Autumn in Korea is a beautiful time to visit, with cooler temperatures and stunning foliage. I spent almost 2 months in South Korea in autumn and got to explore Seoul, Jeju, and Udo, as well as do a road trip through the entire country.
This 7-day road trip itinerary for South Korea is wonderful to do during any time of the year, but especially in autumn. At the end of the guide, you also have a free Google map you can easily use on your phone to follow this itinerary.
Autumn weather in Korea
Autumn in Korea is generally characterized by cooler temperatures and lower humidity compared to the summer months. The weather can vary during the autumn season, but autumn temperature in Korea typically ranges from the low 60s to mid 70s Fahrenheit (around 15-25 Celsius). The best time to see autumn leaves in Korea is from mid-October to mid-November.
In the early part of the autumn season, the weather can still be quite warm, with sunny days and occasional showers. As the season progresses, the weather becomes cooler and drier, with clear blue skies and crisp, cool nights.
Autumn is also the rainy season in Korea, with the highest rainfall occurring in September and October. However, the rain tends to be scattered and short-lived, and it is not uncommon to have sunny days interspersed with rainy days.
Overall, the weather in Korea during the autumn season is generally pleasant, with comfortable temperatures and clear, sunny days. You may also wonder what clothes to wear during autumn in Korea? It is a good idea to bring layers when visiting during this time, as the weather can vary from day to night. It is also a good idea to bring a light raincoat or umbrella, as you may encounter some rain during your visit in autumn in Korea.
Renting a car in Korea
Ready to see the sights of South Korea? Opt for car rental and you’ll be able to explore the country at your own pace. Whether you’re looking for an international or local rental company, there’s sure to be an option that suits your needs. We recommend Lotte car rental – they have a great selection of vehicles and offer competitive rates.
Before booking, be sure to check they meet the requirements – you will need a valid driver’s license from your home country or an international driver’s permit and be over 18 years old with a credit card. Plus, it’s always best to double-check any additional restrictions or requirements before setting off on your journey.
I wrote a detailed guide on driving in Korea as a tourist, so make sure you give the article a read before you plan your autumn road trip in Korea.
Day 1 – Seoul
If you’re visiting Seoul this autumn, make sure to get the most out of your experience! There are many things you can do in Seoul and incredible places to explore – here’s just a few examples:
1. Gyeongbokgung Palace: This main royal palace of the Joseon Dynasty is surrounded by beautiful gardens and traditional Korean architecture.
2. Myeong-dong and Insadong: Get ready for some shopping in Myeong-dong, where you’ll find a variety of stores, restaurants and street food vendors. Step into the world of traditional craft stores and art galleries in Insadong.
3. Han River: Take a stroll along this river which runs through the city while admiring stunning views of the city skyline.
4. Namsan Tower (N Seoul Tower): Climb up this tower located on top of Namsan Mountain for beautiful panoramic views! You can take the cable car or opt for a hike to get there.
5. National Museum of Korea: If you love history, culture and art then don’t miss out on this museum featuring an array of fascinating exhibits about Korea.
6. Street Food!: Of course you have to sample traditional Korean cuisine like tteokbokki (spicy rice cakes), mandu (dumplings) and odeng (fishcake skewers). Yum!
Alternatively, if you’d rather go on a 1 day tour around Seoul, then this tour is a good option!
Day 2 – Pohang and Gyeongju
Today you are leaving Seoul and heading out for a real autumn in Korea adventure! Get your rental early in the morning and start making your way down towards Pohang. Since Seoul traffic is a little bit of a nightmare, reward yourself with a yummy breakfast after getting out of the city and before driving a few more hours.
Pins Coffee – 핀스커피
Pins Coffee offers a variety of food items such as pastries, sandwiches, and salads. Pins Coffee in Cheonan features a beautiful pink muhly field just outside the cafe, as well as a spacious, cozy and welcoming atmosphere.
Igari Anchor Observatory – 이가리 닻 전망대
I first saw this anchor shaped pier in the K-drama “Run On” and had to find out the location! Parking is located right at the pier and you can easily spend an hour here just strolling on the beach and the anchor shaped pier. If you are traveling with a drone, this is the perfect place for a drone photo!
