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SAPPORO

25 Best Things To Do in Sapporo

By Megumi Koiwai
Updated: February 20, 2024

Hokkaido, Japan’s northmost prefecture, is often hailed as one of the most exciting places to visit in the winter and its capital, Sapporo, just might be the reason why!

Sapporo is home to many things, from Sapporo beer and the Sapporo Snow Festival to the best ski slopes in Japan and Jingisukan—combining yakiniku (Japanese BBQ) and nabe (hot pot) to become Sapporo’s soul food—and so much more.

This guide will take your hand and lead you through the snowy paths of Sapporo in winter, featuring must-see tourist spots, mouthwatering places to eat, and a few under-the-radar places to visit, too. 

25 Best Things To Do in Sapporo

  1. Enjoy the panoramic view from Sapporo TV Tower
  2. Take a wintery walk through Odori Park
  3. Explore Isamu Noguchi’s Moerenuma Park 
  4. Sip a Sapporo Classic at Sapporo Beer Museum 
  5. Take the ropeway up to Mt. Moiwa 
  6. Join the neons & nightlife in Susukino 
  7. Experience a sushi lunch at Nijo Fish Market
  8. Make room For Sapporo’s Miso Ramen 
  9. Give it up for Jingisukan BBQ (Mutton BBQ)
  10. Sample Sapporo’s sensational Soup Curry 
  11. Take a bite of a Rokkatei Marusei Butter Sandwich
  12. Wine & dine without waste: Bibai yakitori 
  13. Soak up all the local seafood & sushi
  14. Relish the soup curry at Ramai Sapporo 
  15. Discover the delights of Daruma Jingisukan 
  16. Beat your cravings for Soup Curry Cocoro 
  17. Meet the simple beauty of miso ramen at Kiraito 
  18. Sample Sapporo’s omakase sushi at Takee Sushi 
  19. Feed your love for Bibai yakitori at Fukuyoshi Sapporo Main Store 
  20. Step into fine Italian dining at Sessione 
  21. Have a relaxing walk around Hokkaido Jingu
  22. Say a prayer at Sapporo Fushimi Inari Shrine 
  23. Save time for the Sapporo Snow Festival
  24. Keep it sweet with Shiroi Koibito cookies
  25. See Sapporo from a pair of snowshoes

1. Enjoy the panoramic view from Sapporo TV Tower

Sapporo TV Tower on a sunny winter's day in Sapporo.

Sapporo TV tower has been holding this spot in Sapporo since 1957! And, much like its cousin over in Tokyo—the Tokyo Tower—it’s beloved by many tourists. You can head up to the viewing deck for sweeping views of Odori Park, and it’s easily the best seat in town when the Sapporo Snow Festival is running and the city lights illuminate the streets. 

2. Take a wintery walk through Odori Park 

An aerial shot of Odori Park in Sapporo, cutting through the center of the city.

Odori Park is Sapporo’s central park that stretches through the city for 1.5 kilometers (that’s about 12 blocks). During the winter, not only is this where they hold the Sapporo Snow Festival, but they also have the Sapporo Christmas market stalls. It’s the perfect excuse to hold a beer or mulled wine in one hand, some seasonal stall food in the other, and stroll through the park until you reach the end!  

3. Explore Isamu Noguchi’s Moerenuma Park 

Moerenuma Park, highlighting the geometric shapes of this unique park, next to Shinoroshin River.

Although Moerenuma Park is at its best during a perfect summer day spent having a picnic or renting a bicycle, it’s also a beautiful place to admire the geometric architecture designed by the world-famous Japanese-American sculptor, Isamu Noguchi. A real fan-favorite for those who love art, photography, and expansive green spaces… or white spaces, if it’s snowing! 

4. Sip a Sapporo Classic at Sapporo Beer Museum 

Sapporo Beer Brewery, with the logo and brand name printed vertically along the brewery's chimney.

Sapporo Beer Museum is a place where you can learn all things Sapporo beer, getting to know the origins of the brand in 1876, taking a tour of the facilities, visiting the museum shop, and, of course, tasting a few Sapporo beers for yourself in the grand Star Hall! 

While you’re here, make sure to try the Hokkaido-exclusive beer: the Sapporo Classic. It’s brewed using Hokkaido-only ingredients and you don’t want to miss it.

5. Take the ropeway up to Mt. Moiwa 

Looking down on the city of Sapporo from the observation deck of Mt. Moiwa.

