HOME Hokkaido Hokkaido Sapporo / Chitose 31 Fun Things to Do in Sapporo Hokkaido - Places to Go, Local Food & Sightseeing Tips
31 Fun Things to Do in Sapporo Hokkaido - Places to Go, Local Food & Sightseeing Tips

31 Fun Things to Do in Sapporo Hokkaido - Places to Go, Local Food & Sightseeing Tips

Last updated: 15 September 2023

Hokkaido’s capital city, Sapporo, has a plethora of picturesque spots, some of Japan’s finest foods, and various festivals.

While Sapporo is known for its snow from December to April, its other seasons are just as enjoyable. During May, you can enjoy the cherry blossoms, while from June to September, you can enjoy the cool summer. Then comes the short Autumn season in October and November. No matter the season, there is always something entertaining to do, see and eat!

For people who are visiting Sapporo for the first, these are some of the places you want to make sure you visit! We’ll introduce to you what to eat in Sapporo and what to do, as well as the best time to come to the northern capital.

(Main image: PIXTA)

Table of Contents
  1. Tourist Spots in Sapporo
  2. Fun Activities and Entertainment in Sapporo
  3. Dining in Sapporo
  4. Shopping in Sapporo
  5. Sapporo Events and Festivals

Tourist Spots in Sapporo

1. Odori Park

Odori Park (Photo: PIXTA)
Odori Park (Photo: PIXTA)

A symbol of Sapporo's urban beauty, Odori Park stretches for 1.5 kilometers through the heart of the city. If you could picture an oasis in the middle of a city, Odori Park is the perfect example. Each season, the park changes color, from the whites and pinks during cherry blossom season, to the luscious greens in summer and the stunning autumn foliage. Throughout the year, there are also various festivals held from beer gardens to the magical Sapporo Snow Festival when hundreds of impressive snow sculptures and ice statues are on display.

2. Sapporo TV Tower

Inside Tip: From the Sapporo TV Tower, you can enjoy outstanding views of Odori Park and even descend on the outdoor stairway for an extra-special view. (Photo: PIXTA)
Inside Tip: From the Sapporo TV Tower, you can enjoy outstanding views of Odori Park and even descend on the outdoor stairway for an extra-special view. (Photo: PIXTA)

Located at the eastern end of Odori Park, Sapporo TV Tower is the beacon of the city. You can take the elevator to the observation deck and enjoy a panoramic view of the city, with the mountains in the background. During the evening, you can enjoy a magical view of the illuminated city.

3. Maruyama Park and Zoo

(Photo: PIXTA)
(Photo: PIXTA)

Located on the western side of Sapporo, Maruyama Park is popular with locals as a place to relax with the family or take a leisurely walk. It is a popular spot for cherry blossom viewing in spring, attracting locals and tourists alike to admire the stunning cherry trees in full bloom. You’ll find hundreds of people taking part in hanami (cherry blossom viewing) with friends, family, and co-workers. The park also houses Maruyama Zoo, where you can encounter various animal species and enjoy a day with the family.

4. Hokkaido Jingu (Hokkaido Shrine)

Right next to Maruyama Park is Hokkaido Shrine. Surrounded by tall cedar trees, the shrine’s grounds offer a tranquil retreat to the bustling city center. You can learn about Shinto customs, offer prayers, and enjoy the surroundings in general. It also has two small huts offering various sweets and snacks, as well as my favorite, fried mochi with red bean paste! Hokkaido Jingu is one of the most popular spots to enjoy the cherry blossoms in the city. Locals also visit during New Year's to make their prayers and wishes for the upcoming year.

5. Hill of the Buddha

(Photo: PIXTA)
(Photo: PIXTA)

Located in southern Sapporo, in Makomanai Takino Cemetery, the Hill of the Buddha is a remarkable sight to behold. It features a colossal statue of the Buddha emerging from the hillside, surrounded by peaceful gardens and scenic landscapes, providing visitors with a sense of tranquility and spirituality. During July, the surrounding grounds are covered in a carpet of purple lavender, making it one of the most spectacular sights in Sapporo.

