Daegu is the fourth-largest city in South Korea. Named after its large hills and known as Apple City, Daegu is home to 2.5 million inhabitants. It’s located in the south-eastern region of the country, which explains the humid subtropical climate. Once the economic motor of Korea, Daegu is now focused on high-tech and fashion industries.
So, what are the best things to do in Daegu? Foodies will enjoy sampling street food in Seomun Market, hikers can go hiking in the scenic Apsan Park, and history buffs will love exploring the Daegu National Museum. And that’s just skimming the surface! One thing’s for sure: you’ll never run out of things to do in Daegu!
Let’s go over the 20 best things to do in Daegu!
1. Savour the delicious street food of Seomun Market
Seomun Market is undoubtedly Daegu’s biggest street food hub. It comes alive at night when the stalls invite you in with the unique mix of aromas. There’s a number of crowd favorites and equal amounts of daring delicacies.
Daegu’s especially famous for its Mackchang (막창), grilled beef abomasum – the fourth stomach of a cow. If you’re not brave enough to munch on some innards, there are still plenty of options to indulge on… There’s always Jeon (전), a Korean savory pancake and the street food holy trinity: Tteokbokki (떡볶이), Odeng (오뎅) and Sundae (순대) – spicy rice cakes, fish cake soup, and blood sausage.
During the day it doubles as a traditional market, with vendors selling fabrics and clothing, homeware, and dry goods.
2. See the Buddha statues at Donghwasa & Gatbawi
Palgong Mountain is a favorite for hikers, likely due to the non-shortage of interesting pit-stops. The most famous is Donghwasa (동화사), a Jogye Order fifth-century temple. Restored in the eighteenth century following the damage inflicted by the Japanese invaders, the temple complex is both spacious and beautiful. It may be reached by stairs with railings shaped like a dragon, the Buddhist statues inside welcoming as you walk in.
On the same mountain, you’ll find Gatbawi (갓바위), an incredible Buddha statue considered a Korean National Treasure. Carved on the east flank of the mountain, the Buddha stands at four meters tall and dates back to Unified Silla (seventh century). It’s not easy to reach it as the climb may be a bit demanding but it’s definitely one of the most worthwhile things to do in Daegu.
3. Learn about Korean history at Daegu National Museum
Although a relatively small museum, the Daegu National can still educate you on the culture and history of Daegu. Visitors share the opinion that it’s not the most accessible location but the visit is free and certainly worth it!
There are three main halls: the Archeology Gallery, the Art History Gallery, and the Traditional Folk Life Gallery. The first displays an array of artifacts from prehistoric times up to the Three Kingdoms Period (seventh century). The second will educate you on Korean history and Buddhist culture through a variety of sculptures. The third offers a glimpse into traditional Korean houses and curates pieces from the Seonbi (ancient scholar) culture.
There’s a magnificent stone pagoda on the property, brought in a millennia ago. There are also a few scattered architectural remains, along with dolmens, and a seventh-century insulated oven.
4. Enjoy a date night at 83 Tower
Standing tall at just over 200 meters high, 83 Tower has become a go-to for date nights. To get to the observatory, you must buy a ₩10,000 ticket (₩5,000 for kids).
The top floor offers a unique delightful view of Daegu’s cityscape. There’s an ample open space you can roam in freely, take pictures, and grab a bite. During the winter months, there’s a skating rink set up, which is a more affordable date alternative to the fancy revolving restaurant up top.
5. Stroll along Kim Gwangseok Street
Kim Gwang-Seok was a Daegu-born folk singer who rose to fame in the 80s and 90s with his protest songs. In 2010, a group of artists decided to pay homage by creating a mural in his honor. It’s located right next to Bancheon Market, in downtown Daegu, near where the singer grew up.
Besides the obvious nods to the artist and musical motifs, there are also quite a few painted murals inspired by his music. There are tons of adorable cafes in the area including some of the best rooftops in Daegu.
