Planning a trip to Korea? It is a fascinating country that is truly foreign. And it is filled with so many beautiful places – from the Hanok buildings of Jeonju to the coastline of Jeju Island to the palaces of Seoul.
26 Beautiful Places in South Korea
Table of Contents
- 26 Beautiful Places in South Korea
- Beautiful Places to Visit in Seoul and near Seoul
- 1. Gyeongbokgung and Changgyeon Palace
- 2. Insadong
- 3. Bukchon Hanok Village
- 4. Seoul Wall
- 5. Ihwa Mural Village
- 6. Bongeunsa Temple
- Beautiful Places in Korea near Seoul
- 7. Nami Island and Petite France
- 8. Mount Seorak and Naksana Temple
- 9. Suwon Hwaseong Fortress and Korean Folk Village
- 10. Andong
- 11. Gyeongju Day Trip
- 12. Pocheon
- 13. Jeonju Hanok Village
- 14. Jaman Mural Village
- Beautiful Places to Visit on Jeju Island
- 15. Hallasan Mountain
- 16. Seongsan Ilchulbong
- 17. Cheonjiyeon Waterfall
- 18. Jeongbang Waterfall
- 19. Sangumburi Crater
- 20. Seopjikoji
- Beautiful Places to Visit in Daegu
- 21. Apsan Mountain
- Beautiful Places to Visit in Busan
- 22. Gamcheon Culture Village
- 23. Haedong Yonggungsa
- Beautiful Places to Visit in Incheon
- 24. Fairytale Village of Songwol-dong
- 25. Incheon Grand Park
- 26. Ganghwa Island
- Do you need a Visa to visit South Korea?
- Flights to Korea:
- Who Paid for What in this Post
Beautiful Places to Visit in Seoul and near Seoul
1. Gyeongbokgung and Changgyeon Palace
Seoul has two main palaces – Gyeongbokgung and Changgyeon. Opened in 1395, Gyeongbokgung Palace is an integral part of Seoul’s history. As the main royal palace of the Joseon dynasty, Gyeongbokgung Palace is commonly referred to as the Northern Palace due to its location in the north of Seoul.
Today, this Seoul palace is restored and available for visitors to explore the rich history and beautiful grounds.
⇒ Beat the Queues and book your visit to Gyeongbokgung Palace before you go
Changgyeonggung Palace is located in the heart of Seoul and originally served as the residential quarters for queens and concubines during the 15th century.
During the Japanese colonial rule of Korea, it temporarily became an amusement park comprising of a botanical garden and a zoo before being restored to the palace that it is today. Be advised that this Korean palace is closed to visitors on Mondays.
⇒ Check out my posts on the best Seoul Day Trips, 8 fantastic Things to do in Incheon, 13 things to do in Myeongdong, my Seoul Itinerary 5 Days, 7 Fantastic Seoul Boutique Hotels and the best things to do in Gangnam.
Insa-dong is one of the more vibrant, livelier areas within Seoul, well known for the vast array of shops and restaurants that line the streets. And Insa-dong is located near both the palaces so it is the perfect place for a bite to eat and some shopping once you have visited them.
While there is plenty to do and see in Insa-dong, I definitely suggest that you take the time to visit Shin Old Tea House, one of the best cafés in Seoul. Insadong is also the home to the rather well-known Poop cafe – you can drink your coffee in a mug shaped like a toilet. A must-do on any Seoul Itinerary!
3. Bukchon Hanok Village
Bukchon Hanok Village is a traditional Korean village located near other iconic attractions such as Gyeongbokgung Palace, Changdeokgung Palace and Jongmyo Shrine.
The village is full of traditional Korean houses called ‘hanoks’. Today, many of these ‘hanoks’ operate as cultural centres, restaurants and tea houses.
A visit to Bukchon Hanok Village Seoul offers guests an authentic cultural experience that simply cannot be compared to anything else. There is no admission fee to visit the village, which makes a visit to Buckchon not only incredibly special but also free.
Knowing even a small amount of the local language can add a whole new level of enjoyment to any trip. Why not learn some basic Korean before you leave home?
4. Seoul Wall
The Fortress Wall of Seoul, locally known as Hanyangdoseong, is a wall made up of various materials with the historical aim of protecting the city from invaders.
