weekend getaways in south korea

10 Beautiful Weekend Getaways in South Korea

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South Korea is full of amazing travel destinations. Discover exciting urban, cultural, and natural gems on the menu of this all-inclusive vacation destination. Here are 10 beautiful weekend getaways in South Korea.

Seoul – The Captivating Capital

Seoul can only be described in superlatives as a cultural concoction, murmuring metropolis, or the polished face of Korea’s modernity. Before venturing out into the bustling lanes of central Seoul, indulge your inner foodie with gastronomical treats at Michelin-starred Gaon, a restaurant that serves refined Korean cuisine with delicacies such as traditional semi-sweet Korean melon, smoked eel, and sea urchin. Enjoy some carrot ice cream and buckwheat tea before bidding farewell to this exquisite restaurant.

Take a private daytime or romantic moonlight cruise on the Han River Water Taxi to see Seoul‘s magnificent skyline while gazing upon the Banpo Bridge Rainbow Fountain with your loved ones.

To find the soul of South Korea’s most populous city, travel back in time to Seoul‘s Gyeongbokgung Palace. This 14th-century jewel, ideal for history and architecture buffs, provides a glimpse into the lives of royal Koreans during the Joseon dynasty. After exploring this living history book, relax your muscles at Sulwhasoo Spa. During a thoroughly indulging wellness treatment, scrub and steam your worries and body aches away.

Entrance to Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul

Seoraksan National Park’s Monumental Mountains

The majority of South Korea’s land area is dotted with hills and mountain ridges, covered in pine forests, and home to a diverse range of wildlife. A nature reserve located more than 200 kilometers east of Seoul is in every way a galaxy away from Korea’s major urban areas.

Pointy peaks, rugged trails, and deafening silence are just a few of the treasures that await visitors to Seoraksan National Park. While hiking in stillness draws the majority of visitors, the cable car ride to Mount Seoraksan’s summit is a fun, more conventional way to enjoy the national park’s unique, natural beauty. Native woodlands cover sharp slopes that extend as far as the eye can see.

Nature isn’t the only thing that shines inside the park. The lush Naksansa Temple is an important spiritual site. The temple, a graceful complex, was built over 1300 years ago during the mighty Silla Kingdom. Seoraksan can be reached by car or a 5-hour bus ride from Seoul, with a $15 stopover in Sokcho, or you can take this Seoraksan tour from Seoul.

Suwon – Folklore Brought To Life

A historic center featuring century-old defenses, palaces, and royal tombs with deep roots in South Korea’s past coexists with contemporary expansion in Suwon.

Walking along the Hwaseong Fortress‘s paved walls is like turning back the pages of Suwon’s history. This medieval fortress, which was finished in 1796 and later included in UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites, is the pinnacle of the city’s cultural offerings.

After exploring the historic center, take a taxi, depart from the significant midpoint of Suwon, and head to the Korean Folk Village. Plays use musical performances and martial skills to bring the culture, attire, and arts of the Joseon Dynasty to life. Snack on traditional Korean foods like rice cakes and green onion pancakes before returning to Suwon proper.

Take advantage of the chance to practice archery behind the sturdy walls of Hwaseong Fortress and follow in the footsteps of past soldiers. Guides with extensive knowledge outline the fundamentals of Gukgung, or traditional Korean archery. After that, practice with your personal bow and arrow. Suwon is just south of Seoul, making the about $30 taxi travel there straightforward and convenient.

Suwon Hwaseong Fortress

A walk around Suwon Hwaseong Fortress

Busan – A Multicolored Metropolis

Busan, a once modest trading town that grew exponentially thanks to the fishing industry and hard harbor labor, is now on the list of sophisticated South Korean travel destinations. Temples, fine dining, shopping, and vibrant markets make for an appealing weekend getaway on the Korean coast. Bibibidang, an elevated traditional Korean teahouse with scenic vistas of Busan’s port, will get the caffeine flowing and the holidays started.

Thrill seekers who ascend Busan Tower will be rewarded with even more panoramic views. The city’s skyscrapers, bays, and surrounding mountains are at your feet from the stunning view deck at a height of 120 meters.

