Daegu is South Korea’s 4th largest city. It has a population of almost 2.4 million people. It is situated in the middle of the country. Two hours south of Seoul by KTX fast train. If you weren’t familiar with the name of the city of Daegu before 2020 then you will certainly have heard of it since – as the epicentre of the Korean Covid-19 outbreak.
One of our three sons has been living in Daegu in South Korea for over six years. He is married and he and his lovely Korean wife have a five-year-old little boy – our beautiful grandson. During this time, we have been fortunate to be able to visit them in South Korea on many different occasions, so now feel that we now have a real appreciation of this amazing and culture-rich country.
South Korea has very cold winters and incredibly hot summers. Daegu is situated geographically in a land basin, surrounded by mountains, and as such it has the reputation of being the hottest Korean city in the summertime. We have visited in all seasons and found August to be intensely hot and uncomfortable and February bitingly cold. The best time to visit is either September/October while the leaves are changing colour in the forests or in the springtime April/May when it’s the cherry blossom season.
Interestingly, we have noticed that the people living this far south of Seoul are far more conservative than in the capital city. Therefore, Daegu is a city of contrasts. It has old style markets, a guarded culture and old-world traditions. Yet, it also has bright lights and high-rises, the fastest internet speeds in the world, advanced technologies and futuristic 4D cinema entertainment complexes.
There is a large ex-pat community in Daegu as there is a US military base there and a large number of English teachers (our son is one of them) at the English language schools and universities. But, these ex-pats all tend to be young people in their 20’s and so we think the reason my husband and I get so blatantly stared at on the streets and while using on the subway (aside from me having blonde hair) is that middle-aged western ‘tourists’ very rarely come to Daegu.
But don’t let this put you off as Daegu has so much to offer the visitor!
Most visitors will fly into Incheon Airport and head straight for Seoul. But if you are serious about visiting South Korea, I recommend you take the time to leave Seoul and head south on the KTX train all the way to Busan on the coast (see my post on Busan’s Gamcheon Culture Village UNESCO site) taking at least a couple of days out en-route, to explore Daegu.
My top ten list of things to do in Daegu.
1) Visit Apsan Park. The area of Apsan Park includes a war museum, a cable car, and a Buddhist temple. You can hike to the top of the mountain or you can ride a gondola to the observatory platform at the top of the mountain to take in the incredible panoramic views of the city.
2) Ride the Palgongsan Mountain Cable Car. Palgongsan cable car is especially good to do if you are visiting in autumn when the leaves on the trees in the forest are changing colour. It’s also popular in the winter. The air is clear. Views are stunning. There is a café at the top.
3) Visit the Nakdong River Victory Memorial Hall. This war museum is interesting and informative and it certainly makes you appreciate why South Korea maintains military conscription. That said, South Korea is one of the safest countries in the world to visit. People are polite and respectful. Crime levels are low.
4) Eat and drink and explore downtown Daegu. Visit the modern city centre shopping area. Explore the traditional markets. Eat at a Korean BBQ restaurant. Eat kimchi. Drink Soju (carefully – as it’s strong!)
5) Experience 4D cinema at the CGV. My first 4D cinema experience and it was fantastic!
6) Have fun at E-World Amusement Park. This is a fun day out and there are rides to suit all ages and levels of bravery!
7) Wander around Duryu Park. In springtime, there will be lots of beautiful young Korean couples in the park having romantic photos taken under the cherry blossoms. The park is home to Daegu Tower (the tallest observation tower in Korea). Take a photo at the Colourful Daegu sign.
8) Visit the famous GoGo bar. Popular with ex-pats. Drink a delicious cocktail from a bag!
9) Go shopping. South Koreans are very well groomed and stylishly dressed and love shopping. They also love coffee shops, karaoke bars, and K-Pop! Gangnam Style anyone?
10) Stock up on skincare products. K- Beauty products are world-renowned. Koreans take skincare very seriously. I always stock up on moisturising facemasks before I leave as they really are the best. I like to keep my face masks in the fridge and use them weekly to try and keep any wrinkles at bay!
Have you ever visited South Korea?
If not, is it on your travel wish list?
If you’d like to ask me anything about travelling in South Korea and about Daegu in particular then leave me a message in the comments section below and I’ll do my best to help.