10-Day Hokkaido Summer Itinerary
Welcome to our massive Hokkaido summer itinerary! When most people travel to Japan and think of Hokkaido they immediately turn to thoughts of skiing, snowdrifts, and steamy hot springs. While these are some of the best things to do in Hokkaido, there is also a different side of Japan’s most northern region that is often overlooked.
Hokkaido in the summer is drastically different from winter. There are rocky coastal beaches, waterfalls, national parks perfect for hiking, flower fields galore, and some of the best seafood and dairy products you will EVER HAVE. You can quote me on that.
While Hokkaido is only one area of Japan, it’s a massive one, so in this 10-day Hokkaido summer itinerary, we only were able to visit a small fraction of the beautiful places in this region. But they hold such a special place for us – especially Logan, whose grandmother is from Hokkaido.
In this 10-day Hokkaido summer itinerary, we visited Asahikawa, Nakafurano, Biei, Hokuryu, Daisetsuzan National Park, Lake Toya, Noboribetsu, Jigokudani, Otaru, the Shakotan Peninsula, Sapporo, and Hakodate.
It might seem like a lot, and well, you’d be right! But many of the places mentioned above are small towns that offer few attractions. But you’ll still want to keep a tight schedule so you can enjoy everything there is to offer in the time frame you have! Ever since we first visited Hokkaido we’ve been aching to return so we’re jealous if you’re currently planning your trip!
Where is Hokkaido?
Hokkaido is a large island in the most northern part of Japan close to Russia. Because it is an island, it has a number of different beautiful coastlines including the Sea of Japan, the Pacific Ocean, and the Sea of Okhotsk. Besides the main island, there are also a number of smaller islands that are considered to be a part of the Hokkaido Region including Rishiri Island, one of the better known.
The Best Time To Visit Hokkaido
Despite it being located so much further north than most other areas of Japan, Hokkaido still has four seasons. Depending on what activities you would like to do will determine when to visit Hokkaido. In this post, we will be sharing our experience traveling to Hokkaido in the summer. But, here is what you can expect from each season in Hokkaido.
Spring in Hokkaido (March-May)
Spring is the most popular time to visit Japan due to… yep you might have guessed it! THE CHERRY BLOSSOMS. Sakura trees are lit up with delicate pink blossoms that are like a fairytale dream come true. So it only makes sense that this is a popular time to visit Hokkaido as well. The only thing to keep in mind is that because of the location of Hokkaido, sakura season typically comes in mid-May which is much later than the rest of Japan.
Summer in Hokkaido (June-August)
I highly believe that Hokkaido is the place to be during the summer in Japan. The weather is exceptionally cooler and less humid than on the main island and if you missed out on cherry blossom season, there are a TON of flower fields you can enjoy. Another thing you can enjoy during a summer road trip in Hokkaido is the beaches! The water is a stunning shade of blue and you’ll find many people going surfing or swimming on the beaches in Hokkaido.
Fall in Hokkaido (September-November)
During the autumn months, you can start to feel the chill of winter’s arrival around mid-September. You might also begin to see snow in some areas in November. With these cooler temperatures, you can enjoy the fall foliage, soak in hot springs, try a Japanese hot pot dish, or take a brisk hike through a glorious National Park. Just make sure you bring a lot of layers for autumn in Hokkaido.
Winter in Hokkaido (December-February)
Thinking about visiting Hokkaido in the winter? Great! Just be prepared for A LOT of snow and more crowds too. Many domestic and international travelers visit Hokkaido for the amazing ski slopes and snowboarding. There are a number of ski resort towns to visit too! Like fall, this is also the perfect time to enjoy soaking in an onsen, especially to soothe those aching muscles from skiing.
How to Get to Hokkaido
Traveling to Hokkaido by Plane
If you are traveling to Hokkaido by plane there are a number of different airports that have direct flights into Hokkaido but the fastest, easiest, and most cost-effective route is to fly from Tokyo Narita (NRT) or Haneda (HND) to Sapporo (CTS) which only takes around 1 hour 30 minutes.
Traveling to Hokkaido by Train
Another option for traveling to Hokkaido is by taking the shinkansen (bullet train) and other trains. Because we were in the Tohoku Region of Japan (also further north) before visiting Hokkaido this is what we did. We used our Japan Rail (JR) Pass to travel from Aomori City to Sapporo which took around 6 hours. As you can tell by the time, flying to Hokkaido is much more time-efficient – it would take you almost 12 hours to get to Sapporo from Tokyo! But if you have an active JR Pass and are already in northern Japan, this is an option too. As far as routes go, we used Google Maps to find the best route to get to Sapporo and booked our shinkansen tickets at the train station in Aomori City.
Transportation in Hokkaido
The best way to get around Hokkaido is by car, really there isn’t a way around it unless you are only planning to visit Hakodate, Sapporo, or other larger cities. Even then, some activities don’t have train service. However, if you don’t feel comfortable driving in Japan that’s okay. You can take trains as needed, hire a taxi, or take a tour bus for popular attractions.
Renting A Car in Hokkaido
Like I said, renting a car is truly the best way to travel in Hokkaido, hence why this Hokkaido summer itinerary is mainly focused on a Hokkaido road trip! After we took the trains from Aomori to Sapporo we walked from Sapporo Station to a nearby Budget store on the north exit of Sapporo Station, where we had rented our car from. We only rented a car for seven days of the trip because the last three days we were in areas with ample public transportation and didn’t find it necessary to keep the car. For our 7-day rental, it cost us $258.26 USD (around 35,000 JPY) not including gas. We won’t cover all the details about driving in this post, but we do have this guide for driving in Japan which will give you more insight!
What to Eat in Hokkaido
While we’ll give you some restaurant recommendations for each place we visited, I wanted to point out a few things that Hokkaido is well-known for when it comes to dining. Hokkaido is known as the “breadbasket of Japan” meaning they provide the most dairy, meat, vegetables, and seafood for Japan and other countries. Basically, they’re out there feeding everyone! Thus, there are a number of signature dishes to try in Hokkaido.
Ramen in Hokkaido
Japanese ramen varies greatly based on the region and city you’re visiting, Hokkaido is no exception. There are three main types of ramen that the Hokkaido region has to offer – Asahikawa Ramen, Sapporo Ramen, and Hakodate Ramen, each named after the city they respectively originated from.
As the name suggests, Asahikawa Ramen is the local ramen in Asahikawa City. This style of ramen has a shoyu (soy sauce) flavored broth that uses pork and chicken bones in addition to fish broth making it a hearty bowl of ramen, complex in flavor. The noodles used are typically thicker and wavier.
Sapporo-style ramen is typically made with chicken, fish, or pork broth (sometimes combined) and flavored with aka miso (red miso paste). Miso ramen is very popular in Hokkaido because it adds an extra element of richness to the broth perfect for cold, winter days. Sapporo Ramen is typically topped with ground pork or chashu pork and a variety of vegetables including bean sprouts, cabbage, and sweet corn.
Though Hakodate Ramen broth starts similarly to the others with the broth being made from chicken and pork bones, the shio (salt) base added to the broth makes it much lighter than Sapporo or Asahikawa-style ramen. Toppings for Hakodate Ramen usually include chashu pork, spinach, naruto (fish cake), green onion, nori (seaweed), and bamboo shoots.
Although these are the most common types of ramen in each of these cities, this list is obviously not exclusive. There are many other types of ramen that you can find all over Hokkaido. In fact, I had one of the best ramen bowls I’ve ever had was at a restaurant in Asahikawa and it was vegetarian. To be honest, I still think about it ALL the time.
Donburi is a rice bowl dish that is topped with a variety of ingredients that is popular for breakfast or lunch. Like ramen, you can find many different styles around Japan. In Hokkaido, the most popular toppings are uni (sea urchin) and ikura (salmon roe) because they are widely found in Hokkaido. But, you can also get shrimp, crab, or other types of seafood as well.
Another popular style of donburi you can find in Hokkaido is butadon (pork rice bowl). This dish is quite well-known in Obihiro and has layers of thinly sliced pork coated in a sweet and spicy sauce and occasionally has some eel as well.
Hokkaido is known for having some of the best seafood, dare I say it, in the world. You can challenge me if you want to but I won’t back down. So if you’re a seafood lover, Hokkaido will be a foodie paradise for you. While you can find almost any kind of seafood in Hokkaido, crab is one of the most popular.
Hokkaido has a large variety of crabs to try and all-you-can-eat restaurants are found all over, especially in Sapporo. Hokkaido loves crab so much that they even have a crab festival every year in Nemuro City in early September!
A few varieties they serve commonly in Hokkaido are tarabagani (red king crab), kegani (horsehair crab), zuwaigani (snow crab), hanasaki crab, and aoi tarabagani (blue king crab).
Since Hokkaido has some of the freshest and best seafood, it only makes sense that sushi is also incredible in Hokkaido. Conveyor belt sushi restaurants are typically high-quality and offer a variety of different options. The most popular are fatty tuna, salmon roe, salmon, squid, crab, and sea urchin.
Japanese curry is one of our favorite comfort foods, but in Hokkaido, it’s done a little differently. This curry is definitely more “brothy” but still served alongside a bowl of rice. It typically contains chicken legs and a large portion of flash-fried vegetables including okra, eggplant, potato, carrots, bell peppers, and squash. To make it extra flavorful, a heaping amount of spices are added.
Ishikari Nabe is a light, yet hearty hot pot dish composed of a white miso-based broth, salmon or trout (depending on the season), and loads of vegetables including cabbage, onions, green onion, and ginger.
Jingisukan (Genghis Khan)
Jingisukan is one of the most popular dishes to try in Hokkaido. It is seasoned mutton that is grilled and then dipped in a sauce (other parts of Japan marinate in sauce first then grill). Bean sprouts and other vegetables are placed around the edges of the grilling pan and the mutton is placed directly in the center which allows the fat to flow to the vegetables providing them with more flavor. After grilling, the meat is dipped in a spicy sauce.
Zangi is commonly referred to as Hokkaido’s soul food but to be honest, I hadn’t heard of it until we visited Hokkaido. Zangi is a chicken dish that is made with chicken thighs and wings that are fried extra crispy and served with a dipping sauce made with soy sauce, vinegar, and sugar.