Busan is famous for its abundance of seafood. So take a stroll through the Jagalchi Fish Market and don’t forget to visit the restaurant section in the majestic main building. Point at living sea creatures, relax while the chefs expertly prepare your selection, and feast on the freshest seafood you’ll find in South Korea. Explore the hilly Oryukdo Island, a rocky archipelago only a ferry ride away from the bustling city, to burn off some of those seafood calories. 

The unrivaled culinary experiences of charming Busan are an excellent way to absorb South Korea’s many cultural faces. Busan can be reached in less than three hours by high-speed train from Seoul. A one-way ticket costs $50 USD.

busan Oryukdo

View of the Oryukdo Islets

Jeonju – The Time Capsule

A visit to the Jeonju Hanok Village is a must when visiting Korea. Jeonju is frequently referred to as “the most beautiful place in Korea,” and I’m inclined to agree.

When asked which city in Korea offers the most traditional and authentic experience, the answer is without a doubt Jeonju. There is a lot to do in Jeonju Hanok Village, which has a history of over 1,000 years, including 500 years of shaping the Joseon dynasty.

Jeonju is a UNESCO City of Gastronomy, the world’s first international urban slow city, and Lonely Planet ranks it third in Asia for best cultural city, which is why it’s one of the most beautiful weekend getaways in South Korea.

You can reach Jeonju in about 1.5 hours by high-speed train from Seoul. A one-way ticket costs $30 USD.

View of Jeonju Hanok Village from Café Jeonmang

Mokpo – The 

Out of all of the places on this list, Mokpo is probably the farthest off the beaten path. However, Mokpo is a great weekend getaways in South Korea. The coastal city is a special tourist zone designated for marine culture tourism.

One of the main attractions is Yudalsan Mountain, from which one can get a panoramic view of Mokpo. Locals and tourists alike know the mountain’s walking trails as a great place for forest bathing. The cable car is a great option if you’re not too much into hiking, as it connects the mainland with two more islands off the coast.

Popular attractions include Samhakdo Island and Gatbawi Rock. Samhakdo Island hosts the annual Mokpo Maritime Cultural Festival. Gatbawi is a rock formation in the shape of a Korean hat. A coastal trail leads from Gatbawi Rock to Gatwabi Culture Street. 

You can reach Mokpo in about 2.5 by high-speed train from Seoul. A one-way ticket costs $50 USD.

Mokpo Cable Car

Gyeongju – The Charming Cultural Stop

Gyeongju, known as the “museum without walls,” transports visitors back in time to a time of imperial palaces and the powerful Silla Kingdom. This ancient capital is located at the foot of the Yeongnam Alps, only 30 kilometers north of Ulsan. The Daereungwon Tombs are an excellent place to begin learning about Gyeongju’s prosperous past. The grass-covered, dome-shaped mounds appear strange at first glance, but deep beneath them are buried, Silla-era kings and queens.

Relive the past at the traditional Hanok Village, which features several tea shops and cafes and real Gyeongju-style wooden buildings and rooftops with mountains in the background. The cozy gastronomic treats go nicely with the town’s historic atmosphere.

A leisurely stroll in the dusk allows one to pass by the magnificent Cheomseongdae astronomical observation tower from the seventh century. In addition, the Woljeong Bridge, which had previously been destroyed, has been exquisitely reconstructed.

The Bulguksa Temple is one of the Gyeongju attractions that has been inscribed on the World Heritage List by UNESCO. This sacred artifact has enormous historical significance for Korean Buddhism.

The sacred location of Mount Tohamsan reveals organically as a tranquil oasis as you ascend the mountain along winding pathways through lush trees. Although the walk is open year-round, the lovely light of the autumn foliage makes the trip even more enjoyable. Both the train and the bus from Seoul to Gyeongju take less than four hours.

things to do in gyeongju

Bulguksa Temple in Gyeongju

Boseong – Center of Traditional Tea Culture 

The Boseong Green Tea Fields are a wonderful South Korean destination. The lush green area is ideal for nature lovers and tea enthusiasts looking for a weekend getaway. Visit the Tea Museum of Korea, one of the country’s largest tea plantations, and sample green tea drinks and food!

