Sapporo Winter Must-sees! Introducing some of our favorite winter sightseeing spots.
How to Enjoy Winter in Sapporo
Sapporo is a major metropolis, and is home to about 1.9 million people. From around November, the first snowflakes start to flutter down, and by December, the city is covered in snow. Visitors find much to enjoy under the crystal-clear winter skies, from the internationally-renowned Sapporo Snow Festival, to nighttime cityscapes illuminated by enchanting lights, exciting outdoor activities amidst the winter scenery, and delicious local food.
From December to February, air temperatures are below freezing, meaning that even on days which may feel warm at noon, evenings can suddenly become extremely cold. For an enjoyable visit to Sapporo, please be certain to prepare suitable cold-weather wear such as warm down jackets, even on sunny days.
Road surfaces can become extremely slippery, so snow boots with cleats are essential for exploring the city on foot.
Hints for Enjoying Sightseeing in Sapporo!
Many of Sapporo’s foremost sightseeing spots, such as the Sapporo Clock Tower, Odori Park (the venue for Sapporo Snow Festival), and Nijo Market, are located in the city center. It’s quite possible to enjoy seeing the sights of Sapporo’s city center in a single day.
If you plan to explore into the outskirts to experience places such as Shiroi Koibito Park, Mount Moiwa Observatory, or Takino Suzuran Hillside Park, we recommend to plan on one night and two days in Sapporo.
The main transportation for sightseeing in Sapporo is the Sapporo Municipal Subway. The three subway lines are divided by color: Green (Namboku Line), Orange (Tōzai Line), and Sky Blue (Tōhō Line). Particularly in winter, the subway is ideal because it is not affected by weather or snowfall. For exploring Sapporo’s outskirts, the One-Day Ticket offers unlimited rides at a very reasonable price.
One-Day Ticket: Unlimited rides at a very reasonable price.
- One-Day Ticket:
- Unlimited rides at a very reasonable price.
- Sale Price
- Adult 830 yen, Child 420 yen
- Purchase At
- Subway Ticket Machines, Commuter Ticket Sales Counters, etc.
- https://www.city.sapporo.jp/st/english/fareandticket.html (Computer Translated)
Recommended Winter Events
The Sapporo Snow Festival attracts about two million people from around the world!
Each year, Odori Park comes to life as the main venue of the Sapporo Snow Festival, a celebration of snow and ice.
Visited by about two million people from throughout Japan and around the world, this major event symbolizes winter in Hokkaido. The main Odori Site is lined with rows of snow and ice sculptures portraying famous buildings from around the world, popular cartoon characters, and more. At night, the sights become all the more impressive thanks to illumination, sound, and projection mapping. The Susukino Site features illuminated ice sculptures and an ice bar. The Tsudome Site is popular with families, featuring ice slides and plenty of winter activities. Each site offers its own unique charm, so please be sure to visit them all as you enjoy the Sapporo Snow Festival to its fullest.
- Odori Site, Susukino Site, Tsudome Site
- 2020/2/4 (Tues) – 2/11 (Tues)
The Tsudome Site is open 2020/1/31 – 2/11
Wonderful Winter Sights
Chiming bells echo across the snowy scenery at Sapporo Clock Tower
Sapporo Clock Tower is a true symbol of the city. Originally built in 1878 as a martial arts training hall for the former Sapporo Agricultural College (now Hokkaido University), the building had various purposes, such as a place for military training for students, and as a central auditorium for speeches and lectures. In 1906, Sapporo Clock Tower was moved to its current location, and even to this very day, the bell chimes every hour, faithfully telling the time to the citizens of Sapporo. For photographs at the Clock Tower, we recommend the photography platform to the side of the tower’s front face, or the terrace on the second floor of the front building.
As the sun sets, the building is lit up, offering a romantic nighttime sight.
- Kita 1-jo Nishi 2-chome, Chuo-ku, Sapporo, Hokkaido
- 8:45 – 17:00
- Adult 200 yen, High School Student or Younger Free
Enjoy beer at the birthplace of Japanese beer! The Sapporo Beer Museum
Sapporo Beer is Japan’s first domestically-brewed beer brand, and Sapporo is the birthplace of Japanese beer. Here, at the Sapporo Beer Museum, visitors can learn about the history of beer while observing historical materials from Hokkaido’s pioneering days in the early Meiji period (late 1860s) onward to modern times.
Self-directed tours are free of charge, but we would recommend to sign up for a paid premium tour. At the paid tasting corner on the 1st floor, you can try popular beers from the Sapporo Beer brand, or taste Kaitakushi Beer, which is only available at this museum. And, at the adjoining Sapporo Bier Garten, you may enjoy Hokkaido’s famous local ‘Genghis Khan’ lamb barbecue, paired with draft beer direct from the factory.
