Route: Aomori Hakodate Noboribetsu Otaru Furano Abashiri Sapporo
Duration: 14 nights
Transport: This route is a 15 day trip covering 7 of Hokkaido’s most popular destinations. You’ll spend 14 nights in your accommodation and travel by train during the day
Summary: Experience an out of the beaten track Japan by exploring its Northern side! On this trip you will discover a different Japan in Hokkaido, known for its delicious sea food, kind folks and beautiful landscape! Wander around small cities like Otaru and Abashiri, take beautiful pictures of the famous flower fields in Furano, and get lost in the buzzing Noboribetsu and Sapporo. This trip is the perfect mix between buzzing city life and exploring nature. Do not miss out on the food and the beer while in Hokkaido!
Lovely city in the north of Honshu, famous for its summer festival and archaeological site from the Jomon Period. It is also the best place to drink some delicious cider or anything apple related. Don’t miss the opportunity to make your own seafood donburi in the fish market before visiting Hakkodamaru ship, now a museum, which used to be the only ferry to link Hokkaido to Honshu. If you are in Aomori during summer, you have to attend the Nebuta Festival, for which Aomori is famous, or visit its museum. Seiryuji Temple features the largest seated Buddha of Japan, so it’s also worth a visit. Treat yourself to some local Iso Ramen, composed of seafood or other local delicacies such as Ichigo Ni or anything apple related.
Train to Hakodate – 2 hours
Third largest city of the southern island. Hakodate is known locally as Squid City due to it’s delicious squid sashimi or squid stock ramen. Hakodate’s squid sashimi is famously known as the “dancing squid” dish, due to the squid still moving after being served. In the centre of town, you’ll find the star shaped park, where the Goryokaku Tower makes for an amazing photo opportunity. Mingle with locals by waking up early and going to the Asaichi morning market, just to explore or eat some fresh seafood! Vestiges from its foreign trading past awaits you just in front of the harbour, where the red brick warehouses were turned into a shopping area. Onuma Park, with its two lakes and small islands, is a nice city escape. The view on top of Mount Hakodate is one of the three best night views in Japan. Suginoko and Bar Jey’s are two spots to try good cocktails and one of the best whiskeys of the city in an unique setting.
Red Brick Warehouses
Asaichi Morning Market
Train to Noboribetsu – 3 hours
Get acquainted with Noboribetsu’s hellish side by doing the Hell Valley tour. Composed of hot springs which have a hellish atmosphere, it also has demon statues spotted around the area – see how many you can spot! Fancy a foot bath? The Oyunuma river is the perfect place to do so: with its naturally hot water, you can relax and watch the colours of the water turning from green to grey. It’s also home to beautiful and impressive caldera lakes such as Lake Toya and Shikotsu. Noboribetsu Date Jidai Village, a theme park about the Japanese Edo period in Hokkaido, is a nice way to learn about the island’s past. Relax at Dai-Ichi Takimotokan which, with its 29 baths, is the biggest hot spring resort in all of Asia. Sea Food is best eaten in Hokkaido – fill you belly with delicious sushi or tarako; but don’t miss out on the spicy noodle dish, Enma Yakisoba, named after the King who is considered as the ruler of Hell.
Noboribetsu Date Jidai Village
Train to Otaru – 3 hours
This little gem of a city has a lot of traditional experiences to offer. Walk along the picturesque Otaru’s Canal at night and immerse yourself in the romantic atmosphere it provides, with its oil lamps illuminating the way. Glass blowing has helped the city keep its tradition as a Harbor city for foreign trade.Try your hand at glass blowing and go home with your little creation. Visit the Herring Mansion, former home of the foreign trade city that used to be Otaru. Don’t forget the city’s steam clock brought back from Canada, which still chimes every 15 minutes! Sea food is amazing but ice cream is also a specialty in Otaru, as well as Cheese Cake and herring! Otaru Soko No 1 is the best bar to try the Otaru Beer in a former warehouse on the canal!
Train to Furano – 4 hours
This cute little town has been nicknamed Hokkaido’s belly button, due to it being located in the middle of the island. Furano might be small, but it will take your breath away with its many flower fields full of colours and scents; it is magnificent in summer when the numerous flower fields are in bloom. Have a taste of Japan’s most expensive fruit, melon, in the melon farm in Furano. You can then check out the deep blue water of the Blue Pond and enjoy a paddle or canoe in the Sorachi River. Wine and cheese are also famous in this region and you should definitely try it out.
Train to Abashiri – 7 hours
Experience Hokkaido’s northern activities in Abashiri. Hop on the Aurora cruise to watch the ice drift as well as dolphins and whales if you’re lucky enough! Try your hand at smelt fishing through a hole in the ice before heading to the most famous prison in Japan also known as the Japanese Alcatraz. The region is blessed with several caldera lakes home to many swans and foot spas in the sand at Lake Kussharo. Fill your belly with a delicious fish hot pot called Ishikari Nabe or other fish delicacies famous in this region.
Abashiri Prison Museum
Okhotsk Ryuhyo Museum
Lakes Mashu and Tofutsu
Aurora Sightseeing Boat
Train to Sapporo – 5 hours
It is Hokkaido’s capital city, and it will not disappoint. As the birthplace of beer in Japan you have to have a drink there and visit the Sapporo Beer Museum. Despite being a big park in the city centre, the Odori Park is also home to many festivals in Summer as well as the renowned Snow Festival which attracts contestants from all over the world to create impressive ice sculptures. The Moerenuma Park was created by a designer and its art sculpture will be sure to take your breath away. You can also visit Okurayama Observatory and enjoy an impressive view of city while visiting the Olympic Ski Jump Stadium. The Historic Village of Hokkaido, Kaitaku no Mura, is an open air museum about city life in the 19th century. Hokkaido is famous for its fresh fish and amazing sushi but also for its spicy curry soup and the Ghengis Khan BBQ dish. For your night out, Susukino district is the place to be.
Sapporo Beer Museum
Kaitaku No Mura
Ghengis Khan BBQ