Hokkaido Itinerary Winter

8 Days in Hokkaido Itinerary – November

If you have 8 days to spend in Hokkaido in November, we believe this is the perfect amount of time to see the main attractions in Sapporo and other remarkable places, including major cities and towns around Hokkaido.

Many people say November month is not the best time to visit Hokkaido due to the transition period from late autumn to early winter. That’s not true at all! In fact, if you plan your trip wisely, your stay in Hokkaido would be memorable.

One big advantage of traveling around Hokkaido in November is you will get cheap accommodation deals, and fewer tourists in major sightseeing attractions like those you find in and around Sapporo city.

Would I see autumn leaves in November? Am I going to see snowy landscape in November? This suggested itinerary will answer these sorts of questions and share the best places to visit including places to stay, try local food and drinks.  

Let’s get planning your trip now!

Day 1 – Tokyo to Hakodate

This is how Goryokaku park looks like in early November. Photo Credit: hakobura.jp

Start your Hokkaido trip in the first week of November; as a result you have an opportunity to see autumn foliage in the city of Hakodate. Goryokaku Park is ablaze with colors in autumn. Whether you believe it or not the park is worth visiting in Early-November to see autumn leaves

Arrive in Hakodate from Tokyo Station by Tohoku-Hokkaido Shinkansen. You will reach Hakodate before noon if you hop on the train early in the morning.

Alternatively, if you want to save time, prefer coming there by air. Air Do (cheaper), ANA, Japan Airlines operate multiple flights between Haneda Airport and Hakodate Airport.

Check into this hotel, located next to JR Hakodate Station.

Hakodate city Night view from Mount Hakodate.

For today, we recommend visiting only one major tourist spot in the city, known as Mt. Hakodate Ropeway. This ropeway will take you to the summit of Mount Hakodate, and from its observatory you will enjoy amazing night views over Hakodate city.

This is one of Japan’s top 3 night views, attracting many tourists every day, often its observation is packed with a lot of crowds. Be sure to secure your spot for taking photographs!

Reach the summit before sunset so that you don’t miss the daytime views of the city, Hakodate Bay, sea, and the mountains in the distance.

Hachimanzaka in November. Photo Credit: pakku at Wikimedia Commons.

Next, walk along the Hachimanzaka Slope in Motomachi area as you leave the ropeway’s base station.

It is a famous slope with rows of trees and old buildings, and one of the nineteen slopes of Hakodate city. Enjoy the views of Hakodate Bay and city lights as you walk down from the base of Mt. Hakodate

For dining nearby JR Hakodate Station, stop by Hakodate Bay Gourmet Club. It is a good place to try delicious seafood and other traditional dishes. Alternatively, visit Lucky Pierrot, where you will find restaurants with good choices of food.

Day 2 – Enjoy A Day in Hakodate

Donburi menu at Hakodate Morning Market – which one do you want to order? Photo Credit: bryan… at Wikimedia Commons.

Start your first day in Hakodate with a visit to the Hakodate Morning Market. For your breakfast, this food market is unbeatable. Enjoy a verity of fresh seafood, fruits, and sweets there.

Next up, get on a tram from Hakodate Station to Goryokaku Koen-mae, and then take a walk for a 10-mintue to reach Goryokaku Park.

Designated as a national special historic site, Goryokaku Park/Goryokaku Fort is a star-shaped Western style fortress blessed with nature. It was designed by Takeda Ayasaburo and completed in 1864.

In spring, approximately 1,600 cherry trees appeal tourists from all over Japan and overseas. They look absolutely gorgeous when they are in full bloom; especially the view from Goryokaku Tower is stunning.

To locals this is a perfect hanami spot in the city of Hakodate.

What can you see here in November? The answer is simple! Guess what?! It is fall foliage. Cherry trees offer a beautiful display of color, and these alone make the trip worthwhile in autumn.

Miharashi Park (Kosetsuen) in autumn. Photo Credit: hakobura.jp

Indeed the park is a great relaxing spot. Similar to this spot is Hakodate Kosetsuen, located in Miharashi Park. It is a beautiful Japanese traditional garden with a lot to see.

It’s famous for its autumn leaves in autumn and cherry blossoms in spring. You can see a plenty of maple trees on its grounds. The Hakodate MOMI-G Festa (Autumn Leaves Festival) is held here from late October to mid November. Even the trees are illuminated at night during the festival!

From Goryokaku Park, take the tram to reach Yunokawa tram stop. From there reach Hakodate Kosetsuen on foot. On the way to Kosetsuen, you may check Yukura Shrine, which enshrines the guardian deity of the nearby famous hot spring Yunokawa Onsen.

