While Daegu is Korea’s fourth largest city, it flies under the radar. Situated less than 45 minutes away from Busan, it languishes in the shadow of its flashier cousin.
Nonetheless, it has its own collection of attractions – from ancient temples and markets to a sprawling mountain park, you’ll find plenty to do over a 2-3 day stay.
Daegu City Guide: A Brief History Of Daegu, South Korea
Daegu is a city located in the southeastern part of South Korea, nestled in a valley between mountains. Its history dates back more than 1,300 years, making it one of the oldest cities in the country.
During the Three Kingdoms period, Daegu was part of the Silla Kingdom, one of the three kingdoms that ruled Korea from the 1st century BCE to the 7th century CE. Silla was known for its strong military and cultural achievements, and Daegu played an important role as a gateway to the east, connecting the kingdom to neighboring areas.
In the 10th century, Daegu became the capital of the Goryeo Dynasty, which ruled Korea from 918 to 1392 CE. Under Goryeo, the city flourished as a center for trade, art, and education. It was also a center for Buddhism, and many temples and shrines were built during this time.
In the 14th century, Daegu was conquered by the Joseon Dynasty, which ruled Korea from 1392 to 1897 CE. The city continued to prosper as a center for commerce and culture, and many notable figures in Korean history, such as the philosopher Yi Hwang and the scholar Yi I, were born or lived in Daegu.
During the 20th century, Daegu underwent rapid modernization and industrialization, transforming it into a major economic hub. However, the city also experienced significant challenges, such as the Korean War (1950-1953) and the Daegu subway fire in 2003, which claimed the lives of more than 190 people.
Today, Daegu is a bustling city with a population of over 2.5 million people. It is home to many universities, museums, and cultural attractions, and is known for its fashion, food, and festivals. Despite its tumultuous history, Daegu has emerged as a vibrant and dynamic city that continues to play an important role in the cultural and economic life of South Korea.
Daegu Top Attractions and Best Places to Visit in South Korea
Begin your time in Daegu by checking out Donghwasa Temple. While it is out of the way (23 km from Daegu Centre), this ancient structure is worth the effort. Built by Monk Geukdal 1,500 years ago, it got its name from a tree that blooms even in winter.
It currently dates from the 18th century, but you wouldn’t know it, as its caretakers value authenticity. There are numerous statues, but its most noteworthy is the Seokjoyaksa Yeoraebul. Built to encourage Korean unification, this depiction of the Buddha stands 17 metres tall above a beautifully arranged stone garden.
In the ancient days of Korea, three major markets existed on the peninsula – Pyongyang, Ganggyeong, and Seomun Market. The last of these still operate in modern-day Daegu, trading in things like silver, silk, and dried seafood.
While it dwarfs the size of the original market, original alleyways from centuries ago still exist. Some families have been selling goods since then, but modern fare, such as clothing and cookware, is also available. Don’t leave without trying local specialities in its food court. These include makchang (cow intestines), and mu tteokbokki (spicy rice cakes with sliced radish).
Like the rest of the world, Korea has hospitals that offer westernized medicine. However, traditional remedies have held firm through the years – learn about them at the Yangnyeongsi Museum of Oriental Medicine.
This institution chronicles the past 350 years of advancements in Eastern medicine through a variety of exhibits and displays. You’ll get to see how they make herbal soap, learn about medicinal foot baths, and more. Visitors can participate as well, as they offer herbal tea tastings and an oriental health examination. Before leaving, be sure to browse through herbs for sale in the wholesale market on the first floor.
Daegu is a great city in which to visit and live, but it can feel like a concrete jungle. If this vibe is wearing on you, follow the locals to Apsan Park. It protects Apsan, Sanseongsan, and Daedeoksan Mountains, giving residents a place to escape the stresses of urban life.
Active travellers will love it here, as there are more than a dozen different trails to explore. If you aren’t athletic, fear not – you can ride a tram up Mount Apsan for 9,500 won. There’s even a cultural component to this park – at Apsan’s base, a monument honours local poet Yi Ho-wu.
