Sapporo Travel Guide – 2 nights and 3 days

Japan Destinations

Trip to Sapporo

Why Visit Sapporo?

Hokkaido is a northern island of Japan, abundant in natural beauty for all four seasons, with foods from a large farmland and the northern ocean, making it a popular travel destination for both Japanese and international tourists.

Sapporo, the capital of Hokkaido, is a city where 2 million people live. It serves as a center of the economy and a hub of transportation in Hokkaido. Known for heavy snow during the winter season, Sapporo also hosted the Olympic Games in 1972. Access to major ski resorts such as Rusutsu, Niseko, and Furano is convenient.

During your stay in Sapporo, you can enjoy the city’s beautiful scenery and savor foods sourced from the land of Hokkaido and the northern oceans, all within the convenience of a bustling metropolis similar to Tokyo. Today, I’d like to share my travel experience in Sapporo during the snowy winter.

You can also watch this contents in video form on YouTube… It’s a 30 minutes complete guide video, so if you don’t have time, please continue to read below.

How to Get to Sapporo

Flight to New Chitose International Airport

The most common way to fly to Sapporo is by taking a flight to New Chitose International Airport, located 45 km (27 miles) southeast of Sapporo. The flight between Tokyo and Sapporo is one of the busiest routes globally, with frequent flights by Japan’s two major flag carriers, Air Do, Skymark from Haneda Airport, and other LCCs from Narita. New Chitose Airport also has direct flights from other parts of Japan, such as Osaka and Fukuoka. If you are flying in from Asian countries, daily flights are available from major Asian cities.

Flight to Okadama Airport

Sapporo also has a smaller airport closer to the city center called Okadama Airport. Flights from Okadama are limited to other cities in Hokkaido and some additional destinations. Recently, a new airline called Toki Air started a new flight from Niigata airport.

Take Shinkansen and JR Limited Express

If you prefer trains, you can enter Sapporo by train. The bullet train, Shinkansen, hasn’t reached Sapporo yet, so the journey takes about 8 hours from Tokyo. In this case, you can take the Tohoku Shinkansen to Shin-Hakodate Hokuto station near the city of Hakodate and then take the limited express Hokuto. The train fare in regular class is just under 30,000 yen without any discount. Consider the JR East South Hokkaido Rail Pass, priced at 35,000 yen for 7 days, covering the areas between Tokyo and Sapporo, including rides on Shinkansen and limited express trains. It’s a great pass for a round trip by train, visiting different parts of south Hokkaido and the Tohoku area.

Access to the Sapporo City Center

Once you arrive at New Chitose Airport, there are mainly two ways to reach Sapporo city center by public transportation.

Taking Airport Bus

Airport buses are operated by two companies, Hokuto Kotsu and Chuo bus. Each company has a different timetable, with 4 to 5 buses running per hour combined. Reservation for this route is not available, so you can proceed to the counter on the arrival floor and get a ticket for the bus. Credit cards are accepted at the counter. You can also proceed directly to the bus, but the payment method varies depending on the bus operator. For buses operated by Chuo Kotsu, you can use IC cards such as Suica. For buses operated by Hokuto Kotsu, you can use VISA touch or the touch function of your credit card. In either case, you touch twice, once when you board and once when you disembark. Since you won’t know which company’s bus comes next, having both payment methods may be more convenient. The bus stops right behind the counter outside, with stops at no.22 for ANA side, no.14 for JAL side, and no.84 for the international terminal. The fare is 1300 yen to Sapporo city center, taking about 70 minutes to Susukino and 80 minutes to Sapporo Station.

Bus to Niseko

For other destinations, especially if you are going to Niseko directly by bus, a reservation is required. You can find the link in the description below.

This is the link for more information. 

