20 UNMISSABLE THINGS TO SEE IN HAKODATE [FULL GUIDE]

Best things to see in Hakodate

WHAT TO SEE IN HAKODATE IN HOKKAIDO? IS HAKODATE WORTH VISITING?

In this post, we tell you everything you need to know about Hakodate in Hokkaido, Japan.

Hakodate is a pretty town in the very south of Hokkaido. We spent 3 days exploring Hakodate during the end of our road trip through the gorgeous Hokkaido island.

Western architecture, amazing seafood, spectacular views, abundant nature, and a lot more await you there.

Full Guide to Hakodate in Hokkaido, Japan


About Hakodate

Hakodate as it is today, a rather modern place, appeared in the 19th century, when Japan opened up to the world.

The Motomachi Historic District is home to many buildings from this period (a must-see in Hakodate)! There is a lot more to discover in Hakodate.

We invite you to read the rest of this post to find out about the 20 most incredible things to see in Hakodate.


Here is a Sneak Peek to Hakodate:



BEST THINGS TO SEE IN HAKODATE

Morning Market in Hakodate
Morning Market in Hakodate

A trip to Hakodate and Hokkaido in general without eating some of the best seafood you’ll ever have in your life, wouldn’t be complete. So to tick that one from your bucket list, head straight to the charming Morning Market in Hakodate.

This market is rather big, and as most markets in Japan, come as early as possible. Most restaurants will close around midday, the last ones will close at 2 pm.

Here you can see lots and lots of fresh and dry seafood being sold. You can even fish your own squid which would be prepared for you on the spot!

Morning Market in Hakodate

After a visit of the main halls, we went to the side parallel alley which only has restaurants. We ordered a kaisen donburi (a fresh bowl of sashimi with rice), at a very good price, including uni, scallops, shrimp, and tuna! OH DEAR, we will never forget how great it was!

  • Location of the market: here
  • Admission: Free
  • Website (in English): here

Red Brick Warehouses in Hakodate

The Red Brick Warehouses is one of the best things to see in Hakodate!

Those warehouses were built in 1909 right by the sea. They look similar to the ones in Otaru near Sapporo (GUIDE: 20 THINGS TO SEE IN OTARU)

The Kanemori Red Brick Warehouses have been renovated since then and are now a full shopping complex divided into 4 parts: Bay Hakodate, Kanemori Yobutsukan, Hakodate History Plaza, Kanemori Hall.

Red Brick Warehouses in Hakodate

At the Red Brick Warehouse, you can shop for lots of souvenirs, food, local crafts, jewellery etc. You can also enjoy some food and coffee, right by the sea. We also recommend the romantic atmosphere at night when the warehouses are lit up.

From the Morning Market you can easily reach the Warehouses on foot, it takes roughly 10min.

  • Location: here
  • Admission: Free
  • Website: here

Hakodate Factory

Built in 1911 as the Hakodate Post Office, Hakodate Meijikan is another old red brick building with nice arched windows. It survived the war and still retains its shape as a building that tells the story of Hakodate’s history.

It is now a shopping mall, with music boxes, glass products, souvenirs, and more. There is also a glass workshop and a music box experience zone, so you can enjoy it with your family.

The Hakodate Meijikan building is located between the Morning Market and Red Brick Warehouses.

  • Location: here
  • Website: here
  • Admission: free

Mount Hakodate

This is the highlight of any trips to Hakodate! Take the ropeway in the heart of the city to reach Mount Hakodate.

Mount Hakodate is famous as one of the world’s top three night views (podium shared with Hong Kong at the Peak and with Napoli in Italy).

From Mount Hakodate the view of the city, with the sea on both sides and the mountains in the background is really unique! The best is to get right before sunset.

You can easily reach the ropeway from the Red Brick Warehouses on foot. You will need to walk for about 10~15 min.

There is also a nice restaurant at the top Mount Hakodate and you can go for a nice walk at the top.

  • Location: here
  • Admission: Adult 1,500 yen and Children 700 yen for a roundtrip
  • Website: here

The last departure is at 10pm during spring and summer and 9pm during autumn and winter


HACHIMANZAKA SCENIC ROAD

Hachimanzaka is the road leading from the Red Brick Warehouses to the ropeway station for Mt. Hakodate.

