Busan is the second-largest city in Korea, a major Asian port town, and our favorite destination in the country. Including at least a weekend in Busan on your South Korea itinerary should be a must when you have a few weeks for your vacation.
Even though we lived in Seoul, we often escaped for a few days or a longer period to the colorful Busan. Getting there from Seoul is easy, no matter how you choose to travel: plane, car, or train.
The city charmed us with its laid-back vibe, colorful neighborhoods, sandy beaches, delicious food, and plenty of activities.
By following this guide, you will find it easy to plan your escape for the weekend in Busan.
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Table of Contents
- 2 days in Busan: The perfect weekend in Busan
2 days in Busan: The perfect weekend in Busan
How to get from Seoul to Busan
As I’ve already mentioned, getting to Busan couldn’t be easier, no matter how you choose to travel.
Depending on your budget and how much time you have to spare, here are the best transportation options for Busan.
Read the full guide on how to get from Seoul to Busan!
There are plenty of daily flights linking Gimpo International Airport to Busan (Gimhae) International Airport.
The flight time is less than one hour, and since it is an internal flight you won’t have to be too early at the airport.
Getting from Seoul to Gimpo Airport is easy by subway, and the same holds valid for Busan as well – the purple line links the airport to the city center. In both places, you will be able to use your TMoney Card for subway and public transportation.
Flights are operated by JejuAir, JinAir, T’Way, or Air Seoul.
From our experience, booking a flight ticket was almost half the price of booking a KTX train ticket.
BY TRAIN – KTX
When it comes to trains linking Seoul to Busan, there are plenty of options every day leaving from Seoul Central Station.
The train ride takes roughly 2 hours and 30 minutes, and another advantage is that the train station in both towns is close to the city center. Thus, even though the train trip takes longer, you will save time commuting to and from the airport.
Book ahead of time when you want to save on the train ticket price.
Another advantage of taking the train is that you won’t have any luggage limitations.
Another great option for when you are planning to take more train rides, want to book on an international site, and use your card, is Klook.
They offer Korea Rail Passes for 2/3/4/5 days – the days don’t have to be consecutive, you can use KTX and KTX-Sancheon High-Speed Trains, along with other types of trains.
On our second trip to Busan, since we were planning to spend one week in the city by the sea, we chose to drive from Seoul.
Even though the distance between the 2 cities is roughly 420 kilometers, the drive there could take around 6 to 7 hours. Depending on the time you manage to leave Seoul behind, traffic can get crazy and the highway speed limit is only 80 kilometers per hour.
However, we really enjoyed going from the north all the way to the south of the peninsula, and having a car in Busan allowed us to explore a lot more.
This being said, if you only have 2 days in Busan, driving there won’t be an option.
Where to stay for 2 days in Busan
When you only have a weekend in Busan choosing the right place to stay becomes very important. Busan is a big city and even though it is serviced by great public transportation, you will still need plenty of time to get from one place to the other.
During our trips, we chose to stay in 2 different areas based on the attractions we had on our itinerary.
LaValse Hotel in Yeongdo-gu
One of the most Instagram-worthy hotels in Busan, LaValse Hotel is set on Yeongdo island.
Set close to some tourist attractions, within walking distance of a subway station, the hotel offers stunning views over the harbor and the surrounding hills.
We stayed in a standard room with ocean views and we liked how simple and modern the interior was. The hotel offers also breakfast served at its rooftop cafe and has a sauna.
The corner room is its main attraction, but you should book way in advance if you want to find any available. They do have a Korean-style room where you basically sleep on the floor, and that would also be a unique experience to have.
Hotel Hyggelig at Haeundae Beach
Minutes away from the most popular beaches in Busan, this small hotel is simple and affordable.
Set by the sea, rooms have city or harbor views. We stayed in a room with a balcony and really enjoyed waking up and looking at people as they come to shop for fresh fish from the fisherman at the fish market.
Around the hotel, there are plenty of restaurants with delicious food, convenience stores, the Blue Train Line, and the sandy beach is less than 5 minutes walk.
The hotel also hosts a cafe with a stunning rooftop.
It all comes at a very convenient price if you compare it with other hotels in the area.
Read also: The complete guide for where to stay in Busan on your first visit
Are 2 days in Busan enough?
To be honest, I wouldn’t say that 2 days in Busan are enough, but it depends a lot on what you plan on doing.
If you only want to spend some time at the beach and maybe visit one or 2 tourist attractions, you will make it!
I will however try to help you plan your itinerary so that you can fit as much as possible in only one weekend.
How to get around Busan
The public transportation system in Busan is very well organized and it will get you easily almost anywhere you want to get.
As you can see in the above picture, the subway system is very well interlinked with all the other means of transportation – you can get to the airport, ferry terminal, train station, etc.
