Translated by Hilary Keyes
Sapporo Travel Guide - Access, Local Food, And 17 Sightseeing Spots
Sapporo is the main city in Hokkaido and where you will find incredible natural sites, amazing historical places, and of course fantastic food. A fun place to visit all year round, let's learn more about this must-see city.
Written by MATCHA
What Kind of Place Is Sapporo?
Sapporo is the political, economic, and cultural center of Japan's northernmost prefecture, Hokkaido. Surrounded by incredible natural spaces, Sapporo is where you will find amazing foods such as ramen and sushi made from locally caught seafood, and picturesque scenery all year long - this is a city whose charms can satisfy any traveler's requests. The summers here are mild and have a low relative humidity compared to the rest of Japan, while strong winters create a wonderland filled with snow as far as the eye can see. If you take proper precautions against the cold, a winter trip to Sapporo can be a magical experience.
Table of Contents:
1. Traveling to Sapporo
2. Getting Around When Sightseeing
3. Weather in Sapporo and What to Wear
4. Sapporo Area Guide
5. Must Visit Places in Sapporo
6. Events in Sapporo
7. A Model Itinerary for Sapporo
8. Sapporo's Regional Cuisine
9. Accommodations in Sapporo
10. Souvenirs from Sapporo
11. Other Important Travel Information
Traveling to Sapporo
If you are going to be traveling to Sapporo from Tokyo, then you have two travel options: by plane, or by shinkansen. Flying from Tokyo's Haneda Airport to Sapporo's New Chitose Airport takes about 1 hour and 40 minutes, one way. The average ticket price is about 10,000 to 50,000 yen, depending on season and carrier. Flying from Narita Airport to New Chitose Airport takes about 1 hour and 40 minutes, and ranges in price from 5000 to 30,000 yen.
On the other hand, taking either the Hayabusa or Hayate JR shinkansen from Tokyo Station to Sapporo will take you about 4 hours and 30 minutes, and you will arrive at Shin-Hakodate Hokuto Station. From there you will need to take either the JR Limited Express Hokuto or the Super Hokuto for 3 hours and 30 minutes, then you will arrive at Sapporo Station. The entire, one-way, train journey will take you 8 hours and 20 minutes, and cost about 27,000 yen (standard car with a reserved seat).
Getting Around When Sightseeing
If you are going to be mainly doing sightseeing within Sapporo and its surrounding area, then it is best to use the Sapporo Municipal Subway to get around the city. The average one-way fare costs 200-370 yen, but if you purchase the 1 Day Subway Train Ticket, you can ride the subway trains as much as you want in a given day for 830 yen for adults and 420 yen for children. And, if you are going to be traveling to Sapporo on a weekend or national holiday, you should consider picking up the special weekend and holidays all-you-can-ride ticket called Donichi Kippu.
There is not just a subway system in Sapporo however, there are also standard trains, buses, and even streetcars to choose from. If you are going to be traveling in the Teine, Atsube direction, towards Shin-Sapporo, or to Ainosato, then the JR trains will be most useful for you. As the subway system does not connect as well to the western side of Sapporo, those wanting to travel in this area will find that the streetcars (a municipal railway) are quite convenient to use. When traveling in Sapporo, it is a lot of fun to gaze out the train windows at the city as it passes by.
Weather in Sapporo and What to Wear
Spring in Sapporo, when compared to the temperature in Honshu, is still quite chilly, so a coat or heavy jacket, a scarf and gloves, or other items to help protect against the cold would be a good idea to bring with you. The spring thaw typically begins in March and by April there usually isn't any more snowfall to speak of, so in this time period, it is a good idea to bring rubber boots or sturdy sneakers along with you, just in case.
On the other hand, in July and August, when daytime temperatures can reach about 30 degrees Celsius, the temperature drops at night, making it a good idea to bring something with long sleeves for any sightseeing you may want to do then. In October, the average temperature is about 12 degrees or cooler, and drops even lower in November, when it is typical for the first snowfall of the year to occur. From November to February the temperature tends to stay at or below freezing, and it is very easy for the streets to become slippery and covered in snow and ice in no time. If you will be traveling to Sapporo in the winter, you must make certain to pack warm clothing and to bring adequate protection against the cold with you.