First built in 1396, the Seoul wall stretches along a length of 18.6 kilometres. Today, there is a 12-kilometre section that is preserved as a historical site.
A popular way for travellers to enjoy the beauty and history of the Seoul walls is to hike alongside it. There are various Seoul Wall hiking trails to choose from, each with its own offering of beauty and discovery.
One of the more popular routes ends at Naksan Park which has stunning panoramic views of the city.
5. Ihwa Mural Village
Also near Naksan Park is the Ihwa Mural Village which consists of the paintings and installation art of over 70 artists. The area was previously considered a bit of a slum until the ‘Art in the City Project’ in 2006 which injected vibrant life back into this area of Seoul.
The lively hub is an artistic tourism landmark and one of Seoul’s hidden treasures. If you make your way up to Ihwa Mural Village, be sure to appreciate the beautiful art, but also be respectful that it is, in fact, a residential area.
6. Bongeunsa Temple
Bongeunsa Temple is a Buddist temple that is available to non-practising visitors. Originally founded in 794, the temple’s history expands over more than 1,000 years and offers a tranquil and surreal experience.
Since its refurbishment and the development of the city around it, Bongeunsa Temple has come to offer a unique experience where traditional Korea meets modern Seoul.
Beautiful Places in Korea near Seoul
All of these lovely spots can be visited as day trips from Seoul.
7. Nami Island and Petite France
This full day tour takes the difficulty out of figuring out foreign public transport systems with a return trip to Nami Island. You will take an air-conditioned coach to this tranquil island and experience all of the interesting beauty it has to offer.
This Seoul day tour includes visits to the popular nearby attractions of Petite France and the Garden of Morning Calm. These are must-visit destinations if you are in the area.
Nami Island has been made popular through Korean television, and exploring this stunning place will make you realize why. Enjoy an easy and comfortable day trip from Seoul.
8. Mount Seorak and Naksana Temple
South Korea is covered in breathtaking mountains, and it can be an absolute hiker’s paradise. If nature and hiking is your thing, then be sure to take this hiking day trip from Seoul to reach the summit of Mount Seorak.
Mount Seorak is an impressive peak near the country’s eastern shore. This tour takes you to the mountain on an air-conditioned van, where you can then follow the hiking trails up to the top. The walk up Mount Seorak is completely scenic, while the sweeping views from the top are unbeatable.
You also get to visit the famous Naksana Temple included in this tour. This is a must-do for nature lovers and those wanting to experience just how majestic South Korea really is.
9. Suwon Hwaseong Fortress and Korean Folk Village
This Seoul day trip lets you experience the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Hwaseong Fortress in Suwon. This is a guided tour which guarantees you will learn all about the rich culture and history of this area.
While you explore the different fortifications and ramparts, you will get to learn about the Joseon Dynasty rule over Korea at Hwaseong Fortress. This will be further enjoyed while you get to the Korean Folk Village, which replicates the houses of this era. You will get to witness the traditional arts and crafts demonstrated by tradespeople.
This has got to be one of the best day trips from Seoul for those wanting to learn more about the country’s traditional culture and history. This trip will take you on a fully guided tour to Andong, a beautiful destination that is well known for its open-air heritage museums.
On the trip, you will get to visit the Hahoe Folk Village for a real insight into South Korean tradition. This place has some incredible local art and architecture to learn about, which you will get to absorb between the mask culture and dance displays.
The tour will also include a scenic stop at Buyongdae Cliff, as well as a visit to the largest Confucian school and temple in Andong. A delicious local restaurant lunch is included in your tour.
11. Gyeongju Day Trip
The Gyeongju day trip from Seoul allows you to experience multiple UNESCO World Heritage sites in one day. The whole experience of visiting Gyeongju is very interesting and informative, and it gives you a wonderful break from the busy city.
Your ticket includes a trip on the KTX bullet train with a skip the line pass at Seoul Station. Once you arrive at Gyeongju station, you will get comfortable private transportation to the sites.
The Gyeongju tour from Seoul includes a visit to the stunning Buddhist temple, ancient tombs, and much more – all with a private guide.