Soft-Serve Ice Cream
Hokkaido is well-known for its dairy and milk products which are often not easy to find in Japan other than in Hokkaido. I mean, they’re so regarded that when I got ice cream in Beppu (southern Japan) they made sure to tell me it was made with Hokkaido milk. Let me just say, they really do have a reason to brag because Hokkaido dairy products are sublime.
I LOVE ice cream. I love ice cream so much that I wrote an entire post about Japanese ice cream flavors. Yep, I really did. But here’s the thing, too much dairy tends to hurt my stomach so I hold back if I’ve eaten a lot of milk-based products. However, for whatever reason, Hokkaido’s dairy products didn’t do anything to me except make me cry tears of joy because they were that good.
I’m not saying that Hokkaido dairy is magic per se, you might not have the same experience, but I think their cows must be happier than the ones we have in the U.S. Anyways, I regress. When in Hokkaido you must try soft-serve ice cream. It’s creamy, it’s flavorful, and it’s delicious. I recommend getting a plain ‘ol vanilla ice cream to start just to compare to others. Then go for the gold and get flavors like lavender while in Furano and Hokkaido melon.
Yubari King Melon
Speaking of melons, did you know Hokkaido is also known for its Yubari King Melon? You know those cantaloupes you get at the grocery store or as a fruit side at restaurants that are hard, tasteless, and utterly disappointing? Yeah, this melon is NOT THAT. Hokkaido melon is soft, sweet, and bursting with flavor. I also purchased a melon soft serve ice cream which was one of my favorite flavors out of the hundreds I’ve tried.
Hokkaido Summer Itinerary
Now that we’ve covered some of the basics of Hokkaido let’s move on to the Hokkaido summer itinerary. But before I start, I do want to point out that this itinerary is best suited for summer. You can visit many of these places during other seasons as well. It might just look a bit different. In addition, all of the mentioned activities, restaurants, and hotels in this itinerary are our suggestions. You are welcome to only choose places that are of interest to you when creating your own itinerary. Last, although we do our best to update information as we see the need arise, always remember to check opening hours and costs as they are subject to change quickly. Now let’s get started!
Here’s how this Hokkaido itinerary is broken down.
- DAY 1 – Asahikawa
- Total travel time: 2 hours
- Stay in Asahikawa
- DAY 2 – Day trip to Nakafurano and Biei
- Total travel time: 2 hours
- Stay in Asahikawa
- DAY 3 – Day trip to Daisetsuzan National Park
- Total travel time: 2 hours
- Stay in Asahikawa
- DAY 4 – Day trip to Hokuryu
- Total travel time: 3 hours
- Stay in Otaru
- DAY 5 – Otaru
- Stay in Otaru
- DAY 6 – Shakotan Peninsula
- Total travel time: 3.5 hours
- Stay in Kutchan
- DAY 7 – Lake Toya, Noboribetsu, Jigokundani
- Total travel time: 2-2.5 hours (if staying near Jigokudani) 3.5 hours (if heading to Sapporo)
- Stay in Sapporo
- DAY 8 – Sapporo
- Stay in Sapporo
- DAY 9 – Sapporo
- Stay in Sapporo
- DAY 10 – Hakodate
- Total travel time: 3 hours 45 minutes (train)
- Stay in Hakodate
WITH FEWER DAYS: You could take out Hokuryu Sunflower Field or some of the flower fields near Biei and spend more time in Asahikawa.
HOKKAIDO ITINERARY: DAY 1-3
Asahikawa + Day Trips
Where to Stay in Asahikawa
When we got off the train in Sapporo we picked up our rental car and immediately drove to Asahikawa. We stayed here three nights so we could explore Asahikawa and neighboring small towns too.
During our time in Asahikawa, we stayed at the Premier Hotel Cabin Asahikawa. It was definitely small yet budget-friendly and comfortable for our stay. The only downfall is that parking isn’t free, although the fee is minimal.
Things to Do in Asahikawa
Tambo Rice Art
Rice art is a unique form of art that you can see in various parts of Japan so we were excited to find out that there was a location nearby. Tambo Rice Art is a small location, with just one tapestry of rice art, but it’s still a sight to behold! It all starts with a well-thought-out design that usually depicts a story from Japanese folklore. Then a number of different rice species are meticulously planted to form a giant canvas on a vast field as they grow throughout the summer.
When you arrive you’ll first notice a platform that allows you to view the rice art from a bird’s eye view. However, before you make your way up the stairs, I highly recommend taking a long glance at it from the bottom first. Why? Well from the bottom you’ll be able to make out the tapestry, but as you climb the stairs the picture becomes all the more clear.
LOCATION: Higashitakasu 7 Sen, Asahikawa, Hokkaido 071-8157, Japan // MAP
COST: Free to visit
The Asahiyama Zoo is one of the most popular places to visit in Asahikawa year-round. In fact, it’s so popular that it is also one of the most visited zoos in Japan. The unique construction of this zoo allows you to get close to the animals in a safe way making it exciting and different from other zoos. One highlight of the Asahiyama Zoo is the glass tunnel through the penguin pool where you can watch the penguins glide through the water. They also host a penguin parade daily!
TIP: Since this zoo is a half-day activity you might not have time to visit some of the other attractions in Asahikawa so consider picking which of the things you’d like to do most this day. There is a chance you’ll have some evenings free for other activities on other days in this Hokkaido summer itinerary.
LOCATION: Kuranuma Higashiasahikawacho, Asahikawa, Hokkaido 078-8205, Japan // MAP
HOURS: 10:30am-3:30pm daily
COST: 1,000 yen
Asahikawa Ramen Village
Remember that ramen I told you about? Well, Asahikawa Ramen Village has it all! Asahikawa Ramen Village is located on the outskirts of the city, but it’s definitely worth the trip. Inside you’ll find eight famous ramen restaurants to choose from, gift shops where you can purchase a unique souvenir or gift for someone, and there is also a ramen shrine nearby that is interesting to visit.
Ramen Shops + Specialities Located in Asahikawa Ramen Village
- Aoba Aoba is a long-established ramen shop that started in 1947. It has a mix of pork and seafood in its specialty ramen.
- Ittetsu-an’s main dish is pork broth ramen with large portions of slow-roasted chashu pork.
- Ishida has a hearty pork broth ramen that has many pork dumplings in the soup.
- Tenkin Tenkin offers a savory and spicy ramen that has thicker ramen noodles.
- Santouka has a rich bowl of ramen with a hearty broth, thick slices of pork, and thin ramen noodles.
- Saijo Saijo serves up a light, health-conscious Chicken ramen with medium curly ramen noodles.
- Heiwa Heiwa has ramen that uses a blend of three kinds of miso to make the broth adding extra umami flavors. Flat ramen noodles are used as well as bite-sized pieces of pork. They also have curry ramen flavors too.
- Umekoken Baikoken offers traditional ramen with a blend of pork, chicken, and fish stock with thin slices of pork.
In addition to the specialty ramen dishes named above, each shop offers other menu items including some vegetarian and vegan choices too!
LOCATION: 4 Chome-119-48 Nagayama 11 Jo, Asahikawa, Hokkaido 079-8421, Japan // MAP
HOURS: 11am-8pm daily
COST: Free admission, ramen typically costs around 800 yen/bowl
Otokayama Sake Brewing Museum
If you are interested in learning more about Japanese sake, don’t miss a visit to the Otokayama Sake Brewing Museum. This former brewery is now a museum where you can learn more about Japan’s Edo period, the history of sake, sake brewing methods, and at the end of your tour, enjoy a tasting of Otokayama sake. If you enjoy it be sure to buy your bottle at their store because this is the only place they sell it!
LOCATION: 7 Chome-1 Nagayama 2 Jo, Asahikawa, Hokkaido 079-8412, Japan // MAP
HOURS: 9am-5pm daily
COST: Free admission
Kawamura Kaneto Ainu Memorial Museum
In many cities in Hokkaido, you will find memorial museums dedicated to Hokkaido’s indigenous people, the Ainu. The mission of the Kawamura Kaneto Ainu Memorial Museum is to maintain Ainu culture and language in urban areas and is the oldest Ainu museum in Hokkaido. It is a great living museum to visit to learn more about the Ainu people and their history.
LOCATION: 11 Chome Hokumoncho, Asahikawa, Hokkaido 070-0825, Japan // MAP
HOURS: 9am-4pm daily
COST: 500 yen/adults, 300 yen/children
Asahikawa Museum of Art
The Asahikawa Museum of Art is a small, prefectural art museum located in Tokiwa Park with regional works as well as art from other parts of Japan and the world. One of the unique exhibits at the Asahikawa Museum of Art is its collection of wooden art such as carvings, furniture, and other woodcraft.
LOCATION: Tokiwakoen, Asahikawa, Hokkaido 070-0044, Japan // MAP
HOURS: 9:30am-5pm daily, closed Mondays
COST: Gallery 1: Fees vary by exhibition, Gallery 2: 260 yen/adults, 150 yen/students
Arashiyama Observation Deck
The Arashiyama Observation Deck might not seem like much at first glance, but don’t let that stop you from climbing the steps to see the view from the top. This wooden deck is located within a protected watershed forest and a public park for all who desire to visit. From the top, you can see a stunning view of Asahikawa and the ocean or for visiting at night to see the city lights from above. At certain times of the year, it is also a prime location for viewing fireworks!
LOCATION: 9 Sen, Takasu, Kamikawa District, Hokkaido 071-1249, Japan // MAP
HOURS: Open 24 hours
Where to Eat in Asahikawa
Other than the Asahikawa Ramen Village (listed above), there are a number of great places to eat in Asahikawa. Sadly a cute bakery we went to and another restaurant has since closed (I’m guessing due to 2020 events) but we still have you covered!
Robata no Yūkara (炉端のユーカラ)
Robata no Yūkara is an izakaya restaurant had a large variety of items to eat plus Japanese beer! We got a flight to share and a few small plates. If you aren’t familiar with izakayas, it’s basically a Japanese bar that serves small plates and comfort food dishes. The food is usually always terrific and the beer is on point too. This izakaya was no different. We enjoyed a number of small plates.
