When to travel?

It snows a lot during winter, but this is the reason why the prefecture has a lot of ski resorts.  Summer is short but relatively hot and humid.  The difference between the seasons are so big.

Best season: Apr-Oct
Snow activity: Dec-Mar
Cherry blossoms: mid Apr
Foliage: end of Oct-Nov

Events / Festivals

Apr: Takada castle park cherry blossom festival (高田城址公園観桜会), Takada 高田
June: Sado Ogi Tarai boat festival (佐渡小木たらい船 さざえ祭), Sado 佐渡
Aug: Nagaoka fireworks festival (長岡大花火大会), Nagaoka 長岡
Aug: Niigata festival (新潟まつり), Niigata
Aug: Iwamuro Hot spring festival (岩室温泉祭), Iwamuro 岩室

Touristic spots

Capital city: Niigata (新潟)

It is relatively a small city, but the access is very convenient.  Niigata station has a JR trains and Shinkansen bullet train, which connects to other region such as Tohoku, Hokuriku and Kanto areas.

Niigata station is huge, with a lot of souvenir shops.  There is a popular place where you can try Sake called Ponshukan (ぽんしゅ館).

You will get 5 coins for 500 yen, and put each coin into the machine, then small portion of Sake is served into a small cup.
Northern Culture Museum (北方文化博物館), a mansion owned by a rich farmer.

Shibata (新発田)

Located within an hour from Niigata, Shibata is a great place for historical walk lovers as the city has flourished with a castle.  There are historical buildings which was previously used by low-rank Samurais.  There is a beautiful Japanese garden and even Sake brewery you may enjoy visiting.  Tsukioka Hot spring (月岡温泉) is nearby.

Shibata castle (新発田城).

Nagaoka (長岡)

The second biggest city in Niigata.  It has flourished as a capital city and Sake breweries.  The fireworks festival, which is held in August, is said to be one of the top 3 greatest fireworks festival of Japan.

Yukyuzan park (悠久山公園), a replica of the castle which is now served as a museum.  There is a small zoo, too.
Festival has more than 1 million visitors, just within 2 days.
Nagaoka also produces a lot of Sake, Miso paste, and Soy sauce.  The area called Settaya (摂田屋) still has many traditional factories, which you can make a reservation for a walk around.

Murakami (村上)

Murakami is rather a small city; however, the city has flourished as a rich town.  It is a city of Salmon, Sake, and a famous temple where we can meet a holy mummy of a Buddhist monk.  The city has so many unique sites that you cannot see anywhere else.

Kikkawa (きっかわ) dried salmon shop, it is the town’s specialty.
Sasakawa Nagare (笹川流れ), a beautiful beach which can be accessed from Murakami.
Senami Hot spring (瀬波温泉) is also nearby.  Sunset is amazing from the hot spring.

Sado Island (佐渡島)

The island that floats on the ocean of Japan Sea.  Access to the island is easy from Niigata city.  The island has amazing views with so many traditional and original culture, especially Tarai (たらい船), a small round boat made of wood, to carry passengers. 

The island once flourished because there was a gold mine.  There is no more gold left, however, people are trying to nominate the former gold mine to be the next UNESCO World Heritage site.

Shukunegi (宿根木), the only traditional street which is protected as an Important Preservation district in Niigata.
Ono game (大野亀), a big turtle rock.
Tarai boat.
Entrance of the Gold mine.

Hyo Lake (瓢湖)

This is an artificial lake, where thousands of swans and birds spend their winter.  The lake is nominated as the important wetland by UNESCO.  Iris flowers are blooming before summer.

Mt. Myoko (妙高山)

Mt. Myoko is the height of 2454 meters, which is included in the Myoko Togakushi National Park.  This is the most well-known mountain of Niigata, and it is called as Echigo Fuji (越後富士).  It is still considered as active volcano, though there is no eruption confirmed in the written history.

Mt. Myoko with cosmos flowers.

Kiyotsu gorge (清津峡)

This is a 12.5 kilo meter long gorge, which is one of the top 3 gorges of Japan.

Echigo Yuzawa (越後湯沢)

One of the most famous ski resorts in Japan.  The access from Tokyo is very easy so that people visit on weekends during winter.  There is also prominent hot spring called Echigo Yuzawa Hot spring (越後湯沢温泉), which can be enjoyed throughout a year.

Ski resort in Echigo Yuzawa.
Natural hot spring.