City Guides, Hokkaido, Sapporo

Things to do in Sapporo: The Gateway to Hokkaido

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Sapporo is Hokkaido’s capital city, and often your first landing in Hokkaido. It makes a convenient starting point for all the other places you can visit in Hokkaido, whether it is visiting Hakodate or skiing in Niseko.

This guide contains everything you need to know about visiting Sapporo.

Sapporo in January
Sapporo in January

How to get to Sapporo from New Chitose Airport

The closest airport from Sapporo is the New Chitose Airport (CTS) in Chitose. This airport is one of the major airports in Japan, serving many convenient routes into Hokkaido.

1. Special Rapid Airport Train

From the New Chitose Airport, you can take the special rapid airport line to get to Sapporo station within 33-37 minutes. It costs 1,150 yen per person. Click here for the train schedule and more information.

Send your luggage to the airport: If you’re traveling with a lot of heavy luggage and would like to take the train, you can send your luggage from the airport to your hotel! Logistics is a well-oiled machine in Japan, and this is a super common thing to do.

2. Private Airport Transfer

This option is very convenient but also the most pricey. However, it makes sense if you’re traveling in a group or traveling with limited mobility, or if your hotel is a bit of a walk from the train station. You can book your private airport transfer here via Klook.

What is Klook? Klook is the leading travel and experiences booking website in Asia. And yes, they are legit! I personally always book my activities through them whenever I am traveling. See my review of Klook here.

Where to Stay in Sapporo

For your convenience, stay near the Sapporo station – it’s the best location as it is close to the major stations and almost all the attractions Sapporo offers. Also, if you plan to visit another city in Hokkaido, you won’t have to travel far to catch the train – the JR station is located at Sapporo station.

Keio Plaza Sapporo
Keio Plaza Sapporo

We stayed at Keio Plaza Sapporo, and I recommend this hotel. It’s a nice hotel within walking distance (around 8 minutes) from the Sapporo Station, with partially underground access which was useful during winter.

However, please take note of the size of the rooms. I booked a standard room without looking into the details, and it ended up being on the smaller side given I was traveling as a family of three. I would upgrade to their bigger rooms next time. I think it would be okay for a single traveler or couples though.

Keio Plaza Sapporo
Standard Room at Keio Plaza Sapporo

I booked my stay with Trip.com after comparing prices across different booking platforms. I would suggest you do the same! Here’s the link to book Keio Plaza Sapporo across different platforms:

How long should I stay in Sapporo?

Sapporo is a compact city and most of the things to do can easily be done in 2 days. You could allocate 3 days if you want to do things that are out of the city, but 2 days should be enough for most people.

Things to do in Sapporo

And without further ado, here is a list of activities you can occupy yourself with during your visit to Sapporo:

1. Sapporo Clock Tower (Sapporo Tokedai)

Admission: 200 yen per adult

Located conveniently close to both Sapporo and Odori stations, Sapporo Clock Tower is a small building in comparison to all the tall office buildings around it. Built in 1878 as one of the earliest buildings in Sapporo, it is currently the oldest clock tower in Japan.

Sapporo Clock Tower
Sapporo Clock Tower

Inside the clock tower, you can learn more about the clock tower and the early history of Sapporo. You can also watch videos of how the maintenance of the clock tower is done by its staff every week.

Sapporo Clock Tower
Inside the Sapporo Clock Tower

2. Sapporo TV Tower Observation Deck

Admission: 1,000 yen per adult (Purchase the ticket online here)

Located right on top of Odori Park, Sapporo TV Tower was built in 1957. There is an observation deck at 90m above ground, which you can visit for a 360-degree view of Sapporo.

Sapporo TV Tower
Sapporo TV Tower
Inside the Sapporo TV Tower Observation Deck
Inside the Sapporo TV Tower Observation Deck
Odori Park from Sapporo TV Tower Observation Deck
Odori Park from Sapporo TV Tower Observation Deck

3. Eat, Drink and Shop in Susukino

Susukino district, located just a few stations south of Sapporo station, is most known for its vibrant nightlife and karaoke bars.

