Looking for the best things to do in Busan? In this post we are going to share you everything we know about the South Korea’s second largest city. We are sure you’ll love this article with all our recommendations about Busan: what to do and restaurants. We spent a total of three days touring this coastal city full of contrasts and we think it’s enough if you want to see the highlights. Here are 10 places to visit in Busan along with the restaurants recommended by our flight companion, who was from here. Here we go!
Below you can see the table of contents we share throughout this post:
Best things to do in Busan, South Korea
Is Busan worth visiting? As we see it, Busan is worth a visit as long as you have more than 10 days for your trip in South Korea. The city is huge, with more than 3.5 million inhabitants, and Busan’s tourist attractions are quite spread out. So you will have to spend at least 2-3 days in Busan and use public transport, regardless of where you are staying. Below, we are going to list you the top 10 things to do in Busan.
1. Jagalchi market, unique things to do in Busan
This fish market has to be on your Busan’s Itinerary. It is the most touristy market in the city due to the large quantity and variety of live fish and seafood on offer. There is no doubt that strolling among the fish stalls is an adventure. You can buy the fish or seafood you want on the ground floor and they cook it for you on the upper floor. You can also try here the best Sushi in Busan if you like it raw. This seafood market is the most authentic place to try the Busan’s food! Jagalchi is open from 5:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. every day.
Just a short walk away is Busan harbour, South Korea’s main port, should you want to jump into the sea and see it.
2. Gukje market, a Busan must see
Another of Busan’s attractions is the Gukje Market, which opened in 1948. Here you can find everything: clothes, accessories, street food, fruit, vegetables, household goods, souvenirs, toys, K-pop items, etc. The general opening hours are from 9:00 am to 8:00 pm, although they vary from shop to shop. It closes on the first and third Sunday of each month.
🍽️ Busan street food: On this day we ate some fried pork and pajeon, the typical Korean vegetable omelette, at the Gukje market. We also bought some fruit. As we see it, at the market and street stalls (Pojangmacha) you can also find some of the best food in Busan.
3. Busan Gamcheon Culture Village
Gamcheon Cultural Village in Busan is a colourful and artistic place to visit. Its houses may at first remind you of Brazilian favelas, but once you’re there, you’ll discover that they are full of street art and colour. This neighbourhood originated as a refuge for displaced people from the Korean War in the 1950s. Over time, it gained financial support from the government and soon became one of the best places to visit in Busan and South Korea.
How to get from Busan Station to Gamcheon Culture Village
To get to this colourful village in Busan, take the underground line to Toseong or Jagalchi station. We walked here from our hotel, Almond Hotel, that was in Busan Station. Then from Jagalchi/Toseong you have to take the mini bus 1-1 or 2-2, it’s tiny, so it can fit through the narrow streets. Don’t even think of walking, the slopes are terrible and you have to walk quite a bit to visit this artistic quarter.
4. Haedong Yonggungsa temple, things to see in Busan, South Korea
Now we head to the other side of the city to visit the Haedong Yonggungsa Buddhist temple, one of the few seaside temples in South Korea. In case you didn’t know, most of them are located in the mountains. This is one of the free things to do in Busan, as the temple is completely free and quite touristy by the way. If you want to know how to get there, get advice from Naver Map (depending on where you are starting from). The last section can only be reached by bus (no. 181) and the bus stop is about a 5-minute walk from the temple.
5. Haeundae beach, Busan tourism
This is possibly the best beach in Busan and certainly one of the most touristy, which we show you in the first picture of the blog. The walk along the beach is super nice and, if it’s hot, why not take a dip in the Sea of Japan? Just remember that Koreans don’t like the sun, so you’ll probably be one of the few to go in your swimming costume. There is Busan street food around (try the Hotteok – Korean sweets), shops, restaurants, cafes and bars around the beach. So that, this beach is one of the best places to eat in Busan. The restaurant we’re going to share with you below is a sure hit, so be sure to check it out!
🍽️ Dongyang katsu, one of the best restaurants in Haeundae Busan. This place was recommended to us by a Korean girl (from Busan) who flew with us in the seat next to us from Madrid to Seoul. It was one of the restaurants we enjoyed the most during the whole trip. You have the directions to get there with Naver map here.
6. Shinsegae, must do in Busan for shopping lovers
Just a few bus stops from Hae un dae Beach you can get to the Shinsegae shopping centre, the largest in the world. The format is like a department store and you’ll find all the brands and boutiques you can imagine. This is one of the best things to do in Busan on a rainy day or hotter hours, as we did.
7. Busan Gwangalli beach, a must in all Busan tourist guide
Busan’s beaches are tourist spots full of contrasts and Gwangalli Beach is one of the most famous. Its incredible skyline, Gwangan Bridge and fishing harbour all converge here. When we went to this busy Busan beach (South Korea) there was a lot of life with a cinema on the beach, people picnicking by the jetty, restaurants bustling, live music on the promenade, etc. Very cool atmosphere. We tried the famous Korean bbq in Busan here, but we didn’t like the restaurant, so we didn’t share it.
