With the arrival of winter comes the ideal opportunity to spend the forthcoming holiday season in one of the finest countries in Asia - South Korea. Some of the best places to visit in South Korea are just beautiful beyond words.
Spectacular Buddhist temples, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, top-notch hotels and excellent cuisine are what you’re going to find in this “Land of the Morning Calm”.
Every South Korean tourist spot has a unique appeal, making it challenging to decide on itinerary options. If you're still struggle with which places to visit in South Korea, here's our suggestion.
We have created a list of the 17 choices with unique charm and regional characteristics that will surely provide you with unique travel experiences and unforgettable memories.
First up on the list of places to visit in Korea is the renowned capital of the country - Seoul. It is known as the heart of Korea’s culture, education, politics, and economy. Some of the most beautiful places in South Korea can be found here in Seoul.
Begin your journey at Gyeongbokgung Palace, which was built in 1395. Once the main royal palace of the Joseon dynasty, this destination is now one of the most beautiful and largest of all five grand palaces. The Royal Guard Changing Ritual is one of the most popular events in the palace.
It is a spectacular and exquisite traditional Korean royal court cultural ceremony. The guards dress in royal costumes and wield traditional weaponry along with musical instruments to reenact the guard-changing ceremony done in the Joseon dynasty period.
Visitors gather in front of the famous Gyeongbokgung Palace. Image by Sam Dan Truong from Unsplash.
Changdeokgung Royal Palace is also a perfect example of the top itinerary options in Seoul. Built during the Joseon Dynasty, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is famous for its significant influence on Korean architecture and garden design.
If you want to soak in the panoramic views of South Korea, visit the N Seoul Tower atop Namsan Mountain. It is considered the most famous site to do so.
Later on, get yourself a ticket to a Nanta (a kind of non-verbal show in South Korea), or you might as well embark on an adventure to unearth the famous Itaewon district in all its vivid aura.
For accommodation, one of the most popular winter sports resorts for well-travelled tourists is undoubtedly Vivaldi Park Ski World. Just 80 minutes from Seoul, this resort is famous not only for its convenient location but also for offering rooms with state-of-the-art facilities and amenities to cater to any needs.
The transparent, emerald-colour water meets the basalt land beautifully on Hamdeok Beach, Jeju. Image by 지영 허 - stock.adobe.com
Beaches are probably not the first thing that springs to mind when you think about the popular beautiful places in Korea, yet there are many pleasant surprises for visitors. So, if you want to escape the cold, Jeju is ayou must put on your travel bucket list.
Head for the renowned Jeju Volcanic Island and Lava Tubes, a volcanic island on the South tip of the Korean peninsula. The attraction has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site in South Korea since 2007, thanks to its well-preserved lava tube System and various volcanic features.
Book a day trip here, and you’ll be treated to mild weather, mesmerising sunrises and romantic sunsets, along with beaches that come in an array of colours resulting from the island's volcanic origins.
You can also visit Seongsan Ilchulbong, Manjanggul Cave, Seopjikoji or Hamdeok Beach to behold some of the most impressive sites with significant heritage value in this city.
Surfing, swimming, and sunbathing are part of an endless list of things to do in this premier South Korea tourist spot. If you're bringing the kids, you'll find plenty of good-value places in the area to stay with the family.
Aerial view photography of Haedong Yonggungsa Temple in Busan. Image by Daniel Bernard on Unsplash.
Being the largest port city and among South Korea’s famous places, Busan is filled with endless excitement and pleasant surprises. Decadent traditional food, Korean tea, sunny beaches and seascapes are a few reasons this is a strong choice against Seoul.
Haedong Yonggungsa Temple is a place for any traveller who’s about to visit South Korea. If you seek to immerse yourself in the spiritual ambience and distinct culture, look no more. Located near the seaside, this Buddhist temple in Busan's Gijang-gun has been there since the Goryeo Dynasty, and its history is fraught with ups and downs.
Busan is also home to a beautiful natural park called Taejongdae Resort Park, which features stunning cliffs overlooking the ocean near the Yeongdo-gu island's Southernmost tip.
The lush evergreen trees and various tourist amenities - including an observatory, amusement park, lighthouse, and cruise ship terminal - make it a must-see when visiting Busan.
Everyone visiting South Korea should stop in Daegu, the country’s fourth most populous city. This centrally located metropolis is a hidden gem that should be included in the list of places to go in South Korea.
One of the best vantage points in all of Daegu can be found in Apsan Park. You may take the 30-45 minute climb or pay 10,500 won per person for the Apsan cable car to carry you to the peak. If you want to see the city in all its glory, you should book a day trip and visit this nice area before sundown.