LOCATION: 7 Chome 4 Jodori, Asahikawa, Hokkaido 070-0034, Japan // MAP
HOURS: 3pm-12am daily
Kushidori (串鳥 旭川本店)
On our first night in Asahikawa, we wanted to grab something to eat in a casual place where we could chat and relax. Kushidori was a great option for yakitori! The wait times can be a little long but it tends to move quickly once your name is on the list. We were seated at the bar area and given an iPad to order from which made it easy to order a few dishes at a time until we were full.
Although chicken yakitori is most common in Japan, Kushidori also has pork, beef, vegetables, and mochi as well. Each piece is ordered al la carte with 1-2 skewers. In addition to yakitori, they also have a few side dishes to munch on such as onigiri (Japanese rice balls), donburi (rice bowls), salads, tofu, and edamame.
We personally enjoyed the potato with butter, maitake mushrooms with ponzu, mochi bacon, pork shiso, chicken and onion, and chicken wings.
LOCATION: Japan, 〒070-0032 Hokkaido, Asahikawa, 2 Jodori, 7 Chome−左 1 号 プラネット 2・7 1F // MAP
HOURS: 4:30pm-12:30am daily
Ganso Asahikawa Ramen Ichikura
Of course, I highly recommend visiting the Asahikawa Ramen Village (listed above) for the experience and the food, but one other place I recommend visiting, especially if you’re searching for halal or vegetarian ramen is Ganso Asahikawa Ramen Ichikura. It had the best vegetarian ramen I had while in Japan. The broth was creamy miso with toppings of sweet corn and other seasonal vegetables. If you aren’t looking for vegetarian or halal-friendly ramen then they also have traditional ramen dishes too. Logan ordered the shoyu ramen which he said was a great, classic bowl of ramen.
LOCATION: Japan, 〒070-0033 Hokkaido, Asahikawa, 3 Jodori, 7 Chome−329-1 山田ビル // MAP
HOURS: 11am-4am daily
HOKKAIDO ITINERARY DAY 2
Nakafurano and Biei (Stay in Asahikawa)
Tomita Farm (ファーム富田) has been operating as the largest lavender field in Hokkaido since 1903. Which, as you might have guessed, has made it the most popular lavender farm to visit in Hokkaido! In addition to lavender fields, Tomita Farm also has a few other fields with colorful varieties of flowers and even a birch forest you can explore. There are also a number of places to shop or eat on-site.
One thing we recommend is getting lavender ice cream from one of the shops. Hokkaido is known for having terrific dairy products so the ice cream is incredibly creamy and the lavender flavor is perfectly balanced instead of being overpowering like some lavender-flavored desserts.
LOCATION: １５号 Kisenkita, Nakafurano, Sorachi District, Hokkaido 071-0704, Japan // MAP
HOURS: 9AM-6PM daily
Choei Lavender Farm
The Choei Lavender Farm is one of the most popular Hokkaido lavender fields to visit but not as popular as Tomita Farm making Choei Lavender Farm less crowded on a typical day. There are two sections to this park one being the lavender fields and the other being a field of a mixed variety of flowers.
One experience that is not to be missed at Choei Lavender Farm is the ski lift that allows you to have a bird’s eye view of the stunning flower fields from above for 400 yen. At the top of the ski lift is an observation deck where you can rest on one of the benches while enjoying the view.
LOCATION 1-41 Miyamachi, Nakafurano, Sorachi District, Hokkaido 071-0714, Japan // MAP
HOURS: 9AM-6PM daily
COST: Free, 400 yen for the ski lift (round-trip)
Saika no Sato
Saika no Sato is a flower field in Hokkaido that is set 6 hectares high on a hilltop with a beautiful panoramic view. Like many of the other lavender farms in Nakafurano, you will also see fields of lavender as well as a variety of other seasonal flowers such as marigolds, sunflowers, and salvia.
Saika no Sato has an onsite cafe restaurant that focuses on dishes with seasonal vegetables and seafood but in the summer they have juicy, ripe melons to enjoy too! During the prime lavender season, you can even pick your own lavender to take with you for 1,000 yen a bag. Since many others are also there to pick lavender, the aromatic scent fills the air all around you so even if you don’t get to take some with you, you can still enjoy the beautiful fragrance!
LOCATION: Japan, 〒071-0762 Hokkaido, Sorachi District, Nakafurano, 西一線北１２号 // MAP
HOURS: 8AM-5PM daily
Shirogane Blue Pond
Shirogane Blue Pond is a man-made pond located in Biei, but before you write it off because it isn’t a naturally made pond, the pastel blue water is anything but artificial. Its creamy blue color is all thanks to the natural minerals combined from the Biei River and the volcanic eruption of Mount Tokachi in 1988. Along the viewing path of the pond are a number of white birch trees which makes the scenery even more beautiful to view.
LOCATION: Shirogane, Biei, Kamikawa District, Hokkaido 071-0235, Japan // MAP
COST: Free to visit
When I was researching things to do in Hokkaido near Asahikawa, Rollercoaster Road was one place that kept popping up on Instagram and Google. But, if I’m being completely honest, I found it to be a touch underwhelming. However, we did drive by here so we decided to stop.
LOCATION: Nishi 11 Sen Kita, Kamifurano, Sorachi District, Hokkaido 071-0511, Japan // MAP
Trick Art Museum
The Trick Art Museum is a great place to visit if you want to step away from the outside humidity and enjoy an indoor attraction. Although the museum is small, there are about 30 exhibits to discover that have optical illusions, appearing different from every angle, kind of like those wacky fun house mirrors at theme parks! Though most of the museum is set indoors, there are also a few exhibits outside and also a Ferris wheel you can add to your admission.
LOCATION: 33 Go Nishi 8 Senkita, Kamifurano, Sorachi District, Hokkaido 071-0508, Japan // MAP
HOURS: 9am-5pm (April & May, September-November), 9am-6pm (June-August)
COST: 1,300 yen/adult, 1,000 yen/junior high and high school students, 700 yen/5th grade and above, 4th grade and under is free
Shikisai no Oka
Shikisai no Oka (四季彩の丘) also known as Shikisai Hill is one of the larger flower fields in Hokkaido. It’s so big it even has a tractor ride to take visitors from one area of the farm to the other or you can rent a golf cart to drive! Because of its size, it’s also pretty busy, so I would try to visit when they first open or towards the end of the day when they close.
Another unique thing that Shikisai no Oka has on-site is the small alpaca farm located towards the entrance where you can view, pet, and feed the alpacas – this is something we didn’t do while we were there, but it could be a fun activity for kids.
On-site you’ll find a few small restaurants as well as an area with fresh produce that you can purchase. Like the other flower fields, they carry lavender and melon soft serve but another snack you can purchase here is a potato croquette which is made from the potatoes in their fields.
LOCATION Japan, 〒071-0473 Hokkaido, Kamikawa District, Biei, Shinsei, 第３// MAP
HOURS: 9AM-5PM daily
COST: Free but they ask for a 200 yen donation for the maintenance of the flower fields.
You might also like: The Best Hokkaido Flower Fields
HOKKAIDO ITINERARY DAY 3
Daisetsuzan National Park (Stay in Asahikawa)
Daisetsuzan is Hokkaido’s biggest national park that features a number of gorgeous outdoor hikes, waterfalls, and scenic views, especially during the autumn months. One spot you can’t miss is Mt. Asahidake, which is the largest peak in Hokkaido. Because of our limited time taking a day trip to Daisetsuzan National Park, we mainly spent time on the north side of the park so that is what we will be covering here. But there are a number of attractions that are on the central and south sides of the park as well!
A few suggestions I have for a day trip to Daisetsuzan National Park is to wake up extra early to account for travel time and because your schedule will be busy. Second, pack some snacks and drinks since there aren’t many places to get refreshments along the way. But at most attractions, you’ll find a public restroom.
Daisetsuzan Sounkyo Kurodake Ropeway & Mt. Kurodake
On the opposite side of Mt. Asahi, you’ll find Mt. Kurodake, another mountain that also offers astonishing views and hiking. The hiking path to Mt. Kurodake is easily accessed by Daisetsuzan Sounkyo Kurodake Ropeway which is a mile-long cable car lift that has scenic views of the mountain and trails from the sky. The scenery is especially beautiful during the autumn months when the foliage is in full swing.
During the winter months, the Daisetsuzan Sounkyo Kurodake ski area starts at the northeast slope of the mountain. It is one of the most popular ski attractions in Hokkaido because of its high altitude and quality powdery snow. At the base of the mountain, you’ll also find Sounkyo Onsen, a hot spring town that is the largest in the area. Here you can soak your muscles and warm up after a day of skiing.
In the summer, the area drastically changes and you can observe a number of alpine plants and animals and enjoy hiking on the mountain. Just be sure you dress in layers because the altitude does add a chill to the thin air!
LOCATION: Sounkyo, Kamikawa, Kamikawa District, Hokkaido 078-1701, Japan // MAP
HOURS: 8am-4pm (January-March), 8am-4:30pm (April-May), 6am-6pm (June-September)
COST: 2,400 yen (adult/round-trip), 1,400 yen (adult/one-way), 1,200 yen (child/round-trip), 700 yen (child/one-way)
Ginga & Ryusei Waterfalls
Ginga & Ryusei Waterfalls was one of the most impressive twin waterfalls we saw in Japan. Actually, it might be one of the most impressive we’ve seen in the world alongside Powerscourt Falls in Ireland. Although the actual names for these waterfalls are Ginga no Taki (Milky Way Waterfall) and Ryusei no Taki (Shooting Star Waterfall), they are often referred to as the “married waterfalls” since they are made up of two different streams combined into one.
Both waterfalls are massive in height at 295 feet (90 meters). But they also stand out because they flow down the face of a large beautiful rock bluff. After gazing from a distance, you can then take the approximately 0.65-mile RT walk (1 km) to view the streams and waterfalls from another area.
