the night in a cottage. Enjoy great seafood and a relaxing drive among Hokkaido’s vast fields and beautiful nature. For a lovely two days with a local guide to see some must-see locations in Hokkaido, click the link below to book.
Booking details: Discover Otaru and Niseko on a tour with overnight stay
From spring until autumn, Niseko’s mountains are a great place to go hiking. This experience takes you to some of the many beautiful areas around Niseko that not only include mountains (where you’ll eat your lunch), but lakes and forests, too. After your walk, you can relax in a hot spring. If you choose the overnight stay plan, the host will organise an optional barbeque at the cottage where you’ll stay. Refresh your mind and body amidst Hokkaido’s nature.
Booking details: Enjoy Hokkaido’s nature by hiking Niseko’s mountains
Skiing or snowboarding is a must if you visit Hokkaido in winter. Kiroro Ski Resort has 21 ski runs for various levels of skiers and has other activities available such as snowshoe walking. The link below allows you to make a reservation at this resort and includes transportation by bus or taxi from and to a variety of locations.
What’s great about this resort is that it has a day nursery, making it perfect for families with small children. There are also alternative facilities for those who don’t want to ski, such as a hot spring, pool, and day spa.
Alternatively, there is also the Sapporo Kokusai Skiing Resort if you’d prefer.
Booking details: Reservation for Ski Tour at Kiroro From Sapporo in Hokkaido!
— 札幌市観光・MICE推進部 (@Sapporo_tourism) February 6, 2017
If you’re visiting Hokkaido in February, then you can’t miss two of Hokkaido’s biggest festivals! Check out the Sapporo Snow Festival (6th to 12th) and the Otaru Snow Light Path Festival (3rd to 12th) with this package tour, which also includes a three-night hotel stay, two full course dinners, and additional day tours. Check out the link below for the full itinerary and experience Hokkaido’s winter festivities with an experienced guide.
Booking details: Hokkaido’s Winter Festivals in a Package Tour from Sapporo
Niseko is famous for skiing but that isn’t the only activity available there. You can try snow rafting, horse riding, powder snow cross-country, and even reindeer sledding! Check out the link below for further details and the exciting packages they have available.
Booking details: Explore Four Off the Beaten Path Activities in Niseko
There are some sights such as waterfalls and cliffs that can’t be seen from walking trails. Take an exciting boat to explore the rugged coastline of the Shiretoko Peninsula. You’ll get to see the unspoiled natural park and there is even a chance to see brown bears and other wildlife!
If you’re especially interested in spotting sea mammals and birds from a boat, also check out the Shiretoko wildlife boat ride.
Booking details: Take a sightseeing boat along the dramatic Shiretoko coast
Are you curious about what great food Sapporo has to offer? A local person, who can speak English and Spanish, will take you to a great restaurant in central Sapporo to try sushi and other local delicacies. You can also visit a traditional izakaya pub together and dine like a local! The friendly host will meet you and drop you off at your hotel if you wish. Spend a fun evening and potentially make a new friend!
Booking details: Experience the best Sapporo izakaya and sushi restaurants!
Lake Akan is a lovely part of the Akan National Park. Why not go canoeing on its crystal-clear waters? Choose between the introduction and adventure course and ride a two-person canoe on the lake. Look out for local wildlife and bask in the beauty of the surrounding area. Drinks and snacks are included!
Booking details: Go canoeing in Lake Akan, part of Akan National Park!
If you’re interested in visiting Akan National Park but don’t want to go canoeing, this activity might suit you better. Visit a variety of amazing sightseeing spots such as three different lakes, sulfurous vents of Mt. Iozan, and bubbling mud pools. Explore Akan National Park’s natural beauty and take some breathtaking photographs along the way.
Booking details: Visit the most scenic photo spots of Akan National Park
Lake Shikotsu is part of Shikotsu-Toya National Park and with this activity, you can canoe on this beautiful lake and also do some trekking afterwards. Transportation to and from Sapporo is included. This activity is available between May and September.
