Incheon South Korea is the world’s gateway to cities like Seoul, Busan, and Daegu. Unless you’re flying straight to Jeju Island’s airport, Incheon is the first city that welcomes you. However, most tourists head straight to the buzzing Korean capital, entirely missing out on the tourism and sightseeing opportunities that the city has to offer. While most people associate Incheon with its airport, Incheon in itself is a beautiful destination worth visiting. Whether you’re in Korea for a layover or you’re staying in Korea for a week, why not visit and explore Incheon?
Bursting with both modern and historical sites, Incheon offers a balance between new and old. Without a doubt, Incheon is famous for its airport, Incheon International Airport. As the largest airport in the country, it welcomes millions of visitors every year, making it one of the busiest airports in Asia. In addition, the airport also won several awards and has constantly ranked in lists of best airports. Aside from its airport, Incheon is also famous for its rich history, particularly its role during the Korean War. A battle in the city led by Douglas MacArthur resulted in Korea’s decisive victory. Visit its colorful temples, ancient fortresses, and the only Chinatown in Korea.
Now if you’re curious to see what else Incheon has in store for you, look no further! This article covers the best things to do in Incheon South Korea as well as hotels to stay in.
Things to Do in Incheon South Korea
1. Roam Around Incheon International Airport
Your Incheon journey starts in the airport itself! Like Singapore’s Changi Airport, there are plenty of fun things to do in Incheon South Korea’s airport. Get a brief overview of Korea’s traditional culture at the Korean Cultural Street and the Korean Traditional Culture Experience Center in both terminals. Enjoy the view of the sea from a 72-hole golf club or hit the tables at the casino, both accessible by a short shuttle bus ride. At Incheon for a quick layover? Catch a movie, explore its numerous indoor gardens, go ice skating, and shop ‘til you drop! If you’re looking for a more relaxing activity, head to the spa for a massage or take a quick shower so you feel refreshed after a long flight.
2. Hang Out at Songdo Central Park
Songdo Central Park is Incheon’s answer to New York’s iconic Central Park. The park, nestled between the skyscrapers of Songdo International Business District, provides a refreshing escape in the middle of the city. There are walking trails, picnic areas, a deer park, gardens, and a hanok village. A man-made water canal also runs through the entire park, connecting different landmarks and destinations. Guests can use a canoe, kayak, stand-up paddleboard, and a water-taxi service to explore and see the city from a different perspective. The park isn’t huge and it only takes about an hour or more to explore, but it offers different activities perfect for a day trip.
3. Snap Photos at Songwol-dong Fairy Tale Village
For tourists with children, a trip to Songwol-dong Fairy Tale Village is a must. Once a dilapidated residential area, the local government turned the area into a colorful and whimsical destination to attract tourists. Find murals painted with Disney princesses, fairy tale characters, and other famous characters from children’s stories. True to its reputation as a fairy tale village, you can also spot dainty turrets reminiscent of castles in Europe. Bring out your phones, strike a pose, and snap Instagram-worthy photos with the statues and murals. Since Songwol-dong Fairy Tale Village is a popular photo spot, make sure to arrive in the morning before the crowds arrive.
4. Drive Through Incheon Bridge
The 21-kilometer long Incheon Bridge connects Songdo Island and Yeongjongdo Island. It is also South Korea’s longest cable-stayed bridge and the world’s tenth longest. In addition, Incheon Bridge provides faster access to Incheon Airport from Songdo, reducing travel time by up to an hour. From afar, the bridge stands out with its tall towers soaring above the sea. It is simply a sight to behold at night, illuminated by hundreds of lights along the bridge and two from the towers.
5. Visit Chinatown Incheon
The city of Incheon takes pride in having Korea’s only official Chinatown, Chinatown Incheon. It was founded in 1884 and is now home to a considerable population of Chinese expats. Enter the ornately designed paifang (traditional Chinese-style gateway) and get a glimpse of what life was like for Chinese people in Korea. Chinatown Incheon is also bursting with traditional restaurants, perfect for foodies or those who want to gain a deeper appreciation of Chinese and Korean food. Try jjajangmyeon (noodles with black bean sauce), sweet and sour pork, vegetables with mustard sauce, and more. You can also visit the Jajangmyeon Museum for an in-depth history of the beloved noodle dish. Because of its proximity to Wolmido Island, tourists usually combine a day trip to the island with a short stop at Chinatown Incheon.
