Busan cityscape with landmarks and local street scenes

“Best of Busan: Must-See Sights and Local Secrets”

Busan, South Korea’s vibrant port city, offers a rich tapestry of sights ranging from bustling markets to tranquil temples. This guide explores the top attractions and hidden gems, providing a comprehensive look into what makes Busan a must-visit destination.

Key Takeaways

  • Explore the dynamic Haeundae Beach, known for its lively atmosphere and scenic views.
  • Discover the colorful and artistic alleys of Gamcheon Culture Village.
  • Experience the local flavors and fresh seafood at Jagalchi Fish Market.
  • Visit Haedong Yonggung Temple for a unique blend of spiritual serenity and coastal beauty.
  • Enjoy a panoramic view of Busan from Yongdusan Park, a perfect spot for leisure and sightseeing.

1. Haeundae Beach

Haeundae Beach Busan scenic view

Haeundae Beach, opened in 1965, is not only the largest beach in Busan but also the most famous in South Korea. Stretching nearly 1.5 kilometers, it can accommodate up to 120,000 visitors on its busiest days. The beach is located in the vibrant Haeundae District, which is bustling with shops, dining options, and entertainment venues like the Sealife Busan Aquarium and a luxurious water park. Although it can get quite crowded, the diverse attractions make it a must-visit.

How to Get There

To reach Haeundae Beach, simply take the subway line 2 to Haeundae station and walk for about five minutes.

If you’re looking for a place to stay, consider the Oneway Guesthouse in Busan, known for its affordable and comfortable accommodations.

2. Gamcheon Culture Village

colorful houses in Gamcheon Culture Village Busan

Gamcheon Culture Village, often referred to as the Busan Gamcheon Culture Village, is a vibrant and colorful area that you shouldn’t miss when visiting Busan. Originally a ghetto for Korean War refugees in the 1950s, it has transformed into a lively arts district with government support. The village is famous for its brightly colored houses, artistic murals, and steep, winding streets.

How to Get There

To visit Gamcheon Culture Village, start at Toseong subway station. From there, take bus 1-1, 2, or 2-1. The journey to the village takes about 10 minutes. Once you arrive, you can spend 2-3 hours exploring the area on foot.

What to Do

While exploring, make sure to grab a detailed map from the information center. This map will guide you through various suggested walking tours, showcasing public art, quaint cafés, and stunning lookout points. The village is not just a treat for the eyes but also offers a peek into the life before it became a tourist hotspot.

3. Jagalchi Fish Market

Jagalchi Fish Market Busan busy local market scene

Jagalchi Fish Market is not just a market; it’s a whole neighborhood dedicated to seafood! The main building is a massive seven-story structure, but the real action happens on the first floor where the fish market is located. Here, you can find a wide variety of marine life, some of which you might have never seen before. Don’t forget your camera; it’s a visual feast!

How to Visit

To visit Jagalchi Fish Market, simply take exit 10 of Jagalchi station and walk for about five minutes. Remember, the market is closed on the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of every month and operates from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. The stalls start setting up as early as 5 a.m., so you can come early if you want to see the market come to life.

Annual Events

Every autumn, the market hosts the Jagalchi Festival. The festival’s slogan, ‘Oiso! Boiso! Saiso!’ translates to ‘come, see, and buy’. However, there’s much more to do than just shopping. You can enjoy live performances, participate in fish catching, and taste various seafood delicacies.

Jagalchi Fish Market is a must-see for every visitor to Busan. It’s not only the largest fish market in South Korea but also a vibrant place full of life and culture.

4. Haedong Yonggung Temple

Haedong Yonggung Temple Busan scenic view

Haedong Yonggung Temple is a Buddhist temple complex located on the eastern outskirts of Busan. It was first built in 1376 during the Goryeo Dynasty and is one of the few temples in Korea situated directly by the sea. This temple is not only a place of worship but also a popular tourist attraction due to its unique location and beautiful views.

Visitors should be prepared for a lot of walking, as the temple complex is quite expansive. The temple opens at 5 a.m., allowing visitors to experience a breathtaking sunrise. It’s important to note that while entry to the temple is free, it takes about an hour to reach from the city center and remains open until sunset.

To get to Haedong Yonggungsa, you can take the subway to Jangsan station and then a taxi or bus #181. The journey offers a scenic route and is a perfect half-day trip from Busan. Along the way, you might encounter the 108-step staircase lined with stone lanterns, which not only leads down to the temple but also offers a chance to stop and enjoy the soothing sounds of the waves.

5. Yongdusan Park

Yongdusan Park Busan scenic view

Located on a hill to the east of the shopping and market area, Yongdusan Park is not just a spot of pleasant greenery but also a site of significant historical events, particularly in the 20th century. The park is famous for its Diamond Tower, also known as Busan Tower, which offers a panoramic view of Busan from its observation deck modeled on Bulguksa Temple’s Dabotap Pagoda.

Getting There

The entrance to Yongdusan Park is uniquely accessible via a metallic, retro-style multi-level escalator that ascends from Gwangbokdong Cultural & Fashion Street. This makes reaching the park not only easy but also an interesting part of your visit.

Events and Performances

Every Saturday at 3 p.m., the park transforms into a vibrant festival venue. Here, you can enjoy traditional art performances and see young K-Pop talents showcasing their skills. It’s a place where the energy of aspiring artists fills the air, making it a memorable spot for both locals and tourists.

Tip: Save money on your visit to Busan Tower by booking your ticket online in advance.

6. Busan Museum of Art

Busan Museum of Art with cityscape

Opened in 1998, the Busan Museum of Art focuses on modern and contemporary art, aiming to make artistic experiences accessible to everyone. The museum is not just a place to view art but also a hub for educational programs and the biennale art festival, which occurs every two years. It’s located near BEXCO and Shinsegae Centum City, making it a central spot for art lovers.

