Situated on the south-east coast of the country, Korea’s second city has everything you could dream of from a vacation. When you travel to Busan, you’ll find rugged mountains, gorgeous beaches, and a world-famous film festival.
All of this, and we haven’t even got started on the city’s culinary scene yet! Busan’s markets are teeming with more species of fish than you can imagine. You can eat at those, or head to the city’s restaurants. From street food to tent cafes, to high-end gourmet establishments, there’s definitely something to suit all tastes.
After dark, the twinkling lights of the city’s skyscrapers and the Gwangan Bridge make for an incredible time to explore Busan!
In this post, we’ll take a look at the best places to visit in Busan. We hope that you’ll find our list useful when it comes to giving you Busan vacation ideas and planning your trip!
Best Places to stay in Busan
Thinking about where to stay in Busan? It’s hard to choose the perfect place in such a big city. So, to help you out we’ve taken a look at the coolest neighbourhoods in Busan and come up with a shortlist of three of the best. These accommodations take into account different travel styles and budgets, so there’s sure to be one suited to you! Let’s take a closer look at three of the best places to stay in Busan!
Best Hostel in Busan: INSIDE Busan
The cool architecture of INSIDE Busan makes it one of the more unique spots in town. However, it’s not style over substance – this place really is one of the best places to stay in Busan. Especially if you’re on a budget! There’s a garden and an outdoor terrace which are great for meeting fellow travellers so you can explore Busan together. You’ll also find a shared kitchen here – another great way to keep your costs down.View on HostelWorld
Best Airbnb in Busan: Apartment with ocean view
This apartment is located just a bit further than Nampo, but it’s very well connected to the metro lines. The Airbnb is so close to the ocean that you can even see the water from your window. The view is even cooler at night when the city starts to light up. You’re close to many shopping opportunities as well as restaurants, street food markets and cool attractions.View on Airbnb
Best Budget Hotel in Busan: 9st Traveltel
When you’re thinking about where to stay in Busan on a budget, a hostel isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. If that sounds like you, don’t worry, we’ve found something for you too. This chic hotel has colourful and cool rooms which provide a comfortable and safe stay. All rooms come with a flat-screen TV so if you fancy a night in, that’s taken care of too!View on Booking.com
Best Luxury Hotel in Busan: Park Hyatt Busan
In the heart of the Haeundae District, one of the most happening neighbourhoods in Busan, this five star hotel should be on the itinerary for those who don’t mind splashing a bit of extra cash. Head up to the 30th floor sky lobby to get some incredible views of the city! That’s not the only facility on offer, mind you. There’s also an indoor swimming pool, massage services, and a world-class restaurant. Just make sure you actually get out and check out some of the places on our list!View on Booking.com
Need a place quick? Here’s the best neighbourhood in Busan:
- Browse the shops at Gukje Market.
- Climb to the top of Busan Tower and enjoy panoramic views of the city.
- Explore the lively and vibrant BIFF Square.
These are the BEST Places to Visit in Busan!
#1 – Haeundae Beach
One of the most incredible free places to go in Busan
- Considered one of the most beautiful beaches in all of South Korea
- One of the most popular hotspots in Busan
- Don’t miss watching a sunset from here – they’re amazing!
Why it’s awesome: One of the most popular hotspots in Busan for tourists, travellers, and locals alike, you will definitely want to spend some time on Haeundae Beach! It’s hard to believe that such a beautiful beach could be right on the edge of a city, but that’s exactly what you get here. If you’re backpacking, you might end up staying here as there are a number of cool hostels in this area. There are also plenty of international restaurants if you haven’t plucked up the courage to try proper Korean food yet! Backpackers in South Korea love the food and you will too.
What to do there: It’s impossible to be bored on Haeundae Beach. Of course, you have the regular stuff like sunbathing and swimming, but there’s way more to this stretch of sand than that. During the day, you’ll find art exhibits and music events, while it really comes alive at night. Some of the city’s best nightlife is along the streets by Haeundae Beach so you’ll want to come here for a night out! Incredibly, you can see the coast of Japan from this beach on a clear day.
