Overview

The wilderness of Hokkaido provides numerous outdoor pursuits, and its cities, nestled against the backdrop of mountains and lakes, provide culinary delights and a dose of culture. With its unspoiled nature, Hokkaido attracts many outdoor lovers, including skiers and snowboarders in winter to cyclists and campers in the warmer months.

Drive along traffic-free, smooth stretches of tarmac roads that sweep between forested volcanoes, farmland and candy-striped flower fields. Being similar to Australian roads, an international driver’s license is all that is needed. Best time to view the lovely cherry blossom would be late April to early May, followed by an assortment of flowers in bloom during the months following.

Recommended Points

  • Appreciate the vivid pink cherry blossoms full of life surrounded by the historical atmosphere of the “Last Samurai Battle Field” in Hakodate
  • Panoramic views from above, at places like Goryokaku Tower, Mt Hakodate Cable Car, Mt Usu Ropeway & Mt Okura Ski Jump Stadium
  • You set the pace – get to know the true Hokkaido at your own speed
  • See the towns & villages as a local, an try your hand at tasting some of the local produce on unique tours
  • Airport meet and greet and assistance to rental car pickup.
  • Detailed itinerary with only local known spots, local maps, map codes, English set GPS
  • 24/7 support from Japan Holidays

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Itinerary at a glance

Day 1

Pickup – Hakodate

Welcome! It’s springtime in Hokkaido, the weather is crisp and the landscape is full of new life. Upon arrival an English speaking assistant will welcome you and assist you with the pick up of your rental car. The defined coastlines, magnificent idyllic scenery, wide straight roads, green colored mountains and vibrant flower gardens make Hokkaido a real driver’s paradise – there is always something new and exciting around the corner! You will start your journey in Hakodate. Depending on arrival time, you can visit one of the must see spots of Hakodate city, the Hakodate Morning Market. A long, local market street with over 300 small shops and restaurants full of fresh seafood, fruits, and vegetables.

Day 2

Hakodate

Head out from Hakodate and marvel at the fusion between Eastern & Western architecture & customs. Matsumae Castle Museum in Matsumae town is situated at the southern tip of Hokkaido. Used as a northern border of Japan to the ‘Wild and Untamed’ frontier of Hokkaido during the Edo Period, it’s no wonder that Matsumae Castle is the only Japanese style castle to have been built on Hokkaido. Many festivals are hosted here throughout the year, with the cherry blossom festival being one of the most popular. Next to visit, Motomachi Historical Area offers a unique mix of western and Japanese culture hard to find elsewhere in Japan. The historical buildings are illuminated at night for visitors to enjoy an evening stroll & appreciate the architecture. End the day overlooking the beautiful nightscape from the Mt. Hakodate Ropeway, honored as one of Japan’s three great night view sites.

Day 3

Hakodate – Lake Toya

Before you begin up north, take in the sights from Goryokaku Tower and Goryokaku fort. Known as the ‘Last Samurai Battlefield’ between the imperial forces and the rebel Tokugawa military in 1868-1969. Next head north to the coastal town of Shikabe, where you will be introduced to a group of strong, independent ladies who are real culinary masters when it comes to Hokkaido seafood. You will get to cook fish that has been caught the very same day by their fisherman husbands. Once full of food and great experiences, head west to Onuma Quasi-National Park and immerse yourself with mountains, lakes and forests. End the day watching the sunset along Lake Toya, which hosts summer fireworks that you can enjoy from your hotel room window.

Day 4

Lake Toya

Explore around Lake Toya and see how the area came to be. Begin your day off the beaten path visiting a nearby seaside town, Toyoura. Join in on an exclusive tour of the local seaport, and try the fresh sea scallops! For all the geology fans the Volcano Science Museum is a must see. Learn about the history of Mount Usu, the active volcano, and the forces of nature and how the nearby towns are impacted. Ride on the Mt Usu Ropeway for panoramic views of Lake Toya and neighbouring Mt Showa Shinzan.

Day 5

Mountains of Niseko to Otaru

Head north from Lake Toya to continue your journey. Hidden in the mountains of Niseko is the strikingly beautiful Shinsennuma Marsh Natural Recreation Forest. The marsh land and surrounding forest features beautiful seasonal flowers, spectacular mountain views, and tranquil lakes. Afternoon has you ending the day at Otaru at Yoichi Nikka Distillery. Appreciate historical buildings of the surprisingly large distillery area and learn about the interesting life stories behind the brand. Masataka Taketsuru , the first Japanese who mastered making whisky, studied the art in Scotland. Masataka and his Scottish wife Rita chose Yoichi town for making this brand of Japanese whisky as it was in many ways like the Scottish Highlands.

Day 6

Otaru – Sapporo

Start the morning at your own pace strolling through Otaru Sakaimachi Street. Enjoy shopping, eating and sightseeing along the long and well preserved merchant street in central Otaru. Head Southwest to the end of your journey, Sapporo city. Odori Park in downtown Sapporo is a good afternoon attraction, full of lush foliage and many annual events, such as Sapporo Snow Festival & Sapporo Beer Garden in the summer.

Day 7

Sapporo – New Chitose Airport

End your time in Sapporo on a picturesque high note at the Mt. Okura Ski Jump Stadium. The stadium was stage for the 90 meter ski jump, you can ascend all the way to the top and enjoy the panoramic view of the city before your departure from New Chitose Airport.

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Itinerary Map

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