The view from the top of the slope is truly spectacular. The trees lined up on both side of the road, leads straight to the sea! This is a great spot to take a scenic photo of Hakodate.

Hachimanzaka is located within the beautiful Motomachi district. This area is full of historical buildings such as churches and foreign residences. More about Motomachi in the next part of our post.

Location of Hachimanzaka: here


Historic building Matomochi district

The heritage old public hall was built in 1910 on a hill above Hakodate Motomachi Park overlooking Hakodate Port. Why Funky? Well, you can’t miss the colorful building when walking around Motomachi. The symmetrical colonial style is characterized by an assortment of sharp blue and yellow colors. Very unique!

It was designated as a nationally important cultural property in 1974.

View of Hakodate from Matomochi

Inside the building, you can see a large hall, which retains the gorgeous Renaissance-style atmosphere. You can also rent costumes such as gorgeous dresses and take commemorative photos. The view from the balcony is also a great spot for photos of Hakodate harbour. Don’t miss it.

This is one of the main landmarks in Motomachi and one of the best things to see in Hakodate.


Hakodate Orthodox Church

This is Japan’s first Orthodox church! It was born in 1860 as an affiliated church of the Russian Imperial Consulate in Japan.

The church is also located in Matomochi area, near the old public hall.

The current chapel was built in 1916 to replace the first chapel, which was destroyed in the Great Fire of Hakodate during the Meiji period. It was later designated as a national important cultural property. In 1996, the sound of the bell tower was selected as one of the 100 best soundscapes in Japan.


CATHOLIC CHURCH IN MATOMOCHI,

The Catholic Church is characterized by a large bell tower that uses Gothic architecture. The current building was rebuilt in 1924. As a symbol of the resumption of Christian missions, it is one of the oldest churches in Japan.


FORMER BRITISH CONSULATE IN HAKODATE

This is another beautiful historical building located in the Matomochi area.

You can visit the interior of this gorgeous building. There is also a nice garden and tea house which you can visit for free.

Take a break at the tea house to enjoy a nice cup of tea and some delicious pastries.

  • Location: here
  • Website: here
  • Admission fee: Adult 300yen / Children 150yen

FORMER SOMA RESIDENCE

If like us, you love Japanese architecture, then don’t miss the chance to visit this stunning house. This traditional building was the residence of the Soma Family.

The Former Soma Residence was built in 1908 among the former Hakodate Ward Public Hall in Motomachi Park. It is not far from the former British Consulate.

This historical building blends Japanese and Western styles. It is beautiful! There is also a cafe with a nice view.

This is one of the best things to see in Hakodate.

  • Location: here
  • Website: here
  • Admission fee: Adult 900yen / Children 300yen

Best things to see in Hakodate

This is one of the most peaceful places in Hakodate. If the weather is nice, head to Green Island and enjoy a relaxing walk by the sea.

This artificial island is located near the Red Brick Warehouses. The island is shaped as half a pentagonal island and fully covered with grass and trees.

Besides being used for soccer practice and kite flying, you can also enjoy jogging and fishing. There are also benches and gazebos, so you can relax and enjoy the view of the sea. From the surrounding walking trails, you can see Mt. Hakodate, the townscape of the western district, the red brick warehouses, and more.

You can access the island on foot from the Marina. The Niijima Bridge will get you there.

Location: here


GORYOKAKU PARK
GORYOKAKU PARK IN HAKODATE

If there is something you really cannot miss in Hakodate, is the Goryokaku park.

This star-shaped fortress was the stage of the Battle of Hakodate, the final battle of the Boshin War. It is the first Western-style fortress in Japan and is designated as a national special historic site.

The park is absolutely stunning. This was one of the main highlights during our visit of Hakodate.

We visited Hakodate during Autumn and the colors of the trees were already beautiful. But apparently, the best time to visit the park is during the cherry blossoms season. In fact, the majority of the trees inside the park are cherry trees! So indeed, it must be really nice!

GORYOKAKU PARK

At night the park is illuminated, which is also a great time to visit Goryokaku park.