View of Daegu's skyscrapers and buildings from afar. Image by Danielle Austria from Unsplash.
Mabijeong Mural Village is also a great place to experience a more rural and traditional side of Korea. It is just about an hour by public transportation from central Daegu. Originally a farming community, the village has been revitalised with vibrant new artwork such as paintings and murals.
Another day trip option is Daegu's largest traditional street market, Seomun Market. It is located at the confluence of two major rivers. With more than 4,000 shops and restaurants, it is a popular destination for daytime fabric shopping and late-night street food grazing.
No list of best places to visit in South Korea would be complete without the city of Incheon. You will be in a bind deciding which of the many attractions, beaches, and restaurants to visit.
Incheon Grand Park is another intriguing South Korea tourist spot, with its lush greenery and peaceful settings for tourists to come and enjoy picnicking while contemplating the scenery of the largest urban green park in the city.
With the blend of traditional and modern values, Incheon is a place to discover the nation’s culture. Photo by Hon Kim on Unsplash
Jeondeungsa Temple is also a good bet for any traveller who wants to immerse themselves in the culture and spiritual milieu. Housed within the walls of Samrang Seong Fortress, the thousand-year-old Buddhist temple is a significant architecture of the mid-Joseon dynasty.
You wouldn’t want to miss out on the official Chinatown in Incheon, also known as one of the best places to visit in South Korea. Within the community town, you will find a variety of decent restaurants, museums, and superb Chinese food. Did you know Jjajangmyeon (noodles with black bean sauce) originated in this Incheon town?
In case you want to experience more of the Chinese culture, why not go to the country itself? You don’t want to miss visiting the most exciting places in China, where you can learn about one of the civilisations on Earth.
Any tourist coming to South Korea should spend at least a few days in Gangwon. With the moniker “The Adventure Province of Korea”, this mountainous province deserves all the attention it gets in the list of places to go in South Korea.
If you’re looking for a romantic haven, Nami Island is an excellent area to visit. Nami Island has a pleasant view all year round, yet you’re in luck visiting this island in winter as Nami takes on a picturesque, fairy-tale-like quality.
There is no shortage of attractive itinerary options in this year-round destination, from The Maple Lane of True Love (you may have seen it in the K-Drama series “Winter Sonata”) and Gingko Tree Road to the Elysian Waterfall.
If romance is not your thing, have a go at Seonjaryeong mountain. Despite its intimidating 1,157-metre (3795-feet) height, Seonjaryeong mountain is a popular South Korea tourist spot for hikers who seek nothing more than to take in the breathtaking panoramas offered by the peak.
If Gyeongju is famous for anything, then it must be a cultural and architectural legacy from the Joseon Dynasty, making it one of the best places to visit in South Korea. The city of Gyeongju serves as an eastern cradle of historical significance. In essence, it is also dubbed “a museum without walls”.
Start your journey here by visiting Bulguksa Temple on Mount Toham. It is where the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism selected to house the sacred site as its head temple. Upon the raised stone terraces lie a temple complex which consists of several wooden buildings. The place is also designated a UNESCO World Heritage.
Bulguksa Temple is an impressive complex of stone pagodas and wooden shrines. Photo by Keitma - stock.adobe.com
For the best night view, check out the Donggung Palace and Wolji Pond in central Gyeongju. Cheomseongdae Astronomical Observatory is another must-see destination in Gyeongju. Constructed in the 7th century during the reign of the Silla dynasty, Cheomseongdae is the oldest astronomical observatory still standing in Asia, if not the globe.
Downtown Gwangju, one of the best entry points to explore the place’s cuisine. Photo by Fhriestley Penaflor on Pexels
Among the most popular places to visit in South Korea, the town of Gwangju stands out. Lying at the heart of Jeolla Province, South Korea's sixth-largest metropolitan city draws thousands of tourists with its distinct character, vibrant culture and colourful cuisine.
Nature lovers can enjoy quiet moments at Soswaewon Garden and take in the beauty of the typical Korean garden from the middle Joseon Dynasty. In addition, since many Confucian academics came across and published their writings here, this nice area has earned its moniker as a "cultivating house of scholar spirit”.
The mouthwatering Korean cuisine is also a plus point. From grilled beef short ribs patty to countless other traditional food, you’ll be amazed once you step into any busy eateries.
The stunning sunset view of Hanok Village, a must-see in Jeonju. Image by rawkkim from Unsplash.