South Korea has so much natural beauty. If you want to experience just how amazing the natural beauty of South Korea is but are staying in Seoul, then this is the day trip for you. This private day tour of Pocheon will make you feel as though the busy city is far, far away.
You will get to experience the crystal clear rivers and shimmering lakes of the Korea National Arboretum Pocheon. The forests here are magnificent, as are the waterfalls, the cliffs, and the general sense of peace.
If you’re visiting Seoul one of the best deals on offer is the Discover Seoul Pass. This pass allows free entrance to 42 Seoul Attractions, discounts on 35 Seoul Attractions and it’s a transit card. There are 24/48/72 hour options available.
13. Jeonju Hanok Village
Take a trip to the centuries-old city of Jeonju Korea for a truly cultural day out. The old town of Jeonju is very photogenic and filled with stores and cafes. It is filled with lots of cute shops and cafes and many Hanok houses which offer homestays.
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I highly recommend getting dressed up in the local costumes as do many Koreans. We attracted a good deal of attention and amusement as westerners dressed up in their outfits.
There is also a 15th-century Gyeonggijeon shrine with portraits of former kings in Jeonju which is worth a visit. Omokdae and Imokdae are ancient hilltop pavilions that provide some of the best views of the surrounding area.
14. Jaman Mural Village
Don’t miss the Jeonju mural village. Jaman Mural Village is outside of the old town – you will need to cross the main road to get there.
It is necessary to cross the main road and walk up a very steep hill to access it. Jaman Mural Village Jeonju is covered in murals and has several cute cafes and is very photogenic.
Jaman Mural Village is filled with street art over several levels and also has a few cafes. Extremely photogenic. A day trip to Jeonju is definitely a full day trip.
Beautiful Places to Visit on Jeju Island
One of Korea’s best-loved islands, Jeju Island is teeming with natural wonders and fun activities for the adventurous traveller. It is particularly known for its exotic beach resorts and volcanic landscape.
Jeju, South Korea’s largest and most beautiful volcanic island is nestled on the South Coast. This South Korea island boasts stunning beaches, lush countryside, an abundance of museums, coastal walking trails, and delectable cuisine. There are loads of fantastic things to do in Jeju Island.
15. Hallasan Mountain
Hallasan is the highest mountain in South Korea, reaching a height of nearly 2,000 meters. Surrounded by the Hallasan National Park (Hallasan Seongpanak), the shield volcano is worshipped by some locals who believe that gods and spirits live in it.
Most travellers enjoy a hike up Mount Hallasan Jeju Island, absorbing the beautiful scenery and taking in the panoramic vistas. Depending on the season that you visit Jeju, the hike can be quite chilly – especially before you start walking and warming up!
The beauty of the trails for Mount Hallasan is that there are various routes to choose from depending on whether you want a relaxing, moderate or steep climb. Only 2 of the paths will take you to the summit of Mount Hallasan.
We decided not to take one of the summit paths. It actually would have been ok as it was much cooler up the mountain than it was in Seogwipo. But to get to the Mount Hallasan summit and back is a serious 8 hour day.
Instead, we chose to take the Yeongsil trail up Mount Hallasan – this only goes 1280 meters and is just over 5kms. There is a shelter/rest stop along the way along this mountain trail. It was quite basic but it did have 2-minute noodles.
Mount Hallasan is a critical part of any Jeju Itinerary.
To reduce the stress of planning the trip yourself, I would recommend that you book a Hallasan transfer trip.
16. Seongsan Ilchulbong
Also known as ‘Sunrise Peak’, Seongsan Ilchulbong is not only one of Jeju’s most famous geographical features, but it is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Formed thousands of years ago by a volcanic eruption under the sea, Seongsan Ilchulbong Korea offers the best sunrise view on the island and is one of the top Jeju things to do.
The hike can easily be done by most travellers, with rest stops and benches frequently set out along the way. The estimated time to the peak of Seongsan Ilchulbong Jeju Island at a leisurely pace is about 45 minutes.
17. Cheonjiyeon Waterfall
Commonly known as the “Pond of God”, Cheonjiyeon Waterfall is made up of three sections. Cheonjiyeon waterfall is surrounded by lush plant life, including the rare Solimnan reeds. Further exploring around the waterfall will lead you to a cave, a pool of water and additional waterfalls.
