10 Things to Do in Sapporo in Winter Season — From Food to Art!

10 Best Things to Do in Sapporo During Wintertime

It’s magic all-around in this city when it snows!

Whether it’s beneath or over the snow, the list of things to do in Sapporo during winter is endless. The city is beautiful on its own, but during winter, Sapporo is nearly unrivalled. Just be sure to pack the warmest clothes whenever visiting this winter wonderland!

Also read: 32 Things to See and Do in Japan for First-Time Travellers

Things to do in Sapporo during winter season

1. Celebrate the Sapporo Snow Festival

things to do in sapporo winter

Image credit: David McKelvey

One of the reasons that winter in Sapporo is world-renowned is because of the annual Sapporo Snow Festival. Known as Sapporo Yuki Matsuri in Japanese, this time-tested tradition began in the 1950s as a one-day event. Today, the festival lasts for about a week and draws at least two million tourists every year. We recommend planning months, or maybe even a year, ahead when it comes to booking tickets and accommodations for this!

Every February, artists young and old create sculptures with Sapporo’s bountiful snow. This overlap of generations is responsible for creating some of the most spectacular sculptures ever made during the Sapporo Snow Festival. From stunning recreations of famous landmarks to anime characters and even real-life celebrities, the Sapporo Snow Festival continues to be a sight to behold every year. You’ll never look at the humble snowman the same way again!

Also read: Snow in Japan Is Absolutely Magical: Here Are the Destinations to Prove It!

2.  Chill at bars and enjoy live entertainment in Susukino District

things to do in sapporo winter

Image credit: Ominae

Susukino is Sapporo’s version of a red-light district. Bars, restaurants, and clubs light this area up every evening, turning it into a neon carnival of colours. Most establishments in this district are very friendly to foreigners, so be sure to stop by and eat.

While the Sapporo Snow Festival is city-wide, Susukino has its own distinct works when it comes to sculptures. Instead of snow, sculptors in Susukino shaped solid blocks of ice instead. These ice statues can be found throughout the district’s streets and are always a highlight of the prestigious Sapporo Snow Festival. 

3. Climb the Sapporo TV Tower

things to do in sapporo winter

Image credit: ja:利用者:Haseyu-

Sapporo TV Tower holds a sweeping view of the winter city. It is an iconic structure in Sapporo and is definitely unmissable. While this gorgeous vantage point can be enjoyed in almost any season, Sapporo is truly more enchanting when it’s covered in snow. Capture that and more by reaching the peak of this enormous tower at the heart of the city.

4. Take a stroll around Odori Park

sapporo snow festival

Image credit: t-konno

Visiting Sapporo isn’t complete without crossing the famous Odori Park. This massive street splits Sapporo into north and south sections. Major events are usually held in Odori Park, where most of the sculptures from the Sapporo Snow Festival can be seen. 

Apart from the snow sculptures, this is where the White Illumination takes place every winter. The lighting of festive colours decorates the trees throughout Odori Park, along with a few other decorations. This beautiful park is just unmissable when looking for things to do in Sapporo winter and enjoyment is guaranteed.

Also read: 10 Christmas Destinations in Asia That Light Up During the Holidays

5. Enjoy sumptuous seafood dishes in Nijo Market

winter in sapporo

Image credit: WU Haoxiang

Do not miss eating seafood when looking for things to do in Sapporo during winter! This is usually the prime season for seafood. And when it comes to the best of the sea, look no further than Nijo Market. Every day, the stalls teem with fresh seafood of different shapes and sizes, all of which are colourful. Whether it’s prawns, giant crabs, mussels, salmon, or sea urchins — you name it, Nijo Market has it at its best.

There are a few restaurants surrounding Nijo Market that utilise the flavours of the sea to their full effect. So, try a seafood bowl before leaving; it might be the best one you’ll ever have! 

Also read: 11 Underrated Destinations in Japan That Are Worth Discovering

6. Ward off the cold in Jozankei

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If it gets too cold in Sapporo, maybe it’s time to pay a visit to Jozankei. This hot spring town is no more than an hour away from Central Sapporo. The spring’s rejuvenating waters come from the Toyhira River nearby. The river’s waters contain a few levels of salt that helps the skin rejuvenate better. 

Pro tip: Travelling on a budget? There are a few free footbaths around Jozankei to sample the water’s benefits.

Also read: 12 Hot Spring Towns in Japan to Relax & Unwind on Vacation

7. Consume bowls and bowls of miso ramen

Image credit: Jun Seita

Miso ramen is widely enjoyed by locals and tourists of Sapporo. Part of this particular broth’s popularity in Sapporo is because it doesn’t cool off as easily as its other counterparts. It can also warm the body much longer. 

While there are also other broths in Sapporo, miso ramen has evolved into this destination’s speciality. Head to ramen shops found in Sapporo Station for some of the best noodle bowls in the city.

Also read: Ramen 101: How to Order and Eat Japanese Ramen Like a Pro

8. Learn the history of Sapporo’s alcohol culture

sapporo snow festival

Image credit: David McKelvey

Part of why Sapporo is famous throughout the world is because of Sapporo Beer. It is one of the most famous exports of the city and a delicious drink to warm the body, especially during the cold months. Beer lovers will definitely enjoy visiting the Sapporo Beer Museum to learn about its deep history. The rich flavour of this beer can be enjoyed at the nearby Sapporo Beer Garden — as long as it’s in moderation, of course!

Apart from their own beer, sake is another popular drink in Sapporo. It definitely helps to keep the body warm while also offering a distinct taste. A few stalls located in Susukino and Odori Park serve this alcohol warm, for better warming effects.

9. Visit the Maruyama Zoo

Image credit: MIKI Yoshihito

Want to see a real-life polar bear without flying to the Arctic Poles? Add Maruyama Zoo to your list of things to do in Sapporo in winter. This zoo keeps animal species that thrive in cold environments. Expect to see snow leopards and red pandas become more active when visiting the zoo during this time of the year. And if it gets too cold for you, there are also temperate zones that feature animals that live in tropical climates.

10. Learn basic snow sports at Moerenuma Park

winter in sapporo

Image credit: t-konno

Ever wanted to try snow sports but have no idea how to begin? Moerenuma Park is the perfect place to learn. A mountain forms over the middle of the park once snowfall is enough. This creates easy slopes for beginners to try out sledding. Not to mention, the snow’s soft and powdery texture makes it absolutely safe to land on. 

Don’t have a sled of your own? Rentals are available in the glass pyramid building found at the park.

Also read: Winter in Tohoku: A Playground of Cultural Experiences & Thrilling Activities

There are still so many things to do in Sapporo in winter but these are just truly unmissable. While this city can be enjoyed at any time of the year, winter gives it something truly unique. It’s easily a dream destination, especially when the holidays are just around the corner.


Featured image credit: Sean Pavone via Canva Pro

About Author

Aldous Vince Cabildo
Aldous Vince Cabildo

Ever since growing up, Aldous learned how to look at things from an historical perspective. So whenever the opportunity to travel arises, he makes sure to go to places that contain local stories and memories. From there, he takes in the lessons from the past and picks out what to learn, or should it interest him, what to unlearn. At any chance he gets, he also makes sure to try out local cuisine. When not charting his next destination, Aldous likes to explore worlds found in video games, hip-hop, film, and professional wrestling. He is a proud resident of Tondo.

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