Things to Do in Otaru, Hokkaido

Embark on an unforgettable adventure in enchanting Otaru, Hokkaido. Discover the top things to do and plan your visit today.


Otaru, Hokkaido is a picturesque coastal town in Japan that offers a delightful blend of natural beauty, rich history, and cultural attractions. Whether you’re a nature lover, a history buff, or simply seeking a peaceful getaway, Otaru has something to offer for everyone. In this article, we will take you on a virtual tour of Otaru and explore the top things to do in this charming town. So, grab your travel checklist and get ready to explore the hidden gem that is Otaru!

Things to Do in Otaru, Hokkaido

Things to do in Otaru - Otaru Canal

Stroll Along the Historic Otaru Canal

The Otaru Canal is a symbol of the town’s rich heritage and is one of the must-visit attractions in Otaru, Hokkaido. Take a leisurely stroll along the canal and admire the beautifully preserved warehouses that line its banks. These historic buildings have been converted into cafes, restaurants, and shops, offering visitors a unique shopping and dining experience. Don’t forget to capture some stunning photographs of the canal during sunset when the warm golden hues reflect off the water, creating a magical ambiance.

Otaru Street

Discover the Charm of Sakaimachi Street

Sakaimachi Street is a bustling shopping district in Otaru that is known for its well-preserved buildings from the early 20th century. Take a leisurely stroll along this charming street and explore the various shops, boutiques, and cafes that offer a wide range of local handicrafts, glassware, and sweet treats. Don’t miss the opportunity to sample some of Otaru’s famous “LeTAO” cheesecake, which is a local delicacy that has gained international recognition.

Otaru Tenguyama

Explore the Otaru Tenguyama Ropeway

For breathtaking panoramic views of Otaru and its surrounding natural beauty, hop on the Otaru Tenguyama Ropeway. This aerial cable car takes you to the top of Mount Tenguyama, where you can enjoy sweeping vistas of the town, the Sea of Japan, and the nearby mountains. During the winter months, the ropeway offers a unique perspective of Otaru covered in a blanket of snow. Be sure to bring your camera to capture the awe-inspiring landscapes.

Otaru Beer Bewery

Unwind at Otaru Beer Brewery

Beer lovers should not miss a visit to Otaru Beer Brewery, where you can sample a variety of locally brewed beers. Take a guided tour of the brewery and learn about the beer-making process from start to finish. Discover the different ingredients used and the craftsmanship behind each brew. After the tour, relax in the brewery’s cozy taproom and enjoy a refreshing pint of Otaru’s finest beer, paired with delicious snacks. It’s the perfect spot to unwind and indulge in the flavors of Otaru.

Otaru Snow Light Path Festival

Experience the Otaru Snow Light Fantasy

During the winter months, Otaru transforms into a magical wonderland with the Otaru Snow Light Fantasy. This annual event features enchanting light displays and snow sculptures throughout the town. Take a stroll along the illuminated streets and marvel at the intricate snow sculptures that come to life with vibrant lights. The Snow Light Fantasy creates a whimsical atmosphere that is perfect for romantic walks or family outings. Be sure to bundle up and embrace the winter charm of Otaru during this spectacular event.

Wander Through Otaru’s Retro Streets

Otaru’s retro streets are a delight to explore, with their nostalgic charm and architectural beauty. Take a leisurely walk along the streets lined with well-preserved buildings that hark back to a bygone era. Admire the intricate details of the architecture and imagine yourself stepping back in time. The retro streets are also home to numerous cafes, shops, and galleries, where you can indulge in local delicacies and browse for unique souvenirs.

Otaru Aquarium

Visit the Otaru Aquarium

Located near the coast, the Otaru Aquarium is a popular attraction for both children and adults alike. Step into a world of marine wonders as you explore the diverse range of aquatic life on display. From playful seals to majestic penguins, the aquarium offers an immersive experience where you can learn about the marine ecosystem and conservation efforts. Be sure to check the feeding schedules to witness the animals in action and get up close to some of your favorite sea creatures.

Take a Boat Ride to Otaru Aquarium

Embark on a scenic boat ride from Otaru Canal to the Otaru Aquarium. This leisurely cruise allows you to soak in the picturesque coastal views while enjoying the gentle sea breeze. Along the way, you might even spot some local wildlife, such as seagulls and seals. The boat ride offers a unique perspective of Otaru from the water and is a relaxing way to reach the aquarium.

Otaru Sushi Street

Indulge in Otaru’s Culinary Delights

No visit to Otaru is complete without savoring its delectable culinary offerings. The town is renowned for its fresh seafood, particularly sushi and sashimi. Head to one of the local seafood markets where you can handpick the freshest catches of the day and have them prepared right before your eyes. Don’t forget to try some of the local specialties such as “kaisendon” (seafood rice bowl) and “uni” (sea urchin). Otaru is also famous for its sake breweries, so make sure to sample some of the finest locally brewed sake during your visit.

Witness the Art of Glassblowing

Otaru has a long-standing tradition of glassblowing, and the town is home to several glass studios and shops. Witness the mesmerizing art of glassblowing as skilled artisans create intricate glassware right before your eyes. You can even try your hand at making your own glassware under the guidance of experienced craftsmen. Don’t forget to browse through the wide selection of glass products available for purchase, including vases, ornaments, and jewelry.

Otaru Orgel Doh

Visit the Otaru Music Box Museum

If you’re a fan of music and craftsmanship, a visit to the Otaru Music Box Museum is a must. This enchanting museum houses a vast collection of intricately designed music boxes from different eras. Explore the museum’s various themed rooms and immerse yourself in the melodies produced by these delicate musical instruments. You can even personalize your own music box and take home a memorable souvenir from your trip to Otaru.