Get back to Hakodate Station from Kosetsuen Bus Stop, and ready to spend a while exploring souvenir shops and restaurants at Kanemori Red Brick Warehouses.

Day 3 – Hakodate to Lake Toya/Toyako Onsen

That’s not Mt. Fuji, but Snow-capped Mount Yotei and beautiful Lake Toya. Photo Credit: WAKASARESORT Co., Ltd.

How can you not visit a place like Lake Toya when heading toward Sapporo from Hakodate by train? The place is a must-see for anyone wants to appreciate nature. Besides, here you can see autumn leaves in early November.

Leave Hakodate for Tokayo town in the morning from JR Hakodate Station by Hokuto Limited Express train bound for Sapporo.

With amazing view of Lake Toya, you should stay in this hotel, and be sure to have some rest before going out for a walk around the onsen town.

Take a stroll along the lake shore and enjoy nature. You will have plenty of areas to enjoy stunning view of Lake Toya, and Mount Yotei in the distance.

Famous for its magnificent view, this mountain resembles Mt. Fuji and so often it is called Ezo Fuji. You will surly appreciate its beautiful appearance any time of year.

Be sure to take a cruise around Lake Toya, which is a perfect way of exploring this caldera lake thoroughly. Visit this website for timetable and price of the boat journey.

For your dinner, consider visiting one of these restaurants: Hydune, Sendoan, Boyotei Restaurant, and Gyusuke.

Day 5 – Mt. Usu Ropeway and Cycling Around Lake Toya

A view of Showa Shinzan in early November as you ascend to the top of Mount Usu using the ropeway.

Start the day with a visit to Mt. Usu, part of UNESCO Global Geopark. You can reach the ropeway’s base station by car. Hotel staffs can call a taxi for you.

Take the Usuzan Ropeway and get to the top of Mt. Usu for a panoramic view over Lake Toya and mountains in the distance. Besides, don’t forget to visit Usu Crater Basin Observation Deck.

From the upper ropeway station, you need to walk for a while to reach this site. Admire the views of Lake Toya, Mt. Usu, Showa Shinzan, Uchiura Bay, and mountains in the distance.

When your Mt. Usu expedition is over, go back to the onsen town and enjoy your lunch there.

Some of you may also try cycling around Lake Toya. It would be one of your favorite bicycle road trips in Japan, who knows!

Ride along the lake (not the enter lake), but just for a couple of hours at a leisurely speed. Along the way, you can make multiple stops and take photos of the lake surrounded by unspoiled nature. 

Day 4 – Toyako Onsen to Noboribetsu Onsen

Jigokudani! Photo Credit: Noboribetsu International Tourism and Convention Association.

On day 4, you head to Noboribetsu Onsen from Toyako. The distance between Toya Station and Noboribetsu station is short, requiring only about a 40-mintue train ride.

In Japan, spending time in an onsen bath in winter is a great experience. Hokkaido in November is often very cold, so there is no reason to ignore an onsen bath.

You can relax your body and mind in Noboribetsu by experiencing one of its hot springs, where natural spring waters flow down from the Hell Valley (Jigokudani). With a wide variety of springs all in one place, this is Hokkaido’s best onsen resort town and considered among the top 10 in Japan.

We highly recommend Daiichi Takimotokan for a cozy and perfect stay in this hot spring resort town, the best ryokan hotel, featuring spacious baths with five of the ten different mineral springs officially recognized in Japan.

Sulphur spring, Salt spring, Sodium spring, Ferrous Sulphate spring, and Alum spring at Takimotokan provide great health benefits, such as protect body from cold, reduce hypertension, recovery from fatigue, promote blood circulation, and soften and refresh the skin.

One of the hot spring baths of Daiichi Takimotokan. Photo Credit: takimotokan.co.jp

If you have any chronic skin disease, these spring waters can heal it. So give it a try! By the way, after the end of your train journey, head toward the onsen town, and check into Daiichi Takimotokan. You can spend half a day here.

Visit the Noboribetsu Date Jidaimura, a cultural theme park offering visitors to experience live Samurai, Ninja, and Oiran shows. Stroll around its ancient road and see beautiful Edo style merchant shops and houses.

After spending a very good time at the cultural park, take a walk to see the Hell Valley, also known as Jigokudani, the main source of Noboribetsu’s hot spring waters. It supplies about 10,000 tons of water every day.