Sapporo Area Guide
As the largest city in Hokkaido, Sapporo has many historical areas, a thriving entertainment district, and many other distinctive areas, each possessing their own unique charms. Along the circumference of Odori Park, located in central Sapporo, you will find TV Tower, the Red Brick Former Hokkaido Government Office, the Clock Tower, and other famous, historical buildings. In the Susukino area, on the other hand, you can find many shops selling Sapporo's famous ramen, genghis khan (a grilled mutton dish), zangi (deep fried chicken), as this area is known for its many gourmet restaurants.
To learn more about Sapporo and its areas, please take a look at Sapporo Area Guide: Transportation, Sightseeing Areas and Souvenirs.
Must Visit Places in Sapporo
Historical and Cultural Spots
1. The Clock Tower
Photo courtesy of: Yokoso Sapporo
Sapporo's landmark, the Clock Tower, is an Important Cultural Property that was established in 1876 at the former Agricultural School hall, which is now Hokkaido University. Every hour on the hour the chimes ring out and at night the lights beautifully illuminate the clock tower; this peaceful old structure has stood guard over the city for such a long time that it is rightfully believed to be the symbol of Sapporo.
Address; Sapporo, Chuo, Kita 1 Jonishi 2 chome
Access: 10-minute walk from JR Sapporo Station Southern exit; 5-minute walk from Odori Station, exit number 7.
Hours: 8:45 - 17:10 (Admission until 10 minutes before closing)
2. Hokkaido Jingu (Hokkaido Shrine)
Established in the same year as Hokkaido was reclaimed, 1869, Hokkaido Jingu is known as the representative shrine of Hokkaido. Within the grounds of this shrine are 1400 sakura trees, which makes Hokkaido Shrine an incredibly stunning place to visit during the spring; you can see many people coming here not only to worship but to also have ohanami parties.
Address: Sapporo, Chuo, Miyagaoka 474
Access: 15 minutes on foot from Maruyama Koen Station (Tozai Line); 1-minute walk from Jingu-mae bus station.
3. Former Hokkaido Government Office (The Red Brick Offices)
Established in 1888, the Former Hokkaido Government Office (The Red Brick Offices) are a historical complex built in an American/Neo-Baroque style in Sapporo. Opened to the public for free, here visitors can see displays of historical documents and various different exhibitions as well.
Address: Hokkaido, Sapporo, Chuo ward, Nishi 6-chome Kita 3-jo
Access: 8-minute walk from the South Exit on the west side of JR Sapporo Station
Hours: 8:45 - 18:00
4. Hokkaido University
Hokkaido University has the distinction of being the university with the most spacious campus in all of Japan. Here you will find yourself in a brilliant golden world when the ginkgo trees that line the roads change color in autumn; during this season you will find many tourists gathering here to take photos and enjoy the beautiful scenery.
Address: Hokkaido, Sapporo, Kita ward, Kita 8 Jonishi 5 Chome
To learn more, please take a look at: Sapporo - 10 Destinations to Visit in Hokkaido's Largest City!.
5. Sapporo City Museum
Formerly the home of the appellate court in Hokkaido, the Sapporo City Museum, is recognized as one of Japan's Tangible Cultural Properties. Now this building where the arts flourish is also well-known as a place where the general public can come and view exhibitions as well. The museum has a mini-gallery and a library that are open to the public.
On the grounds of the museum, several different types of sakura trees grow, making this a beautiful place that many especially come to visit in the spring.
Address: Sapporo, Chuo, Odorinishi 13 chome
Access: 5-minute walk from Nishi 11-chome Station (Tozai Line)
Hours: 9:00 - 19:00
Nature and Culture
6. Moerunuma Park
The Moerenuma Park was designed by Isamu Noguchi, a master sculptor, and makes use of waste matter and reclaimed land; it is a stunning park that is simply overflowing with artistry. The charms of this park vary from season to season, but Moerenuma Park is best known as a special place where nature and art come together in harmony.
Address: Sapporo, Higashi ward, Moerenuma-koen 1-1
Access: 25-minute bus ride from Kanjo-dori Higashi Sation (Toho Line) on the Chuo bus 69 (toward Ainosato kyoikudai eki, get off at Moerenuma koen higashiguchi) and Chuo bus 79 (toward Nakanuma Shogakko dori, get off at Moerenuma koen higashiguchi)
Hours: 7:00-22:00 (The entrance closes at 21:00)
Admission fee: free
7. Odori Park
Odori Park is loved by locals as a place for rest and relaxation; this park which divides the north from the south in central Sapporo, acts as a sort of natural highway. Used as an event space during the Sapporo Snow Festival and for other seasonal events, the grounds of this park are constantly occupied by people enjoying themselves.