Ōbako is a beautiful scenic spot where the merging of two rivers takes place. It has many stunning water features and bluffs that form a sweeping ravine. We actually swung by here by accident when driving around Daisetsuzan National Park. Nearby is another scenic spot, Kobako but we, unfortunately, didn’t get to enter because it is currently closed off to the public for fear of collapsing. I’d say that if you happen to be nearby, which you will if you visit the other places on this Hokkaido summer itinerary, then stop by, but it wouldn’t be something I’d make a special trip for otherwise.
LOCATION: Sounkyo, Kamikawa, Kamikawa District, Hokkaido 078-1701, Japan // MAP
COST: Free to visit and free public parking nearby
Mikuni Pass Observation Deck
Mikuni Pass Observation Deck is one of the most popular viewing decks in Hokkaido and for a good reason. It has the most incredible view of the stunning Hokkaido landscape including trees, mountains, diverse foliage, and the impressive Matsumio Bridge. Attached to the observation deck is the Mikuni Pass Cafe which is a great spot to stop and get something to eat or enjoy a latte. They mainly offer comfort foods like curry and soba, but they also have ice cream and coffee.
LOCATION: Mitsumata, Kamishihoro, Kato District, Hokkaido 080-1401, Japan // MAP
HOURS: Open 24 hours, Cafe Hours: 9am-5pm
COST: Free to visit
At this point, you’ll be heading back around towards Asahikawa so you can decide whether to continue the journey to Mt. Asahi and Hagoromo Falls or head back to your hotel!
Mt. Asahi & Daisetsuzan Asahidake Ropeway
The Daisetsuzan Asahidake Ropeway is a popular attraction year-round in Daisetsuzan National Park that takes you towards the top of Mt. Asahi. In the winter, you can experience powdery white snow. In autumn, the leaves are vibrant colors in contrast to the birch bark on trees. In the spring, fresh blooms grow as the snow melts. But in the summer, you’ll be able to get off the ropeway to a trail for wildflowers that takes you to the mountaintop. The trail only takes about an hour but the views are SO worth it and I’d allow for at least two hours so you can really enjoy the panoramic views of Daisetsuzan National Park.
LOCATION: Higashikawa, Kamikawa District, Hokkaido 071-1472, Japan // MAP
COST: 10/21-5/31: 2,200 yen/adult (round-trip), 1,300 yen/adult (one-way), 6/1-10/20: 3,200 yen/adult (round-trip), 2,000 yen/adult (one-way) – view more prices
Near the Daisetsuzan Asahidake Ropeway is Hagoromo Falls which is accessed by an easy walk. Hagoromo Falls has such beautiful scenery and bright blue water, you’ll immediately feel as though you’ve stepped into a painting. Although you can see a terrific view of Hagoromo Falls along the trail, there is a viewing platform that allows a different perspective of the falls too! Considering it’s such an easy walk to view the waterfall, this is a must-visit for anyone visiting Daisetsuzan National Park.
LOCATION: Higashikawa, Kamikawa District, Hokkaido 071-1473, Japan // MAP
COST: Free to visit
HOKKAIDO ITINERARY DAY 4
Hokuryu or Otaru (Stay in Otaru)
For this day, you’ll be staying in Otaru but making a drive over to Hokuryu to visit the Hokuryu Sunflower Park first. If the sunflowers aren’t in season then you can skip this park and head directly to Otaru where there are plenty of things to do for at least two days in Otaru.
Hokuryu Sunflower Farm (Himawari No Sato)
Located about an hour away from Asahikawa, Hokuryu Sunflower Farm, as the name suggests is a field where you can see over 1.5 million sunflowers! The golden hue of the sunflower petals glimmers in the sunlight. The park is perfectly laid out so you can walk down rows of sunflowers on tarps so you can take photos with ease! During the sunflower festival (early August) you can also have a complimentary photo taken and printed off as a memento.
While you’re there, be sure to stop in the nearby gift shop where you can find souvenirs and food stalls. A must-try is the sunflower ice cream which is made with crushed sunflower seeds – It has a rich nutty flavor similar to kinako mochi or peanut butter ice cream.
LOCATION: Japan, 〒078-2511 Hokkaido, Uryu District, Hokuryu, 板谷 // Map
HOURS: 24 hours
Once you’ve had your fill of the sunflower village, you’ll head on to Otaru which is a 2-hour drive from Hokuryu Sunflower Farm or a 2-hour 15-minute drive from Asahikawa. We arrived in Otaru in the late afternoon so we didn’t get to do too much the first day other than check in to our Airbnb, go on a walk around the city, and grab some dinner.
After we ate dinner we attended some Bon festival events because we happened to be in Otaru during that time. However, since you may not be there for that festival, I’ve added a few extra things to do in Otaru to day five of this itinerary.
Some good options if you are arriving in Otaru in the late afternoon or early evening are: taking a riverboat cruise on the Otaru Canal or walking by the canal or taking a tour of the Tanaka Sake Brewery and grabbing dinner afterward.
HOKKAIDO ITINERARY DAY 5
Otaru (Stay in Otaru)
Before I begin this part of the Hokkaido summer itinerary, I want to tell you a little about why Otaru is so special to us, especially Logan. Logan’s grandmother was born in Otaru and although we’ve visited Japan on other occasions, this was the first time we’ve ever made it to her hometown.
Prior to visiting Otaru, we were able to sit down with his grandmother and hear some stories from her childhood there. Being able to walk the same paths as his grandmother was truly a touching moment for Logan. Because of this Otaru will always be a special place for Logan and me.
I feel like two days in Otaru didn’t give us enough time to see and do everything we wanted to do. Especially because we arrived in the afternoon on the first day and attended the local Bon festival. So we definitely plan to visit again in the future!
Where to Stay in Otaru
During our time in Otaru, we actually stayed in an Airbnb outside of the city. We both really enjoyed the space this Airbnb offered and would highly recommend it, especially for the price point. But sadly, it is no longer available! When we visited, Japan was changing a lot of laws for short-term rental properties such as Airbnb. If you want to know more about Airbnb in Japan you can read more in our Japan trip planner.
If you don’t want to book an Airbnb that’s okay! We have some hotel recommendations too. These are widely based on reviews and suggestions from others who have visited Otaru.
Dormy Inn Premium Otaru: We have stayed in a number of Dormy Inn Premium Hotels and have always been satisfied with our stay. The rooms are affordable but have a small touch of modern luxury with rooms that are decently spacious, comfortable, and clean. Each night the hotel offers free ramen to all of their guests and there is a large public onsen that is perfect for soaking in to wind down in the evenings.
Grand Park Otaru: If you’re wanting to stay in a slightly more upscale hotel then Grand Park Otaru is a resort option perfect for family travel or couples travel. Many of the rooms offer a fabulous view of either the mountains, city, or ocean and are incredibly spacious.
Ginrinso: For a romantic, luxury accommodation consider staying at Ginrinso, a traditional Japanese ryokan. Guests of Ginrinso have access to a wide variety of accommodations including on-site restaurants, a gift shop, free parking, a shuttle bus service, and hot springs. In addition, Ginrinso is located close to many Otaru attractions making it convenient for your stay.
Things to Do in Otaru
Walk by the Otaru Canal
The Otaru Canal is one of the most popular attractions in Otaru because it is lined with many popular restaurants and shops. However, it is also incredibly romantic and historic too. Prior to the canal being built, large ships docked offshores and unloaded cargo to transport goods from land. But it became tiresome and thus, in 1918 the Otaru Canal was completed in order to help manage the cargo by smaller barges.
Today it is no longer used for cargo, but you can take a leisurely boat ride along the canal. You’ll probably walk by here a few times while you’re in Otaru, but make sure that one of your stops is at sunset or early evening when the 63 gas lanterns are glowing along the sidewalk and stone warehouses. In the winter, the canal is also the site of the Otaru Snow Light Path where the lights and snow reflect next to the water.
LOCATION: 5 Minatomachi, Otaru, Hokkaido 047-0007, Japan // MAP
HOURS: Open 24 hours
Shop for Otaru Confections
I’ve already talked up desserts in Hokkaido so much you’re probably sick of hearing about them and wanting to try them for yourself! Lucky for you, Otaru has a number of pastry and confectionery shops that are good for getting a sweet treat or buying something to take home.
- LeTAO has a few locations around Japan but most are located in Hokkaido, specifically Otaru. This is a great place to stop and relax while enjoying a slice of cake. Afterward, be sure to head up to the tower for a nice view of Otaru! // MAP
- Kitakaro is pretty well known for its cream puffs but if you want something a little less sweet try the sweet potato bake! They also have delicious soft-serve ice cream flavors perfect for a hot summer day in Japan. // MAP
The Otaru Museum is a local museum that highlights the history of the city and the train system. The exhibits go into detail about the history of Japan’s railways starting in 1880, train types, and engines, with many full-sized trains. Overall it’s a very interesting and informational museum where you can learn a lot about how Otaru became such an important city in Hokkaido.
LOCATION: 1 Chome-3-6 Temiya, Otaru, Hokkaido 047-0041, Japan // MAP
HOURS: 9:30am-5pm daily, closed Tuesdays
Otaru Art Base: Stained Glass Museum
The Stained Glass Museum is located inside the Otaru Art Base and features, as you probably guessed, beautiful stained glass works! All of the stained glass pieces were crafted in England between the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as windows in churches. Some of the stained glass pieces tell the story of Queen Victoria through World War I. There are many different galleries in this art base, one even featuring the works of Louis Comfort Tiffany (yes, the Tiffany and Co, Tiffany).
LOCATION: 1 Chome-2-16 Ironai, Otaru, Hokkaido 047-0031, Japan // MAP
HOURS: 11am-3pm daily
COST: 700 yen
Built in 1917, Otaru Kihinkan, formerly known as Aoyama Bettei is one of the best art mansions in Hokkaido. The history of Aoyama Bettei dates back to the Meiji and Taisho eras when the Aoyama family made a fortune herring fishing.
At the time of its construction, it cost 310,000 yen to build this luxury mansion which used the skills of over 50 craftsmen, carpenters, artists, and architects. In addition, a variety of luxury woods, art pieces, and other additional touches were added such as nightingale floors.
Otaru Kihinkan is a fascinating and beautiful piece of history that is definitely a must-visit while in Otaru.
