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Hokkaido Itinerary: Amazing 8-Day Trip Through Breathtaking Landscapes of Sapporo, Otaru, and Niseko

Hokkaido Itinerary: Amazing 8-Day Trip Through Breathtaking Landscapes of Sapporo, Otaru, and Niseko

Date published: 28 May 2020
Last updated: 30 June 2020

Follow us as we take you on an 8-day Hokkaido itinerary for the perfect road trip, starting from the vibrant city of Sapporo and through fantastic photo hotspots in Niseko, Shakotan, Yoichi, and Otaru.

Many associate Hokkaido with snowy winter landscapes, but verdant summer is actually one of the best seasons to visit the northernmost prefecture of Japan! The air is crisp and there's seldom a gloomy day, making it the perfect period to savor the beautiful natural sights Hokkaido has to offer and snap a memorable photo or two.

You can also absolutely use this sample Hokkaido itinerary as a reference and customize it to your personal situation for the epic Hokkaido trip you've always dreamed of taking!

Table of Contents
  1. Day 1: Sapporo to Niseko via Mount Yōtei
  2. 3 Recommended Hotels in Niseko
  3. Day 2: Open up all your senses to the beautiful world of Niseko!
  4. Day 3: Shakotan sights and world-class Hokkaido whiskey
  5. 3 Recommended Hotels in Otaru
  6. Day 4: Enjoy the lingering olden streetscapes of Otaru Town
  7. Day 5: Sceneries and activities on the outskirts of Otaru
  8. Day 6: Laid-back sightseeing at Sapporo City
  9. Day 7: But wait! There's more to be done in Sapporo yet!
  10. 3 Recommended Hotels in Sapporo
  11. Day 8: From Sapporo to New Chitose Airport
  12. Book an unforgettable experience in Hokkaido!

Day 1: Sapporo to Niseko via Mount Yōtei

Day 1: Sapporo to Niseko via Mount Yōtei

Start your Hokkaido itinerary for a hotspots road trip by hopping onto a rental car in Sapporo and driving southwards out to National Route 230 until you reach the hot spring town of Jozankei, taking in the sights along the way. There's no need to pay an entry fee here, and there are free foot baths available for travelers to rest their feet in should they desire.

After that refreshing breather, clamber back onto the car and head farther south until you cut through Nakayama Pass. Stop by the popular roadside station Bōyō-Nakayama and try out the local specialty - deep-fried sweet potatoes covered in a sweet and crispy batter.

Once you're adequately recharged, make your way down the mountain pass towards the towns of Kimobetsu or Kyōgoku, and Mount Yōtei, also known as Yezo Fuji or Hokkaido's Mount Fuji, will slowly reveal itself. This famously photogenic mountain is your first chance to snap a commemorative photo with a fabulous view!

You'll pass by Kyōgoku town's Fukidashi Park next. It's a famous spring water spot of Japan that produces water that's so clean and fresh, locals and tourists alike visit the place to draw them for drinking. Naturally, the area also makes for a beautiful picture. At the roadside station here, called Meisui Plaza, you'll also be able to treat yourself to some tasty Jingisukan, a local grilled mutton delicacy seasoned with salt. Once you're full and satisfied, the next destination is Niseko, which is directly connected to Kyōgoku town via Roads 97 and 66. Take a quick stroll around town once you arrive, then check into a hotel to rest up for the next day of activities.

  • Roadside Station Kyogoku Meisui Plaza
    道の駅名水の郷きょうごく 名水プラザ
    • Address 45-1, Kawanishi, Kyogoku Town, Abuta-gun
    • Phone Number 0136-42-2292
    • Hours: Plaza May to October 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.; November to April 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
      Restaurant May to October 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. (last order 4:50 p.m.); November to April 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (last order 4:15 p.m.)
      Closed: Roadside Station November to April - 2nd and 4th Wednesday of the month (operations are currently suspended until further notice)
      Roadside Station Kyogoku Meisui Plaza

3 Recommended Hotels in Niseko

Day 2: Open up all your senses to the beautiful world of Niseko!

