Sapporo is a brand name that’s recognized all over the world as a deliciously smooth lager. But did you know that the world-renowned beer company is named after one of the oldest cities in Japan? Sapporo is the biggest city north of Tokyo and is located on the island of Hokkaido. It’s famous for hosting multiple winter Olympics, crafting delicious beer, and the breathtaking mountain range that surrounds the populous city. A must-see destination for travelers seeking the full Japanese experience. Therefore, in this one-day itinerary, we will explore the charming city of Sapporo and its top attractions and local gems.
The absolute best time to visit this winter island city is during the month of February when Sapporo hosts its annual snow festival. The annual event pulls in millions of local and foreign tourists each year. Artists who are adept at creating snow and ice sculptures make their way up to construct phantasmal statues, designs, and even structures made from snow and/or ice.
The city of Sapporo also organizes some more interactive activities during the snow festival like the snow slides. Reminiscent of tobogganing, families can get inflatable toboggans to slide down the large hills that have hollowed-out lanes.
Settled over 15,000 years ago by indigenous people known as the Ainu, the city of Sapporo grew over the centuries. It is now Japan’s 5th most populated municipality despite how far north Sapporo is compared to the rest of the island nation’s cities.
However, for hundreds of years, the area where Sapporo was located was known as the Ishikari Plain. It was only near the end of the Edo period (1603 – 1867) that the Ishikari Plain was transformed into Sapporo village, and later into the bustling city that it is today.
Follow the guide below to make the most out of a one-day Itinerary when visiting Sapporo, Japan.
Fuel up with an early morning cup of joe at Miyakoshiya Coffee. This is a local Sapporite favorite that opens at 7:00 AM. It’s widely praised by the locals because there are several of these cafes around the city, the coffee is brewed with high-quality beans, and the prices are very affordable. Coffee beans are also available for purchase – the cafe offers both single-origin and blended.
If you’re interested in a sit-down breakfast. The gourmet cafe Yoshimi (which opens at 7:30 AM) has super-fluffy Japanese-styled pancakes topped with soft-serve ice cream that’s made from Hokkaido’s high-quality milk. The Japanese fluffy pancakes are also served with apricot slices and apricot syrup. Guests can also treat themselves to Hokkaido delicacies such as their north islander curry with sauteed vegetables and rice for an authentic cuisine experience.
After you’ve had a coffee and a bite to eat. It’s time to visit Sapporo’s most appealing tourist attractions, starting with the Sapporo Beer Museum. The tour brings you on a trip through the history of the global beer brand going back to 1876. The museum has finally resumed its tours after not being open to the public for two years due to the threat of COVID-19.
Inside, guests can be treated to several different beer tastings, delicacy beers, and non-alcoholic beer if you have minors traveling with you. In Japan, the legal age for drinking is 20 years old. So, you will want to have your ID with you if you’re young in appearance and want to try some of the exquisite beer.
Tourists can see the inner workings of the original Sapporo brewery and dine at Trommel Hall and other restaurants that have a la carte menus. The museum opens at 11:00 AM, with the tours running until 6:00 PM. However, the gift shop is open until 7:30 PM.
After your museum tour and a beer (or two), enjoy a stroll through the surreal botanical gardens near the city’s center. Owned and maintained by the Hokkaido University, this beautiful park offers pathways full of exotic trees, vibrant flowers, and even wetland plant gardens near the center.
Within the botanical gardens is a small museum that focuses on the Ainu people mentioned earlier. The museum preserves artifacts from the indigenous people, along with intergenerational stories passed down for centuries. Hours of availability range with each season. Admission costs 420 yen ($3.21 as of June 2022).
Similar to the Tokyo Tower, Sapporo has its own iconic structure that’s visible from anywhere in the city! Open from 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM, the Sapporo TV Tower is best known for being a former signal receiver to help broadcast television from the late 50s to the early 2000s.
Now, the tower is a major tourist attraction. It holds multiple shops on its ground floor, an observation deck, and a fortune gacha (bubble-gum) machine at the very top of the tower. Admission costs the equivalent to $7.54 for adult tickets (16 years+), and the equivalent of $3.77 for children between 6 and 15 years. Kids younger than that have free admission.
End your one-day Itinerary in Sapporo with a visit to the city’s entertainment district. There’s something for every kind of traveler within Susukino. If you enjoy gambling, you can find pachinko parlors around. Several bars with colorful cocktails and highballs if you’re looking to enjoy a drink out with friends.
An overabundance of restaurants serving traditional Japanese cuisine and dishes that were originally made in Hokkaido. For instance, Ishikari nabe, which is a miso-based hot pot recipe that involves veggies grown in the winter, seafood, and tofu. Or a dish dubbed “Genghis Khan” that consists of grilled mutton, lamb, pumpkin, and cabbage that’s served on a cast-iron dish.
Susukino also has ramen shops that are famous throughout the nation of Japan for their rich & umami taste. They even feature Sapporo’s well-known ramen on the critically acclaimed Netflix original Aggretsuko! Check out Ganso Ramen or Ramen Shingen, each has over 1000 positive reviews on their Google business profile.