Address: Hokkaido, Sapporo, Chuo ward, Kita 1-jo Higashi 1-chome-6-16
See Sapporo - 10 Destinations to Visit in Hokkaido's Largest City! for more information on Odori Park.
8. Mount Moiwa Ropeway
Towering over the heart of Sapporo is Moiwayama mountain. With a height of 531m, Moiwayama's summit can be reached via ropeway or cable car. In 2015, the night view of Sapporo was declared to be second in the ranking of the Top 3 Most Beautiful Night Views in Japan (1st was Nagasaki, 3rd was Kobe). By all means, please make use of the ropeway to take in this stunning night landscape for yourself.
Address: Hokkaido, Sapporo, Chuo ward, 5-chome, Fushimi 3-7
Access: Take the JR bus Ropeway Line from the 2nd exit of the Maruyama Park Station on the Tozai line, and get off at the stop Moiwa Sanroku Eki (Mt. Moiwa Base Station).
Hours: Summer season April - November 10:30a.m.～10:00p.m.（last ascent- 9:30 p.m.）
Winter season December - March 11:00a.m.～10:00p.m. (last ascent- 9:30 p.m.)
* In November, all operations can be suspended due to servicing.
New Years Eve December 31 11:00a.m.～5:00p.m.（last ascent- 4:30 p.m.）
New Years Day Extra Operations January 1 5:00a.m.～5:00p.m. (last ascent- 4:30 p.m.)
Ticket fees: Adults: 1,700 yen (1,360 yen), Children: 850 yen (680 yen) * () in parentheses, for groups of over 15 people
Sapporo - 10 Destinations to Visit in Hokkaido's Largest City! has more on this spot.
9. Jozankei Onsen
Found in the suburbs of Sapporo, Jozankei Onsen is Hokkaido's model hot spring resort area. With hot springs surrounded by gorgeous natural scenery, this area has an air of supreme luxury to it. At the onsen sources within the hot springs, onsen tamago (eggs slow boiled in the hot spring) can also be enjoyed here.
Address: Sapporo, Minami, Jozankei Onsen
Website: Jozankei Onsen Tourist Association
Experiences and Amusements
10. Sapporo Beer Museum
At the Sapporo Beer Museum, where you can take tours to learn about the beer brewing process, visitors who cannot speak Japanese in the slightest need not worry: there are guided tours in other languages available here as well. If you pay the 500 yen for the premium tour, you can enjoy a sample tasting of a beer reproduced with the methods used 130 years ago.
Address: Hokkaido, Sapporo, Higashi ward, Kita 7 Johigashi, 9 Chome -１-１
Hours: 10:30 - 18:30 (Entrance until 18:00)
Check out Sapporo - 10 Destinations to Visit in Hokkaido's Largest City! for more.
11. Shiroi Koibito Park
One of Hokkaido's most well-known sweets, Shiroi Koibito are two square biscuits that have white chocolate sandwiched between them. At Sapporo's Shiroi Koibito Park, visitors can take part in a guided factory tour and see how these treats are made.
Address: Hokkaido, Sapporo, Nishi Ward, Miyanosawa 2-2-11-36
Access: 7-minute walk from Miyanosawa Station on the Tozai Subway Line (approx. 20 minutes from Odori Station)
Hours: 9:00 - 18:00 (Last admittance at 17:00)
Admissin fees: High-school students and older 600 yen (Groups of 20 or more: 500 yen), Junior high school students and younger 200 yen (groups of 20 or more: 150 yen); free admissio for infants (under 3 years of age).
12. Sapporo Art Park
If you would like to get away from the city for a while and take in the fresh air of Sapporo, then it would be a good idea to take the train from Sapporo for 20 minutes, then take the bus for a further 15, and visit the Sapporo Art Park.
Address: Sapporo, Minami ward, Geijutsunomori 2-75
Access: Get off the Namboku Subway Line at Makomanai Station. Take the Soranuma or Takino bus from Chuo Bus stop no. 2 and get off at Geijutsu no mori iriguchi or Geijutsu no mori Center.