Buses are also frequent and go everywhere around town and in the surrounding areas. For more remote places, such as Gamcheon Village, perched up on the hill, there are small green buses that climb much easier and can drive on the narrow winding roads.
For all public transportation options, you can use the T Money rechargeable card.
Extra tip: you should get the T-Money card and SIM card combo directly from Incheon Airport – this will save you a lot of trouble!
When to visit Busan
Because of its location at the tip of the Korean peninsula, temperatures in Busan are milder than in Seoul. However, winters can get windy and cold, with mostly rain.
In our opinion, the perfect time to visit Busan is during spring or autumn. Those are mainly the most beautiful seasons in the whole of South Korea.
We visited during May and September, and both trips were perfect. However, if you want to see the cherry blossom, you should go as early as March or early April, and if you want to catch the full fall foliage plan your trip for October.
What to do and see in Busan in 2 days
Depending on where you choose to stay in Busan, you will be closer to some attractions as you can see on the map. Thus, depending on that, you can combine the 2 days and the attractions I have grouped together on the itinerary.
Gamcheon Cultural Village
Wake up, have breakfast, and head over to the top of the mountain, on the colorful streets of Gamcheon Cultural Village.
Don’t just stick to the main road, allow yourself to get lost on the narrow streets, you will be surprised by hidden playful artwork.
The place is a paradise for Instagrammers, but it also offers a lovely view over the ocean. The main street is packed with local souvenir shops, restaurants, and cafes with rooftop terraces.
Take the bus or subway to Chungmu Market, from where you will board the Seogu 2-2 green bus. This is a small bus, that only fits roughly 20 people, thus it will be easier if you get there in the morning.
Built in the 1920s and 30s by the Korean government, the neighborhood was thought to be a place for the poor workforce. Throughout the years, the district developed and it became home to thousands of people.
In 2009, following a project run by the government, Gamcheon Cultural Village was reborn and became one of the most colorful neighborhoods in South Korea. As a consequence, the village is one of the top attractions in Busan and it draws over 1 million visitors every year.
Buildings have been painted, many unique cafes have appeared everywhere, and you can find even k-pop idol murals, the Little Prince watching the ocean, and much more.
While this place might not be your usual tourist attraction, we strongly believe you should give it a chance.
Jagalchi Fish Market (부산 자갈치시장)
Close to the port, the famous Jagalchi Fish Market will be easily reached by bus after your visit to the colorful Gamcheon.
With its unique architecture and one of the largest buildings in the port, it will be hard to miss it. However, there are many fish stalls on the streets behind the actual building, thus it will be hard to miss.
You can stop here for lunch and taste some of the traditional Korean fish dishes – extremely fresh, straight from the ocean, or dried fish.
Buying fresh fish and taking it home won’t be an option when you only have 2 days in Busan, but you can buy it on the first floor and take it to the second floor where the Jagalchi Ajummas (the local for middle-aged women) will lure you with their cooking skills.
Opening hours: every day, between 02:00-22:00, closed on the first and third Tuesday of every month.
Getting there from Gamcheon Cultural Village:
- walk for 10 minutes to Kkachi Saegil Entrance from where you will take bus number 87,
- or hop on the Seogu 2-2 bus, and arrive at Chungmu Market from where you will board bus 41 to Jagalchi Market
One thing worth knowing when you visit Busan is that local people here are more strict when it comes to talking on the bus. We have been told a few times that we are not supposed to talk while on the bus.
Another cool and popular thing to do is to book a Jagalki Fish Market and Korean Food tour with a local chef. He will guide you along the colorful food stalls, tell you everything about the traditional dishes, and help you have an awesome gourmet experience at the largest Korean fish market.
Yeongdo Island, Jeoryeong Coastal Walk, and the raw fish street
From the fish market, simply cross the Yeongdodaegyo bridge towards LaValse Hotel and Yeongdo Island.
Exploring the small island might take a lot more than only a few hours, but it is worth ticking off at least a few of its beautiful attractions.
Don’t be fooled by its size on the map, walking took us much longer than expected, also because we had to go up and down hilly streets.
Take the bus to the Jeoryeong Coastal Walk, one of our favorite destinations on the island. A narrow colorful street, perched above the sea, from where the ocean will charm you with its infinite blue.
Along the way, we found countless cafes, lazy cats, vibrant murals, and breathtaking views. This place has become extremely popular with Korean people, and you will find them strolling around and taking countless Instagram-worthy pictures.
The rainbow stairs and the sea cave below them are some of the most popular stops along the way.
Visit Taejongdae Park, the beautiful Yeongdo Lighthouse, and those passionate about boats and the sea can visit the National Maritime Museum.
As night falls, you can have dinner on the raw fish street, or head back towards the hotel – you will find that the street along the sea in front of the hotel has transformed into an open-air street-food market.
