Being Hokkaido’s capital, Sapporo has lots to offer from culinary experiences to spectacular viewpoints, a vibrant nightlife and nature in the city. In this article, we would like to introduce you to the top five things to do in Sapporo in winter.
Experience a nature winter wonderland
If you love long snow walks, snow activities and being away from touristy areas, then Moerenuma Park is your place to be! Drop off your car at the free parking lot, visit the stunning glass pyramid to warm up and rent a sledge, skis or snowshoes. In this vast park, you can sledge or ski down a small mountain covered in snow together with other locals or go for an hour-long walk in the snow. In the modern pyramid building, you can enjoy the snowy views from higher up, learn more about the American-Japanese architect Isamu Noguchi and how this park has been turned into a nature oasis from once being a garbage disposal plant.
Try Sapporo’s famous soup curry
What could be better in winter than a warming, spicy soup? Soup curry is said to have been invented in Sapporo in the 70s and started as a staff meal. If you type ‘soup curry’ into Google Maps, you will find a huge variety of restaurants all over town serving this original, spicy soup that usually includes many vegetables and a side of rice. We tried a couple of different restaurants and our favourite one was Algo, a tiny backstreet restaurant with only six seats, run by one man who specialises in tomato based soup curry.
Hit the nearby slopes
There are quite a few ski slopes within Sapporo’s city area and three bigger ones just outside of Sapporo. We originally planned to go to Fu’s snow area, as it’s the most central and cheapest option, but as the snow forecast in the morning wasn’t good for Fu’s, we spontaneously decided to visit the larger Sapporo Teine. Being just a 30-minute drive away, offering reasonable lift ticket and rental prices and a good variety of beginners slopes, it was a good choice! As we came during the New Year’s holidays, the snow park was quite crowded, but it was still fun to visit and we’d highly recommend it if you’re only visiting Sapporo and not planning to venture out to Niseko or Furano for the bigger ski resorts.
Enjoy some of the best viewpoints in Japan
Right in Sapporo’s city center, you can choose between the TV Tower in Odori park and the JR Tower Observatory T38 right by Sapporo station for views over the city and its surrounding mountainscapes. Alternatively, venture out a bit further to Mt Moiwa for one of Japan’s best night views (which we visited in the summer four years ago but felt a bit too cold for this time in winter).
Explore Sapporo’s vibrant nightlife
Get off at Susukino Station and explore an endless amount of nightclubs, bars, restaurants, entertainment, coffee shops and more. In comparison to Yokohama, where you see a lot of drunken business men roaming the streets, Sapporo’s Susukino is bustling with young 20 to 30-somethings hitting the bars or performing on the streets. If you’re as into craft beers as we are, this list of craft beer bars came in very handy as lots of small pubs are hidden away in big buildings and you have to know where to go to find the real hidden gems!
There’s so much more to see!
Of course there are many other fun things to do in Sapporo, actually many more than we expected! Next time we’ll be back, we are planning to visit the Ishiya Chocolate Factory to sample iconic sweets while relaxing in the decorated garden, re-visit Sapporo University’s Botanical Garden that was closed during our stay, visit the art park and the Historical Village of Hokkaido – an outdoor museum on the outskirts of Sapporo.
Planning your next winter holiday in Japan? Then these articles might be helpful to you –