So you’ve made it to Sapporo! Sort of: You’ve landed at New Chitose Airport, which is still a cool 50 km from the city. Fortunately it’s an easy trip the rest of the way, which can be done by train, bus, private transfer service, taxi, or rental car. The best option for getting from New Chitose to Sapporo might depend on how many factors like how many people are traveling, your luggage situation, and the time of year.

tl;dr If you don’t mind paying a little bit more, a private airport transfer service is probably the easiest way of getting to your accommodation.

Getting from New Chitose to Sapporo

If you’re budget conscious, buses and trains offer similar value, so go with whatever takes you closest to your destination. Taxis are a good last minute solution, but you can probably save money with a pre-booked airport transfer service — if it’s convenience you need.

If you’re planning on roadtripping it around Sapporo’s surrounding areas, you can consider renting a car at the airport and driving in. Just be sure to check that your Sapporo accommodation has parking.

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Train: Direct to Sapporo Station

¥1,150 (non-reserved seat) / ¥1,680 (reserved seat)
Less than 40 minutes to Sapporo Station

This is probably the simplest and most cost effective way to get to Sapporo. New Chitose Station, the airport train station, is in the basement of the domestic terminal building — there’s no need to go outside.

From here, JR Chitose Line trains run direct to Sapporo Station. Sapporo Station, meanwhile, is centrally located, and you can easily pick up the subway, buses, or taxis for onward travel.

Trains depart approximately every 15 minutes from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. After 8 a.m., all trains on the Chitose Line are Rapid Airport or Special Airport Rapid services, which take 37 minutes and 33 minutes, respectively. Before 8 a.m., all but one service is a regular local train, which takes close to an hour to reach Sapporo.

The fare is ¥1,150 no matter the service. On Rapid Airport and Special Airport Rapid services, you can pay an extra ¥530 for a reserved seat.

The journey is covered by the JR Pass, as well as by JR Hokkaidō regional rail passes.

Shin-Chitose Airport to Sapporo
Entrance to Shinchitose Airport JR Station. | Photo by Gregory Lane

Traveling with lots of luggage? You can arrange to have it ported from the airport to your accommodation, making the transfer easier.

Airport Bus: For central Sapporo hotels

¥1,100 per person for destinations in central Sapporo
60–100 minutes, depending on your stop (and traffic)

The Airport Bus is a little more complicated but can be a great option, especially if you’re staying at certain downtown hotels or have lots of luggage. It takes longer than the train, but can get you all the way to your destination.

Buses depart approximately every 15 minutes between 8:40 a.m. and 11 p.m. from both the domestic and international terminals. Bus (and taxi) stands at New Chitose Airport are clearly marked and numbered; there are maps to help you, plus friendly staff on site.

Airport Bus routes

The most useful route is the one bound for Central Sapporo (via Fukuzumi Sta). This service stops at several major downtown Sapporo hotels like Hotel Resol Trinity, Sapporo Grand Hotel, and the ANA Crowne Plaza Hotel. If you’re staying at one of the hotels on the route, the Airport Bus is a super convenient option.

Other useful stops on this route include Mitsui Outlet Park and Sapporo Dome. The downside is that, with so many stops, the ride can be long — especially if your stop is towards the end of the line (we’re looking at you Keio Plaza Hotel).

Note: Another service departs from the same bus stand bound for Central Sapporo (Direct)/Nakajima Park. This is a limited-stop service that goes to Sapporo Station (in approx. 65 minutes), and then goes to Odori Park (73 minutes), Susukino (77 minutes), and Nakajima Park (80 minutes) — but none of the hotels. It runs once an hour between noon and 7 p.m.

Confusingly, two companies, Hokkaidō Chūō and Hokuto Kōtsū, operate the buses for these servicces. It doesn’t matter; the fare for all center city stops is ¥1,100 and tickets are valid for either operator.

Hokkaidō Chūō also runs an hourly bus (between noon and 10:30 p.m.) to Sapporo Beer Garden.

Catching the Airport Bus

Bus stands can be found on the ground floor just outside the domestic and international terminals. Airport Bus services stop at all terminals, and twice at the domestic terminal — once on the ANA side and again on the JAL side.

