Niseko is the perfect starting point from which to explore other areas of Hokkaido.
Centrepiece of a national park, this caldera lake makes a great day trip with a ropeway up to the craters of Mt Usu, cruises on the lake and cafes and restaurants to explore in the small town of Toyako Onsen.
This dormitory town outside Sapporo is anything but sleepy at peak tourist times. Visitors come to this once-important fishing port for the historic canal district, its music box museum and craft shops. While there, most sample its fresher-than-fresh sushi and perhaps a local beer or sake too.
West of Otaru, this sparsely populated, rugged peninsula reaches 30km into the Sea of Japan. Drive the road that skirts its northern edge to visit the lighthouses that guard Shakotan and scenic points where spires of rock jut up from the sea.
Yoichi / Niki
Close to Otaru, at the base of the Shakotan Peninsula, the small town of Yoichi is famous throughout Japan for the Nikka Yoichi distillery, opened in 1934 by the so-called ‘Father of Japanese Whisky’, Masataka Taketsu.
Today Yoichi and its neighboring small town of Niki have added vineyards too so a day out that combines Otaru, Yoichi and Niki could potentially be a potent one.
Hokkaido’s capital and biggest city is a vibrant place, busy by day and night. As the cultural and administrative centre of Hokkaido it has historic buildings and museums but the biggest tourist draws are the Sapporo TV Tower and the Sapporo Beer Museum. One of the most popular times to visit is February, for the annual Snow Festival, when ice statues and sculptures fill sites across the city.