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Lucky you. You’re going to spend five days in Busan! Most travelers only spend 1 or 2 days in South Korea’s second largest city, but I swear that’s not enough!
Busan is my favorite city in Korea. (I’m sorry Seoul.) That’s why on my recent trip to South Korea, I only went to Busan, and I spent five nights (six whole days actually) there, and this was my third visit to the city.
However, I’m not going to share my exact Busan 5 day itinerary with you, because I traveled like a maniac, racing around the city to put the finishing touches this list of 50 awesome things to do in Busan as well as Busan’s top-10 temples (Please, don’t travel the way I do!)
Instead I’ve cleaned my itinerary up a little and cut out the non-essentials for the sane traveler. Assuming you’re also visiting Seoul before or after Busan, here’s a recommended itinerary for Seoul!
Table of Contents
Busan Travel Essentials
– Peruse the best cooking classes in Busan here.
– Buy a discount Korean Rail Pass for traveling to and from Seoul
– Join this highly recommended East Coast Busan tour, or hire a private driver to get around.
– Order a SIM card or WiFi device for easy pick-up when you arrive in South Korea.
– Sign up for Klook fist using my referral link to get a 3833-won discount on any of the above Klook activities.
– Read these things to know about South Korea before you go.
Busan in Five Days: Where to Stay
Where to stay in Busan was a really tough choice for me to make on my most recent trip. Just take one look at the map of sights below, and your see that Busan’s attractions are sprwad out in opposing ends of the city.
If you want to stay in the same hotel for your whole trip, you’ll just have to take a few longer subway rides on some days. Not a big deal.
You could however choose to spend you first 2-3 nights in the south, where most of the big sights are concentrated, then move somewhere in the north or two one of the big beaches for your last few days.
For way more details on this and my recommended hotels and best areas to stay in Busan, see my guide to where to stay in Busan, my detailed review of my favorite hotel in Busan (also find it here on booking / Agoda / TripAdvisor).
How to Plan Your Busan 5 Day Itinerary
Because Busan is so large and spread out, it only makes sense to cover one part of the city per day. The south of Busan has the highest concentration of sights, so it deserves two full days (days 1 and 2 below). Day three will take you to the beaches and coast of the northeast, while day four takes in the temples of the north.
For day 5, you may want to consider taking a day trip from Busan. However, if you want to stay in the city for your fifth day, I’ll give you some ideas for that as well!
Busan Itinerary 5 Days Outline
Day 1: Gamcheon Culture Village + Taejongdae Resort Park, Oryukdo, or Songdo
Day 2: Explore Nampo-dong, Gwangbok-dong, and Seomyeon
Day 3: Haedong Yonggungsa + Haeundae and/or Gwangalli Beach
Day 4: Beomeosa or Seokbulsa Temple + Heosimcheong Spa
Day 5: Day Trip or Centum City, museums, art galleries, and more
Busan Itinerary Day 1
Morning: Gamcheon Culture Village
Start your Busan trip with a colorful bang. Head to Gamcheon Culture Village, which has in recent years become one of Busan’s most popular and recognizable attractions.
This former Korean War refugee camp has been converted into a sprawling and very, very colorful arts district with views of the sea. Read all about it in my complete guide to Gamcheon Culture Village, in which you’ll find my true feelings about the attraction (mainly good, a little bad).
Budget at least two hours to stroll through the village from top to bottom, following one the paths outlined on the excellent maps sold from the tourist information center at the top of the village near the bus stop.
Along the way, you’ll pass numerous art installations, galleries, cafés, restaurants, and more. Don’t miss the 148 “Stairs to See Stairs” (climb all the way up and you may see stairs yourself!). There’s also a local market and collection of restaurants at the bottom of the village.
Afternoon: Take a Scenic Walk along the Busan Coast
Round out your day with some natural scenery and fresh sea air at one of Busan’s famous seaside walkways. Here are three great ones to choose from!
You’ll have to make decisions here…Beach lovers should go with Songdo Beach. Besides a decent beach for swimming, Songdo offers so much more. Songdo Cloud Trails is a gorgeous, swirling walkway over the sea.
A few steps away, you can hop on Busan Air Cruise (Songdo Cable Car), which transports passengers over the sea to Amnam Park across the bay. Alternatively, you can head to the other end of the beach and follow the coastal trail to get there yourself.
For epic views from death-defying coastal bluffs, choose Taejongdae Resort Park. This large park at the southern end of Yeongdo Island also features a couple secluded temples. Read about my experience visiting Taejongdae Resort Park here.
Last but not least, consider making the trip by bus to Oryukdo Skywalk, a horseshoe-shaped glass walkway 35 meters above the sea. The walkway offers stunning views of the Oryukdo Islands offshore.
If you love walkways over the sea, this tour includes a few of them.
Busan Itinerary Day 2
Morning: Explore Nampo-dong and Gwangbokdong
Ready to tackle a whole bunch of a Busan highlights in one day? Here goes! Start your morning with breakfast on Gwangbokdong Food Street. The famous thing to do here is to sit in a little stool and eat cheap, tasty milmyeon (wheat noodles) or bibimyeon (glass noodles) served by elderly Korean women in the middle of the narrow lane. A variety of other traditional Korean foods is sold along the street.
Gwangbokdong Food Street feeds into Gukje Market, logically the next stop. Gukje is South Korea’s largest traditional market, though its not so big that you’ll be lost.
Don’t miss neighboring Tin Can Alley (Bupyeong Khangtong Market), another market that is just about as big, and which I personally found more interesting. While Gukje has a bit of everything, Tin Can Alley is all food, food, food!
