When is the best time to visit Hokkaido? This is an important question, especially when you plan on visiting the island for the very first time.

Hokkaido is without question a year-round holiday destination in Japan. In this post, we offer insider tips on the best things to see and do in Hokkaido throughout the year.

There are a lot of things to do and see as it offers endless discoveries including its magnificent unspoiled wilderness. Besides, the weather here is very cool and favorable for tourists to travel 365 days.

However, severe snowstorms hit the region during the winter months and often that will not allow you to travel around the region for a certain period of time.

Blue Pond in Biei in October. Photo Credit: Kyuhoshi.com.

The four season’s natural beauty here is amazingly displayed by its pretty outdoor nature. Many of you might have heard from someone that Hokkaido is a popular destination for winter. That’s true, but what about the spring, summer, and autumn? You can’t keep them out of your travel plan!

Summer here is relatively short but locals here celebrate it with some amazing festivals including gorgeous fireworks displays at night.

Except summer, Hokkaido’s weather is cold, you really need to put on a jacket when you go for sightseeing in the spring and autumn. Please note Hokkaido does not have a rainy season like Tokyo and Kyoto.

If you really want to experience a real Japanese winter, Hokkaido is the place. As soon as you set foot in Hokkaido, you will find out why it’s one of the most beloved travel destinations in the land of the rising sun.

Ok, let’s get to know more about today’s topic and I hope you will have your answer by reading this article.

Hokkaido in Spring (March to May)

Higashimokoto Shibazakura Park. Photo Credit: www.shibazakura.net.

Average Temperature: 1°C – 12.1°C

Remarks: Snow start melting though the weather is still cold as it’s windy.

There are indeed so many great places to visit in Hokkaido in the spring. If I make a list of those places, then it will be longer than you might have thought before. I assume, every once in a while you visit a place in nature that your soul connects with. Don’t you agree?

This is an incredible view of sakura at Nakajima Koen, Sapporo.

Hokkaido’s outdoor nature is blessed with incredible weather and picturesque scenery.

It’s a place that has a little bit of everything – caldera lakes, ski resorts, mountains, hiking trails, beaches, national parks, massive flower fields, traditional gardens, wineries, hot springs, shopping malls, restaurants, designated places to enjoy the night view, temples and shrines.

Sakura in Sapporo.

In spring, as a tourist you may expect to see the iconic sakura (cherry blossom). Early May is considered the best time to see sakura in the region.

There is a number a popular hanami (sakura viewing) spots in Hokkaido such as Maruyama Park, Nakajima Park, Hiraoka Park, Temiya Park, Moerenuma Park, Matsumae Park, and Fort Goryokaku Park.

You may even locate many lone sakura trees located in the neighborhoods of Sapporo. They look absolutely gorgeous. The best way to experience them is to take a walk along the streets.

Kamiyubtsu Tulip Park. Photo Credit: 湧別町役場.

Apart from viewing sakura, there are many areas in the city to see colorful tulips and other spring flowers. In mid May, tons of glorious tulips can be seen at places like Takino Suzuran Hillside National Park, and Kamiyubetsu Tulip Park.

Do you know what shibazakura looks like? Moss phlox is called shibazakura in Japanese. It’s a five petals flower that’s pretty similar to Somei Yoshino sakura. The nation is well known for its largest shibazakura festival known as Fuji Shibazakura Matsuri.

Here in Hokkaido, there are two stunning places to see shibazakura, Takinoue Park and Higashimokoto Shibazakura Park. You can enjoy their delicate beauty visiting those places from Mid-July to Early June.

Read: 10 Best things to do in Hokkaido in Spring.

Hokkaido in Summer (June to August)

A hilarious dance performance by the dancers at the Yosakoi Soran Festival, Sapporo city. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Average Temperature: 16°C – 23°C

Remarks: The weather is good as it’s dry and hot.

Summer is the most wonderful time of year to visit Hokkaido. Often it’s said that Hokkaido in the summer is stunningly gorgeous with lots of outdoor activities to pursue for visitors.