Being a historical and picturesque city, Jeonju is one of the best places to visit in South Korea. It was once the capital of the entire Southwestern region. It stands among the last sites that feature an old town with traditional Korean houses - Hanok.
Kick off your trip to Jeonju with a historical tour along the spots where the old gates of Jeonju once stood. Historically, Jeonju was a fortified city with four entrances, but now only Pungnammun (the South gate) remains.
Easily accessible by train from Seoul, Jeon Ju Hanok village is also a great place to admire the beautifully preserved traditional architecture. Every year, thousands of visitors come here to explore the picturesque traditional Korean houses called Hanok.
These architectural beauties are made exclusively from natural materials (wood, mulberry paper, thatch). Spend the night in a Hanok, and you will understand the charms of Korean housing, especially its century-old underfloor heating system.
Head to Yeong Geumjeong Pavilion and soak in the panorama view of Sokcho Beach. Image by sanghyeon han from Unsplash.
Are you looking for something off the beaten track? Sokcho fits the bill. Though often overlooked by the dazzling of Seoul or the laid-back vibe of Busan, this destination deserves a place in the list of South Korea beautiful places to visit at least once.
If you want an unforgettable experience at Seoraksan National Park, just gear up with the right winter hiking equipment and take a trip to Seoraksan, the third-highest mountain in Korea.
If you’re not interested in hiking, a fantastic cable car can take you straight to the top for glistening views of Sokcho in the distance.
For an escape from the cold weather, head down to Sokcho Beach, located just less than 10 mins walk from the Sokcho Express bus terminal.
With soft white sand, mesmerising turquoise water and the gentle slosh of the sea, Sokcho Beach promises visitors a good time even in the colder month. To get the spectacular vantage point of the ocean, head down to the typical Yeong Geumjeong Pavilion located at the end of a pier.
Great resorts aside, Pyeongchang has many treasures waiting to be explored. Photo by Sanga - stock.adobe.com
Pyeongchang-gun is another popular place to go in Korea. Just 180 km (111 miles) from Seoul, the city is a great place to experience tranquillity and the awe-inspiring panoramic beauty of nature.
Among the top tourist spots, Odaesan National Park is a paradise for hikers, with paths leading to the summits of the snow-capped mountains. Seriously, a trip to Pyeongchang this winter (the appropriate season) would not be complete without hitting the ski slopes!
For a short getaway, walk around a picturesque sheep farm in Daegwallyeong Sheep Farm and immerse yourself in nature's splendour. If you've ever wondered what it's like to work on a farm, this is the place to go.
Then, round off your day trip at Yongpyong Water Park and Daegwallyeong Samyang Ranch, which are close to the farm attraction and worth a visit.
If you are not an outdoor person, book a stay and participate in the activities of the historic Woljeongsa Temple near Mount Odaesan. Woljeongsa is a Buddhist temple complex in the traditional style. It offers tourists opportunities to gain insight into the Buddhist traditions and customs in South Korea.
The spectacular Hwaseong Fortress in Suwon, enclosed by towering stone walls and crowned with magnificent arches. Photo by Toowongsa - stock.adobe.com
You may ask what makes this place special among the best places to visit in South Korea? Suwon is the capital of the Gyeonggi province that borders Seoul. Furthermore, it is also home to the spectacular Hwaseong Fortress. It is erected right within enormous stone walls and embellished with towering arches.
Built under the reign of the Joseon dynasty, the fortress wall has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1997. It consists of four pagoda-style gates, artillery towers and observation decks overlooking the Suncheon, which flows through the centre of the fortress.
Another must-visit destination within the fortress is the Hwaseong Haenggung Palace. Take a walk around and get to know about the hidden stories and history behind this palace for the royal family.
Besides the fortress and palace, plenty of attractions are worth visiting. Drop into the Korean Folk Village to get an up-close look at elements of traditional Korean life & culture reminiscent of the Joseon Dynasty.
Street view of Chuncheon during daytime. Photo by 최광모 (Choe Kwangmo) on Wikimedia Commons
Perched in the North of the country, Chuncheon is a city that’s well worth visiting when travelling through the Gangwon Province. The city offers a variety of stunning scenery and an abundance of exciting leisure opportunities for people of all ages. Hence, the place is often regarded as one of the best places to visit in South Korea.
Located about an hour's drive from Seoul, the Elysian Gangchon Ski Resort is one of the best South Korea destinations to enjoy winter sports. The gentle ski slopes of the ski resort make it suitable for skiers of all skill levels.
