Guides + Tips Winter in Korea

13 Top Places to Visit in Korea During Winter

Many people tend to associate winter in Korea with bleak, gloomy gray skies and runny noses, but there is a delightful side to Korea’s longest season that often goes overlooked. Numerous destinations boast breathtaking wintry scenery, especially outside of Seoul, where you can escape the unpleasant effects of seasonally contaminated air. So, instead of hibernating until the flowers start to bloom, why not explore my selection of the 12 best places to visit? Bundle up in your long Michelin man coat and embrace the frostiest time of Korea with an adventurous spirit!

Writer’s Note: The timing suggested in this post represents the peak period to visit each destination, ensuring you witness them at their most enchanting winter scenes. It highlights the ideal time to experience the mesmerizing ice formations or revel in the most beautiful snow cover each location has to offer.

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    1. Cafe Stone Creek & Pandae Ice Park

    Hangul: 스톤크릭 | 원주 판대 아이스파크
    Best Time to Visit: Late Dec ~ Late Jan
    Naver Map: Link

    Since its opening in early 2022, Cafe Stone Creek has quickly earned its place as one of the top-recommended cafes in Wonju. Situated on spacious grounds just in front of Pandae Ice Park, an ice climbing site organized by the Wonju Mountaineering Society, this café offers the most spectacular view of the ice wall. The location is conveniently reachable with just an hour and a half drive from Seoul. Interestingly, Wonju is one of the best destinations for a day trip from Korea’s bustling capital, offering a plethora of attractions to explore beyond this delightful cafe and ice park.

    2. Sanjeong Lake

    Hangul: 산정호수
    Best Time to Visit: Late Dec ~ Early Feb
    Naver Map: Link

    It would be remiss of me not to include this gem on the list! Nestled in Gyeonggi Province, Sanjeong Lake is a prominent recreational area that transforms into a mesmerizing spectacle every December. As winter sets in, the once serene lake transforms into a vast ice rink, gracefully glimmering amidst the snowy mountain backdrop.

    Beyond the captivating view, the local villagers host an annual and endearing festival known as Sanjeong-hosu-seolmae-chukjae (산정호수썰매축제) or Sanjeong Lake Sledding Festival. This delightful winter celebration is unlike any other! Picture a farm tractor pulling a line of nine duck figurines, each attached to a wooden toboggan board, gracefully gliding across the frozen lake’s surface. It’s a heartwarming sight you won’t easily find at any other winter destination in Korea.

    3. Jiktang Waterfalls

    Hangul: 직탕폭포
    Best Time to Visit: Late Dec ~ Late Jan
    Naver Map: Link

    Fondly known as the ‘Korean Niagara Falls,’ Jiktang Waterfalls is a mesmerizing gem nestled along the Hantan River in Cheorwon-gun, a distinct county in Gangwon-do. Winter unveils the true magic of this place, making it an ideal time to explore the river areas, especially the enchanting Jiktang Falls.

    Here, amidst the serene landscape, you’ll encounter a rare sight—a dark, fine-grained volcanic rock standing proudly by the river bank, tucked under a soft white blanket of powdery snow. However, the true highlight lies in witnessing the frozen waterfalls, an awe-inspiring spectacle that should not be missed.

    4. Muju Deogyusan

    Hangul: 무주 덕유산
    Best Time to Visit: Mid Jan ~ Early Feb
    Naver Map: Link

    Deogyusan, also known as Deogyu Mountain, sprawls across various counties in the southwest region of Korea, including Muju. For those who aren’t avid hikers, the most convenient way to reach the peaks of Deogyusan is by heading to Muju Ski Resort and catching a ride on the resort’s gondola cable car. From mid-January to early February, the mountain is graced with daily snowfall, creating a winter wonderland that will captivate any snow enthusiast.

    Landscape photography enthusiasts will find themselves in awe of the breathtaking scenery: endless forests adorned with shrubs draped in a pristine white coat of powdery snow. If this sounds enticing to you, don’t resist the temptation! Pack your gear, let your adventurous spirit lead the way, and venture to Muju-gun for an unforgettable winter season in Korea!

    5. Cheongsong Eoreumgol

    Hangul: 청송 얼음골
    Best Time to Visit: Late Dec ~ Mid Jan
    Naver Map: Link

    The term ‘Eoreumgo (얼음골)l,’ translating to ‘ice valley’ in Korean, has now become familiar to foreign ears, with images of the stunning Cheongsong Ice Valley gracing Korea travel pages in recent years. I take pride in my post being among the very first full English reviews that helped showcase the valley’s exquisite beauty. Despite the need for a lengthy road trip to reach Cheongsong County, a remote area in North Gyeongsang Province, I am unwavering in my belief that this place is an absolute must-visit during winter. Amidst numerous ups and downs along a winding mountain road, the ultimate reward awaits—an awe-inspiring scene of an icy landscape like no other!

    6. Nijimori Studio

    Hangul: 니지모리스튜디오
    Best Time to Visit: Late Dec ~ Mid Feb
    Naver Map: Link

    Nestled at the foothills of Chilbong Mountain in Dongducheon city, just an hour away from Seoul, lies the enchanting Japanese themed village known as Nijimori Studio. I understand that when planning a trip to Korea, Japanese culture might not be the first thing on your mind. If your time is limited, feel free to skip over and explore other spots on the list. However, for long-term residents seeking a unique and exotic experience without sacrificing their holidays, this picturesque village is an absolute treat!

    In my opinion, winter is the best time to visit this charming village. Marvel at the sight of a frozen pond at the heart of the village, savor the aroma of freshly burnt charcoal, and indulge in the warmth of slurping hot ramen broth. There’s so much to see and do on the grounds of Nijimori Studio, making it an unforgettable destination for those seeking a one-of-a-kind experience.

