Getting To Niseko

Getting To Niseko

There are various options for airport transfers to Niseko or getting to Niseko from Sapporo City. The Niseko travel and booking option information includes:
Other Niseko transport information includes:

Where is Niseko?

Niseko is located in Hokkaido Japan, the powder capital of the world!

Niseko Resort is about 100 km southwest of Sapporo city and Sapporo New-Chitose airport, which is about 2.5 hours drive away.

There is a town called Niseko but the term “Niseko” is often used to refer to “Niseko United” which has four interconnected ski areas. Each Niseko ski area has a village with a corresponding name at the base:

The town of Kutchan is close to Niseko and only 8km from Hirafu which is the largest of the Niseko Resort base areas. The actual town of “Niseko” is about 7-8km from the ski villages of Higashiyama (Niseko Village) and Annupuri. You can look at our Niseko map to get a feel for the location of the different villages and see the getting around Niseko section for road distances between the different zones.

Flights to Sapporo Chitose Airport

The New Chitose Airport (Sapporo Airport) is the best gateway airport for Niseko. You can use one of our flight search engines to compare different airlines and routes to find a flight that suits you.

Also see our travel to Hokkaido page for advice on flights to the New Chitose Airport (Sapporo) and getting to Hokkaido.

If you don't want to stay overnight in one of the Chitose Airport hotels or use a private Niseko transfer service, ensure arrival times into New Chitose Airport (CTS) are not later than 8:30pm and departure times are not before noon. If you need to overnight at the New Chitose Airport, really convenient hotel options are the Air Terminal Hotel or the Portom International Hokkaido.

Sapporo Chitose Airport to Niseko Bus & Transfer Services

Bus transfer is the most convenient and economical way for a Sapporo airport transfer to Niseko. The Niseko bus takes about 2.5-3 hours depending on road conditions and your drop off point.

Hokkaido Resort Liner provides the cheapest options for Sapporo to Niseko bus transport, with drop off points in:

If you’re not staying at one of these hotels, you may be able to walk to your accommodation from a bus drop-off point, some accommodations provide a free pick-up service, or you can get a taxi or shuttle bus. Note that bookings can only be made from early October onwards and need to be made at least 9 days prior to travel.

Or the ultimate in convenience for an airport transfer to Niseko is a private transfer service or limousine transfer where you choose what time you want to travel, and get dropped right at the door of your Niseko accommodation.

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Sapporo City to Niseko Bus Transfers

Hokkaido Resort Liner provides bus service from about 20 hotels in Sapporo to Niseko. If you want to stay at one of the Sapporo hotels where the bus stops, see our Sapporo hotels page. Bookings need to be made at least 9 days prior to travel.

If you are wanting a private door-to-door service, Sky Station (use dropdown menu) can arrange a chartered Niseko transfer for 1 to 40 people.

Train to Niseko

Train from Sapporo to Niseko

Although a little complex, it’s possible to catch trains to Niseko from the airport or Sapporo City. From New Chitose airport a rapid train takes about 35 minutes to Sapporo. A train from Sapporo to Otaru takes from 32 to 50 minutes, and then a train to Kutchan takes between 1 hour and 1:20 hours. Niseko station is a further 15-20 minutes on from Kutchan. For train timetables and fares check out Hyperdia

Kutchan is the best train station for those staying in Hirafu or Hanazono, whilst Niseko station is closer for those staying in Niseko Village (Higashiyama) or Annupuri. Buses are available from Kutchan train station, and taxis available from both train stations, or some lodgings provide a pick up service. A taxi between Kutchan station and Hirafu costs about ¥2,500 and takes about 15 minutes.

Trains from Honshu to Niseko
A tunnel runs between Honshu (the main island of Japan) and Hokkaido, and trains between Shin-Aomori (at the northern tip of Honshu) and Kutchan take as little as 4.5 hours because the first part of the trip is a bullet train. It’s about 3 hours from Tokyo to Shin-Aomori by bullet train. See Hyperdia for train timetables and fares.

Driving to Niseko

Another option for getting to Niseko is to rent a car at the New Chitose Airport or in Sapporo. This provides the flexibility to do day trips to other ski resorts near Niseko or to do some sightseeing (e.g. to Otaru or Lake Toya) on down days.

You can rent a car with an English GPS, you plug in the phone number of where you want to go (e.g. the telephone number for Hirafu Niseko for GPS navigation is 0136-22-0109), and the GPS shows you how to get there. Super easy! It’s also reasonably easy to self navigate because many of the road signs are in English. You don’t need to put chains on, because the rental cars have snow tyres.

Please note that it is mandatory to have an international drivers license to rent and drive a vehicle in Japan. If you turn up without one, the rental company will not rent you a vehicle.

See the travelling around Japan page for other tips on driving in Japan.

It’s also possible to rent a car in Niseko, but this is increasing in popularity so try to book a car as early as possible.