Other Cultural Attractions: Trip to Daegu, South Korea
As you walk around Daegu, make time for a stroll down Kim Gwangseok-gil Street. This 350-metre long laneway is home to a series of murals that honour Korean folk singer Kim Gwangseok. Popular in the late 80s and early 90s, he met his end in 1996 – he was only 31.
Artwork, statues, and displays will make clear Gwangseok’s impact. If you’re here in autumn, though, check out Bangcheon Market, as locals participate in singing contests in his honour.
Are you travelling as a family during your visit to Daegu? Make room in your schedule for a visit to E-World. Built around Woobang Tower, a 202-metre high radio tower, this park has a European theme that informs its design.
With over 31 rides, live performance stages, a snow-sledding hill, and views from one of the tallest towers in Asia, you can spend an entire day here. Comprehensive passes for adults cost 39,000 won, while kids can get in for 29,000 won.
If you love sports, take in a Korean baseball game at Samsung Lions Park while in Daegu. While the exploits of this city’s favourite team are the central focus, the selection of food is utterly mind-boggling. Ballpark food and outlets like Burger King are there, but there is also a food court serving up Korean favourites. Don’t cheer on the home team on an empty stomach – patronize these places during the game.
Want to get away from the bustle of this city, but don’t have time to head up Apsan? Head over to the Daegu Arboretum instead. Despite its attractive appearance, it’s still a bit of a secret. Part of that reason lies with its location – it’s more than a mile from the nearest Daegu Metro station. There’s also no bus, which means you’ll have to either get a cab or walk.
Your persistence will pay off, though – its tree groves, water features, and medicinal garden will impress. There’s even a reason to visit in winter, as a hothouse is home to a collection of succulent plants.
source: Sky Travel on YouTube
Top 10 Things To Do in Daegu, Korea For Visitors
- Visit Apsan Park: Apsan Park is one of the most popular outdoor spaces in Daegu, offering scenic hiking trails, stunning views of the city, and a cable car ride to the top of Mount Apsan.
- Explore the Daegu National Museum: This museum showcases the history and culture of Daegu and its surrounding areas, with a wide range of exhibits including pottery, textiles, and ancient artifacts.
- Check out Seomun Market: This bustling market is one of the largest in Daegu and offers an array of goods, from fresh produce and seafood to clothing and handicrafts.
- Stroll around Daegu Arboretum: The arboretum is a beautiful oasis in the heart of the city, with over 1,000 species of trees, plants, and flowers from around the world.
- Visit the Donghwasa Temple: This ancient temple dates back to the 6th century and is considered one of the most important Buddhist temples in Korea, with stunning architecture and intricate artwork.
- Enjoy a traditional Korean spa experience: Daegu is known for its many bathhouses, where you can relax in hot springs and saunas and indulge in traditional spa treatments.
- Take a walk through the Duryu Park: This park is a popular destination for picnics and outdoor activities, with walking trails, bike paths, and a lake for boating.
- Explore the Daegu Modern History Museum: This museum tells the story of Daegu’s transformation into a modern city through interactive exhibits, photos, and artifacts.
- Visit the 83 Tower: The 83 Tower is a landmark skyscraper in Daegu, with panoramic views of the city and a range of dining and entertainment options.
- Attend the Daegu International Bodypainting Festival: This annual festival brings together artists from around the world to showcase their body painting skills, with music, food, and performances. It is a unique and colorful experience that is not to be missed.
What To Eat and Drink at Restaurants in Daegu, Korea
Here are some of the top dishes and drinks to try in Daegu:
- Makchang: This grilled pork intestine is a local specialty and a favorite among locals. It is typically served with a spicy dipping sauce and a side of vegetables.
- Dongin-dong Galbi: This grilled beef rib dish is seasoned with soy sauce, garlic, and other spices, and is a popular choice for a special occasion meal.
- Ssambap: This dish is made by wrapping rice, meat, and vegetables in lettuce or perilla leaves, and dipping it in a savory sauce. It is a healthy and delicious meal that is perfect for sharing with friends or family.
- Andong Jjimdak: Although it is not originally from Daegu, this spicy braised chicken dish has become a local favorite. It is cooked with various vegetables and noodles and is often served in a large pot for sharing.
- Bokbunja: This sweet and fruity wine is made from black raspberries and is a popular drink in Daegu. It is often served cold and is a perfect accompaniment to spicy Korean food.
