Are you looking for the best things to do in Seoul? If so, we’ve got you covered in this blog post.
From our past experience of leading group trips here, we can assure you that Seoul is a city that never fails to captivate with its perfect blend of tradition and modernity.
So, buckle up for a delightful adventure as we uncover the best things to do in Seoul that make Seoul an unforgettable destination!
5 Facts about Seoul
- Seoul is the capital and largest city of South Korea.
- It has a population of over 10 million people, making it one of the most populous cities in the world.
- The city is known for its impressive modern architecture, including iconic landmarks like Namsan Seoul Tower and Dongdaemun Design Plaza.
- Seoul is a global hub for technology and innovation, with a thriving tech industry and one of the world’s fastest internet speeds.
- The city boasts a rich cultural heritage, evident in its historic palaces, traditional markets, and vibrant neighborhoods that seamlessly blend old-world charm with modern trends.
Best Things to Do in Seoul
1. Explore Gyeongbokgung Palace
Step into the regal world of the majestic Gyeongbokgung Palace, the crown jewel of Seoul’s historical landmarks. Nestled amidst picturesque mountains, this awe-inspiring complex boasts stunning architectural marvels and beautifully landscaped gardens that date back to the Joseon Dynasty.
Stroll through the massive gates and grand courtyards as you witness the Changing of the Royal Guard ceremony, a captivating display of ancient traditions.
- Location: 161 Sajik-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul
- Best Time to Visit: Spring and Autumn when the weather is mild and perfect for exploring the vast palace grounds.
- Famous For: Its historical significance, traditional Korean architecture, and cultural performances that transport visitors to a bygone era.
2. Stroll Along Bukchon Hanok Village
Nestled amidst the bustling city, Bukchon Hanok Village stands as a living testament to Seoul’s rich cultural heritage. Wander through the narrow alleyways lined with well-preserved traditional hanok houses that exude an air of timeless charm.
Admire the intricate wooden architecture, and get a glimpse of the past as you experience the traditional Korean way of life. With its fusion of history and modernity, Bukchon Hanok Village offers a unique canvas for photography enthusiasts and a soulful retreat for those seeking to connect with the city’s cultural roots.
- Location: Gye-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul
- Best Time to Visit: All year round, but Spring and Autumn offer milder weather for leisurely exploration.
- Famous For: Its preserved hanok village, cultural experiences, and stunning views of the city’s juxtaposition of old and new.
3. Discover the Beauty of Namsan Seoul Tower
Standing tall atop Namsan Mountain, the iconic Namsan Seoul Tower beckons visitors with its mesmerizing panoramic views of the sprawling cityscape. Whether you ascend by a leisurely cable car ride or take a scenic hike up the mountain, reaching the tower promises an unforgettable experience.
At dusk, the tower lights up, transforming into a glittering beacon of romance and charm. Don’t miss the chance to participate in the heartwarming “Locks of Love” tradition, where couples attach padlocks to the railings as a symbol of everlasting love.
- Location: 105 Namsangongwon-gil, Yongsan-gu, Seoul
- Best Time to Visit: Evening, to witness the breathtaking sunset and the city illuminating into a sea of lights.
- Famous For: Offering panoramic views, the “Locks of Love” tradition, and its romantic atmosphere that enchants visitors.
4. Shop at Myeongdong and Dongdaemun
Indulge in an unforgettable shopping spree at the vibrant districts of Myeongdong and Dongdaemun, where fashion and commerce converge in true Seoul style.
Myeongdong is a bustling haven for shopaholics, with its endless array of trendy boutiques, global brands, and bustling street food stalls.
On the other hand, Dongdaemun caters to fashion-forward souls, boasting the ultramodern Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP), an architectural wonder with a futuristic edge, housing an amalgamation of fashion, art, and culture.
- Location (Myeongdong): Jung-gu, Seoul
- Location (Dongdaemun): Euljiro 6(yuk)-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul
- Best Time to Visit: Evening, to experience the vibrant night market scene and immerse in the bustling energy.
