To say my planned Sapporo Itinerary for this trip fell into pieces may seem a bit melodramatic, but that was how it felt to me at the time. None of us could have predicted that we would experience a (hopefully once in a lifetime) major earthquake on our very first night in Sapporo. It caused pretty much the entire island to shut down for approximately 24 hours, more or less.
We spent nearly two days in limbo, and once the electricity and modes of public transport were restored, things were understandably not yet completely normal. Lots of special events got cancelled and most of the tourist spots were still closed and were being examined for any possible damages. Erring on the side of safety is always a good idea, but it was still quite a sad thing to have our carefully constructed trip thrown out the window.
To tell you the truth, I wasn’t supposed to write this Sapporo Itinerary anymore. But taking into account the limited but still fun things we managed to enjoy at the tail end of our trip, I find myself able to make enough recommendations to fill five leisurely days in Sapporo, including visits to nearby places.
This itinerary assumes that you are based in Sapporo and suggests some activities you can partake to enjoy a summer trip. Of course, these are only suggestions, which means you are free to squeeze in more activities in between. I only included the things I personally experienced during my own summer trip and during my trip before this one. Hopefully I get to make another more extensive summer itinerary for Sapporo some time soon.
Day 1- Getting to Know Sapporo City
This first day will be spent getting acquainted with Sapporo and Hokkaido’s general history, as well as get a feel of the pulse of the city. The plan is to visit a museum, and then check out the main park and downtown area of Sapporo. This is also a great opportunity to study the public transport system of the system. You can easily get around Sapporo either by subway or bus, although some people prefer to rent cars and drive themselves instead. I would suggest purchasing an IC Card if you have plans for commuting, as these cards can also be used in other cities in Japan.
Morning: Visit the HISTORICAL VILLAGE OF HOKKAIDO
I have been to this open-air museum during the wintertime, and even then I remember it fondly. I wanted very much to experience it on a normal summer day but was unable to due to uncontrollable circumstances. In any case, I highly recommend this very unique and sprawling museum where you get to walk outdoors and see all the different faces of Hokkaido throughout its past.
[READ MORE about the Historical Village of Hokkaido]
Noon: Return to ODORI PARK and explore nearby areas
Odori Park is usually the site for many festivals here is Sapporo, such as the Sapporo Snow Festival. In September, they have the annual Autumn Festival, which is a massive food and beer festival that runs pretty much the entire month. Because Hokkaido has such a short and chilly summer season, it trickles right into autumn without much fanfare. Were it not for the earthquake, we would’ve been able to catch the first week of the Autumn Festival. (I was excited to write about it too!)
Odori Park is also the location of the iconic Sapporo TV Tower. A few blocks away is the Sapporo Clock Tower and the Former Hokkaido Government Office. Both are heavily visited tourist spots.
Evening: Dinner at Susukino
After walking around and snapping photos at the nearby tourist spots, walk the few blocks toward Susukino. You will spot Susukino’s major intersection right away because there would be a ton of bright lights welcoming you. The photo below is a lethargic version of the usual Susukino. It’s a photo I took during the first night electricity was restored to Sapporo City after the earthquake. Normally the lights would be on in the entire length of the street, on opposite sides.
There are a lot of places to eat in the so-called red light district of Sapporo. The famous Sapporo Ganso Yokocho or Ramen Alley is located here, and it’s a great place to have the local specialty Sapporo Buttered Corn Miso Ramen. For a different flavor, try some Soup Curry from Soup Curry King!
Day 2- A bigger bite of Sapporo
The focus of this day is to see Sapporo from a different vantage point from yesterday, both in terms of sights and tastes. Sapporo is known for their seafood and produce, and there’s no better place to try both than in one of Sapporo’s main wet markets. Once the bellies are filled, it’s time to go on a pleasant trip through the mountains.
AM: Have brunch at the SAPPORO CENTRAL WHOLESALE MARKET
This market is one of my favorite places to eat seafood and fresh produce, both of which Sapporo (or Hokkaido in general) is known for. Whether you’re hankering for a bowl of sashimi or ikura, or even giant crabs, this is the place to be! For dessert, you can have some Yubari melon as well. Don’t forget to try some Hokkaido corn before you go!
[READ MORE about the Sapporo Central Wholesale Market]
Though there are plenty of seafood restaurants in this area, my favorite place so far is the Kaisen Shokudo Kitano Gurume 海鮮食堂 北のグルメ亭. Its got a market downstairs where you can purchase fresh seafood to go (as well as some Hokkaido dairy, yum!) but you can also purchase to eat at the restaurant upstairs. We picked a fresh horsehair crab and had it cooked in their kitchen to enjoy. The fresh sashimi atop the kaisendon was also excellent!
[READ MORE about the Kitano Gurume]
If you don’t eat raw seafood, they have cooked options on their menu as well. Apart from trying out three-types of crabs over rice, you can even pick some fresh scallops from the marketplace and have it torched with some cheese. The possibilities are endless here!
PM: Visit the Maruyama Park & Hokkaido Shrine
The Maruyama Park compound is one of my favorite places here in Sapporo. There’s something so calming about walking through its paths, between all those tall trees and lovely foliage. Granted, I have a thing for woodland parks, so it doesn’t come as a shock to me that I really enjoyed my time here. This sprawling 68.7-hectare park is home to the Hokkaido Shrine, which is one of the main shrines here in Sapporo. It’s almost always filled with people whatever the season.
This video will probably give you a better feel of the place more than my words ever could:
[READ MORE about the Maruyama Park & Hokkaido Shrine]
Evening: Visit MT. MOIWA
At an altitude of 531 meters, Mt. Moiwa is one of the best places to get a glimpse of Sapporo from high up. It’s one of the most frequented places in Sapporo, and for good reason. You take a series of aerial lifts and a cable car up to the observation deck, where you can find the famous Bell of Happiness. It is said that if a couple rings this bell together, their love will flourish even more.