There are no cherry blossoms to see in summer, the season for sakura is over, but what does it feature during the summer months can’t be described in words.

Maybe it’s because I hardly find any words to describe its overwhelming summer landscapes. Do I have to prove it? Read this article then.

What an impressive rainbow flower field at Farm Tomita, Nakafurano! Photo Credit: James.Kirk at Flickr.

A lot of tourists visit Hokkaido in the summer to explore its breathtaking flower fields, especially in the areas of Furano and Biei. Sunflowers, lavenders, lupines, poppies, blue salvias, marigold and other seasonal flowers bloom in abundance.

My favorite flower farms in these areas have been explained to you before. In addition, if you like sunflowers and planning to visit one in Hokkaido, then you must visit Hokuryu Sunflower Village. This is where you can spend hours exploring its vast sunflower field.

Sunflower fields in Hokuryu town, Hokkaido.

Those who are dreaming of visiting Furano and Biei in the summer should make online hotel reservation in advance. I recommend you start booking your reservations up to 5-4 months in advance.

This is an important travel guide for you; otherwise you will have to stay overnights in neighboring city – Asahikawa.

In case you have to stay in a hotel in Asahikawa, you can still enjoy your day trip from there to Furano and Biei by trains, buses or rental cars.

Shikisai-no-Oka in Biei. Photo Credit: Ray Swi-hymn at Flickr.

Hokkaido’s short summer is packed with exciting summer matsuri. One of the thrilling summer festivals in Hokkaido is Yosakoi Soran Festival, held in the Odori Park in early June every year.

It’s a dance parade where performers wear vibrant costumes, and spectators enjoy seeing delightful dancing performances.

Don’t you think that it’s the only summer event held in Hokkaido, in fact, there are many to be highlighted here such as Sapporo Summer Festival, Furano Bellybutton Festival, World Music and Dance Festival in Hakodate, Hokkaido Shrine Festival and so on.

Read: The best summer activities in Hokkaido.

Hokkaido in Autumn (September to November)

Autumn leaves at Hokkaido university. Photo Credit: oonnuuoo at Flickr.

Average Temperature: 4.5°C – 17°C

Remarks: Temperature start dropping, and it becomes very cold in the morning and evening.

Have you heard anything special about autumn foliage in Hokkaido? The region is the earliest place in Japan to show autumnal color as it beings in mid September. Yes, it’s one of my favorite seasons.

I have to tell you that if you plan on visiting Sapporo in October, obviously you will see peak color. On the other hand, if you are visiting Hokkaido in late September, especially in the central region of the island, I recommend you to visit Daisetsuzan National Park (Taisetsuzan).

It’s a massive national park with trees of various kinds, beautiful hiking trails, wild animals and birds, hot spring resorts, and mountains. The leaves of the deciduous trees that grow in the national park start changing color from mid September.

Through hiking you can immerse yourself in nature of the Daisetsuzan National Park. It may come as a surprise when you encounter some wild animals in the area.

Jozankei Onsen during the fall season. Photo Credit: jozankei.jp.

There are so many awesome places to see fall foliage in the region. The list includes Hokkaido University, Jozankei Onsen, Sounkyo, Taisetsuzan, Nakajima Koen, and Mount Moiwa to name a few.

For more information about these top momoji spots, please visit our post: 10 Best Places to see autumn leaves in Hokkaido and Top 5 fall foliage spots in Sapporo.

Autumn Leaves at Sounkyo Onsen, Hokkaido.

In autumn, fruit picking is also a great experience to make your trip a great adventure.

According to my experience, Hokkaido has many fruit farms scattered across the region where tourists with their family can go and pick some fresh fruits with spending some money as an entrance fee.

For foodies, I have a great surprise! Every year in the Odori Park, the Sapporo Autumn Fest is held in early September.

The event is quite a popular place to try most of Hokkaido’s traditional foods ranging from Soup curry and ramen to seafood and beers.

Read: 10 Best things to do in Hokkaido in Autumn.

