8 Most Scenic Drives In Hokkaido

Driving Hokkaido
| 3 min read

When it comes to having a vacation in Asia, which countries appear in your mind right away? If Japan is not one of the countries, you are missing out big time. If you want a wonderful vacation in Asia, you have to visit Japan. When it comes to this country, cities like Tokyo and Kyoto are, of course, among the must-visit destinations. But let’s not forget about a very popular island called Hokkaido, the perfect place to enjoy hot springs, volcano visits, and skiing trips. Visit Niseko and Hakodate for the best hot springs. Plan a trip to Otaru to admire glassworks and stop by Otaru Canal. Besides all these, Hokkaido features numerous scenic drives to complete your memorable vacation. Here is your guide to the most scenic drives in Hokkaido.

1. Shikotsu-Toya-Niseko Park Route

Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Ippukucho used under CC BY 3.0

The first scenic drive on the list is concentrated in the central part of Hokkaido. The scenic route starts at Shikotsu-Toya National Park and ends at Niseko-Shakotan-Otaru Quasi-National Park. You may have already guessed after reading some of the spots mentioned that the views that you are going to enjoy are related to parks. Other than the two parks, along the way you are going to be stunned by the beauty of several mountains, with Mount Usu and Mount Yotei being the two most popular mountains. You will also be presented with picture-worthy sights of Lake Shikotsu and Lake Toya.

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2. Hakodate-Onuma-Funkawan Scenic Byway

Evening view of Hakodate city from Mount Hakodate
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Satellizer used under CC BY-SA 4.0

What about Hakodate-Onuma-Funkawan Scenic Byway? What can you expect when you take this scenic drive? Slightly different from the first option, if you choose this route, you will want to stop by Hakodate Morning Market to soak up the vibrant atmosphere and buy some local produce. Then, make a stop to Funkawan Fishing Village. The ruins of Jomon are not to be missed as well. As for the mountains, you will be humbled by the majestic presence of Mount Esan.

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3. Taisetsu-Furano Route

Source: Pixabay

Buckle up and be prepared to take this Taisetsu-Furano Route as the magnificent views of Tokachi Mountain and Taisetsu Mountain are going to take your breath away. Enjoy an unforgettable escape to nature when you pass by the stunning lavender fields and see the rolling hills. Be sure to stop by Kamifurano and Nakafurano to visit the flower gardens. If you really want to see the colorful flowers, you should visit during the summertime when all the flowers are in full bloom. After that, you may want to relax by soaking in the natural hot springs, also known as onsen. There are several options on this route.

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4. Road to Heaven (Shari-cho)

Shari road01
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user View more used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

Have you ever wondered what heaven looks like? Well, you don’t have to anymore when you take Road to Heaven when visiting Hokkaido. This scenic drive passes a long and straight road, which should be an easy and comfortable to drive, with the lush trees surrounding the road and a clear blue sky right above you. The best time to take this road is during sunset if you want to enjoy the most scenic views.

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5. Higashi Okhotsk Scenic Byway

流氷のプールに入る・浮かぶ(知床) Drift Ice Walk(Shiretoko)
Source: Photo by user Hajime NAKANO used under CC BY 2.0

The first reason to take Higashi Okhotsk Scenic Byway is that the route is loaded with a total of four natural parks, with the most famous one being Shiretoko National Park. The second reason is that you will get to see rural landscapes along with several lakes, forests and diverse flora and fauna. The last reason, which is perhaps the best one, is that this is the only place where you can enjoy drift ice, also known as sea ice.

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6. Shiretoko Pass

Shiretoko 5peaks
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user 100yen used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Perching high above Shiretoko Highway, Shiretoko Pass is a highly popular viewing point that is situated between Shari and Rausu. The highway is a long road with some bumps along the way. Many tourists prefer to drive on this highway during the summer months to have the most scenic views of Mount Rausu. One thing to note though is that the road is usually closed between November to April.

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7. Soya Scenic Byway

Rebun Island (7805402080)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user hoge asdf used under CC BY 2.0

Make your way to the northernmost part of Japan, to Wakkanai City, where you can take Soya Scenic Byway. From summer blossoms to amazing lake views, all can be enjoyed here. When you visit Rebun Island either in spring or summer, you will have the rare opportunity to marvel at beautiful alpine flowers. The best thing about this scenic route is that it does not matter when you decide to visit, it is always open to visitors. The only thing that differs with the season is the view.

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8. Kushiro Shitsugen-Akan-Mashu Scenic Byway

摩周湖 Lake Mashu - panoramio
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user lienyuan lee used under CC BY 3.0

Last but not least is Kushiro Shitsugen-Akan-Mashu Scenic Byway. In addition to enjoying the lakes and parks like Akan National Park and Kushiro Shitsigen National Park, your trip will be even more colorful with the presence of diverse wildlife. You will be able to spot some foxes, swans and the exotic Japanese crane known for the unique red spot on its head (thus the nickname red-crowned crane), among other majestic creatures.

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Start planning your itinerary for Hokkaido right away

After seeing all the scenic drives mentioned in this article, there is no way that you are going to skip Hokkaido during your vacation to Japan, right? What are you waiting for? Start planning your itinerary for Hokkaido right away. Explore as many attractions as you can and include one or all of these scenic drives before you book your tickets and accommodations. Enjoy Hokkaido!

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Any must-sees we missed? Tell us about them in the comments section or write a post here to help out fellow travelers!
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Tenissa is a content writer, translator and editor. She enjoys being a globetrotter and has traveled to many countries around the world. So far, her favourite destination is Switzerland. She looks...Read more

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