- Sool: Sool is a Korean term for traditional alcoholic drinks such as makgeolli, a milky rice wine, and soju, a clear distilled liquor. Both of these drinks are popular in Daegu and are often enjoyed with a variety of Korean snacks.
- Daegu Tang: This spicy soup is made with beef, vegetables, and a variety of herbs and spices. It is a warming and comforting dish that is perfect for colder days.
- Garaetteok: This chewy rice cake is a popular snack in Daegu, and is often sold by street vendors. It is typically served with a spicy sauce and vegetables.
- Gamjatang: This spicy pork bone soup is a hearty and flavorful dish that is perfect for a cold day. It is typically served with rice and various side dishes.
- Hwae: This Korean-style sashimi is made with fresh fish and is a popular dish in Daegu’s coastal areas. It is often served with a spicy sauce and various side dishes.
Tours For Visitors To Daegu, Korea
Here are some of the best tours you can take:
- Daegu City Tour Bus – This tour bus takes you to all the major attractions in the city, including the Dongseongro shopping district, Daegu Modern History Museum, and Daegu Arboretum. It is a great way to see the city and learn about its history and culture.
- Palgongsan Mountain Hiking Tour – If you’re up for a challenge, this hiking tour takes you up Palgongsan Mountain, one of the most beautiful mountains in Daegu. The tour includes a guide, transportation, and lunch.
- Andong Hahoe Folk Village Tour – Andong Hahoe Folk Village is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is famous for its traditional Korean architecture and culture. This tour takes you to the village and includes a guide, transportation, and admission fees.
- Daegu Night Food Tour – This tour takes you to some of the best street food stalls and restaurants in Daegu. You’ll get to try a variety of local dishes and learn about the city’s culinary culture.
- Daegu Kimchi-Making Experience – Kimchi is one of Korea’s most famous dishes, and this tour gives you the opportunity to learn how to make it yourself. You’ll learn about the different types of kimchi and get to take home your own batch.
- Daegu Craft Beer Tour – Daegu has a thriving craft beer scene, and this tour takes you to some of the best breweries in the city. You’ll get to try a variety of locally-made beers and learn about the brewing process.
- Daegu Fashion Tour – If you’re interested in fashion, this tour takes you to some of the best fashion boutiques and shopping districts in Daegu. You’ll get to see the latest fashion trends and learn about the city’s fashion culture.
- Gyeongju UNESCO Heritage Tour – Gyeongju is a nearby city that is famous for its UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including Bulguksa Temple and Seokguram Grotto. This tour takes you to these sites and includes a guide, transportation, and admission fees.
- Daegu Hanok Village Tour – Hanok Village is a traditional Korean village that is famous for its traditional architecture and culture. This tour takes you to the village and includes a guide, transportation, and admission fees.
- Daegu Museum Tour – Daegu has several museums that are worth visiting, including the Daegu Art Museum and the Daegu National Museum. This tour takes you to these museums and includes a guide and admission fees.
Daegu Accommodations Guide: Hotels, Guesthouses and Hostels
Daegu is a large city with a range of accommodations to choose from. Here are some of the best options for places to stay in Daegu:
- Luxury Hotels – For those looking for a luxury experience, there are several high-end hotels in Daegu, including the InterContinental Daegu, Novotel Ambassador Daegu, and Hotel Interburgo. These hotels offer top-notch amenities, such as spas, fitness centers, and fine dining restaurants.
- Mid-Range Hotels – There are many mid-range hotels in Daegu that offer comfortable and affordable accommodations. Some popular options include Hotel Ariana, Hotel The Palace, and Hotel Laonzena. These hotels offer amenities such as free Wi-Fi, breakfast, and fitness centers.
- Guesthouses and Hostels – For budget-conscious travelers, there are several guesthouses and hostels in Daegu. Some popular options include Guma Hostel, Mr. Kim’s Friends Hostel, and The Style Guesthouse. These accommodations offer affordable rates and shared amenities, such as kitchens and common areas.
- Hanok Stay – For those looking for a more traditional Korean experience, there are several hanok stays in Daegu. These traditional Korean houses offer a unique and authentic experience, with traditional Korean-style rooms, furniture, and architecture. Some popular options include Hanok Jangwon, Hanok Jeonju, and Hanok Gyeongju.
