Winter in Korea: 9 Magical Experiences for Your Snowy Getaway

Winter in Korea: 9 Magical Experiences For a Snowy Getaway to Remember

Discover a cool winter scene in South Korea as ski festivals liven up the slopes.

Winter in Korea is nothing short of enchanting. From the cuddle-friendly cold weather to snow-covered mountains, the country transforms into an escape that’s as blissful as it is beautiful. Fresh powdery snow creates an inviting landscape to hit the slopes, whether you’re an experienced skier or learning the sport for the first time. Dazzling illuminations light up snow-dusted villages, while hot local dishes offer the perfect match to the chill.

winter in korea skiing

Image credit: Korea Tourism Organization – Kim Eundo

Tourists typically troop to the tropics during wintertime, but we say, a wintry vacation in South Korea can be just as dreamy. If you’re ready to see the Land of the Morning Calm in its best light, here are just some of the most magical experiences to look forward to during winter in Korea.  

Make the most out of your winter holiday in South Korea and score the best travel deals of the season. Learn to ski, explore famous Korean cities, or relax by the sea — your perfect winter getaway awaits!

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1. Delight in fun-filled ski festivals

ski festivals gangwon

Image credit: Korea Tourism Organization – Doit Company, Lee Hyeonyeop

Turning into a winter wonderland every year, the snowy mountains of Gangwon Province are not just ridiculously picturesque; they’re also home to the best ski resorts in South Korea. 

Widely considered the top ski resort in the country, Yongpyong Ski Resort is a must-visit for shredders spending winter in Korea. It even famously hosted the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. Thus, if you’re chasing alluring winter scenery or dreaming of upping your skills on the slopes, this should definitely be on your South Korea winter itinerary.

winter in korea sports

Image credit:Korea Tourism Organization – KTO Lee Beomsu

Not only does Yongpyong get the most snowfall in Korea, but it also puts together one of the most acclaimed ski festivals: Fun Ski Festival. Held every December to February, it lets travellers dabble in a variety of cold-weather activities. Skiing lessons are on top of our must-do list, of course. But there are also snowboarding classes to try, skiing competitions to watch, and even a smattering of performances to enjoy.

Another ski festival worth exploring is the Go-Go Ski Festival at High1 Ski Resort, which puts the spotlight on Korean culture through various ski and snow events, as well as performances showcasing local talent.

Not too keen on athletic pursuits? Many ski festival packages include sightseeing tours to key Korean attractions, like the Jumunjin Breakwater in Gangneung, where the iconic scene of Gong Yoo and Kim Go-Eun meeting for the first time in the popular Korean Drama, Goblin, was filmed. 

It’s the perfect balance between the ski-centric culture of the mountains and the cultural pull of the bustling city.  

2. Pick fresh strawberries and make your own jams

strawberries in korea

Image credit: @qhventures

Just because you’re in town for skiing doesn’t mean you can’t indulge in some other fun-filled activities as well. Between December and June is the ideal time for fruit-picking in South Korea, especially for strawberries. That’s why some ski festival tours also arrange strawberry picking activities as part of their itinerary! 

There are plenty of strawberry farms around the country, with some even located just a short distance away from Seoul. After picking sweet, juicy strawberries off the bush, you can choose to either savour them immediately, or turn them into your own personal jar of strawberry jam! 

Pro tip: Comfortable shoes are a must. And remember to layer well. Winter in Korea can be extremely cold, with temperatures dropping as low as -15°C on the chilliest days.

3. Explore art and nature in Gangwon Province

Skiing and snowboarding may take the spotlight when snowfall begins at Gangwon, but there are plenty more to see and do in the province during wintertime.

Moreover, the creative spirit of Gangwon is alive and thriving, with avant-garde exhibits and beautiful galleries throughout the province. Immerse yourself in the captivating digital experiences at Arte Museum Valley Gangneung, or head to the coast for a peek inside the colourful Haslla Art World. For a deeper look at history and culture, the Joseon-era Ojukheon House complex is also worth a visit.

Or, why not take a break from the mountains and spend a day at the beach? Even during winter in Korea, the fresh sea breeze and dazzling waters are captivating. Truly, a visit to Gangwon isn’t complete without a glimpse of Anmok Beach.

However, Anmok Beach isn’t just your typical coastal attraction. Apart from the soft sand on the shoreline, the deep blue ocean, and the gentle sea breeze, Anmok Beach is also famous for being the coffee capital of Gangwon Province! 

Gangneung Coffee Street, located alongside Anmok Beach, is lined with plenty of Instagrammable cafes that provide awesome views of the ocean, as well as deliciously-brewed coffee. Make a mental note to stop by popular establishments like Terarosa Coffee, Long Bread Brunch Cafe, Coffee Bada and more. If you’re visiting in October, don’t miss the yearly Coffee Festival either!  

If you’re eager to uncover the gems of the province, find a well-rounded tour that will take you from ski time to beach time, which allows you to maximise your Gangwon vacation.

4. Savour mouthwatering Korean food (and strawberries)

korean food winter in korea

Image credit: Korea Tourism Organization – Lee Beomsu

This one’s a no-brainer: Eating your way through Korea is practically a rite of passage for every traveller visiting the country. Besides, when the temperatures drop too low, there are few things more blissful than a steaming hot Korean meal.

Yes, Korean BBQ is always on the table. But there are many, many more local dishes to sample, too. Bibimbap and ginseng chicken soup are two beloved Korean dishes that are especially delicious in the chill of winter.