Hours: 9:45 - 17:00 (Open until 17:30 during 6/1-8/31)
Admission fees: free (separate fees for the Sapporo Sculpture Park and the Sapporo Art Museum)
13. Takino Suzuran Hillside National Government Park
Although it first takes a 30-minute subway ride, then a 30-minute bus ride (in total, an hour's journey from Sapporo Station), one place that we cannot recommend strongly enough is Takino Suzuran Hillside National Government Park.
An area where you might not even grow tired of being athletic even after a full day spent outdoors, this area is highly recommended to those traveling with children.
Address: Sapporo, Minami ward, Takino 247
Hours: April 20 - May 31 9:00-17:00; June 1 - August 31 9:00-18:00; September 1 - November 10 9:00-17:00; December 23 - March 31 9:00-16:00.
Admission fees: Adults (15 years or older) 410 yen, Children 80 yen (elementary school and junior high), Preschool childreen - Free of charge, Silver (65 years or older) 210 yen.
14. Horomitouge Lavender Garden
Found within Sapporo city, Horomitouge Lavender Garden is a gorgeous garden made up of about 5000 lavender plants; the sight of this garden in full bloom is quite famous. The best time to visit this garden is from mid-July to mid-August, roughly for a month. It is also possible to take part in lavender harvesting here as well.
Address: Sapporo, Chuo, Bankei 471-110
Access: 10 minutes by car from Maruyama Koen Station
Hours: 9:00-17:00 (parking open until 18:00)
Fees: Parking costs 500 yen
Website: Horomitouge Lavender Garden (Yume Kobosato) (Japanese)
15. Hitsujigaoka Observation Hill
Hitsujigaoka Observation Hill is the best place to get an unbroken view of the city of Sapporo. On this expansive hill, not only can you see flocks of sheep but also a bronze statue of the agricultural educator William Smith Clark, who gave the famous speech "Boys, Be Ambitious!" If you plan on visiting this viewing platform, then you might want to take a commemorative photo of your trip there as you strike the same pose as the statue of Dr. Clark.
Address: Sapporo, Toyohira, Hitsujigaoka 1
Hours: May - June 8：30-18：00, July - August 8：30-19：00, September 8：30-18：00, October - April 9：00-17：00.
Admission fees: Adults 520 yen, Elementary and Junior High 300 yen.
16. Ganso Sapporo Ramen Yokocho
When thinking of famous foods in Sapporo, the very first dish that comes to mind is miso ramen. Forming an alley between the buildings, Ganso Sapporo Ramen Yokocho is a food street where you will find 17 different shops selling their own takes on miso ramen. This is the perfect place for ramen lovers.
Address: Sapporo, Chuo, Minami 5, Nishi 3-8 Grande Building 1F
17. Nijo Market
If you are the sort that would like to enjoy the absolute freshest seafood available, then a trip to the 100 year old fish market Nijo Market is a must. Those wanting to taste just caught sea urchin and fresh ikura (salmon roe) should visit the Nijo Market Noren Yokocho, a street with numerous restaurants selling kaisen-don (seafood rice bowls) and sushi.
Address: Sapporo, Chuo, Minami Sanjo Higashi Itchome to Higashi Nichome
Hours: Market 7:00 - 18:00 / Restaurants 6:00 - 21:00 (depending on restaurants)
Events in Sapporo
The standout event that takes place annually in the start of February is the Sapporo Snow Festival. Featuring statues and other works carved out of ice, and numerous hot Hokkaido-original dishes that are a perfect match to the cold winter, this event has become exceptionally popular, and is visited by tourists from all over every year.
If you would like to see all the best of the winter in Hokkaido, then the Sapporo Snow Festival is a must-see event.
A Model Itinerary for Sapporo
A land surrounded by nature, Sapporo has it all; here you can do everything from learning about Hokkaido's rich history at various cultural facilities to enjoying gourmet Hokkaido-limited foods at amazing restaurants.
Now we would like to introduce a model itinerary for those wanting to visit all of these places in Sapporo, but feeling unsure of where to go or what to do first. This plan is sure to have you feeling satisfied.
