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Beating the Heat

Celebrating two-year anniversary, crisp 'n clean air, seoul summer "hot spots", ttukseom summer escape.

How to Enjoy Summer at the Hangang River

Discovering Huam-dong

Seoul's Best-kept Hillside Secret

Gen Z Solo Exploration through Seoul with GISELLE from aespa (Featuring Z-LINE)

Exploring Seoul around Namsan, perfect for solo travel

Recommended Attractions in Seoul Right Now

Ttukseom windsurfing park.

Enjoy fun in a spacious outdoor area

SEOUL MY SOUL / STO 서울관광재단 SEOUL TOURISM ORGANIZATION/ To celebrate the launch of the Seoul Soul Gift & Climate Card / Lucky Draw Event/~ Aug 31, 2024/ Follow Visit Seoul on social media and receive goods!

Seoul International Garden Show 2024

Ttukseom Hangang Park will host a premium garden festival that embodies the spirit and culture of “Garden City, Seoul.”

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Seoul international garden show, seoul night view.

  • visitseoul_official 𝕍𝕚𝕤𝕚𝕥 𝕊𝕖𝕠𝕦𝕝 𝕎𝕖𝕖𝕜𝕖𝕟𝕕𝕤. Splash into a perfect summer adventure at Hangang Park's riverside outdoor pools! Ideal for family fun and relaxation under the sun 💦🌞 ✅ Swimming pools require swimwear and caps ✅ Bring your mats, sunshades, and food ✅ Enjoy free parasols and snacks at selected spots 🛝 𝐖𝐚𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝐩𝐥𝐚𝐲𝐠𝐫𝐨𝐮𝐧𝐝𝐬 𝐉𝐚𝐦𝐬𝐢𝐥 𝐇𝐚𝐧𝐠𝐚𝐧𝐠 𝐏𝐚𝐫𝐤 📍 1-1 Jamsil-dong, Songpa-gu, Seoul 𝐘𝐚𝐧𝐠𝐡𝐰𝐚 𝐇𝐚𝐧𝐠𝐚𝐧𝐠 𝐏𝐚𝐫𝐤 📍 482-182 Sangam-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul 𝟏-𝟑. 𝐍𝐚𝐧𝐣𝐢 𝐇𝐚𝐧𝐠𝐚𝐧𝐠 𝐏𝐚𝐫𝐤 📍 1-4 Yanghwa-dong, Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul 🏖️ 𝐎𝐮𝐭𝐝𝐨𝐨𝐫 𝐬𝐰𝐢𝐦𝐦𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐩𝐨𝐨𝐥𝐬 𝟒-𝟔. 𝐓𝐭𝐮𝐤𝐬𝐞𝐨𝐦 𝐇𝐚𝐧𝐠𝐚𝐧𝐠 𝐏𝐚𝐫𝐤 📍 112 Jayang-dong, Gwangjin-gu, Seoul 𝟕-𝟗. 𝐘𝐞𝐨𝐮𝐢𝐝𝐨 𝐇𝐚𝐧𝐠𝐚𝐧𝐠 𝐏𝐚𝐫𝐤 📍 82-9 Yeouido-dong, Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul 𝐉𝐚𝐦𝐰𝐨𝐧 𝐇𝐚𝐧𝐠𝐚𝐧𝐠 𝐏𝐚𝐫𝐤 📍 121 Jamwon-dong, Seocho-gu, Seoul 👉 Operating period and hours are the same for all six locations, except for Jamsil Water Playground 📅 Jun 20 - Aug 18 ※ May be temporarily closed due to flood risks ⏰ 9:00 am - 6:00 pm (Jamsil Hangang Park operates until 8:00 pm) ※ Break Time: 15 mins of break in every hour. Entry is not allowed during break time
  • visitseoul_official 𝑆𝑢𝑛𝑠𝑒𝑡 𝑆𝑜𝑎𝑟. Experience SEOULDAL, Seoul from 130 m in the sky! Imagine feeling the refreshing summer breeze as you gaze at a breathtaking sunset in the sky. Discover the captivating beauty of Seoul, with the Hangang River gracefully winding through the vibrant cityscape. Check out the full video on Visit Seoul’s official YouTube channel, VisitSeoul TV! 𝐘𝐞𝐨𝐮𝐢𝐝𝐨 𝐏𝐚𝐫𝐤 📍 68 Yeouigongwon-ro, Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul 🚃 Subway Line 5, Yeouido Station, Exit 3 (Approx. 651 m on foot)
  • visitseoul_official Gwanghwamun Moonlight Yoga invites you to relax and heal under the midsummer night sky, with professional yoga guidance and beautiful nighttime scenery in the heart of Seoul. 🌙🧘🏻 𝐆𝐰𝐚𝐧𝐠𝐡𝐰𝐚𝐦𝐮𝐧 𝐌𝐨𝐨𝐧𝐥𝐢𝐠𝐡𝐭 𝐘𝐨𝐠𝐚 📍 Gwanghwamun Square, 175 Sejong-daero, Jongno-gu, Seoul 🚃 Subway Line 5, Gwanghwamun Station, Exit 2 (Approx. 307 m on foot) 📅 Jun 25 - Aug 8, 2024 ⏰ Every Tue, Wed & Thur 7:30 pm - 8:30 pm 🌐 Reservation: Gwanghwamun Moonlight Yoga (Kindly check the comment below)
  • visitseoul_official 𝐴𝑟𝑡𝑖𝑠𝑡𝑖𝑐 𝑊𝑜𝑛𝑑𝑒𝑟𝑠. Escape the heat at the National Museum of Korea! Enjoy N Seoul Tower views, serene gardens, and iconic exhibits like the Pensive Bodhisattva and Ten-story stone Pagoda. Explore educational programs, unique museum shop finds, and guided tours in multiple languages! 🏛️🌿 𝐍𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐚𝐥 𝐌𝐮𝐬𝐞𝐮𝐦 𝐨𝐟 𝐊𝐨𝐫𝐞𝐚 📍 137 Seobinggo-ro, Yongsan-gu, Seoul ⏰ Daily 10:00 am - 6:00 pm | Wed & Sat 10:00 am - 9:00 pm ※ Last entry 30 mins before closing 🚃 Subway Line 4, Ichon Station, Exit 2 (Approx. 309 m on foot) 💵 Free (Except for special exhibitions) Thanks to our VS Crew 🫡 📷 @ssteart
  • visitseoul_official 𝕍𝕚𝕤𝕚𝕥 𝕊𝕖𝕠𝕦𝕝 𝕎𝕖𝕖𝕜𝕖𝕟𝕕𝕤. Spend a day at Jungnang Camping Forest and feel like you‘re miles away from the city. No camping gear is needed, bring your family and enjoy the outdoors. Book your spot now! 🌳 𝐉𝐮𝐧𝐠𝐧𝐚𝐧𝐠 𝐂𝐚𝐦𝐩𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐅𝐨𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐭 📍 110 Mangu-ro 87-gil, Jungnang-gu, Seoul 🚃 Gyeongui-Jungang Line, Yangwon Station Exit 2 (Approx. 140 m on foot) ⏰ Check-in: 1:00 pm - 9:00pm (Not allowed entry after 9:00 pm) | Check-out: 11:00
  • visitseoul_official 𝐾-𝐷𝑟𝑎𝑚𝑎 𝐴𝑑𝑣𝑒𝑛𝑡𝑢𝑟𝑒. Follow in the footsteps of the K-drama, Lovely Runner, in Seoul! Start with a romantic coffee at Hanyakbang, then savor tteokbokki at Namdo Bunsik where the Seon-Jae and Im Sol discuss their report cards. Take a serene walk along Seongbuk Stream and discover unique spots beyond DDP. 1-3. 𝐂𝐨𝐟𝐟𝐞𝐞 𝐇𝐚𝐧𝐲𝐚𝐤𝐛𝐚𝐧𝐠 📍 16-6 Samildae-ro 12-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul ⏰ Weekdays 10:00 am - 10:00 pm | Sat: 11:00 am -10:00 pm | Sun: 11:00 am - 8:00 pm 🚃 Subway Line 2 & 3, Euljiro 3-ga Station, Exit 1 (Approx. 192 m on foot) 4-6. 𝐍𝐚𝐦𝐝𝐨 𝐁𝐮𝐧𝐬𝐢𝐤 📍 33 Supyo-ro 28-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul ⏰ Daily 11:30 am - 9:00 pm (Last order: 8:30 pm) 🚃 Subway Line 1, 3 & 5 Jongno 3-ga Station, Exit 4 (Approx. 135 m on foot) 7-8. 𝐒𝐞𝐨𝐧𝐠𝐛𝐮𝐤 𝐒𝐭𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐦 📍 Dongseon-dong 2-ga, Seongbuk-gu, Seoul 🚃 Subway Line 4, Sungshin Women’s University Station, Exit 3 (Approx. 318 m on foot) Thanks 📷 1-3 @coffee_hanyakbang 4-6 @tinkerbell_tak0513 7-8 @ssteart

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First Timer’s Seoul Itinerary for 5 Days (+ Labeled Map)

Last Updated: Oct 7, 2023 by Max · This post may contain affiliate links · 8 Comments

When people start doing research for their trip to Seoul, often they tell me they were immediately struck by just how big it is. Places can be far apart, so it's important to plan your Seoul itinerary in advance. That way you can visit each one in a way that makes sense, even if you're only in Seoul on a layover .

You could easily pass a couple of weeks wandering the streets of Seoul, visiting a different festival or cafe or museum each day, but most first timers come for just 5 days in Seoul. So this Seoul itinerary covers a little something for every interest, plus a few swaps dependent upon weather and days of the week.

But before I jump into where to go when, I'll mention some of the best things to do in Seoul in each of the main tourist neighborhoods. After living in Korea for 3 years, I've discovered a lot of corners of the capital city that aren't obvious if you've only visited once or even just a dozen times, and I want you to have more options for your trip.

As an expat in Korea, I have insights into many more unusual things you can add to a longer South Korea itinerary , once you leave Seoul. So I hope this guide and my personal experience helps you plan your own trip to Seoul.

Since this is such a massive Seoul guide, please use the table of contents to find exactly what you're looking for. If you navigate to one part and then click the back button it will take you back to this table of contents.

Suncheon Bay National Garden in full bloom with yellow rapeseed flowers, South Korea.

📝 Basics of Visiting Seoul

🛬 arrival & getting around seoul, ❄️ visiting seoul in winter, 🏠 where to stay in seoul, ✨ unique things to do in seoul, ☀️ day trips from seoul, 🥘 what foods to eat in seoul, 🏙️ sample seoul itinerary: 5 days, 🔍 seoul itinerary: practical info, 🧳 seoul travel faq, 🎢 seoul attractions map.

Language: Koreans speak  the Korean language , but many of those living in urban areas also speak decent English, especially younger people. 

Population: ~10 million in Seoul, and ~24 million within an hour of the city.

Currency: Korean won (KRW), written as either ₩ or 원 (1000 won is equal to about $0.78USD or ₱42).

Korea Visa: right now there are 112 countries whose citizens don't need to apply for visas before visiting South Korea (for 30 to 90 days), but they do need to apply for a K-ETA (more info on those below). Check on your country  here . Common countries: Singapore (up to 90 days), USA (up to 90 days), Malaysia (up to 90 days), Canada (up to 6 months), and South Africa (up to 30 days).

Voltage: 220v and 60Hz, with two round tines as the plug (type F).

Sim Card : you will want a sim card for Korea , but you can buy it ahead of time or once you arrive in Korea.

Cultural Norms: there are dozens of books on Korean etiquette, but here's a quick primer. Korean society is culturally Buddhist, meaning that there are colorful & intricate temples throughout the country, and a few big things to know before visiting Seoul. Don't wear shoes inside.

Accept & give things with two hands whenever possible. Dress more conservatively, especially on top and even if it's hot outside. Bow slightly when greeting people; bow more deeply with older people. Stay quieter in public, but feel free to drink alcohol absolutely anywhere.

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When you arrive, almost certainly at Incheon Airport, you won't actually be in Seoul proper. You'll be anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour-and-a-half from the part of Seoul you want to be in. So unless you're swimming in cash for a long taxi ride, the best way from Incheon Airport into Seoul is by metro.

Alternatively, you can also catch a local bus just outside the airport, or even a direct nonstop bus (called the "airport limousine") to a variety of destinations, though airport limousine service is currently suspended due to covid-19.

Your first goal when you get to the airport's metro station will be to buy a T-money card. This purple rectangle will be your ticket to ride any bus or train in the city, and even use to pay for most taxis and at some chain cafes.

You can get one for ₩2500 (~$2USD) from one of the machines at the entrance to the airport's metro station, and then just add money to recharge it, which you can do at any station in the city. You can even use your T-money card to get around in Busan or on Jeju!

A t-money card.

By metro from Incheon Airport it's roughly 50 minutes to the Hongdae area, and 75 minutes to the neighborhoods of Gangnam, Myeongdong, or Itaewon. Once you're in Seoul, getting around is a matter of figuring out the Seoul metro system and the city's extensive bus routes.

Don't forget to tap your T-money card again as you get off the bus, too. You just need to press the red button or pull the yellow cord in order to ask the driver to stop the bus.

As convenient as taxis are, drivers rarely speak English, and most of the time it's faster to take the metro, anyway. I recommend downloading a Korean translation app like Papago, as well as Naver Maps, which is the preferred map app for Korea. Google Maps will not work very well in Korea.

When looking for directions, keep an eye out for people wearing red vests and red cowboy hats; they hang out in popular tourist areas in Seoul and speak multiple languages. Usually they come in pairs, with one man and one woman, so talk to whomever you're most comfortable.

Many readers have remarked that they enjoyed using the Discover Seoul Pass to more easily see the most popular tourist attractions, like Changdeokgung Palace and Namsan Tower.

Seoul subway map.

Plenty of people visit Seoul in winter! But planning a visit to Seoul in wintertime can be intimidating. It snows in Seoul as early as the beginning of November and potentially into early March, and it can snow hard .

It’s important to pack your winter clothes, including heat tech layers & an insulated winter jacket if you're visiting anytime from late November to early March. Winter 2018 was particularly brutal, as early December temperatures hit below -10C.

So what is there to do in Seoul in the winter, anyway? Well, there are tons of indoor activities detailed in the 5 day Seoul itinerary below. But importantly, try to plan any outside activities for the sunniest part of the day (12pm-3pm) and stay inside at night.

Look for a restaurant or strip of outdoor vendors near your accommodation, and figure out how to get there & back ahead of time. Some of the best indoor activities in Seoul are: CoEx Aquarium, the Liquor Museum or the Kimchi Museum, animal cafes, art installations like Samsung Museum of Art, Itaewon Land, and of course, shopping.

Outdoor activities for the daytime include Insadong Street, Gyeongbok Palace, Dongdaemun Design Plaza, and the various outdoor open-air markets across the city. I’ve visited many of them during winter in Seoul, and lived just fine to tell the tale.

Don’t be afraid to visit Seoul in wintertime, but just remember to pack your fluffiest jacket and plan outfits with layers. You’ll be glad you have them when you’re wandering outdoor markets or staring up at the architecture of Seoul's stunning royal palaces !

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Now that you know how to get there, you also need to decide where to stay in Seoul. There are four main areas in which tourists often stay: Hongdae, Itaewon, Gangnam, and Myeongdong (Jongno).

Some people stay in a few random hotels scattered across the city, but the hotels have clustered to these areas with good reason; all the tourist attractions are there. My recommendation for most first-timers would actually be to stay in Myeongdong due to its centrality.

But if you're here for a bit longer or more into nightlife, you may want to check out Hongdae or Itaewon. I've shared round-ups of where to stay in each of the six main neighborhoods in Seoul in my post on where to stay in Seoul .

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After dozens of trips into the city, I've been able to do or visit most everything interesting in Seoul. I've been dragged to art installations and malls and clubs, and dragged people to chocolate shops , food festivals, and even a liquor museum. But Seoul is no small area to see; it can easily take two hours to get from one side to the other.

So to make it easier for you to plan your trip, I've divided Seoul attractions by neighborhood, and added each of them to a map of Seoul attractions at the bottom of the post . I haven't detailed all the most typical Korean experiences like noraebang , chicken & beer at 4am, and photo booths in the street.

But that's because those are side activities, and they're kind of pedestrian, to be honest. I want to showcase the best things to do in Seoul. But with just 5 days in Seoul , it's important to have a good idea of what you want to do each day.

So, similar to this section in my Jeju Island Guide , below you'll find a bevy of points of interest in Seoul. Later in this post I've divided each of these into five one-day itineraries. Unlike when deciding on where to stay in Seoul, this isn't a one-time choice!

view of the entrance to Gyeonbokgung at sunset.

Things To Do In Hongdae (홍대)

Coconut Box Museum (서울 코코넛 박스) /// ₩23000 entrance /// 9am-9pm One of my favorite things to bring visitors to, the Trick Eye Museum in Hongdae, has now been replaced by Coconut Box, a digital experience center in the heart of Hongdae. The attraction includes 32 beautifully-decorated "bungalows," and 7 large experience centers dedicated to VR tech & NFT immersion.

Some bungalows may need advance registration, but overall this is well-rated, and seen as one of the best winter activities in Seoul. It's fun in the summer as well, but with so few things to do in Seoul during winter, spending a couple of hours acting a fool with your friends is the perfect medicine.

Seoul Escape Room (방탈출카페) /// ~₩18000 /// 10am-10:30pm An Escape Room is basically a room styled to look like a crime scene, with clues hidden throughout. You & whoever comes with you have an hour to find all of the clue and solve the crime, and unlock the door to escape.

They're super popular on the weekends, so be sure to make a reservation through their site if you want to go on a Friday or Saturday night. You can find English-speaker-friendly Escape Rooms in Hongdae, Myeongdong, and Gangnam, but I've only marked off one in Hongdae on the map below.

Picnic at Gyeongui Line Forest Park (경의 숲길) /// free entrance /// all hours One of my favorite things to do when the weather is warm is have a picnic in this quieter area of Hongdae. Popular with couples, this park-like region has a lot of cafes and restaurants, and quickly gets covered in people on picnic blankets once the temperature hits north of 10°C ( 50°F).

Sometimes there are even companies doing a giveaway. You can also see some students performing songs or dances here in the evenings, so it's a prime people-watching spot. If it's after 10pm, head to downtown Hongdae or the Playground for your people-watching.

Go Dancing (클러빙) /// ₩0-20000 /// ~11pm-8am Korea is a country for night owls. A list of things to do in Hongdae is incomplete without recommending a club or two. Unlike Gangnam, which is dominated by hip hop and EDM clubs, Hongdae had a little bit of everything from salsa, swing, and reggaeton to rap, rock, and pop. Luckily, all these genres are generally played at different clubs.

Go See Cookin' Nanta (홍대난타전용관) /// ₩40000-60000 /// twice daily The first time I saw this show, I couldn't even read Korean, much less understand any of it. But it was such a knee-slapping hilarious performance that I highly recommend it to any visitor.

There's almost no dialogue, and all the songs are their own mini-slapstick performance, complete with food props and your monthly allowance of juggling. Shows are at 5PM & 8PM Monday-Friday/ 2PM & 5PM Saturday-Sunday & National Holidays.

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Things To Do In Itaewon (이태원 )

Itaewon Antique Furniture Street (이태원 앤틱 가구 거리) /// free entrance /// ~9am-6pm This street has become famous over the past few decades for having an abundance of furniture and other knickknack shops. Most of what they sell is on the older side, some of it even left over from right after the Korean War, when American soldiers were leaving the country and selling off their stuff en masse .

It's fun to poke around the stores looking for good deals, especially if you're actually looking to buy some jewelry or kitchen utensils or furniture. Don't forget to bargain! Note that on the map below I've marked off only the end closest to Itaewon Station.

Itaewon Land Spa (이태원랜드) /// ₩10000+ /// 24 Hours This 5-story building is pretty much full service and houses the typical jjimjilbang (sleeping) and sauna (relaxing) facilities. But it also has a restaurant and a massage area, and many more rooms and options within the sauna than smaller or sleeker places.

Spending an afternoon at the sauna between lunch and dinner a pretty typical Korean past time, so I'd definitely recommend you add it to your Seoul itinerary. Did I mention you have to get completely naked?

Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art (리움 삼성미술관 ) /// ₩10000 /// ~10:30am-6pm (closed Mondays) This museum is gorgeous. It's a rather popular date activity to walk around looking at the installations, but on the weekends you'll also see a fair number of groups and families.

The modern art featured inside is mostly by Korean artists, but there are some international works featured. Give yourself at least an hour to look through each of the rooms, as it's bigger than it looks.

Namsan Seoul Tower (N서울타워) /// ₩0-10000 /// ~9am-6pm Namsan Tower is characteristic of Itaewon and the HBC area. It's set in a very green park, and right around the tower itself is a temple and a gate with "love locks" attached to it. But the Tower is really best known for its spectacular view of the city.

It's a bit of a walk from Itaewon's downtown area, but there's a bus if you get tired, and a cable car to take you to the top. Note that you only have to pay to take the cable car or go up to the top couple of floors of the tower itself, which may not be worth it; I think the view is just as good from the cafe right before the top floor.

Namsan Tower in South Korea.

Things To Do In Insadong (인사동)

Beautiful Tea Museum (아름다운 차박물관) /// free entrance /// 10am-10pm If you come to Insadong and don't have a single cup of tea, did you really come here at all? The tea museum has information & exhibits for 130 teas from all over Asia, each one available for purchase in their cafe.

It's a lot to take in if you're not a tea lover, but if you want a sense of the abundance of history and cultural significance behind each tea, this is your spot. The teas are definitely on the pricey side, but it's an experience you're purchasing, not just a cup of cha . Note that while the museum is free, drinks from the attached cafe are not.

Eat Street Food Along Insadong Street (인사동길 ) /// free entrance /// ~10am-7pm Insadong is the best place in Seoul for street food , by far. Prices are much more reasonable than in nearby Myeongdong, the options of more typically Korean, and I think the quality is better.

In the wintertime I'd highly recommend getting some hoddeok (glutinous cinnamon sugar pancakes) or a baked sweet potato, and in the summer go for the fish-shaped ice cream or some eomuk (fish cakes). On the map, only one end of Insadong-gil is marked.

Visit Gyungbokgung (경복궁) /// ₩1500-3000 entrance /// ~9am-5pm (closed Tuesdays) Gyeongbokgung is one of the 5 royal palaces in Seoul, and by far the most accessible by public transportation. I also think it's the most beautiful, but I've had the chance to visit in both fall and spring, when the colors of the palace grounds come to life.

The grounds of Gyeongbongung are large and date back to the Joseon Dynasty, but you could spend anywhere from twenty minutes to three hours exploring however many of the nooks & crannies catch your eye.

There's also a free guided tour in English at 11am every day (at the moment). Right next to the Gyeongbokgung Metro entrance is the Museum of the Royal Palaces, which is another free thing to do in Seoul and worth a look.

The Poop Cafe (또옹카페) /// free entrance /// 10:30am-9pm I know it sounds disconcerting, but bear with me. Koreans have this fascination with "taboo" body parts & bodily functions, something which defies most visitors' understandings (see: Love Land on Jeju Island ). The idea of eating poop-shaped cookies and drinking their latte out of a faux toilet is just a bit much.

But personally I think it's hilarious, and every time I can convince someone to go to Insadong I bring them to Ddo-ong Cafe. I've fully embraced the poop spaghetti and crappy rose lattes (which are delicious; do get one one those), and I hope you will, too.

Coffee latte in a toilet shaped cup.

Things To Do In Jamsil (잠실)

See A Game At Jamsil Baseball Stadium (잠실야구장) /// ₩4000-70000 entrance /// varies Baseball seems like a very American past time, but it's also become a very Korean one. South Korea actually has ten professional baseball teams, and they're very popular.

Every spring Korean baseball fans flood stadiums across the country to drink beer and watch the game. If you like beer, baseball, and fried chicken, this is the weekend activity for you. Baseball season runs from March to August.

Lotte World (롯데월드) /// ₩44000-55000 entrance /// 9:30am-10pm Along with Everland, Lotte World is one of the most popular weekend spots for kids. It's one of the world's largest theme parks and has both indoor and outdoor areas.

But it's not just the youngsters who want to visit this amusement park, either; adults and teens also frequent it. Lotte World gets millions of visitors each year, and is considered an all-day kind of event, especially when the water park opens for the summer.

Lotte World Tower (롯데월드타워) /// ₩0-27000 entrance /// 10am-10pm Lotte World Tower is not to be confused with the amusement park with the same name. It's actually the 5th tallest building in the world and the tallest in Korea; if you want a great view of the entire city, this is the spot to see it from.

You actually only have to pay to go up to the observatory on the top 3 floors, but it's free to check out the other floors of the tower, so don't be scared away by the entrance fee.

Walk Around Olympic Park (올림픽공원) /// free entrance /// 5am-10pm This is a legitimate, interactive activity, perfect for families. Every day from 9am to 6pm you can pick up a pass book & map from the Information Center; this will take you on a predetermined route around several of the important 1988 Olympic locations.

At each one you collect a different stamp, and can return the completed book for a small present. Otherwise, the park is huge and encompasses a forest, art installations, recreational sports facilities, gardens, and all the flags from the 1988 Summer Olympic games, all especially busy on the weekends. Note that the location on the map below is for the Information Center.

Women wearing hanbok in a traditional village.

Interesting Things To Do Around Seoul

Hanbok Photoshoot In Bukchon Hanok Village (북촌한옥마을) /// free entrance /// ~5am-11pm Hanbok is the traditional Korean dress, and in my small town in rural Korea, I still see old women wearing them to the markets some weeks.

Renting a hanbok to wear around some of the more historical sites in Seoul is rightfully a favorite activity of both Korean and visitors alike, as most young Koreans no longer own their own hanbok . A hanok , on the other hand, is a traditional Korean house, the small ones with the thatched roofs and beautiful painted walls.

In the spring and fall the foliage creates a stunning backdrop for photos, so it's the perfect time to enjoy the village in traditional garb. Note that the village doesn't actually close, but it's respectful to stay away while residents are sleeping.

Eat At Noryangjin Fish Market (노량진수산물도매시장) /// free entrance /// 24 hours People often forget that Seoul is a port city. Seafood is an important part of the Korean diet, and one of the best places to get a taste of fresh, traditional Korean dishes is at Noryangjin Fish Market. The open air market is open all day, all year.

The first floor is dedicated to the market itself, where you can browse and purchase fresh seafood for dinner, both the familiar and unfamiliar. Up on the higher floors are the restaurants where they'll prepare your catch for you, plus a rooftop on which to relax after your meal.

Han River Cruise at Sunset (한강유람선) /// starting at ₩14000 per ticket /// after 7pm During the summertime, peak cruise season, there are five cruises after 7pm. All cruises must be booked in advance on ELand's website, where they will be the cheapest, or through a third-party site if you can't read Korean.

The cruises each last 45 minutes, and even though I absolutely thought it would be lame at first, it was actually spectacular. I went with my Mom and Aunt, and we had a great time watching the skies change color, listening to the live music, and seeing the bridges & buildings all lit up. Definitely worth the trip down to the river!

Sunset at Han River.

Visit A Theme Cafe (카페) /// free entrance /// varies Animal cafes are all the rage in East Asia, but especially in Seoul. We got sheep and cats and dogs and raccoons… but we also have an eclectic collection of other cafes, like art or chocolate cafes, where you can create something or enjoy a sweet treat over a latte.

Recently it's become popular to do an activity with your significant other at so-called "couple cafes," but really there's a cafe in Seoul for every thing and every interest. Seriously. I dare you to google it.

Gana Art Center (가나아트센터 ) /// free entrance /// 10am-7pm Gana is known for its beautiful think pieces. Amidst all of the traditional food and aesthetics of northern Seoul, walking into Gana Art Center gives you another perspective on the current events in the country.

Luckily, you don't have to speak any Korean to get the gist of real art, though its helpful to know some about Korean culture in order to get the full impact of some of the pieces. Note that while the permanent exhibits are free, you may have to pay to enter any special exhibits.

Sool Gallery (전통주 갤러리) /// free entrance /// 10am-8pm (closed Mondays) The Seoul alcohol museum much have sounded too obvious, but that's what this actually is ("sool" is Korean for "alcohol"). And believe it or not, but it's actually run by the government, and showcases an unbelievably number of different liquors & wines.

Since it moved to Gangnam in 2017, I've had the chance to visit and check out their selection during a tour, which they offer for free as visitors come in. After the tour you get to taste a selection of 3 to 5 liquors— you can request specific ones if you want— and ask all the questions you'd like. And yes, there is a gift shop.

A bottle of soju.

Hiking Bukhansan National Park Less than an hour north of Seoul is one of Korea's many national parks. Hiking is one of Korea's national past times, so every day of the week you'll see groups of older people geared up for a half day trip up Bukhansan, usually ending in a picnic and drinks at whichever peak they decide to stop on.

Strange as it sounds, don't be afraid to sit nearby and try to make conversation with them, especially if you're learning Korean. The base of the mountain range is marked on the map.

Chuncheon: Nami Island, Petite France, & Garden of Morning Calm The Garden of Morning Calm is one of my favorite places in South Korea. In spring, summer and fall, there's no better place to experience the varied foliage that Korea has to offer, and take lots of beautiful pictures.

Nami Island and Petite France are also beautiful, but definitely more geared towards couples. The zip line to Nami Island is somewhat legendary; there's a reason this is one of the few Seoul day trips I always recommend. All 3 destinations are marked on the map.

trip in seoul

Gangneung: 2018 Winter Olympics Stomping Ground If you're looking for a beach destination often overlooked even by Koreans, Gangneung is your spot. But more recently, it was also the site of the 2018 Winter Olympics, and the government has made it very easy for interested visitors to visit all the sites of the games.

If that's less your thing, though, the aquarium & cafe street are very nice. Gangneung intercity bus terminal is marked on the map.

DMZ Tour: Full-Day or Half-Day It's certainly not for everyone, but visiting the demilitarized zone, known as the DMZ, can give you great insight into how Korea became the country it is today. Different tours will show you different spots, but the guide you go with makes all the difference, so choose your tour carefully. Read more about my experience at the DMZ here .

Seoul can be overwhelming, but it doesn't have to be. After living in Korea for 3 years & visiting Seoul 50+ times, I've put together the COMPLETE GUIDE to Seoul; almost 10,000 words! Figure out where to stay in Seoul & why, plus what to do in Seoul in 5 days. Map, language tips, and 5 days budget included. | #seoul #where #to #stay #budget #hostels #hotels #guesthouse #tips #korea #5 #days #itinerary #what #do #interesting #myeongdong #blog #travel #places

Street Foods : there are too many to name here, but the most popular street foods in Korea are definitely Eomuk (어묵) & Ddeokbokki (떡볶이) , which are fish cakes & spicy rice cakes, respectively, and are often served together.

Skewers (꼬치) , usually chicken skewers served with onion and barbecue sauce, are a very filling and cheap alternative for those who don't like seafood.

Hoddeok (호떡) , a cinnamon sugar-filled fried rice cake, is my absolute favorite treat and one of the few traditional sweets in Korea (get it in Insadong). Finally, Soondae (순대) is Korean blood sausage, and it's inexplicably popular.

Various Anju (안주) : anju is a term meaning "food eaten while drinking alcohol," and many bars will require you to order some anju to go with your liquor or beer. They're just fried, salty foods that cut the bite of the alcohol, but some are heartier, like fried chicken or potato pancakes.

If you're a big group, look for the words "모든" or "모든안주," which means it's a mix of all or almost all the dishes they offer. It'll give everyone a variety of dishes to try with their soju (소주) and beer (맥주).

Jeju Black Pork barbeque dinner | #travel #korea #jeju #island #itinerary #food #foodie

Japchae (잡채) : I like to think of japchae as Korean pad thai . It's a noodle dish prepared with lots of thinly chopped vegetables, sweet potato starch noodles, and sometimes a little bit of meat.

It's great served warm as a main dish, but it's just as good as part of a bigger meal, and it's even better when re-heated the next morning. It's served with sesame oil and soy sauce, so it's a mild dish, but very good.

Jjambbong (짬뽕) : it's like a spicy seafood stew, served in a huge boiling pot for everyone to eat out of together. There are mussels and clams and squid, but the broth is usually pork-based, so there's noodles and bits of pork floating around, as well.

This is a Korean Chinese food, so it's common to see at Chinese-Korean fusion restaurants throughout the country.

Bingsu (빙수): the ideal dessert on a warm day, bingsu is basically Korean shaved ice with milk and, well, sometimes beans. But I prefer the fruit bingsus that have become very popular in recent years, now even sold in some coffee shops.

Check out the dessert cafe chain SulBing for a large selection of delicious shaved ices worthy of sharing with a friend (and maybe your Instagram followers). This is also spelled bingsoo.

Chocolate bingsu dessert snowflake ice.

Samgyupsal (삼겹살) : pork belly, which is the most popular meat of choice, is just one of many options for Korean barbecue. Galbi (갈비) , ribs, usually of the pork variety, or Hanu (한우) , Korean-raised beef, are my other two recommendations for a nice night of barbecue, though are a bit harder to find than pork belly.

Korean Beef Village just north of the city center is a great spot where you can buy hanu downstairs, and then take it upstairs to cook it with all the side dishes for a small fee. If this is your only trip to Korea, you need to have a taste of K-BBQ before you go (though Korean Fried Chicken is never a bad plan)!

Sannakji (산낙지) : possibly one of the most famous Korean foods— other than barbecue— sannakji is often called "live octopus," though it's actually just an extremely fresh version of the sea creature.

Served immediately after it's killed, sannakji is squirted with acidic fruit juices, which make the tentacles continue to move around even after it's placed in front of you.

It's not served alive, but people certainly act as if it were, as most people shy away from trying the fresh dish. This would be something to try at one of the fish markets, like Noryangjin.

Dolsot Bibimbap (돌솥 비빔밥) : the most basic Korean meal is rice with a bunch of side dishes; taking that up a notch means adding mixed vegetables.

Bibimbap literally means "mixed rice," so the dolsot version is a variation of that rice with mixed vegetables, adding a raw egg and serving it all in a piping hot stone bowl ( dolsot) . This cooks the egg and crisps up the bottom layer of rice, adding a lovely texture to the whole dish.

Mul Nangmyeon (물냉면) : cold noodles made with buckwheat flour, served with sliced cucumber and half a boiled egg on top. You'll also get mustard and vinegar sauces on the side. Mul naengmyeon (directly translated as "water cold noodles") is made with a meat broth base.

It's commonly eaten right after barbecue, especially pork belly, because it's said to wash down the oily meat to aid with digestion. Do this, and make sure the meat is still hot from the grill.

Samgyetang (삼계탕) : quite possibly my favorite Korean food, samgyetang is like Korean chicken soup, and it's just as homey. The broth is usually clear, but there are lots of local variations, including one made with poison oak.

The main attraction is the chicken, however, which is served whole and young, so you get to pick off the meat. Inside the bird is a mixture of rice and a bit of ginseng, jujubes, and ginko beans, which you eat with the meat and soup after you dip it in the salt served on the side.

Seoul can be overwhelming, but it doesn't have to be. After living in Korea for 3 years & visiting Seoul 50+ times, I've put together the COMPLETE GUIDE to Seoul; almost 10,000 words! Figure out where to stay in Seoul & why, plus what to do in Seoul in 5 days. Map, language tips, and 5 days budget included. | #seoul #where #to #stay #budget #hostels #hotels #guesthouse #tips #korea #5 #days #itinerary #what #do #interesting #myeongdong #blog #travel #places

A 5 day Seoul itinerary could take many forms, but since you have a bit of leeway, I've chosen a variety of typical Seoul activities to give you a taste of the city. They're planned such that you'll have ample time to spend at each place and get from one spot to the next via the subway (which is very reliable).

Some activities have alternatives in case of differing weather, but most things to do in Seoul are indoors or non-weather dependent, anyway. The first and last days are more relaxing, to give you time to adjust to your new surroundings. Just remember to have fun, and don't be afraid to move the days around depending on how you're feeling!

Seoul Itinerary Day 1: Settling In

Most hostels and hotels in Seoul will provide food for breakfast, but if they don't then ask for a recommendation or stop by a convenience store on the way out. Heed this warning for each day of your trip!

12pm // Namsan Tower : after you check into your hotel, this is the perfect spot from which to take in a view of the entire city, from the top of Namsan Mountain.

There's a small temple and an observation deck here, so there's plenty to keep you occupied for a couple of hours, but I wouldn't recommend paying to get up to the top floor unless you're extremely eager. Take the cable car down to Myeongdong when you're ready to leave.

3pm // Explore Myeongdong : sample some street food when you first arrive, just to tide you over for dinner (I recommend the cheap & delicious chicken skewers). Walk around Myeongdong and go shopping, especially for cosmetics and body care products you can relax with on your first night. Stop in at a cat cafe, if that's your kind of thing, but don't forget to soak it all in.

6pm // Dinner : have a big bowl of samgyetang (chicken soup) or grab some street food or convenience store snacks before settling into your hotel for the night. Rest up for your big day tomorrow!

Korean snacks aisle of a convenience store.

Seoul Itinerary Day 2: Nature & Nightlife

9am // Hike Bukhansan : the morning is the best time to hike Bukhansan. The trip takes 4-6 hours depending on how fast you walk and how often you stop to snack and take pictures.

Alternative Afternoon Activity:   if it's cooler out or you want a less strenuous activity, go on a half-day DMZ tour ; either option will finish around 3pm.

3pm // People-Watch in Hongdae : head to Hongdae or request to be dropped off there after your tour. Your first mission is to snag a table and order up some barbecue, preferably samgyupsal (pork belly) or galbi (pork or beef ribs). After your late lunch, walk around the neighborhood people-watching, and settle in on a bench if it's nicer weather.

5pm // Go see NANTA : this play is absolutely amazing. But if the show is sold out or if theatre isn't at all your thing, then another nearby option is to visit Coconut Box, a "Southeast Asia Vacation Experieince" that replaced the old Trick Eye Museum in Hongdae.

7:30pm // Dinner : since Hongdae is known for cheap food and accommodation, this is the perfect time to pick a random local restaurant and order something cheap. This is how & where I ordered my first meal in Korea by myself (I ended up with a delicious bowl of oxtail stew).

The rule is that anything under ₩10000 is fair game, but if you stumble upon a night market you can find even cheaper local eats.

9pm // Escape Room : if you're visiting Seoul with friends, this is the perfect time to go to an escape room. Alternatively, you could go clubbing if it's a weekend night. If you're alone I'd recommend checking out a coin noraebang (karaoke room); they're extremely popular throughout Korea.

A busy street in Myeongdong with many store signages at night.

Seoul Itinerary Day 3: Traditional Korea

10am // Bukchon Hanok Village : this is the perfect time to visit the village on any day, as tourists don't usually show up until just before noon. If you can find a rental shop open, you can walk around in a hanbok (traditional Korean dress), taking pictures with all of the traditional-style houses ( hanoks ).

Whenever you tires yourself out or decide you've seen enough of the neighborhood, return your hanbok and stop in at one of the local restaurants for a bowl of bibimbap (rice with mixed vegetables). It'll keep you full and it's cheap!

1pm // Gyeongbokgung : while everyone else is having lunch, walk around the grounds of one of Seoul's 5 palaces. If you didn't find a hanbok to wear in Bukchon, here's your opportunity. Don't tell the others, but I think Gyeongbok is the prettiest of the gung (meaning "palace").

trip in seoul

3pm // Poop Cafe : don't give up on me now! The poop cafe is the perfect combination of childish humor and Korean photo-ops. Try the rose latte; I swear you won't be disappointed.

4pm // Walk Down Insadong-gil : Insadong is both the neighborhood and the main street of said neighborhood. After you've had a rest in a cafe, this is the perfect chance to go shopping for traditional souvenirs, devouring street food for dinner as you go.

Shops start to close around 6pm, but street food stalls will stay open a bit longer, especially in the summer.

8pm // Dongdaemun : once you've had a rest back at your hotel, get geared up for another Korean adventure: night shopping. Dongdaemun is the civilian-oriented shopping complex, cousin of wholesale-based Namdaemun market.

It's perfect for clothes shopping in the middle of the night, if that's your idea of a good time. Even if it isn't, however, it's very interesting insight into current Korean fashion and another opportunity to people-watch.

trip in seoul

Seoul Itinerary Day 4: Explore Outside Seoul

Today we're headed to the Garden of Morning Calm, Nami Island, and Petite France. I do recommend going through a tour agency for this one if you're even remotely willing, as it saves time and helps with translation. But if that's not your style, it's perfectly doable on your own.

Since this is such a well-trodden path, there are actually intercity buses that take you direct from one place to another. There are also lots of Korean restaurants around the sites, so this is a great time to try a local dish like dakgalbi or bulgogi jjaguri for lunch and dinner.

Check out this article for more information on how to get between the sites; they're each 1-1.5 hours outside of Seoul. Alternative: take the KTX to Gangneung and spend the day visiting sites where the 2018 Olympic Games were held.

trip in seoul

Seoul Itinerary Day 5: Cultural Indulgence

Your last day is the perfect time to absorb some of the more low-key Seoul activities. Note that this day CANNOT be on a Monday, so switch this with another day if your last day happens to fall on a Monday.

10:30am // Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art : arrive right when it opens and walk around the inside installations before moving to the striking ones outside.

Depending on how struck you are, this could take a bit longer. Grab lunch somewhere nearby, because the next stop is also in Itaewon. If you feel like American contemporary cuisine, I highly recommend cheeseflo, which is just a block away.

1pm // Itaewon Land : one of the biggest spas in the country, Itaewon Land has an impressive number of bath options and spa amenities. They even have a place to sleep in a traditional  jjimjilbang . Spend your last of 5 days in Seoul just soaking in the fresh water and leaving your toxins behind.

Just remember that the fully-nude areas are separated by gender, so rent a swimsuit at the front if you'd like to spend time with anyone of the opposite sex!

5pm // Gawk at Noryangjin Fish Market : think of it as a pre-dinner show, because you will absolutely see some new species here. After you've looked your fill, pick out your dinner and bring it up to a restaurant on one of the upper levels; there they'll cook it for you and provide side dishes for a small fee.

7pm // Sool Museum : before it closes at 8pm, take a free tour of the Korean liquor museum, complete with a tasting. There's a direct train from Noryangjin.

Then, walk around the area close to Gangnam Station; it's the place that inspired the famous song Gangnam Style . There's even a Gangnam Style statue, located near Gangnam Station exit 11!

trip in seoul

Best Time to Visit Seoul

Everywhere in Korea, people are pretty much unanimous that April and October are the best months to visit weather-wise. However, I'd endorse April, May, June, September, and October as the best times to visit Seoul or anywhere else in Korea (just bring a mask for air pollution in May).

It's different each month, but in early spring you'll find cherry blossoms , while late spring brings the rest of the flowers and beautiful weather (as well as some pollution). October in Seoul in particular is best for cooling temperatures and fewer crowds, as well as stunning fall leaves.

If you come in very late August or early September, you may even be able to catch a beach day in Incheon after all the kids are back in schools. But this depends on how well you coordinate your trip with the government's open beach times, unless you're only looking to visit one of the islands off the coast near Seoul.

Safety Level: 9/10

Despite a few rough patches, much like the southern city of Busan , Seoul is a very safe city. It is, however, still a city, so always keep an eye on your bags and don't flash cash in crowded areas. Public consumption of alcohol is legal, so keep an eye out for drunk people doing stupid things, especially on the weekends in Hongdae and Itaewon.

soju bomb cocktail Korean soju and beer somaek.

Sample Seoul Budget: 5 Days

This budget assumes you’re spending 5 full days and 5 nights in the city, and are travelling alone using the 5 day Seoul itinerary above (not doing any of the alternate activities). If you're looking for an idea of prices, you're probably also looking to travel Seoul as a backpacker, but still staying in a nice guesthouse.

Cheap travel in Seoul is more than possible, especially if you're indulging in delicious Korean foods . Note that the current exchange rate is roughly $0.78USD or ₱42PHP per ₩1000KR.

  • Lodging: $100USD/₱5,240PHP (see this post for good, but cheap Seoul hostel recommendations)
  • Transport: $30USD/₱5,240PHP (just for metro and buses to visit Chuncheon on day 4; flights are so varied in cost that those are not included in this budget)
  • Activities: $120USD/₱1,580PHP (includes entrance fees, NANTA ticket,  hanbok rental, and cable car)
  • Food: $100USD/₱5,240PHP (assuming you're indulging in local dishes and street food for most meals)

Total: $350USD/₱18,350PHP

trip in seoul

Basic Korean Lesson

So you're ready to visit Seoul, but you don’t know any Korean! Let’s fix that right up. You won't be fluent overnight, but lucky for you, I’ve already broken down the English-Korean language barrier several times over. Here's a shortlist to help you order food & drinks, and just generally be respectful.

Many Koreans understand enough English for you to order in English, but it’s always polite to throw in a little Korean. I’d also highly recommend downloading a picture-capable translation app before you go, like Google Translate.

Hello //  An-nyeong-ha-se-yo . (안녕하세요.)

Thank you //  Gam-saahm-ni-da . (감사합니다.)

Do you speak English? //  Yeong-aw jal-hae-yo?  (영어 잘해요?)

I don’t speak any Korean. //  Han-guk-aw jal-moat-hae-yo.  (한국어 잘못해요.)