Susukino
The famous crossing at Susukino, right on top of Exit 1 from Susukino station

However, Susukino is also great for foodies! You might notice many restaurants I listed in my Sapporo food guide are located in Susukino. Most notably, Ramen Yokocho (Ramen Alley) which houses some of the highest-rated ramen shops in Sapporo.

What to eat in Sapporo: There is so much food to eat in Sapporo! Find out what I think you should try while you’re in Sapporo here.

Ramen Yokocho at Susukino
Ramen Yokocho at Susukino

Get a piping hot bowl of miso ramen here, a Sapporo specialty.

Miso Ramen at Teshikaga Ramen
Miso Ramen at Teshikaga Ramen in Ramen Yokocho

If shopping is more your thing, you can also visit the Tanukikoji Shopping Arcade, an indoor shopping street that runs 1km from Susukino to Odori station. It is one of the oldest shopping streets in Hokkaido, opened in 1873.

The Sapporo Streetcar (known as Shiden) also runs around the Susukino district, so make sure you take advantage of it while exploring the area!

Sapporo Streetcar in Susukino
Sapporo Streetcar in Susukino

4. Nijo Seafood Market

If you want to get a taste of fresh local seafood that Hokkaido is known for, make sure you stop by Nijo Seafood Market. One of the best things to do is to head here for breakfast, as it is when the freshest inventory of seafood will arrive. It’s very similar to Tsukiji Market in Tokyo or the morning markets in Hakodate.

5. Shiroi Koibito Factory

Shiroi Koibito cookies are a well-loved product from Hokkaido. Their factory is located just a 40-minute train ride from Sapporo, and it’s well worth a visit if you’re a fan! You can take a peek at their factory and get park-exclusive souvenirs.

Dive Deeper: Read about my visit to Shiroi Koibito Park here

Shiroi Koibito Park
Shiroi Koibito Park

6. Hoheikyo Onsen

One of the things you must do in Japan is to try their onsen, aka the Japanese hot spring. Soaking in hot springs is one of the most deeply-rooted traditions and a popular way to pass time and relax in Japan. And, in a place with a cold climate like Hokkaido, a trip to an onsen is even more essential.

Hoheikyo Onsen
Hoheikyo Onsen

💡 Onsen Etiquette: There are rules and etiquette to enjoy an onsen. Find out more about how to enjoy an onsen properly in Japan!

Indian food at Hoheikyo Onsen
Indian food at Hoheikyo Onsen

Hoheikyo is located a little out of town from Sapporo. From Sapporo station, there is a direct bus operated by Jotetsu that will take you to the onsen in around an hour and costs 960 yen. Click here for the schedule.

🚗 Private Transfer: Alternatively if you can’t take the bus, you can book a private transfer to Hoheikyo Onsen here.

Restaurant at Hoheikyo Onsen
Restaurant at Hoheikyo Onsen

7. Historical Village of Hokkaido (Kataku no Mura)

Admission: 800 yen (You can purchase the ticket here)

If you’re interested in learning more about Hokkaido, visit Kataku no Mura, the historical village of Hokkaido. It is an open-air museum that showcases some of the buildings in Hokkaido from 1868 to 1926, during the era of development in Hokkaido.

8. Sapporo Beer Museum

Sapporo Beer is known worldwide. If you’re a beer lover, you must visit the Sapporo Beer Museum. There museum is free – it includes a historical exhibit about the Sapporo Beer from its inception in 1876.

Sapporo Beer Museum
Sapporo Beer Museum

On the first level, there is a beer garden where you can sample some of the different variations of Sapporo Beer.

There is a premium tour which includes a beer tasting. If you want to go, you should reserve the premium tour ahead of time. When I visited, the premium tour was already sold out for the day. The premium tour costs 1,000 yen per adult.

