Hokkaido Cycling Explorer

  • Location

    Japan

  • Duration

    7 days | 6 nights | 5 days riding

  • Length

    Up to 450km total

  • Climb

    Up to 5,800m total

7 Sep 2024 - 13 Sep 2024

Hokkaido is famous for its beautiful wilderness, volcanic terrain, gastronomic cuisine and fascinating indigenous culture. Just a short onward flight from Tokyo, Hokkaido’s climate, heritage and relaxed vibe are distinct from the rest of Japan. It is a haven for nature lovers, outdoor adventurers and dedicated foodies, making it a captivating escape to be discovered by bike.

Our Hokkaido Explorer tour is designed to showcase the best of the island in 5 days of riding, suitable for any road cycling enthusiast. Our local guides will take you on routes along Pacific coastlines, through deciduous forests to spectacular volcanoes and crystal-clear caldera lakes and, of course, give you plenty of opportunity to relax and unwind in the hot springs that this region is so famous for. Not to mention indulgence in the local cuisine – this is the birthplace of ramen and Sapporo beer!

Early September sees temperatures start to cool and the start of fall in this northern region, bringing brilliant colours to Hokkaido’s forests. It’s a slightly quieter time, between summer and mid September holidays, that we think is perfect to discover.

On most days we have the option for a shorter or longer route, and for those of you who seek to ride further, a guide will accompany you along additional and optional climbs or circuits. If you need a break, no problem - there will always be a vehicle nearby to collect you and whisk you off to the next hotel.

Our local guides know what’s what and are there to help you uncover the magic of this enchanting destination.

Total price: PRICE FROM 7,390CHF

  • Ride 5.5 days in spectacular volcanic and lake landscapes
  • Explore the sites and wilderness of Japan in autumnal beauty
  • Experience this ancient and fascinating eastern culture
  • Soothe tired legs in authentic Onsen (natural hot springs) in your 4 & 5 star superb hotels
  • Savour Japanese cuisine, including internationally-popular Sapporo specialities
  • Expert planning and support from our team (local guides, mechanics, drivers)
  • Premium rental bike available (Full carbon disc brake + Ultegra di2 electronic)
  • Level of fitness: MEDIUM - fit enough to ride 2 to 4 hours or 50 to 100 km per day. * optional longer rides can be arranged.
  • Day 1 - Saturday 7 September

    Konnichiwa and irasshaimase!

    Welcome to Hokkaido, Japan's northern main island. We will meet you at Sapporo Chitose Airport, after your connection from Tokyo, and our first night will be here at our luxurious 5-star hotel.

    After check-in, we’ll help you get set up with your bike and then you have the afternoon to settle into the local culture. You can enjoy the hotel’s stunning onsen and, if you wish, we can assist you in advance booking of spa treatments or a traditional Japanese Tea Ceremony.

    At pre-dinner welcome drinks, our guides will provide you with your Grand Tours Project kit and musette bags, and talk you through the plan for the week. One of your guides is a former professional rider and is available to you for advice and stories about his racing career.

    You will then enjoy a spectacular welcome dinner of refined Japanese cuisine, dining together as a group at the hotel’s gastronomic restaurant.

  • Day 2 - Sunday 8 September

    Lake Toya ride

    Up to 55km | 400m climbing

    We have a gentle first day of riding to introduce us to the local landscape. After breakfast we will transfer you to the start point of the ride at the waterfalls in Sangaitaki Park. From there we have an easy roll down towards Lake Toya and then a flat circumnavigation of the lake. Admire the caldera lake with its central island and active volcano surroundings in the Toya-Usu UNESCO Global Geopark.

    We finish our ride with lunch on the shores of Lake Toya, our beautiful base for the next 3 nights.

    After checking into your 4-star hotel, explore the local area or make use of the indoor or outdoor hot springs overlooking the lake.