- Famous For: Myeongdong for its fashion-forward trends and diverse street food, and Dongdaemun for its futuristic architecture and fashion hub status.
5. Visit the Vibrant Markets of Namdaemun and Gwangjang
Seoul’s soul comes alive in the bustling markets of Namdaemun and Gwangjang, where centuries of history blend seamlessly with modern-day commerce.
Namdaemun Market, the largest traditional market in Seoul, entices visitors with its wide array of goods, from clothing and accessories to electronics and souvenirs.
Meanwhile, Gwangjang Market promises a culinary adventure like no other, boasting a smorgasbord of mouthwatering Korean street food and traditional delicacies.
- Location (Namdaemun): 21 Namdaemunsijang 4-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul
- Location (Gwangjang Market): 88 Changgyeonggung-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul
- Best Time to Visit: Evening, for a vibrant and colorful atmosphere that showcases the essence of Seoul’s traditional markets.
- Famous For: Namdaemun for bargain shopping and a wide variety of goods, and Gwangjang Market for its delectable street food and authentic Korean experience.
6. Experience Traditional Culture at Insadong
Seoul’s cultural heartbeat thrives in the quaint district of Insadong, where tradition meets contemporary art and culinary delights.
Explore the meandering alleys filled with art galleries, traditional teahouses, and craft shops, offering a sensory feast of authentic Korean experiences.
Delve into the world of traditional crafts, from delicate pottery to intricate calligraphy, and engage in a meditative tea-drinking ritual at a centuries-old teahouse.
- Location: Insadong-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul
- Best Time to Visit: Afternoon, for a leisurely exploration and a serene escape from the city’s hustle.
- Famous For: Its traditional crafts, art galleries, and teahouses, allowing visitors to immerse in Korea’s cultural treasures.
7. Enjoy the Greenery of Namsan Park
Namsan Park, an urban oasis nestled in the heart of Seoul, invites travelers to rejuvenate their spirits amidst the embrace of nature.
With its lush greenery, meandering walking trails, and serene ambiance, the park offers a sanctuary for relaxation and reflection.
Embark on a hike up the mountain, where you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of the city’s bustling landscape juxtaposed against the serenity of nature.
- Location: Yongsan-gu, Seoul
- Best Time to Visit: Spring and Autumn, when the weather is pleasant and the park comes alive with blooming flowers and vibrant colors.
- Famous For: Its picturesque hiking trails, serene nature walks, and breathtaking panoramic views of Seoul’s skyline.
8. Explore the Trendy Neighborhood of Hongdae
Immerse yourself in the youthful energy and creative spirit of Hongdae, a vibrant neighborhood known for its artistic flair and dynamic nightlife.
Home to numerous art galleries, live music venues, and street performances, Hongdae is a playground for creative souls and a hub for emerging talents.
By day, explore the unique boutiques and vintage shops, and by night, let the district come alive with a kaleidoscope of colorful lights and the beats of Seoul’s buzzing nightlife.
- Location: Hongdae (Hongik University area), Mapo-gu, Seoul
- Best Time to Visit: Evening, for a lively atmosphere and a chance to witness street performances and live music.
- Famous For: Its artistic atmosphere, street performances, and bustling nightlife that cater to the city’s youth culture.
9. Have Fun at Lotte World Amusement Park
Embark on a thrilling adventure at Lotte World, a one-of-a-kind indoor amusement park that promises fun for all ages.
With a myriad of exhilarating rides, dazzling parades, and interactive attractions, Lotte World delivers an unforgettable day of excitement and entertainment.
Experience the magic of the “Magic Island” outdoor section or explore the expansive indoor theme park, complete with an ice-skating rink, shopping mall, and a fantasy-filled atmosphere that guarantees laughter and joy.
