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Sapporo travel guide

Places to visit in Sapporo
with your Japan Rail Pass

Sapporo during winter

Welcome to Sapporo

You will find Sapporo, surrounded by beautiful nature on Japan’s northernmost island of Hokkaido. Memorable experiences await in Sapporo with its fantastic ski resorts on the outskirts of the city and its annual snow festival. The city has a lot to offer but it is best known for its iconic beer. We recommend that you visit Sapporo during the winter.

Snow festival sculpture


The Sapporo Yuki Matsuri is the city’s well-known snow festival that occurs annually in early February. The festival is divided into three areas, Odori, Susukino, and Tsu Dome.

To experience fantastic ice and snow sculptures, visit Odori and Sasukino where sculptors from all over the world exhibit their sculptures to participate in the big competition held in conjunction with the festival.

Visit Tsu Dome and unleash the inner child. The area has three different ice slides as well as several snow tracks for sledding. If you get hungry, just enter the large dome of snow, here you will find various food stalls and a stage with pleasant performances.

beer museum sapporo


Beer fans look here! The island of Hokkaido is the birthplace of beer in Japan and Sapporo is home to the oldest and one of the country’s most famous beer brands, Sapporo Beer.

Visit the Sapporo Beer Museum and join a guided tour of the history of beer in Japan and the process of making the beer. Then enjoy a freshly brewed beer straight from the brewery. It can’t get fresher than that. 

We also recommend a visit to the Sapporo Beer Garden, which is located in the same building. Here you will find several restaurants but also atmospheric beer halls that offer “all you can drink” and “all you can eat”.

tv tower in city


An iconic landmark in Sapporo and worth a visit. Climb the 90-meter-high tower look out over the city and enjoy the beautiful view. If you’re lucky, on cloudless days you can see the sea.

Don’t miss to visit the Aurora Town underground shopping center connected to the TV tower. Aurora Town stretches 312 meters and is home to many fantastic shops.

famous clockhouse


Another iconic building in Sapporo is the Tokeidai Clock Tower. The house that is home to the clock tower was built in 1878 and in 1881 a clock from Boston was installed.

The building has had several purposes but today it is a popular museum depicting the history of the house, the clock, and Sapporo.

chocolate factory


Treat yourself to a visit to the Ishiya chocolate factory and taste their famous white chocolate cakes called “shiroi kobito”. If you take the guided tour, you can follow the entire manufacturing process of the chocolate bars. There is also the opportunity to create your chocolate cakes. 

The factory also has a park, Shiroi Kobito Park, with restaurants and cafes where you can enjoy a delicious cake buffet see a robot show and then visit the toy museum. If you are traveling with children, this is something to recommend.

Seafood crabs


Curb Market is one of the largest outdoor markets in Sapporo with its 80 shops and restaurants stretching along several blocks. The market is best known for specializing in seafood such as crab, sea urchin, salmon roe, squid, and scallops. Take the chance to taste freshly caught seafood at one of the market’s restaurants.

The market is open daily 06:00 – 17:00.

You will find Nijo Market in central Sapporo which is an indoor market that stretches along an entire block. This market also has a fantastic range of seafood and a strong recommendation is to visit the market early and enjoy a seafood breakfast at one of the restaurants.   

The market is open daily from 07.00 – 18.00.

neon signs at night


If you want to have a fun night out, you should go to Susukino, which is Japan’s largest entertainment district in Japan north of Tokyo. Here it is packed with bars, restaurants, and shops.

For a complete night out, we recommend a visit to one of the area’s karaoke bars or, for the gambling enthusiast, a visit to a pachinko slot. Just be careful that the entire travel fund does not disappear in one evening.

