Beautiful eastern-facing beaches and spectacular inland mountains make this a popular tourist destination and a site for upcoming Olympic events.
Natural beauty is the largest draw to Gangneung. At Gyeongpo, Jeongdongjin, and 20 other beaches you can greet the sunrise over the East Sea (especially popular on January 1), watch naval and commercial traffic glide by all year long, and rest on the white sands or swim in the ocean during warm summers. Temperatures will rise to the high 70s degrees Fahrenheit (high 20s degrees Celcius)
Gangneung is also far enough north to see cold winters. Several venues are preparing to host hockey, curling, figure skating, and speed skating events during the 2018 Olympics. Nearby Seoraksan National Park offers yearlong hiking including challenging ice-climbing in its waterfalls. Alpensia Ski Resort, 12 miles (20 kilometers) west of the city, offers winter ski and snowboard fun and turns into a wildflower garden in the summer.
In addition to its natural beauty, the city has also been influenced by modern technology and culture. Near Jeongdongjin Beach is Hourglass Park, sponsored in part by Samsung Electronics. The sand in its giant timepiece takes a full year to fall to the bottom; then it is tipped over to start the new year on January 1. Overlooking Jeongdongjin Beach is a large hotel in the shape of a cruise ship, looking as if it were lifted there by a typhoon. Gangneung is also home to over 200 coffee shops, relatively new, but very popular city locations. Many are developing in-house grinding to appeal to coffee aficionados and the city now hosts an annual coffee festival in October. There is a youth art festival each August which is followed by a rock festival on the beach.
In May each year, the city celebrates the Danoje Festival with colorful ethnic dress, traditional food, Korean wrestling demonstrations, local handicrafts, and theatrical performances. Some interpretation services are available and visitors may participate in several of the events. The festival is identified by UNESCO as a masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
Gangneung is 30 minutes from Sokcho by bus or taxi and less than three hours by bus from Seoul.