Historically, Otaru was a thriving port city that was vital in linking Hokkaido with the rest of Japan. Now, Otaru is known for its historic cityscape with beautiful stone-built warehouses, banks and canal. It is the perfect getaway when visiting the northern island of Hokkaido.

We will introduce everything you need to know about how to get to and the best places to stay in Otaru as well as other areas interest you may not know about!

Main image: PIXTA

1. Getting to and from Otaru

Otaru is filled with cute boutiques, restaurants, and food stalls, like these in Otaru Denuki Koji. Photo: PIXTA

a. Ease of access to/from New Chitose Airport
・Train: From New Chitose Airport to Otaru, it takes 80 minutes by the JR Rapid Airport train (2,750 yen o/w). Note that if you hold the Japan Rail Pass (or JR Hokkaido Rail Pass), you can ride it for free.

・Bus: You can also get the New Chitose Airport Limousine Bus from New Chitose Airport to Sapporo Station, then take the Chuo Bus to Otaru Station (total of 1,780 yen o/w).

・Rental Car: If you are planning to rent a car, take the Sasson expressway from New Chitose Airport all the way to Otaru, which takes around 70 minutes (tolls total 2,250 yen o/w).

Browse & Book ▶ Rail passes and discount train tickets for Hokkaido

b. Ease of getting to sightseeing spots outside Otaru
Otaru Station provides easy access to sightseeing spots outside Otaru. The JR Airport Train allows you to easily get to Sapporo within 40 minutes (750 yen o/w).. You can also take JR Hakodate Line to Niseko, which takes approximately 2 hours (1,510 yen o/w).

c. Getting around Otaru
Otaru is a relatively small city, so most of the major sightseeing spots are within a 30-minute walk of each other. On foot, you can explore some of the lesser-known spots, smaller roads, and charming buildings that you might not see by vehicle.

Within Otaru’s city center, it is very easy and pleasant to walk around and enjoy the historic cityscape, various shops and restaurants.

Alternatively, Otaru Stroller’s Bus runs between all the major sightseeing spots. For adults, it costs 240 yen and for children 120 yen per ride. A one-day bus pass is also available – adults 800 yen and children 400 yen. This is also a fantastic way to roam Otaru all day without getting too tired! (Please note this pass is only available for the Stroller buses.)

For areas further out, there are the Chuo Bus and other local buses. The fare starts from 210 yen and increases depending on the distance traveled.

Book a rental car for Otaru here

2. What is Otaru like?

Photo: PIXTA

Otaru is a quiet city, but the sightseeing spots have become very popular with local tourists and travelers. Otaru is rich with history from its port trading days, wi…

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