Travellers touring Japan often refuse to miss out on the chance to take a trip to the second largest island in the country, Hokkaido. Aside from being a paradise for ski lovers and the cradle of the popular Sapporo beer (which takes its name from the main city), this destination appeals to both national and foreign tourists with its striking yet delicious local gastronomy, its annual winter festival boasting whimsical ice castles and sculptures and some fabulous ski resorts in the outskirts of the capital.
Those staying in Sapporo -capital city of Hokkaido– for at least a few days, are also invited to enjoy many other attractions such as the Asahiyama and Odori parks, the observation deck at the top of the Sapporo TV Tower, the Hokkaido Museum of Modern Art and the iconic Clock Tower. Should you look for a bit of excitement and adventure during your trip to Sapporo, you may also consider purchasing tickets for a baseball match at the Dome (formerly a host venue for the FIFA World Cup 2002) or hiking up the Moiwayama Mountain to get breathtaking city views.
What is the best way to get to Sapporo?
Although some travellers choose to ride the bullet-train from Tokyo, the fastest way to arrive in Sapporo during a tour around Japan is by airplane. The main airport of Sapporo in Hokkaido is called New Chitose and also handles routes to and from international destinations. The city centre lies about fifty kilometres away, a distance that can be covered rather smoothly by bus or train upon landing.
All Nippon Airways, Peach and Japan airlines sell flights to Sapporo from the main airports in the country: Akita, Aomori, Fukuoka, Hakodate, Hiroshima, Kobe, Komatsu, Nagoya, Niigata, Okayama, Osaka Kansai, Rishiri, Sendai, Shizuoka, Tokyo Haneda and Tokyo Narita.
If you plan to fly to Sapporo from a city in Asia, some airline companies covering routes from Nagoya and Kuala Lumpur are Air Asia and Malindo Air; from Busan, Air Busan and Eastar Jet; Beijing, Air China; Seoul, Asiana and Korean Air; Hong Kong, Cathay Pacific and HK Airlines; Taipei, Eva Air and China Airlines; Shanghai, China Eastern; Hangzhou, Hainan Airlines; Manila, Philippine Airlines; Singapore, Scoot and Singapore Airlines; Bangkok, Thai Air Asia and Thai Airways and from Tianjin, Tianjin Airlines.
New international routes from Helsinki in Finland and Sydney in Australia to Sapporo in Japan will be operated by Finnair and Qantas Airways respectively from December 2019 onwards.
Transit hotel in New Chitose International airport of Hokkaido, Japan
New Chitose airport in Sapporo, Japan, features a modern airport hotel within easy reach from its domestic terminal building, in such a way that arriving passengers or those catching an early flight out of Hokkaido can walk from the arrivals area to the hotel reception or take the reverse journey. Furthermore, guests staying at the Air Terminal Hotel in New Chitose airport may benefit from amenities like onsite thermal baths, complimentary breakfast, WiFi and fine dining as well as from the opportunity of exploring Chitose if they have a few hours to spare during their layover.
Travelling from New Chitose airport to Sapporo
For a direct, fast commute to Sapporo city centre, collect your bags and head over to the New Chitose airport railway station to catch a Rapid service train belonging to the Chitose Line (Hokkaido Railway Company); it won’t take you longer than 40 minutes to be in central Sapporo.
Otherwise, you may opt for buying a ticket to ride an airport limousine bus dropping passengers off at some of the most important hotels in downtown Sapporo. Although this ground transport option is equally convenient, it takes a bit longer than the train, that is, over one hour, to get to your final destination.