  • Makomanai Takino Cemetery
    真駒内滝野霊園
    • Address 2 Takino, Minami Ward, Sapporo, Hokkaido 005-0862

6. Takino Suzuran Hillside National Park

With its seasonal flowers, Takino Suzuran Hillside National Park is gorgeous throughout the year (Photo: PIXTA)
With its seasonal flowers, Takino Suzuran Hillside National Park is gorgeous throughout the year (Photo: PIXTA)

Just next to the Hill of the Buddha is Yakino Suzuran Hillside National Park, the only national park in Sapporo. Here, you can enjoy various activities such as hiking, and picnicking and enjoy the seasonal flowers and colors. There are various activities for children, such as slides, climbable sculptures, and trampolines. The park is especially popular during the autumn season when the trees change into vibrant hues of red, gold, and oranges.

7. Sapporo Beer Museum

Sapporo Beer Museum (Photo: PIXTA)
Sapporo Beer Museum (Photo: PIXTA)

As the birthplace of Sapporo beer, the Sapporo Beer Museum provides a fascinating insight into the history of beer in Japan. You can learn about the beer-making process, enjoy beer tastings, and even try some unique flavors available only at the museum. Around the museum’s grounds, you can also enjoy jingisukan (mutton BBQ) and various cafes for a quick bite to eat.

8. Shiroi Koibito Park

Outside Shiroi Koibito Park (Photo: PIXTA)
Outside Shiroi Koibito Park (Photo: PIXTA)

Enter a whimsical world of sweets at Shiroi Koibito Park, inspired by the famous Shiroi Koibito cookies - a layer of white chocolate sandwiched between two butter pieces of cookie. They are one of Sapporo’s most famous souvenirs, which you must pick up during your time in the city. The park offers a delightful experience, from cookie-making workshops to charming displays and a variety of sweet treats to sample. During winter, you can enjoy some magical Christmas illuminations in the park’s courtyard.

9. Okurayama Ski Jump and Olympic Museum

(Photo: PIXTA)
(Photo: PIXTA)

Sapporo has a rich winter sports heritage, and a visit to the Okurayama Ski Jump and Olympic Museum is a must for sports enthusiasts. During winter, you may have the chance to see some ski jumpers practicing. While in the off-season, you can ride the ski lift to the top and are greeted with a stunning view looking right down the spine of Odori Park and the city. In summer, there is also an event where teams attempt to fun up the ski jump, which is great for all your sports enthusiasts out there.

Next to the ski jump, the museum offers an insightful journey through Sapporo's Olympic history and showcases memorabilia from the 1972 Winter Olympics. There are also various games and simulations to try out for yourself!

10. Asahigaoka Park

Located on the west side of Sapporo, Ashaigaoka Park is much quieter than its park counterparts Maruyama and Odori. While it is accessible by bus, it can be a little difficult to get to. However, you are rewarded with a green oasis, where you can enjoy a stroll, picnic with friends and family, or just relax and enjoy the scenery looking over Sapporo City. During spring, the park is lined with cherry blossoms, making it a quieter spot to enjoy the ephemeral flowers. In Autumn, you can enjoy the reds, golds, and oranges that sweep across the park as well as the surrounding mountains, making it a perfect spot for nature enthusiasts and photographers.

  • Asahigaoka Park
    旭ヶ丘公園
    • Address 1 Chome-11 Asahigaoka, Chuo Ward, Sapporo, Hokkaido 064-0941
    • Nearest Station 15 minutes by JR Hokkaido Bus Asahiyama Koen Line #13 from Maruyama Koen Station on the Tozai Subway Line, get off at Asahiyama Koen-mae, and walk for 4 minutes
    • ・Entrance Fee: None
      ・Hours: None
      ・Closed: None

11. Moerenuma Park

Moerenuma Park is a stunning living sculpture, and a perfect place for picnics (Photo: PIXTA)
Moerenuma Park is a stunning living sculpture, and a perfect place for picnics (Photo: PIXTA)

Another park on our list but Moerenuma is vastly different from other parks in Sapporo. The 188.8-hectare park has everything from artistic sculptures to ponds with crystal clear waters, and walking trails to enjoy a stroll or a ride on one of the rental bikes. During cherry blossom season, the park is popular with locals and during winter, you can enjoy various winter sports and sledding.