Booking details: Explore Lake Shikotsu on a canoe and trekking!
Furano is in the centre of Hokkaido and is known for its gorgeous flower fields in summer. With this private tour, you can see the amazing lavender fields in Farm Tomita, visit local cheese factories or wineries, and enjoy the countryside. It’s best to take this tour between July and August when the flowers are in season.
Booking details: See the natural beauty of the lavender paradise Furano!
Less than an hour away from Memanbetsu Airport is a skiing location where you can get taught by a professional ski instructor who will teach you various ski techniques. There are three local ski areas here with six hot springs and is great to go with children.
The ski instructor will pick you up from your hotel and take you to the ski area and then a hot spring. Click the link below for more information on equipment and the model day plan.
Booking details: Go Skiing in Northeast Hokkaido!
Hakodate is a beautiful harbour town and was one of the first places to open to international traders after the end of the shogunate. Visit this interesting town with a splash of western flavour to see one of Japan’s top three night views. Stroll down old streets and see the star-shaped citadel. This half-day tour is a must for those wanting to visit this lovely place.
Booking details: See the beauty of the international harbor town Hakodate
If you’re interested in the history of Japan’s fifth largest city, this tour is a great choice. This tour starts from either your hotel or Sapporo Station and takes you to some of the best historical highlights including the open-air Historical Village of Hokkaido Museum, the Clock Tower, Odori Park, and Sapporo TV Tower. Later, you can go to the Sapporo Beer Museum and enjoy some local drinks in the beer garden.
Booking details: Discover the Fascinating Historical Legacy of Sapporo
In northeast Hokkaido is a farm which has been taken care of for three generations. You can visit this farm to ride a tractor and try different farming activities depending on the season. The most popular of these is potato farming. Take in the surrounding nature, birch trees, and spot an aeroplane from the nearby airport. Try a day of farming with local people and be part of “green tourism”!
Booking details: Experience potato farming in northern Hokkaido
The “sun pillar” is a rare and beautiful sight you can only see in winter. It is a vertical shaft of light that is seen during sunrise or sunset that involves the sunlight reflecting off the surfaces of ice crystals. Book to meet your guide who’ll take you to the perfect spot to see this charming natural phenomenon. You’ll meet at Masshu Station and visit Lake Masshu to wait for this lovely display. If you’ll be in Hokkaido in winter, definitely give it a try.
Booking details: Beautiful Sun Pillar Tour at Lake Masshu in Hokkaido!
You’ve seen trekking and snow activities in Niseko, so how about trying this cycling tour? Most of this refreshing activity involves downhill slopes so it’s more relaxing than challenging. All of the offered days out are private so you can enjoy them freely with your friends or family.
Booking details: Private Cycling Tour in Niseko, Hokkaido!
The last on this list is an activity where you can walk in the natural parks of Hokkaido. Enjoy the clean and refreshing nature around you and take some great pictures. This healthy activity is suitable for any level of hikers and walkers. Click below for a list of their itineraries.
Booking details: Go Pole Walking in Sapporo!
This beautiful cape gives a charming view of the sky and the land together and being there gives you a strong sense of adventure. Cape Kamui is located in Shakotan and is just gorgeous to go and feel the nature and sense of freedom of this place.
Located in Asahiyama in the center of Hokkaido is Asahiyama Zoo, a popular zoological garden that includes a glass tunnel through a penguin pool and glass domes so you can observe polar bears and wolves in natural habitats. You can also see displays of eagles, cranes, deer, apes and large cats. This zoo, suitable for the whole family, is a great day out.
Shiretoko is a peninsula in the northeast of Hokkaido. The national park is just breathtaking; it’s a place to see floating ice, the Shiretoko Mountain Range, gorgeous cliffs, and a treasure of local wildlife and plants. You can spend a day or two exploring some of the most beautiful natural lands in Japan.
Beautiful no matter what the season, this large and artistic park is perfect for dog walking and romantic strolls. There is the iconic play mountain, a sea fountain, a museum, a wading pool, and plenty of playgrounds. This unusual park was designed by Japanese sculptor Isamu Noguchi and is a favourite stopping point for families and couples.