LOCATION: 3 Chome-63 Shukutsu, Otaru, Hokkaido 047-0047, Japan // MAP
HOURS: 9am-4pm daily
COST: 1,100 yen/adult, 550 yen/children
Tanaka Sake Brewery
Again, if you enjoy sake then you must visit Tanaka Sake Brewery while in Otaru. Tanaka Sake Brewery is located inside an old stone masonry warehouse that was built in 1905 adding to the historic element of their tours and tastings. But the real history of this sake brewery started back in 1899. All of their sake is brewed with 100% Hokkaido-produced rice and milled in their warehouse to begin the brewing process.
The factory tour is only in Japanese but you’ll be able to learn more about the history of Tanaka Sake Brewery, see the tedious brewing process, and taste a few varieties of sake after the tour. Since they only brew their sake in Otaru, buying a bottle as a gift to take home is an excellent idea and if we hadn’t been traveling all over Japan, we definitely would have done that!
LOCATION: 2-2 Nobukacho, Otaru, Hokkaido 047-0016, Japan // MAP
COST: Tours are free, reservations required
The next two activities would require more time but if you arrived in Otaru early on day four of this Hokkaido itinerary you could do one or both of these activities in the morning of this day and do the above itinerary on day four.
Mt. Tengu & Tengu Ropeway
Mt. Tengu is most popular to visit in the winter because of snowshoe hiking, but the summer offers beautiful scenery as well. If you’re wanting to visit Mt. Tengu you’ll definitely want to plan ahead. The hike to the top can be a bit slippery if it has rained or had recent snowmelt, although it is worth mentioning that the trail is well-maintained and takes about an hour to 1.5 hours.
But despite the minor setbacks in getting there, the view from the top is phenomenal and if you aren’t interested in hiking you can take the ropeway towards the top. It is believed that those that reach the summit and rub the nose of the Tengu Goblin statue will have good health, a prosperous business, and travel safety.
LOCATION: 2 Chome Asarigawaonsen, Otaru, Hokkaido 047-0154, Japan // MAP
HOURS: 9:30am-9pm daily
Visiting the Blue Cave is one activity that we didn’t get the chance to enjoy because we ran out of time! To be honest, I think I’ll honestly regret not making the time for it until I’m able to go back again. The Blue Cave is the perfect summer activity in Hokkaido because there are boat tours that take you out on the water and into the nearby caves. While on the journey you might even spot dolphins or whales out on the sapphire blue water. Once you arrive you can kayak, snorkel, or enjoy the views from your boat. There are very few places to see blue caves in Japan so this rarity is something to be enjoyed during your Hokkaido summer itinerary.
LOCATION: 4-5 Minatomachi, Otaru-shi, Hokkaido 047-0007 // MAP
HOURS: Tours start at 9am and end around 4:20pm or 6:20pm in July and August. Be sure to make a reservation in advance.
COST: 5,500 yen/adult, 3,000 yen/child
Where to Eat in Otaru
The most popular morning market in Otaru is Sankaku Market. It was established in 1957 with over 40 different food stalls to choose from ranging from fresh seafood, hot pot entrees, and rice bowls. Because it is right next to the train station, this market has gotten a bit touristy and the prices reflect that as well. Although I must say, the quality of the seafood is still there. I recommend ordering some crab as well as sashimi from any of the stalls that catch your eyes!
LOCATION: 3 Chome-10-16 Inaho, Otaru, Hokkaido 047-0032, Japan // MAP
HOURS: 8am-5pm daily
Rinyu Morning Market
Similar to Sankaku Market, Rinyu Morning Market is a smaller market with only around 20 stalls and typically less tourists. Here you can get a delicious bowl of fresh seafood to eat for breakfast prepared by friendly locals.
LOCATION: 3 Chome-10-15 Ironai, Otaru, Hokkaido 047-0031, Japan // MAP
HOURS: 4am-2pm daily, Closed Sundays
Tempura Wakisaka (てんぷら脇坂本店)
When we were researching restaurants in Otaru we came across a small tempura restaurant called Tempura Wakisaka (てんぷら脇坂本店) that had limited reviews but those that were there were highly regarded. So we made a plan to eat there for dinner in Otaru. However, upon searching for it, we discovered an empty building with a sign saying that the restaurant had moved, thus we kept walking a few more blocks. I mention this so you can click on the map below. Otherwise, if you just search for the restaurant, you might visit the incorrect location too!
When we arrived the host asked if we had a reservation (we did not) but because it was a somewhat slow evening, we were able to get our name on the list and wait about 15 minutes before being seated. If you want to dine here I’d recommend asking your hotel to make a reservation for you. The ambiance of Tempura Wakisaka was upscale, so I wouldn’t go in hiking clothes but there is no need to dress to the nines either.
The menu is small with only four main dishes, but what they do have, they do it VERY well. I have to say, I was incredibly floored by this meal and although I’ve eaten a decent amount of tempura in and outside of Japan, this is, without a doubt, the best tempura meal I’ve had thus far. Logan and I both ordered the Hokkaido Tempura Rice Bowl which had prawns, fish, a large crab claw, and a variety of seasonal vegetables.
LOCATION: 1-22 Yamadamachi, Otaru, Hokkaido 047-0025, Japan // MAP
HOURS: 12pm-2:30pm, 4:30pm-8pm, Closed Thursdays
Otaru Beer Zenibako Brewery
Once you step inside Otaru Zenibako Brewery you’ll immediately think you’ve been transported to a Bavarian Biergarten in Germany. But this decor is no mistake. Otaru Beer Warehouse has been designed in this way because they mimic their brewing process after Germany.
They even have a number of German foods on their menu to have alongside a pint or two. Although we didn’t end up eating at the restaurant we did buy a few beers to-go and enjoyed them at our Airbnb along with some snacks we picked up before going home. We enjoyed the pilsner and Weiss the most but they also have some seasonal beers that are good too.
LOCATION: Japan, 〒047-0007 Hokkaido, Otaru, 港町5−4 小樽運河倉庫群 // MAP
HOURS: 11am-11pm daily
Yamanaka Dairy Farm Otaru Shop
If you read my list of foods to try in Hokkaido then you saw the part about dairy products in Hokkaido and Yamanaka Dairy Farm is well-known all over Hokkaido. Since the farm is located near Otaru, they have a small storefront in the city featuring soft-serve ice cream with a variety of toppings.
I got a chocolate and vanilla swirl which I know sounds pretty basic, but I decided to get that because I had yet to try that in Hokkaido. But I also recommend getting vanilla with caramel because that is a Hokkaido specialty.
Logan and I shared a cone because we had a short wait before dinner and I instantly regretted sharing because their ice cream is way more elevated than any other regular cone I’ve had. It’s super-rich, creamy, and delicious.
LOCATION: 1 Chome-6-18 Ironai, Otaru, Hokkaido 047-0031, Japan // MAP
HOURS: 11am-6pm daily, Closed Mondays
HOKKAIDO ITINERARY DAY 6
Shakotan Peninsula (Stay in Niseko)
After spending some time in Otaru, you’ll then pack up and head to the Shakotan Peninsula for the day. This area was one of our favorite spots we visited in Japan, and we’ve been to many! I personally think the best time to visit the Shakotan Peninsula is during the summer months when the weather is warm, the water is a shimmering deep blue, and the beaches can be enjoyed.
Since there isn’t much out here besides hiking and swimming areas you’ll definitely want to pack a lunch, some snacks, and water. You’ll occasionally find some small food stands or vending machines on the peninsula, but it’s never guaranteed they’ll be open or well-stocked with your preferences.
Before we left Otaru we stopped at a konbini (convenience store) and picked up some chips, water, onigiri (rice balls), and other items that would hold us over until dinner.
Things to Do on the Shakotan Peninsula
Enjoy the Scenic Drive on the Shakotan Peninsula
Although it might be tempting to look at your phone if you’re a passenger in the car, I HIGHLY recommend taking in the sights as you drive along the coast from Otaru. You’ll see many beaches with campgrounds and crystal clear water. The drive is absolutely gorgeous so roll the windows down and enjoy.
Most people probably don’t think of Hokkaido when they consider beautiful beaches in Japan but you most definitely should! On the Shakotan Peninsula, there are a number of scenic beaches with bright blue, yet clear water where you can see rocks and fish as you’re swimming.
The first stop is the Shakotan Observation Deck which will take you down a pathway to the Shimamu Coast, a rocky beach that is great for swimming or just dipping your toes into the cool water after the long walk down. Keep in mind that this path is very steep, narrow, and rocky so be sure to wear appropriate footwear. I wore some of my Merrell sandals but tennis shoes or hiking shoes would be good too.
While you can stay here as long as you like we stayed for a few hours exploring some of the nearby rocky cave areas (be careful and check tide times beforehand) and enjoying the cool water because we needed a break after the hot hike down. This is also a great time to enjoy your lunch if you’re hungry because you’re going on another short hike next!
LOCATION: 209 Irikacho, Shakotan, Shakotan District, Hokkaido 046-0327, Japan // MAP
HOURS: 24 hours
After visiting the Shimamu Coast, you’ll then head to Cape Kamui which you’ll immediately notice is a bit more touristy than the Shimamu Coast and far windier too! Cape Kamui is located in Kamuimisaki Natural Park and is one of Hokkaido’s best viewpoints and hiking trails. The hike only takes around 20 minutes to get to the end but is steep in some spots and rocky. There are also some guardrails and stairs that have been added to ensure safety for guests on this hike too.
While I enjoyed the hike out to the end of Cape Kamui, I personally thought the view of the point was better from the back so be sure to snap some pictures on your way in or out, and don’t forget to take a look at the gorgeous bright blue water again.
LOCATION: Japan, 〒046-0321 Hokkaido, Shakotan District, Shakotan, 積丹町Kozakicho, 草内 // MAP
HOURS: 8am-4:30pm daily
After spending the day in the Shakotan Peninsula you’ll then drive to Niseko. Niseko is a popular place to visit in Hokkaido during the winter so there isn’t too much to do here during the off-season. But it’s a great spot to stop for the night because the drive isn’t too far from the Shakotan Peninsula and it’s also not too far from the next activities in this Hokkaido itinerary.