    7. Yongdae Maebawi Ice Wall

    Hangul: 용대매바위인공폭포
    Best Time to Visit: Early Jan ~ Early Feb
    Naver Map: Link

    In Inje-gun, a well-known county for its recommended winter getaways in Gangwon province, the remarkable Yongdae Maebawi Ice Wall rightfully earns its place on this list. During warmer days, Yongdae Maebawi stands tall as a jaw-dropping 100-meter waterfall near the Yongdae three-way intersection. However, from late December to early February, as the earnest winter settles over Inje, this cascading wonder transforms into a breathtaking wall of ice.

    One significant advantage of visiting the frozen Maebawi Waterfall is the opportunity to have the entire area to yourself, as it remains relatively undiscovered on social media. If your winter excursion leads you to Inje or the vicinity of Seoraksan National Park, a brief stop at this spot is an absolute must!

    8. Ugeum Resevior & Cafe PERR

    Hangul: 우금저수지 | 카페퍼르
    Best Time to Visit: January
    Naver Map: Link

    In the same city where the delightful duck train rides on ice every winter, Ugeum Reservoir offers yet another picturesque destination worth visiting. If you’re seeking a mesmerizing view of a vast body of water transforming into a solid piece of ice, this spot is perfect for you. Nestled between the reservoir’s bank and a four-lane roadway, you’ll find the charming three-storey Cafe PERR.

    Each level of the cafe provides a stunning perspective of the water, with the majestic Wangbang Mountain serving as a breathtaking backdrop. As the temperature drops below zero during the colder months, the water gradually freezes into a serene stillness, transforming the view from the cafe into a scene straight out of the enchanting world of Frozen!

    9. Magok Recreational Area

    Hangul: 마곡유원지
    Best Time to Visit: Late Dec ~ Late Jan
    Naver Map: Link

    Nestled along the Hongcheon River bank, Magok Recreational Area is a delightful addition to your itinerary when planning a visit to Vivaldi Ski Area in Hongcheon City, Korea. Treasured by Korean campers, this spot is renowned for offering an exceptional kayaking experience in Gangwon-do, thanks to the crystal-clear and adequately deep waters of the river.

    In winter, the river’s surface transforms into a serene icy sheet, lying dormant beneath the blanket of powdery snow. This picturesque landscape turns the area into an enchanting winter wonderland, captivating visitors with its vast and magical allure.

    10. Inje/Wondaeri Birch Forest

    Hangul: 인제자작나무숲
    Best Time to Visit: January
    Naver Map: Link

    Inje Birch Forest always tops the list of must-visits in Korea, especially during the winter season, and for good reason. This enchanting woodland, located in the charming town of Wondaeri, Gangwon Province, comes alive with over 700,000 birch trees cloaked in a glistening layer of snow. It’s a dreamy scene that photographers and nature lovers can’t resist. The slender birch trunks stand tall, creating a striking contrast against the snowy landscape, making every shot look like a masterpiece. Exploring the forest’s trails leads to hidden gems, like the charming tipi made of birch trunks. From late December to February, the forest transforms into a magical winter wonderland, inviting you to capture unforgettable moments amidst its serene beauty~

    11. Ice Wall at Eobi Valley

    Hangul: 어비계곡
    Best Time to Visit: Early Jan ~ Early Feb
    Naver Map: Link

    Eobi Valley in Gapyeong County has a major advantage – it’s super close to Seoul! Unlike other destinations on this list, you don’t have to travel for hours to reach its iconic ice structure formed during winter. In just about an hour’s drive, you can escape the bustling city and find yourself surrounded by an icy masterpiece. The frosty formations and glistening ice crystals create a scene straight out of a fairy tale. With the stunning ice mountain in the background, it feels like stepping into a magical winter wonderland. You’ll want to capture every moment of this incredible experience and take home memories that will warm your heart even on the coldest days!

    12. Daegwallyeong Snow Festival 

    Hangul: 대관령 눈꽃축제
    Best Time to Visit: January, 20~29
    Naver Map: Link

    Every January, Daegwallyeong in Pyeongchang—known for hosting the 2018 Winter Olympics—transforms into a winter wonderland for the Daegwallyeong Snow Festival. Since its inaugural celebration in 1993, this festival has been a trailblazer among snow festivals. With its scenic snowy hills and a wide array of engaging activities, the festival has a unique charm that can ignite the childlike wonder in all of us. If you’re in search of a winter adventure in Korea filled with pristine white landscapes, there’s no better event to add to your itinerary than the Daegwallyeong Snow Festival.

    13. Anifore Yongpyong Resort

    Hangul: 애니포레
    Best Time to Visit: January
    Naver Map: Link

    Anifore is a relatively new recreational space established in Yongpyong Ski Resort in Gangwon-do, which transforms into a dreamy wonderland during the colder months. With snow-covered European spruce trees and cute alpacas chilling at Balwangsan Alpaca Ranch, it’s indeed a photographer’s paradise! Grab your camera and get ready to capture stunning winter scenes at every turn. Whether it’s the charming yellow hut or the peaceful forest paths, Anifore offers endless picture-perfect moments!

    Congratulations! You’ve reached the end of my comprehensive list featuring the most captivating winter spots in Korea, perfect for capturing breathtaking wintry photos. With each passing year, the list keeps growing as there’s always more to discover, and I eagerly await my next Korea winter adventure.

    I sincerely hope you relish exploring the destinations on this list, and I want to extend my heartfelt gratitude for visiting and reading my post! Happy travels and may your winter in Korea be filled with unforgettable memories!

    Map of Places Mentioned in This Post

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