Hokkaido’s low temperatures and snow make it a great place to relax in an “onsen” hot spring, the classic Japanese way of unwinding. Highly recommended onsens include Nukumori no Yado Furukawa in Sapporo and Yunokawa Hot Spring in Hakodate.
If you’re going to be in Nemuro during the first week of September, you cannot miss the highly anticipated annual crab festival! Try crab soup or whole crab inside a tempting hotpot at this massive event that has been attracting visitors since 1969.
While you are in Nemuro, head to Cape Nosappu before morning to witness the first sunrise of Japan. As the cape is the country’s easternmost point, you will see the sun rise here while it is still dark everywhere else in the country. A sunrise is a pretty special experience by itself, so why not make it even more special by witnessing the very first sunshine of the day?
Hokkaido is known for its rich and tasty ramen noodles. Asahikawa Ramen Village is a highly recommended place to get authentic and hearty dishes containing seafood, thick slices of pork, bioled egg, bamboo shoots, and vegetables that will have you coming back for more in no time.
If you are in Asahikawa, be sure to check out the gorgeous illuminations that light up the snow like a fairytale. Also called the Asahikawa Hot Springs Ice Fall Festival, this spectacular event lasts from January to March. To complete the experience, get some sake served in a glass made of ice!
If you visit Unkai Terrace between May and October, you may get the chance to see a truly spectacular sight: an enchanting “sea of clouds.” Head to the Hoshino Resorts Tomamu and take a ten-minute cable car to the spot where, if the conditions are good, you’ll see what is surely a rare sight of ever-changing, floating clouds. Check the weather before you go and see if you are lucky enough to witness this marvellous spectacle.
Also at Hoshino Resorts Tomamu is the famous indoor wave pool, meaning you can enjoy a warm summer swim even in chilly Hokkaido! Even if you’re not staying at the resort, you can visit this pool with a day pass, but if you are staying, it’s free to use.
This indoor pool generates waves so you can feel like you’re swimming in the sea. There is also a spa facility here. Take a break from the cold and go swimming in a perfectly maintained summer-like indoor pool! You can access it between April and the beginning of November; be sure to check their website below before you go.
Up bright and early in Hakodate? The morning market opens at 5:00am daily and here you can get fresh seafood, fruit, and vegetables, try squid fishing, and enjoy hearty meals for breakfast, including the popular seafood rice bowl, to start your day. A visit to Hakodate isn’t complete without a look at this exciting marketplace, so be sure to add it to your itinerary.
Biei is one of the most beautiful parts of Hokkaido, especially in summer when flowers and trees blossom. The Shirogane Blue Pond is an impressive sight any time of year, with its vivid blue colour and trees and stunning natural background. If you are in the area, you cannot miss this mysterious viewing spot.
The Ainu, Japan’s indigenous population, have long been ignored and oppressed. Today, there are only a few left speaking their ancient language and maintaining their traditions. They weren’t officially recognised by the government until 2008. To find out more about their fascinating beliefs and customs, pay the Village Museum in Shiraoi a visit. Visitors and interests help keep this endangered culture alive.
If you’re in Sapporo and craving meat and seafood, pay a visit to the Hokkaido Beer Garden, a fantastic and highly recommended restaurant offering all-you-can-eat and all-you-can-drink sets, including beef, mutton, crab, seafood, all on a delicious barbeque. Alcoholic drinks are also available here. For a luxurious treat and delicious meal, be sure to give this restaurant a try.
Right near the Hokkaido Beer Garden is Susukino, which is Sapporo’s answer to Tokyo’s bustling and bright city districts. If you’re missing the city life, explore this area, which its glamorous nightclub a-life, AZUBAR for experienced bar visitors, and the NORBESA Ferris Wheel.
By car is a great way to explore the nature-filled hills of Hokkaido, so if you get the chance, head to Kamifurana-cho, nicknamed “Rollercoaster Road” for its steep slopes and length, which resembles the tracks of a theme park ride. If you love driving, you can’t miss this road from your route!
