South Korea is every traveler’s paradise. It doesn’t only shelter some of the world’s most gorgeous coastlines and natural reserves, it also offers an incredible experience of its traditions including the unconventional K-pop culture. As a result, an increasing number of people heed their way through the country to witness its opulence across its dotted cities.
But the question is, which among the many cities in South Korea is worth your penny and time?
Believe us when we say all cities in South Korea are worth it in all aspects. However, to save your time researching which city is best to visit, here’s our curated list of the best cities in South Korea. Ranging from the leading-edge to the centuries-old temples and palaces. All that you need to do is sit back, relax, and read on!
Seoul – The Capital City of South Korea
The best place to start your journey is no other than Seoul—the capital of South Korea. Officially known as “Seoul Special City,” this metropolis shelters 25.6 million residents, which is half of South Korea’s population.
Seoul is a round-the-clock city renowned for its state-of-the-art architectures and high-speed internet. Likewise, it’s a perfect place for nightlife lovers and shopaholics; party the night away at some of the exclusive clubs in Gangnam or haul your favorite K-products at Myeongdong.
In addition, Seoul offers a pristine environment with beautifully-built modern buildings. With a mixture of old with modern architectures, everywhere traverse within Seoul has its own unique beauty to it. Even for the hidden alleyways.
Though many tourists are troubled by many questions before traveling to Seoul and one of them is, “Where is Seoul?” To clarify, Seoul is located on the Han River in the northwestern part of the country, surrounded by Goyang and Incheon cities.
Followed by another, “Is Seoul expensive to travel?” Good news! Seoul is a wallet-friendly city. This means you can have a decent meal for as low as $5! Ain’t that wonderful?
Excited to visit Seoul? Start planning your trip by checking out our suggested activities within the city.
Busan – The Port City of South Korea
Looking for a more laid-back atmosphere? You might want to consider Busan, South Korea. Havenly gleaming beaches, magnificent mountains to savory seafood, this city is a one-of-a-kind paradise no one can resist.
Busan is located on the southeastern corner of the mainland. With over 11.6 million population, this city is now the second-largest city in South Korea. Packed with rich heritage with vast offerings of outdoor activities, you wouldn’t get enough with just a day trip to Busan. To make the best of your trip here, try scuba diving by the beach, go kayak, hiking, rock climbing and don’t forget about cruising on a yacht. You’ll thank us later.
If you want to have a taste of similar vibes offered at Santorini, Greece, head over to Gamcheon Cultural Village. Located in the Korean coastal city of Busan, this village is known for its brightly-painted houses. Though it has been restored and enhanced for the past years to attract tourism, the rich history remains one of the main reason for the visit.
Busan also boasts its time-honored temples particularly the Haedong Yonggusa also known as “The Water Temple,” which is situated on the coast side, overlooking the East Sea. This is the most visited temple in all cities of South Korea for it provides an unparalleled view of the coastal area.
Jeju City – South Korea’s Volcanic Holiday
Known as the honeymoon hotspot in South Korea, Jeju is one of the most romantic cities in the country. With astounding rock formations, the majestic backdrop to teeming greenery, this city will easily take your breath away.
To make the best out of your trip, visit these tourist attractions and theme parks:
- Loveland – a unique theme park highlighted for its romantic and adult-only features
- Jeju Folklore & Natural History Museum – the only museum in Korea that investigates the historical materials collected across from Jeju
Jeju’s warm climate also makes this city a good place for nature trippings. Have your skin sun-kissed at Iho Taewoo Beach or simmer down at Cheonjiyeon waterfall after a long trip.
Did you know?
Jeju exists approximately 2 million years ago through volcanic activity. That explains why the place has a majestic view of nature. In fact, Jeju is the sanctuary of Hallasan, the tallest mountain in South Korea.
Incheon – The Metropolitan City of South Korea
A famous tourist destination in South Korea, Incheon is one of the cities that led the country’s historical and economic development by opening its harbors to the outside world. Incheon is a buzzing metropolis similar to Seoul, mainly noted for Incheon International Airport – an award-winning airport with an incredible quality of service. That includes a variety of recreational facilities such as casinos, spas, and even golf courses.