6. Hike the scenic Apsan Park
Apsan Park, named after its mountain, is one of the best hiking spots in all of Daegu. It includes a 600-meter-high mountain, an observation deck, and what might be the best cable car in all of South Korea. In fact, most (if not all) visitors highly recommend paying the 10,500₩ fee for the round trip.
There are many trails, each with different difficulty levels, and some quite beginner-friendly. Needless to say that the views are breathtaking, especially at sunset and nighttime. You’ll also see a nice variety of flora and birds, like woodpeckers and tits.
Remember to carry enough water as you can expect to be hiking for a couple of hours. But if you do run out of snacks, worry not, as there are some vending machines mid-trails. You can find other necessary facilities (like restrooms) atop the mountain next to the cable car entrance.
7. Delight your eyes at Daegu Art Museum
The Daegu Art Museum is a must for any art lover. It is set in a beautiful property with outstanding views. The building itself is a work of art in its own right! The outdoor area provides you with a sense of serenity and tranquility which eases your mind and prepares you for what awaits inside.
The exhibitions are mostly modern and contemporary art but they’re all pretty impressive. It’s also quite inexpensive when compared to similar exhibitions in big western cities. And although most of the featured artists are Korean, there’s still a good amount of international art.
You might end up spending a few hours roaming around the museum. The outside area alone is worth visiting and it will surely make you forget you’re actually in a big metropolis, as the museum is located further away from the center. Out of the things to do in Daegu, this is certainly a great option for outdoor and art enthusiasts alike.
8. Bike around Suseong Lake
Up against the mountains that border the city to the south, there is Suseong Lake. This large man-made body of water was originally created as a reservoir to store water for agricultural use. Over time, it became a popular walking and biking path for both locals and visitors.
It is surrounded by plenty of restaurants and coffee shops, and couples and families usually gather here. At night, the lake lights up with a music and fountain show. And in the springtime, the shorelines turn pink with all the beautiful cherry blossoms. In the summer, you can rent one of the duck boats and paddle around the lake. Whilst in the colder months, the best activity would be to warm up in one of the many dessert shops surrounding the lake and enjoy a nice cuppa.
10. Solve the enigmas of The ARC
Resembling a starship from outer space, the ARC is a great place to visit on a lazy Sunday. As it’s located right at the confluence of the Nakdong and Geumho rivers, the cinematic natural setting invites many people looking to relax.
Within the building itself, there are often exhibitions about water and nature and, on its top floor, there is an observatory deck and coffeeshop. From the deck, you can enjoy the beautiful mountainous landscape and the sunset reflected on the river below.
There are a few shops nearby where you can rent bikes and electrical scooters to ride along the margins. If the weather allows, this is also a great spot for a picnic with friends or family. Order delivery, bring food from home, or get a corn dog from the vending stalls nearby.
11. Smell the flowers of Daegu Arboretum
In the south-western Dalseo-gu is the Daegu Arboretum, the city’s former landfill. It opened its doors in 2002 and has always been a free attraction. There are over 1,000 species of trees, wildflowers, cacti, and herbs, inside and out the greenhouses. There are also pleasant outdoor trails, complete with ponds, fountains, bamboo forests, and fruit trees.
Spring and fall are definitely the best times to visit, as it’s when the seasonal colors come to life. There’s also a lovely Korean Garden and plenty of picnic decks, where you can enjoy a nice meal with loved ones whilst savoring the scenery and fresh air.
12. Soak your feet at the Museum of Oriental Medicine
Daegu Yangnyeongsi is medicinal herbs wholesale market of sorts. The Museum of Oriental Medicine is actually located above it and the exhibits are available in four languages. Unfortunately, most of the descriptions are in Korean and only the interactive panels on the ground floor provide information in English.
Regardless, you can still learn a lot about the history of oriental medicine, the objects and tools utilized, and the basic principles of Korean traditional medicine. There is enough video material to keep even the younger ones amused. Plus, the museum entrance is free! So if you have a couple of bucks lying around in your pocket, you can get a nice footbath or buy an interesting souvenir.