There are several small mountains surrounding Sapporo and one of them is Mt. Moiwa, boasting an observation deck with breathtaking views of the city. Only an hour from the center of Sapporo by ropeway and a mini cable car, the journey to the top is an equally unforgettable experience, and the view is at its best as the sun is setting, with the lights of the city glistening against the snowy mountains.

6. Join the neons & nightlife in Susukino 

Susukino, Sapporo's nightlife district. Screens and ads light up the night.

Susukino to Sapporo is like Shinjuku to Tokyo, attracting crowds in search of North Japan’s famous nightlife scene. Expect neon signs, karaoke bars, ramen shops, izakaya (Japanese bars), clubs… You name it, it’s here. It’s one of the most vibrant neighborhoods in Sapporo and if you’re looking to stay up all night making memories, this is the place to be. 

7. Experience a sushi lunch at Nijo Fish Market

The shops and stalls of Nijo Fish Market stretch into the distance, showing off fresh seafood.

A historic market that’s been around for over 100 years, Nijo Fish Market—also known as Nijo Market—has multiple stands and small shops near the center of Sapporo, opposite the Tanukikoji Shopping Arcade. There, you’ll find fresh, local produce on sale, including crab, sea urchin, salmon eggs, and a wide range of vegetables. 

The best way to really get to the heart of the place? Start your day with one of their famous seafood donburi (rice bowl) for breakfast, or catch your breath over a quick sushi lunch at one of the small stalls. We can guarantee it’ll be the freshest sushi you’ve ever had.

What To Eat in Sapporo

8. Make room for Sapporo’s miso ramen

A red bowl of ramen. Floating on top is meat, spring onions, vegetables, and a soft-boiled egg.

Japan is famous for its regional ramen, and Sapporo is known for its miso (fermented soybeans) base ramen. Any day is a good day for ramen, but a cold, wintery day is the perfect excuse for a hot bowl of miso ramen. Try it and thank us later!

Wondering where you could find the perfect bowl of miso ramen in Sapporo? Read our article on the 5 best Sapporo ramen restaurants for miso ramen.

9. Give it up for Jingisukan BBQ (Mutton BBQ)

Jingisukan BBQ, a Sapporo specialty of grilled mutton and vegetables on a grill with a raised center.

Jingisukan – originally Mongolian BBQ – is seen as soul food here in Sapporo, and it requires grilling mutton and vegetables on a grill with a unique, raised center. This style of BBQ often consists of self-grilled mutton and vegetables, served alongside dipping sauces for enjoying once the meat is cooked. 

Name a better duo than a Sapporo Classic beer and grilled mutton. We’ll wait.

If we had to recommend somewhere for this particular delicacy, we might give you a nudge towards Sapporo Genghis Khan, a restaurant in the heart of Sapporo with a handy English-language guide for tourists!

10. Sample Sapporo’s sensational soup curry 

A bowl of soup curry, featuring seasonal vegetables in a rich curry soup.

When in Hokkaido, curry soup is one of the most famous local dishes, and it promises to warm you up from the inside out! The light, curry-flavored soup often contains fall-off-the-bone meats – ranging between chicken, pork, and beef – and a selection of seasonal, vibrant vegetables, and aromatic spices.

After a long, cold day of exploring a snowy Sapporo, this will be just the thing you need. 

11. Take a bite of a Rokkatei Marusei Butter Sandwich

Rokkatei Marusei Butter Sand, a cookie sandwich filled with buttercream and raisins.

A ‘butter sandwich’, often shortened to ‘butter sand’ in Japan, is most commonly a type of cookie sandwich with a filling of some kind of buttercream. However, Rokkatei’s Marusei Butter Sandwich, launched in 1977 to celebrate the renaming of the Hokkaido-based confectionery company, Rokkatei, is not like the rest. 

Hokkaido is famous for its dairy, meaning that their buttercream is perfected and will melt on your tongue. The Marusei Butter Sandwich is also filled with raisins and we’re sure it’ll be one of the best treats you’ll discover on your journey through Sapporo.  

If you have time, you could even stop at the Rokkatei Marusei Sapporo Main Store, as Hokkaido is the only place where you can visit one of their physical shops and even stop by their café. Here, you can try a store-exclusive frozen butter sand. Who could say no?

12. Wine & dine without waste: Bibai yakitori 

Although it’s not originally from Sapporo, Bibai yakitori (grilled chicken skewers) is a fan favorite in Sapporo. This type of yakitori originated in a town called Bibai in Hokkaido, is now widely eaten across the region, and places onions in-between the chicken instead of leeks, which is not very common. It also aims to use every part of the chicken to reduce waste, providing an interesting combination of flavors and textures across thigh meat, skin, heart, liver, and intestines. If you’re feeling brave enough, you might love this local favorite! 

