Yeosu is located in the center of Dadohaehaesang National Park, a section of the southern sea dotted with islands large and small. As such, Yeosu is the perfect travel destination to enjoy both land and sea. Many of the islands are connected to the mainland via bridges, allowing visitors to drive or ride buses to reach them; some islands can even be walked to. If you’re looking for a more exciting way to take in the sights, hop aboard the maritime cable car! Following our helpful guide, you’ll be able to take in the attractions and shopping available in Yeosu on a two-day itinerary!
The first stop on our trip to Yeosu is Dolsando Island! The island is famous for Hyangiram Hermitage, one of the best sunrise spots in the nation. The hermitage is located on the far tip of the island and has a name meaning “looking at the sun.” It is especially popular to visit on New Year’s Day to take in the first sunrise. Many Buddhists visit throughout the year to pray, as it is considered one of the most sacred sites in the southern region.
There are two paths to reach the temple, both taking around 15 minutes to walk. You can take the easier route, following a walking path up the hillside, or you can take the hard road and walk straight up the staircase. Don’t forget to check out the uniquely formed rocks and cliffs on the way. You’ll have to pass through Haetalmun Gate, a narrow opening between two rock walls. Get your camera ready for a photo; you don’t want to hold up traffic in this single-file passage!
The next attraction to visit in Yeosu is Odongdo Island, an island known for its flowers! The island is resplendent with 194 rare plant species, including camellia flowers. These red flowers bloom from February to April, turning the island into a floating bouquet. Pleasant walking trails crisscross the island, offering views of the blue sea, the forest, and Odongdo Lighthouse at the peak.
Near the lighthouse, you’ll find an exhibition of Korean words and sayings, perfect for photo backdrops. The most popular photo spot is with the sign saying “I’ll love only you, forever.” If you want more than just photos to commemorate your trip, stop by “House of Gifts” to purchase a souvenir. A variety of camellia-related products are available, from oil to tea, soap, candy, tote bags, cosmetics, and more.
By this point, you must be hungry. The first food to cross off your Yeosu bucket list is gejang baekban (set menu with marinated crab). This dish comes in a choice of spicy marinated crab or salty soy marinated crab. Both styles have a hint of sweetness from the crab meat. While marinated crab can be found almost anywhere in Korea, Yeosu is the only place that uses dolge (stone crab) in their dish. Because this dish is a specialty of the city, you can easily find restaurants serving it; simply look for a gejang baekban sign and you’re in for a treat!
Yeosu Maritime Cable Car is special. It was the first over-water cable car in Korea, and stretches a distance of 1.5 kilometers between Dolsan and Jasan Parks. The cable car can be boarded from either location, and one-way or round-trip tickets can be purchased. The final choice you’ll have to make before boarding is which type of cabin you’d like to ride in! The general cabin offers windows on all four sides for a panoramic view, while the crystal cabin has the addition of a transparent floor! If you have a fear of heights, this attraction probably isn’t for you. Because ride times are not assigned with tickets, be sure to explore the surrounding park grounds before boarding. If you’re lucky, you can time your ride just right so you can take in the sunset or the awakening nightscape.
Yeosu Kkotppang, or flower bread, is a specialty product of Yeosu. The bread is made with camellia petals, flour, and various other ingredients with camellia in them like jams and vinegar. The breads taste as good as they look, but that’s not what has made them so special. The bakery is famous for hiring older residents, providing them with a source of income and a new lease on life.
The last stop for the day is Yeosu Romantic Food Tent Street, the city’s newest hot place. This dining experience can be found at Jongpo Coastal Park, a 2 kilometer-stretch between Yi Sun-sin Plaza and Hamel-dong Neighborhood. When the sun sets, the food tents light up and tasty smells waft through the air. Most dishes feature seafood, and prices range from 3,000 won to 30,000 won. Buskers frequently perform in the area, providing entertainment with your meal.
Yeosu Specialty Seafood Market, located just down the coast from Yi Sun-sin Plaza, is considered one of the best. The seafood is super fresh and super cheap! Shops selling all kinds of fresh seafood from fish to octopus, sea squirts, and crabs are located on the first floor, while the second level of the market is filled with restaurants waiting to serve. Pick the seafood you want to eat and you can have it delivered to a restaurant on the second floor to prepare it for you! Enjoy your meal as you take in the view of the sea, Yeosu Maritime Cable Car, and Dolsandaegyo Bridge.
If you want to bring some seafood home, visit the shops selling dried goods, including anchovies, laver, and more. Another food you have to try in Yeosu is Dolsan gat kimchi (Dolsan leaf mustard kimchi). This kimchi has a strong scent but a lower spice level than other types of kimchi.
Goso-dong Mural Village, like many other mural villages throughout Korea, was created by the residents. The colorful and unique designs fill a 1,004 meter-long alley. Each of the paintings has a different feeling, suited to each individual artist. While enjoying the art, visitors are reminded to be respectful, not making too much noise or damaging the artwork in any way.
The trendiest place in Yeosu according to social media is Café Nangman! This rooftop café is located in the middle of Goso-dong Mural Village. The unobstructed views include the sea and many of Yeosu’s main attractions. The café’s signature menus are Einspänner and various fruit ades.
The central shopping district of Yeosu is none other than Jinnam Shopping District! In the past, this is where Admiral Yi Sun-sin led his fleet into naval battles. The city celebrates this history through photo spots along Hero Street. Popular photo locations include cute character statues of Admiral Yi and the ‘m the Hero sign; stand next to it to complete the text, making you the hero! Various events such as fashion shows and art markets take place throughout the year. You’ll never know what you’ll find here!
If you want to enjoy tourism and shopping at the same time, head to Ggumdderak Mall! All of the shops here are run by young entrepreneurs, filling the mall with an active energy. Take a break with aromatic coffee and dessert at one of the cafés, enjoy international cuisine at one of the restaurants, take souvenir photos with your travel partner at a studio, or simply browse the many shops.
If you’re looking for gifts to take home, look for something with a camellia, a symbol of Odongdo Island specifically and Yeosu as a whole. Popular products include magnets, postcards, and pouches, all designed with these vibrant red flowers. Candles, diffusers, and dried flower arrangements make for more romantic gifts.
* This column was last updated in May 2019, and therefore information may differ from what is presented here. We advise you to check details before visiting.