- Location: 240 Olympic-ro, Songpa-gu, Seoul
- Best Time to Visit: All year round, but weekdays tend to have fewer crowds for a more seamless experience.
- Famous For: Its vast range of thrilling rides, indoor and outdoor attractions, and captivating parades that create a dream-like amusement park experience.
10. Experience Korean Cuisine at Gwangjang Market
Satisfy your culinary cravings at the bustling Gwangjang Market, a culinary paradise that celebrates the rich tapestry of Korean street food and local delicacies.
From spicy tteokbokki and savory bindaetteok (mung bean pancakes) to refreshing makgeolli (rice wine) and traditional kimchi, Gwangjang Market offers an authentic gastronomic adventure.
Join the locals in their bustling quest for delectable treats, and discover the essence of Korean cuisine that tantalizes both the taste buds and the soul.
- Location: 88 Changgyeonggung-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul
- Best Time to Visit: Evening, when the market’s culinary scene comes alive with vibrant colors and tempting aromas.
- Famous For: Its diverse street food, traditional Korean dishes, and lively atmosphere that embodies the essence of Korean street culture.
11. Take a Han River Cruise for Scenic Views
Embark on a serene Han River cruise and be captivated by the stunning panorama of Seoul’s skyline from the tranquil waters.
Whether during the day or illuminated by the city lights at night, the Han River provides a picturesque backdrop for unforgettable moments and cherished memories.
Choose from a variety of cruise options, including romantic dinner cruises, sightseeing tours, or lively party cruises, offering an enchanting perspective of Seoul’s ever-evolving beauty.
- Location: Han River, various docks in Seoul
- Best Time to Visit: Evening, to witness the city’s enchanting transformation under the night lights.
- Famous For: Offering breathtaking views of Seoul’s skyline and the chance to witness the city’s beauty from a unique vantage point.
12. Shop for Tech Gadgets at Yongsan Electronics Market
Tech enthusiasts, rejoice! Yongsan Electronics Market is a paradise for gadget lovers, boasting a vast array of cutting-edge electronics and tech products.
From the latest smartphones and laptops to high-end cameras and gaming consoles, you’ll find everything your tech-savvy heart desires.
Engage in friendly bargaining with the shopkeepers, and explore the numerous floors dedicated to different tech categories, ensuring a tech shopping experience like no other.
- Location: 20, Hangang-daero 62-gil, Yongsan-gu, Seoul
- Best Time to Visit: Weekdays, for a more relaxed and personalized shopping experience.
- Famous For: Its wide selection of tech gadgets, competitive prices, and the thrill of finding the latest tech trends.
13. Discover K-Pop Culture at the K-Star Road
Seoul, the heart of the global K-pop phenomenon, invites you to stroll along the K-Star Road, a vibrant street adorned with adorable K-pop idol statues.
As you walk, you’ll pass by the headquarters of renowned entertainment companies that have catapulted K-pop into the international spotlight.
Let your inner fan rejoice, and discover the essence of K-pop culture through murals, themed cafes, and the electric atmosphere that celebrates the world’s most sensational music genre.
- Location: Apgujeong-ro 50-gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul
- Best Time to Visit: All year round, for a chance to witness the ever-changing murals and artistic expressions.
- Famous For: Its cute K-pop idol statues, themed cafes, and its status as the epicenter of the global K-pop phenomenon.
14. Visit the Historic Jogyesa Temple
Seek spiritual solace at the historic Jogyesa Temple, the chief temple of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism. Nestled amidst the city’s modern landscape, this serene sanctuary exudes an air of tranquility that invites visitors to meditate and reflect.
Admire the intricate architecture, and participate in the temple’s Buddhist ceremonies, where ancient rituals blend with contemporary devotion.
- Location: 55 Ujeongguk-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul
- Best Time to Visit: Spring, for the temple’s breathtaking lotus lantern festival that illuminates the temple grounds.
- Famous For: Its cultural and spiritual significance, serene ambiance, and renowned lotus lantern festival.
