22 things to do in Sapporo
Updated: Oct 24, 2022
Essentially, one can cover the major sites in Sapporo in a day. We initially intended to do so, but couldn't get to the Ski resort we wanted to on our third day and we ended up having an extra day to spend in Sapporo. So here are the sights you can visit! To find out more about how to get to Sapporo and where to stay, read our previous post on Hokkaido (Sapporo / Otaru) Travel Guide.
1. Odori Park
Odori Park is a park that lies in the heart of Sapporo. It is a long stretch from the Sapporo TV Tower to the Sapporo City Archive Building. Several events are held here throughout the year and the noteworthy one is the Sapporo Snow Festival.
What's amazing about this park also is that on a clear day and at night, you can even see the Mt Okurayama Ski Jump Stadium as the park separates the city into two parts where there are no tall buildings in this entire stretch. For a better view, visit the TV Tower!
We visited Odori Park in the day, and again at night as it offers different views. If you have the time, do so too!
To get to Odori Park, catch a metro to Odori Station or Nishi juitchome Station at the other end.
2. Sapporo TV Tower
You will already be able to see the TV tower when you visit Odori Park. But to get a view of Sapporo, you musthead to the observatory deck to soak in the view of Sapporo. You can actually go up to the third floor for free, but to head up to the observation deck, the admission ticket costs 720 yen, you can purchase cheaper tickets online here. For travellers who wish to visit the day and night view, purchase the daytime/evening ticket for an additional 380 yen so that you can visit the observatory twice!
There's also a Sapporo Select Deal package that combines the observatory deck ticket with two / three other Sapporo attractions for a cheaper price.
At the observatory deck, you can see different views of Sapporo. Just for fun, try your hand at the TV tower shrine!
The TV tower shrine is said to be at the highest point of Sapporo. Get ready 200 yen and feed it into the Gachapon machine where you'll get a fortune slip. They even have mascots designed like the TV tower next to the shrine. We tried our fortunes and managed to get the best one! YAY!!
If you got the worst luck, no worries, head to the souvenir shop nearby to get a TV tower mascot badge (for free, we think) and tie your bad luck at the string shown in the picture!
3. Sapporo Clock Tower
Not too far away from Odori park, visit the Sapporo Clock Tower. It is a historical landmark built in the 1980s which is now a symbol of Sapporo. There's also a museum in the clock tower that gives information about the history of the clock tower and Sapporo.
4. Hokkaido Government Office
Continuing walking from the clock tower towards Sapporo Station and you'll be able to see the Red Brick government office. It now displays exhibits that tell people of the history of Hokkaido.
5. Sapporo Station
If you've seen Tokyo Station, you'll understand why Sapporo Station is a landmark of its own. It houses the JR trains, and a variety of other malls and departmental stores (remember Daimaru? There's one here!). It also has the Sapporo Pokemon Centre, and a whole lot of delicious restaurants. It is so massive that you'll get lost in it!
Shoppers can also look forward to BIC camera, GU and uniqlo! Just do note that these places close quite early (around 8-9pm).
6. Sapporo Factory
The Sapporo Factory is no longer a beer factory and is now a shopping complex! It houses a cinema and a garden! The shopping complex is made up of several interconnected buildings. This red brick Akarenga building is one that reminds the original brewery. There is a small brewery that can be observed in this building, and you can also taste the beer at the Akarenga beer hall.
Adjacent to the Akarenga building, step outside and be greeted with this view! A santa climbing up the chimney!
And step inside to be amazed by this beautiful artificial garden. This spot is where many events are held! There was a boy-band fan performance and meeting when we were there. What's surprising that there were no pushing and pulling, the teenage girls lined up orderly outside and went in orderly to the stage area.
Be sure to visit the Seria 100 yen store when you are there to snatch up cool products at affordable prices! It is located near the linkway to the cinema. There is also a pet store one level below Seria where you can observe cute puppies and kittens!