810 metres above sea level is this beautiful lake and the nearby “lips mountains,” with take the shape of a mouth when reflecting off the water. This lake is gorgeous by itself, and is also the hub for various activities such as kayaking and the nature centre. In the summer, it’s a colourful display of blue and green, and come winter, you’ll be able to see igloos built on top of it! Don’t miss one of the loveliest lakes in Japan while you are in Hokkaido, whatever the season.
This unique attraction invites you to test your endurance in the lowest temperature ever recorded: -41 degrees celsius. Head inside a -20 degree room where you will get blown by an ice-cold wind, the coldest thing you’ll probably feel in your life! There is also a fun slide and a warm room for if you get too chilly. Try out this unusual challenge and brave Hokkaido’s lowest recorded temperatures at Kamikawa Ice Pavilion!
Tokachi Hills is a beautiful garden park where you can try an impressive selection of locally-produced food from sweets and bread to pork rice bowls and dairy products. This is where you’ll find fresh and local azuki beans, a staple taste in many traditional sweets, in the form of delicious ice cream. You can also buy special azuki vinegar here.
Tokachi Hills is an experience in itself bursting with activities and marvelous food. Spend a whole day exploring this unique and exciting place!
Hokkaido is the place to be if you love dairy products. Hokkaido’s “soft serve” ice cream is everywhere; if you want to try this deliciously creamy treat, visit Yukijirushi Parlor in Otaru! You can get various types of ice cream sundaes topped with fruit and cream, coffee and other beverages, and there is also a great selection of local souvenirs.
If you’d like to see the city of Sapporo in the comfort of a modern wagon, consider taking this famous tour that leaves from Odori Park and travels through central Sapporo to various photo and scenic spots. It’s a great way to see the city’s essentials. See the website for details and booking information.
If you’re going to be in Furano in the summer, you can’t miss the curious Belly Button Festival, locally called the “Hokkai Heso Matsuri.” It started in 1969 as a way of uniting and energizing the town’s people through dance. See hundreds of dancers performing together, some with masks painted on their torsos, and join in the festivities with street food this July!
Rausu is a gorgeous town on the eastern peninsula of Hokkaido. It is home to the Shiretoko National Park, the beautiful Rausu Kunashiri Observatory Deck, and offers the Shiretoko Highway, a scenic drive if you’re arriving by car. If you’re going to be in this area, don’t miss a trip to this lovely town blessed by nature.
Up in Kitami, you can easily see the charming red foxes of northern Japan. The foxes here are accustomed to people, so it’s easy to see them, but keep in mind that you are not allowed to try to pet or feed them. It’s truly a great experience to get up close to these really beautiful, sweet creatures. Visit this place for great food and greater sights.
This orchard is a great place to spend a day picking and eating fruit. Seasonal fruit last from early summer until November, including plump, fresh strawberries in June, cherries, plums, pears, and grapes in September and October, and more. You can also fish in the pond, feed the ponies, and experence making pizza or jam. It’s an excellent family or couples’ day out so make sure you don’t miss it, especially if you’re in Hokkaido between summer and autumn!
The town of Wakkanai is one of the most northernmost parts of Hokkaido, on the coast. Wakkanai is well known for its amazing seafood, particularly scallops, octopus, kelp, pollack, cod, flouder, and sand lance, as well as the regionally famous sea urchin bowl. Explore this town’s culinary prowess at restaurants such as Urokotei, Ryoshi no Mise, and Kita no Ajigokoro Takechan.
Close to Wakkanai is the beautiful Cape Noshappu, which boasts splendid views of the sea, a lighthouse, Esandomarigyoko Park, a 100th year memorial tower and various attractions. It’s a fun spot within easy distance of Wakkanai and well worth a visit.
With 120 species and easy access from Wakkanai and Cape Noshappu, the aquarium is a great choice to see some of the local wildlife such as seals. Though relatively small compared to the larger aquariums of big cities, this place is worth seeing and is fun to couple with a trip to the adjacent Wakkanai Youth Science Museum.