- Airbnb – There are also many Airbnb options available in Daegu, ranging from apartments to houses to traditional hanoks. This is a great option for those who want to stay in a local neighborhood and experience the city like a local.
When choosing a place to stay in Daegu, consider the location, amenities, and your budget. It’s also a good idea to read reviews from previous guests to get a better sense of the accommodations and the quality of service.
Day Trips From Daegu, South Korea
Daegu is located in the heart of South Korea and is surrounded by beautiful cities and attractions that make great day trips. Here are some of the best day trips from Daegu:
- Andong: Andong, a historic city about an hour and a half from Daegu, is known for its traditional Korean architecture, museums, and festivals. One of the most popular festivals is the Andong Mask Dance Festival, which takes place in autumn. Visitors can explore the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Andong Hahoe Folk Village, where traditional houses and gardens have been preserved for centuries.
- Gyeongju: Gyeongju is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located about an hour from Daegu. It was the ancient capital of the Silla Dynasty and is known for its historic temples, tombs, and artifacts. The Bulguksa Temple is a must-visit site, featuring a beautiful garden, ponds, and statues. Another highlight is the Seokguram Grotto, a stone temple with a magnificent Buddha statue carved into the wall.
- Busan: Busan, a vibrant coastal city located about an hour and a half from Daegu, is a perfect day trip destination for beach lovers. The Haeundae Beach is one of the most popular beaches in South Korea, featuring white sand and turquoise waters. The Busan Tower offers stunning views of the city, and the Gamcheon Culture Village is a colorful maze of alleyways and houses built into the hills.
- Ulsan: Ulsan is an industrial city located about an hour and a half from Daegu. Despite its industrial reputation, Ulsan is also home to beautiful parks and beaches. Visitors can explore the Taehwagang River Grand Park, a scenic park with walking trails and gardens, and the Jangsaengpo Whale Museum, which offers a glimpse into the history and culture of whaling in South Korea.
- Yeosu: Yeosu, a coastal city located about two and a half hours from Daegu, is known for its islands, beaches, and seafood. Visitors can take a ferry to the Odongdo Island, famous for its camellias, forests, and lighthouse. The Yeosu Fish Market is a must-visit for seafood lovers, offering fresh fish, squid, and other delicacies. Another highlight is the Yeosu Expo site, featuring futuristic buildings and art installations.
These day trips offer a diverse range of experiences, from cultural immersion to beach relaxation. No matter which destination you choose, you’ll be able to explore the natural beauty and history of South Korea while experiencing something new and unique.
Daegu Transportation Guide
Daegu has a comprehensive transportation system that makes getting around the city and its surrounding areas easy and convenient. Here’s a guide to transportation options in Daegu:
- Subway: Daegu has a modern subway system with three lines, covering most of the city’s major attractions and neighborhoods. The subway operates from 5:30 am to midnight, with trains running every 3-7 minutes during peak hours and every 7-15 minutes during off-peak hours. The fares are affordable, with a single journey costing around 1,300 won ($1.10 USD).
- Bus: Daegu also has a comprehensive bus network that covers most of the city’s areas. There are two types of buses: local buses and express buses. Local buses make frequent stops and are ideal for short journeys within the city, while express buses are faster and operate on specific routes. The fares for local buses start at around 1,200 won ($1 USD), while express buses cost slightly more.
- Taxi: Taxis are readily available in Daegu and are a convenient way to get around the city. The fares are affordable, with the starting rate at around 3,000 won ($2.50 USD). Taxis are metered, so there is no need to negotiate the fare. There are also designated taxi stands throughout the city, making it easy to hail a taxi.
- Car rental: Renting a car is another option for exploring Daegu and its surrounding areas. There are several car rental companies in Daegu, and renting a car can be an affordable and convenient way to travel if you plan on visiting multiple destinations outside of the city. However, it is important to note that driving in South Korea can be challenging, especially if you are not familiar with the roads and traffic laws.