- Kita 7-jo Higashi 9-chome 1-1, Higashi-ku, Sapporo, Hokkaido
- 11:00 – 20:00 (Last Entry 19:30)
- Free of Charge
A theme park for the classic Hokkaido sweet, Shiroi Koibito Park
‘Shiroi Koibito’ cookies are one of Hokkaido’s most iconic sweets. At Shiroi Koibito Park, visitors of all ages can observe the cookie making process with a factory tour, try making their very own Shiroi Koibito at the ‘Sweets Workshop Dream Kitchen’, or even enjoy tea time surrounded by antique furniture at the Tea Corner. You are sure to find the perfect souvenir at the shops, which feature Shiroi Koibito cookies and special limited-edition sweets that are only available here. In winter, the spectacular ‘Shiroi Koibito Park Illumination’ features about 100,000 lights that decorate the fences and buildings, and lighting of the Mechanical Clock Tower. The main tree and reindeer decorations are popular photograph locations.
- Miyanosawa 2-2-11-36, Nishi-ku, Sapporo, Hokkaido
- 9:00 – 18:00 (Last Entry 17:00)
- Premium Factory Course
Adult (High School and Up) 1,500 yen, Child (Age 4 to Junior High) 1,200 yen, Infant (Age 3 or Under) Free
Adult (High School and Up) 600 yen, Child (Age 4 to Junior High) 300 yen, Infant (Age 3 or Under) Free
Enjoy Sapporo’s Breathtaking Nighttime Scenery
360-degree Panorama from atop Mount Moiwa
At a height of 531 meters, Mount Moiwa is located in the approximate center of the municipality of Sapporo, and offers superb views of the city and its surrounding area during the day. The iconic night view of Sapporo’s cityscape from Mount Moiwa is particularly breathtaking. In the long, clear winter nights, the city lights twinkle even brighter. The mountaintop observation deck provides 360-degree panoramic views of Sapporo’s cityscape at night, which has been selected as one of Japan’s New Three Spectacular Night Views. The Sapporo Streetcar is a convenient method to visit Mount Moiwa, with a free shuttle bus from the ‘Ropeway Iriguchi’ Streetcar Stop to Mount Moiwa Base Station.
- Sapporo Moiwa Ropeway, Fushimi 5-chome 3-7, Chuo-ku, Sapporo, Hokkaido
- 11:00 – 22:00 [Last Ascent 21:30] (Dec -Mar)
Special Hours: 12/31 & 1/1
- Ropeway + Mo-ris Car [Round-Trip Price] Adult 1,700 yen, Child 850 yen
The ski jump looks like a sparkling runway from Mount Okurayama Observatory
The world-famous Mount Okurayama Ski Jump Stadium was the site of the ski jump events during the 1972 Sapporo Winter Olympic Games. The observation platform is located at the ski jump start gates, at an elevation of 307 meters. This vantage point provides vast panoramic views of Sapporo’s cityscape and the Ishikari Plains beyond the ski jump approach. The early sunsets of winter bring dramatic nighttime versions of these iconic views.
- Mount Okurayama Observatory Lift, Miyanomori 1274, Chuo-ku, Sapporo, Hokkaido
- 9:00 – 17:00 (11/5 – 3/31)
- Lift Ticket [Round Trip] Adult 500 yen, Child 300 yen
- http://okura.sapporo-dc.co.jp/index.html (Only available in Japanese)
Soak in an open-air hot spring surrounded by snowy scenery
Free Admission in Winter at Takino Suzuran Hillside Park (Takino Snow World)
Located a 50 minute drive from Sapporo city center, ‘Takino Suzuran Hillside Park” is Hokkaido’s only national government park. While perhaps best known for its abundant nature in the green seasons, the park also offers plenty of wintertime fun! Admission to this snowy wonderland is free of charge in winter. The most popular attraction is the 200-meter-long snow tubing slide, which is one of the longest in Japan. Visitors can also enjoy skiing and snowshoeing surrounded by abundant nature. The 250-meter-long ski slope is set at a gentle 7 degree decline, offering ideal conditions for children and beginners at skiing and snowboarding. Other activities such as snowshoeing atop fluffy banks of snow will bring you so close to nature that you may forget that the park is actually within Sapporo city! The wide variety of available activities offer countless opportunities to truly enjoy Hokkaido’s magnificent outdoors.
- Takino 247, Minami-ku, Sapporo, Hokkaido
- 2019/12/23 – 2020/3/31
- 9:00 – 16:00 (12/23 – 3/31)
- Free of Charge
Soak in an open-air hot spring surrounded by snowy scenery
Located in Jozankei about an hour’s drive from Sapporo city center, Hoheikyo Onsen is a natural hot spring spa which offers convenient day spa options. The direct-source, free-flowing mineral water of the large open-air bath is complemented by panoramic views of magnificent natural surroundings, and is a local favorite among Sapporo’s citizens. Every year in winter, giant snow huts are built at Hoheikyo Onsen. Said to be among the largest in Japan, each can entertain a party of about 20 people. These surprisingly large snow huts are free for anyone to enter and enjoy, and groups of 4 or more may order ‘jingisukan’ lamb barbecue to be cooked inside. Hoheikyo offers truly remarkable ways to enjoy Hokkaido’s immense yearly snowfalls.
- Jozankei 608-2, Minami-ku, Sapporo, Hokkaido
- 10:00 – 22:30 (Reception Closes 21:45)
- Adult (Junior High Age and Up) 1,000 yen, Child (Age 3 to Elementary School) 500 yen, Infant (Age 0 to 2) Free of Charge