The park is not walking distance from the heart of Hakodate. You will need to take the tram to GORYOKAKU-KOEN-MAE station. Then walk for about 10min to reach the entrance of Goryokaku park.

  • Location: here
  • Website: here
  • Admission fee: Free

GORYOKAKU TOWER
GORYOKAKU TOWER

Goryokaku Tower is an observation tower built at the entrance of the must-see Goryokaku Park.

From the observation floor with a height of 107m, you can see almost the entire view of Goryokaku Park. In addition to the exhibition space where you can learn about the history of Goryokaku, there is also a “see-through floor” where you can see directly below with a tempered glass floor. There is also a shop where you can purchase Goryokaku original goods.

This is one of the best things to see in Hakodate.

GORYOKAKU TOWER
  • Location: here
  • Website: here
  • Admission fee: 900 yen for adults and 680 yen for children. However, you can buy the ticket at cheaper price in advance on Klook. Check it out here.

DAIMON YOKOCHO ALLEY IN HAKODATE
Restaurant in Hakodate

Daimon Yokocho is a series of narrow alley near Hakodate’s main train station, with lots of different tiny restaurants. This is our favorite place to have a dinner in Hakodate.

You will find all sorts of food serving delicious local dishes.

Daimon Yokocho is a must during any visit to Hakodate!

Location: here


HAKODATE BEER HALL

Hakodate Beer Hall is a fun place to enjoy some food but also try the local beer. They serve all sorts of local beers. It’s a good place if you are a group and want to have a good time altogether.

The beer hall is located inside the Red Brick Warehouses.


SNOW MONKEY

From December to May, you can see Japanese macaques bathing in the hot springs. This is at the Hakodate Botanical Garden.

The garden also displays rare flowers and trees from the southern country. There are 3,000 plants of about 300 species in the garden.

You will see many birds, turtles, huge beetles and a lot more.

Botanical Garden in Hakodate
Botanical Garden in Hakodate

Of course the stars of the show are the monkeys! Just be aware that we went there in Autumn and it was too early to see them bathe. The weather wasn’t cold enough it seems.

As a disclaimer, the area where the monkeys are located is not that nice. It’s basically a huge concrete cage with an onsen in the middle. You may have seen photos of the monkeys in their onsen in Jigokudani Yaen Koen near Hakuba and Obuse in Nagano area. This place is actually much nicer than the one in Hakodate. However, if you have kids, they will have fun for sure. You can even feed the monkeys.

The botanical garden is a bit outside the city of Hakodate. You will need to take the tram all the way to Yunokawa-onsen, which is almost the last station. From there walk about 10 to 15min and you will reach the Botanical Garden.

  • Location: here
  • Admission fee: 300 yen
  • Website: here

YUKURA SHRINE IN HAKODATE
YUKURA SHRINE IN HAKODATE

There aren’t many shrines worth a visit in Hakodate, except the beautiful Yukura Shrine.

This pretty big shrine also displays an alley of red torii gates on the side, similar to the ones you can see in Kyoto. Here you will enter a very peaceful and serene atmosphere.

To reach the shrine, walk along the river from the Botanical Garden for about 15. This is also the last stop of the tram. So you can easily get back to Hakodate from there.

Yukura Shrine is one of the best things to see in Hakodate.

Location: here


KOSETSU-EN GARDEN

In Kosetsu-en about 150 kinds of trees are planted in the park. The park is especially beautiful during spring and autumn.

In Autumn the park is also illuminated to see the beautiful tree colors. Enjoy a nice stroll in the park. It doesn’t take too long to visit, but it’s one of the best things to see in Hakodate.

To get there jump on bus 82 or 95 from the Hakodate Train Station. The journey takes about 50min.

Location: here


DSC05384

The trappistine abbey is a nice place to visit in Hakodate. With its beautiful garden, lovely trees and the nice architecture of the abbey, the scenery is fabulous.

This is a lovely setting for a walk. There is also an interesting exhibits in the mini museum of Trappist history next to the information and gifts section. This is a lovely little stop that allows you to take in the serene environment of the convent.


HAKODATE MUSEUM OF NORTHERN

As you may already, Hokkaido was not part of Japan until only 1869. This is when Japan finally invaded the island and renamed it Hokkaido.