Be sure to wear a pair of slip resistant shoes as you will walk through the wooden trail to get the Hell Valley. Head over to your hotel and enjoy its great onsen baths. Taking a bath in hot springs brings better sleep! For dining, you may try the dishes of Charcoal BBQ & Ramen Isekura.

Day 5 – Noboribetsu to Sapporo

Sapporo TV Tower at Odori Park.

It is time to go to Sapporo finally! The capital of Hokkaido, where there’s no shortage of unforgettable activities, which everyone would like to experience.

Sapporo is one of the most beautiful cities in Japan, offering tourists a lot of seasonal attractions. In Sapporo, stay in this hotel, located nearby Odori Park and TV tower

Odori Park is the central area of Sapporo. From here you can transfer to other subway lines if needed, and you can use underground passageway (Chikaho) to JR Sapporo Station from Odori Station. So, it is better to stay nearby Odori Park than staying next to JR Sapporo Station.

Today you would explore only a few places that include Sapporo Clock Tower, Sapporo TV Tower, Odori Park, and Susukino – the place perfect for a fun night time in Sapporo!

You don’t need a car to reach these places, instead use your feet as they are located close to each other. You can go inside the Sapporo Clock Tower if you want, but many tourists just spend their time by taking photograph of this old wooden structure.

Susukino at Night, Sapporo city. Photo Credit: Choi2451 at Wikimedia Commons.

The TV tower is an excellent place for a bird’s eye view of Odori Park. On the other hand, Odori Park provides the best viewing spots to take picture of the TV Tower. How cool is that!

It is nice to gaze at the tower as it is illuminated gorgeously every evening until midnight. The view is so appealing.

The park is beautifully organized, and it hosts most of Sapporo’s famous and popular annual events, such as Sapporo Snow Festival in winter, and Sapporo Autumn Fest in fall.

Susukino, the main entertainment area in the city has so much to offer. The area is packed with many shopping malls, restaurants, bars, cafes, and hotels.

Tanukikoji shopping street in the area is a great place to eat and shop. You will find a lot of interesting souvenirs at Mega Don Quijote at Tanukikoji (tax-free shop). Be sure to buy for some souvenirs there!

Try ramen at IPPUDO Sapporo Tanuki Koji and compare this with other ramen dishes you have had on this trip.

Day 6 – A Day in Otaru

Otaru Canal.

Otaru is a small port town in Hokkaido but quite charming indeed! It is known for its picture-perfect canal, old warehouses, fresh sushi, music boxes and glass crafts.

Check out our guide to the best things to do in Otaru as you plan your day a trip from Sapporo

Otaru’s most popular sightseeing attractions are Otaru Aquarium, Otaru Canal, Sakaimachi Street, Otaru Music Box Museum, Mount Tengu, Kitaichi Glass Sangokan building (No. 3), and Tanaka Sake Brewery.

These attractions can be visited year-round. There are other seasonal attractions in the area, such as the Temiya Park in spring boasts beautiful displays of cherry blossoms.

Inside the Otaru Music Box Museum you will find plenty of gifts to buy.

If you want to experience Hokkaido’s marine life, a visit to Otaru Aquarium is highly recommended. With fun and interesting dolphin show, sea lion show, seal show, the penguin walk, walrus feeding, including many glass tanks, this aquarium is a perfect family-friendly spot in Otaru to visit.

Lined with well preserved old warehouses, Otaru Canal is the symbol of Otaru which always impresses tourists. Take a leisurely walk on the canal before sampling famous Otaru seafood or entering the music box museum.

You may enjoy a boat course on the canal. This is a 40-minute relaxing boat ride, offering you some great views that other tourists usually don’t experience.

Sakaimachi street of Otaru is one of the major highlights in the town, featuring old buildings, shops and restaurants. Enjoy a stroll there and buy some authentic souvenirs unique to Otaru.  

Sakainachi street, Otaru.

Want to taste free sake? If yes, then visit Tanaka Sake Brewery Kikkogura. It is the most famous local sake brewery in Otaru. Here you can see the brewing process and buy different types of sake, including cheap and expensive ones.

If you want to buy original and unique glass products, then look no further than Kitaichi Glass Sangokan building (No. 3). Here buying only one glass product won’t satisfy your shopping mood! Would it?

You will find a café named Kitaichi Hall in the same building, where you can experience the lighting of the lamps, eat delicious sweets and drinks. Stunning glass artworks in the building will blow your mind and make you think of why you should return here in future.

