Hokkaido Itinerary: Exploring the Best of Sapporo in a Day

Written by Katherine

February 5, 2013
Last Updated on March 5, 2024

Since it was our first time in Hokkaido, we were thinking about how best to plan our itinerary. And that was when we came by Hokkaido Experience, a one-stop booking service that provides tour activities in Hokkaido. Now, let me share with you part of our Hokkaido itinerary to Sapporo ~! ☆ミ(o*・ω・)ノ

UPDATE (2023): I just checked the Hokkaido Experience website on the itinerary for our Sapporo and Otaru day tours. However, in the process, I was redirected to their Japanese website. I am not sure if they still have English-speaking guides, so you could try emailing them to find out.


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Our Itinerary in Hokkaido

We were in Hokkaido for 4D3N, with the first day spent doing some free and easy activities while the last day getting ready to fly back to Tokyo. Hence, we were only left with two days to explore Hokkaido. We reached out to a few agencies in Japan to ask if they have any suitable day tours in Hokkaido. And most importantly, if they have any English-speaking guides. Most came back saying they don’t, except for Hokkaido Experience.

Since we were staying in Sapporo and Otaru was only a 40-minute train ride away, we decided to ask Hokkaido Experience to provide us with some suggestions for these two places. In the end, we confirmed two one-day tours with them, one for Sapporo and one for Otaru. ( ´ ω ` )

Sapporo One-day Tour Itinerary

Based on the itinerary on Hokkaido Experience’s website, besides major attractions in Sapporo, we would also be visiting some popular spots such as the Hokkaido Shrine, Okurayama Ski Jump Hill as well and the Shiroi Koibito Park. This is an 8-hour private tour, and it cost us 28,500 yen for two people. The cost is inclusive of transport, admission and guide fees. The map below shows the route that we took, split into two parts, one for those places we walked to and another by taxi.

Otaru One-day Tour Itinerary

For our Otaru day tour, we would have to take a 40-minute train ride from Sapporo. The itinerary from Hokkaido Experience would cover major attractions as well as visits to the Music Box Museum, Glassware shops as well and many great sweets shops there. If you are interested in what we did in Otaru, head over to this blog post~! (´ ω `♡)

It’s Time to Start Our Sapporo Day Tour!

Our guide, Hiromi Makino-san, was already waiting for us in the hotel lobby when we came down after our breakfast. Before starting our tour, Hiromi-san gave us a brief rundown of the Sapporo itinerary for the day. Since a lot of attractions are near to one another in Sapporo, we mainly walked from one place to another. The weather was fantastic for the day, so it was really nice to walk around Sapporo with Hiromi-san. (´ ∀ ` *)

First Stop of our Sapporo Itinerary: Former Hokkaido Government Office

Our first stop is the Former Hokkaido Government Office. It is a 7-minute walk from our hotel at JR Tower Hotel Nikko Sapporo. The building is open to the public for free and is a popular tourist attraction that showcases the history of Hokkaido.

Interior of the Former Hokkaido Government Office for the first part of our Sapporo Itinerary

While in the building, Hiromi-san explained to us the purpose of the building and walked us through the various exhibits. The office was built in the late 19th century and was the Hokkaido Government’s headquarters until the 1940s. The distinctive red brick architecture of the building and the autumn trees outside gave off a lovely autumn vibe. (´• ω •`) ♡

Exterior of the Former Hokkaido Government Office and trees with red leaves for the first part of our Sapporo Itinerary

Second Stop: Sapporo Clock Tower

Then it was a 10-minute walk to the Sapporo Clock Tower. Along the way, we chatted with Hiromi-san about anything under the sun. And she was really lovely to answer all our questions and even share with us about her life. Her command of English was so good that it was enjoyable to chat with her during the day tour. ( ´ ω ` )

The Sapporo Clock Tower was built in 1878 and originally served as a drill hall for the Sapporo Agricultural College. It is also another major attraction of Sapporo, attracting tourists all year round. There is a museum in the clock tower, but I don’t remember if we went in. Haha! (´・ᴗ・ ` )

Exterior of the Sapporo Clock Tower for the second part of our Sapporo Itinerary

Third Stop: Odori Park

We then walked over to Odori Park, a park famous for hosting the annual Sapporo Snow Festival in February. If you are coming to Sapporo during this period, you must come to this festival for its beautiful snow and ice sculptures. I am a big Nendoroid fan and was surprised to know that Snow Miku was featured as one of the ice sculptures during the festival. One of the reasons why I want to be back here again for the festival, even if it means having super cold weather. ♡(。- ω -)

