Waves crashing over rocks at Gangneung


Gangneung, the largest city on Korea’s east coast, boasts an enviable location, hemmed in by lofty mountains and the big blue sea – you could quite easily go surfing and mountain climbing on the same day, or perhaps even the same afternoon.

Things are on the up and up in Gangneung, a mellow city fringed with popular beaches, yet also the chilled-out hub of the 2018 Winter Olympics, plus often a K-pop video filming location – and, as such, now firmly in the international spotlight.

With more and more visitors arriving each year, it’s a good job there’s plenty to do in and around the city. Several of Korea’s best ski resorts are located a short drive away in the mountains that rise immediately west of Gangneung, while the adjacent peaks and hiking trails of Odaesan National Park offer natural pleasures year-round.

On the other side of the city, a string of beaches clamor for your attention, each with their own unique appeal to add to the obvious delights of sand and sea. Jumunjin beach ropes in those keen to mimic their K-pop or movie heroes at various shooting locations; Anmok beach is presided over by a surprising number of high-quality, sea-view cafés; while Gyeongpo beach is the busiest stretch, and has numerous restaurants specializing in an unusual type of tofu made with sea water (it’s really good, we promise!). Further south, Jeongdongjin boasts the one thing all good beaches should have – a giant, ship-shaped hotel stuck on a cliff – and has for decades been Korea’s favorite place to see in the New Year, together with its first sunrise.

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