Where to Stay in Kutchan/Niseko
We decided to stay at My Ecolodge in Kutchan because it was a good stopping point on our Hokkaido road trip. While this area is normally bustling with tourists in the winter months, in the summer the town is practically empty making it far more affordable too! My Ecolodge is what I would describe as a hostel combined with a hotel. Since it primarily acts as a budget-friendly ski resort it has accommodations for winter sports equipment, ample free parking, and a large lobby area for guests to mingle.
LOCATION: 70-15 Yamada, 虻田郡倶知安町 Abuta District, Hokkaido 044-0081, Japan // MAP
Where to Eat in Niseko
Rin Japanese Restaurant
After checking in, we went to a small izakaya restaurant called Rin Japanese Restaurant (飲み喰い処 りん) for dinner and drinks. We sat at the bar and were able to converse with the two women that run the restaurant. They are so kind and entertaining! I highly recommend this restaurant because it has a great variety of food options that are all delicious. We ordered squid tempura, grilled squid, a few different types of chicken yakitori, and sashimi.
LOCATION: 163-88 Yamada, Kutchan, Abuta District, Hokkaido 044-0081, Japan // MAP
HOKKAIDO ITINERARY DAY 7
Lake Toya & Noboribetsu (Stay in Sapporo)
After a night of rest in Niseko, we set out to visit Lake Toya and the Noboribetsu area before heading to Sapporo. Since this day includes a lot of driving I’d suggest stocking up on some items from a konbini (convenience store) before you go because you won’t have a lot of time and there aren’t many places to eat along the way.
Things to Do in Lake Toya
Lake Toya is a volcanic caldera lake in Shikotsu-Toya National Park. It is the northernmost lake in Japan that never ices. This is an area that could be explored for a day but since we only had a few hours here we decided to check out a few hotspots. All around the lake you’ll find many parks, walking trails, onsen, and footbaths. Since we were heading to Noboribetsu after Lake Toya we visited a few locations on the southeast side of the lake.
Sobetsu Park & Sobetsu Waterfall
One of our favorite parks is Sobetsu Park which offers one of the best views around Lake Toya where you can see around the Niseko mountain ranges. But there are also beautiful views in the park, especially starting in mid-May with plum blossoms blooming everywhere.
Nearby Sobetsu Park is a short 10-minute hike to Sobetsu Waterfall. The best times to visit the waterfall are in the spring when cherry blossoms are in bloom or the summer when the greenery is gorgeous so this is the perfect activity to add to your Hokkaido summer itinerary.
LOCATION: Higashikohan, Sobetsu, Usu District, Hokkaido 052-0104, Japan // MAP
Usu Volcano Observatory & Usuzan Ropeway
Another viewing spot is Usuzan Ropeway which will take you to the observation deck for Mt. Usu’s volcanic area and surroundings. The views are honestly incredible and well worth the stop after visiting Sobetsu Waterfall.
LOCATION: Sobetsu, Usu District, Hokkaido 052-0102, Japan // MAP
HOURS: 8am-6pm daily
COST: 1,800 yen/adult (round-trip), 900 yen/child (round-trip)
Things to Do in Noboribetsu
After some time at Lake Toya, we jumped back in the car and made our way to northern Noboribetsu to visit some of the most popular attractions to visit in Hokkaido which includes a lot of beautiful trails. During the winter months, some of the trails in the park aren’t passable making this a great spot to add to your Hokkaido summer itinerary. P.S. It’s also a great place to visit in the fall when the leaves are changing.
Jigokudani (Hell Valley)
I’m excited to finally tell you about Jigokudani, one of my favorite places we visited in Hokkaido and in Japan. Jigokundani, also known as Hell Valley, is a 24-acre geothermal crater that was created due to a volcanic eruption around 20,000 years ago.
There are a number of different trails at Jigokudani, each one taking you to an exciting attraction different from the last. The main trail is on a wooden walkway that will take you around the white, sulphuric smoking rocks and it’s truly a sight to behold. Words can’t even describe how truly fascinating this experience was so you’ll just have to see for yourself! After walking on the main trail next to the rocks, be sure to take one of the trails to the observation decks to get a bird’s eye view of the crater.
LOCATION: 無番地 Noboribetsuonsencho, Noboribetsu, Hokkaido 059-0551, Japan // MAP
HOURS: 8am-6pm daily
Oyunuma River Natural Footbath
Next in the park is Oyunumagawa, a river that combines Oyunama Pond, a naturally flowing hot spring, making it the perfect temperature to enjoy ashiyu, a natural foot bath. There is a trail down to a boardwalk where you can sit and rest your feet in the water or you can walk along the river a short way while soaking your tired feet.
LOCATION: Noboribetsuonsencho, Noboribetsu, Hokkaido 059-0551, Japan // MAP
After a full day at Lake Toya and Noboribetsu, you can decide to stay in Noboribetsu at one of the many nice resorts or make your way to Sapporo. Because we had a lot planned for Sapporo we decided to continue our Hokkaido road trip and make our way there.
HOKKAIDO ITINERARY DAYS 8 & 9
Sapporo (Stay in Sapporo)
If you didn’t return your rental car upon arriving in Sapporo, return your car today! You will be fine without it for the rest of the itinerary.
Where to Stay in Sapporo
HOTEL MYSTAYS Sapporo Nakajima Park is where we stayed in Sapporo. It is a budget-friendly business hotel that is close to the train station making it easy to access all of these things to do in Sapporo. We have stayed at many MyStays properties in Japan and they’ve always been reliable, clean, and comfortable. This one was no different! They also have rooms with multiple beds which is nice for those traveling in a group or as a family! // MAP
Things to Do in Sapporo
Historical Village of Hokkaido
The Historical Village of Hokkaido is a fascinating open-air museum of history that contains buildings from 1868 to the 1920s. All of the buildings are original to different places in Hokkaido and teach guests about past history and cultural experiences from the Meiji and Taisho periods. In all, there are 52 buildings you can visit, making it a lengthier experience which is why I recommend getting there as soon as it opens.
Although some of the buildings are for viewing only, others are open and operating for educational purposes. One of our favorites was the newspaper/printing press building. In fact, one really neat (and free) souvenir that you can get there is your own postcard with a wood block printed image of the shop.
LOCATION: 50-1 Atsubetsucho, Atsubetsu Ward, Sapporo, Hokkaido 004-0006, Japan // MAP
HOURS: 9am-5pm daily (closed Mondays)
COST: 210¥ adults, 110¥ children
Sapporo Beer Museum
Although there are a number of brewery and sake tours throughout Japan, the Sapporo Beer Museum is the only museum in Japan that is dedicated to beer. Specifically, Sapporo Beer, which was established in 1876.
The museum starts by introducing the history of beer in Japan and then takes you through the process of how they brew Sapporo beer. Although tours are available in Japanese, many of the exhibits have English descriptions so it’s easy to take yourself on a self-guided tour of the museum.
After visiting the museum you’ll then go to the tasting area where you can purchase a flight of Sapporo beers for 500 yen and some small snacks.
LOCATION: 9 Chome-1-1 Kita 7 Johigashi, Higashi Ward, Hokkaido 065-8633, Japan // MAP
HOURS: 11am-6pm daily, closed Mondays
COST: Free to visit, 500¥ for beer flight
Shiroi Koibito Park
When I was looking for things to do in Sapporo and playing my usual game of “clicking on locations on Google Maps until I found something interesting” I came across Shiroi Koibito Park. Now let me first say, this spot isn’t a Sapporo secret or anything, I just had never heard of it before finding it on Google Maps. After doing a few minutes of research I thought it looked like a neat place to check out so I added it to our Sapporo itinerary.
Then the day we visited Logan was asking me about Shiroi Koibito Park and what to expect and we both realized, we really didn’t know! From what I saw online it looked like a theme park, museum, a factory, and a restaurant all in one, and to be honest, it kind of is!
Shiroi Koibito Park is described on their website as a “chocolate entertainment park where you can see, know, taste and experience.” It is operated by the Japanese confectionery manufacturer that produces the Shiroi Koibito chocolate cookies, one of the most famous treats in Japan.
When we arrived I immediately noticed that the architecture and design of the buildings and interior were heavily influenced by the beauty of England which we would come to know was cherished by the founder of the park, Isao Ishimizu. From a Tudor House, art, and a plethora of tea cups and saucers, you can find British influence throughout the entire complex.
There are many things to do once inside the complex but the first thing I recommend doing is taking a self-guided tour through the complex and the ISHIYA Museum to learn about the history of Shiroi Koibito confections and how one of Japan’s most famous cookies are made.
After, there are multiple experiences that you can enjoy including:
- Chocolate Discovery Class: Learn about how chocolate is made and enjoy tastings.
- Check with reception about times that this is offered on the day you visit.
- DREAM KITCHEN – Sweets Workshop: Take a short cookie and chocolate-making course.
- Reservations are required, web reservations are available from 2 months before to 2 days before.
Before leaving, make your way to Chocolate Lounge OXFORD where you can FINALLY try Shiroi Koibito sweets such as ice cream, Baumkuchen, and of course, cookies. We each got a parfait here and it was delicious and the cookies definitely lived up to the hype. Think a Milano cookie but 5x more buttery and with smoother chocolate.
TIP: Shiroi Koibito Park is located a little outside of the city so I recommend starting here first and working your way back in on one of the days you are in Sapporo.
LOCATION: 2 Chome-11-36 Miyanosawa 2 Jo, Nishi Ward, Sapporo, Hokkaido 063-0052, Japan // MAP
HOURS: 10am-5pm daily
COST: 800 yen/adults, 400 yen/children
Sapporo Clock Tower
While the Sapporo Clock Tower is a bit unimpressive compared to some of the other places in this Hokkaido itinerary it is an important cultural and historical symbol to Sapporo so I had to add it to the list. Inside you can learn more about what makes this clock tower so important to the city as well as the early history of Sapporo.
