Sapporo is the economic and cultural capital of Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island and the fifth most populous city in Japan.
The city is a treasure trove of gourmet food and things to do in the heart of Hokkaido and a popular tourist destination that is dotted with historic buildings and spots such as the Sapporo Clock Tower and Hokkaido University.
Sapporo is also famous for its events and festivals held throughout the four seasons. The Sapporo Lilac Festival in spring, the Yasikoi Soran dance parade and Festival in summer, and the Sapporo Snow Festival in winter are especially popular events that attract many visitors to the city.
In addition, Hokkaido boasts abundant natural features. Sapporo is also a logistics center and a treasure trove of freshly picked vegetables and fresh seafood from all over Hokkaido, making it a great place to enjoy gourmet food.
Here’s our pick for the best things to do in Sapporo for your trip to this fantastic city.
Odori park is sometimes described as the heart of Sapporo. It’s a long central park a full block wide that runs right through central Sapporo.
The park offers vibrant nature and lively events throughout the year, delighting citizens and tourists alike.
The park is composed of five themes and zones, such as “Flowers” and “Oasis,” and each zone features different fountains and statues.
The park has many faces, including an event zone and a cultural zone, offering a rich variety of ways to enjoy the park.
The western end has a rose garden, while the eastern end is marked by the iconic Sapporo TV Tower.
The park is home to many events such as the Yosakoi dancing festival and the Sapporo Beer Garden in summer, Autumn Fest in September, and the world-famous Snow festival in the winter.
Sapporo TV Tower
The Sapporo TV Tower is a popular tourist spot for its panoramic view of central Sapporo.
Located in Sapporo’s Odori Park, the Sapporo TV Tower is a radio tower completed in 1957.
The observation deck, reached by an elevator from the third floor, is 90.38 meters high and offers a panoramic view of Odori Park below as well as the entire city of Sapporo.
In summer, the outdoor multipurpose space on the first floor becomes a beer garden for Sapporo Beer, Hokkaido’s representative brand. Let’s toast the short summer in Hokkaido with beer.
Sapporo Clock Tower
A historical structure standing in the city of Sapporo, the clock tower with its impressive red roof and white walls is a popular tourist attraction and photo spot.
In 1970, it was designated as a National Important Cultural Property of Japan as “one of the most representative Western-style wooden buildings of the Meiji era in Hokkaid.
Inside the building is an exhibition room where visitors can learn about the history of the clock tower.
Located in the northeastern part of Sapporo, this comprehensive park was designed by the world-renowned sculptor Isamu Noguchi.
Based on the concept of turning the entire park into a sculpture, the park was developed on land reclaimed from 2.7 million tons of waste and opened in 2005.
The vast site, features geometric mountains, fountains, and playground equipment, creating a fusion of nature and art.
The park’s charm lies in its ability to be enjoyed in each of the four seasons: cherry blossoms in spring, water sports in summer, autumn leaves in fall and cross-country skiing in winter.
Nijo Fish Market
Nijo Market can be reached on foot from all major sightseeing stations, including Sapporo Station, Odori Station, and Susukino Station.
Nijo Market has been here since the Meiji Era and is full of lively atmosphere. You can buy souvenirs, but if you want to taste the freshest seafood, there is no better place.
We recommend the Kaisen-don, a bowl of rice topped with fresh seafood.
It is filled to the brim with Hokkaido’s seafood, including salmon roe and salmon roe.
Cable Car To Mount Moiwa
Mount Moiwa is a 531-meter-high mountain located 5 kilometers southwest of central Sapporo and is considered among the best night views in Japan.
The cable car has a large glass wall and offers a panoramic view of the primeval forests, the changing seasons, the city of Sapporo, and even Ishikari Bay in the distance.
Once you get off the ropeway at the halfway station, you can transfer to the Moris Car and reach the summit in about 1 minute and 40 seconds.
There are also hiking trails up the mountain for those looking to work off all that ramen and soup curry you’ve been eating
A visit to Hokkaido University, which has the largest campus in Japan, is another recommended thing to do in Sapporo. The campus is very open and is right over the road from Sapporo Station on the north side.
There are many attractions such as the green Elm Forest, the Central Lawn, the Clark Statue, and the university’s unique museum.
Just walking around the campus is an inspiring experience. The University grounds offer an experience that you can’t find at any other university.
The university is also famous for its Gikko trees that turn bright yellow in late October bringing many people to witness the site.
Sapporo ramen is one of the most loved in Japan, and there could be no more authentic place to sample it that in the tiny allay known as Ganso Yokocho.
There are currently 17 stores at the top of Ramen Yokocho in Susukino, Sapporo.
