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Top 20 Things to Do in Sapporo for Tourists - Recommended by Locals!

Top 20 Things to Do in Sapporo for Tourists - Recommended by Locals!

Date published: 16 April 2020
Last updated: 3 August 2020

Here are 20 of the best things to do in Sapporo, recommended by locals. Whether you are a first-timer or a repeat visitor, if you see and do some of these you’re well on your way to becoming a Sapporo expert.

Sapporo is undoubtedly one of Japan's top tourist destinations, with widely known sites and events drawing visitors from near and far. While the tourist attractions and restaurants listed in guidebooks are good, there are many more “hidden” options that may be of interest.

No matter how many of these things to do in Sapporo you experience, you’ll leave with wonderful memories of Japan’s north!

Table of Contents
  1. 1. Enjoy the night view
  2. 2. Eat the finest ice cream at the Snow Brand Parlor
  3. 3. Relax at Odori Park
  4. 4. Eat a seafood bowl for breakfast
  5. 5. Playing in the snow
  6. 6. Have some soup curry
  7. 7. Exciting, powerful animals
  8. 8. Eat luxurious conveyor belt sushi
  9. 9. Climb Maruyama
  10. 10. Going to meet Dr. Clark
  11. 11. Stimulate your mind at Hokkaido University Museum
  12. 12. Taste Genghis Khan
  13. 13. Shopping at Tanukikoji
  14. 14. Eat Zangi
  15. 15. Compare Hokkaido drinks
  16. 16. Witness the powerful water discharge at Hoheikyo Dam
  17. 17. Make a Shiroi Koibito package
  18. 18. Get a ski jumper’s view at Okurayama Observatory
  19. 19. The TV Tower’s TV Dad
  20. 20. Have some of Sapporo’s famous ramen

1. Enjoy the night view

1. Enjoy the night view

Sapporo’s beautiful night view is often described as “a carpet of light,” and was selected as one of 2015’s “Three Great New Night Views in Japan.” As an added bonus, there are multiple observation points, including the TV tower, JR tower, and Okurayama, where you can take in the view from the ski jump. The Mt. Moiwa Observation Deck is of particular interest and has the distinction of being one of the “One hundred Famous Moons of Japan” locations. It should be at the top of any list of things to do in Sapporo. Speaking of up top, at 531m above sea level, it’s perfect for enjoying the nocturnal cityscape under the moonlight.

  • 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

2. Eat the finest ice cream at the Snow Brand Parlor

2. Eat the finest ice cream at the Snow Brand Parlor

You can’t talk about any things to do in Sapporo without mentioning dairy products, and “Snow Royal” ice cream, exclusively available at the Snow Brand Parlor, is a must-try. This rich, egg-free ice cream has a smooth texture and an excellent flavor. The parlor also offers a wide variety of parfaits and Western dishes, making it an ideal spot to take a break from sightseeing.

  • Yukijirushi Parlor Sapporo Honten (Snow Brand Parlor Sapporo Main Store)
    雪印パーラー 札幌本店
    • Address Taiyo-seimei Bldg. 1F, 1-31 Kita 2-jo Nishi 3 chome, Chuo-ku, Sapporo 060-0002
    • Phone Number 011-251-7530
    • Hours: 10:00 - 21:00 (last order 20:30)

3. Relax at Odori Park

3. Relax at Odori Park

Odori Park extends for 1.5km east to west through the middle of the city. Seeing only the center of the park is satisfying, but taking a leisurely stroll from end to end is also pleasant. Designed by Isamu Noguchi, the park features lush greenery, slides and other playground equipment, fountains, and rose gardens – plenty of ways to enjoy this urban oasis. One of the best is simply relaxing on a bench and munching on some of the park’s famous grilled corn.

4. Eat a seafood bowl for breakfast

4. Eat a seafood bowl for breakfast

Sapporo is home to plenty of places where you can enjoy fresh seafood, and the Nijo Market and the surrounding neighborhood is especially good for sampling seafood from all over Hokkaido. The fresh, tasty variety goes well with miso soup and there are numerous shops around the market that offer multilingual service.

5. Playing in the snow

5. Playing in the snow

Sapporo is dotted with facilities that turn the city into a snowy playground in winter. Takino Suzuran Park (pictured), Sapporo Dome, Sato Land, Hitsujigaoka Observation Deck, and the Historical Village of Hokkaido are large venues perfect for playing in the snow. Although each facility’s activities differ, there’s plenty of winter fun to be had like tubing and sledding or building a snowman!

6. Have some soup curry

6. Have some soup curry

Soup curry, now popular nationwide, originated in Sapporo. It’s a curry that’s more like soup and features large pieces of chicken, potatoes, and peppers. Many shops serve this spicy soup, with plenty of options for customization, so you can compare a few.