How much is it? //  Eol-ma-yeh-yo?  (얼마예요?)

One of these, please. //  Ee-gaw ha-na ju-say-yo.  (이거 하나 주세요.)

It’s to-go/takeout. //  Po-jahng ee-eh-yo  or  Tae-ee-kow-tay-oh.  (포장 이예요 or 테잌아웃에요.)

Lesson complete! Now let’s go pack.

Three days in Seoul is enough to get a taste for the city, but ideally you'd spend 5-7 days based in Seoul so as to take one or two day trips out of the city while still having enough time to explore the royal palaces, traditional markets, and future-driven fashion that Korea is known for.

When choosing how many days to spend in Seoul, first consider how many things there are to do in Seoul which interest you. Most people find 4 to 5 days in Seoul to be sufficient, but if there are a lot of activities you're interested in, you may want an extra day or two.

This depends on your style of travel, but a mid-range budget for a solo traveler spending 5 days in Seoul would be about $80USD per day. If you're willing to stay in cheap hostels, stick to more free activities in Seoul, and eat local foods, then you could get it down to maybe $50USD per day. So I'd say that traveling in Seoul is really quite affordable, though you can always upgrade your trip, and the longer you stay the cheaper it will be per dium.

More All Things South Korea

Oeongchi Beach in Sokcho, Gangwon-do, South Korea.

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Reader Interactions

Maelene Wong says

August 10, 2022 at 9:31 am

A small group of us (5-7) are extending our trip from Japan to Seoul for 4 days. Can you send me the names of your recommended Local Tour Guides who might be interested in escorting us around for four days maybe in a small van based on our and their recommended lists of things to do and places to go in and around Seoul?

August 10, 2022 at 3:13 pm

Sorry, I'm not connected with any tour guides, but the Hop On Hop Off Bus tours would be a great start for looking for private pre-arranged tours within the city!

Albert says

February 19, 2023 at 12:35 am

This is exactly the type of list I was looking for, non-typical things to do in Korea. Thank you for putting this together and sharing!

February 19, 2023 at 12:40 am

It's my pleasure, Albert! I'm glad you've found it helpful.

Michelle says

April 13, 2023 at 4:52 am

How do you get premium magic pass for Lotte World now?

April 14, 2023 at 9:40 am

You can now buy one through Klook, though they may be restricted in which dates on which they're available.

Abid Ansari says

June 02, 2023 at 4:43 am

We are a family of three looking at shopping and food. Your blog has been very helpful. The map stands out as being unique among travelblogs.

June 02, 2023 at 9:51 pm

Thanks, Abid! It's definitely something I appreciate when traveling, so I try to add one anytime I make any kind of guide. 🙂

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13 of the best things to do in Seoul, South Korea

Leslie Patrick Moore

Feb 4, 2024 • 8 min read

trip in seoul

From bustling street food markets to peaceful temple life, experience the best of Seoul with this guide Plan Shooting 2 / Imazins / Getty Images

For an ultra-modern city filled with sleek high-rises and time-tested palaces, tempting street food, vibrant shopping districts and much more, head to Seoul . 

Whether you want to see the latest K-Pop sensation, take a late-night food and drink tour, or find serenity in a spa or temple, the city has something to offer 24/7. Here are the best things to do in South Korea ’s capital.

1. Taste the street food at Gwangjang Market

Street food in Seoul is beloved for its spice, variety and affordability, and there’s no better place to try it than  Gwangjang Market . Dating from the early 20th century, this covered market has gained a reputation among foodies for having some of the country’s best street snacks. 

Planning tip:  Start with an order of tteokbokki (stir-fried rice cakes in a bright orange spicy sauce), followed by a couple of mandu (Korean dumplings) and a pajeon (savory green onion pancake). For dessert, try hotteok (a pancake filled with brown sugar and cinnamon) or bungeoppang (a fish-shaped pastry filled with sweet red bean paste). Then do it all over again.

Soldiers in historic uniforms and carrying pennants participate in the changing of the guard ceremony

2. Step back in time at Gyeongbokgung Palace

If you only have time to see one sight in Seoul, make it the splendid architecture, serene pagodas and maze-like grounds of Gyeongbokgung Palace . Originally built during the reign of the powerful Joseon Dynasty in the 14th century, the palace was destroyed during the 16th-century Imjin War and rebuilt in the 18th century. Gyeongbokgung is the largest and most elegant of Seoul’s five royal palaces.

Planning tip:  Take in the ceremonial changing of the Royal Guard in front of the massive Gwanghwamun Gate before strolling the grounds to admire striking hip-and-gable buildings, tranquil ponds and delicate cherry trees. Wrap up your visit with a stop at the National Folk Museum of Korea , which sits on the palace grounds and features exhibits on traditional Korean culture.

3. Stroll along the Cheong-gye-cheon Stream

In the heat of summer , nothing beats a walk along Cheong-gye-cheon Stream . A dazzling oasis that unfurls for nearly 11km (7 miles) through the towers of central Seoul, this picturesque waterway is lined with walking paths, trees and bridges. The original stream was covered with an elevated highway after the Korean War, but in 2005, the city undertook an urban renewal project to refresh the area and reintroduce the stream better than ever. Since then, it’s been a popular spot for locals and tourists looking to cool off or take a leisurely break from the city’s hustle and bustle.

4. Shop for the latest trends in Myeong-dong

You’ll want to break out the credit card for an afternoon of spending in Seoul’s most famous shopping district. Myeong-dong is renowned for trendy fashion labels, deluxe department stores and cosmetic boutiques packed with famed K-beauty products. Once you’ve sufficiently stocked up on mask sheets and moisturizer at Olive Young , innisfree and Etude House , check out the Myeong-dong Night Market for quirky souvenirs and traditional street food.

The area is also home to some of Seoul’s cutest cafes, with the Pink Pool Cafe at the Stylenanda Pink Hotel flagship store being the ultimate eye candy. This confectionery-colored spot has an ice-cream-parlor vibe, indoor ornamental pool and sweet-as-sugar art decor, making it a popular place for photo shoots.

5. Go for a dip in a jjimjilbang

More than just a way to get clean, bathing in Seoul is a full-fledged social activity. Koreans gather at bathhouses (jjimjilbang) with friends and family typically once a week. Jjimjilbang can range from an establishment with just a couple of small dipping pools to massive aquatic palaces with multiple pools, water features, cafes, saunas, relaxation rooms, gyms, spas and arcades.

First-timers should know that bathhouse etiquette requires bathing in the nude, and some bathhouses don’t allow patrons with tattoos. Once you’ve bared all, take a dip in the hot and cold pools, followed by a stretch in the sauna, then opt for a traditional full-body scrub to emerge baby-soft from your bathhouse experience.

Planning tip: The female-only Spa Lei draws patrons for its elegant atmosphere and invigorating massages.

An aerial view of two hikers on a rocky outcrop overlooking cloudy mountain peaks a

6. Take a hike in Bukhansan National Park

Bukhansan National Park is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as “the most visited national park per unit area” – which is easy to understand since it’s set within the city limits and easily reachable by public transportation . You’ll often see athletic Koreans in colorful hiking gear riding the subways on weekends.

Bukhansan covers 80 sq km (31 sq miles) and features jagged peaks, hiking trails, dozens of storied temples and 1300 species of plants and animals. The 5-hour round-trip hike to the 836m (2744ft) summit of Bukhansan is well worth it to see Seoul spread out before you in all directions.

7. Go singing in a noraebang

Walk down any busy street in the university districts on a Friday or Saturday night, and you’re likely to hear distant singing wafting through the air. Chances are it’s not an errant K-Pop band but the raucous merriment of karaoke at a noraebang (singing room). This popular late-night activity involves private rooms with big-screen TVs, phone-book-sized lists of songs and even disco balls or musical instruments to accompany the singalong. Top it off with room service bringing snacks and cocktails, and it’s a recipe for a great night out.

8. Sip on Korean drinks: soju and makgeolli

The traditional Korean beverages soju and makgeolli have been respectively distilled and brewed since the 13th century and are the most beloved drinks in this thirsty nation. Soju also has the surprising distinction of being the world’s best-selling spirit, perhaps helped out by the fact that a standard bottle often costs less than a bottle of water.

While such upmarket small-batch distilleries as Samhae Soju and Hangang Brewery  create artisanal varieties, the most common labels, such as Jinro and Seoul Makgeolli, can be happily imbibed at the picnic tables dotting sidewalks outside convenience stores across the city.

Planning tip:  Those new to the Korean alcohol scene should check out the  Sool Company , which offers tasting tours, brewing classes and special events.

A GangnamDol cartoon bear sculpture along K-Star Road in Gangnam, Seoul, South Korea

9. Star-search on K-Star Road

You’re probably familiar with Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, but did you know Seoul’s glamorous Gangnam district has its own boulevard dedicated entirely to K-Pop artists? Instead of stars on the sidewalk, K-Star Road features 3m-tall (10ft) statues of cartoon bears called GangnamDols, each decorated to represent a different K-Pop singer or band, including Super Junior, Girls’ Generation and BTS. 

Planning tip:  After taking a few selfies with your favorite bears, pop into the GangnamDol Haus near the Apgujeong Rodeo subway station to pick up a few mini bears as souvenirs.

10. Stay at a temple and take part in life with the monks

The iconic image of a colossal Buddha statue looking over sleek high-rises can be seen at the 8th-century Bongeun-sa Temple in Gangnam . Although most tourists come just to snap a photo or two, you can actually participate in temple life with the monks. Over a weekend, join in vegetarian meals, morning chanting, meditation and even the 108 daily prostrations, all meant to clear the mind and bring you closer to achieving inner peace.

Planning tip:  Temple-stay programs are offered not only at Bongeun-sa but also at various temples throughout Seoul.

11. Spend the night in Bukchon Hanok Village

Graceful sloping roofs, ornate tiles and colorful dancheong  (intricate paintwork under the eaves of traditional Korean palaces) come together to create the Korean traditional house, called hanok . Tucked between the Gyeongbokgung and Changdeokgung palace complexes lies Bukchon Hanok Village , a historic district filled with hundreds of charming hanok  that’s often used as a backdrop for period movies and television shows.

Planning tip:  While the village has cafes, teahouses, museums and boutiques, it’s also home to a handful of hanoks -turned-guesthouses where visitors can sleep on traditional ondol heated floors, walk through kimchi pot–filled courtyards and generally get a taste what life was like in old Seoul.

12. Get a bird’s-eye view at N Seoul Tower

At the top of Nam Mountain sits N Seoul Tower , a broadcasting structure dating from 1969 and rising 239m (784ft) into the sky above the city. The tower still has active transmission antennas, though today it’s better known for an observation deck that offers 360-degree views of the capital. The top of the tower also offers a few dining options, including a swanky rotating restaurant serving French fare.

Planning tip:  To reach the tower itself, you can ride the Namsan Cable Car aerial tramway or hike the meandering trails to the top through Namsan Park .

13. Take a day trip to the DMZ

One of the top day trips from Seoul , a visit to the northern border may well be the most unusual 24 hours you’ll spend on the Korean peninsula. The 250km (160-mile) border between North and South known as the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) is one of the world’s most closely guarded borders.

Various outfits, such as the popular DMZ Tours company, take curious onlookers from central Seoul to the border area to catch a glimpse into North Korea from Dora Observatory , explore the Third Infiltration Tunnel (originally dug by North Korean soldiers) and even step into North Korea in the Joint Security Area . There’s also the touristy DMZ Peace Train operated by KORAIL, which whisks passengers from Seoul Station to Dorasan Station, the last stop to the north before crossing into the Hermit Kingdom.

This article was first published Mar 4, 2020 and updated Feb 4, 2024.

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The Discoveries Of

3 Days in Seoul: The Perfect Seoul Itinerary

Seeing everything that Seoul, South Korea’s sprawling capital offers in a few days is no easy task. But this Seoul itinerary packs in Joseon Dynasty palaces, all-you-can-eat BBQ feasts and pop culture staples in just 3 days. Let’s adventure! 

I just got back from an action-packed trip to South Korea , and (no surprise) Seoul was a massive highlight reel. To say that I was moving non-stop from morning to night may give you an idea of how much there is to see and do in Seoul. So, when I wrote this itinerary, I made sure to make it as efficient as possible to help you make the most out of your trip. 

We’re going to explore where to get the best street food, see the city’s stunning palaces, fit in a day trip to the DMZ and soak up a (hopefully) glorious sunrise on an urban hike.

That’s all before seeing the idyllic hanok houses in Bukchon Village, and scoring some of those K-beauty supplies you’ve been waiting to stock up on at bargain prices. 

Long story short, you’re going to do a lot on this short trip and we’ve no time to waste. Here’s what you need to know for your 3 days in Seoul.

3 Days in Seoul Itinerary 

Day 1: explore seoul old and new.

trip in seoul

Welcome to Seoul. I’m guessing you haven’t slept off that jet lag entirely, but that’s ok. This city never stops moving, so you can get your day started no matter when you decide to roll out of bed. 

I’ll warn you – we’re going to hit the ground running on your first day. We’ll explore historic landmarks like Namdaemun Gate (the 14th-century pagoda that was once the southern entrance to the city) and the bright neon lights from the top of N Seoul Tower and more. Wear comfortable walking shoes and have a hearty breakfast. 

Walk Around Gwanghwamun Square

Gwanghwamun Square Seoul South Korea

There’s no better place to kick off your time in Seoul than seeing Gwanghwamun Square, the meeting place of old and new Seoul in the city’s centre. 

Once known as Hanyang, Seoul has over 500 years of history under Joseon rule, and you’ll notice plenty of tributes to that history dotted around this massive 555 x 34-metre (1,820 x 112-foot) town square. 

The most important (and prominent) figures are a statue of Sejong the Great (a Joseon ruler who legit invented the Korean alphabet) and the famed Yi Sun-sin, who helped defend Korea during the Imjin War. 

The square itself is where many of the administrative buildings were from the past to present, and is now an important gathering place for locals and tourists downtown. 

It’s also a mere few paces away from our next stop, the stunning Gyeongbokgung Palace. 

Tour Gyeongbokgung Palace

Seoul has always been the focal point for power in South Korea, which explains why by the early days of the Joseon Dynasty, the city boasted not one, not two, but five Grand Palaces and, you guessed it, Gyeongbokgung Palace was one of them. The late 14th-century palace is one of the most important reminders of Joseon Dynasty rule in South Korea. It still stands despite years of remaining dormant after it was burned to the ground during the Imjin War in the late 1500s and destroyed again during the Japanese occupation, where nearly all of its buildings were levelled to the ground. But during the 1990s, South Korea began rebuilding this iconic palace, and you can once again gaze in awe at the massive gate of Gwanghwamun at the entrance, with its pagoda architecture.

Gyeongbokgung Palace

Also make time for the spectacular Heungbokjeon Hall with its gorgeous details carved from wood and stone – it was once an administrative building for the royal leaders.

If you have time to visit the National Palace Museum of Korea, you can check out an exhibit that shows the 30+ years of restoration at Gyeongbokgung Palace. 

Lunch at Insadong Hangane Bulgogi Jumak

Insadong Hangane Bulgogi Jumak Seoul South Korea-3

I imagine after a couple of in-depth history lessons, you’re ready for a lunch break. Luckily, you’re just a few blocks away from the ridiculously good Insadong Hangane Bulgogi Jumak. It’s a ten-minute walk to land at this fantastic restaurant which really offers one of the best deals in Seoul. 

For 18,000 Won (£11), I had a feast of stellar beef bulgogi, which included more banchan (complimentary tasty sides) than you’ll know what to do with. 

Insadong Hangane Bulgogi Jumak Seoul South Korea-2

As I mentioned, the bulgogi was pretty epic, but the pickled veggies, rice, and soup were all worth saving some room for.

It does get busy, but it’s definitely worth the wait. You can also often make the wait shorter by nabbing a spot at one of the traditional tables on the raised deck in the corner of the restaurant where you eat off a low table whilst sitting on a mat on the floor. 

This local favourite is closed on Saturday and Sunday, but the food (and view) at Nine Tree Premier Hotel Insadong are great too.

National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art

South Korea has a rich history of art that spans thousands of years. From ancient calligraphists like Shin Saimdang to more recent abstract painters like Park Seo-bo, learning more about historical and contemporary art is a must. The National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art is where to go to learn more.

When it opened in 1969, it was the only place in Korea where you could see modern art from local and international artists and continues to deliver groundbreaking exhibits and events. Prime example? It was the first East Asian country to host collections from The Whitney and Albertina Museum. You can see works from Warhol, Niki de Saint Phalle, and other popular international artists. But I’d focus on the local artwork since you’ll only have a couple of hours here. From the legendary self-taught Park Su-geun, famous for his unique paintings of typical days in Korea in the mid-20th century, to a current exhibit highlighting decades of work from Korean Avant-Garde Association founder Kim Kulim – you’ll learn why Seoul is one of the most exciting cities in the world for art right now . 

If you have time, walk over to see the collection of roses in Theme Garden (also in Grand Park) too. 

Visit Jogyesa Temple

trip in seoul

While Buddhism is not quite as prevalent in Korea as it is in China, many South Korean residents have practised the religion for centuries, and you can find some beautiful temples throughout the country. Jogyesa Temple is a particularly stunning Buddhist temple, even if it is a bit younger than you might first guess. The beautiful, brightly coloured facade stands out as a symbol of old Korea amongst downtown Seoul’s office buildings and busy streets but is less than 100 years old. It’s still an active temple, with prayer, community events, and lectures happening frequently in this tranquil setting in the bustling metropolis.

If you visit between March and June, you’ll see the lotus lantern decorations. A rainbow of colours lights up the outdoor area near the temple and is nothing short of spectacular.

Chill Out at Cheonggyecheon Stream

Cheonggyecheon Stream Seoul South Korea

Now it’s time to have a little break like a local. Walk over to a nearby section of the 10.9 km (6.7-mile) Cheonggyecheon Stream for a unique example of nature in an urban setting. The stream runs through the city from the nearby valleys of Inwangsan Mountain and is a great place to kill some time. While the story hasn’t always been so rosy (it was part of the city’s sewage system for decades before being covered by a freeway), it’s once again a tranquil site flowing through the ancient city. After a restoration project in the early 21st century, it’s now a popular urban park where locals hang out and relax near the water. There’s plenty to look at along the shores of the stream, with bridges, trees, and murals lining the long concrete banks. 

As it runs through the city’s centre, it’s also a nice relaxed way to walk between different neighbourhoods including Insadong and Mugyo-Dong.  

Art installations like the multi-coloured spiral horn are fun to look at year-round. But if you visit South Korea around Christmas, the decorations over the stream are really fun to see.

Check Out the Namdaemun Gate

Sungnyemun (also known as the Namdaemun Gate) is a beautiful Joseon-dynasty gate on the southern side of the city and was one of 8 gates in total.

The gorgeous Pagoda-style gate sits atop large stone steps and is a striking reminder of the Joseon-dynasty rule. It was restored only a few years ago, but this fire was a bit different than many that destroyed Korean artefacts under Japanese occupation. It was actually an elderly Korean resident who committed arson and was responsible for destroying a large section of the elaborate building and roof. Tragic.

It took nearly 25 billion to complete the project, but you can see the iconic symbol how it was always intended to look when you visit the gate.

Eat and Drink in Itaewon

If you’re getting hungry again, I can’t blame you a bit. It’s been a full day. I have just the remedy for you, and it’s dinner and drinks in the vibrant Itaewon. The multicultural neighbourhood is a popular destination for locals and tourists and a perfect place to find food and drinks worldwide.

Your options are endless, but I have a couple of suggestions. If you want traditional Korean food, Maple Tree House serves delicious Korean BBQ in a stylish room. And if you’re in the mood for something different, head to Mikkeller Bar Seoul, where you can try craft beer and food at one of the famed Danish brewer’s South Korean outposts.

Take Namsan Cable Car Up to The N Seoul Tower and Visit the Observation Deck

N Seoul Tower

Now that you’ve seen many of the most historic sites in Seoul, it’s time to check it all out again from a bird’s eye view. What’s the best way to see Seoul at night? From the top of N Seoul Tower, no doubt. Once you reach the top, the observation deck offers some of the most incredible views of the city.

You can hike up, which takes about 30 minutes, but I think taking the Namsan Cable Car is worth the £16 ($20) round trip, especially at night. The views of the city and N Seoul Tower itself are spectacular, so long as you’re diligent about elbowing your way to the window so you can see them. 

Views of Seoul from Observation Deck N Seoul Tower South Korea-3

I was a bit disappointed that there weren’t much of any attractions at the top (BUSAN X in Busan has 3 levels of features to enjoy), but there is the N Grill restaurant, which I hear is actually pretty good. 

If you need to use the bathroom, this is the opportunity to do it – as you’ll enjoy the same amazing views of the bright lights from the buildings and highways from your stall as you do on the observation deck. 

Lock in your tickets to N Seoul Tower ahead of time to pick a perfect time slot .

Day 2: Shopping, Eating and Sightseeing

Insadong Hangane Bulgogi Jumak Seoul South Korea

No matter how many days you have in Seoul, you need to fit in some shopping, plus the lively food markets, futuristic malls, and hanbok shops in Bukchon Hanok Village require at least a half day to explore. 

So, on your second day in Seoul, bring your tote around town to see what surprises you can take home after your trip. 

But since this is only a 3-day itinerary, I planned a full day of sightseeing that includes some of the city’s best outdoor spaces, a Joseon Dynasty palace, and a fantastic little cocktail bar I found on my last trip. Enjoy.

Walk Around the Gardens at Changdeokgung Palace

Changgyeong Palace Seoul South Korea-6

Now, out of the 2 Joseon Dynasty royal palaces I visited, Changdeokgung Palace was my favourite. Why? Even though it’s not quite as famous as Gyeongbokgung, there’s actually a lot more to see here. For starters, the palace grounds are huge, at over 57 hectares. There are 13 buildings, and nearly ⅓ of them were not damaged when Japan occupied South Korea in the early to mid-20th century. 

Another plus? The architecture is slightly different from other royal palaces and the garden was left in a more natural-looking state.

Gyeongbokgung Palace Seoul South Korea-2

Pop into the palace’s buildings to try the AR experience where you can “attend” a historical 60th birthday party for the emperor’s mother as if you were one of the guests. It’s a really interesting experience and  talks you through the event.  I haven’t seen this done before, but it was a great way for building historical context for the ways in which the palace buildings would have been used in the past. 

Palaces aside, the secret gardens are the star of the show. Featuring beautiful pavilions, a large pond, and several types of trees lining the pathways, you need to make some time to walk around them and take in the scenery.

My favourite part? The aesthetic changes dramatically by the season, especially when the cherry blossoms bloom in the spring and when snow covers the buildings and landscape in the winter.

The palace and gardens are closed on Mondays, so plan accordingly. 

Stroll Through The Bukchon Hanok Village

Bukchon Hanok Village

South Korea is famed for its stunning hanok villages – old villages with traditional hanok houses, one of the most famous of which is in Jeonju. If you can’t plan a day trip to Jeonju, don’t worry. There’s another historic Joseon-era village right here in Seoul and it’s every bit as scenic. Bukchon Hanok Village is an enclave of about 900 houses along cobbled streets that date back as far as 600 years. This is one of the best places in South Korea to see the houses from the Joseon Dynasty era, with museums and stores inside some of the historic buildings. Want the perfect photo? You can rent a hanbok from 한복남 경복궁점 Hanboknam Gyeongbokgung hanbok rental shop, and walk around the village looking for the best perspective. It’s an excellent way to take a time warp and get some fun photos for social media. 

Bukchon Hanok Village Seoul South Korea-4

I won’t lie – outside of the early hours, it is packed with tourists, but that’s part of its charm I guess. 

There are some excellent museums to see in the area too. Don’t miss the Bukchon Asian Cultural Art Museum, where you can see artefacts from the village dating far back into the Joseon-era.

Shopping in Samcheong-Dong

Every Seoul travel itinerary needs to feature a stroll through Samcheong-Dong. If this neighbourhood already looks familiar, you’re not mistaken. You were right next to it at the Bukchon Hanok Village, and much of the same old-world charm remains in Samcheong-Dong. Walk around the narrow alleys and steep staircases, and you’ll be treated to plenty of modern shops, murals, and restaurants (try the handmade dough soup at Samcheongdong Sujebi if you need a snack). Check out the clothing boutiques, tea shops, and K-beauty stores like Beauty of Joseon in one of the most charming areas in Seoul. 

Mellow Out at Han River Park

Han River is one of Korea’s most iconic bodies of water, stretching from Kangwŏn through Seoul to the Yellow Sea. Hangang Park is a wonderful place to enjoy peace and quiet by the famous river, in one of 12 different parks in the city. I chose Yeouido Park as a stop for your trip because it’s on the way to The Hyundai Seoul and offers a great chance to people watch and get some exercise on the tree-line paths near the Han River. It’s a local spot that’s equally fun for tourists.

If you end up doing this later in the day, head to Seoul Bamdokkaebi Night Market for some excellent food, but it’s only open on Fridays and Saturdays from April to October.

Pop in to the Pop-Ups at The Hyundai Seoul

A department store as a must-see on your holiday in Seoul? Absolutely. And if you know anything about K-pop (I’m guessing you do), this shopping centre is going to be a really fun stop for you. The K-culture pop-up features numerous exhibits from famous K-pop groups, some not as well-known ones, and even actors like Lee Dong-wook, who sold packages of souvenirs to fans in November. There’s also plenty of snacks you can try if all the sightseeing makes you work up an appetite. There are lots of fun, international options, but you need to try Le Freak. It’s a “burger” joint, but it’s actually a fried chicken sandwich. Korean fried chicken is incredible, and this fast food restaurant deviates a bit from tradition but nails it with a Nashville Hot and Garlic Soy option. But even if the pop-up market isn’t your thing, the department store itself is really cool. It’s a beautiful space inside filled with striking modern architecture and lots of indoor plants for a welcoming feel.

Street Food at Gwangjang Market

Gwangjang Market Seoul South Korea-

I hope you shared the sandwich at The Hyundai because you’ll need an appetite when you visit Gwangjang Market. The 118-year-old market is one of Korea’s most famous places to eat, and you can honestly find just about any South Korean cuisine imaginable at this local haunt. So, how do you narrow in and really find the best thing to eat? Look no further than Sunhui-ne Bindaetteok, the crazy popular mung bean pancake shop that makes them better than you’ll find… anywhere. 

Gwangjang Market Seoul South Korea-

This isn’t your Western breakfast pancake. It’s so much more. The crispy exterior is full of flavour and ingredients, including succulent pork, spicy kimchi, and assorted veggies to give you some sustenance for the evening. If you want more than a quick snack, find a stall selling knife-cut noodles (Gohyang Kalguksu) and enjoy them with a savoury broth that should hold you over until your next meal.

Happy Hour at Ace Four Club

Ready to party? Seoul is a lively city, where the party always seems to be going on, but if you want something a bit more sophisticated, you want to head to Ace Four Club in the trendy Euljiro-dong neighbourhood.

For starters, the vibe is just incredible. It’s a brilliant ​​ fin-de-siecle cocktail bar in a 60-year-old teahouse with beautiful views from the hardwood tables in the dimly lit space. 

But it’s not just surface-level stuff here. No, the cocktails are exquisite. The menu leans simple and classic (which I love) without too many surprises. But the negroni, old-fashioned, and high ball are all made with expert precision and the finest products. But alas, I could enjoy a G&T made by the most jaded bartender and still enjoy the timeless decor and genuine energy at this hidden gem in Seoul.

Go For a Night Out in Nogari Alley 

Nogari Alley is a street open-air drinking spot with cheap drinks and a lively atmosphere. Perfect place to kick start the last night of your Seoul 3-day itinerary, isn’t it? Euljiro is one of the coolest neighbourhoods in Seoul, and Nogari Alley is its liveliest street. Think make-shift dining tables pulled out onto the sidewalks and streets with a young, local crowd chowing down on fried chicken, burgers, and beers. Have a hankering for Western food? The Ranch Brewing Euljiro sells square pizzas and craft beers in a lively setting popular with locals. It’s a lot of fun.

Day 3: Hiking, Visiting the DMZ, and Spa Time

N Seoul Tower

It’s the final day of your Seoul trip itinerary. You’ll cover a lot of ground on foot and drive to the DMZ, but you’ll finish the day with a luxurious spa treatment in one of Seoul’s best spots. 

Climb Inwangsan 

You’re going to have to wake up, rally, and head out to the hiking trails early on Day 3. But trust me, the views from the top of Inwangsan will wipe away any brain fog from the bright lights and stiff drinks the night before. Climb up this short but challenging hike in Jongno-gu, which has over 550 feet of elevation gain, making you question the literal translation of Inwangsan to “compassionate/benevolent king.” I promise, the views of the sun rising over the city will put a smile on your face once you’ve caught your breath.

You can’t hike this trail on Mondays (it’s closed), so you’ll need to move this to another time if Monday is the final day of your trip.

Walk Through Seodaemun Prison 

The 20th-century Seodaemun Prison was once known as Keijo Prison under Japanese occupation. During the years of colonial rule, the jail quickly went from 500 to nearly 3,000 inmates, with harsh conditions that included torture and murder. Sad, but true. Korean independence activists spent decades in prison until it was turned over to South Korea after World War II. Now, you can tour the property and learn about the inmates’ stories and struggles in a very moving memorial, which I think everyone should do on their trip to South Korea.

You can preorder tickets for around £1.80 ($2.25) here

See North Korea at the DMZ or Visit Aegibong Peace Ecopark/i

Aegibong Peace Ecopark

You won’t have time for a full tour if you want to fit in other activities, so you’ll miss a few highlights of the Korean DMZ. The stretch of demarcation on the 38th parallel separating North and South Korea is a popular area to visit to learn more about the history of the Korean War and it also offers a glimpse into North Korea. Luckily, Aegibong Peace Ecopark is an excellent alternative to the standard DMZ tour, with loads of information about the history of the war and a peek into one of North Korea’s most important cities: Pyongyang (granted from far away).

The drive takes 1.5 hours each way, and you’ll want to avoid peak commute times, which you can bypass by leaving after 10 am and returning before the evening rush hour.

Korean BBQ and Nightlife in Myeongdong

Myeongdong Seoul South Korea

Keep the party going in Myeongdong, where the busy shopping district transforms into a nightlife paradise, with neon lights covering everything from the storefronts to the trees lining the bustling avenues. Before you go out for a nightcap, be sure to visit one of the city’s favourite BBQ joints, Chung Ki Wa. Order a plate of the signature spare ribs. The secret sauce is insane, and for about £18 ($22), you’ll have enough food to handle cocktail hour.

Myeongdong is a huge neighbourhood with tons to see, but you have to check out Myeongdong Sukui. You’ll need to track down the speakeasy (it’s on the 4th floor of this building ) and kind of trust your instincts to locate the elevator. But trust me, it’s worth the effort to try one of the perfectly-made cocktails.

Call ahead to reserve a spot, the secret is out

Jijimbang at Spa Lei

South Korea has a rich history of spas (Jijimbang), which date back to royalty in the Joseon Dynasty era, taking advantage of the natural hot springs throughout the country. 

Spa culture in Seoul is a 24/7 affair, with many of the best houses staying open around the clock. Make like a true South Korean and go for a cleansing Jijimbang at the end of your night out. 

 My favourite, Spa Lei, is one such place, making it the best activity to cap off your time in Seoul. Entrance to the spa is around £25 – you can pay that by card, but you need to have cash to pay for massages / scrubs within the spa itself. I opted for the 1 hour scrub and massage combo and it cost around £70. 

This isn’t necessarily a relaxing experience, but you will come out feeling brand new. Guaranteed. Think of an ultra-modern Art Nouveau setting using traditional Korean products.

If you are going to have a scrub, definitely make sure you spend some time moving between the warm baths first (min 30 mins) as it helps soften your skin. I’ve had a lot of scrubs before but this one was *vigorous* so you’ll definitely benefit from having prepped your skin a bit beforehand. 

Have More Time? Add These To Your Itinerary 

If you have time to stretch your trip out a few more days, I’d highly recommend adding a day trip to another one of South Korea’s beautiful cities. There are many different locations to choose from, and the KTX high-speed train connects you to the top of many of the destinations in the country in under 3 hours. Here’s a look at a couple of the best.

Gamcheon Village Busan South Korea-4

The KTX will bring you to Busan in around 3 hours, and the first thing you’ll notice is how beautiful this city is. Located on the southeastern point of the peninsula, you can catch outstanding ocean views from the top of the tallest skyscraper, BUSAN X the SKY, or from a scenic cable car on Busan Air Cruise.

There is some excellent food here, too. If you’re at the popular Haeundae Beach, go to Korean Steak Grill 전설의 우대갈비 해운대직영점, and enjoy a plate of Korean BBQ that’s expertly cooked and sliced at your table.

Jeonju South Korea

If you’re looking to slow down a little and take in the scenery, food, and culture of one of South Korea’s most charming towns, jump on the KTX from Yongsan Station and arrive in Jeonju in a few hours for under £30 ($38).

You’ll find that Jeonju Hanok Village is the most charming historical Korean village in the country, with somewhere between 700-800 Joseon Dynasty-era-inspired houses (who’s counting?) lining the idyllic cobbled streets. 

Rent a hanbok dress and amble about the village, stopping at Gyeonggijeon Shrine to learn more about Joseon Dynasty’s first ruler, King Tae-jo, who was born in Jeonju.

Jeonju South Korea

But do save time to explore more of Jeonju, where the famous bibimbap dish was invented. It’s a culinary delight and an official UNESCO City of Gastronomy with hidden gems around every corner like the excellent 경성금돼지 – Pork Grill Restaurant. Try the cold noodles with sizzling cuts of pork and heaping spoonfuls of kimchi for a perfectly balanced treat.

Handy Tips for Planning Your Seoul Trip

  • Getting around Seoul via bus and subway is really easy – simply buy and charge a transport card and use it to tap in and out of the relevant locations. 
  • Use Naver or Kakao – Google Maps doesn’t really work in South Korea. 
  • While it’s possible to fit in a trip to the DMZ, it may come at the expense of a couple of other locations. Prioritise what you want to see the most and visit those locations over your first 2 days in the city.
  • While South Korea is mostly card-friendly, there are a few instances (like in the spa) where you need to pay in cash, so have some Korean Won with you at all times. 

Recommended Tours

Insadong Seoul

What to Pack 

  • Comfy sneakers, you’ll be on your feet a lot during your 3 days in Seoul.
  • Bring a universal travel adapter to use with the plugs, which include both Type C and Type F.
  • If you’re travelling in the winter, you’ll want a warm jacket, hat, and gloves.
  • Wear loose-fitting, lightweight tops that cover your shoulders and chest in the summer, as South Korean women dress more conservatively. 

Recommended Hotels

trip in seoul

Quick Info for Your 3 Days in Seoul 

  • Time Zone: Korean Time Zone (GMT+9)
  • Currency: South Korean won
  • Plugs: Type C, Type F
  • Nearest Airport: Incheon International Airport (ICN)
  • 5 Must-See Spots: N Seoul Tower, Gwangjang Market, Changdeokgung Palace, Bukchon Hanok Village, Cheonggyecheon Stream. 
  • Top Tip: Ditch your Google Maps and use Naver or Kakao to navigate the sprawling city. 

Getting Around 

Seoul has excellent public transportation, which you can rely on to get just about anywhere in this itinerary. The train and bus system is easy to navigate. Just charge up your card as you go, and you can dip in and out of each ride.

Read All Seoul Guides

Views of Seoul from Observation Deck N Seoul Tower South Korea-3

Read More South Korea Guides

  • How to Spend 10 Days in South Korea
  • Cool Things to do in South Korea
  • The Best Things to do in Busan

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3 Days in Seoul

I’m Julianna Barnaby - a professional travel writer and geek extraordinaire. I started The Discoveries Of to help you to discover the best of new destinations from around the world.

Discovering new places is a thrill - whether it’s close to home, a new country or continent, I write to help you explore more and explore differently.

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4 Days in Seoul Itinerary

Asia , Itinerary , Korea , Seoul

What to do in​ Seoul for 4 days 

Are you planning your first trip to South Korea? Yay, I’m excited to show you around my beloved home country.

For your first visit, I’d suggest you spending at least   4 days in Seoul , which would give you a proper introduction to Korea’s capital city.

This 4-Day Seoul Itinerary covers things to do in Seoul most efficiently, so you can explore the most popular Seoul attractions and neighborhoods during your precious vacation time. You can count on me!

Got 5 days in Seoul or more? Perfect! You will never run out of things to do in Seoul. Check out 20 unique things to do in Seoul for more ideas for your adventure.

Better yet, venture out of Seoul. Depending on how many days you have in Korea, I recommend day trips from Seoul : DMZ tours and Nami Islands . Or, add Busan or Gyeongju into your Korea itinerary.

Table of Contents

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[Seoul Itinerary - By Korean] Explore Seoul like a local! What to do, eat, and see to experience the highlights of Seoul in just 4 days. A detailed itinerary includes lots of local insider’s tip.  | #SeoulItinerary #KoreaItinerary #TravelSeoul #KoreaTrip

Disclosure : This article may contain affiliate links. If you purchase by clicking some of these links, I may receive a small commission, at no additional cost to you . Click here to read full disclaimer. 

Before visiting Korea, read my other articles about Seoul:

  • What to Do, Eat & Shop in Hongdae
  • 15 Things to Do in Insadong
  • What to Do beyond Shopping in Myeongdong
  • A Complete Guide to Gyeongbokgung Palace
  • 7 Best Seoul Day Trip Ideas
  • How to Eat Korean BBQ Like a Local
  • How to Get to Nami Island from Seoul

Seoul Itinerary Summary

Day 1 : Gyeongbokgung Palace → National Palace Museum or National Folk Museum → Samcheongdong Cafe Street → Bukchon Hanok Village → Jogyesa Temple → Insadong Day 2 : Namdaemun Traditional Market → Myeongdong → (optional: Namsangol Hanok Village) → Nanta Performance → N Seoul Tower Day 3 : National Museum of Korea → (optional: Hangeul Museum, War Memorial of Korea) → Lunch: Noryangjin Fish Market → Itaewon or Hongdae  Day 4 : Gangnam [Coex Mall → Bongeunsa Temple → Garosu-gil → Apgujeong Rodeo Street], or Jamsil [Lotte World] → Lotte World Tower

>> Get a discounted tourist card to save money: Discover Seoul Pass (Seoul city pass by tourism bureau) Seoul Pass (by Klook) or Go City: All-Inclusive Seoul Pass . The pass covers many of the activities included in this itinerary. ​

[Seoul Itinerary - By Korean] Explore Seoul like a local! What to do, eat, and see to experience the highlights of Seoul in just 4 days. A detailed itinerary includes lots of local insider’s tip.  | #SeoulItinerary #KoreaItinerary #TravelSeoul #KoreaTrip

How to Get to Seoul from Incheon Airport

Like other capital cities globally, Seoul has two main airports outside of the town: Incheon (ICN) and Gimpo (GMP) Airport.

If you are coming from overseas, you will most likely fly into Incheon Airport. Incheon Airport is the largest airport in Korea. Incheon Airport is the best international airport I have ever been to. And every time, I am amazed by how efficient the Korean system works in such a massive airport. No wonder why it has continuously been awarded the world’s best, cleanest, and busiest titles by various organizations! 

While Incheon Airport is quite away from the city center,  public transportation is   easy to navigate  for foreigners and  the most efficient way  to get into Seoul.

>> To use public transportation in Korea, I highly recommend  purchasing a T-money Card and enjoy discounted hassle-free rides.   It can be used for all transport, including AREX, subways, public buses, and taxis throughout the country.  ​

The Airport Railroad Express (AREX) is the fastest way to get to Seoul’s central areas . AREX operates two trains: Express and All-Stop Trains. Express departs from Terminal 1 and 2 straight to Seoul Station, respectively taking 43 min. and 51 min. Whereas, the all-stop train stops in between Seoul Station (yet takes less than an hour), including Gimpo Airport and Hongik Univ. (Hongdae).

Seoul subway system is one of the best in the world. You can quickly jump into the subway system from Seoul Station, or other AREX stops to your final destination.

Express Train

Hours : [Terminal 1] 5:23 am – 10:48 pm |   [Terminal 2] 5:15 am – 10:40 pm Fares : Adults ₩9,000 | Children ₩7,000

All-stop Train

Hours : [Terminal 1] 5:24 am – 11:39 pm |  [Terminal 2] 5:18 am – 11:32 pm Fares : Adults ₩4,150 (from Terminal 1) or ₩4,750 (from Terminal 2)

>> Why drag your luggage when you can have it delivered to your hotel? Luggage delivery or storage service is super convenient and affordable in Korea. I always use this service and love that I don’t have to carry heavy luggage. Enjoy same-day delivery, whether it is airport-from/to-hotel or  hotel-to-hotel service .

Airport Bus

While AREX is the fastest way to the city center, you might prefer to take an airport bus if you prefer not to transfer trains with luggage. But note that Seoul traffic is notorious during the rush hours.

Terminal 1 : Go to the ticket booths at the Arrivals Hall (1F) near Gates 4 & 9 or outside by Gates 4, 6, 7, 8, 11, or 13.

Terminal 2 : Go to the bus terminal at the Transportation Center (B1F).

For more information, visit the Incheon Airport transportation page.

Incheon Airport to Myeongdong

By Train : Take AREX (to Seoul Station direction) → Transfer to Subway Line 4 → Take off at Myeongdong Station. By Bus : Take airport limousine #6015 (₩15,000 or Tmoney: ₩13,000)

Incheon Airport to Hongdae

By Train : Take AREX all-stop train (to Seoul Station direction) → Take off at Hongdae Station. By Bus : Take airport limousine #6002 (₩10,000)

Incheon Airport to Seoul Station

By Train : Take AREX to Seoul Station By Bus : Take airport limousine #6002 (₩10,000)

Incheon Airport to Itaewon

By Train : Take AREX all-stop train (to Seoul Station direction) → Get off at Gongdeok Station → Transfer to Subway Line 6 → Take off at Itaewon Station. By Bus : Take airport limousine #6030 (₩15,000 or Tmoney: ₩13,000)

Taking a taxi from Incheon Airport to Seoul can be expensive. You will pay the fare by the meter, plus the toll.

>> Would you prefer to get a private car service?  Book your airport pickup  from Incheon International Airport. (No Uber in Korea.)

How to Get to Seoul from Gimpo Airport

Gimpo Airport is closer to Seoul and mostly serves domestic routes. But if you are flying from Asian countries, you may arrive at Gimpo Airport.

You can use either the Seoul subway system (Line 5) or a variety of limousine, city, and town buses. For bus routes and schedule, visit the Gimpo Airport Transportation page.

>> Wait! Before you leave the airport, be sure to pick up a 4G SIM card with unlimited data  or rent a  4G Pocket WiFi . Enjoy the fastest Internet speed in the world in one of the most wired countries!

Free Travel Apps

Did you know Google Map doesn’t work the best in Korea? Instead, use Kakao Map ( iOS , Google Play ) for accurate location search and navigation. The app supports English. I also included the map link for the exact location in this itinerary.

To call a taxi, download Kakao T ( iOS , Google Play ) . Remember neither Uber nor Grab is available in Korea.

4 Days in Seoul Itinerary: Day 1

[Korea Itinerary] Seoul Day 1: Gyeongbokgung Palace → (optional: National Palace Museum or National Folk Museum) → Samcheongdong Cafe Street → Bukchon Hanok Village → Jogyesa Temple → Insadong | #SeoulItinerary #KoreaItinerary #TravelSeoul #Hanbok #Gyeongbokgung

Take memorable photos in hanbok at Gyeongbokgung Palace | Image Credit: IR Studio via Korea Tourism Organization

​ Rent a hanbok

Hanbok is a traditional Korean outfit from the Joseon Dynasty. The costume is gorgeous and figure-forgiving (read = looks fabulous on everyone!). When you snap photos in hanbok with the ancient palace as your backdrop, you will get so many Instagram-worthy images. So why not going for this cultural experience while making a fashion statement? Plus, for anyone in hanbok, your admission to all Five Grand Palaces of Seoul is free .

I wore a  kimono to Asakusa in Tokyo . I cherish the cultural experience and amazing photos to this day. But I remember being exhausted after walking around all day in a belly-tight kimono and uncomfortable zori. Do not worry. Hanbok is much loose-fitting and less restraining. 

You will easily find hanbok rental shops near Gyeongbokgung Palace. I recommend researching and booking your spot to save time. 

>> Rent hanbok   near Gyeongbokgung Palace  and  enjoy the discount .

>> Make sure your photos come out absolutely the best at Gyeongbokgung Palace with  this hanbok rental + photoshoot package .

Gyeongbokgung Palace Tour: Gyeonghoeru Pavilion is the most beautiful architecture in Joseon’s main palace. | #Geyonghoeru #Gyeongbokgung #VisitSeoul #TravelKorea

Gyeonghoeru Pavilion is the most beautiful architecture in Joseon’s main palace.

Gyeongbokgung Palace

Once you are styled up in hanbok, head to Gyeongbokgung Palace. Gyeongbokgung Palace is the main royal palace of the Joseon Dynasty . And it is one of my favorite heritage places to visit in Seoul that I never get tired of. If it’s your first time, I highly recommend choosing Gyeongbokgung Palace over other palaces in Seoul.

