17th April 2024

16 Best Things to Do in Gwangju You Shouldn’t Miss (2023)

Are you eager to discover the best things to do in Gwangju? If so, you’ve come to the right place.

From our past experience of leading group trips here, we’ve unraveled the most thrilling activities and must-visit spots that will make your time in Gwangju unforgettable.

So, get ready to soak up the vibrant culture, explore the captivating sights, and indulge in mouthwatering local delights. Let’s dive in and make the most of your Gwangju adventure!

5 Facts about Gwangju

  • Gwangju is located in the southwestern part of South Korea.
  • The city is known for the May 18th Democratic Uprising, a significant event in Korea’s history.
  • Gwangju is home to the annual Gwangju Biennale, a renowned international art exhibition.
  • The city is surrounded by picturesque mountains, including Mudeungsan National Park.
  • Gwangju is a hub of education and culture, with prestigious universities and cultural institutions.

Best Things to Do in Gwangju

1. Explore the Historic Gwangju Folk Museum

Discover the soul of Gwangju through its cultural heritage at the Gwangju Folk Museum. Wander amidst a splendid collection of over 40,000 artifacts, each offering a glimpse into Korea’s storied past.

From traditional costumes and handicrafts to ancient agricultural tools, every exhibit paints a vivid portrait of the region’s rich traditions and customs. Engage in interactive displays and be captivated by live performances that bring history to life.

  • Location: 27, Pungam-ro 158beon-gil, Buk-gu, Gwangju
  • Best Time to Visit: Spring and Autumn
  • Famous For: Preserving traditional Korean artifacts and cultural heritage.

2. Visit the Iconic 5.18 Memorial Park

Step into a poignant chapter of Korea’s history at the 5.18 Memorial Park, a solemn tribute to the May 18th Democratic Uprising. This serene park stands as a memorial to the brave souls who fought for democracy during the tragic events of 1980.

Pay your respects at the Memorial Monument and immerse yourself in the tranquil surroundings. The park serves as a reminder of the city’s unwavering spirit and the sacrifices made for freedom.

  • Location: 5.18 Memorial-ro, Dong-gu, Gwangju
  • Best Time to Visit: All year round
  • Famous For: Commemorating the Gwangju Uprising of May 18th, 1980.

3. Discover the Rich History of Gwangju at the Independence Hall of Korea

Embark on a journey through Korea’s struggle for freedom and independence at the awe-inspiring Independence Hall of Korea in Gwangju.

This iconic museum showcases the nation’s tumultuous history, with engaging exhibits that narrate stories of bravery and resilience.

From the early days of resistance against Japanese colonization to the fight for democracy in modern times, the hall provides a profound understanding of Korea’s path to independence.

  • Location: 261, Jangsaengpo-ro, Buk-gu, Gwangju
  • Best Time to Visit: Spring and Autumn
  • Famous For: Exhibiting the history of Korea’s independence movement.

4. Wander Through the Beautiful Chosun University Campus

Find serenity amidst the bustling city by strolling through the picturesque campus of Chosun University. With its elegant architecture, lush gardens, and serene ponds, this university campus offers a tranquil escape.

Don’t miss the opportunity to witness the vibrant academic atmosphere, which has played a significant role in shaping Gwangju’s educational landscape.

  • Location: 309, Pilmun-daero, Dong-gu, Gwangju
  • Best Time to Visit: All year round
  • Famous For: Its beautiful landscape and educational significance.

5. Discover Artistic Treasures at the Gwangju National Museum

Unleash your artistic spirit at the Gwangju National Museum, home to an extraordinary collection of Korean art and cultural relics.

From ancient artifacts to contemporary masterpieces, the museum boasts an extensive range of exhibits that celebrate the nation’s artistic legacy.

Marvel at intricate pottery, delicate paintings, and exquisite craftsmanship, and gain insights into Korea’s artistic heritage.

  • Location: 111 Biennale-ro, Buk-gu, Gwangju
  • Best Time to Visit: Spring and Autumn
  • Famous For: Showcasing Korean art and cultural artifacts.

