Can’t decide whether you want a vacation where you can just kick back and relax on the beach with a fruit shake or do some shopping, sight-seeing, and food tripping? I’ve got the perfect destination for you: Busan.
If you haven’t heard of Busan, this is South Korea’s second city, sitting on the southeastern edge of the country’s main island. It’s the perfect mix of Seoul’s dynamic and vibrant city vibe and Jeju’s relaxing atmosphere and gorgeous subtropical landscapes. Coupled with South Korea’s staples of high-speed internet, efficient public transportation, delicious seafood cuisine, and terrific shopping options, Busan is the perfect destination for anyone who wants everything.
Here’s how to spend 3 days in Busan.
How to spend 3 days in Busan, South Korea
Here’s a quick overview of what you could do in Busan for 3 days. You’ll find detailed guides on how to visit these landmarks below and you can also get a PDF guide here.
- Day 1: Go to Taejongdae for stunning views of the sea and a picturesque hiking trail. Enjoy a seafood meal by the beach before you go, then drop by Nampo district for some shopping and sightseeing.
- Day 2: For an artsy morning, head over to the Gamcheon Cultural Village. Have your fill of street art, museums, and markets, and enjoy the view in one of the overlooking cafés. In the afternoon, head to Gwangalli Beach and watch as the sun sets and the Gwangandaegyo bridge lights up.
- Day 3: Spend a whole day chilling in South Korea’s most beautiful beach – Haeundae Beach. For lunch, walk to Dalmaji Road for picturesque views and great food.
If you have more days to spend in Busan or you like to move fast, here are the top 10 things to do in Busan.
What to see and do in Busan, South Korea
Going around Busan is really simple and easy. The public transportation is fast and efficient and as long as you know your stops, you won’t have difficulty finding your way around.
For groups who prefer to go around in private rental cars, you can also find information on how to set your GPS to go to the following locations. For more information on driving, you can check out these resources: How to get a rental car in South Korea and how to use the Korean GPS (even with zero Korean language skills!).
Taejongdae Recreation Area
Imagine: endless views of the deep blue sea, stunning rocky cliffs, and fresh seafood. This is what a trip to Taejongdae has to offer.
Taejongdae is a bit off-center and may take up to an hour’s ride to get to, but the amazing vistas and walking trails are definitely a welcome contrast to Busan’s busy commercial center. Myth has it that even gods and goddesses come here to relax, specifically on Sinseon Rock just under the lighthouse of the resort complex. Taejongdae is also famous for rain-making rituals – but pray for good, sunny weather when you go to best appreciate the views!
You can go around Taejongdae using the train, but if you’re up for some moderate walking, you can also walk along the trail. Make your way to the lighthouse and on to the cliffs (be careful when taking your selfies!), then visit the temple on your way down.
Be sure to walk down the alley to the left as soon as you exit the park. It leads to a pebble beach with a row of beachside shacks, where you are in for one of the most amazing seafood meals you’ll have on this trip.
All the shacks pretty much serve the same things at the same price. For a platter of seafood which includes the freshest abalones ever, the smallest size on the menu costs KRW 30,000 (about USD 25) and will feed about 2-3 persons. If you’re traveling alone, the shack owners may offer you a smaller portion for KRW 20,000 (about USD 18).
Coupled with a bottle of soju, a gentle salty breeze, and views of the sea, you’re pretty much in for a perfect summer day.
Visit Taejongdae Recreation Area
Getting there: There are buses to the Taejongdae Cliff Bus Stop coming from Nampo Subway Station and Busan Station – look for bus numbers 8, 30, 88, or 101.
From Busan station, take exit number 7, walk straight to the third bus stop, and take Bus 101. Travel time is about 45 minutes.
You can get back to Busan or Nampo station via the same buses (8, 30, 88, 101).