In my opinion, the Gyeonghoeru Pavilion is the most beautiful architecture in the palace ground. Only a few visitors per day led by the palace guide are allowed to preserve the delicate ancient structure. You will need to book your spot in advance.

Be sure to read my  detailed guide to Gyeongbokgung Palace , including Gyeonghoeru Pavilion tour. You will find essential information about the Changing of Guards ceremony, free guided tours in multiple languages and other small group tours, limited-time evening programs, and other special programs not to be missed.

Gyeongbokgung Palace has two museums on the palace ground: National Palace Museum and National Folk Museum. If you would like, you can make your way to one of the museums next.

Admission : ₩3,000 (included in Discover Seoul Pass ) | Age 7-18: ₩1,500 Free Admission : Children under 6 or Seniors (Age 65+) |  Free if worn hanbok | Everyone enters free on the last Wednesdays of the month. Hours : Spring (March – May) & Autumn (Sept. – Oct.): 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. | Summer (June – Aug.): 9 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. | Winter (Nov. – Feb.): 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. (Closed on Tuesdays) Location : 161, Sajik-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul [ Open Kakao Map ] Nearest Subway Station : Line 3, Gyeongbokgung Station, Exit #5 Line 5, Gyeongbokgung Station, Exit #2

National Palace Museum of Korea

If you are intrigued by the history of the Joseon Dynasty, visit National Palace Museum. The National Palace Museum ( 국립고궁박물관 ) exhibits relics from the Joseon Dynasty to the Korean Empire (1392-1910). You can see royal court paintings and learn about royal court life and ceremonies. 

Admission : Free Hours : 10 am – 6 pm (Wed. & Sat. Open until 9 pm) | Closed on New Year’s Day, Lunar New Year’s Day & Chuseok holidays Location : 12, Hyoja-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul [ open Kakao map ]

[Korea] Seoul Day 1: Gyeongbokgung Palace → (optional: National Palace Museum or National Folk Museum) → Samcheongdong Cafe Street → Bukchon Hanok Village → Jogyesa Temple → Insadong | #SeoulItinerary #KoreaItinerary #TravelSeoul #nationalfolkmuseum

National Folk Museum of Korea

The National Folk Museum ( 국립민속박물관 ) displays the culture and folk history of people in the Korean peninsula from prehistoric times. This is where you can peek at traditional Korean culture, food, and everyday life. A Walk Down Memory Lane recreates the streets of the 70s-80s in Korea.

Admission : Free Hours : March – May, Sept.-Oct.: 9am – 6pm | June-Aug.: 9am – 6:30p | Nov. – Feb.: 9am – 5pm (Last Wed./Fri. & Sat. Open until 9pm) | Closed on New Year’s Day, Lunar New Year’s Day & Chuseok holidays Location :37, Samcheong-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul [ open Kakao map ]

>> Visit Gyeongbokgung Palace and the National Palace Museum to learn about the history of the Joseon Dynasty. Take this history walk tour with a guide (includes admission). 

>> Stroll around Gyeongbokgung Palace and the nearby Blue House with a professional guide. This tour also takes you to the Jogyesa Buddhist Temple, Seochon Hanok Village and Tongin Traditional Market.

[Korea] Seoul Day 1: Gyeongbokgung Palace → (optional: National Palace Museum or National Folk Museum) → Samcheongdong Cafe Street → Bukchon Hanok Village → Jogyesa Temple → Insadong | #SeoulItinerary #KoreaItinerary #TravelSeoul #Samcheongdong

Lunch: Samcheongdong Cafe Street

The northeast of the Gyeongbokgung Palace is Samcheongdong. Samcheongdong cafe street is alleyways with cute hanok cafes, art galleries, and independent shops.

You can explore Samcheongdong to eat lunch, enjoy coffee/tea and desserts, and shop while making your way to Bukchon Hanok Village.

Samcheongdong Sujebi

I love a warmly-served  sujebi  in  hangari  (Hand-pulled noodle soup in a traditional clay pot), paired with kimchi. If you’d like, you can also try mung bean pancake and  dongdongju  (traditional liquor similar to makgeolli). 

[Korea] Seoul Day 1: Gyeongbokgung Palace → (optional: National Palace Museum or National Folk Museum) → Samcheongdong Cafe Street → Bukchon Hanok Village → Jogyesa Temple → Insadong | #SeoulItinerary #KoreaItinerary #TravelSeoul #Samcheongdong #koreanfood

You will need to line up at this famous joint during the lunch hour. There are two similar shops right next to each other. Although both are good, check before lining up if you want to make sure to eat at the original restaurant.

Location : 101-1, Samcheong-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul [ open Kakao map ]

[Korea] Seoul Day 1: Gyeongbokgung Palace → (optional: National Palace Museum or National Folk Museum) → Samcheongdong Cafe Street → Bukchon Hanok Village → Jogyesa Temple → Insadong | #SeoulItinerary #KoreaItinerary #TravelSeoul #Samcheongdong

Coffee Mill

You may want to grab coffee or tea after lunch. Samcheongdong has many unique hanok cafes of different styles from traditional to modern zen to art galleries. 

I am a big fan of einspänner (Viennese Coffee), a cup of espresso topped with a cloud of cream. It is basically for people like me who enjoy a much sweeter version of espresso. If you are with me, you will appreciate einspänner at a cozy hanok cafe called Coffee Mill. The owner barista also draws a caricature for guests when he has downtime. 

Location : 8-11, Bukchon-ro 5 ga-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul [ open Kakao map ]

[Korea] Seoul Day 1: Gyeongbokgung Palace → (optional: National Palace Museum or National Folk Museum) → Samcheongdong Cafe Street → Bukchon Hanok Village → Jogyesa Temple → Insadong | #SeoulItinerary #KoreaItinerary #TravelSeoul #Bukchon #hanok

Bukchon Hanok Village

I suggest you visiting Gyeongbokgung Palace and Bukchon Hanok Village on the same day while you are wearing hanbok for the memorable experience and photo opportunity.

(You can also rent hanbok in Bukchon and hire a professional photographer .)    

Bukchon Hanok Village is the most well-known and popular hanok village in Seoul. As it is sandwiched between Gyeongbokgung and Changdeokgung Palaces, many government officials and noble families of the Joseon Dynasty used to live in the area. The hanok houses in this part of town have been modernly renovated. Some of them are luxury houses with a well-manicured garden inhabited by wealthy families.

Bukchon is a bit hilly. There are a few vista points, which are marked with signs and easy to locate.

[Korea] Seoul Day 1: Gyeongbokgung Palace → (optional: National Palace Museum or National Folk Museum) → Samcheongdong Cafe Street → Bukchon Hanok Village → Jogyesa Temple → Insadong | #SeoulItinerary #KoreaItinerary #TravelSeoul #Bukchon #hanok

If you care for a bird-eye view of a hanok village, visit Bukchon Observatory. Do not expect a typical high-rise observatory, though. It is a small private home, where you can see ㅁ shaped hanok layouts, traditional roofs, and Gyeongbokgung palace from afar. You pay a small fee to enter and receive a mini cup of refreshment.    

For first-time visitors, Bukchon is an excellent choice. You can see the past and present of inhabited hanok houses, which is more meaningful than a folk village, in my opinion. On the downside, you may not enter private homes to see the interior.    

Please keep quiet out of respect for residents. No one would enjoy brawling tourists peeping in their private lives and making noise all day.

Hope you took enough photos by now. Let’s return your hanbok before heading to the next stop.

Admission : Free Location : 49, Bukchon-ro 11-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul [ Open Kakao Map ] Nearest Subway Station : Line 3, Anguk Station, Exit 1 or 2

[Seoul Travel Guide by a Korean] What to Do in Insadong, Seoul’s Traditional District | Practice Tranquility at Jogyesa Temple | #Insadong #Seoul #TravelKorea #AsiaTravel #ThingstoDo #JogyesaTemple

Jogyesa Temple

Jogyesa Temple is the head temple of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism, which was established during the Joseon Dynasty.

Contrary to the majority of Korean Buddhist temples located remotely, Jogyesa is accessible in the city center. While I cannot say it represents Korean Buddhist temples, you can swing by to enjoy the peaceful moments. Colorful lanterns and old trees on the temple ground also makes it a great place to take photos.

If you are interested in Korean temple food, temple stays, or Buddhism in general, the surrounding area of Jogyesa is an excellent place to explore.

Admission : Free (donations appreciated.) Location : 55, Ujeongguk-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul [ Open Kakao Map ] Nearest Subway Station : Line 3, Anguk Station, Exit 6 | Line 1, Jonggak Station, Exit 2

[Korea] Seoul Day 1: Gyeongbokgung Palace → (optional: National Palace Museum or National Folk Museum) → Samcheongdong Cafe Street → Bukchon Hanok Village → Jogyesa Temple → Insadong | #SeoulItinerary #KoreaItinerary #TravelSeoul #Insadong

Insadong Traditional Street

Across the street from the Jogyesa Temple lies the Insadong Traditional Street. For cultural travelers fascinated by the traditions of Korea , Insadong is one of the unmissable Seoul neighborhoods. 

Exploring the quaint little alleyways of Insadong, you will see many micro galleries, artists’ workshops, handicrafts, and antique shops. You may appreciate arts and culture, and shop traditional souvenirs to bring back home with memories. For more hands-on experiences, you might want to join various classes to make from kimchi to traditional handicrafts.

For tea lovers like me, Insadong is an excellent area to try a variety of Korean teas . There are many traditional and modern tea houses to choose from.

Before returning to the hotel, have dinner in Insadong. The area has so many notable restaurants from hand-pulled noodles to Korean barbecue to  hanjeongsik  (Korean table d’hôte). 

For more details about my recommendations, check out 15 Things to Do in Insadong .

>> If you want to explore more traditional Korea on your first day,   this history full-day tour to visit Gyeongbokgung Palace, Insadong, N Seoul Tower, and Namsan Hanok Village. The tour also offers an option to venture out to the Korean Folk Village in the outskirt of Seoul.

4 Days in Seoul Itinerary: Day 2

[Korea] Seoul Day 2: Namdaemun Traditional Market → Myeongdong → (optional: Namsangol Hanok Village) → Nanta Performance → N Seoul Tower | #SeoulItinerary #KoreaItinerary #TravelSeoul #Namdaemun

Namdaemun Traditional Market

Let’s start your day 2 at Namdaemun. Namdaemun Traditional Market first opened in 1414 during the Joseon Dynasty as a government-chartered market. Ever since, it remains the oldest and largest traditional market in Korea .

Koreans say Namdaemun got everything except what it doesn’t. The range of things you can find here is incredible! You can find anything from clothing, accessories, bedding, kitchenware, eyewear, camera and electronics, stationery, souvenirs, military equipment to grocery (produce, meat, fish, etc.).

Namdaemun is both a wholesale and retail market. Most of the traditional markets in the country will be purchasing their goods at Namdaemun wholesale. For example, Namdaemun accounts for 90% of the children’s fashion sold in the markets. This means that you will most likely get the best price for the same item at Namdaemun . And that’s why I highly recommend shopping for all your Korean souvenirs right here. 

Insider’s Tip : 

  • Once you get there, pick up a map at the information center. Namdaemun is giant organized chaos. Their product categories are generally clustered. But the only way to see this is by looking at the map. 
  • Namdaemun Traditional Market is HUGE and crowded! If you are traveling with children, make sure to keep your eyes on them ALL THE TIME.
  • Cash is king! You can try to haggle. But the only way to succeed is by buying multiple items at one store, paying with cash, and having a big smile! 
Hours : Varies by the shop. Many retail shops open early in the morning until early evening. Location : 21, Namdaemunsijang 4-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul [ open Kakao map ] Nearest Subway Station : Line 4, Hoehyeon Station, Exit 5

Lunch: Namdaemun Food Alley

Once shopping is done, let’s fill up your stomach. Food is an integral part of experiencing the traditional market and Korean culture. Each conventional market in Korea has specialty food you must try. At Namdaemun, I recommend trying Galchi Jorim (spicy braised cutlassfish) or Kalguksu (knife-cut noodles). 

[Korea] Seoul Day 2: Namdaemun Traditional Market → Myeongdong → (optional: Namsangol Hanok Village) → Nanta Performance → N Seoul Tower | #SeoulItinerary #KoreaItinerary #TravelSeoul #Namdaemun #koreanfood

Galchi Jorim  ( 갈치조림 ) is a cutlassfish (also called belt fish or hairtail fish) braised in a spicy sauce with radish. If you can handle spicy food and fish, this is Namdaemun’s specialty food to try. The restaurants along the  Cutlassfish Alley  usually give you a complimentary Gyeran-jjim ( 계란찜 ), steamed egg custard in hot pot, to neutralize spiciness. 

[Korea] Seoul Day 2: Namdaemun Traditional Market → Myeongdong → (optional: Namsangol Hanok Village) → Nanta Performance → N Seoul Tower | #SeoulItinerary #KoreaItinerary #TravelSeoul #Namdaemun #koreanfood

Kalguksu  ( 칼국수 ) is another (vegetarian) option. At Namdaemun’s famous Kalguksu Alley, a row of food stalls serve a unique combo meal at the affordable price you will rarely find in Seoul. While you can choose to eat Kalguksu noodle by itself, try the combo with barley bibimbap ( 보리비빔밥 ) and cold noodles ( 냉면 ). If you don’t eat eggs, make sure to ask for no egg:  “Gyeran ppaego juseyo ( 계란   빼고   주세요 ).”  

If none of these call your name, check out many food stalls in the market. They sell delicious hotteok, tteokbokki, kimbap, corn dog, etc.

[Korea] Seoul Day 2: Namdaemun Traditional Market → Myeongdong → (optional: Namsangol Hanok Village) → Nanta Performance → N Seoul Tower | #SeoulItinerary #KoreaItinerary #TravelSeoul #Myeongdong

Myeongdong Shopping Street

Myeongdong is one of the most vibrant shopping districts in Seoul . So it is only natural we continue shopping here. However, I promise you it won’t be redundant.

What you should buy in Namdaemun and in Myeongdong are entirely different. Namdaemun shopping focuses on souvenirs and household/lifestyle items. In contrast, I recommend paying attention to Korean skincare and cosmetics in Myeongdong.

For any K-beauty fans, Myeongdong would be the heaven. This shopping district has all the K-beauty brands you know and didn’t know. You might also be thrilled to visit notable flagship stores, such as Stylenanda Pink Hotel (3CE), AHC Future Salon, Innisfree Green Cafe , and many more.

If you also get a Korean-style makeover, you can try the trendiest hairstyle, get your nails and facial done, and buy street fashion – all in Myeongdong.

Oh, before leaving Myeongdong shopping district, have dinner. From street food to a sit-down restaurant, Myeongdong has so many places where you can eat delicious Korean meals .

I wrote all the details, including shopping tips and Myeongdong food. It will help you plan  what to do in Myeongdong , so make sure you read it! 

Location : Myeongdong 2-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul [ open Kakao map ] Nearest Subway Station : Line 4, Myeongdong Station, Exit 5-10

[What to Do in Hongdae: A Local’s Guide to Seoul’s Hippest Neighborhood] - See NANTA, non-verbal percussion musical show | #Hongdae #Seoul #TravelKorea #AsiaTravel #ThingstoDo #Nanta

I dug out this NANTA poster from the show we went 10 years ago!

Nanta is the longest-running show in Korea. It is a non-verbal percussion performance that evolves around drama in the restaurant kitchen. 

I know you will be dead tired from walking and shopping all day. And you might think you may not fully enjoy a theatrical show. But I promise you this show is so exciting and entertaining that you will feel more rejuvenated . 

The performers use everything in the kitchen as an instrument. With bare minimum words, the story is easy to follow and quite comical. The upbeat rhythm from Korean folk music,  samulnori , will make you want to get up and bust a move. Don’t miss the show. I highly recommend it!

Admission : Book your discount ticket here (Included in GoCity: Seoul Pass ), or get a 25% discount with Discover Seoul Pass .  Hours : 5pm, 8pm | Fri. & Sun.: 2pm, 5pm, 8pm | Sat.: 11am, 2pm, 5pm, 8pm Location : Myeongdong Nanta Theatre, 26, Myeongdong-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul [ open Kakao map ] Nearest Subway Station : Line 4, Myeongdong Station, Exit 6

[Korea] Seoul Day 2: Namdaemun Traditional Market → Myeongdong → (optional: Namsangol Hanok Village) → Nanta Performance → N Seoul Tower | #SeoulItinerary #KoreaItinerary #TravelSeoul #Myeongdong #namsangol #hanok

Optional: Namsangol Hanok Village

As you visited Bukchon Hanok Village on Day 1, I’ll leave it up to you whether you want to check out Namsangol Hanok Village. If you have to choose between Nanta and Namsangol, go for Nanta.

Namsangol Hanok Village is a group of five notable hanok houses previously owned and lived by high-ranking government officials of the Joseon Dynasty.

Unlike Bukchon, Namsangol is more like a folk village . No one lives in the well-preserved ancient houses so you can check out the interiors and take a glance at traditional Korean lifestyles.

Also, Namsangol Hanok Village is much more than just hanok houses. Located on the northern foot of Namsan, it feels more like a park . You can walk around the traditional garden with pond, check out Seoul Namsan Gukakdang (traditional music theater), sip a coffee at a hanok cafe, etc.

Admission : Free Hours : April – Oct.: 9am – 9pm | Nov. – March: 9am – 8pm | Closed on Mondays. Location : 28, Toegye-ro 34-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul [ Open Kakao Map ] Nearest Subway Station : Line 3 & 4, Chungmuro Station, Exit 4

15 Awesome Things to Do in Myeongdong, Seoul | #14 Go up the N Seoul Tower | #Myeongdong #Namsan #NSeoulTower #visitSeoul #TravelKorea #AsiaTravel

N Seoul Tower at night | Image Credit: (IR Studio) – Korea Tourism Organization

N Seoul Tower

When the dusk sets in Seoul, take the Namsan Cable Car up to N Seoul Tower. Enjoy a panoramic view of the beautifully lit city from the top of Namsan.

N Seoul Tower is an iconic landmark where you can view the Seoul skyline . From a long time ago, it has been a popular dating spot; couples hang love locks promising eternal love.

If you missed dinner in Myeongdong, you could try a sky lounge restaurant . The classic French restaurant revolves 360-degree presenting romantic views of Seoul through the large glass windows. 

Observatory Admission : ₩10,000 [ Purchase discount ticket here ] (Included in GoCity: Seoul Pass ) Location : [ Open Kakao Map ]

>> Take  the city sightseeing bus (Palace route) to get to N Seoul Tower otherwise difficult to get to without a car.

Busan Itinerary 5 Days (South Korea) | What to do in Busan for 3-5 days + Insider Tips by a Korean | #BusanItinerary #Busan #Korea #SouthKorea #AsiaTravel #KoreaTravel #ThingstoDo #Whattodo #BusanAttractions

Trip to Busan?

If you have more than a couple of days in Korea, you might want to explore beyond Seoul. Busan is the largest port city in the southeastern part of the Korean peninsula. The marine city is a popular vacation destination for its stunning beach, coastal landscape, and fresh seafood. 

4 Days in Seoul Itinerary: Day 3

[Korea] Seoul Day 3: National Museum of Korea → (optional: Hangeul Museum, War Memorial of Korea) → Noryangjin Fish Market → Itaewon or Hongdae | #SeoulItinerary #KoreaItinerary #TravelSeoul #NationalMuseumofKorea

The National Museum of Korea boasts a gorgeous view of N Seoul Tower and features a traditional garden.

National Museum of Korea

The National Museum of Korea is one of the most notable museums in Korea . It is one of the most visited museums in the world and Asia with more than 3 million annual visitors. If you have to choose one gallery in Korea, make it this one, as is the representative museum of Korean history and culture.

The museum sits in a large park with modern architecture, surrounded by a Korean garden and pond. Its extensive exhibition covers Korean history and arts from the prehistoric era . Many of the authentic National Treasures are also in the display as a permanent collection. 

Have you been to Gyeongju ? The authentic relics of the ancient capital are here, not in Gyeongju Museum (replica).

By the way, if you get hungry before reaching Noryangjin for lunch, the National Museum of Korea has a decent food court and cafe.

Insider’s Tip : Hangeul Museum is right next to the National Museum of Korea. If you are interested in learning more about how Korean letters were created, you can swing by. It is an excellent kids-friendly museum.

Admission : Free, separate charge for special exhibits Hours : 9:30 am – 6 pm (Closed on Mondays) Location : 137, Seobinggo-ro, Yongsan-gu, Seoul [ open Kakao map ] Nearest Subway Station : Line 4, Ichon Station, Exit 2

[Korea] Seoul Day 3: National Museum of Korea → (optional: Hangeul Museum, War Memorial of Korea) → Noryangjin Fish Market → Itaewon or Hongdae | #SeoulItinerary #KoreaItinerary #TravelSeoul #WarMemorial

Yongsan War Memorial of Korea | Image Credit: Korea Tourism Organization (Lee Beomsu)

War Memorial of Korea

Are you interested in war history? Considering Korea is the only divided country in the world since the fall of the Berlin Wall, visiting the War Memorial of Korea is meaningful.

The War Memorial of Korea displays historical artifacts related to the Korean War (1950-1953). It also serves as a memorial hall for the notable sacrifice by the Korean and international heroes. Besides the exhibit, the museum welcomes visitors of all ages to participate in various educational programs. The outdoor area exhibits weapons used in the Korean War and the collection of armaments.

Admission : Free Hours : 9:30 am – 6 pm (Closed on Mondays) Location : 29, Itaewon-ro, Yongsan-gu, Seoul [ open Kakao map ] Nearest Subway Station : Line 4 or 6, Samgakji Station, Exit 12

Lunch: Noryangjin Fish Market

Noryangjin Fish Market is a unique experience, whether you love seafood or not. Unlike the most fish markets of the world that opens only at dawn, Noryangjin is a 24-hour fish market . (You don’t have to get up super early in the morning!) And it is the largest wholesale and retail seafood market in Seoul .

First, I suggest exploring the fish market. You might find amusing seafood you have never seen or eaten in your country – such as octopus, squid, spoon worm (also called penis fish), sea cucumber, etc. While at it, you can even scout which vendor you’d like to buy your lunch from. The market also offers more familiar fish like tuna and mackerel, as well as crabs and shellfish.

At Noryangjin, you buy fresh, live seafood from a vendor. Tell them you want to eat there. Then, an usher will come and escort you to the upstairs restaurant . You let them know how you like it to be cooked.

Disclaimer : I have never tried to eat at Noryangjin Fish Market. Whenever I travel to Korea, I always go to my hometown Jeju. Because I can easily access fresh seafood there (but not necessarily cheaper), I never needed to go to Noryangjin in Seoul. If your itinerary does not include Jeju or Busan ( READ>> What to Eat in Busan ), I’d recommend you having the Noryangjin experience in Seoul. Don’t you agree it’s a pretty awesome experience? 

Location : 674, Nodeul-ro, Dongjak-gu, Seoul [ open Kakao map ] Nearest Subway Station : Line 1 or Line 9, Noryangjin Station, Exit 7

>> Check out all the live fish and unique seafood ingredients in Korea. But there is nothing more fun than eating your way through the Noryangjin Fish Market ! 

There are a few neighborhoods of Seoul best enjoyed in the evening. Itaewon and Hongdae are good examples. If you visit there before the early afternoon, you will less likely see their true color. For this itinerary, I recommend selecting Itaewon or Hongdae to spend the late afternoon to evening on Day 3.

Option 1: Itaewon

The U.S. Army base used to be in Yongsan until they relocated only a few years ago; ever since, the Itaewon community caters to expats in Seoul . Once you get there, you will notice a change of scene. From foreign-language conversations to eateries catering to international flavors, many foreign nationals feel at home in Itaewon.

Itaewon is truly diverse in many ways . It is the LGBT central of Korea. (In Korean culture, not many people feel comfortable to come out of the closet elsewhere.) Also, Muslims gather here around the only mosque in Seoul and enjoy various Halal food options here.

Things to do in Itaewon

  • Enjoy unique cafes and dessert shops
  • Explore themed streets such as Gyeongridan-gil and Woosadan-gil
  • Gobble up authentic multicultural food, as well as gourmet Korean cuisine
  • Shop big and tall
  • Appreciate arts and culture at Leeum Samsung Museum of Art or Hyundai Card Music Library
  • Enjoy the lively bar and club scene in the evening

Insider’s Tip : Be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes to explore hilly Itaewon.

[What to Do in Hongdae: A Local’s Guide to Seoul’s Hippest Neighborhood] - Watch K-pop performances on Hongdae Shopping Street | #Hongdae #Seoul #TravelKorea #AsiaTravel #ThingstoDo

Option 2: Hongdae

Hongdae is the hot place where the young and the hip hang out . It is also the playground for indie musicians and artists , so you can expect to see performances and arts on the street. The lively streets are lined with one-of-a-kind shops, cute cafes, cheap eateries and gourmet restaurants, hip bars, and clubs.

This hip neighborhood used to be my neck of the woods. Check out my recommendations for what to do, see, eat, drink, and shop in Hongdae. I included all my favorite cafes, shops, and bars in  this detailed guide to Hongdae .

By the way, if you are looking for hotels in Seoul, both Itaewon and Hongdae is an excellent area to stay.

4 Days in Seoul Itinerary: Day 4

Let’s enjoy your last day in Seoul in Gangnam Style! Gangnam has gained worldwide fame since Psy’s mega-hit <Gangnam Style> swept the world in 2012.

Gangnam refers to the general area in the South of (Han) River. While it is often compared to Beverly Hills, Gangnam is much larger and denser.

The district is a glitzy rich town with upscale high-rise apartments, best public schools, dense commercial skyscrapers, and glamorous shopping complexes . When you visit Gangnam today, you wouldn’t believe that the area used to be mainly agricultural fields until the government’s Seoul expansion plan in the 1970s.

As there are so many exciting things to do, see, and eat in Gangnam, you can probably spend more than a day exploring this glamorous district. I recommend picking 2-3 activities for your Day 4 itinerary from below.

[Korea] Seoul Day 4: Gangnam: Coex Mall (Starfield Library, Coex Aquarium) → Bongeunsa Temple → Garosugil Street or Apgujeong Rodeo Street → (optional: Lotte World) → Lotte World Tower  | #SeoulItinerary #KoreaItinerary #TravelSeoul #StarfieldLibrary

Starfield Coex Mall

Coex Mall is annexed to a Coex convention center in Gangnam. Asia’s largest underground shopping mall houses a movie theater, aquarium, library, bookstore, international and local brand shops, 100+ cafes and restaurants, etc. You can spend an entire day and not get bored.

[Korea] Seoul Day 4: Gangnam: Coex Mall (Starfield Library, Coex Aquarium) → Bongeunsa Temple → Garosugil Street or Apgujeong Rodeo Street → (optional: Lotte World) → Lotte World Tower  | #SeoulItinerary #KoreaItinerary #TravelSeoul #gangnam

Gangnam Style Statue in front of the Starfield Coex Mall | Image Credit: IR Studio via Korea Tourism Organization

If you are curious about the Gangnam Style bronze statue to take a quick snap, it is located in front of Coex Mall East Gate.

Location : 513, Yeongdong-daero, Gangnam-gu, Seoul [ open Kakao map ] Nearest Subway Station : Line 9, Bongeunsa Temple Station, Exit 7

[Korea] Seoul Day 4: Gangnam: Coex Mall (Starfield Library, Coex Aquarium) → Bongeunsa Temple → Garosugil Street or Apgujeong Rodeo Street → (optional: Lotte World) → Lotte World Tower  | #SeoulItinerary #KoreaItinerary #TravelSeoul #StarfieldLibrary

Starfield Library

Starfield Library is a FREE cultural space where everyone is welcome to read its vast collection of books and rest. It is perhaps one of the most photographed libraries in the world with vertically displayed books on the 13-meter-high bookshelves. The library often hosts a writer’s talkshow, poetry reading event, book concert with music, and other cultural events.

Hours : 10:30 am – 10 pm

Coex Aquarium

Coex Aquarium is the largest aquarium in Seoul, with 40,000 sea creatures . It showcases the most diverse and extensive sharks in Korea, from the Caribbean, Pacific, and Indian Oceans. You can walk the undersea tunnel exhibit to see various sea creatures swim by. You might be delighted to see fish in a traditional hanok house, or a vending machine turned into a fish tank. Its mermaid performance and penguin feeding are popular among children.

Admission : ₩28,000 [ Purchase skip-the-line ticket here ] | Children: ₩24,000 | Children under 36 mo.: Free Hours : 10 am – 9 pm

[Korea] Seoul Day 4: Gangnam: Coex Mall (Starfield Library, Coex Aquarium) → Bongeunsa Temple → Garosugil Street or Apgujeong Rodeo Street → (optional: Lotte World) → Lotte World Tower  | #SeoulItinerary #KoreaItinerary #TravelSeoul #Bongeunsa

Nightscape of Bongeunsa Temple overlooking illuminated Gangnam | Image Credit: Lim Changgyeong via Korea Tourism Organization

Bongeunsa Temple

Bongeunsa Temple is a Buddhist temple of a thousand-year tradition. It was the largest Buddhist temple in Hanyang during the Joseon Dynasty, and still is in today’s Gangnam.

Only across the street from Coex Mall, it is an excellent place to experience tranquility in the urban jungle like Gangnam. If you would like to extend your stay, Bongeunsa is one of the Korean Buddhist temples to offer a temple stay program in English.

Location : 531, Bongeunsa-ro, Gangnam-gu, Seoul [ open Kakao map ] Nearest Subway Station : Line 9, Bongeunsa Temple Station, Exit 1

[Korea] Seoul Day 4: Gangnam: Coex Mall (Starfield Library, Coex Aquarium) → Bongeunsa Temple → Garosugil Street or Apgujeong Rodeo Street → (optional: Lotte World) → Lotte World Tower  | #SeoulItinerary #KoreaItinerary #TravelSeoul #Garosugil

Garosugil Street

Garosu-gil is a famous shopping street with hip cafes, restaurants, and high-end multi-brand fashion stores.  It is one of my favorite corners in Gangnam.

Like Myeongdong, Garosugil is an excellent place for shopping. But it is much less crowded and has the Gangnam vibes . Fashion and household items here also reflect the Gangnam Style.

Even if you don’t intend to buy anything, walk the Garosugil Street to feel the vibes. You can visit cafes and restaurants to re-energize.

Special note to K-beautyholics: Besides the beauty drug stores like Olive Young and LOHB’s, Garosugil is home to many flagships (e.g., 3CE Cinema ) and one-of-a-kind shops. Jeong Saem Mood Plop s is a modern art gallery and cosmetic store by Korea’s famous makeup artist. Be sure to check out isoi flagship shop , which is my favorite organic K-beauty brand!

Location : 120, Apgujeong-ro, Gangnam-gu, Seoul [ Open Kakao Map ] Nearest Subway Station : Line 3, Sinsa Station, Exit 8

>> For your first-hand K-beauty experience,  get your facial  at a top beauty brand spa. And feel like a Korean star with a full  make-up and hair makeover  at a shop celebrities love. (I got my make-up and hair done here for my engagement photo!)

Apgujeong Rodeo Street

Before Garosugil and Hongdae, Apgujeong Rodeo Street was the  IT  place for the young and the rich in the 1990s. That crowd was called “the Orange people,” which is the Korean equivalent of trust fund kids in a derogative term. Back then, many Korean celebrities were picked up by the agents on this street.

While Apgujeong is not as hot as before, the district still attracts the young and hip. Rodeo Street is lined with high-end fashion stores, flagship stores, and popular restaurants and cafes. One of which is Mumin Cafe. 

For the K-pop fans, Apgujeong is a must-visit spot as they make a pilgrimage to K-Star Road with 18 large Gangnamdol (Gangnam Idol) statues. This part of the town is also notable as the home to leading entertainment agencies such as SM and JYP Entertainment .

Location : 668033, Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul [ open Kakao map ] Nearest Subway Station : Bundang Line, Apgujeong Rodeo Station, Exit 5 or 6

[Korea] Seoul Day 4: Gangnam: Coex Mall (Starfield Library, Coex Aquarium) → Bongeunsa Temple → Garosugil Street or Apgujeong Rodeo Street → (optional: Lotte World) → Lotte World Tower  | #SeoulItinerary #KoreaItinerary #TravelSeoul #LotteWorld #Jamsil

Lotte World Adventure theme park and Gyro Swing | Image Credit: Korea Tourism Organization (Kim Jiho)

Optional: Lotte World

If you like an amusement park, you cannot miss Lotte World. I recommend spending a full day at Lotte World or at least a half-day. So if not for a full day, you could split your day between Gangnam and Lotte World. After 4 pm, you can also get a discounted admission. (However, buy the all-day pass from the link below because it is way cheaper .)

As Korea doesn’t have Disney, Lotte World is the next best alternative for die-hard theme park fans. If Disney has Mickey & Mini, Lotte World has Lotty & Lorry. And it also got Magic Castle!

Although I am a chicken when it comes to rides, I have been to Lotte World quite a few times. In fact, I rode its famous Gyrodrop, Viking, roller coaster, and many other hair-raising rides (peer pressure!!!).

I probably would not voluntarily go back and hop on these rides again. But I recommend Lotte World for those who love thrills, family travelers with children, and the love birds . 

>> Purchase a discount day pass here . (Included in GoCity: Seoul Pass ) Or, get a Songpa L Pass to cover Lotte World, Lotte Aquarium, and Seoul Sky. 

Admission : ₩56,000 | Age 13-18:₩50,000 | Age 3-12: ₩46,000 Magic Pass Premium (skip the line): ₩47,000 for 5 rides, ₩85,000 for 10 rides Hours : Mon.-Thurs. 9:30 am – 10 pm | Fri.-Sun. 9:30 am – 11 pm Location : 240, Olympic-ro, Songpa-gu, Seoul [ open Kakao map ] Nearest Subway Station : Line 2, Jamsil Station, Exit 4

[Korea] Seoul Day 4: Gangnam: Coex Mall (Starfield Library, Coex Aquarium) → Bongeunsa Temple → Garosugil Street or Apgujeong Rodeo Street → (optional: Lotte World) → Lotte World Tower  | #SeoulItinerary #KoreaItinerary #TravelSeoul #LotteWorldTower #Jamsil #SeokchonLake

Lotte World Tower and Seokchon Lake in Autumn | Image Credit: Kim Seungrae via Korea Tourism Organization

Lotte World Tower

How about enjoying your last evening with the view of Seoul from the tallest building in Korea ? Let’s head over to Lotte World Tower in Jamsil.

Lotte World Tower is a 123-story skyscraper (556 m=1,824 ft.) built in 2017. While it is the latest addition to the Seoul sky, it quickly has become a significant landmark of the city . The slender cone-shaped glass architecture with curved sides was inspired by Korean ceramics.

The multi-purpose tower houses offices, residence, as well as SEOUL SKY observation deck on the 117th-123rd floor . You can overlook a gorgeous Seokchon Lake surrounded with cherry blossoms or colorful autumn foliage depending on the season. 

Also, SIGNIEL SEOUL ( Check rates here )  in this tower is Seoul’s only 6-star luxury hotel . Guest rooms spread from the 76th to 101st floors with an unobstructed view of Seoul. The Evian Spa and SIGNIEL Bar 81 are other luxury amenities worth your visit.

Admission : ₩27,000 [ Purchase a discount admission . Or, get a Songpa L Pass for Lotte World, Lotte Aquarium, and Seoul Sky.]   Hours : Sun.-Thurs. 11 am – 10 pm | Fri./Sat./Holiday Eve: 11 am – 11 pm Location : 300, Olympic-ro, Songpa-gu, Seoul [ open Kakao map ] Nearest Subway Station : Line 2 or 8, Jamsil Station

trip in seoul

11 Comments

It’s very nice itinerary? can you please show me HOW to get 25% with Discovery seoul pass? thanks,

Hi – With Discovery Seoul Pass, you get free access or discounts on museums, attractions and experiences. Check the list of attractions that offer discounts. Depending on the activity, you may show your QR code at the ticket office or visit website/call to book (mention the pass). Have fun!

Hello Chloe,

I have chanced upon your website while searching for sample itinerary to travel around Starfield Coex Mall, Bongeuna Temple and Lotte World.

I find your itinerary neat and informative. Thank you for the effort to share this with the public.

May I find out when are these posts posted? Are the information as of year 2023?

This would be my first time travelling in Seoul and I have ton of questions but I will ask only a few.

1) Any idea of the price range for taking cab from the Starfield Coex Mall to Lotte World? 2) Or taking the subway would be recommended? 3) If taking the subway, how do we foreigners get the subway card?

Appreciate your time and looking forward to your reply. Thank you.

Hi Agnes – It is up to date, but the fares are only given as reference. (All prices went up this year.) The Coex and Lotte World is very close and convenient to travel on subway (take Metro Line 2 from Samseong to Jamsil). It’s not far to take a taxi, but you never know with the Seoul traffic. I have included a T-money card link in this post. Purchase it to pick up at the airport. Or, you can visit the metro station to buy the card and add money into the card. Have fun in Seoul!

Thank you for your reply!

I see. So, travelling by subway would be recommended because of unforeseen traffic situations if travelling by taxi!

Thank you so much – this info is very useful – to travel Line 2 from Coex Mall (Samseong subway station) to Lotte World (Jamil subway station).

Thank you. Really appreciate it!

we are thinking of 4 days in Seoul (one a day trip to the DMZ) and wondering about doing 3-4 days on Jeju Island as R & R. Is that the best location, or is there another island/location you’d recommend over Jeju?

Hi Nancy – Yes, for your second location, I recommend Jeju or Busan. Jeju is a beautiful island with UNESCO heritage sites. If you appreciate nature, it is a great place to visit. One thing to consider is that you will need to fly over and rent a car to tour the island. Whereas, Busan is more accessible as you can fly/train/bus/drive from Seoul, then take public transportation. Another thing you might want to consider is what you are interested in doing and which month you will visit. Please feel free to email me if you have additional questions. Happy planning! – Chloe

Hi Chloe. Thank you for sharing the 4-day itinerary. I may stay an extra day and wondering if it is possible to do Nami Island or Busan? if yes, which should I choose; Nami or Busan?

Hi – I recommend going to Nami Island for a day trip. (One day in Busan is possible but too short.) Nami Island is great to visit any time as it changes the scenery each season. Check out my Nami Island posts if you haven’t already. Thanks for stopping by. – Chloe

Your itinerary is perfect. Based on your itinerary what time should we set off?

Hi – Thank you! I usually leave around 9 am to avoid rush hour traffic in Seoul, assuming I will have my breakfast in the hotel. But you should check the business hours and travel distance to your first stop to determine. Does it help answer your question?

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Hello, I'm Chloe!

Hello, I'm Chloe!

I'm an aspiring world traveler, who moved across the Pacific Ocean twice. After leaving my PR career, I'm currently exploring Asia from Taiwan and learning Chinese. Follow my journey as I will share my travel experiences, tips & tricks and cultural insights.

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2 Days in Seoul, South Korea: The Perfect 48-Hour Seoul Itinerary

2 Days in Seoul, South Korea: Itinerary (48 Hours)

Though Seoul is one of the most developed cities in the world, when it comes to tourism, the capital city of South Korea is, surprisingly, often overlooked. But the city of Seoul is home to interesting tourist sites, vibrant nightlife, incredible shopping, and delicious food.

Whether you have a week or just a few hours to explore the city, you’re guaranteed to make loads of fun memories in this eclectic city. From ancient royal palaces to fine-dining restaurants, there is so much to explore and experience in Seoul.

Seoul is just a short flight away from many other Asian destinations and Incheon International Airport is a common stopover between North America and Asia. This makes Seoul an ideal location for a long layover or a weekend getaway. But if you’re short on time, deciding what to do in Seoul can be quite overwhelming.

So, if you just have 48 hours in Seoul, you’ll love this detailed Seoul itinerary to experience the best of the city in just one weekend!

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase or booking through one of our links we may earn a small commission (don’t worry, it’s at no extra cost to you).

48 Hours in Seoul, South Korea: A Weekend Guide

Day 1 in seoul itinerary: morning, 7 am – land at incheon international airport.

One of the largest and busiest airports in the world, Incheon International Airport is like a mini-Seoul in itself. At the airport, you can experience everything from local Korean cuisine to traditional spa treatments and even fun cultural activities.

From the airport, head to your hotel to drop off your bags before beginning your sightseeing tour of Seoul . We recommend booking your accommodations in the Myeongdong district due to its proximity to the airport. 

10 am – Shopping in Myeongdong

2 Days in Seoul, South Korea Itinerary: Myeongdong Shopping District

There is no better place to start your Seoul 2-day tour than the Myeongdong shopping district. This lively Seoul neighborhood has everything from bustling shopping markets to delicious street food stalls where you can try lots of delicious Korean food .

Myeongdong is also home to some of the trendiest bars in Seoul, but it’s still morning and we suggest you hold off on the bars until nighttime. Take your time exploring the shops and markets of Myeongdon, it’s one of the best neighborhoods in Seoul. 

Day 1 in Seoul: Afternoon

12 pm – gyeongbokgung palace.

2 Days in Seoul, South Korea Itinerary: Gyeongbokgung Palace

Grab an early lunch in Myeongdong before leaving so you can stay focused on sightseeing in Seoul. Begin your tour with Gyeongbokgung Palace , one of the most iconic attractions in Seoul. The palace has been located here since the 14th century; however, the present version was built in the 19th century.

While visiting Gyeongbokgung Palace, don’t miss the Changing of the Guard ceremony which is a beautiful reenactment of yesteryear. The ceremony is observed twice a day – at 10 am and 2 pm. 

Pro Tip: Purchasing the Discover Seoul Pass is an awesome way to save money in Seoul. It gives you free entrance to 42 attractions in Seoul, including Gyeongbokgung Palace and the N Seoul Tower. You can also use it as a T-Money card when you’re riding the metro and buses around Seoul

Buy a Discover Seoul Pass

3 pm – Insadong and the Gyeongin Museum of Fine Art

2 Days in Seoul, South Korea Itinerary: Insadong

Another popular neighborhood in your Seoul itinerary, Insadong, is dotted with charming hanoks (traditional Korean houses) and gently curving dancheong (intricately painted roofs). There is no shortage of things to do in Insadong , and you’ll definitely want to spend a couple of hours exploring this picturesque Korean neighborhood.

Insadong is crammed with traditional Korean teahouses so stop at one for an afternoon break. We recommend Dawon Teahouse which is regarded as one of the best teahouses in Insadong. It’s located in a hanok on the grounds of the Gyeongin Museum of Fine Ar t, another popular Seoul attraction. 

Day 1 in Seoul: Evening

5 pm – cheonggyecheon stream.

2 Days in Seoul, South Korea Itinerary: Cheonggyecheon Stream

Just a short walk from Insadong is another must-visit location in your Seoul itinerary. Cheonggyecheon Stream , a 7-mile-long man-made stream, is perfect for a late afternoon or evening stroll.

The Cheonggyecheon Stream was a natural stream that flowed through Seoul before rapid urbanization caused it to be paved over in the 1960s. But then in 2003, a massive urban renewal project led to the riverbed being excavated and the stream was turned into a peaceful pedestrian park.

Engirdled by concrete and high-rises, the Cheonggyecheon Stream is a perfect peaceful hideout to stroll quietly while adoring the beautiful view of the city. The stream is also adorned with small waterfalls that help drown out the noise from the city, and you’ll almost certainly see birds bathing in the shallow water. 

8 pm – Nam Mountain and N Seoul Tower

One of the best things to do in Seoul has to be to visit Nam Mountain , an 860-foot high peak in the Jung District.

You’ll start your visit by riding the Namsan Cable Car to the N Seoul Tower near the top of the mountain. From there, you’ll take the elevator up the N Seoul Tower to the observation deck which provides a 360-degree view of the entire city of Seoul.

Here you can also enjoy an unforgettable dining experience at N Grill . It is one of the best restaurants in Seoul which serves French and Korean fusion cuisine.  

11 pm – Noraebang

If you want to make the most of your 48 hours in Seoul, then sleep is simply not an option. And visiting a noraebang is one of the best things to do in Seoul at night!

A noraebang is a Korean-style private karaoke room. You’ll have your own microphones, TV, and even your own waitstaff to ensure you’re never short on food and drinks to keep the karaoke party going all night long.

If you are looking for the best noreabangs in Seoul, then head to the Hongdae District where you’ll have dozens to choose from.

Day 2 in Seoul Itinerary: Morning

10 am – itaewon.

Itaewon is yet another popular neighborhood in your Seoul itinerary. Often touted as a multicultural district, Itaewon is best known for its outstanding food scene. Here you’ll find food from all over the world! Whether you choose to dine on Indian, German, Italian, French, or Mexican cuisine, Itaewon has something for everyone. 

You’ll find the highest concentration of restaurants on the street behind the Hamilton Hotel – just take Exit #2 from Itaewon Station.

Day 2 in Seoul: Afternoon

1 pm – visit a jimjilbang.

2 Days in Seoul, South Korea Itinerary: Itaewon

A jimjilbang is a traditional Korean bathhouse where you can enjoy soaking in hot pools, steaming in saunas, and bathing in waterfalls.

For hundreds of years, jimjilbangs have been an integral part of Korean culture. They are the perfect place to spend some relaxing time with friends and family. Some of Seoul’s larger jimjilbangs even contain karaoke rooms, cafes, salons, fitness centers, and libraries so you can spend an entire day and not run out of things to do!

