20 Top Things to Do in Hokkaido : Hokkaido Bucket List 2019

20 Best Things to Do in HOKKAIDO

Hokkaido Bucket List

Hokkaido is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Japan. The northern beauty Hokkaido is best known for its tremendous land with the gifted great nature and landscape. In fact, 22% Japanese land belong to Hokkaido and many parts of it remains untouched and wild. Not only the magnificent nature, but Hokkaido fascinates us with plenty of tourist attractions such as flower fields, ski resorts, Onsen baths, snow festivals and local food.

There would never be enough time and space to describe all the beautiful things about Hokkaido, but let me give you a very quick introduction of this northern treasure land of Japan today. I am sharing the Hokkaido Bucket List 2019 with top 20 highlights that you can’t miss!


1. Sapporo Snow Festival 2019

Odori Park, the main venue of Sapporo Snow Festival

Sapporo Snow Festival (さっぽろ雪まつり) is the biggest winter festival in Japan, and one of the most spectacular snow festivals in the world. Hundreds of snow statue and sculptures are displayed in Sapporo city for a week during the festival in February.

More info:

More winter festivals in Hokkaido:

2. Sapporo

Not only the Sapporo Snow Festival, but Sapporo City (札幌市) is simply an amazing city to explore. Sapporo is the capital city of Hokkaido and offers a plenty of tourist attractions all year around including beautiful streetscape, spacious parks, unique museums, local fish market, and of course delicious Hokkaido regional food. Check out the link below for the list of best things to do in Sapporo City.

3. Otaru

The romantic view of Otaru Canal in winter

Otaru City (小樽市) is a small harbour city along Ishikari Bay. It’s a popular side trip destination from Sapporo City, and can be accessed by train within 1 hour. Otaru is best known for its beautiful cityscape with the preserved canal area and old warehouses from 19th century. Otaru Snow Light Path () is a popular snow festival held every February at Otaru City, featuring lights and snow lanterns lit up the city at night. In 2019, Otaru Snow Light Path will be held from 8 to 17 February.

Map: http://bit.ly/2r7lG1n

4. Niseko

Niseko ski resort with the view of Mount Yotei

Niseko (ニセコ) is the most popular ski resort in Hokkaido. Niseko is known for its fine powder snow and the quality of the snow has been attracting skiers from all over the world. Niseko offers variety of ski courses with spectacular landscape, and there are many foreign-friendly hotels and restaurants with English speaking guides.

More info:

5. Hakodate

The astonishing night view of the city from Mt Hakodate

Hakodate City (函館市) is the southernmost city of Hokkaido and a popular tourist destination. The city has an unique culture influenced by western countries and the beautiful cityscape. Also the night view of the city is counted as one of the the most beautiful night views in Japan along with Kobe and Nagasaki. Hakodate City is now accessible by Shinkansen (bullet train) from Tokyo or by airplane.

More info:

6. Lake Toya

Lake Toya (洞爺湖) is a picturesque lake located within the Shikotsu-Toya National Park (between Niseko and Noboribetsu Onsen). The lake is known for its scenic view with the active volcano Mt. Usu and the surrounding nature. Outdoor activities such as canoeing, boating, hiking and camping can be enjoyed in this area. It’s also one of the most popular hot spring destinations in Hokkaido, and numbers of Onsen resorts are located near Lake Toya. Lake Toya can be reached from Sapporo City by bus or train and it takes approx 2 hours.

Map: http://bit.ly/2AlGOoP

7. Noboribetsu Onsen

Noboribetsu Hell Valley (Jigokudani)

Hokkaido is home to hundreds of Onsen resources, and there are numbers of Onsen resorts. Noboribestu Onsen (登別温泉) is considered as one of the best Onsen spots in Japan located in south-western Hokkaido, and it’s a part of Shikotsu-Toya National park. The thermal water of their hot springs is known as Japan’s best and most effective ones. The city is also rich in nature with lakes, mountains and forest.

More info:

8. Asahiyama Zoo

Asahiyama Zoo (旭山動物園) is a popular zoological park located outside of Asahikawa City. The zoo displays various kinds of animals including native wildlife from Hokkaido such as deer, eagles and red foxes as well as animals from around the world such as penguins, polar bear, tiger, leopard, giraffes, lion and more.

Map: http://bit.ly/2Bp5H4D

9. Daisetsuzan National Park

Sugatami Pond at Mt Asahi

Daisetsuzan National Park (大雪山国立公園) is the largest national park in Japan (226,764 ha). The park consists of numbers of mountains and untouched nature with wild animals. The most popular activities are hiking, climbing and hot springs. One of the mountains, Mt.Asahi is the first place in Japan to see autumn leaves and snow falls. Check out the link below for more info about climbing Mt Asahi.

10. Furano

The colourful flower carpet at Tomita Farm, Furano

Furano (富良野) is a town located in the central area of Hokkaido, known for its beautiful rural landscape. The city is rich in nature, and there are many fields and gardens with colourful flowers which bloom colourfully during summer. It’s best-known for the lavender fields which can be seen in July. Furano is also popular destination for snow activities such as skiing and snowboarding in winter time.

Map: http://bit.ly/2PJIuCU

11. Biei

Biei Town (美瑛) is a small town located next to Furano, and it’s also great rural area to explore. The best way to get around Biei is by car. There are several scenic driving routes in Biei that display magnificent landscape with crop fields and surrounding nature. Colourful flowers can be seen in summer, and wonderful snowscape and winter phenomena can be captured in winter. Check out the driving guide in Biei Town through the link below.

