How to create your trip to Hokkaido. Easy DIY trip planner

drift ice shiretoko
Shiretoko mountains winter view

Hokkaido is the second largest island in Japan and it is the northernmost place. Hokkaido has lots of nature and offers many outdoor activities. The winter season is very cold. The temperature is below zero degree. On the other hand, the summer season is beautiful and very comfortable. The spring season comes at last in Japan. The tourist can enjoy the cherry blossom until early May. The fall season comes at first. The breathtaking fall foliage can be seen in September at the high elevation area in Hokkaido.

I made five sample itineraries of Hokkaido. In this post, I will tell you how to combine these itineraries and maximize your times in Hokkaido.

Let’s create your trip in Hokkaido with this trip planner.

Contents

How to get to Hokkaido

There are three ways to get to Hokkaido.

By air

It is the easiest way. The trip time is about 1.5 hours from Tokyo (Haneda) to New Chitose airport. New Chitose airport is about 30 minutes away from Sapporo by a train. Tokyo (Haneda) – New Chitose is the busiest domestic flight route. Hakodate, Kushiro, Memanbetsu (near Abashiri) and Wakkanai have a domestic airport. You can get to these cities from Tokyo (Haneda) directly.

The international flights operate to New Chitose from some Aisan countries too. You may be able to get to Hokkaido directly from your country.

By train

If you use JR Pass or other rail pass, the train is your first option. The Hokkaido Shinkansen connects Tokyo and Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto which is 20 minutes away from Hakodate. But the trip time is much longer than a flight. It takes 4 to 4.5 hours to get to Hakodate from Tokyo. And you have to spend another 3.5 hours to get to Sapporo. Please find more infomtion in the post below:

Unforunately all overnight trains for Hokkaido were discontinued when the Hokkaido Shinkansen opened.

Please refer the post below to find the information about the train network in Hokkaido:

By ferry

If you are looking for an overnight transfer option, a long distance ferry may suit your trip plan. Many long distance ferry arrive in Otaru port and Tomakomai port. Otaru is 30 minutes away from Sapporo by a train. Tomakomai port is about 1 hour away from Sapporo by a train and/or a shuttle bus.

There are many routes availbable. My most recommended route is Silver Ferry which operates between Tomakomai and Hachinohe. The reason why I recommend is the trip time. The trip time is about 8 hours. It is good enough to sleep. The ferry is much slower than the flight and the train. Minimizing the time on the water is the key to save your time.

Silver Ferry (official site)

Basic itineraries

I have five sample itineraries.

You can use one or more from these samples. And also you can visit these following places as a day trip from Sapporo:

  • Otaru
  • Noboribetsu Onsen
  • Lake Toya
  • Furano/Biei
  • Asahiyama zoo
  • Daisetsuzan/Sounkyo
  • Niseko

Please see the post below to find more information about the day trip plan from Sapporo:

I will use these samples and try to make some itineraries by the travel days.

3-day trip plan

If you have only three days in Hokkaido, the realistic choice is using Sapporo and Otaru 2-day. And add one place on top of this 2-day trip plan.

Option 1, Sapporo, Otaru and day trip to Lake Toya and/or Noboribetsu

You can visit Noboribetsu Onsen and/or Lake Toya as a day trip.

Day 1Sapporo
Day 2Sapporo – Otaru – Sapporo
Day 3Sapporo – Noboribetsu (or Lake Toya) – Sapporo

Recommeded deal

If you have JR Pass or JR East-South Hokkaido Rail Pass, you can use it. If not, JR Hokkaido Discounted Ticket is recommended for Sapporo to Noboribetsu round trip. Use a regular ticket for day 1 and 2.

Option 2, Sapporo, Otaru and day trip to Furano and Biei or Asahiyama zoo

You also can add Furano and Biei or Asahiyama zoo as a day trip. Please see the schedule of day 3 in Asahikawa, Furano, Biei and Daisetsuzan 3-day. If you leave Sapporo in early morning, you can make this as a day trip.

Day 1Sapporo
Day 2Sapporo – Otaru – Sapporo
Day 3Sapporo – Furano/Biei (or Asahiyama zoo) – Sapporo

Recommeded deal

If you have JR Pass, you can use it. If not, Furano Biei Rail Ticket is recommended.

