Last week I wrote about the beauty of achieving a balance between adventure and relaxation when we travel. Following on from this, I am so excited to share with you my destination guide to one of my favourite cities that I feel is the perfect canvas for planning a wonderfully balanced trip.
Busan is the second largest city in South Korea and is right down on the south coast of the country. It is easily accessible by bus or KTX (high speed train) from Seoul, or you can fly into Busan airport. Busan is huge and has great local transport – your t-money card from Seoul will also work here.
Busan is perfect if:
• You are looking for a great balance between adventure and relaxation You love sea views and beach vibes
• You want to see more of Korea than just Seoul but still want plenty of convenience and accessibility
• You love great seafood and cute cafes
My top recommendations for Busan
The balance of Busan comes from the fact that it is a huge bustling city perched right on the coast, so on a Busan holiday you really can have it all!
The main beach people tend to flock to is Haeundae which is surrounded by top notch hotels and nice restaurants. Further along the coast is Gwangalli beach, which is my favourite! There are less hotels and the bars are a little rougher – and this is exactly why I love it! There are of course plenty of other smaller beaches off the beaten track which will be quieter than these main two, so depending on how much peace and tranquillity you want, there will be a beach for you.
Gwangalli Beach is great in any weather
On top of the lovely beaches, there are lots of activities to help you achieve that balance between relaxation and adventure.
Head to the Blue Line Park where you can get tickets for the train that runs sideways to the ocean and gives you incredible views of the coast. You can also get tickets for your own private capsule which will take you on a more private tour of the coast and lets you soak in the amazing Korean scenery. The private capsules even come with a speaker so can can play your own soundtrack for your trip.
Enjoy the view from your own capsule
A short bus ride away is Gamcheon Culture Village, a lovely village covered in artwork and murals and housing plenty of cute little cafes. All of the artwork has been done by the locals and is very eclectic. The village winds up, down and through alleyways and staircases. Grab a map at the tourist information centre to help you plan your route, or just get lost and see what you find!
Get lost in Gamcheon Village
Haedong Yonggungsa Temple is a beautiful temple nestled into the side of the mountains and perched right on the sea. It’s a truly beautiful spot to wander around and explore. Although it is a popular spot for visitors, there is still a lovely element of peace due to being surrounded by water.
Bars and restaurants
Being by the coast, you will find seafood barbecues everywhere in Busan. There is a great line of barbecue restaurants lining the water near Gwangalli Beach and the Korean grandmothers will usher you in with glee when you pass. This is a great way to try a different style of Korean bbq. Grab a bottle of Busan’s main soju, Daesun, to wash it all down.
Lian Gwang is great for brunch and I highly recommend the banana French toast. I can usually take or leave French toast but this has me going back repeatedly on all my trips.
Gwangalli Namme has great Italian food and nice wine. If possible, grab a table on the balcony so you can enjoy views of the sea and beach while you enjoy your meal. Even better if you can plan this for sunset!
Being Korea, there are so many picturesque cafes and so do some exploring and see what you find. There are many with great views of the sea and lots of photo opportunities. You’re never more than a few minutes away from another gem.
There are so many cafes to try
Last but not least:
Make sure you carry some cash on you to pay for sun loungers, umbrellas and other accessories to make the most of your beach days.
Also, if you want to travel by KTX (which I very much recommend) make sure you book tickets in advance in the summer. Busan is a popular escape for many people living in Seoul and so you will have competition for those seats!
If you’re feeling hedonistic – book a sunset cruise with champagne and fireworks
If you want a sense of accomplishment – hike to Seokbulsa temple – a stunning structure off the beaten track. Haps Korea has some great tips on how to get there!
Reasons to be optimistic – there is a general sense of safety all over Korea and this is really highlighted in Busan where people freely leave all their belongings on their towel when they go to frolic in the sea without the worry that these will be stolen.
Please note our destination guides contain personal recommendations and not professional advice
If you liked this article check out Seoul: The city that never sleeps