It is very easy to access Cheonjiyeon waterfall – it is almost in Seogwipo. The easiest option is to walk. Once heading in the right direction you will see the grandfather rocks – follow these to the waterfall.
It is very atmospheric and photogenic and well worth a visit. Other things to look out for in Cheonjiyeon Valley are Seonimgyo Bridge and the octagonal Cheonjeru Pavilion
18. Jeongbang Waterfall
Another one of Jeju Island’s top waterfalls is Jeongbang Waterfall. This waterfall is incredibly unique as it is the only waterfall in Asia that flows directly into the ocean.
Falling down the black cliff from a height of 23 meters, Jeongbang Waterfall Jeju Island is, without a doubt, one of the most spectacular natural wonders on the island.
A visit to Jeongbang Falls promises a great day out for those with a zestful love for nature. Start in the conveniently-located parking lot, and set off to purchase your ticket.
The information board shows clearly mapped-out routes, with little scattered waterfalls to explore along the way. It is quite easy to walk to Jeongbang falls from Seogwipo
19. Sangumburi Crater
Sangumburi crater boasts an impressive circumference of 2 km. No wonder it is a National Monument. The extinct volcanic crater is filled with lush plant life.
You can expect to find the likes of red-thorn trees and Magnolia trees as well as Ondaerim vegetation. The wide variety of vegetation makes the Sangumburi crater a popular spot for researchers as well.
Autumn is a great time to visit Sangumburi crater as the ridges adopt a golden tone from the silvergrass, and Japanese Cedar trees dominate the landscape. If you are looking for a spectacular Jeju Island sunset view spot – then Sangumburi Crater is the place to be.
It takes about 15 minutes to walk up to the top of Sangumburi Crater on Jeju and it is very well worth it! The crater looks very impressive and is so so green.
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Alas, it is tough to get a great shot of Sangumburi Crater due to how round it is – part of it is always in the shadows. It would be great to get an aerial shot here – perfect for a drone but do ask permission.
When I visited the crater it was 35 degrees and super humid so the climb up was a bit hideous but in better temperatures, it would be quite an easy stroll.
Seopjikoji is a pretty area is in the east of Jeju Island and has featured in many Korean tv dramas – and is therefore quite popular. There are a lighthouse, a gingerbread house and some great views of Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak from the end of the lighthouse.
I hired a bike to get around Seopjkoji when I visited which worked very well. It is a slightly odd area but very photogenic.
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Beautiful Places to Visit in Daegu
Being the third-largest city in South Korea, there are so many fun things to do in Daegu. This city blends traditional history and culture with modern metropolitan charm. If you’re asking is Daegu worth visiting the answer is definitely yes!
21. Apsan Mountain
Daegu is surrounded by incredible mountains, with Apsan mountain towering right above the city. Summiting this peak is a highlight of sightseeing in Daegu.
From the top of Apsan mountain, you get the most breathtaking views over Apsan Park Daegu and the surrounding areas. It also features an area for colourful locks – very popular in South Korea – and good for photos.
The best way to experience Apsan Mountain Daegu is to climb up to the top. The walk-up should take between one to three hours, and will have any nature lover in their element – this is one of the best things to do in Daegu South Korea.
Once you have soaked up all of the views of Daegue at the summit of Apsan Mountain, you can take the cable car down for an enjoyable descent.
Purchase the ticket to Apsan mountain just near the entrance to the cable car. The cable cars run every 15 minutes on weekdays and it takes just 5 minutes to get to the top.
The best views of beautiful Daegu Korea can be gained from turning right when you exit the cable car to the observatory.
Beautiful Places to Visit in Busan
22. Gamcheon Culture Village
This terraced village on a hill is one for the books. Brightly coloured houses climb up the hill, ending in a brilliant view from the top of Gamcheon Culture Village Busan.
And there are tons of fun interactive activities in Gamcheon Culture Village on the way up. Although I suggest that you get a taxi at least part of the way, as the top is the most exciting, and the walk is very steep.