Perhaps because Ganso Yokocho is located in Susukino, one of Japan’s largest entertainment districts, most stores are open from 11:00 a.m. until dawn the next day.
In that sense, it may be said that this Ramen alley itself has become a sacred place for the night owls and boozed-up salarymen of Sapporo after more than 60 years of history.
Almost all of them are counter-style restaurants with information about the type of ramen served on display. A must-visit after a night out in downtown Sapporo.
This park stretches to the north of Maruyama. The park is lushly green with preserved primeval forests.
Hokkaido Shrine, one of the most famous cherry blossom viewing spots in Hokkaido, heralds the late spring in the northern part of the country.
Cherry blossoms bloom around May.
Hokkaido Jingu Shrine
The Hokkaido Jingu is the main shrine of Hokkaido and was founded in 1869. The grounds of the shrine, which cover an expansive area and are famous for its cherry blossoms and entrance gate.
This shrine was seen as an important part of the development of Hokkaido as an emerging city, and although it may have a relatively short history compared to shrines in other parts of Japan, it is a powerful and serene place.
It is also attached to Maruyama Park, so those who visit the shrine and those who stroll around can enjoy themselves.
In June, the Hokkaido Jingu Festival (Sapporo Festival) is held, where portable shrines and floats parade through the city to the accompaniment of musical accompaniment.
Sapporo Maruyama Zoo
The Polar Bear Pavilion has the longest underwater tunnel in Japan at about 18 meters, where visitors can observe polar bears swimming.
The sight of polar bears jumping into the water and swimming with their fur fluttering in the water is very powerful!
There is also an Asia Zone, an Africa Zone, and an Ape Pavilion, where you can meet many animals.
Sapporo Okurayama Observation Deck And Ski Jump
This is an observation deck where you can enjoy the view of Sapporo from the same vantage point as the jumpers.
This observatory is well known as the site of the jumping stadium for the 1972 Winter Olympics held in Sapporo. Even today, many international competitions are held here.
The observation lounge at the top of the mountain offers a panoramic view of the city of Sapporo, the Ishikari Plain, and Bay, as well as the Miyanomori Ski Jump Stadium itself, where the 70-meter class jumps are held.
Visitors can see the start line of the jump platform right in front of them and experience the view from a jumper’s point of view.
The adjacent Sapporo Olympic Museum is a facility where visitors can learn about the history of the Olympic and Paralympic Games with equipment used by athletes and other exhibits.
There is also a corner where visitors can experience ski jumping, cross-country skiing, bobsledding, and other sports.
Former Hokkaido Government Office
The Former Hokkaido Government is an American-style red brick building constructed in 1888.
The strained glass and other elements from the Meiji era still remain, giving visitors the feeling of stepping back in time.
The charm of the “Former Main Building of Hokkaido Government” is its beautiful garden. The garden has a different appearance each season, making it a spot you will want to visit again and again.
Nakajima Park is recognized as one of the 100 best city parks in Japan.
Although Nakajima Park is located in the center of Sapporo City, it is a popular place for recreation and relaxation with water and greenery against the backdrop of Mt Moiwa
The park is dotted with the Iris Pond, a Japanese garden, a tea house as well as an impressive concert hall.
From the park entrance, a beautiful row of ginkgo trees runs alongside the path leading to the large pond.
The bright yellow carpet created by the falling leaves is one of the most beautiful sights to see during autumn sightseeing.
To the west of the park are weeping willow trees along the Kamo River, where you can see the green branches and leaves hanging down over the clear water.
Sapporo Beer Museum
The birthplace of Sapporo Beer is now a museum you can tour and locate next to a large shopping center.
Visitors to the Sapporo beer museum can learn about the history of Beer in Sapporo and Japan through exhibits and displays.
- The first beer brewery ever built in Japan
- Constructed in 1890 as a factory of the Sapporo Sugar Refining Company
- There are some popular jengis kan lamb BBQ restaurants in the building
- The tours are self-guided and take about twenty-five minutes
One interesting part of the building is the Brick Hall which was used as a beer factory. Today, a small beer brewery is located next to it, operating as the Sapporo Kaitakushi Beer Brewery.
One of the highlights of the beer museum is a huge boiling kettle known as a wort pan.
This kettle, which is many times taller than an adult, is used to boil the wort during the beer brewing process, which gives beer its distinctive bitterness and aroma.
After the tour, it’s time for the long-awaited beer tasting. There are three kinds of beer: Black Label, the main product of Sapporo Beer today, Classic, sold only in Hokkaido, and Kaitakushi Beer, which recreates the taste of the beer when it was first brewed many years ago.