13. Soak up all the local seafood & sushi

A selection of salmon and egg sushi on a wooden board, with chopsticks hovering above them.

This might be a no-brainer, but seafood in Hokkaido is as fresh as you can get it, so if you’re traveling to Sapporo, make sure it’s on your To-Eat List. With the cold waters right there, it’s easy to find fresh uni (sea urchin), kani (crab) and hotate (scallops) almost everywhere you go, along with some of the finest sushi stalls in Japan. Ahh, the luxuries of local seafood. 

Where to Eat in Sapporo

14. Relish the soup curry at Ramai Sapporo

A top-down shot of Ramai Sapporo's soup curry, served with a range of colorful vegetables.

Ramai Sapporo is a soup curry restaurant that’s become a bit of a cult favorite, only found in Hokkaido and nowhere else. It starts with a foundation of chicken base soup, and from there you can craft your own soup to your liking by adding more spices, vegetables, or even coconut milk for a milder spice. 

15. Discover the delights of Daruma Jingisukan 

An interior shot of Daruma Jingisukan 4-4 Nikaitei, showing people lined up at the counter.

When it comes to Sapporo’s Jingisukan specialty, mutton barbecue, there’s no place like Daruma, a staple in Hokkaido since 1954. The main shop is located in the heart of Susukino with multiple branch locations not far away. In fact, their dishes are so popular that people will line up even when it’s snowing outside. That’s dedication to the Daruma.

16. Beat your cravings for Soup Curry Cocoro 

Listed in the Michelin Guide for Hokkaido in 2017, Soup Curry Cocoro is now all over the country, meaning more people can enjoy the delicate spices of their lightly flavored curry soup, filled with a generous helping of colorful vegetables and your choice of chicken, seafood and more... 

17. Meet the simple beauty of miso ramen at Kiraito 

If you’re in search of a hearty miso ramen, Kiraito will do the trick. The menu is kept simple; choose from a miso, salt, or shoyu (soy sauce)-based broth. Kiraito’s signature is the mountainous negi (scallions) that come on top of the ramen, lovingly nicknamed ‘The Everest Negi’ amongst the shop’s fans. You’ll understand why when you get there.

18. Sample Sapporo’s omakase sushi at Takee Sushi

A selection of fresh sushi from Nijo Fish Market.

Right in the heart of the Nijo Fish Market, this small sushi stall with roughly three to five seats is going to fix your sushi appetite. Their omakase course (chef’s choice!) – ranging from 10-12 types of sushi – is a great place to start, and if you’re not finished enjoying Sapporo’s finest sushi just yet… you can keep going, selecting whichever sushi you want! 

19. Feed your love for Bibai yakitori at Fukuyoshi Sapporo Main Store 

Bibai yakitori (grilled chicken skewers) can be eaten at Fukuyoshi in a typical Japanese-style setting, also known as izakaya. You’ll feel like a local as you soak up the energetic atmosphere, and if you want to try things that can be difficult to find in the city, now’s your chance! 

20. Step into fine Italian dining at Sessione 

For a more modern dining experience, Sessione is a small Italian restaurant with room for only nine diners, right in the heart of Sapporo. Using locally sourced ingredients, the menu is well-balanced with lots of vegetables and meats, ready to transport your taste buds all the way to Italy for an evening.

Sapporo Shrines & Temples

21. Have a relaxing walk around Hokkaido Jingu

The front entrance of Hokkaido Shrine, looking almost like a traditional Kabuto helmet.

Named Sapporo Shrine until 1964, Hokkaido Shrine is based in the mountainous Maruyama Park and it’s surrounded by natural scenes that are beautiful to behold, no matter the season. In the winter, however, the snow rests beautifully on the trees and walking around the shrine is a very calming experience.  

22. Say a prayer at Sapporo Fushimi Inari Shrine 

Sapporo's Fushimi Inari Shrine during winter. The bright red torii gate and lanterns contrast against the snow.

After walking uphill from the foot of Mt. Moiwa, you’ll be welcomed by the beautiful orange torii gates (the gateway of a Shinto shrine) of Sapporo Fushimi Inari Shrine. In the winter, the snow lies on the rooftop of the shrine, where you can see the red pillars peeking through. It makes for an eye-catching Instagram post, that’s for sure.

Unique Experiences in Sapporo

23. Save time for the Sapporo Snow Festival

A snow sculpture of Doraemon at Sapporo Snow Festival. It towers over the onlookers.