Option 3, Sapporo, Asahiyama Zoo and Furano/Biei

If you can give up Otaru, you can add Asahiyama zoo and Furano/Biei

Day 1Sapporo
Day 2Sapporo – Asahikawa (Asahiyama Zoo)
Day 3Asahikawa – Furano/Biei – Sapporo

Recommeded deal

If you have JR Pass, you can use it. If not, Furano Biei Rail Ticket are recommended.

Option 4, Hakodate, Lake Toya (or Noboribestsu) and Sapporo

Use Hakodate, Noboribetsu, Lake Toya and Onuma 3-day and remove Noboribetsu or Lake Toya. You can make one extra day and spend this day for sightseeing in Sapporo.

Day 1Sapporo – Hakodate
Day 2Hakodate – Onuma Park – Lake Toya (or Noboribetsu)
Day 3Lake Toya (or Noboribestu) – Sapporo

Recommeded deal

If you have JR Pass or JR East-South Hokkaido Rail Pass, you can use it. If not, Hokkaido Rail Pass 3-day is recommended.

4 day trip plan

If you have four days in Hokkaido, the realistic choice is using one of Sapporo and Otaru 2-day, Hakodate, Noboribetsu, Lake Toya and Onuma 3-day, Asahikawa, Furano, Biei and Daisetsuzan 3-day or Wakkanai, Rishiri and Rebun islands 3-day. And you can add one or two place on top of the trip plan.

Option 1, Sapporo, Otaru, day trip to Lake Toya and/or Noboribetsu and day trip to Furano/Biei

You can visit Noboribetsu Onsen and/or Lake Toya as a day trip. And you also can add Furano and Biei as a day trip. Please see the schedule of day 3 in Asahikawa, Furano, Biei and Daisetsuzan 3-day. If you leave Sapporo in early morning, you can make this as a day trip.

Day 1Sapporo
Day 2Sapporo – Otaru – Sapporo
Day 3Sapporo – Lake Toya (or Noboribestu) – Sapporo
Day 4Sapporo – Furano/Biei – Sapporo

Recommeded deal

If you have JR Pass, you can use it. If not, Hokkaido Rail Pass 3-day is recommended for day 2 to 4.

Option 2, Hakodate, Lake Toya, Noboribestsu and Sapporo

Use Hakodate, Noboribetsu, Lake Toya and Onuma 3-day and add one day in Sapporo.

Day 1Sapporo – Hakodate
Day 2Hakodate- Onuma Park – Lake Toya
Day 3Lake Toya – Noboribestu – Sapporo
Day 4Sapporo

Recommeded deal

If you have JR Pass, you can use it. If not, Hokkaido Rail Pass 3-day is recommended for day 1 to 3.

Option 3, Sapporo, Otaru, Asahiyama Zoo and Furano Biei

Use Sapporo and Otaru 2-day and add day 1 and 3 of Asahikawa, Furano, Biei and Daisetsuzan 3-day.

Day 1Sapporo
Day 2Sapporo – Otaru – Sapporo
Day 3Sapporo – Asahikawa (Asahiyama Zoo)
Day 4Asahikawa – Furano/Biei – Sapporo
You can do day 3 and 4 as day trips from Sapporo.

Recommeded deal

If you have JR Pass, you can use it. If not, Furano Biei Rail Ticket are recommended.

Option 4, Hakodate, Lake Toya (or Noboribestsu), Sapporo and day trip to Furano/Biei

Use Hakodate, Noboribetsu, Lake Toya and Onuma 3-day and remove Noboribetsu or Lake Toya. You can make one extra day and spend this day for sightseeing in Sapporo. And add a day trip to Furano/Biei on day 4.

Day 1Sapporo – Hakodate
Day 2Hakodate- Onuma Park – Lake Toya
Day 3Lake Toya (or Noboribestu) – Sapporo
Day 4Sapporo – Furano/Biei – Sapporo

Recommeded deal

If you have JR Pass, you can use it. If not, Hokkaido Rail Pass Flex 4-day or 5-day is recommended.

