Sapporo, the capital city of Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island, is renowned for its beautiful landscapes, winter sports, and delicious cuisine. For those considering things to do in Sapporo, exploring the historic Sapporo Clock Tower, a symbol of the city, and visiting Odori Park, a central green space that hosts numerous festivals throughout the year, are top activities.
The city’s Nijo Market offers a taste of Hokkaido’s fresh seafood and local produce, providing a delightful experience for food lovers. Nearby, the Sapporo Beer Museum delves into the history of one of Japan’s most famous beers, offering tastings and insights into the brewing process.
Beyond its culinary and historical attractions, Sapporo is also celebrated for its winter sports, with the annual Sapporo Snow Festival showcasing stunning ice sculptures and attracting visitors from around the world. For those seeking the best places to visit in Japan, Sapporo’s blend of natural beauty, cultural richness, and winter festivities makes it a captivating destination.
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Attractions & Things to Do in Sapporo, Japan
1. Odori Park
Spanning 12 blocks in the heart of Sapporo, Odori Park serves as the city’s main public space where locals and tourists alike gather for leisure and events. With beautifully landscaped areas, fountains, and art installations, the park transforms throughout the seasons, boasting cherry blossoms in spring, vibrant flowers in summer, and the famous Sapporo Snow Festival in winter.
Travel Tip: Visit during one of the many festivals held in the park to experience Sapporo’s vibrant community spirit.
2. Sapporo TV Tower
Dominating the eastern end of Odori Park, the Sapporo TV Tower stands 147.2 meters tall, offering panoramic views of the city and surrounding mountains from its observation deck. The tower’s design is reminiscent of the Eiffel Tower, providing a unique photo opportunity.
Travel Tip: The tower is beautifully illuminated at night, making for a great evening visit after exploring Odori Park.
3. Clock Tower (Tokeidai)
The Clock Tower is one of Sapporo’s most iconic landmarks, housing a clock that has been ticking since 1881. The building also serves as a museum, providing insight into Sapporo’s history and culture.
Travel Tip: The Clock Tower is more impressive from the outside, so take your time to admire the architecture and take photos, but also check the museum schedule for any special exhibitions.
4. Hokkaido Shrine
Nestled in Maruyama Park, the Hokkaido Shrine is a Shinto shrine dedicated to the deities that protect the island of Hokkaido. The shrine is surrounded by lush forest, providing a peaceful retreat from the urban hustle.
Travel Tip: Visit during the annual Sapporo Festival in June to witness traditional ceremonies and festivities.
5. Susukino District
Susukino is Sapporo’s entertainment district, known for its bustling nightlife, plethora of restaurants, and vibrant atmosphere. With everything from bars and clubs to ramen alleys, there’s something for everyone.
Travel Tip: Don’t miss the chance to try Sapporo’s famous miso ramen in one of the local ramen shops.
6. Sapporo Beer Museum
Dive into the history of one of Japan’s most famous beer brands at the Sapporo Beer Museum, offering exhibitions on the brewing process and the company’s history. The museum also offers beer tasting for visitors to sample the various brews.
Travel Tip: Opt for the paid tasting set to try a variety of Sapporo beers and find your favorite.
7. Sapporo Factory
Sapporo Factory is a large shopping and entertainment complex housed in a former brewery, offering a mix of shops, restaurants, and leisure facilities. The complex retains some of its historical industrial architecture, adding to its unique charm.
Travel Tip: Check the complex’s event schedule before visiting, as there are often seasonal events and exhibitions.
8. Moerenuma Park
Designed by the renowned sculptor Isamu Noguchi, Moerenuma Park is a sprawling public park that doubles as a gigantic sculpture garden, combining art, architecture, and nature. The park offers various outdoor activities and stunning views of the surrounding landscape.
Travel Tip: Bring comfortable shoes and explore the park by bike, which can be rented at the park.
9. Historic Village of Hokkaido
Step back in time at the Historic Village of Hokkaido, an open-air museum showcasing buildings from the Meiji and Taisho eras, providing a glimpse into the region’s past. The village includes a town, a fishing village, a farm, and a mountain village.
Travel Tip: Allocate enough time for your visit, as the village covers a large area and there’s a lot to see.
10. Shiroi Koibito Park
Shiroi Koibito Park is a chocolate factory and theme park dedicated to Ishiya’s famous Shiroi Koibito cookies. Visitors can take a tour of the factory, participate in cookie-making workshops, and enjoy the whimsical atmosphere of the park.
Travel Tip: Don’t leave without trying the Shiroi Koibito soft-serve ice cream, a delightful treat.
FAQ About Things to Do in Sapporo, Japan
What are the must-visit places in Sapporo?
Essential places to visit in Sapporo include the historic Sapporo Clock Tower, the scenic Odori Park, the Sapporo TV Tower, and the famous Sapporo Beer Museum.
Is Sapporo good for winter sports?
Absolutely! Sapporo is renowned for its winter sports, especially after hosting the 1972 Winter Olympics. The nearby mountains, such as Teine and Moiwa, offer excellent skiing and snowboarding opportunities.
Can I experience an authentic Sapporo snow festival?
Yes, the Sapporo Snow Festival is held annually in February, showcasing massive ice and snow sculptures, winter sports, and various cultural events in Odori Park, Susukino, and Tsudome.
Where can I enjoy Sapporo’s famous ramen?
Ramen Yokocho, also known as Ramen Alley, in Susukino, is the best place to enjoy Sapporo’s famous miso ramen. Several shops serve this local specialty with a variety of toppings.
Are there any parks to enjoy nature within Sapporo?
Yes, Moerenuma Park is a must-visit for nature lovers. Designed by Isamu Noguchi, it features beautiful landscapes, play areas, and outdoor art installations.
What cultural experiences are unique to Sapporo?
Visitors can enjoy the Historical Village of Hokkaido, showcasing the island’s frontier history, or visit the Ainu Museum to learn about the indigenous Ainu culture.
What shopping options are available in Sapporo?
Sapporo offers a variety of shopping experiences, from the fashionable Tanukikoji Shopping Arcade to the Sapporo Factory, a large shopping and entertainment complex.
Are there any hot spring (onsen) resorts near Sapporo?
Yes, the nearby town of Jozankei is famous for its hot spring resorts, set in a scenic valley just a short drive from Sapporo. It’s a perfect spot for relaxation and rejuvenation.