You can shop ‘til you drop at Bupyeong Station Underground Shopping Mall or meander around the city’s vibrant Chinatown and have a bowl of Jjajangmyeon (black soybean noodles). If not, you can enter a magical place and find your inner zen at Jeondeungsa—the country’s oldest temple. All these are your great options if you’re looking for well-heeled experiences from Seoul.
Andong – Historical and Cultural Hub
If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of central Korean cities, Andong is your place of retreat. Named as “The Capital City of Korean Spiritual Culture,” this tranquil city is inhabited by more than 120,000 residents and has a profound background of natural circumstances and Confucianist culture.
With its steadfast passion to preserve ancient traditions, Andong is the best place for you to experience the folk culture. Head over to Hahoe Folk Village and participate in the traditional Korean Mask Dance Festival held from May to October. Alternatively, climb atop the Byongdae cliff and marvel at the awesome scenic view of the entire village below you.
Don’t forget to try Andong’s well-known Soju, a local drink made from fermented and distilled rice and grains. Sipping from this drink is strongly intoxicating so make sure not to take too much.
Queen Elizabeth II of England celebrated her 73rd in the city. No wonder Andong has slowly become everyone’s apple of the eye!
Enjoy The Beautiful three-lined road in Chuncheon
Located in Gangwon province, Chuncheon is widely regarded for its fuller and richer sceneries and idyllic temples. Also, let’s not forget about the delicious spicy chicken dish — “Dakgalbi.” Contrary to the meaning of its name, “Spring River,” the city is ideal to visit in fall. During this season, fall foliage is at its peak; creating picturesque hues of gold, orange, and red, excellent for photos. Likewise, you can enjoy unique leisure activities such as rail-biking at Gangchon Rail Bike.
Nami Island, a half-moon shaped island, is also a must-visit place in the city. Flooded by lovers and families, this island provides a serene environment good for unwinding, bicycling, and riding swan boats. Let’s not forget, the place was also featured in a popular Korean drama “Winter Sonata.” The Garden of the Morning Calm, Le Petite France, and Chongpyeongsa temple are also major highlights of the city! Be sure to check them out!
Take An Excursion To Gangneung
Whether it’s decaf or highly-caffeinated coffee, you’ll find it all here in Gangneung – Korea’s city of coffee. Famous amongst locals and travelers, Gangneung’s Anmok Coffee Street is a coastline-road filled with cafés best for coffee-hopping and chilling while listening to the sea’s crashing waves.
Two of Gangneung’s hotspots among foodies and K-drama fanatics are:
- Jungang Market – notorious for its mouthwatering street foods like Manseok Fried Chicken and Seunggi Hotteok
- Jumujin Beach – the eminent filming spot of the world-famous Korean drama, Goblin
The city rose to fame when it became the official venue for the 2018 Winter Olympics. With this, more and more tourists flock around the city each day, making it one of the liveliest cities in South Korea. Cherry blossom, Danoje, and Sunrise festivals are also held within the city so make sure not to miss the fun!
8. Feast On The Freshest Seafood In Geoje
True to its nickname, “The Blue City,” Geoje is more likely an island because of the surrounding blue water, stony seaboard, and long stretches of beaches. Hence, tourists are advised to take a boat trip to experience the full richness of the place.
Discover the city’s floral grandeur at Oedo Botanical Island, where you can see thousands of flower and plant varieties loved for their outstanding colors and foliage, or strike an Instagram-worthy pose along its yellow beaches.
To make your trip more extra, visit Okpo Great Victory Commemorative Park—a museum and shrine that exhibits remains from the Invasion of Korea while honoring Admiral Yi Sun-sin, Korea’s national hero. Before you leave, don’t forget to feast on the freshest seafood in Geoje, not to mention it’s often reasonably priced.
Explore The Industrial City By Nature of Ulsan
Housing one of the world’s largest automotive manufacturers, Ulsan is a wonderland for proud gearheads and tinkers. A versatile city as it is, the place will pin you down with its eye-catching natural and man-made marvels.
Found in the south-eastern tip of Korean Peninsula, Ulsan is a semi-tropical city acclaimed for its jaw-dropping ridges, and sprawling beaches. Bury your toes in the wide sandy bay of Ilsan Beach or take a quiet walk along Taehwa River Grand Park if you prefer a more unruffled path.
Jangsaengpo Whale Museum is also a good side trip if you’re into whaling since it exhibits photos and videos of different species of whales. It also has a dolphin pool if you want to watch dolphins perform amazing tricks.