6. Experience Cultural Fusion at Asian Culture Complex (ACC)

Indulge in a cultural extravaganza at the Asian Culture Complex, an avant-garde institution celebrating the diversity of Asian cultures.

This sprawling complex hosts exhibitions, performances, and workshops that blend traditional and contemporary elements, showcasing the region’s cultural tapestry.

  • Location: 38, Munhwajeondang-ro, Dong-gu, Gwangju
  • Best Time to Visit: All year round
  • Famous For: Promoting Asian cultural diversity and creativity.

7. Immerse Yourself in Nature at Mudeungsan National Park

Escape into the embrace of nature at Mudeungsan National Park, a pristine sanctuary encompassing breathtaking peaks and lush valleys.

Hike through picturesque trails, discover hidden temples, and breathe in the fresh mountain air as you reconnect with the natural world.

  • Location: Mudeungsan-gil, Buk-gu, Gwangju
  • Best Time to Visit: Spring and Autumn
  • Famous For: Its stunning landscapes and diverse flora and fauna.

8. Take a Stroll along the Scenic Sajik Park

Nestled in the heart of Gwangju, Sajik Park offers a serene oasis where you can unwind and recharge amidst nature’s embrace.

Meander along tranquil pathways, shaded by ancient trees and adorned with vibrant flowers.

The park’s centerpiece, the Sajik Pavilion, stands as a symbol of peace and prosperity, making it a perfect spot for quiet contemplation.

  • Location: 157, Yangnim-ro, Dong-gu, Gwangju
  • Best Time to Visit: Spring and Autumn
  • Famous For: Its scenic beauty and the historic Sajik Pavilion.

9. Enjoy Spectacular Views from the Gwangju World Cup Stadium

For sports enthusiasts and sightseers alike, the Gwangju World Cup Stadium promises an unparalleled experience.

While primarily known for hosting thrilling football matches, this architectural marvel also offers breathtaking views of the city skyline and the surrounding mountains.

Capture a picture-perfect sunset or witness the city’s vibrant energy during events and concerts held at the stadium.

  • Location: 410, World Cup-ro, Seo-gu, Gwangju
  • Best Time to Visit: All year round
  • Famous For: Hosting football matches and providing panoramic city views.

10. Shop and Sample Local Delicacies at Yangdong Market

Immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of Yangdong Market, a bustling hub of local trade and delectable flavors.

As you weave through its labyrinthine alleys, you’ll discover an array of traditional Korean goods, from handicrafts to textiles.

Indulge in a delightful culinary journey by tasting local delicacies like bindaetteok (mung bean pancakes), bibimbap (mixed rice), and spicy tteokbokki (rice cakes).

  • Location: 22, Pungam-ro 123beon-gil, Buk-gu, Gwangju
  • Best Time to Visit: All year round
  • Famous For: Its diverse shopping options and delicious street food.

11. Marvel at the Modern Architecture of the Gwangju Biennale Hall

A masterpiece of contemporary design, the Gwangju Biennale Hall stands as a testament to the city’s commitment to art and culture.

This architectural wonder plays host to the Gwangju Biennale, an internationally acclaimed art exhibition that showcases cutting-edge works from artists worldwide.

Stroll through the galleries and be inspired by the creativity and innovation on display.

  • Location: 111 Biennale-ro, Buk-gu, Gwangju
  • Best Time to Visit: All year round
  • Famous For: Hosting the Gwangju Biennale and its modern architecture.

12. Attend a Performance at the Gwangju Culture & Arts Center

Immerse yourself in the vibrant cultural scene of Gwangju by attending a mesmerizing performance at the Gwangju Culture & Arts Center.

This state-of-the-art venue hosts a diverse range of events, including concerts, dance performances, and theater productions.

Let the artistic brilliance of local and international performers captivate your senses.

  • Location: 38, Munhwajeondang-ro, Dong-gu, Gwangju
  • Best Time to Visit: All year round
  • Famous For: Its outstanding cultural performances and events.

13. Explore Traditional Hanok Village in Buk-gu

Step into the past as you wander through the enchanting Buk-gu Hanok Village, a charming neighborhood steeped in traditional Korean architecture.