12. Blue Pond

The picturesque Blue Pond in summer

One of the most spectacular sites you can see in Japan. The Blue Pond (青い池) is located in the outskirt of Biei town. The pond became hugely known when the picture of it was used for the wallpaper of iPhone. The pond displays a stunning view in each season. You should also visit another natural scenic spot, Shirahige Waterfall located about 3 km away from the Blue Pond.

Map: http://bit.ly/2r0sVb4

13. Lake Mashu

Lake Mashu covered with white snow during winter

Lake Mashu (摩周湖) is located within Akan National park in eastern Hokkaido. It’s a crater lake formed in the caldera of a potentially active volcano. The lake has been considered as having the clearest water in the world and most beautiful lake in Japan. There are a few observation decks around the lake which offers spectacular view. Also visitors can enjoy hiking on the mountain surrounded in untouched wilderness.

Map: http://bit.ly/2OX0eFA

14. Siretoko National Park

The majestic nature of Shiretoko National Park

Siretoko National Park (知床国立公園) is located in Shiretoko Peninsula, eastern Hokkaido. The park is considered as the most beautiful and unspoilt national park in Japan, and was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 2005. The park is one of the most remote areas in Japan which can be accessed only by foot or boat. It’s home to numbers of wild animals including brown bears, deer, foxes and more.

Map: http://bit.ly/2BptK3n

15. Skiing/Snowboarding

Hokkaido is one of the most popular snow holiday destinations in the world, attracting skiers and snowboarders from all around the world. The quality of powder snow in Hokkaido is highly regarded, and numbers of scenic ski slopes are located the majestic mountains in Hokkaido. Niseko, Furano and Rusutsu are three most popular ski resorts in Hokkaido.

More info:

16. Drift Ice

The sea covered with drift Ice (Ryuhyo)

Drift Ice (Ryuhyo) is one of the most spectacular winter phenomena, which can be only seen at a few places in the whole world such as the Arctic Ocean and the Southern Ocean, and the Okhotsk Sea in the eastern part of Hokkaido is the only place you can see the dynamic view of drift ice in Japan. There are two sightseeing ships operate in Hokkaido during winter: Garinko from Monbetsu City and Aurora from Abashiri City, both can take passengers to the frozen open sea through drift ice. Take the most exciting winter voyage 😉

There are two cruise companies organise drift ice tours in Hokkaido. Aurora Drift Ice Sightseeing Tour (https://ms-aurora.com/abashiri/en/) in Abashiri City and Garinko Ice Breaker Cruise (http://www.garinko.com/lastyear.html) in Monbetsu City.

17. Shikaribetsu Kotan

Shikaribetsu Kotan (然別コタン) is a special event featuring an ice and snow made village during winter. The festival takes place at Lake Shikaribetsu, Shikaoi Town. Various kinds of snow and ice attractions and activities are available at the festival such as igloos, an ice bar, an ice theatre, a snow Onsen bath and light-ups at night.

More info:

18. Food

Fresh crabs sold at local fish markets in Hokkaido

Hokkaido Miso Butter Ramen

Jingisukan, the traditional mutton BBQ dish in Hokkaido

Ikura (red caviar) Donburi

Hokkaido is definitely the biggest gourmet city in Japan. It’s impossible to pick only one from their local specialties as the variety of Hokkaido’s local food is just as huge as the land.

As all we know, the best thing about Hokkaido is seafood. Great fresh seafood dishes are sold at markets in almost every cities apart from central area of Hokkaido. Also Hokkaido consume a lot of lamb meat comparing to other prefectures. Jingisukan is one of the best known dishes in Hokkaido, which is grill lamb with vegetables on a special iron plate. Ramen is also very popular dish in Hokkaido and many cities has their own local ramens. When in Sapporo, try their Sapporo miso Ramen. Central Hokkaido such as Furano and Biei, is best known for local vegetable, diary products, pork and rice. The most famous fruit in Hokkaido is melon from Yubari city called Yubari Melon which is extremely sweets. Soft serve ice cream with rich fresh milk is also a popular dessert from local. When in Hokkaido, I bet you’d never go hungry!

19. Souvenirs

A variety of ROYCE' chocolates

Limited KitKat with Hokkaido Melon and Mascarpone Cheese flavour

As much as enjoying Hokkaido’s delicious local food, make sure to take some of them home. Numbers of sweets and dessert companies are based in Hokkaido, and their products are very popular for souvenirs. The most popular confectioners are the chocolate maker, Royce’ and the long-established Rokkatei, who creates sweets with local ingredients.

More info:

20. New Chitose Airport

New Chitose Airport is the main transportation hub in Hokkaido that connects Hokkaido and numerous cities by numbers of domestic and international flights. New Chitose Airport is not dedicated to air service, but it’s a wonderful place for shopping and eat-out. The large terminals at the airport house hundreds of shops, restaurants and cafes serving Hokkaido’s delicious local dishes, desserts and souvenirs, and you can spend 2–3 hours easily. In case you have forgot to buy souvenirs during the trip, New Chitose Airport offers an amazing “last minute” shopping! Check out the links below for the popular places to dine and items to shop at New Chitose Airport.


How did you enjoy the list?? Hokkaido is simply a wonderful place to visit through the year. You can enjoy the colourful flowers and green nature in summer, and snow activities and hot Onsen baths in winter! And of course, the famous Hokkaido local dishes can be enjoyed all year around 🙂

▽ Check more Bucket Lists in other popular areas in Japan▽

If you are planning your trip to Hokkaido soon, take a look at these articles below, suggesting travel itineraries in Hokkaido with the best highlights and how to get around!

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