8 Must-Do Day Trips from Seoul For Your South Korea Getaway

Got extra time in South Korea’s capital? Explore the surrounding areas and see Korean life outside the big city buzz on some of the best day trips from Seoul. Not far from the metropolis, you can experience many of South Korea’s highlights, from historic towns & cities like Suwon and Incheon to the stunning natural beauty of Bukhansan National Park and Nami Island. Explore Korea to its fullest without straying too far from Seoul with this complete guide for travelers.

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Bukhansan National Park

Recommended for hikers

1.5 hours

It’s hard to believe that a slice of nature like Bukhansan National Park can exist so close to one of the world’s biggest cities. This beautiful national park is located just north of the city and is a must-see if you’ve got more than one day in Seoul. Bukhansan National Park teems with some of the best hiking trails in Seoul, creeks, and mountain scenery that’ll tear the breath from your lungs. (Or replenish it!)

Bukhansan National Park

At Bukhansan National Park, granite peaks pierce through deep forests that change their tune over the seasons. In spring, one of the best times to visit Seoul, bright flowers bloom across the park, creating a silken scene you can’t help but love. The summery greenery and, even better, the explosion of fall colors tell an equally compelling story about this outdoor escape.

Although there’s an endless array of hiking trails in Bukhansan National Park, the most popular for day trippers is the Bukhansanseong Course. This relatively easy 3.4-kilometer trail leads to Baegundae Peak, the park’s tallest peak at 836 meters, from the Bukhansanseong Hiking Support Center. Saunter along it on your day trip, and you’ll soak in some of the finest scenery around Seoul, peppered with temples and streams.

How to get to Bukhansan National Park

Using Seoul public transportation, hop onto Line 3 of the Metro to Gupabal Station. Go to street level via Exit 1, and look for Bus 704 to Bukhansanseong Fortress (북한산성). Alight at the Bukhansan bus stop.


Recommended for history buffs

36 minutes

One of the easiest side trips from Seoul, Suwon feels at first more like an arm of the Korean capital than a city with its own identity. Of course, that’s not the case. In fact, even if you’re not day-trippin’, there are plenty of things to do in Suwon to keep your schedule full!

Hwaseong Fortress Suwon

If you’ve only got one day in Suwon, however, your choices will be fairly obvious. Start by exploring Suwon Hwaseong, a fortress that reigns back to the late 18th century Joseon Dynasty under the leadership of King Jeongjo. This UNESCO World Heritage site is not just one of the most impressive attractions around Seoul but a must-see in Korea.

Don’t rush exploring the Hwaseong; there’s plenty to see & do here. Hike along the fortress wall from the beautiful Paldalmun Gate to the northerly Hwahongmun Gate for awesome views over the city. Or duck into the Hwaseong Fortress Museum for a mini history lesson.

How to get to Suwon

The easiest way to get to Suwon from Seoul is by train. You’ve got a handful of options:

  • Metro: Take Line 1 from Seoul Station to Suwon. The fare is ₩1,300 and takes about one hour.
  • Korail: From Seoul Station, grab a regular Korail train (₩2,700) to get to Suwon in 36 minutes.
  • KTX: The quickest and most comfortable option for getting to Suwon. Tickets cost ₩8,400 for a reserved seat. The journey is just 25 minutes.

Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ)

Recommended for military history buffs

90 minutes

Need a little more tension for your Korea trip? (Who doesn’t?) You’ll find it in spades at the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ)! Just north of Seoul, this four-kilometre-wide strip of land cushions the borders of North Korea and South Korea.

Without a doubt, this is one of the tensest places you’ll ever visit.  Here, stoic border guards stare each other down emotionlessly, ready to pounce should hostilities flare up. (But, of course, the odds are against it!)

Either way, part of the fun (if you’d call it that!) in visiting the DMZ is to let the intense scene envelop you. Style in as your tour guide’s scare tactics—like “Don’t point your camera at that watchtower because they’ll think it’s a rifle scope!”—sink in.

Korea Demilitarized Zone (DMZ)

The DMZ isn’t a typical Korean destination that you can tackle on your own. With the tenuous nature of its existence, you’ll need to hop on a tour for the full-on DMZ experience.

