Top choice in Hokkaidō

Mention you've been to Hakodate and every Japanese person you know will ask if you took in the night view from atop Hakodate-yama (334m) – it's that famous! You want to get up here for sunset or after dark: what's striking is seeing the lit-up peninsula (which locals say is shaped like Hokkaidō itself) against the pitch-black waters. In addition to the viewing platform and parking area, those who hunt will find the remains of an old fort behind the buildings, with interesting foundations intact.

There are a few ways to get here: by ropeway, bus, car or foot. Buses for the ropeway (¥240, 10 minutes) and the summit (¥400, 30 minutes, mid-April to mid-November) depart from bus stop 4 at JR Hakodate Station. You can also walk to the ropeway in 10 minutes from the Jūjigai tram stop; alternatively you can hike up one of several trails (all take about an hour) between May and late October. Note that the road to the summit is often closed to private vehicles after sunset because it gets too crowded.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Hokkaidō attractions

1. Orthodox Church


Dating from 1916, this Russian Orthodox church is adorned with distinctive copper domes and spires. It's still in use by the 300 or so (mostly elderly)…

2. Old British Consulate

0.56 MILES

From 1913 to 1934, this whitewashed mansion served as the British consulate. You can see the restored interior and have tea (¥540) on the ground floor.

3. Hakodate Museum of Northern Peoples

0.68 MILES

Inside the old Japan Bank building (1926), this museum has interesting exhibitions (labelled in English) about Ainu culture and also some of the other…

4. Foreigners' Cemetery

0.69 MILES

Along the bay, on the western fringe of town (where few visitors venture) is the small, grassy cemetery that contains the graves of sailors, clergy and…

5. Red-brick Warehouse District

0.81 MILES

These early-20th-century red-brick warehouses on the waterfront are the legacy of Hakodate's status as a historic, international trade port. They've been…

6. Hakodate Morning Market

1.35 MILES

With crabs grilling over hot coals, freshly caught squid packed tightly in ice-stuffed styrofoam and the sing-song call of vendors, Hakodate Morning…

7. Future Center Hakodate

1.57 MILES

This interesting multimedia center has displays mainly aimed at a young crowd, but it is worth stopping at for the events, videos, performances, and…

8. Goryō-kaku Tower

3.58 MILES

Take the elevator to the observatory atop this 98m-tall tower to see the star-shaped footprint of Goryō-kaku-kōen. There are also displays on the history…