Admire the beautifully preserved hanok (traditional houses) that reflect the region’s rich cultural heritage.

Delight in cultural workshops, local crafts, and savory street food that offer an authentic glimpse into Korea’s past.

  • Location: 3, Mokpo-gil, Buk-gu, Gwangju
  • Best Time to Visit: Spring and Autumn
  • Famous For: Its well-preserved traditional hanok houses and cultural experiences.

14. Learn About the Democratic Movement at May 18th National Cemetery

Pay tribute to the heroes of the May 18th Democratic Uprising at the solemn May 18th National Cemetery.

This hallowed ground serves as a poignant reminder of the city’s fight for democracy, honoring those who made sacrifices for freedom and justice.

Walk through the memorial park, witness the Memorial Monument, and reflect on the indomitable spirit of Gwangju.

  • Location: 99, Sangmujin-dong, Buk-gu, Gwangju
  • Best Time to Visit: All year round
  • Famous For: Commemorating the victims of the May 18th Democratic Uprising.

15. Relax in the Serene Atmosphere of Gwangju Bamboo Forest

Find tranquility in the Gwangju Bamboo Forest, an oasis of calmness away from the urban bustle. Stroll along the shaded pathways, surrounded by towering bamboo shoots that sway gently in the breeze.

This serene haven offers a peaceful respite and an opportunity to connect with nature.

  • Location: 288, Jiwoncheon-ro, Buk-gu, Gwangju
  • Best Time to Visit: Spring and Autumn
  • Famous For: Its serene ambiance and lush bamboo groves.

16. Indulge in the Korean Sauna Experience at a Jjimjilbang

Treat yourself to a unique cultural experience at a Jjimjilbang, a traditional Korean sauna. Unwind in the therapeutic saunas, relax in mineral-rich baths, and indulge in rejuvenating spa treatments.

Embrace the local customs of communal bathing and don a traditional jjimjilbang outfit for the complete experience.

  • Best Time to Visit: All year round
  • Famous For: Traditional Korean sauna experience and relaxation.

Best Time to Visit Gwangju

The best time to visit Gwangju is during the spring (April to May) and autumn (September to November) seasons.

These months offer pleasant weather with mild temperatures, making it ideal for exploring the city’s outdoor attractions, enjoying festivals, and experiencing the vibrant cultural scene.

Spring brings cherry blossoms in full bloom, creating a picturesque setting, while autumn showcases beautiful foliage, adding a touch of enchantment to your Gwangju adventure.

How to Get to Gwangju

  • By Air: The closest airport is Gwangju International Airport (CJU), serving domestic and international flights. From the airport, you can take a taxi or airport limousine bus to the city center.
  • By Train: Gwangju is well-connected by train. The Gwangju Songjeong Station is a major railway hub with connections to major cities in South Korea.
  • By Bus: Gwangju has an extensive bus network connecting it to neighboring cities and provinces. Express buses and intercity buses provide efficient and affordable travel options.

Where to Stay in Gwangju

1. Ramada Plaza Gwangju Hotel – Experience luxury and comfort at Ramada Plaza Gwangju Hotel, located in the heart of the city. With elegantly appointed rooms, modern amenities, and top-notch services, this hotel offers a truly indulgent stay. Enjoy exquisite dining options, unwind at the rooftop pool, and explore nearby attractions with ease.

2. Holiday Inn Gwangju – Discover a perfect blend of convenience and relaxation at Holiday Inn Gwangju. This contemporary hotel caters to both business and leisure travelers with its well-equipped rooms and versatile meeting spaces. Guests can savor delectable cuisine at the on-site restaurants and enjoy easy access to major landmarks and shopping districts.

3. May 18th National University Park Hotel – Immerse yourself in history and tranquility at May 18th National University Park Hotel. Situated amidst lush greenery and adjacent to Memorial Park, this hotel offers a serene retreat. From its comfortable rooms to breathtaking views, it’s an ideal choice for those seeking a peaceful stay with a touch of heritage.