    We will be heading out for dinner at a local family-run restaurant, before heading onto the lake itself for a spectacular evening cruise with fireworks!

  • Day 3 - Monday 9 September

    ‘Hell Valley’ and Noboribetsu onsen

    46km | 1100m climbing / 92km | 2200m climbing

    Today we ride out from Lake Toya and through the spectacular and appropriately named ‘Hell Valley’ mountain pass to Noboribetsu, one of Hokkaido’s most famous hot spring towns.

    We will break for a delicious and well-earned lunch of soba noodles in Noboribetsu, where we can marvel at the town’s hot steam vents and other volcanic activity. We have the opportunity then to visit one of the town’s ryokan to enjoy the hot springs, either choosing to finish your ride here or, if you have the legs, ride back over the mountain pass down to Lake Toya.

    Refuel from the day’s exertion with a relaxed buffet dinner at the hotel, overlooking the lake and its fireworks.

  • Day 4 - Tuesday 10 September

    Uchiara Bay and Cape Chikyu

    60km | 500m climbing / Up to 120km | 1100m climbing

    We start our ride again from Lake Toya, this time joining the coastal road at Date and tracing Uchiara Bay towards Cape Chikyu where we meet the North Pacific Ocean. Admire the coastal views along the way, with the options to stop at Tokarisho Observatory lookout point and the Cape Chikyu lighthouse, from where, on a clear day, you can see the curvature of the earth on the Pacific horizon.

    We'll stop for lunch at the farthest point of the peninsula, with views over the Hakucho Bridge. We can then continue the ride along the Cape back towards Lake Toya, or hop in the van to be transported back for a relaxed afternoon.

  • Day 5 - Wednesday 11 September

    Lake Toya inland to Niseko & Mount Yotei

    55km | 800m climbing / 100km | 1100m climbing

    We’re on the move today so after breakfast we will check out of Lake Toya and put our bags in the van for our next destination. Onto the bikes, and we’re heading inland through Hokkaido’s hinterland, following the beacon of Mount Yotei as we skirt it from the south and head up towards the popular ski resort of Niseko. Riders wanting a shorter route may choose to finish the ride upon reaching Niseko, while others wanting to go further will continue the route round to the north of Mount Yotei before turning back to Niseko.

    Upon reaching Niseko there is much to explore in this mountain town. After checking into our 4-star hotel for the night, we can make use of its in-house baths or head to the popular Yogokoretei onsen. There is also plenty of shopping nearby.

  • Day 6 - Thursday 12 September

    Lake Shikotsu

    51km | 650m climbing / 78km | 1000m climbing

    Onwards from Niseko this morning so after a good breakfast we will get in the GTP van to transfer us to our next stage.

    We will enjoy coffee near Kimobetsu before starting our ride, during which we will climb towards Lake Shikotsu and trace its south-eastern perimeter towards our destination on the eastern shore. You can choose to finish here or continue with a climb on the slopes of the active volcano Mount Eniwa, if you want to add to your total ascent for the trip!

    Laks Shikotsu, our final destination, is a spectacular deep, clearwater lake encircled by mountains, including Mount Tarumae, one of Japan’s most active volcanoes. For the afternoon, enjoy some water-based activities or take on the Mount Tarumae trailhead hike towards its crater.

    Our last supper will feature delicious Japanese cuisine, as we recount together the memories we’ve made cycling in these wonderful volcanic landscapes and fascinating culture.

  • Day 7 - Friday 13 September

    Sayonara

    Sadly, our wonderful trip is over. We will help you remove your pedals from your rental bike or get your bike packed into its box. Once checked out, you can enjoy a wander around Lake Shikotsu before it’s time to head off. We’ll drive you the 35 minute transfer back to New Chitose airport in good time for your flight.

    If you’ve travelled far to join us, why not consider spending the weekend in Tokyo on your route back home?

    Safe travels and we hope to see you again soon on another Grand Tours Project trip!