9 Best Things to Do in Gyeongju (+Tips to Make it Worth it)

Whenever I’m in South Korea, I often visit the same places — Seoul, Busan, and Jeju Island.

When I kept coming across good reviews about Gyeongju, I decided to plan a trip.

I spent 2 days in Gyeongju in South Korea. Was it worth the trip?

Spoiler! Gyeongju is one of my favorite cities I’ve visited in South Korea so far.

BUT I do highly recommend staying overnight, and you’ll see why.

Here’s my guide to Gyeongju: best things to do in Gyeongju, where to stay, sample Gyeongju itineraries, and what I recommend.

First time visiting South Korea? Read my Basic South Korea Travel Tips for First-Time Visitors.

Gyeongju Quick Links:

📲 Book your express bus ticket to Gyeongju

🏨 Book discounted hotels in Gyeongju on Agoda (what I use)

🚌 Gyeongju 1-Day Tour by City Tour Bus

🚙 Gyeongju The Old Capital of Korea One Day Tour from Busan

🚊 Visit Gyeongju in 1 Day from Seoul (Round-trip KTX tickets included

🎥 Watch my Gyeongju Vlog:

📍Gyeongju Korea Travel Guide: 12 Things To Do +Itineraries - Cheomseongdae, Bulguksa, Gyeongju World

What Makes Gyeongju Special?

Gyeongju is located in southeastern Korea, just an hour north of Busan and is famously known as the “Museum without Walls.”

Gyeongju was the capital of the ancient Silla Kingdom, which ruled over much of the Korean Peninsula from the 7th to 9th centuries.

It’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site with numerous archaeological sites, royal tombs, ancient temples, and observatories.

The people and environment in Gyeongju are also very calmer and a nice getaway from bustling Seoul.

Many of the shops, convenience stores, and even gas stations are hanok-style, or traditional Korean homes.

How to Get to Gyeongju

Outside Seoul Express Bus Terminal with white charter buses lined up

If you’re coming from Seoul, you can either take the high-speed train or express bus from the Seoul Express Bus Terminal.

From Seoul, it takes 2.5 hours by train, or 3.5 hours by bus.

I wrote a Gyeongju blog post detailing how to get from Seoul to Gyeongju and my recommended route (spoiler: bus).

📲 Book your express bus ticket to Gyeongju

Where to Stay in Gyeongju

White and brown Hanok-style 2-floor restaurant in Hwangnidan Street Gyeongju

The main area of Gyeongju, especially for travel, is city center or “downtown” where most of the historical sites are located. It’s walkable from the bus terminals.

I stayed at an airbnb right next to the bus terminal in a hanok house. A lot of the bigger hotels & resorts in Gyeongju won’t be in the main downtown area.

Here are hanoks and hotels in downtown Gyeongju to look at for your trip:

1. Hwangnamkwan Hanok Guesthouse

2. Hotel Palace Gyeongju

3. Hwangridangil Adamjeong Hanok Stay

🏨 Read my full post to find out where you should stay in Gyeongju

How to Get Around Gyeongju

In case you don’t know, there is no subway system in Gyeongju.

I mostly walked around the main area since the main attractions are close to one another.

When I did take the bus, it was similar to the bus systems in Seoul and Busan. The only times I took a bus was for a day trip to Pohang, and to go to the Bulguksa Temple and Bomun Tourist Complex listed below.

If you choose to only stay in the downtown and city center, walking will suffice.

🚙 Driving? Rent a car in South Korea for as cheap as $28 USD a day

9 Best Things to Do in Gyeongju

Field of red and yellow flowers and grass with Cheomseongdae Observatory in background

Gyeongju is nicknamed the museum without walls because most of the Gyeongju attractions and sites are located outside or is part of the city.

You’ll likely be outside for most of your trip in Gyeongju. (So dress accordingly to the weather!)

Here are the main 9 things to do in Gyeongju.

1. Hwangnidan Street

Colorful and lit up Hwangnidan Street stores at night in Gyeongju

Hwangnidan Street is the main popular street downtown. The cafes, restaurants, and shops are all in renovated or newly-built traditional hanok-style buildings.

The views here at night are also really nice and busy, though most shops close around 9pm.

There are lots of stationary and souvenir shops and photo booths.

2. Daereungwon Tomb Complex (Royal Tombs)

Large green mound - Royal Tombs lit up at night, main things to do in Gyeongju

One of the main things to do in Gyeongju is see the big green mounds you’ll see everywhere. They are ancient royal tombs and burial sites of kings, queens & nobles from the ancient Silla Kingdom.

There’s 23 royal tombs just in the city center and the whole historic area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Entrance to the Daereungwon Tomb Complex is free, but if you want to visit the museum, it is 3,000 won ($2 USD).

3. Cheomseongdae Observatory

Cheomseongdae Observatory in early evening_Gyeongju South Korea

Right nearby is Cheomseongdae, an astronomical observatory from the 7th century. The observatory lights up at night. There is no entrance fee.

In the same area is a large flower park and the flowers you’ll see will depend on the season. I went in early summer and it looked like this:

Field of red and yellow flowers and grass Cheomseongdae Observatory Flower Park in Summer in Gyeongju Korea

The next two sites need to be seen at night. They’re pretty during the day but 100% better at night. That’s why I recommend staying at least one night. Visiting these were some of my favorite things to do in Gyeongju.

4. Donggung Palace & Wolji Pond

Wolji Pond bridge at night in Gyeongju. Traditional Korean building lit up at night surrounded by artificial pond and trees

Donggung Palace is walkable from the Cheomseongdae Observatory. The palace, built during the Silla Dynasty, once served as a secondary palace complex for the crown prince.

In the same area is the Wolji Pond, an artificial pond surrounded by pavilions and gardens. Wolji pond was built in 679 and has 3 small islands.