13. Attend Sunday mass at Gyesan Catholic Church
The Gyesan Catholic Church is the oldest and only recognized cathedral in Daegu. Its architecture is inspired by traditional Korean design though the impressive stained glass and galvanized iron are imports from Europe. Although predominantly Romanesque in style, the church also features noticeable Gothic elements
There’s an evening mass every Sunday, though it’s conducted in Korean. Friends who have attended said that it’s as solemn as back home and the organ could also be heard. Still, they found it a bit odd that no one ever knelt during service.
14. Take a breather at Duryu Park
Located at the center of Daegu, Duryu Park is the city’s equivalent to New York’s Central Park or London’s Hyde. It’s the biggest green zone within the metropolitan area and it’s close to some main attractions, such as 83 Tower and E-World. A great place for locals to relax and enjoy the outdoors without having to hit the hike trails.
Duryu also hosts many of Daegu’s festivals, including the Lantern Festival, Body Painting Festival, and Chicken-and-Beer Festival. Sometimes, there are also random special events on the small set-up stage.
15. See the azaleas of Biseulsan Mountain
Biseulsan mountain, in the south of Daegu, is well known for its beautiful fields of wild azaleas. Yet another hiking trail whose pictures hardly do justice… Between the thousand-year-old block streams, the Yugasa temple, the 100+ pagodas, and the modest water cascade, there are plenty of photo ops.
Besides its instagrammable sights, there are also plenty of tables and sheds that allow for a food break or even an outdoor catnap. Well-maintained boardwalks and ropewalks make the stroll very easy.
And perhaps a unique thing to South Korea is that local hikers tend to offer snacks or fruits to people they meet along the way! They also don’t mind taking a picture or two so you can give the old selfie mode a rest.
16. Recreate your favorite K-drama at Keimyung University
Keimyung University is a private, co-educational university in Daegu. Founded in 1954, this is a university with a very international environment and Presbyterian background. It is composed of three campuses but the most famous is Seongseo’s. In fact, it’s known as one of the most beautiful campuses in all of South Korea!
It’s become a favorite filming location for Korean dramas, such as ‘Boys Over Flowers’ (2009), ‘Mister Sunshine’ (2018), ‘Melting Me Softly’ (2019), ‘Extraordinary You’ (2019), to name a few. That’s largely due to its beautiful colors, with azaleas and cherry blossoms in the spring and all the warm colors of the fallen leaves in the fall.
There are three buildings worth visiting: the Dongsan Library, the Hengso Museum, and the Adams Chapel.
The first houses around 1.5 million books, and is the focal point for research activities of faculty members as well as students. The second, established in 1978, focuses its display on the historical and cultural heritage of the local region with a special focus on the ancient civilization of Kaya. The last was built to honor missionary Edward Adams, one of the school’s founders. It’s a beautiful building on its own, but the surrounding outdoor area is even better.
17. Live to be 100 by crossing the Okyeonji Pond at Songhae Park
Songhae Park is a personal favorite of mine, as it offers a much-needed countryside escape to those used to being in the busy city. It’s located not too far from one of Daegu’s most well-known temples, Yongyeonsa Temple. But as the park is in the mountains, you might need to drive, take a taxi or bus, after you ride the subway’s red line to the end.
The park is composed of a giant water wheel, a pathway that lights up at night, a gazebo, and a funny statue. If you happen to visit in spring, you’ll also get to see an array of colored flowers on both sides of the pathway. But the main attraction is undoubtedly the massive lake smacked right in the middle of the valley.
Okyeonji Pond offers one of the most striking views of Daegu. You can literally see the city in the distance between the slopes of two mountains. There’s a nice wooden bridge that leads to a pavilion in the middle. This bridge’s name is Baekse, meaning 100 years old, as it is believed you might live to 100 if you cross it. The view it offers of its surroundings is something that I just can’t put into words.