Where to Eat in Gwangju

1. Mudeungsan Sutbul Galbi – Indulge in mouthwatering Korean barbecue at Mudeungsan Sutbul Galbi, a popular restaurant known for its delectable grilled meat dishes. The restaurant’s specialty is “sutbul galbi,” tender beef ribs marinated in a flavorful sauce and grilled to perfection. With a cozy ambiance and attentive service, this dining spot promises a delightful culinary experience.

2. Daein Market Kalguksu Alley – For an authentic taste of Gwangju, head to Daein Market Kalguksu Alley. This bustling street offers a variety of kalguksu, a traditional Korean noodle soup that will warm your soul. Choose from a range of flavors and toppings, and savor the comforting flavors of this local favorite in a lively market setting.

3. Chungjangro Kalguksu – Embrace the rich flavors of handmade noodles at Chungjangro Kalguksu, a renowned eatery that has been serving its specialty for decades. Their kalguksu, crafted from scratch daily, offers a perfect blend of chewy noodles and savory broth. Don’t miss the opportunity to try this classic Gwangju dish while immersing yourself in the city’s vibrant food culture.

Travel Tips & Suggestions

  • Visit during Spring or Autumn for pleasant weather and beautiful cherry blossoms or autumn foliage.
  • Explore Gwangju’s rich history at the Gwangju Folk Museum and May 18th National Cemetery.
  • Experience the vibrant arts scene by attending the Gwangju Biennale or performances at the Culture & Arts Center.
  • Sample local delicacies at Yangdong Market and savor traditional kalguksu at Daein Market Kalguksu Alley.
  • Take in the panoramic views of the city from the Gwangju World Cup Stadium.
  • Plan a day trip to Mudeungsan National Park for scenic hikes and nature exploration.
  • Stay in centrally located hotels like Ramada Plaza or Gwangju Shinsaegae Hotel for easy access to attractions.

Conclusion – Best Things to Do in Gwangju

So, there you have it, the best things to do in Gwangju! Whether you’re exploring the city’s historical treasures at the Folk Museum or immersing yourself in nature at Mudeungsan National Park, Gwangju offers a myriad of experiences for every traveler.

From our own adventures here, we can assure you that this vibrant city will leave you captivated by its rich culture and warm hospitality. So pack your bags, get ready for a memorable journey, and let Gwangju work its magic on you!

FAQs – Best Things to Do in Gwangju

What are the Best Things to do in Gwangju?

Gwangju offers a fantastic mix of attractions! Don’t miss the Gwangju Folk Museum for a glimpse of Korean culture, or the moving 5.18 Memorial Park to learn about the city’s history. Explore the Gwangju Biennale Hall for contemporary art, and indulge in traditional kalguksu at Daein Market.

When is the Best Time to Visit Gwangju?

For the perfect weather and scenic beauty, visit during Spring (April to May) or Autumn (September to November). Spring brings cherry blossoms, and Autumn offers captivating foliage.

Where can I enjoy the Korean Sauna Experience in Gwangju?

Head to a local jjimjilbang for an authentic Korean sauna experience. Unwind in the saunas, mineral baths, and try traditional jjimjilbang outfits for a complete experience.

Any must-see natural spots in Gwangju?

Absolutely! Mudeungsan National Park is a must-visit for nature enthusiasts. Hike through picturesque trails and discover hidden temples amidst lush landscapes.

Which hotels are good to stay in Gwangju?

You’ll love Ramada Plaza Gwangju Hotel, Holiday Inn Gwangju, and Gwangju Shinsaegae Hotel. They offer comfort, and convenience, and are close to major attractions.

What are some iconic cultural venues in Gwangju?

Asian Culture Complex (ACC) celebrates diverse Asian cultures with exhibitions and performances. Gwangju Culture & Arts Center hosts various events showcasing local and international talents.

Any recommended places to try local food?

Yangdong Market is a foodie’s paradise! Sample local delicacies and street food here. For mouthwatering Korean barbecue, head to Mudeungsan Sutbul Galbi. Enjoy the authentic flavors at Daein Market Kalguksu Alley too!

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