Things to do in Sapporo

Things to do in  Sapporo

Japan’s wintery wonderland

Crowning Japan’s northernmost main island of Hokkaido is Sapporo, a fashionable urban wonderland offering an imitable mix of neon-lit nightlife, traditional breweries, and ski resorts. The mountainous island’s capital is also famous for its weeklong Sapporo Snow Festival, which takes place every February. Travelers visiting during the festival should head to Odori Park and the Susukino District to watch local artists create ice and snow sculptures. For lovers of the outdoors and winter sports, Sapporo is the ideal vacation destination. Mountain bike around Lake Shikotsu; go kayaking or canoeing on the Chitose River; hike through Nopporo Forest Park, home to more than 400 types of wild plant; and soak in the healing waters of Hoheikyo onsen. Taking a private tour of Sapporo’s thriving center means you can customize your itinerary to suit your interests. Stroll around the lush greenery of Odori Park (Odori Koen), sample local beer at Sapporo Beer Hokkaido Brewery, admire the neo-baroque architecture of Hokkaido Prefectural Office, or venture outside of the city to Otaru, where traditional mansions and cobblestone streets sit prettily on the banks of canals. If you’re looking to explore more of Japan, Sapporo serves as a convenient jumping-off point for day trips to Furano, whose lavender fields let off a gloriously heady scent; the snow-smothered slopes and hot springs of Niseko; and Biei in the Kamikawa District, whose Panorama Road reveals rolling hills and vast fields.

Top 15 attractions in Sapporo

Maruyama Park (Maruyama Koen)

Set at the base of Maruyama Mountain in the western suburbs of Sapporo, Maruyama Park (Maruyama Koen) comprises 15 acres (6 hectares) of virgin and secondary forest filled with oak, magnolia, maple and Japanese katsura trees. Some 1,700 Hokkaido wild cherry trees also grow within the park, making it a particularly popular destination come springtime.Predating the park itself is the Hokkaido Shrine, located at the north end of the park. Built in 1869, the shrine sees a steady stream of devotees, especially on New Year’s Day and the last day of winter, seeking the good graces of the four protective deities believed to be enshrined within.Visitors to Maruyama Park will also find Maruyama Zoo on the grounds. The zoo houses around 200 species of plants and animals and includes a tropical bird aviary and an insect house.More


Jozankei is a hot spring (onsen) resort town near Sapporo, on Japan’s northern Hokkaido island. It’s located within the Shikotsu-Toya National Park, built around cliffs on the Toyohira River. There are many traditional Japanese inns (ryokan) to stay at in Jozankei, as well as baths that can be visited for a day or half-day.More

Shiroi Koibito Park

Shiroi Koibito is a popular Japanese cookie consisting of milk or white chocolate sandwiched between two ladyfinger biscuits. The sweet-themed Shiroi Koibito Park in Sapporo takes visitors behind the scenes to see how Hokkaido’s most famous confection is made.Entrance to the park includes a factory tour, Cookiecraft Studio where guests get to make their own Shiroi Koibito, toy exhibition, rose garden and a candy store selling a variety of sweet treats.Each hour, the Chocolate Carnival takes place in the courtyard and involves a parade of mechanical dolls. Modeled after the Benkei steam train, the Shiroi Koibito Railway is a hit with young visitors, as is the Gulliver House play area.More

Odori Park (Odori Koen)

Located in the heart of Sapporo and dividing the city into north and south, Odori Park (Odori Koen) offers a pleasant open and green space for relaxation and recreation. The city’s central park, which stretches for 13 blocks, is the main site for popular seasonal events and festivals.More

Sapporo TV Tower

East of Odori Park, and standing 483 feet (147 meters) tall, Sapporo TV Tower is an iconic landmark of the city. Head up to the observation deck, pull out your camera, and enjoy postcard-perfect views of Sapporo, nearby mountains, the Ishikari Plains, and the Sea of Japan.More

Mt. Moiwa (Moiwa-yama)

One of Sapporo’s most famous sightseeing attractions is Mt. Moiwa (Moiwa-yama), a forested mountain located southwest of Sapporo. Popular for its city views, especially at sunset, the mountain’s summit and observation deck are accessible by way of the Mt. Moiwa Ropeway, an aerial tramway system that climbs 1,200 feet (366 meters) in two segments.From the summit, the views extend past the city of Sapporo to the Ishikari Plain, Ishikari Bay and the Yubari Mountains in the distance. In the winter, the south side of Mt. Moiwa serves as one of Sapporo’s most popular ski resorts.During the summers, hikers can take advantage of five different mountain trails winding through the forests of Mt. Moiwa.More


Head to Susukino for shopping, dining, and nightlife in Sapporo. The biggest entertainment district north of Tokyo, the lively Susukino district is packed with thousands of establishments, ranging from shops and arcades to restaurants, bars, karaoke boxes, nightclubs, and pachinko parlors, as well as adult-entertainment options.More

Hoheikyo Onsen

One of Sapporo’s most popular hot springs, Hōheikyō Onsen has volcanic thermal waters in a beautiful forest setting. During winter, visitors soak surrounded by snowy peaks, while in summer, they raft and canoe on the nearby Toyohira River, pre or post-dip.More

Lake Shikotsu (Shikotsuko)

Located in southwest Hokkaido, close to Sapporo, Lake Shikotsu (Shikotsuko) is the second-deepest lake and second-largest caldera lake in Japan. Surrounded by volcanoes on all sides, the lake is a popular recreation area for locals and visitors looking to enjoy the outdoors, wildlife, hot springs, and beautiful scenery.More

Asahiyama Memorial Park (Asahiyama Kinen Koen)