The first people living on the island were called the Ainu.

This nice museum is great if you want to know more about the Ainu. The museum has great collection about Ainu-made traditional clothes, equipment and information about their lifestyle and history.

Most displays have English explanations as well.

If you want to know about about the Ainu we HIGHLY recommend the Ainu Museum near Noboribetsu. This is one of our favorite museums in Hokkaido!

READ: 18 INCREDIBLE THINGS TO SEE IN NOBORIBETSU


How to get to Hakodate

From Sapporo:

If you want to reach Hakodate from Sapporo, you have different options.

BY TRAIN: like anywhere in Japan, taking the train is super convenient and one of the best ways to travel throughout the country. There is a direct line between Sapporo and Hakodate. It takes about 5 hours.

Don’t forget to buy your Japan Rail Pass, which is the cheapest option to travel by train in Japan. You can purchase your pass at a discounted price here. If you are only traveling in Hokkaido, then you can buy the Hokkaido JR pass only, check it out here.

BY CAR: You can also reach Hakodate by car from Sapporo. It takes 4h to get there. We recommend making some stops though to reach Hakodate. Such as Jozankei Onsen, Otaru, Lake Toya, or Noboribetsu!

If you decide to rent a car in Hokkaido, we recommend Nippon-Rent-A-Car, or Toyota-Rent-A-Car. They have many agencies around Hokkaido and their website/information are all provided in English.

You can also hire a chauffeur with a van. This is a great option if you are a group of people and don’t want to bother driving in Hokkaido. For more info about hiring a chauffeur, click here.

READ: 30 AWESOME THINGS TO SEE IN SAPPORO


From Tokyo:

BY TRAIN: Yes, you read that right, you can access Hakodate by train from Tokyo. The train crosses a long tunnel under the sea to reach Hokkaido. How cool is that! By Shinkansen (the Japanese fast train) it will take you only 5h!

Don’t forget to buy your Japan Rail Pass, which is the cheapest option to travel by train in Japan. You can purchase your pass at a discounted price here. If you are only traveling in Hokkaido, then you can buy the Hokkaido JR pass only, check it out here.

BY PLANE: flying to Hakodate is another good option. The flight takes 1.5h between both cities. You can check out the schedule and book your flights here.


WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO VISIT HAKODATE?

BEST TIME TO VISIT HAKODATE

The best time to visit Hakodate is during spring to see the cherry blossoms, especially at Goryokaku park. Autumn is the 2nd best season for a trip to Hokkaido, as you can see the amazing autumn foliage. Hakodate is stunning in Autumn!

For more convenience during your trip to Hakodate, you can hire a license guide who will take you around the city to visit the main sights. If you are interested, you can check out more information here.


BEST HOTELS IN HAKODATE

This hotel is perfectly located neat the train station and the main attractions in Hakodate (walking distance to Morning Market, Red Brick Warehouses, Matomochi district, Hakodate ropeway etc.). The rooms are also fully equipped, with a small kitchen. Hakodate Danshaku Club Hotel & Resorts is one of the best places to stay in Hakodate.


This beautiful hotel is located right next to the Red Brick Warehouses. This is one of our favorite places to stay in Hakodate. The rooms are beautiful, the breakfast delicious and the staff always so kind. In terms of value for money, HakoBA Hakodate by THE SHARE HOTELS is the best hotel in the area!


HOW MANY DAYS TO VISIT HAKODATE?

HOW MANY DAYS TO VISIT HAKODATE

To cover the main attractions we recommend spending at least 2 full days in Hakodate, 3 days being ideal.


Hakodate is one of the best places to visit in Hokkaido. You can experience another side of Japan (a bit like Otaru), with a lot of Western influences.

The Goryokaku Park and Mount Hakodate accessible by ropeway are both really stunning a worth a visit. Shopping at the Red Brick Warehouses was another highlight during our trip to Hakodate.

So the answer is clearly YES, Hakodate is worth a visit in Hokkaido.

We hope that you found this post useful about the 20 best things to see in Hakodate. If you have any questions, feel free to write a comment below.

For more posts about Japan click here.


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