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 that sweep between forested volcanoes, farmland and candy-striped flower fields . Being similar to Australian roads , an international drivers license is all that is needed. Best time to view the lovely cherry blossom would be late April to early May, and an array of different flowers in bloom during the following months.
- 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
Itinerary at a glance
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. Great to try some of the local fresh produce!
Head out form 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. Motomachi Historical Area offers a unique cityscape with a mix of western and Japanese culture hard to find elsewhere in Japan. The historical buildings are illuminated at night so that visitors can also enjoy an evening stroll to appreciate the architecture. End the day overlooking the beautiful nightsape from the Mt. Hakodate Ropeway, and understand how it’s been honored as one of Japan’s three great night view sites.
Hakodate – Lake Toya
Before you begin up north, take in the sights from above of Goryokaku Tower and Goryokaku fort. Known as the ‘Last Samurai Battlefield’, Imperial forces and rebel Tokugawa military fought against each other. Head 20 minutes from Hakodate to Onuma Quasi-National Park and surrounded yourself with mountains, lakes and forests. End up in along Lake Toya, which has daily summer fireworks which you can enjoy from your hotel room window.
See the areas around Lake Toya and how it came to be. Begin your day off the beaten path visiting a nearby seaside town, Toyoura. Join in on an exlcusive tour of visiting the local seaport, and try the delicacy of the town, fresh sea scallops! For all those geologists the Volcano Science Museum is a must! Learn about the history of Mount Usu, an active volcano and learn about the forces of nature and how the nearby towns are impacted. Ride on the Mt Usu Ropeway for panormaic views of Lake Toya and neighboring Mt Showa Shinzan.
Mountains of Niseko to Otaru
Departing Lake Toya head north 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. After a leisurely walk of the area, continue north and visit a brewery of one of the best exports of Japan, Whiskey made in the Yoichi Nikka Whiskey Distillery. See how they make and taste test the high quality local products, before resting the evening in Otaru.
Otaru – Sapporo
Start the morning at your own pace visiting 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. Visit Odori Park in downtown Sapporo, full of lush foliage and many annual events, such as Sapporo Snow Festival & Sapporo Beer Garden in the summer.
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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