The impressive town of Niseko is a hive of activity during both summer and winter with tourists from all parts of the world descending on its natural beauty.
During winter you can expect huge amounts of snowfall due to the northwesterly monsoon and seasonal winds that come from Siberia. Skiiers and snowboarders flock from all over the world to experience these magnificent conditions and silky powder that some say cannot be rivalled.
Summer brings an abundance of natural beauty to the surrounding areas and is frequented by hikers, outdoor adventure seekers and those seeking a quiet break away from their busy schedules.
Here are our 5 top things to do in Niseko!
World class skiing and snowboarding can be found on the Annupuri mountain with a wide array of runs for both beginner and advanced riders. We recommend the All Mountain pass to fully take advantage of the terrain. For beginner rides, the Grand Hirafu pass will be sufficient with both Grand Hirafu and Hanazono areas available to explore.
For those looking to ski/snowboard for the first time. You can find lessons taking place all across the mountain with some schools offering dedicated learning areas with magic carpets. The best way to learn is with a Private Lesson giving you one on one attention with the instructor leading to faster improvement. Group lessons are also available for those looking for a more social learning enviroment.
Tip: Don't miss out on the the first lifts on a powder or bluebird day. The early morning runs are well worth getting up for and are a hive of activity and excitement.
For more information on lessons, please visit our Ski/Snowboard Lesson page.
Not many visitors realise, but Niseko is famous for its rafting during the spring and summer months. Visitors flock from all over to ride the rapids on the beautiful Shiribetsu river. Along with your experienced guide, you will enjoy the thrills and excitement of rafting on the river rapids.
Rafting is also a great way to take in the surrounding scenery, especially in spring when the snow is still melting and the river is running at full speed.
Depending on the time of season, rafting can also be enjoyed by all the family on quieter parts of the river. Various activities can be enjoyed such as the River Kayak, Canoeing or River Sup.
Tours can be booked with Hanazono, NAC and Good Sports
Hiking is a must-do when visiting during the summer months. The Niseko region is littered with a huge number of hiking paths and trails, and there is something for all ability levels.
For keen hikers looking for the ultimate hiking experience, Mount Yotei is the largest mountain in the area and only a 20 minute drive away from Hirafu. Make sure to arrive well prepared as this hike is not for the faint hearted and likely to take on average 5-6 hours. For those seeking something less strenuous, there is also the Niseko Mount Annupuri range, climbable from either Hirafu or Hanazono and takes roughly 2-3 hours. On a clear day you'll fund stunning views of Mount Yotei and the surrounding areas.
Next to Mount Annupuri is Mount Iwonupuri, this hike is a bit easier and quicker than Mt Annupuri and shouldn’t take longer than 1-1.5 hours. At the foot of the mountain you can find Goshiki Onsen for a relaxing soak of those tired muscles.
Tours can be arranged with Hanazono, Rhythm, Noasc, & NAC.
The evening is when Niseko truly comes alive with its large range of eating options and bars. There is something for everyone from Michelin Star Japanese restaurants to outdoor food trucks, and western food options.
Hirafu is the main spot to eat and drink with the largest concentration of mightlife, but you can also head down to Kutchan for a more Japanese experience. You'll find award winning ramen and excellent Izakaya restaurants that have been around for generations. The best part is, they won't come with the price tag of Hirafu restaurants and will be slighly less busy.
Some of our favourites restaurants are Kamimura, An Dining, Kumo, Sushi Akaru, Ebisutei and Yo Restaurant.
Some of our favourite bars include Toshiro's Bar, Bar Gyu (Fridge Door Bar), and Musu.
For a fully comprehensive guide of restaurants and bars in the area, we recommend the Wine and Dine restaurant guide.
And finally, No trip to Niseko (or Japan for that matter) is complete without experiencing an onsen. Immersing yourself in a volcanic hot spring is one of the greatest pleasures in life, and due the volcanic nature of Hokkaido, there are more than a dozen onsen in the Niseko locality. You can find both indoor/outdoor and even mixed bathing onsen. Beware, swimming attire is not allowed into the onsen and one must wash themselves before entering. If you are unfamiliar with onsen etiquette then please take a look at our blog here: First Timer’s Guide to Onsen Etiquette in Japan.
For those wishing to visit more than a couple of onsen. We recommend the Yumeguri pass. The pass can be used for onsen in the Mt Yotei and surrounding areas. Save money by purchasing one of their 3 different coupons depending on many and which type of onsen you wish to visit.
Some of our favourite onsen can be found on our Public Onsen comparison page.