With only one day in Busan, you will be packing a lot of things to do, however, even a day will show you the relaxed feel of the city.
Day 1 highlights: Gamcheon culture village, Songdo skywalk, Huinnyeoul Culture Village, Nampo area
As I mentioned in my general tips, Busan is very spread out and you can’t walk among the sightseeing spots most of the time. You will have to rely on public transport (use Naver maps for directions, it was very accurate and helpful for us). I will give suggestions on which transport to take for each location.
Gamcheon Culture Village
Entrance Fee: Free
Make sure to get up early and arrive at Gamcheon culture village before 9am. This is one of the places people suggest coming early to avoid crowds.
Songdo Cloud Trail
Entrance Fee: Free
Transportation: After visiting Gamcheon Culture Village take a bus 2-2 or 1-1 going downhill and once it gets on a highway, get off to switch to another bus (16, 7 or whatever else Naver suggests). Make sure to consult Naver on the best route at the time. If you don’t mind walking, you could also walk to Songdo beach, which should take about an hour. This is approximately where the Skywalk is located on Google and on Naver.
Once you get off the bus, you walk a few minutes to access Songdo beach and trail. The beach was actually not at all crowded on a sunny April day when we visited. This was Korea’s most famous public beach opened in 1913. In the later years however, with the development of Haeundae area, it became less popular.
We enjoyed the curved trail walk, it is rather high and has glass floors at times, so it’s very thrilling. Plus, it provides nice photo opportunities. From here look closely at the ocean to see the statue of a whale.
After completing a part of the Cloud trail, you will find a small island called turtle island with several statues – a turtle, mermaid and a fisherman (depicting the love legend) and a broken eggshell.
Interesting legend: the statues of the mermaid/dragon and a fisherman depict the legend of a fisherman who found a daughter of a dragon injured by a sea monster. He healed her, they fell in love and she prayed to become a human. Long story short, the fisherman died fighting the sea monster, while the woman didn’t manage to become human and stayed half-dragon half-human.
If you have more time in Busan, from here you can also take a Songdo cable car to reach Songdo Sky Park on the other side of the peninsula and explore Songdo Yonggung Suspension Bridge and Amnam Park with cool observation areas. This glass bottom cable car provides amazing views of the coast. However, I suggest doing this only if you have more than 3 days in Busan, as there are so many more things you will be doing (unless of course this is one of your priority interests).
Huinnyeoul Culture Village
Entrance Fee: Free
After visiting Songdo, hop on either bus #6 or #71 and head to Huinnyeoul village. This was one of my favourite areas in Busan and definitely should be on any itinerary of Busan.
Lotte Department Store Observation deck
Entrance Fee: Free
You are probably surprised why I tell you to visit the Department Store, however, you are going there for the very spacious observation deck. Alternatively, you can go up Busan Tower, however, it is expensive, and views are from higher up. So even if you still will visit Busan Tower, don’t miss this one either.
To get to the observation deck, just find an elevator in the department store and head all the way to the top floor (11th floor). The garden and observation deck are on the 11th to 13th floors. Once you get off the elevator, you will find a garden area with a statue of a proposal. Here you can also grab the postcards as well and post them if you like. In the garden you will find other cute statues as well.
The observation deck is huge, it offers views over seaside, Nampo, Songdo, Yeongdo areas, Huinnyeoul Culture Village, Busan Tower and so on. We were very impressed by this. I should note that during a lovely sunset time this area didn’t have many people, so we could walk around peacefully and enjoy ourselves. At the time we visited, they were making some areas into cafes, which may open in a short while, which would be a nice addition.
Once you are done exploring the observation deck, check out the largest indoor fountain in the world – the fountain is on every hour from 11am to 8pm for about 5-10 minutes. We actually caught the last show at 8pm after exploring all of Nampo and getting to metro to go back to the hotel.
If you are not too tired already, you can continue exploring Nampo area. Go up to Yongdusan park (Yongdu means dragon and it was named this way because the mountain peak is shaped like dragon’s head), it’s definitely worth a visit.
You can easily walk here from Nampo station and the Lotte Department store, I think buses wouldn’t make sense as it’s just a few minutes from the station.
Note: If you have mobility issues or are lazy to climb, you can take escalators from this location. We accidentally stumbled upon this and were thankful, as we were already tired after a long day to climb all the way.
From up the hill, you already get nice views. When we visited, we got a lovely night view of the surrounding areas. We enjoyed walking around the park in the evening and witnessed some K-pop performances (as I checked afterwards, there was Busan Dragon Valley Dance Festa 2023 ongoing that evening).
You can explore the area, including the Dragon sculpture, Chunghontap Pagoda, “I love Busan tower” sign. You will also find love locks here, although on a smaller scale than on Seoul Namsan mountain.
So by now you have already gotten some nice views over Busan. If you still crave more, go up Busan Tower (price: 12,000 won). The tower was built in 1973 and reconstructed for 2021.
After coming down from Yongdusan, you can continue exploring Nampo area at night. Head to the BIFF square (in honor of Busan International Film Festival). This area, as you guessed, has many theatres and cinemas, which started popping up in the area since 1945. The square has a lot of hand prints of the celebrities and every year, during the Film Festival, more are added. A number of events and festivals are held here. Besides, it’s heaven for street food lovers.
Nearby you will find the Fashion street – Gwangbok-ro, which is dotted with a number of high-end and not so high-end shops, if you fancy some shopping. You will also find some cafes and sweet shops here. I got myself the cutest macaroon.
If you are in the area during the day and want to further explore it, near BIFF square you will find Jagalchi fish market, which is I guess the most popular market in Busan. Not being a lover of markets and particularly fish ones, we skipped it though, so can’t give any recommendations for the best places to eat there.
Another point of interest in the area is Bosu book street, which is full of used book shops. It’s a very interesting area to wonder around and explore at your own pace.
By the end of a long first day in Busan, you can spend your evening in Nampo or, alternatively, if you are staying in Seomyen, head to that lively area full of cafes, restaurants and bars.