Day 2: Open up all your senses to the beautiful world of Niseko!

The biggest appeal of Niseko is its view - a pristine, natural landscape that is surrounded by towering mountains. Day two is the day where you get to open up all of your senses to the fantastic experiences to be had here! Wake up at 6:30 a.m. and be the first to enjoy strolling through the clean air of Niseko in a hot air balloon!

  • OAC Outdoor Amusement Company
    OAC Outdoor Amusement Company
    • Address 485 Niseko, Niseko-town, Abuta-gun
    • Phone Number 0136-55-8128
    • Hours: Open early morning and late evening from June to September, except on days when there are no reservations up to the day before
      (Hot air balloon gathering spot) 485 Niseko, Abuta-gun, Niseko Annupuri Kokusai Ski Area, next to Restaurant New Sanko

    Vacancy search, reservation

    • Please enquire directly about rates.

    Check with our partner site as the latest rates, rate details, and guest room requirements may vary.

And since you're at Niseko, don't miss rafting down the rapids in a rubber boat, one of Niseko's defining experiences in summer!

  • Hokkaido Lion Adventure
    北海道ライオンアドベンチャー
    • Address 60-4 Chuo-dori, Niseko-cho, Abuta-gun
    • Phone Number 0136-43-2882

After grabbing lunch at a restaurant in Niseko, it's time to check out #NisekoSiesta, a popular tourist hotspot that only recently opened in 2017. Six round-shaped beds are scheduled to appear here at the midpoint of Niseko Mountain Resort Grand Hirafu from July 11 to September 22, 2020, and they are ideally suited for taking a luxurious siesta while being surrounded by nature's sights and sounds. This quick nap will relieve any stress accumulated from the trip so far and refresh you for the next stop.

  • #NisekoSiesta
    #ニセコシエスタ
    • Address 204 Yamada, Kucchan-town, Abuta-gun Niseko Mt. Resort Grand HIRAFU
    • Hours: 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. (Sunday, August 9 to Sunday, August 16, 2020 8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.)

The next place to visit is the Niseko View Plaza Rest Area, where souvenirs and fresh local produce such as vegetables and sausages are on sale. You can also set up a casual barbeque party if you head over to nearby campsites that rent out suitable equipment, such as Niseko Riverside Hill Campground. Note, however, that the rest area doesn't sell meat products, so you'll have to get them from the nearby supermarket instead.

  • Road Station Niseko View Plaza
    道の駅ニセコビュープラザ
    • Address 77-10 Motomachi, Niseko-town, Abuta-gun
    • Phone Number 0136-43-2051
    • Hours: Information Plaza 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
      Direct Produce Corner: 8:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. (Late April to October); 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (November to Late April)
      Takeout Corner: 9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. (Late April to October); 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. (November to Late April)

Day 3: Shakotan sights and world-class Hokkaido whiskey

Day 3: Shakotan sights and world-class Hokkaido whiskey

After mountainous Niseko, it's time to set off for a different sight - the vast, blue sea! Get up early and drive towards Shakotan Peninsula along the coastal road until you reach Cape Kamui, one of Hokkaido's most recognizable natural landscapes. Once there, you can hike along a recreation trail until the tip of the cape.

Sea urchin is the local delicacy in Shakotan town, and summer just so happens to be Hokkaido urchin season! This seafood delicacy is so popular, some of the more popular shops sell out their stock very quickly. If you're planning to snack on some sea urchin for lunch, therefore, make it an early lunch to avoid disappointment!

  • Cape Kamui
    神威岬
    • Address Kozakicho, Shakotan-town, Shakotan-gun

After that, head to Yoichi town by going around the Shakotan Peninsula. Return your rental car here and switch to a taxi for the next leg of your journey. Why? Because you're going to a famous Japanese whiskey distillery next, and surely you'll want to taste-test as many different types of whiskey as you can!