Hwanho Park Space Walk – 환호공원 스페이스워크
Space Walk is an art installation located on the hills of Hwanho Park in the city of Pohang. It’s one of Korea’s hottest new attractions and a great place to stop by during your autumn road trip through Korea.
The Space Walk is a 80 ft-high steel staircase that resembles a roller-coaster and is not for the faint-hearted! It measures 333m in length and the highest point of the installation is a 25m tall 360-degree loop, which is not walkable.
From the top of the installation, visitors can enjoy a beautiful view of the Pohang cityscape, Youngil Bay, and Youngildae Beach. The entrance is free and there are two pathways available for visitors to choose from, one being an easier, gentler climb and the other being steeper and more challenging. I recommend you come here just before sunset to see it in both daylight and nighttime when the stairs light up.
Beef BBQ Dinner at Daerung – 대릉갈비
We craved a good quality beef BBQ dinner and got an excellent tip from the accommodation owner to head to Daerung. Located in a beautiful hanok, this beef BBQ restaurant is very popular, so try to get a table reservation. Make sure you’re not too late though, the last order is at 8.30 pm.
We filled our bellies with somaek, beef and tasty side dishes and then headed to the house.
Sleep in a hanok house
Autumn in Korea is absolutely magical, and the first night on this road trip should definitely be spent in a hanok. We chose a beautiful property called Flowing Texture by Stayfolio.
Flowing Texture is a hanok house located near the Gyeongju Historic Areas. It offers a peaceful and private atmosphere, despite its central location. The property is split into two houses – the living and the sleeping. Both are immaculately designed and we felt right at home from the moment we stepped through the main door.
And if you think the house is the main character – wait until you see the garden. Comfortable, inviting and relaxing, the garden at Flowing Texture is an aesthetic oasis that you’ll want to spend a good few hours in. Chairs, table, and thoughtful decor create a warm atmosphere and make for the perfect place to relax and unwind after a busy day exploring Gyeongju.
Day 3 – Gyeongju and Busan
Breakfast at Cafe SOL – 카페솔
After checking out, head to Cafe SOL for breakfast and coffee. The cafe has a nice yard and there are plenty of seating options. We spent a good hour just soaking up the sun here, before exploring some more of the town.
Stroll around Gyeongju
Explore the deep history at the Gyeongju Historic Areas! This important and influential cultural site has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2000. You’ll find tombs, temples, palaces and other cultural properties that give insight into the Shilla Dynasty which ruled Korea from 7th to 10th centuries. Take your time to immerse yourself in the culture and heritage of this fascinating destination.
Some of the most notable sites within the Gyeongju Historic Areas include the Cheomseongdae observatory, the Daereungwon Tomb Complex, and the Anapji Pond. The Gyeongju Historic Areas are a popular destination for tourists and history buffs, and offer a unique opportunity to learn about and experience the history and culture of ancient Korea.
The area is very picturesque and we really enjoyed strolling around the neighborhood before starting the drive towards Busan.
Busan Sky Capsule at Haeundae Blueline Park – 해운대블루라인파크
This viral sky capsule in Busan was the first thing I saved to do in this city and it was definitely worth it! Beautiful views of the city and the ocean and the cozy capsule were worth every WON, to be specific 48,000 of them for two people.
If you don’t have a Korean credit card then you’ll have to purchase the tickets at the counter. Bear in mind that sunset is a very popular time to come here so be prepared to wait a few hours for your turn. I suggest you come around lunchtime to purchase your tickets for the sky capsule. We were a little late so we had to take the beach train in one direction and then the sky capsule on the way back. It was alright, but we wished to have been able to spend a little more time on it.
Haeundae Beach – 해운대해수욕장
Haeundae Beach in Busan is a destination like no other. Situated on the southeastern tip of South Korea, this beach has all the elements you need for an unforgettable vacation. Miles of pristine white sand meet crystal clear blue waters and surrounded by lush, green mountains – what more could you want? If you’re looking for relaxation, soak up the sun and fresh air or take a refreshing dip in the ocean.
For those who want to explore, there are endless activities such as shopping, dining out at nearby restaurants or taking part in some exciting water sports. Haeundae Beach also offers breathtaking views at sunset – definitely worth a visit!