Day 1: (morning) Former Hokkaido Government Office - The Red Brick Offices, Clock Tower, TV Tower; (afternoon) the Sapporo Beer Museum or Shiroi Koibito Park; (night) Moiwayama, Ganso Sapporo Ramen Yokocho.
Day 2: (morning) Nijo Market; (afternoon) Moerenuma Park; (evening) Moerenuma Natural Hot Spring.
With the first day of this schedule focusing on the historical aspects of Sapporo and the second on the natural side, including a trip to the hot springs, this itinerary makes it possible for you to spend each day leisurely enjoying each side of the city.
For more details on this model itinerary, see Explore Sapporo in Two Days with This Model Itinerary!
Sapporo's Regional Cuisine
Not only can you enjoy exceptionally fresh seafood here, but Sapporo also has ramen, genghis khan and other wonderful dishes that would keep any foodie happy. Travelers should make certain to try the Sapporo cuisines that are beloved by the locals.
Sapporo is the birthplace of miso ramen. The traits that distinguish miso ramen are its rich miso-based broth, slightly wavy medium thickness noodles, and its garnishes of bean sprouts and onion. One of the most well-known Sapporo ramen shops is Sumire, whose rich miso soup and tender chashu (roasted pork fillet) are their trademarks. It isn't a stretch to say that after once taste you'll find yourself addicted to their Sapporo ramen.
Another of Sapporo's local specialties is genghis khan, a roasted mutton dish prepared on a special type of iron grill. It is a popular dish that not only features the mutton but a selection of grilled vegetables as well. One of the best shops selling this dish is Genghis Khan Specialty Shop Daruma, who are famous for their rich and flavorful mutton and Hokkaido-grown fresh vegetables. A dish with abundant nutritional value for a very reasonable price, genghis khan is one of the cuisines that you simply have to try if you visit Sapporo. There are many restaurants selling this dish in the Susukino area, so please stop by here during your travels.
Sushi and Seafood
It goes without saying though that, when visiting Sapporo, you cannot forget to try the seafood. As Hokkaido can rightfully boast of a high domestic fishing haul, the fresh and fatty marine products here just have to be tasted. Located in the Nijo Market Noren Yokocho, Seafood Specialists Sakanayano Daidokoro is a very popular shop that offers kaisen-don (seafood rice bowls) that are topped with plentiful amounts of fresh ikura (salted salmon roe) and uni (sea urchin) that can be enjoyed from the morning onwards. If you head there for lunch you will find yourself having to wait in a long line, so we recommend visiting in the early morning to enjoy your kaisen-don.
Accommodations in Sapporo
Thanks to its many wonderful attractions, Sapporo also has many different types of accommodations to offer: from popular hotels to ryokan inns of longstanding and even charming guest houses. There are a variety of ways to stay in Sapporo. Close to Sapporo Station and Odori Park, the Sapporo Grand Hotel is not only convenient but also known for the fine quality service that they offer. Established in 1903, Nakamuraya Ryokan is a well-established traditional Japanese inn featuring all Japanese-style rooms. As a building brimming with historical charms, this inn is particularly popular among international travelers. And as it is also close to Sapporo Station, it is even more recommendable to tourists. A model guesthouse, Sapporo's Sappolodge offers dormitory style and private rooms. There is a cafe/bar on the first floor of this guesthouse where guests can enjoy drinking and chatting with other patrons.
Souvenirs from Sapporo
Royce Chocolate Potato Chips
Royce's chocolate potato chips are one of the most popular souvenirs from Sapporo. These potato chips coated in chocolate have the perfect blend of salty-sweetness that makes for a superb snack.
Photo courtesy of: Shiroi Koibito Park
Two biscuits with a rich white chocolate sandwiched between them, Shiroi Koibito are the standard souvenir when it comes to travel in Sapporo. Sold in department stores and station souvenir shops, they can be easily picked up at any time during your travels. Their light blue packaging is their trademark - practically any Japanese person you ask can identify these sweets right away.
Other Important Travel Information
If you're short on cash, look for the ATM with the "PLUS" logo, which offers cash advance with credit cards.
The article below will show the simple phrases you can use when checking into hotels.
"Japan Connected-Free Wi-Fi" is a service for the visitors from abroad. Be sure to download the application in advance.
The article below will show how much the food costs in Japan, so take a look when planning your budget.