Clear out them snorkels from your suitcase, fill it with snow gear for a magical winter in Hokkaido.
Hokkaido 4-day road trip Sapporo -> Otaru -> Niseko -> Lake Toya -> Noboribetsu
Day 1&2: Sapporo
If you are looking for the best cuisines of Hokkaido, Sapporo is your best chance.
The city is home to some of Hokkaido’s most famous dishes such as miso ramen and soup curry, as well as Japan’s oldest beer brand Sapporo Brewery.
Sample ramen from different prefectures in the Sapporo Ramen Kyowakoku (Sapporo Ramen Republic) located on the10th floor of Sapporo Esta, Sapporo Station.
Visit the Sapporo Beer Museum and learn all about Sapporo Beer and its history. Sample 3 of Sapporo‘s signature beers in the tasting lounge including Sapporo Black Label, Sapporo Classic, and Kaitakushi Beer, complemented by some local Hokkaido cheese and crackers. Don’t forget to try the museum’s exclusive black beer ice-cream.
You will also find many decent restaurants in Sapporo serving some of Hokkaido’s freshest hairy crabs and king crabs.
We loved the wide variety of crab dishes served at Hyosetsu restaurant (氷雪の門); however, we’ve also had better sushi than the ones served at the supposedly posh sushi house, Sushi Zen.
If you are travelling soon, Sapporo Snow Festival will be held from Feb 5th-11th, 2015 in Sapporo where a phenomenal amount of snow will be used to create life-size ice sculptures of famous buildings & architecture.
Day 2 afternoon: Otaru
Otaru is a small city just 40 kilometres away from Sapporo. It is a great place to shop for Hokkaido souvenirs and specialties such as seafood, cheeses and glass art. The main street is lined with fish markets that sell and cook fresh seafood on the spot. Take a stroll along the Otaru Canal and enjoy some fresh King Crabs. Don’t forget to bring back some snacks with Hokkaido limited edition flavours such as potato, corn and melon. If you are looking into buying some Japanese rice wines, the Tanaka Sake Brewery offers a vast collection of sake with tasting.
Day 3&4: Niseko
Niseko is a skier/boarder’s paradise. It has proven itself to be the best ski destination by winning the World Ski Awards for the second consecutive year. Its abundance of dry powder snow and majestic mountains continue to attract skiers/boarders from all over the world. If you think Canada has got the most snow, Niseko will blow your mind.
We stayed at the Hilton Niseko Village Hotel, which provided direct access to the lifts up Mount Annupuri and indoor-outdoor hot spring with a beautiful Mountain Yotei view. If you stay there, indulge yourself in one of their rejuvenating spa sessions after a long day of skiing/boarding, it was definitely one of the greatest experiences we’ve had. Winters are extreme high seasons; book a hotel in advance to avoid disappointment.
Niseko Milk factory
Hokkaido produces about half of Japan’s dairy products, making milk one of Hokkaido’s famous local products. Visit Niseko Milk Factory (Niseko Milk Kobo) for some really tasty dairy products such as yoghurt, cheese tarts, ice-creams, and melt-in-your-mouth pudding made directly from the factory (avoid the restaurant side).
Day 4: Lake Toya & Noboribetsu
Stop by Lake Toya, a volcanic caldera lake in Abuta District, there are more activities to do during the summers; in winters, enjoy the scenery.
Noboribetsu is best known for its high-quality onsen (hot spring) resorts. Here you can find & bathe in 11 of the 14 types of onsen mineral water, each with its own unique healing properties. Winters are usually high seasons; learn from our mistake and book an onsen hotel in advance to avoid disappointment. Most onsen resorts offer packages that also include a decent meal.
Visit the Noboribetsu Date Jidaimura, a cultural village where you can learn all about the arts and history of the Edo Period, including the Ninja, Samurai and Oiran courtesans’ culture. Keep note that the live shows are mostly in Japanese.
Leaving from New Chitose Airport
If you are travelling with children, arrive early at the New Chitose Airport, a kids playground featuring a Royce’ chocolate factory and a Doraemon museum.
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