Moss phlox is a pink and purple coloured flower that blooms in spring after the cherry blossom season has ended. The sight of the bright pink slopes that you can see from early May when the flowers bloom is a truly wonderful thing to experience. Head to Shibazakura Park i spring for some sweeping views of this carefully kept and beautiful flower.
Steam trains hold a sense of romance and adventure. If you love steam trains, try riding the SL Winter Shitsugen! You can ride it on JR Hokkaido’s Senmo Main Line through eastern Hokkaido. On specific days in February, it runs between Kawayu Onsen and Kushiro.
Soup curry is another Hokkaido dish that you have to try while you are there. The light spice of the curry and the meat and vegetables make it a hearty dish that will keep you warm in the colder climate. If you are in Sapporo, check out the highly rated Curry Di.SAVoY or Soup Curry GARAKU. If you are in Asahikawa, try Fuwawa. For Hakodate, head to Asian Bar Ramai.
See the carefully conserved Abashiri Prison as a cultural property, and makes for a very interesting visit. You can take a guided tour and even try an authentic prison-style meal for a one-of-a-kind experience. It is located about four kilometres from JR Abashiri Station and offers free parking, as well as a 10% discount coupon, which you can get on their website.
Known as the Twin Beauties Waterfall, this beautiful body of water can be found near Rausu. It has an observatory and in winter, you can witness the gorgeous drift ice that drastically changes the scenery. For nature lovers, this is a must-see.
Getting up and down a mountain is easier by cable car, locally called a “ropeway.” You can see some gorgeous views of the surrounding landscape while relaxing in a comfortable car that will take you to the top of Mt. Moiwa! Thismountain is a great place to see local wildlife and can be reached by car or train.
This forested park is a trip for those looking to hike, cycle, and camp. There are lakes on which you can ride a boat, a dormant volcano for great views, and endless places to explore. You can reach this beautiful national park by train or by car, and there is an information centre, restaurants, and a sourvenir shop. If you are looking for outdoor activities in the warmer seasons, Onuma Quasi-National Park is perfect.
Every year on the last weekend of August, Noboribetsu City hosts a spiritual festival called the Noboribetsu Jigoku Festival that honours passed spirits with prayer and thanks with performances, dances, fireworks, and taiko drumming. There are also floats with figures of ghosts and even the King of Hell! This is the time when the gates to Hell are supposedly open, so join the festivitis, grab some street food, and appease the spirits that appear on these days.
While you are in the pretty town of Noboribetsu, why not take a walk in Jigokudani, also known as “Hell Valley?” Despite the name, it s actually a very relaxing and pleasant walk where you can see some spectacular views of volcanic activity, wooded trails, and the changing colours of leaves in autumn. There is even a natural foot bath in which you can soak your feet during the walk. If you go in the evening, it is cooler and less crowded, though you might see more sights if you visit in the daytime.
Considered one of the best restaurant in the town is Soba-Dokoro Fukan, where you can get tasty soba noodles, tempura, and succulent fried chicken. It’s good to go for lunch after a walk, and the hot soba noodles are perfect for when it’s cold. If your stomach is rumbling, consider this popular eatery.
If you’re up for a walk, be sure to visit River Oyunuma, one of the most well loved spots in Noboribetsu. This pretty brook serves as a natural foot bath in which you can dip your toes and relax after a good hike! Be sure to take your own towel.
A carefully conserved area, Tokachi Millennium Forest has a lot of things to keep you entertained: beautiful gardens, wide-open spaces, and woods. The gardens are unique and inspired by various cultures. Walk around these stunning and well-kept gardens or explore the area by segway; there are also various restaurants and shops.
Easily memorable for its stunning winter view and the large island in the middle, Lake Kussharo has hot springs and an observatory near it and is a great place to go for a scenic drive, a Japanese-style bath, and its picturesque scenery. The park is part of Akan National Park and is the largest lake in Japan to completely freeze over in winter.
