Busan, South Korea’s second-largest city, is a vibrant port city known for its stunning beaches, bustling markets, and scenic mountains. For those considering things to do in Busan, relaxing on the sandy shores of Haeundae Beach, one of the country’s most famous beaches, and exploring the Jagalchi Fish Market, the largest seafood market in Korea, are top activities.
The city’s Gamcheon Culture Village, with its brightly colored houses and artistic murals, offers a unique and photogenic experience. Nearby, the Beomeosa Temple, a historic Buddhist temple located on the slopes of Geumjeongsan Mountain, provides a peaceful retreat and insight into Korea’s religious practices.
Beyond its urban and coastal attractions, Busan also serves as a gateway to the beautiful Gyeongju region, home to ancient Silla Kingdom relics. For those seeking the best places to visit in South Korea, Busan’s blend of natural beauty, cultural richness, and urban energy makes it a must-visit destination.
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Attractions & Things to Do in Busan, South Korea
1. Gamcheon Culture Village
Gamcheon Culture Village, with its brightly colored houses, artistic murals, and quaint alleyways, stands as a vibrant canvas of creativity. Often referred to as the “Machu Picchu of Busan,” this area was transformed from a slum to a cultural hub by residents and artists.
Travel Tip: Wear comfortable shoes as you’ll be walking up and down steep streets, and be sure to explore the many small galleries and cafes.
2. Haeundae Beach
Haeundae Beach is perhaps the most famous beach in South Korea, known for its fine sand and clear waters, stretching over a 1.5-kilometer coastline. The beach area is bustling with life, hosting numerous festivals throughout the year.
Travel Tip: If you’re looking to avoid the crowds, visit during the weekdays or outside of peak summer months.
3. Jagalchi Fish Market
As South Korea’s largest seafood market, Jagalchi Fish Market offers an authentic glimpse into the local way of life. Visitors can watch fishmongers at work and sample fresh seafood right from the stalls.
Travel Tip: Visit in the morning when the day’s fresh catch arrives, and don’t hesitate to try the hoe (Korean sashimi) prepared on the spot.
4. Beomeosa Temple
Nestled on the slopes of Geumjeongsan Mountain, Beomeosa Temple is a serene escape from the urban hustle. This historic temple, founded in 678 AD, is an important site for Korean Buddhism.
Travel Tip: Participate in the temple stay program to experience the life of a Buddhist monk, including meditation and tea ceremonies.
5. Gwangalli Beach
Gwangalli Beach offers stunning views of the Gwangan Bridge, especially at night when it is spectacularly lit. It’s a popular spot for its cafes, bars, and restaurants along the beachfront.
Travel Tip: Visit during the Busan Fireworks Festival for an extraordinary display, but be sure to arrive early to secure a good spot.
6. Taejongdae Resort Park
This natural park, located on the southernmost tip of Yeongdo-gu island, is famous for its rocky cliffs facing the open sea. The park also offers a coastal walk, a lighthouse, and a cruise tour.
Travel Tip: Wear comfortable attire suitable for walking, and use the Danubi Train if you prefer not to walk the entire trail.
7. Seomyeon Medical Street
For those interested in Korea’s beauty and wellness culture, Seomyeon Medical Street is a hub for medical tourism, specializing in skincare and cosmetics.
Travel Tip: Even if you’re not looking for medical services, the area is also known for its shopping and entertainment options.
8. Busan Tower
Busan Tower stands at 120 meters tall in Yongdusan Park and offers panoramic views of the city and harbor.
Travel Tip: For an even more memorable experience, visit the tower after dark when the city lights create a mesmerizing nightscape.
9. Haedong Yonggungsa Temple
This unique seaside temple offers a rare combination of cultural heritage and coastal beauty. Unlike most temples in Korea, which are located in the mountains, Haedong Yonggungsa Temple sits on the coast, offering breathtaking ocean views.
Travel Tip: Try to visit during Buddha’s birthday when the temple is adorned with colorful lanterns.
10. Busan Cinema Center
As the host of the annual Busan International Film Festival, the Busan Cinema Center is an architectural masterpiece and a mecca for film enthusiasts.
Travel Tip: Even if your visit doesn’t coincide with the film festival, the center often holds movie screenings and cultural events open to the public.
11. Oryukdo Skywalk
The Oryukdo Skywalk juts out from a cliff on Oryukdo Island, giving visitors the feeling of walking over the ocean. The floor is made of glass, providing direct views of the waves below.
Travel Tip: Visit on a clear day for the best views, and try to go early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid crowds.
12. Songdo Beach
Songdo Beach, Korea’s first public beach, has recently been rejuvenated with the addition of a cable car that offers views of the coastline.
Travel Tip: Take a ride on the Songdo Marine Cable Car for a unique perspective of the beach and the surrounding area.
13. Lotte World Tower & Mall
The Lotte World Tower stands as a soaring landmark in Seoul, South Korea, stretching into the sky with its impressive 123 floors. At its base, the Lotte World Mall offers a plethora of shopping, dining, and entertainment options.