Option 5, Asahikawa, Furano, Biei, Daisetsuzan and Sapporo

Use Asahikawa, Furano, Biei and Daisetsuzan 3-day and add Sapporo after this 3-day trip plan.

Day 1Sapporo – Asahikawa (Asahiyama Zoo)
Day 2Asahikawa – Sounkyo/Daisetsuzan – Asahikawa
Day 3Asahikawa – Furano/Biei – Sapporo
Day 4Sapporo

Recommeded deal

If you have JR Pass, you can use it. If not, Hokkaido Rail Pass 3-day is recommended for day 1 to 3.

5 day trip plan

You can combine Sapporo and Otaru 2-day and one of Hakodate, Noboribetsu, Lake Toya and Onuma 3-day, Asahikawa, Furano, Biei and Daisetsuzan 3-day or Wakkanai, Rishiri and Rebun islands 3-day. Otherwise use Abashiri, Shiretoko, Lake Akan and Lake Mashu 4-day and add one place on top. I will make a small change on the sample itineraries to make other 5-day trip plans.

Option 1, Abashiri, Shireokoto, Lake Akan, Lake Mashu and Sapporo

Just add one day in Sapporo after Abashiri, Shiretoko, Lake Akan and Lake Mashu 4-day.

Day 1Sapporo – Abashiri
Day 2Abashiri – Utoro (Shiretoko)
Day 3Utoro – Kushiro
Day 4Kushiro – Kushiro Marshland, Lake Mashu, Lake Akan – Kushiro – Sapporo
Day 5Sapporo

Recommeded deal

If you have JR Pass, you can use it. If not, Hokkaido Rail Pass Flex 4-day or 5-day is recommended.

Option 2, Hakodate, Lake Toya (or Noboribetsu), Sapporo, Asahikawa, Furano and Biei

Use some parts of Hakodate, Noboribetsu, Lake Toya and Onuma 3-day and Asahikawa, Furano, Biei and Daisetsuzan 3-day and add one day in Sapporo.

Day 1Sapporo – Hakodate
Day 2Hakodate – Onuma Park – Lake Toya (or Noboribetsu)
Day 3Lake Toya – Sapporo
Day 4Sapporo – Asahikawa (Asahiyama zoo)
Day 5Asahikawa – Furano/Biei – Sapporo

Recommeded deal

If you have JR Pass, you can use it. If not, Hokkaido Rail Pass 5-day is recommended.

Option 3, Asahiyama Zoo, Daisetsuzan, Furano/Biei, Noboribetsu (or Lake Toya) and Sapporo

Use Asahikawa, Furano, Biei and Daisetsuzan 3-day, add a day trip to Noboribetsu (or Lake Toya) and one day in Sapporo.

Day 1Sapporo – Asahikawa (Asahiyama zoo)
Day 2Asahikawa – Sounkyo/Daisetsuzan – Asahikawa
Day 3Asahikawa – Furano/Biei – Sapporo
Day 4Sapporo – Noboribetsu (or Lake Toya) – Sapporo
Day 5Sapporo
You have to take the earliest departure train on day 3 and make a half day visit at the zoo.

Recommeded deal

If you have JR Pass, you can use it. If not, JR Hokkaido Discounted Ticket is recommended for Sapporo to Noboribetsu round trip. Use Furano Biei Rail Ticket for day 1 to 3.

Option 4, Wakkanai, Rishiri, Rebun, Asahiyama Zoo, Furano/Biei and Sapporo

Use Wakkanai, Rishiri and Rebun islands 3-day and part of Asahikawa, Furano, Biei and Daisetsuzan 3-day and add one day in Sapporo.

Day 1Sapporo – Wakkanai
Day 2Wakkanai – Rishiri island – Rebun island – Wakkanai
Day 3Wakkanai – Asahikawa (Asahiyama zoo)
Day 4Asahikawa – Furano/Biei – Sapporo
Day 5Sapporo
You have to take the earliest departure train on day 3 and make a half day visit at the zoo.

Recommeded deal

If you have JR Pass, you can use it. If not, Hokkaido Rail Pass 5-day is recommended.

