Two days of urban and outdoor fun: Get the best of both worlds in a snow-blanketed Sapporo

  • : 2 days
  • Route:
    Day one|Takino Snow World → Dinner in central Sapporo → AOAO SAPPORO
    Day two|Snow activities galore in Sapporo City → Lunch and shopping in central Sapporo → Sapporo Mt. Moiwa Ropeway → Wrap up the night with dinner and dessert like a true local
  • MAP

Sapporo is the only city in the world that has both a population of over one million people and annual snowfall of five meters. As a city surrounded by lush nature, you don’t have to try too hard to find places to enjoy all the fluffy snow when Hokkaido’s capital puts on its white coat each winter.

Not only do you have an abundance of outdoor activities within easy reach, you can also take advantage of everything a major city has to offer—from sightseeing to dining, shopping and so much more.

Read on for some ideas on how to make the most of both Sapporo’s winter playgrounds and its urban delights.

Takino Snow World
( : 6 hours)

Useful Info
  • To get the most out of the snow activities, it’s best to get up early. Leaving from Odori Station at around 8:00 am is recommended.
  • To get to Takino Snow World from central Sapporo, take the subway from Odori Station to Makomanai Station (about 20 minutes), then take a bus from Makomanai Station to Takino Snow World (about 30 minutes). In winter, buses run about once an hour in both directions, but the final departure is earlier than on other bus routes. Be sure to check the timetable, which is available here.
  • Takino Snow World is open every year from late December to late March from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. During summer, the park is open as Takino Suzuran Hillside Park and is famous for its beautiful flower gardens.
  • Entry to the park is free in winter, and free sled and snow shoe rental are available. You can also rent ski wear and downhill or cross-country skis for a fee. Lift tickets (sold separately) are needed to ride the ski lift. Click here for details.

Takino Snow World is great for anyone who wants to try out a variety of winter activities. With its huge range of things to see and do, children and adults alike can enjoy a full day of adventures in the snow.

Sign inside Makomanai Station pointing to the bus stop
Makomanai Station No. 2 Bus Stop

To get to Takino Snow World, start by heading to the Makomanai Subway Station. From there, head to the No. 2 Bus Stop and take the Takino Line (真106) bus all the way to the last stop, called Suzuran Park Higashiguchi.

Entering the park from the Higashi Guchi entrance, you’ll find a gentle ski slope stretching out on your right-hand side. This Family Slope has an average incline of 7 degrees and is 250 m long. It’s great for children or beginner skiers and snowboarders.

Left of the Higashi Guchi entrance, Tsudoi no Mori marks the start of the cross-country skiing courses. There are six courses in total, including a 1 km course for beginners, 3 km and 6 km courses for intermediate skiers, and advanced courses in excess of 10 km. Whichever route you take, you’ll be treated to impressive views of the serene winter forest.

Takino Snow World also boasts one of the longest sled slopes in Japan, coming in at 200 m. You won’t want to miss the rush of zipping down the hill on a snow tube.

This park’s wealth of things to do mean there’s always something to fit your mood, whether you’re looking to get active or just enjoy a quiet stroll among the snow. Why not try making a snowman? Or put on a pair of snowshoes and explore the snowy forest? You might even come across local wildlife, such as wild birds and Hokkaido squirrels.

Three of the park’s eateries are also open in winter. The Country House by the Higashi Guchi entrance is the biggest, with 100 seats and a substantial menu featuring items such as pasta, gratin and ramen. Also near the Higashi Guchi entrance is a cafeteria that offers lighter fare, such as udon and soba. No matter how hungry you are, you’re bound to find something that hits the spot.

Click here for more details on Takino Snow World

Dinner in central Sapporo
( : 2 hours)

Useful Info

  • Susukino is packed with restaurants and bars. It’s known as one of Japan’s “big three” entertainment districts, alongside Kabukicho in Shinjuku, Tokyo and Nakasu in Fukuoka.
  • There are also many places to eat throughout Sapporo’s city center, including around Sapporo Station, Odori Park and the Tanuki Koji Shopping Street.

After a fun-packed day in the snow, you can take a quick break in your hotel to freshen up before heading out for dinner in downtown Sapporo, where a plethora of delicious cuisine awaits.

