8 things to do in Sapporo for an all-round Japan trip

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    Man sitting on bench at Odori Park

    Sapporo is the largest city of Hokkaido. But due to its accessibility and location, it’s also commonly thought of as simply a stopover city, rather than a destination for the many tourists who fly into New Chitose airport in Sapporo. With the many attactions and unique experiences, Sapporo is really more than just as a stopover or connection city. Whether you’re after some sight-seeing, something fun for the kids and family to do or a vibrant nightlife culture, Sapporo will not disappoint. Check out our guide of fun things to do in Sapporo.

    1.Odori Park 大通公園

    Great for: families, couples, solo travellers

    Every year, major festivals and celebrations are celebrated at Odori Park. There’s the Summer Festival and Yosakoi Soran festival both taking place in summer and in winter, there’s the Snow Festival and White Illumination to look forward to. Depending on the time you visit Sapporo, you may get to catch ones of these exciting events. But even if you didn’t manage to time your visit to coincide with the celebrations, Odori Park is still worth a visit. Clean and well kept, it’s a great place to watch the best of what the different seasons has to offer – lush greenery in spring, yellow and red foilage in autumn and white and snowy scene in winter. Don’t forget to stop by the landmark TV Tower at the eastern side of the park for some selfies. One of my most enjoyable moments in Hokkaido was spent at Odori park having a bento picnic amidst the park’s beautiful surroundings.

    Fountain at Odori Park, Sapporo
    Fountain at Odori Park
    Cherry blossoms, Odori Park
    Cherry blossoms in full bloom
    Mario cosplay at Odori Park, Sapporo
    Who knows, you might get to see Mario too!

    Address: Next to Odori Subway Station or 10- minute walk south of JR Sapporo Station

    2. Shiroi Koibito Park 白色戀人公園

    Great for: families, young kids

    Shiroi Koibito cookies are the Tokyo Bananas of Hokkaido – every tourist brings home some. The Shiroi Koibito Park in Sapporo is also very popular and consists of the Shiroi Koibito Factory where the dessert is made, Cookiecraft Studio, a dessert café, a rose garden and a vintage toy museum. For a small fee, you can take a tour of the factory and try designing your cookie at the Cookiecraft studio. Don’t want to pay for entrance fees (like me)? Well, there are a few free – and rather enjoyable – activities too. Inside the dessert cafe on the first floor, there’s a candy-making kitchen to showcase the fascinating process of how hard candies are being pulled and twisted into shape before being cut into small, bite-sized portions. Also free is the toy museum on the second floor which exhibits a wide range of vintage toys. My favourite part of the park is the rose garden where you not only get to admire the beautiful flowers but also enjoy the views of the European style courtyard and buildings in the park.

    Address: Miyanosawa 2-jo 2 Chome, Nishi-ku, Sapporo 063-0052

    Glass house at Shiroi Koibito Park

    The 2nd floor of the Shiroi Koibito shop houses an impressive collection of toys
    The 2nd floor of the Shiroi Koibito shop houses an impressive collection of toys
    Shiroi Koibito production line
    Shiroi Koibito production line

    3. Mount Moiwa 藻岩山

    Great for: families, couples, first timers to Sapporo, photograhy enthusiasts

    Perhaps one of the best ways to view a city is from a distance and for that, we recommend Mount Moiwa, located in the middle of Sapporo city. To get to the peak, you can ride the ropeway (1100 yen) that takes you from the base to three quarters of the mountain to a transfer station. You can continue on to the peak by taking a small cablecar (600 yen). There is an observation deck and a restaurant called The Jewels at the summit. Guess how else you can get to the peak? Yes, it’s possible to hike up there too! There are 5 five hiking trails ranging from 2.4km to 4.5km, and the best time to do this is during Summer where the weather is conducive. You can visit Mount Moiwa in the day or night time and the views are vastly different – though both amazing. Personally I’m biased and find the dazzling lights after dark more romantic, so I figured the best time to go would be 1-2 hours before sunset. Once you’re at the peak, take your time to enjoy the breathtaking views of the cityscape and the surrounding areas such as the Ishikari Bay. We wouldn’t recommend you hike back in the dark so make sure you catch the last transport back to the base of the mountain.

