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Top 15 Places to Visit When in South Korea

Which are the best places to visit in South Korea?

The BEST Places to Visit in South Korea + Things to Do

Whether you’re a fan of K-pop and K-dramas or an adventurer planning to explore Asia, South Korea is undeniably worth visiting for its culture,  history, cuisine, and hospitality. It’s packed with fascinating tourist attractions, from innovative buildings, ancient palaces, and temples to idyllic islands and scenic mountains. But with many attractions the Land of the Morning Calm offers, deciding where to go in South Korea can be tricky, especially if only visiting for a few days.

With that said, we’ve rounded up the top 15 places to visit when in South Korea, from vibrant and historic cities to hiking spots and coastal areas, hiding natural gems!


1. Seoul

The bustling capital city of South Korea is known for its vibrant culture, delicious food, and historic landmarks such as Gyeongbokgung Palace and Namsan Tower.

Seoul is one of the top places to visit when in South Korea for its fusion of old and modern architecture. As the capital of South Korea, Seoul boasts futuristic skyscrapers, shopping malls, and night markets, the birthplace of K-pop, where you can catch sight of your favorite stars.

If you’re a K-drama fan, Seoul is also home to centuries-old temples and palaces, making you feel you have traveled back in time. The city’s main attraction includes the Namsam Tower, Lotte World Tower, Gyeongbokgung Palace, Bukchon Hanok Village, Bukhansan National Park, and Gwangjang Market.

Jeju Island
Jeju Island

2. Jeju Island

A stunning volcanic island off the southern coast of South Korea, home to beautiful beaches, waterfalls, and hiking trails.

Known for its beach resorts, Jeju Island is a World Natural Heritage Site, Global Geopark, and Biosphere Reserve recognized by UNESCO. It encompasses the tallest mountain in South Korea, Hallasan Mountain, a dormant volcano featuring hiking trails, cave-like lava tubes, and a crater lake.

Crowned as one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature, Jeju Island rest in the Korean Strait and is often called “South Korea’s Hawaii” for its warm climate, making it a popular summer destination. It offers luxury hotels, trendy bars, and bustling casinos, the perfect place for romantic getaways and newlyweds.

Gamcheon Culture Village in Busan
Gamcheon Culture Village in Busan

3. Busan

South Korea’s second-largest city and a major port town is known for its beaches, seafood markets, and vibrant nightlife.

Next on the list of the top places to visit in South Korea, Busan is a port city known for its beaches, hot springs, and mountains. Busan is the second largest city in South Korea, where the international film festival is hosted yearly. It offers various attractions, from nature reserves to Buddhist temples.

Aside from its luscious mountains and stunning beaches, Busan features unique attractions, such as the colorful Gamcheon Culture Village, 120m tall Busan Tower, Beomeosa Temple, and the U.N. Memorial Cemetery. Also, don’t forget to visit Haeundae Beach, Jagalchi Market, and Taejongdae Resort Park.

Bulguksa Temple in Gyeongju
Bulguksa Temple in Gyeongju

4. Gyeongju

A historic city in southeastern South Korea known for its ancient temples, tombs, and other cultural landmarks.

Gyeongju is a must-visit for nature lovers and history buffs, a coastal city and the country’s former capital during the Silla Kingdom. Also known as the “museum without walls”, Gyeongju boasts over 2,000 years of history, featuring numerous temples, tombs, and archaeological sites from 57 BC to 935 AD.

This fascinating town is worth exploring for its magnificent pagodas, traditional houses, and a great collection of local artifacts in the Gyeongju National Museum. The top must-see in town is the Bulguksa Temple and Seokguram Grotto from the 8th century.

Jeonju Hanok Village
Jeonju Hanok Village

5. Jeonju

A city in southwestern South Korea is famous for its traditional Korean cuisine, especially its bibimbap, a popular Korean rice dish.

Located in the western part of South Korea, Jeonju is the largest city and capital of Jeollabuk-do. It’s the country’s food capital, where tourist visits to try local delicacies, like Bibimbap, Hottoek, and Choco Pie. Since Jeonju was the former spiritual capital, it offers a laidback life compared to other cities.

This city boasts the Jeonju Hanok Village, one of South Korea’s most popular tourist attractions, featuring cultural practices, traditional houses, sake museums, and calligraphy. Also, visit the town’s best attractions, like the Gyeonggijeon Shrine, Deokjin Park, and Jeondong Catholic Cathedral.

