Best Things to Do in Sapporo
Sapporo Hokkaido : What to Do in Sapporo
The capital city of Hokkaido Prefecture, Sapporo (札幌) is a city with full of tourist attractions such as historic sites, landmarks, nature spots, restaurants with delicious Hokkaido dishes and shopping spots. Sapporo also offers seasonal events and attractions through the year such as cool breeze and colourful flower fields in summer and ski resort and the snow festival in winter.
In this article, I’m going to introduce the best things to do in Sapporo including famous landmarks, entertainment facilities, delicious local food and must-buy souvenirs. Let’s find out why Sapporo is one of the best tourist destinations in Japan!
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1. Sapporo Snow Festival
Sapporo hosts the largest winter event in Japan, Sapporo Snow Festival (さっぽろ雪まつり) every year. The event takes place over seven days in every February, featuring hundreds of small and large snow statues and ice sculptures displayed at several locations in the city including Odori Park, Susukino, and Tsudome.
Various snow activities and attractions, and food stalls will be also available. At night, snow statues and ice sculpture are illuminated and display magical scenery. During Sapporo Snow Festival, the city welcomes over 2 million visitors from Japan and overseas, so if you wish to join the event, make sure to book a hotel in advance!
More info: Sapporo Snow Festival Guide
2. Odori Park
Odori Park (大通公園) is a large park in the heart of Sapporo, stretching 1.5km from east to west through the city. The park was constructed in 1871 as a firebreak to separate the city central into north and south, then later it turned into a relaxing and pleasant park with a promenade and flower garden.
Numbers of seasonal events and ceremonies are held at Odori Park through the year including Sapporo Snow Festival and Yosakoi Soran Festival. Seasonal attractions such as spring flowers, summer festival, autumn leaves and winter illumination can be also enjoyed at the park. One of the most famous landmarks of Sapporo City, Sapporo TV Tower is also situated in the park.
3. Sapporo TV Tower
Sapporo TV Tower (札幌テレビ塔) is a TV tower located on the ground of Odori Park in the northern area of Sapporo City. The 147m tower was built in 1957 by Tachu Naito, a Japanese architect who also designed Tokyo Tower. The tower has been an iconic symbol of Sapporo City as well as a popular tourist attraction. There is an observation deck at 90m above ground where visitors can enjoy the great view of the Odori Park and the city.
4. Sapporo Clock Tower
Sapporo Clock Tower (札幌時計台) was built in 1878, and it’s the oldest clock tower in Japan as of today. It’s a historical and cultural symbol of Sapporo City and a popular photo spot among tourists. The American style wooden building is one of the few surviving Western style structures in the city in the late 19th century. Inside the clock tower, there is a museum displaying the history of the Agricultural College and the development of Sapporo.
5. Former Hokkaido Government Office
The Former Hokkaido Government Office (北海道庁旧本庁舎) a.k.a. the Red Brick Office is a symbolic landmark of the city which used to serve as a government office for about 80 years. The building was constructed in 1888 with the American neo-baroque style architecture. Seasonal flowers such as cherry blossoms and lilac and greenery are displayed at the garden in front of the building. Visitors can enter inside the building for free for exhibits and tourist information.
Hours: 8:45~17:30 (closed on Sat&Sun)
6. Nijo Market
Nijo Market (二条市場) is a food market located in the heart of Sapporo City. The city’s largest fresh food market has over 100 years of history that dates back to early Meiji era. It offers a wide range of fresh local products including seafood, vegetable and fruits from all over Hokkaido. Inside the market, there are also restaurants where you can taste fresh seafood products such as sushi, seafood rice bowl.
7. Sapporo Beer Museum
Sapporo Beer Museum (サッポロビール博物館) is a museum of the famous Japanese beer brand, Sapporo Beer. It’s located inside Sapporo Garden Park, a commercial complex consisting of restaurants, beer garden, museum, shopping center and baseball training facility. It was built originally as a factory of the Sapporo Sugar Company in 1890 during Meiji Period, and later opened as a museum in July 1987.
Sapporo Beer Museum is the only beer museum in Japan and displays history of Japanese beer. There are two types of museum tour available: Free Tour which you can take without reservation and freely view the exhibition space on the 2nd and 3rd floors of the building, and Premium Tour which costs 1,000 yen and requires reservation in advance. It includes a tour guide and beer tasting.