There are plenty of DMZ tours to choose from. One of the better current options is the Private DMZ Spy Tour. This super unique and exclusive full-day tour follows the North Korean Spy Commando Infiltration Maneuver trail into the DMZ. Highlights include Imjingak Peace Park, Dora Observatory, and a North Korean lunch.

Although it’s not currently running, if it ever starts up again, I’d recommend a Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) and JSA Panmunjom Tour. Unlike other tours, this one shuttles you over to a Joint Security Area (JSA) for an up-close-and-personal view of North Korea. The tour even enters North Korean territory via a border-straddling conference room. Here, nothing but a laser-focused North Korean border guard will stand between you and the most reclusive country on earth!

Although roaming around the JSA to views of the North Korean countryside is definitely the highlight of the visit, other destinations like the Third Infiltration Tunnel and Dorasan Station, a haunting unused train station with planned rail links between Pyongyang and Seoul, are worth visiting, too.

How to get to the DMZ

It’s not possible to enter the DMZ independently using public transportation. Of all the tours available, I’d go for the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) and JSA Panmunjom Tour. The Joint Security isn’t a standard stop on many of the cheaper DMZ tours. It will definitely be the most memorable part of the trip!


Recommended for its colorful Chinatown

1 hour

Most visitors to Korea only know Incheon for one thing: its airport. It’s a crying shame. The truth is, Incheon’s got plenty of magic on its own to recommend it as one of the must-do Seoul day trips.

With Seoul just 36 kilometers away to the east and other more famous destinations lurking elsewhere in Korea, Incheon always gets the cold shoulder. It’s even more surprising when you realize that at 3 million inhabitants, Incheon is the third-largest city in South Korea!

Incheon Chinatown

And there are plenty of things to do in Incheon to keep you jazzed up on a day trip. Start exploring Incheon through Chinatown, the most vibrant corner of an otherwise sober city. Located just outside of Incheon Station, Chinatown features eye-popping Chinese-inspired (even if a little-less-than-authentic) architecture and colorful street murals. While you’re there, be sure to taste the district’s famous Korean-Chinese delicacy of jjajangmyeon (noodles with black bean sauce).

Elsewhere in Incheon, just northeast of Chinatown, summon your inner kid at the Songwol-dong Fairytale Village. This fairytale-inspired area is no doubt one of the weirdest redevelopment projects in the history of city planning. Once a faltering port district, it now breathes happiness into the lives of families and solo travelers alike.

How to get to Incheon

With interconnected subway systems, it’s a cinch to get to Incheon. By metro, you’ll need to take Line 1 to Incheon Station. Exit 1 puts you directly across the street from the Chinatown entrance gate, where you can start your journey.


Recommended for autumn colors & K-Drama fans

58 minutes

Escaping the urban madness of South Korea’s capital is as easy as flipping over to the small town calm of Gapyeong. The area is famous for its Namiseom (Nami Island), one of the top spots for viewing autumn colors in Korea, and the filming location for Winter Sonata, a popular Korean drama that’s indeed as sappy as it sounds.

Nami Island Gapyeong

A love for cheesy K-Drama aside, visiting Nami Island is a worthwhile place to while away half a day. Even if you don’t manage to visit in the fall, one of the best times to visit Korea, there’s a slew of tree-fringed walking and cycling paths to clear your head and scope out the scenery. (Hopefully, with someone special!)

How to get to Gapyeong

The easiest and quickest way to get to Gapyeong from Seoul is with the ITX (high-speed train). The ITX departs from Yongsan Station regularly and costs ₩6,000. The journey to Gapyeong is just 58 minutes.


Recommended for families & culture lovers

1 hour

Much like Suwon, Yongin fails to get much exposure outside of Korea, thanks to its close proximity to Seoul. But this city of almost a million is no stranger among Seoulite day-trippers in the know who flock here for a handful of famous tourist attractions.

Korean Folk Village Yongin

With the closest Disneyland miles away, South Koreans flood into their own homegrown amusement park in Yongin, Everland Resort. This family-friendly theme park is the largest of its kind in Korea. It features everything from roller coasters to a petting zoo to European-styled architecture.