15. Relax in Banpo Hangang Park
Escape the urban hustle and bask in the serene beauty of Banpo Hangang Park, a riverside paradise that offers a perfect setting for relaxation and recreation.
As you meander through the lush greenery, you’ll be enchanted by the Banpo Bridge Rainbow Fountain Show, a captivating display of colorful water jets that dance to the beat of music, turning the river into a magical wonderland.
- Location: 40 Sinbanpo-ro 11-gil, Seocho-gu, Seoul
- Best Time to Visit: Spring and Summer, when the park’s natural beauty is at its peak, and the fountain show takes place more frequently.
- Famous For: Its scenic river views, the enchanting Rainbow Fountain Show, and a peaceful retreat within the city.
16. Attend a Traditional Performance at Namsangol Hanok Village
Unravel the cultural treasures of Korea at Namsangol Hanok Village, a living museum that showcases the nation’s traditional way of life.
Transport yourself to the past as you witness captivating traditional performances, from graceful dances to mesmerizing folk music.
Learn the art of making kimchi or try on a hanbok, the elegant traditional Korean attire, to fully immerse yourself in this enriching cultural experience.
- Location: 28, Toegye-ro 34-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul
- Best Time to Visit: All year round, but the village offers special programs and performances during traditional holidays.
- Famous For: Its authentic cultural experiences, traditional performances, and the chance to don a traditional hanbok.
17. Experience Nightlife in Gangnam District
No visit to Seoul is complete without experiencing the electrifying nightlife of Gangnam, one of the city’s trendiest districts.
Embrace the vibrant atmosphere as you hop from chic cocktail bars to bustling nightclubs, where the city’s trendsetters gather to celebrate life and dance the night away.
Discover a spectrum of entertainment options, from karaoke rooms to stylish lounges, ensuring a memorable night out in the heart of Seoul’s nightlife scene.
- Location: Gangnam District, Seoul
- Best Time to Visit: Evening, when the district comes alive with energy and excitement.
- Famous For: Its pulsating nightlife, posh lounges, and clubs frequented by Seoul’s fashion-forward crowd.
Best Time to Visit Seoul
The best time to visit Seoul is during the spring (April to June) and autumn (September to November) seasons. During these times, the weather is mild and pleasant, making it ideal for outdoor activities and sightseeing.
Spring brings beautiful cherry blossoms that paint the city in soft hues, while autumn displays vibrant foliage, creating picturesque landscapes. Moreover, these seasons avoid the extreme temperatures of winter and summer, ensuring a more comfortable and enjoyable experience for travelers.
How to Get to Seoul
- Flight: Incheon International Airport (ICN) serves as the primary gateway to Seoul, with numerous international airlines offering direct flights from major cities worldwide. Gimpo International Airport (GMP) caters to domestic and some regional flights.
- Train: Seoul is connected to various cities in South Korea via an extensive high-speed KTX train network. The Seoul Station serves as a major hub for KTX services.
- Bus: An efficient and affordable intercity bus network links Seoul to other cities in South Korea, with several bus terminals scattered across the city.
Where to Stay in Seoul
1. The Shilla Seoul: Nestled amidst serene gardens, this luxurious 5-star hotel exudes elegance and sophistication. With lavish rooms offering panoramic views of Namsan Mountain and the city, guests can indulge in a tranquil escape. Enjoy exquisite dining experiences, a world-class spa, and convenient access to popular attractions.
2. JW Marriott Dongdaemun Square Seoul: Situated in the city’s heart, this upscale hotel promises a perfect blend of contemporary design and modern comforts. Immerse in stylish rooms, relish global cuisine at its finest restaurants and unwind at the rooftop pool with stunning city vistas. Located near Dongdaemun Design Plaza, it’s a haven for shopaholics and culture enthusiasts.
