The 14 Best Places to Visit & Things to do in Otaru in Winter

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Discover the 14 best places to visit and things to do in Otaru during the winter season. From snow festivals to hot springs, this comprehensive guide will help you plan an unforgettable winter adventure in Otaru.


Welcome to Otaru, a charming city nestled on the western coast of Hokkaido, Japan. Winter in Otaru is a magical time, where the city transforms into a winter wonderland, adorned with pristine snow and a festive ambiance. In this guide, we’ll explore the 14 best places to visit and things to do in Otaru during the winter season, ensuring you make the most of your trip. Whether you’re a winter enthusiast or simply seeking a unique experience, Otaru has something special to offer. Let’s dive in and explore the wonders of Otaru in winter!

The 14 Best Places to Visit & Things to do in Otaru in Winter

1. Otaru Snow Light Path Festival

Experience the enchanting Otaru Snow Light Path Festival, where the city is illuminated by thousands of delicate snow lanterns. This romantic festival takes place in early February and attracts visitors from all over the world. Take a leisurely stroll along the candle-lit paths and enjoy the magical atmosphere.

2. Mount Tengu Ropeway

Embark on a thrilling adventure to Mount Tengu on the Ropeway, offering breathtaking panoramic views of the snow-covered landscape below. The vistas from the top are especially stunning during sunset and early evening. Don’t forget your camera to capture these unforgettable moments.

3. Otaru Canal

No visit to Otaru would be complete without exploring the iconic Otaru Canal. While it’s captivating year-round, the canal takes on a new charm in winter when it’s framed by glistening snow. Enjoy a leisurely walk, and don’t miss the chance to take a romantic boat ride along the canal.

4. Otaru Music Box Museum

Warm up indoors at the Otaru Music Box Museum, featuring an extensive collection of intricately designed music boxes. The museum exudes a nostalgic charm, making it an ideal place to escape the cold weather and indulge in some shopping for unique souvenirs.

5. Kiroro Resort

For winter sports enthusiasts, a visit to Kiroro Resort is a must. Just a short drive from Otaru, this ski resort offers a variety of slopes for all skill levels. Whether you’re a seasoned skier or a first-timer, Kiroro promises an exhilarating experience in the powdery snow.

6. Tengu-no-Yu Hot Spring

Relax and unwind at the Tengu-no-Yu Hot Spring, nestled in the picturesque mountains near Otaru. The outdoor hot spring baths offer a serene setting to soak in the natural beauty while soothing your body in the warm waters.

7. Snow Rafting on Lake Shikotsu

Take a thrilling snow rafting adventure on the frozen Lake Shikotsu, Japan’s northernmost ice-free lake. Experience the rush as you slide across the icy surface with the stunning backdrop of snow-capped mountains.

8. Sakaimachi Street

Explore the historic Sakaimachi Street, lined with well-preserved buildings from the Taisho period. Discover quaint shops selling local crafts, delicious sweets, and glassware. It’s a perfect place to wander and soak in the nostalgic atmosphere.

9. Sankaku Market

Treat your taste buds at the bustling Sankaku Market, offering a delightful array of fresh seafood and local delicacies. Don’t miss trying the famous Otaru sushi and enjoying a seafood bowl packed with flavors from the sea.

10. Otaru University of Commerce Building

Marvel at the striking architecture of the Otaru University of Commerce Building. This elegant structure, reminiscent of an old castle, stands out amidst the winter landscape and is a popular spot for photographers.

11. Snowshoeing in Tengu Natural Park

Embark on a snowshoeing adventure in the Tengu Natural Park, surrounded by pristine forests and snow-covered trails. It’s a great way to connect with nature and spot some of the local wildlife.

12. Otaru Beer Brewery

Savor a taste of locally brewed beer at the Otaru Beer Brewery. The brewery offers guided tours, providing insights into the beer-making process, and you can unwind with a refreshing pint afterward.

13. Mount Moiwa

Take a short trip to nearby Sapporo to visit Mount Moiwa. Board the cable car and ascend to the observation deck, offering panoramic views of the city below, adorned in a blanket of snow.

14. Otaru Yukiakari-no-Michi

End your winter adventure with a visit to Otaru Yukiakari-no-Michi, another mesmerizing illumination event. Wander through the snow-covered path, adorned with beautiful lights that create a magical and romantic ambiance.


Is Otaru a good place to visit in winter?

Absolutely! Otaru is a fantastic destination in winter, especially for those who love snowy landscapes, winter festivals, and outdoor activities. The city’s charm and festive atmosphere make it an unforgettable experience.

What is the best time to visit Otaru for the Snow Light Path Festival?

The Otaru Snow Light Path Festival usually takes place in early February. It’s recommended to plan your trip around this time to witness the magical spectacle of thousands of snow lanterns illuminating the city.

Can beginners enjoy skiing at Kiroro Resort?

Yes, Kiroro Resort caters to all skill levels, including beginners. The resort offers ski and snowboard lessons, making it an excellent choice for first-timers looking to learn and have fun in the snow.

Are the hot springs in Tengu-no-Yu open in winter?

Yes, Tengu-no-Yu Hot Spring is open year-round, including winter. Soaking in the outdoor hot spring baths while surrounded by snow-covered scenery is a delightful and rejuvenating experience.

Is Otaru easily accessible from Sapporo?

Yes, Otaru is easily accessible from Sapporo. It’s just a short train ride away, making it convenient to explore both cities during your trip to Hokkaido.

At the Otaru Music Box Museum, you’ll find a wide variety of music boxes, ranging from classic designs to ones featuring iconic Japanese characters. Additionally, you can purchase other unique souvenirs like glassware and handicrafts.


Otaru in winter is a dreamlike destination, offering an array of enchanting experiences and breathtaking sights. From the mesmerizing snow festivals to the thrill of winter sports, this charming city has something for every traveler. Immerse yourself in the magical atmosphere, indulge in delicious cuisine, and create memories that will last a lifetime. Pack your warmest winter clothes and get ready for an unforgettable adventure in Otaru, where winter wonder awaits at every turn.

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