Sharing is caring!

Last Updated on September 25, 2023

Hokkaido is known as the winter capital of Japan and is most famous for the Sapporo Snow Festival, and Sapporo’s Christmas German Market/ Winter Illuminations. Besides its famous festival, Hokkaido is a wonderful prefecture to visit for all seasons.

Read what Hokkaido has to offer for spring, summer, fall, and winter. Start planning your trip to Hokkaido today!

Hokkaido Top Picks:
Short on time? Some of my top recommendations for Hokkaido include:


Save Money: Before you visit, make sure you purchase the JR Hokkaido Rail Pass or the Sapporo-Noboribetsu JR Pass. Discover Hokkaido’s gems of Sapporo, Otaru, and Noboribetsu with either pass.

Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links. Meaning that if you click on certain links, and then subsequently purchase a product, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Hokkaido Travel Guide

Sapporo White Illuminations (Nov. 22, 2022 – Dec. 25)

Travel to Hokkaido

Yes, Hokkaido is its own island, and the best, fastest, and safest way to go is by airplane. If you want to drive from Tokyo to Sapporo, that would be a 17-hour car ride with tolls ranging from 22,590 yen to 16,240. You would also need to have snow chains on the car as well if you are driving in the wintertime.

You will want to fly into New Chitose Airport as your final destination. New Chitose Airport is an international airport and also the largest airport in Hokkaido. Airlines that fly to New Chitose Airport from either Hanada Airport or Narita Airport include All Nippon Airways (ANA), Japan Airlines, Peach, and Skymark Airlines. See which airline is best for you and your budget.

For more information about JR train passes, Rapid Airport Service, or the subway system in Sapporo, please see my post about Sapporo with kids for further details.

Where to Stay in Hokkaido

When booking a place to stay in Hokkaido, there are lots of options, depending on your price range and what type of lodgings you prefer. Your family can stay at Western-style hotels to private lodgings (such as VRBO). Here is a quick list of hotels that I recommend.

Hokkaido in the Spring

Ecorin Village

Ecorin Village is a great place for little ones to explore and run around. This village features a variety of farmyard animals, gardens, sheep dog shows, sheep races, tractor tours, and the world’s largest tomato plant. A free shuttle bus from the west exit of Eniwa Station will take you there in 15 minutes. The Ecorin Village is open from late April to November 1st every year.

Address: 277-4 Farm, Eniwa, Hokkaido 061-1421

Ueno Farm

The Ueno Farm, also known as the Gnomes’ Garden, is a great English-style garden with whimsical decorations. Open from April to October, this is a great farm and garden experience for the entire family. With stunning flowers to view and cute little cottages, this is a photographer’s place to visit.

Address: 16 Chome-186-2 Nagayamacho, Asahikawa, Hokkaido 079-8431

Dairy Farm Tour and Cheesemaking Experience

Hokkaido is famous for its dairy, so why not book a hands-on experience about making cheese and tour the famous Hokkaido cows on a working farm? You can even participate in the herding of the cows and lead them to their afternoon milking where you can observe the milking process. From here you can try your hand at making your own mozzarella cheese! What a unique and memorable experience for the entire family.

Matsumae Sakura Festival

The top of everyone’s list when visiting Japan in the spring is to view the cherry blossoms. Hokkaido cherry blossom season starts in late April and takes about a month to go through the entirety of Hokkaido.

The Matsumae Sakura Festival held from late April to mid-May hosts various events such as product fares featuring seafood, sweets, and live performances. Among these events, the highlight is the Samurai Procession featuring warriors wearing armor.

Address: 144 Matsushiro, Matsumae, Matsumae District, Hokkaido 049-1511

Book a Traditional Cherry Blossom Viewing Picnic

If you are traveling to Hokkaido in the spring, book a tour to have your own hanami party. Head to Midorigaoka Park, one of the most popular flower-viewing spots in Obhiro City, and embrace this rare opportunity. The flowers bloom sometime between late April to mid-May and they don’t remain at peak bloom for long (maybe a week). For this traditional cherry blossom viewing picnic, all you have to do is show up! All the equipment and food are provided.

Hokkaido in the Summer

Lavender Fields at Farm Tomita

Bring your cameras and visit the most beautiful lavender farm in all of Japan. This famous flower farm is known for its vast lavender fields, lavender ice cream, and drinks. The perfect time to go and visit this farm is mid to late July.

Address: 15号 Kisenkita, Nakafurano, Sorachi District, Hokkaido 071-0704

Lavender Garden and Cherry Picking Tour

Experience the charming town of Minamifurano in the summertime. Visit Lake Kanayama to enjoy a fragrant and beautiful lavender garden at the lakeside, followed by all-you-can-eat cherry picking. Easily book this tour before you even set foot in Japan. Tours can be conducted in Japanese and in English. Make sure to look at the private transfer from the meetup point and back for ease of mind.

Address: Higashishikagoe, Minamifurano, Sorachi District, Hokkaido 079-2411, Japan

Explore Shirogane Blue Pond and Shirahige Waterfall

Hike to Biei Blue Pond and witness the fairytale cobalt color of the pond. While you are in the area, make sure that you also visit Shirahige Falls. White curtains of water cascading through gaps in the cliff give this natural landmark its name, which means “white beard waterfall.” Shirahige Falls is unusual for a Japanese waterfall in that it flows from an underground river. Two amazing places to discover and photograph.

Shirogane Blue Pond Address: Shirogane, Biei, Kamikawa District, Hokkaido 071-0235

Shirahige Waterfall Address: Shirogane, Biei, Kamikawa District, Hokkaido 071-0235

Hike and Canoe Tour around Lake Shikaribetsu

Lake Shikaribetsu is the highest lake in Hokkaido at an elevation of 810 meters. You will start out trekking through the serene Shikaribetsu Recreation Forest. Take a guided tour starting at Lake Shikaribetsu Nature Center and explore the beautiful lakeside forest. Then paddle in a canoe on Hokkaido’s highest lake followed by a lunch made from local ingredients.

