Busan is the second largest city in South Korea, located at the southern tip of the peninsula. While the city has so much to offer and by spending only one day in Busan you will merely scratch the surface.
During our stay in Korea, we loved Busan and went back as often as we could. Its colorful streets, vibrant neighborhoods, delicious and fresh food, sandy beaches, and hip cafes made us love it and wish to come back.
However, we know what it feels like to be limited by time. That is why we will help you plan your perfect day in Busan by answering all the questions you might have.
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Useful tools and travel resources for when you travel to South Korea
But before we start digging into the cool things to do and see in Busan, let’s first go through some of the valuable things you should know when you visit the country for the first time.
We have put together a comprehensive overview of General Travel Information here, where you will find the answer to all your questions.
If you don’t know where to stay, make sure to check out our Accommodation Guides here.
Other articles worth checking out before you go:
- Getting around in Seoul
- Driving in South Korea
- SIM Card or Pocket WiFi? What to choose
- Dining in South Korea
How to get to Busan
If you are only spending one day in Busan, you will want to choose the fastest way of getting there.
We will assume you are traveling from Seoul, and suggest you go by KTX or plane.
Book your Korea Rail Pass here or check the available flights from Seoul to Busan by using a tool such as Skyscanner. From our experience, flights might be cheaper when you book in advance, but the train is more comfortable and you will leave and arrive close to the city center.
While the flight from Seoul to Busan is short with less than one hour spent in the air, you will still need to get to the airport and be there earlier.
The KTX train ride takes between 2 hours and 20 minutes and 2 hours and 45 minutes. All rides are direct and you should not worry about having to change trains.
How to get around Busan
Even though the second time we visited the city we traveled by car from Seoul, we never actually used it to get around the city.
Public transportation in Busan is so reliable, easy to use, and has such a great network, that we only used the car to go on day trips outside of the city.
Using the subway and the bus will get you anywhere without having to worry about spending too much or finding parking.
Get the full information about the Busan metro system here.
Get the full information about the Busan bus system here.
Is one day in Busan enough?
The short answer to that question is no, one day in Busan is way too little time to see everything the city has to offer. However, with that time at hand and with a good itinerary, you can try to make the best out of it and not leave without seeing the best places in town.
If you have more time, make sure to check out our other Busan itineraries and resources:
Where to stay in Busan for one day
If you only have one night in Busan, and since most itineraries or tours start from Busan Train Station or cover the western part of the city, I would either stay close to the train station or on Yeongdo Island.
On our first visit to Busan, we stayed at one of the most Instagram-worthy hotels in Busan, set on Yeongdo Island: La Valse Hotel.
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.
Your perfect one day in Busan itinerary
You might find this itinerary packed, especially because the distances aren’t so small, and getting from one point to the other would take some time.
If you feel like this is too much, you can always skip going to Gamcheon Cultural Village, or you can only visit the Temple or Haeundae Beach.
Another option would be to book an organized tour that will take you to most of these places. A guide will pick you up from the train station and will take you around so that you won’t have to worry about public transportation or time spent on the road.
Start your day at Taejongdae Cliff and take the Danubi Train
If you like nature, you will love this train ride that makes several stops along the coastline so you can enjoy the rocky views.
You should not miss the beautiful Yeongdo Lighthouse, and those passionate about boats and the sea can visit the National Maritime Museum.
Another option would be to simply go for a stroll on the Jeoryeong Coastal Walk.
Along the way, you will find 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.
Head over to the Jagalchi Fish Market (부산 자갈치시장)
Located close to the Busan port, Jagalchi Fish Market will be easily reached by bus after your visit to one ofyou visitastal walks.
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.
How to get from Taejongdae Park to Jagalchi Fish Market: take bus numbers 30, 66, 88, or 186. They all have direct lines between the two locations, and a ride costs 1200 won.
Climb the hill to Gamcheon Cultural Village
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, it is one of the main things to do in Busan, and we strongly believe you should give it a chance.
How to get from Jagalchi Fish Market to Gamcheon Cultural Village: from the market, take the red bus number 1003 or the subway line number 1 to Chungmu Market. From there, hop on the Seogu 2 small green bus. The bus will leave you to the entrance to the Cultural Village and you will know when you are there because most of the people will get off the bus. The ticket price costs between 1300 won (only by bys) and 1700 won (subway + bus).
Go and see the Haedong Yonggungsa Temple (해동 용궁사(부산)
Even though South Korea has a few 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 from Gamcheon Cultural Village to Haedong Yonggungsa Temple: take the Sahagu 1 green bus from Gamjeong Elementary School and travel for 13 stops. Take the red bus number 1001 and make yourself comfortable because you will ride for 35 stops and roughly one hour. The total ride time will be of a little over 2 hours, making this the longest ride of the day.
If that feels like a lot, you can stop at Haeundae Beach.
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.
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.
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.
How to get from Gamcheon Cultural Village to Haeundae Beach: get the Seogu 2-2 green bus to Seogu Office, from there take the red bus number 1003 all the way to Haeundae Beach. The total ride is a little below 1.5 hours.
Other one day in Busan itineraries with organised tours
If you would rather go on an organized tour and not worry about itineraries, timetables, attractions, and so on, here are a few other great options.
Premium Photography Tour: Sky Walk, Fish Market, Observatory – this tour will take you to some of the attractions we have already included in our itinerary, but you will get to mostly explore the western part of Busan. Places like Yongdusan Park, Samwang Temple, Songdo Sky Walk, BIFF Square, and Yeongdo Bridge are all included in this tour.
Private Car Charter Customized City Tour – This tour allows you to create your own itinerary, and have a private driver, and a professional tour guide that will take you around town.
Busan City Tour Bus – you can choose your preferred itinerary and know exactly where to go. They have included on each bus line’s route, some of the most important attractions in town. Additionally, you know in advance the total price you will pay for the day.
For your first day in Busan, you can take the Green Line bus. It will take you to all the places you want to see today: Jagalchi Fish Market, Huinnyeoul Culture Village, Taejongdae Park, Yongdusan Park, and the Busan Tower.
Busan’s Sparkling Night Photography Tour – a 4-hour tour that will take you to some of the most photogenic spots in town: Hocheon Culture Platform, Hwangnyeongsan Mountain, Gwangalli Beach, and Dongbaekseom.
Busan Night Tour Including a Cruise – another cool experience worth having if you are planning to spend the night in Busan. The city’s skyline is impressive once night falls, and going on a cruise is a must! The tour will take you to Tiffany 21 Terminal (from where you will go on a cruise), Hwangnyeongsan Mountain, and Busan Cinema Centre.