 

Sapporo New Chitose Airport to City Center: Chuo Bus: https://www.chuo-bus.co.jp/airport.en/

 

Reserve Bus to Niseko: https://teikan.chuo-bus.co.jp/en/course/7768

 

Train: Rapid Airport

I took the JR train, specifically the “Rapid Airport” service. This train takes you from right under the airport terminal to Sapporo Station in about 40 minutes. The Rapid Airport operates every 10 to 12 minutes, and the one-way fare is 1150 yen. You can use IC cards from other cities, such as Suica or Pasmo in Tokyo, and Icoca from Osaka. If you don’t have an IC card yet or if you land in Hokkaido, you can get the IC card of JR Hokkaido called “Kitaka.” You can use Kitaka in other major cities in Japan as well. However, note that the IC card is only valid around Sapporo, so for extensive travel in Hokkaido, consider getting a ticket or a rail pass such as the Hokkaido Rail Pass. During this trip, I arrived by airplane from Tokyo and took the Rapid Airport train to Sapporo city center. Given the distance between the airport and Sapporo, the weather can differ significantly, especially in winter. On this particular day, a storm was approaching, and as the train approached Sapporo station, clouds began to cast over the train.

(PR) You can receive Ninja WiFi at New Chitose International airport too. Either at International Terminal or Domestic Terminal. > Locations

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Where to Stay in Sapporo

Now that I’ve arrived at Sapporo station, let’s head to the hotel and drop off luggage. Sapporo offers a full range of hotels, especially with many business hotels to premier business hotels. Some major Japanese brand hotels, such as Keio Plaza, Prince Hotel, and JR Tower Hotel, are connected to JR Sapporo station. Despite not having many major international brand hotels, Sapporo is expected to welcome Marriott, Intercontinental, and Hyatt after 2025. There’s a wide range of clean and convenient business to mid-range hotels in Sapporo, often at a lower price compared to Tokyo, except during the Snow Festival.

This time, I stayed at ANA Holiday Inn in the Susukino Area for the first night. I used points for my stay, but even if paying with cash, it was about 6500 yen per night without breakfast. Many business hotels in Sapporo offer fancy breakfasts and public baths. Choosing a hotel depends on individual preferences, but there’s comfort in staying at a big international brand hotel. The hotel was close to Susukino station, making it convenient to explore the town.

When searching for hotels in Sapporo, you’ll notice that most are located in the area from Sapporo station to Nakajima Park. Each area has its conveniences. Sapporo station is where trains to other parts of Hokkaido depart, and it also provides direct access to the airport. If you arrive with large suitcases or plan to travel to different parts of Hokkaido, Sapporo station is a good place to stay. The area along Odori street, between Sapporo station and

Susukino, is quiet and clean, more like an office area, making it a suitable environment for those who prefer tranquility. The merit of the Odori area is its proximity to several subways, providing convenience for travel to different parts of Sapporo.

In Susukino, if you enjoy hanging out at night and prefer to stay closer to the crowd, it’s a suitable choice. You can walk out from the hotel and find lots of places to eat. However, it’s also known as a nightlife district, with stores and boards of red light districts on the back streets. Regardless of the area you choose, Sapporo is well-connected, and the distance between Sapporo station and Susukino is manageable, connected by underground streets. You can either walk or take the subway easily between these areas, so the choice of the area may not matter much as long as you are in the area.

During heavy snow seasons, especially when relying on public transportation, proximity to the station or the underground street becomes more important than the specific area. The underground streets are very useful during severe weather. On one occasion, when a cold breeze hit my face and my contact lens fell out, I ran into the underground for shelter. Carrying suitcases on snow can be difficult, and in deep snow, it’s challenging, while melting snow can be very wet. If you are staying in Sapporo during the winter, choosing a hotel near the train station or the entrance of the underground street can be helpful. The Holiday Inn was 1 or 2 minutes from the station, making it a good choice.

For the second night, during an even worse storm, I chose Hotel Gracery at the last minute. Hotel Gracery Sapporo is located right in front of the station and is directly connected to the underground mall. I booked the night before, and it was about 7500 Yen ($52) per night with breakfast. I stayed at two different places this time to experience staying in different areas, but I don’t recommend changing hotels often. As someone prone to forgetting belongings during travel, it takes time just to ensure nothing is left in the room.

