Edited by Elodi Troskie
Sapporo’s nightlife largely revolves around good food, beer, and sake. Known for its long history of beer brewing, it makes sense that a lot of night time activities here involve the city’s home-brewed beer. Food-wise, Japan has some of the best cuisine in the world! The best and most affordable foods can be found at street food markets, especially at night, when the street food scene is in full swing all across Sapporo. Here are my recommendations for the best things to do in Sapporo at night. Head’s up, there’s plenty of food and beer about to go down.
The Susukino District is the most exciting place to go in Sapporo at night. This area comes alive at night with more than 4 000 bars, restaurants, and nightclubs, many of which are open 24/7. As the largest nightlife center north of Tokyo, Susukino is the closest you’ll get to Tokyo’s famous nightlife entertainment when you’re visiting Sapporo. Most of the city’s most famous bars and clubs are located in this area, like the massive King Xmhu, one of the most popular nighttime hangout spots in Sapporo. King Xmhu stretches over three stories and is known for its regular themed party nights. If you’re looking for something other than bars and nightclubs, consider going to one of Susukino’s many Pachinko parlors, a popular Japanese game that is a mix between a pinball and a pokies machine. The Tanuki Kōji Shopping Arcade has proven especially popular among visitors.
Experience all things beer
Sapporo’s beer is one of its biggest tourist attractions. To start your Sapporo beer experience, visit the Sapporo Beer Museum where you can take a free tour to learn about the history of the city’s brewing industry. The 20-minute tours take place from 11 am until 8 pm every day, making it the perfect early evening activity to kickstart a night in Sapporo. Guided tours of the museum are also available at 500 yen per person. Right next to the museum is the Sapporo Beer Garden, a German-style bierkeller combined with an all-you-can-eat buffet. If you want beer and meat, this is the best place to dine in Sapporo! The Beer Garden is open daily until 10 pm. The Beer Museum and Garden can be accessed by the Loop 88 Factory Line bus or by a 15-minute walk from the Higashi-kuyakusho-mae Station on the Toho Subway Line.
Try local cuisine
Sapporo is well renowned for its incredible seafood. One of Sapporo’s signature foods is kegani, a hairy crab dish that is considered a local culinary luxury. Another must-try food in Sapporo is soup curry, a spicy Japanese dish you’ll find at most restaurants and street food markets. The Sapporo Jogai Ichiba, also known as the Curb Market, is the best place to buy fresh seafood and locally grown produce in Sapporo. At this market, you can find seafood dishes like donburi and salmon roe at bargain prices and it’s a great way to dine like the locals do! In true Japanese style, Sapporo is also really big on ramen. The best place to eat ramen in Sapporo is in the famous ramen street located near the red light district in Susukino. This narrow alleyway is lined with local ramen restaurants, some of which have been in business since the 1950’s.
Party on a dime
If you’re visiting Sapporo on a budget, 500 Bar & Dining is the best place to go on a night out. This is a casual bar that got its name from its amiable price range where every drink cost 500 yen. Since the bar opened, prices have slightly gone up, but it remains one of the cheapest bars in Sapporo’s lively Susukino District. The low prices combined with the no cover charge policy make 500 Bar a popular watering hole for both foreigners and locals. Light meals and bar snacks are also available and the English menus are a golden find for international visitors. Located next to the Susukino subway station, 500 Bar is easily accessible by public transport. 500 Bar is one of Sapporo’s coolest hangouts and a must-visit for budget travelers!
Visit Moerenuma Park
Moerenuma Park is one of the coolest places in Sapporo. Located in the Higashi Ward in the outskirts of Sapporo, Moerenuma Park is a large public space filled with impressive art installations and unique man-made features. One of the park’s centerpieces is Hidamari. It's a glass pyramid building that houses an information center, an atrium and a gallery space dedicated to the famous Japanese American sculptor, Isamu Noguchi. The unique designs in Moerenuma Park are mostly thanks to Noguchi. He was assigned by the city of Sapporo to create this park on the empty grounds of what used to be a landfill site. Noguchi passed away not long after he completed his design plans, but the city carried out his visions and built the park after his death. Visiting Moerenuma Park during the day is great but seeing the art-work lit up after dark is something you have to experience! The park is open until 10 pm every day.
Take in the city views
Hokkaido is home to five of Japan’s top 100 night view locations. It comes to no surprise, then, that exploring the city’s best viewpoints is one of the best things to do in Sapporo at night. The Observation Deck located on the 38th floor of the JR Tower offers an incredible view of the city in its entirety. At 160 meters above the ground, you’ll have a panoramic view of the Ishikari Bay New Port, Mt. Teine and the Sapporo Dome. Another place where you’ll get a breath-taking view of Sapporo is from the top of the ski jump where the 1972 Winter Olympics were held – something Sapporo takes great pride in. A more alternative way to see the city from above is by taking a ride on the NORBESA Ferris Wheel in Susukino. This is the only Ferris wheel in the city and makes for the perfect activity if you’re looking for unusual things to do in Sapporo at night!
Recharge at the hot springs
If you’re coming to Sapporo to ski, you’ve probably already started researching hot springs in the area where you can relax your sore muscles after a long day in the snow. The all-natural Hōheikyō Hot Springs is the perfect place to treat yourself to a warm, relaxing bath. The hot springs are located in the mountains en route to the Sapporo Kokusai Ski Resort about 35 kilometers from the city center. The open-air baths offer a panoramic view of the beautiful surrounding nature scenes and the hot springs are open until 10:30 pm every day, making it the perfect relaxing night time activity in Sapporo.
Experience festive Sapporo
If you’re visiting Sapporo in the winter, you’re in for a treat. With calendar highlights like the Snow Festival and the White Illumination events, Sapporo is the ultimate winter wonderland. The Snow Festival is one of the biggest annual events that we have here. Starting at the beginning of February, Sapporo turns into an ice sculpting capital when ice sculptors come from all over the world to take part in the massive ice sculpting competition. At night, the ice sculptors are illuminated with multi-colored lights – something you have to see! The White Illumination takes place every year around Christmas and New Year, lighting up the city in thousands of festive lights. Visit Odori Park for the best illumination views. Another festive event taking place at the end of November, also in the Odori area, is the annual German Christmas Market, celebrating the relationship between Sapporo and Munich.
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