Haeundae is the heart of tourism and culture in South Korea’s second city, Busan. Every year, Haeundae attracts masses of tourists for its beautiful sandy beach in summer, Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) in autumn, and Haeundae Light Festival in winter. Haeundae has surely helped the city earn its nickname Dynamic Busan, and it is an absolutely essential stop for tourists and locals who flock to Haeundae for more than the beach – the area is known for its unmatched selection of restaurants, including seafood restaurants and a wide range of non-Korean restaurants. Haeundae is also brimming bars, pubs, and cafes to suit anyone’s taste. Below are nine places to enjoy a lazy, indulgent day exploring Haeundae.
To access central Haeundae, take Metro Line 2 (the green line) to Haeundae Station. The iconic Haeundae Strip can be found by exiting the subway station at exit 3 or exit 5, but the first stop on this list is on the opposite side of Haeundae Station. If you leave the station via exit 2 and walk over the abandoned railway line, you can explore one of Haeundae’s hidden gems. Tucked away from the bustle of the Haeundae Strip, this little area is popular with couples and is full of Instagram-worthy cafes, bakeries, markets, murals, and more. Down one of the side streets, you’ll find About Life Cafe. This cafe is like something out of a fairytale. With its limited seating and cozy atmosphere, About Life Cafe feels more like you are in a woodland cottage rather than by the beach.
A short walk from About Life Cafe, is Haeridan Free Market (해리단 플리마켓). This market is the perfect place to pick up a unique, handcrafted souvenir. Every weekend, the market fills up with an abundance of locally made jewelry, clothing, bags, purses, perfumes, and leather goods. If you want to support local business and avoid the generic tourist souvenir shops, take a look around this lovely little market.
After the market, stroll over to Home Bistro and Cafe for a vegan feast unlike anything else you can find in Haeundae. This place is hidden down a side street but completely worth hunting down. The restaurant’s bohemian decor, friendly dog, and lovely staff, perfectly match the wholesome vegan and vegetarian food. Every Saturday, Home hosts a live music night and stays open until the early hours of the morning.
Next up, it’s time to wander toward the beach, and along the way be sure to check out Ops Bakeryand its delicious selection of pastries, breads, and desserts. The bakery is always busy and freshly-baked goods are constantly being brought out. There is seating inside the bakery but if it’s a sunny day, why sit inside? Get your pastries to go and enjoy them on the beach!
Or if you’re craving some traditional Korean street food then stop by the excellent Street Food Market (해운대 시장). You can try all the best street food Busan has to offer in the market, including kimbap, mandu, ddeokboki, and fish cakes. One of the best places in the market is Sangkukinae (상국이네). And don’t forget you can order everything to go and take it to the beach.
A day out in Haeundae would not be complete without a few hours on Haeundae Beach. If you visit in the summer, don’t miss the Haeundae Sand Festival, when the beach is full of impressive sand sculptures. During the swimming season (June-August) there’s a huge range of water sports to enjoy on the beach, from kayaking to chilling out in a tube. Every December during the Haeundae Light Festival the beach and main strip are lined with a beautiful display of lights and Christmassy decorations. Whatever the season, grab some snacks and a drink from a nearby convenience store and find a patch of sand to relax on!
For some, simply gazing out into the ocean and wondering what inhabits it is not enough – that’s where the SEA LIFE Busan Aquariumcomes in. Get up close to more than 250 species of sea creatures, plus otter, penguin, and shark feedings, as well as the Deep Sea-Nema World and Show.
Next, head back toward the beach and grab a drink from Busan’s own Galmegi Brewery. This chain originated in Pusan National University (PNU) and now has six branches across the city. You can try out some locally brewed beers with a late night snack or dessert. The truffle fries are delicious and perfect with a beer. Galmegi is similar to a traditional western pub with its relaxed decor and atmosphere, and friendly staff.
Dongbaekseom, or the Island of Camellias, is a little away from central Haeundae, but worth visiting for the spectacular views and nature. The island can be reached by walking to the end of Haeundae Beach, or by the express Bus 1003 to Dongbaekseom, or by subway to Dongbaek station. You can easily stroll around the little island and enjoy the incredible views of Oryukdo Island, Dalmaji Road, Gwangan Bridge, and the shoreline to Mipo. If you visit the area in spring, don’t forget to look out for the blooming camellias.
After you’ve taken a walk around Dongbaekseom and enjoyed the nature and the monuments, stop by a convenience store, pick up some dessert and prepare yourself for some more incredible views at Bay 101. It’s located on Dongbaekseom on the side farthest away from Haeundae Beach. Although Bay 101 is a yacht club, it has grown in popularity due to its luxurious atmosphere and host of restaurants, bars, and cafes. The public can even take a ride on one of the yachts and enjoy a luxury tour. It’s best enjoyed by strolling through and finding a spot to take in the glamorous and spectacular views. The area is known for its incredible night view, as all the buildings light up and you can experience both the cityscape and peaceful view of the water. The lights of the buildings reflect on the water to create a magical and mesmerizing sight. This is the perfect place to end your day in Haeundae, and truly shows off the best that Busan has to offer.