Hokkaido is vast in territory, and it is recommended that Sapporo be the focus of your first classic trip. It can be a three- or four-day tour of sightseeing and shopping. Sapporo is also the most convenient starting point if you wish to visit other areas of Hokkaido.
The first day can be comprised of a day tour of Otaru. It is easy to get to Otaru from Sapporo by Japan Rail. Once there, you can walk around the Triangle Market near Otaru Station or head directly to Otaru Canal. Walk along the canal to appreciate the delicate glassware and wide variety of Otaru music boxes found in the shops, and taste popular Kitakaro and Rokkatei desserts along the way. Rest and take in the romantic atmosphere that Otaru offers. In the evening, dine at the Zheng Sushi Bar and try the fresh and delicious dishes that make the restaurant so well-loved.
On the second day, take the express train to Noboribetsu, which is roughly an hour away from Sapporo. Noboribetsu is surrounded by the virgin forests of Shikotsu-Toya National Park, and is home to numerous hot water springs incorporating nine different qualities. Start your tour by exploring Jigokudani or Hell Valley, and then proceed to enjoy the hot spring waters later on in the day.
The third leg of your trip can be Toyako Lake, where you can take a leisurely stroll along the waters and enjoy its beautiful and peaceful scenery. Tourists who prefer a slow-paced tour can stay overnight at one of several luxury hotels in the area to fully relax the body and soul. In the afternoon, go to Hakodate and walk to the Goryokaku Park for a panoramic view of city. At dusk, check out the Kanemori Red Brick Warehouse, and later have dinner at the popular Lucky Pierrot. Ride the cable car and enjoy the Hakodate nightlife, which is one of the most famous in the world.
The fourth day can be spent sightseeing around Sapporo. First, visit the famous Shiroi Koibito Park to watch and learn the processes of baking Shiroi Koibito cookies, as well as to purchase all kinds of souvenirs. You can then go to the Former Government Office Building and drop by the well-known Hokkaido University. Ginkgo Avenue is especially worth visiting in autumn. If you’re looking for something to eat, soup curry sold near the university is a specialty in Hokkaido. As you wind down your trip, visit Odori Park for some last-minute shopping at the various shops and department stores.
If you plan to spend a few more days in Hokkaido, visit the Asahiyama Zoo or the flower fields in Furano and Mankitsu. In winter, Eastern Hokkaido is highly recommended if you wish to enjoy the original, natural charm of a Hokkaido winter. You can go there by Japan Rail or bus, linking the classic travelling routes to Kushiro, Abashiri and Shiretoko.