- Bicycle: Daegu has an extensive network of bike lanes and bike rental services, making it easy to explore the city on two wheels. The rental fees are affordable, with prices starting at around 1,000 won ($0.85 USD) per hour. Biking is an excellent way to explore the city’s parks, riverside paths, and cultural sites at a leisurely pace.
Whether you prefer public transport, taxis, or exploring on your own, there is a transportation option that will suit your needs and help you discover all that this vibrant city has to offer.
Where To Visit After Your Trip To Daegu?
If you’re looking for more places to explore after your trip to Daegu, there are many exciting destinations throughout South Korea that are well worth visiting. Here are some suggestions to help you plan your next adventure:
- Busan: Situated on the southern coast of South Korea, Busan is the country’s second-largest city and a popular destination for both locals and visitors. Known for its stunning beaches, rich history, and delicious seafood, Busan offers a wide range of activities and attractions for travelers of all ages. Some of the top things to see and do in Busan include visiting the iconic Busan Tower, exploring the vibrant Haeundae Beach, and wandering through the traditional markets in the Jagalchi Fish Market.
- Gyeongju: Often referred to as the “museum without walls,” Gyeongju is a historic city that was once the capital of the ancient Silla Kingdom. As a result, the city is home to numerous temples, tombs, and other cultural sites that showcase the rich history and traditions of South Korea. Some of the top attractions in Gyeongju include the Bulguksa Temple, the Seokguram Grotto, and the Tumuli Park.
- Andong: Located in the southeast of South Korea, Andong is a city that is renowned for its traditional architecture and cultural heritage. One of the city’s most famous attractions is the Hahoe Folk Village, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that dates back to the Joseon Dynasty. Other popular activities in Andong include learning about the traditional mask dances, visiting the Andong Confucian School, and sampling some of the local cuisine.
- Jeju Island: Located off the southern coast of the Korean peninsula, Jeju Island is a popular vacation destination known for its stunning natural beauty, unique volcanic landscapes, and cultural attractions. Some of the top things to do on Jeju Island include hiking up to the top of Hallasan Mountain, exploring the Manjanggul Cave, and visiting the Jeju Folk Village.
- Seoul: As the capital city of South Korea, Seoul is a vibrant metropolis that is home to a diverse range of activities and attractions. From historic palaces and temples to trendy shopping districts and cutting-edge technology, Seoul has something for everyone. Some of the top things to do in Seoul include visiting the Gyeongbokgung Palace, shopping in Myeong-dong, and taking a stroll along the picturesque Han River.
All of these destinations can be easily reached by public transport, with frequent buses and trains connecting Daegu to other parts of the country. Plan your trip and explore more of South Korea’s rich culture, history, and natural beauty.
Daegu Travel Guide: Final Thoughts
Daegu is a city that is rich in culture, history, and natural beauty, offering a unique and memorable travel experience for visitors. Whether you’re interested in exploring ancient temples and historic sites, enjoying delicious local cuisine, or shopping and entertainment, Daegu has something for everyone.
Some of the top things to do in Daegu include visiting the Daegu National Museum, hiking up to the top of Apsan Mountain, and experiencing the vibrant nightlife in the downtown area. Additionally, the city’s many traditional markets offer a chance to sample local food and shop for unique souvenirs.
Daegu is also well-connected to other parts of South Korea, making it a great base for exploring the rest of the country. With its easy access to cities like Busan, Gyeongju, and Seoul, there are plenty of opportunities to discover more of South Korea’s rich culture, history, and natural beauty.
Overall, Daegu is a city that is full of surprises, offering a fascinating mix of old and new, traditional and modern, and natural and urban. Plan your trip today and experience all that this amazing city has to offer!
In Daegu’s streets I find my way, A city full of life and play. From ancient temples to modern art, There’s something here to touch my heart.
The markets bustle with energy, And smells of food fill the air for me. With every bite, a new delight, A taste of Daegu, a pure delight.
Apsan Mountain towers high above, A peaceful hike to fall in love. With views of the city, so bright and clear, And nature’s beauty, ever so near.
Daegu’s past, rich and grand, At the National Museum, we understand. The kings and queens, warriors bold, Their stories and treasures never get old.
This city’s magic, I can’t deny, Its charm and warmth, I can’t defy. In Daegu’s embrace, I am content, And memories made, that will never relent.