6. Take a Day Trip to Wolmido Island
From Incheon, South Korea, take the bus to Wolmido Island and enjoy the beautiful seaside views. Visit Wolmi Theme Park and feel the adrenaline rush as you ride the classic Disco Pang-Pang, one of the sites featured in the KTO’s Feel the Rhythm of KOREA video. Aside from Wolmi Theme Park, there are other must-visit sites on the island. Stroll around Wolmido Cultural Street and soak up the views accompanied by outdoor performances and street artists. Stop by one of the restaurants and sink your teeth into fresh and delicious seafood. Before returning to your hotel, cap off your Wolmido Island tour and watch the sunset from the 377-foot tall Ferris wheel.
7. Go for a Stroll in Jayu Park
Jayu Park, also known as Freedom Park, is Incheon South Korea’s first western-style park. The park got its name in 1957 from the US-Korea Centennial Monument and the Douglas MacArthur statue, signifying Korea’s freedom from the war. However, the park isn’t just about its historical significance, it also boasts some of the most picturesque spots in the city. Stroll around the park’s well-manicured gardens, relax at the benches, and enjoy the peaceful ambiance. Eagle-eyed K-Drama fans will also recognize the park as one of the filming locations for the hit drama, Goblin. In spring, Jayu Park is a popular spot to watch the cherry blossoms.
8. Soak up the Sun at Eurwangni Beach
Escape the summer heat and head to Eurwangni Beach. This beach is fairly close to the airport and the city center, making it a quick escape from the warm weather. With an average depth of 1.5 meters, the beach is safe for children, although adult supervision is always required at the beach. There are banana boat and jet ski rentals for lovers of water sports and activities as well. At night, Eurwangni Beach becomes a hotspot for stargazing and visitors can get a chance to see different celestial bodies. While it may not be the biggest beach in Incheon, it still provides its guests fun opportunities for activities in the summer.
9. Try Korean Street Food at Sinpo International Market
Sinpo International Market is your one-stop-shop for delicious street food in Incheon South Korea. The market opened in 1970 and has been one of the city’s most popular destinations, especially for food tours. Walk around the market and explore Korea through its street food and delicacies. Munch on mandu (fried dumplings), dakgangjeong (sweet and spicy fried chicken), tteokbokki (spicy rice cakes), and egg tarts as you move from one stall to another. But aside from local food, there are plenty of other finds at Sinpo International Market. Shop for fresh produce, cookware, cosmetics, bags, clothes, and souvenirs. Take note that the market is closed every second Sunday of the month and most stores don’t have fixed opening hours.
10. Relax at Incheon Grand Park
Located between two mountains, Incheon Grand Park is a perfect destination for travelers wanting to spend time with nature. The massive green space has plenty of outdoor activities for all seasons. In winter, go sledding or head to the skating rink. By spring, join the Incheon Grand Park Cherry Blossom Festival events and admire the cherry blossom trees in bloom. In summer, go biking, enjoy a picnic lunch, and visit the children’s zoo, home to more than 200 animals. The park is also famous in autumn as both locals and tourists visit to admire the warm hues of the fall foliage.
11. Discover Ganghwa Island
Ganghwa Island is a treasure trove of different Korean cultural assets. Because of its location along the Han River, the island was witness to several battles and invasions. Today, the island houses colorful temples, imposing fortresses, and tranquil parks. Pay a visit to Jeondeungsa Temple, the oldest temple on the island, and be in awe of its traditional architecture and different relics. Head to the Chojijin Fortress, built to protect the island from outsiders and played an important role during the American and Japanese invasion. At the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Ganghwa Dolmen Park, find over a hundred dolmens, giant stones used as grave markers.
12. Admire the Views of Incheon From a Rail Bike
Going on a railbike is one of the most unique yet enjoyable ways of enjoying Incheon’s sights. A railbike is basically a pedal-powered vehicle (usually a two-seater) that rides along a railway track. In Incheon South Korea, the Yeongjong Sea Side Rail Bike is one of the must-do activities in the city. From Wolmido to Incheon Bridge, the rail bike trip covers most of the city’s top spots. What’s also nice about the Yeongjong Rail Bike is that you can enjoy both the calming sea breeze and the landmarks and attractions along the track. In addition, rail bikes, in general, allow you to pedal and move at your own pace so you can take your time admiring the scenery before moving on to the next site.