After all, this particular distillery belongs to Nikka Whisky Yoichi Distillery, a company that has received top awards from whiskey shows all around the world. After you've compared the various types of whiskey offered to you during the tour, don't forget to snag a souvenir or two to commemorate the visit.

You're probably feeling a little tipsy by now, so it may be a good idea to walk off the intoxication by taking in the sights around Yoichi Station on the JR Lines. Once you're ready, take the train to Otaru Station on the JR Hakodate Main Line and check into a hotel at Otaru Town.

  • Nikka Whisky Yoichi Distillery
    ニッカウヰスキー余市蒸留所
    • Address 7-6, Kurokawa-cho, Yoichi-town, Yoichi-gun
    • Phone Number 0135-23-3131
    • Hours: 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
      Closed: Not fixed (except the period between December 25 to January 7)

3 Recommended Hotels in Otaru

  • Ginrinsou
    • Address 1-1, Sakura, Otaru-shi, Hokkaido, 047-0156
      View Map
    • Nearest Station Otaruchikko Station (Hakodate Main Line)
      20 minutes on foot
    • Phone Number 0134-54-7010

    Vacancy search, reservation

    • Please enquire directly about rates.

    Check with our partner site as the latest rates, rate details, and guest room requirements may vary.

Day 4: Enjoy the lingering olden streetscapes of Otaru Town

Day 4: Enjoy the lingering olden streetscapes of Otaru Town

Otaru is a unique town that not only preserves historic buildings from the Meiji and Taisho eras (the period from 1868 to 1926) but makes full use of them even now. This romantic mix of olden and modern is what makes the place a trendy tourist hotspot.

When Hokkaido was being developed, Otaru Canal served as an essential means of goods transport, and this canal has been preserved to this day. The old-style lamps and warehouse cluster along the canal and come together with the water channel to create a unique atmosphere.

Plenty of shops can be found along the Otaru Canal. Drop by Kitaichi Glass Otaru No. 3 to admire Otaru's traditional glasswork and visit the cafe that is illuminated by 167 glass lamps for a meal you won't soon forget!

The Otaru Music Box Museum, constructed in 1912, is full of nostalgic music box melodies.

The now-defunct railroad remnants of the former Temiya line still runs through the town and is a popular photo spot as well.

After basking in Otaru's history and culture, have some lunch at Otaru's sushi street. There are also rickshaws along Otaru Canal offering paid rides across town for anyone looking for an exceptional experience.

When the sun starts sinking into the horizon, that's when Otaru's real charm starts to shine. Also, this is the time when cruise ships that tour the length of the Otaru Canal and Otaru Port lower their gangplanks for visitors. The 40-minute boat ride is one of the best ways to experience Otaru at night.

Day 5: Sceneries and activities on the outskirts of Otaru

Day 5: Sceneries and activities on the outskirts of Otaru

The second day of your Otaru sightseeing will take you slightly farther away from the town center to Shukutsu, where popular tourist attraction Otaru Aquarium - a place that everyone in the family can enjoy - is located. You definitely don't want to miss the exciting dolphin, and sea lion shows here!

Near the aquarium is the Otaru Shukutsu Panorama Observation Deck, where you can admire the shoreline of Japan Sea and its vicinity from a vantage point.

If history and culture is more your thing, the Otaru Nishin Goten can also be found nearby! This tangible cultural asset of Hokkaido is a vestige of the great prosperity Otaru used to enjoy due to herring fishing.

Grab some lunch back in town and hop onto a Ryugu Cruise ship that departs from Otaru Port. The ship will coast along the shoreline of Otaru and end up at the Blue Cave, an intriguing natural landscape where the water surface is in a brilliant shade of blue in contrast to the usual sea color.

  • Ryugu Cruise
    龍宮クルーズ
    • Address 4-5 Minatomachi, Otaru-city
    • Phone Number 0134-32-3911
    • Hours: 9:00 a.m. – 6:20 p.m.
      Closed: Open daily from late-May to October

Day 6: Laid-back sightseeing at Sapporo City

Day 6: Laid-back sightseeing at Sapporo City

On day six, catch a train from Otaru Station on the JR Hakodate Main Line that will take you back to Sapporo Station, where there are plenty of great photo spots located just a stone's throw away. For starters, head to the Sapporo Clock Tower, one of the city's most recognizable landmark buildings.

