Hakodate (Japan)

Hakodate Travel Guide and Trip Resources

Jason Luk

Unexpected Hokkaido highlight

Hakodate is Hokkaido's third largest city
Fort Goryokaku, the views from Mount Hakodate and the fresh seafood at the fish market are the three defining attractions
A lovely city that looks extra lovely in winter

Hakodate really did surprise me, and if you are planning a trip to Hokkaido I would strongly recommend to make some time for the island's third largest city (pop. 279,851) in your itinerary. Located at the southern tip of the island, at roughly a 4 hour drive from Sapporo and soon to be connected by Shinkansen, the mention of the name Hakodate to Japanese tends to bring up two things: the magnificent (night) views over the city from Mount Hakodate and fresh seafood.

When it comes to the former, the views are said to be some of the best of its kind in Asia or maybe even the world, which to us initially seemed a somewhat outrageous statement but turned out not to be far from the truth. Sat at the eastern end of Hakodate Bay and encapsulated by land as if it were the top of an apple core, the peak (334 m) towers over the city. It can be reached by hiking, biking or cable car, and once you're up there you might find yourself gasping for breath for a second. It really is up there with the views from for instance Victoria Peak in Hong Kong. Bonus points in winter when the city gets covered by a thick blanket of snow.

For seafood you want to head to the (very tourist friendly) Hakodate Morning Market. Visited by 2 million people each year, they come as much for the food as the bustling atmosphere of the place.

Another famous sight in town is Motomachi. Hakodate was the first Japanese port to open up to foreign trade in the 1800s, and this was the area those foreign traders made home. Sights like the Russian Orthodox church, a Catholic church and old foreign consulates are well worth checking out. And again, double the charm in winter.

The Edo era western-style fortress of Goryokaku is probably the last must-see sight in town. Once you're done here I am sure you will agree with me that this was one of the most unexpected highlights of your Hokkaido/Japan trip. It certainly was for me. [Review by travelindicator]

Key info

  • Hakodate is a city in Japan's region of Hokkaido. It has a population of 279,851, is situated at an altitude of 16ft and the best airport to fly into is HKD (Hakodate, Hakodate)
  • The main spoken language here is Japanese, and the average English skill is low
  • The currency used in Japan is the Japanese yen (JPY)

Other cities in the region (Hokkaido, Japan)

Sapporo, Niseko, Otaru, Abashiri, Wakkanai

Hakodate Weather

Historical average maximum temperature per month (℉):

34 36 41 54 63 68 73 79 73 63 50 37

Historical average rainfall per month (inches):

3 2.3 2.3 2.8 3.3 2.9 5.1 6.1 6 3.9 4.3 3.3

More Hakodate travel resources

At Wikitravel you can read more about the city, and the same goes for Lonely Planet as well as Japan Talk. Maybe the most enjoyable read about the place can be had at Leave your Daily Hell which called it Japan's best-kept secret. I am inclined to agree with him.

Hakodate Attractions (Foursquare)

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Other travel destinations in Japan (by popularity)

Hatsukaichi, Kyoto, Tokyo, Sapporo, Hiroshima, Osaka, Takamatsu, Okinawa, Kanazawa, Fukuoka, Nara, Yokohama, Otaru, Sendai, Kitakyushu, Niseko, Kobe, Nagoya, Niigata, Wakkanai, Nikko, Sai, Akita, Abashiri, Hakodate, Kagoshima, Nagasaki, Okayama [Browse all]