The Sapporo Snow Festival takes place every year at the beginning of February, lasting one week across three locations, and showcases the most elaborate and detailed snow and ice sculptures you’ve ever seen. 

Almost 2 million visitors come from all over the world to see these impressive sculptures, and it’s said that this might be the most popular winter event in Japan. 

Learn more about Japan’s most iconic festivals with our guide to the most famous Japanese festivals.

24. Keep it sweet with Shiroi Koibito cookies

An adult helps a child decorate Shiroi Koibito cookies in a byFood food experience.

Shiroi Koibito—literally translated as “white lovers” or “white sweetheart”—are a well-known cookie that originated in Hokkaido, sandwiching chocolate between two langue de chat biscuits. These days, they’re sold all over Japan as a popular souvenir gift, and there’s even a Shiroi Koibito Park in Sapporo where you can make your own shiroi koibito cookie! 

For a sweet story worth telling at home, take a look at our full experience: Make famous Shiroi Koibito cookies in Hokkaido. 

25. See Sapporo from a pair of snowshoes

A top-down shot of two legs in snow. The person is wearing snowshoes.

One of the most unique experiences in Sapporo during winter is snowshoeing! Snowshoeing can be enjoyed by all ages, and it’s a type of hiking using special equipment, walking through snow effortlessly while enjoying nature. If you have time, we’d recommend shoeing this one into your itinerary! 

Feeling overwhelmed by all the things to do in Sapporo? Don’t fret! Pick anything from this list of the best things to do in Sapporo and you won’t be disappointed. The activities, the sights, the food, and the seasonal events are some of the best in the country for a reason.

Craving some Sapporo Classic beer and a warming soup curry? Want to see the snowy sights of Odori Park? Tempted to head to the top of Mt. Moiwa for a panoramic view of the city? There’s no wrong choice! 

If your hunger for Sapporo isn’t yet satisfied, take a look through a few more of our Sapporo articles – you’re sure to find something else to chew over before you visit this beautiful city for yourself:

FAQs

What is there to do in Sapporo?

Sapporo is a city that can do it all. It has the convenience, handy transport links, and attractions of a capital while still being surrounded by mountains and nature. With an array of parks, museums, restaurants and izakaya, you'll never be bored.

As the self-proclaimed winter capital of Japan, Sapporo is also a must-see destination during the colder months, perfect for skiing and snowboarding holidays.

What is Sapporo famous for?

Sapporo is famous as a spot for winter vacations, with multiple resorts and locations for skiing and snowboarding.

It’s also famous as the home of Sapporo Beer, the Jingisukan style of yakitori, and the famous Sapporo Snow Festival, where colossal snow and ice sculptures will take your breath away.

Is Sapporo colder than Tokyo?

Yes! During the winter, the temperature in Tokyo usually doesn’t drop below 0°C, but in Sapporo—and the majority of Hokkaido—the temperature can often drop below freezing, especially at night or early morning. Sapporo also tends to see much higher snowfall than Tokyo, so prepare to wrap up warm if you’re visiting during the winter.

What is the best month to visit Sapporo?

It depends what you want from your trip to Sapporo, as this glorious city has something for all seasons!

December to February: Skiing and snowboarding trips—and the Sapporo Snow Festival!

Late April to May: Spring and blooming cherry blossoms!

June to August: Picnics and long walks through Odori Park.

September to October: Fall foliage you’ll never forget!

How to get from Tokyo to Sapporo?*

There are a number of ways to get to Sapporo from Tokyo, but since the two cities are around 800km (500 miles) apart, the cost and time spent traveling can increase dramatically depending on the method of transport you choose.

Flights: This will take about 1.5 hours (flying time), and tickets begin from ¥18,080 (round trip).

Trains: This will take about 7.5 to 8 hours (including transfer time), and travel costs will be approximately ¥28,000 (one way).

Ferry: This will take about 19 hours, and travel costs begin at approximately ¥18,050 (one way).

Roadtrip: This will take about 16 to 23 hours (non-stop), and the ferry fee will begin at ¥10,850 with additional car rental and gas expenses to consider.

*All prices are at time of writing and may change depending on season and demand.


We strive to be as accurate as possible and keep up with the changing landscape of Japan’s food and travel industries. If you spot any inaccuracies, please send a report.
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Megumi Koiwai
Megumi Koiwai is a freelance writer based in Tokyo. She likes to write essays about her life and curate cultural recommendations on her Substack newsletter, love or not to love. She's either always eating and/or traveling. Always out on the lookout for the best outdoor drinking spots in the city.
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