12. Sapporo Hitsujigaoka Observation Hill

Sapporo Hitsujigaoka Observation Hill, with Sapporo Dome in the background (Photo: PIXTA)
Sapporo Hitsujigaoka Observation Hill, with Sapporo Dome in the background (Photo: PIXTA)

The Sapporo Hitsujigaoka Observation Hill is famous for its iconic bronze statue of Dr. William S. Clark, an American educator who played a significant role in the development of Hokkaido University. From the observatory, you can enjoy panoramic views of the city and Ishikari plains. The surrounding fields are also home to hundreds of sheep! Inside the Hitsujigaoka Rest House, you can enjoy seasonal ice creams and even the local dish, jingisukan (mutton BBQ).

13. Former Hokkaido Government Office

Former Hokkaido Government Office (Photo: PIXTA)
Former Hokkaido Government Office (Photo: PIXTA)

On the western side of Odori Park is the Former Hokkaido Government Office, a beautiful red brick building with European-style architecture. It served as the government office during the Meiji and Taisho eras and now operates as a museum. Inside, you can enjoy various exhibits and learn about Hokkaido’s fascinating history. Just in front of the office is the start of Odori Park, where you can enjoy beautiful seasonal flowers and a stone and water sculpture.

14. Sapporo Clock Tower

14. Sapporo Clock Tower

The Sapporo Clock Tower is a beautiful historical building surrounded by modern buildings in the city. You can say it symbolizes the city and is called the “Clock Tower” by locals and tourists. Built in 1878, it was first used as a lecture room, and the second floor was a drill hall for military training and physical education. Now, the clock tower serves as a museum about its history and Sapporo. On the second floor are displays about the clock and a spacious ceremony hall.

Fun Activities and Entertainment in Sapporo

15. Nightlife in Susukino

Nighttime in Susukino (Photo: PIXTA)
Nighttime in Susukino (Photo: PIXTA)

Susukino is Sapporo's lively entertainment district, known for its vibrant nightlife. It's the perfect place to experience the bustling energy of the city after dark. You can find fine-dining restaurants and cheap izakayas if you are on a budget. Aside from food and drinks, you can enjoy a variety of bars, karaoke, and clubs, that’ll make your night out in Sapporo a memorable one.

16. Winter Sports

Sapporo is a great place to visit in winter for skiers and snowboarders (Photo: PIXTA)
Sapporo is a great place to visit in winter for skiers and snowboarders (Photo: PIXTA)

Sapporo's winter sports scene is a major draw for visitors. With abundant powder snow, the city becomes a playground for winter enthusiasts. Skiing and snowboarding are popular activities, and there are several ski resorts near the city, such as Sapporo Teine, Mount Moiwa Ski Resort, and Bankei Ski Resort. Whether you're a seasoned skier or a beginner, each place has suitable slopes for all levels. Not to mention that snow falls on the mountains as early as November, all the way to April!

17. Summer Activities

Boating at Nakajima Park in Sapporo (Photo: PIXTA)
Boating at Nakajima Park in Sapporo (Photo: PIXTA)

Many people visit Sapporo during the winter but summer is also a fantastic time to visit. First of all, it’s not as hot as Honshu and other regions of Japan. Secondly, Sapporo offers various sports and outdoor activities. You can play golf, go hiking or cycling in the surrounding mountains, or enjoy water sports at nearby lakes and rivers. Additionally, the city's parks provide great spots for picnics, jogging, and other outdoor pursuits. If you love camping, there are various spots around the city for a day and overnight camping.

