Looking for a sample itinerary and ideas on how to spend a week in South Korea? Read our post with South Korea 7 Day Itinerary. This detailed itinerary is based on our own experience travelling in South Korea and includes visiting Seoul, Busan, Gyeongju and Gapyeong.
We travelled to South Korea in 2023 and really liked the country. South Korea has a rich history, delicious food, hilly landscapes, beautiful coastlines, busy cities and pretty countryside. Many first time visitors to South Korea limit their visit to Seoul only. While Seoul is a vibrant city with lots of things to see and do, we wanted to see more of South Korea during our trip.
We didn’t want to move to a new location every night or two, rent a new place every time, pack and unpack often, and think about where to store our suitcases when between hotels. Therefore, we based our first part of the trip in and around Seoul, and the second part of the trip – in and around Busan. This way, we only had to book two hotels – one in Seoul and one in Busan, and could explore cities and make one day trips with a light backpack, leaving all the rest in the hotel.
Here is our 7 Day Itinerary in South Korea.
South Korea 7 Day Itinerary at a glance:
- Day 1 – Historical sights and night views of Seoul
- Day 2 – Jogyesa temple, Bukchon village, Gyeongbokgung and modern Seoul
- Day 3 – Day trip to Gapyeong (Petite France, Nami Island and Garden of Morning Calm)
- Day 4 – Seoul parks, Shopping districts and Food markets
- Day 5 – Busan (Haeundae beach, X the Sky, Blueline tram and Haedong Yonggungsa Temple)
- Day 6 – Day trip to Gyeongju (Daereungwon Tombs, Hwangridan-gil, Bulguksa Temple, Gyochon Village and Donggung Palace)
- Day 7 – Busan (Gamcheon Culture Village, BIFF Square, Jagalchi Market and Songdo Beach)
Planning a trip to South Korea
There are few things you need to plan and prepare before travelling to South Korea.
First of all, you need to check whether you need a tourist visa to South Korea or Korea Electronic Travel Authorization (KTA), and obtain it.
Also, think about bringing cash, how to get to Seoul from Incheon airport, how to use public transport, buying a train pass and getting useful mobile apps before going to South Korea.
Read about all this and more in our dedicated post Things to know before travelling to South Korea.
Day 1 – Historical sights and night views of Seoul
As the majority of international travelers to South Korea fly to Seoul, we start our 7 Day South Korea itinerary with this vibrant city.
Seoul is one of the biggest cities in the world and has lots of attractions and things to see and do. We recommend spending at least 3 days in Seoul to get a good overview of the city, see its big attractions and experience its busy life.
In the morning
On the first day in Seoul go to Ikseon-dong Hanok Village – a traditional Korean village with narrow streets, pretty houses, cafes and small shops.
Visit Changgyeonggung Palace complex built in the mid-15th century by King Sejong. Explore its many buildings and gardens.
Next, walk to Unhyeongung – a former royal residence. There are a couple of historical buildings and quiet courtyards inside. The entrance to the residence is free.
Have lunch in one of the many cafes and restaurants of Insa-dong street. Also, there are many souvenir shops and other stores on Insa-dong street if you feel like shopping.
In the afternoon
All of the attractions above are located within walking distance to each other. But to get to the next point of the itinerary you would need to take a bus or a subway. Read about using public transport and paying with Tmoney cards in Things to know before travelling to South Korea.
In the afternoon, go to Naksan Park to enjoy the views over the city. For the best night views over Seoul go to Eungbong Mountain Park.
Read our detailed post on the 3 Day Itinerary for Seoul.
Day 2 – Jogyesa temple, Bukchon village, Gyeongbokgung and modern Seoul
In the morning
First stop on Day 2 is Jogyesa Buddhist Temple. Its main building – the temple with the Budha statue – is surrounded by a spacious courtyard decorated with paper lanterns. Jogyesa is open to the public and the entrance is free.
Next, walk to Bukchon Hanok Village – a traditional Korean village with small alleys and houses with hanok architecture. It’s located on the top of a hill between Changdeok Palace and Gyeongbok Palace.