13. Rest and Relax at Spasis Jjimjilbang
Bathing at a jjimjilbang (Korean spa) is a must experience when visiting South Korea. These public bathhouses feature hot tubs, massage tables, showers, and traditional kiln saunas. You can also find a snack bar, PC rooms, exercise rooms, karaoke rooms, and sleeping quarters complete with bunk beds or mats. If you feel exhausted from all the sightseeing in Incheon, head to Spasis Jjimjilbang. Being the biggest jjimjilbang in the city, Spasis doesn’t just have the basic spa facilities. In fact, it even features a movie theater, food courts, a gym, and a minibar. Try the different sauna rooms such as the charcoal room, and the salt room, all with different benefits, before taking a dip at the rooftop pool.
14. Birdwatch at Sorae Ecology Park
Sorae Ecology Park is a charming and serene park in Incheon South Korea. It used to be a salt field that produced the largest amount of sun-dried sea salt in the country, but today, it is famous as a bird-watching spot. Bring out your cameras and binoculars and get a chance to spot different migratory birds. Sorae Ecology Park also offers walking trails with a view of wooden windmills, creating a picture-perfect landscape. There may not be a lot of activities in the park, but it is a great place to visit for those who want to get a glimpse of life in the countryside.
15. Visit the Memorial Hall for Incheon Landing Operation
The Memorial Hall for Incheon Landing Operation is a must-visit for history buffs or for those who want to learn a bit of Incheon’s past. It is a hilltop memorial and exhibition hall that commemorates the historic Inchon Landing led by US General Douglas MacArthur. Although the site looks somber, it gives visitors an insight into life during and after the war. Find military weapons, artifacts, and other paraphernalia relating to the war. Outside, see vehicles, tanks, and commemorative statues on display along with the flag of the countries that helped South Korea under the United Nations.
16. Go on a Day Trip to Baengnyeong Island
Baengnyeong Island remains to be one of the most visited sites in Incheon despite the four-hour-long ferry ride. The island, said to resemble a flying ibis, is strategically located near the Northern Limit Line, a disputed location between North and South Korea. While its location may be daunting for some travelers, its unspoiled wonders and history are worth the visit. See the Dumujin Coast’s breathtaking set of sea cliffs carved by tidal erosion and get a chance to spot the rare Chinese egret on the island. Sagot Beach is also one of the few places in the world with diatomaceous earth and was used by military planes as a runway during the war.
17. See Historical Artifacts at Incheon Metropolitan City Museum
Visiting museums is a great way to get an overview of a city’s history and learn about its culture. Near the Memorial Hall for Incheon Landing Operation is the Incheon Metropolitan City Museum, housing thousands of artifacts and artworks. Explore its exhibition halls, each highlighting Incheon’s rich history. The museum also hosts programs about cultural education, humanities, and choosing future careers. Aside from showcasing different artworks, pottery, and other historical displays, the museum dedicates itself to researching new relics and preserving existing ones for the current and next generations to learn and appreciate.
18. Enjoy a Cruise Along Ara Canal
Take a break from the busy streets of Incheon South Korea and go on a scenic cruise along Ara Canal. The canal, also known as the Gyeongin Ara Waterway, links the Han River to the Yellow Sea and also provides flood control. Discover the so-called “Scenic views of Suhyang”, including Ara Waterfall, Suhyangwon traditional garden, and Duri Ecological Park. At the east end of the river is Hyundai Premium Outlet, a shopping mall where you can score great discounts on various international brands. On the other hand, you can also enjoy the views of the Ara Canal from different bicycle paths if you don’t feel like going on a cruise. There are shops along the riverbanks where you can rent a bicycle and pedal your way through the pathways.
19. Find Fresh Seafood at Sorae Pogu Fish Market
As it is a prominent port city in South Korea, Incheon is rich in fresh seafood. Shop and get the best seafood at Sorae Pogu Fish Market, located near metropolitan areas. They offer a variety of salted food like shrimp, octopus, yellow Corvina, herring, and crab. In addition, the market is also famous for its blue swimming crab. The market offers door-to-door delivery services, although most tourists prefer visiting the market so they can purchase in person. There are also restaurants near the market so customers can enjoy their freshly bought seafood immediately.
20. Shop ‘Til You Drop at Bupyeong Underground Shopping Center
Bupyeong Underground Shopping Center is the best one-stop destination for all your shopping needs. This shopping haven boasts over 1,400 stalls selling anything and everything. Browse through the shops and buy clothes, bags, souvenirs, phone accessories, party needs, stationery, and more. Its underground location is also perfect for escaping the summer heat or the pouring rain. Those worried that they may get lost in this maze of shops shouldn’t worry as the floors have color-coded markings to guide them along the way.