As Hokkaido’s largest city, Sapporo is a hub bringing together ingredients from all over the prefecture. In Susukino, you’ll find countless izakaya (traditional Japanese pubs) where you can enjoy myriad delights of land and sea—the fruits of Hokkaido’s rich nature. The delectable freshness of popular seafood items served up as sushi and sashimi is something you have to experience first-hand.

Genghis Khan is an indispensable part of Sapporo’s local cuisine. To enjoy this dish “Sapporo-style,” grill the mutton or lamb on the iron skillet, then dip it in the sauce, which comes in a separate bowl. Of course, this is just scratching the surface of Susukino’s array of dining establishments—it’s definitely worth going for a stroll in search of some hidden gems.

( : 2 hours)

Useful Info

  • The urban aquarium AOAO SAPPORO is located in Moyuk Sapporo, a retail facility in the 3-chome block of Tanuki Koji Shopping Street, which stretches from east to west through the center of Sapporo.
  • AOAO SAPPORO is open from 10:00 am to 10:00 pm.
  • You’ll need to buy a ticket to enter the aquarium. Prices vary throughout the year, so check their website before going.

After dinner, why not explore central Sapporo? Lined with roughly 200 stores, Tanuki Koji Shopping Street is a not only great for souvenir shopping, it’s also home to an urban aquarium that’s open until 10:00 pm.

AOAO SAPPORO spans floors four to six of Moyuk Sapporo, a retail facility on the 3-chome block of Tanuki Koji Shopping Street. Featuring highly-photogenic circulatory tanks, mesmerizing jellyfish, and exhibitions introducing sea creatures based on themes such as “slithering” and “flattening,” this aquarium housed in a creatively-designed space showcases marine life in a truly unique way and feels a world away from the city streets you left behind mere moments ago.

Especially popular is the large penguin tank on the top floor.

AOAO SAPPORO is an aquarium with plenty for even adults to enjoy. Next to the penguins is a digital art area where you can experience the sea of the Shiretoko World Heritage site in east Hokkaido, while the bakery also doubles as a bar.

Click here for more details on AOAO SAPPORO

Day two
Snow activities galore in Sapporo City
( : 3 hours)

Useful Info

  • On day two, you can choose your adventure by picking one of three snow activity areas near the city center: Nakajima Park, Maruyama Park and Hitsujigaoka Snow Park
  • To get to Nakajima Park, you can take the Namboku Subway Line. Exits 1 and 3 of Nakajima Koen Station and exits 1 and 2 of Horohira Bashi Station are located in the park. You can also walk there from Odori Station in central Sapporo in about 20 minutes.
  • In Nakajima Park, you can rent cross-country skis free of charge between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm from early January to early March (dates may change due to snow conditions). To find out more about cross-country ski rentals, click here, select automatic translation, then go to the Topics section.
  • Maruyama Park is a five-minute walk from exit 3 of Maruyama Koen Station on the Tozai Subway Line.
  • The Snow Mountain Play Area, including sled rental, is open from mid-January to early March (dates may change due to snow conditions).
    For information about Snow Mountain Play Area opening times and sled rental, click here and go to “notice (news).” (Although part of the website is in English, the news section is not. Use machine translation as needed.)
  • To get to Hitsujigaoka Snow Park, you’ll have to take the subway, then a bus. Take the Toho Subway Line to Fukuzumi Station, then go to Bus Stop No. 4 in the Fukuzumi Bus Terminal. Board the bus for Hitsujigaoka Tenbodai (福84), and get off at the last stop. The bus ride takes about 10 minutes.
  • Hitsujigaoka Snow Park is located at Hitsujigaoka Observation Hill, one of Sapporo’s most iconic sightseeing spots. You can enjoy various snow-related activities between early January to early March (dates may change depending on the snow conditions). For details about Hitsujigaoka Snow Park’s opening hours, click here.

On day two, you can check out snow activities at spots in and around the heart of Sapporo City. Closest to downtown is Nakajima Park, where you can try your hand at cross-country skiing, even on the spur of the moment.

Cross-country ski gear can be borrowed for free from the rental office in the car park of the Nakajima Athletic Center. This is available from about early January to early March (dates may change due to snow conditions). You’ll be able to experience nature right in the center of the city while enjoying some light exercise as you ski around the roughly 600 m-long beginner-friendly trail.