LOCATION: 2 Chome Kita 1 Jonishi, Chuo Ward, Sapporo, Hokkaido 060-0001, Japan // MAP
HOURS: 8:45am-5:10pm daily
COST: 200 yen/adults, free for children
Takino Suzuran Hillside Park
Takino Suzuran Hillside Park is the only national government park in Hokkaido and an expansive one at that! There are around 400 hectares to explore with stunning flower gardens, multiple impressive waterfalls, densely wooded forests with trails, and a number of playgrounds for kids to enjoy.
Because the park is so large there are a number of bus stops around the park taking you to different attractions. I recommend getting off at the Masumi Guchi bus stop where you can rent a bike from the park station and ride around the park. My favorite attraction in Takino Suzuran Hillside Park is Ashiribetsu Falls, which has been named one of the top 100 waterfalls in Japan on a few occasions.
Bus Stops at Takino Suzuran Hillside Park
- Suzuran Kouen Chuo Guchi: Close to the gardens which are great for visiting in the spring, summer, and autumn. It is also where the larger, interactive playground equipment is located.
- Suzuran Kouen Higashi Guchi: This is where the forest playground for smaller children is located.
- Masumi Guchi: This is where the Keiryu Zone is located which contains a number of walking and hiking trails leading to stunning waterfalls and the Atsubetsu River.
TIP: If you have extra time with your car before dropping it off, this is a great place to visit with a car because the drive is only 30 minutes from Sapporo instead of an hour train/bus ride.
Mt. Moiwa is a small mountain located just outside the city center of Sapporo. It is an extremely popular spot for tourists because it offers stunning panoramic views of Sapporo from above and it’s easy to get to!
There are two ways to get to the top of Mt. Moiwa the first is taking the Mt. Moiwa Ropeway. The second is driving up Mt. Moiwa Scenic Sightseeing Road. Regardless of which way you view Mt. Moiwa both have spectacular sights. At the top, you’ll find a Planetarium and Moimoi’s Souvenir Shop which has a selection of specialty products available for purchase from around Hokkaido.
The main attraction though is Mt. Moiwa Observation Deck which is where you can see the city of Sapporo in all its glory from above! Depending on the time of day you visit the view will change, but my personal pick would be on a clear evening right before sunset! You can watch as the sun sets and the city lights begin to twinkle in the distance.
If you want to splurge a bit more there is also a restaurant at the top called The Jewels which we did not dine at during our time in Sapporo but it is a French restaurant that overlooks the observation area making it a stunning and romantic spot for dinner.
LOCATION: 5 Chome-3-7 Fushimi, Chuo Ward, Sapporo, Hokkaido 064-0942, Japan // MAP
HOURS: Summer (April-November): 10:30am-10pm, Winter (December-March): 11am-10pm
COST: 1,800¥ adults, 900¥ children (ropeway round-trip), 1,200 yen for car toll on the scenic road
Hokkaido University Botanical Garden
Another beautiful outdoor attraction in Sapporo is the Botanical Gardens at Hokkaido University which has over 4,000 different plants and trees. Other things to see are the rock gardens, water features, and in the spring there are a ton of flowers. Close to the entrance you’ll find the Northern People’s Museum which is a small museum dedicated to sharing the history of Hokkaido’s Native Ainu people. This botanical garden is a great place to visit for some rest and relaxation before venturing on to your next activity.
LOCATION: Japan, 〒060-0003 Hokkaido, Sapporo, Chuo Ward, 北３条西８丁目 // MAP
HOURS: April-September 9am-4:30pm, October-November 9am-4pm, closed Mondays
COST: 420 yen/adults, 300 yen/children
Hokkaido Museum of Modern Art
If you are someone who is interested in different types of art or specifically modern art like me then you won’t want to miss the Hokkaido Museum of Modern Art. There are currently five different galleries in the museum each with its own emphasis including Japanese modern art, contemporary art, glass works, and art in Hokkaido which is my favorite gallery.
Art in Hokkaido features a variety of works from artists that were born in the Meiji period today. While the majority of the collections you’ll find at the Hokkaido Museum of Modern Art are from Japanese artists, there are also a number of pieces from famous European artists as well.
LOCATION: 17 Chome Kita 1 Jonishi, Chuo Ward, Sapporo, Hokkaido 060-0001, Japan // MAP
HOURS: 9:30am-5pm daily, closed Mondays
COST: 510 yen/adults, 250 yen/students
Ainu Cultural Center of Hokkaido
Similar to the museum in Asahikawa, the Ainu Cultural Center of Hokkaido is a museum dedicated to sharing the history, art, and culture of the Ainu people who were native to Hokkaido before it became part of Japan. One unique thing about this museum is that it is currently run by Ainu people who take the time to share this history as well as handicrafts. This is one place that Logan and I were unable to visit during our last trip to Hokkaido because we could never make it work with our schedule. But we have it on our list to visit next time!
LOCATION: 27 Koganeyu, Minami Ward, Sapporo, Hokkaido 061-2274, Japan // MAP
HOURS: 9am-5pm daily, closed Mondays
COST: 200 yen/adults, 100 yen/students
Asahiyama Memorial Park
I said previously that there are two ways to get to Mt. Moiwa but actually, there are three! Close to Mt. Moiwa is the Asahiyama Memorial Park which has a number of walking trails, one even leading up to the observation deck of Mt. Moiwa. Since this is a local park, admission is free and although the view isn’t as panoramic as the top of Mt. Moiwa, it still offers a great view of downtown Sapporo. While the park itself is beautiful, the best time to visit here is in the spring for cherry blossom season in Hokkaido or in the fall when autumn leaves are in full swing.
TIP: If you are taking the ropeway or driving up Mt. Moiwa, you can easily skip a visit to Asahiyama Memorial Park.
LOCATION: 4 Chome-1-3 Sakaigawa, Chuo Ward, Sapporo, Hokkaido 064-0943, Japan // MAP
HOURS: 6am-10pm daily
Sapporo TV Tower
Located at the end of Odori Park is the Sapporo TV Tower, a landmark in Sapporo. While not as massive as Tokyo Tower or the Tokyo Skytree, it is still a neat sight to see from below. However, the best way to experience Sapporo TV Tower is by purchasing a ticket for the observation deck.
Yes, I know there have been many observation areas in this Sapporo itinerary, however, this one offers a different view from the rest! The view from the top encompasses Odori Park and downtown Sapporo while stretching out to the mountains in Ishikari.
TIP: If you want to experience Sapporo TV Tower in both daylight and at night you can go there earlier in the day and purchase a combined ticket which will allow you to revisit on the same day in the evening.
LOCATION: 1 Chome Odorinishi, Chuo Ward, Sapporo, Hokkaido 060-0042, Japan // MAP
HOURS: 9am-10pm daily
COST: 1,000￥/ adults, 500￥/children
Tanukikoji Shopping Street
Shopping streets are incredibly popular in Japan and you’ll usually find many of them in most cities in Japan. Tanukikoji Shopping Street, which dates back to 1868, is one of the oldest shopping streets in Hokkaido and probably the most visited in Sapporo.
At 7 blocks long it’s also one of the largest shopping streets! Of the 200+ stores on Tanukikoji, you’ll find something for everyone from kitchenware, jewelry, souvenirs, clothing, shoes, restaurants, arcades, and karaoke! I personally think this is the perfect place to have a relaxing evening, grab something to eat, and shop!
LOCATION: Japan, 〒060-0062 Hokkaido, Sapporo, Chuo Ward, 南2・3条西1～7丁目 // MAP
HOURS: Store hours vary but most are open until at least 8pm
COST: Free to visit
Norbesa Ferris Wheel
Close to Tanukikoji Shopping Street is another fun nighttime activity, the Norbesa Ferris Wheel. If you’ve visited a few cities in Japan you’ll also know that many shopping areas often have a Ferris wheel and they often offer an inexpensive way to view part of a city, Norbesa is no different! If you are looking for another way to enjoy spectacular sights stop here after doing some shopping.
LOCATION: 5 Chome-1-1 Minami 3 Jonishi, Chuo Ward, Sapporo, Hokkaido 060-0063, Japan // MAP
HOURS: Sunday-Thursday 11am-11pm, Friday & Saturday 11am-3am
BONUS: Sapporo Summer Festival
If you are visiting Hokkaido in the summer you might luck out and be in town for the Sapporo Summer Festival! The month-long festival takes place every year from mid-July to mid-August and attracts more than a million visitors annually. The festival spans Sapporo from Odori Park to Tanukikoji Shopping Street and beyond. Some of the popular attractions of the festival include the large beer garden, Bon Odori events, and a few special festivals such as the Tanuki Festival and Susukino Festival.
The biggest draw for the Sapporo Summer Festival is the beer garden which is divided into six different sections in the Odori Park area. It has over 13,000 seats making it the largest beer garden in Japan! But what is even more impressive is that much of the proceeds from the beer garden and festival go to support local charities.
Of course, you’ll find big breweries in Japan like Sapporo, Kirin, Suntory, and Asahi within the beer garden which offer their regular beers but also some choices that are limited-edition for the festival. However, this is also an excellent way to introduce yourself to the microbreweries and craft beer scene in Japan because many attend this event to expose visitors to their products!
Like any Japanese summer festival, there are food stalls and while some offer traditional summer festival foods, there are others that you’ll probably find more familiar to pair with your beer including pizza, sausages, and soft pretzels.
Where to Eat in Sapporo
Nijo Market is equally a tourist attraction and a unique place to eat! By now you’ve probably heard of Toyosu Market (formerly known as Tsukiji Market) in Tokyo. If not, Toyosu Market is a famous fish market where you can witness live tuna auctions and enjoy the fresh seafood from a number of different small food stalls and restaurants.
Nijo Market is a fish market similar to Toyosu but is located in Sapporo and is far less packed. My recommendation is to head to Nijo Market in the morning and enjoy a delicious breakfast of sushi or donburi, a rice bowl with fresh seafood on top.
LOCATION: 1 Chome Minami 3 Johigashi, Chuo Ward, Sapporo, Hokkaido 060-0052, Japan // MAP
HOURS: 7am-6pm daily
After living in Japan for a while you’d think we would have visited Ichiran before but this was our first time! Ichiran is a ramen chain in Japan that specializes in tonkatsu ramen. We stopped here late one night while we were in Sapporo because we lost track of time and were hungry! I wouldn’t say it was my favorite place for ramen, but if you want to try some basic ramen, this is a great spot to do so.