Dragon Hill Spa and Silloam Fire Pot are two of the most popular jimjilbangs in Seoul. Dragon Hill Spa, the largest jimjilbang in Seoul, is centrally located in the Yongsan District, and Silloam Fire Pot is in the Jung District. Both are just a short metro ride from Myeongdong.

Day 2 in Seoul: Evening

7 pm – gangnam district .

2 Days in Seoul, South Korea Itinerary: Gangnam District

The swanky Gangnam District will be your last stop on your 48-hour tour of your Seoul itinerary. This district is one of the most popular neighborhoods in the city and it has become even more famous thanks to the K-Pop mega-hit, Gangnam Style .

Full of upscale condos, high-end plastic surgery clinics, and designer boutiques, Gangnam is home to many of Seoul’s wealthiest residents. In fact, it’s sometimes referred to as the Beverly Hills of South Korea.

But, what draws tourists here is the vibrant nightlife of Gangnam. From cheap Korean street food stalls to laidback cafes and cozy restaurants, this district has something for every taste and budget. A night of dining, drinking, and partying in Gangnam is the perfect way to end your 2 days in Seoul!

So, there you have it! Our recommended itinerary for your 2-day trip to Seoul. Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments!

Traveling to Seoul? Check out our favorite books and travel guides.

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2 Days in Seoul, South Korea: Itinerary (48 Hours)

Jimmy and Tah – About the Authors:

We are Jimmy and Tah, American and Thai millennials who left our careers in military and finance to become travel inspirers & storytellers.

We started our life of non-stop travel in September 2017 and began sharing our journey on DivertLiving.com . Now we’re living the life we have always dreamed of – traveling the world and working from wherever we love (as long as there is Wi-Fi and coffee).

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Seoul Itinerary: The Perfect 7 Day Guide for a Fun Trip

Seoul Itinerary

Here’s the latest Seoul itinerary and Korea travel guide to help you plan a fantastic 7-day trip at a relaxed pace .

I’ll share with you the top shopping streets and must-visit places in Seoul , including the best routes for a smooth tour around the city.

Believe me, the detailed 7-day itinerary for Seoul that I’ve outlined below will not only simplify your planning process but also ensure a wonderful trip .

Plus, you’ll get very clear, step-by-step guidance to the city’s top attractions , which will save you time on research . Let’s dive in! 🙂

Seoul’s Best Itinerary: Your Guide to an Unforgettable Trip in Korea’s Capital!

Day 1: myeongdong and namsan seoul tower, day 2: gyeongbokgung palace, ewha and hongdae street, day 3: everland or lotte world seoul, day 4: day trip to nami island – full day, day 5: explore beyond seoul – full day, day 6: bukchon hanok village, insadong, and dongdaemun, day 7: deoksugung seoul, gwangjang market and cheonggyecheon stream, seoul itinerary 7 days map, the best area to stay in seoul, internet access, how to get around seoul, more days to spend in korea, airport transfers, related posts.

Seoul Itinerary Day 1: Myeongdong Cathedral, Namsan Tower, Shopping Street and Nanta Show

A quick overview of the Seoul itinerary for day 1:

  • 11:00 AM: Myeongdong Cathedral
  • 12:00 PM: Lunch at Wangbijib or Isaac Toast
  • 1:00 PM: Namsan Seoul Tower
  • 4:30 PM: Myeongdong Shopping Street
  • 7:00 PM: Dinner at BHC Chicken or Jogabi Seafood
  • 8:00 PM: Watch the Exciting Nanta Show

1. Myeongdong Cathedral – 1 hour (11:00 AM to 12:00 PM)

Historic Myeongdong Cathedral, a striking Gothic-style architecture in the heart of Seoul

Kick off your morning in Seoul with a visit to Myeongdong Cathedral , a place that holds special significance for Korean Catholics .

This unique church was built back in the 1700s . It stands out because it’s made of bricks, unlike most churches that are built with stone.

When you go inside, take in the calm feeling. Look at the colorful windows and the tall ceilings, which are all part of the beautiful brick design .

Enjoy the peacefulness and feel the history that surrounds you.

2. Lunch at Wangbijib or Isaac Toast – 1 hour (12:00 PM to 1:00 PM)

Popular Seoul dining spots: Wangbijib, Isaac Toast & Coffee, Baekje Samgyetang, and Yoogane

Enjoy Delicious Lunch Options Near Myeongdong Cathedral

  • Wangbijib: For a traditional Korean barbecue, visit this spot and savor a platter of tender meat. They also serve soup, noodles, and side dishes to satisfy your hungry appetite.
  • Isaac Toast & Coffee: For sandwich lovers, this is the best site in the area. Try their variety of local sandwiches, from bacon to spicy pork cutlets and more. And, pair your meal with a cup of coffee!
  • Baekje Samgyetang: Enjoy a bowl of chicken ginseng soup inside this famous restaurant. The authentic and delectable taste of their food makes them very popular in the city.
  • Yoogane: When it comes to spicy stir-fried chicken, you won’t go wrong with this local dining area. Don’t forget to order additional fried rice so you can personally combine the rice and chicken according to your liking.

Getting to Wangbijib, Isaac Toast & Coffee and Yoogane Guide

3. Namsan Seoul Tower – 3.5 hours (1:00 PM to 4:30 PM)

Iconic Namsan Seoul Tower offering panoramic views of the city's skyline

In the afternoon, head to Seoul’s iconic Namsan Tower to enjoy panoramic views with your family and friends .

Find out the full details in this complete guide to Namsan Seoul Tower so you can plot your schedule ahead. This also provides you with information on how to get to the tower and the top things to do there.

A view of Proposal Staircase, Yoohoo Land, OLED Displays, and Observation Decks

Must-visit Spots in Namsan Tower:

  • Proposal Staircase: Trek your way to the scenic stairway and marvel at the gorgeous nature views. This is where you’ll find a railing full of locks that commemorate the love and affection of lovers all over the world.
  • Yoohoo Land & Linlin Land: Meet some adorable animal statues and enjoy their charming presence. From lemurs to fennec foxes, these oversized characters are actually some of the world’s endangered animals.
  • Bridge of Love: Another romantic area for lovers is this unique bridge filled with LED lights. Share some dreamy moments with your loved one as you relish the views.
  • OLED Displays: Find more breathtaking panels scattered around different floor levels. These mesmerizing displays are surely worth the capture.
  • Observation Decks: Relax at one of the comfy chairs from the observation deck. This is definitely a mesmerizing way to see the beautiful skyline of Seoul from the floor-to-ceiling windows. And, don’t forget to get the entrance tickets here and obtain up to 55% OFF!

Getting to Namsan Seoul Tower Guide

4. Myeongdong Shopping Street – 2.5 hours (4:30 PM to 7:00 PM)

Bustling Myeongdong Shopping Street, a hub of fashion and culture

Cap off your first day trip in Seoul by wandering Myeongdong Shopping Street . This is a very famous shopping street not only in Seoul but also in Korea .

Thus, you should explore this vibrant street and have fun until the evening.

Cosmetic Stores in Myeongdong

Packed with popular Korean cosmetic brands , this is the best destination for your skincare needs.

Check out a variety of brands like Innisfree , It’s skin , Holika Holika , Missha , Etude House , and Nature Republic .

Getting to Myeongdong Shopping Street

5. Dinner at BHC Chicken or Jogabi Seafood – 1 hour (7:00 PM to 8:00 PM)

Seoul's culinary delights at Chir Chir Fusion Chicken, Jogabi Seafood, Myeongdong Kyoja, and BHC Chicken

Dive into Dinner at Myeongdong’s Top Restaurants

  • Chir Chir Fusion Chicken Factory: Savor a platter of chicken goodness with your pals. This restaurant is truly a top-notch choice when it to comes tasty chicken meals.
  • Jogabi Seafood Restaurant: If you are on the hunt for some seafood dishes, this is the place to be. Go over their menu of seafood dishes, from ramen to fried rice and steamed meals.
  • Myeongdong Kyoja: Reenergize your senses as you devour an entire bowl of dumpling soup. As a Michelin-recognized restaurant in the city, they provide an excellent menu focused on dumplings and noodles.
  • BHC Chicken: Take delight in their collection of fried chicken that would surely make you happy. Plus, they have more food options like cheesy balls, mozzarella sticks, and lots of garnishes.

Getting to BHC Chicken Guide

6. Watch the Exciting Nanta Show – 1.5 hours (8:00 PM to 9:30 PM)

Exciting Nanta Show, a unique blend of music, comedy, and culinary drama

Lastly, make your way to Nanta Show . This is the best way to cap off your visit to Myeongdong .

Share laughter with the audience as the actors do all sorts of amazing acts, from amusing antics to mesmerizing tricks.

So, go check the Nanta Show admission tickets ahead and get up to a 35% discount !

Getting to Nanta Show Guide

Seoul itinerary for day 2 will involve visiting the following places:

  • 9:00 AM: Gyeongbokgung Palace
  • 12:00 PM: Lunch at Tosokchon Samgyetang or Sambaek Jip
  • 1:00 PM: Ewha Street
  • 3:30 PM: Ewha Womans University
  • 5:00 PM: Hongdae Street
  • 8:00 PM: Dine at Hongdae Dakgalbi or Saemaul

1. Gyeongbokgung Palace – 3 hours (9:00 AM to 12:00 PM)

Grand entrance to Seoul's Gyeongbokgung Palace, showcasing traditional Korean architecture

When you visit Seoul, make sure to go to Gyeongbokgung Palace . It’s a famous palace that’s full of history.

Gyeongbokgung highlights: Geunjeongjeon Hall, Hyangwonjeong Pavilion, and Changing of the Guard

Must Do and See Things in Gyeongbokgung:

  • Geunjeongjeon Hall: Enter the main hall and pay homage to this historical site. Created during the Joseon dynasty, this area is decorated with ornaments and stone platforms.
  • Hyangwonjeong Pavilion: Explore the surroundings of the pavilion where you’ll find a beautiful pond. There’s also a garden that is very pleasing to the eye.
  • Gyeonghoeru Pavilion: As the largest elevated pavilion in Korea, this is truly remarkable. Take a closer look at the impressive architecture that is bounded by sculptures and ornaments.
  • Changing of the Guard: This traditional rite is one of the highlights of the complex. Catch the historic event that starts at 10:00 AM.
  • Wear Hanbok: I truly recommend to check out this shop if you want to feel what it’s like to wear a hanbok. In this store, you can rent cheap traditional costumes. Plus, the staff provides superb service.

2. Lunch at Tosokchon Samgyetang or Sambaek Jip – 1 hour (12:00 PM to 1:00 PM)

Savoring flavors at Tosokchon Samgyetang, Kandasoba, Sambaek Jip, and Beezza

Discover Delectable Lunch Spots Near Gyeongbokgung

  • Tosokchon Samgyetang: Get some tasty and nutritious food from this local store. Serving healthy ginseng soup and dishes, this is highly recommended for a hearty lunch.
  • Kandasoba: For some yummy soba noodles, drop by the restaurant and check out their Japanese menu. Don’t miss to order a bowl of rice to complement the delectable soup!
  • Sambaek Jip: From bibimbap to teppanyaki pork, they got a variety of Korean cuisines for you to try. They also serve food sets that come with local side dishes. And, order their bean sprout soup, which is a crowd favorite!
  • Beezza: Grab a bite of their mouthwatering pizza and slurp a glass of beer! This pizza shop is such a cozy and affordable dining spot that you wouldn’t want to miss out.

Getting to Tosokchon Samgyetang and Beezza Guide

3. Ewha Street – 2.5 hours (1:00 PM to 3:30 PM)

Trendy and vibrant Ewha Shopping Street, a shopping destination

After lunch, spend your afternoon at Ewha Shopping Street with your loved ones.

As one of the vibrant streets in Seoul , for sure you’ll never run out of things to explore here.

Shop for some trendy pieces along this busy street. There are lots of local shops that sell stylish clothing and accessories .

So, grab this opportunity and elevate your wardrobe with new stuff.

Getting to Ewha Street Guide

4. Ewha Womans University – 1.5 hours (3:30 PM to 5:00 PM)

Ewha Campus Complex in Seoul, featuring Welch-Ryang Auditorium and Pfeiffer Hall amidst lush gardens

Next, visit Ewha Womans University . Stroll around the campus complex and explore various historical sites.

Below is a list of activities and attractions you can enjoy during your visit.

  • Ewha Campus Complex: As you enter the campus, you’d be caught off-guard by the gorgeous beauty of the underpass. Strike a pose in front of the architectural wonder before you kick off the exploration.
  • Welch-Ryang Auditorium: A great spot to take pictures of Ewha University’s beauty, with the changing seasons as a backdrop.
  • University’s Garden: You’d be surprised how this beautiful garden perfectly fits into the campus expanse. Go around the scenic trails and get mesmerized by the well-maintained bushes.
  • Pfeiffer Hall: Considered the first-ever building on the campus, the hall is brimming with history. Walk into its pathways and take a glimpse of the noteworthy architecture.

Getting to Ewha Womans University Guide

5. Hongdae Street – 3 hours (5:00 PM to 8:00 PM)

Hongdae Street, a lively and artistic quarter in Seoul's vibrant youth culture scene

As evening falls in Seoul, head over to the lively Hongdae Shopping Street , where international travelers love to go . You’ll find stalls filled with all kinds of interesting things .

This neighborhood is definitely a fun destination to visit, especially at night.

Dynamic street performances and unique Thanks Nature Café sheeps in Hongdae

For guidance, below are some of the activities you can do while strolling around the Hongdae street .

  • Shopping: Shop ‘til you drop by the hundreds of local stalls in the area. They sell many fashion pieces, accessories, and souvenirs. So, take your time and check out their impressive displays.
  • Street Performances: While exploring the street, you might come across some local acts. Watch them showcase their talents, from singing to dancing and more!
  • Mural Street: Walk by this famous street and marvel at the colorful art along the walls. You may use the mesmerizing murals as your photo background.
  • Try Some Street Foods: All the shopping and walking would definitely make you hungry. But don’t worry because there are plenty of street food stalls scattered around.
  • Thanks Nature Cafe: Relax and sip a cup of coffee from this unique café. Unlike typical shops, there are two sheep inside the store to welcome you.

Getting to Hongdae Street Guide

6. Dine at Hongdae Dakgalbi or Saemaul – 1 hour (8:00 PM to 9:00 PM)

Hongdae Dakgalbi, Saemaul Restaurant, Kyochon Chicken and Myth Jokbal restaurants

Experience Vibrant Dinner Options in Hongdae

  • Saemaul Restaurant: Try the famous Korean BBQ in the neighborhood. This restaurant also serves kimchi stew, cold noodles, and other local dishes.
  • Myth Jokbal: Known for its pig trotters, this is another classic favorite among locals and travellers. Fascinatingly, they offer a complimentary soup for every table!
  • Kyochon Chicken: Satisfy your chicken cravings by dropping by this local food store. From crispy fried chicken to flavored ones, there’s something that would surely catch your attention.
  • Hongdae Dakgalbi: For an authentic dak-galbi in Hongdae, head to this place. You have the option to add cheese to your dak-galbi platter. They also provide different levels of spiciness to make your dining experience more remarkable.

Getting to Hongdae Dakgalbi Guide

For day 3 , you would be spending it either at Everland or Lotte World Seoul .

And for a seamless trip, I created a very detailed comparison between these two parks to help with your decision-making .

Option 1: Everland

Everland, a world of thrilling rides and colorful attractions

A visit to Everland theme park is a must for all travellers to Seoul, especially those with kids.

As the largest theme park in South Korea , it is filled with exciting roller coasters and fantastic shows . You’d also love the thrilling and non-thrilling games that are suitable for all ages.

Let's Twist and Parade in Everland

My family personally likes the park because of its beautiful sights and colourful landscapes. Not only that but there are also lush gardens, giving you plenty of photo opportunities .

So, don’t miss out on the attractions below when you visit this amazing theme park .

Highlights at Everland: Safari World, Panda World, Four Season Garden, Double Rock Spin

  • Safari World: Get on the wild tram and have a fun outdoor trip with the wild animals. This offers you a closer look at the top predators of the animal food chain. Meet some white tigers, lions, bears, and more!
  • Panda World: See the ever-adorable pandas in this special place. This is the sanctuary of the gentle giants who love to feed on bamboo.
  • Lost Valley: Experience the thrill as you ride this convertible amphibian vehicle. It moves from water to land, allowing you to see at least 150 unique animal species. These include camels, elephants, and zebras. You can also feed giraffes during your visit.
  • Four Seasons Garden: Get dazzled by the long stretches of beautiful landscapes. The place is filled with manicured shrubs and flowers. This is a nice spot to relax and enjoy the gorgeous views.
  • Double Rock Spin: This is definitely the most in-demand ride in the park, especially for thrill-seekers. Hop aboard the rollercoaster that gives you a full 360-degree spin.

Tip: Remember to check out Everland tickets here , which can help you save around 44% compared to purchasing the tickets on-site !

Seamless Travels: Your Go-To Guide for Reaching Everland

Everland Shuttle Bus

Reserve this shuttle bus online for a convenient trip to Everland . Compared to taking the public bus and subway, this transportation is recommended in terms of saving time . The pick-up locations are at Myeongdong Station and Hongdae Station .

Everland Dining Delights: From Lunch to Dinner

Restaurants in Everland

You won’t have a hard time with the food choices in the park. It’s because there are many restaurants in Everland that cater to different tastebuds. So, you can conveniently take your lunch and dinner here.

Option 2: Lotte World

Lotte World Seoul, premier amusement park filled with endless fun and excitement

Spend time in Lotte World Seoul , which is the world’s biggest indoor amusement park .

Known for their iconic Disney-like castle, it continues to fascinate visitors of all ages.

And of course, you’d love the variety of outdoor and indoor roller coasters as well as fun shows here .

So, below are some of the spots you shouldn’t miss when you go to Lotte World .

Adventures at Lotte World: Atlantis, Bungee Drop, Flume Ride, Magic Castle

  • Atlantis: Ready yourself for this fast-paced ride that goes through a cave-like landscape. While onboard, catch a glimpse of the park’s landscape.
  • Bungee Drop: Experience getting propelled up and down with this fun attraction. You will definitely feel the rush as you elevate 34 meters from the ground. Of course, the thrill does not end there as the structure takes a quick dip.
  • Flume Ride: Be impressed by this water ride that is set in the Jurassic era. During the journey, be prepared for some water splashes.
  • Magic Castle Lights Up: Cap off the adventure by watching this fantastic light show. Filled with elegant and colorful LED lights, this is truly a memorable experience for everyone.

Spectacular parades at Lotte World, a feast of color and entertainment

Tip : Before I forget, make sure to book Lotte World tickets here . Purchasing your ticket online gives you an additional 40% OFF on your entrance ticket ! So, make use of this chance and get great savings!

Getting There

You may take the subway to Jamsil Station, either by line 2 or line 8. From there, go out of Exit 4, which will then give you direct access to the Lotte World.

Lunch and Dinner

You can take your lunch and dinner in the theme park. There are plenty of restaurants inside to satisfy your hunger. These include Korean, Western, Chinese, and other dining options.

Everland vs. Lotte World

Everland vs. Lotte World

  • Everland is an outdoor theme park while Lotte World Seoul offers both indoor and outdoor parks .
  • Both theme parks are very attractive, providing fun rides for visitors. If you have more time in Seoul, it’s best that you include the two parks in your itinerary.
  • Everland is quite known for its breathtaking surroundings with very beautiful landscapes. Plus, it has unique attractions like Safari World, Lost Valley, and Panda World. I believe kids will love this place.
  • Lotte World Seoul, on the other hand, is more accessible by subway compared to Everland .
  • But don’t worry as you can book a roundtrip shuttle to Everland here . The assembly locations are found at Myeongdong and Hongdae , which are pretty convenient for travellers.

Nami Island and its stunning landscapes

To make a perfect Seoul itinerary, Nami Island should be included in the list. This top-rated attraction in Korea is visited by thousands of people around the world.

Marvel at the gorgeous sceneries that are very relaxing . Without a doubt, it’s a perfect place to capture beautiful photos .

The views of Central Korean Pine Tree Lane, Metasequoia Lane, Dodamsambong Garden, and Moon Hill

The spectacular tree lanes are one of the highlights of the area . Stroll around the colourful garden and meet some cute animals.

Another remarkable feature here is that you can explore it in whatever season you want .

For more suggestions of what to do there, just check out my best things to do in Nami Island page. This will guide you with the preparations as well as planning your budget in advance.

Make sure to visit this amazing island. You’ll have a great time and won’t regret it.

Exploring Nami Island and Surrounding Sights

The scenes of Nami Island, Petite France, Garden of Morning Calm and Gangchon Rail Park

Did you know that besides going to Nami Island , you can explore nearby attractions like Petite France, Garden of Morning Calm, and Gangchon Rail Park? These spots are great to visit.

However, using public transport to see them all in one day can be very tough and take a lot of time .

So, it’s best to book either bus tour 1 or bus tour 2 , which will take you to all these places in one day . Just remember to book your seats ahead of time .

You can easily get on these buses either from Myeongdong or Hongdae , making it less stressful.

Day views of Petite France, Garden of Morning Calm and Gangchon Rail Park

For more information about these famous sites, you can see my Nami Island post . These will cover Nami Island, Petite France, Garden of Morning Calm, and Gangchon Rail Park.

Allocate your day 5 by spending it outside of Seoul. There are 4 options for you to choose from , and each has its own set of unique features to help you decide.

1. Alpaca World

Cute animals at Alpaca World

Head to Alpaca World and meet some adorable mammals . Getting to the farm, however, may be a challenge. It’s because the area is not easily accessible by public transport .

Thus, I highly recommend that you book this best shuttle bus for a more convenient trip . This will bring you directly to visit the Alpaca World , either from Myeongdong or Hongdae.

Alpacas and Rabbits in Alpaca World

I’ve written a separate post, sharing more information on what animals you can see at the attraction.

It also includes the process of how to make it easy for travellers to get there. All of these can be found in my detailed Alpaca World Korea post here.

2. Legoland Korea

Legoland Korea theme park overview and rides

Legoland Korea Resort is a new attraction that’s perfect for families .

It is actually the largest theme park in Asia, offering different kinds of activities .

Not only that but it is also the world’s second largest Legoland theme park after Legoland New York .

If you’re interested, you can take either shuttle bus 1 or shuttle bus 2 from Seoul.

3. Demilitarized Zone

Demilitarized Zone

If you are a history buff, then the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) is a remarkable choice.

This tourist site is considered a peaceful zone between South Korea and North Korea. There are no military personnel or activities around the premises.

Because of its importance to the country, you should get a licensed tour to enter the area.

If interested, you can check out the DMZ tour here . This would give you an idea of the latest rates and itinerary, including the departure time from Seoul .

4. Vivaldi Park Snowy Land (Only Best in Winter)

Vivaldi Park Snowy Land

Have a fun day trip in the scenic Vivaldi Park Snowy Land. It’s the best destination if you’re visiting the place during winter .

There are lots of outdoor activities for everyone, from ice sledding to snowboarding .

You can also go skiing along the splendid hills or visit the igloo village with your family . Another highlight in the area is the snowflake tunnels. You may book here for the round-trip shuttle bus from Seoul .

Itinerary Day 6 for Seoul Trip: Bukchon Hanok Village, Insadong, Dongdaemun, and Jogyesa Temple visits

Itinerary for day 6 features a journey through a historic village, a cultural district, and a renowned shopping area.

  • 10:00 AM: Bukchon Hanok Village
  • 12:30 PM: Lunch at Cafe Onion or Downtowner
  • 1:30 PM: Insadong
  • 3:30 PM: Jogyesa Buddhist Temple
  • 4:30 PM: Dongdaemun
  • 8:00 PM: Dinner at Jinokhwa Halmae or Kyochon

1. Bukchon Hanok Village – 2.5 hours (10:00 AM to 12:30 PM)

Bukchon Hanok Village, a serene escape into traditional Korean culture

Get on with your morning adventure at Bukchon Hanok Village . This is a must-visit destination in Seoul , especially for those who want to stroll around.

See some traces of history along the alleyways and be amazed at how the people have preserved the beauty of this village.

The traditional houses along the alley

Must-do Things in Bukchon:

  • Traditional Houses: Navigate around and catch these ancient houses that are centuries old. You’d be surprised how intact and unique these traditional homes are even after many years.
  • Serene Alleyway : These alleyways are part of the history of the village. So, take a walk down memory lane and experience old Seoul through the pathways.
  • Uniquely Tiled Roofs: One of the distinct features of the structures here is the tiled roof. If you take a closer look, you’d see the intricate designs adorned on the roof.
  • Baek In-je’s House: Drop by this cultural structure filled with Japanese elements. Currently a museum, the house also has a beautiful garden that welcomes visitors.
  • Cha Teul Tea House: Try a traditional tea with your loved ones. While enjoying your drink, capture the lovely views around the area.

2. Lunch at Cafe Onion or Downtowner – 1 hour (12:30 PM to 1:30 PM)

Cafe Onion Anguk, modernity meets tradition in a unique café setting in Seoul

Famous Lunch Spots Close to Bukchon Hanok Village

  • Cafe Onion Anguk: This cosy, Hanok-style café serves fresh pastries that you should try at least once. And before I forget, their coffee is also incredible!
  • Downtowner Anguk: If you want to relish some hamburger goodness, then this is the spot. Plus, they have some fries to pair with your main snack.

Getting to Cafe Union and Downtowner Guide

3. Insadong – 2 hours (1:30 PM to 3:30 PM)

Insadong, cultural heart with traditional crafts and art galleries

Your next stop would be at Insadong Street .

It’s a lovely place filled with Korean culture. You can walk around, try on traditional Korean clothes called hanbok, eat yummy local food like bibimbap, and look at cool art.

There are also cool stuff like pottery and special brushes to buy.

A view of Insadong street and its alleys, along with Jogyesa Buddhist Temple and Ssamziegil Shopping Complex

Must-go Places in Insadong:

  • Strolling Along the Street: Walking around this famous street is one of the highlights of your visit. You’d be amazed how the calm and busy vibes blend perfectly.
  • Insadong’s Alleys: Step into one of the many alleys and catch some old-style establishments. There are plenty of antique shops where you can also enjoy traditional Korean rice wine around.
  • Ssamziegil Shopping Complex: You can browse and shop for a wide range of products, including traditional Korean crafts, fashion items, accessories, and souvenirs.
  • Alive Museum : Play like there’s no tomorrow inside this interactive museum filled with optical illusions. Use this opportunity to showcase your creativity and pose like a pro.

Getting to Insadong Guide

4. Jogyesa Buddhist Temple – 1 hour (3:30 PM to 4:30 PM)

Jogyesa Temple, a serene and spiritual haven in the bustling city of Seoul

Pay a visit to Jogyesa , one of South Korea’s renowned Buddhist temples . It’s a peaceful place right in the city center.

As soon as you step in, you’ll feel calm. Walk around to see pretty gardens and impressive buildings.

During Buddhist festivals, colorful lantern displays illuminate the temple, creating a mesmerizing sight.

Whether you’re seeking a peaceful escape, cultural immersion, or both, Jogyesa is a fantastic destination to explore in the city.

Getting to Jogyesa Buddhist Temple Guide

5. Dongdaemun – 3.5 hours (4:30 PM to 8:00 PM)

Dongdaemun district blending traditional markets with modern fashion in Seoul

In Seoul, Dongdaemun is the place to go for shopping, where you’ll find plenty of stalls with trendy fashion and unique souvenirs at cheap prices .

Clothing display in Migliore and Hello apM

For first-time visitors, don’t miss these 2 shopping malls ― Migliore and Hello apM . Both offer a lot of beautiful clothes at low prices .

You may see here for my comprehensive guide to Dongdaemun Market and learn more about the place. This will also cover the best shopping malls for wholesale and non-wholesale buyers.

Futuristic Dongdaemun Design Plaza, symbol of modern architectural prowess

You shouldn’t forget to visit Dongdaemun Design Plaza . The exterior design is very gorgeous, especially at night . So, be sure to capture some nice photos there before leaving .

Getting to Dongdaemun Guide

6. Dinner at Jinokhwa Halmae or Kyochon – 1 hour (8:00 PM to 9:00 PM)

Yukjeup Gwalliso, Shake Shack Doota, Jinokhwa Halmae Wonjo Dakhanmari and Kyochon Chicken restaurants

Discover the Popular Dinner Spots Near Dongdaemun

  • Yukjeup Gwallis: Enjoy a platter of delicious grilled meat in this restaurant. Munch their side dishes as well to complete your dining experience.
  • Shake Shack Doota: When it comes to fast-food snacks, you’d get your money’s worth here. Try one of their burgers or hotdogs. If you want a heavier meal, they also serve chicken dishes.
  • Jinokhwa Halmae Wonjo Dakhanmari: Satisfy your appetite with a tasty chicken soup from this local store. Their classic dish is the signature chicken infused with garlic.
  • Kyochon Chicken: After your exploration, savor some delectable fried chicken. Choose from a variety of flavors or you can go for the plain ones.

Getting to Jinokhwa Halmae Guide

On day 7, our itinerary starts with a visit to Seoul royal palace, followed by market exploration and a streamside stroll.

  • 11:00 AM: Deoksugung Seoul
  • 1:00 PM: Gwangjang Market + Lunch
  • 5:00 PM: Cheonggyecheon Stream
  • 7:00 PM: Dinner at Wangbijib or Jongno Samgyetang

1. Deoksugung Seoul – 2 hours (11:00 AM to 1:00 PM)

Deoksugung Palace in Seoul, a royal residence turned into a historical museum

The first stop of the last day’s trip is none other than Deoksugung . Swing by the smallest palace in Seoul, Korea , and see its sophisticated interior .

This walled complex is such a nice location to know more about the royal history .

Step into the palace complex and walk around the large expanses bounded by stunning trees . Because of the scenic views, this is also a remarkable area to relax.

Getting to Deoksugung

2. Gwangjang Market – 4 hours (1:00 PM to 5:00 PM)

Gwangjang Market, vibrant culinary hub with traditional Korean food stalls in Seoul

Take your lunch at Gwangjang Market and enjoy the impressive selection of traditional Korean street food . The market is filled with all kinds of local foods, from dumplings to rice cakes and more!

For the best food choices, head to the street that is connected to East Gate, North Gate 2, and South Gate 1 . This is the most popular section in the market where you’ll find abundant food choices.

Some of the must-try foods here are twisted Korean doughnuts, Bindaetteok, Tteokbokki, and Mandu . So, fill up your stomach and enjoy!

Getting to Gwangjang Market

3. Cheonggyecheon Stream – 2 hours (5:00 PM to 7:00 PM)

Cheonggyecheon Stream, tranquil urban oasis winding through the heart of the city

Take a break and head to Cheonggyecheon Stream . This is such a peaceful section of the city , where you can dip your feet and simply relish the views .

The promenade is quite popular among all walks of life, from locals to international travellers. So, if you just want to relax with the running water on your feet, be sure to check this out.

4. Dinner at Wangbijib or Jongno Samgyetang – 1 hour (7:00 PM to 8:00 PM)

Wangbijib Jongno, Gadden Sushi, The Pizza Peel and Jongno Samgyetang restaurants

Savor Unforgettable Dinner Delights Near Cheonggyecheon Stream

  • Wangbijib Jongno: Dine in this local restaurant and enjoy their grilled pork and beef. They also have other Korean dishes like Jeon, Naengmyeon, and more!
  • Gadden Sushi: How about a sushi platter? Offering a selection of fresh and delicious sushi, this store is a must-visit for those who crave Japanese dishes. You’d also love their sashimi, tempura, and seafood delicacies.
  • The Pizza Peel: Order a large, yummy pizza for you and your friends. You may add some pasta and sides to complement your experience.
  • Jongno Samgyetang: Savor a bowl of delectable chicken soup inside this restaurant. And of course, you can’t miss their homemade kimchi!

Getting to Wangbijib Guide

To help you visualize and understand this Seoul 1-week itinerary , I have marked all the must-visit spots in the above map .

Tips for Finding a Location : You may use the KakaoMap and Naver Map apps to assist you in navigating around Seoul. So, download the apps from your smartphone. And don’t worry because these apps have the English language option.

Busy streets of Myeongdong

I highly suggest that you stay in Myeongdong. This is located in heart of Seoul, where the most famous Seoul attractions are found.

Staying here will surely save you time from commuting. Apart from that, it is very accessible to many subway stations , including Myeongdong Station and Euljiro 1(il)-ga Station.

Restaurants in Myeongdong

Another remarkable feature of the area is the abundance of restaurants. You won’t be disappointed with the food choices around.

To guide you, below are my most recommended hotels within the district . All these hotels are situated in the shopping street of Myeongdong, making it easy for shopping and dining.

Also, don’t forget to book your hotel in advance . It’s because most hotels here sold out faster compared to other locations in the city.

Recommended Hotels in Myeongdong

Nine Tree, L7 Myeongdong, Myeongdong Skypark 3, and Hotel Skypark Central

  • Nine Tree : This is just a 1-minute walk to Myeongdong street and a few steps away from Myeongdong Station’s Exit 7 (with escalator). Plus, it is surrounded by many eateries.
  • L7 Myeongdong : If you are looking for a hotel that is a few seconds to Exit 9 of Myeongdong Station, this is recommended.
  • Myeongdong Skypark 3 : Located next to L7 Myeongdong hotel, you may choose this one in case the above hotel is already fully booked.
  • Hotel Skypark Central : This one is close to Euljiro 1(il)-ga Station’s Exit 5 and 6. There are also many restaurants around. Likewise, it has easy access to Myeongdong street, Lotte Department Store, and Lotte Young Plaza.

Korea Pocket WiFi

I also recommend that you rent at least one portable Wi-Fi device when travelling to Seoul .

This is important so you can check the subway route anytime you need . Plus, this helps you navigate around the city easily .

You may book this Korea Pocket Wi-Fi online , which already comes with a stable and high-speed internet connection . It also includes unlimited data .

Because of its convenience, it is used by many travellers around the world. If you book it online, you can just pick up the device from Incheon airport.

Seoul Subway

For your Seoul trip, I suggest that you use the subway . This is a cheap and convenient way to get around the city . In addition, most of the attractions are easily accessible by subway.

You can download the “KakaoMetro” or “Korea Subway Info: Metroid” app on your smartphone.

These 2 apps provide the best and shortest route from one subway station to another. Additionally, it covers the travel time and subway fare for your convenience.

Also, I highly encourage you to buy a T-Money Transportation Card . This is the main payment method when using subways and buses in the city. To better understand this, here’s why:

Why want to use T-Money Card?

  • Time-Saving: With this card, there’s no need to buy individual tickets for every ride. You just tap your card at a specific panel and take the subways and buses with ease.
  • Convenient Stores: Use the card to pay purchases in convenience stores like 7-Eleven, CU, GS25, Ministop, and emart24.

Where to top-up a T-Money Card?

You can easily reload the card from convenience stores. Another way to reload is through the ticket vending machines that are located inside the subway stations.

Where can you buy a T-Money Card?

You may also purchase the card from convenience stores such as CU, GS25, and 7-Eleven. These are located inside the airport or in the city center.

2. Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour

Seoul Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour

The sightseeing bus tour is a great alternative option when touring around Seoul.

This is a commendable choice if you don’t like to use the subway . Because of the setup of the bus, it’s also a good way to see an aerial view of the city.

On top of that, the bus covers some of Seoul’s major sights. These include N Seoul Tower, Gyeongbokgung Palace, Insadong, Myeongdong, and Dongdaemun.

3. Private Car Charter

Private Car Charter in Seoul

If you want something more personalized, then the private car charter is the best choice.

This is definitely the easiest way of exploring different Seoul landmarks at your preferred time . Not only that but it comes with a professional English-speaking driver .

You just make your request to the driver and he/she will take you to your destination. Because of these features, it’s recommended for families and friends without budget constraints , who just want a relaxing trip.

Try to visit the private charter service website to find out more about their services and pricing .

Busan Attractions

If you’ve got more time to spend in South Korea , then it’s best that you spend it in Busan . This city is packed with traditional markets as well as beautiful seaside beaches that will surely charm you.

Not only that but there is a mural village and a historical temple within the area . So, take your time to read my 3 days in Busan itinerary and make sure you add this to your trip.

KTX Train

I highly recommend that you take the high-speed rail going to Busan for your convenience .

This transportation is quite popular because of the surrounding views from the comfort of your seat. While onboard, you get to see some beautiful views through the big windows.

For guidance, see here to find out how to go to Busan from Seoul by KTX train and make your preparations in advance. And also from this guide, I’ll show how to take the KTX train to Busan .

Accordingly, the travel time would take around 2 hours and 40 minutes . Hence, you need to plan your schedule ahead of time.

And if you’re done with Korea, don’t hesitate to fill yourself with more adventures. So, is Tokyo your next destination to visit? If yes, don’t forget to see my Tokyo itinerary to give you some idea how to plan your trip!

1. AREX Express Train

Taking the AREX Express Train is the cheapest way to go from Incheon Airport to Seoul Station . It is a non-stop train that travels for about 50 minutes to reach Seoul Station .

The original ticket price is 9,500 won, but you can actually buy the tickets online to get an extra 20% discount . Plus, you can choose to take the train at Basement 1 of Terminal 1 or Terminal 2.

  • The first and last trains depart from Terminal 1 at 5:23 AM and 10:48 PM respectively
  • The first and last trains depart from Terminal 2 at 5:15 AM and 10:40 PM respectively
  • Trains depart from the airport every 20 to 40 minutes

2. Bus 6015

If you’re staying in Myeongdong , you may ride Bus 6015 .

The travel time is about 1 hour and 20 minutes while the bus fare is 17,000 won for an adult and 11,000 won for a child . You can pay the fees using the T-Money Card.

As for the bus stop , it is located at Gate 5 , which is within level 1 of terminal 1 (arrival hall) .

There is another boarding location found at Bus Stop No. 28 of basement 1 of terminal 2 (arrival hall) .

For more details, simply refer to my guide on traveling from Incheon to Myeongdong .

The bus will drop you at Myeongdong Station.

  • The first bus is at 5:40 AM
  • The last bus is at 11:10PM
  • The bus interval is 20 to 30 minutes

3. Private Car

A great option if you’re looking for a 24-hour airport transfer service is through a private car. With this, you can travel comfortably between the airports and the capital city.

This also means you won’t have to stress about very late or early morning airport arrivals . It’s because this comfy transportation is available 24/7.

On top of that, you get to enjoy a door-to-door pickup service that will take you directly to your hotel .

If you’re interested, check out private car here to see the prices and reviews made by previous travellers .

My Seoul travel itinerary has now brought you to the conclusion of this article. I hope this guide helps you plan a great trip to the capital of Korea.

Seoul Lotte World Theme Park

Seoul Lotte World: 15 Best Rides & How to Go Guide

What to Do in Nami Island

17 Best Things to Do in Nami Island Korea You Can’t Miss

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Alpaca World Korea: How to Go Guide & Must-See Animals

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KoreaToDo - What to Do & See in South Korea

SEOUL - north  |  SEOUL - south

Day Trips from Seoul  | Busan  |  Best Collections

🥁  Festivals ( Seoul • Busan )

30 Must Visit Places & Activities To Do in Seoul, Korea

KoreaToDo handpicked collection of must visit places and activities to do in Seoul  across a wide range of cultural, most popular, hidden secrets and local favourite hunts.

The Seoul Must-visits and Must-do Collection offer quick picks for the first timers to Seoul , busy travellers with little planning time, travellers with short holiday in Korea and perhaps fresh ideas for the seasoned travellers.

Which are your favourites and how many have you visited? ENJOY!

1. Korea Palaces

Visit either:

Gyeongbokgung Palace : The largest + Changing of Royal Guards Ceremony

Changdeokgung Palace : UNESCO World Heritage + Secret Garden

Deoksugung Palace : Most conveniently located next to City Hall Station + Changing of Royal Guards Ceremony

Top Must Visit Places & Activities To Do in Seoul - Korea Palaces | KoreaToDo

2. Namsan Seoul Tower

With the four distinct seasons, multiple ways to reach its peak and day/night scenery, N Seoul Tower is definitely a place to visit more than once.

Top Must Visit Places & Activities To Do in Seoul - N Seoul Tower | KoreaToDo

3. Myeongdong

The shopping, cafes,  restaurants and street food mecca! You can't claim been to Seoul without visiting Myeongdong, the hot favourite for many visitors to Seoul!  You can also catch Korea's longest running and award winning show, NANTA in Myeongdong too!

Top Must Visit Places & Activities To Do in Seoul - Myeongdong | KoreaToDo

4. Cafe Streets  

Check out one of the rooftop cafes at the chic suburb of Sam cheongdong . Enjoy your favourite drink and watch the sun sets over the beautifu l horizon.

Other popular cafe streets/areas:

Ikseondong Hanok Village

Seoul Forest Cafe Street

Samcheongdong - Cafe Breezin Rooftop Cafe | Seoul, South Korea

5. Korean BBQ

With so many Korean BBQ Restaurants in Seoul, why not BBQ differently this time, over a king-size pot lit at Hansang Gadeuk BBQ Restaurant ?

Other recommended BBQ restaurants at:

Top Must Visit Places & Activities To Do in Seoul - Korean BBQ | KoreaToDo

6. Korean Markets

KoreaToDo favourite picks include:

Tongin Market : Fill up your lunch box with purch ases using brass coins

Gwangjang Market : Many popular local  food to try!

Yeongcheon Market : A must-visit for the doughnuts lovers, freshly made!

Top Must Visit Places & Activities To Do in Seoul - Korean Food Markets | KoreaToDo

7. Seoul City Wall

The 18.6km long wall of cultural significance, surrounding the center of Seoul across 4 main mountains.

KoreaToDo Top Picks:

Naksan Mountain Trail : The easiest and gradual walking trail with picturesque view of the city, just 2 subway stops away from Dongdaemun Station.

Inwangsan Mountain Trail : Feel the achievement of reaching a Seoul's mountain summit (338.2m) along the Seoul City Wall.

Top Must Visit Places & Activities To Do in Seoul - Seoul City Wall | KoreaToDo

8. Bukhansan National Park

Enjoy nature beauty with clear flowing rivers, tall trees and fresh air at this most visited National Park in Korea, so close to the Seoul City Center. 

You can choose an easy walk/hike and turn back anytime (after your picnic?) or challenge yourself to one of its peaks. There are signs in English and you will see Koreans hikers on weekdays too.

Bukhansan National Park - Bukhansanseong Park Information Center | Seoul, South Korea

9. Han River (Hangang) Parks

Han River is a major river running through Seoul. 12 parks are created along Han River in Seoul, offering relaxation and sporting hub for the citizens.

KoreaToDo Hot Picks : Parks with direct subway station access, unique attractions & activities to do (i.e. bicycle rental, duck boat rental, ferry cruises, etc):

Ttukseom Hangang Park

Yeouido Hangang Park

Ttukseom Hangang Park - KTD - Wall Painting 3.jpg

10. Bridge Walk across Han River

With so many bridges connecting North and South of Seoul across Han River, bridge walk offers one of the best and unique experiences on your holiday in Seoul.

KoreaToDo's favourite pick:

Jamsil Railway Bridge Walk : end-to-end subway station connections.

Top Must Visit Places & Activities To Do in Seoul - Bridge Walk across Han River | KoreaToDo

11. Underground Malls

There are many underground malls in Seoul. Of which, the Express Bus Terminal Underground Mall (GOTO MALL) stands out among the rest as the largest underground mall in Seoul with over 600 shops. You can find the latest fashion wear, paintings, household items, beddings, accessories and even plants & pots at GOTO MALL .

Express Bus Terminal Underground Shopping Mall (GOTO MALL) | Seoul, South Korea

12. Ko rean Universities

Ewha Womans University is the largest university for women in Korea. I t has the largest underground campus (ECC), designed by world renowned architect. The  beautiful campus is within walking distance to subway station. There are great shopping and restaurants outside its campus too!

In autumn, Yonsei University nearby is a must-visit for its autumn foliage!

Ewha Womans University | Seoul, South Korea

With day tours to go and so many places to visit in Seoul, including palaces, shops, cafes and restaurants, parks are often given a miss by travellers unfortunately...

Nonetheless, please do take some time to relax in nature and enjoy the beautiful seasonal flowers and plants Seoul Parks has to offer.

Hot picks include:

Seoul Grand Park

Seoul Forest

Olympic Park

Haneul Park

Seoul Grand Park - Gwacheon Lake & Sky Lift | Seoul, South Korea

14. Kakao Friends / Line Friends Flagship  Stores

You can find your favourite and cutest Kakao Friends and Line Friends merchandise from toys, stationeries, clothing and lifestyle items... only in South Korea!

Best locations for both flagship stores located near subway stations:

Gangnam Shopping Street

Hongdae Shopping Street ​

Hongdae - Kakao Friends Hongdae Flagship Store | Seoul, South Korea

15. Factory Outlets

Deal  hunters for the popular brands like The North Face, Columbia, Fila , Adidas, New Balance, etc, check out the factory outlets in Seoul.

Recommended picks near subway stations:

Lotte Outlets (Seoul Station Branch)

Hyundai City Outlets Dongdaemun ​

Lotte Outlets Seoul Station Branch | Seoul, South Korea

16. Olive Young

We can't leave out the cult favourite for beauty lovers, Olive Young! ​

Visit the largest Olive Young store in South Korea, Olive Young Myeongdong Flagship Store and stock up your beauty care products (e.g. masks, sun cream).