9. ROYCE CACAO & Chocolate Town

Aside from Shiroi Koibito, one of the most famous souvenirs from Hokkaido is ROYCE chocolate. If you’re a fan, you can visit the factory as well. Click here for more information.

The ROYCE chocolate factory is located in Futomi, which you can reach by train from Sapporo station in 40 minutes.

10. Sapporo Underground City at Odori Station

Sapporo is a city that is covered in snow for most of the year. As such, there is almost always an underground way to reach most places, so you don’t have to walk on the street when the weather is bad.

From Sapporo station to Odori station, you might find that there are not many pedestrians overground. This is because there is a massive underground city that connects the two stations. The pedestrian tunnel is about 520 meters in length and takes about 10 minutes to get through on foot. It is lined with shops and restaurants, and extremely useful during winter when the average temperature in Sapporo drops well below 0 degrees celsius.

11. Sapporo Snow Festival (Only on the first week of February)

The snow festival is Sapporo’s biggest event and what the city is most known for. It only happens for 7 days at the beginning of February, and features some of the most impressive snow sculptures you’ll ever see. There are three sites for the festival: Odori Park, Tsudome, and Susukino.

Visit the Sapporo Snow Festival official website for more information.

While it is undoubtedly the most exciting week to be in Sapporo, note that if you’re planning to visit during the snow festival week, expect more crowds and accommodation prices to be higher than average.

What and Where to Eat in Sapporo

Sapporo is known as a mecca for foodies. There are so many food you can try here, and so I have written a dedicated post about what you can eat in Sapporo! Think miso ramen, soup curry, and many more.

Soup Curry from Hiri Hiri in Sapporo
Soup Curry, one of must-try dishes in Sapporo

And that’s all I know about Sapporo. If you have any comments or questions, as usual, please leave a comment below.

More on Hokkaido: If you find this post useful, don’t forget to check out my other posts about Hokkaido!

Until next time! ☃️

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Filed under: City Guides, Hokkaido, Sapporo

Written by Melissa

Hi there! 👋🏻 I'm the "Girl" in Girl Eat World. I love eating, traveling and sharing my travel experiences in this blog. During the day, I work as a designer in tech. More about me →

4 Comments

  1. Minnie says

    Hihi Melissa

    Thanks for your reply. Yes , I think is best to visit Hokkaido on its own. But was planning to visit during end Nov to Early Dec, so driving is not an option for us. However we will like to visit Niseko Ski and Sapporo to experience the white Christmas feel. Was planning for roughly 18 days trip, to Osaka/Kyoto/Hokkaido. Osaka for 7 days, Kyoto 2 days, then fly from Osaka to Sapporo for another 7 days. And transit at Haneda , maybe stay in Tokyo for 2-3 days and fly back. Do you think is feasible? or should i take bullet train from Osaka to Tokyo , stay in Tokyo first then fly out to Sapporo?

    Need your advice …

    • Melissa says

      With 18 days I think its doable. Take note though, snowfall and ski season doent start until mid to late December in Japan. And if it’s a warmer year like this past year was, it might even be later. Also, having been to Niseko myself this past January, it is quite crowded for skiing. You might want to check out other areas like Rusutsu in Hokkaido.

  2. Minnie says

    Hi I am trying to plan a trip to Osaka and Hokkaido on end November. Is my first trip to Japan so I’m over filled with info and places to go. Was thinking should I just stick to the normal route Osaka/kyoto/tokyo/hakone/tokyo.. but thinking both Tokyo and Osaka are both busy cities so I will like to travel out to Hokkaido to experience the snow/ski. But both Osaka and Hokkaido are 2 big places to discover and transport system wise is a headache to me..

    • Melissa says

      Hey Minnie, personally I feel Hokkaido deserves its own trip. It’s quite far from the rest of the destinations you want to visit. I recommending taking a domestic flight if you do decide to go there.

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