Autumn in Andong
Autumn in Andong

6. Andong

A city in southeastern South Korea known for its preserved traditional Korean homes and cultural landmarks such as the Andong Mask Dance Festival.

Andong is a great place to visit in South Korea; the capital city of North Gyeongsang is known for its local delicacies, making it a go-to for foodies. Established over 2,000 years ago, this city showcases plenty of cultural and historical attractions and is where wooden masks were discovered.

In addition, Andong is marketed as a spiritual hub as it offers numerous local religious sites and temples. The town also hosts the annual Mask Dance Festival from September to October, offering other attractions, such as the 600-year-old Hahoe Folk Village and Gyemyeongsan Recreational Forest.

Sinheungsa in Seoraksan National Park near Sokcho South Korea
Sinheungsa in Seoraksan National Park near Sokcho South Korea by By Steve46814 at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0

7. Sokcho

A coastal city in northeastern South Korea known for its beautiful beaches, hiking trails, and proximity to Seoraksan National Park.

Situated in the northeast of Gangwon Province, Sokcho is a major tourist hub for its temples, viewpoints, and hiking spots. Sokcho is the gateway for those planning to visit the Seoraksan National Park and the perfect place to get away from the bustling streets of Seoul, offering beautiful scenery.

There are many exciting tourist attractions in town, such as Sokcho Beach, Sinheungsa Temple, Yeongrang Lake, and Yeonggeumjeong Pavilion. Another must-see in town is the Sokcho Eye modern Ferris wheel ride, offering 360 views of the East Sea and Cheoksan Hot Spring Recreation Village for relaxation.

Best Things to Do in Suwon, South Korea
Best Things to Do in Suwon, South Korea

8. Suwon

A city in the Seoul metropolitan area, home to the UNESCO World Heritage site Hwaseong Fortress and the Korean Folk Village, a traditional Korean cultural attraction.

If you’re looking for a day trip destination not far from Seoul, Suwon is one of the best places to visit in South Korea, known for its palace, fortress, and gates. Considered the most populous province in South Korea, Suwon is a center for industry where Samsung Electronics resides.

But what attracts tourists the most is the outstanding Hwaseong Fortress dating from the Joseon Dynasty, featuring 18th-century military architecture with 4 main gates and houses the remains of Prince Sado. Also, Ingye-dong is the place to be if you’re into fun nightlife.

Jinnamgwan in Yeosu, South Korea by Mar del Este via Wikimedia cc
Jinnamgwan in Yeosu, South Korea By Mar del Este – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, cc

9. Yeosu

A coastal city in southern South Korea known for its picturesque harbor, views of the sea, and the Yeosu Expo, a major international exhibition in 2012.

A laidback destination where you can enjoy the beach, Yeosu, which means beautiful waters, offers picturesque ocean views and plenty of seafood restaurants. It’s one of South Korea’s beautiful port cities surrounded by cliffs and islands, boasting beachside resorts perfect for relaxation.

Also, try Yeosu’s local delicacies, like agujim, soy sauce marinated crabs, and seodae hwae. This fantastic city is rich in history since it’s where the Great Admiral Yi Sun-sin developed the turtle ship, which he used to save the country. Another attraction in town is the Hyangiram Hermitage, lying on a cliffside.

Changdeokgung Palace
Changdeokgung Palace

10. Changdeokgung Palace

One of the five grand palaces built during the Joseon Dynasty, located in Seoul and designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Travel back in time by visiting the Changdeokgung Palace in Seoul, one of the 15th-century grand palaces constructed by the Joseon Dynasty. Considered an exemplary piece of Korean palace architecture, the Changdeokgung Palace is the largest of the five grand palaces and where the last Korean Emperor lived.

This palace served as a royal residence until 1926, consisting of complex buildings for varying purposes, such as lodging, dining rooms, libraries, and meeting rooms. It features a 78-acre Huwon Secret Garden, pagodas, pathways, lakes, and streams, making it one of the nation’s most beautiful palaces.

DMZ Korea
DMZ Korea

11. DMZ

The demilitarized zone separating North and South Korea is a popular destination for visitors to South Korea interested in learning about the history and tensions between the two countries.

Now, if you’re looking for an interesting place to visit in South Korea, the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) is definitely for the books. This place is a popular tourist destination where visitors can learn the history and conflict between North and South Korea, serving as the two countries’ border.

