Getting there & away
Bus services also connect Sapporo with the rest of Hokkaidō. Cheaper than trains and, on some routes, time-competitive as well, buses are an attractive option. Sapporo Eki-mae is the main bus station, just southeast of JR Sapporo station beneath Bic Camera and Esta. The Chūō bus station (southeast of JR Sapporo station) and Ōdōri bus centre are also departure spots.
Buses depart from Sapporo Eki-mae bus terminal several times a day for destinations all over Hokkaidō, including Wakkanai (¥5500, six hours), Asahikawa (¥2000, two hours), Muroran (¥2000, 2¼ hours), Noboribetsu Onsen (¥1900, one hour and 54 minutes), Tōya-ko Onsen (¥2700, 2¾ hours), Niseko (¥2100, three hours) and Furano (¥2100, two hours and 51 minutes).
From the Chūō bus station there are a few departures a day to Obihiro (¥3670, four hours and 10 minutes) and Abashiri (¥6210, six hours and 10 minutes). Buses to Hakodate depart from both the Chūō bus station and Ōdōri bus centre (¥4680, five hours and five minutes). Discounted round-trip tickets are available for most routes.
Trains are an easy and inexpensive way to get to or from JR Sapporo station, located just north of the city centre – most of the action is less than 10 minutes’ walk away. Check www.hyperdia.com for English schedules and up-to-the-minute pricing.
The Hokutosei Express, a sleeper train (¥25, 270, or ¥9450 with a JR Pass), is the most convenient. It takes 16 hours and runs direct between Tokyo and JR Sapporo station twice a day. The other option is to take a shinkansen to Hachinohe, then an express via Aomori (¥22, 780, 10 hours).
Sapporo, a central hub, has frequent trains to almost anywhere else in Hokkaidō. If you’re Hakodate-bound, a tokkyū (limited express) will get you there in 3½ hours (¥8590). Otaru, a popular port nearby, and Asahikawa (to the north) have frequent services.
Sapporo is connected by direct flights to all major cities in Japan, and many carriers also offer add-ons that allow ‘direct’ access (you have to change at Narita to Haneda). Look for Asia-related travel agents in your home country for round-trip packages, some of which include hotel package deals.
Sapporo’s main airport is New Chitose Airport (; Shin-Chitose Kūkō), about 40km south of the city. There’s a smaller airport at Okadama, about 10km north of the city.