Gyeongbokgung Palace (or Gyeongbok Palace) was the main and the largest royal palace of the Joseon dynasty. It’s a big complex with many historical buildings and gardens. Plan to spend at least 1-2 hrs exploring Gyeongbokgung.
Just south to the Gyeongbok Palace lies Gwanghwamun Square. The square is surrounded by tall modern buildings and has two massive statues – the statue of King Sejong and the statue of Admiral Yi Sun Shin.
Continue walking from the Gwanghwamun Square towards Cheonggye Plaza and Cheonggyecheon. Cheonggyecheon is a public recreational space right in the heart of Seoul. It has lots of cafes and restaurants around and is a great place to stop for lunch.
In the afternoon
In the afternoon explore Seoul on the other side of Han river. In that part of Seoul you will find the famous Gangnam suburb, a viewpoint to Banpo bridge with its colourful fountain, the 123-story Lotte World Tower with its Seoul Sky observation deck, as well as Lotte World Magic Island amusement park, as well as many other Seoul attractions.
Enjoy some shopping at Lotte World Mall or visit Lotte World Aquarium. Get to the observation deck of the Lotte World Tower – the tallest building in South Korea and the 6th tallest building in the world.
Last stop of the day is Banpo Bridge and its colourful show of the Banpo Bridge Moonlight Fountain. You can watch it from the Banpo Hangang Park, which is a 20 min by bus from Gangnam.
Day 3 – Day trip to Gapyeong (Petite France, Nami Island and Garden of Morning Calm)
On the Day 3 of the South Korea 7 Day Itinerary, take a day trip from Seoul.
On the day we were picked up in the morning by a tour bus (you can choose one of the meeting points when booking the tour). We visited three places in the Gapyeong county – Petite France and Italy villages, Nami Island and the Garden of Morning Calm.
Petite France and Italy are purpose built miniature villages (one French and one Italian) with cute houses, display rooms, small alleys and squares. Built on a hill the villages have nice viewpoints over the Korean countryside.
After making a stop for lunch (with traditional Korean food of fried chicken, veggies and spices), we went on a ferry to Nami Island. Nami Island on the Han River has lots of alleys with tall trees on the sides, gardens, sculptures, cafes and a few small shops. It’s a nice destination not only for nature lovers, but also for those who watch Korean drama series – Korean drama “Winter Sonata” was shot at Nami Island.
Last stop of the day is the Garden of Morning Calm – one of the oldest private gardens in Korea. We visited in spring and it had many blooming trees and flowers. In autumn you will find there abundance of fall colours. In winter they decorate gardens with colourful lights and illumination. And in summer, of course, you can enjoy all the greenery of the plants in the gardens.
The tour bus will bring you back to Seoul in the evening around 7pm. If not too tired, take a walk in the center of Seoul after dark. Seoul is always a busy city, even at night.
Day 4 – Seoul parks, Shopping districts and Food markets
Spend the last day in Seoul with leisure walks in city parks, shopping in popular shopping districts and visiting traditional Korean markets.
In the morning
Start the day with a walk along the Seoul City Wall and in the Naksan park. From the Naksan Park, walk down to Ihwa Mural Village and then continue downhill to Dongdaemun gate.
Dongdaemun is a large shopping district in Seoul. There are many shopping malls, Dongdaemun Market and DDP – Dongdaemun Design Plaza.
Next, take a metro to Myeongdong – another popular shopping and dining area in Seoul. Have a break for lunch at Myeongdong.
In the afternoon
In the afternoon walk to the Namsan Mountain cable car station at the foot of the mountain. Take a cable car to the top to see N Seoul Tower and enjoy the views over Seoul. Then walk through the Namsan park down to the city below.
Finish your day with an evening walk in Seoul and visiting one of Seoul’s night markets, for example, Namdaemun Market. You can buy food from the stalls and eat it on the way, or sit down to eat at one of the food kiosks/shops.