Day 7 – A day in Sapporo: Museums and Shopping

One of the buildings of the Historical Village of Hokkaido (Kaitaku-no Mura). Photo Credit: 一般財団法人北海道歴史文化財団

Sapporo has many interesting museums. The Historical village of Hokkaido and Hokkaido Museum are two must-see museums in the city.

To reach these sites, be sure to get to Shin Sapporo Station first, and then take the bus. For access info, visit this page.

Hokkaido Museum introduces the nature, history and culture of Hokkaido. If you are interested in learning the history, nature and culture of Hokkaido, you must go there and see a vast collection of precious artifacts on display.

Snow have fallen already at the Historical Village of Hokkaido, taken in late-November. Photo Credit: 一般財団法人北海道歴史文化財団

The Historical village of Hokkaido on the other hand is an open air museum, comprises of relocated and resorted buildings that represent the history of Hokkaido in the Meiji and Taisho eras.

The whole area can be divided into four sections: the Town, Fishing Village, Farm Village, and Mountain Village.

Take your time to check out each section as there are a lot of things to see. Note that this museum was opened in 1983 in order to preserve important cultural assets of Hokkaido for future generations.

Sapporo ESTA, a good place to enjoy shopping in the city.

In the evening, you may be waiting to enjoy a little bit of shopping around JR Sapporo Station. Sapporo ESTA Building, Daimaru, and even Sapporo Stellar Palace are sure to make your shopping experience enjoyable.

For the best shopping experiences in Sapporo, you should know where to go, right?

Lastly, before you enjoy shopping, and if you are interested in visiting another place offering great night views similar to that of Mount Hakodate, make your way to Mount Moiwa Ropeway!

You would definitely like the place.

Day 8 – A day in Sapporo: Shopping, Dinning, Night Views

Sapporo Beer Museum.

There are plenty of activities that are sure to inspire you travel more, so here are the very best places to visit in Sapporo on your final day.

Hokkaido is the birthplace of Beer in Japan. One of the most popular and oldest beer brands in the country is Sapporo Beer. You probably have tasted it before, have not you?

Since you have come to Hokkaido, it is your duty to visit the Sapporo Beer Museum to learn about the history of beer in Japan, and the process of beer making. Beer tastings are available, though you have to pay for it.

Whether you like drinking beer or not this historic site in Sapporo attracts thousands of visitors every year. Next to the museum is the Sapporo Beer Garden, where you will find some restaurants. In fact, here you will eat the finest Jingisukan (Mutton BBQ), a famous local dish of Hokkaido.

To reach the site, take the Toho Subway and get off at Higashi-kuyakusho-mae Station. From there it is a 15-minute walk to the museum.

Hokkaido Jingu, one of best places to visit in Sapporo.

Next up, you will visit Hokkaido Jingu (Hokkaido Shrine) in Maruyama Park, which considered one of the best attractions in Sapporo. The shrine is a 15-mintue walk from Maruyama koen station on the Tozai Line. Every tourist must pay a visit to this historical structure.

Moreover, enjoy a relaxing stroll in Maruyama Park, a specious park with trees including giant Ceders, Oak, Magnolia, Maple, Cherry, and Katsura.

After sunset head over to JR Tower Observatory T38, a nice place to relax while enjoying some meals and drinks.

The JR Tower Observatory T38 gives you 360-degree views of Sapporo city and it is less expensive than Mount Moiwa ropeway. This could be your right choice if you plan on roaming around JR Sapporo station at night.

JR Tower has many shops and restaurants to satisfy your stomach. You will encounter them as you move toward the ticket counter of the JR Tower Observatory T38.

In Conclusion

That’s it! We can surly surprise you with other attractions. So, if you have the time and can extend your stay in Hokkaido for 2 or 3 more days, contact us as soon as possible.

We will guide the best experiences you deserve, which could include a day trip to Lake Shikotsu or Asahikawa or even a stroll in Moerenuma Park, who knows!

With that said, maybe you have a plan to explore Kyoto’s best autumn leaves spots and other sightseeing attractions. If so then fly directly to Kansai International Airport from New Chitose Airport. And if you plan on traveling around Tokyo, you’d better consider these day trips options. 

Unlike Tokyo and Kyoto, the chance of viewing autumn leaves in Sapporo is zero between mid and late November, but you may experience the first snowfall of the year.

Hokkaido’s winter begins in November and you have a chance to see one of its winter events, called Sapporo White Illuminations. There are a lot of sparkling lights can be seen in Odori Park and other areas around the city. This illumination event creates a great festive atmosphere, no doubt about that.