Hokkaido Winter

8 Best Things to Do in Niseko in Winter

Niseko is the leading ski holiday destination in Japan, and Asia’s one of the best winter destinations, offering not only eye-catching ski slopes but also other great outdoor winter activities.

Perhaps many ski fanatics will vote Niseko as their favorite ski area in the country. Without question the area attracts millions of foreign tourists including locals.  

If you are planning to visit Niseko this winter either for skiing or just to have fun with the snow, this article will guide you what to do in Niseko in winter including the places you may explore and fun outdoor activities.

1. Skiing and Snowboarding

A sunny day! It is perfect condition for skiing at Niseko Village.

Skiing is the main reason to visit Niseko, but there are many other things to consider for visitors when they are not going to try skiing. It is fun when you know how to ski. You may give it a try at the ski schools provided by the ski resorts located in Niseko.

One of the reasons to choose Niseko as your next ski destination is it gets abundant supply of powder snow, which allows skiers and snowboarders to enjoy their vacations to the fullest when they hit the slopes.

There are four major ski resorts in Niseko: Niseko Village, Grand Hirafu, Annupuri, and Hanazono. These are part of Niseko United, located on the mountainside of Niseko Annupuri. Among these resorts, Grand Hirafu is the largest one with plenty of ski facilities, bars, hotels and restaurants.

Niseko Moiwa is also a good ski resort and it is not part of Niseko United. It is less crowded but not less attractive than those of Niseko United with a verity of ski courses and incredible winter scenery of nature.

You can buy Niseko United All Mountain Pass and use it for all ski resorts except Niseko Moiwa.

2. Snowmobiling

Snowmobiling on a clear day in Niseko. Photo Credit: Hanazono Niseko.

If you are looking to enjoy something other than skiing or snowboarding in Niseko, prefer a snowmobiling tour lead by professional guides. 

In the area of Niseko, it is not hard to find snowmobiling courses based on your time and budget. The guide will take you on a journey where you will experience stunning snowy landscapes. Enjoy the views of mountains and lush forests while you hit the trails higher up on the mountains.

Don’t worry if you are a first-timer as the guide will give you instructions on how to operate the snowmobile. You will be given time to practice as well.

If you are interested in this winter activity, try Hanozono Snowmobile Tour or Hokkaido Lion Adventure. Enjoy the ride with no worries and explore the beautiful scenic countryside of Niseko.

3. Milk Kobo Niseko, Takahashi Farm

Cheese tart of Milk Kobo.

One of the interesting places in Niseko is Milk Kobo. It is a family based business of Takahashi Farm, which is quite famous for its ice cream and choux cream puffs.

Niseko is not only a ski destination but also a farming area in Hokkaido. The dairy goods produced by farmers in the area are famous all over Hokkaido.

You will be surprised seeing the variety of delicious dairy goods here including cheese cake, cheese tarts, cream puffs, ice cream, yogurt and many more – a paradise for dessert lovers! On the other hand, the parking lot offers magnificent view of iconic Mount Yotei. In fact, the surrounding scenery of the farm is stunning.

The farm is located in Niseko Village area. So if you are going to stay overnight in Niseko village, stop by Milk Kobo.

4. Snowshoeing & Cross-Country Skiing

Photo Credit: Niseko United.

Snowshoeing makes the perfect alternative to skiing and snowboarding. Walking over snow with snowshoe through the snow-covered forests, countryside or ice-covered lakes is a great winter activity in Niseko.

Snowshoeing is much safer than skiing and snowboarding. It is worth a try. Besides, your guide will ensure your safety and take you on a hike through the winter forest filled with trees and explore the peaceful nature.

You can check out these two snowshoeing tours: Hanazono Niseko Snowshoe Tour, and Explore Niseko Snowshoe Tour.

For those who are looking for cross-country skiing opportunity in Niseko may join in this tour.

Follow your guide along the trails and admire the stunning scenery. It is fun and easy! No doubt, it is a great way to explore the beauty of winter forest.

Have fun out there and consider coming to Niseko next year again.

5. Snow Tubing & Snow Rafting

Snow rafting adventure, Hanazono resort.

These must do winter activities are fun for all family members. Snow tubing and snow rafting both make your winter vacation a great adventure.

At Niseko Hanazono Resort you can experience them both and give your little ones an experience that they will never forget. 