Bus stands for Central Sapporo (via Fukuzumi Sta)

  • Domestic terminal ANA side: stand no. 22
  • Domestic terminal JAL side: stand no. 14
  • International terminal: stand no. 84

The domestic terminal is anchored on one side by ANA and on the other by JAL. So depending on which side is closest, you can pick up the Airport Bus there — without having to walk very far at all. The international terminal bus situation is a little less complicated, as all the stands are clustered just outside the main exit.

Departing from New Chitose, buses stop first on the ANA side of the domestic terminal, then on the JAL side, followed by the international terminal. Return buses stop at the international terminal first.

New Chitose Airport to Sapporo
New Chitose Airport opened in 1991. It is the largest airport in Hokkaido. | Photo by iStock.com/winhorse

Private airport transfer: Door-to-door convenience

From ¥18,775 per car to central Sapporo
1 to 1.5 hours door-to-door (depending on traffic)

Private cars will probably never be the cheapest way to travel (and probably shouldn’t be). But they are convenient, especially if it’s cold and you’ve got bags (or kids). They’re also a safe bet for a nighttime arrival — when the pressure to catch the last train or bus intensifies.

Airport transfer services are also more economical if you’ve got a group. Transfer service to central Sapporo for up to 3 people starts at ¥18,775, while a larger vehicle seating up 6 people starts at ¥25,815. Some services offer vehicles that seat up to 10.

Get together enough people and you can get door-to-door service to your accommodation in Sapporo for under ¥5,000 per person. Do keep in mind that you will be able to fit less people if you have a lot of stuff, so check the service details carefully.

Other perks include meet-and-greet service, child seats, and easy online booking. Travel time depends on traffic and (more likely in winter) road conditions.

Taxi: Last minute & late night

From ¥11,000 per car to central Sapporo
1 to 1.5 hours door-to-door (depending on traffic)

Taxis are another convenient option, and definitely good in a pinch. Fixed fare taxis are the best value, starting at ¥11,000 (per car) to destinations in central Sapporo. After 10 p.m., a late night surcharge of 20% applies.

The airport’s information desk might be able to help you arrange a fixed fare taxi. This is the best option, as it will likely be easier than talking directly to the driver if you don’t speak Japanese (and sometimes even if you do).

Taxi stands are on the ground floor just outside the terminal buildings, where the bus stands are.

New Chitose Airport taxi stands

  • Domestic terminal ANA side: stand no. 17
  • Domestic terminal JAL side: stand no. 11
  • International terminal: stand no. 80

If you’re instructed to go to the reserved taxi stand, these are stand nos. 18 (ANA side), 10 (JAL side), and 81 (international terminal).

Taxi Stand Sapporo
Photo by Gregory Lane

Rental cars: For the roadtrippers

Compare prices online
1 to 1.5 hours depending on conditions

Since Hokkaidō is great for road trips, you may want to pick up a car at the airport. There are some general things to know about renting a car in Japan, including what license you’ll need and some idea on costs.

Renting a car at New Chitose Airport

It’s pretty easy for international travelers to rent a car from New Chitose Airport. There are counters at both the domestic and international terminals. A shuttle bus will take you to the offices and lot.

Pretty much all the major rental car companies in Japan are represented. You can browse options online.

Most of the offices are open from 8 a.m. (some at 7 a.m.) with closing times varying from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. (the latest are Nippon and Toyota).

Should I rent a car for Sapporo?

Sapporo is a very walkable city, so you certainly don’t need a car to get around. There are some cool things to see and do on the outskirts of the city, but these can be reached by public bus. Popular day trips, like Otaru can also be reached by public transport.

Another thing to keep in mind is parking in Sapporo. If your accommodation offers free parking, that’s great. However, many don’t — so you don’t want to be stuck paying extra for parking overnight (unless you really need a car). Most central Sapporo sights won’t have free parking either.

On the other hand, picking up the car at New Chitose does make it easy for the return trip to the airport.

Getting from Sapporo to New Chitose Airport

If you’re also heading back to New Chitose Airport, you can pretty much reverse the journey. Ensure you check the times and give yourself plenty of room for mistakes or delays (especially in winter). The buses out of town begin much earlier, with some leaving Sapporo Station as early as 5:15 a.m. and regularly after that until 6 p.m.

The trains run from 6 am until just before 10 p.m. (direct). Although there is a route at 10 p.m. using the Suzuran Ltd. Express to catch the airport express if you miss it (but try not to)!

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