7. Exciting, powerful animals

7. Exciting, powerful animals

Surrounded by a forest, the Maruyama Zoo is full of natural wonder. In recent years, the Polar Bear Museum and the Elephant House have opened, allowing visitors to observe the animals from all angles. The zoo offers other thrilling experiences like feeding the animals and behind the scenes tours. The free flight raptor demonstration is particularly impressive and you can see owls and other birds of prey flying up close.

  • Sapporo Maruyama Zoo
    札幌市円山動物園
    • Address 3-1 Miyagaoka, Chuo-ku, Sapporo, 064-0959
    • Phone Number 011-621-1426
    • Hours: March – Oct.: 9:30 - 16:30, Nov. – Feb.: 9:30 – 16:00; closed 2nd and 4th Wednesday (closed the Thursday after a Wednesday holiday), the 2nd week of April and November , and 12/29 to 12/31
      *Check website for August hours
      Admission: Adults 600 yen (free for junior high school students and younger) *Scheduled to be revised in April 2020. Check the official website

8. Eat luxurious conveyor belt sushi

8. Eat luxurious conveyor belt sushi

Conveyor belt sushi (“kaitenzushi”) is an excellent choice for a fresh, reasonably-priced meal in Sapporo. The number of shops that feature multi-language touch panel ordering has increased lately, making them even more convenient. Be sure to pay close attention to daily recommendations to experience delicious seasonal menu items. Many shops also have a wide selection of side dishes such as fried foods and sweets to suit your tastes.

9. Climb Maruyama

9. Climb Maruyama

Maruyama, located behind the zoo, is a popular hiking spot. The ascent to the 225m summit is about 1km long and takes about 30 minutes to complete. From there, you’ll have a superb view of the city. The mountain is designated as a national natural monument, and its ancient forests will fill you with awe. Upon descent, it’s also good to take a break at Hokkaido Shrine.

10. Going to meet Dr. Clark

10. Going to meet Dr. Clark

The statue of Dr. William S. Clark, the first principal of Hokkaido University (founded as Sapporo Agricultural School) is one of Hokkaido’s most famous landmarks. Beyond the Hitsujigaoka Observation Deck on which the statue stands, you can see the vast cityscape. It’s a common custom among tourists to pose for photos with their right hand extended like that of the statue. The pedestal bears an inscription of Dr. Clark’s famed quote, “Boys, be ambitious,” inspiring viewers to dream big.

  • Sapporo Hitsujigaoka Observation Hill
    さっぽろ羊ヶ丘展望台
    • Address 1 Hitsujigaoka, Toyohira-ku, Sapporo 062-0045
    • Phone Number 011-851-3080
    • Hours: May - June, Sept. 8:30 - 18:00, July - August 8:30 - 19:00, October - April 9:00 - 17:00
      Admission: Adults 530 yen, elementary & junior high school students 300 yen
      定休日:無休

11. Stimulate your mind at Hokkaido University Museum

11. Stimulate your mind at Hokkaido University Museum

Hokkaido University is home to another statue of Dr. Clark, and has Japan’s largest campus, full of greenery and historic buildings. The former Faculty of Science building houses a hidden gem in the form of the university museum. There you can see many valuable specimens from minerals and plants to insects and fossils free of charge. The building itself is made of elegant reinforced concrete and was constructed in 1929.

  • Hokkaido University Museum
    北海道大学総合博物館
    • Address Kita 10-jo Nishi 8 chome, Kita-ku, Sapporo 060-0810
    • Phone Number 011-706-2658
    • Hours: 10:00 - 17:00 (until 21:00 on Fridays June – Oct.); closed Mondays (or the Tuesday following a holiday), 12/28 – 1/4, and other temporary closures
      Admission: Free

12. Taste Genghis Khan

12. Taste Genghis Khan

Genghis Khan (“Jingisukan”) is a local dish made using sheep meat. There are two main types: one in which the meat is marinated in sauce made with garlic, ginger, and apple before cooking it or another in which the meat is dipped in sauce after cooking. Genghis Khan goes well with beer, so it's a real pleasure to eat in the lively atmosphere of a beer garden.

13. Shopping at Tanukikoji

13. Shopping at Tanukikoji
Jiradet Ponari / Shutterstock.com

Tanukikoji Shopping Street is the oldest shopping street in Hokkaido. This long arcade extends from 1- to 7-chome West along South 3-jo. There are about 200 shops ranging from restaurants to souvenir and specialty shops, where you can enjoy shopping, eating, and drinking. Honjin Tanuki-daimyo Shrine is located in 4-chome, and according to legend, stroking the shrine’s raccoon statue will bring business prosperity and ease in childbirth. There are other unique shops just outside the arcade from 8- to 10-chome, so why not stretch your legs a bit!