Gwangalli Beach – 광안리해수욕장
Gwangalli Beach in Busan is renowned for its stunning beauty and unforgettable experience. Located on the southeastern tip of South Korea, this beach features miles of pristine white sand, crystal clear water and an amazing mountain backdrop. Visitors can relax on the shore or take part in some exciting water activities such as parasailing, diving and jet skiing.
There is also a wide range of restaurants, bars and cafés to try out for delicious local delicacies. At night, the beach is lit up with beautiful lights that give a magical atmosphere to the whole place – make sure not to miss it!
If you want to get sparklers or fireworks yourself, go to the nearest convenience store, they sell them there.
Gwangan Bridge – 광안대교
Gwangan Bridge in Busan is an iconic landmark and a must-see for any traveler. Stretching across the beautiful bay, this bridge offers stunning views of the city and beyond. The bridge is especially stunning at night when it’s lit up with thousands of twinkling lights – it truly looks like something out of a dream!
The bridge is also a popular spot for walking and cycling, with a wide pedestrian and bicycle lane running along the entire length of the bridge. The views of the bridge are stunning, especially at night when the bridge is lit up with colorful lights. Gwangan Bridge is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike, offering a unique and memorable experience.
Dinner and check in to Airbnb
After a stroll on the bridge, check into your Airbnb – make sure you book one with a view of the Gwangan bridge!
Day 4 – Busan
Samgwangsa Temple – 삼광사
Samgwangsa Temple is a must-see destination for any traveler to Busan. Situated in the city’s bustling downtown, this Buddhist temple was founded in the 8th century and has a long and rich history. Visitors are sure to be impressed by the beautiful gardens and tranquil atmosphere of the temple grounds. From exploring the cultural and historical treasures within the walls to joining traditional Buddhist ceremonies, there’s plenty to see and do here.
Samgwangsa Temple is also home to educational programs such as calligraphy classes, traditional Korean music performances, and meditation classes – perfect for anyone looking to learn more about Buddhism or Korean culture. Whether you’re after relaxation or an insight into Korea’s past, Samgwangsa Temple won’t disappoint!
Merci Madame – 메르시마담
A very aesthetic cafe with amazing coffee and tasty desserts. The perfect place to fuel up between the temple and culture village visits. I can highly recommend the iced Einspänner coffee here – it was in my top 3 favorites from all the cafe in Seoul and Korea in general.
Gamcheon Culture Village – 감천문화마을
Located in the heart of Busan, Gamcheon Culture Village is a must-visit destination for any traveler to the city. This quaint village is known for its colorful houses, winding alleys, and steep stairways – all of which offer stunning views of the sea. An old fishing village built on a hillside overlooking the port, this fascinating area has been transformed into an eclectic artist’s hub with impressive art galleries, cafes, and souvenir shops.
There is plenty to do here. From exploring the vibrant alleyways to admiring the many murals and sculptures scattered around the town, you’re sure to find something that catches your eye – and don’t forget to sample some delicious local dishes! Plus, if you visit during special events such as Gamcheon Cultural Festival or Light-up Festival, you’ll get a chance to take part in traditional Korean performances like silk ribbon dancing. No matter what brings you here, Gamcheon Culture Village is a great place to explore and experience Busan’s unique culture!
Here are some tips for visiting Gamcheon Culture Village:
1. Wear comfortable shoes: Gamcheon Culture Village is built on a hill, and the streets can be steep and narrow. Wear comfortable shoes to make it easier to explore the village on foot.
2. Take your time: Gamcheon Culture Village is a place to be enjoyed at a leisurely pace. Take your time to explore the narrow alleys and discover the hidden corners of the village.
3. Don’t miss the murals: Gamcheon Culture Village is known for its colorful murals and street art. Take some time to appreciate these works of art and to snap some pictures.
4. Try some local food: Gamcheon Culture Village is home to a variety of local restaurants, cafes, and food stalls. Try some of the local specialties and enjoy the vibrant food culture of the village. And if you’re in need of some socks – at the beginning of the lane there’s a shop with lots of styles for a great price. We got quite a few pairs in there.
Day 5 – Gwangju
Brunch at Your Type
After checking out from the Airbnb we headed towards Your Type for a hearty brunch. I can highly recommend this place, the food was delicious! We then started our drive out of Busan and towards Gwangju.
