There is a reason why Sapporo is one of the top destinations among Japanese. Maybe it’s because of the bonanza of festivities that summer brings; maybe it’s the tantalising restaurants that never fails to impress. Or maybe it’s the European architecture that drew so much attention. There are just too many things to do in Sapporo.
But you have limited time (and budget) and you want to have the best time in Sapporo? This article heard all your prayers. Get ready for the top 10 cheap things to do in Sapporo!
Top 10 cheap things to do in Sapporo
Visit the parks - free!
There are so many parks in Sapporo for you to choose from. If you don’t wanna go too far, Nakajimakoen (中島公園) would be ideal.
Wanna visit the Louvre of Japan? Visit Moerenumakoen (モエレ沼公園). There is also an awesome fountain performance at Moerenumakoen at specific times.
Although Sapporo has other parks, these two are my personal favorites.
Nakajimakoen is located near the metro station called Nakajimakoen station.
To go to Moerenumakoen, take the Toho Subway line to Kanjodori-higashi Station. From there, take a local bus (number 69 or 79) and you will reach the east entrance of the park. The journey will cost 250 yen.
Experience a Japanese onsen
Onsen is basically hot spring in Japanese. Sapporo has many onsen places, indoor and outdoor.
I personally prefer this onsen called Teine Onsen Honoka where it is not very touristy.
Compared to the onsen in the city where they take hordes and hordes of tourists every day, you can have a more surreal experience of Japanese onsen here.
Also, it’s very affordable, making it one of the cheapest things to do in Sapporo!
To go to Teine Onsen Honoka, you can take the metro to Inazumikoen station and walk for around 15 minutes. Bear in mind that not all trains stop at Inazumikoen.
If you had to stop at Teine station, you can take buses to the onsen. The bus numbers are 45, 55, 57, 59 and 65. Ask the bus driver if they go to Teine Onsen Honoka before you board that bus. In that case, they will know where to drop you off as well.
Go to the festivals at Odori Park
Odori park is a long, rectangular park that is located at the heart of Sapporo city. It is the home for major festivals in Sapporo.
I went to the Belgian beer festival with my host and his friends and we had really fun time together. At the same time, there was also flower festivals that showcased Japanese bonzais and bougainvilleas.
Remember to check the calendar here to find out more about the festivals going on when you are in Sapporo.
If you don’t buy anything, it will be another free thing to do in Sapporo!
You can also go up the clock tower (200 JPY) that is found at the very beginning of the park to have a nice view of the city.
Visit Jyogai Ichiba
Prepare to have an eye-opening experience here at the Central Market!
I believe that the quickest way to know the culture of a city is by visiting a local market.
Jyogai Ichiba has a lot of seafood and other stuff that I have never seen before. Thanks to my host being a social butterfly, I even get to try king crabs, scallops, cuttlefish, cockles and other seafood there (for free)!
If you are afraid of the typical fishy stench from the market, fear not, because this market is really really clean and it doesn’t smell.
If Jyogai Ichiba is a little too far for you, you can also opt for Nijo Market which is located nearer to the city centre.
To go to Jyogai Ichiba, travel to Nijyu-yonken station. Exit the station from exit 5 and walk for around 10 minutes. If you are taking the JR line, alight at Kuwazono station and take the west exit. Walk for around 10 minutes and you will read Jyogai Ichiba.
Nijo market is near Sapporo TV tower (the icon of Sapporo).
Hike up Maruyama Hill
The hike up to Maruyama hill was a short one, and it is totally worth it for the breathtaking bird’s eye view of the city!
With a height of 225m, this hill is an excellent choice for everyone. Even a beginner can make a hike up the hill in 40 minutes.
This National Natural Monument features a dense, untouched virgin forest with statues along the promenade.
I would say that this is the highlight of my trip to Sapporo, definitely the best thing to do in Sapporo!
It is easily accessible as well: just take the subway to “Maruyama Koen” station and you are at the area. Pack some food with you and enjoy it while you are up there enjoying the awesome city view!
