Best known for its annual snow festival and eponymous beer, Sapporo – the capital city of Hokkaido – exudes an open and thriving youthful atmosphere. There are many places to visit and things to do and food to eat in this beautiful northern city. In this Sapporo Travel Guide, we will show you our favorite spots that include side trips around the area.
Dubbed as the “important river flowing through a plain” in Ainu language, Sapporo 札幌 is all about all-seasons outdoor fun, amazing food, shopping and entertainment galore, and its palpable unique character.
Our family has had many great memories of traveling in this lively, picturesque northern city. We were fortunate enough to visit multiple times and each trip allowed us to dig deeper and discover the incredible food, culture, and many getaways.
Whether you have just one day or several days to spend, there are enough worthwhile attractions to keep you coming back for more.
Where is Sapporo
Sapporo is the capital of Hokkaido located in the southwestern part of the island. It is the largest city in Hokkaido (5th largest in Japan) with almost two million residents. There is currently no connection to reach Sapporo via the Shinkansen bullet train (scheduled for 2030) so the best way to visit is by flight.
In this Sapporo travel guide, we’ll share the popular spots near the city center and the surrounding areas.
Sapporo Travel Guide – Near Sapporo City Center
- Sapporo TV Tower
- Sapporo Clock Tower
- Former Hokkaido Government Office
- Sapporo Odori Park
- Tanukikoji Shopping Street
- Susukino Station
- Ganso Ramen Yokocho (Original Ramen Alley)
- Nijo Market
Sapporo Travel Guide – Outside Sapporo City Center
- Sapporo Beer Museum
- Shiroikoibito Park
- Sapporo Mt.Moiwa Ropeway
- Asahi Breweries Hokkaido Factory Tour
- Hokkaido Centennial Memorial Tower
- Historical Village of Hokkaido
- Sapporo Hitsujigaoka & Dr Clark Museum
Sapporo TV Tower
Our first stop is Sapporo TV Tower. It is right in the heart of Sapporo and as well as the center of the grid street system. If you ever get lost in the city, you can easily find your way back by spotting the tower or using the intersection name (such as South 2 West 2).
Build in 1957, visitors can take an elevator up to the observation deck and take in the view of the Sapporo and Odori Park.
Sapporo Clock Tower
No Sapporo travel guide would be complete without including Sapporo Clock Tower. You may be surprised to find out that even though Japan has a long history, Sapporo is a very young city. It was officially established in 1868. This western-style clock tower was one of the earliest buildings and it is currently the oldest one in the city. The popular landmark is still being used today as a museum introducing the history of Sapporo.
Former Hokkaido Government Office
Another significant building from the early days of Hokkaido is the Former Hokkaido Government Office. The office was responsible for the development of the island. The red brick building was built in 1888 and made of 2.5 million bricks. It is currently a museum where visitors can learn about the history and how Hokkaido was developed. There are also a tourism information center and conference rooms that are rented out for meetings.
Sapporo Odori Park
Sapporo is filled with many parks throughout the city and the most famous one is Odori Park. It is located right in the center of the city and home to the famous Sapporo Snow Festival. The park spans 13 city blocks with Sapporo TV Tower on the eastern end and Sapporo City Archive Museum on the western end.
There’s a large underground shopping mall (Sapporo Chikagai) in the eastern end of the park called Aurora Town and Pole Town
Tanukikoji Shopping Street
If you are looking for places to shop in Sapporo, we recommend stopping by Tanukikoji Shopping Street. The 900 meters long (9 football fields!) covered shopping arcade is home to many shops and restaurants. You should be able to find all the souvenir for yourself and friends here. There are also plenty of dining options on Tanukikoji Shopping Street.
Just a few blocks away you’ll find the colorful neon signs at Susukino Station and the very recognizable Nikka sign. Susukino is home to hundreds of restaurants and bars including our favorite Jingisukan (grilled lamb) Daruma. If you are hungry for ramen, the famed Ganso Ramen Yokocho (Original Ramen Alley) is just a few blocks away.
Craving for seafood? Head to Nijo Market to find the freshest bounty from the ocean. Nijo Market vendors sell popular local produce and fresh seafood such as crabs, salmon, scallops, and dried goods. Many shops will also cook and serve seafood for customers.
Now that we’ve covered the city center portion of the Sapporo travel guide, let’s explore the outskirts of the area and make the first stop at Sapporo Beer Museum.
Sapporo Beer Museum
Just 1 station away from Sapporo Station is Sapporo Beer Museum. It is one of the few beer museums in Japan.
The building was originally built as a sugar factory but converted to a beer brewery in 1903, and operated until 1965. It opened to the public as a beer museum in 1987. The museum is quite spacious exhibiting the beer brewing process, beer bottles, posters, and equipment used in the past to brew beer. There are guided tour available at the museum.
At the end of the tour, eligible visitors (20 and older) are offered a glass of free beer. Visitors can also taste additional Sapporo Beers at the restaurant on site.
Asahi Breweries Hokkaido Factory Tour
If you want to tour a beer factory that’s still in operation, Asahi’s Hokkaido Factory is not too far away from the city center. It is 11 min by car or 17 min by public transportation from the Odori Station. You can learn how beer is made and enjoy freshly brewed beer at the nearby all-you-can-eat bbq restaurant Roin-Tei.
Mount Moiwa Observation Deck
After enjoying a delicious dinner in Sapporo, head to Mount Moiwa and take in the spectacular night view of the city from 1742 feet (531 meters). It’s 30 min by train or 15 min to the ropeway station. Visitors can reach the top of Mount Moiwa by taking the ropeway.
Shiroi Koibito Park
One of the most popular souvenirs when visiting Hokkaido is the Shiorikoibito’s chocolate cookies. You can’t miss them in the gift shops and the airport. At Shiroi Koibito Park, visitors can actually see how these treats are made at the factory. In addition to the cookie factory, facilities at the park include rides, a museum, and gardens to walk around.
Nopporo Forest Park
Nopporo Forest Park is a wildlife sanctuary with many species of trees, mushrooms, birds, insects, and animals located in the eastern part of Sapporo. There are a number of facilities within the park including the Centennial Memorial Tower and the Historical Village of Hokkaido.
Centennial Memorial Tower
The landmark of Nopporo Forest Park is Centennial Memorial Tower. It was built in 1970 to celebrate 100 years of Hokkaido (100 meters tall). Visitors used to be able to enter the tower and look out on an observation deck, but it is no longer allowed.
Historical Village of Hokkaido
For our family, one of the most unique experiences for visitors to Sapporo is the Historical Village of Hokkaido inside the Nopporo Forest Park. There are over 50 historical buildings moved here from all over Hokkaido and reconstructed to create a village.
Visitors are welcome to explore the buildings, such as the post office, police station, printing shop, and learn what early life was like in Hokkaido and how industrialization progressed there.
Sapporo Travel Guide – Hotel for Families
During our visit to Sapporo, our family has stayed at several different hotels. Many hotels offer 4 beds in the same room with various configurations. For families, we would recommend selecting a hotel close to Sapporo TV Tower so it’s easy to get around without a car and less walking required for younger children.
There are many more activities and places to visit in Sapporo, including nearby skiing, the Hokkaido Museum of Modern Art, and popular city parks like Moerenuma Park. Whether you’re traveling with friends, family, or with your significant other, you’ll find plenty to do in Sapporo.
We hope this Sapporo travel guide was helpful to get you oriented with the city. For other destination in Hokkaido, such as Otaru and Furano, head to our Hokkaido Travel Page.