Note: It is not recommended for children three years old and younger, or pregnant women to participate in this tour.

Visit Mt. Asahidaki via the ropeway

In the summertime, take the ropeway up to Mt. Asahidaki. From early June to mid-August, alpine plants are in full bloom. Come June to October, gorgeous walking trails from Sugatami Pond, and a mountain trail to the summit are also available for visitors to enjoy.

Address: Yukomanbetsu, Higashikawa, Kamikawa District, Hokkaido 071-1472

Hokkaido in the Fall

Tokachidake Observatory

For the best view of fall foliage in Hokkaido, the Tokachidake Observatory is highly recommended. Located halfway up Mt. Tokachi, the observatory offers a sweeping view of the surrounding mountains, Asahikawa City, and Furano City. Fall leaves are at their peak by mid-October.

Address: Shirogane, Biei, Kamikawa District, Hokkaido 071-0235

Mt. Moiwa Ropeway

If traveling to Biei is a little out of your travel itinerary, the city of Sapporo also has a fantastic ropeway for families to utilize to get a breathtaking view of the fall foliage. Located only 5 minutes away from the Ropeway Iriguchi Station on the Sapporo Shiden Line, this is a great way to spend an afternoon in Sapporo.

Address: 5 Chome-3-7 Fushimi, Chuo Ward, Sapporo, Hokkaido 064-0942

Participate in an Outdoor Tea Ceremony

With your own English-speaking guide, take a tour inside of Tashiro-no-Mori, a forest garden in Hokkaido’s Tokachi region.

Your guide will also point out wildflowers that bloom throughout the autumn season. After the hike, rest at a thatched hut in the forest where you can experience “nodate”, an outdoor tea ceremony which is led by a Japanese instructor. The tea, called “jinencha”, is brewed using natural spring water from the forest.

Local Wine Tour and Tasting

With your guide, experience the best wines from Visit Housui Winery in Iwamizawa and Maoi Distillery in Naganuma. Besides wine tasting, this tour also includes sampling Hokkaido ice cream, and private transportation from your hotel location.

Hokkaido in the Winter

Red Headed crane tours

From November to February, visitors can observe the Red Headed Cranes in East Hokkaido. Locals state that the best time to visit is at the end of winter to see the courtship rituals. These visits help guests understand the reverence of these birds in Japanese society. These birds are among the rarest cranes in the world. It is known as a symbol of luck, longevity, and fidelity. Here is a list of a few sanctuaries that you can visit.

Sapporo Teine Ski Resort 

Sapporo Teine is the biggest ski resort near Sapporo and has a variety of trails suitable for all levels of ability. The bus takes about 16 minutes to get to the resort’s Olympia Zone and a further 12 minutes to reach the Highland Zone (which has the more advanced trails). This resort’s ski season lasts from November through to early May.

Bonus Tip: While using the Klook App, visitors can book a Skiing Experience at the Sapporo Teine Ski Resort with Bus and Lift Ticket.

Address: 593 Teinehoncho, Teine Ward, Sapporo, Hokkaido 006-0029

Shikotsu Ice Festival 

The Shikotsu Ice Festival occurs every year from late January to mid-February. During the festival, giant ice sculptures are made from the waters of the lake. These sculptures have a blue glow during the day, but at night are illuminated in many colors. The festival also features an ice slide, an ice rink, food stalls, musical performances, and fireworks.

Address: Shikotsukoonsen, Chitose, Hokkaido 066-6281

Shikaribetsu Igloo Village Tours

Lake Shikaribetsu Kotan (しかりべつ湖コタン) is an annual winter event held in Shikaoi Town, Hokkaido. The event is held annually during winter from late January to mid-March. However, the village is made only of ice and snow, and it’s only open when the weather is extremely cold.

Access: Shuttle bus available from Obihiro (帯広) station during the festival. 4 times a day, 1,650 yen, 100 mins

The event features the ice village with igloo lodges, a bar, an Onsen bath, and special events which are all made with ice and snow! Guests at the Hotel Feng Shui are able to book the Ice Lounge or you can call (0156-69-2211) for further information. Non-hotel guests are not allowed to participate in the igloo lodges.

If you want to participate in an Ice Village Twilight Tour on Frozen Lake Shikaribetsu, I highly recommend this tour from byFood. With your English-speaking guide, you can experience a tour of an ice village, enjoy an onsen, get a free drink at the Lake Shikaribetsu Kotan Ice Cafe, and have a warm meal from local ingredients. For an additional fee, you can create your own ice drinking glass.

Instead of driving, you can select an optional service that includes pick-up and drop-off from the hotel in Obihiro City or Tokachigawa Onsen Meetup at JR Obihiro Station or pick-up from your hotel at around 9:00. Leave the stress of driving in the winter behind you.

Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links. Meaning that if you click on certain links, and then subsequently purchase a product, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Booking tickets and creating an itinerary for Hokkaido can be done, however, it can be challenging if you do not speak Japanese, or might be faced with a language barrier once you arrive. A more simple alternative is for you to book a guided tour with an English-speaking tour guide.

Booking a tour makes it easy to see what is available, and what is in your price range before you even fly over to Hokkaiso! Simply add in your reservation details and byFood will secure your spot on the tour on your behalf and send you a confirmation email. It is that simple. One less thing to worry about once you arrive in Japan.

Need more detailed itineraries for Hokkaido?

Four seasons in Hokkaido. Red-crowned crane, flower field, maple leaves in fall, and cherry blossoms

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.