18. Night Viewing

18. Night Viewing

Sapporo's night scenery is enchanting, and several places offer breathtaking night views of the city. You can head to the observation decks of skyscrapers like Sapporo TV Tower or JR Tower Observatory T38 for panoramic vistas. Alternatively, you can ride the cable car up Mount Moiwa Ropeway to see the sparkling lights from the mountains.

Dining in Sapporo

19. Sushi

Sapporo is famous for its sushi (Photo: PIXTA)
Sapporo is famous for its sushi (Photo: PIXTA)

Sapporo is renowned for its fresh and delicious seafood, making it a great place to indulge in sushi. Hokkaido is surrounded by various plankton-rich currents in the Sea of Japan and the Pacific Ocean, producing some of the sweetest and most delicious seafood in Japan. You can find various high-end sushi restaurants as well as cheaper chains. Two local chains are Hanamaru, which originated in the eastern city of Nemuro and another is Toriton. Both are popular with locals and often have queues to get in. Here you can enjoy classics such as salmon and tuna, as well as seasonal catches like yellowtail and sea urchin, all for a reasonable price.

20. Kaisendon

Kaisendon (seafood rice bowls) (Photo: PIXTA)
Kaisendon (seafood rice bowls) (Photo: PIXTA)

Kaisendon, or seafood rice bowls, are another must-try local specialty. Enjoy a bowl filled with an assortment of freshly caught seafood atop a bed of steaming rice, offering a delightful explosion of flavors. There are two markets available, Nijo Market and Sapporo Central Wholesale Market. While Nijo Market is more centrally located and the more popular market, the Sapporo Central Wholesale Market has just as good a selection of fresh seafood with fewer crowds. You can also pick up some local Hokkaido souvenirs along the way!

21. Soup Curry

Soup Curry (Photo: PIXTA)
Soup Curry (Photo: PIXTA)

Soup curry is a unique Sapporo creation that combines traditional Japanese curry with a thin soup-like broth. There are countless soup curry restaurants around the city, with popular shops being Suage and Garaku. You can choose the type of curry as well as a selection of toppings from vegetables to tender chicken legs or pork belly. It's a heartwarming and flavorful dish perfect for colder months.

22. Miso Ramen

Miso Ramen (Photo: PIXTA)
Miso Ramen (Photo: PIXTA)

Sapporo is famous for its miso-based ramen which can be found throughout the city. The rich and creamy miso broth is filled with thick curly noodles and often topped with char siu pork, bean sprouts, butter, and sweet corn. Sapporo Ramen Alley is one of the best places to experience ramen with 17 different ramen shops to choose from. One of the most popular stand-alone shops is Ramen Shingen, which often has queues stretching around the block. While it is undoubtedly delish, you can also find just as delicious ramen shops wandering around the crooks and crannies of Susukino and around the city.

23. Jingisukan

Jingisukan (Photo: PIXTA)
Jingisukan (Photo: PIXTA)

Jingisukan is another local specialty that is also known as mutton BBQ. On a dome-shaped grill, vegetables are cooked at the base and the mutton at the top. As it cooks, the juices of the mutton seep into the vegetables, making them even more delicious. It comes with a special dipping sauce and rice, very similar to yakiniku. There are many all-you-can-eat jingisukan spots, such as next to the Sapporo Beer Museum we mentioned earlier. One popular chain is Daruma, which mixes quality with price and convenience!

Shopping in Sapporo

24. Sapporo Station

Sapporo Station area (Photo: PIXTA)
Sapporo Station area (Photo: PIXTA)

Sapporo Station is a shopping hub with various department stores and specialty shops. You can find everything from books, clothes, and souvenirs, making it the perfect spot to shop or pick up something before you leave Sapporo. Connected to Sapporo Station is Esta, another shopping department with electronics, more fashion, and a game center. However, from September 1st, 2023, it will be closed in preparation for the Hokkaido Shinkansen.

