This beautiful city in northern Japan is a great base for visiting Hokkaido’s great wilderness areas. It offers a distinctive food culture and a relaxed lifestyle.
Sapporo, the gorgeous regional capital of Hokkaido, is a city for all seasons. Visit in winter and you’ll find a charming gateway to the great mountain landscape beyond, not to mention the ski fields that impressed the world when Sapporo hosted the 1972 Winter Olympic Games. Come in summer, however, and you’ll discover a liveable city filled with parks, rooftop bars and beer gardens.
The wild regions of Hokkaido are world-famous for a reason, and this island’s sublime natural bounty is best accessed from a base in Sapporo. Wintertime travellers will find a range of winter sports destinations on offer, from the cross-country skiing at Nakajima Park to the family-friendly Mount Moiwa Ski Resort, where a gentle beginners’ slope is perfect for taking the children snow tubing and sledding. Try the nighttime skiing on offer at Sapporo Bankei Ski Area. Non-skiers and those with cold feet may prefer the computer-simulated ski activities at the Winter Sports Museum, which is located down below the Okurayama Ski Jump.
Meanwhile, in town, the beloved Odori Park hosts the week-long Sapporo Snow Festival every February. Explore this winter dreamland, replete with hundreds of artful snow statues as well as various slides, rides and musical attractions.
In summertime, Odori Park, and the rest of Sapporo along with it, is completely transformed, morphed by the seasons into an expansive grassy urban park with benches for lounging and fountains for cooling off. Head to the eastern end of the park to climb the iconic Sapporo TV Tower. Its viewing platform is 90 metres (295 feet) above ground, offering lovely views of the park and surrounding area.
One of the city’s favourite year-round pastimes is celebrated at the Sapporo Beer Museum, which explains the history of the great hoppy brew in Japan. Down in Susukino, Sapporo’s entertainment district, there are plenty of options for eating, drinking and nightlife. Highlights include Ramen Yokocho, a lane packed with restaurants selling noodle soup, and the fresh sushi served up at the Sushi-ya restaurants.
Sapporo is easily navigated by public transport or by use of a rented car or bicycle. The nearest airport is New Chitose Airport, about 50 kilometres (31 miles) southeast of the city centre.