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Central Hokkaido

Summer Destinations to Visit in Central Hokkaido

By Margherita Jul 25, 2023

Central Hokkaido offers a plethora of summer destinations that are perfect for nature lovers searching for quiet places to slow down and relax. 

Summer Delights in Central Hokkaido: From Otaru to Furano and Beyond

From stunning national parks and picturesque lakes to charming towns and soothing hot springs, central Hokkaido promises unforgettable experiences. 


Otaru, a picturesque city close to Sapporo, is a delightful blend of history, charm, and natural beauty. Known for its canal-lined streets and preserved architecture, Otaru offers a nostalgic atmosphere. Visitors can stroll along the Otaru Canal, lined with old warehouses transformed into shops, cafes, and restaurants. The city also boasts a rich cultural heritage, with attractions such as the Otaru Music Box Museum and the historic Otaru Railway Station. With its enchanting scenery, delectable seafood, and unique shopping experiences, Otaru is a destination that captivates visitors with its timeless allure.

The most popular and efficient way to reach Otaru is by train. Take the JR Hakodate Line from Sapporo Station to Otaru Station. The journey takes approximately 30 minutes, and trains run frequently throughout the day. It’s a scenic ride that offers beautiful views of the surrounding landscapes.

Lake Toya and Lake Shikotsu

Lake Toya and Lake Shikotsu in Central Hokkaido

Image credits: Photo by the author 

Lake Toya (Toya-ko) and Lake Shikotsu (Shikotsu-ko), located in the southwestern part of Hokkaido, Japan, are mesmerizing caldera lakes renowned for their stunning natural beauty and serene atmosphere. Explore their lakeside walking trails, embark on boat tours, and relax on peaceful beaches. Both lakes are also known for their hot springs, offering rejuvenating thermal waters amidst the scenic surroundings. Lake Toya captivates with its beauty, while Lake Shikotsu boasts crystal-clear waters and dense forests, making it ideal for outdoor activities and hiking. These lakes provide captivating destinations to immerse in Hokkaido’s natural wonders and experience tranquility in nature.

From April 28th to October 31st, don’t miss the daily half-hour fireworks every night starting at 8.45 p.m. at Lake Toya.

When in Toya-ko, I recommend visiting the onsen inside “Hotel Lakeside Terrace” for the fantastic outdoor bath with an infinity pool overlooking the lake and the fun shampoo bar where you can choose from a variety of different brands of shampoo, conditioner, and hair treatments.

Noboribetsu Onsen

Noboribetsu Onsen is a charming hot spring resort known for its therapeutic waters and stunning natural surroundings.

The town is famous for its abundant hot springs, each with its own unique mineral composition and healing properties. Visitors can indulge in the soothing waters believed to alleviate various ailments and promote overall well-being. Whether you prefer open-air baths or traditional indoor baths, there is a wide range of options to suit every preference.

One of the highlights of Noboribetsu Onsen is Jigokudani, or “Hell Valley,” a dramatic geothermal valley located nearby. This volcanic wonderland features steaming geysers, sulfurous fumaroles, and otherworldly landscapes, creating a truly mesmerizing sight. Visitors can explore the walking trails that wind through the valley, offering breathtaking views and an opportunity to witness the raw power of nature up close.

Furano and Biei

Furano and Biei

Image credits: Photo by the author 

Furano is a small town renowned for its breathtaking natural landscapes and charming rural atmosphere. The region is characterized by rolling hills, picturesque fields, and a serene countryside ambiance that draws visitors from far and wide.

One of the most iconic attractions in Furano is Tomita Farm. Famous for its stunning lavender fields, Tomita Farm transforms into a sea of vibrant purple hues during the blooming season, typically from late June to early August. Visitors can stroll through the aromatic fields, take memorable photos, and even sample lavender-infused products like ice cream and souvenirs.

Another notable natural wonder in the area is the Blue Pond (Aoiike), known for its surreal turquoise blue water. Shirogane Blue Pond was actually made by accident in an attempt to control mudslides. The vibrant color is because of the aluminum dissolved in the water. Surrounded by lush greenery and mystical trees, the Blue Pond is particularly captivating in different seasons, with snow-covered trees in winter and vibrant foliage in autumn.

For those seeking hands-on agricultural experience, Furano is also home to several farms that offer a glimpse into the region’s farming traditions. Among them, Biei Farm stands out as a recommended farm visit. Drink a glass of the tastiest milk you have ever tried, indulge in a delightful milk ice cream serving, and take a close look at the cute cows.

The Hill of The Buddha

The Hill of The Buddha

Image credits: Photo by the author 

Designed by renowned architect Tadao Ando, the Hill of the Buddha showcases his distinctive architectural style and vision. With a focus on simplicity, clean lines, and harmonizing with the natural environment, Ando’s design perfectly complements the serene atmosphere of the site. The combination of the colossal Buddha statue and Ando’s architectural prowess creates a powerful and awe-inspiring experience for visitors. The Hill of the Buddha stands as a testament to Tadao Ando’s talent in a blend of art, spirituality, and the natural world into a captivating and contemplative space.

Best Destinations to Visit in Central Hokkaido This Summer

Explore the lush landscapes, indulge in thrilling activities, and immerse yourself in the rich cultural heritage that Central Hokkaido has to offer during the summer months.

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Exploring the Charms of Sapporo in Summer