6 day trip plan

If you have 6 days in Hokkaido, you cover half part of Hokkaido.

Even if you combine Sapporo and Otaru 2-day and one of 3-day trip plans (Hakodate, Noboribetsu, Lake Toya and Onuma 3-day, Asahikawa, Furano, Biei and Daisetsuzan 3-day or Wakkanai, Rishiri and Rebun islands 3-day), you have one extra day.

I will make a small change on these above sample itineraries to make other 6-day trip plans.

Option 1, Hakodate, Lake Toya, Noboribetsu, Sapporo, Otaru and Furano/Biei (or Asahiyama zoo)

Use Sapporo and Otaru 2-day and Hakodate, Noboribetsu, Lake Toya and Onuma 3-day. And add a day trip to Furano/Biei.

Day 1Sapporo – Hakodate
Day 2Hakodate – Onuma Park – Lake Toya
Day 3Lake Toya – Noboribetsu – Sapporo
Day 4Sapporo – Otaru – Sapporo
Day 5Sapporo – Furano/Biei (or Asahiyama zoo) – Sapporo
Day 6Sapporo

Recommeded deal

If you have JR Pass, you can use it. If not, Hokkaido Rail Pass 5-day is recommended.

Option 2, Hakodate, Lake Toya (or Noboribetsu) Sapporo, Furano/Biei, Asahiyama zoo and Daisetsuzan

Use part of Hakodate, Noboribetsu, Lake Toya and Onuma 3-day and Asahikawa, Furano, Biei and Daisetsuzan 3-day. And add a day in Sapporo.

Day 1Sapporo – Hakodate
Day 2Hakodate – Onuma Park – Lake Toya (or Noboribetsu)
Day 3Lake Toya (or Noboribetsu) – Sapporo
Day 4Sapporo – Asahikawa (Asahiyama zoo)
Day 5Asahikawa – Sounkyo/Daisetsuzan – Asahikawa
Day 6Asahikawa – Furano/Biei – Sapporo

Recommeded deal

If you have JR Pass, you can use it. If not, Hokkaido Rail Pass 3-day for day 1 to 3 and Furano Biei Rail Ticket for day 4 to 6 are recommended.

Option 3, Furano/Biei (or Asahiyama zoo or Daisetsuzan), Abashiri, Shiretoko, Lake Akan, Lake, Mashu and Sapporo

Use part of Asahikawa, Furano, Biei and Daisetsuzan 3-day and Abashiri, Shiretoko, Lake Akan and Lake Mashu 4-day. And add a day in Sapporo.

Day 1Sapporo – Asahikawa (Asahiyama zoo or Furano/Bie or Daisetsuzan)
Day 2Asahikawa – Abashiri
Day 3Abashiri – Utoro (Shiretoko)
Day 4Utoro – Kushiro
Day 5Kushiro – Kushiro Marshland, Lake Mashu, Lake Akan – Kushiro – Sapporo
Day 6Sapporo

Recommeded deal

If you have JR Pass, you can use it. If not, Hokkaido Rail Pass 5-day is recommended.

Option 4, Wakkanai, Rishiri, Rebun, Asahiyama Zoo, Furano/Biei and Sapporo

Combine Wakkanai, Rishiri and Rebun islands 3-day and Asahikawa, Furano, Biei and Daisetsuzan 3-day. And make these 2 trips be shorter and make one extra day for Sapporo.

Day 1Sapporo – Wakkanai
Day 2Wakkanai – Rishiri island – Rebun island – Wakkanai
Day 3Wakkanai – Asahikawa (Asahiyama zoo)
Day 4Asahikawa – Soukyo/Daisetsuzan – Asahikawa
Day 5Asahikawa – Furano/Biei – Sapporo
Day 6Sapporo
You have to take the earliest departure train on day 3 and make a half day visit at the zoo.

Recommeded deal

If you have JR Pass, you can use it. If not, Hokkaido Rail Pass 5-day is recommended.

7 day trip plan

If you have 7 days in Hokkaido, it is very easy to cover half part of Hokkaido.