◾️(PR) Find your Hotel in Sapporo : https://www.booking.com/city/jp/sapporo.en.html?aid=2244370&no_rooms=1&group_adults=2&room1=A%2CA

How to Get Around Sapporo ✅

Once you’ve dropped your luggage, it’s time to explore Sapporo. The major transportation method in the city is the subway, consisting of three lines: Nanboku line, Tozai line, and Toho line. The subway runs every 6-7 minutes during the day. Getting on the subway is the same as in other parts of Tokyo. If you purchase a ticket, insert it at the gate, retrieve the ticket, and insert it again at the destination station. If you use an IC card, such as Suica or Kitaka, touch when you enter the station and again when you leave. All stations are made barrier-free and equipped with elevators from the ground to the platform.

Sapporo also has a tram that runs in a loop. If you take the tram, the price is a flat rate of 200 yen. Board from the back and pay when you get off from the front, right next to the driver. You can use cash or an IC card, similar to buses. Using an IC card is recommended for easy transportation across major cities in Japan.

What to Do / Where to See in Sapporo ✅

Now, let’s go sightseeing in Sapporo. Many of the attractions in Sapporo include various styles of observation decks, Western-style historical buildings, parks, and museums related to the history of Hokkaido. Some attractions are within walking distance in the city center, while others are in the surrounding areas accessible by subway, tram, or bus. Efficient planning is recommended, especially during winter, as some attractions may be closed.

### 1. Sapporo TV Tower ✅

The first iconic attraction in Sapporo is the Sapporo TV Tower observation deck, built in 1957. While the view may not encompass the entire city due to surrounding buildings, it provides a scenic view of Odori Park and the ski jump facility in the distance. The observation deck entrance fee is 1,000 yen. Additionally, you can explore the JR Towers observatory connected to JR Tower.

### 2. Moiwayama

Another famous spot to see Sapporo is Moiwayama, accessible by ropeway.

### 3. Okurayama

Okurayama, home to a ski jump facility used in the Olympic Games, is reachable by lift.

### 4. Clock Tower ✅

Located between the TV tower and Sapporo station, the Sapporo Clock Tower is a historical building that used to be part of Sapporo Agricultural College. Established in the late 19th century to promote farming and industry in Hokkaido, the clock tower’s clock was made in New York. The tower represents the frontier spirit of Hokkaido, with the words “be gentleman” and “boys be ambitious” left by a faculty member. While some consider the clock tower one of the three most disappointing tourist attractions in Japan, it offers a small exhibition about its history for a fee of 200 yen (1080 yen combined with TV Tower).

### 5. Hokkaido Government Building and Odori Park

Another Western-style building contributing to Sapporo’s charm is the Hokkaido Government Building. Unfortunately, during my visit, it was under construction. If you’re seeking nature, Maruy

ama Park in the west of Sapporo offers walking opportunities, with attractions such as Maruyama Zoo and Hokkaido Jingu Shrine.

### 6. Susukino at Night

In the evening, Susukino is an excellent place to visit. As one of the commercial centers of Sapporo, it’s more known for entertainment and nightlife. The NIKKA whiskey brand’s board is a symbol of the Susukino traffic light. There are numerous dining options in the area.

### 7. Sapporo Beer Garden

For those interested in Hokkaido’s beer industry, the Sapporo Beer Garden, located one station from Sapporo station, is worth exploring. While the factory is no longer operational, the site has become a shopping center with a museum where you can learn about Sapporo Beer. Adjacent to the museum is a hall called Kessel Hall, offering an all-you-can-eat buffet with views of the brewery machinery. Sapporo Beer Garden is a popular tourist spot, so reservations are recommended.

Day Trips from Sapporo / Hokkaido

Hokkaido offers various day trip options from Sapporo, including Otaru, Yoichi, Biei, and Jozankei. Due to the limited train infrastructure in Hokkaido, bus tours can be a convenient option for exploring different places while sitting comfortably.

