Perched by the lake, surrounded by three national parks and dotted with caves and temples, Danyang is considered North Chungcheong's top attraction.
The modern town of Danyang dates only to 1986, as most of the old city was submerged beneath the waters of the artificial Chungju Lake. Throughout town, you'll see statues, pictures and even lampposts of a guy with huge eyebrows, holding hands with a lady. This is Ondal, a jester in the imperial court, who managed to break through Korea's strict caste system to marry the princess Pyeonggang and become a respected general.
Danyang is on the eastern Jungang line from Seoul's Cheongnyangni station through Wonju to Andong. There are mugunghwa services every hour or two (3:15, W10000), and two saemaeul expresses daily (2:45, W14000). The train station is 3 km outside Danyang, but you can take a bus from the stop just outside the station (W1000) or a taxi (around W5000).
Danyang's clean and modern bus station, on the northern side of town, has hourly express services to Seoul's Express Bus Terminal (2:30, W14000) and intercity services to Dong-Seoul terminal (over 3 hours). Most buses from Seoul continue onward to Guinsa (30 minutes, W2600). There are also hourly services to Chungju (1:30, W6200) and Jecheon (1 hour), and a few departures daily to Busan and Daejeon.
In season, you can take a very scenic cruise across Chungju Lake to Chungju (2 hours, W18000). The ferry terminal is on the riverside, a few blocks south of the bus terminal.
Central Danyang can be covered on foot, but taxis are plentiful (starting fare W1500).
There are plenty of hiking opportunities around Danyang, especially in the nearby Sobaeksan and Woraksan National Parks. The easiest option, though, is to head to Mount Daesong (Daesongsan, 380m), located right behind the city and covered with easy, well-signposted (in Korean) hiking trails, the main one doing a loop around the base of the hill. There are several trailheads; to reach the most convenient one, walk up the hill from the bus terminal, then turn left after the police station. The "summit" is about 1 km away.
Pay a visit to the Danyang Market in the centre of town, where you will have the opportunity to see (and smell) more garlic than you have ever seen in your life.
The local speciality is Sobaeksan dongdongju, a fermented, milky, peach-colored rice wine sold in big white containers in shops and by the cupful at tourist sites. The look and smell are unappetizing but the taste, while unusual (think of an alcoholic Sprite mixed with milk), is refreshing when served cold.
The riverside strip along the bus and ferry terminals is pretty much all motels, all offering rooms for W30,000-W50,000.
The tourist information office is rather inconveniently located on the far side of the red bridge from the bus terminal. Some English spoken, and you can pick up a handy town map from here.