We spent our last day in Seoul in a very relaxed manner. Slow walks, just taking in the views and the city, making stops to taste Korean snacks, drinks and food, enjoying the atmosphere of the busy and diverse city of Seoul.
Day 5 – Busan (Haeundae beach, X the Sky, Blueline tram and Haedong Yonggungsa Temple)
Next in our South Korea 7 Day Itinerary is the city of Busan. Busan is known for its beautiful beaches and a laid back atmosphere typical of a coastal city.
In the morning – take a train to Busan
A direct speed train from Seoul to Busan takes only 2.5 hours. Read the ‘Travelling by Train in South Korea’ section in our post Things to know before travelling to South Korea for the information on how to get train tickets and a special KORAIL pass for tourists.
Arriving in Busan, first of all, go to your hotel to leave the bags. Most of the hotels will store your suitcases before the check in time. Alternatively, you can store the bags at Busan train station and get them later when you’re ready to check in to the hotel.
First point of interest in Busan is Haeundae. You can take a bus or a subway from Busan train station to Haeundae. Visit Haeundae Market to grab a bite at one of its food stalls or to have lunch in one of its food restaurants. A short walk from the market is Haeundae Beach – a 1.5km long sandy beach popular with the locals and tourists alike. Have a walk at the beach, go to Dongbaek Park and Lighthouse or visit SEALIFE Busan Aquarium.
Visit Busan X the Sky – an observation deck in a skyscraper located at the far end of the Haeundae Beach. Pay a small admission price and take a lift to the 100th floor. Floors 98 to 100 are open to the public and have amazing views over Busan and its coastline.
In the afternoon
Next, take a leisure tram ride along the coast. Walk to ‘Haeundae Blueline Park – Mipo Station’ and take a beach tram from there to the end of the line to Songjeong Station. All the seats in the tram are facing windows, so you will enjoy seascape views while on the tram.
Get off the tram at the Songjeong Station and walk to the Songjeong Beach. Songjeong beach is another nice beach in Busan, and it’s usually not as crowded as Haeundae beach. Have a walk at the Songjeong Beach and stay for lunch at one of the waterfront’s cafes along the beach.
From Songjeong Beach either walk or take a bus to Haedong Yonggungsa temple. Haedong Yonggungsa temple is a buddhist temple built on a rocky seashore. The setting of the temple is very picturesque and it’s well worth a visit when in Busan. On the way to the temple, at the end of Younggung-gil street there is a small market with street food/snacks and souvenirs. Prepare to spend 1-1.5 hrs at Haedong Yonggungsa temple and around.
Depending on your interests, not far from Haedong Yonggungsa temple you can visit Busan National Science Museum, Skyline Luge Busan, Lotte World Adventure park or Lotte Mall.
In the evening we returned to Haeundae Market to eat a variety of Korean street food and sweets. This is where we tried Korean sweet pancake Hotteok filled with honey and seeds, and Korean 10 Won bread filled with molten cheese. Alternatively, have dinner in one of the many cafes and restaurants of Haeundae.
If you’re not too tired, take a bus to either Millak Waterside Park or Namcheon Seaside Park – to finish the day with the night views over Busan cityscape and Gwangan Bridge.
Read our detailed post on the 2 Days in Busan Itinerary
Day 6 – Day trip to Gyeongju (Daereungwon Tombs, Hwangridan-gil, Bulguksa Temple, Gyochon Village and Donggung Palace)
On the Day 6 of the South Korea 7 Day Itinerary, take a day trip from Busan to Gyeongju. Gyeongju was the ancient capital of Korea and has lots of historical sights and places to visit. Attractions in Gyeongju are quite spread from each other and so we decided the easiest way to see them would be with a guided tour. We recommend this day tour from Busan that can be booked on Klook – Gyeongju day tour from Busan.
First stop of the day is the Buddhist temple complex – Bulguksa Temple. Bulguksa Temple is on the UNESCO World Heritage List and is one of the most important historic and scenic sites in South Korea. If you visit in spring, make sure to also make a stop at the park nearby to admire cherry blossoms.