Fourth Stop & Lunch: Tanukikoji Shopping Street and Susukino

We briefly dropped by the Tanukikoji Shopping Street as well as the Susukino entertainment area. The Tanukikoji Shopping Street is a covered shopping arcade. It is popular among locals and tourists for its wide variety of shops, restaurants and entertainment establishments. Susukino is known as the largest red-light district in Hokkaido. Since we were there during the daytime, it looked rather peaceful. (´・ᴗ・ ` )

After all the walking, Hiromi-san brought us to Tetsuya Brothers, a ramen restaurant, to have our lunch! Unfortunately, as of 2019, the restaurant is permanently closed. (´-ω-`)

Resuming our Sapporo Itinerary with a Visit to the Hokkaido Shrine

After regaining our energy with a superbly filling ramen lunch, we took a walk to the lovely Hokkaido Shrine. Hiromi-san explained to us about the shrine etiquette as we approached the shrine. So here is what you should do if you are visiting the Hokkaido Shrine.

At the fountain near the entrance, take one of the ladles and fill it with water to wash your hands. Then put some of the water into your cupped hands and use the water to rinse your mouth. Spit this water beside the fountain. When inside the shrine, throw a coin into the offering box and clap your hands twice before bowing twice. If you are unsure, it is best to observe what the locals are doing before attempting it to avoid being disrespectful. (´• ω •`)

Exterior of the Hokkaido Shrine and the fountain near the entrance after resuming our Sapporo Itinerary after lunch

When inside the shrine, we spotted a wooden structure holding a lot of folded omukuji (sacred lots) as well as ema. These emas are small wooden plagues where people would write their wishes and prayers on them before hanging them up.

Omukuji and ema in the Hokkaido Shrine that we seen as part of our Sapporo itinerary

Sixth Stop: Okurayama Ski Jump Hill

After our stopover in the Hokkaido Shrine, our next stop was Okurayama Ski Jump Hill. The Okurayama Ski Jump Hill is a ski jumping hill that has hosted a lot of international ski jumping competitions, including the 1972 Winter Olympics. As it was located a 30-minute walk away, we took a cab there instead.

Once there, we took the chairlift to the top of the hill. I honestly thought it was kind of scary as the hill was steep. Our chairlift even stopped halfway as some people had a hard time getting on the chairlift. Dangling in mid-air was not fun, even for a short period. Haha! 〜(><)〜

The bottom and top-down view of the Okurayama Ski Jump Hill, the sixth stop of our Sapporo itinerary

Once up there, we were wow-ed by the amazing panoramic views of Sapporo and the surrounding area. It was definitely worth it to come up. If you have a fear of heights, you might want to sit this out as the chairlift was really steep. (/ω\)

A view of Sapporo from the top of the Okuraryama Ski Jump Hill, the sixth stop of our Sapporo itinerary

Final Stop of our Sapporo Itinerary: Shiroi Koibito Park

Our final stop was Shiroi Koibito Park, where the famous Shiroi Koibito (白い恋人) is being produced. The free area consists of a shop, cafe and restaurant. We could enter the paid area as it was included in our fees. While there, there were a few large windows that allowed us to observe the production line of the cookies. It was really cool to see how our favourite Shiroi Koibito was being made. (´• ω •`) We, of course, took the opportunity to buy loads of Shiroi Koibito back home as souvenirs. (๑˃ᴗ˂)ﻭ

The exterior and factory work inside the Shikoi Koibito Park, our final stop of the Sapporo itinerary

Overall Experience of Our Sapporo Itinerary & Hokkaido Experience

We totally enjoyed our tour with Hiromi-san as our private guide. Her great command of English helps us understand the places that we visit in Sapporo. We were also able to converse so well with her that we got more insights about life as a local in Hokkaido. Sometimes, going overseas is not just about visiting all the major attractions. The best thing is if you have the chance to look into the lives of locals. And we were grateful to have this opportunity with Hiromi-san.

Emas and a back view of our tour guide for our Sapporo itinerary

A quick mention about our experience with Hokkaido Experience. After we confirmed our booking, Feng was contacted by someone from Sapporo English Guides. I guess Hokkaido Experience worked with them to provide English-speaking guides for tourists. (*・ω・)ノ

They were extremely helpful, answering any questions we might have regarding Hokkaido. The email even included other information, such as what clothes we should have as well as the weather forecast. Many thumbs up for the exceptional service with Hokkaido Experience and Sapporo English Guides. If you have a preferred itinerary when you are visiting places in Hokkaido, such as Sapporo and Otaru, you could also reach out to them so that they can propose something that fits your requirements. I highly recommend everyone to use them! (ღ˘⌣˘ღ)

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