Are you looking for tips on what to do for your next holiday in Japan? Do you want to know what the best things to do in Hokkaido or Sapporo are? Well, you’re in luck because today, we’re breaking down different Hokkaido attractions that suit every interest, budget, and skill. Without further ado, let’s see what the best things to do in Hokkaido are.‎

How you spend time on your Hokkaido holiday is completely up to you, but if you’re looking for expert tips on making the most out of your stay – keep reading.

#1 Skiing and Snowboarding

As the northernmost Japanese island, Hokkaido has become the ultimate ski destination in recent years. Known as the powder capital of Japan, Hokkaido boasts an incredible variety of ski resorts, slopes, terrains, and activities.

Owing to its unique geographic location, Hokkaido is located in the path of consistent weather systems. They bring cold air across the Sea of Japan from Siberia, resulting in dumps of powdery snow during winter. In fact, some ski areas even see 14–20 metres of snowfall annually.

What’s more, Hokkaido is the perfect place for your next Japan ski holiday as there are ski slopes for beginners, intermediates, and experts. Also, you can find family-friendly ski resorts, as well as all-inclusive and low-cost resorts.

#2 Visiting Furano

If you’re looking for things to do in Hokkaido in the spring, which is still ideal for skiing, you can also visit Furano and the meadows of Shikisai-no-oka. These meadows are a blanketed fairy tale of beautiful flowers and gorgeous and vibrant scenery.

If you’re going to stay in Furano for a few days, you can also take advantage of the many activities offered there. These include water adventures like white-water rafting or paddling. You can also book a hot air balloon ride and ascend up to 40 metres in the air. From the hot air balloon, you can take in the majestic Mount Tokachi and get unobstructed views of lush fields.

#3 Hiking the Hokkaido Nature Trail

If you love hiking, spending time outdoors, and connecting with nature, hiking the Nature Trail will be one of the best things to do in Hokkaido. Spanning a whopping 4,585 kilometres, the Nature Trail is one of the longest trails ever approved and would take around 230 days to complete in its entirety.

Summer and autumn are considered the best times to hike in Hokkaido as there’s a chance for snow until July. The mild climate of Hokkaido makes it perfect for trekking in the summer and the trail weaves past lakes, below volcanoes, alongside glaciers and forests.

#4 Visiting the Sapporo Snow Festival

If you’re looking for interesting things to see in Sapporo, almost nothing beats the Sapporo Snow Festival. Taking place from February 4–11, the Sapporo Snow Festival features a few different sites and many wonderful attractions.

As one of Japan’s most popular winter events, the Festival attracts thousands of visitors each year and has a long history dating back to 1950. Nowadays, it features spectacular snow shows and ice sculptures, all of which are staged on three sites: Odori, Susukino, and Tsu Dome Sites.

If you plan on attending the Sapporo Snow Festival, keep in mind that the Odori and Susukino Sites are located in central Sapporo. However, Tsu Dome is located outside the city centre, a roughly 15-minute walk from Sakaemachi Station.

#5 Exploring Otaru

Otaru, a charming port city scattered with delightful sushi bars, sake distilleries, and other wonderful attractions, is located 30 minutes by train from Sapporo. Many tourists start their visit with the Otaru Canal, which is accented with cobblestone pathways, brick warehouses, and vintage street lamps.

If you’re looking for things to do in Hokkaido in winter, the Otaru Snow Light Path Festival should be on your list. For Instagram-worthy pictures, you can head over to Sakaimachi Street or Tengu-yama. Sakaimachi Street is the best spot for food, shopping, and photo ops in Otaru, while Tengu-yama offers breathtaking views of the city.

#6 Visiting the Shiretoko National Park

The Shiretoko National Park is one of Japan’s most pristine parks and home to many land and marine mammal species. It’s also home to 285 species of birds, brown bears, fish owls, and orcas. What’s more, during spring and summer, you can see dolphins, sea birds, and 13 different whale species in the Sea of Okhotsk.

Tucked away on the northeast peninsula, the Shiretoko National Park is the perfect place for all wildlife and hiking lovers. In the indigenous Ainu language, Shiretoko means “the end of the world” and it’s a true wilderness of forests, wild coastlines, and waterfalls.

