Busan, South Korea

Busan is South Korea’s second-largest city and seaport, and it's a laid-back, metropolitan destination. Its pace is slower, and its diversity more pronounced, than the country's capital city of Seoul.

Busan has an intriguing medley of culture and history, beautiful natural settings and exciting adventures. It’s also near South Korea’s cultural capital, Gyeongju, and the fortress of Jinju.

The area has a long history dating back almost 2,000 years. Though the city of Busan itself was first designated as a port at the beginning of the 15th century, primarily trading with Japan. When Japan invaded Korea later that century, the role of the port diminished somewhat, until 1876 when Korea assigned Busan as its first international port.

During the Korean War, Busan was one of just two cities which remained in South Korean control, and thus served as a refugee camp throughout the conflict as well as temporarily functioning as the country’s capital city. Busan transformed into a self-governing metropolis and in 1995 became a metropolitan city. Today the city is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country, possessing an alluring international character.

Busan cruises will transport visitors into the southeastern province of South Korea. Here you will find a subtropical climate where hot humid summers are best enjoyed on the beach and cooler springs make for wonderful conditions to explore the city and its natural surroundings. Such is the city’s diverse array of offerings, you can easily enjoy a beach break, a cultural escape or an active getaway in Busan all in one trip.

Foodies will also find a special place in the city, with a great range of restaurants and dishes promising a memorable culinary experience. As a coastal city, fresh seafood is a common sight on any menu and there are some fantastic dishes specific to Busan which utilize these ingredients. Dong-nae pajeon is an affordable and popular dish consisting of a seafood and green onion pancake, while daegu tang is a tasty cod and vegetable soup, best enjoyed beside the beach.

The city is home to some stunning temples, most notably Beomeosa Temple with its breathtaking mountain location. Yonggungsa Temple is spread along the shoreline and is home to some remarkable Buddha statue sculptures. Gamcheon Cultural Village is another great location for those interested in local culture and history, with its colorful alleyways and eye-catching layout proving extremely photogenic.

Enjoying the great outdoors in Busan

For an unbeatable panorama of the city, head up Busan Tower in Yongdusan Park, set on a pretty hillside and proving a relaxing place to spend a hot afternoon. You can also hike up Dalmaji Hill, nicknamed Busan’s “romantic road,” where you can enjoy fantastic views of the ocean, even reaching across to the Japanese island of Daema.

After viewing the coast from up high, getting to ground level and onto the beach is one of the big drawing points of the city. Good quality water and great facilities guarantee a rejuvenating beach experience, particularly on the sandy cove of Songjeong Beach and on popular Haeundae Beach. For more outdoor experiences, hiking is a popular pastime, something best enjoyed in the mountainous trails surrounding Busan, including a rewarding hike up to Seokbulsa Temple.