You can pick any two plans from the five sample trip itineraries (Sapporo and Otaru 2-day, Hakodate, Noboribetsu, Lake Toya and Onuma 3-day, Asahikawa, Furano, Biei and Daisetsuzan 3-day, Wakkanai, Rishiri and Rebun islands 3-day, Abashiri, Shiretoko, Lake Akan and Lake Mashu 4-day).

I will make some changes on these sample itineraries and make 7-day trip plan

Option 1, Hakodate, Lake Toya, Noboribetsu, Sapporo, Otaru, Furano/Biei, Asahiyama zoo (or Daisetsuzan)

Use Sapporo and Otaru 2-day, Hakodate, Noboribetsu, Lake Toya and Onuma 3-day. And remove one place from Asahikawa, Furano, Biei and Daisetsuzan 3-day to add on.

Day 1Sapporo – Hakodate
Day 2Hakodate – Onuma Park – Lake Toya
Day 3Lake Toya – Noboribetsu – Sapporo
Day 4Sapporo – Otaru – Sapporo
Day 5Sapporo – Asahiyama zoo (or Daisetsuzan)
Day 6Sapporo – Furano/Biei – Sapporo
Day 7Sapporo

Recommeded deal

If you have JR Pass, you can use it. If not, Hokkaido Rail Pass 3-day for day 1 to 3, regular ticket for day 4 and 7, and Furano Biei Rail Ticket for day 5 and 6 are recommended.

Option 2, Furano/Biei, Asahiyama zoo (or Daisetsuzan), Abashiri, Shiretoko, Lake Akan, Lake, Mashu and Sapporo

Use part of Asahikawa, Furano, Biei and Daisetsuzan 3-day and Abashiri, Shiretoko, Lake Akan and Lake Mashu 4-day. And add a day in Sapporo.

Day 1Sapporo – Asahikawa (Asahiyama zoo or Daisetsuzan)
Day 2Asahikawa – Furano/Biei-Asahikawa
Day 3Asahikawa – Abashiri
Day 4Abashiri – Utoro (Shiretoko)
Day 5Utoro – Kushiro
Day 6Kushiro – Kushiro Marshland, Lake Mashu, Lake Akan – Kushiro – Sapporo
Day 7Sapporo

Recommeded deal

If you have JR Pass, you can use it. If not, Hokkaido Rail Pass 7-day is recommended.

Option 3, Wakkanai, Rishiri, Rebun, Asahiyama Zoo, Furano/Biei, Sapporo and Otaru

Combine Wakkanai, Rishiri and Rebun islands 3-day and Asahikawa, Furano, Biei and Daisetsuzan 3-day. And make these 2 trips be shorter and add Sapporo and Otaru 2-day

Day 1Sapporo – Wakkanai
Day 2Wakkanai – Rishiri island – Rebun island – Wakkanai
Day 3Wakkanai – Asahikawa (Asahiyama zoo)
Day 4Asahikawa – Soukyo/Daisetsuzan – Asahikawa
Day 5Asahikawa – Furano/Biei – Sapporo
Day 6Sapporo – Otaru – Sapporo
Day 7Sapporo
You have to take the earliest departure train on day 3 and make a half day visit at the zoo.

Recommeded deal

If you have JR Pass, you can use it. If not, Hokkaido Rail Pass 5-day and regular tickets for day 5 and 7 are recommended.

8 day trip plan

You have so many options if you have 8 days in Hokkaido.

Option 1, Hakodate, Lake Toya (or Noboribetsu) Sapporo, Furano/Biei, Asahiyama zoo (or Daisetsuzan), Abashiri, Shiretoko, Lake Akan, Lake Mashu

You can visit most of highlights in Hokkaido.

Use part of Hakodate, Noboribetsu, Lake Toya and Onuma 3-day and remove one place from Asahikawa, Furano, Biei and Daisetsuzan 3-day. And use the full of Abashiri, Shiretoko, Lake Akan and Lake Mashu 4-day

Day 1Sapporo – Hakodate
Day 2Hakodate – Onuma Park – Lake Toya (or Noboribetsu)
Day 3Lake Toya ( or Noboribetsu) – Sapporo
Day 4Sapporo – Asahikawa (Asahiyama zoo or Daisetsuzan)
Day 5Asahikawa – Furano/Biei – Asahikawa
Day 6Abashiri – Utoro
Day 7Utoro – Kushiro
Day 8Kushiro – Kushiro Marshland, Lake Mashu, Lake Akan – Kushiro – Sapporo

Recommeded deal

If you have JR Pass, you can use it. If not, Hokkaido Rail Pass 7-day and regular tickets for day 1 are recommended.