What to See and Do

  • Explore various art exhibitions across different genres.
  • Visit the largest hanging garden in Korea located within the museum premises.
  • Check out the children’s art library and enjoy a relaxing break at the museum café.

Getting There

The museum is easily accessible from the UN Memorial Cemetery Park. It’s just a 7-minute walk from the Busan Museum of Art station exit 5.

7. Nampo-dong

Nampo-dong Busan cityscape with local markets and bustling streets

Nampo-dong is the heart of Busan’s commercial and shopping scene, bustling with energy and authentic vibes. This neighborhood not only connects the two halves of the city but also serves as a gateway to Yeongdo Island. With easy access to Busan’s bus and subway networks, exploring Nampo-dong on foot is a breeze. Here, you can dive into a variety of experiences from shopping at Gukje Market to tasting local delicacies like Korean Sweet Pancake at BIFF Square.

Nampo-dong is an activity-packed area where you may find yourself returning to try all the famous and delicious food it has to offer.

For those looking for unusual experiences, Nampo-dong does not disappoint. You can visit unique places like Poo Poo Land or the Running Man Themed Park. Additionally, the historical Bosu-dong Book Alley offers a glimpse into Korea’s past, making it a must-visit for book lovers and history enthusiasts alike.

8. Seomyeon

Seomyeon Busan cityscape night lights

Seomyeon stands as the commercial heart of Busan, bustling with activities that cater to both shopping enthusiasts and nightlife seekers. Start your adventure at the huge Lotte Department Store or dive into the extensive underground shopping streets. This area is not just about shopping; it’s a paradise for food lovers too. You can explore a variety of restaurants and cafes, especially around Seomyeon Art Street and the famous Seomyeon Food Alley.

How to Get There

Seomyeon is easily accessible as it sits at the intersection of Busan’s two main subway lines, line 1 and line 2. The best way to dive into the heart of Seomyeon is through Seomyeon station, particularly via exit 7.

Seomyeon is a must-visit for anyone looking to experience the vibrant urban life of Busan.

9. Gwangalli Beach

Gwangalli Beach Busan with city skyline and vibrant sunset

Gwangalli Beach is a stunning 1.4 km long stretch of sand that offers breathtaking views of the Gwangandaegyo Bridge, especially beautiful during sunset and at night. This beach is not just about the scenic views; it’s a hub for various activities and events. Visitors can enjoy marine sports like SUP, banana boating, and motor boating at the Marine Sports Center located right on the beach.

For those who love food, Gwangalli Beach is surrounded by some of the best cafes and restaurants where you can enjoy a meal with a view of the ocean. The area is also famous for the Millak Raw Fish Street, a large area filled with live seafood markets and restaurants. Additionally, the beach hosts the iconic Busan Fireworks Festival every autumn, making it a must-visit during this season.

If you’re looking for a place to stay, Gwangalli Beach is also highly recommended due to its relaxed city-by-the-sea vibe and proximity to other popular locations in Busan.

To get to Gwangalli Beach, you can take the subway line 2 to Geumnyeongsan station for the southern end of the beach, or to Gwangan station for the northern end. Whether you’re looking to relax on the beach, enjoy water sports, or explore local cuisine, Gwangalli Beach has something for everyone.

10. Beomeosa Temple

Beomeosa Temple Busan scenic view

Beomeosa Temple is not just a place of worship but a vibrant cultural hub in Busan. It stands out as one of the head temples of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism and is the largest temple in the city. Nestled on the slopes of Mount Geumjeong, Beomeosa is surrounded by 11 hermitages, making it a serene and picturesque destination.

The temple stay program at Beomeosa is a unique experience that allows visitors to immerse themselves in Buddhist culture. Participants can engage in activities such as Korean meditation, prostration, and even making beaded bracelets. Additionally, they have the opportunity to dine on traditional Buddhist vegetarian food and have meaningful conversations with Korean monks.

For those interested in visiting, Beomeosa is easily accessible by taxi or bus from the Beomeosa subway station. The journey provides a scenic introduction to the area, setting the stage for a memorable visit.


As we wrap up our journey through Busan, it’s clear that this vibrant city has an abundance of experiences to offer, from its bustling markets and stunning beaches to the serene temples and hidden local gems. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveler, Busan promises a rich tapestry of sights and activities that cater to every taste. Don’t miss the chance to dive deep into its culture, history, and culinary delights. Remember, the true essence of Busan lies not just in its popular attractions but also in those quiet, lesser-known spots that offer a unique glimpse into the local way of life. So, pack your bags, set your itinerary, and prepare to explore the best of Busan!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best time to visit Busan?

The best time to visit Busan is during the spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November) when the weather is mild and pleasant.

How can I get around Busan efficiently?

The most efficient way to get around Busan is by using the subway system, which is extensive and covers most tourist attractions.

What are some must-try local foods in Busan?

In Busan, you must try local specialties such as Milmyeon (wheat noodles), Dwaeji Gukbap (pork soup with rice), and fresh seafood at Jagalchi Fish Market.

Are there any hidden gems in Busan that are less known to tourists?

Yes, places like Amnam Park, Cheonmasan Mountain, and the lesser-known streets of Jeonpo-dong offer a more local experience away from the typical tourist spots.

What cultural experiences should I not miss in Busan?

Do not miss visiting the Gamcheon Culture Village for its art-filled alleyways, the Busan Museum of Art for contemporary Korean art, and participating in local festivals like the Busan International Film Festival.

Is Busan suitable for family travel?

Yes, Busan is very family-friendly with attractions like Haeundae Beach, Busan Aquarium, and numerous parks and museums that cater to all ages.

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