46 Things to Do in Hokkaido, the Beautiful Northern Region of Japan

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  • 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 46 things to do in Hokkaido to help you experience as much as you can of this beautiful island.

    Would you like to stay in Hokkaido? Check out all the hotels in the area here!

    1. Get a Private Customized Tour Around Lake Toya

    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!

    2. Go Night Trekking

    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!

    3. Go Sea Kayaking

    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!

    4. Go on a Summer Cycling Tour

    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:

    Booking details: Summer Cycling in Hokkaido

    5. Make Cheese, Butter, and Ice Cream at the Furano Cheese Factory

    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!

    6. Go Horse Riding Near Sapporo

    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

    7. Ride a Dog Sled, Snow Mobile, and a Banana Boat Near Sapporo

    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!

    8. Have an Izakaya Experience in 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

    9. Try an Unusual Snowshoe Experience in Niseko

    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

    10. 5-Day Winter Package Tour from Sapporo

    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

    11. Go Hiking and Have Some Coffee at the Summit of Sapporo

    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!

    12. Have a Special Spa Treatment (Two People)

    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!

    13. Take a Dynamic 5-Day Tour Around the Highlights of 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

    14. Experience a Japanese Tea Ceremony

    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

    15. Get Amazing Wedding Photos Taken in Hokkaido Nature

    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

    16. Take a 2-Day Private Guided Tour of Muroran, Otaru, and Sapporo

    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!

    17. Join a City Sightseeing Bus Tour of 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!

    18. Go Skiing or Snowboarding in Niseko with a Local

    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

    19. Go and See the Drifting Ice

    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!

    20. See Some of Hokkaido’s Most Beautiful Sights

    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!

    21. Try Sapporo Ramen and a Mutton Barbeque

    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!

    22. Try Fresh Seafood and Ride a Rickshaw in one of Hokkaido’s Oldest Port Towns

    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

    23. See Kushiro, a Natural Wonderland in Hokkaido

    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

    24. Experience Summer in Hokkaido in a 4-day Package Tour

    Discover the beauty of Hokkaido in this summer four-day package tour. See beautiful lavender fields, meet cute animals at Asahiyama Zoo, and explore Sapporo city. The package includes round-trip transfers from New Chitose Airport.

    Booking details: Experience Summer in Hokkaido in a 4-day Package Tour

    25. Have a Luxury Stay with Amazing Night Views

    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!

    26. See Yuni Garden and the Northern Horse Park

    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

    27. Have an Afternoon Tour to Explore Sapporo’s Best Highlights

    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

    28. See Shiroi Koibito Park and Otaru

    With this lovely day out that departs from Sapporo, you can visit the glass museum in Otaru, see the Nikka Whiskey 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

    29. Discover Otaru and Niseko on a Tour with an Overnight Stay

    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 Whiskey 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.

    There is also a one-day or half-day tour for if you can’t spend the night in Niseko. If you’d like to see one place at a time, there is also a tour just for Otaru and a tour just for Niseko.

    Booking details: Discover Otaru and Niseko on a tour with overnight stay

    30. Hike Niseko’s Mountains and Stay in a Forest Cottage

    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

    31. Go Skiing at Kiroro Ski Resort

    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!

    32. Experience Some of Hokkaido’s Winter Festivals

    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.

    There is also an option to just see the Otaru Snow Light Path Festival if you’d prefer. You can also book only the Sapporo Snow Festival.

    Booking details: Hokkaido’s Winter Festivals in a Package Tour from Sapporo

    33. Explore Four Off the Beaten Path Activities in Niseko

    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

    34. Take a Sightseeing Boat Along the Dramatic Shiretoko Coast

    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

    35. Experience the Best Sapporo Izakayas and Restaurants

    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!

    36. Go Canoeing on Lake Akan

    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!

    37. Visit the Most Scenic Photo Spots 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

    38. Go Canoeing and Trekking On and Around Lake Shikotsu

    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!

    39. See the Natural Beauty of the Lavender Paradise, Furano

    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!

    40. Go Skiing with a Ski Instructor

    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!

    41. Visit Hakodate

    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

    42. Discover the Fascinating Historical Legacy of Sapporo

    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

    43. Visit a Japanese Farm

    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

    44. See the Beautiful Sun Pillar at Lake Masshu

    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!

    45. Have a Private Cycling Tour in Niseko

    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!

    46. Go Pole Walking in Sapporo

    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!

    If you need transportation from Chitose Airport, be sure to book one of the following airport transfers.

    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 46 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!

    Would you like to stay in Hokkaido? Check out all the hotels in the area here!