Eight different activities are available to try, including snow tubing and cross-country skiing. Just pay the entrance fee, then you’re free to enjoy all the activities to your heart’s content. There are also various photo spots where you can take some interesting shots, so even if you don’t feel like joining in on the snow activities, it’s still a great place to take some memorable snaps.

Not only is Maruyama Park home to the Hokkaido Shrine, it’s also another spot near the city center where you can enjoy snow activities. Visiting the shrine, then dropping by the park to play in the snow is highly recommended.

The Snow Mountain Play Area is built in the Freedom Square at Maruyama Park in early January each year. Here, you can borrow a sled and enjoy sliding down the snow hill.

Even Sapporo’s iconic Hitsujigaoka Observation Hill is home to a Snow Park every year, from early January to early March.

Click here for more details on the Hitsujigaoka Snow Park

Lunch and shopping in central Sapporo
( : 3 hours)

After spending a morning out in the snow, it’s time to head back to central Sapporo to enjoy some local specialties for lunch. Along with Genghis Khan, there are many more dishes that originated in Sapporo like miso ramen and soup curry.

If you’re a seafood lover, you should make the short trip to the Nijo Fish Market, where you’ll find stalls full of fresh delights. The kaisendon—rice bowls topped with fresh sashimi—in particular are not to be missed.

After filling your belly, it’s time for some shopping in the city. You’ll find that each area of central Sapporo has its own unique character. Sapporo Station is home to one of Japan’s leading retail facilities and is always bustling with people. As the station is also something of a gateway to Sapporo, you’ll find many famous Hokkaido stores here.

The Odori area is packed with department stores and also has stores from designer brands on street level.

Another highly-recommended spot is the Tanuki Koji Shopping Street located between Odori and Susukino. The street is home to numerous establishments with rich histories, and you’ll find everything from secondhand clothing retailers to drugstores. This is an ideal spot to pick up original t-shirts and souvenirs you won’t see anywhere else.

There’s also a retail complex in downtown Susukino called COCONO SUSUKINO, where you can enjoy shopping during the day as well as wining and dining at night.

COCONO SUSUKINO also houses a supermarket, a drugstore and a variety of general stores, so it’s a great place to pick up some souvenirs. There are also many stores perfect for taking a break after your shopping spree, including a renowned local bakery, delis, cafés, restaurants, and establishments where you can stop by and enjoy Hokkaido beer, sake, and wine.

Sapporo Mt. Moiwa Ropeway
( : 1 hour)

Useful Info

  • To get to the Sapporo Mt. Moiwa Ropeway, take the streetcar from central Sapporo and disembark at the Ropeway Iriguchi Station. From there, it’s a 7-minute walk to the Sapporo Mt. Moiwa Ropeway Sanroku Station, where you can take the ropeway and mini cable car to the summit of Mt. Moiwa.
  • Click here to check the operating hours and the scheduled closures of the ropeway and the mini cable car.
  • Tickets are required for both the ropeway and the mini cable car. The best value is a return trip ticket that includes both the ropeway and the mini car for 2,100 yen for adults and 1,050 yen for children (ages 12 and under). Tickets are available at the ticket counter on the fourth floor of the Sanroku Station.

On the last night of this two-day tour, a trip to Mt. Moiwa is highly recommended. To get there, take the streetcar to the Ropeway Iriguchi Station. From there, you can take the ropeway and mini cable car to the summit.

Sapporo is blessed with beautiful night-time scenery and was even selected as one of Japan’s New Three Most Spectacular Night Views. It’s particularly spectacular when seen from Mt. Moiwa, thanks to the panoramic view across of this city home to some two million people. In winter, the air is especially clear, making the city lights sparkle all the brighter.

Click here for more details on Mt. Moiwa

Wrap up the night with dinner and dessert like a true local
( : 2 hour)

After enjoying the spectacular Mt. Moiwa night view, head back downtown to heat back up with some dinner. Perhaps the most warming local dish is soup curry, and the spices are a treat for both body and soul. Sapporo also has a culture of wrapping up a night on the town with a parfait. This is known as “shime parfait,” and you should give it a try to finish your day in a uniquely Sapporo way.

Welcome Restaurants is a website created to help international tourists get the most out of Sapporo’s bars and restaurants. Listing establishments with features that make the dining experience as seamless as possible—such as providing information in English and accepting credit card payments—it’s an invaluable resource any time you go out for a bite in Sapporo.