💡If you are new to Korean skincare, you can check out the bestsellers on their global site.

Olive Young Myeongdong Flagship Store | Seoul, South Korea

KoreaToDo TOP PICKS - Tours, Activities & Discount Tickets

➥ Handpicked experiences by KoreaToDo for their uniqueness, value, popularity, price competitiveness and at times, tedious to reach by public transport.

N Seoul Tower Package (Observatory & Cable Car Round Trip)

N Seoul Tower Package (Observatory & Cable Car Round Trip)

scenic ride up Mt. Namsan

Yeo Yong Guk Korean Traditional Medicine Spa Packages

Yeo Yong Guk Korean Traditional Medicine Spa Packages

must-go wellness place by KTO

Lotte World 1 Day Pass & Lotte World Aquarium

Lotte World 1 Day Pass & Lotte World Aquarium

located in the heart of Seoul

Coex Aquarium in Seoul Admission Ticket

Coex Aquarium in Seoul Admission Ticket

largest aquarium in Seoul

Seoul Eland Hangang River Cruise (Day Cruise)

Seoul Eland Hangang River Cruise (Day Cruise)

40 mins, multiple timings

Discover Seoul Pass (Lotte World, COEX Aquarium, Han River Cruises, etc)

Discover Seoul Pass (Lotte World, COEX Aquarium, Han River Cruises, etc)

free access to >60 attractions

Hanbok Rental near Changdeokgung Palace by Dorothy Hanbok

Hanbok Rental near Changdeokgung Palace by Dorothy Hanbok

Kid/Male hanbok available.

Private Transfer: Incheon Airport (ICN) to Seoul (1-3 or more pax/car)

Private Transfer: Incheon Airport (ICN) to Seoul (1-3 or more pax/car)

Myeongdong, Hongdae, etc

♔  KoreaToDo recommends  Klook.com , Asia leading in-destination service provider.

trip in seoul

🎵 SEASONAL HOT PICKS 🎶 Handpicked Experiences from Seoul

2024 Boryeong Mud Festival Day Tour

2024 Boryeong Mud Festival Day Tour

20 Jul - 4 Aug 2024

Sat & Sun departures

2024 Boryeong Mud Festival, Daecheon Beach & Oeam Folk Village Day Tour

2024 Boryeong Mud Festival, Daecheon Beach & Oeam Folk Village Day Tour

19 Jul - 4 Aug 2024

famous summer festival in Korea

Hongcheon Starlight Music Beer Festival & Alpaca World

Hongcheon Starlight Music Beer Festival & Alpaca World

31 Jul - 4 Aug 2024

beer coupons & limited beer mug

Other KoreaToDo Collections that you may like:

Top Popular & Unique Day Trips from Seoul under 3 hours

Recommended Day Tours from Seoul & WHY

Top Favourite Shopping Heaven in Seoul

Essential Travel Tips to Korea

Still looking? Explore KoreaToDo handpicked collection of:

Seoul - North of Han River

Seoul - South of Han River

Will Fly for Food

Seoul Itinerary: The Best Places to Visit in 5 Days

Posted on Last updated: May 2, 2024

Seoul is a massive city. It has one of the most populated metropolitan areas in the world. There’s a lot to see and do in Seoul but thankfully, the city has an efficient and extensive metro system that makes sightseeing a breeze.

Like first-time visitors to Tokyo , people who visit Seoul for the first time will have their hands full navigating the city’s myriad attractions so I’ve come up with this 5 day Seoul itinerary to help you maximize your stay.

Like any trip, it’s always better to stay longer but five days will give you enough time to explore Seoul’s top tourist attractions at a moderate, enjoyable pace.

SEOUL ITINERARY QUICK LINKS

To help you plan your trip to Seoul, I’ve compiled links to hotels, tours, and other travel-related services here.

Top-rated hotels in Myeongdong, the best area to stay in Seoul for first-time visitors.

  • Luxury: THE PLAZA Seoul, Autograph Collection
  • Midrange: Solaria Nishitetsu Hotel Seoul Myeongdong
  • Budget: Dream Guesthouse
  • Seoul Sightseeing Tour: History of Seoul Tour
  • Hanbok Rental: Hanbok Rental and Photoshoot Experience
  • Day Trip: Nami Island (and More) Day Tour from Seoul

OTHER SERVICES

  • Travel Insurance (with COVID cover)
  • Airport Transfers
  • Go City Pass
  • Korea Tour Card
  • Discover Seoul Pass
  • South Korea eSIM

SEOUL TRAVEL GUIDE

People visiting South Korea and Seoul for the first time will find our Seoul travel guide very useful. It’ll have all the information you need – like when to go, how to get around, what and where to eat, etc. – to help you plan your trip.

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No time to read this 5 day Seoul itinerary now? Click on the save button and pin it for later!

trip in seoul

WHAT TO DO WITH 5 DAYS IN SEOUL

Listed below are the top Seoul attractions along with a few recommended restaurants. You can jump to the location map to see exactly where they are in the city.

We highly recommend getting a Korea Tourist Card or Discover Seoul Pass . Either one will be very helpful to you as you hop from one attraction to the next on this Seoul Itinerary. The Discover Seoul Pass is especially helpful because it gives you free admission to many of the attractions recommended here. You can click on the links for more information.

NOTE: We usually use Google Maps to navigate but it doesn’t work as well in Korea. In Seoul, it’s best to navigate using the NAVER Map, Navigation app ( iOS | Android ).

SEOUL ITINERARY QUICK GLANCE

Seoul itinerary: day 1, gyeongbokgung palace.

Your first stop on day one of this Seoul itinerary is Gyeongbokgung, the oldest and largest among Seoul’s Five Grand Palaces. Built in 1395, it served as the main palace of the Joseon Dynasty and currently houses the National Palace Museum of Korea and the National Folk Museum of Korea.

Gyeongbokgung is the biggest palace in Seoul and considered by many to be the most beautiful so it makes sense to go there first. Pictured below is Gwanghwamun Gate. It’s the main gate to the palace and where you can watch the changing of the Royal Guard.

Entrance to Gyeongbokgung is KRW 3,000 but you can get an integrated palace ticket for KRW 10,000 that gives you access to Gyeongbokgung, Changdeokgung (including Huwon), Changgyeonggung, Deoksugung, and Jongmyo Shrine.

Gwanghwamun Gate in Seoul, South Korea

You can witness the ceremonial changing of the Royal Guard at Gwanghwamun Gate at 10AM and 2PM everyday except Tuesday. It’s one of the most interesting times to visit Gyeongbokgung so it’s best to arrive before 10AM. Other than Gyeongbokgung, the only other palace where you can watch the changing of the guard in Seoul is at Deoksugung.

We visited Gyeongbokgung on our own but if you’d prefer to go on a guided tour, then there are a few palace tours you can choose from on Klook or Get Your Guide . Many tourists who visit Gyeongbokgung will rent a hanbok (traditional Korean dress) first for more memorable pictures.

Changing of the guard at Gwanghwamun Gate in Seoul

Operating Hours: 9AM-6PM, Wed-Mon (closed Tuesdays) Admission: KRW 3,000 Closest Subway Station: Gyeongbokgung Station (Line 3, Exit 5) or Anguk Station (Line 3, Exit 1) Estimated Time to Spend: About 1-2 hrs

After exploring Gyeongbokgung, head over to Tosokchon for lunch. It’s about a 5-minute walk west of the palace. Tosokchon has been open for over 30 years and is known for serving some of the best samgyetang in Seoul.

Samgyetang is a hearty Korean soup dish made from a whole young chicken stuffed with glutinous rice and boiled in a broth of Korean ginseng, jujube fruits, garlic, ginger, and other ingredients. It’s believed to have a cooling effect on the body and is thus especially popular in summer.

We’ve tried many delicious dishes in Korea and samgyetang is definitely one of the most interesting. Pictured below is a version of the dish made with black chicken.

Tosokchon in Seoul

Address: 5 Jahamun-ro 5-gil, Sajik-dong, Jongno-gu, 서울특별시 South Korea Operating Hours: 10AM-10PM, daily Closest Subway Station: Gyeongbokgung Station (Exit 2) What to Order: Samgyetang What We Paid: Around KRW 15,000-20,000 per person

Bukchon Hanok Village

Bukchon Hanok Village is an atmospheric residential/commercial neighborhood in Seoul located between Gyeongbokgung and Changdeokgung palaces. After lunch at Tosokchon, make your way there before proceeding to Changdeokgung.

Bukchon Hanok Village is home to hundreds of hanoks or traditional Korean houses that date back to the Joseon Dynasty. It’s one of the most popular places in Seoul to rent a hanbok for pictures.

While many of the hanoks have been converted into cultural centers and teahouses, the majority are still residences so it’s important to be respectful and keep your voices down when you visit.

I’ve visited Bukchon Hanok Village a few times, always on my own, but there’s a free walking tour you may want to join. You can visit on a guided tour as well.

Bukchon Hanok Village in Seoul, South Korea

Closest Subway Station: Anguk Station (Line 3, Exit 1 or 2) Estimated Time to Spend: About 1 – 1.5 hrs

Changdeokgung Palace

From Bukchon Hanok Village, it’s about a 10-15 minute walk east to Changdeokgung Palace. It’s the second of the Five Grand Palaces you’ll be visiting on this 5 day Seoul itinerary.

Changdeokgung was the second royal villa built in Seoul, after Gyeongbokgung. It’s perhaps the most well-preserved of the five palaces and one of the most visited. If you were to visit just two palaces, then it should probably be Gyeongbokgung and Changdeokgung .

Changdeokgung Palace in Seoul, South Korea

One of Changdeokgung’s most notable features is the rear secret garden or Huwon. It was used as a resting place by the Joseon kings and considered one of the best examples of Korean garden design. It features a small pond, a pavilion, and a large tree that’s over 300 years old.

Admission to the Huwon is separate from the palace but the integrated palace ticket will give you access to both. Like Gyeongbokgung and Bukchon Hanok Village, Changdeokgung is a great place to rent a hanbok for pictures. You can also visit on a guided tour .

Huwon at Changdeokgung in Seoul

Operating Hours: 9AM-6PM, Tue-Sun (closed Mondays) Admission: KRW 3,000 (palace), KRW 8,000 (Huwon) Closest Subway Station: Anguk Station (Line 3, Exit 3) Estimated Time to Spend: About 2 hrs

Changgyeonggung Palace

Connected to Changdeokgung is Changgyeonggung, the next of the Five Grand Palaces in Seoul. It was built in 1483 for the wives of the Joseon kings.

Changgyeonggung Palace is smaller and less impressive than the previous two but its proximity to Changdeokgung makes it a worthwhile stop on this Seoul itinerary. Plus, you’ll have free access with the integrated palace ticket.

Changgyeonggung Palace in Seoul, South Korea

“ Changgyeonggung Palace, Seoul, erly 15th century (12) ” by Richard Mortel , used under CC BY 2.0 / Processed in Photoshop and Lightroom

Operating Hours: 9AM-9PM, Tue-Sun (closed Mondays) Admission: KRW 1,000 Closest Subway Station: Anguk Station (Line 3, Exit 3) Estimated Time to Spend: About 1 – 1.5 hrs

Jongmyo Shrine

Located directly south of Changdeokgung and Changgyeonggung palaces is Jongmyo, a royal shrine where the ancestral rites for deceased Joseon kings and queens are performed.

Jongmyo Shrine is where you’ll find the royal spirit tablets. These are the placards used to designate the seat of a deity or past ancestor. It’s a sacred place that’s more solemn in atmosphere than the royal palaces so it’s important to be respectful when you visit. It’s the only non-palace included in the integrated palace ticket.

Jongmyo Shrine in Seoul, South Korea

“ Jongmyo Shrine ” by whyyan , used under CC BY 2.0 / Processed in Photoshop and Lightroom

Operating Hours: 9AM-6PM, Wed-Mon (closed Tuesdays) Admission: KRW 1,000 Closest Subway Station: Jongno 3(sam)-ga Station (Line 1, 3, 5 / Exit 8, 11) Estimated Time to Spend: About 1 hr

Ikseondong Hanok Village

Directly to the west of Jongmyo Shrine is Ikseondong Hanok Village, perhaps one of Seoul’s best kept secrets. A labyrinth of hanoks that have been converted into cute cafes and boutiques, it’s like a trendier version of Bukchon Hanok Village.

We visited Ikseondong in the morning when many of the shops were still closed so it’s best to go later in the day. If you’re looking for something a little less touristy in Seoul, then Ikseondong is a great neighborhood to get lost in for an hour or two.

Ikseondong Hanok Village in Seoul

Photo by Alejandro via Flickr (CC0 1.0)

Closest Subway Station: Jongno 3(sam)-ga Station (Line 1, 3, 5 / Exit 6) Estimated Time to Spend: About 2-3 hrs

Make your way to Insadong, this first of five popular Seoul neighborhoods you’ll be exploring on this Seoul itinerary. It’s comprised of a main street – Insadong-gil – connected to a network of smaller alleyways filled with art galleries, traditional craft shops, restaurants, cafes, and street food stalls.

At one point, Insadong was home to the largest market of antiques and artwork not just in Seoul, but in all of South Korea. If you’re looking to purchase more traditional items in Seoul, then Insadong is the place to go.

It’s fun to explore the area on your own but if you’d like to go with a guide, then you may be interested in this city sightseeing tour that takes you through the heart of Insadong.

Insadong in Seoul

Closest Subway Station: Jonggak Station (Line 1, Exit 11) or Anguk Station (Line 3, Exit 6) Estimated Time to Spend: About 3-4 hrs

Jogyesa Temple

From Insadong-gil, continue west to Jogyesa Temple, the head temple of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism. It’s one of the most important Buddhist temples in Korea and serves as the main venue for many Buddhist events in Seoul.

Jogyesa Temple in Seoul, South Korea

Photo by Various images via Shutterstock

Operating Hours: 24 hrs Admission: FREE Closest Subway Station: Jonggak Station (Line 1, Exit 2) Estimated Time to Spend: About 30 mins – 1 hr

Imun Seolleongtang

A short walk from Jogyesa Temple is Imun Seolleongtang, the oldest restaurant in Seoul. They’ve been serving seolnongtang or ox bone soup for close to 120 years.

My sister-in-law is a Korean former chef from Seoul and one of her favorite dishes is seolnongtang. It’s a hearty soup dish made by boiling beef shank bones for several hours to extract the flavor from the bones.

As you can see below, the process turns the broth cloudy and milky white. Brisket and other cuts of beef are added to the broth along with rice and soft wheat noodles.

Seolnongtang is great to have with makgeolli which is a sweet-sour alcoholic beverage made from rice or wheat mixed with nuruk, a Korean fermentation starter. What better way to end a day of historical sightseeing in Seoul than with dinner and drinks at Seoul’s oldest restaurant?

Imun Seolleongtang in Seoul

Address: 38-13 Ujeongguk-ro, Gyeonji-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea Operating Hours: 8AM-9PM, daily Closest Subway Station: Jonggak Station (Exit 3-1) What to Order: Seolnongtang, makgeolli What We Paid: Around KRW 10,000-15,000 per person

SEOUL ITINERARY: DAY 2

Gyeonghuigung palace.

If you haven’t had your fill of palaces yet, then the second day on this Seoul itinerary will take you to Gyeonghuigung Palace, the fourth of the Five Grand Palaces.

During the latter half of the Joseon period, Gyeonghuigung served as the king’s secondary palace. It was where he retreated to in times of emergency. At its peak, it was comprised of about 100 buildings but most were destroyed during the Japanese occupation.

Admission to Gyeonghuigung Palace is free. It’s about a 10-minute walk from Deoksugung Palace. If you’d like to catch the 11AM changing of the guard at Deoksugung, then it’s best to be at Gyeonghuigung by around 9:30AM.

Gyeonghuigung Palace in Seoul, South Korea

Photo by Gary Todd via Flickr (CC0 1.0)

Operating Hours: 9AM-6PM, Tue-Sun (closed Mondays) Admission: FREE Closest Subway Station: Seodaemun Station (Line 5, Exit 4) Estimated Time to Spend: About 1 hr

Deoksugung Palace

Deoksugung is the last of Seoul’s Five Grand Palaces. It became the primary royal palace after Gyeongbokgung was burned down during the Japanese invasion of Korea. It’s for this reason why it’s the only other palace in Seoul where you can witness the changing of the Royal Guard.

Deoksugung’s changing of the guard happens three times a day – at 11AM, 2PM, and 3:30PM. It takes place in front of Daehanmun which is the palace’s main gate. Admission to Deoksugung is included in the integrated palace ticket.

Deoksugung Palace in Seoul, South Korea

“ Deoksugung Palace, Seoul (59) ” by Richard Mortel , used under CC BY 2.0 / Processed in Photoshop and Lightroom

Operating Hours: 9AM-9PM, Tue-Sun (closed Mondays) Admission: KRW 1,000 Closest Subway Station: City Hall Station (Line 1, 2 / Exit 1, 2, 3) Estimated Time to Spend: About 1 hr

Jeonju Yuhalmeoni Bibimbap

After exploring Deoksugung, walk over to Jeonju Yuhalmeoni Bibimbap for lunch. Owned and operated by Grandma Yu, this humble restaurant has been serving Jeonju-style bibimbap in Seoul for over 40 years.

Like bulgogi, galbi, or japchae, bibimbap is a beloved and well-known Korean dish. It refers to a bowl of white rice topped with sauteed and seasoned vegetables, gochujang (Korean chili paste), a raw or fried egg, and sliced meat. The contents are mixed together thoroughly before being eaten.

Jeonju Yuhalmeoni Bibimbap in Seoul

Address: 12-2, Bukchang-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea Operating Hours: 11AM-7PM, Thurs-Sat / 11AM-6PM, Sun-Wed Closest Subway Station: City Hall Station (Exit 8) What to Order: Jeonju bibimbap What We Paid: Around KRW 10,000 per person

Namdaemun Market

After lunch, continue south to Namdeamun Market. It’s Korea’s largest traditional market with over 10,000 shops selling a variety of goods like clothes, houseware, toys, accessories, and food.

Spend as much time as you want exploring the market before proceeding to the next stop on this Seoul itinerary. Markets are one of the best places to experience local Korean culture and sample Seoul’s street food .

Namdaemun Market in Seoul

“ Namdaemun Market ” by Adrián Pérez , used under CC BY-SA 2.0 / Processed in Photoshop and Lightroom

Operating Hours: 24 hrs Closest Subway Station: Hoehyeon Station (Line 4, Exit 5) Estimated Time to Spend: About 1-2 hrs

N Seoul Tower

From Namdaemun Market, continue south to Namsan Seoul Tower. It’s a little under 2 km (1.2 miles) away, part of which is uphill, so you may want to take the Seoul metro to Myeongdong station then walk the rest of the way.

Standing at almost 480 meters (1,575 ft) above sea level, N Seoul Tower is one of the tallest towers* not just in Seoul, but in all of Asia. It towers over Namsan Mountain and boasts an observation deck offering sweeping 360° views of downtown Seoul.

The observation deck is the main draw but there are other attractions within and around the tower as well like the Locks of Love, a game plaza, a VR entertainment center, and over a dozen restaurants and cafes.

You can get to N Seoul Tower on foot, by taxi or bus, or by cable car. Most tourists go by cable car. You can purchase tickets to the observatory at the gate.

*If you’d like to visit the tallest tower in Seoul, then head over to Lotte World Tower. It’s the tallest building in South Korea and the 5th tallest in the world .

N Seoul Tower in Seoul, South Korea

Operating Hours: 11AM-10PM, daily Admission: KRW 16,000 (observatory), KRW 13,000 (cable car roundtrip) Closest Subway Station: Myeong-dong Station (Line 4, Exit 3) Estimated Time to Spend: About 1-2 hrs

From N Seoul Tower, take the cable car back down then walk to Myeongdong, one of Seoul’s most popular neighborhoods and shopping districts. It boasts a neon-lit labyrinth of department stores and boutiques selling a variety of goods like designer apparel, cosmetics, bags, luggage, and mobile accessories.

If you’re visiting Seoul primarily to shop, then this is probably where you’ll be spending most of your time.

Myeongdong in Seoul

Aside from designer boutiques, Myeongdong is home to a wealth of restaurants and cafes. It’s one of the most popular areas in Seoul to have street food.

Various vendors set up in the late afternoon to sell a variety of street food like tteokbokki (rice cakes), skewered seafood, and most decadent of all – grilled lobster tails.

Grilled lobster tails in Seoul

Closest Subway Station: Euljiro 1(il)-ga Station (Line 2 / Exit 5, 6, 7) or Myeong-dong Station (Line 4 / Exit 5, 6, 7, 8) Estimated Time to Spend: About 3-4 hrs

Myeongdong Kyoja

There are many restaurants to choose from in Myeongdong but a popular choice is Myeongdong Kyoja. They’ve been around for over 50 years and are known for serving some of the best kalguksu or knife-cut noodles in Seoul.

Kalguksu consists of handmade, knife-cut wheat flour noodles served in a bowl with broth and other ingredients. At Myeondong Kyoja, it’s typically enjoyed with a side of steamed mandu or Korean-style dumplings.

Kalguksu is great but if you’d like more restaurant suggestions in the Myeongdong area, then check out our list of must-try restaurants in Seoul .

Myeongdong Kyoja in Seoul

Address: 29 Myeongdong 10-gil, Myeongdong 2(i)-ga, Jung-gu, 서울특별시 South Korea Operating Hours: 10:30AM-9:30PM, daily Closest Subway Station: Myeongdong Station (Exit 8) What to Order: Kalguksu, mandu What We Paid: Around KRW 10,000-15,000 per person

SEOUL ITINERARY: DAY 3

Noryangjin fisheries wholesale market.

On the third day of this Seoul itinerary, head over to Noryangjin Market, one of the biggest and most well-known seafood markets in Seoul. We visited Noryangjin on our very first trip to Seoul to try sannakji , Korea’s infamous dish of “live” octopus sashimi.

Parts of Noryangjin stay open for 24 hours but one of the most interesting times to visit is at 3AM during the live fish auction. Up to 300 tons of marine products are traded at the market everyday.

What makes the market even more interesting are the many restaurants on the second floor that can prepare and cook your seafood for you. Just bring your fresh seafood to them, negotiate a price, and enjoy a seafood feast in Seoul.

Noryangjin Fish Market in Seoul

Operating Hours: 24 hrs (high-class fish market) Closest Subway Station: Noryangjin Station (Line 1, Exit 1) Estimated Time to Spend: About 1-2 hrs

After your seafood feast, hop back into the Seoul metro and head over to Hongdae, one of our favorite neighborhoods in Seoul.

Hongdae refers to the area around Hongik University. It’s a lively and youthful neighborhood with plenty of cute cafes, restaurants, boutiques, and street performers.

Because Hongdae is populated with students, it has a fun college town atmosphere that’s unlike any other in Seoul. You could easily spend the whole day here exploring its myriad shops and cafes.

Hongdae in Seoul

Closest Subway Station: Hongik University Station (Line 2, Exit 9) Estimated Time to Spend: About 3-4 hrs

The Gangnam district is one of the most affluent neighborhoods in Seoul. It’s drawn comparisons to Beverly Hills, CA and features some of the most expensive real estate in Seoul. The district gained global popularity thanks to Korean singer Psy’s smash hit “Gangnam Style”.

BBQ Olive Chicken Cafe

If you’re a fan of Korean television dramas, then you may recognize this place. It was featured prominently in the hugely successful Goblin series.

BBQ Olive Chicken Cafe is a chimaek restaurant chain with multiple outlets throughout Seoul. Chimaek refers to the popular combination of Korean fried chicken and beer, one of the best duos you can have in Seoul!

Two BBQ Olive Chicken Cafe outlets were featured in the Goblin tv series – one by Cheonggyecheon Stream and another in Gangnam. The former is more popular but this itinerary for Seoul takes you to the heart of the Gangnam commercial district next so I’m suggesting you go to the one in Gangnam.

BBQ Olive Chicken Cafe in Seoul

Address: 687-2 Ilwon-dong, Gangnam District, Seoul, Korea Operating Hours: 11:30AM-2AM, daily Closest Subway Station: Daecheong Station (Exit 4) What to Order: Golden Olive Chicken, sweet potato fries What We Paid: Around KRW 15,000 per person

Bongeunsa Temple

After lunch, take the Seoul metro to Bongeunsa Temple, a Buddhist temple located directly north of COEX Mall. It’s a good place to make a quick stop before visiting the mall’s Instagram-famous Starfield Library.

Bongeunsa Temple in Seoul, South Korea

“ Bongeunsa temple, Seoul ” by mia! , used under CC BY-SA 2.0 / Processed in Photoshop and Lightroom

Operating Hours: 24 hrs Admission: FREE Closest Subway Station: Bongeunsa Temple Station (Line 9, Exit 1) Estimated Time to Spend: About 1 hr

COEX Mall Starfield Library

Starfield Library is an open-air public library located in the middle of COEX Mall. It features hundreds of books and magazines, even iPads that you can use to read E-books. It’s a stunning library that’s become one of the most popular picture-taking spots in Seoul.

COEX Mall Starfield Library in Seoul, South Korea

Operating Hours: 10:30AM-10PM, daily Admission: FREE Closest Subway Station: Samseong Station (Line 2 / Exit 5, 6), Bongeunsa Station (Line 9 / Exit 1, 6, 7), or Cheongdam Station (Line 7, Exit 2) Estimated Time to Spend: About 2-3 hrs

Gangnam Shopping Street

If you’d like to go shopping or get a bite to eat in Gangnam, then a good place to go is Gangnam-daero or Gangnam Shopping Street. Located between Gangnam and Sinnonhyeon stations, this stretch of road is the most popular shopping and dining area in the Gangnam district.

Gangnam in Seoul

“ Gangnam-gu, Seoul ” by Kan Wu , used under CC BY 2.0 / Processed in Photoshop and Lightroom

Closest Subway Station: Gangnam Station (Line 2 / Exit 10, 11) or Sinnonhyeon Station (Line 9 / Exit 5, 6) Estimated Time to Spend: About 2-3 hrs

Wonjo Masan Halmae Agujjim

If you walk north on Gangnam-daero, then you’ll eventually find yourself at a cluster of restaurants specializing in ganjang gejang. It’s a dish of raw crab marinated in soy sauce.

To prepare, fresh raw crabs are cleaned then put in an earthenware crock where they’re salted for about six hours. A mixture of soy sauce and other ingredients is boiled briefly then poured over the salted crabs.

After an hour, the sauce is removed and reboiled before again being poured over the crabs. This process is repeated several times before the dish is chilled and consumed.

I love crabs but I’ve never had it prepared in this way. It’s absolutely delicious and one of my favorite things to eat in Seoul. If you enjoy exploring the world through food, then you need to try ganjang gejang.

There are a few ganjang gejang restaurants in this area but we went to Wonjo Masan Halmae Agujjim based on the strength of its reviews.

Wonjo Masan Halmae Agujjim in Seoul

Address: 10 Gangnam-daero 99-gil, Seocho-gu, Seoul, South Korea Closest Subway Station: Sinsa Station (Exit 4) What to Order: Ganjang gejang What We Paid: Around KRW 30,000-40,000 per person

SEOUL ITINERARY: DAY 4

Cheonggyecheon stream.

The fourth day on this Seoul itinerary starts at Cheonggyecheon, an 11 km long urban stream that runs through the heart of central Seoul. It starts at Cheonggye Plaza and passes under 22 bridges before flowing out into the Han River.

Cheonggyecheon Stream is a favorite photo backdrop for both locals and tourists in Seoul. During the hotter months, you’ll often find people sitting on the stream’s edge with their feet submerged in the water.

It’s easy to walk the length of Cheonggyecheon Stream on your own, but if you’d like to learn about the many tourist attractions along the way, then you may be interested in joining this free walking tour .

Cheonggyecheon Stream in Seoul, South Korea

Photo by SS pixels via Shutterstock

Closest Subway Station: City Hall Station (Line 1, Exit 4) Estimated Time to Spend: About 1-2 hrs

Gwangjang Market

Walk east along the stream to Gwangjang Market, one of Seoul’s oldest and most well-known traditional markets. Open since 1905, it’s famous for its vintage clothing arcade and its abundance of street food.

Gwangjang Market is one of the best places to have a Korean breakfast in Seoul. We were there early in the morning when the stalls were packed with locals enjoying dishes like eomuk (fish cakes), tteokbokki, bindaetteok (mung bean pancakes), and kimbap (Korean sushi rolls). A few stalls were even offering sannakji.

Gwangjang Market in Seoul, South Korea

Operating Hours: 8:30AM-11PM, daily Closest Subway Station: Jongno 5-ga Station (Line 1 / Exit 7, 8) Estimated Time to Spend: About 1-2 hrs

Woo Lae Oak

A short walk from Gwangjang Market is Woo Lae Oak, one of Seoul’s oldest restaurants. They’re known for their bulgogi and other barbecue dishes but they’re also famous for their naengmyeon.

Naengmyeon is a dish of chilled buckwheat noodles typically served in an iced broth made from beef, chicken, or dongchimi (watery brine made from kimchi). It’s originally a North Korean dish that became popular throughout the peninsula after the Korean War.

When we had lunch at Woo Lae Oak, everyone else was having barbecue but I suggest trying the naengmyeon. It’s an interesting dish and Woo Lae Oak is said to be one of the best places to try it in Seoul.

Woo Lae Oak in Seoul

Address: 62-29, Changgyeonggung-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea Operating Hours: 11:30AM-9:30PM, daily Closest Subway Station: Euljiro 4-ga Station (Exit 4) What to Order: Naengmyeon, bulgogi What We Paid: Around KRW 15,000-20,000 per person

Ihwa Mural Village

From Woo Lae Oak, make your way north to Ihwa Mural Village. We haven’t been there but it’s a popular destination for people wanting to take pictures for their Instagram.

Ihwa Mural Village was once a decaying residential neighborhood set for demolition over a decade ago. To save the neighborhood, local artists from Seoul were commissioned to create murals and sculptures and turn the area into an artistic landmark. The initiative worked, with Ihwa Mural Village becoming a popular tourist attraction in Seoul.

Like Bukchon Hanok Village, Ihwa Mural Village is a residential neighborhood so you’re reminded to keep your voices down when you visit.

Ihwa Mural Village in Seoul, South Korea

“ 梨花洞壁畫村 ” by Wei-Te Wong , used under CC BY-SA 2.0 / Processed in Photoshop and Lightroom

Closest Subway Station: Hyehwa Station (Line 4, Exit 2) Estimated Time to Spend: About 2 hrs

Dongdaemun Design Plaza

Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) is one of the most striking buildings in Seoul. It was designed by world-renowned architect Zaha Hadid and functions as the primary venue for important design-related shows, events, and conferences in Seoul.

DDP is comprised of five halls – the Art Hall, Museum, Design Lab, Design Market, and Dongdaemun History and Culture Park. Some areas are free to enter but limited time exhibits will often charge for admission. If you like art and design, then this is a great place to explore and get lost in for a couple of hours.

Dongdaemun Design Plaza in Seoul, South Korea

Operating Hours: 10AM-7PM, Tue-Sun (closed Mondays) Admission: FREE Closest Subway Station: Dongdaemun History & Culture Park Station (Line 2, 4 ,5 / Exit 1) Estimated Time to Spend: About 2 hrs

Among Seoul’s most popular neighborhoods, Itaewon is the one we’re least familiar with. It’s known for being one of the most culturally diverse neighborhoods in Seoul.

Itaewon refers to a lively commercial area in Seoul’s Yongsan-gu neighborhood, close to where American soldiers stayed after the Korean War. Over the years, it’s developed into an international destination with numerous bars, clubs, and restaurants offering a wide range of international cuisines.

Itaewon is a favorite hangout for expats and tourists in Seoul. If you like to party, then you may be interested in this pub crawl ( Klook | Get Your Guide ) that takes you to some of the best bars in Itaewon or Hongdae.

Itaewon in Seoul

“ Itaewon, Seoul ” by Aleksandr Zykov , used under CC BY-SA 2.0 / Processed in Photoshop and Lightroom

Closest Subway Station: Itaewon Station (Line 6) Estimated Time to Spend: About 3-4 hrs

Sigol Bapsang

We’ve only been to Itaewon once, ironically, to have dinner at this tiny old-fashioned Korean restaurant known for serving over 20 different types of banchan.

Banchan refers to those little plates of food served at the start of a Korean meal. They’re normally treated as just side dishes but at Sigol Bapsang, they’re the star.

For less than USD 15, you can enjoy a banchan feast with rice and a steaming bowl of jjigae (fermented soybean paste stew). Banchan is offered at almost every Korean restaurant but Sigol Bapsang is the only place we’ve been to in Seoul (or anywhere else) that serves it like this.

Sigol Bapsang in Seoul

Address: 235 Itaewon-ro, Hannam-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea Operating Hours: 24 hrs Closest Subway Station: Itaewon Station (Exit 2) What to Order: Banchan What We Paid: Around KRW 10,000-15,000 per person

Woosung Galbi

If you’re still hungry after Sigol Bapsang and don’t want to hang out in Itaewon, then you may be interested in having a Korean barbecue dinner at Woosung Galbi. It’s just a few stops away by Seoul metro at Yaksu Market.

Meat is expensive in Korea. You often have to shell out quite a bit of money to enjoy Korean barbecue. Thankfully, we found Woosung Galbi. It’s a no frills barbecue restaurant that offers just two things on their menu – pork galbi and pork rinds.

I read that Woosung Galbi is popular among locals and Seoul food bloggers. True enough, the place was packed with no other foreigners in sight. It’s a good place to enjoy simple but delicious pork barbecue at reasonable prices in Seoul.

Woosung Galbi in Seoul

Address: 372-40 Sindang3-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea Operating Hours: 2PM-2AM, daily Closest Subway Station: Yaksu Station (Exit 5) What to Order: Pork galbi, pork rinds What We Paid: Around KRW 15,000-20,000 per person

SEOUL ITINERARY: DAY 5

This itinerary for Seoul recommends that you spend your first four days visiting the city’s top cultural attractions and its most popular neighborhoods. On your fifth and final day, I recommend exploring beyond the city and going on a day trip from Seoul.

Nami Island (pictured below), the DMZ (border barrier with North Korea), and Everland theme park are among the most popular destinations, but for more suggestions, be sure to check out our article on some of the best day trips you can make from Seoul .

Of these day trips from Seoul, I found the DMZ tour to be especially fascinating. It gives you an inside look at the history and tension between North and South Korea.

Nami Island in South Korea

SEOUL ITINERARY MAP

To help you understand where the attractions in this Seoul itinerary are in relation to one another, I’ve pinned them all on a map (the red pin is Seoul Station). Click on the link to open a live version of the map in a new window.

Map of Seoul with pins

FINAL THOUGHTS ON THIS ITINERARY FOR SEOUL

There’s much to see and do in Seoul so first-time visitors will have their hands full navigating this massive city. But if you plan your trip well, then 4 or 5 days in Seoul should give you enough time to see the city’s top tourist attractions.

As described at the top of this Seoul itinerary, the city’s metro system is extensive and efficient so it should be all you need to get around Seoul. You’ll be riding the subway a lot so it’s a good idea to invest in a T-money card. It’s a transportation card that saves you KRW 100 per journey and eliminates the hassle of having to buy single journey tickets every time.

You can purchase a T-money card at convenience stores and most Seoul metro stations. If you’d like to purchase one in advance, then you can get a mobile app version for foreigners called the Korea Tour Card or get it as part of the Discover Seoul Pass .

No matter how you get it, the T-money card is a huge timesaver. It’ll be very helpful to you when you visit the attractions on this Seoul itinerary.

Anyway, I hope you found this 5 day Seoul itinerary useful. If you have any questions, then feel free to let us know in the comments below. Thanks for reading and I hope you have the best time when you visit South Korea and Seoul!

Some of the links in this itinerary for Seoul are affiliate links, meaning we’ll get a small commission if you make a booking or purchase at no extra cost to you. As always, we only recommend products and services that we use ourselves. We truly appreciate your support as it helps us make more of these free travel guides. Thank you!

Found this article useful? Help us help other travelers by sharing it!

Monday 11th of March 2024

Hi, came across your blog as I was looking for things to do in S. Korea this coming June. I was feeling overwhelmed with all the info on the web but found your blog so super helpful. Thank you for posting such great information!

JB & Renée

Thursday 11th of April 2024

Happy you found it useful Hazel!

Sunday 6th of November 2022

Hi, may I know which month did you visit and how are the streets of myeondong? thank you!

vincent liptrot

Thursday 13th of July 2023

@Sasha, Myeongdong is very much back to pre covid energy levels but the shops are still catching up. By that I mean there are still some empty spaces where shops have closed dow. It is still worth the visit, especially the food night market on the main street and neighboring "hip-jiro" at night is fun for bars and pubs. I am sure you will want to see all the surrounding areas! "We Ride E-Bike Tours" office is just one block from Myeongdong. They will give you a 2.5 hour tour that will give you a good idea of the district and save you lots of energy researching, walking around and (maybe) getting lost! Anyone can do the tour, the e-function makes it easy and there is a rickshaw if you can't ride a bike! They travel at human pace and in all the quiet pretty back streets, you will love it! Have a wonderful time in Korea!

Wednesday 9th of November 2022

Hi Sasha, we haven't been back to Seoul since the pandemic so I unfortunately can't speak on the current state of the Myeongdong area. An Airbnb host we know has been sounding pretty upbeat so I expect it to be back (or close) to its pre-pandemic energy levels.

Tuesday 18th of October 2022

Thanks for this post! It really is so helpful.

Friday 21st of October 2022

Happy to help Lina! Enjoy Seoul!

Thursday 26th of May 2022

Hi, just wanted to say you really helped me a lot in my itinerary planning! Thanks a lot!

Monday 6th of June 2022

Happy to help Samantha! Have a fantastic time in Korea.

Tuesday 1st of September 2020

Great guide! Loved reading it. For just a moment I was in Korea. I would love to go. Since watching some wonderful Korean TV shows I've become more interested in Korea.

Thursday 3rd of September 2020

Thanks Martin! We definitely understand the fascination with Korean dramas. My wife is the same way! :)

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Home » Asia » South Korea » Seoul

34 BEST Places to Visit in Seoul (2024 Attractions Guide)

Seoul is one of those can’t miss cities in Asia. It’s a massive metropolis that combines cyber-punk sights with old-world goodness. I LOVED it and let me start by saying if you’re a foodie, get ready to be in some kind of paradise.

But knowing where to go, and what to visit in Seoul can seem a little intimidating. There are so many options, from eating from street food vendors (highly recommended), to seeing traditional Korean style homes and tea houses visiting and getting a hefty dose of history at the National Folk Museum.

I loved my time in this crazy cool city, and now I’ve put together a hopefully helpful guide on the very best places to visit in Seoul to plan your trip.

No matter what you want your adventure to look like – I know you’ll see something that fits your travel style!

Gyeongbokgung Palace

The Broke Backpacker is supported by you . Clicking through our links may earn us a small affiliate commission, and that's what allows us to keep producing free content 🙂 Learn more .

Need a place quick? Here’s the best neighbourhood in Seoul:

The best places to visit in seoul, faqs on the best places to visit in seoul, final thoughts before visiting seoul’s best places.

Gangnam, Seoul

Gangnam translates as ‘south of the river’ and is a district that has blown up in recent years. It was originally an area dedicated to sleepy rice fields – but you’d never believe it when visiting today!

  • Check out the K-pop scene and pick up a few CDs at Evan Records.
  • Shop for the latest fashion and boutique items (or just window shop) at Galleria department store.
  • Eat bibimbap at Tokkijung or a famous Korean barbeque meal at Yang Good.

Where to go while backpacking Seoul South Korea in a HUGE city of 10 million that sits on the Han River? Let’s talk about it!

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#1 – Bukchon Hanok Village – What to Visit in Seoul for Korean Architecture

Bukchon Hanok Village

  • A great place to experience Seoul’s traditional culture.
  • You’ll be able to take some awesome pictures in this area!
  • Just be aware that people still live in these houses, so be respectful of their privacy.

Why it’s so awesome: The traditional houses in Seoul are called Hanok and they date back to the Joseon Dynasty between 1392 and 1910. These houses are designed to maintain a balance between the house and the outside world of mountains, rivers, and land contours. If you’re lucky, you may even be able to find a place to stay in Seoul around this area.

What to do there: People actually still live in this residential area, which is located between Gyeongbokgung Palace and Changdeokgung Palace, so be respectful of their spaces and time. If you can, join a guided tour early in the morning to get even more insights. Or take some extra time and explore the area and make sure you get some pictures too. There are some spots where you can see the traditional houses against more modern landmarks, and they make for the most striking photo-ops of all.

#2 – Myeongdong – Where to go in Seoul if you love to shop!

Shopping in Myeongdong a thing to do in Seoul

  • Literally shopper’s paradise!
  • You’ll find amazing deals in this area on every kind of cosmetics you can imagine.
  • Make sure you take advantage of the samples and the changing deals and offers.
  • If you want to find out more,  get a guide  to show you around!

Why it’s so awesome: Myeongdong is a whole shopping area dedicated to every cosmetic store and brand you could ever want. So, no matter what type of skin you have or what make-up look you want, you’ll be able to find the right products in this area.

What to do there: This is the most famous place in Seoul for shopping and there are always a lot of special deals and offers in this area so keep your eyes open and take advantage of them. A lot of shops also offer free samples, so don’t be afraid to try a brand you’ve never heard of! This is a trip mostly for the girls, so leave the guys at your Seoul Airbnb and take your best friends along for the ride.

#3 – Lotte World – A must-do in Seoul for families!

Lotte World indoor musement park - a fun thing to do in Seoul

  • The world’s largest indoor amusement park.
  • If you get tired of the rides, then visit the shopping complex also on-site!
  • This is a Seoul must-do and a great place to take the kids.

Why it’s so awesome: Lotte World is huge. It includes both an indoor and outdoor amusement park and there is also a hotel, an aquarium, luxury boutiques, a water park, and a shopping center on-site! So, even if you get tired of the rides, you can always slip out and grab a meal or a bargain before returning to the Lotte fun.

What to do there: Take the kids, or friends, and just enjoy the amusement park – this is one of those things to do in Seoul that everyone can get behind. The rides and attractions are some of the best you’ll ever see at Lotte World and it’s well worth taking an entire day in this park to soak it all in.

Make sure you try the Desperados game, the Dragons Wild Shooting game, and the Comet Express rollercoaster for maximum fun and thrills! It’s easily a must-visit in Seoul if only to feel like a kid again. Buy your tickets before you go, so you won’t end up waiting in line.

#4 – Gyeongbokgung Palace – Possibly one of the most important places to visit in Seoul

Gyeongbokgung - Famous palace in Seoul

  • When you travel to Seoul, you absolutely must not miss this historic building!
  • The largest and most important palace in Seoul.
  • If you wear a traditional hanbok dress, they’ll let you in for free.

Why it’s so awesome: The Gyeongbokgung Palace is often compared to the Forbidden City in Beijing and is a Seoul itinerary must-see. Built in 1395, it was the main royal palace of the Joseon family, who ruled Korea for hundreds of years.

The palace was mostly destroyed by Imperial Japan during the early 20th century but over the following years, it has been meticulously restored. It is now considered to be one of the most beautiful palaces in the world, which is why it’s one of the best places to visit in Seoul.

What to do there: There are lots of places in the city where you can hire a hanbok – a traditional Korean dress. If you turn up at the palace wearing it, they’ll let you in for free. Aside from that, just explore the site. I’d recommend jumping on a guided tour to get to know all of the details about this stunning palace and the secret garden on site.

Also, make sure you show up to see the changing of the guard or the Gwanghwamun Gate Guard-on-Duty Performance . Either one happens between 10 and 4 pm every hour on every day except Tuesday and it’s a really fun thing to see in Seoul.

#5 – N Seoul Tower – A place to go in Seoul to see the city from a different angle.

N Seoul Tower - a thing to do in Seoul at night

  • The best place for panoramic views of the city.
  • The building also hosts a variety of cultural and entertainment events as well as restaurants and snack bars.

Why it’s so awesome: If you’re looking for the top place to visit in Seoul while backpacking South Korea , they don’t get much more “top” than this. The N Seoul Tower is located on Mt. Namsan and has been Seoul’s most iconic site since its opening in 1980. It’s actually a communication and observation tower, but over the last few years, it’s become one of the most important and celebrated sites in the city.

What to do there: Go to the top and enjoy the views. Sometimes, the best way to explore a city is to see it high up and at a distance so you can get an idea of the scale, and this tower offers the best place in the city to do just that.

Afterward, go down to see a movie or an exhibition in the cultural space, or just grab a table at the upscale restaurants there and enjoy a fantastic meal. If you are passing through Seoul, then you see this (but not climb) on a Seoul transit tour from the airport.

#6 – The Yun Dong-ju Literature Museum – Where to visit in Seoul if you are alone.

The Yun Dong-ju Literature Museum - a quiet place to go in Seoul

  • Reading the books and poetry from another culture is a great way to gain a deeper understanding, and this is a great entry point into South Korean Literature.
  • If you love books and history, this is a Seoul must do.

