Japan: Where to stay in Sapporo & What are the best things to do? The most popular areas to stay in for visitors follow a vertical axis through the city. From the university campus in the north down to Nakajima Park in the south you will cover a large part of Sapporo’s main sights and cultural offers.
Below you will find a description of the four areas where most visitors stay during their visit to Sapporo in northern Japan: around Odori Park, Susukino, Sapporo Station, and Nakajima Park. In addition, there is a description of some of the best things to do in each of these areas in Sapporo.
Note that it you stay near Sapporo Station, it will be easy to hop on the train for day trips to other parts of Hokkaido and northern Japan. In case you have a JR Pass, you could consider using Sapporo as your base and travel around ‘for free’ while staying here.
Explore the four most popular areas of the city for tourists below.
If you would like to stay in a central district of Sapporo with green spaces in summer and thus the opportunity to take a morning or afternoon walk in relaxed surroundings, a hotel near Odori Park may be the right thing for you. At the same time, you will be close to some of Sapporo’s top attractions, as well as the city’s amazing underground shopping streets.
Odori Park is really the heart of Sapporo. The 1.5-kilometre long park (Odori means ‘large street’) is a sort of city median, which separates Sapporo into a northern and a southern part. The park dates from 1871 and was originally designed to protect against the spread of fires. Today it is an amazing place to take in the monuments, the rose garden, the stalls selling corn, the fountains, the flowers, the play areas – and for people watching!
Sapporo TV Tower from 1957 stands as an iconic landmark at the eastern end of the park. It was built by the Japanese architect Tachū Naitō, who also designed Tokyo Tower. From the 90 m high observation deck you can enjoy a fantastic view of the cityscape, including the entire Odori Park with the mountains as a backdrop.
Another nearby tower is the historic Clock Tower from 1878, today regarded as a symbol of the city. In 1970 it became a National Important Cultural Property, and it is today a museum and historical landmark that tells the story of Sapporo in Japan.
The Odori district features another great attraction in the city. The Underground City consists of two unique underground shopping streets, both with access from Odori Station. ‘Aurora Town’ stretches to the east and ‘Pole Town’ stretches to the south. They make shopping possible even when it is cold or raining.
There is nearly always something going on in Odori Park. From late July till mid-August the park is converted into the open-air Odori Beer Garden. In winter, it is the Christmas Market in December that is the big attraction – and the Sapporo Snow Festival in February. The park is also the location for a few other annual festivals, as well as enticing food and flower events throughout the year.
Sapporo View Hotel Oodori Kouen hotel with a top location right beside Odori Park with amazing views of the park from the parkside rooms. You are truly in the heart of the city with Odori Park, shops and major sights within walking distance.
Susukino is Sapporo’s entertainment district, with large neon light advertisements on building façades and an abundance of restaurants, bars, and other establishments in the entertainment genre. There is also a wealth of shops of all kinds, so it is the perfect district to stay in for shopping and exploring Sapporo’s nightlife.
Susukino’s Tanuki Koji shopping arcade south of Odori Park is one of the oldest covered shopping streets in Sapporo. It was established in 1873 and today includes around 200 stores, restaurants, and bars. The arcade is a popular spot for locals and visitors alike and is often the focal point of local festivals and Sapporo’s folklore.
On the edge of the district is the Nijo Market, a fish market that has existed since the Meiji Period (1868–1912). Originally, it was the local market where the fishermen sold their catch, but it has over the years been extended to include vegetables and fruit. It is the ideal place to go to if you want to eat fresh seafood for breakfast. You can get all sorts of delicious seafood dishes such as seafood rice bowls, sushi, sea urchins, crabs, and a ton of grilled fish – either from the fishmongers or at the small restaurants associated with the shops. It is all top quality seafood and the freshest you can get!
Don’t miss eating ramen in Ramen Alley in Susukino – a small, covered alley exclusively lined with tiny ramen restaurants – some of them only seat a handful of people! Sapporo is famous for its ramen, and it is top-notch ramen being served here!
Strolling around Susukino in the evening, notice among the many illuminated billboards the large Nikka Whisky advertisement board, truly a landmark of Sapporo!
The Base Sapporo Susukino 3-star hotel with an excellent location in vibrant Susukino where you can find anything you need within a short distance. Rooms are air-conditioned and equipped with a fridge, a microwave, a safety deposit box and a balcony.
When planning where to stay in Sapporo, consider a hotel near the JR train station. If you are planning to make day trips out of Sapporo, it can be convenient to find accommodation near Sapporo Station. This way, you can easily hop on a morning train to explore other parts of Hokkaido, and similarly, you will almost be back at your hotel when you get back to Sapporo Station in the evening. The areas north of the station are generally quiet, for example around Hokkaido University.
On the university’s campus in Kita Ward, you will find Hokkaido University Museum with science and natural history exhibits. Around the university there is also a large number of trendy cafés, Japanese izakayas and noodle bars, all frequently used by the students. Likewise, there are a multitude of small restaurants around the station.
South of the station, close to the Botanical Garden, the former Hokkaidō Government Office is a notable building in an American neo-baroque style. It is a red brick building from 1888 that today welcomes visitors and serves as a small museum with historical exhibition rooms, a library, a conference room, and a tourist information.
Between the station and the university campus, the historic Seikatei house has free admission. The name ‘Seikatei’ means ‘Pure Flower Pavilion’. The restored wooden building was used by dignitaries visiting Sapporo, for example the Emperor Meiji when he visited Sapporo in 1881.
Further east, the Sapporo Beer Museum tells the history of beer in Japan and illustrates the beer brewing process. The Sapporo Beer is one of the oldest beers in Japan – and it has been brewed here since 1877. A visit to the museum will naturally give you the opportunity to taste the local beer product!
Solaria Nishitetsu Hotel modern 4-star hotel with an excellent location near the station and the city centre. The hotel features a spa and wellness centre as well as a restaurant with a buffet breakfast that is a mix of both local and international cuisine.
If you want to stay in an area of Sapporo with great opportunities to go for a morning walk in a relaxed environment – and still be close to the city, you might consider staying near Nakajima Park. The park features both historical buildings and cultural events. Moreover, you will also be close to the green riverbanks of the Toyohira River.
The large Nakajima Park south of Susukino is a lovely oasis in the city that opened as an amusement park in 1887. Prior to this, the open space was used as a lumberyard to store the wood before it was transported down the Toyohira River. Towards the end of the 19th century, it then opened to the public as an attraction in the city.
Besides its 5,000 trees, a large pond, the Shobu Pond, is the centrepiece of the park. In the summer, the pond is popular for a boat trip! Year-round, people flock to Nakajima Park to jog, take a walk, or participate in the Hokkaido Shrine Festival.
Cultural assets include the Concert Hall Kitara, the Hokkaido Museum of Literature, a few shrines, and the landmark Hōhei Kan, which is a historical hotel dating back to 1881. Today, it is frequently used as a wedding venue. Furthermore, there is an astronomical observatory, several lawns, forests, and some tennis courts. Other attractions include a tea house and a Japanese Garden.
Around the park there are a few hotels from which you can enjoy amazing views of the park.
Hotel JAL City Sapporo Nakajima Park 3-star hotel set in an attractive area of the city at Nakajima Park. The hotel features a restaurant and private parking and is located within a short distance from main attractions as well as popular shopping streets.
From Sapporo you can easily go on a day trip to places such as the lavender fields around Furano in Hokkaido or the historic city, Otaru.
Japan: Where to Stay in Sapporo & Things to Do
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