Suncheon Open Film Set – 순천드라마촬영장]
Located in the sunny city of Suncheon, South Korea, Suncheon Open Film Set is a must-visit for any movie lover. This unique attraction offers visitors the chance to explore one of the most famous film sets in Asia. From its many outdoor sets to indoor filming studios, this picturesque area has been used as a backdrop to some of the biggest movies and TV shows around.
Visitors can explore the various sets such as an amusement park, traditional market and recreation center. Don’t miss out on seeing old favorites such as the house from “Coffee Prince” and the royal park from “Secret Garden”. Plus, you can also check out some of the newest releases like “Emergency Couple” and “My Love From The Star”! With plenty of exciting activities to take part in like VR experiences, photo ops and interactive tours – there’s something here for everyone. So come along to Suncheon Open Film Set and experience Korean entertainment up-close!
The film set is open to the public and the entrance fee is 3,000 WON for adults. There is a big parking lot just in front of the entrance.
Daehan Dawon Tea Plantation (대한다원)
Daehan Dawon is a green tea plantation and cultural park located in Suncheon, South Korea. The plantation covers an area of approximately 100 hectares, and is home to over 500,000 green tea plants.
Daehan Dawon is known for its beautiful green tea fields, which are surrounded by mountains and forests. The plantation is a popular destination for tourists, who can visit the fields and learn about the process of green tea production. Here you can also try different varieties of green tea, and purchase tea products at the plantation’s shop.
The admission fee for adults is 4,000 WON.
Stay at Cheojjeon
In a quiet village just outside of Gwangju this beautiful and minimalistic hanok house is located. ‘Chojjeom’ by Stayfolio is a Korean-Scandinavian hanok house that combines the traditional elements of a hanok house with elements of Scandinavian design, such as clean lines, natural materials, and a focus on functionality.
From the moment you walk you’ll feel at ease in this peaceful and spacious property. When we entered the house we were greeted by a Starbucks jazz playlist and an elegant fragrance. We unpacked, put on our gowns and spent the night listening to music and playing cards. I can highly recommend staying here, especially after you’ve just escaped the busy roads of Busan on this autumn in Korea roadtrip.
Day 6 – Damyang
Juknokwon Bamboo Forest – 죽녹원
If you’re looking for a unique experience, the Juknokwon Bamboo forest in Korea is just the place! This stunning bamboo grove is located in the Gangwon province and is known for its lush greenery and majestic views. Visitors can take a peaceful stroll through the winding paths of this tranquil jungle and marvel at the towering bamboo stalks.
The opening hours are from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM. Admission to the bamboo forest is 3,000 WON for adults.
The bamboo forest covers an area of about 40 hectares and is home to more than 200 species of bamboo. As well as getting up close to nature, there’s plenty of activities to enjoy such as finding out more about traditional Korean cultures and even riding bicycles through the bamboo! Not only that, but visitors can also try their hand at making pottery or sipping on locally brewed tea. The mountain nearby offers incredible views of the surrounding area too – so don’t forget your camera!
The perfect way to end your day is by visiting one of Juknokwon’s many restaurants which offer delicious local delicacies like kalguksu noodles, savory pancakes and steamed buns. Whether it’s exploring nature, learning about culture or trying new things – this place has something for everyone! So why not come along to Juknokwon Bamboo Forest and have an unforgettable experience?
Baekyangsa – 백양사
Baekyangsa is a Buddhist temple known for its beautiful architecture and natural surroundings and is a popular tourist destination – especially in autumn. Baekyangsa was probably my favorite and the best place to visit in Korea during autumn on this itinerary. It was absolutely stunning!
Baekyangsa has a long history. Founded in the early 8th century, this temple is a place of natural beauty and cultural significance.
Exploring its grounds offers visitors a tranquil experience, surrounded by lush forests and pristine mountain views. There are gardens, waterfalls, ponds and more to explore while taking in the peaceful atmosphere.
Baekyangsa holds several unique artifacts, including the wooden statue of Buddha designated as National Treasure No. 60. Additionally, there are various cultural and historical sites to explore: such as the Main Hall, Muryangsujeon Hall and Gakhwangjeon Hall.