Optional: before crossing to the island, head to Yongdusan Park and climb Busan Tower (부산타워)
The tower was built in 1973 and is set in the middle of Yongdusan Park.
Apart from seeing the city from the tower’s observatory, you will learn about Busan’s history and its transformation throughout the years.
SPA Land and shopping at the largest department store in South Korea
Shinsegae Centum City Spa Land (신세계 센텀시티 스파랜드) is one of the largest Korean SPAs in the country and since we are SPA addicts we couldn’t miss it during our visit.
However, since we were there in 2021, many places were closed for obvious reasons, so we couldn’t relax at this impressive Jjimjilbang.
We have been to the ones in Seoul and absolutely loved every minute of it, so we strongly encourage you to go for at least 3 hours.
With 22 bathtubs and two types of thermal water, 13 traditional saunas from all over the world, a relaxation room, an entertainment area, beauty treatments, and much more, there’s simply no chance for you to get bored here!
Moreover, the impressive Jjimjilbang is set in the largest department store in the whole country, where you can shop for K-beauty and much more.
Gwangalli Beach (광안리해수욕장)
One of the 2 most popular beaches in Busan, Gwangalli is the place to come to for fun under the sun. On top of that, there are plenty of cool cafes set along the sea, but also many restaurants and bars.
As you will see, Koreans don’t really come to the beach for the sun, and they usually stay covered and even dressed. Don’t feel discouraged by this and try to make the best out of your beach escape.
Gwangalli is also a great place for sunsets – the sky turns pink as the sun hides under the sea, and the Gwangandaegyo Bridge lights up. But I have included another experience for you to have on your second day in Busan.
The beach is 1.4 kilometers long, has yellow sand, and during the normal summers you will find sunbeds and umbrellas for rent. Of course, in this area, you will also find plenty of nice hotels or apartments to rent if you prefer to stay by the beach.
If you are looking for views of the bridge and the endless blue you should try finding a place at the Cup&Cup cafe (부산 수영구 광안해변로 177 4층, 5층).
How to get to Gwangalli Beach
From SPA Land hop on the green subway line (Line number 2) at Centrum City Station and ride for 4 stops until Geumnyeonsan Station. The trip will take less than 20 minutes.
Another option would be to take bus number 40 from Shinsehae Centum City and ride for 6 stops, get off at Geumnyeonsan Station and walk for around 9 minutes.
Haeundae Beach and the Sea Life Busan Aquarium
Haeundae Beach is the most famous and longest beach in Busan. It stretches 1.5 kilometers and is a white sand beach that attracts thousands of people on a daily basis.
Along the beachfront you will find some of the most luxurious hotels in Busan, all boasting sea views and infinity pools. Paradise Hotel is one of the fanciest and most instagrammable hotels in the region, Grand Josun Busan has rooms with stunning sea views and a great infinity pool, and Shilla Stay doesn’t disappoint either.
If you are wondering whether you can swim at Haeundae Beach, the short answer is yes. Of course, depending on the season and weather conditions, swimming will be limited or regulated by the authorities.
We loved Haeundae beach so much, with its vibrant atmosphere, many restaurants, the open food market, cafes, and all the hustle and bustle. We must admit that the place reminded us a bit of Stanley Beach in Hong Kong, our favorite getaway for a morning coffee or an early brunch.
Head a bit further from the tourist area and you will find plenty of local restaurants with affordable prices for fresh and delicious food.
Other things to do at Haeundae Beach
Have a coffee at one of the cool cafes on the beach.
Take part in one of the concerts often held for free on the beach.
Go for a walk on Dongbaek Island – just behind Westin Josun Hotel. The place is not actually an island, but more of a small peninsula, that will allow you to walk along the sea. We went after sunset and it was still charming and relaxing.
Go for a SPA treatment with Korean beauty products at the famous SPA 1899 near the Haeundae beach. Book your treatment here!
Don’t miss the Sea Life Busan Aquarium – an impressive immersion into sea life. You will learn about hundreds of species of fish and marine animals, and can also take part in the feeding of sharks. Book your ticket here!
Have dinner at one of the restaurants next to the wet market near the small port at Haeundae – here is where we were served silkworms as an appetizer.
Go for a sunset cruise along the coastline – the cruise goes all day long, but we recommend going for the sunset time. It might be a bit more crowded than usual, but you will have the best view, both the pink sky for sunset, and the city lights once night falls.
Boats leave from Mipo and they are easy to find.
If, however, you prefer a smaller boat, you can always book a public yacht cruise and enjoy the view from a luxury yacht. See more here!
Or if you are not around Haeundae but you still want to see the city from the sea, you should try an afternoon city cruise that lasts 90 minutes and takes you along the western coast of the city.