Each beer has a different color, flavor, and bitterness, and you can truly enjoy comparing the beers. The tour is free of charge, but there is a fee to compare the beers.
Hokkaido University Botanical Garden
A 10-minute walk from JR Sapporo Station. Located near the Hokkaido Government Office, the Botanical Garden is lined with giant haru elm trees and a wide variety of plants on its 13.3 hectares of land.
The garden is planted with approximately 4,000 plant species collected for research purposes, and is extremely beautiful in spring with plum and Ezo-yamazakura cherry trees, in summer with Japanese apricot and hydrangea, and in fall with the color of giant maple trees.
It takes about 45 minutes to 1 hour and 30 minutes to walk around the botanical garden of Hokkaido University, so it is recommended to wear comfortable shoes such as sneakers.
Sapporo Snow Festival
The Sapporo Snow Festival, held every year in early February, began in 1950 when six snow statues were created by local junior and senior high school students.
Now, one of the world’s most famous winter festivals, the Sapporo Yuki Matsuri is held at three venues: Odori Park in the city center, which has been the main venue since the beginning; Susukino, where ice statues line the streets; and Tsu Dome, where a giant snow slide and other facilities line the streets.
At the Odori site, in addition to large snow sculptures, there will be large ice sculptures with amazing sound and light shows.
The ice statues shine in pale blue and white during the day, and at night, they are brightly colored
There’s also an international snow sculptures competition where competitors from many countries compete to make the best sculpture.
The Susukino venue is lined with ice statues only. It is recommended to visit both of them and compare them with each other.
This is a great winter festival
Pro Tip: If you are heading to the Sapporo snow festival make sure to book your hotel early as rooms fill up fast.
Shiroi Koibito Park
Shiroi Koibito Park is a chocolate theme park where you can observe the production process of a popular chocolate-making company.
The facility sometimes called the Ishiya Chocolate Factory offers a tour of the factory, as well as a toy museum, robot show and chocolate and cookie-making experience that is easy and enjoyable.
There is also an English Garden courtyard where you can see about 200 kinds of roses and other beautiful seasonal flowers in summer and enjoy illumination in winter, so a leisurely stroll is recommended.
In particular, the Chocolate Lounge near the factory is famous for its Shiroi Koibito Parfait, a must for fans of Ishiya Seika, the manufacturer of Shiroi Koibito.
The illumination from December to February is especially recommended.
Shiroi Koibito Park Kids Town is also located within the park, where children can play.
This place is a must for anyone with a sweet tooth!
Historic Village Of Hokkaido
It is an open-air museum where visitors can learn about the history of Hokkaido’s pioneering period through the relocated and reconstructed buildings on display and the scenes of the pioneer days.
The Village of Hokkaido Kaitakunomura is a place where children can enjoy horse-drawn wagon trains and horse-drawn sleighs running through the grounds, as well as indoor and outdoor areas where visitors can try their hand at traditional games.
Hokkaido Kaitakunomura is located next to the Hokkaido Museum.
The museum researches and studies the relationship between the natural environment and people, the culture of the Ainu people, and the lives of immigrants who came over from the mainland.
It aims to collect and preserves materials that are precious treasures of the people of Hokkaido and hold exhibitions and educational events.
Sapporo Art Park
The park is dotted with outdoor art museums, art halls, outdoor stages, and hands-on workshops.
Visitors can enjoy art experiences that are in harmony with the surrounding nature and environment, such as outdoor sculptures that you can actually touch and enjoy.
Access: Sapporo Art Park is located in Minami Ward, Sapporo.
Enjoy Soup Curry
Soup curry is a local delicacy that originated in Sapporo and is popular nationwide. The curry is as light as soup and features large, well-presented ingredients such as chicken, potatoes, and green peppers.
Many restaurants offer a choice of soup and spiciness, making it fun to customize and savor.
There are many specialty stores in the city, so it is recommended to compare different types of food.
There’s a large number of Ski areas where you can enjoy winter sports with easy access to the Sapporo site and some larger Ski Resorts a little further away.
Sapporo Ski Areas
- Sapporo Teine ski resort
- Sapporo Bankei ski area
- Mount Moiwa ski resort
Other ski resorts within a few hour’s travel of Sapporo are:
- Hiroro Ski resort
- Furano Ski resort
More Things To Do In Sapporo
More things to do in Sapporo
- Take an onsen in the nearby hot springs town on Jozankei
- Go ice fishing in winter in the frozen Barato River
- Take a day trip to the wonderful old port City of Otaru
- Relax at the Asahiyama Memorial Park (Near Hokkaido Museum)
- Visit the Hokkaido Museum Of Modern Art