#2 – Gamcheon Culture Village
- A formerly run-down neighbourhood, revived by community artists
- Stop off at souvenir shops, art galleries, and cool cafes
- One of the coolest points of interest in Busan
Why it’s awesome: Sometimes referred to as Korea’s Santorini, Gamcheon Culture Village is where you’ll want to go to get an alternative perspective on this Asian country. It’s hard to say it’s a traditional and authentic side of South Korea, but it’s certainly a cool one. Admire the old-style Korean architecture which has been restored and decorated by local artists. This colourful area is chock-full of places to duck into if the weather gets too hot and you need a break. Definitely one of the best places in Busan to spend a day!
What to do there: Bring a pair of comfortable shoes as you’re going to spend a lot of time wandering the alleyways of Gamcheon Cultural Village. There are tons of surprises throughout the streets, and you’re likely to come across a cute café or a tiny art gallery. It’s also a great place to pick up souvenirs for friends and family back home! Make sure you bring a camera, or at least your phone. The colourful houses, which look like they’ve just been dropped on the hillside, make for some great Insta shots!
#3 – Haedong Yonggung Temple
One of the best religious places to see in Busan
- Considered one of the most beautiful temples in the whole of South Korea
- One of the few temples in South Korea that overlooks the ocean
- Easy to get to from the city centre
Why it’s awesome: Dating back to the 14th century, Haedong Yonggung Temple is worth visiting as much for is history as it is for its serene and sublime location. It was built by Naong, a Buddhist teacher during the Goryeo Dynasty. Most temples in Korea are either in cities or up in the mountains. It’s very rare that you’ll get one so near the ocean, so that is a reason to visit in itself! This is without a doubt one of the most recognisable landmarks in Busan.
What to do there: The good news is its really easy to get to from the centre of Busan, and even more so from Haeundae Beach. So, if you’ve maxed out your sunbathing and swimming time, make this your next stop. During Buddha month, this is an incredible place to be, especially at night, as the temple is adorned with many lanterns. If you find the walk to the temple tricky, you can always stop for food on the way. Lining the steps up to the temple there are lots of street food kiosks selling street food, so you’ll have no trouble keeping your energy up!
#4 – Busan Tower and Yongdusan Park
- 120-metre tower with city views
- Park packed with attractions – one of the best places in Busan for a day out
- One of the major landmarks in Busan
Why it’s awesome: If you liked the sound of the city views from our best luxury hotel in Busan but your budget doesn’t stretch to staying at the Park Hyatt, we’ve got an alternative for you. Yongdusan Park houses one of the tallest attractions in Busan, the 120-metre tower. From here you’ll get great views of the city, as Yongdusan Park is actually pretty high up. Yes, Yongdusan translates as ‘dragon’s head mountain!’
What to do there: After you’ve taken in fantastic views of the city and snapped a few pictures, there’s plenty more to do on ground level in the park. See the traditional Korean Bell housed in a building at the foot of the tower. Then, head to the Museum of World Folk Instruments to see beautifully preserved examples of instruments. If those aren’t quite enough, be sure to check out the Flower Clock, the Bronze Dragon Statue, and the Locks of Love!
#5 – Jagalchi Fish Market
- The biggest fish market in the whole of Korea
- See species of fish you’ve never even dreamed of… then eat them!
- Houses some of the best places to eat in Busan
Why it’s awesome: Yes, it’s impressive that Jagalchi Fish Market is the biggest of its type in Korea, but there’s a lot more to get excited about than just that. Centuries-old methods have been passed down families to the vendors who work there today, who know a thing or two about how to prepare their fish. You’ll see more species than you knew existed being prepared in a variety of different ways. Get to the market at 5 am to see it at its most vibrant and exciting!