There are also plenty of tasty treats lining the Gamcheon streets. From cute candy floss (imagine ears and little faces on colourful clouds of sweetness) to upscale cafes with gorgeous views.
23. Haedong Yonggungsa
This beautiful sea-side temple was built in 1376 and is still in perfect condition. Try to arrive at Haedong Yonggungsa Temple early if you’re visiting over the weekend, as this is one of the most popular Busan attractions.
You’ll pass a road lined with interesting Buddhist sculptures of hybrid animals, and then down a path lined with craft merchants and little food stalls. South Korean street food is generally known to be safe for consumption, so feel free to try a few things out.
When you get to this temple in Busan you’ll see the waves lapping against the rocks that the temple rests on. You can explore the lookout points from Haedong Yonggungsa Busan that offer amazing views. Be sure to have your camera ready.
Beautiful Places to Visit in Incheon
24. Fairytale Village of Songwol-dong
Songwol-dong is Incheon’s own unique twist on Disneyland. No matter how old you are, a trip to a Korean fairytale village will entice your inner child.
Instead of leaving dilapidated houses to crumble away, the government stepped in to transform the streets into a world of colour in this fairy tale village. Murals and Disney inspired decor run along the walls, climb up the street lamps and hang upon balconies in this Incheon village.
Along with the whimsical appearance, Disney characters wander along the streets. It is ideal for those of you travelling with younger kids and one of the top Incheon attractions.
25. Incheon Grand Park
Located in Jiangsu-dong, Incheon, the nature park is an easy activity to include during your stay in the city. With views of Sangasan and Gwanmosan Mountains, Incheon Grand Park offers visitors the chance to enjoy the natural landscapes and rural forest away from city life.
This Incheon park also has a botanical garden, peaceful lakes around the park, and light hiking trails. If you’re travelling with children, the park is a great outdoor option. There are a children’s zoo and artificial playground for kids to enjoy.
26. Ganghwa Island
For a longer venture, planning a day trip to Ganghwa Island from Incheon is worth a day of your travels. This South Korean island lies to the northwest of Incheon downtown, and you can get there fairly easily by bus.
Be sure to set aside a whole day for a visit to Ganghwa Island South Korea, because there are a number of important sites to be seen on the island.
Below are some fantastic things to do on Ganghwa island:
- Jeondeungsa Temple: Aged at 1,700 years, this temple is the oldest on the island. Nestled in the thicket of trees, this Korean temple follows classic Korean layouts and architecture.
- Ganghwa Dolmen Park: Ganghwa Dolmen Park is famous for the scattered giant stones that date back to the Bronze age.
- Chamseongdan Altar: The Cheomseongdae Altar is said to be the place where the founder of Korea, Dangun, gave sacrifices to the god
- Chojijin Fortress: This Korean fortress was built in 1656 to serve the purpose of defending the island from outside sea invasion. The fortress will transport you back in time and reveal parts of history that now seem so far away.
Don’t miss my Korea Itinerary to help you plan your trip
⇒ And definitely log in to 12Go when you’re organising how you’re going to get around South Korea. This super easy to use platform has all modes of transport on the one platform and allows you to compare based on time, cost, and reviews.
Do you need a Visa to visit South Korea?
It can be a real pain trying to figure out if you need a visa for a country and then all the hassle of figuring out how to apply, how long you can go without your passport, when the embassy is open etc.
iVisa has completely revolutionised this process and put it all online and make it super simple and paper and hassle-free! Using iVisa is one of my top travel tips!
NB: Citizens of the United States, Great Britain, Australia and Canada do not need a Visa for Korea if they are staying less than 90 days. Do double check that this still holds when you book your airfares.
Flights to Korea:
Seoul is the usual port of arrival for most into Korea
The most economic way to travel South Korea by train is the Korea Rail Pass. This pass is only available to foreign travellers. The KR pass covers 600 stations and 80 different high speed routes with unlimited rides. It is available in 3 or 5 consecutive days or flexible 2 and 4 days.
Who Paid for What in this Post
I covered all of the costs associated with my trip to Korea. This beautiful places to visit in South Korea post does contain affiliate links. That means if you click through on them and end up making a purchase I will receive a small commission – at no additional cost to you. I just wanted to make sure you knew.
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