Daegu – The Impeccable Mix of Traditional and Modern City
You don’t have to travel to Paris to experience the magical beauty of city night lights; you’ll have a slice of it here in Daegu. A city laced with bright lights and lively music, Daegu is one of the enchanting cities in South Korea for couples and families alike.
Relish the city’s kooky side through its numerous festivals and attractions such as the annual Daegu International Bodypainting Festival – where nearly nude models are body painted exquisitely, and the CW Restaurant, a diner embellished with collectibles from Star Wars, Terminator, Marvel, and more!
Under the weather? Drop by Yangnyeong Market and learn about Korea’s oriental medicines, famous for treating different forms of illnesses.
Gyeongju – The City of Museums and Nature Scenery
We have plenty of reasons to visit Gyeongju. From its ancient tombs, pagodas, traditional houses, and palace ruins, there’s always something edifying in store for everyone. Considered as “Museum Without Walls,” Gyeongju holds a UNESCO World Heritage Site frequented by history buffs and culture vultures.
Enveloped with more than 2000 years of history, the beautiful city is evidence of the country’s cultural achievements during the Silla dynasty.
The major features of the place include:
- Gyeongju National Museum – secures a giant collection of local relics
- Tumuli Park – burial mounds similar to Egypt’s Pyramids but shaped like small hills
- Seokguram Grotto – highlighted for its Buddhist influence in the area
Be Mesmerized by The Stunning Landscape of Jeonju
Calling all foodies, a piquant experience awaits you in Jeonju. Declared as South Korea’s food capital, Jeonju has plenty of food alleys that offer tons of delicious Korean dishes to enjoy, including the world-famous Bibimbap which originated in the city. Satisfy your sweet tooth by trying on the country’s most popular packaged snack, Choco pie. If you’re a wine connoisseur, sipping Makgeolli, a traditional Korean rice wine, will delight your taste buds.
After feasting, you can also wander around the city and witness its cultural landmarks. Jeonju is famous for its Hanok Village, an array of wooden and clay-made Korean traditional houses. Try booking a Hanok accommodation to enrich your Korean experience even further.
Suwon – The Last Walled City in South Korea
Just 30 kilometers south of Seoul, Suwon is an incredible day trip from the capital unbeknownst to many. Revered as a living embodiment of traditional culture and contemporary charm, the city caters magnificent views of skyscrapers, grand stadiums, and secular temples.
Suwon is the hearthstone of Samsung Electronics, making it one of South Korea’s industrial hubs. Likewise, it has streets filled with restaurants, shops, and bars so you won’t have any problems during your stay in the city.
Amidst this, the city is the only place in South Korea known to retain its historic walls — Hwaseong Fortress, a UNESCO World Heritage Site stands still ever since the 18th century to guard the city’s perimeters against invaders during the time.
A Nature Paradise of Gwacheon
Gwacheon is a city located not too far from Seoul. Similar to Seoul, a variety of attractions is surrounding the city and that includes the Seoul Grand Park, which is an excellent place for the kids.
The park has the Seoul Zoo, Seoul Land Amusement Park, and the Seoul Museum of Modern Art. Speaking of art, you may also want to visit the National Museum of Contemporary Art. This is the home of modern art in Seoul. Also, don’t miss visiting the famous Gwacheon National Science Museum, true pride of the city.
Appreciate The Marine Ecosystem In Tongyeong
Tongyeong is the “Napoli of Asia” due to its dynamic harbors and is usually a gateway for exploring the more than 100 neighboring islands. Widely famous for its lovely harbor, Tongyeong also has other blissful sceneries accessible for everyone. Catch the wonderful bird’s-eye view of the city by riding Tongyeong Cable Car, or wander around Dongpirang and Seopirang mural villages and pick a picture-perfect spot among the vivid wall-paintings created by amateur artists.
Break life’s monotony by going on a secluded picnic at Café Positives Tongyeong. Here, hearty travelers have the opportunity to relax in the forest while chowing on healthy and delicious meals. If time allows, take a trip to Hallyeohaesang National Park for the marine ecosystem or visit one of the nearby islands.
There you have it, the 15 best cities to visit in South Korea. Which among the cities are you aiming to visit? Tell us in the comments below!