    Address: Minami Ward, Sapporo, Hokkaido Prefecture 005-0041, Japan

    4. Maruyama Zoo 札幌市円山動物園

    Great for: families, animal lovers, kids

     Maruyama Zoo is the first zoo in Hokkaido – and a very well-kept one. The animals look well cared for in the environment created specially to suit their living habits. What’s also great about Maruyama Zoo is that it doesn’t just allow you to view the animals in their natural habitats, but also lets you interact with some of them. In the “Kids’ Zoo”, you can pat and feed animals like squirrels, rabbits, young kangaroos and other small animals. Don’t miss this chance to get in touch with nature.

    Address: 064-0959 Hokkaido Prefecture, Sapporo, Chuo Ward, Miyagaoka, 3 Chome−1

    Floor tiles with animals printed on them at Maruyama Koen subway station
    Floor tiles with animals printed on them at Maruyama Koen subway station
    A sleeping hyena at Maruyama Zoo
    A sleeping hyena
    Outdoor playground at Maruyama Zoo
    Outdoor playground
    A curious chimpanzee at Maruyama Zoo
    A curious chimpanzee
    At the entrance of Maruyama Zoo
    At the entrance of Maruyama Zoo

    5. Sapporo Beer Museum

    Great for: Beer lovers

    In case you’re wondering, there are other stuff to do at the Sapporo Beer Museum apart from, well, chuggling down a beer or two. For 500 yen, you can take a guided tour of the museum to learn about the history of beer in Japan and the process of beer making. Also popular here is the all-you-can-eat mutton BBQ at the adjoining Sapporo Beer Garden. Now, if beer is your thing, you’ll fit right in here. There’s an all-you-can-drink beer buffet for some serious imbibing. Don’t want a hangover the next day? Go for the beer sampling session instead.

    Address: 065-8633 Hokkaido Prefecture, Sapporo, Higashi Ward, Kita 7 Johigashi, 9 Chome−1−1

    Opening hours: 11.30am – 8pm (entry until 7.30pm), Tues – Sunday. Closed on Public Holidays.

    6. Pole Town

    Great for: ladies, shoppers

    Raining or too cold to explore Sapporo? No worries. Time to hit the underground shopping. In case you’re wondering, by “underground”, we literally meant underground — not the dark, dodgy stuff. The 400m-long Pole Town begins from Odori Station and stretches all the way to Susukino Staion on the Namboku Line. There are hundreds of shops selling clothes, shoes, accessories and kawaii knick knacks waiting to be explored. Prices are relatively affordable so shop to your heart’s content here.

    Address: Pole Town – Minami 1-jo Nishi 3-chome〜Minami 4-jo Nishi 3-chome, Chuo-ku, Sapporo

    Tanukikoji shopping arcade above Pole Town, Sapporo
    Continue shopping at Tanukikoji shopping arcade just above Pole Town

    7. Susukino district

    Great for: Party goers, couples, night owls

    Welcome to Susukino, the nightlife district of Sapporo where the streets are decked with bars, restaurants, cafes and pachinko shops! Take your hit at one of noisy pachinko machines – or check yourself into the first gitzy love hotel that tickles your fancy — just for the fun of it. Well, why the heck not? Whatver it is, take your time to explore the 4,000 or so restaurants and bars in the Susukino, the largest entertainment district of Northern Japan.

    Nearest station: Susukino station

    8. Sapporo TV Tower

    Great for: Families, couples

    The Sapporo TV Tower is located on the east of Odori Park. If you don’t know where’s the east, just stand in the middle of the park and look to either side, you won’t miss it. The tower offers a 360° view of Sapporo and has become one of Sapporo’s landmarks since its completion in 1956.

    The vicinity around the tower is also a great place for a picnic or a short rest. You can access the souvenir shop located on the 3rd floor to check out some unique collectibles like fridge magnets and buy your tickets for access to the observation deck located more that 90 meters above ground. We recommend reaching the place around 5pm in the afternoon and stay till past 6pm to observe the changing scene from day to dusk.

    Address: Odori Nishi 1-chome, Chuo-ku, Sapporo
    Opening hours: 9.00am – 10:00pm
    Admission fee: Adults ¥720, High School Students ¥600, Junior High School Students ¥400

    Walk to Sapporo TV Tower
    Walk to Sapporo TV Tower
    Sapporo TV tower at 5.30pm
    The observatory deck is 90 metres above ground