#7 Visiting Unkai Terrace at Dawn

If you’ve ever wanted to stand above the clouds, the Unkai Terrace is a must-see place. A deck that projects into the sky, the Unkai Terrace is part of a three-story building, overlooking the Hidaka Mountain range.

To get to Unkai Terrace, you can take the gondola up at dawn and take in the waterfall-like sea of clouds. The Terrace is perched 1,088 metres above sea level and features other amenities, like the Cloud bar, pool, and bed.

#8 Seeing the Blue Pond in Biei

The man-made basin in Biei town is called the Blue Pond, named after its incredible shades of blue. The Blue Pond owes its unique colour to the hot spring onsen town of Shirogane and the natural minerals dissolved in the water.

Fun Fact: The Blue Pond gained global recognition because it was used as the iPhone and Mac default wallpaper a few years back.

If you’re at the Blue Pond, you can also consider visiting the Shirahige Waterfall. Located only 3 kilometres away, the Shirahige Waterfall is a natural scenic spot, situated 600 metres above sea level.

#9 Exploring Akan-Mashu National Park

Exploring Akan-Mashu National Park is one of the best things to do in Hokkaido. That’s because it can include walking through primeval forests, canoeing in a river or lake, wildlife spotting, or even volcano hiking. Home to settlements of the Ainu, the indigenous Japanese people, the Akan-Mashu offers a world of natural wonders and cultural discovery.

Once you’re there, you can go fishing, cruising, enjoy a cultural performance, or soak in a hot spring – the options are almost endless. If you love hiking, you can stroll along a lake and see the bubbling geothermal mud pools. Some of the animals you might catch a glimpse of at the Akan-Mashu Park include Japanese deer, red foxes, and more.

#10 Visiting the Lavender Fields

If you’re near Furano and love the intoxicating smell of lavender, you should put Farm Tomita on your to-do list. At the Farm, you can see a sea of lavender fields, as well as a variety of other colourful flowers.

To get the most out of your experience, locals recommend visiting the lavender fields in July. That’s when they’re at their peak and that’s when you can try out a delicious lavender soft-serve ice cream.

#11 Relaxing in Hot Springs

If you’re looking for things to do in Hokkaido Japan, you can’t miss out on taking a dip in one of the many hot springs or onsen there. Like the rest of the country, Hokkaido has many geothermal sites to discover, including more than a hundred hot springs, 31 volcanoes, and countless geysers.

As there are many different hot spring towns, finding the best one is going to be tough. That said, Noboribetsu is considered one of the best spots on the entire island. However, if you’re closer to Sapporo, you can try out Jozankei.

#12 Visiting Hakodate

Whether you’re looking for things to do in Hokkaido in summer or winter, you should put Hakodate on your travel itinerary. Hakodate is the southernmost city on the island and a popular tourist destination thanks to its unique culture and stunning cityscape.

One of the perks of visiting Hakodate is being able to take in the entire city from Mt Hakodate, which offers one of the most beautiful night views in Japan. Also, the city is now accessible by Shinkansen or bullet trains and aeroplanes.

#13 Seeing Lake Mashu

Lake Mashu is considered to be one of the cleanest caldera lakes in the entire world and is located in the Akan National Park. Tourists and locals all flock to Lake Mashu thanks to its beautiful crystalline water.

To see Laku Mashu in all of its glory, you can go to one of two observation decks. When you’re up there, not only will you be able to see the lake but also the hiking trail that leads to the summit of Mt Mashudake. Also, if you want to explore more, you’ll be happy to know that Kaminoko Pond and Lake Kussharo are close by.

#14 Savouring Delicious Japanese Food

It’s no news that Japanese food has conquered the world over thanks to its bold flavours and delicious dishes. However, you might be surprised to find out that Hokkaido is the gourmet capital of Japan.

Both tourists and locals agree that the seafood in Hokkaido is some of the best Japanese food you’ll ever come across. Luckily, you can find fresh seafood dishes in markets in cities across the island. Also, a bit surprisingly, Hokkaido consumes more lamb than other prefectures in Japan.

If you’ve never had Japanese food before or don’t know where to start, we recommend ramen, crabs, sushi, and Jingisukan to start.