This small but free museum in Obihiro is informative and tells the history of agricultural horses, which played a big role in the settlement of Hokkaido. If you love horses and you’re interested in learning a bit about the area’s local history, drop by this interesting place.
To add to your experience of learning about Obihiro horses, go and see a race at the horse racetrack! Here, you can bet on races and enjoy the thrill of one-ton trained horses racing each other. The Hokkaido people have a unque love for horses, so if you are a fan of these beautiful animals, take some time to visit the racetrack.
Also in Obihiro is the beautiful Manabe Garden, a shady and spacious garden boasting many differnt kinds of trees and plants that you don’t usually see in Japanese gardens. You can easily spend a pleasant hour or two exploring this lovely area and is very romantic on a warm day.
Though perhaps not as grand as some shrines in other parts of Japan, Obihiro Shrine nevertheless plays an important role in the town’s history and is considered to be something of a hidden gem. It is located near the racetrack and boasts inviting white gates just waiting to be explored.
Literally meaning “food stalls of the north,” Kita no Yatai is a street of 20 small, traditional izakaya pubs where the locals go for a drink and a bite to eat. Explore the different sake options and unique pub food after a long day of walking and sightseeing, and find your new favourite corner izakaya!
If you need to get souvenirs or you’re just looking to get your retail fix, pay a visit to the charming Tokachimura Sanchoku Market, where you’ll find stalls selling everything from toys and books to clothes and food. This unique market is a treasure trove of unique items and special foods, of which the black pork is highly recommended.
This open-air museum in Sapporo opened in 1983 and gives an interactive insight into the frontier period life in Hokkaido, which was between the mid 19th century and the early 20th century. Observe the old stone and wooden buildings and absorb the realistic atmosphere of farm life and Shinto spirit. It is a great way to take a look at how the people of Hokkaido lived a hundred years ago.
With beauty to rival that of Mt. Fuji, Mt. Asahi is worth a visit for walkers and hiking enthusiasts. With a large lake and volcanic rock, the sweeping views around this mountain are something to behold. Take a light stroll or a more challenging hike if you prefer, and enjoy the scenery of one of Japan’s prettiest mountains.
Goryokaku Tower is an observatory deck in Hakodate from which you can see sweeping views, including the star-shaped fort in Goryokaku Park and Hakodate city. Each season has different views to offer, and winter is particularly beautiful as the star is more easily seeable and the area is decorated with illumination lights.
Now that you’ve seen the unique star-shaped park from above, why not go down and visit it? It’s a beautful leafy area perfect for picnics in summer, and the 1860s fort is a historical marvel to behold. It is also a fantastic place to be to see the cherry blossoms that bloom in spring.
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Shikisai no Oka, or Shikisai Hill, is another one of Hokkaid’s best flower viewing spots. It boasts a multitude of different colours in its multiple flower fields, and is a highly rated spot to see in Biei if you are visiting in the summer.
Considered to be one of the great secret lakes of Japan, this Ainu-named freshwater lake sparkls in different hues of green and blue, a gorgeous spectre beneath mountains and blue skies. It is the perfect place to stroll, have a picnic, and take photographs to commemorate your journey in the exciting northern prefecture of Hokkaido.
If you need transportation from Chitose Airport, be sure to book one of the following airport transfers.
- Private taxi transfer between Chitose Airport and Noboribetsu
- Airport transfer between Chitose Airport and Sapporo
- Private taxi transfer between Chitose Airport and Lake Toya
- Private Taxi Transfer Between Chitose Airport and Niseko
Alternatively, you could also rent a car. Please keep in mind you’ll need either a Japanese driver’s license or an International Driver’s Permit.
Don’t forget to book a portable Wifi router to get easy access to the internet anywhere in Japan. With this list of things to do in Hokkaido, you no doubt have some great ideas of what you’d like to spend your time doing during your trip. Whether you’re looking for winter sports, seeing luscious flower fields, basking in nature or bathing in a hot spring, Hokkaido has something for everyone. Enjoy your trip!