The sun's shining; schools are closing. We're halfway through the year and back to the ever-so-important question of - "Where do we spend the summer?" Why not 'Get Cool' this summer and explore South Korea?
With its stunning natural beauty, cultural heritage, and exciting modern cities, Korea is an ideal destination for summer vacation. Whether looking for a beach getaway, hiking in the mountains, exploring ancient temples and palaces, or losing yourself in the festivities of crowds, there are plenty of places to enjoy in the Korean summer.
Let's dive into some of our top places to visit in South Korea this summer:
First up on our list is arguably one of South Korea’s most popular summer vacation spots. Jeju Island is a must-visit destination whether you want to relax on the beach, hike in the mountains, or learn about local culture and history. With its white sand beaches, turquoise water, and lush green landscapes, Seungkwan’s hometown is a paradise for nature lovers. The island, featured in way too many dramas to count, is also famous for its seafood, traditional architecture, and volcanic landscape. Whether or not you’re a Kpop and Kdrama fan, you’ll find no shortage of places to visit, including the iconic Mount Hallasan, Teddy Bear Museum, Bomnal Cafe (봄날), Jeju Folk Village, G-Dragon’s Cafe Aewol Monsant, Manjanggul Lava Tube, and Hyeopjae Beach.
Dubbed the "Museum Without Walls," Gyeongju is a UNESCO World Heritage Site home to some of Korea's most impressive ancient sites. The city was the capital of the Silla Dynasty, which ruled over Korea for nearly a millennium and left behind a rich legacy of art, architecture, and culture. Visitors can explore the city's many archaeological sites, including the Bulguksa Temple, Anapji Pond, and Tumuli Park. Feel the need for a contemporary contrast? Head to the K-pop Museum to catch their exhibits featuring your current and future biases. Gyeongju is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in Korean history and culture.
The perfect destination for those looking for a tranquil summer vacation in Korea, Namhae Island is a hidden gem off Korea's southeastern coast. The island is known for its natural beauty - rugged coastline, lush forests, and sandy beaches. Visitors can hike the Seolri Skywalk, a 1.3-kilometer-long suspension bridge that offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape. For any Aroha and K-drama fans wondering why the bridge looks so familiar - it was where True Beauty leads Cha Eun Woo (as Lee Suho), and Moon Ga Young (as Ju Kuyung) go on a date where Eun Woo is seen pushing Ga Young on the swing. The island is also home to several traditional Korean villages, where visitors can learn about local culture and history.
Seoul is a fascinating city any time of year, but it truly comes alive in the summer. Something is always happening in the capital city, from street food festivals to outdoor concerts and arts events. Seoul is also home to some of the most iconic landmarks in Korea, including Gyeongbokgung Palace, Namsan Tower, and the Han River. Join in the mad fun of festivals like the Sinchon Water Gun and Ultra Korea Music Festivals. Or spend your days exploring the city's museums, galleries, and markets and your evenings strolling through the city's vibrant neighborhoods and trying local cuisine.
Busan is Korea's second-largest city and one of the country's top summer destinations. Busan is located on the southern coast and boasts beautiful beaches, bustling nightlife, and delicious seafood. The city is also home to several cultural sites, including the famous Gamcheon Culture Village and Beomeosa Temple. Busan also hosts the Haeundae Sky Capsule, a romantic 2-kilometer-long aerial rail experience overlooking the rocky shores between Haeundae Mipo and Cheongsapo. Head to roaring festivals like the Busan International Rock and International Film Festivals for a more lively classic summer feel.
The Korean Demilitarized Zone
Yes, this differs from the usual tour on a holiday itinerary, but hear me out. The Korean Demilitarized Zone, or DMZ, is a must-visit destination for Korean and world history buffs and those interested in politics. Located just an hour's drive from Seoul, the DMZ is a 150-mile-long buffer zone that separates North and South Korea. Visitors can take guided tours of the area, which include stops at Imjingak Park, the Freedom Bridge, the Third Infiltration Tunnel, and the DMZ Exhibition Hall. You have a bird's eye view of North Korea at the Dora Observatory - now that's something to post about! The DMZ is a unique and thought-provoking place to visit during a summer vacation in Korea.
Jeonju is a charming city in the southwest of Korea, known for its traditional architecture and cultural heritage. But its most famous attraction is the city's delicious food, being a designated UNESCO City of Gastronomy. The city's Hanok Village is a beautiful cluster of traditional Korean houses, many of which have been converted into guesthouses, cafes, and small shops. Visitors here can also sample Jeonju's famous bibimbap, a rice dish topped with vegetables, meat, and spicy chili paste. Unsurprisingly, the city also draws international attention with its annual Bibimbap festival, precisely what it sounds like - the ultimate homage to the seemingly humble dish. Other spots worth visiting include the Jeonju Kimchi Culture Centre, Wansan Park, Nambu Traditional Market, the Royal Portrait Museum, and the Jeonjuhyanggyo Confucian School, which was seen in the film Red Sleeve along with the Jeonju Hanok Village. Jeonju is a great place to spend a few days relaxing, exploring, and enjoying Korea's history and culinary culture.
A designated UNESCO City of Music, Tongyeong is a small port city located on the southern coast of Korea, favored for its natural beauty, which includes over 500 beautiful islands around the clear waters of Hallyeosudo. The city's harbor is filled with colorful fishing boats, and the surrounding hills are dotted with traditional Korean houses. Tongyeong is home to several museums and art galleries and boasts several delicious fresh seafood restaurants. Visitors can indulge in a range of water sports, go island hopping, visit various cultural and natural attractions, or celebrate the arts at one of the local festivals like the Tongyeong International Music Festival.