Premier Hotel -Tsubaki- Sapporo
062-0904 Hokkaido, Sapporo, Toyohira-ku Toyohira 4-jo 1-1-1
Premier Hotel -Tsubaki- Sapporo really deserves its five stars for a number of reasons. First, the location is wonderful, right on the bank of the Toyo-Hiragawa River which you can enjoy by renting out a bike. The rooms are very big and well equipped (minibar included), and you are close to a subway station, although you can reach the city center on foot in less than 15 minutes. The wonderful and classy interior is the icing on the cake, and you can bet you will enjoy every minute you spend here.
The Knot Sapporo
060-0063 Hokkaido, Sapporo, 16-2,Nishi 3-Chome,Minami 3-Jo,Chuo-Ku
A very modern and elegant hotel, The Knot also boasts a great location given that it’s in the city center and close to a subway station, so you can easily get around town. Furthermore, the food they serve here is excellent, the rooms are well equipped with plenty of amenities, and you can get all of that for a very reasonable price. Not to mention that the upper floors of the building provide a fantastic view of the city. A great choice for a stay in Sapporo!
Onsen Ryokan Yuen Sapporo
060-0001 Hokkaido, Sapporo, Chuo-Ku Kita1Jo Nishi7Chome 6
Spend your night in Sapporo being treated like royalty at Onsen Ryokan Yuen. This hotel offers indoor and outdoor hot springs that are the perfect way to wind down after a long day of exploration. The hotel serves breakfast using seasonal ingredients that are locally grown in Hokkaido. Laundry and massage services are also available at Onsen Ryokan Yuen. Average prices for one night go for around $151.64.
Grids Sapporo Hotel & Hostel
060-0063 Hokkaido, Sapporo, Chuo-ku Minami 3jo Nishi 5 cho-me 32
For more affordable options on where you can spend the night in the city. Try Grids Sapporo Hotel & Hostel. The interior is quite lovely, and the location is excellent – in the City Center district and close to the Sapporo Station. There’s baggage storage available, free wifi, private bathrooms, and even laundry machines (you’ll need coins for these, though). Spending one night at this hotel & hostel can be as inexpensive as $27.79
The island of Hokkaido has a whole lot to offer, which makes Sapporo a great base for organizing day trips. If you’re staying more than one day here, you really should set some time aside to get to know the island better, and here are a few places you really should consider.
Jozankei and/or Noboribetsu
Hot springs (onsen in Japanese) are inextricably linked to the Japanese way of life and visiting one of them is quite an experience for any traveler. You can do that too because Jozankei and Noboribetsu are about an hour away by car, but you can just as easily hop on a bus from Sapporo, too. Definitely an excellent choice for a day trip.
Shikotsu-Toya National Park
Nature lovers can set up an amazing day trip by heading out to the Shikotsu-Toya National Park. Not only is the nature here incredible, with plenty of amazing views and trails, but you can also climb Mt. Yotei, an inactive volcano! You’ll fall in love with Hokkaido here for sure.
Historic Village of Hokkaido
You don’t have to travel very far to visit the Historic Village of Hokkaido because it’s right on the edge of Sapporo, but coming here will definitely be like stepping into a whole other world. It’s an open-air museum that showcases the history of this island in the latter half of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th. And you get to ride a horse-drawn trolley!
This coastal town is only about 45 minutes away from Sapporo by car, but it has a completely different vibe and will provide you with a profoundly different experience. Great seafood, intricate canals, loads of shops, and generally a much calmer mood will help you recharge your batteries.
Bring a towel! If you plan on visiting Sapporo during the summer, it gets pretty hot. Despite it being located on the northern isle of Hokkaido, July and August can see temperatures rise up to over 30 degrees Celsius (over 86 degrees Fahrenheit). So why bring a towel? Because you will be sweating as you explore the great city of Sapporo due to the heat and humidity.
Learn some basic, navigational Japanese. Unlike Tokyo, which somewhat caters to English speakers, there are far fewer image-based menus, as well as fewer locals who speak English.
Have trouble finding a reliable source to learn some Japanese? Preply is an easy-to-use platform where you can book individual tutoring sessions for an affordable price.
Always carry around your passport! This is the law for foreign travelers within all of Japan. If law enforcement asks you to present your passport and you forgot, there’s a chance you can receive a fine up to the equivalent of $764!
Make sure you have everything you need
What to pack for your next trip?
Make your next trip as simple and as enjoyable as possible by packing smart. It’s amazing how much stress top travel items can save you, so choose carefully.
Things like lightweight travel backpacks, for example, are ideal for short trips and allow you to move around with ease, and a passport holder will make sure you keep your documents safe at all times.
Check our travel checklist guide for 2021 to make sure you haven’t missed anything, and travel to your next destination in style and with maximum comfort.
Jonathan Cohen is one of two co-founders of Travelling With Abundance. A new travel blog that focuses on affordable vacation tips, and post-pandemic travel & tourism. In his spare time, Jonathan loves to adventure around the world, try exotic food, and play with his cat named Shibuya. Jonathan is born and raised in Toronto Canada and soon plans to move to a different country to start a new chapter in his life.