Next stop is Hwangnidan-gil – a busy street with traditional Korean architecture and lots of small shops and cafes. We had a nice lunch there at a restaurant serving traditional Asian hot pot food, and afterwards enjoyed a cup of coffee at a local coffee shop.
Minutes from Hwangnidan street is Daereungwon – a large ancient tomb complex. You will recognize it by several tombs next to each other looking like big green hills in a park. One of the tombs is open for visitors and has excavated artefacts on the display.
Next, visit Gyochon Traditional Village to have a look how people used to live in the olden days when Gyeongju was the capital. Walk the alleys of the hanok village, admire the traditional Korean architecture and make sure to get down to the river to take a picture of the rebuilt 8th century Woljeong Bridge.
Last stop of the day trip to Gyeongju is Donggung Palace & Wolji Pond. There is a reason why tour guides leave visiting Donggung Palace until the end. While not that impressive during daylight, after sunset the place transforms with all the lights on and reflections in the pond.
Return to Busan for the night.
Day 7 – Busan (Gamcheon Culture Village, BIFF Square, Jagalchi Market and Songdo Beach)
On the last day of the South Korea trip explore the southern parts of Busan city.
In the morning
First thing in the morning of our last day in South Korea was breakfast in one of the bakery cafes in Busan. Travelling in South Korea you will notice that bakeries are quite popular and the variety of baked products is great! So, after a cup of coffee with local baked goods we checked out of the hotel and went to Busan train station to store our bags. Then, with a camera and a small backpack we took a bus to Gamcheon Culture Village.
Gamcheon Culture Village is a neighbourhood in Busan featuring many colourful houses spread over a hilly landscape. Historically, this is where the poor lived for a long time, until in 2009 the government decided to renovate and make the village into a culture hub. Now, with the colourful painted houses, art installations, cafes and souvenir shops, Gamcheon Culture Village is a popular place to visit in Busan.
After walking in the village and taking hundreds of pics from its different viewpoints, walk to BIFF square. BIFF square is a busy area with shopping, cinemas, street food and alleys with handprints of famous Korean actors. Not far from BIFF square is Yongdusan Park and its Busan Tower (also known as Diamond Tower). It was on our itinerary until we realised we spent too much time trying all the different street foods and searching for a Busan souvenir magnet in the shops around BIFF square. As we were flying from Korea in the evening, we were conscious of time on our last day in Busan. But if you have enough time then I’d recommend going for a walk in Yongdusan Park and getting up to the observation deck of the Diamond Tower.
Next, visit Jagalchi Market – a famous seafood market that is the largest in South Korea. You will find here a huge variety of fresh seafood. In the indoor section of the market you can order takeaway or eat-in food made out of the fresh seafood right there at the market. We didn’t eat at the Jagalchi Market (we were too full after the stalls at BIFF square), but it was still an interesting experience to see such a huge fish market with so much seafood variety.
In the afternoon
Next point of interest is a man-made beach in Busan – Songdo Beach. Together with its pedestrian bridge-trails – Songdo Cloud Trails, surrounding cafes and coastal views, Songdo Beach is a nice place to visit in Busan.
Take a cable car (Busan Air Cruise) from the Songdo Bay Station to the Songdo Sky Park. Enjoy the nice views from the Songdo Sky Park, have a walk at Amnam Park or walk the suspension bridge to the small island of Dongseom.
If you still have time (depending on when you need to leave Busan for Seoul and Incheon International Airport) I’d recommend taking one of the walks at Yeongdo. Go to Hynyeoul Munhwa Maul – a cultural village with a nice waterside walk, then walk along the coast and up to the Yeongdo Haneul Observation Deck to admire the views.
That was the end of our trip in South Korea as it was time to take a train from Busan back to Seoul and then to Incheon International Airport to take our flight back home.
This South Korea 7 Day Itinerary was just perfect for us – not too long, but enough time to see South Korea’s biggest cities, many historical and cultural sites, enjoy Korean food and see some of the natural sights in the country.
Read next – 2 Days in Busan Itinerary
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