If you’re driving, set your GPS to go to this phone number: (51) 405-2004. Make sure Busan’s area code 51 is set, and remember to verify your destination by comparing with other maps (such as Maps.me) before setting off. Drive to the nearest parking lot.
Nampo-dong and Jagalchi Market
Now it’s time for downtown Busan. Wear comfy shoes and bring your credit cards – it’s time to go shopping!
Nampo-dong is Busan’s central commercial and shopping district. You’ll find long streets of shops and stalls selling pretty much everything: electronics, skin care products and cosmetics, clothes and fashion items, and lots of street food.
My top tip if you want to dip into Nampo’s shopping district is to prepare a list of things you want to buy beforehand. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the choices – plus the shopkeepers are really great at selling you almost anything, even when you two don’t speak the same language. Discounts left and right will also lure you to splurge, so unless you’re determined to just “look around,” have a pretty good idea of what you’re looking for.
That said, if you’re a fan of Korean products (food, skin care, and electronics), this is a great place to pick up your goods.
If you’re up for more of Nampo’s downtown energy, hop over to the nearby Jagalchi Fish Market for street food and seafood.
Visit Nampo-dong and Jagalchi Fish Market
Getting there: Make your way to the Nampo station along Subway Line 1.
If you’re driving, you can set your GPS to go to this phone number: (51) 253-8253. That’s the number of Busan Tourism Information Center. Once near the area, you can look for one of many paid parking lots around Nampo district.
You can also park at the Lotte Department Store (Gwangbok Branch), which is just a short walk to Nampo. Enter (51) 678-2500 into your GPS.
Gamcheon Cultural Village
This next spot is the kind you’d want to get lost in, especially for art and culture lovers.
The Gamcheon Culture Village is built on a hill and filled with maze-like alleys and views of the sea and the city below. The residents decorated their neighborhood with colorful murals and sculptures. Coupled with colorful houses, art shops at every turn, and cafés with fantastic views, it’s every artsy traveler’s dream come true.
Take half a day to leisurely explore Gamcheon. You’ll find modern art installations at every turn with plenty of photo opportunities. If you don’t mind walking, walk back down to the subway station as the road to the village is nice and photogenic as well. You’ll be able to pass through the lower villages where you can find wet markets and get a glimpse of how the village looked like before the art explosion.
If you love collecting printed art works or sending artsy postcards, Gamcheon is the best place in Busan to pick these up.
Getting there: From Toseong Station along Busan Subway Line 1, take Exit 6, then take the local bus Saha 1-1, Seogu 2, or Seogu 2-2 to Gamcheon Elementary School Bus Stop.
Alternatively, you can go to Goejeong Station also on Busan Subway Line 1, take Exit 6, and local bus Sakha 1 or Sakha 1-1 to Gamcheon Elementary School Bus Stop.
If you’re driving, enter (51) 291-1444 into your GPS and look for the nearest parking lot.
Gwangalli Beach is the perfect place to spend the afternoon. It’s a long stretch of fine sand lined with lots of restaurants and cafés, as well as fashion stores.
If you’re up for a walk along the coast, head to the right (facing the sea) and follow the trail for as long as your legs can take you. If you have several more hours of sunlight and lots of leg-power, you can walk all the way to Oryukdo Skywalk for more views of the sea (about 8 KM of walking).
Otherwise, spend an afternoon at the sea and wait for the Gwangandaegyo Bridge to light up. Then head to one of the many restaurants and bars along the beach to end the night.
Visit Gwangalli Beach
Getting there: The beach is a short 5-minute walk from the Gwangan Station along Busan Subway Line 2.
If you’re driving, enter (51) 622-4251 into your GPS and look for the nearest parking lot.
Hauendae Beach is one of South Korea’s best beaches and the perfect setting for maximum beach-bumming. You’ll have a long stretch of fine white sand that’s really clean and well-maintained, despite it being quite a popular public beach. It’s definitely a great spot for people-watching and bumming – there’s not much else you’d like to do but just kick back and relax.