Option 2, Wakkanai, Rishiri, Rebun, Asahiyama Zoo, Furano/Biei, Hakodate, Lake Toya (or Noboribetsu) and Sapporo

Combine Wakkanai, Rishiri and Rebun islands 3-day and Asahikawa, Furano, Biei and Daisetsuzan 3-day. And make these 2 trips be shorter and add Hakodate, Lake Toya and Sapporo.

Day 1Sapporo – Wakkanai
Day 2Wakkanai – Rishiri island – Rebun island – Wakkanai
Day 3Wakkanai – Asahikawa (Asahiyama zoo)
Day 4Asahikawa – Soukyo/Daisetsuzan – Asahikawa
Day 5Asahikawa – Furano/Biei – Sapporo
Day 6Sapporo – Hakodate
Day 7Hakodate – Onuma Park – Lake Toya (or Noboribetsu)
Day 8Lake Toya (or Noboribetsu) – Sapporo
You have to take the earliest departure train on day 3 and make a half day visit at the zoo.

Recommeded deal

If you have JR Pass, you can use it. If not, Hokkaido Rail Pass 7-day and regular tickets for day 8 are recommended.

If you have 9 or more days

I can make many more sample plans, but it is endless. I will stop it here.

As you read, you can cover most places in 8 days. If you want to visit all places in Hokkaido in a slow pace, I recommend you to spend 2 weeks. But I think that most of you will not spend many days just for Hokkaido. You may visit other places, such as Tokyo, Kyoto. You cannot focus on just Hokkaido, especially if you are the first timer.

Anyway the trip plans which I explained in this post are just sample. If you can accept higher pace, you can make a shorter trip plan. Please use these sample plans to create your future travel plan. If you have any questions, please leave a comment.

I hope this post will help you to build a trip plan.

2 thoughts on “How to create your trip to Hokkaido. Easy DIY trip planner”

  1. I always hold a JR pass when I stay in Japan. Also, I like to climb mountains or hiking in natural places. Are there some of those kinds of places that can go by JR trains as a day trip?

    1. Hi Ling Qu,

      You can visit these following places as a day trip from Sapporo:

      • Noboribetsu Onsen (Hiking in the hell valley)
      • Lake Toya (Hiking in the mountain around the lake)
      • Niseko (Biking from Niseko station)
      • Biei (Biking to visit the places around Biei station)
      • Kurodake and Sounkyo (Hiking in the mountain and/or the canyon)

      But you must add the fare to take a local bus to get to Noboribetsu, Lake Toya and Kurodake/Sounkyo.

      I will write a post about the day trip from Sapporo later.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

Please read these terms and conditions before you leave a comment.
  • Your comment will not be displayed until I approve it. When you will leave a comment, the page will just reload and nothing will happen. But if I approve the comment, your comment will be displayed. Press submit only once and wait for the comment to appear.
  • Please refrain from asking me to create a itinerary. I'm not your personal travel agent, so I do not accept making itineraries from scratch. This site provides you with a lot of information. Please refer to them and make your own itinerary. I will be happy to advise you on the itinerary.
  • Please refrain from asking how to get to the hotel you are staying at. I think that is the first thing to check when choosing a hotel. Also, I think that any hotel nowadays explains how to access it on the official website. First, try google the hotel name.
  • Please refrain from asking me which hotel to recommend. I can comment on the hotels I actually stayed at, but I can't judge on other hotels.
  • If you ask me the rail pass that fits your itinerary, please explain your travel plan in as much detail as possible. I can't choose the best pass on the rough itinerary.
  • I will not answer your question by email. I manage this website with a policy of sharing all information, including questions received from readers. Some readers read past comments carefully. Please note that I do not personally interact with readers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*