#15 Wandering Through Steaming Hell Valley

If you’re close to Noboribetsu looking for hot springs, take advantage of the beautiful geothermal sites close by and go explore Hell Valley. Jigokudani or Hell Valley is a valley just above Noboribetsu Onsen and the main source of the city’s hot spring waters.

If you go early in the morning, you can witness the incredible scenery and walk through the stunning walking trails. Following those trails for 20–30 minutes will lead you to Oyunuma, a sulphurous pond with a surface temperature of 50°C.

#16 Asahiyama Zoo

An incredibly popular zoological garden just outside of Asahikawa City in the middle of Hokkaido, Asahiyama Zoo should be at the top of your list of things to do in Hokkaido. The Zoo houses more than 800 animals, representing around 150 species and features more than 25 exhibits.

One of the reasons Asahiyama Zoo is so popular among tourists and locals is due to its enclosures, which allow visitors to see animals from various angles. Some of the animals you can see in the Asahiyama Zoo include deer, cranes, eagles, wolves, polar bears, penguins, seals, and others.

#17 Mt. Moiwa

If you want to overlook the beautiful city of Sapporo, check out the views from Mt. Moiwa. The observatory is one of the best spots for stunning views overlooking the enchanting city lights of Sapporo and the Ishikari Plain.

For an even better look, you can take the Mt. Moiwa Ropeway, which climbs from the base of the mountain three-quarters up the mountain to a transfer station. From there, the mini cablecar travels the rest of the way to the observation deck, which also features a restaurant where you can sample some delicious Japanese food.

#18 Nikka Whisky Yoichi Distillery

If you’re a whisky fan, you should check out the Nikka Whisky Yoichi Distillery, located around 50 kilometres west of Sapporo. The distillery has been in operation since 1934 and was opened by the first Japanese man who mastered whisky making in Scotland.

Their unique geographic position and traditional coal-fired distillation process all give their whisky a unique flavour. Keep in mind that if you want to put the Yoichi Distillery on your list, you have to reserve a tour in advance, but the tour is free. What’s more, each visitor of legal drinking age, which is 20 in Japan, will be able to taste the whisky made there or have more samples at their restaurant.

#19 Shiroi Koibito Park

Whether you’re travelling with your family or just have a sweet tooth – the Shiroi Koibito Park is an attraction like no other. Located in Sapporo, the sweets theme park is owned and operated by a confectionary manufacturer that makes the famous Shiroi Koibito sweets.

As one of the sweetest things to do in Hokkaido, the Shiroi Koibito Park features a Chocotopia House and Factory where you can learn about chocolate and the history of the sweets. You can also take part in a sweets workshop, a cookie course, or a short chocolate-making course. Bonus tip: If you’re visiting the park on your birthday, you will get a free admission and a cup of chocolate drink.

#20 Tanukikoji Shopping Street

If you’re looking to do some shopping in Hokkaido, you’ll find everything you need at the Tanukikoji Shopping Street. Stretching almost one kilometre, Tanukikoji features around 200 shops that run east to west in downtown Sapporo.

Dating back to 1869, Tanukikoji Street is one of the most popular areas for shoppers as it stretches eight entire blocks. Not only can you find some adorable Hokkaido souvenirs here, but also try out delicious Japanese food at one of the dozen restaurants and bars there.

In addition to shopping, there’s much to do in Tanukokoji. Navigating your way through the streets, you’ll also find many arcades, record shops, and even karaoke bars.

Where to Stay on Your Hokkaido Holiday

With so many things to do in Hokkaido, you’re sure to have a busy travel schedule once you’re there. The last thing you should be worrying about is how good your accommodations are going to be or where you can relax after a long day.

At Club Med, we believe that the one thing that can take your Hokkaido holiday from great to incredible is finding the best accommodations on the entire island. Luckily, we can help with that!

Our all-inclusive Japan skiing resorts offer unparalleled service, plenty of amenities, and some of the best Japanese food you’ll ever come across. Our beautiful resorts are perfect for those who want a fun winter holiday or want to explore Hokkaido all year round.

Perfect for friends, families, or couples, book your Hokkaido holiday with Club Med today!

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