Why it’s so awesome: This is a museum built in honor of the beloved South Korean poet Yun Dong-Ju. It’s a three-room museum where you can explore photos from his life as well as first editions of his poems. The space itself is beautiful as well; the indoor space perfectly captures the contemplative, inspiring mood of the poetry and is a Seoul itinerary must for the contemplative travelers.

What to do there: Spend some time exploring the photos and contemplating this poet’s work before going outside. You can take a wall on Poet’s Hill at the back of the museum and get great views of the city and the N Seoul Tower. After your visit, you might even be inspired to get writing!

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#7 – The Jeoldusan Martyr’s Shrine – An important historical site in Seoul.

The Jeoldusan Martyrs Shrine - an important piece of Korea's history

  • A sobering but beautiful shrine that remembers a very dark time in history.
  • Don’t take the kids to this site as some of the displays may upset them.
  • If you want to explore Seoul, going back to its roots is a good way to start.

Why it’s so awesome: This is a Catholic shrine on the Han River and marks the Byeonin Persecution of 1866. At this time, nine French missionaries were martyred which led to the French fleet attempting an invasion into Korea. In retaliation, the Jeoldusan government targets, punished and murdered French and Korean Catholics, leading to this site became known as the ‘beheading mountain’. This obviously isn’t a fun site, but it’s an important part of Korean history and must be seen if you want to understand the present.

What to do there: The shrine is especially beautiful at night when votive candles give it an otherworldly glow, but it’s still beautiful and sobering when you go during the day. Don’t bring your kids with you as the Shrine houses a gallery and museum display torture implements that were used on the captured Catholics.

#8 – The Seoul Museum of Art – The perfect attraction in Seoul if you are on a budget!

The Seoul Museum of Art flower exhibit

  • One of the best points of interest in Seoul that’s also free!
  • The museum is housed in a beautiful and historic building which offers great photo opportunities.

Why it’s so awesome: How about a free thing to do in Seoul! This museum plays host to a range of special exhibitions that (like the country itself) can be expensive , but the permanent display is totally free. It highlights the career of the Korean artist Chun Kyung-Ja, who was influenced by African culture and art and is worth the trip to the museum alone.

What to do there: Before you go, check out what special exhibitions they have on during your stay. Korean art is very unique and well worth exploring, so spend some time getting to know their unique style. But make sure you check out the regular display as well because it’s beautiful and soulful.

#9 – The Cheongun Literature Library – Another place in Seoul for the bookworms!

The Cheongun Literature Library - a point of interest in Seoul for book lovers

  • An amazing place to spend some time if you love books!
  • One of the most beautiful museums in Korea.
  • If you’re trying to work out what to do in Seoul on a quiet afternoon, this is a site where you can sit back and relax.

Why it’s so awesome: The collection of books at this library is fairly average, but it’s the space that makes it amazing. The reading rooms are located on the second floor of a traditional Korean houses which is spacious, sunny, and welcoming. So, if you love to read , this is a perfect place to settle in and do it!

What to do there: Make sure you spend some time exploring this traditional Korean house. This style of Korean architecture is unique and oddly harmonious with the natural surroundings, so it’s worth taking note of it. And then, get away from the busyness of the city by choosing a book and taking it upstairs to read. There’s nothing like reading a good book in an atmospheric space, so take advantage of the opportunity.

#10 – Everland – A very cool place in Seoul for a day trip

Everland Theme Park in Seoul

  • A great place to take the whole family while you’re visiting Seoul
  • This park has the steepest wooden roller coaster in the world.

Why it’s so awesome: Seoul breaks a lot of world records and this affects how they build things and what they enjoy. Everland is the largest outdoor theme park in South Korea and has five zones of rides and attractions. This includes the world’s steepest wooden roller coaster and South Korea’s only safari, so come expecting some thrills.

What to do there: Get there early because there’s a lot to do and you’ll need the whole day to fit it all in. If you love roller coasters, make sure you ride the world’s tallest wooden coaster and be prepared to scream your lungs out along the way!

#11 – The NANTA Theater – Seoul and South Korea’s artistic scene is definitely a must-see.

Performance at the NANTA Theater

  • Another side of Korean culture and one you probably won’t expect!
  • The most popular theater performance in the city.

Why it’s awesome: Every culture is different and sometimes it’s great to get a first-hand view of just how different another country can be. The NANTA Theater is the perfect place to get a different view on the modern culture of South Korea. It’s the most popular theatre in the city and has a non-verbal, musical base. Perhaps a little strange, but it’s a terrific window to seeing another side of the city while backpacking – maybe one of your Seoul hostel mates would be down to join?

What to do there: This theatre has shows regularly so check out what’s on before you arrive in the city. And once you’re there, just enjoy the culinary-themed comedy performance with acrobatic moves and rhythmic melodies. Chances are that you’ve never seen anything like it and never will again! The shows sell out fast – they’re incredibly popular – so book early to make sure you don’t miss out.

#12 – The Seoul Alive Illusion Museum – Quite the quirky place in Seoul to visit!

The Seoul Alive Illusion Museum - an unusual thing to do

  • The first museum of 4D optical illusions in South Korea.
  • Includes more than 100, slightly quirky exhibits.
  • The perfect place to go with friends or with your family while you’re visiting Seoul.

Why it’s awesome: Even if you’ve been to an optical illusion museum before, you probably haven’t seen one like this. A lot of the exhibits in this museum are slightly quirky and unusual, and you’ll probably spend a lot of your visit to this venue laughing your head off at the displays you can become part of. It’s just a little run-of-the-mill Korean madness.

What to do there: Make sure your phone or camera is fully charged before you spend a few hours at this museum because you’ll need it. Even if you’ve seen optical illusion museums before, this one is unique. Make sure that you check out the Disney displays and become a part of popular movies like Frozen and Cinderella in your own personal works of art. Sort your booking in advance to have an even better experience!

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#13 – Tosokchon – A must-do in Seoul to delight your tastebuds.

Tosokchon - What to eat in Seoul

  • Home to one of the most famous dishes in the city.
  • Expect queues, but the wait is definitely worth it.
  • Buy a ticket  online if you want to skip the line

Why it’s so awesome: Every city has a dish that they’re famous for and one of Seoul’s most famous dishes is known as Samgyetang. This is ginseng chicken soup, and the best place to buy it is at Tosokchon restaurant on Jahamun-ro 5-gil Road. Once you taste the dish, you’ll understand why people queue up to eat it every day and one of my top South Korea travel tips is to try it!

What to do there: Arrive early if you want to be in the front of the line and just wait patiently. The dish is worth the trouble, as all the locals in line will tell you, so just accept the wait and enjoy your food once it arrives. Make sure you try it though; it’s a must-do when visiting Seoul!

#14 – The Cheonggyecheon Stream – A quiet and romantic place to see in Seoul.

Cheonggyecheon Stream with Seoul's nightlife

  • A chance to take a break from the busy city and enjoy a slice of nature.
  • You can also walk the length of the stream, which will take you alongside lots of Seoul’s best tourist attractions.

Why it’s so awesome: Seoul is a busy modern city and sometimes it’s nice to get away from the crowds and pollution and enjoy a bit of nature. And that’s exactly what this stream is for. The locals often visit on hot summer days and spend time sitting in the shade and dipping their feet in the water, and you can do the same when you need a little break.

What to do there: Walk down to the stream and just spend some time relaxing. The stream is like a little oasis in the middle of the city, so take the time to slow down and rest. You can also walk the length of the stream if you’re feeling energetic and stop off at local attractions along the way.

#15 – Bukhansan National Park – The most beautiful nature in Seoul.

Bukhansan National Park Seoul

  • A traditional market where you can find almost anything you want to buy.
  • The prices are extremely good, so make sure you check it out if you want something specific.

Why it’s so awesome: While you’re in Seoul, you might find the city can be overwhelming at times. No matter, because just outside the city centre you’ll find the Bukhansan National Park, which is the best place to go hiking in Seoul. Aside from outdoor recreational activities, the national park boasts impressive mountain views and lush forestry. You might also see some ancient temples and fortresses along the way.

What to do there: The reason most people visit the Bukhansan National Park is to do some hiking. Whether you’re an avid hiker or a beginner level hiker, you’ll find a trail suitable to your ability here.

#16 – Gwangjang Market – Seoul’s street food delights!

Gwangjang Market street food market in Seoul

  • One of the best places to eat in Seoul.
  • This market is popular with tourists and locals.

Why it’s so awesome: If you want good street food when you visit another country, then you need to go where the locals go. And the locals all know to go to Gwangjang Market. This was the first permanent market in Korea selling local delicacies and fine linen and it also contains some of the best stalls in the city if you enjoy trying street food.

What to do there: You can do some shopping while you’re at this market, but mostly you want to try the food. The market’s open Monday to Saturday from 9 am to 10 pm, so bring your appetite and try as much of the street food as you can. Make sure that you try the bindaetteok or mung bean pancake and tteokbokki and noodles for a really unique eating experience.

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#17 – Hongdae – A must-see for foodies!

Hongdae Neighborhood in Seoul

  • Seoul’s nightlife center.
  • This area is near the university, which is why it’s filled with young people and fashionable places to eat and party.

Why it’s so awesome: The areas around universities in most cities are beacons for popular eateries and wicked nightlife and Seoul is no different. Just moments from Hongik University, one of the most prestigious in the city, this area attracts students, locals, and tourists who enjoy the best and most fashionable shopping and dining in the city. Some of Seoul’s best hostels are in the area too!

What to do there: This is an area that really comes alive at night, so save it for an evening when you don’t have much to do. Get ready to try a whole bunch of delicious Korean food , because this is one of the best places to eat in Seoul, and then go shopping. There is a range of clothing stalls and shops selling vintage goods so take your time and see what’s available. And if you enjoy clubbing, you’ll find lots of different options in this area.

#18 – Ikseon-dong Hanok Village – An unknown (but awesome) place to see in Seoul!

Ikseon dong Hanok Village - an off the beaten track location in Seoul

  • The best place in the city to experience old Korea.
  • There are some amazing cafes and pubs in this area too, so make sure you have a meal during your explorations.
  • If you’re trying to decide what to do in Seoul off the tourist trail, this is the perfect place to visit.

Why it’s so awesome: This area isn’t usually listed as one of the best places to visit in Korea, but it’s great if you want to enjoy a mix of history, food, and creative shopping options. The area was first established in 1920 and preserves that time almost perfectly. Wandering the alleys could almost make you believe that you’ve moved back in time, and makes for a great afternoon. And think South Korea is so safe , yes you can just aimlessly wander!

What to do there: Just wander the alleys and enjoy the time away from Seoul’s tourist spots. There’s always something hidden to discover and explore in this area, and it’s well worth spending some time there to get a real feel for the past.

But don’t neglect the present either, because the shops are some of the most interesting in the city too. So, do some shopping and then stop at one of the artisan cafes or gastro pubs for a meal. It’s also worth it to join a pub crawl tour with a local guide to get to know the hidden gems of this cool district.

#19 – Insa-dong

Insa-dong street art and market

  • If you want unique souvenirs, this is one of the hotspots in Seoul for them.
  • The center of Korean traditional culture and crafts.
  • A great place to explore Seoul and support local craftsmen at the same time.

Why it’s so awesome: If you’re interested in traditional Korean culture and crafts then this is the place where it’s all gathered together so you don’t miss anything. Insa-dong specializes in goods that can only be purchased or enjoyed in Korea, so it’s the perfect place to grab a souvenir for your loved ones back home!

What to do there: There are about a hundred galleries in Insa-dong and they display every type of Korean craft that you can imagine or have ever heard of. Make sure you check out the hanboks, which is a piece of traditional Korean clothing, traditional teas, and folk crafts. Also, try to go on a Sunday as streets are blocked off to allow for stalls and booths as well as traditional performances and exhibits.

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#20 – Yongma Land Abandoned Theme Park – A haunted place to visit in Seoul… maybe…

Yongma Land Abandoned Theme Park - a quirky attraction in Seoul

  • A slightly creepy look at the other side of entertainment.
  • There are stories going around that the park shut down because of a ghost!
  • If you want to find unusual things to do in Seoul, this is the perfect place to start.

Why it’s so awesome: Yongma was built in 1980 and was a small, family-run amusement park. It shut down in 2011, allegedly because of ghosts, though it’s far more likely that the owners had economic reasons for closing their doors. But since then, the park was bought by a savvy businessman who invites visitors to become part of the park’s demise.

What to do there: If you’ve ever wanted to explore an abandoned amusement park, this is your chance. You can clamber over old dodgy cars, try out the carousel, and take pictures next to a sad clown roller coaster.

There’s a small charge involved, and if you get there at night you can pay a little extra and ask the owner to turn on the lights of the merry-go-round while you’re there. Set against the declining rides, it’s a ghostly sight that should be savored. Or you can explore Yongma Land Abandoned Theme Park with a guide. You can enjoy the picture at the photo spot for K Drama & K Pop during this Yongma Land Abandoned Theme Park + Strawberry Picking tour

#21 – Seodaemun Prison – Possibly one of the most important historical places to visit in Seoul.

Seodaemun Prison - an important historical site in Seoul

  • Not a fun place to visit, but an important one if you want to understand South Korean history.
  • This was a prison built for Koreans who rebelled against Japanese forces.

Why it’s so awesome: Built in 1908, this prison held Korean rebels who fought against Japan’s invasion and occupation. Before it was created, the country had virtually no penal system, and this location came to symbolize the determination of the Korean people to win their freedom despite the costs. Many Korean patriots died in custody, were tortured or executed at this location, and it’s a sobering reminder of the darker side of humanity.

What to do there: This isn’t a fun place to visit in Seoul. It was designated as a historic site in 1988 and renovated in 1995 and is a stark and sometimes brutal slice of Seoul’s history. As you walk through the prison-turned-museum, you’ll see torture chambers with terrifyingly realistic mannequins of famous Korean patriots and get an idea what it was like for the people who lived and died within the prison’s walls.

#22 – Coffee Hanyakbang – Seoul’s Must-Visit for the Coffee Connoisseurs

Coffee Hanyakbang Cafe - a cool place to eat in Seoul

  • The perfect place for coffee lovers of all ages.
  • A nearly hidden gem that only the locals know about.
  • If you live for your morning coffee, you’ll find lots of new coffee tastes at this site.

Why it’s so awesome: Almost everyone loves coffee and this tiny shop allows you to celebrate it in style. It’s almost hidden down a narrow, unmarked alleyway but coffee connoisseurs know that it’s there and turn up in droves to get the perfect coffee experience. The shop is decorated in a mix of Korean and Chinese styles and is determinedly rustic, with lots of wood and exposed pipe. And it sells delicious, hand-drip coffee at decent prices.

What to do there: Drink your morning coffee, of course! The owners roast the beans by hand at the back of the shop and grind them on site, so the whole shop has that rich, tongue-tingling smell of fresh coffee. And the making of each coffee is a science too, with everything precisely calculated to create the perfect cup, every time. So enjoy!

#23 – The Korean War Memorial

The War Memorial of Korea

  • A strangely lighthearted look at Korean military history.
  • Fun and educational, so it’s a great place to take the kids.

Why it’s so awesome: There are 6 exhibition halls and an outdoor space for war machines too big to fit inside at this site and the place is packed. In fact, there are over 13,000 pieces of military equipment and memorabilia at the Korean war memorial , (for the war fought between North and South Korea) placed on the grounds of the former army headquarters of Korea.

The focus is on the Korean and Vietnam war but this isn’t the type of museum where you just stand back and look. The displays are designed to be touched and felt, to give visitors a better idea of what the wars were really like.

What to do there: There’s a lot to see at this memorial so make sure you put aside a few hours. The Combat Experience Room is particularly interesting and uses audiovisual effects to surround you with the sounds, sights and smells of the battlefield. Outback, the lines of tanks and heavy artillery are laid out like a metal petting zoo, and if you’re interested in this type of machinery, you’ll have an amazing time exploring it all.

#24 – Jogyesa Korean Buddhist Temple – For some sacred sightseeing in Seoul.

Jogyesa Korean Buddhist Temple in Seoul

  • A Buddhist temple that’s an important part of the locals’ lives.
  • The garden surrounding the temple has some ancient trees that are simply amazing.

Why it’s so awesome: Sometimes there’s nothing like exploring a temple that’s still in use in the modern-day if you want to understand a culture better. And this temple in the middle of Seoul’s high-rise district is one of the best places to visit in the city to learn more about Korean Buddhism. This Zen Buddhist temple is always full of locals and tourists, which makes it an exciting, as well as an interesting place to people-watch and spend some quality time.

What to do there: Spend some time just watching the people as they come and go on their everyday business. And when you’re done, explore the compound itself. You could also find yourself a guide that will show you around and explain each statue in detail.

The trees in this area are apparently over 500 years old and they’re strung with banners and streamers in bright colors to make them look even more spectacular! This all combines to make this temple one of the top places to visit in Seoul if only for a quick contemplative meditation.

#25 – Suwon’s Hwaseong Fortress – More of Seoul’s old landmarks!

Suwons Hwaseong Fortress in Seoul

  • If you’re looking for a quick day trip from the city, then make it to this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Located only an hour and a half from Seoul.
  • One of Seoul’s most important historical sites.

Why it’s so awesome: Built between 1794 and 1796, this fortress was created to house the remains of the King’s father, who had been murdered by his own father. It’s an enormous complex that was meant to be the first step in moving the capital from Seoul to the city of Suwon, where the Fortress is located. This obviously never eventuated, but the fortress remains and was declared a UNESCO site in 1997 .

What to do there: It will take you a couple of hours to see the entire castle, so if you have a spare morning or afternoon while you’re in Seoul then make the trip out to see it. There are a lot of different features including the interior and exterior as well as a palace museum, so make sure you take enough time to see it all.

#26 – Seoul’s Children’s Park – A beautiful place to go outdoors in Seoul.

Seouls Childrens Park - a thing to do with families in Seoul

  • A great place to take the kids.
  • Even if you don’t have children, you’ll enjoy this massive green area in the central Seoul.

Why it’s so awesome: If you’re tired of the skyscrapers and find yourself longing for some greenery, then you can find this park in the middle of the city. Not only does it include a lot of green, open areas, there are also some cool exhibits and attractions in the park that will interest everyone, not just the young.

What to do there: Escape from the city and spend some time in nature. This park also includes amusement rides and playgrounds as well, so if you feel like being a little more active then there are lots of things to try!

#27 – A Lotte Mart – A weird choice of things to see in Seoul but hear me out!

A Lotte Mart

  • Lotte Marts in Seoul aren’t like the ones back home, so make sure you stop by for a look and a snack, you’ll be surprised what you’ll find there.
  • If you love snacking but want to save some money, you can eat like the locals do with some very unusual meals and snacks from this store.

Why it’s so awesome: It sounds a bit strange to suggest that you go to a supermarket, but this is one experience you really shouldn’t miss because these stores are one of the most famous places in Seoul.

Lotte Marts are iconic in the city and they’re one of the coolest grocery stores in the world. While wandering around you’ll get a much better idea of how important food is in Seoul. And you might also find some new treats to try too!

What to do there: Make sure you take part in the whole experience. Lotte Marts usually have free food samples as well as an incredibly wide range of foods that you’ve probably never seen anywhere else. Just watch your wallet, because it’s too easy to overspend in Lotte Mart, and buy something tasty.

#28 – The Jongmyo Shrine – Another cultural highlight of Seoul.

The Jongmyo Shrine in Seoul

  • A UNESCO-listed site and close by the popular suburb or Insadong.
  • A Seoul must-see when you’re in the city.

Why it’s so awesome: This is one of the most popular landmarks in Seoul and it’s also one of the best ways to learn about its ancient traditions. This shrine is the most popular attraction in Seoul and it’s a UNESCO Heritage site;  the perfect way for you to learn more about the history of the city.

What to do there: If you go to the shrine on Saturday then you can explore on your own. Any other day except Tuesday when the shrine is closed, you will need to join a guided tour. There are tours in English every couple of hours. While you’re there, make sure that you pay attention. You’ll learn about ancient customs, music, and even about memorial services during your visit, so it’s worth paying attention.

#29 – National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art – More awesome Korean art!

National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Seoul

  • The National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Seoul is an amazing traditional style building.
  • Located on what used to be Seoul’s Defense Security Command.

Why it’s so awesome: This museum is a must-visit on your Seoul itinerary. It’s an enormous museum that’s built on the principles of madang , which encourages people to socialize together by providing a large, communal courtyard just for that purpose. And it works too, which makes it a great place for people watching.

What to do there: The exhibits at this museum change regularly, so find out what’s on while you’re in the city and don’t miss out. Also, spend some time exploring the building while you’re there. Korean architecture is unique and deserves some time and attention.

#30 – Socheon – A nice non-touristy place to visit in Seoul

  • If you’re looking for the best food in the city then you need to go to Socheon, which is where the locals go.
  • You’ll have some of your best meals in a slightly dingy restaurant in this part of the city.

Why it’s so awesome: Socheon is one of the best places in Seoul for cheap and delicious local food and a good break from the tourist attractions. Located on the west side of Gyeongbokgung, this area caters mostly to locals, so you won’t find as many fancy restaurants and neon lights there. Instead, you’ll find mostly ordinary, slightly run-down restaurants that serve some of the best food you’ve ever tasted.

What to do there: Some restaurants serve great food in this area but they’re a little hard to find. Most of them don’t have a website or even a menu in English, so you’ll have to order your meal from pictures or by what the locals are eating. To get a great meal, walk until you find a place that contains a lot of locals. Figure out what you want and just point – whatever you get, it’ll be delicious!

#31 – Dongdaemun – An awesome neighborhood in Seoul.

Shopping at Dongdaemun

  • One of the best places in Seoul for bargain shopping!
  • Bring cash so you can haggle down the prices.

Why it’s so awesome: Dongdaemun shopping area is a veritable labyrinth of wholesale and retail shops. You could quite literally get lost in this area looking for something, and the crowds of locals and tourists alike enjoying the bargains are evidence of how good the prices and the variety of goods are.

What to do there: If you’re looking for something specific to buy, chances are that you’ll find it in this area. Take cash with you so you can haggle and find something sweet. But if you just want to wander and people watch, this is the perfect place for it too. Many of the shops are open all night, so there’s always something going on for you to observe.

#32 – Dongdaemun Design Plaza – A famous modern landmark in Seoul.

Dongdaemun Design Plaza at night

  • One of the hotspots in Seoul for shopping and entertainment options.
  • The building itself is unusual, stunning, and looks great in photos.

Why it’s so awesome: This building is one of the most eccentric in the city and looks amazing in photographs for you to put on your social media feeds. The long, sinuous curves of the building seem to go on forever and as if that wasn’t enough it also contains countless stores, exhibition spaces, parts of the original Seoul fortress that used to stand on the site, and a design museum.

What to do there: Make sure you take a photo of yourself with this building to show the people back home because the curving lines back for a great background. And then just explore the building. You can shop, explore the history of the site, or just wander the floors looking for anything that looks like fun. It’s the perfect place to go for anyone who’s looking for Seoul vacation ideas.

#33 – Mapo-Gu – A quirky area in Seoul to visit.

Mapo-Gu area in Seoul

  • One of the quirkiest places to go in Seoul.
  • If you’re looking for weird and wonderful experiences and cafes, this district will exceed your wildest expectations.

Why it’s so awesome: Mapo district is one of Seoul’s 25 districts and it’s also one of the most unusual. It’s home to a large number of themed cafes, so if you want your cup of coffee with a side of cats, dogs or raccoons, you’ll find all that and more in this district.

What to do there: Korea is constantly innovating and looking for new ways to explore old ideas and you can experience that first hand while you’re in Mapo-Gu. Try the poop café if you’re looking for one of the most unusual places in Seoul, or just wander from one café to another hugging cute animals!

#34 – Nami Island

Trees on Nami Island

  • One of the most popular spots for a holiday break in Seoul.
  • It’s usually thronged with tourists so show up early if you want to avoid the lines.

Why it’s so awesome: Nami Island is a lovely nature area close to the city that’s a fantastic place to visit in the winter and summer months. In summer it has rides, zip wires, hiking, and lots of large open spaces to explore. And in the winter, it’s set up for all the winter sports and activities that you’ve ever dreamed of trying.

What to do there: Nami Island is an awesome place to visit in winter as the lake freezes and gives you an amazing view across the lake. It’s also home to a lot of winter sports and activities, which is why tourists and locals alike travel there in throngs to enjoy the colder months. Also, if you like to read, make sure you visit Petite France, which is a village modeled after the famous book The Little Prince.

Get insured for your trip to Seoul!

When you’re travelling to Seoul, having good travel insurance is an absolute essential BEFORE you set off.

ALWAYS sort out your backpacker insurance before your trip. There’s plenty to choose from in that department, but a good place to start is Safety Wing .

They offer month-to-month payments, no lock-in contracts, and require absolutely no itineraries: that’s the exact kind of insurance long-term travellers and digital nomads need.

trip in seoul

SafetyWing is cheap, easy, and admin-free: just sign up lickety-split so you can get back to it!

Click the button below to learn more about SafetyWing’s setup or read our insider review for the full tasty scoop.

Find out what people want to know about the where to go in Seoul South Ko.

Is 3 days in Seoul enough?

Three days should be enough to see the main highlights, but there are some gorgeous hikes around the city that are worth staying longer to see.

Is Seoul a safe place to visit?

Yes, Seoul is a safe place to visit and violent crimes are rare.

Is Seoul a cheap place to visit?

No, Seoul isn’t a cheap place to visit, though there are some cheap attractions that will help keep costs down.

What is a free place to visit in Seoul?

The Seoul Museum of Art is a free place to visit in Seoul and a great place for art lovers to explore.

Seoul is a city that never sleeps, with ancient palaces next to skyscrapers and night markets, and it’s the perfect location for anyone looking to experience a different side of Asia.

I know we got into a lot of places to visit in Seoul, but in case you need a few more recs, check out: Itaewon Antique Furniture Street, Seoul Sky, the Seoul City Wall, and of course every foodie establishment of Korean cuisine you can imagine.

And if you use this easy guide to where to go in Seoul, South Korea to visit the most sobering historical sights, you’ll walk away with memories that last a lifetime.

  • Devise your ultimate itinerary for Seoul with our in-depth guide.
  • Check out our Seoul hostel guide for a vibing place to stay.
  • If you’re feeling like splurging, check these epic Airbnbs in Seoul .
  • Our ultimate Backpacking in South Korea guide is an essential read before you travel.
  • Don’t forget the essentials with our in-depth backpacking packing list .
  • Plan an entire Southeast Asia backpacking adventure with our mega-guide!

Walking the river in Seoul

Made it this far? You get 15% OFF to book a place to stay ! Offer valid exclusively for Broke Backpackers 😉

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Nice list. I am going next week there and this abandoned theme park look like something I will visit

Thanks for the info. Suggestions like “Mapo-Gu” are a bit ridiculous, if you pull it up on google maps that region could take a week or more of 6 hour days walking. I doubt anywhere but a small part of it is of interest, but where? Who knows. Same seems to be the case for Socheon which I don’t know how to pull up. We need like a center point or at least main strip indication please.

Hi Justin. It’s 33 minutes by bus to Mapo-Gu although I suppose you can walk there if you want. We have included this area for it’s general vibe and invite our readers to explore it on their own terms.

Hmm. Sorry what I mean is Mapo-Gu (in English Mapo District) is nearly half the size of Manhattan. Do you get what I mean when I say it wouldn’t make sense to tell someone “you can walk to Manhattan if you want, but once you are there you can experience the vibe and find everything?”

I also explored these fabulous attractions during my last tour and came back with an awesome experience.

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Zen Moments in Korea

Zen Moments in Korea

4 days in Seoul: Your ultimate 2024 itinerary

4 days in Seoul itinerary

Last Updated on July 2, 2024 by Ingrid & Alex

One of the fascinating things about Seoul, and South Korea in general, is the blend between the modern and the old.

On the one hand, Seoul is one of the most developed, high-tech global cities, with futuristic-looking skyscrapers dominating its skyline.

Yet, on the other hand, it is a city of living history, its medieval palaces, and traditional neighborhoods bustling with life.

This great and easy-to-follow 4 days in Seoul itinerary , will allow you to see all sides of the city: the old, the new, and the fun!

3 days in Seoul

This post contains affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you. Read more about it on our  disclosure page here .

Table of Contents

Things to know when planning a trip to seoul, south korea, day 1 of your 4 days in seoul: palaces and history, day 2 – explore gangnam, day 3 – namsan mountain and itaewon, day 4 – go on a day trip outside of seoul, day 1 buam-dong and lunch + skincare treatment in myeongdong + nanta show, day 2: relax at a jjimjilbang + go on an evening tour of suwon, day 3: have coffee in yeouido park, visit seonyudo island park, and go on a food tour in mangwon, day 4: seoul forest + seongsu neighborhood + evening cruise on the han river, other things worth doing in seoul, where to stay in seoul, seoul money-saving tips, how much money do you need per day in seoul, how to get from seoul to incheon airport, what is the best time to spend 4 days in seoul, understanding seoul, getting around town on your 4 days in seoul, where to eat in seoul – our favorite restaurants + recommendations by a local, cafes with the best view in seoul, 4 days in seoul: your ultimate seoul itinerary.

If this is your first trip to South Korea, there are a few things worth knowing beforehand. As with many other countries, Korea has its particularities and a certain way of doing things, thus having the right apps and information will make your vacation careless.

We recommend you read our comprehensive article packed with useful information for when you are planning a Seoul itinerary.

VISA & K-ETA

Depending on where you are traveling from, you will or won’t need a visa . Check your Visa requirements here!

Currently, South Korea has in place a visa-free online application process for certain eligible countries (you can check the list here ) that you must obtain before your trip.

K-ETA or the Korean Electronic Travel Authorization must be obtained before boarding a flight or ship. Here is some useful information regarding the K-ETA visa:

  • The approval process takes more than 72 hours, thus it is useful to apply in advance;
  • You will need to have accommodation booked before applying for the K-ETA, the address is one of the required information.
  • The validity of the K-ETA visa is of 2 years from the date of approval;
  • With the K-ETA you can stay in South Korea for 30 to 90 days;
  • However, if you are visiting for travel purposes, and plan to return after your first visit, you will have to come back and update your visa with the new hotel address;
  • One person can apply for up to 30 persons and can pay for all at once;
  • K-ETA price : 10.000 won (around 9-10 USD)
  • Book your AREX Airport Express Ticket ,
  • Take the Airport Limousine Bus ,
  • Book a private transfer ,
  • or read everything about getting from Incheon to Hongdae , Myeongdong , Bukchon Hanok Village , or Gangnam .

Communication and transportation

  • Book your SIM Card & T-Money Card with airport pickup
  • See if you would rather buy a SIM card or pocket wifi for your trip
  • Or get an eSIM card directly in your email, and learn everything you must know about getting around Seoul

Getting around South Korea

  • Rent a car in advance – choose an international website where you can use your credit card. Read everything about driving in South Korea
  • Travel by fast train and book a multiple-day Korea Rail Pass

Other useful tips & links

  • Lugg a ge delivery service – have your luggage delivered from the airport to your hotel and take the all-stop train. It might be cheaper than taking a taxi.
  • Luggage storage service
  • Don’t travel without insurance – we recommend SafetyWing
  • Accommodation guides : where to stay in Seoul , Busan , and everywhere in between
  • Should you get the Discover Seoul Pass ? See our analysis and alternatives for saving on your trip

Your 4-day Seoul itinerary for first-timers overview

Day 1 – Visit central Seoul, its historical area, and the Palaces

Day 2 – Go south of the river and explore Gangnam

Day 3 – Climb to Namsan Tower, visit a cafe in Itaewon

Day 4 – Day trip to DMZ

trip in seoul

Today will be a day of exploration and stepping back in time, learning a little bit about Korea’s history, and feeling like a princess or prince.

An option would be to start your day by renting a hanbok (Korean traditional clothing), and you can read everything about our experience here .

However, if you don’t feel like wandering around the streets of Seoul in those clothes, don’t worry, start your day in Bukchon Hanok Village.

Bukchon Hanok Village

trip in seoul

If you’d like to see what a 600 years-old traditional village would look like in the middle of a high-tech, global metropolis, you must visit Bukchon Hanok.

Bukchon, literally the North Village, was the residential area of the nobility and high-ranking government officials during the Joseon period; it was the Beverly Hills of its day, the playground of the rich and famous. As its name suggests, it consists of numerous hanoks, traditional Korean houses.

According to polls, it is one of the favorite areas of foreign tourists. However, it became wildly popular with the locals after it was featured in the South Korean reality show ‘ 1 Night 2 Days ’ and the TV series ‘ Personal Taste .’

trip in seoul

The area hosts several museums, coffee shops, and restaurants. And it is also a good place to rent a hanbok from. So you can start the day with a coffee in Bukchon Hanok Village, then dress up and walk its history-filled streets under the admiring gaze of the passerby. Once you finish visiting Changdeokgung, Gyeongbokgung, Deoksugung, and Jogyesa, you can return your outfit and enjoy a nice traditional dinner in Bukcheon. It’s worth it!

Address : Jongno-gu, 계동길 37

How to get to Bukchon Hanok Village : Take the subway or bus to Anguk Station. Read the complete guide here!

Bukchon Hanok Village to Changdeokgung Palace :

trip in seoul

Changdeokgung Palace

trip in seoul

The Palace of Prospering Virtue, known in Korean as Changdeokgung, was the favorite palace of many Joseon rulers. Moreover, it was the site of the royal court during two out of the three centuries that passed between Gyeongbukgung’s first destruction and its eventual reconstruction in 1868.

Changdeok stands out compared to Gyeongbukgung because its buildings blend in with the natural topography instead of dominating it; its construction style retains elements of the previous Three Kingdoms period of Korean history. Actually, the palace was built specifically to replace Gyeongbuk.

One note before going into the details: according to Joseon tradition, newly crowned kings changed their names similar to the practice of Catholic Popes (e.g., the current Pope Francis was Jorge Mario Bergoglio before he ascended to the Papacy; the first Joseon ruler, King Taejo was Yi-Seonggye before being crowned). Also, in Korean naming tradition, the first name is the family name (Yi is the family name of Yi Seonggye).

King Taejong (born Yi Bangwon), the third ruler of the Joseon dynasty, was reluctant to reside at Gyeongbuk because he had bad memories of the place.

Gyeongbuk was the brainchild of Jeong Dojeon, the first official to hold the Yeonguijeong position, a kind of Prime Minister of Joseon.

Jeong Dojeon envisaged a kingdom run by ministers, with the king having a ceremonial role. However, Prince Yi Bangwon, King Taejo’s fifth son and heir-apparent believed that the Monarch should have absolute power over state affairs.

Given their fundamentally diverging views, Jeong Dojeon convinced the founder of the Joseon dynasty, King Taejo, to appoint his eighth son, Yi Bangseok, as his successor instead of Yi Bangwon.

Enraged, Yi Bangwon raided Gyeongbuk palace, killing Jeong Dojeon and some of the other princes, his own half-brothers, in the process. Saddened by the events, King Taejo abdicated and, eventually, Yi Bangwon ascended to the throne as King Taejong.

Understandably, Taejong preferred constructing a new palace rather than living in the place he committed fratricide.

trip in seoul

Today circa 30% of the pre-Japanese structure remains; the site has been a UNESCO World Heritage monument since 1997.

Apart from the impressive historical buildings, today’s main points of attraction are Changdeok’s gardens .

The Huwon , or Rear Garden, was originally constructed for the use of the royal family and palace women. The lotus pond is surrounded by hundreds of different trees and plant species; some trees are more than 300 years old. The Jade Stream area contains a U-shaped water channel initially used for floating wine cups; there is a small waterfall above it.

The Gemuwon, or Forbidden Garden, was destined for the exclusive use of the king. Today, many Koreans call it Biwon, or Secret Garden.

One popular historical K-drama, ‘The Jewel in the Palace,’ was mostly filmed at Changdeokgung.

trip in seoul

Admission Fees [Changdeokgung Palace] Adults (ages 25-64): 3,000 won / Group (over 10 people): 2,400 won / Youth ( ages 7-18): 1500 won Students (ages 24 and under): Free (* Except for foreign visitors)

On the last Wednesday of the month, and when wearing a hanbok dress, the entrance is free.

Opening Hours : Closed on Mondays; between 9 a.m. and 5.30 p.m. or 6 p.m. depending on the season. See opening hours here!

Address : 99, Yulgok-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul

Subway : Anguk Station (Seoul Subway Line 3), Exit 3.

Changdeokgung Palace to Gyeongbokgung Palace

Changdeokgung Palace to Gyeongbokgung Palace

Gyeongbokgung Palace

trip in seoul

Unlike the Cantonese Chinese names that I easily memorized when we lived in Hong Kong, I had difficulties learning Korean ones after moving to Seoul.

One of the first Korean place names I encountered was Gyeongbokgung, which was a bit tricky for someone like me who didn’t know much about the language. Yet, once I figured out that the names are made up of separate words, it became much easier to learn them.

‘Gyeong’ means Brilliance, Honor, Respect and in Sino-Korean could also mean ‘Capital City’. ‘Bok’ usually means Fortune, while ‘Gung’ means Palace.

Thus, by giving this name to the palace, the government expressed its desire for a bright future.

trip in seoul

Gyeongbokgung Palace is one of the most iconic landmarks in South Korea. It was first built by King Taejo, founder of the Joseon Dynasty, in 1395 and served as the dynastic seat until 1592.

Unfortunately, the palace was destroyed during the 1592 – 1598 Japanese invasion of Korea but was reconstructed in 1867 under King Gojong.

Some sources state that Gyeongbokgung was set ablaze by locals, enraged by the King’s actions: he fled the capital to escape the advancing Japanese, leaving its inhabitants to the conquerers’ mercy.

Other sources seem to indicate Japanese responsibility for the destruction. Ozeki, one of the Japanese commanders, described arriving at the now-abandoned palace in his diary and noted its amazing beauty. Ozeki’s account implies that Gyeongbok wasn’t damaged when the Japanese entered the city.

Irrespective of who was to blame for the disaster, the palace complex was left in ruins for the following three centuries.

Eventually, the palace was rebuilt and expanded in 1867, regaining its status as a symbol of Korean national identity. However, after Japanese agents assassinated Empress Myeongseong in 1895, her husband, Emperor Gojong, left the palace; the Royal family never returned.

In 1915, under the pretext of organizing an Industrial Exhibition at the site, the Japanese government systematically demolished 90% of Gyeongbokgung. Furthermore, they built the Japanese General Government Building at the site, trying to eradicate any vestiges of previous Korean independence.

Finally, in 1989, the Korean government initiated a 40 years plan of rebuilding hundreds of monuments and buildings destroyed during the Japanese occupation. As a result, in 1995, the Korean authorities demolished the former Japanese General Government Building, restoring and reconstructing circa 40% of the complex. The authorities plan to fully restore Gyeongbok to its pre-occupation levels in the following decade.

trip in seoul

Walking through the complex today while admiring the many visitors dressed in traditional clothing, one wouldn’t guess the place’s violent history.

We loved visiting the palace’s Secret Garden; sitting by the pond can easily transport you to a world without worries. The majestic mountain in the background adds to the serene atmosphere. Furthermore, if you are lucky to visit during the cherry blossom season, you will have the chance of taking great Instragrammable pictures .

If you enjoy military history, there is a changing of the guard ceremony; it happens several times a day, at pre-determined hours – you should time your visit accordingly.

But if you have the chance, nothing beats visiting Gyeongbok (and the other Seoul palaces and Buchan Hanok village) while dressed in traditional hanbok.

Not only can you enter for free at Gyeongbok while wearing it, but you might be requested to pose for pictures by the local ladies. For some reason, Koreans love to take photos of foreigners dressed in traditional Korean clothing; I never felt like a superstar before this experience.

trip in seoul

Admission Fees Adults (ages 19-64): 3,000 won / Groups (10 people or more): 2,400 won Children (ages 7-18): 1,500 won / Groups (10 people or more): 1,200 won

Free on the last Wednesday of the month and while wearing a hanbok.

Address : 161, Sajik-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul

Opening Hours : Closed on Tuesdays; between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. or 6:30 p.m. depending on the season. See operating time here!

Gyeongbokgung Station (Seoul Subway Line 3) and Exit 5. Anguk Station (Seoul Subway Line 3) and Exit 1.

Would you rather go on a guided tour to see the Palaces in Seoul ? You can learn so much from a local guide! Here are a few of the best options to look into:

Small-Group Seoul Morning Royal Palaces Tour – a 3.5 hour tour that will take you to Gyeongbokgung Palace, Jogyesa Temple, and to watch the royal guard changing ceremony at Gwanghwamun Gate. Apart from entrance fees and a local guide, the tour includes also hotel pick-up.

Seoul City Private Full-Day Tour Including Lunch – a very popular tour, that sells out fast. It includes hotel pick-up and drop-off, a visit to Gyeongbokgung Palace and Bukchon Hanok Village, Jogyesa Temple, and N Seoul Tower, and lunch at a local restaurant.

Gyeongbokgung Palace to Deoksugung Palace

Gyeongbokgung Palace to Deoksugung Palace

Deoksugung Palace

Deoksugung Palace

Deoksugung Palace, also known as  Gyeongungung ,  Deoksugung Palace , or  Deoksu Palace, is one of my favorite palatial complexes built by Joseon in Seoul; maybe because we spent a pleasant afternoon on its grounds, wearing the hanboks, immersing ourselves in Korea’s rich history.

Built in the late 16th century by King Seonjo of the Joseon Dynasty, it was originally called Gyeongun-gung but changed its name to Deoksugung after being reconstructed during the reign of King Gojong.

The palace has been home to several royal families over its long history and today serves as an important cultural landmark for both locals and tourists alike.

The distinctive fusion of traditional Korean and European influences found in the architecture of Joseon-era compounds makes them a truly unique sight.

In the late 19th century, King Gojong of Joseon sought to modernize his kingdom and help it keep up with the rapid changes taking place around the world. To this end, he ordered the installation of electricity in Deoksugung Palace in 1900, making it one of the first buildings in Seoul to receive such a feature. However, during the Japanese occupation, it was transformed into a cafeteria.

Moreover, a European-style, stone palatial building was commissioned, the Seokjojeon. The building was designed by the British architect John Reginald Harding in the Neo-Renaissance style. A typical European garden complements the Seokjojeon. Today, it houses the Korean Empire History Hall.

trip in seoul

The Seokjojeon West Building is a later addition; it was opened in 1938 as the House of Yi Art Museum. It continues to serve as the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art.

Visitors can explore its many halls, pavilions, gardens, and courtyards while learning about its fascinating past.

You can also book a walking tour and learn about the history of this impressive palace. It is done during the night , for a more impressive view.

trip in seoul

Entrance ticket fee:  Adult: 1,000 won ; Children: 500 won

Address : 100-120  99 Sejong-daero, Jung-gu, Seoul

Opening hours : Closed on Mondays; Open daily between 9:00AM ~ 9:00PM

Subway : City Hall Station (subway line 1) exit 2

Book your own unforgettable photo session with a local professional photographer here !

Deoksugung Palace to Jogyesa Temple

Deoksugung Palace to Jogyesa Temple

Jogyesa Temple

trip in seoul

Jogyesa is the chief temple of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism.

The Jogye Order is the representative order of traditional Korean Seon Buddhism. Its roots are over 1200 years old when the Latter Silla Master Doui brought Seon from China (‘Seon’ is what we call ‘Zen’ in the West).

The Buddhist Orders were persecuted during the Joseon period. Instead, the new rulers favored Neo-Confucianism as the basis of their society; its strong influences still permeate modern Korean culture, although most religious South Koreans are Christians. According to government statistics from 2015, almost half of the population is irreligious, nearly 30% are Christian, 22% are Buddhists, and less than 1% are Confucianists. You’ll surely notice the numerous churches once you arrive in Seoul.

Although Seon Masters raised troops and protected the country during the first Japanese invasion of 1592-1598, Buddhist monks were not allowed into the cities until 1895.

The Jogyesa temple dates back to the dawn of Joseon in the late XIV century, and it became the center of the Jogye Order in 1936. Initially called Gakhwangsa Temple, it changed its name in 1954 to reflect its central position in the Jogye Order.

Apart from the temple itself, the courtyard hosts a couple of unique trees over 500 years old: a White Pine tree, brought by Chinese missionaries, and a Chinese Scholar tree. Can you imagine that these trees were already hundreds of years old at the time of the American Revolutionary War?

More recently, the Temple grounds witnessed events we usually don’t associate with Zen living. For example, in the 1990s, two different Buddhist factions came to blows, and hundreds of monks engaged in violence using makeshift weaponry. Everyone has a breaking point, it seems.

trip in seoul

Guided tours in English , are held daily except Saturdays from  10 AM, 12 AM, 14 PM, and 16 PM . The only day when you can see the temple whenever you want, without a guided tour, is on Saturdays.

Admission Fee : Adults 1000 won; Children: 500 won

Address : 55, Ujeongguk-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul

Opening Hours : the main hall is open 24 hours

Subway : Jonggak Station (Subway Line 1), Exit 2; Anguk Station (Subway Line 3), Exit 6; Gwanghwamun Station (Subway Line 5), Exit 2.

Jogyesa temple to Insadong

Jogyesa to Insadong

Make your back towards Bukchon Hanok Village passing through Insadong. A mix of old and new, Insadong concentrates the most art and antique shops in Seoul.