Retrace your steps to the entrance of Gwangbokdong Food Street. From there, walk a block south to BIFF Sqaure (Busan International Film Festival Sqaure), Busan’s own Walk of Fame.
Hopefully you’ve worked off a bit of your breakfast by now, because you can’t miss the legendary ssiat hotteok (deep fried pancakes stuffed with seeds, nuts, brown sugar syrup, and spices) served there!
Continuing south, BIFF Market leads to enormous Jagalchi Fish Market, the largest in the country, and a testament to this city’s love of seafood. Start on the ground floor, and if you want to sample the ocean delights on offer, head up to the many restaurants on the second floor.
The streets surrounding the market are just as interesting, and there are several sister markets in connecting and neighboring buildings.
For a more intimate experience, try this Jagalchi and Gukje market tour with a local chef.
Afternoon: City Views and Seomyeon
Before leaving the Nampo-dong/Gwangbok-dong area, you can miss one of the excellent viewpoints of the city in this neighborhood. Option one is the seventh floor of Jagalchi Fish Market. Option 2, which is even better, is the rooftop of Lotte Department Store Gwangbokdong nearby.
And the winner for best view is probably Busan Tower, which pokes into the sky from the center of Yongdusan Park. You can save money by booking your Busan Tower ticket online here.
Next, take a break until sundown (or stick around one of the viewpoints to watch the sunset!) then hop on the subway to Seomyeon, Busan’s central business district.
The district comes alive with neon lights at night and is one of Busan’s best places to eat, stroll, go shopping, bar hoping or night clubbing.
If Seomyeon doesn’t sound like your thing, another option is to check out Samgwangsa Temple, which is famous for hosting the most impressive lantern display in Korea during the annual Lantern Festival. The temple is a short bus ride from Seomyeon.
Busan Itinerary Day 3
Morning: Haedong Yonggungsa Temple
Hopefully you didn’t party too late in Seomyeon, because the earlier you can get to Haedong Yonggungsa this morning, the better. This popular temple by the sea is unique in South Korea and understandably very popular.
The temple is quite a ways from the city center in Busan’s far northeast, and it can get quite crowded midday. It’s also a popular place to see sunrise; if you plan to do that, consider staying in the area.
For the full story on this fascinating temple, and to find out where to stay nearby, read my guide to Haedong Yonggungsa.
Save the trouble of getting to Haedong Yonggungsa by joining a tour that includes it.
Afternoon: Beach Time!
Since you’ve made the journey all the way to Haedong Yonggungsa, it’s time to reward yourself with an afternoon on the beach. You’ve got two great choices here, both on the same subway line you took to reach Haedong Yonggungsa.
Closer to Haedong Yonggungsa but further from central Busan, Haeundae Beach is South Korea’s largest and most famous beach. It’s quite a sight in any season, but expect it to be particularly packed in summer.
Haeundae District also has a great aquarium (skip the line by ordering your tickets online), plenty of cafés, restaurants, luxury hotels, and spas. For a slice of nature, walk around Dongbaekseom Island.
The Bay 101, a luxury yacht club, is also not to be missed, especially for its incredible night views of the city, free of charge. Bay 101 is also included on this Busan Night Tour.
Your second beach choice is equally good; Gwangalli Beach in Gwangan district is another fine, long stretch of sand with plenty of bar and restaurant choices facing the sea.
The beach’s distinctive feature is its incredible view of Gwangan Bridge, one of Korea’s longest, running over the sea in front of the beach.
Busan Itinerary Day 4
Morning: Beomeosa or Seokbulsa Temple
Because I love giving you choices, your fourth morning also included two great ones: Beomeosa Temple, the most important temple in Busan, or remote, off-the-beaten-track Seokbulsa Temple, which requires a moderate hike and features amazing Buddhist cliff carvings.
Both temples are located in northern Busan, and either one will take a half day to visit. Find everything you need to know in my articles on doing a temple stay at Beomeosa and how to hike to Seokbulsa.
If you really wanted to, you could visit both temples in one day, but it would be a little tiring!
Afternoon: Soak in a Korean Hot Spring
After hiking to Seokbulsa or making the trip up to Beomeosa (which also involves a lot of walking), its time to relax your muscles in one of the world’s largest hot spring spas, Heosimcheong Spa.
The gorgeous, domed spa is located near Oncheonjang subway station, the same one for Seokbulsa Temple. Like all Korean spas, this one is sex-segregated and no clothing is allowed. You can buy your tickets online here.
By the way, if you happen to coming from Seoul, check out this Seoul shopping guide!
Busan Itinerary Day 5
For your fifth day, why not take a day-trip from the city? If I could choose only one day trip from Busan, it would be to Tongdosa temple, South Korea’s largest and most important temple.
The temple is only a half hour bus ride from Central Bus Station at Nopo station (the furthest subway station going north, past Beomeosa), or you can visit it as a part of this day tour from Busan.
Another great (and longer) option would be to Gyeongju, an ancient and very beautiful city featuring amazing temples and burial mounds of ancient kings. One simple way to plan your trip is by taking this day tour to Gyeongju.
See this article for more ideas for Busan day trips from someone who lives there.
If you still want to stay in Busan city for your last day, there is plenty more to see; read on below!
One idea would be to head to Centum City Area, an collection of enormous structures somewhat between Haeundae and Gwangalli Beaches. Here’s you’ll find the world’s largest department store, equally huge BEXCO, impressive Busan Cinema Center, Busan Museum of Art, Busan Olympic Park, and more.
Yet another option is to head to United Nations Memorial Cemetery and neighboring Busan Museum, where you can even try making tea or dressing up in Korean costumes for free!
See more details on all the above-mentioned locations in my huge guide to Busan’s top attractions.
I never travel without a guidebook! I recommend these: