Hokkaido, nicknamed as Japan’s last frontier
Unlike any quintessential island or destination you’ve seen in Asia, Japan is famed for its delectable seafood, gorgeous greenery and otherworldly nature sights, as Hokkaido wows its visitors with its untamed wilderness, expansive panoramas and parks.
What’s more, it will unleash your inner shutterbug with its northern Europe-like scenery of Instagram-worthy flower gardens, rolling fields, rice paddies and faux-German cottages. Whether you’re exploring it on winter, spring, summer or falls, you’ll definitely love the mesmerizing grandeur of the northernmost prefecture in Japan.
Planning to visit this wondrous Japanese destination? Wondering what to do in Hokkaido? Here’s a quick rundown of some of the best things to do in Hokkaido, to help you plan your trip:
1. Be swept away by the lavender fields of Hokkaido
In summer, the countryside of Hokkaido bursts spectacularly in color, with its animated floral blooms and Instagrammable lavender fields. From June to August, all roads in Hokkaido all lead to Furano and Biei – two of the prefecture’s most sought-after lavender spots, to snap hundreds of photos of these dazzling floral exhibits. After admiring the blooms, savor the sweet aromas of the gardens as well as delight your sweet tooth with some luscious lavender ice cream.
2. Check out the Sapporo Snow Festival
Want to see one of the world’s largest and most spectacular ice festivals? Then, make sure to visit Sapporo, Hokkaido during wintertime! Every February, the festival beautifully transforms the capital of Hokkaido into a winter wonderland, showcasing hundreds of fabulous snow and ice sculptures depicting iconic landmarks, monuments, temples, cartoon characters as well as sports and entertainment celebrities.
3. Experience Asahikawa Sounkyo Icefall Festival
Looking for a less mainstream alternative to Sapporo Snow Festival? Celebrated in a secluded part of Sounkyo, this magical festival features art works and ice sculptures that are illuminated wondrously, turning it into a stunning fairytale land. As an added bonus, the festival isn’t as crowded as other renowned events in Hokkaido.
4. Eat a lot of crabs
Hokkaido is undoubtedly one of the leading crab producers in Japan, meaning you’ll find tons of eat-all-you-can restaurants offering crab specialties here, especially in Sapporo. I strongly suggest that you appease your gastronomic urges at Katsukani no Hanasaki, known as one of the top restaurants in Sapporo, Hokkaido.
5. Experience the thrilling winter sports in Niseko
Can’t get enough of the powdery setting of Hokkaido? They don’t call Niseko as the ice skiing mecca of Japan for nothing. As a matter of fact, travelers and snow adventurists from all corners of the world come to the well-known Niseko United – its 4 ski slopes – to experience skiing and snowboard adventures.
6. Catch the enticing sights of Bie-cho
No list of the best things to do in Hokkaido is complete without a little sightseeing adventure in Bie-cho. Here, you’ll get to gaze in awe at the rolling hills as well as the breathtaking landscapes that gave it Bie-cho the billing as “the most beautiful village in Japan”. Furthermore, a visit to Bie-cho offers a chance to catch sight of the supremely majestic Blue Pond, which was used as one of Apple Mac’s wallpaper images.
7. Hike Mount Asahi
With an impressive elevation of 2,290 meters, Mount Asahi is, hands down, the highest peak in all of Hokkaido. Surprisingly, though, it’s a fairly easy climb on summertime. In winter, meanwhile, the mountain becomes a heaven for hardcore snowboarders and skiers.
8. Scale Mount Yotei
Speaking of mountains, don’t forget to get a glimpse of the so-called “Mount Fuji of Hokkaido” – Mount Yotei. Standing more than a thousand meters above sea level, this mountain dazzles with views that will leave you speechless and in awe. Often ranked as one of the 100 most beautiful mountains in Japan, Mount Yotei is also a favorite spot for snowboarding and skiing enthusiasts during winter.
