The best things to do in Gyeongju are primarily historical and archaeological sites that shed light on the city’s rich heritage. Known as the ‘Museum without Walls’, this Korean city was the former capital of the Silla Kingdom, which ruled Korea from the 7th to the 9th centuries. Remnants of that period attract those with an interest in history. Gyeongju is also the right place to visit if you’re fond of natural scenery.

    Make sure you plan your holiday in advance and take note of all the spots you want to visit in Gyeongju – there are many options, and you may not be able to cover all the historic sites if you’re on a short trip. In order to make things easier, we’ve compiled a list of places Gyeongju is most famous for.

    What are the best things to do in Gyeongju?


    Wolji Pond

    • History

    Wolji Pond is part of Donggung Palace, a Silla-era complex built during King Munmu’s reign in 674 CE. The artificial pond is surrounded by landscaped gardens and reconstructed pavilions that were used for banquets and royal events. 

    Visit the exhibition hall to see around 700 artefacts excavated from areas surrounding Wolji Pond – notable relics range from pottery and bronze figures of Buddha, to jewellery and accessories dating back to the Silla period. Tickets to Donggung Palace and Wolji Pond cost around 2,000 won for adults, 1,200 won for teens (18–13 years old), and 600 won for children (7–12 years old).

    Location: 102, Wonhwa-ro, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do, Gyeongju, South Korea

    Open: Daily from 9 am to 10 pm


    Bulguksa Temple

    • History

    Bulguksa Temple is located on the slopes of Mount Toham, about 15 km southeast of Gyeongju. Also known as the ‘Temple of the Buddha Land’, the UNESCO World Heritage Site dates back to 528 during the Silla Kingdom. 

    The historic pagodas and foundations are the only original structures in Bulguksa Temple, while the rest of the temple are reconstructions. Among the many historical sites you can visit include Seokguram Grotto, the Golden Seated Vairocana Buddhist Figure, and Dabotap Pagoda.

    Location: 385, Bulguk-ro, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do, Gyeongju, South Korea

    Open: February: daily from 7.30 am to 5.30 pm. March–September: daily from 7 am to 6 pm. October: daily from 7 am to 5.30 pm. November: daily from 7 am to 5 pm. December–January: daily from 7.30 am to 5 pm


    Cheomseongdae Observatory

    • History

    Cheomseongdae Observatory is one of the oldest astronomical observatories in Asia. It dates back to 7th century, during the reign of Queen Seon-deok. The 9.17-metre-high observatory was mainly used to forecast weather.  Its square-shaped stylobate consists of 362 stones stacked on top of each other – the stones represent 362 days in a lunar year. 

    For those interested in astronomy, Cheomseongdae Observatory is a must-see. Visit at night to see the observatory beautifully illuminated with artificial lights.

    Location: 140-25, Cheomseong-ro, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do, Gyeongju, South Korea

    Open: Daily from 9 am to 9.30 pm


    Gyeongju Historic Area

    • History

    The Gyeongju Historic Area represents the culture and history of the ancient capital of the Silla Kingdom. This UNESCO World Heritage has 5 sections, where you can explore palace ruins, pavilions, and fortresses among lush hills. 

    Namsan has over 40 Buddhist relics and pagodas, while Wolseong is where you can visit the crescent-shaped Banwolseong Fortress, Wolji Pond and Donggung Palace. Hwangnyongsa is the former site of Hwangnyongsa Temple and Bunhwangsa Stone Pagoda. 

    Location: 757, Taejong-ro, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do, Gyeongju, South Korea


    Gyeongju National Park

    • Couples
    • Families

    Gyeongju National Park has a number of cultural preserves that date back to the Silla Dynasty. Located near Gyeongju city, it’s known as Korea’s only historical national park. 

    The park covers a total area of 137 sq km, and houses important historical sites from the Silla period. There are hiking trails leading to Mount Namsan – depending on the trail, you might pass by Mangwolsa Temple and Samneung Royal Tomb before reaching the summit.  

    Location: Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do, Gyeongju, South Korea


    Poseokjeongji Pavilion

    • History

    Poseokjeongji Pavilion, located on a rock next to a stream in Gyeongsanbuk-do, was the royal villa of the Silla dynasty. While the royal villa does not exist anymore, a stone waterway in the shape of a shell still remains. 

    The pavilion is believed to have been built with 63 different kinds of rocks. This is the place where Silla kings would come with their nobles and officials for recreation. Admission to Poseokjeongji Pavilion costs around 1,000 won for adults, 600 won for teens (18–13 years old), and 400 won for children (7–12 years old).

    Location: 816, Namsansunhwan-ro, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do, Gyeongju, South Korea

    Open: Daily from 9 am to 6 pm


    photo by Steve46814 (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified


    Seokguram Grotto

    • History

    Seokguram Grotto is a stone temple on Mount Toham. The UNESCO World Heritage Site dates back to 751, under the reign of King Gyeong-Deok. The round-shaped hall houses a 3.5-metre-tall Bonjon statue, which represents a smiling Buddha seated on a lotus-engraved stage.