On our first trip to Busan in May we got the chance to see the Busan Sand Sculpture Festival. Apparently, the festival takes place every year and if you are around, you can walk by and admire the precision of these sculptures made of sand.
Have seafood at the Haeundae Street Food behind the main promenade. We went there for dinner and had a delicious meal with fish soup, fried fish, fried calamari, and other small traditional Korean dishes. Of course, you can also try the many types of food on a stick.
Read the complete guide for things to do in Haeundae!
Take the Blue Train or Sky Capsule from Mipo
The hottest tourist attraction of 2022, the Blue Train and the Sky Capsule attract thousands of people on a daily basis.
You have probably seen videos of the colorful small capsules floating above the sea, offering breathtaking views along the way.
On our first trip, it wasn’t too easy to find the departure point since all the information and addresses were in Korean only. Since we don’t speak or read Korean, we ended up getting lost somewhere at the other end of the train line.
Fast forward to a few months later, we had our hotel minutes away from the Mipo station, thus we could plan our ride accordingly.
The Sky Capsule has a shorter distance, operating on a 2-kilometer section, and it only links Mipo to Cheongsapo. The whole ride takes less than 30 minutes, and the car goes at an average speed of 4 kilometers per hour.
They only allow a maximum of 4 people inside one car, and we really enjoyed our trip. The one-way price for 2 people in a car is 30.000 won, while 4 people will pay 44.000 won.
Make sure to book in advance, especially if you want to have this experience at a certain time of the day.
The Blue Train links Mipo Haeundae to Songjeong, stopping in Dalmaji Tunnel, Cheongsapo Station, Daritdol Observatory, and Gudeokpo.
You can book a ticket for the whole ride, or you can stop along the way and make your way back on foot above the sea.
At the time we took the train because we haven’t booked in advance, we had to wait for 2 hours for the first spot. Even so, we couldn’t catch a seat, thus we ended up riding standing, without the best view.
Tickets can be booked online in advance, or you can buy them directly at the Mipo train station.
Check out timetables and updated fares here!
End your day with dinner on the beach
Expect to eat lots of fish, but also to be blown away by how tasty Koreans cook it!
We tried several restaurants close to the beach, but the Samsan Sliced Raw Fish restaurants had a delicious soup and the super tasty fish stew from the picture above. It is
All the restaurants we’ve eaten at in that area had delicious food, and you simply cannot go wrong no matter what you choose.
Optional: Haedong Yonggungsa Temple (해동 용궁사(부산)
Even though South Korea has plenty of temples by the sea, Haedong Yonggungsa Temple is one of the most popular.
To be honest, we never managed to visit the temple partly because of its location a bit further away from the city.
Visit the temple for sunset, or come here on Buddha’s Day when all Buddhist temples are decorated with colorful lampions. Another time worth visiting is during spring for the cherry blossom season, the temple making it of the top places to see cherry blossom in Busan.
How to get to the temple from Haeundae Beach
Take bus number 100 and ride for 16 stops. The bus ride will take around 50 minutes.
Another option for when you choose to take the Blue Train all the way to Songjeong Beach is to take one of the buses heading towards the temple and ride it for only 4 stops.
No matter which way you choose to go, you will still have to walk for roughly 10 minutes until you reach the temple.
Cafes with the prettiest view in Busan
A coffee addict in South Korea, the land of the prettiest cafes, it was impossible not to have a list of all the cafes with the prettiest views in Busan.
While we couldn’t try them all, we want to share our list with you, so you can make an informed choice.
Cafe Aslan was set on the rooftop of our hotel next to Haeundae beach and it offered a great sea view. The coffee was ok and they also have a few types of sweet pastry.
Waveon Coffee (웨이브온커피) is another great cafe set in a beautiful spot with a stunning sea view. It was a bit of a drive to the cafe, and since it was a public holiday on the day we chose to visit the place was packed with people, but if you go in the morning you might have a much better experience.
The coffee was exactly how I like it, and the location is on point.
Montee104 (몽떼104) is another small cute cafe set above the Sky Capsule entrance at Mipo Station. It is popular for its view of the sea and the small colorful train cars.
Movement_laboratory is another cafe worth checking out because of its views, but also its coffee. They also have a cute cat, and one of the best sea views in Busan.
By following this itinerary, you can easily fill also 3 days in Busan or even more, when you choose to spend some time at the beach and visit at least one Korean SPA.
We could have spent months in Busan without getting bored. Exploring all its different neighborhoods doesn’t get old, and Busan is a vibrant city that keeps expanding and developing.
Other Busan & South Korea Travel Resources
Busan itineraries: one day, 3 days
Your ultimate South Korea bucket list
South Korea 10 days itinerary | 5-day itinerary
What to do in Winter in Korea