What to do there: If you’ve managed to get to the market at the crack of dawn, well done you! Your reward is seeing the organised chaos of the middle-aged and married Korean women who work at the market. They’re known as the jagalchi ajumma. It’s hardly surprising that such a huge fish market is home to some of the best places to eat in Busan. Make sure you buy your fish off these women, before taking it upstairs. The restaurants on the top floor of the market will happily prepare your catch for you, exactly to your taste!
#6 – Jangsan Mountain
A beautiful and scenic place to check out in Busan
- How to see Busan from the surrounding mountains
- A moderate to difficult hiking trail
- Especially beautiful in October and November
Why it’s awesome: Sometimes you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and really get some fresh air. Going hiking is a great way to do that, and in a city surrounded by mountains, it would be rude not to! There are a number of cool hiking spots, but one of our favourites is Jangsan Mountain. The mountain is split into lots of hiking trails suitable for different levels of fitness and experience. It takes about 2 hours to get to the top of the 634-metre high mountain!
What to do there: If you ask the locals what they like to do on a weekend, a fair few would recommend Jangsan Mountain! If you don’t feel confident in getting to the top of the mountain, then select one of the routes that will take you halfway up. It’ll still give you stunning views of the city. The mountain is dotted with silver grass fields, which sparkle in the sun. This effect is most noticeable and prettiest during October and November. So, don’t miss one of the best places in Busan for hiking if you’re visiting during those months!
#7 – Shinsegae Centum City
A great place in Busan if you love to shop
- The largest department store in the world, according to the Guinness Book of Records
- You can buy pretty much anything you want in here
- Head to one of the biggest spas in Busan
Why it’s awesome: Shoppers, listen up. Not only is this one of the best places in Busan for retail therapy, it’s possibly one of the best in the world! That’s because it’s the largest department store in the world. At least according to the Guinness Book of Records anyway! It was originally Korea’s first department store, built-in 1930. However, since then, it’s expanded into the mega centre that it is today. Needless to stay, it’s one of the fashion hotspots in Busan!
What to do there: It’s not all about shopping though. There’s lots to see in the shopping centre, including Busan Cinema Centre and the city’s Museum of Art. There’s even a golf course where you can practise your swing! If you’re tired from trailing around the centre, don’t miss Spa Land in the department store. Originally it was meant to be a water park, but when hot springs were discovered during the centre’s construction, that plan changed. Now, 20 spas with a number of themed rooms for you to relax in!
Quick Note – Staying Safe in Busan
The laidback cosmopolitan culture of Busan makes for a very safe place to travel, which is great for tourists. It’s safe to walk around at night, although we’d still recommend sticking to well-lit areas and exploring with someone else if possible! A piece of advice – rather than relying on your smartphone, pick up a map. It will be extremely helpful if you get lost, especially considering that English speaking locals are quite tricky to come by!
Don’t forget to sort your travel insurance! We’ve put together a roundup of the best travel insurance for backpackers, or if you’re low on time, get a quote from World Nomads now, our favourite travel insurance provider.
#8 – Hurshimchung
- One of the oldest spas in the Dongnae District
- More than 40 baths to choose from
- One of the hotspots in Busan – literally!
Why it’s awesome: While you’re in Busan, you’ll want to experience the city’s jjimjilbang culture, right? There are over 450 spas in the city so it can be hard knowing which one to choose. Although it won’t offer you the most intimate experience, Hurshimchung (also spelled Heosimcheong) is one of the most popular. There’s space here for more than 3,000 people, but don’t worry, you won’t all be in the same water! There are more than 40 baths here, so you should be able to find your own spot to relax and disconnect from the world!
What to do there: The name of these spas means “cleaning one’s mind”. So, try out a few of the different baths and see which one does that best! You can try the Cave Bath, Outdoor Bath, or Longevity Bath. Maybe the last one will extend your trip to Busan, who knows! The Dongnae District has been synonymous with spas for more than 2,000 years, and there are a couple of others to check out here if Hurshimchung isn’t the one for you. Dongnae Outdoor Footbath is another spa with curative waters that are great for your skin.