Other Ski Resorts Nearby

You may want to rent a car so that you can readily visit other ski areas near Niseko, or it’s possible to get some nearby ski resorts via bus or other transport.

Moiwa (aka Niseko Moiwa) is 12km southwest of Hirafu Niseko and 2.5km west of Annupuri Niseko. Moiwa is well known for its off-piste and steep side-country runs, and there’s a slightly better chance of scoring freshies than at Niseko. Moiwa is interconnected with Niseko United via the slopes (when the backcountry gates are open), or you can catch a free bus from Hirafu to Moiwa. You can head there on a guided day tour with WhiteRoom Tours

Rusutsu is 28km southwest of Hirafu which is about a half hour drive by car. Rusutsu is bliss for powder hounds and another good opportunity to get away from the Niseko crowds. A guided tour can help you get the most out of Rusutsu and BDTs often go to Rusutsu on the PowderHunter trips or you can head there with WhiteRoom Tours. Or an inexpensive way to travel between Niseko and Rusutsu is the Donan Bus (NB only Kutchan to Rusutsu bus operating in 22/23). Or you can get a bus and lift ticket package with Niseko Ground Services. You can book this online on their website or go to their office which is next to the Hirafu Welcome Centre. 

Kiroro is 51km northeast of Hirafu; about an hour away by car or 100 minutes by bus. Otherwise Kiroro is sometimes included on the guided Powder Hunter day tours or head there on a guided day tour. Or Sky Station provide private transfers between Niseko and Kiroro (click on the drop down items).

The tiny little Iwanai Ski Resort is 40km northwest of Hirafu, which is best known for the Iwanai Cat Skiing operation.

Other nearby ski resorts that may be visited on guided day Niseko ski tours include Sapporo Teine and Sapporo Kokusai.

Getting to Furano & Tomamu

Furano is about 4 hours away from Niseko so it’s not ideal for a day trip, but it’s popular to combine multi-day stays at Niseko and Furano on a Japan ski holiday. Hokkaido Resort Liner provides a daily service to / from Furano via Rusutsu. Click here for Furano/Niseko schedules and bookings (bookable from July onwards). Or you can get private door-to-door transfers between Furano and Niseko with Sky Station (use drop down menu).

Tomamu is about 240km from Niseko. Click here for buses between Niseko and Tomamu.

Getting Around Niseko

Niseko is really well geared up for tourists so there are very well established shuttle bus systems to get around and between the different villages. A tourist map in English that outlines the various shuttle bus routes and timetables is readily available throughout Niseko.

Be aware that the tops of the four Niseko ski areas are very close together, but the villages at the base of each area fan apart so there is some distance between them. Road distances from Hirafu Niseko (the main village):
  • Hanazono is 10km to the north (10-15 mins)
  • Niseko Village (Higashiyama) is 9km southwest (10-20 minute drive from Hirafu)
  • An’nupuri is 12km southwest (20-30 mins) and just a little further around is Moiwa 
  • Town of Kutchan is 8km northeast
  • Town of Niseko is 10km south 

Niseko United Shuttle
The Niseko United shuttle buses link the bases of Hirafu, Hanazono, Niseko Village, and An’nupuri. This bus is free if you have a Niseko United lift ticket. Otherwise it costs about 200-500 yen depending on the distance travelled. The Niseko United shuttle doesn’t operate after about 9:30pm.

Niseko Village Bus
This is a handy shuttle bus for those staying in Niseko Village. The free hotel bus goes from about 9am to the wee hours of the morning and travels between the Hilton, a few locations within Niseko Village, the Hirafu Crossing, Hirafu Welcome Center, and Kutchan Station. Timetables are available at the Hilton or Niseko Village accommodations.

Grand Hirafu Shuttle Bus
The Hirafu village bus has a few different routes and offers a very frequent service. The bus operates from 8:30am - 9:00pm and is useful for getting around the Hirafu village and Hanazono.

Niseko Town Shuttle
This shuttle only runs about four times a day between JR Niseko Station, Niseko Village, the Higashiyama area (Niseko Village) and the Annupuri Konbu area.

Hotel Shuttles
There are lots of Niseko accommodation providers, particularly some of the big hotels, that offer shuttle services around Niseko. Some provide shuttles to the lifts or evening transport around Hirafu or even into Kutchan.

Other Buses
You might want to venture to the nearby town of Kutchan for a change of scenery or for groceries, ski shops, or restaurants. There are various different buses that go to Kutchan including the Night Go bus. See the tourist maps for more information. Similarly there are various buses that travel around to some of the onsen including those in the Annupuri and Konbu Onsen area.

Taxis are readily available, particularly in Hirafu, and can be hailed on major streets. Many taxis have roof racks but they may have to be a little creative when fitting in large ski or board bags. Prices are reasonable but more expensive than many other parts of Japan.

Having a car offers the ultimate in flexibility to travel around Niseko and surrounding areas. Cons are that parking around Hirafu can be very scarce, and the traffic around Hirafu can be rather nasty, especially near the Hirafu intersection.