Opened in 1970 to commemorate Sapporo’s centennial celebration, Asahiyama Memorial Park (Asahiyama Kinen Koen) sits on a hilltop on the western edge of the city, offering panoramic views of both Sapporo and the Ishikari Plain beyond it. On a clear day, it’s possible to see all the way to the Sea of Japan.Surrounding the park’s lookout, located 451 feet (137.5 meters) above sea level, are a series of lawns and manicured gardens with a fountain, Chinese arbor, a couple of bridges and a children’s play area. A series of hiking trails run through the forested area at the rear of the park, and when the weather is nice, food and drink vendors set up shop, making it a popular spot for picnicking. In July, Asahiyama Memorial Park serves as the venue for the Sapporo Asahiyama Music Festival.More

Nopporo Forest Park (Nopporo Shinrin Koen)

Explore the natural beauty and history of Hokkaido at Nopporo Forest Park (Nopporo Shinrin Koen). Covering an area of over 4,942 acres (2,000 hectares), Nopporo Forest Park is a flatland forest, wildlife sanctuary, and home to the Hokkaido Centennial Memorial Tower, the Historical Museum of Hokkaido, and the Historical Village of Hokkaido.More

Mt. Tarumae (Tarumae-zan)

Get up close to an active stratovolcano with an unstable lava dome at Mt. Tarumae (Tarumae-zan), located on the shores of Lake Shikotsu inside Shikotsu-Toya National Park. The trail up Mt. Tarumae is one of the most spectacular and accessible hikes on Hokkaido and offers dramatic, otherworldly scenery and stunning panoramic views.More


Savor fresh seafood and get close to nature at Tomakomai, an industrial port city located on the south-central coast of Hokkaido. Famed for its surf clam, Tomakomai also offers close proximity to natural attractions like Lake Shikotsu, Mt. Tarumae, Tarumae Garo Gorge, Ikoro-no-Mori, and Lake Utonai Wildlife Reserve.More
Sapporo Beer Hokkaido Brewery

Sapporo Beer Hokkaido Brewery

Sapporo Beer is one of Japan’s most famous and popular beers, and travelers to the city of Sapporo can take free tours of the brewery. As well as enjoying beer samples and learning about beer production, visitors can visit the on-site Valhalla Restaurant, play a round of golf at the golf course, and stroll through the Biotope park.More
Mt. Okura Observatory

Mt. Okura Observatory

Famously the starting point of ski jump competitions during the 1972 Sapporo Winter Olympics, the Mt. Okura Observatory offers some of the best views of Sapporo and the Ishikari Plain. Today, the facility still hosts ski jump events during winter, but during the rest of the year, a ski lift ferries visitors to the Viewing Point Lounge, located 1,007 feet (307 meters) above sea level.More

Top activities in Sapporo

Sapporo Bar Hopping Food Tour

Sapporo Bar Hopping Food Tour

2 hours sushi class

2 hours sushi class

Operators have paid Viator more to have their experiences featured here

All about Sapporo

When to visit

Sapporo is a popular winter destination. Visitors come for the Sapporo Snow Festival, which is typically held in early February, and to visit nearby ski resorts. Summer is also a great time to explore the city; you can see blooming fields of lavender in nearby Furano and to enjoy local events such as the Hokkaido Shrine Festival and the Sapporo Beer Festival.

Getting around

Sapporo is easy to navigate via the city’s efficient public transportation network, which include three subway lines, a tram line, and many bus routes. Using a prepaid IC card is the easiest way to pay for your fare; you can buy cards at station vending machines. If you plan to travel a lot by subway on any particular day, consider getting a Subway 1-Day Card, which offers unlimited rides.

Traveler tips

The Indigenous people of Hokkaido are the Ainu, and Kerapirka Ainu—one of the country’s few restaurants specializing in Ainu cuisine—serves as a hub for the community. The restaurant, which is located within walking distance of Sapporo Station, also hosts live music nights. If you want to learn more about the community, visit the Ainu Culture Promotion Center (Sapporo Pirka Kotan), which is located just outside the city.


People Also Ask

What is Sapporo known for?

Sapporo is known for its wintery attractions. Since 1950 the city has hosted the annual Sapporo Snow Festival, in which international teams create hundreds of snow statues and ice sculptures. Sapporo is an Olympic city, having hosted the Winter Games in 1972, and a gateway to the ski slopes of Hokkaido.

How many days do you need in Sapporo?

Sapporo’s main attractions can be covered in a single day, but giving yourself at least two days provides a more relaxed experience and the chance to discover places by simply wandering around. You should certainly leave enough time to see more of Hokkaido.

What should I not miss in Sapporo?

Sapporo’s main attractions include the Sapporo Beer Museum, home of one of Japan’s oldest beers, and Moerenuma Park on the city’s outskirts designed by the renowned sculptor Isamu Noguchi. Visit the Susukino entertainment district at night to bathe in flashing neon and check out the fresh-off-the-boat seafood at Nijo Market.

What does Sapporo mean in Japanese?

The name Sapporo comes from the Ainu language—the Ainu are the Indigenous people of Hokkaido. The name was created from the Ainu phrase “Satsu-Poro-Petsu,” which translates roughly to "important river flowing through a plain," in reference to the Toyohira River, which supplies water to the city.

What is there to do in Sapporo in the winter?

When temperatures drop, there is much to do in Japan’s favorite winter city. The Sapporo Snow Festival brings giant snow statues and ice sculptures to parks in January. Hit the slopes at Sapporo Teine Ski Resort; go ice fishing on Barato River; and warm up in the steamy Jozankei Onsen.

Is Sapporo worth visiting?

Yes. Sapporo is worth a visit if you are traveling to Hokkaido. However, you should plan your Hokkaido trip to include just a couple of days in Sapporo and leave plenty of time to explore more of the island, which is full of spectacular landscapes.

Frequently Asked Questions