◾️(PR) Find Activities: A Day Bus Tour to Furano, Asahikawa from Sapporo : https://www.klook.com/en-US/activity/15633-asahiyama-zoo-shirogane-pond-tour-sapporo/?spm=SearchResult.SearchResult_LIST&clickId=cf23ce2706/?aid=35056

 

When is the Best Season to Visit Sapporo?

Sapporo is beautiful throughout the year, with winter being a popular season for snow and skiing in Hokkaido. The busiest time of the year is during the “Sapporo Snow Festival,” where giant snow and ice sculptures create a festive winter wonderland. However, keep in mind that hotel and flight prices tend to rise during this period.

Attractions in Sapporo are enjoyable year-round, focusing on Western-style buildings, observation decks, parks, and hills. One significant reason to visit Sapporo is its food.

What to Eat in Sapporo 🍗🍜

Hokkaido is known for its agriculture, dairy farming, and abundant seafood. Seafood from the northern ocean is a must-try, and seeking local places rather than tourist spots can offer better quality and reasonable prices.

### 1. Local Sushi Chain – Nagoyakatei

For sushi, consider visiting a local sushi chain. Among the three major Hokkaido sushi chains, “Nemuro Hanamaru” and “Toriton” already have branches in Tokyo. The author chose one called Nagoyakatei in Hassamu area. It was easily accessible from Miyanozawa station, the last stop of the Tozai line. The sushi was of good quality, and the experience was enjoyable.

### 2. Kaisendon (Seafood Bowl) at Nijo Market

For a seafood bowl, Nijo Market offers small shops and restaurants where you can try Kaisendon. The author visited a store in front of Nijo Market and ordered a 1700 yen small bowl of seafood with Ikura, scallops, and salmon. The bowl came with a cup of soup with shrimp. There are expensive options like Uni bowls (Sea Urchin) for over 5000 yen. Keep in mind that Uni season is typically in summer, and in winter, you might get frozen or a small amount taken during winter.

### 3. Sapporo Ramen

In cold weather, a warm bowl of ramen is a comforting choice. In Susukino, the Ramen Yokocho area is perfect for ramen lovers. There are many ramen shops in this small alley, and you can choose your favorite. The author chose a store called Haruka, which offered a miso ramen with butter and corn—a classic image of Sapporo ramen. It was delicious, and while foreign tourists often opt for spicy miso ramen, the classic version is also worth trying.

### 4. Genghis Khan at Sapporo Beer Garden

Genghis Khan is a popular local food in Hokkaido, featuring mutton BBQ cooked on the table. Sapporo Beer Garden, located next to the Sapporo Beer Museum, offers an opportunity to try Genghis Khan. Reservations can be made online in English, and a bus leaves every 30 minutes from Sapporo station’s north exit. The author took the bus, costing 210 yen. The experience includes an all-you-can-eat buffet in Kessel Hall, overlooking the brewery machinery.

What to Know About Sapporo (Travel Tips)

On the way back from Sapporo Beer Garden, the author encountered a delay in the JR train. Despite the delay, the waiting time became a memorable part of the journey.

Winter Travel Advisory – What to Wear, Shoes

If visiting Sapporo in winter, consider a few things. Choose hotels near the station or underground malls for convenience. Sapporo can get very cold, with temperatures around -6 to -7 degrees, and it can feel colder with wind storms. Be well-prepared for the weather, especially if you’re not accustomed to such temperatures. Additionally, be cautious of slippery streets, and wearing winter boots is recommended.

Payment Method

Many stores in Sapporo may accept cash only, so it’s advisable to carry cash. Just like in other parts of Japan, cash is widely accepted.

Overall, Sapporo offers a diverse range of attractions, delicious local cuisine, and a unique blend of modern and traditional experiences. Whether exploring the city center, enjoying winter festivities, or savoring local delicacies, Sapporo has something to offer every traveler. Have a great trip to Sapporo!

Where I visited in this article.

 

Events: – Sapporo Snow Festival: February 4 – 11, 2024.

See other areas of Japan from home.

 

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