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If you’re not traveling with kids, however, Yongin’s Korean Folk Village might be a slightly more attractive choice. Spreading over 240 acres, the Korean Folk Village steps back in time with an entire town comprised of hundreds of recreated traditional Korean buildings. The history lessons go even further, with the “villagers” performing traditional musical and martial arts routines and holding workshops.

How to get to Yongin

The Seoul metro now connects to Yongin, making the city easy to access. For Everland, take the Everline, a short railway connecting the Bundang Line, to Jeondae-Everland Station. From the station, there’s a free shuttle bus to the park.

To get to Korean Folk Village, take the train (subway, Korail, or KTX) to Suwon Station. At Exit 5, hop onto Bus 10-5 or 37 and exit at the Korean Folk Village.


Recommended for foodies

2 hours

With the advent of Korea’s awesome KTX, the list of places to visit on a day trip from Seoul is ever-growing. Case in point: Jeonju, a city that, thanks to high-speed rail, lies closer to the capital than ever before.

Jeonju Hanok Village

If tasting the sweet and spicy tang of all the most delicious Korean food has become a hobby, I’d bet you’re a budding connoisseur of bibimbap, the country’s most famous rice dish originating in this small provincial city. Among the most popular things to do in Jeonju is, of course, to sample this gastronomical goodness first-hand—along with all the other culinary surprises the city has to offer.

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Besides eating, no Jeonju day trip is complete without visiting the Jeonju Hanok Village. Like Bukchon Hanok Village, this neighborhood features over 800 hanok (traditional Korean homes) spread over several city blocks. Tucked away among the handsome buildings, food stalls, and small restaurants serve some of Jeonju’s tastiest cuisine, including its famous bibimbap.

How to get to Jeonju

Unless you want to waste most of the day on two 3.5-hour one-way bus trips, the high-speed KTX is the way to go. KTX trains leave for Jeonju from Seoul Station (or Yongsan Station for more frequent departures). The shortest journey from either takes less than two hours and costs ₩34,400-₩34,600.


Recommended for architecture & culture lovers

2 hours

Sitting among the coolest places to visit in Korea, Gyeongju might just be the most rewarding of all these popular day trips from Seoul. Whether fawning over ancient temples set to a mountainous backdrop or marveling at rolling green royal tombs, culture lovers will find plenty to smile about among the historical sites of this old Silla capital.

Bulguksa Temple in Gyeongju

When you’ve only got one day in Gyeongju, beeline for Bulguksa Temple, one of Korea’s most important cultural attractions. Visiting Bulguksa Temple is undoubtedly the highlight of any day trip to Gyeongju. It’ll delight you with its ancient architecture brushed onto a background of lush forests and craggy peaks.

While exploring Bukguksa, don’t miss out on a chance to check out Seokguram Grotto. The temple’s partner-in-crime on the UNESCO World Heritage list, this national treasure is perched high above the main temple on Mount Toham. Seokguram Grotto features a 3.5-metre-high Buddha nestled inside an expansive granite rotunda.

Other top historical sites to try to squeeze in on a day tour to Gyeongju include Donggung Palace, Wolji Pond, and Gyochon Hanok Village.

How to get to Gyeongju

Thanks to the brilliant KTX, Gyeongju is now easily accessible from Seoul. On the high-speed KTX, the journey between Seoul Station and Singyeongju Station takes just two hours. Tickets cost ₩49,300 each way, making Gyeongju an excellent candidate for flexing your Korail Pass. From Singyeongju Station, Bus 700 will zip you over to Bulguksa Temple.

Ryan O'Rourke

Ryan O'Rourke is a Canadian traveller, food & drink aficionado, and the founder & editor of Treksplorer. With over 20 years of extensive travel experience, Ryan has journeyed through over 50 countries, uncovering hidden gems and sharing firsthand, unsponsored insights on what to see & do and where to eat, drink & stay. Backed by his travel experience and in-depth research, Ryan’s travel advice and writing has been featured in publications like the Huffington Post and Matador Network. You can connect with Ryan on Twitter/X at @rtorourke.

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