    Seokguram Grotto was built together with the Bulguska Temple, which is located on the slopes of the mountain. The spot where the temple is situated offers a beautiful sunrise view that is quite unique and breathtaking. Admission to Seokguram Grotto costs around 5,000 won for adults, 3,500 won for teens (18–13 years old), and 2,500 won for children (7–12 years old).

    Location: 873-243, Bulguk-ro, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do, Gyeongju, South Korea


    Bomun Lake Resort

    • Couples
    • Families

    Bomun Lake Resort (also called Bomun Tourist Complex) lets you experience the rich Korean culture and enjoy a number of events. Located about 10km east of downtown Gyeongju, the complex has a golf resort, shopping mall, art gallery, and a folk village, all of which are built in traditional Korean architecture.

    The outdoor theatre overlooks Lake Bomunho, and hosts plays, traditional dance and music concerts year-round. From April to January, you can enjoy free gugak (traditional Korean music) performances at Bomun Lake Resort's theatre.

    Location: Sinpyeong-dong, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do, Gyeongju, South Korea

    Phone: +82-54-745-7601


    photo by myllissa (CC BY 2.0) modified


    Experience temple life

    • History

    Experiencing the temple life is a must-do if you're the type who likes to understand different cultures and traditions. You can choose a number of temple stay programs that are suitable for foreign visitors. Morning rituals, meditation sessions, community tasks, tea etiquette, and training in martial arts are a part of most temple stay programs in Gyeongju. 

    Golgulsa Temple is where members of the royal guard, Hwarang, would gather to train during the Shilla period. The cave temple is also the centre of Seonmudo, an early Buddhist training method that uses meditation to attain self-realisation. 

    Location: 101-5, Girim-ro, Yangbuk-myeon, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do, Gyeongju, South Korea

    Phone: +82-54-744-1689


    photo by Jirka Matousek (CC BY 2.0) modified


    Go cycling

    • Couples
    • Families

    Cycling is a fun activity that nearly everyone can enjoy at Gyeongju. Bicycles are very easily available within the city centre. It’s an affordable way of touring the city, but make sure you’re dressed comfortably and carrying plenty of water. 

    There are a number of bike tours taking you to various spots – most start from downtown Gyeongju to must-visit places such as the Seokbinggo ice storage area, Gyeongju National Museum, Cheongseongdae Observatory, and Bunhwangsa Temple. 

    photo by Chelsea Marie Hicks (CC BY 2.0) modified


    Namsan Mountain

    • Couples
    • Families

    Namsan Mountain attracts outdoor enthusiast with scenic hiking trails that lead to historical sites in Gyeongju. The mountain is almost 500 metres tall, and was regarded as a sacred place during the Silla period. Hundreds of Buddha sculptures, temples and pagodas dot the mountainside, so plan ahead to make the most out of your visit. 

    For safety reasons, it is advisable to start your hike in the morning and bring plenty of water and snacks. Depending on how many stops you make, it may take about 5 hours of sightseeing on Namsan Mountain.

    Location: Namsan-dong, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do, Gyeongju, South Korea


    photo by theaucitron (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified


    Gyeongju Country Club

    • Couples
    • Families

    Gyeongju Country Club attracts those looking to enjoy some quiet and relaxing time playing golf. The club is located within the Bomun International Tourist District, and offers a superb view of Bomun Lake. 

    This lighted golf course allows you to enjoy the game as early as daybreak. There’s also an onsite restaurant and lounge so that you can spend a day enjoying the natural scenery and playing golf in Gyeongju.

    Location: 182-98, Bomun-ro, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do, Gyeongju, South Korea

    Open: Daily from 4.30 am to 6 pm

    Phone: +82-54-745-2228


    Dosol Maeul

    Dosol Maeul is one of the very few unassuming yet popular restaurants in Gyeongju. This Korean restaurant operates from a traditional hanok-style home. Its cosy ambience makes you feel as though you’re living in the olden days of Korea. 

    If you visit the restaurant during summer, you can even choose to dine outdoors. Dosol Maeul has an English menu, making it a popular spot for tourists looking to enjoy authentic local dishes. A set meal for 2 people costs around 10,000 won – it comes with 2 mains, seaweed soup, seasonal side dishes, and kimchi pancake. 

    Location: 71-2 Hwangnam-dong, Gyeongju, Gyeongsangbuk-do, South Korea

    Open: Wednesday–Sunday from 11 am to 9 pm (closed on Mondays and Tuesdays)

    Phone: +82-54-748-9232

    Penny Wong | Compulsive Traveller

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    Attractions and experiences recommended in our guides may be affected. Please check local guidance before you travel.

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