As you leave the megacity of Sapporo, Central Hokkaido (simply called Do-oh) is such a good distillation of all Hokkaido highlights that can be visited in a day or longer. It is an easily explored region on a short schedule and you can accesible a wide range of must sees. The nostalgic port town Otaru is the best destination from Sapporo if your time is limited. Japan’s most cosmopolitan ski resort Niseko makes a memorable vacation – along with a lot of onsen options. Shikotsu-Toya National Park contains active volcanos and calm caldera lakes. Sorachi holds several mining remnants since the 1870s. Horse lovers should head southeast to Hidaka.
With an idyllic countryside, relaxed onsen, scenic coastlines and family-friendly attractions, Sapporo’s suburban sprawl makes a good excursion. Ishikari Region and its surroundings can be seen in a day trip from Sapporo. Chitose is Hokkaido’s airline hub and a good base of start or finish your Hokkaido trip. Route 337 from Chitose to Otaru across the rural villages offer a detour road trip passes through Northern Sapporo. Read more articles >
Otaru & Niseko
Designated as Niseko-Shakotan-Otaru Kaigan Quasi-National Park, this area (formally called Shiribeshi Region) has a variety of nicest attractions, from the impressive coastlines along the Shakotan Peninsula to the world-class ski resorts in the Niseko Mountains overlooking the wonderful Yotei-zan. Many international tourists come to the Niseko United in winter, but summer is also a great time to visit, perfect for hiking, cycling or rafting. The romantic port town Otaru represents the region’s historic heart, dotted with nostalgic buildings and stone warehouses around the canal. Read more articles >
Shikotsu-Toya National Park
Shikotsu-Toya National Park is one of Hokkaido’s most popular destinations with foreigners and easily accesible from Sapporo or New Chitose Airport. Volcanic activity has been created the unique mountains, cardela lakes and excellent onsen. The classic attractions in the park are the two peaceful lakes of Shikotsu-ko and Toya-ko, plus atmospheric Noboribetsu Onsen. Shiraoi is known for its lakeside Ainu village of Poroto Kotan. The heavy industrial port city Muroran has a dramatic setting, with its scenic coastlines and steel factories make up the photogenic views. Read more articles >
From the 1870s to the 1980s, Sorachi Region was one of Japan’s major coalfields with more than a hundred mining sites along the Yubari Mountains and supported Hokkaido’s rapid economic growth after the 1950s. All underground mining ended in 1995, but today several mining heritages are open to the public. Route 275 follows the western side of Ishikari-gawa, from Sapporo to Northern Sorachi. Flower lovers should head to the high altitude wetland of Uryu-numa Shitsugen or the sunflower fields of Hokuryu in summer. The rural area is ideal for pleasant cycling. Read more articles >
Hemmed in by the Hidaka Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, this sun-kissed region is Japan’s top racehorse breeding ground with countless stables. The scenic coastal byway runs between Tomakomai and Tokachi, passes through the dramatic windy cape Erimo-misaki. Apoi-dake is the region’s most lovely alpine mountain and designated as a Unesco Global Geopark. Hidaka’s main river Saru-gawa winds for Nibutani, one of Hokkaido’s most famous Ainu villages with excellent cultural museums. Inland mountain town of Hidaka makes a pleasant stopover point to Northern Hokkaido. Read more articles >
Our Travel Guides
For more info about Central Hokkaido Otaru, Niseko, Noboribetsu, Sorachi and Hidaka, check out our ebook travel guides.