Lit up trees and traditional Korean buildings surrounding Wolji Pond at night in Gyeongju

It cost 3,000 won to enter, or around $2 USD.

You can walk around the whole pond and all the trees are lit up. It’s really beautiful, but especially at night.

5. Woljeonggyo Bridge

Lit up red and green Woljeonggyo Bridge at night_Gyeongju South Korea

Woljeonggyo Bridge is another Gyeongju attraction that needs to be seen at night.

It is the largest wooden bridge in Korea. The name itself means Shadow of the Moon.

It is around a 20-minute walk from the Gyeongju bus terminal area.

Woljeonggyo Bridge was served as a crossing over the Hyeongsan River during the Silla Dynasty.

You can sit by the water and walk through the bridge.

6. Gyochon Traditional Village

A light brown hanok traditional Korean building lit up in the evening - Gyeongju Gyochon Traditional Village

Located right next to Woljeonggyo Bridge is the Gyochon Traditional Village.

Gyochon Traditional Village is a village and living museum showcasing traditional Korean architecture, culture, and customs during the Joseon Dynasty.

All of the shops, restaurants, and homes are traditional hanok-style. It felt like I was on a filming set for a kdrama!

There’s lots of craft shops, teahouses, restaurants, cultural exhibits and workshops, and museums.

The next things to do in Gyeongju are if you’re staying more than one night in Gyeongju. These are located in the northeastern part of the city.

7. Bulguksa Temple

Traditional Korean temple with colorful lantern lined on a string in the air - Bulguksa Temple_Gyeongju
Traditional Korean temple with colorful lantern lined on a string in the air - Bulguksa Temple_Gyeongju

Bulguksa Temple is another UNESCO Heritage site in Gyeongju.

The temple is located on Mount Toham in Gyeongju. Bulguksa means “Temple of the Buddha Land,” and was built during the Silla Dynasty.

The temple complex consists of traditional halls, pagodas, bridges, and stone staircases.

It takes one hour to get to Bulguksa Temple by bus from downtown Gyeongju.

Entrance to the palace is free.

If you have more time, you can also go to Seokguram Grotto nearby by bus to see the large Buddha statue.

8. Bomun Tourist Complex

View of Gyeongju World theme park in Gyeongju with pebble crossing on water

A 20-minute bus ride north of the Bulguksa Temple takes you to a more commercial area called the Bomun Tourist Complex with resorts and businesses.

This is one of the most popular spots to see cherry blossoms in Gyeongju.

Here’s what to see in the area:

Gyeongju Tower is located inside the Gyeongju Culture Expo. Entrance cost will vary by the exhibit.

Right across is the Hwangnyongwon / Joongdo Tower, which is a actually corporate event hall.

A walk down the road is Gyeongju World Theme Park. I didn’t go in, but you can spend the day there. Entrance is around $40.

Large temple replica building called Hwangnyongwon Joongdo Tower_Gyeongju

9. Bomun Lake and Pavilion

Brown bridge with walking path - Bomun Lake and Pavilion Gyeongju Korea

Another walk down from the Gyeongju World Theme Park is Bomun Lake and Pavilion. There’s beautiful and peaceful walking paths around the area.

It’s supposed to be quite pretty here during cherry blossom season. I went in summer.

I took a bus to get back to downtown Gyeongju.

Day Trip to Gyeongju? Example Gyeongju Itineraries

Here are things to do in Gyeongju depending on how long you stay.

One day trip to Gyeongju visit:

  • Hwangnidan Street
  • Daereungwon Tomb Complex (Royal Tombs)
  • Woljeonggyo Bridge
  • Gyochon Traditional Village
  • Donggung Palace & Wolji Pond
  • Woljeonggyo Bridge

2 days in Gyeongju:

Day 1: All of the above, but save the Wolji Pond and bridge for nighttime views for either day 1 or day 2.

Day 2:

  • Bulguksa Temple
  • Bomun Tourist Complex
  • Bomun Lake and Pavilion
  • Optional: Gyeongju World Theme Park, Culture Expo

If you have more time, here’s more things to do in Gyeongju:

  • Gyeongju National Museum
  • Jungang Market
  • East Palace Garden
  • and even a World Car Museum

Gyeongju Tours

If you prefer guided or organized tours, here are a few:

1. Gyeongju 1 Day Tour by City Tour Bus

2. Gyeongju The Old Capital of Korea One Day Tour from Busan

3. Visit Gyeongju in 1 Day from Seoul (Round-trip KTX tickets included)

🌸 Visiting during Cherry Blossom Season? Book a Sakura Gyeongju Tour

Is Gyeongju Worth Visiting?

Gyeongju lives up to its nickname as the “Museum without Walls.” A trip to Gyeongju is like taking a trip back to the Joseon Dynasty with beautiful outdoor architectural, cultural and nature sites.

Plus there’s lots of things to do in Gyeongju.

While even a day trip to Gyeongju will still be great, I 100% recommend either staying overnight in Gyeongju or leaving in the evening to see the best of Gyeongju.

If you have more time, Busan & Pohang is an only hour bus ride away from Gyeongju.

Have a nice time in Gyeongju!

Related Posts

Where to Stay in Gyeongju for First-Time Visitors (2024)

Best Vegan Restaurants in Gyeongju (2024)

How to Get from Seoul to Gyeongju (with Photos & Costs)

How to Get from Gyeongju to Busan (with Photos & Costs)

How to see Cherry Blossoms in Gyeongju in 2024

🇰🇷 28 Places to Visit in Seoul 2024 - Korea Travel Vlog - Top Seoul Attractions
Top 13 Free Things to Do in Busan Korea in 2024 🇰🇷 (popular + underrated!)