3. Four Seasons Hotel Seoul: Experience the epitome of luxury at this opulent hotel boasting refined interiors and personalized service. Indulge in spacious suites with floor-to-ceiling windows, offering breathtaking views of the city’s skyline. With a Michelin-starred restaurant, a lavish spa, and a central location in Gwanghwamun, this hotel offers an unparalleled stay in Seoul.
Where to Eat in Seoul
1. Gwangjang Market: A food lover’s paradise, this bustling market offers a plethora of mouthwatering Korean street food. From crispy bindaetteok (mung bean pancakes) to savory Tteokbokki (spicy rice cakes), savor authentic flavors while immersing in the vibrant atmosphere of this historic market.
2. Myeongdong Kyoja: This iconic restaurant has been serving delectable handmade kalguksu (knife-cut noodles) and mandu (dumplings) for over 50 years. With a rich history and a simple yet delicious menu, it remains a favorite among locals and visitors alike.
3. Jungsik: Elevate your dining experience at this contemporary restaurant, known for its innovative Korean fine dining. Led by a Michelin-starred chef, Jungsik presents creative and artful dishes that reimagine traditional Korean flavors in a modern setting.
Travel Tips & Suggestions
- Utilize the efficient subway system and T-money card for easy travel.
- Learn a few basic Korean phrases for communication, although English is widely spoken.
- Pack according to the season and be prepared for occasional rain.
- Tipping is not customary in South Korea; good service is expected.
- Embrace the local food culture by trying various street food stalls.
- Respect local customs, such as removing shoes indoors and bowing as a sign of politeness.
- Stay connected with the city’s widespread free Wi-Fi zones available in public areas and cafes.
Conclusion – Best Things to Do in Seoul
In conclusion, Seoul beckons with a vibrant tapestry of experiences that make it a top-notch destination for travelers. From exploring ancient palaces and savoring mouthwatering street food to embracing modern art and basking in nature’s splendor, the best things to do in Seoul guarantee unforgettable memories.
Whether you’re drawn to its rich history, bustling markets, or dynamic neighborhoods, this city effortlessly weaves tradition and innovation, leaving you captivated by its boundless charm and alluring local flavors.
FAQs – Best Things to Do in Seoul
What are the best things to do in Seoul for first-time visitors?
For a perfect Seoul experience, start by exploring Gyeongbokgung Palace, strolling through Bukchon Hanok Village, and visiting Namsan Seoul Tower for breathtaking city views. Don’t miss Myeongdong and Dongdaemun for shopping and Gwangjang Market for delicious street food.
When is the best time to visit Seoul and enjoy its attractions?
Spring (April to June) and autumn (September to November) offer mild weather, making it ideal for outdoor activities. Witness cherry blossoms in spring and vibrant foliage in autumn, enhancing the beauty of Seoul’s Best Places to Visit.
How can I get around Seoul easily during my trip?
Utilize the efficient subway system and T-money card for hassle-free travel. Taxis are readily available or explore on foot to uncover hidden gems in neighborhoods like Ikseon-dong Hanok Street.
What are some must-visit cultural spots in Seoul?
Immerse in tradition at Insadong with its artsy shops and teahouses. Experience history at Changdeokgung Palace and Jogyesa Temple, while Namsangol Hanok Village offers traditional performances and cultural insights.
What are the top attractions for K-pop and tech enthusiasts in Seoul?
Embark on the K-Star Road to spot K-pop idol statues and visit Yongsan Electronics Market for tech gadgets galore. Seoul’s vibrant K-pop culture and tech scene are sure to delight fans.
Are there any fun activities for families in Seoul?
Enjoy Lotte World amusement park for thrilling rides and entertainment suitable for all ages. Namsan Park offers a tranquil retreat, perfect for family picnics with a view of Namsan Seoul Tower.
How can I savor the best of Korean cuisine in Seoul?
Head to Gwangjang Market for an authentic street food feast, and dine at Myeongdong Kyoja for delicious handmade noodles and dumplings. Don’t forget to try kimchi, a Korean staple, at local restaurants.