Baekyangsa is a great place to visit for those interested in Buddhism, Korean culture, and beautiful natural surroundings. It is open from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM and admission is free (they do charge for a car parking though).
Dinner at Dajong – 다정
We were in the mood for a pork cutlet and this place had amazing service and delicious food. We planned the last day a little bit last minute and were very positively surprised by this restaurant we stumbled upon on Naver.
Sleep at Daedunsan Hotel – 대둔산호텔
Since we were a little late booking the last night of the autumn in Korea road trip, we only saw this hotel available for a decent price. The standard was okay and the location of it makes it convenient for an early morning adventure in the Daedunsan park.
Day 7 – Daejon
Daedunsan Provincial Park – 대둔산도립공원 (전북)
A great place to see the fall foliage in Korea and easy to get to as well, especially if you slept at the hotel above.
The park covers an area of about 26,000 hectares and is home to a variety of plant and animal life. It is a popular spot for hiking, with several trails that offer stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. The park is also home to the Daedunsan Cable Car, which takes visitors up to the summit of Daedun Mountain, where they can enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding area.
Jangtaesan recreational Forest – 장태산 자연휴양림
During autumn in Korea, this forest makes for an awesome destination for those fall foliage shots. The recreational forest covers an area of about 3,800 hectares and is home to a variety of plant and animal life. It is a great place to enjoy the beauty of nature, with several trails that offer stunning views of the surrounding forests, rivers, and waterfalls.
Especially worth the trip if you want to take a photo of the famous bridge covered with the metasequoia forest around it.
Geumgang Nature Art Biennale – 연미산자연미술공원
Situated in the stunning Gurye County of South Jeolla Province, the Geumgang Nature Art Biennale is a mesmerizing international art festival. Held every two years within the walls of Geumgang Nature Art Park, this event welcomes visitors to explore countless artworks and installations created by talented artists from around the globe, all focused on environmental and nature-related themes.
From exhibitions and workshops, to performances and talks – there’s something for everyone at this incredible art festival! Those attending will be able to witness unique site-specific installations made with natural materials, like massive teddy bears big enough for you (and your friends!) to get inside of. It’s an unforgettable experience that truly allows visitors to immerse themselves in this extraordinary world!
The last stop on this autumn in Korea road trip is a cafe with a beautiful autumn view. Enjoy a coffee before driving back to Seoul.
Autumn activities in Korea – Festivals and traditions
There are several autumn festivals celebrated in South Korea, which are known for their beautiful fall foliage and other cultural activities. Here are a few popular festivals that take place in the autumn season:
1. Andong Mask Dance Festival
This festival is held in Andong, a city in South Korea’s Gyeongsangbuk-do province, and features traditional Korean mask dances and other cultural performances. The festival usually takes place in October.
2. Jinju Namgang Yudeung Festival
This festival is held in Jinju, a city in South Korea’s Gyeongsangnam-do province, and features traditional lanterns and other cultural performances. The festival usually takes place in October and is known for its beautiful night-time displays.
Chuseok is a major harvest festival in South Korea that is celebrated on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month, which typically falls in September or October in the Gregorian calendar. It is a time for families to come together and give thanks for the blessings of the year, including a good harvest.
During Chuseok, people typically visit their ancestral hometowns and pay respects to their ancestors at the local cemetery. They also participate in traditional cultural activities such as folk games, dancing, and singing. Chuseok is also a time for feasting, and people often prepare and share a variety of traditional foods such as rice cakes, Korean pancakes, and Korean grilled meat.
4. The Gwangju International Film Festival (GIFF)
The Gwangju International Film Festival is South Korea’s go-to event for cinematic experiences. Held every year in late September or October in the city of Gwangju, this festival has been a staple since 2002.
Filmmakers, industry professionals and film buffs alike flock to this annual celebration showcasing a wide range of films from all over the globe, including feature films, documentaries, and short films. Attendees can enjoy screenings, panel discussions, workshops, and more!
From its film program to its various cultural events and activities, the GIFF works to promote cultural exchange and cooperation between countries throughout the world – a truly unique experience for all who visit.
Map of this autumn in Korea itinerary:
I hope you enjoyed this Korea autumn road trip itinerary. If you happen to have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask in the comments below!