South Korea has become one of the leading tourist destinations in the world in recent years. Rich in history, culture, and tasty cuisine, and with an intriguing mix of urban hotspots and idyllic countryside, South Korea has a wide variety of tourist attractions. From some of the world’s most gorgeous coastlines and natural reserves, incredible experiences of its traditions, an abundance of cherry trees, and centuries-old Buddhist temples, the cities here have it all. But, the question arises, where to begin? We have picked the six most popular cities of South Korea.
Here Are The Must-See Cities Of South Korea
1. Birthplace Of Korean Modern Music: Daegu
One of the largest cities of South Korea, Daegu is the capital of the Gyeongsangbuk-do Province and is located near the Geumho river. The city is historically known for being the traditional court music centre during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1905). Today, it has grown to become one of the most popular economic and cultural centres in South Korea. Daegu is the hub of the textile industry and also boasts fantastic art museums, beautiful old churches and temples, with thriving food and nightlife scenes. The city’s old and prosperous music culture has made it to the UNESCO Creative Cities Network as a City of Music since 2017. It hosts many festivals such as Chicken and Beer Festival and Dalgubeol Lantern Festival, and music concerts such as Daegu International Opera Festival and Daegu International Musical Festival. Visit the fabulous Donghwasa temple and the 1,100-year-old Gatbawi Buddha, a magnificent stone statue of the Buddha.
2. Home To One Of The Busiest Airports In The World: Incheon
This port city in South Korea is located on the coast directly bordering the west of Seoul, and is the third-largest city in the country. This autonomous metropolitan centre is home to South Korea’s major international airport and a modern seaport. At this port, during the Korean war, American forces landed in 1950 to recapture South Korea’s capital. Therefore, today, the city is known as the site of the Incheon landing. One of South Korea’s seven Free Economic Zones, Incheon is one of the South Korean cities that led the country’s historical and economic development by opening its harbours to the outside world. Visit its bustling Chinatown, the oldest temple in the country Jeondeungsa, and the maze of shops, restaurants, and bars in Bupyeong Station Underground Shopping Mall. Don’t forget to visit the award-winning airport—Incheon International Airport for incredible quality service, along with a variety of recreational facilities such as casinos, spas, and even golf courses.
3. Largest Port City Of South Korea: Busan
Located in the south-eastern province of South Gyeongsang, South Korea, Busan is a popular tourist destination, thanks to its beautiful scenery made up of forest-coated mountains and gorgeous beaches. It is the second-largest city in the country and is home to the largest port in the country. Along with scenic attractions, the city also boasts a rich heritage of outdoor activities, such as scuba diving by the beach, kayaking, hiking, rock climbing, or cruising on a yacht. Head over to Gamcheon Cultural Village which is full of brightly-coloured houses that offer delightful views over the city. Out of many interesting historical sites scattered around the city, visit the popular Beomeosa Temple with its numerous hot springs and Haedong Yonggungsa also known as The Water Temple, which provides an unparalleled view of the coastal area and is the most visited temple among all the cities of South Korea.
4. Political And Economical Capital: Seoul
Nestled beside the Han river in the northwestern part of the country, Seoul is the capital city of South Korea. Encompassed by hilly and mountainous landscapes, this beautiful city has a long history that can be traced back to about 18 BC. Seoul has been the capital city of three kingdoms, and is therefore full of history as well as cultural landmarks which have been made UNESCO World Heritage sites. Officially known as Seoul Special City, this sprawling metropolis is home to over 25 million residents, about half of South Korea’s population. Seoul is the largest city in South Korea and is enthralling to explore. This modern cosmopolitan city is filled with a mixture of old and modern architecture. You will find centuries-old palaces such as Gyeongbokgung Palace, Changdeokgung Palace and Buddhist temples rubbing shoulders with gleaming shopping malls and bustling night markets such as Dongdaemun, and Myeongdong Shopping Street, perfect for all shopaholics. If you’d like to party the night away, don’t worry! Seoul has a thriving nightlife with restaurants, pubs, bars, and karaoke rooms.
5. Capital Of The Jeju Province: Jeju City
Jeju City is the capital and the largest city on the island of the same name in South Korea. Quite famous for being the go-to honeymoon destination in South Korea, this city offers everything from astounding rock formations, majestic backdrops to teeming greenery and warm, welcoming climate. As the city is a well-known resort and has prestigious hotels and public casino facilities, many tourists use it as a base from which they explore the rest of Jeju island. It is located off the southern coast of South Korea, on the north side of the Jeju island and is sandwiched between Mt Halla and the coast. Along with the breathtaking sights, don’t forget to visit nearby Jeju Loveland, a unique adult-only theme park, and the Jeju Folklore & Natural History Museum, the only museum in Korea that collects, researches, and exhibits folklore remains and natural historical materials of Jeju island.
6. South Korea’s Food Capital: Jeonju
Located in western South Korea, Jeonju is the capital of North Jeolla province in the country. It is well known for its historic architecture and buzzing food scene, making it one of the most popular cities of South Korea. At Jeonju, you’ll find high quality traditional Korean food with its long-standing tradition of production of rice, cultivated on the Honam Plain, fish and salted fish cultivated from the Yellow Sea and lastly, fresh vegetables and wild greens grown in the mountains. In fact, the city has been designated as a Creative City for Gastronomy as part of UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network. It is also the city where one of the most famous Korean dishes, bibimbap (mixed rice), a bowl of rice with mixed vegetables and a spicy sauce with a fried egg was born. As you roam around, you’ll find many historical sites and cultural landmarks. Don’t forget to visit Jeonju Hanok Heritage Village which showcases an area full of traditional houses of the Korean upper class along with local cultural practices, and artisanal products from around the region. You can try booking hanok accommodation for a full traditional Korean experience.
South Korea’s Ancient Capital: Gyeongju
Located on South Korea’s eastern coast, Gyeongju boasts more than 2,000 years of history and is, therefore, fittingly known as ‘the museum without walls’. The city is one of South Korea’s best-known cities for a taste for traditional architecture and history. You’ll find an endless array of tombs, temples and other archaeological sites such as castles, gardens, remains of palaces, and Buddhist statuary in Gwangju, where many date back to when the city was capital of the Silla Kingdom. A captivating place to explore, Gwangju is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The best places to see here are the stunning Bulguksa Temple, the nearby Seokguram Grotto, Royal Tombs, and the Gyeongju National Museum, which holds more than 16,000 artefacts.
Visit These Picturesque South Korean Cities
With so many tourist attractions, South Korea has become every traveller’s paradise. All the cities of the country offer something for every kind of traveller, from fascinating culture to amazing food and friendly people. Located amongst scenic mountains or next to idyllic islands and beautiful beaches, the cities aren’t just naturally beautiful. They are culturally diverse and historically rich and are filled with beautiful local traditions that are waiting for you to explore. So, what are you waiting for? Add these awesome cities of South Korea to your list and tell us about your experiences in the comment section below.