25. Tanukikoji

Tanukikoji Shopping Street (Photo: PIXTA)
Tanukikoji Shopping Street (Photo: PIXTA)

Tanukikoji is a famous covered shopping arcade street in the heart of the city. It's a fantastic place to explore local boutiques, souvenir shops, and restaurants. You can also find various entertainment shops such as arcades and karaoke, making it a perfect spot to spend your evening or even a whole day!

26. Department Stores

(Photo: PIXTA)
(Photo: PIXTA)

Sapporo boasts several large department stores, such as Daimaru, Mitsukoshi, and Parco, where you can find higher-end brands and products with a diverse selection of goods, including fashion, cosmetics, and local products. The basement floors of a department store are often dedicated to food, where you can find souvenirs, supermarkets, cafes and restaurants.

27. Sapporo Factory

Sapporo Factory (Photo: PIXTA)
Sapporo Factory (Photo: PIXTA)

Sapporo Factory is a shopping complex housed in a former beer brewery. It offers a unique blend of shopping, dining, and entertainment experiences, such as a cinema, arcade and rock climbing gym. It's a great place to explore the city's history, while doing some shopping.

Sapporo Events and Festivals

28. Sapporo Snow Festival

Sapporo Snow Festival image (Photo: PIXTA)
Sapporo Snow Festival image (Photo: PIXTA)

The Sapporo Snow Festival is one of Japan's most famous winter events. Held in February, the festival features massive snow and ice sculptures displayed throughout Odori Park, Susukino, and Tsudome. These often include popular anime characters, tv personalities, and sports players. Visitors can enjoy various winter activities, food stalls, and illuminated displays, creating a magical winter wonderland.

29. Odori Park Beer Garden

Odori Park Beer Garden image (Photo: PIXTA)
Odori Park Beer Garden image (Photo: PIXTA)

During the summer, Odori Park transforms into a lively beer garden, offering an outdoor drinking and dining experience. Sample global and local beers along with some local Hokkaido cuisine throughout the park.

30. Fireworks Festivals

Doshin UHB Fireworks Festival (Toyohira River Fireworks). (Photo: PIXTA)
Doshin UHB Fireworks Festival (Toyohira River Fireworks). (Photo: PIXTA)

Sapporo hosts four main fireworks festivals during the summer, where dazzling displays light up the night sky.

The Moerenuma Artistic Fireworks, in particular, is regarded as one of the most popular fireworks events in all of Hokkaido as thousands of people line the banks of the river to watch 4,000 illuminate the night sky.

Sapporo Fireworks Festivals
  • Hokkaido Makomanai Music Fireworks (early-mid July)
  • Doshin UHB Fireworks Festival at Toyohira River (late July)
  • Bankei Summer Festival Fireworks (early August)
  • Moerenuma Artistic Fireworks (early September)

31. Winter Illuminations

Sapporo White Illumination (Photo: PIXTA)
Sapporo White Illumination (Photo: PIXTA)

Throughout the winter season, Sapporo's streets and parks are adorned with stunning illuminations. Sapporo White Illumination, in particular, is Sapporo's largest winter lighting event. From late November to mid-December, Odori Park and Sapporo Station are filled with winter illuminations, which marks the start of the festive period.

Sapporo is a city brimming with delightful experiences for travelers of all tastes. From savoring the delectable local cuisine to exploring the picturesque landscapes and engaging in a range of exciting activities, Sapporo offers an unforgettable adventure. Whether you're a foodie, a nature enthusiast, or a culture seeker, this vibrant city has something special to offer.

So, pack your bags and start planning your trip to Sapporo. No matter what time of year you go, there will always be something to do!

Written by:

Andy Cheng

Andy Cheng

Andy is a chef and culinary journalist with over 7 years in Japan, extensively exploring its regional dishes. A University of Nottingham graduate, he trained in five Japanese restaurants before transitioning to freelance work. He contributes to over 10 global clients, including Marriot Bonvoy and the Hokkaido Tourism Board, and assists in translation and promoting inbound tourism with local governments.

*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.

Share this article.

 
Search