9. See Otaru Canal at night
Drop by Otaru Canal at night, and be enthralled by the reflections of the glittering street lights. Likewise, spend some time, visiting the restaurants and souvenir shops lining the banks of Otaru Canal.
10. Take the ropeway ride to Mount Moiwa
Indulge on an astonishing ropeway ride to the magnificent 531-meter tall Mount Moiwa. Once there, take in the beautiful sights from a bird’s perspective of Sapporo city, Hokkaido. Afterwards, take a stroll around, and check out its planetarium and restaurant.
11. Admire the views at night from Mount Hakodate
Embark on a mind-blowing car ride to the summit of Mount Hakodate, and feast your eyes on its dazzling views and gleaming city lights. While the ride is pretty short, the vistas from this moving lookout point are simply spectacular. And, if ever you can’t get enough the panorama, make your way to Cape Tachimachi, and indulge on a stunning view of the city to your heart’s content.
12. Take a step back in time in Hokkaido
Drop by the Historic Village of Hokkaido, and delve into the interesting culture and history of the prefecture. Inside the complex, you’ll find 60 buildings as well as replicas of landmarks that date between 19th and 20th centuries when a massive immigration and large-scale developments transformed the area.
The complex was specifically designed to highlight and illustrate the daily life in the past through its replica communities, including a town, fishing village, farm village and a mountain village. There’s a blacksmith shop, post office, barbershop and inn that you will give you a small taste of the life for Hokkaido’s pioneers.
13. Rejuvenate your jaded body on an onsen
Feeling a bit winded, after exploring a bunch of attractions in Hokkaido? Why not take a breather, and unwind at any of the onsens in Hokkaido? From deluxe modern-day resorts to traditional hot spring pools, the prefecture is teeming with onsens that will you chill and relax your weary muscles and joints.
14. Catch the awe-inspiring unkai (sea of clouds)
Itching to see something really breath-snatching in Hokkaido? Wake up early, and make your way to to lay eyes on the magnificent sea of clouds! Even though it doesn’t show up every day, it’s still worth a visit, thanks to its gorgeous views. Not to mention, the terrace serves tasty food as well as exceptional coffee.
15. Get amazing city views at Sapporo TV Tower
Billed as one of the top attractions in Hokkaido, the Sapporo TV Tower is a well-known landmark with a lofty observation deck where you can enjoy a fabulous night view of the city. What’s more, this tower in Sapporo is illuminated at night, adding more visual appeal to this towering landmark.
16. Visit Asahiyama Zoo, Asahikawa City
Head to the largest zoo in Hokkaido, and see a bunch of animals in a fairly unique environment. While there, don’t forget to check out the “Penguin Walk” – a zoo show that lets you see the penguins up close without barriers or chains.
17. Enjoy the views from Asahiyama Observatory
Make your way to Asahiyama Observatory, and get a pleasant view of the city of Sapporo. To get a memorable view, though, visit it at night.
18. Ramen eating spree
With Hokkaido’s freezing-cold temperature in winter, this Japanese staple acts not only as a tasty meal, but also as a way to warm up. There are 4 soup bases for ramen that originated from Hokkaido – curry (Muroran), shio (Hakodate) and shoyu (Asahikawa). I know –everybody has as personal preference, when it comes to noodle flavors, but I highly suggest that you try all of them, before making up your mind.
19. See Lake Mashu
You can’t leave Hokkaido without getting a glimpse of one of the world’s clearest lakes – Lake Mashu. Even though it’s usually covered in mist, the lake’s deep blue water on a clear day is nothing short of breathtaking. There are observation decks with each offering a different yet striking view of the lake.
20. Beer drinking fest
From July to August, beer makers from across the country open up stalls at Sapporo Odori Park, to celebrate the yearly Sapporo Odori Beer Garden. Beer lover or not, you’ll love the shows, highlights and displays during this one-of-a-kind event.
Headed to Hokkaido? Don’t forget to plan your trip with Trekeffect, to make your travel planning experience painless and hassle-free.
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