With three days in South Korea’s second city, you can get an intimate glimpse into local life in Busan and visit top attractions, which range from beaches and bars to seafood markets and skywalks. A day trip to the surrounding countryside is also doable. Here’s how.
Day 1: Busan’s Big-Hitters
Devote day one to taking in Busan’s top attractions. Unless you plan to hire a car, the easiest way to see everything is on a sightseeing tour, which transports you between dispersed attractions with ease and offers an introduction to the city that goes beyond a guidebook. Must-see sights include Haeundae Beach, where skyscrapers overlook the South Sea; the cliffside Haedong Yonggungsa Temple, which appears to tumble into the sea; and Gamcheon Culture Village, a rainbow-colored enclave that once provided refuge for members of the Taegeukdo religious movement.
Spend your first night enjoying a quintessential Busan nighttime experience: Korean barbecue and karaoke. For the ultimate party, opt for a Busan pub crawl that reveals off-the-beaten-path party spots in the city. If you’d prefer something a little more relaxing, head to the observation deck at the top of Mt. Hwangnyeongsan.
Day 2: Escape the City
Use your second day to explore the myriad attractions outside of Busan. Gyeongju—a UNESCO World Heritage Site that’s considered the historical capital of Korea—is the most popular day trip for history buffs, and it's accessible by train, bus or car. Tours range from guided to independent and typically cover Gyeongju highlights such as the Buddhist Bulguksa Temple and Cheomseongdae, which dates back to the seventh century.
Other day trip options include the mountainous port city of Tongyeong, home to one of Korea’s highest cable cars; Junam Wetlands Park, with hundreds of bird species; and the remote Oedo island, which forms part of the nature-rich Hallyeohaesang National Park. Day trips typically include round-trip transfers and lunch, which means you skip the stress of car hire and navigation, and spend more time soaking up the scenery of southern South Korea.
Day 3: Seafood and Seascapes
Devote your final day to enjoying Busan’s seaside sights. If you’re traveling with kids, a visit to SEA LIFE® Aquarium—home to more than 10,000 aquatic animals—is a must. Be sure to book a skip-the-line admission ticket to save time. Alternatively, food lovers can enjoy seafood specialities on a food and walking tour that visits Jagalchi Market, the largest seafood market in South Korea.
At night, the bright lights of Busan flicker to life. Get views of the illuminated seascape on a night cruise, which offers a look at the skyscrapers that back Haeundae Beach. Alternatively, feast on South Korean food on a tour of Busan’s bustling night markets, most of which are located around BIFF Square.