Stroll aimlessly around the city
If you feel like you have to be constantly surrounded by people, spend a day at the ever-bustling downtown area.
Although I wouldn’t say Sapporo is the most happening city in Japan, it has a chillax vibe!
Do some souvenir shopping at Don Quijote.
Try some of the best miso ramens at Sapporo station.
Take lots of photos of the beautiful adverts.
Visit the Sapporo beer museum.
Experience amazing Japanese nightlife at Susukino district.
There are just too many things to see in Sapporo city.
Have lots and lots of ice-cream
Japanese ice-cream is so good that I had an average of 2 ice-creams per day while in Sapporo. This amazing city boasts one of the best soft serves in the world.
It is not hard to figure out why when they have milk of exceptional quality. Even the ice-creams in the convenience stores are incredible.
On a side note, there are some ice-cream flavours that are limited to only Hokkaido. This means that you cannot have it in anywhere else in Japan! Not impressed? How about a lavender ice cream or melon ice cream?
Take day trips
At times when it gets too boring at Sapporo (again, blasphemy), take a day-trip to another town.
Thanks to the super efficient train system in Hokkaido and the newly introduced JR lines, you can get to another town or city really quickly and conveniently.
If you are a fan of flower fields and cheese and farms and mountains and everything nature-y, take a trip to Furano or Biei.
If you wanna chill and relax at an idyllic town surrounded by pristine water, go to Otaru.
Wanna go to one of the best zoos in Japan? Go to Asahikawa.
One of the best night views in the world? Hakodate heard you.
Admire European architectures
If you look at Google Map, you would have figured out that Sapporo is one of the most well-planned city in Japan.
Perhaps due to the large influence from Europe, Sapporo has a Western grid-like street layout.
Buildings from early 19th century also depicted a great influence from European architectural style. Go to Sapporo Clock Tower.
Or head to the Old Hokkaido Government Building and take a stroll at the nearby gardens. If you are lucky, there might be a sea of flowers welcoming you!
Visit Hokkaido University
Being one of the best universities in Japan, it is also a travel destination frequented by many because of its famous Ginko Avenue.
The university also has a museum that is open to public. Oh, and did I mention that Hokkaido University is the most romantic university that I have seen?
Where to stay?
Sapporo is not huge. The whole city is very well planned out. It doesn’t really matter where you stay. However, if you can stay near Susukino station that would be ideal.
Japanese travel in their own country extensively. They book their accommodation WAY IN ADVANCE and that is why many places are booked out months before your arrival. I strongly suggest booking your accommodation in advance to avoid disappointment.
Budget – It’s very hard to find a nice accommodation in Sapporo that is within my budget range. The best that I found was The Stay Sapporo Nagomi and you have to book fast as prices jumped from 50 euros to 87 euros as you get closer to the date. The room is for 3 people, it’s clean and it’s close to Susukino district. Don’t think there’s anything else that I could have asked for.
If you have missed out, you can also stay at the Grids Sapporo Hotel/Hostel. A dorm bed kicks off at the price of 30 euros.
Comfortable – Karaksa Hotel Sapporo is one of the newer hotels in Sapporo. Japanese hotels normally have smaller rooms and this business hotel is no exception. Newer hotel always attracts people like moths to a flame. Book earlier to avoid disappointment.
High-end – Wanna pamper yourself and score yourself a staycation? Look no further and stay with La’gent Stay Sapporo Odori Hokkaido. Check their availability earlier as they tend to have a full house most of the time as Hokkaido has been on the radar among the East Asians!
I highly recommend getting an internet connection as soon as you land in Japan. This is a land of culture shock and it’s really hard to navigate if you don’t know the language!
Get a cheap portable wifi router today! You can pick it up in major airports in Tokyo, Osaka and Fukuoka. Make sure you get this at least a few days prior to arriving in Japan as they will need time to send it to the airport for you to pick up!
If you wanna save money and just survive on free wifi, check out my post about the 7 must-have apps before going to Japan.
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