8. Taejongdae Resort Park, things to do in Busan with family
If you are looking for things to do in Busan for a day, perhaps you should save this plan for another visit, as Taejondae is in another part of the city. We found it a pleasant park to stroll around with incredible views of the sea and the islets surrounding the city. It is easy to get to by bus and access is completely free. This is one of the activities in Busan to do with kids, as there is a little train that take you around the park, but it’s perfectly doable on foot.
9. Hwangyeonsang Mountain Sunset, things to do in Busan at night
If you have more than two days to indulge in Busan sightseeing, Hwangyeonsan Mountain should undoubtedly make it to your itinerary. Rising 427 metres high, it is cherished as one of the city’s best locations to revel in a magnificent sunset. Keep in mind, however, that the views might be compromised on cloudy or polluted days. The nearest metro stop is Geunmyeonsan on line 2, but a quick check on Naver map will guide you on the fastest route from your current location. Once you reach the mountain base, it’s advisable to take a taxi up and arrange for it to wait for your return journey. A visit to this mountain is not just a sightseeing tour, but an unforgettable Busan experience!
10. Busan tower, tourist attractions in Busan, South Korea
If you’re staying longer in Busan, another plan is to climb the tower. This structure rises to a height of 120 metres, giving you the best panoramic views of the city from its observatory. It is open all year round from 10:00 am to 10:00 pm and in 2023 the Busan Tower ticket price is 12,000 won (approximately 9 dollars). That’s a little cheaper than the N-tower we recommended in our post with the list of things to do in Seoul.
If you’re visiting Busan Diamond Tower, take the opportunity to explore Yongdusan Park overlooking the harbour. This green oasis in the heart of the city has several temples and monuments to visit.
There are many places to go in Busan, that is why we think it is a must in your South Korean trip. For example, you can also take the cable car of Busan, also called Busan air cruise nearby the Songdo beach. However, you might need more days for your visit.
In addition to the experience of eating seafood at the Jagalchi market, as well as the Dongyang Katsu in Haeundae mentioned above, we would like to recommend you where to eat in Busan station. Try the restaurants of China Town and Dong-gu that we loved:
🍽️ Gimbap Heaven Choryang, Busan station / China town. This Korean restaurant in Busan is open 24 hours a day. It was yummy and also very cheap, we both ate for €15. Here is the address on Naver map.
🍽️ Maga Mandu, China town. Chinese food is one of Busan’s must-eat. This restaurant was recommended to us by the Busanese girl we met on the plane. By the way, you won’t find it by this name on Naver map, so keep the address here or type this in the app 마가만두.
Finally, it has also very good reviews Anga Busan, probably one of the best restaurants in Busan with the Korean BBQ.
Hotels in Busan, tourism by the sea
As we said, for sightseeing in Busan we chose to stay next to the station at the Almond Hotel to make transfers easier, both on arrival and return. It is also just a few minutes’ walk from the main markets and well connected to the other tourist attractions. So we think it is the best area to stay in Busan. Our next destination in South Korea was the famous Jeju Island (you can find here the best things to do in Jeju Island) and the stations are usually the best connected points in the cities. So we arrived at Busan Station from Seoul and our Busan station city hotel was only a 5 minute walk away. Other best places to stay in Busan are the beaches of Haeundae and Gwangalli.
How to get from Seoul to Busan
If you want to get to Busan from Seoul, the best way is by train. It’s cheap, fast, comfortable, with good WIFI and you don’t have to go through airport controls. This is what we did and what we tell you in our itinerary about the best places to visit in South Korea. We travelled on the KTX, the fastest train from Seoul to Busan. We bought the ticket at Seoul station (same day) and it cost us about €45 per person. The journey takes about 2 hours from station to station, avoiding transfers from the airport to the city centre.
You can also fly from Seoul to Busan. However, please note that if you arrive in Seoul via Incheon airport, to fly to Busan you must change airports in Seoul and go to Gimpo, the main airport for domestic flights.
Video of things to do in Busan and South Korea
You can then use our video on what to see and do in Busan to help you organise your trip to Busan and South Korea. We tell you about places to see, where to eat, cultural shocks, curiosities, etc. Subscribe here to our YouTube channel to see all the videos we’ll be sharing from the trip. The video is in Spanish, just to let you know…
Insurance for travel to Busan and South Korea
If you don’t have travel insurance to cover you for medical expenses, accident, flight delays and lost or damaged luggage, we have a 5% discount for you on all IATI policies. We book all our trips with them and for this 13-day trip to South Korea, including flight days, it cost us less than €60 per person.