14. Eat Zangi

14. Eat Zangi

Zangi is fried chicken that has been seasoned with soy sauce or ginger. A kind of local soul food, it’s often served as a side dish at pubs, restaurants, and take-out shops throughout Hokkaido. It’s a simple dish, and you can enjoy a wide range of such seasoning, cuts, and portion sizes depending on which shop you visit.

15. Compare Hokkaido drinks

15. Compare Hokkaido drinks

Sake is produced in various parts of Hokkaido, and varieties brewed using 100% Hokkaido rice are gaining in reputation. At the Chitose Tsuru brewery’s museum in Sapporo, visitors can learn how sake is made and sample some at the on-site pub. In addition to sake, other types of Hokkaido alcohol like beer, whiskey, wine, and craft gin are also available and it’s a great place to buy souvenirs.

  • Chitose Tsuru Sake Museum
    千歳鶴 酒ミュージアム
    • Address 5-1 Minami 3-jo Higashi, Chuo-ku, Sapporo 060-0053
    • Phone Number 011-221-7570
    • Hours: 10:00 - 18:00, closed New Year holidays
      Admission: Free

16. Witness the powerful water discharge at Hoheikyo Dam

16. Witness the powerful water discharge at Hoheikyo Dam

Not only is Hoheikyo Dam Sapporo’s main water source, but it’s also a popular tourist destination where the surrounding natural beauty can be appreciated year round. In autumn, it’s a prime leaf-viewing site and on Saturdays and Sundays water is discharged three times a day in a loud, impressive display of sight and sound. Natural hot spring facilities near the entrance to the dam and authentic Indian curry sold at nearby restaurants make the dam an even more attractive place to visit.

  • Hoheikyo Dam
    豊平峡ダム
    • Address 840 Jonzankei, Minami-ku, Sapporo 061-2301
    • Phone Number 011-598-3452

17. Make a Shiroi Koibito package

17. Make a Shiroi Koibito package

Shiroi Koibito Park is a facility where you can learn about and taste Hokkaido’s well-known “Shiroi Koibito” confection. There, you can also create your own Shiroi Koibito package in about 30 minutes using personal photos or those taken on site. You can also make other types of souvenirs, perfect for creating fond memories.

  • Shiroi Koibito Park
    白い恋人パーク
    • Address 2-11-36 Miyanosawa 2-jo, Nishi-ku, Sapporo 063-0052
    • Phone Number 011-666-1481
    • Hours: 9:00 - 18:00 (Last entry 17:00)
      Admission: Tasting Course: High school students & adults 1,600 yen, elementary & junior high school students 1,300 yen, free for children under 3; Premium Factory Course: High school students & adults 1,500 yen, elementary & junior high school students 1,200 yen, free for children under 3; Factory Course: High school students & adults 600 yen, elementary & junior high school students 300 yen, free for children under 3

18. Get a ski jumper’s view at Okurayama Observatory

18. Get a ski jumper’s view at Okurayama Observatory

Used in the 1972 Sapporo Olympics, Okurayama Schanze continues to serve as a ski jumping venue. When tournaments are not taking place, it’s also a popular observation site. Riding the lifts used by athletes and taking in the scenery from the top of the jumping hill, you’ll almost feel like a ski jumper! You can also enjoy the superb view from mountain top restaurants and check out the museum dedicated to the Sapporo Olympics.

19. The TV Tower’s TV Dad

19. The TV Tower’s TV Dad

Sapporo TV Tower has its own mascot – Terebi Tosan (“TV Dad”). There’s even a shrine dedicated to the popular character located on the tower’s observation deck, and the 3rd floor “Nohohon Park” is covered with his image. There you can also take photos with an actual Terebi Tosan mascot, and the ground floor shop has plenty of Terebi Tosan souvenirs.

20. Have some of Sapporo’s famous ramen

20. Have some of Sapporo’s famous ramen

When asked about Sapporo’s characteristic foods, many peoples’ first response is “ramen.” Darumaken, located in Nijo Market, was founded over 70 years ago. Their delicious homemade noodles have a timeless taste and don’t use any chemical seasonings. In addition to the shop’s original soy sauce flavor, curry-flavored ramen is also a favorite among diners. Due to Darumaken’s popularity, the noodles do sell out, so going there early is recommended.

  • Darumaken
    だるま軒
    • Address Nijo Market, Minami 3-jo Higashi 1 chome, Chuo-ku, Sapporo 060-0053
    • Phone Number 011-251-8224
    • Hours: Open from 11:00 until food runs out; closed Thursdays

Sapporo has a wealth of attractive tourist destinations and experiences in addition to those listed here. If you have a friend in Sapporo, they may have their own top twenty, and after enjoying all the city has to offer, why not make your own list!

Text by:minna no kotoba sha

*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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