Learn about Otaru’s History at the Otaru Museum

To gain insight into Otaru’s rich history and heritage, visit the Otaru Museum. Housed in a former bank building from the early 20th century, the museum showcases a vast collection of artifacts and exhibits that depict the town’s development over the years. Learn about Otaru’s role as a prominent trading port and its influence on the region. The museum also offers interactive displays and multimedia presentations, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the stories and traditions of Otaru’s past.

Attend the Otaru Ushio Fireworks Festival

If you happen to visit Otaru during the summer, make sure to catch the Otaru Ushio Fireworks Festival. This dazzling event lights up the night sky with a spectacular fireworks display over the Sea of Japan. Find a spot along the coast and witness the colorful explosions that create a mesmerizing symphony of lights. The festival attracts both locals and visitors, creating a festive and vibrant atmosphere. It’s a memorable experience that will leave you in awe.

Take a Day Trip to Tengu Mountain

Just a short distance from Otaru lies Tengu Mountain, a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Lace up your hiking boots and embark on a scenic trek through lush forests and picturesque trails. As you ascend the mountain, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views of the surrounding landscapes and the town below. Tengu Mountain is also known for its Tengu statues, mythical creatures from Japanese folklore. Keep an eye out for these fascinating sculptures along the hiking trails.

Otaru Canal 1

Frequently Asked Questions About Things To Do In Otaru

  • When is the best time to visit Otaru?

    The best time to visit Otaru depends on your preferences. If you enjoy winter activities and the magical Snow Light Path Festival, then the winter months from December to February are ideal.

    However, if you prefer milder weather and blooming cherry blossoms, consider visiting during spring (April to May). Summer (June to August) offers pleasant temperatures and opportunities for outdoor exploration, while autumn (September to November) showcases vibrant fall foliage.

  • How do I get to Otaru from Sapporo?

    Otaru is conveniently located just a short distance from Sapporo, making it easily accessible. The most common way to travel between the two cities is by train.

    You can take a JR Hokkaido train from Sapporo Station to Otaru Station, which takes between 40 to 50 minutes depending on the type of train. Alternatively, you can also take a bus or hire a taxi for a more personalized experience.

  • How do I get to Otaru from Club Med Kiroro?

    Getting to Otaru from Club Med Kiroro Peak or Club Med Kiroro Grand is a convenient and straightforward journey. The easiest way to travel is by taking a taxi or arranging for a private transfer service. The distance between Club Med Kiroro and Otaru is approximately 28 kilometers, and the journey typically takes around 40 minutes by car.

    Alternatively, you can also take a bus from the resort to Otaru. The bus service operates at specific times throughout the day, so it’s advisable to check the schedule in advance. Whether you choose to hire a taxi or take a bus, you’ll soon find yourself in Otaru, ready to explore all the wonderful attractions it has to offer.

  • What are the must-try dishes in Otaru?

    Otaru is renowned for its delectable seafood, so be sure to try some of the local specialties. Savor fresh sushi, including the prized Hokkaido scallops and uni (sea urchin). Don’t miss the creamy and savory seafood ramen, a comforting bowl of noodles topped with an assortment of fresh seafood. Lastly, indulge in the sweet and delicate milk, known for its rich flavor and smooth texture.

  • Are there any outdoor activities in Otaru?

    Absolutely! Otaru offers a range of outdoor activities for nature enthusiasts. During the winter, you can enjoy skiing, snowboarding, and snow trekking at Club Med Kiroro Peak or Club Med Kiroro Grand.

    In the warmer months, explore the beautiful Tenguyama Ropeway and enjoy scenic hiking trails that lead to panoramic views. You can also take a relaxing boat ride along the coast, admiring the stunning scenery and marine life.

  • Can I visit Otaru as a day trip from Sapporo?

    Yes, Otaru is a perfect destination for a day trip from Sapporo or Kiroro. With its proximity and efficient transportation options, you can easily explore the main attractions in a day. Start early to make the most of your visit and plan your itinerary accordingly. Whether it’s strolling along the canal, visiting the museums, or enjoying the local cuisine, you’ll be able to experience the essence of Otaru in a day.

  • Is Otaru suitable for families with children?

    Absolutely! Otaru offers a variety of family-friendly activities and attractions. The Otaru Aquarium will captivate children, where they can learn about marine life and enjoy entertaining shows. The Snow Light Path Festival during winter also adds an element of wonder and excitement for the whole family.


Otaru is a hidden gem in Hokkaido, offering a delightful blend of natural beauty, cultural heritage, and gastronomic delights. From the romantic canal to the enchanting music boxes of Otaru Music Box Museum, there is something for everyone in this charming coastal city. Explore the historic streets, indulge in fresh seafood, and immerse yourself in the magical atmosphere of the Snow Light Path Festival. Otaru is a destination that will captivate your senses and create memories that will last a lifetime.

Don’t miss the opportunity to explore this captivating city and discover the many things to do in Otaru. Indulge in its rich history, bask in its natural beauty, and savor its culinary delights. Otaru is waiting to welcome you with open arms.

Eugene Ooi
Eugene Ooi

Eugene is the co-founder of Travelution Holidays. He has been a part of the travel industry since 1996. With over a decade of experience as a certified Club Med specialist, he is a travel enthusiast, and food lover. He enjoys sharing travel experiences, updates, and tips to help you explore the world.

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