Hokkaido in Winter (December to February)

Giant snow sculptures at Sapporo Yuki Matsuri. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Average Temperature: -4°C – 1°C

Remarks: It’s snowy and very cold out there.

Here comes the winter season! Hokkaido offers a lot of amazing winter activities. It’s a great time of year when people like to visit Hokkaido’s popular ski resorts and hot springs.

I have asked many people “when’s the best time to visit Hokkaido?” Surprisingly most of them answered “summer & winter.” I think they have reasons to say so.

However, I have to admit, winter is obviously a great time to explore its annual winter festivals. That’s the big reason above all.

Sapporo yuki matsuri is Japan’s most popular and largest snow festival, held every February in the Odori Park. Visitors can experience eye-catching small and giant snow and ice sculptures in the festival area.

Abashiri drift ice cruise. Photo Credit: 流氷観光砕氷船おーろら.

The Otaru Snow Light Path Festival is another must-see winter matsuri in Hokkaido together with other events such as Sapporo yuki matsuri, Asahikawa winter festivals, and Lake Shikotsu Ice Festival.

The atmosphere of the festival is quite amusing and romantic. Take a walk along the Otaru Canal and witness hundreds of sparkling lights and small sculptures.

Niseko in winter! Photo Credit: hirotomo t at Flickr.

Many winter sports fanatics, especially who love skiing prefer visiting Hokkaido in this season. Niseko without question is their prime ski location in Hokkaido.

Besides, a lot skiers from other countries also like to visit Rusutsu ski resort, Furano ski resort, Kiroro resort, Hoshino resort Tomamu, Sapporo Kokusai, Sapporo Teine and so on.

Read this page here to know about the top ski resorts in Hokkaido.

All these ski resorts provide the best quality powder snow for skiers. The weather conditions of the region make it possible for you to enjoy winter sports like skiing, snowmobiling, skating, and snowboarding.

Hokkaido is also famous for watching drift ice. They cover the vast surface of the Okhotsk Sea in the northeastern part of Hokkaido.

In order to enjoy a drift ice tour, you can visit Abashiri and Monbetsu. Enjoy the cruise while watching drift ice alongside spotting many seals, and Steller’s sea eagles.

If you come to Sapporo in mid November and plan on visiting a ski resort nearby the city to experience snow, then visit Snow Cruise Onze, located on Mt. Harukayama in Otaru City. The view of Ishikari bay from its summit is breathtaking!

Read: The Best winter activities in Hokkaido.

In Conclusion

Night view over Hakodate city from Mount Hakodate. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

It’s always nice to visit some parks or places that make your trip unforgettable. In fact, these places can be visited all year-round. Visit the museums, temples and shrines and find out their significance to the locals.

I highly recommend you to visit the Hokkaido Shrine if you are traveling around Sapporo in the winter. The path leading the shrine ground looks absolutely beautiful, especially during hanami.

I also like to visit Mount Moiwa, Mount Hakodate, Asahiyama Memorial Park, JR Tower, and Sapporo TV Tower for a number of good reasons. One thing for sure that people usually go there in order to experience a city night view.

For example, Mount Hakodate is considered one of Japan’s top night view attractions. The night scenery from its observatory is remarkable. The same thing applies to the Mount Moiwa. If your intention is to enjoy a gorgeous Sapporo city’s night view, then make your way to Mount Moiwa ropeway.

In addition, I would like to suggest you to explore one of the impressive caldera lakes in Hokkaido. Lake Toya would be a great choice!

Like shopping?! Pay a visit to Sapporo ESTA building, Daimaru, Sapporo Stellar Palace, Aurora Town, Pole Town, Sapporo Factory, and Tanukikoji shopping arcade. You will find so many things to buy as souvenirs.

It does not matter what time you visit Hokkaido because there is no shortage of indoor and outdoor recreational activities.

Now you have to decide when to visit Hokkaido and if you need any help arranging your Hokkaido travel plan, just contact me. I can guide you the best way to enjoy your holidays in the Hokkaido region. Thank you so much for reading this.