663highland / CC BY-SA 3.0

A Hokkaido Adventure: From Hakodate to Sapporo

A 2-day itinerary exploring South Hokkaido

663highland / CC BY-SA 3.0
Serena Ogawa   - 9 min read

Hokkaido’s most famous cities, Hakodate and Sapporo, offer many splendid vistas and experiences to the modern-day traveler. Enjoy all that they have to offer with ease and comfort by using the Hokkaido Air System, which allows for fast travel between the two cities. Explore Hakodate and Sapporo with this itinerary that highlights the best of each city.

Day One: Hakodate history tour

1. Hakodate Airport

Hakodate Airport is located a convenient 7.6 kilometers from Hakodate Station in Hokkaido. The Hokkaido Air System (HAC) allows visitors to fly from Hakodate to Sapporo in only 45 minutes, giving you a whole day to enjoy each city without stress!

A 1-hour bus ride from the airport—be sure to arrive early for the freshest catches!

2. Donburi Yokocho

Start your day early with a donburi bowl—a rice bowl topped with fresh seafood ingredients. This morning market, surrounded by the ocean, is located at the southern tip of Hokkaido and offers a great selection of eats throughout the year. With hairy crab in spring, squid in summer, salmon and roe in fall, and oysters in winter—you’ll love the food you find in Donburi Yokocho.

25 minutes by bus to Goryokaku Park.

Fresh donburi
Fresh donburi (Photo: 663highland / CC BY-SA 3.0 )

3. Goryokaku Park & Tower

Goryokaku Fort
Goryokaku Fort (Photo: J o / CC BY-SA 3.0 )

Begin your time at Goryokaku by visiting the observation deck at the top of Goryokaku Tower. From the deck, see Mount Hakodate, the Tsugaru Straits, and the Yokotsu Mountain Range, not to mention a stunning view of the star-shaped moat surrounding Goryokaku.

Finally, visit the site of Japan’s last civil war, the Battle of Hakodate, which took place at the fortress of Goryokaku. Completed in 1864, it became a center for politics, foreign diplomacy, and defense—its architecture becoming a symbol of Hakodate for more than a century later.

A 4-minute walk from the moat surrounding Goryokaku.

4. Hakodate Magistrate’s Office

Located at the center of Goryokaku, the Hakodate Magistrate’s Office shouldn’t be overlooked as any old building. The office, finished in 1864 along with the rest of the fortress, was originally built at the foot of Mount Hakodate and later moved to its current location. After the final battle of Japan’s last civil war, the building was dismantled, however, from 2006 to 2010, the office was reconstructed to become the charming rust-colored heart of Goryokaku Park.

A 40-minute bus ride to the Trappistine Monastery from Goryokaku Tower.

5. Trappistine Monastery

Our Lady of the Angels Trappistine Abbey of the Order of Cistercians is more commonly referred to as simply Trappistine Monastery. This Roman-Catholic order is a contemplative monastery that serves God through prayer and work. The beautiful architecture reflects the spirit of those within its walls as they live in fellowship with one another and their god.

A 30-minute bus ride from Trappistine Monastery to Hakodate Station where a myriad of hotels awaits.

Trappistine Monastery
Trappistine Monastery (Photo: Ippukucho / CC BY 3.0 )

6. Stay at a Hakodate Hotel

From an ascetic world that follows the word of the Bible to a world of comfort and perhaps luxury at any of the ryokan in Hakodate. These Japanese-style inns offer traditional tatami rooms and often include an open-air bathhouse for their guests. For dinner, dine on Hakodate’s seasonal foods straight from the sea and fields.

Day Two: A day of splendor in Sapporo

Thanks to the Hokkaido Air System (HAC) you’ll find yourself in Sapporo in just 45 minutes.

7. Sapporo Okadama Airport

This airport is limited to serving flights coming from within Hokkaido. Its convenient location, just a few kilometers north of Sapporo City, makes it the perfect place for you to start your day in Sapporo. Take an early morning HAC flight, departing at 9 am or 9:40 am, and find yourself in Sapporo before the afternoon sun.

An hour via train and bus.

8. Hokkaido Shrine

Spring might be the loveliest time of the year to visit Hokkaido Shrine. During this time, the cherry trees on either side of the old shrine are in bloom. The shrine itself houses four kami, or gods, including the soul of Emperor Meiji. It’s a great place to kick off your Sapporo sightseeing.

A 15-minute walk from the shrine to Sapporo City Maruyama Zoo.

Hokkaido Shrine
Hokkaido Shrine (Photo: Daigaku2051 / CC BY-SA 3.0)

9. Sapporo City Maruyama Zoo

Home to more than 730 animals covering 169 different species, the Sapporo City Maruyama Zoo is the pinnacle of zoos in Hokkaido. Opened in 1951, this is the oldest zoo in Hokkaido and covers 22.5 ha. While at the zoo, guests can see the famous red panda and polar bears that attract many of the visitors to this zoo.

A15-minute walk from the zoo to Maruyama Koen Station, which takes 25 minutes to Odori Park.

10. Odori Park

Located in the heart of Sapporo, Odori Park stretches east to west, dividing the city neatly into north and south. Every year, dozens of events and ceremonies are held at various locations in the park. Be sure to visit the Sapporo TV Tower on the park premises. Get a great bird’s-eye view of the city from the TV Tower’s observation deck.

A 20-minute bus ride to Sapporo Beer Museum from the east entrance of Odori Park.

Odori Park
Odori Park (Photo: redlegsfan21 / CC BY-SA 2.0)

11. Sapporo Beer Museum

This free-to-enter museum has three floors. Explore the museum via the tour and discover the many people who were involved in the history of the beer industry as well as Sapporo Brewery. The museum bar on the second floor is especially popular with beer lovers; here, you can taste your way through many products and find the beer that suits you best.

An hour and 20-minute bus ride to the Moiwa-yama Ropeway.

12. Mount Moiwa

Finish your day in Sapporo the only way you should: with a visit to Mount Moiwa via the ropeway. The panoramic view of downtown Sapporo will astound you with its sparkling lights and is considered to be one of Japan’s most beautiful night views. You’ll appreciate the breathtaking scenery from the top of Japan

The night view of Sapporo from Mount Moiwa
The night view of Sapporo from Mount Moiwa (Photo: 663highland / CC BY-SA 3.0)
Serena Ogawa

Serena Ogawa @serena.ogawa

Travel Editor for Japan Travel by day, novel-writing cat lady by night.