Make sure to spend some time visiting the ancient Cheongpyeongsa Temple. If you stay around the spring, you may observe the trees around Soyangho Lake changing colours and turning pink, purple, or white amid the spiritual ambience of the temple.
Also, if you’re off for something a little different, head to the International Mime Festival to enjoy all the fire performances and live music. Starting around the end of May, this festival is not to be missed!
Spend a night in Choga in Andong for a peek into South Korea’s not-so-distant rural past. Image by Mathew Schwartz from Unsplash.
Plan a trip to Andong right away to get the most out of your visit to Korea. Located on the Nakdong River, it is well-known for being profoundly embedded in the country's glorious history. Andong is also the birthplace of soju, wooden masks, and Confucianism, making it one of the best places to visit in South Korea.
Often associated with Korea’s iconic wooden masks, the city hosts an annual Mask Dance Festival in September or October to honour the area's traditional customs.
In addition to Andong's mask dance, attendees coming to the Mask Dance Festival can also view performances from other parts of Korea and other nations worldwide.
Daewangam park in Ulsan is a popular destination thanks to its coastal location. Photo by Sanga - stock.adobe.com
Although Ulsan hardly tops any list of best places to visit in South Korea, it is still an excellent site that every tourist to South Korea should see. Located in the Southeast, this seaside metropolitan offers many desired activities and famous places in Korea. Keep your eyes peeled for those eye-catching rocky cliffs to extensive stretches of beaches.
When night falls, Daewangam adorns itself with a luminant yet gentle glow of neon - the reason why this place gives off a unique vibe. The attraction is also home to a festival named the Daewangam Moonlight Festival. It is held annually to pay homage to the fantastic night sky scenery here.
Daewangam Park is another highlight of any Ulsan tour. Come to the East coast, and you will find this beautiful seaside park. People seek this place to enjoy the picturesque forests, beaches, rocks, and pine forests.
If you’re feeling energetic, consider hiking up to the Ulsan Bridge Observatory or visit Ganjeolgot park for a panoramic view of the city and a spectacular river view.
Daejeon sports its nighttime traffic with a crisscrossed system of highways. Image by Mathew Schwartz from Unsplash.
When it comes to the best places to visit in South Korea, Daejeon is undoubtedly one of the most well-known. Located in the central-western of the country, the city is surrounded by beautiful mountainous scenery, making it a popular South Korea tourist spot for day trips.
There are plenty of things to do in Daejeon. Take advantage of the National Science Museum if you're taking kids on a trip to Daejeon. With various exhibits on display, ranging from natural history and humanity to astronomy, futuristic technology and biological discovery, it will be an educational experience.
Are you seeking a visit with total relaxation? Check out the Yuseong Foot Spa, then. It’s a public hot spring that is accessible and free. The foot bath is said to help with skin, neurological, and gastrointestinal conditions.
Plan a trip to Mount Hyeok Hwang To Gil Trail, Hanbat Arboretum or Ppuri Park for the more adventurous or some much-needed nature therapy. From hiking up the mountain trail to spending a day trip at the filial-themed park, these destinations promise a leisure holiday or an adventure. You won’t regret it, we promise!
Come to Chungcheongnam-do; there are many places to enjoy quiet and peaceful moments. Photo by Yena Kwon on Unsplash
Chungcheongnam-do is the richest and fastest-growing province in the best places to visit in South Korea. Located in the western central part of the country, Chungcheongnam-do, or Chungnam, was the former capital of the ancient Baekje Kingdom.
Some of the country's most excellent beaches are inside its borders, including those at Taean Marine National Park and Gyeryongsan National Park.
For a unique adventure that embraces the spiritual life, you could plan a trip to Jogye Jingwansa Temple, the second largest temple in South Korea after Gyeongju Bulguksa Temple.
In Chungcheongnam, you can go on a tour around old fortresses, tombs, and relics dating back to the period when the province hosted capital cities of ancient kingdoms.
Take advantage of your time here by partaking in the annual Boryeong Mud Festival. It’s a great chance to escape the heat and have a good time with your friends. Activities at this event include a dip in the ocean, a mud massage, and thrilling mud play. And there are entertaining performances, from traditional Korean music to modern pop, hip-hop, and rock.
Discovering the most beautiful places in South Korea is usually a fascinating experience for holidaymakers. Whether you’re visiting during spring, summer, fall or winter, our list of the top 17 best places in South Korea can save you time planning your vacation.
Your wanderlust is still not satisfied? Then you can take a trip to the best places to visit in Japan next. The island nation is nothing short of amazing, and it is just a 2-hour flight away from South Korea.