But since DMZ is heavily mined and guarded, tourists can only visit this place through an official guided tour. Formally called the Joint Security Area (JSA), a guided tour to DMZ consist of a round-trip ride from Seoul and a visit to the Dora Observatory and 3rd Tunnel.

Gwangju Hyanggyo by nachof via Wikimedia cc
Gwangju Hyanggyo By nachof – originally posted to Flickr as Paseo por Jeonju, CC BY-SA 2.0, cc

12. Gwangju

A city in southwestern South Korea known for its vibrant arts and culture scene, including the Gwangju Biennale, a major contemporary art exhibition.

Lying in southwestern South Korea, Gwangju is the nation’s 6th largest metropolis, which plays a vital role in the democracy movement. Gwanju is known for its art culture, locals with a unique fashion sense, and many museums, like the Gwangju National Museum and Asia Culture Center.

This city also built a May 18th National Cemetery to commemorate the Gwangju Massacre, where around 207 students were killed for fighting for democracy. When in Gwangju, visitors should also explore Chungjang-ro, Mudeungsan Jeungsimsa Temple, Gwangju Family Land, and Soswaewon.

Dongpirang Village by Junho Jung via Wikimedia cc
Dongpirang Village By by Junho Jung at Flickr from South Korea –, CC BY-SA 3.0, cc

13. Tongyeong

A coastal city in southern South Korea, known for its beautiful scenery and seafood, as well as cultural landmarks such as the Tongyeong Great Battle Victory Commemorative Park.

Tongyeong is a coastal town in South Korea known for its maritime history, offering many seafood choices and fantastic scenery. This city offers many attractions, such as the breathtaking view of Dadohoe at Mireuksan Mountain and a secluded trip to Camellia Island and Jangsado Sea Park.

Since Tongyeong is a cultural center, visitors shouldn’t miss strolling around the Dongpirang Mural Village and shop local finds at Tongyeong Traditional Craft. Some popular tourist attractions in the town include the Tongyeong Cable Car, Skyline Luge, and Admiral Yi Sun-sin Jeseungdang Shrine.

See Incheon Bridge at Night photo via
See Incheon Bridge at Night photo via

14. Incheon

A port city in northwestern South Korea, home to the Incheon International Airport and the Songdo International Business District, a futuristic new city.

Ranking as the 3rd largest city in South Korea, Incheon is a transportation hub popular for its scenic vistas and futuristic Incheon International Airport. Formerly known as Jemulpo, Incheon offers tourist-friendly spots, such as the Open Port and vibrant Chinatown, accessible thru the subway from Seoul.

There are also plenty of tourist attractions in Incheon ideal for families with kids, such as the Wolmi Theme Park and Songwol-dong Fairy Tale Village. Aside from its airport, Incheon offers other attractions, including the Incheon Grand Park, Songdo Central Park, Jeondeungsa Temple, and Muuido Island.

Dinosaur Ridge of Seoraksan National Park photo by Taewangkorea via Wikipedia CC
Dinosaur Ridge of Seoraksan National Park photo by Taewangkorea via Wikipedia CC

15. Seoraksan National Park

A popular hiking destination in northeastern South Korea, known for its stunning scenery, including waterfalls, rock formations, and mountain peaks.

The best place to visit for hikers and adventurers alike, the Seoraksan National Park is the country’s 3rd largest mountain, offering different hiking trails, lakes, streams, and waterfalls. It’s recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site with 30 mountain peaks, like the Jungcheongbong and Socheongbong.

Seoraksan National Park also offers many attractions, including the Bronze Buddha Statue, Temple of a Hundred Pools, Geumganggul Cave, Ulsanbawi Rock, and Biseondae Rocks. Visitors can also enjoy the jaw-dropping views at this national park through the Seoraksan Cable Car ride.

From exploring ancient palaces, temples, and cultural villages to nature tripping and food hunting, South Korea definitely got something for every tourist. Experience the beauty of South Korea by visiting well-preserved palaces and traditional villages or exploring its magnificent mountains and other natural wonders. So if you’re making your bucket list or planning your next adventure, our guide to the top 15 places to visit when in South Korea will surely make your trip worthwhile.

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Written by Melo Villareal

Melo Villareal is the Online Publisher of He is an Accountant by profession who left the corporate world at the age of 23 to explore his beautiful country and the rest of the world. Today, Melo works as a part-time Social Media Manager for local and international clients. His full-time work focuses on discovering interesting culture, explore different cuisines and take memorable photos from local and international destinations he's visiting.

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