If you prefer active relaxation, though, there are plenty of water sports and activities you can do.
If you want to go for a walk, head to Dalmaji-gil Road, one of Busan’s eight scenic sites. You’ll find stunning views of the ocean and beautiful flower patches and parks. It’s exceptionally gorgeous during cherry blossom season. You’ll find lots of restaurants and cafés here as well.
If you want to make the most of Haeundae beach’s luxurious ambiance, go on a private night yacht tour that will take you to some of the city’s fanciest sightseeing spots.
Visit Haeundae Beach
Getting there: It’s a short walk (about 500 m) to the beach from the Haeundae Station along Busan Subway Line 2.
If you’re driving, enter (51) 749-5700 into your GPS and look for the nearest parking lot.
Essential information – Busan travel guide
Use this Google map to get around and plan your trip. Take note that Google maps won’t give you driving routes – you’ll have to use an alternative map like Mapquest.
Getting there and around:
- Busan has its own international airport (check out international flights to Busan here). From the Gimhae International Airport, you can get to the city center via the train and the metro in 45-60 minutes.
- If you enter South Korea via Seoul, you can take the train or a bus to Busan, which will take a little over 4 hours.
- To get around Busan, I recommend taking the subway. Here’s a guide and subway map from KTO.
Where to stay in Busan:
If you’re visiting Busan to enjoy the beach, look at accommodations in Haeundae and Gwangan districts. Hotel Park Hyatt is a great hotel in Haeundae that will give you amazing views of the Busan Marina and lots of amenities. For a more affordable but still luxurious option, check out Kent Hotel in Gwangalli Beach. It’s right across the beach with plenty of restaurants and bars around.
If you want a more central location where you can visit most of Busan’s must-see landmarks more conveniently, stay in Seomyeon instead. The Hound Hotel at the center of Seomyeon area is the best choice for both business and leisure travelers and one of the most highly-rated and best value hotels in Busan.
For more information, check out this comprehensive guide to Busan’s neighborhoods and best accommodations.
Tours around Busan
It’s always more fun and rewarding to go around and discover the city on your own, but if you have limited time and want to hand over the navigation duties to someone else – and get a unique insight from a local’s perspective – here are some tours in and around Busan that you should check out:
- Busan in one day – If you only have one day, here’s a great mix of Busan’s top attractions.
- Busan night tour – One of our first impressions of South Korea was how bright the cities were! This night tour brings you to Busan’s best illumination spots. It’s a great way to cap off a day of exploring.
- Geojedo island day tour – Here’s a great day trip from Busan that will bring you right in the middle of beautiful scenery.
- Gyeongju day trip – I’ve got a great roadtrip guide to Gyeongju here, but if you don’t want to drive, this day tour will bring you to South Korea’s ancient capital. If you’re only have one extra day to explore outside Busan, I highly recommend this one!
Further reading – continuing your travels in South Korea
South Korea is great for road trips! There’s so much to see outside the main cities of Seoul, Busan, and Jeju and driving your own car is one of the best ways to visit the smaller towns.
Just an hour away from Busan, Gyeongju is South Korea’s ancient capital – home to relics of the Kingdom of Silla and ancient Buddhist art. This is a fun day trip from Busan if you’re yearning for some culture and history.
Find out the best hotels and spots to stay in Jeju Island in this comprehensive guide.
Check out this little island off the coast of Jeju where you’ll be able to experience a miniature Jeju in just a day.
Want to see more of South Korea? Check out these other Little Holidays guides!
There you have it – the top things to see and do in Busan. If you love the combination of a rustic seaside and a vibrant city, you would definitely love Busan. Get a handy downloadable PDF guide here.
I hope this travel guide helps you plan your trip to the city! If you have any additional information or questions, let me know in the comments. If you found this useful, make sure to bookmark and share so others can see it, too. Thanks for reading and happy travels to South Korea!