Hours: 11:00~18:00 (closed on Monday)
Official Website: https://www.sapporobeer.jp/english/brewery/s_museum/
8. Sapporo Maruyama Zoo
Sapporo Maruyama Zoo (札幌円山動物園) is located at the foot of Mt. Maruyama within Maruyama Park. The municipal zoo opened in 1951. The zoo is home to about 200 species, 1,000 mammals, birds and reptiles including polar bear, elephant, giraffe, tiger, kangaroo, monkey, flamingo, and many more. With the concept of recreating the natural habitat for animals, the nature-oriented zoo creates habitats similar to natural environments that the animals are originally from. The zoo can be accessed within 20 mins from central area of Sapporo by public transport.
Susukino (すすきの) is the biggest red light district in Hokkaido and one of three major red light districts in Japan along with Kabukicho in Tokyo and Nakasu in Fukuoka. There are hundreds of bars, restaurants, hotels and entertainment establishments. Enjoy drinking like locals in neon lights 😉
Explore Susukino and Sapporo’s food culture with a local guide! “Sapporo Bar Hopping Food Tour” by Magical Trip is one of the most popular food tours in the city, offering authentic Hokkaido food experiences guided by local experts! Visit local Izakaya pubs, try delicious Hokkaido specialties and get tipsy with locals! Check the link below for more details about the tour and book the tour now!
10. Shiroi Koibito Park
Shiroi Koibito Park (白い恋人パーク) also known as “White Lover Park”, is a theme park operated by a confectionery company Ishiya, which produces a famous cookie called Shiroi Koibito (with chocolate sandwiched between two cookies). The unique confectionery entertainment park consists of a chocolate factory, exhibits, shops, cafes and restaurants. A variety of attractions are available at the park such as factory tour, workshop, museum, rose garden and photo spots. The park is also a popular spot to enjoy winter illumination as they display gorgeous light installations in park site.
11. Moerenuma Park
Moerenuma Park (モエレ沼公園) is a municipal park located in the outskirts of Sapporo City. The large park has a space of 188.8ha and consists of green space, playground equipment, outdoor sports fields and objects including Play Mountain and Glass Pyramid. The park is designed by Isamu Noguchi, a famous Japanese American artist and one of the most renowned architects of all time. The park has won a numbers of awards for its design. The park also has a cherry forest which is a popular site for cherry blossom viewing in spring.
12. Historical Village of Hokkaido
Historical Village of Hokkaido (北海道開拓の村) is an open-air museum located inside Nopporo Shinrin Koen Prefectural Natural Park. It opened in 1983 as part of Hokkaido Centennial to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Hokkaido’s reclamation. The museum features 52 restored and relocated buildings from Meiji period to early Showa period, which are divided into four areas: the Town, Fishing Village, Farming Village, and Mountain Village. Visitors can learn the history and culture of Hokkaido.
13. Hitsujigaoka Observation Hill
A hilltop observation in the south of Sapporo City, Hitsujigaoka Observation Hill (羊ヶ丘展望台) is a popular scenic spot where you can enjoy the spectacular landscape of Hokkaido including the Ishikari Plain and Sapporo City. The statue of Dr. Clark is a popular photo spot, who is the symbol of Hokkaido’s pioneer spirit and well-known forthe phrase, “Boys be ambitious!”
14. Mount Moiwa
Mt Moiwa (藻岩山) is a 531m mountain located approx 5km southwest of the central area of Sapporo City. The mountain is a popular spot to enjoy the view of Sapporo City and considered as one of the best night views in Japan. The observatory of the mountain can be accessed by ropeway. The Mount Moiwa Ski Resort is situated on the mountain slope, which is the most accessible ski resort from the city center and has 10 courses covering most skii levels.
15. Sapporo Teine
Sapporo Teine (サッポロテイネ) is a ski resort that can be easily accessed from the city center. The resort was used as the site for Sapporo Winter Olympic back in 1972 and hosted the giant slalom and slalom events in alpine skiing.
The ski resort is situated on Mt Teine at 1,023 metres above sea level and offers a variety of courses for beginners and advanced skiers. There are also kids-friendly snow park and terrain park. They offer a selection of rental gear for children, adults, and beginners and experts so you can just bring yourself to enjoy ski. Ski lessons are available with English option.
More info: Best Ski Resorts in Hokkaido
16. Jozankei Onsen
Jozankei Onsen (定山渓温泉) is a hot spring town located in a suburb area of Sapporo City. It’s located inside Shikotsu-Toya National Park. The onsen town is home to 56 hot spring sources and there are many onsen ryokan, hotels, restaurants and shops. Day use onsen facilities are also available.
The onsen town is surrounded by rich nature that displays a stunning scenery in each season. It’s a popular spot to visit especially during autumn when leaves of trees turn into warm autumn colours. Visitors can enjoy the tranquility and relax in Onsen bath tucked away in the nature although it’s only one hour away from central Sapporo.