You can visit Mt. Moiwa on your own or join an arranged tour via Klook or KKDay. These tours already include dinner at the restaurant right here on the mountain. Dinner with a view? Always a good idea!
[READ MORE about Mt. Moiwa]
Day 3- Day trip to Otaru
Otaru is a city located just over 30 minutes away from Sapporo by train. There’s literally no excuse to skip this charming port city, especially if you like picturesque locations and yummy treats. Indeed, Otaru is the home of famous Japanese sweets like Le Tao and Rokkatei. Even though you can buy Le Tao from the airport, there are a lot of treats that you can only buy from their stores here in Otaru. Almost all the brands provide free tastes of their special items so you can try before you buy.
Another thing Otaru is famous for are their music boxes. A visit to the Otaru Museum Box Museum will transport you to another world. (As will a visit to one of the historical museums here!)
At the Sakaimichi Street, you can find the IG famous Rainbow Soft Serve. It’s not just pretty, it tastes excellent too! There are 7 different flavors, not just colors.
I was really happy with the amount of pretty photos I managed to take here in Otaru, but here’s a video to show you what you can expect on a visit here:
[READ MORE about the Fun Things To Do in Otaru]
Day 4- Day trip to Furano & Biei with Chuo Bus
Another day trip you can take from Sapporo is this scenic one. We went with the Chuo Sightseeing Bus, and it was affordable and convenient. But most importantly, we went to places in the countryside that were truly a feast for the eyes! In Furano and Biei, we visited the Sumio Goto Museum, Blue Pond, and Shikisai No Oka. September in Hokkaido is a sunny but cool month, which makes a visit to outdoor sites like these even better.
You can see the set of photographs I took during our Furano and Biei tour on the solo blog post (linked below), but first check out this video to get into the mood:
[READ MORE about the Furano & Biei Chuo Bus Tour]
Day 5- Shopping day in Sapporo
No trip is complete without shopping, and for me, you will never run out of things to buy in Japan. Whether you’re a fan of fashion, stationery, tech stuff, anime paraphernalia, art materials, or food, Japan seems to have everything for everyone. My favorite thing to buy in Japan is actually their snack foods. It’s evidenced by the haul posts I always make when I write about my trips there. To end a long day of shopping, give yourself some time to enjoy the Sapporo specialty jingisukan, which you can grill on your own. That way, you can head home full of good memories and the smell of bbq on your clothes!
AM: Visit the Tanukikoji Shopping Street
Japan is snack heaven, and one of the best places to get them is in Don Quijote at the Tanukikoji Shopping Street. There are also lots of souvenir stores here, alongside restaurants and arcades. In Don Quijote alone you can easily spend 3 hours perusing the many floors and the many items. They don’t just have food here, but also bags, watches, and even home appliances.
[READ about my Snack Haul from my summer trip to Sapporo]
Personally, when I buy stuff from stores like Don Quijote, I always try to look for things limited to the specific city or prefecture I’m in. In Japan, they always produce snack foods that are specific to certain cities and prefectures only, and these are always labeled as such. I was on the lookout for anything labeled “Hokkaido-limited” the entire time I was here!
Noon: Have lunch at the Sapporo Ramen Kyowakoku
Heading into one of the main shopping areas of Sapporo, which is located at the Sapporo Station, you can first head to the 13th floor of the ESTA Mall for some ramen. There’s a place here called the Sapporo Ramen Kyowakoku (Ramen Republic) where eight different ramen shops are located in one place. These ramen shops come from different parts of Hokkaido, and it’s pretty cool that all of them are gathered in one place.
My personal favorite is Shirakaba Sansou, but this time around we tried out Baikouken / Baikohken Ramen. Though delicious, it hasn’t toppled my favorite so far. Take some time to look around first before deciding where to eat. I personally haven’t tried all eight, but it’s in my plans.
PM: Shop at the various malls at Sapporo Station
Since you are at the Sapporo Station already, you can take your pick from any of the four shopping malls located here. There’s the ESTA Mall where you’ve just had lunch, and there’s also Stellar Place, PASEO, and Daimaru. Tons of Japanese clothing brands are distributed across the malls. I usually just hang out at ESTA because it’s a more casual and midrange mall. There’s a small Uniqlo and GU here, as well as an ABC Mart. On ground level is a BIC Camera, while on the bottom floor there is a 100-yen store.
Evening: Have jingisukan at the Sapporo Beer Garden
For a last hurrah before flying back home, make your way to the Sapporo Beer Garden. This giant red-brick food hall is where you can get to grill some lamb and drink Sapporo Beer to your heart’s content. Although the price can be a bit high because this place does cater to a lot of tourists, it’s got great ambiance and quality meats. Don’t forget to grill some of those Hokkaido pumpkin. Best pumpkin ever!
You can see the restaurants I mentioned, as well as more food ideas, in this video:
I hope you enjoyed this 5-Day Sample Sapporo Itinerary I put together for you. I think this allows you to see some different faces of Sapporo, as well as take some trips outside Sapporo that aren’t too exhausting. Hokkaido is a place that should be savored slowly and not rushed through. Not only is this prefecture beautiful, there is a LOT of goof things to eat as well!
I know it’s important to hit a lot of places during a trip, but I think it’s even more important to take time to appreciate where you are and give yourself a moment to take it all in before heading home. That’s the experience this sample Sapporo Itinerary aims to give anyway. I hope you guys will love Sapporo and Hokkaido as much as I do!
Thinking of heading to Sapporo this winter season? Check out my 8 Unforgettable Winter Experiences in Sapporo City.