Also, take the opportunity to visit Ramen Yokocho which is a narrow alley with restaurants and which serves Sapporo’s famous ramen. During the winter festival, an ice sculpture competition is held in Susukino.

entrance taito station


Sapporo Factory is a large shopping center in central Sapporo with 160 shops, numerous restaurants, cafes, and a large cinema with several lounges. There is also a small brewery that serves freshly brewed beer in their beer hall. Here’s how you can satisfy your shopping desire, hunger, and beer cravings and get entertainment, all in the same place.

Sapporo Factory is open daily from 10.00 – 20.00.

Tanukikoji Shopping Arcade is a shopping center that stretches over 1km long and has everything you need for a pleasant shopping experience. There are almost 200 stores and all stores are under one roof. There is also a large selection of restaurants & bars and in the evenings there are several karaoke bars. 

Tanukikoji Shopping Arcade is open 24 hours but many of the shops choose to open at 10 am.

old wagon tree


Visit the historic village of Kaitaku no Mura and travel back in time to the year 1868 and experience what it was like to live in Sapporo at that time. The village is divided into four different sections: a town, a fishing village, a farm, and a mountain village. There is also an old model of a railway station.

The village functions as an open-air museum and consists of 60 different buildings representing classic houses from all over the island of Hokkaido between 1868 and 1926.

Stroll around among the characterful houses and then continue into the verdant garden with small shrines. A perfect outing for the whole family.

overlook city life


Visit Mt. Moiwa and experience a view that is hard to beat. From the top of the mountain, you get a fantastic view of the city, the Mashike Mountains, and Ishikari Bay. It is supposed to be especially beautiful in the evening and is said to be one of the best views in Japan. 

For the quick, you can hike up the mountain to the viewpoint, but for the more comfortable, we recommend Mt. Moiwa Ropeway which is a cable car that takes you up to the top in two stages.

At the top, you will find an observation deck where you can look out over the city. There is also a planetarium, a theater, and a restaurant that offers a nice view of the city.

The mountain is also home to Mount Moiwa Ski Resort which offers several ski slopes, but they are on the other side of the mountain so you cannot reach them via the cable car.

purple flowers


The Hokkaido University Botanical Garden is one of the most beautiful gardens in Sapporo and has a lot to offer. Let go of all the stress and stroll around among beautiful flowers and stately trees.

The garden has several small gardens with different themes, including a garden full of lilac bushes. There are also greenhouses you can visit as well as a museum to learn more about Hokkaido’s history.

Pack a picnic and enjoy a relaxing moment away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

ski down mountain


If you visit Sapporo during the winter, it is a must to visit one of the city’s ski slopes.

Teine Ski Resort is the largest and most famous ski resort in Sapporo. Among other things, it was here that the Winter Olympics were held in 1972. The facility is only 40 minutes from the city center and has a large selection of ski slopes divided into two areas, the Highland zone and the Olympia zone. Where the first mentioned is for the slightly more experienced skiers and has a snow park with jumps, boxes, and rails.

Kokusai Ski Resort is located on the outskirts of Sapporo and is significantly smaller than Teine Ski Resort, but the amount and quality of the snow is hard to beat. This is why many choose to go here instead. Kokusai is mainly aimed at beginners or intermediate skiers with almost only blue and green slopes, making it a perfect place for families with children.

yellow, red and white flowers


You will find Odori Park right in the center of Sapporo and this is where the annual snow festival is held. Even in summer, it is worth visiting for its magnificent flower gardens, an extensive selection of trees, fountains, and sculptures. The park stretches along 15 blocks and at one end you will find the previously mentioned TV tower.

Moerenuma Park is a large park on the outskirts of Sapporo with a lot to offer. In addition to its large green areas, there are several uniquely designed areas such as the large Hidamari glass pyramid, Mount Moere which offers views of the entire park, a sea fountain with water showers, and Moere Beach which is an artificial swimming beach. 