Travel Tip: Make sure to visit the observation deck, Seoul Sky, for breathtaking panoramic views of the entire city, especially mesmerizing during sunset.
14. Gyeongbokgung Palace
As the largest of the Five Grand Palaces built during the Joseon Dynasty, Gyeongbokgung Palace is a testament to Korea’s architectural ingenuity and historical grandeur. The palace complex boasts beautiful traditional structures and stands as a proud symbol of Korea’s cultural heritage.
Travel Tip: Witness the royal guard changing ceremony and wear a hanbok (traditional Korean attire) for free entry and a splendid photo opportunity.
15. Bukchon Hanok Village
This charming neighborhood showcases hundreds of traditional houses called hanoks that date back to the Joseon Dynasty. Bukchon Hanok Village is not just a tourist attraction but a living village inhabited by locals, providing a unique glimpse into the daily life of traditional Korean aristocracy.
Travel Tip: Be respectful of residents’ privacy and noise levels while strolling through the village, as this is still a residential area.
16. N Seoul Tower
Perched atop Namsan Mountain, N Seoul Tower is not only a top broadcasting tower but also an iconic part of the Seoul skyline, offering an observation deck with incredible views. Couples often visit the tower to lock “love padlocks” as a sign of their commitment to each other.
Travel Tip: For a more scenic approach, hike up Namsan Mountain to reach the tower instead of taking the cable car.
17. Myeongdong Shopping Street
Myeongdong is a bustling shopping district where you can find everything from high-end brands to affordable street wear, cosmetics, and accessories. The street food stalls here are also worth visiting, serving up a delicious array of Korean snacks.
Travel Tip: Visit in the late afternoon or evening when the street comes alive with neon signs and street performers.
Insadong is a vibrant neighborhood known for its traditional tea houses, galleries, and shops selling antiques and crafts. It’s the perfect place to find souvenirs and experience the artistic side of Seoul.
Travel Tip: Don’t miss out on trying traditional Korean sweets in one of the many traditional tea houses.
19. The War Memorial of Korea
Dedicated to educating visitors about Korea’s military history, The War Memorial of Korea offers an extensive collection of artifacts and exhibits from various conflicts, including the Korean War.
Travel Tip: Allocate several hours for your visit as the museum is expansive, and there is much to learn and see.
20. Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP)
DDP is a major urban development landmark designed by Zaha Hadid, featuring a futuristic facade and serving as a hub for design and fashion events.
Travel Tip: Check the schedule for any ongoing events or exhibitions; the DDP often hosts various design-related shows and markets that are open to the public.
21. Hangang Park
Stretching along the banks of the Han River, Hangang Park offers vast recreational areas perfect for picnics, bike rides, and leisurely walks.
Travel Tip: Rent a bike or bring a picnic and join the locals in enjoying one of the most scenic spots in the city.
Known for its youthful and lively atmosphere, Hongdae is the area around Hongik University, filled with quirky shops, cafes, bars, and clubs. It’s a hotspot for urban arts, indie music, and nightlife.
Travel Tip: Visit during the evening when live street performances and music are at their peak.
FAQ About Things to Do in Busan, South Korea
What are the must-visit beaches in Busan?
Haeundae Beach and Gwangalli Beach are the two most popular beaches in Busan. Haeundae is bustling with activities, while Gwangalli is famous for its fine sand and stunning views of the Gwangan Bridge.
Can I explore traditional markets in Busan?
Absolutely! Jagalchi Fish Market, the largest seafood market in Korea, and Gukje Market, known for its wide range of goods and street food, are not to be missed for an authentic local shopping experience.
Is there a cultural village to visit in Busan?
Yes, Gamcheon Culture Village is a vibrant and colorful hillside community often nicknamed ‘the Machu Picchu of Busan.’ It’s filled with murals, quaint cafes, and art installations.
What hiking opportunities does Busan offer?
Busan is home to many scenic trails. Hiking up to the Seokbulsa Temple, located on Mount Geumjeongsan, provides both a spiritual and physical challenge with rewarding panoramic city views.
Are there any unique museums in Busan?
The Busan Museum of Art and the Trick Eye Museum offer unique experiences. The former showcases contemporary Korean and international art, while the latter features interactive 3D paintings and installations.
What is the best way to enjoy Busan’s coastal scenery?
Taking a cruise from Haeundae Beach or walking along the Igidae Coastal Walk offers breathtaking views of the ocean and the city’s coastline.
Can I experience hot springs in Busan?
Yes, the city is known for its natural hot springs. Hurshimchung Spa is one of the largest hot spring complexes in Asia and provides a relaxing experience.
What local food should I try in Busan?
Don’t leave Busan without trying the local seafood, especially the hoe (raw fish) and gukbap (rice soup). The street food in Nampodong and the fresh fish at Jagalchi Market are also highly recommended.