Boseong is Korea’s most well-known green tea region. Daehan Dawon Tea Plantation is the largest and oldest tea plantation in Boseong County. Daehan Dawon dates back to 1937, when Japanese colonialists planted the first green tea trees.

Taking a direct express bus is an excellent choice. For those departing from Seoul, the bus departs every day at 3:10 PM from the Express Bus Terminal in Gangnam (고속터미날) and arrives in Boseong around 8:00 PM. There is also an additional departure time at 8:10 AM only on Saturdays and Sundays, arriving in Boseong around 1:00 PM.

Boseong Green Tea Fields

Boseong tea fields before sunset

Yeosu – The Beautiful Southern Port City

Yeosu is one of those cities in South Korea that has a distinct vibe that you won’t find anywhere else. This southern port city is ideal for a summer getaway because there is so much to do.

Yeosu has something for everyone, from beautiful beaches and a breathtaking cable car to historic sites and delectable seafood restaurants.

Most Koreans associate Yeosu with the seven-year-long Imjin war against Japan. National hero Yi Sun-Shin wins the war with only 13 Korean battleships against a fleet of 333 Japanese ships. Admiral Yi’s headquarters were located in Yeosu during the war.

Yeosu’s beautiful location on the southern coast is attracting an increasing number of luxurious resorts and pool villas, ideal for a “tropical” getaway and city break.

At the same time, the natural scenery of the area is particularly beautiful, allowing for numerous hikes along the coast or into the surrounding mountains.

There are direct KTX trains from both Seoul Station and Yongsan Station to Yeosu’s Yeocheon Station. This ride takes approx. 3.5 hours and costs 46,600 KRW one way.

things to do in yeosu

Jeju Island – Road Trip in a Convertible

Jeju Island, a volcanic archipelago off the southern coast of South Korea, has some of the most fascinating scenery of any place in all of Korea. Drive down the island’s lengthy coastline in a convertible and take in the breathtaking vistas of the island’s rugged agriculture, high volcanic rock, and beach-dotted bays.

As you travel through Jeju’s hilly interior, let your hair down and wave to the sounds of the sea. You’ll pass by green tea fields in the central western region of the island, where you can stop at the Osulloc Tea Museum to learn more about local tea culture.

On the Southeast shore, make sure to pause at a huge rock structure. The remarkable remnants of a former mountain that was swept to dust during a volcanic eruption are known as Seongsan Ilchulbong or Sunrise Rock.

Take a stairway up the cone to ascend it, or take a private boat excursion that leaves from the shore to take in the scenery more leisurely. The captain maneuvers between tough women who dive for mussels without oxygen tanks while you sail. On the opposite side, Seongsan Ilchulbong’s craggy walls shine in all their magnificent splendor.

Enjoy a spa treatment at the Guerlain Spa in The Shilla Jeju while quietly taking in the breathtaking scenery. Here, health professionals will massage and knead your body till it feels completely satisfied.

Numerous flights each day are run by various airlines between Seoul Gimpo and Jeju Airport. The flight lasts for one hour.

Jeju Island Road Trip

Recommended Travel Guides for Korea

If you want to learn more about South Korea and have a handy travel guide in your pocket, check out these three options below:

DK Eyewitness Top 10 Seoul

This Top 10 Seoul guide is a great pocket guide that breaks down the best of Seoul into helpful lists of ten – from selected highlights to the best museums and galleries, and the most authentic restaurants, tearooms, bars, shops, and markets. I personally helped update the most recent version of this guide. Buy this book.

Lonely Planet Korea

You really can’t go wrong with a lonely planet guide in your hand luggage! I’m a huge fan of Lonely Planet and own this guide myself. What I love is the brand-new pull-out, passport-size ‘Just Landed’ card with wi-fi, ATM and transport info – all you need for a smooth journey from airport to hotel! Buy this book.

South Korea: The Solo Girl’s Travel Guide

Calling all my solo female travel ladies out there – this guide is amazing! Part of the #1 Travel Guidebook Series for Women (and couples), this take on South Korea will help you avoid the scams, creeps, and tourist traps and skip ahead to the cities and adventures that are worth your time (and money)! Buy this book.

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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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