It is known for its traditional Korean culture and bustling local shops that line the streets. Here you can find everything from antiques to handmade crafts, as well as delicious street food and unique teahouses.

Stop to buy some valuable souvenirs, grab a bite at one of the traditional restaurants hidden on the narrow streets, or grab a cup of tea at Osulloc Tea House .

Insadong to Cheonggyecheon Stream

Insadong to Cheonggyecheon Stream

Walk along the Cheonggyecheon stream

Autumn in Seoul

The Cheonggyecheon Stream is a 10.9-kilometer-long urban oasis that runs through the heart of the city, and you can easily walk there from Jogyesa Temple and Insadong.

The stream is bordered by parks and walkways that are filled with vibrant sculptures and art installations. It was once an open sewer, but in 2005 it was restored to its original beauty as part of an ambitious urban renewal project. Today, it serves as a tranquil refuge for locals and visitors alike who come to take in the natural scenery or enjoy leisurely strolls along its banks.

trip in seoul

Southern Seoul, or the south of the river as for the direct translation, is the new and vibrant area in town.

While you will find it hard to see it all in one day alone, I have tried to help you scratch the surface and see its highlights.

Famous because of Psy’s song “Gangnam Style”, Gangnam is a neighborhood and a way of living. Seoul’s most expensive area, and the home to some of the nicest parks and shopping malls in town.

Stroll through Sinsa and Garosu

trip in seoul

Take the bus or the subway and cross over to the southern part of Seoul. Hannam Bridge links Yognsan to Gangnam and is one of the most picturesque places along the river.

You can even start your day with a stroll along the river, heading towards the street of Sinsa-dong and Garosu. Home to some of the most famous and luxurious brands, packed with small cafes or perfume and cosmetics stores, you might be shocked to find a horse inside.

Another thing that will surprise and impress is the number of cosmetic surgery clinics crowded in this area – around Tehran-ro (street).

trip in seoul

From Sinsa, don’t walk on Dosan-daero (Boulevard) but step on the smaller streets and allow yourself to get lost on your way to Dosan Park.

Have a coffee and brunch at a fancy place or enjoy a SPA treatment

In the area of Dosan Park, you will find plenty of cafes and coffee shops, but also flagship stores for some of the most famous Korean cosmetic brands.

Most offer an experience and some also have SPA facilities.

South Korea is home to some of the most popular and qualitative cosmetics, and you cannot leave without pampering yourself for at least one hour.

trip in seoul

Sulwhasoo Flagship Store is hosted in an impressive building right next to Dosan Park. On the ground floor, they host a small museum showcasing the brand’s history and some facts about Korea’s beauty history.

On the second floor, they have a small shop where you can also try most of their products and choose your favorites.

Also, they have a SPA where you can enjoy luxurious treatments with their lush cosmetics, infused with Korean ginseng.

On top of the building, they host a nice rooftop terrace, from where you can enjoy the surrounding area.

Next door, have brunch at Dear Dahlia’s Flagship Store with its girly interior, or reward yourself with a coffee at the Dior Cafe.

Bongeunsa Buddhist Temple

trip in seoul

One of the few Buddhist Temples you will find in the city, it is home to 13 smaller temples  each with its history and particularities.

The temple holds a long history (over 1200 years), having been built in 794, the temple is home to 3,479 Buddhist scriptures of 13 types.

Perched on a hill, in between greens, the temple offers temple stays during which you can learn more about Buddhism, sample tea, and learn more about the temple itself.

Before Buddha’s Day in late summer and around the Lunar New Year, the temple is decorated with colorful lanterns. They are actually a symbol of Buddha’s enlightenment and can be admired along with listening to chanting and other processions that take place during this time.

The temple also has a tea house in one of the smaller houses, open since 2018, where you can take a break and savor a cup of delicious tea.

trip in seoul

COEX Mall and Starfield Library

trip in seoul

Next door to the temple you’ll find the famous Starfield Library hosted inside the COEX Mall.

Follow the signs, walk between Korean and international brands, and get to the photogenic library. The place has been thought of as a place for relaxation and socializing. Even if you would be able to read in Korean, you wouldn’t be permitted to borrow books and magazines, but you can read them inside the library.

Starfield Library Coex Mall Seoul

Apart from the library, COEX Mall hosts an impressive indoor aquarium where you can enjoy a unique “mermaid performance”. The place is also known for having the highest number of sharks in South Korea.

Lotte World Tower

Hop on the subway and head to Jamsil for South Korea’s tallest building. Try to make it just in time for sunset, and you will be rewarded with a breathtaking view of the city.

The Sky Tower is Korea’s tallest building, and the Lotte World Tower is hosted on 117 – 123 floors. Apart from the stunning views, you can experience one of the world’s fastest elevators.

trip in seoul

Another option would be to extend your time spent around the Lotte World Tower, especially when you don’t feel like walking so much.

The itinerary can easily be altered when you purchase the Songpa L-Pass . The pass included entrance to Lotte World Adventure, Lotte World Aquarium, and Seoul Sky. That would mean that you can spend the whole day here, without getting bored.

Lotte World Adventure is a major recreation complex, with the world’s largest indoor theme park, and an outdoor amusement park. No matter if you are traveling with kids or you simply want to have fun, this is the place for you!

Lotte World Seoul

Today will be about hiking (or not), views, and one of the most iconic areas of Seoul: Itaewon.

Seullo 7017

Seullo translates to “towards Seoul” or “Seoul street” and is an elevated sky garden in the heart of the city. Get off at Seoul Central Station and take one of the elevators to the former highway overpass.

Especially during spring or summer, a walk on the suspended overpass will both delight and impress you. From here, you can see the beautiful building that hosts the central train station, with its blue cupola, one of Seoul’s gates, but also the wide boulevard and the crazy traffic.

trip in seoul

Different types of flowers are cared for every day by workers and await you to discover them on your walk towards Namsan Mountain.

Read also the complete guide for how to get to Namsan Tower !

Namsan Mountain and N Seoul Tower

As you get close to the famous Namdaemun Market, on your right-hand side you will see one of the roads that lead to the park below N Seoul Tower.

Namsan Mountain is the highest peak in the center of Seoul, home to many plants and birds, but also one of the favorite recreation spots for South Korean people.

You can easily get to the top of the mountain by cable car or by bus (no. 02, 03, or 05), but hiking there is rewarding and an experience in itself. The hike is moderate and offers lots of viewpoints where you can stop along the way to catch your breath.

Hiking from either side of the mountain took us around one hour.

trip in seoul

On the top of the mountain, the N Seoul Tower will welcome you with an observation deck and plenty of restaurants with an unforgettable view.

In the area surrounding the tower, you will find plenty of photography spots, but also a famous bridge and trees covered with thousands of lovers’ padlocks.

trip in seoul

Descending from the mountaintop towards Itaewon will take you through a forest where you will find it hard to believe you are still in the heart of this huge metropolis.

trip in seoul

Located in the heart of the city, Itaewon is a vibrant and diverse neighborhood that has something for everyone. Whether you’re looking for some delicious local cuisine, international restaurants, shopping options, or exciting nightlife venues – Itaewon has it all.

The narrow streets are lined with trendy boutiques selling everything from clothes to accessories, while the restaurants range from traditional Korean fare to exotic delicacies from around the world.

For those who enjoy a bit of nightlife, there are plenty of bars and clubs offering an array of entertainment options. Plus, if you want to take in some culture during your visit then there are several art galleries and museums located nearby too.

The neighborhood is also packed with murals, trendy cafes, stunning views, and a Culture Trace Journey where you can learn about Seoul and this part of town.

You can easily spend half day of your itinerary in this part of town.

trip in seoul

Visit The Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art; explore the Itaewon Mosque, shop on the antique street, or simply taste some international oriental cuisine.

End your day with a traditional dinner at the Korea House restaurant. The setting is impressive, the food is delicious, and they often have shows or wedding ceremonies you can admire.

While the city offers many more things to do and see, you might want to consider some of the most popular day trips outside of Seoul .

DMZ (the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea) is visited every year by hundreds of thousands of tourists, even though Koreans don’t think much of it. Read our complete guide for a day trip to DMZ here!

Nami Island, the Garden of Morning Calm, and Petite France are stunning in every season, but you shouldn’t think twice during spring or fall.

Paju, Incheon, Suwon, or Chuncheon are only a few other places easily reachable by public transportation, and worth visiting from Seoul.

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4 days in Seoul Infographic

Option 2: 4 Days in Seoul Itinerary off the beaten path

If this is not your first time in Seoul, and you are looking for some off-the-beaten-path attractions and things to do, I will help you with an itinerary option.

These are some of the places I loved exploring once I got to know Seoul better. Of course, I always loved climbing Namsan Mountain or exploring Gangnam, but these are a few things to consider when you want to do something else.

Seoul off the beaten path | Buam Dong

Maybe our favorite Seoul neighborhood, tucked away from the hustle and bustle, packed with nice things to enjoy.

It is an area full of history and culture and has been home to many famous Korean figures over the years.

The area is known for its traditional markets, ancient temples, and vibrant street life.

Visitors can explore this unique part of town by taking a walk through its narrow alleyways or visiting one of its many restaurants or cafes.

Buam-dong also offers a variety of cultural activities such as concerts, art galleries, and festivals throughout the year that make it an ideal destination for travelers looking for something different from the usual tourist spots in Seoul.

For lunch, stop by Jaha Son Mandu , the renowned Michelin-star restaurant is worth every second of the wait in line. With an extensive menu of exquisite dishes, each colorful plate will tantalize your taste buds and leave you wanting more. For a complete dining experience, make sure to save room for one of their signature cinnamon sweet drinks that are sure to satisfy your cravings with a sweet and tart flavor. And for the ultimate treat, snag a table by the window to take in the gorgeous views of the city while you dine.

In the afternoon, pamper yourself with a facial at one of the best-known places in town: O HUI&WHOO SPA in Myeong-dong .

Once you are relaxed, go for the popular Nanta Show at the Theatre in Myeong-dong.

The show has been captivating audiences since 1997, with its unique blend of traditional Korean percussion music, comedy, and improvisation.

It follows the story of four chefs who are trying to prepare a wedding banquet within an impossible time limit while dealing with unexpected obstacles thrown their way. With thrilling performances that combine martial arts and acrobatics, the Nanta Show is sure to provide an unforgettable experience that will leave you laughing and amazed.

best Korean SPA in Seoul

One of the best things to do in South Korea, especially after spending a few days or weeks exploring, is to spend a few hours at one of the  best Korean SPA in Seoul .

There are plenty of great options in Seoul, Incheon, or Busan, and offering yourself a few hours of pampering is always a good idea. If you are traveling during  winter in Korea , the  rainy season , or you just love a good SPA, you should not skip this experience.

We loved our experience at Aquafield in Hannam, and you can read all about it and the rules to know in our comprehensive Jimjilbang guide .

trip in seoul

End the day with a short trip outside of Seoul. Go on a night tour at Suwon.

It is a 5-hour trip that will take you to see Hwaseong Fortress under the moonlight.

Built between 1794 and 1796 to protect the city of Suwon, the fortress is an outstanding example of Korean architecture and engineering from the late Joseon period.

The fortress walls are 5.52 km long and contain four large gates with two smaller ones within them. Inside the walls, there are several historic sites such as palace buildings, pavilions, command posts, observation towers, and shooting galleries that were all built during this time period.

Hwaseong Fortress has been designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site since 1997 due to its significance in Korean history and culture. It stands today as a testament to Korea’s rich cultural heritage and acts as an important reminder of how far Korea has come over the centuries.

Option : If you are passionate about technology, spend the whole day in Suwon, on a guided tour of the Samsung Innovation Museum and Hwaseong Fortress .

How to get to Seoul from Incheon airport

Start your day in Seoul’s financial district, but come here for the park along the Han River.

Get your coffee from Tailor Coffee in the Hyundai Department Store, and walk towards the river. From here, you can admire the I Seoul U sign, together with Seoul’s iconic skyline.

Seonyudo Island Park Seoul

Go for a walk along the river all the way to Seonyudo Island Park. The small park is set on an island and it is filled with flowers, especially if you are visiting during spring or summer.

Mangown Market Seoul

From there, you can take the bus and easily get to Mungwon – a less-known area, very popular with Koreans. You can explore the cafes and night market on your own, but I strongly suggest booking a food tour .

You will be joined by a local guide who will take you to some of the best food stalls in Seoul.

Seoul Forest Park Seoul

Seoul Forest Park covers more than four million square meters and offers an array of activities and attractions, from nature trails to amusement parks.

The park has been carefully landscaped with over 400 species of trees, shrubs, and flowers as well as numerous lakes and streams that provide a peaceful refuge from the hustle and bustle of Seoul’s streets.

You can enjoy leisurely strolls around the lake or take advantage of educational programs such as bird-watching tours or classes on traditional Korean crafts like paper making or pottery.

During spring, the park is famous for its tulips, while during fall everyone comes here for the ginkgo trees.

Right next to the park, you will find plenty of cool cafes.

Seongsu dong

From the park, you can easily get to Seongsu-dong .

The neighborhood has been a popular residential district since the 2000s and is known for its trendy restaurants, cafes, and boutiques.

Seongsu-dong is renowned for its vibrant nightlife scene with numerous bars, clubs, and live music venues catering to different tastes. There are also plenty of shopping areas where you can find products from all over the world at reasonable prices.

Moreover, in the area, you can find the Amore Pacific concept store (one of the best places to try and buy Korean skincare ), but also the iconic Dior concept store.

Finish off your day with a cruise on the Han River with a food buffet .

You can admire Seoul’s skyline from the water, and feast on traditional Korean food at a local restaurant.

Foodies will enjoy a cooking class where they can learn how to make some of the most popular delicious Korean dishes. Prepare 3 main dishes and a stew and enjoy them afterward! See more here!

Go on a walking tour with a local guide and gain an insider’s perspective from a local.

If you are feeling more adventurous, Kayaking and Paddle Boarding on the Han River might spark your interest. Alternatively, you can book a sunset cruise on the river and enjoy the skyline while learning about the most important sights.

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4 days in Seoul Infographic option 2

No matter if you are visiting the city for the first time or you are returning after a while, these are the best areas to consider staying in.

We have visited the city as tourists and we have had the chance to live there for one year, and have used that experience to help you choose the best place to stay if you don’t want to waste time commuting.

Seoul is a huge metropolis and wasting time in traffic would mean having to skip some of the most important attractions. With only 4 days in Seoul on hand, you must make the best choice when it comes to accommodation location.

Read also: Hongdae or Myeongdong – where to stay as a first-time tourist | Where to stay in Seoul on a budget

If you don’t have the time to read the full article, here are a few of our recommendations for where to stay in Seoul when you visit for the first time and for 4 days. Most first-timers choose to stay in Myeongdong , however, there are other great options as well:

  • Namdaemunno  – the area we chose to stay in during our first trip to Seoul, at  Courtyard by Marriott Seoul Namdaemun . It was a nice hotel, with a view of the NSeoul tower and the Sungnyemun Gate, from where I could easily walk to many of the main attractions in town.  Check it out here!
  • Insadong  – maybe the most tourist area in town, mainly because it is so close to most of the popular spots.  ibis Ambassador Insadong  offers Seoul Tower views and a beautiful rooftop terrace, and it is located close to Insadong’s Main Street, which has most of its outlets open all night.  Check it out here!
  • Myeongdong  –  Nine Tree Hotel Myeongdong  – this was our first choice when we visited for the first time, mainly because of its location and facilities. However, we ended up staying in another hotel, which was quite good. If you would rather stay in Myeongdong, Nine Tree offers great quality vs price ratio.  Check it out here!
  • Hongdae – while the area is not right in the heart of the city, it is perfectly connected to most of the important attractions in town. Moreover, this is a vibrant area with plenty of things to do and see. L7 Hongdae by LOTTE  is a 4* hotel, steps away from the subway station, set on the main boulevard. The hotel has a stunning rooftop restaurant and bar from where you can admire the city, but also a rooftop swimming pool for the hot days of summer. Check it out here!

It is widely known that Seoul is one of the most expensive towns in Asia and the world, thus, if you are traveling on a budget, here are a few money-saving tips you should have in mind.

Consider booking your plane ticket at the right moment – not too soon or not too late, but at least 3 months in advance, depending on where you are traveling from. Use an aggregator such as Syscanner in order to find the best options and routes from your destination.

Get the Seoul City Pass when you want to see as much as you can – it will also help you forget about public transportation (it works as a TMoney) and it will offer you free access to a selection of 42 attractions. For a 4-day Seoul itinerary, I would suggest going for the 72-hour City Pass. S e e more here!

Book your activities online in advance – Klook or Trazy are your go-to places for activities in Seoul and South Korea. They cover all of the most important attractions, day trips, guided tours, and more. And they also help you save on your trip!

Eat local food – if you are traveling on a budget and want to save money, choose to eat street food, eat at the local markets, or choose the most local-looking restaurants. Cafe s , barbeque places, and well-known restaurants (local or Western) will always be more expensive.

Some other things worth knowing:

  • certain restaurants and cafes will ask you to take off your shoes, and you might even have to sit on the floor
  • Google maps don’t   work properly, thus you will need local apps such as  Kakao Maps or Naver . We have always used Naver because we found it more user-friendly. If you step outside of the tourist area, it helps to search for addresses and places in Korean, otherwise ,  you might not find them.
  • when taking the subway, always stay on the right side of the escalator.
  • during summer or the hot season, Korean women never wore clothes too revealing with the upper part of the body (no cleavage). That doesn’t mean you should do the same, just be mindful of this when packing for South Korea.
  • most restaurants won’t provide forks, and you will be expected to eat with Korean chopsticks.
  • at a barbeque, Koreans cut meat with scissors, not a knife.
  • download and use Papago for translating everything around you. It works perfectly with pictures, even though sometimes it could show you strange things (like the time we thought we had dog soup, when in fact it was ox cartilage).

Eating out in Seoul can be an expensive undertaking, depending on your tastes and preferences. For the budget-conscious traveler, local eateries offer delicious fare at reasonable prices—a typical meal might cost around 50,000 KRW.

On the other hand, if you’re looking to splurge, a visit to a Korean BBQ restaurant could easily set you back 100,000 KRW or more. And of course, that doesn’t include the cost of any attractions you decide to visit during your stay in Seoul.

A day in Seoul can be as expensive or as affordable as you make it. For those looking to save money, there are several options for transportation such as the subway system, buses, and even walking. Eating out is also an option, with local restaurants offering delicious meals at a fraction of the cost of Western-style chain restaurants.

Taxis are also available and can be a convenient way to get around, although they tend to be more expensive than other forms of transportation.

Of course, there are ways in which you can save money (getting the  Go City Seoul Pass  for example), but you can also spend much more when you choose high-end restaurants or enjoy shopping.

trip in seoul

Getting from the airport to the city center or to your hotel couldn’t be simpler in Seoul.

We have personally used all options and can compare from experience.

Book a private transfer when you want to have a driver waiting for you at the airport. The price is comparable to the one of taking a taxi, but the driver will already have your final destination address. On top of that, you won’t have to worry about finding a car after a long flight.

Go by AREX ( Airport Railroad Express ) – the fast train conveniently links the Seoul Central Station to both Gimpo and Incheon International Airports. Upon arrival, follow the directions that will take you to the train tracks.

From Seoul Station, you can make your way further to your hotel or final destination.

While convenient, traveling by train and subway could prove to be challenging when you have large luggage or when you don’t stay in a hotel close to the subway station. For those times, you can choose to leave your bags at the luggage storage at Incheon or Gimpo – on top of keeping your luggage for up to one day, they can also transport them to and from your hotel. See all the options here!

The advantage is that you will be able to pay with your T-Money card , and the train is really fast – between 43 and 51 minutes depending on your terminal. Order the card or Seoul City Pass before you arrive in order to make the trip carefree.

Get a taxi from the airport – at Incheon Airport as soon as you exit arrivals you will find a designated desk for booking taxis and transfers. The people there speak English and will be able to assist you in choosing the best car option for you.

Having the address of the hotel written down in Korean will always come in handy.

Airport shuttle bus – a budget option worth taking into consideration when you don’t want to leave your luggage in storage or don’t want to spend too much on transportation.

In Terminal 2 there’s a Bus terminal, while if you arrive in Terminal 1 you can ask at the ticket booth for the location of the bus stops.

Whenever you choose to travel by car or bus, bear in mind the fact that traffic in Seoul can get crazily crowded – something worth keeping in mind, especially on your way out of South Korea.

Read the complete guide here !

Seoul in Spring

With a temperate climate, South Korea has 4 seasons – some more appropriate than others.

The best time to visit Seoul is typically in the spring (April-May) and fall (September-November).

During these times, temperatures are mild and comfortable, and the city is full of vibrant colors from the changing leaves in fall or blossoming cherry blossoms in spring.

With countless festivals, shopping outlets, cultural activities, and outdoor spaces, Seoul is a great place to explore and take in the sights.

Plus, late fall and winter offer opportunities to ski and snowboard at various resorts outside of the city.

Read also : The comprehensive guide for the best time to visit South Korea

Seoul, the bustling city of South Korea, is divided by the majestic Han River into two distinct regions.

To the north lies a region that is steeped in tradition and culture, home to some of the most important and iconic historical monuments and attractions.

Directly across on the other side of the river lies an area full of modernity and vibrancy – the perfect spot for visitors to come and explore Seoul’s hip neighborhoods, trendiest cafe spots, and modern nightlife.

Seoul is split into districts (gu) and neighborhoods (dong), with the river passing below Mapo-gu, Yongsan-gu, and Seongdong-gu.

trip in seoul

As already mentioned, Seoul is a big metropolis, but its public transportation system is amongst the best in the world.

Getting around Seoul will be effortless by subway, taxi, or bus. You can pay cash on the bus, but it is highly recommended to have a rechargeable T-Money card .

There are  9 subway lines  in Seoul that will get you also to the metropolitan area.

Also, there are different  types of buses  depending on their itinerary:

  • Blue  buses – for long distances within Seoul – basic fare 1300 won
  • Green  buses – for transportation between blue bus stops and subway stops – basic fare 1300 won
  • Yellow  buses – downtown Seoul – basic fare 1200 won
  • Red  bus – inter-city express transit – basic fare 2400 won

Seoul food

You cannot spend 4 days in Seoul without tasting all the local delicious food!

Apart from our favorite restaurant in Buam-dong, here are a few other recommendations you must try if you are in the area:

A Flower Blossom on the Rice (꽃밥에피다) – in Insadong, Korean traditional food customized by the chef: bibimbap and vegetables, please try to have a course or single in lunch.

GlowSeoul (온천집) – Iksundong no.1 Korean traditional restaurant. They also have a cafe nearby you might want to try.

Pildong Myeonok (필동면옥) – No 1. cold noodle (Pyeongyang cold noodle: originated from North Korea, Pyeongyang). Water cold noodle is the main, and Seasoned cold noodle is the second option. Try to eat water cold noodles (물냉면).

두툼 – Delicious Korean BBQ close to Seoul Station and Seullo.

Din Tai Fung – this isn’t a Korean restaurant, however, we strongly encourage you to try it. The Taiwanese Michelin-star dumpling restaurant is famous all over the world. And you can easily find it in Myeong-dong.

Crystal Jade – a Chinese restaurant with delicious food, located in Myeong-dong.

Molto Espresso Bar Seoul

Noop Cafe  is open until midnight and has a terrace with a stunning view over the Namsan Tower.

Seoulism   is another popular  cafe in Seoul  with a view over the Lotte Sky Tower.  Address : 48-7 Songpa-dong, Songpa-gu, Seoul (서울특별시 송파구 송파동 48-7)

Sanmotunggi Coffee  is set in one of the best  off-the-beaten-path destinations in Seoul , our favorite neighborhood, Buam-dong. Address: 153 Baekseokdong-gil, Buam-dong, Jongno-gu (서울특별시 종로구 부암동 백석동길 153).

Type Hangang Cafe  caught my eye with its large windows and the perfect view over the Han River and Yeouido. Address: 5th floor, 128 Tojeong-ro, Mapo-gu ( 서울 마포구 토정로 128 5층).

Molto Espresso Bar  is located in the heart of Myeongdong and has a rooftop terrace overviewing the Cathedral.

PIN FOR LATER

trip in seoul

By Ingrid & Alex

Ingrid A former financial professional, I have been passionate about photography since an early age. My fascination with Korean culture was one of the reasons Alex accepted a business role in Seoul. Alex A former corporate business executive, I am a historical fiction writer. My business career allowed us to live in Seoul and explore South Korea for one year. We fell in love with the country, its culture, food, and people, and we strongly believe you will love it too! Because we know how difficult planning a trip can be, especially to South Korea, we are here to help you out and ensure you have an awesome time there.

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Wapiti Travel

16 Unusual Things To Do In Seoul

By: Author Lora

Posted on Last updated: July 12, 2024

Exploring Seoul beyond its famed landmarks reveals a treasure trove of unique experiences.

Dive into this list of 16 unusual things to do in Seoul, each offering a fresh perspective on the city’s rich culture and vibrant spirit. 

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This post contains affiliate links. If you click one of them, we may receive a small commission (for which we are deeply grateful) at no extra cost to you.

Table of Contents

South Korea Essentials

  • We have always found the best flights to Seoul on Momondo . You also have Skyscanner and recently WayAway , a new and promising travel aggregator, has popped up. It may be worthwhile to compare these three sites.
  • Looking for more inspiration for your South Korea trip? Here are all our Korean posts.
  • Use this step-by-step guide to plan your trip to South Korea.
  • Looking for the perfect itinerary? Check out our 1 week Korea itinerary and 2-week Korea itinerary .
  • Since foreign credit and debit cards don’t always work, we advise that you bring some spare cash.
  • Don’t waste time upon arrival at the airport and order your Korea travel sim or portable WiFi device in advance so that it’s ready and waiting for you at the airport when you arrive.
  • Consider getting the  Discover Seoul Pass  which covers 65 of Seoul’s best tourist attractions. It also has a T-money function that will save you ₩2,500 from buying a separate T-Money card. As an extra benefit, you get one free one-way A’rex Express train ride.
  • Note that the Discover Seoul Pass is not always available. If it isn’t, you can see if they have the BTS edition. It’s a 24-hour edition of the Discover Seoul Pass without the T-money option. Instead, you get a Korea Tour T-money Card as a bonus. The BTS edition covers the same attractions as the regular Discover Seoul Pass. Here is more information about this pass and other Seoul discount passes.
  • Visiting the DMZ is on the bucket list of many travelers. Check out the  best DMZ tours  here.
  • Looking for accommodation? Look at this list of highly-rated boutique hotels or this list of cool hotels in Seoul . We also have a selection of Airbnb’s in Seoul . Accommodation posts for other places in South Korea are here .
  • Here is a post with more travel tips for Korea.
  • Last but not least, make sure you have travel insurance .

Poop-shaped love notes on window at Poop Cafe.

Best Unique Things to Do in Seoul

Poop café .

Embrace the quirky and humorous at Poop Café in Seoul. 

This café, themed around poop, offers a variety of poop-shaped desserts and drinks. The playful decor and novelty menu items make it a fun and memorable place to visit. 

It’s a unique experience that’s sure to bring a smile to your face and is a great spot for amusing photos. 

How To Get There: Take the subway to Ssamziegil, Exit 3. The café is located on the top floor of the Ssamziegil shopping complex in Insadong. 

39 EPIC things to do in Seoul perfect for first timers

Seodaemun prison Seoul South Korea

Seodaemun Prison History Hall 

Discover a somber piece of Korea’s history at the Seodaemun Prison History Hall . 

This former prison, now a museum, tells the story of Korea’s struggle for independence during Japanese colonial rule.

The exhibits include prison cells, torture devices, and stories of resistance fighters. 

It’s a poignant and educational experience, shedding light on the resilience of the Korean people. The museum’s haunting atmosphere is a stark reminder of the sacrifices made for the country’s freedom. 

How To Get There : Take the subway to Dongnimmun Station, Exit 5. The museum is a short walk from the station. 

Exterior of Seoul Folk Flea Market

Seoul Folk Flea Market 

Dive into a treasure hunt at the Seoul Folk Flea Market, where you can find antiques, traditional crafts, and quirky souvenirs. 

This underrated place in Seoul offers a glimpse into Korean culture and history through its eclectic mix of items. Bargaining is part of the fun, and you might uncover some hidden gems among the stalls. 

The market’s atmosphere is vibrant and full of character, perfect for those who love exploring and finding unique treasures. 

How To Get There: Take subway line 1 or 2 to Sinseol-dong Station, Exit 9. The flea market is a short walk away. 

What is Seoul Known For? 30 Things Seoul is Famous For

Urban park in Seoul featuring old oil tanks transformed into cultural spaces

Oil Tank Culture Park 

Explore the innovative Oil Tank Culture Park , a repurposed oil depot turned cultural space. 

This unique place in Seoul features art installations, performance spaces, and green areas for relaxation.

It’s an example of sustainable urban regeneration, blending industrial history with contemporary art and culture. 

The park’s creative vibe makes it a fascinating spot to visit, offering a unique perspective on Seoul’s commitment to sustainability and the arts. 

How To Get There: From World Cup Stadium Station, Exit 2, walk about 15 minutes towards the park. 

Purple Iris flower

Seoul Iris Garden 

Escape to the Seoul Iris Garden, a peaceful oasis featuring beautiful iris flowers and serene walking paths. 

It’s a hidden gem in Seoul, offering tranquility and natural beauty, especially during the blooming season in late spring and early summer.

The garden’s quiet atmosphere makes it a perfect spot for relaxation and contemplation. 

The garden’s design encourages mindfulness and offers a refreshing break from the city’s hustle and bustle. 

How To Get There: The garden is located near Dobongsan Station, Exit 1. It’s a short walk from the station. 

17 Best Korean Theme Parks You Need To Visit

A stunning Buddhist temple with golden exterior and intricate details

Suguksa Temple 

Find serenity at Suguksa Temple , a lesser-known Buddhist temple in Seoul. This is the only golden temple in South Korea.  

Nestled in a quiet neighborhood, this temple offers a peaceful retreat from the city’s noise. If you’re looking for underrated things in Seoul, this is it.

The beautiful architecture and tranquil gardens provide a perfect setting for meditation and reflection. 

Suguksa Temple’s serene environment makes it an ideal spot for those seeking spiritual solace. 

How To Get There : From Dapsimni Station, Exit 4, take a short walk to the temple. 

Traditional Korean houses in Eunpyeong Hanok Village

Eunpyeong Hanok Village 

Explore Eunpyeong Hanok Village, a charming neighborhood of traditional Korean houses . 

This village showcases the beauty of hanok architecture, with its tiled roofs and wooden structures. Visitors can stroll through the streets, visit cultural centers, and even stay overnight in a hanok guesthouse. 

It’s a hidden gem that offers a glimpse into Korea’s architectural heritage and traditional way of life. 

How To Get There: Take the subway to Gupabal Station, Exit 1. A short bus ride will take you to the village. 

View of Banghwa Bridge from Gangseo Marsh Ecological Park

Gangseo Marsh Ecological Park 

Reconnect with nature at Gangseo Marsh Ecological Park, a serene wetland area. 

This park is home to various bird species, making it a paradise for bird watchers. The walking paths and observation points provide beautiful views of the marshlands and surrounding nature. 

It’s an underrated place in Seoul for those looking to escape the urban environment and enjoy some peace and quiet. 

How To Get There: Take the subway to Banghwa  Station, Exit 2. From here, take the Gangseo Maeul Bus 06.  

shot of Seoul Battleship Park

Seoul Battleship Park 

Visit Seoul Battleship Park, an interactive museum housed in a retired battleship. 

The park offers a unique opportunity to explore a naval vessel and learn about Korea’s maritime history. Visitors can tour the ship’s decks, see historical exhibits, and even try out a naval simulator. 

It’s a cool place for history buffs and those interested in naval warfare. 

How To Get There: Take the subway to Mangwon Station, Exit 2. The park is a short walk from the station. 

Gyeongbokgung Palace at night

Seoul Ghost Walk Tour 

Embark on a spine-chilling adventure with the Seoul Ghost Walk Tour , delving into the city’s eerie supernatural tales and haunted sites. 

Led by knowledgeable guides, this tour takes you through narrow alleys and dimly lit streets, recounting chilling stories of ghosts, ghouls, and legends that haunt Seoul’s past. 

From ancient palaces to hidden corners, each stop unveils mysteries and hauntings, offering a thrilling experience for those brave enough to explore the paranormal side of Seoul. 

How To Get There: Meet your tour group at the designated meeting point, typically announced upon booking.

Many tours start from centrally located areas such as Insadong or Myeongdong, easily accessible by subway or taxi.

Be sure to check the tour’s website or contact the organizers for specific meeting instructions. 

Check prices and availability: Seoul Ghost Walk

Night View in Seoullo 7017

Seoullo 7017 

Stroll along Seoullo 7017, a pedestrian walkway built on a former highway overpass. This is one of the many cool places in Seoul.

This elevated park features gardens, cafes, and cultural spaces, offering a unique perspective on the city. It’s a great place to enjoy a leisurely walk and take in the views of Seoul’s skyline. 

Seoullo 7017 is an innovative urban space that showcases the city’s commitment to green development. 

How To Get There: From Seoul Station take Exit 2, and follow the signs to Seoullo 7017. 

26 EPIC Things To Do In Seoul At Night

K-Star ROAD

The Gangnam K-Pop Bears On K Star Road 

Walk along K Star Road and meet the Gangnam K-Pop Bears, a series of statues dedicated to popular K-pop idols. 

Each bear is designed to represent a different K-pop group or artist, making it a fun and colorful tribute to Korea’s music industry.

It’s a must-visit for K-pop fans and those looking to snap some quirky photos. 

How To Get There: Take the subway to Apgujeong Rodeo Station, Exit 2. The bears are located along the road. 

Draft beer being poured into glass.

Euljiro’s Ranch Brewing Company 

Enjoy a craft beer at Euljiro’s Ranch Brewing Company, a hidden gem in the heart of Seoul. 

This brewery offers a variety of locally brewed beers in a cozy, rustic setting. It’s a great place to relax and enjoy a drink after a day of exploring the city. 

The brewery’s warm atmosphere and delicious brews make it a popular spot among locals and visitors alike. 

How To Get There: From Euljiro 3-ga Station, Exit 1, walk towards the brewery. 

Girls wearing Ehwa Korean School Uniform Rental, posing together

Korean School Uniform Rental 

Experience a day as a Korean student by renting a school uniform. 

Renting a Korean school uniform gives you a unique and immersive cultural experience in South Korea.

You feel like a local student wearing the uniform.

It’s a fun way to immerse yourself in local culture and take some unique photos. 

Check prices and availability: Korean School Uniform

Sculpture of Gangnam Style dance

Statue of Gangnam Style 

Strike a pose at the Statue of Gangnam Style, located in the trendy Gangnam district. 

This statue commemorates the global hit song and its iconic dance moves. It’s a fun and quirky photo spot for fans of the song and those looking to embrace a bit of pop culture. 

The statue captures the playful spirit of the song and the area’s vibrant atmosphere. 

How To Get There: Take the subway to Gangnam Station, Exit 5. The statue is located near the station. 

Korean photo booth

Korean Photo Booths 

Capture memories at one of Seoul’s many Korean photo booths. 

These booths offer a variety of fun backgrounds and props, allowing you to take playful and memorable photos.

It’s a popular activity among locals and tourists alike, perfect for solo travelers or groups. 

The photos make great souvenirs and are a fun way to remember your trip. 

How To Get There: Photo booths can be found in popular areas like Hongdae, Myeongdong, and Dongdaemun. Look for stores with photo booth signs or ask locals for recommendations. 

Seoul’s vibrant blend of history, art, and modernity offers endless unique experiences.  

These hidden gems and underrated places showcase the city’s diverse character, inviting you to explore beyond the usual tourist paths. 

trip in seoul

Quick Guide: 6 Things to Know Before Booking a Hotel in Seoul

Seoul is a ton of fun, but getting a good night's sleep can be a challenge.

This hotel guide will help you have a quiet and restful stay in Seoul, while being close to all the action.

Let's get started!

Hotels, motels, hanoks, pensions, guesthouses, yeogwan, I've stayed in every type of accommodation in Korea over the years. Here's what I've found!

1. Location doesn't matter that much

Coming from someone who prefers taking taxis on a trip to save energy, Seoul has excellent public transport. Subways run on time and there are dedicated bus lanes. I rarely take taxis in the city because of the traffic.

Most of the main attractions including, the palaces, traditional markets, National Museum, War Memorial, Insadong, Bukchon , Dongdaemun, Hongdae , Sinchon , Itaewon, Namsan, are located in a 3-mile radius.

If you want to hit all the highlights, anywhere west to central Seoul will fit the bill.

Things get more involved when you want to head south of the river as transit times reach an hour.

You can always divide your trip into two hotel stays, one northwest of the river and one southeast if you want to check out COEX, Bongeunsa, Garosugil, Lotteworld, and Gangnam.

In other words, you don't need to stay in Myeongdong to be near everything.

Lotte City Hotel Mapo is the perfect blend of comfort, convenience, and value. You can get to the main attractions in 20 minutes or less from there.

The hotel provides an LG air purifier upon request, which I cover later.

2. Avoid main streets

I'm all for having fun, and Seoul will have no shortage of that. But, there's a time to cut loose and a time to sleep it off.

Hotels on main streets are often more expensive, crowded, and noisier than those a block or two in.

Check out smaller boutique hotels in residential areas. Avoid bars , noraebang , and other businesses that thrive at night.

3. Get a room away from the elevator

Things can get lively at night, especially after the traditional 5 rounds of drinking, eating, and noraebang.

The best bet is to stay in a corner room away from the elevator and not facing a big street.

4. Stay at a place with an air purifier

Nothing better than a deep sleep with clean air (not always a given in Seoul). You'll wake up feeling refreshed and ready for adventure.

5. Hotels vs Motels

Hotels aren't always that much more expensive than motels and are better in most ways.

Motels sometimes have smoking floors. There's no magic barrier between them, so smoke will end up in your room. They also cater to fun-loving types and you'll be treated to some late night entertainment.

No judgement if these are your thing!

6. Avoid group tours

If you see huge tour buses idling outside of your hotel, you may want to consider other options.

Korea is popular with all types of tourists and some hotels and restaurants have special deals with tour companies.

Good for them but it may get really rowdy for you.

Bonus tips: Check out the apps

Daily Hotel (데일리호텔) and Yanolja (야놀자) have some great deals if you didn't book a place in advance. Just check the apps the morning of and see what you can find.

Daily Hotel: Android | iOS

Yanolja: Android | iOS

This hotel guide will help you have a quiet and restful stay in Seoul, while being close to all the action.

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Seoul vs Tokyo: Key Differences

trip in seoul

  • Destinations
  • South Korea

What’s the main difference between Tokyo and Seoul?

That’s easy. Tokyo is Japan’s capital city, while South Korea’s is Seoul. The two can be easily differentiated easily by history, language, culture, and much more.

Still, Seoul and Tokyo are easy to clump together—similar to comparing London and Paris , for example. While England and France are distinct in many important ways, they also appeal to travelers for similar reasons.

American travelers are pulled to Seoul and Tokyo because they want to experience something vibrant and new. Whether sampling local foods to learning about traditional music, both cities will take travelers out of their comfort zones and into novel new worlds.

So how can a tourist choose between planning a trip to Seoul vs Tokyo? Let’s count down some of the key differences between these larger-than-life cities. That should help you narrow down your focus.

Tokyo is bigger

To be fair, both Seoul and Tokyo are home to over ten million people—meaning you’ll find more than a few crowds in both cities.

But Tokyo is quite a bit vaster than its Korean counterpart. (In fact, it’s the largest city in the world with a total population of 37 million.) Because of this, Tokyo’s public transportation is a bit more equipped to get millions of residents from Point A to Point B.

You’ll also notice that much of the city is vertical, similar to New York or Dubai.

That means many of Tokyo’s establishments are located inside skyscrapers—from bars to nail salons to grocery stores. Seoul, by comparison, also has many modern skyscrapers, but you’ll also notice more traditional architecture.

Seoul has a much younger feel

Japan has been an economic force for half a century, while South Korea’s economic development skyrocketed in the 1990s. One way that you’ll be able to feel this distinction is in the approach to consumerism.

South Koreans have a stronger appetite for trends, which should feel familiar to Westerners. From skincare to high fashion, there’s a strong impetus to ‘belong’ in the material world. ( Stanley Cups craze , anyone?)

Japan, by contrast, still places a slightly stronger emphasis on traditional work culture and family structures. I saw one experienced traveler describe it like this: Seoul is focused outward, while Tokyo is focused inward. It makes sense to me.

Seoul eats more street food

The culinary traditions in Japan and Seoul are incredibly distinct—each culture has a long and complex relationship to food. In other words, you’ll find delicious treats in both cities, along with a few stranger meals .

But Seoul offers more in terms of street food.

While Tokyo is home to thousands of tiny hole-in-the-wall mom-and-pop restaurants, Seoul’s street food takes a more familiar setup: either in carts or small tents along the roadside. But be careful—Koreans love spice, whereas most Japanese food is plain.

Seoul has fewer tourists

Tokyo has been a bucket list destination for millions of travelers for decades.

In other words, its tourist routes are well-trodden and busy almost year-round. One estimate placed the total number of tourists in the city peaks at around 32 million per year—compared to only 13 million in Seoul.

If avoiding Western tourists is a priority for you, then stick to Seoul.

Many who visit the South Korean capital come from Japan, China, and other Asian nations. Tokyo, by comparison, hosts visitors from around the world—something that you’ll notice at major landmarks.

Tokyo offers some of the world’s best shopping

As mentioned above, Seoul places a strong emphasis on consumerism. But when it comes to luxury shopping (and even casual shopping), Tokyo takes the crown.

Neighborhoods like Ginza, Harajuku, Shibuya, Omotesando, Roppongi, and Ikebukuro are home to hundreds of world-class boutiques.

Those who enjoy high fashion will have plenty to fawn over. Streets like Omotesando are home to world-class brands, while malls like Ginza Six, Tokyo Plaza, and Mitsukoshi are home to the city’s finest high-end names.

Again, you can also find luxury shopping in Seoul, but it won’t be at quite the same level or quite as easy to find.

FAQs: Seoul vs. Tokyo

What entry requirements and travel documents are necessary for entry.

Americans need a passport to enter South Korea and Japan. In South Korea, Americans can stay for up to 90 days without a visa, just like in Europe’s Schengen Zone. You might also be asked to show proof of your departing flight.

The same is true in Japan. Americans can enter with only a passport and can stay for up to three months. But be sure to keep your identification on you at all times. You might be asked to show your ID while in Tokyo.

What currency and payment methods can be used in each country?

In Seoul, you can exchange your dollars for the local currency of won. But keep in mind that Seoul is also very welcoming to credit and debit users. You can use a card at just about any establishment, including street vendors.

In Tokyo, by comparison, you should keep cash on you. Many vendors use only cash, meaning you should change dollars to yen (Japanese currency) upon your arrival.

Image of Tay Belgeri

Tay Belgeri is a content writer with global experience. She writes for brands like Santander Bank, PokerStars, DraftKings, and OddsChecker. Her affiliate posts have appeared on AP News, Ranker, Notion, OK! Magazine, and other major sites. She writes about a variety of cultural topics (from sports to high fashion) but specializes in travel. Originally from Missouri, she now lives in Spain. In a few years, she will have spent more time outside the US than inside it. Career highlights: • Selected to present research by the National Council of Undergraduate Research (2014) • Acquired grants for New York City’s first Indigenous Peoples Day Celebration (2015) • Joined OddsChecker’s US Launch team (2020) • Shortlisted for the Foreword INDIES (2021, 2023)

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The 9 Best Hotels In Seoul For 2024

The 9 Best Hotels In Seoul For 2024

Randy Lai

For decades, Tokyo has been the de facto holiday destination for Aussie travellers in North Asia. Fortunately, as competitive airfares and seamless visa-free travel have become increasingly commonplace, other cities are getting a chance to commandeer the spotlight.

Exhibit number 1? Seoul. The Korean capital is a place where tradition and the cutting edge coexist with equal intrigue. Today, glittering skyscrapers in fashionable Gangnam juxtapose the traditional tile rooves of hanok in neighbourhoods like Jung and Jongno.

RELATED: An Insider’s Travel Guide To 96 Hours In Hong Kong

RYSE, Autograph Collection

Grand hyatt seoul, josun palace, a luxury collection hotel, park hyatt seoul, lotte hotel seoul, four seasons seoul, the westin josun seoul, the shilla seoul, conrad seoul, the best hotels to book for your next seoul vacation.

Seoul hotels

A standout gem located in Seoul’s artsy Hongdae neighbourhood, RYSE is the kind of boutique operation that will appeal to fans of similarly laidback, design-led brands like Trunk or Ovolo.

Beyond the breakfast buffet, there’s a range of solid on-site dining. Charr whips up charcoal-cooked fare using premium local ingredients; there’s a Blue Bottle café in the hotel’s playfully executed lobby; and Side Note Club serves up cocktails (with a side of rooftop views) on the hotel’s 15th floor.

So far so good, but — in line with the reputation of the surrounding neighbourhood of Hongdae — the definitive reason to stay here is shopping. Be sure to duck your head into Worksout : a 5,000-square-foot fashion retailer, sprawled across the hotel’s first three storeys.

trip in seoul

In consummate Hyatt style, the hotel’s 615 rooms & suites offer a calming, neutral aesthetic — accented with local Korean references in the form of artwork and geometric building motifs.