Recommended tour: Jozankei Onsen, Otaru & Shiroi Koibito Park Day Tour from Sapporo
17. Cherry Blossoms at Maruyama Park
Sapporo is a great city to enjoy cherry blossoms after the peak blooming season of cherry blossoms ends in the rest of the country. Because of the cool climate of Hokkaido, the cherry blossom season arrives in Hokkaido about a month later usually in late April to early May.
Sapporo Maruyama Park (札幌円山公園) is a top spot for cherry blossom viewing among Sapporo residents, together with Hokkaido Jingu (Hokkaido Shrine), which is adjacent to the park. There are approx 120 cherry trees flourishing at several sites in the park. People enjoy strolling around the park or picnic under the cherry trees.
18. Sapporo White Illumination
Sapporo White Illumination (札幌ホワイトイルミネーション) is one of the most popular winter illumination events in Japan, which is held annually in Sapporo City since 1981. The event features approx 750,000 LED light displayed in several location in the city including Odori Park and around Sapporo Station.
Together with the winter illumination, a Christmas market can be also enjoyed in Sapporo City during winter. The authentic German style Christmas market offers numbers of stalls selling traditional Christmas food, drinks, craft items and ornaments.
More info: Sapporo White Illumination
19. Savor Sapporo’s Specialties
Hokkaido is the biggest food paradise in Japan and the prefecture boasts high-quality and delicious local products including seafood, meat, vegetable and fruits that are harvested on its farmland and the surrounding sea. There are also a variety of regional dishes that are very special and original in particular areas in Hokkaido. Here are some of must-have Hokkaido food and Sapporo specialties which you should definitely try while travelling.
Hokkaido is one of biggest Ramen lovers in the country and several areas have their own regional Ramen dishes. Sapporo is known for its miso based broth, topped with sweetcorn and a slice of butter.
-Sapporo Soup Curry
Sapporo is known as the birth place of soup curry which is rich in flavours and spices, and has thinner soup than regular Japanese curry. The Sapporo soup curry is typically served with a great amount of locally grown vegetables.
Hokkaido’s seafood is highly regarded with the quality and freshness. Donburi (rice bowl) of your favourite seafood is definitely the one can’t be missed out.
Hokkaido style BBQ called Genghis Khan comes with mutton and vegetables which goes perfectly with beer.
Check popular restaurants in Sapporo ▶ Sapporo Food Guide
-Join a Cooking Class
If you wish to have unique food experiences in Hokkaido rather than eating in restaurants, how about joining a local cooking class?? From Sushi to authentic home-cooking dishes, a wide variety of Japanese cooking classes are available across the country including Sapporo. Let’s learn how to make delicious Japanese food as well as explore the food culture with local teachers!
Find the best cooking class in Sapporo ▶ Best Hokkaido/Sapporo Cooking Classes
20. Shopping in Sapporo
Looking for places to shop in Sapporo? The capital city of the prefecture has no shortage of shops from souvenir stores to department stores. Sapporo Stellar Place is a large shopping complex connected to JR Sapporo Station that has shops selling clothes, accessories, beauty products, household goods, books and toys, as well as dining options and a cinema. Tanukikoji Shopping Arcade is a 1km-long covered arcade with around 200 shops. Next to the arcade, there is a newly-opened commercial complex Sapporo Moyuk that consists of numbers of facilities including shops, restaurants, aquarium and residential mansion. Cocono Susukino is another new multi-purpose complex opened in Susukino area that has shops, supermarket, amusement facilities, cinema and hotel.
Hokkaido offers a wide range of snacks and sweets that visitors can shop and take home. There are too many of them that you might get confused with what to buy in souvenir shops in Hokkaido. Here are some of the most popular Hokkaido souvenirs that you should buy!
Shiroi Koibito (means “white lovers”) by Ishiya is the long-time beloved sweets for over 40 years with a delightful combination of langue de chat cookie and white chocolate.
Price: 712 yen (9pc), 950 yen (12pc), 1900 yen (24pc)
Jaga Pokkuru is a top selling souvenir from Hokkaido, which is a potato snack from Calbee made with selected local potatoes.
Price: 680 yen (18g x 6)
-Sapporo Times Square
Sapporo Times Square is a fluffy cake produced by a Sapporo base confectionery, Kakasha. The cake is filled with custard cream and black bean (azuki) paste that are made with local ingredients.
Price: 210 yen (1pc)
Check more Hokkaido Souvenirs here ▶ What to Buy in Hokkaido
Searching for a hotel in Sapporo?? Check the best deals at Klook!
Wow.. seems like Sapporo has so much to offer and there is never enough time to enjoy whole city at once! Pick wisely where to go and what to eat when in Sapporo and plan your best trip! For more info about travelling in Hokkaido, please check out my other articles listed below!
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