LOCATION: Japan, 〒060-0063 Hokkaido, Sapporo, Chuo Ward, Minami 3 Jonishi, 5 Chome−1-1 ノルベサ 1F // MAP
HOURS: Sunday 10am-8pm, Monday-Friday 10am-10pm, Saturday 10am-7pm
Milk Mura might be the only ice cream stop in Japan that literally brought tears to my eyes. To be honest, I’m not sure what really overcame me with so much emotion. Maybe it was the ice cream, the alcohol, the light, and airy music, or the colorful Christmas decorations that covered the place, regardless as I continued to eat my ice cream at Milk Mura tears came to my eyes. That being said, Milk Mura is more of an ice cream experience than your usual cone.
Once you find this loudly decorated cafe in an unassuming building, you’ll be transported to what feels like a Hallmark Christmas movie village. There is a variety of ice cream sets that you can order that uniquely come with 2-3 tiny glasses of alcohol of your choice on the side. Logan and I each ordered a set that came with three glasses of alcohol so we could try six different ones total.
Despite there only being one flavor of soft serve, the alcohol choices are plentiful. From whiskey to cognac to vodka and regular and flavored alcohols there are a lot of different ones to try. P.S. If you don’t drink you can order a cup of the soft serve by itself!
When you receive your set you’ll also receive instructions on how to best enjoy your ice cream at Milk Mura. They first tell you to enjoy a bite of the ice cream as is, which is what we did. At first, I noticed the soft serve being pretty basic like a creamy vanilla ice cream, however, as it sat I was hit with a hint of orange that immediately made me want to take 20 more bites immediately. Which isn’t a bad thing because did I mention you can get one refill of your ice cream for free?
Next, they told us to try a bite of the ice cream with a small spoonful of each of the liquor options that we chose which added complexity and richness to the flavor!
Overall if you are an ice cream lover like me, you should definitely check out this experience. The cafe itself feels like home and offers a unique perspective on one of the world’s favorite treats.
LOCATION: Japan, 〒064-0804 Hokkaido, Sapporo, Chuo Ward, Minami 4 Jonishi, 3 Chome−７−1 // MAP
HOURS: Tuesday, Thursday-Sunday: 1pm-11pm, Wednesday 5pm-11pm, closed Mondays
HOKKAIDO ITINERARY DAY 10
Hakodate (Stay in Hakodate)
In the morning take the train from Sapporo Station to Hakodate Station. I recommend taking the earliest train out that you can so you can drop off your luggage at a train station locker or your hotel if you have previously coordinated with them. From there you’ll head straight to the first stop in Hakodate, the morning market.
Where to Stay in Hakodate
A great place to stay in Hakodate on a budget is Toyoko Inn Hakodate-ekimae Asaichi which is close to Hakodate Station (3-minute walk) and a number of things to do in Hakodate. Being a business hotel, the rooms are small and basic but we’ve stayed in a few Toyoko Inn properties and always found them to be clean and comfortable for short stays.
If you are looking for something a bit more comfortable in Hakodate I suggest the Hakodate Danshaku Club Hotel which has spacious room options and is only around a five-minute walk from Hakodate Station making it convenient for sightseeing in Hakodate.
Things to Do in Hakodate
Goryokaku Park is one of the most famous spots in Hakodate. Although it is now a public park, it was once a military fort from the Edo Period that was built in a unique star shape. It was created in this way so there were no blind spots should an enemy invasion take place.
Today where artillery units once stood you’ll find a plethora of sakura trees making this a beautiful place to visit in the spring and fall. However, it’s still a great park to visit in the summer and winter too! The best way to get a view of the star-shaped pattern is to go to the top of Goryokaku Tower which stands at 107 meters right next to the park.
LOCATION: 44-2 Goryokakucho, Hakodate, Hokkaido 040-0001, Japan // MAP
HOURS: PARK HOURS: 5am-6pm daily
Hakodate Tropical Botanical Garden
The Hakodate Tropical Botanical Garden is a popular place to visit in Hakodate year-round because of the temperature-controlled greenhouse with over 300 plant species to view and over 3,000 tropical plants. Outside of the greenhouse is an area where you can observe Japanese macaques bathing in the hot springs outside the garden. They are usually there from December-May so keep this in mind if visiting in the summer.
LOCATION: 3 Chome-1-15 Yunokawacho, Hakodate, Hokkaido 042-0932, Japan // MAP
HOURS: April-October: 9:30am-6pm, November-March: 9:30am-4:30pm
COST: 300 yen/adults, 100 yen/children
Kanemori Red Brick Warehouse
The Kanemori Red Brick Warehouse was built in 1869 for the purpose of being a storehouse but it has since been transformed into a large shopping and dining complex where you can find Hokkaido souvenirs, clothes, housewares, and more. If you’ve been to Yokohama, it is similar to the Red Brick Warehouse there!
LOCATION: 14-12 Suehirocho, Hakodate, Hokkaido 040-0053, Japan // MAP
HOURS: 9:30am-6pm daily
COST: Free to visit
Another great place to shop for Hokkaido souvenirs is Hakodate Meijikan located right next to Kanemori Red Brick Warehouse. The stores here are different from Kanemori and you can purchase different handicrafts, glassware, and other unique art pieces or merchandise. This is also a great place to sample different snacks and sweets and purchase some to take home.
LOCATION: 11-17 Toyokawacho, Hakodate, Hokkaido 040-0065, Japan // MAP
HOURS: 10am-5pm daily, closed Wednesdays
COST: Free to visit
Remember the Roller Coaster Road I mentioned way back when in this Hokkaido itinerary? Well, Hachimanzaka Slope is similar to that. It’s just a regular road but has an interesting viewpoint because of its steep slope. If you are visiting Hokkaido in the summer I wouldn’t make a special trip to see this. However, if you are visiting in the winter, the trees are illuminated which makes for a pretty view, especially in the snow!
LOCATION: Japan, 〒040-0054 Hokkaido, Hakodate, Motomachi, 14, 15八幡通り14 // MAP
HOURS: Open 24 hours
COST: Free to visit
Hakodate Park has been a staple in Hakodate since the late-1800s and is considered to be one of Japan’s 100 Historical Parks. It is most popular to visit Hakodate Park in the spring when the cherry blossoms are in bloom because the park features over 400 sakura trees! Another thing that makes this park unique is the Western architecture which you’ll see represented in the buildings and other park landmarks.
LOCATION: 17-番地 Aoyagicho, Hakodate, Hokkaido 040-0044, Japan // MAP
HOURS: Open 24 hours
COST: Free to visit
Although Hokkaido doesn’t have as many shrines and temples as other parts of Japan, Hakodate Hachimangu, established in 1445, is a striking shrine just outside of the city center. It is a quiet area surrounded by beautiful trees and the perfect place to visit after Hakodate Park. In the summer, there is a festival at the shrine usually held around August 15th so be sure to plan for that if you want to attend!
LOCATION: Japan, 〒040-0046 Hokkaido, Hakodate, Yachigashiracho, 2−5 函館八幡宮 // MAP
HOURS: April-September: 9am-5pm, October-March: 9am-4:30pm
COST: Free to visit
At the end of the evening make your way to yet another fabulous mountain, Mt. Hakodate, and take the Mt. Hakodate Ropeway to get to the top! Once you reach the top you’ll find a restaurant and tea lounge with incredible views of the city, a gift store, and a convenience store. But the best part of all is of course, the view. In fact, this viewpoint is so spectacular it has been awarded three Michelin stars. I recommend visiting at night because there’s something even more spectacular about seeing the city from this high up when it’s dark out.
For those interested, there is also a hiking trail that you can utilize instead of the ropeway which will allow you to visit the top for free. You can also buy a one-way ticket to take the ropeway down after hiking up.
LOCATION: 19-7 Motomachi, Hakodate, Hokkaido 040-0054, Japan // MAP
HOURS: April 25th-October 15th: 10am-10pm, October 16th-April 24th: 10am-9pm
COST: 1,500 yen/adult round-trip, 700 yen/children round-trip
BONUS: Mizunashi Kaihin Hot Spring
Mizunashi Kaihin Onsen is a hot spring located about an hour and a half outside of Hakodate by car. This onsen is quite unique because it is a hot spring that is within the ocean! Therefore you can only swim in it during low tide. Nearby there are locker storage rooms where you can change and put your belongings.
Although not impossible, Mizunashi Kaihin Onsen is more difficult to get to without a car. In order to get there by public transportation, you’ll need to take the Hakodate-Todohokke bus via Kakkumi from Hakodate Station. It is a two-hour bus ride. Then walk an additional 30-40 minutes to get to the hot spring.
Where to Eat in Hakodate
Hakodate Morning Market
Similar to Nijo Market in Sapporo, Hakodate Morning Market is an experience and a place to eat in Hakodate. Hakodate Morning Market is a popular seafood market where you can purchase and enjoy fresh seafood. As usual, I have to recommend getting some sashimi in a bowl of rice. The seafood you’ll typically find in this dish here is a combination of salmon, shrimp, fatty tuna, ikura (salmon roe, abalone, uni (sea urchin), and if you are lucky, some delicious crab! This is also a great place to try local, seasonal fruits and shop for souvenirs from some of the small shops.
LOCATION: 9-19 Wakamatsucho, Hakodate, Hokkaido 040-0063, Japan // MAP
HOURS: 5am-2pm daily
Located just outside of Hakodate Station is Daimon Yokocho, Hakodate’s only yatai, also known as a food stall village. We first visited yatai in Fukuoka, Japan, and immediately loved the casual environment where you can get to know other patrons and stall owners. Currently, there are 26 different food stalls to eat at with a variety of options. You’ll find Japanese izakaya fare, sushi restaurants, jingisukan (grilled mutton, a specialty in Hokkaido), yakitori, ramen stalls, and oden stalls to name a few. This is a great place to try a variety of dishes at reasonable prices.
And just like that, that’s a wrap on this Hokkaido summer itinerary! I hope you’ve found many wonderful things to do in Hokkaido and I can’t wait to revisit Hokkaido so I can add even more to this Hokkaido itinerary.