Formerly used as a theater for the Sapporo Agricultural College, the building has many important historical relics on display as well, so we would highly recommend taking a good look around inside after snapping some lovely shots of its external architecture.

A short distance from Sapporo Clock Tower is the large Odori Park that stretches through Sapporo's midsection from east to west. Right at the park's western edge is the impressive Sapporo TV Tower.

This large tv tower isn't all about broadcasting either - there are shops and restaurants to be explored inside as well. Don't forget to check out the observatory deck on the higher floor with its panoramic view of Odori Park.

When night falls, head downtown to the glitzy Susukino area for a different sort of sightseeing! The neon signboard of Mr. Nikka, the mascot character of Nikka Whisky, watches over this gorgeous street as its symbolic representation.

There's no lack of things to see and do here, and you can find all the food Hokkaido is famous for here as well, from crabs to seafood and Jingisukan meals, all served up to you in quaint Japanese-style bars called izakaya or trendy-looking restaurants and bars. Go on and restaurant-hop all you like as you take your time to enjoy the sights and sounds this place has to offer!

Day 7: But wait! There's more to be done in Sapporo yet!

Day 7: But wait! There's more to be done in Sapporo yet!

On the last day of the trip, travel a little farther out from Sapporo's town center to some popular spots on the outskirts of the city. Your first destination is Maruyama Zoo, which can be reached by taking the subway out, then transferring to a bus. Get ready to be greeted by adorable animals living on the zoo's vast premises. It's almost as if you've stepped out of the city into somewhere else altogether! The zoo has taken great care to ensure that animals are exhibited in an accurate portrayal of their ecology, so there is much to learn and love here.

Next, take the subway again to Shiroi Koibito Park, a snack-based theme park built by Ishiya Co. Ltd., well-known as the manufacturer of the popular Sapporo souvenir snack, "Shiroi Koibito". The park is also connected to a sweets factory, exhibition hall, garden, and assorted shops.

End your fantastic trip with a fantastic night view of Sapporo from Mount Moiwa. To get there, take a subway train, then transfer to a steelcar. At Mount Moiwa's ropeway platform, hop onto the Morris Car, a ropeway cable car that will take you to the mountaintop. The glittering lights from the city beneath is especially romantic and must be personally experienced to truly savor. Finally, treat yourself to a hearty dinner at the observatory restaurant there.

  • Mt. Moiwa
    • Address Moiwayama, Minami-ku, Sapporo-shi, Hokkaido, 005-0041
      View Map
    • Nearest Station Ropeway iriguchi Station (Sapporo Streetcar Yamahana Line)
    • Phone Number 011-561-8177

3 Recommended Hotels in Sapporo

  • Sapporo Prince Hotel
    • Address Minami two Jo Nishi 11, Chuo-ku, Sapporo, Hokkaido, 060-8615
      View Map
    • Nearest Station Nishi juitchome Station (Tozai Line)
      3 minutes on foot
    • Phone Number 011-241-1111

    Vacancy search, reservation

    Check with our partner site as the latest rates, rate details, and guest room requirements may vary.

Day 8: From Sapporo to New Chitose Airport

Finally, it's day eight. Pack up your memories and memorabilia and take the airport express from Sapporo Station on the JR Lines to New Chitose Airport Station. We hope you've had a great eight days and seven nights in lovely Hokkaido, whose beautiful sights are not limited to the ones we've introduced in this article! Go ahead and use our sample itinerary as it is, change things around a little, or completely revamp the schedule to fit your circumstances. Whatever you choose to do, we're confident your trip to Hokkaido will become a special trip that you'll cherish the memories of for many years to come!

English translation by: Huimin Pan

Book an unforgettable experience in Hokkaido!

We also recommend these experiences to make your trip all the more memorable!

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.

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