While Seoul and Busan tend to top the travel itineraries of travelers visiting South Korea, the city of Daegu is also chock-full of interesting attractions. From traditional markets and spacious green spaces to 1000-year-old Buddhist sites and modern cafés, here are the top ten things to do in the country’s fourth largest city.
Stop and smell the coffee beans
Many people are often surprised to learn that Daegu boasts the greatest number of coffee shops per capita in all of Korea. Coffee is so popular, in fact, that there’s an entire street dedicated to the caffeinated beverage. Punctuated by Daegu’s top independent cafés, Dongseongro café alley boasts a unique atmosphere and lures in passersby with the aroma of roasting coffee.
Find your zen
Visitors to Daegu seeking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life can experience a bit of rest and relaxation through a Templestay program at one of the city’s numerous mountain temples. These overnight programs provide insight into monastic life and include a variety of activities such as tea ceremonies, morning and evening chant services, seon (zen) meditation, and balwoo gongyang, monastic formal meals where vegetarian dishes are consumed in total silence.
Daegu is a city where nature and urban life collide. Whether you’re a jogger looking for a scenic spot to go for a morning run, a photographer trying to capture the beauty of spring, or you simply need to soak up some sun, the green spaces of Daegu offer something for everyone. Apsan Park, for example, is decorated with well-paved mountain trails, while Suseong Lake is without a doubt the best spot in the city to catch the sunset.
Eat your way through the city
From spicy steamed ribs to chewy hand-cut noodles, there are all sorts of simple but delicious Daegu specialties that are guaranteed to please just about every palate. And there’s no better place to sample them than at one of the city’s traditional markets, like Anjirang Gopchang Street, where you can try grilled pork intestines, or Seomun Market, which serves up a variety of treats at an affordable price.
Walk through history
Jung-gu’s cluster of ‘Modern History Streets’ has transformed into one of Daegu’s most popular cultural attractions in recent years. There are five different routes to follow and Course 2, Modern Culture Alley, is perhaps the most interesting, covering roughly a century of local history. Explore attractions such as the House of Missionary Chamness, Daegu’s first Western-style building, Gyesan Catholic Church, and the Daegu Yangnyeongsi Museum of Oriental Medicine.
Go for a hike
Hiking is a favorite pastime of Koreans, and Daegu’s Palgongsan Mountain is a great place to partake in the activity. Take the cable car up to the mountain peak and enjoy the spectacular mountain views along the way. Upon arriving, wander at the city of Daegu sprawled out below you. Then hit one of the many hiking trails and enjoy a bit of forest bathing along the way.
Shop til you drop
Dongseongno Street gets its name from the path that once traced Daegu’s eastern fortress wall. As the road was constructed, many shops started popping up along the road. Today, the area clearly illustrates the transformation of the city. Often compared to Myeongdong in Seoul, Dongseongno Street is the most popular shopping district in the downtown area, offering everything from luxury items to fast fashion to Korean beauty products.
Daegu is home to some of South Korea’s best (not to mention most unique) festivals. The annual Daegu International Bodypainting Festival (DIBF), for example, brings artists from all corners of the globe together to show off their talents. The event culminates in a body painting competition, where nearly nude models are transformed into incredible works of art in just a few hours. The Daegu Chicken & Beer Festival, meanwhile, showcases 100 participating vendors that serve up the increasingly popular Korean gastronomic trend of maekju, fried chicken and beer.
Experience the quirky side of Korea
Daegu most certainly has a quirky side that can be experienced through its charmingly unique attractions. For instance, King Sejong’s umbilical cord shrine houses the placentas and umbilical cords of his children (this was believed to bring good fortune to the royal progeny). Other quirky destinations include a gallery dedicated to velvet, a sci-fi themed restaurant and a Harry Potter café.
Heal your body and mind
At Yangnyeong Market, Korea’s oldest oriental medicine market, visitors can browse shops that offer countless herbs and traditional treatments that are believed to cure everything from chronic diseases to hair loss. Furthermore, the nearby Daegu Yangnyeongsi Museum of Oriental Medicine boasts a number of exhibitions that illustrate the history of Korea’s oriental medicine industry.