Famous for its powdery snow, Niseko is the top destination for skiers, snowboarders, and people who would love to revel in a real winter wonderland. For those touring Niseko for the very first time, here is some essential information you’ll need before you visit this beautiful town.
We made our way to Niseko from Sapporo, and although there are hourly buses from New Chitose Airport, it is a different case if you want to go straight from Sapporo. If you plan to check out Sapporo before heading to Niseko, make sure you prebook your bus tickets in advance. At least 5 days before!
There are other ways, such as taking the train from Sapporo to Otaru and then a train to Kutchan, but the simplest, most relaxing way is by taking the direct bus from Sapporo to Niseko. It becomes a hassle if you are carrying suitcases and switching between buses to trains.
For detailed information on transport, check out Niseko.com.
Best Time To Visit Niseko:
Niseko’s ski and snowboard season begins in the last week of November and ends early May. Niseko experiences an annual snowfall of up to fifteen meters. Being one of the most famous ski and snowboarding destinations, many people come to Niseko to enjoy the snow in the holiday season and go here to celebrate Christmas, New Year’s Eve and Chinese New Year.
What’s there to do in Niseko?
Since Niseko is blanketed in snow for almost half the year, experiencing the slopes in winter is a must. People from around the world come to Niseko for the powdery snow. There’s approximately 47 km of slopes throughout the four different resorts: Niseko Grand Hirafu, Hanazono, Annupuri and Niseko Village (Higashiyama).
The resort we decided to learn to snowboard was Niseko Grand Hirafu. It is the largest out of all the ski resorts and has different lifts that can take you to different parts of the slopes.
We decided to stay in Grand Hirafu to learn how to snowboard as they offer beginner classes. Aside from taking lessons, you can also get all your gear from the resort. From helmet, jacket, snow boots and snowboards. Their resorts are complete with all the gear you need.
The classes depend on a few factors: is it for the whole family? Is it for children? Adults? What levels? Do you plan on joining a class or taking private lessons? Each resort has its own ski/ snowboard school:
- Grand Hirafu → GoSnow (English)
- Niseko Village → Niseko Village Snow School (NVSS)
- Niseko-Annupuri → Niseko Annupuri Ski & Snowboard School (NASS)
- Hanazono → Niseko International Snowsports School (NISS)
Check out our experience snowboarding for the first time here:
If you aren’t keen on checking out the slopes, there is a whole list of other activities that you can do in Niseko, including snowmobiling, tobogganing, snowshoeing and other winter sports.
If you want to do things that are a little less active, there are a whole heap of activities such as tea ceremonies, conventional winter festivals, or even staying warm in an onsen with a view. For the activities, just check the Niseko calendar here.
Food in Niseko is also delicious! There are a bunch of restaurants around the area, some offer the freshest seafood and also local Hokkaido dishes. You can eat sushi at Wakatake or a variety of delicious seasonal dishes at An Dining. You can also dine at Kumo Restaurant, a Hokkaido Izakaya with a wonderful view of Mt Yotei. For drinks, the streets of Hirafu Village is filled with several options. From sake, beer to special cocktails. Musu, Bar Gyu+ (The Fridge Bar) and Toshiro’s Bar are the tourist favorites.
For a list of restaurants in Niseko, check out this link.
Going Around Niseko
Each hotel offers a shuttle bus starting from a particular time in the morning until the early evening. These shuttle buses are complementary to your hotel stay. These shuttle buses go to all four ski resorts.
If you want to visit further than what is around the town, SkyExpress offers day hires to get you around and to further places such as Sapporo and Otaru.
Check our other adventures and outdoor activities here!