To get to Sapporo Factory, either take a 15 minute walk from Sapporo Station or catch the Loop-88 bus (210 yen) that takes you to this mall!
7. Sapporo Beer Museum
This is the real beer museum! It is free of charge to enter the beer museum. You can walk around and read about the history of Sapporo beer. For those who want a guide, you'll have to pay 500 yen for the tour, with two complimentary glasses of beer.
We went with the free walkaround tour and was thankful to have done that as there is nothing much at the beer museum. Thereafter, head down to the ground floor to taste Sapporo Beer!
We tried the Beer Sampler (600 yen). It comes with three glasses of the Black Label, Classic, and Kaitakushi Beer. They also gave us a complimentary packet of nuts! Our favourite was the light, fruity tasting Black Label!
And here are some different views of the Beer Museum we enjoyed during our time there!
To get to the Sapporo Beer Museum, take bus Loop-88 or 188 from Sapporo Station.
8. Ario Sapporo
Ario Sapporo is a shopping mall right next to the Sapporo Beer Museum. Here, you can find restaurants, Uniqlo, ABC Mart, Zoff and other stores. We went there to grab some gyozas for tea!
9. Shiroi Koibito Park
Ishiya makes our favourite Langue de chat cookies and a huge draw of heading to Hokkaido during the non-peak period was actually this!
The Ishiya Chocolate Factory is easy to get to. Take the subway Tozai Line to the end of the line, Miyanosawa station. From there, it is a 10 minute walk to the factory. There are guides and signage throughout the station that will lead you to the Shiroi Koibito Park. You'll have to cut through Sapporo Lifelong Learning Research Center Chieria and a beautiful walk to the Park.
You'll know that you're reaching when you see this red brick building!
The park's really beautiful! You can roam around the garden for free but if you would like to check out the museum, you'll have to get a 'passport'. This costs 600 yen and you'll get one complimentary Langue de chat!
After purchasing the passport, head up to the entrance. At the entrance, you'll be able to customise your own Langue de chat tins! You can either choose to email your own photograph, or have one taken there where they will add a background to your liking. This costs 3,075 yen for the 36-cookie tin, and 4,345 yen for the 54 cookie tin. It is only a bit more than if you get the original tin, so why not purchase your own tins as a souvenir! :)
You'll then officially start the tour at this fountain where a staff will help you to take a photograph with your own camera for free. They also took one with their DSLR and would ask you to purchase them but you can decline since you've already have a digital copy in your cellphones/cameras.
We got to see the factory line, and some history and processes on how the famed Langue de chat were produced.
Along the corridor to the factory line, you can also admire different teapots and take photos in these beautifully decorated rooms.
After that, you can head to decorate your own Ishiya Cookies for a small fee. We didn't do that as it wasn't really about making our own cookies, but decorating. Instead, we went to enjoy Ishiya's dessert at the Chocolate Lounge. If you are not rushed for time, insist on the window seats as it will give you a good view of the Clock Tower (that has a surprise every hour), and of the beautiful snow-capped mountains in the distance.
JUST LOOK AT THE VIEW! :) and this was the Shiroi Kobito Parfait by the way. Try also their chocolate beverage if you have a sweet tooth!
After all that feasting, head to the souvenir store to get some souvenirs, or purchase more Langue de chat and Ishiya products. We didn't purchase those as we could get them at the airport.
Besides the museum, there are also some photo spots in the Rose Garden, and another exhibit that we didn't see was Gulliver's Town. It was closed for maintenance when we were there. We did see the outside where you get to walk around small houses and feel as though you were a giant!
10. Maruyama Park
Also on the subway Tozai Line, you can get to Maruyama Park by getting off at the Maruyama-Koen station. It is a short walk to the park.
The Muruyama Park is a huge park and requires a lot of walking to complete. Inside the Muruyama Park, you can find the Hotaki and Hokkaido Shrine, Muruyama Zoo, and the Maruyama Stadium.