Traditionally, snow tubing is great for kids. It is so popular for young adults as well. Why don’t you enjoy it with your children? All you have to do is to sit down, fly down the hill and enjoy the thrill of the ride.

Suitable for all ages, snow rafting is a fun adventure. Niseko is arguably a perfect choice for it. Sit on an inflatable raft towed by a snowmobile then an experienced snowmobile driver will do the rest. Enjoy the surroundings while gliding though the vast snowfield.

A. Snow rafting tour
B. Snow tubing tour

6. Onsen in Niseko

Outdoor onsen at Hilton Niseko Village.

Niseko has many onsen (hot springs). Some are provided by hotels situated in and around the ski resorts. Perhaps they are not good as the ones you find in Noboribetsu Onsen but yet you would not mind relaxing in an onsen after a hard day on the hill.

Niseko’s hot spring water is filled with natural minerals that can help with joint pain, aching muscles, and improve skin conditions.

Located at the south base of Niseko Annupuri Mountain, Hilton Niseko Village provides great indoor and outdoor hot springs for its guests. You can also enjoy a great view of Mt Yotei from one of its outdoor baths.

Tourists can visit Goshiki Onsen, one of the popular hot springs in Niseko, located at the foot of Mt. Iwaonupuri, featuring great indoor and outdoor bathing facility.

Mt. Yotei resembles the iconic Mt. Fuji! If you are interested in exploring more onsen in Niseko, pay a visit Makkari Onsen. This is a wonderful onsen with great views of Mt. Yotei from its open-air hot spring. Many hikers and trekkers stop by it in the summer and autumn. 

7. Day trips from Niseko

Otaru Canal in winter, Otaru city.

No matter what time of the year you visit Niseko, there are a number of excellent attractions that make for wonderful day trips from Niseko.

I will feature some places that are worth a visit. For example, Otaru, a historic port city is one of the best places to explore when you travel to Hokkaido. The distance between Niseko and Otaru is about a 90-minute train ride along the JR Hakodate Line.

The city is packed with historic attractions, restaurants, and shops. Read this page to see the list of things you can do and see in Otaru.

Another interesting place you can explore from Niseko is Lake Toya. The lake is part of Shikotsu Toya National Park and it never freezes in winter. Toyako Onsen is considered to be one of the famous hot spring resort towns in Hokkaido.

Lake Toya in Winter.

Even though there are some very unique observation platforms you can find around Lake Toya, the view from Usuzan Ropeway station’s upper observation deck is quite exceptional. You will be happy to see panoramic views of Lake Toya from there.

If you have a free day and you don’t know what to do then visit Rusutsu Resort, a great place to do all sort of winter activities.

And it is only a 30-mintue drive by car from Niseko. Check out the winter activities and plan yourself how you want to spend the day on your own.

8. Dinning

Asahikawa ramen at Asahikawa Ramen Tozanken, Grand Hirafu Resort in Niseko.

Some people travel around the world for food. Are you one of them?

Many food travelers prefer Japan as their next foodie destination. If you are a foodie, come to Hokkaido, and taste a variety traditional Japanese and regional dishes, such as Miso Ramen, Jingisukan, Soup curry, Ishikari Hot Pot, Asahikawa Ramen, Fresh seafood and so on.

Throughout Niseko you will find all kind of dining options, including Japanese and western style cuisines.

You may try some traditional Izakaya dishes along with drinks in an izakaya, traditional Japanese inn. Ebisutei is popular izakaya restaurant at Grand Hirafu, offering both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes.

If you are a vegan then go to Musu and enjoy its dishes. It is located on the 2nd floor of Odin Place next to Seicomart at Grand Hirafu village.

Some dishes of Musu

The Crab Shack at Niseko village offers a variety of traditional Japanese food, including delicious seafood. You can try Shabu-shabu here, a Japanese hot pot dish originated in Osaka.

If you love Indian food, you can’t miss visiting Taj Mahal Niseko Annupuri, located in the Annupuri area. The restaurant is a fantastic place to try various kinds of Indian dishes. 

You can find best restaurants and bars in Niseko in this page, definitely a good list!

In conclusion, why don’t you make your Niskeo trip even more interesting by experiencing a horse riding tour in winter?

In addition, I would highly recommend you enjoy shopping in Niseko as there are many shops to buy winter clothing, ski gears and amazing souvenirs found at Yukara Niseko.

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