#9 – Gwangbokdong Food Street
A must-see for foodies in Busan!
- A narrow street with food stalls and restaurants
- More of the best places to eat in Busan
- A total feast for the senses
Why it’s awesome: A whole street full of traditional Korean food? And you’re asking us why it’s awesome… Well, we’d better tell you anyways. The narrow streets of the Gwangbokdong District are home to this hidden gem – a food street that has every type of Korean food you could hope for and imagine. There are also a few spots to buy clothes here, but let’s not pretend – it’s the food we’re here for!
What to do there: Wander down this narrow street before trying as many restaurants and food stalls as you can. It truly is a feast for the senses, so take in the sights of stall owners preparing their dishes, the smells of garlic and chilli frying and oil, which will really whet your appetite. Be adventurous! One of the best things to eat are tasty Korean dumplings. Just be aware – quite a lot here contains fish!
#10 – Gwangan Bridge
- One of the most beautiful nightscapes in the country
- The longest bridge in Korea
- One of the most emblematic points of interest in Busan
Why it’s awesome: Nightlife in South Korea isn’t all about going to bars and clubs (although you’re guaranteed a good time if you do that). No, sometimes it’s just finding a beautiful spot to watch the city lights twinkling. One of those places is Gwangan Bridge. Whether you want to watch the 100,000 lighting effects from afar or stroll across the bridge which connects Haeundae-Gu and Suyeong-Gu, you shouldn’t miss this off your Busan itinerary!
What to do there: As well as watching the magnificent light shows, this is just one more place you can experience the city’s incredible seafood-centric cuisine. On the bridge itself, you’ll find more of the best places to eat in Busan, whether you want to go fancy with fine dining, or just chill out with some street food!
#11 – Busan Museum
A fascinating educational place to visit in Busan
Why it’s awesome: We’ve included a lot of outdoor, shopping, and culinary activities on our list of the best places to visit in Busan, but not too much in the way of history and culture. However, there’s still plenty of it in the city, and the Busan Museum is the best place to learn about Korea’s past. It was renovated and re-opened in 2002 and is packed with fascinating exhibits to help you learn more about this incredible country.
What to do there: Check out the ancient artefacts that date back to long before any borders were drawn around Korea. This museum will guide you through the country’s history all the way to the Japanese occupation and the years after World War II. You can get involved with a Busan must do at the museum too – a tea ceremony. This is the perfect end to a day where you’ll explore Busan’s biggest and most comprehensive history museum!
Get insured for your trip to Busan!
Remember, when you are traveling you may need insurance! World Nomads are one of the best insurers on the market and we have used them ourselves for years now.
Getting an estimate from World Nomads is simple – just click the button or image below, fill out the necessary info, and you’re on your way!
So, that’s all from our list of the best places to visit in Busan. We hope you’ve found this list useful, informative, and you’re reading to make the most of your vacation in South Korea’s 2nd city.
There are so many Busan vacation ideas on our list that you might actually struggle to fit them into a short trip. So, you can see just how much this incredible city offers to tourists. Whether you want to sample the culinary scene, learn about Korean history, or visit natural attractions like the beach and the mountains, you’ll find something for you. One thing’s for sure – your Busan itinerary is going to be pretty packed!
Just remember to keep our list of the best places to visit in Busan at hand. It’ll take any stress out of planning your vacation. We hope you have a great time!
Yay for transparency! Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means that if you book your accommodation through the site, The Broke Backpacker will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Your support helps me keep the site going.
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Writer and Editor, Ana Pereira is a California native, inspired by Earth exploration and introspection. Recently, she spent several months exploring Africa and South Asia. She spends most of her “down-time” out in the wilderness, climbing, hiking, and beyond, and is feverishly passionate about travel and health.