5. Splash around in an all-season water park

High1 Water World south korea

Image credit: High1 Resort Korea

We know that a day at the water park probably isn’t what you expect during winter in Korea. But trust us when we say High1 Water World is an exception! Famous for being the largest water park in Korea, this all-season indoor theme park is as fun in the wintertime as it is in the summer.

Let loose and warm up in between ski runs at High1 Water World, a tribute to aquatic adventures from all over the world. Exciting rides like Poseidon Blaster and Island Boomerango keep the thrills coming. Meanwhile, more laidback park-goers can make a beeline for the Turkish outdoor spa. The warm waters of the outdoor lazy river offer a blissful way to relax after skiing and frolicking in the snow.

6. Be mesmerised by shimmering winter illuminations

There’s no shortage of spectacular events when it’s winter in Korea. But few things shine more than the dazzling light festivals. Each year, quiet towns and sprawling gardens erupt to vibrant life with millions of colourful twinkle lights, giant holiday trees, and illuminated installations. With the world aglow and the softly falling snow, it almost feels like stepping into a fairy tale. 

Need a break from snow sports? Head to the Lighting Festival at The Garden of the Morning Calm for a breathtaking spectacle of lights, snow, and nature. As the sun sets, the Gapyeong garden lights up, as the shimmering LED bulbs covering the 330,000-square-metre park blazes to life. Take your time strolling through the garden; each corner reveals something new, from horse-drawn carriages to flowering plants in flamboyant hues.

garden of the morning calm illuminations

Image credit: Jocelyndurrey

Meanwhile, the Boseong Tea Plantation Light Festival stages a stunning light festival, with the renowned tea fields blanketed in endless fairy lights. Ever since the event launched in 2000, it has been a winter tradition for locals and tourists exploring southern Korea.

7. Try your hand at ice fishing

ice fishing pyeongchang trout festival

Image credit: jongtae kim

It may not look like the typical extreme sport, but ice fishing can be just as exciting as other winter activities. Serious fishermen come out to hunt for catches by frozen lakes when it’s winter in Korea. But even novices can take some pleasure in testing their luck and skill at ice fishing.

A fun way to get into ice fishing is showing up in one of the winter festivals dedicated to the sport. Pyeongchang Trout Festival is especially popular, with a variety of opportunities for ice and lure fishing for trout. It also stages the usual festival happenings like snow programs and folk performances. Here, you can catch your next meal, and then have it prepared into your dish of choice at nearby restaurants.

ice fishing winter in korea

Image credit: chulmin park

Meanwhile, Jarasum Singsing Winter Festival is another event known among trout fishing enthusiasts. In this Gapyeong event, attendees can savour their catches right away — and we mean ASAP as some fishermen even eat them raw! 

Fallen in love with ice fishing? Other winter festivals in Korea that shine a spotlight on the sport are Inje Icefish Festival and Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival.  

8. Marvel at the sacred Taebaeksan Mountain

winter in korea taebaeksan mountain

Image credit: Korea Tourism Organization – Park Byeong-gap

Walk on the trails of Taebaeksan Mountain, a range with several peaks that locals have long considered holy. Although magnificent all year round, the sacred mountain blooms in winter, when frozen trees with icy branches show off what locals call “snow flowers.” Tranquil and pristine, this snowy landscape is a dream to photograph.

If you time your visit right, you may even be there for a local favourite: Taebaeksan Mountain Snow Festival. Popular among attendees of all ages, it’s a fun-filled and family-friendly winter celebration. The festival involves spellbinding snow sculptures, musical performances, snow tunnels, and snow sledding — all set against the backdrop of the great white mountain.

9. See an island ablaze at the Jeju Fire Festival

jeju fire festival winter in korea

Image credit: Korea Tourism Organization – Jeong Sung-joo

It’s not every day that you celebrate the world on fire, but this happens every March for the Jeju Fire Festival, also called Jeongwol Daeboreum Field-Burning Festival. Linked to the local culture around horses and cattle, the event pays tribute to the old tradition of Jeju farmers setting fire to their fields to burn old grass and encourage the growth of fresh ones for grazing. 

As night descends, Jeju Fire Festival ignites and sets off one of the most vibrant events in South Korea. It almost feels as if the entire island is up in flames, with fire shows, bonfires, torches, and fireworks around the Saebyeol Oreum Volcanic Cone. If it’s a one-of-a-kind winter in Korea you’re seeking, this blazing festival is not to be missed.

Whether you want to hit the slopes or itching to explore the snowy landscape of Gangwon, winter in Korea won’t disappoint. Which of these magical experiences will you be indulging in this season? 

It’s never too late to plan a winter getaway, especially in beautiful South Korea. Whether you’re off to Seoul, Gangwon Province, Jeju, or anywhere in the country, get the best travel deals here. From sea to summit, winter in Korea never disappoints.

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Brought to you by the Korea Tourism Organization.

About Author

Celia Grace Nachura
Celia Grace Nachura

There are very few things Celia won’t do for a good story, but her favourite ones always involve the beach, animals, or any type of outdoor activity. She’s been writing for as long as she can remember, and can usually be found typing away at home with her cute dogs at her feet. Away from work, she spends most of her time trying out every hobby she can get her hands on, from running to crocheting to baking (she’s pretty okay at most things that don't involve cooking).