18. Travel back in time at Mabijeong Mural Village
Daegu Mabijeong Mural village offers a glimpse into life in Korea during the 60s-80s. Its name means “Pavillion where the horse flew”, according to the village’s own legend. It goes that a general that lived there picked his most cherished horse and told him he had to outrun an arrow or he would kill him. The general shot the arrow, and the horse ran and ran but collapsed before he could win the race. Needless to say how that turned out for the horse, but the villagers still named the community in its memory.
This is a really good place for taking pictures and there are usually activities you can partake in, like making artisanal candy or homemade tofu. You may also buy local produce sold in street stalls there.
The murals in the village were all done by painter Lee Jae-do over the summer of 2012. There are two large totem poles protecting the village, symbolizing prosperity and development. The impressive statues have been guarding the village for many years and signal the way into the parish.
19. Visit the peculiar Bullo-dong Tomb Park
Bullo-dong Tomb Park is home to more than 200 ancient burial mounds across a single valley. It’s very much like the Egyptian pyramid tradition. The higher the location on the hill and the bigger the mound, the higher the status of that person. They’re definitely worth the visit if you’re in Daegu, even if much less impressive than the huge tombs of Gyeongju.
It’s about a 30-minute bus ride from the center and better seen on a sunny day. Take a walk, have a picnic, and relax while enjoying the distant city views.
20. Shop at Sinsegae Department Store
If you’re heading out of Dongdaegu Station, the enormous Shinsegae Mall isn’t really something you can miss. There are eight floors of retail and an aquarium on the ninth. On the other upper floors, there are many kid-friendly facilities, including an outdoor playground, a movie theater, and kid rides.
The stores are all quite fancy, and there’s a number of luxury brands. The food court is quite a sight in itself, made out to resemble town streets. There are many great places to grab a bite but I highly recommend trying Crystal Jade’s Xiao Long Bao.
Other things to do in Daegu
Although the next few things aren’t exclusive to Daegu and can be done almost anywhere in South Korea, they’re still worth a mention.
Go to a jjimjilbang
Much like spas, jjimjilbangs are large bathhouses open 24 hours. They usually offer typical Korean kiln saunas, steam rooms, heated and cold pools, jacuzzis, showers, and massage tables. Some areas are segregated by sex and actually require you to be naked. But there are still plenty of fun unisex spaces in which you’re meant to be clothed. Speaking off, it’s customary to be given special clothes to wear in the communal areas.
Have some Korean BBQ
Experience the authentic Korean barbeque whilst visiting Korea. Try Samgyeopsal (삼겹살), is grilled pork belly, but if you’d rather munch on some marinated beef, Bulgogi (불고기) is a must. There are a few streets in Daegu only full of barbeque restaurants. Still, you’d find a good inexpensive restaurant pretty much anywhere there.
Sing in a noraebang
Found on just about every block, noraebangs are Korean-style karaoke rooms. These private singing rooms are popular among Koreans of all ages. In most places, you can rent a room by the hour (reservations not needed) for a pretty cheap price. There are also coin noraebangs, in which you pay per song or bundle of songs. While much of the selection is Korean, there are plenty of English songs, namely commercial pop and rock titles.
Visit a pet cafe
Amongst the most unique establishments you’ll find in Daegu, pet cafes definitely stand out. Enjoy a nice warm or cold beverage while getting some furry cuddles at The Cat-Dog Pet Cafe. There was once even a raccoon cafe, believe or not! Unfortunately, it has now closed permanently, so you’ll only be able to have that experience in Seoul or Busan.
Buy some Korean skincare
By now, you’ve probably heard of Korean cosmetics and how they’ve taken the beauty world by storm. Korean skincare products are obviously very coveted, but they’re actually sold for quite cheap on the mainland. If you’re a fan, you’ll be happy to find out that one of the main commercial streets in downtown Daegu sells Korean cosmetics pretty much exclusively.
Attend a festival
Koreans love an excuse for a festival, so naturally, one’s held every once in a while. Not all of them are amazingly unique experiences but some are definitely worth your time. Above we already hinted at a couple, like the Chicken-and-Beer Festival and the Lantern Festival. Two others you shouldn’t miss out on are the Biseulsan Azalea Festival and the Colorful Daegu Festival.