The park at this time of the year is a winter wonderland. We thoroughly enjoyed the walk in the park!
11. Hotaki and Hokkaido Shrine
Follow the signs within the park and you'll be able to see this large Torii gate. Interesting sight that we observed in Japan is that Japanese always bow in the direction of the Shrine at the side of the Torii gate when they enter or when they leave. So we did a little bit of research to find out more!
Shrines are built for Shinto devotees that are characterised by the torii gate at the entrance. The torii gate marks the boundary between the secular world and the holy ground. Entering through the torii gate signifies that you have entered holy ground. Proper torii etiquette would be for them to bow at the side of the torii gate. One should also not enter through the torii gate in the middle as it set aside for the deity to pass. Travellers should avoid entering through this way, and should enter via the side where the walkway is.
Continue walking in (via the side) and you'll spot the Hotaki Shrine!
Isn't it beautiful? The Hotaki Shrine is a smaller shrine, continue along the pathway to head to the Hokkaido shrine!
Here's outside of the Hokkaido Shrine. Usually, you'll see a temizuya water pavilion outside the shrine. The water here is NOT for drinking! Instead, the water is needed as a ritual to purify your minds and bodies before entering the sacred shrines. In the past, this literally meant that you'll have to wash your naked bodies in oceans or lakes. However, it has now been simplified to washing one's mouths and hands to signify the purification.
To do so, you'll have to pick up the ladle with your right hand, pouring water over your left hand. Next, do the same for your other hand. Then, you'll will use your left hand to scoop up water to rinse your mouth. You should NOT put the ladle directly to your mouth (Even though there were signs to tell tourists not to do so, we still saw people putting their moutehs to the ladles and drinking the water!!) Throughout the process, you should only be scooping water up ONCE.
And this is the Hokkaido Shrine that you'll see after entering. The golden ornaments still stood out despite of the cold gloomy weather. When approaching the shrine, you'll see an altar.
For people who wish to pray to the deities, you should quietly throw in a coin as an offering to the deity. If a bell is present at the altar, ring it to greet the deity. Thereafter, you'll need to bow twice, clap your hands twice, and with your hands clasp you should quietly saw your prayers, and bow once more.
At the shrine, you can also purchase amulets for different purposes. Some shrines also allow you to check your fortunes. Just like the one mentioned at the TV tower.
12. Maruyama Zoo
The Maruyama Zoo is located within Maruyama Park and it is the oldest zoo in Hokkaido. That being said, the zoo was well-maintained and we thought that it provides an immensely immersive experience. You can actually watch the animals up close! During the non-peak season, there aren't that many people in the zoo and you could walk around as though you had the zoo all to yourself!
Even though many websites say that the polar bear exhibit is the highlight - given that Maruyama Zoo has successfully raised 4 cubs out of the 5 cubs in the nation - we felt that the best was the brown bear and lion!
Imagine looking directly at these huge creatures with just a glass away. The brown bear was so intrigued by visitors and kept banging on the glass which gave its visitors a good scare.
Admission to the zoo costs 600 yen per person.
To get to Maruyama Zoo,
Walk: Take a 10-minute walk from the shrines in Maruyama Park.
JR Bus Dobutsuen Line number 15 from the bus terminal by Maruyama-Koen station and alight at the Dobutsuen-mae stop or
JR Bus Araiyama Line number 14 and alight at Sogo Ground mae or
Bankei Kanko Bus Araiyama Line and alight at Sogo Ground mae
The fare is about 250 yen and the bus stop is located close to the west entrance of the zoo.
Shuttle Bus (on weekends only): Take the shuttle bus from Maruyama-Koen subway station that is bound for Okurayama Ski Jump Stadium and alight at Dobutsuen-mae.
Taxi: You can take a taxi from Maruyama-Koen station to the Maruyama zoo. The price is about 1200 yen.