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12 Very Best Cities in South Korea to Visit

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South Korea is (still) an underrated travel destination – but incredible to explore! From stunning hiking trails, islands like Jeju and the best cities in South Korea to visit, there’s a slice of the peninsula that everyone will love.

Most people who do decide to travel to South Korea often only explore Seoul. That being said, you can actually get a deeper sense of the country’s culture when venturing outside Seoul’s city walls.

With that in mind, I wanted to share some of my favorite and best cities in South Korea I visited since I moved here in 2015. From sprawling mega-cities like Seoul to smaller hidden gems – there is something for everyone!

The icons used in this post were made by Nhor Phai from www.flaticon.com

Seoul

Almost every trip to South Korea likely starts (or ends) in Seoul. It’s no surprise that the country’s capital is also one of the best cities in South Korea to visit. Seoul seems to have it all: culture, history, shopping, food, urban hotspots… You name it – Seoul’s probably got it.

There is so much to see and do in Seoul that it’s best to check out my ultimate guide to Seoul for a comprehensive overview.

 

Top 5 Places To See in Seoul

Where to stay

Busan

Even though Busan is the second largest city in Korea (after Seoul), the two cities couldn’t be more different. If Seoul is the NYC of Korea, Busan would probably be the Korean Miami. It’s pretty laid-back and heavily influenced by beach vibes. However, besides fun in the sun, Busan also has some of the most interesting cultural attractions, especially the seaside temple Haedong Yonggung. Grab some of the best seafood here and don’t forget to take a dip in Korea’s most famous beach: Haeundae!

Top 5 Places To See in Busan

Where to stay

Gyeongju

History buffs are going to love Gyeongju. In fact, the city is often referred to as Korea’s “museum without walls” because Gyeongju has more tombs, temples, pagodas, Buddhist statuary and palace ruins than any other city in all of South Korea. It’s a lovely place to visit and should be on every Korea travel itinerary.

Top 5 Places To See in Gyeongju

Where to stay

Jeonju

As the birthplace of both the Joseon dynasty and Korea’s most well-known dish, bibimbap (rice, egg and vegetables with a hot sauce), Jeonju is one of the best cities in South Korea to visit. Most people visit the hanok maeul area, which is filled with traditional wooden homes. Be sure to stay overnight and sleep in a hanok – Korean style!

Top 5 Places To See in Jeonju

Where to stay

Jeju

Jeju Island is one of Korea’s best domestic travel destinations that locals and visitors love. Besides its beautiful beaches, Jeju also offers lush countryside and some of the best seafood restaurants you can find.

Top 5 Places To See in Jeju

Where to stay


Gangneung

Located on the Gangwondo coast, Gangneung is a lovely seaside town with some of the finest beaches in South Korea. Gangneung also hosted several events of the 2018 Winter Olympics and is also home to various well-preserved Joseon-era buildings.
 
Check out this East Sea & Gangneung 1 Day Tour from Seoul.

Top 5 Places To See in Gangneung

Where to stay

Incheon

While most visitors only head to Incheon to catch a plane out of Incheon International Airport, it’s actually worth exploring South Korea’s third-largest city on a day trip from Seoul, for example. The colorful Chinatown and Open Port area are some of the most interesting sites to visit in Incheon.

Top 5 Places To See in Incheon

Where to stay

Suwon

Suwon is the largest city in Gyeonggi-do province. The city is home to Hwaseong Fortress, a World Heritage–listed fortification dating back to the 1700s. In fact, Suwon served as the capital of the Joseon Dynasty and is therefore one of the best cities in South Korea to visit if you are into history.

Top 5 Places To See in Suwon

Where to stay

Paju

Because of Paju’s close proximity to the North/South Korean border, there are many U.S. and South Korean army bases are set up in the area. On top of that, visitors can explore various historic sites that played a large role in the Korean War, including an observatory allowing you to see North Korea with the naked eye.

Check out this DMZ and Third Tunnel Tour from Seoul.

Top 5 Places To See in Paju

Where to stay

Yeosu

The center of Yeosu city is often described as nothing special – but its shoreline, filled with cliffs, islands and peninsulas, makes up for that and is truly breathtaking. Yeosu served as an important naval base in the 1500s when Japanese invaders were fought off by famous Admiral Yi Sun-Shin, whose statues and replicas of his turtle ships can be seen all around town. It’s one of the best cities in South Korea in terms of scenic seaside landscape.

Top 5 Places To See in Yeosu

Where to stay

Andong

Andong is the capital of Gyeongsangbuk-do and makes a great base for exploring the numerous historic and cultural attractions in the surrounding area. The city of Andong itself is known for its mackerel, strong soju (Korean alcohol made of rice), wooden masks and ancient sites.

Top 5 Places To See in Andong

Where to stay

Boseong

If you are a tea lover, Boseong is going to be among the best cities in South Korea to visit for you. The county around Boseong is actually the largest green tea producer in all of Korea. Daehan Dawon Tea Plantation is one of the main attractions, where you can sample green teas and explore Korean green tea fields. Every year, Boseong also holds a Green Tea Festival in spring.

 

Check out: Boseong Green Tea Festival 1 Day Tour – from Seoul/Busan

Top 5 Places To See in Boseong

Where to stay

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Linda

Linda has been living in Asia since 2012 and loves sharing her travel and life experiences on her website. She currently works remotely in Online Marketing and also teaches various English classes in South Korea.

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