Dining is also given a vibrant focus; with 10 F&B venues to choose from, including a steakhouse, Paris-inspired bar, and 322 Sowol-ro — the Grand Hyatt spin on a gourmet food hall, where diners sample sushi, yakitori, and teppan -style grilling in one single location.

For active travellers, the property’s indoor and outdoor pools are just the beginning: supplemented by a spa, three tennis courts, fitness centre, and (depending on what time of year you visit) a fully functional ice skating rink.

An opulent modernist masterpiece, manned by staff who take a refreshingly old-school tack to hospitality, Josun Palace is the first hotel in Korea from the (Marriott-backed) Luxury Collection.

Built in the space formerly housing Seoul’s historic Chosun Hotel, this newish luxury property (originally opened in 2021) satisfies all comers: whether you’re a lover of eclectic, mid-century inspired design; fussy gourmand; or time-poor executive in need of a fantastic location in the heart of the Seoul CBD.

In Seoul, staycationers have a tendency to enjoy the majority of their time on-site; and at Josun Palace, little convincing is needed to follow that lead. If a sky-high aperitif, or dinner at Michelin-starred Eatanic feel like too great an imposition; you’ll find time spent behind any of the hotel’s 254 private doors no less rewarding.

In the style of any world-class luxury hotel worth its salt, the rooms & suites at Josun Palace are positively heaving with extravagant amenities. Think Le Chemin toiletries by Byredo, Frette linens, and — in a bit of good news for fashionistas — your own personal AirDresser .

Seoul hotels

A firm favourite among the business traveller crowd, Park Hyatt Seoul gets BH ‘s enthusiastic stamp of approval — if your goal is to mix labour with leisure in the Korean capital.

Situated smack-bang in the middle of Gangnam, in proximity to such landmarks as the COEX mall/exhibition centre and Seonjeongneung royal tombs , this local Park Hyatt outpost consists of its own purpose-built skyscraper, conceived by Japanese firm Superpotato.

From the moment you arrive in the hotel’s lobby, 24 storeys above ground, a Zen-like calm descends. Most of the property’s rooms & suites are clad in a soothing mix of natural woods and carved stone. Despite the downtown location, guest-only areas feel positively tranquil: courtesy of the 10-rooms-per-floor limit.

Unlike various other of our vetted Seoul hotels (see Lotte below), the Park Hyatt doesn’t offer dozens of discrete dining options. Still, what is available is pitched at a reliably high level: emphasising the brand’s focus on residential luxury and local character.

We’re exceptionally keen on ‘Timber House’ : the hotel’s underground vinyl and cigar den, where — unexpectedly — you’ll also find a sushi counter. Somehow, it all works.

The idea of high-end hotels bearing a confectioner’s name might seem bewildering in Australia; yet in Korea, it’s surprisingly common — as exemplified by the palatial Lotte Hotel Seoul.

Conceived in a grand, vaguely neo-classical style, Lotte Seoul is yet another luxury property with an enviable location. In the midst of tourist-friendly Myeongdong, this hotel is the consummate example of a homegrown Korean luxury brand.

Entry-level rooms begin, on average, at 40m 2 and are decorated in a sophisticated (if muted) palette of browns, creams, and powdery mauve. In line with any serious 5-star experience, all of the in-room touchpoints are first-rate: from toiletries by British apothecary Molton Brown, down to the tablet interface used to control your lighting and blinds.

Turning to facilities, there are 6 dining options, an indoor pool, and even a driving range at guests’ disposal. If you’re in the market for traditional Korean pampering? A visit to the hotel’s spa, operated in partnership with Sulwhasoo, is a must-do.

One of the most luxe hotels in the city, Four Seasons Seoul gives guest the feeling that they’re staying in a modern rendition of a Joseon-era palace.

Guests will get an inkling of this upon entering the lobby: at its centre, a fully functional fireplace depicts the country’s ancient valleys, rivers, and villages in intricate bronze relief. Other historical references — such as Ran Hwang’s large-scale artwork depicting a Korean turtle ship — abound.

The hotel’s spa and fitness facilities (even extending to a golf simulator on the 10th floor) are all first-rate. The real trump card? A collection of best-in-class eating and drinking experiences: spread across 8 destinations, ranging widely between Japanese fusion; Cantonese cuisine; southern Italian fare and much more.

If you’re partial to cocktails, be sure to secure a seat at Charles H — the hotel’s signature speakeasy (and a regular fixture in Asia’s 50 Best Bars lists).

Seoul hotels

Along with The Chosun, The Westin Josun is habitually credited as one of the first Western-style luxury hotels on the Korean Peninsula.

First opened in 1914, this property comes steeped in history: the original accommodations were built to host foreign dignitaries, and throughout the 1960s, became the preferred bedsit of American celebs visiting Seoul. (Marilyn Monroe was, reportedly, a fan.)

In the decades since, there has been no shortage of newer, shinier Seoul hotels; but it’s difficult to argue with the charm and weighty aura of history The Westin Josun has in ample supply. Functionally, this is still every inch as good as a luxury property of the 2020s: with more than half a dozen restaurants to choose from and a massive athletic club at your disposal.

For a more culturally attuned workout, consider strolling to Deoksugung Palace nearby: a royal residence, initially built in the late 14th century, which is notable for its mixture of Korean and Western architecture.

Among a handful of Seoul luxury hotels with a downright regal location — in the shadow of Namsan Mountain — the Samsung-owned Shilla is both an oasis from, and springboard to, the explosive energy of Korea’s capital. The hotel is served by a dedicated shuttle bus service: providing guests with complimentary transport tourist hotspots in Dongdaemun and Myeong-dong.

New York interiors guru Peter Remedios has designed The Shilla’s rooms with a “timeless modern” beauty. Still, first-time travellers in Korea would do well to prioritise the handful of traditional ondol -style suites: decked out with heated floors, antique furniture, and panoramic views.

Despite a huge range of choice, the hotel’s roster of 9 bars & restaurants is easy to make sense of. If you’re short on time, two-Michelin-starred La Yeon strikes us as the singularly most desirable booking. Dram lovers will also get a kick out of The Distillers Library: a boutique and whisky lounge operated in conjunction with William Grant & Sons.

For a taste of the Hilton group’s most luxurious offering in Korea, you’ll be hard-pressed to do better than the sleek and shiny edifice that is Conrad Seoul. Occupying one of two high-rise towers in the International Financial Centre , this Conrad outpost has been conceived with elite business travellers in mind.

Even the smallest of the hotel’s 400+ guestrooms measures 48 square metres — providing ample space to work in and unwind. In the bathrooms, Byredo toiletries add a touch of spa-like comfort, while there are enough well-place electrical outlets to satisfy even the busiest digital nomad.

Thankfully, the property’s charms don’t conclude with productivity. Golf enthusiasts can have a hit at one of the hotel’s 7 indoor driving ranges – while numerous dining options, catering as much to family units as banking crowd, are available. For craft cocktails and stellar views overlooking the Han River, VVertigo comes highly recommended.

If you’ve enjoyed our guide to the best Seoul hotels for 2024, why not check out some of other travel-related stories from Asia? Below are a few to get you started:

The 15 Best Hotels In Tokyo For 2024

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First Timer’s Seoul Itinerary for 5 Days (+ Labeled Map)

Last Updated: Oct 7, 2023 by Max · This post may contain affiliate links · 8 Comments

When people start doing research for their trip to Seoul, often they tell me they were immediately struck by just how big it is. Places can be far apart, so it's important to plan your Seoul itinerary in advance. That way you can visit each one in a way that makes sense, even if you're only in Seoul on a layover .

You could easily pass a couple of weeks wandering the streets of Seoul, visiting a different festival or cafe or museum each day, but most first timers come for just 5 days in Seoul. So this Seoul itinerary covers a little something for every interest, plus a few swaps dependent upon weather and days of the week.

But before I jump into where to go when, I'll mention some of the best things to do in Seoul in each of the main tourist neighborhoods. After living in Korea for 3 years, I've discovered a lot of corners of the capital city that aren't obvious if you've only visited once or even just a dozen times, and I want you to have more options for your trip.

As an expat in Korea, I have insights into many more unusual things you can add to a longer South Korea itinerary , once you leave Seoul. So I hope this guide and my personal experience helps you plan your own trip to Seoul.

Since this is such a massive Seoul guide, please use the table of contents to find exactly what you're looking for. If you navigate to one part and then click the back button it will take you back to this table of contents.

Suncheon Bay National Garden in full bloom with yellow rapeseed flowers, South Korea.

📝 Basics of Visiting Seoul

🛬 arrival & getting around seoul, ❄️ visiting seoul in winter, 🏠 where to stay in seoul, ✨ unique things to do in seoul, ☀️ day trips from seoul, 🥘 what foods to eat in seoul, 🏙️ sample seoul itinerary: 5 days, 🔍 seoul itinerary: practical info, 🧳 seoul travel faq, 🎢 seoul attractions map.

Language: Koreans speak  the Korean language , but many of those living in urban areas also speak decent English, especially younger people. 

Population: ~10 million in Seoul, and ~24 million within an hour of the city.

Currency: Korean won (KRW), written as either ₩ or 원 (1000 won is equal to about $0.78USD or ₱42).

Korea Visa: right now there are 112 countries whose citizens don't need to apply for visas before visiting South Korea (for 30 to 90 days), but they do need to apply for a K-ETA (more info on those below). Check on your country  here . Common countries: Singapore (up to 90 days), USA (up to 90 days), Malaysia (up to 90 days), Canada (up to 6 months), and South Africa (up to 30 days).

Voltage: 220v and 60Hz, with two round tines as the plug (type F).

Sim Card : you will want a sim card for Korea , but you can buy it ahead of time or once you arrive in Korea.

Cultural Norms: there are dozens of books on Korean etiquette, but here's a quick primer. Korean society is culturally Buddhist, meaning that there are colorful & intricate temples throughout the country, and a few big things to know before visiting Seoul. Don't wear shoes inside.

Accept & give things with two hands whenever possible. Dress more conservatively, especially on top and even if it's hot outside. Bow slightly when greeting people; bow more deeply with older people. Stay quieter in public, but feel free to drink alcohol absolutely anywhere.

trip in seoul

When you arrive, almost certainly at Incheon Airport, you won't actually be in Seoul proper. You'll be anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour-and-a-half from the part of Seoul you want to be in. So unless you're swimming in cash for a long taxi ride, the best way from Incheon Airport into Seoul is by metro.

Alternatively, you can also catch a local bus just outside the airport, or even a direct nonstop bus (called the "airport limousine") to a variety of destinations, though airport limousine service is currently suspended due to covid-19.

Your first goal when you get to the airport's metro station will be to buy a T-money card. This purple rectangle will be your ticket to ride any bus or train in the city, and even use to pay for most taxis and at some chain cafes.

You can get one for ₩2500 (~$2USD) from one of the machines at the entrance to the airport's metro station, and then just add money to recharge it, which you can do at any station in the city. You can even use your T-money card to get around in Busan or on Jeju!

A t-money card.

By metro from Incheon Airport it's roughly 50 minutes to the Hongdae area, and 75 minutes to the neighborhoods of Gangnam, Myeongdong, or Itaewon. Once you're in Seoul, getting around is a matter of figuring out the Seoul metro system and the city's extensive bus routes.

Don't forget to tap your T-money card again as you get off the bus, too. You just need to press the red button or pull the yellow cord in order to ask the driver to stop the bus.

As convenient as taxis are, drivers rarely speak English, and most of the time it's faster to take the metro, anyway. I recommend downloading a Korean translation app like Papago, as well as Naver Maps, which is the preferred map app for Korea. Google Maps will not work very well in Korea.

When looking for directions, keep an eye out for people wearing red vests and red cowboy hats; they hang out in popular tourist areas in Seoul and speak multiple languages. Usually they come in pairs, with one man and one woman, so talk to whomever you're most comfortable.

Many readers have remarked that they enjoyed using the Discover Seoul Pass to more easily see the most popular tourist attractions, like Changdeokgung Palace and Namsan Tower.

Seoul subway map.

Plenty of people visit Seoul in winter! But planning a visit to Seoul in wintertime can be intimidating. It snows in Seoul as early as the beginning of November and potentially into early March, and it can snow hard .

It’s important to pack your winter clothes, including heat tech layers & an insulated winter jacket if you're visiting anytime from late November to early March. Winter 2018 was particularly brutal, as early December temperatures hit below -10C.

So what is there to do in Seoul in the winter, anyway? Well, there are tons of indoor activities detailed in the 5 day Seoul itinerary below. But importantly, try to plan any outside activities for the sunniest part of the day (12pm-3pm) and stay inside at night.

Look for a restaurant or strip of outdoor vendors near your accommodation, and figure out how to get there & back ahead of time. Some of the best indoor activities in Seoul are: CoEx Aquarium, the Liquor Museum or the Kimchi Museum, animal cafes, art installations like Samsung Museum of Art, Itaewon Land, and of course, shopping.

Outdoor activities for the daytime include Insadong Street, Gyeongbok Palace, Dongdaemun Design Plaza, and the various outdoor open-air markets across the city. I’ve visited many of them during winter in Seoul, and lived just fine to tell the tale.

Don’t be afraid to visit Seoul in wintertime, but just remember to pack your fluffiest jacket and plan outfits with layers. You’ll be glad you have them when you’re wandering outdoor markets or staring up at the architecture of Seoul's stunning royal palaces !

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Now that you know how to get there, you also need to decide where to stay in Seoul. There are four main areas in which tourists often stay: Hongdae, Itaewon, Gangnam, and Myeongdong (Jongno).

Some people stay in a few random hotels scattered across the city, but the hotels have clustered to these areas with good reason; all the tourist attractions are there. My recommendation for most first-timers would actually be to stay in Myeongdong due to its centrality.

But if you're here for a bit longer or more into nightlife, you may want to check out Hongdae or Itaewon. I've shared round-ups of where to stay in each of the six main neighborhoods in Seoul in my post on where to stay in Seoul .

trip in seoul

After dozens of trips into the city, I've been able to do or visit most everything interesting in Seoul. I've been dragged to art installations and malls and clubs, and dragged people to chocolate shops , food festivals, and even a liquor museum. But Seoul is no small area to see; it can easily take two hours to get from one side to the other.

So to make it easier for you to plan your trip, I've divided Seoul attractions by neighborhood, and added each of them to a map of Seoul attractions at the bottom of the post . I haven't detailed all the most typical Korean experiences like noraebang , chicken & beer at 4am, and photo booths in the street.

But that's because those are side activities, and they're kind of pedestrian, to be honest. I want to showcase the best things to do in Seoul. But with just 5 days in Seoul , it's important to have a good idea of what you want to do each day.

So, similar to this section in my Jeju Island Guide , below you'll find a bevy of points of interest in Seoul. Later in this post I've divided each of these into five one-day itineraries. Unlike when deciding on where to stay in Seoul, this isn't a one-time choice!

view of the entrance to Gyeonbokgung at sunset.

Things To Do In Hongdae (홍대)

Coconut Box Museum (서울 코코넛 박스) /// ₩23000 entrance /// 9am-9pm One of my favorite things to bring visitors to, the Trick Eye Museum in Hongdae, has now been replaced by Coconut Box, a digital experience center in the heart of Hongdae. The attraction includes 32 beautifully-decorated "bungalows," and 7 large experience centers dedicated to VR tech & NFT immersion.

Some bungalows may need advance registration, but overall this is well-rated, and seen as one of the best winter activities in Seoul. It's fun in the summer as well, but with so few things to do in Seoul during winter, spending a couple of hours acting a fool with your friends is the perfect medicine.

Seoul Escape Room (방탈출카페) /// ~₩18000 /// 10am-10:30pm An Escape Room is basically a room styled to look like a crime scene, with clues hidden throughout. You & whoever comes with you have an hour to find all of the clue and solve the crime, and unlock the door to escape.

They're super popular on the weekends, so be sure to make a reservation through their site if you want to go on a Friday or Saturday night. You can find English-speaker-friendly Escape Rooms in Hongdae, Myeongdong, and Gangnam, but I've only marked off one in Hongdae on the map below.

Picnic at Gyeongui Line Forest Park (경의 숲길) /// free entrance /// all hours One of my favorite things to do when the weather is warm is have a picnic in this quieter area of Hongdae. Popular with couples, this park-like region has a lot of cafes and restaurants, and quickly gets covered in people on picnic blankets once the temperature hits north of 10°C ( 50°F).

Sometimes there are even companies doing a giveaway. You can also see some students performing songs or dances here in the evenings, so it's a prime people-watching spot. If it's after 10pm, head to downtown Hongdae or the Playground for your people-watching.

Go Dancing (클러빙) /// ₩0-20000 /// ~11pm-8am Korea is a country for night owls. A list of things to do in Hongdae is incomplete without recommending a club or two. Unlike Gangnam, which is dominated by hip hop and EDM clubs, Hongdae had a little bit of everything from salsa, swing, and reggaeton to rap, rock, and pop. Luckily, all these genres are generally played at different clubs.

Go See Cookin' Nanta (홍대난타전용관) /// ₩40000-60000 /// twice daily The first time I saw this show, I couldn't even read Korean, much less understand any of it. But it was such a knee-slapping hilarious performance that I highly recommend it to any visitor.

There's almost no dialogue, and all the songs are their own mini-slapstick performance, complete with food props and your monthly allowance of juggling. Shows are at 5PM & 8PM Monday-Friday/ 2PM & 5PM Saturday-Sunday & National Holidays.

trip in seoul

Things To Do In Itaewon (이태원 )

Itaewon Antique Furniture Street (이태원 앤틱 가구 거리) /// free entrance /// ~9am-6pm This street has become famous over the past few decades for having an abundance of furniture and other knickknack shops. Most of what they sell is on the older side, some of it even left over from right after the Korean War, when American soldiers were leaving the country and selling off their stuff en masse .

It's fun to poke around the stores looking for good deals, especially if you're actually looking to buy some jewelry or kitchen utensils or furniture. Don't forget to bargain! Note that on the map below I've marked off only the end closest to Itaewon Station.

Itaewon Land Spa (이태원랜드) /// ₩10000+ /// 24 Hours This 5-story building is pretty much full service and houses the typical jjimjilbang (sleeping) and sauna (relaxing) facilities. But it also has a restaurant and a massage area, and many more rooms and options within the sauna than smaller or sleeker places.

Spending an afternoon at the sauna between lunch and dinner a pretty typical Korean past time, so I'd definitely recommend you add it to your Seoul itinerary. Did I mention you have to get completely naked?

Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art (리움 삼성미술관 ) /// ₩10000 /// ~10:30am-6pm (closed Mondays) This museum is gorgeous. It's a rather popular date activity to walk around looking at the installations, but on the weekends you'll also see a fair number of groups and families.

The modern art featured inside is mostly by Korean artists, but there are some international works featured. Give yourself at least an hour to look through each of the rooms, as it's bigger than it looks.

Namsan Seoul Tower (N서울타워) /// ₩0-10000 /// ~9am-6pm Namsan Tower is characteristic of Itaewon and the HBC area. It's set in a very green park, and right around the tower itself is a temple and a gate with "love locks" attached to it. But the Tower is really best known for its spectacular view of the city.

It's a bit of a walk from Itaewon's downtown area, but there's a bus if you get tired, and a cable car to take you to the top. Note that you only have to pay to take the cable car or go up to the top couple of floors of the tower itself, which may not be worth it; I think the view is just as good from the cafe right before the top floor.

Namsan Tower in South Korea.

Things To Do In Insadong (인사동)

Beautiful Tea Museum (아름다운 차박물관) /// free entrance /// 10am-10pm If you come to Insadong and don't have a single cup of tea, did you really come here at all? The tea museum has information & exhibits for 130 teas from all over Asia, each one available for purchase in their cafe.

It's a lot to take in if you're not a tea lover, but if you want a sense of the abundance of history and cultural significance behind each tea, this is your spot. The teas are definitely on the pricey side, but it's an experience you're purchasing, not just a cup of cha . Note that while the museum is free, drinks from the attached cafe are not.

Eat Street Food Along Insadong Street (인사동길 ) /// free entrance /// ~10am-7pm Insadong is the best place in Seoul for street food , by far. Prices are much more reasonable than in nearby Myeongdong, the options of more typically Korean, and I think the quality is better.

In the wintertime I'd highly recommend getting some hoddeok (glutinous cinnamon sugar pancakes) or a baked sweet potato, and in the summer go for the fish-shaped ice cream or some eomuk (fish cakes). On the map, only one end of Insadong-gil is marked.

Visit Gyungbokgung (경복궁) /// ₩1500-3000 entrance /// ~9am-5pm (closed Tuesdays) Gyeongbokgung is one of the 5 royal palaces in Seoul, and by far the most accessible by public transportation. I also think it's the most beautiful, but I've had the chance to visit in both fall and spring, when the colors of the palace grounds come to life.

The grounds of Gyeongbongung are large and date back to the Joseon Dynasty, but you could spend anywhere from twenty minutes to three hours exploring however many of the nooks & crannies catch your eye.

There's also a free guided tour in English at 11am every day (at the moment). Right next to the Gyeongbokgung Metro entrance is the Museum of the Royal Palaces, which is another free thing to do in Seoul and worth a look.

The Poop Cafe (또옹카페) /// free entrance /// 10:30am-9pm I know it sounds disconcerting, but bear with me. Koreans have this fascination with "taboo" body parts & bodily functions, something which defies most visitors' understandings (see: Love Land on Jeju Island ). The idea of eating poop-shaped cookies and drinking their latte out of a faux toilet is just a bit much.

But personally I think it's hilarious, and every time I can convince someone to go to Insadong I bring them to Ddo-ong Cafe. I've fully embraced the poop spaghetti and crappy rose lattes (which are delicious; do get one one those), and I hope you will, too.

Coffee latte in a toilet shaped cup.

Things To Do In Jamsil (잠실)

See A Game At Jamsil Baseball Stadium (잠실야구장) /// ₩4000-70000 entrance /// varies Baseball seems like a very American past time, but it's also become a very Korean one. South Korea actually has ten professional baseball teams, and they're very popular.

Every spring Korean baseball fans flood stadiums across the country to drink beer and watch the game. If you like beer, baseball, and fried chicken, this is the weekend activity for you. Baseball season runs from March to August.

Lotte World (롯데월드) /// ₩44000-55000 entrance /// 9:30am-10pm Along with Everland, Lotte World is one of the most popular weekend spots for kids. It's one of the world's largest theme parks and has both indoor and outdoor areas.

But it's not just the youngsters who want to visit this amusement park, either; adults and teens also frequent it. Lotte World gets millions of visitors each year, and is considered an all-day kind of event, especially when the water park opens for the summer.

Lotte World Tower (롯데월드타워) /// ₩0-27000 entrance /// 10am-10pm Lotte World Tower is not to be confused with the amusement park with the same name. It's actually the 5th tallest building in the world and the tallest in Korea; if you want a great view of the entire city, this is the spot to see it from.

You actually only have to pay to go up to the observatory on the top 3 floors, but it's free to check out the other floors of the tower, so don't be scared away by the entrance fee.

Walk Around Olympic Park (올림픽공원) /// free entrance /// 5am-10pm This is a legitimate, interactive activity, perfect for families. Every day from 9am to 6pm you can pick up a pass book & map from the Information Center; this will take you on a predetermined route around several of the important 1988 Olympic locations.

At each one you collect a different stamp, and can return the completed book for a small present. Otherwise, the park is huge and encompasses a forest, art installations, recreational sports facilities, gardens, and all the flags from the 1988 Summer Olympic games, all especially busy on the weekends. Note that the location on the map below is for the Information Center.

Women wearing hanbok in a traditional village.

Interesting Things To Do Around Seoul

Hanbok Photoshoot In Bukchon Hanok Village (북촌한옥마을) /// free entrance /// ~5am-11pm Hanbok is the traditional Korean dress, and in my small town in rural Korea, I still see old women wearing them to the markets some weeks.

Renting a hanbok to wear around some of the more historical sites in Seoul is rightfully a favorite activity of both Korean and visitors alike, as most young Koreans no longer own their own hanbok . A hanok , on the other hand, is a traditional Korean house, the small ones with the thatched roofs and beautiful painted walls.

In the spring and fall the foliage creates a stunning backdrop for photos, so it's the perfect time to enjoy the village in traditional garb. Note that the village doesn't actually close, but it's respectful to stay away while residents are sleeping.

Eat At Noryangjin Fish Market (노량진수산물도매시장) /// free entrance /// 24 hours People often forget that Seoul is a port city. Seafood is an important part of the Korean diet, and one of the best places to get a taste of fresh, traditional Korean dishes is at Noryangjin Fish Market. The open air market is open all day, all year.

The first floor is dedicated to the market itself, where you can browse and purchase fresh seafood for dinner, both the familiar and unfamiliar. Up on the higher floors are the restaurants where they'll prepare your catch for you, plus a rooftop on which to relax after your meal.

Han River Cruise at Sunset (한강유람선) /// starting at ₩14000 per ticket /// after 7pm During the summertime, peak cruise season, there are five cruises after 7pm. All cruises must be booked in advance on ELand's website, where they will be the cheapest, or through a third-party site if you can't read Korean.

The cruises each last 45 minutes, and even though I absolutely thought it would be lame at first, it was actually spectacular. I went with my Mom and Aunt, and we had a great time watching the skies change color, listening to the live music, and seeing the bridges & buildings all lit up. Definitely worth the trip down to the river!

Sunset at Han River.

Visit A Theme Cafe (카페) /// free entrance /// varies Animal cafes are all the rage in East Asia, but especially in Seoul. We got sheep and cats and dogs and raccoons… but we also have an eclectic collection of other cafes, like art or chocolate cafes, where you can create something or enjoy a sweet treat over a latte.

Recently it's become popular to do an activity with your significant other at so-called "couple cafes," but really there's a cafe in Seoul for every thing and every interest. Seriously. I dare you to google it.

Gana Art Center (가나아트센터 ) /// free entrance /// 10am-7pm Gana is known for its beautiful think pieces. Amidst all of the traditional food and aesthetics of northern Seoul, walking into Gana Art Center gives you another perspective on the current events in the country.

Luckily, you don't have to speak any Korean to get the gist of real art, though its helpful to know some about Korean culture in order to get the full impact of some of the pieces. Note that while the permanent exhibits are free, you may have to pay to enter any special exhibits.

Sool Gallery (전통주 갤러리) /// free entrance /// 10am-8pm (closed Mondays) The Seoul alcohol museum much have sounded too obvious, but that's what this actually is ("sool" is Korean for "alcohol"). And believe it or not, but it's actually run by the government, and showcases an unbelievably number of different liquors & wines.

Since it moved to Gangnam in 2017, I've had the chance to visit and check out their selection during a tour, which they offer for free as visitors come in. After the tour you get to taste a selection of 3 to 5 liquors— you can request specific ones if you want— and ask all the questions you'd like. And yes, there is a gift shop.

A bottle of soju.

Hiking Bukhansan National Park Less than an hour north of Seoul is one of Korea's many national parks. Hiking is one of Korea's national past times, so every day of the week you'll see groups of older people geared up for a half day trip up Bukhansan, usually ending in a picnic and drinks at whichever peak they decide to stop on.

Strange as it sounds, don't be afraid to sit nearby and try to make conversation with them, especially if you're learning Korean. The base of the mountain range is marked on the map.

Chuncheon: Nami Island, Petite France, & Garden of Morning Calm The Garden of Morning Calm is one of my favorite places in South Korea. In spring, summer and fall, there's no better place to experience the varied foliage that Korea has to offer, and take lots of beautiful pictures.

Nami Island and Petite France are also beautiful, but definitely more geared towards couples. The zip line to Nami Island is somewhat legendary; there's a reason this is one of the few Seoul day trips I always recommend. All 3 destinations are marked on the map.

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Gangneung: 2018 Winter Olympics Stomping Ground If you're looking for a beach destination often overlooked even by Koreans, Gangneung is your spot. But more recently, it was also the site of the 2018 Winter Olympics, and the government has made it very easy for interested visitors to visit all the sites of the games.

If that's less your thing, though, the aquarium & cafe street are very nice. Gangneung intercity bus terminal is marked on the map.

DMZ Tour: Full-Day or Half-Day It's certainly not for everyone, but visiting the demilitarized zone, known as the DMZ, can give you great insight into how Korea became the country it is today. Different tours will show you different spots, but the guide you go with makes all the difference, so choose your tour carefully. Read more about my experience at the DMZ here .

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Street Foods : there are too many to name here, but the most popular street foods in Korea are definitely Eomuk (어묵) & Ddeokbokki (떡볶이) , which are fish cakes & spicy rice cakes, respectively, and are often served together.

Skewers (꼬치) , usually chicken skewers served with onion and barbecue sauce, are a very filling and cheap alternative for those who don't like seafood.

Hoddeok (호떡) , a cinnamon sugar-filled fried rice cake, is my absolute favorite treat and one of the few traditional sweets in Korea (get it in Insadong). Finally, Soondae (순대) is Korean blood sausage, and it's inexplicably popular.

Various Anju (안주) : anju is a term meaning "food eaten while drinking alcohol," and many bars will require you to order some anju to go with your liquor or beer. They're just fried, salty foods that cut the bite of the alcohol, but some are heartier, like fried chicken or potato pancakes.

If you're a big group, look for the words "모든" or "모든안주," which means it's a mix of all or almost all the dishes they offer. It'll give everyone a variety of dishes to try with their soju (소주) and beer (맥주).

Jeju Black Pork barbeque dinner | #travel #korea #jeju #island #itinerary #food #foodie

Japchae (잡채) : I like to think of japchae as Korean pad thai . It's a noodle dish prepared with lots of thinly chopped vegetables, sweet potato starch noodles, and sometimes a little bit of meat.

It's great served warm as a main dish, but it's just as good as part of a bigger meal, and it's even better when re-heated the next morning. It's served with sesame oil and soy sauce, so it's a mild dish, but very good.

Jjambbong (짬뽕) : it's like a spicy seafood stew, served in a huge boiling pot for everyone to eat out of together. There are mussels and clams and squid, but the broth is usually pork-based, so there's noodles and bits of pork floating around, as well.

This is a Korean Chinese food, so it's common to see at Chinese-Korean fusion restaurants throughout the country.

Bingsu (빙수): the ideal dessert on a warm day, bingsu is basically Korean shaved ice with milk and, well, sometimes beans. But I prefer the fruit bingsus that have become very popular in recent years, now even sold in some coffee shops.

Check out the dessert cafe chain SulBing for a large selection of delicious shaved ices worthy of sharing with a friend (and maybe your Instagram followers). This is also spelled bingsoo.

Chocolate bingsu dessert snowflake ice.

Samgyupsal (삼겹살) : pork belly, which is the most popular meat of choice, is just one of many options for Korean barbecue. Galbi (갈비) , ribs, usually of the pork variety, or Hanu (한우) , Korean-raised beef, are my other two recommendations for a nice night of barbecue, though are a bit harder to find than pork belly.

Korean Beef Village just north of the city center is a great spot where you can buy hanu downstairs, and then take it upstairs to cook it with all the side dishes for a small fee. If this is your only trip to Korea, you need to have a taste of K-BBQ before you go (though Korean Fried Chicken is never a bad plan)!

Sannakji (산낙지) : possibly one of the most famous Korean foods— other than barbecue— sannakji is often called "live octopus," though it's actually just an extremely fresh version of the sea creature.

Served immediately after it's killed, sannakji is squirted with acidic fruit juices, which make the tentacles continue to move around even after it's placed in front of you.

It's not served alive, but people certainly act as if it were, as most people shy away from trying the fresh dish. This would be something to try at one of the fish markets, like Noryangjin.

Dolsot Bibimbap (돌솥 비빔밥) : the most basic Korean meal is rice with a bunch of side dishes; taking that up a notch means adding mixed vegetables.

Bibimbap literally means "mixed rice," so the dolsot version is a variation of that rice with mixed vegetables, adding a raw egg and serving it all in a piping hot stone bowl ( dolsot) . This cooks the egg and crisps up the bottom layer of rice, adding a lovely texture to the whole dish.

Mul Nangmyeon (물냉면) : cold noodles made with buckwheat flour, served with sliced cucumber and half a boiled egg on top. You'll also get mustard and vinegar sauces on the side. Mul naengmyeon (directly translated as "water cold noodles") is made with a meat broth base.

It's commonly eaten right after barbecue, especially pork belly, because it's said to wash down the oily meat to aid with digestion. Do this, and make sure the meat is still hot from the grill.

Samgyetang (삼계탕) : quite possibly my favorite Korean food, samgyetang is like Korean chicken soup, and it's just as homey. The broth is usually clear, but there are lots of local variations, including one made with poison oak.

The main attraction is the chicken, however, which is served whole and young, so you get to pick off the meat. Inside the bird is a mixture of rice and a bit of ginseng, jujubes, and ginko beans, which you eat with the meat and soup after you dip it in the salt served on the side.

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A 5 day Seoul itinerary could take many forms, but since you have a bit of leeway, I've chosen a variety of typical Seoul activities to give you a taste of the city. They're planned such that you'll have ample time to spend at each place and get from one spot to the next via the subway (which is very reliable).

Some activities have alternatives in case of differing weather, but most things to do in Seoul are indoors or non-weather dependent, anyway. The first and last days are more relaxing, to give you time to adjust to your new surroundings. Just remember to have fun, and don't be afraid to move the days around depending on how you're feeling!

Seoul Itinerary Day 1: Settling In

Most hostels and hotels in Seoul will provide food for breakfast, but if they don't then ask for a recommendation or stop by a convenience store on the way out. Heed this warning for each day of your trip!

12pm // Namsan Tower : after you check into your hotel, this is the perfect spot from which to take in a view of the entire city, from the top of Namsan Mountain.

There's a small temple and an observation deck here, so there's plenty to keep you occupied for a couple of hours, but I wouldn't recommend paying to get up to the top floor unless you're extremely eager. Take the cable car down to Myeongdong when you're ready to leave.

3pm // Explore Myeongdong : sample some street food when you first arrive, just to tide you over for dinner (I recommend the cheap & delicious chicken skewers). Walk around Myeongdong and go shopping, especially for cosmetics and body care products you can relax with on your first night. Stop in at a cat cafe, if that's your kind of thing, but don't forget to soak it all in.

6pm // Dinner : have a big bowl of samgyetang (chicken soup) or grab some street food or convenience store snacks before settling into your hotel for the night. Rest up for your big day tomorrow!

Korean snacks aisle of a convenience store.

Seoul Itinerary Day 2: Nature & Nightlife

9am // Hike Bukhansan : the morning is the best time to hike Bukhansan. The trip takes 4-6 hours depending on how fast you walk and how often you stop to snack and take pictures.

Alternative Afternoon Activity:   if it's cooler out or you want a less strenuous activity, go on a half-day DMZ tour ; either option will finish around 3pm.

3pm // People-Watch in Hongdae : head to Hongdae or request to be dropped off there after your tour. Your first mission is to snag a table and order up some barbecue, preferably samgyupsal (pork belly) or galbi (pork or beef ribs). After your late lunch, walk around the neighborhood people-watching, and settle in on a bench if it's nicer weather.

5pm // Go see NANTA : this play is absolutely amazing. But if the show is sold out or if theatre isn't at all your thing, then another nearby option is to visit Coconut Box, a "Southeast Asia Vacation Experieince" that replaced the old Trick Eye Museum in Hongdae.

7:30pm // Dinner : since Hongdae is known for cheap food and accommodation, this is the perfect time to pick a random local restaurant and order something cheap. This is how & where I ordered my first meal in Korea by myself (I ended up with a delicious bowl of oxtail stew).

The rule is that anything under ₩10000 is fair game, but if you stumble upon a night market you can find even cheaper local eats.

9pm // Escape Room : if you're visiting Seoul with friends, this is the perfect time to go to an escape room. Alternatively, you could go clubbing if it's a weekend night. If you're alone I'd recommend checking out a coin noraebang (karaoke room); they're extremely popular throughout Korea.

A busy street in Myeongdong with many store signages at night.

Seoul Itinerary Day 3: Traditional Korea

10am // Bukchon Hanok Village : this is the perfect time to visit the village on any day, as tourists don't usually show up until just before noon. If you can find a rental shop open, you can walk around in a hanbok (traditional Korean dress), taking pictures with all of the traditional-style houses ( hanoks ).

Whenever you tires yourself out or decide you've seen enough of the neighborhood, return your hanbok and stop in at one of the local restaurants for a bowl of bibimbap (rice with mixed vegetables). It'll keep you full and it's cheap!

1pm // Gyeongbokgung : while everyone else is having lunch, walk around the grounds of one of Seoul's 5 palaces. If you didn't find a hanbok to wear in Bukchon, here's your opportunity. Don't tell the others, but I think Gyeongbok is the prettiest of the gung (meaning "palace").

trip in seoul

3pm // Poop Cafe : don't give up on me now! The poop cafe is the perfect combination of childish humor and Korean photo-ops. Try the rose latte; I swear you won't be disappointed.

4pm // Walk Down Insadong-gil : Insadong is both the neighborhood and the main street of said neighborhood. After you've had a rest in a cafe, this is the perfect chance to go shopping for traditional souvenirs, devouring street food for dinner as you go.

Shops start to close around 6pm, but street food stalls will stay open a bit longer, especially in the summer.

8pm // Dongdaemun : once you've had a rest back at your hotel, get geared up for another Korean adventure: night shopping. Dongdaemun is the civilian-oriented shopping complex, cousin of wholesale-based Namdaemun market.

It's perfect for clothes shopping in the middle of the night, if that's your idea of a good time. Even if it isn't, however, it's very interesting insight into current Korean fashion and another opportunity to people-watch.

trip in seoul

Seoul Itinerary Day 4: Explore Outside Seoul

Today we're headed to the Garden of Morning Calm, Nami Island, and Petite France. I do recommend going through a tour agency for this one if you're even remotely willing, as it saves time and helps with translation. But if that's not your style, it's perfectly doable on your own.

Since this is such a well-trodden path, there are actually intercity buses that take you direct from one place to another. There are also lots of Korean restaurants around the sites, so this is a great time to try a local dish like dakgalbi or bulgogi jjaguri for lunch and dinner.

Check out this article for more information on how to get between the sites; they're each 1-1.5 hours outside of Seoul. Alternative: take the KTX to Gangneung and spend the day visiting sites where the 2018 Olympic Games were held.

trip in seoul

Seoul Itinerary Day 5: Cultural Indulgence

Your last day is the perfect time to absorb some of the more low-key Seoul activities. Note that this day CANNOT be on a Monday, so switch this with another day if your last day happens to fall on a Monday.

10:30am // Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art : arrive right when it opens and walk around the inside installations before moving to the striking ones outside.

Depending on how struck you are, this could take a bit longer. Grab lunch somewhere nearby, because the next stop is also in Itaewon. If you feel like American contemporary cuisine, I highly recommend cheeseflo, which is just a block away.

1pm // Itaewon Land : one of the biggest spas in the country, Itaewon Land has an impressive number of bath options and spa amenities. They even have a place to sleep in a traditional  jjimjilbang . Spend your last of 5 days in Seoul just soaking in the fresh water and leaving your toxins behind.

Just remember that the fully-nude areas are separated by gender, so rent a swimsuit at the front if you'd like to spend time with anyone of the opposite sex!

5pm // Gawk at Noryangjin Fish Market : think of it as a pre-dinner show, because you will absolutely see some new species here. After you've looked your fill, pick out your dinner and bring it up to a restaurant on one of the upper levels; there they'll cook it for you and provide side dishes for a small fee.

7pm // Sool Museum : before it closes at 8pm, take a free tour of the Korean liquor museum, complete with a tasting. There's a direct train from Noryangjin.

Then, walk around the area close to Gangnam Station; it's the place that inspired the famous song Gangnam Style . There's even a Gangnam Style statue, located near Gangnam Station exit 11!

trip in seoul

Best Time to Visit Seoul

Everywhere in Korea, people are pretty much unanimous that April and October are the best months to visit weather-wise. However, I'd endorse April, May, June, September, and October as the best times to visit Seoul or anywhere else in Korea (just bring a mask for air pollution in May).

It's different each month, but in early spring you'll find cherry blossoms , while late spring brings the rest of the flowers and beautiful weather (as well as some pollution). October in Seoul in particular is best for cooling temperatures and fewer crowds, as well as stunning fall leaves.

If you come in very late August or early September, you may even be able to catch a beach day in Incheon after all the kids are back in schools. But this depends on how well you coordinate your trip with the government's open beach times, unless you're only looking to visit one of the islands off the coast near Seoul.

Safety Level: 9/10

Despite a few rough patches, much like the southern city of Busan , Seoul is a very safe city. It is, however, still a city, so always keep an eye on your bags and don't flash cash in crowded areas. Public consumption of alcohol is legal, so keep an eye out for drunk people doing stupid things, especially on the weekends in Hongdae and Itaewon.

soju bomb cocktail Korean soju and beer somaek.

Sample Seoul Budget: 5 Days

This budget assumes you’re spending 5 full days and 5 nights in the city, and are travelling alone using the 5 day Seoul itinerary above (not doing any of the alternate activities). If you're looking for an idea of prices, you're probably also looking to travel Seoul as a backpacker, but still staying in a nice guesthouse.

Cheap travel in Seoul is more than possible, especially if you're indulging in delicious Korean foods . Note that the current exchange rate is roughly $0.78USD or ₱42PHP per ₩1000KR.

  • Lodging: $100USD/₱5,240PHP (see this post for good, but cheap Seoul hostel recommendations)
  • Transport: $30USD/₱5,240PHP (just for metro and buses to visit Chuncheon on day 4; flights are so varied in cost that those are not included in this budget)
  • Activities: $120USD/₱1,580PHP (includes entrance fees, NANTA ticket,  hanbok rental, and cable car)
  • Food: $100USD/₱5,240PHP (assuming you're indulging in local dishes and street food for most meals)

Total: $350USD/₱18,350PHP

trip in seoul

Basic Korean Lesson

So you're ready to visit Seoul, but you don’t know any Korean! Let’s fix that right up. You won't be fluent overnight, but lucky for you, I’ve already broken down the English-Korean language barrier several times over. Here's a shortlist to help you order food & drinks, and just generally be respectful.

Many Koreans understand enough English for you to order in English, but it’s always polite to throw in a little Korean. I’d also highly recommend downloading a picture-capable translation app before you go, like Google Translate.

Hello //  An-nyeong-ha-se-yo . (안녕하세요.)

Thank you //  Gam-saahm-ni-da . (감사합니다.)

Do you speak English? //  Yeong-aw jal-hae-yo?  (영어 잘해요?)

I don’t speak any Korean. //  Han-guk-aw jal-moat-hae-yo.  (한국어 잘못해요.)

How much is it? //  Eol-ma-yeh-yo?  (얼마예요?)

One of these, please. //  Ee-gaw ha-na ju-say-yo.  (이거 하나 주세요.)

It’s to-go/takeout. //  Po-jahng ee-eh-yo  or  Tae-ee-kow-tay-oh.  (포장 이예요 or 테잌아웃에요.)

Lesson complete! Now let’s go pack.

Three days in Seoul is enough to get a taste for the city, but ideally you'd spend 5-7 days based in Seoul so as to take one or two day trips out of the city while still having enough time to explore the royal palaces, traditional markets, and future-driven fashion that Korea is known for.

When choosing how many days to spend in Seoul, first consider how many things there are to do in Seoul which interest you. Most people find 4 to 5 days in Seoul to be sufficient, but if there are a lot of activities you're interested in, you may want an extra day or two.

This depends on your style of travel, but a mid-range budget for a solo traveler spending 5 days in Seoul would be about $80USD per day. If you're willing to stay in cheap hostels, stick to more free activities in Seoul, and eat local foods, then you could get it down to maybe $50USD per day. So I'd say that traveling in Seoul is really quite affordable, though you can always upgrade your trip, and the longer you stay the cheaper it will be per dium.

More All Things South Korea

Oeongchi Beach in Sokcho, Gangwon-do, South Korea.

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Reader Interactions

Maelene Wong says

August 10, 2022 at 9:31 am

A small group of us (5-7) are extending our trip from Japan to Seoul for 4 days. Can you send me the names of your recommended Local Tour Guides who might be interested in escorting us around for four days maybe in a small van based on our and their recommended lists of things to do and places to go in and around Seoul?

August 10, 2022 at 3:13 pm

Sorry, I'm not connected with any tour guides, but the Hop On Hop Off Bus tours would be a great start for looking for private pre-arranged tours within the city!

Albert says

February 19, 2023 at 12:35 am

This is exactly the type of list I was looking for, non-typical things to do in Korea. Thank you for putting this together and sharing!

February 19, 2023 at 12:40 am

It's my pleasure, Albert! I'm glad you've found it helpful.

Michelle says

April 13, 2023 at 4:52 am

How do you get premium magic pass for Lotte World now?

April 14, 2023 at 9:40 am

You can now buy one through Klook, though they may be restricted in which dates on which they're available.

Abid Ansari says

June 02, 2023 at 4:43 am

We are a family of three looking at shopping and food. Your blog has been very helpful. The map stands out as being unique among travelblogs.

June 02, 2023 at 9:51 pm

Thanks, Abid! It's definitely something I appreciate when traveling, so I try to add one anytime I make any kind of guide. 🙂

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