Asahiyama Memorial Park was opened in 1970 to celebrate Sapporo’s 100th anniversary. The park has an observation deck that offers a spectacular view of the city and the sea. It is the main reason tourists choose to visit the site, but the park also offers hiking trails, rest areas, and playgrounds for the children.

white polar bear


Maruyama Zoo is not a huge zoo, but still worth visiting as it is one of the country’s largest nature-oriented zoos. They put a lot of focus on creating natural habitats for the animals so that they will act according to their instincts. This gives visitors an authentic experience.

Maruyama Zoo is home to over 180 different mammals, birds, and reptiles, but the animal that attracts the most visitors is the polar bear. Take the chance to see polar bears up close, it may be your only chance to see a polar bear as they are on the verge of extinction.

okura jump station


Okurayama ski jump stadium is a famous place in Sapporo because the Winter Olympic Games were held here in 1972. Here the participants competed in 90-meter ski jumping. The slope is still used today for various ski jumping competitions such as the world championships. 

When the ski jump is not in use, it is a perfect vantage point. At the top is an observatory that can be reached via a chair lift. From there you get a spectacular view of beautiful Sapporo.

Don’t miss visiting the Sapporo Olympic Museum located at the foot of the ski jumping hill. Here you can see, among other things, an exhibition about the 1972 Olympics. The museum also offers several different sports simulation games such as ski jumping, ice skating, and hockey. The games are included in the museum entrance fee.

new building glass entrance


You will find Sapporo Station right in the center which is the city’s primary train station, but is worth visiting for several other reasons. Adjacent to the station building are several shopping centers and restaurants.

The impressive observation deck T38 is located in the JR tower that rises above the station and is a big reason why many choose to visit the building. With its impressive 160 meters above the ground, you are treated to a beautiful view of Sapporo.

Here you will also find Sapporo Ramen Republic, inside one of the shopping centers in the station building. The theme is Ramen, which is a specialty of Sapporo. Here you will also find eight small Ramen restaurants with different variations on the dish.

river along colorful trees


Jozenkai is a small town located about 1 hour outside of Sapporo and is famous for all its Onsen and Ryokan. If you want an authentic experience of Japanese hot springs and accommodation, this is where you should go.

If you choose to stay at a Ryokan, you get to experience traditional Japan as well as its living culture and food culture. Most Ryokans have their own Onsen for their guests, but many allow you to visit one of the hot springs without staying there. 

In addition to visiting Jozenkai for its hot springs, many people choose to go here in the fall to experience the beautiful nature and see the autumn changes of the trees. Along the Allen and the side valleys, the colors become extra strong. The best month to experience this is October.

Anything else to know before arrival?

Don’t worry, we got you covered with the most important information below.

Sapporo’s airport is called New Chitose Airport (CTS/RJCC) and is located about 1 hour outside the city. If you have bought a Japan Rail Pass, you can exchange them at the airport.

Bus, train and taxi are available at the airport and will take you quickly into town without any hussle.

The best month to visit Sapporo is February. This is when the city hosts its famous Sapporo Snow Festival, showcasing incredible ice sculptures and snow art across several sites. February in Sapporo is ideal for experiencing the winter wonderland atmosphere, enjoying snow sports, and savoring seasonal seafood delicacies. The weather is cold, but the festival activities provide a unique and memorable way to experience the charm of this northern city.

Sapporo can be visited on a range of budgets, though it is generally considered moderately expensive. Costs can vary based on travel style, with options ranging from budget hostels to luxury hotels. Dining out in Sapporo offers a wide range, from affordable ramen shops to high-end seafood restaurants. To manage expenses, consider visiting during off-peak times and using public transportation.

Currently, there is no direct bullet train (Shinkansen) service to Sapporo. The Shinkansen line extends to Hakodate on Hokkaido island, from where you can take a limited express train to complete your journey to Sapporo. The entire trip from Tokyo to Sapporo via this route typically takes about 16 hours. If you’re planning extensive travel in Japan, purchasing a Japan Rail Pass before your trip can be a great idea. This pass allows for unlimited travel on most Shinkansen trains and other JR transport services.

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