Where to Stay in Incheon South Korea
(Take note that prices per night depend on the season and are subject to change without prior notice.)
Mr. Kim Guesthouse
Address: 6-9, Moraenmal-ro, Jung-gu, Jung-gu, 22376 Incheon, South Korea
Price: Starts at 30 USD per night
Mr. Kim Guesthouse is the perfect choice of accommodation for budget travelers visiting Incheon South Korea. It is conveniently located 10 minutes from the airport, perfect for short stays or even longer layovers. The guesthouse offers single, twin, and triple rooms as well as family rooms for bigger groups. All rooms have a flat-screen TV, sound-proofed walls, an en-suite bathroom, and air conditioning. The staff at Mr. Kim Guesthouse can also speak and/or understand English, so there’s no need to worry about the language barrier. Overall, if you’re looking for an affordable place to stay in Incheon that offers great value for money, Mr. Kim Guesthouse is the place to stay at.
Incheon Airport Hotel Queen
Address: 10, Sindosinam-ro 150beon-gil, Jung-gu, Jung-gu, 22371 Incheon, South Korea
Price: Starts at 53 USD per night
Incheon Airport Hotel Queen is another hotel close to the airport, only a few minutes’ drive away. The hotel offers rooms with high ceilings, free WiFi access, a flat-screen TV, and a sauna. In addition, the rooms are also spacious and clean, with guests, in particular, noting that the beds are very comfortable. Despite its location near the airport, guests can enjoy access to nearby tourist attractions and landmarks. Hike at Baegunsan or visit Wolmido Island. Heading to the airport? Incheon Airport Hotel Queen offers a free shuttle bus to Terminals 1 and 2.
Address: Wolmi-ro 274, Jung-gu, Jung-gu, 22303 Incheon, South Korea
Price: Starts at 133 USD per night
Offering modern rooms with great facilities, Hotel Wolmido is a mid-range hotel in Incheon South Korea. It features different rooms: from standard double rooms, twin rooms, to private suites, all with views of the sea and the city. As for its general amenities, the hotel has an indoor pool, picnic area, outdoor dining area, sun terrace, and access to beach-related activities. Guests can also book tickets for shows and attractions via the hotel concierge at an additional cost. For guests with cars, Hotel Wolmido has free private parking available and there’s no need to reserve in advance. Staff at the hotel can also speak and/or understand German, English, and Chinese.
Sheraton Grand Incheon Hotel
Address: 153, Convensia-daero, Yeonsu-gu, Yeonsu-gu, 21998 Incheon, South Korea
Price: Starts at 185 USD per night
If you feel like splurging and staying at a 5-star hotel, choose Sheraton Grand Incheon Hotel. The hotel boasts high ceilings, an indoor pool, a fitness center, and three on-site restaurants. All rooms include a sofa, desk, an en-suite bathroom, free WiFi access, and city or garden views depending on which room you choose. In addition, some rooms also have access to the club lounge located on the 22nd floor. What makes the Sheraton Grand Incheon Hotel a great choice is that it is near some of the city’s top attractions. Songdo Central Park and NC Cube Canal Walk are only less than 2 kilometers from the hotel and Incheon Culture Park and Okgu Park are also a few minutes’ drive away.
Grand Hyatt Incheon
Address: 208, Yeongjong Haeannam-ro 321beon-gil, Jung-Gu, Jung-gu, 22382 Incheon, South Korea
Price: Starts at 223 USD per night
For the ultimate Incheon South Korea hotel stay, choose Grand Hyatt Incheon. The luxury business hotel boasts rooms with modern decor complete with a comfortable working desk and beds with a goose-down duvet for comfort. Its recreational facilities include a world-class fitness center, sauna, indoor pool, wildflower garden, and a spa and wellness center. From Incheon Airport, the hotel is only a 3-minute drive away and guests can take advantage of the free airport shuttle services to and from the airport. While the city center may be far from the hotel, guests can use the shuttle service to travel comfortably from the hotel to their chosen destinations.
Unravel the Beauty of Incheon South Korea
Most tourists often skip Incheon for other cities in South Korea, passing by the airport and hopping on to their awaited destination. But little do they know, Incheon has plenty to offer. From historic sites like the Memorial Hall for Incheon Landing Operation to modern wonders like Songdo Central Park, Incheon South Korea combines the best of both worlds. The city also boasts having the only official Chinatown in the country where you can taste authentic Korean-Chinese food.
Upon landing in Incheon Airport, why not spend a few hours or even a full day exploring the city of Incheon?