Seoul is the capital of South Korea and probably one of the most impressive cities you could ever dream of visiting! Whether this is your first time visiting Seoul or you are a return visitor, these travel tips and suggestions will help you make the most out of your Seoul vacation
There are endless things to do there, and if you are wondering why I say that, just check this list of 20 great things to do in Seoul!
Seoul Ultimate Travel Guides: 20 Best Things To Do
1. The Bukhansan National Park
The Bukhanson national park comprises of forested areas, granite peaks and temples. There is a fortress in this park which was built to prevent foreign invasions. This is a popular fun destination if you are looking for an exciting hiking experience.
2. Traditional souvenir kiosks at Insadong
The streets and alleyways of Insadong showcase traditional Korean crafts and culture. The bustling area is dotted with curio and artefacts shops and cafes. This is also a veritable haven for street-food lovers and is one of the best in Asia
3. Have the time of your life at Lotte World
Lotte World is the world’s largest indoor amusement park. Comprising both an indoor theme park and an outdoor amusement park, Lotte World is also surrounded by a hotel and a large shopping complex!
Lotte World - a world’s largest indoor amusement park
This top-notch attraction is great for families, kids, and couples alike. Lotte World is more than just an ordinary theme park, it’s a massive entertainment hub that promises fun in epic proportions!
How to get to the Lotte World: 240 Olympic-ro Songpa-Gu, Seoul, Korea. The park is connected to Jamsil Station on Line 2 and Line 8 of the Subway. Take Exit 4 and head to Lotte World.
4. Visit Gwanghwamun Square
For your first dose of Korean history, head to Gwanghwamun Square.
Here, you’ll find statues of some of Korea’s most notable figures set against the backdrop of Gyeongbukgung Palace and Bukhansan National Park.
Underneath the statues is a small museum dedicated to King Sejong and Admiral Yi Sun-Shin which is well worth a look.
The replica of one of Korea's elaborate old navy vessels is really spectacular.
The museum is free and you'll need less than an hour to look around.
5. Hike the old city walls
Seoul used to be fortified with a long city wall that climbed up and over the many hills that surround the city. Built-in 1396, it has been around for as long as the city has been the capital of Korea.
Looking at downtown Seoul at sunrise from the peak of Mt. Inwangsan
Parts of the city walls still remain alongside hiking routes that offer fantastic views of Seoul.
The Inwangsan Peak is one of the best viewpoints along the walls, with views over Gyeongbukgung Palace.
6. Take a break at Starfield Library
Starfield Library is located in COEX Mall, in Gangnam district. It’s a public library, open to everyone that wants to visit it.
A wonderful library in the middle of a shopping center in Seoul
I recommend going there to take a break, unwind, take a look at all the books (they have tons of foreign books as well!), magazines, and more. There are also some events taking place there from time to time
7. Gyeongbokgung Palace
Of Seoul’s 5 grand palaces, Gyeongbukgung is certainly the most popular and for good reason.
This incredible complex is a living portrait of Korean history, culture, and architecture.
Built-in 1395, a few years after the founding of the Joseon Dynasty, it is the largest of the 5 Joseon palaces and also houses the National Palace Museum of Korea and the National Folk Museum.
Peach blossoms in Gyeongbokgung Palace
One thing you should make sure you check out is the changing of the guards at the main Gwanghwamun entrance.
This is always a cool thing to watch and it includes the tallest soldiers that are hand-picked. Definitely among one of the most unique things to see in Seoul.
Make sure you leave plenty of time to soak it in slowly as you wander among the many buildings, temples, and gardens.
Main, Gyeongbokgung Palace, Seoul, South Korea
What is Dongdaemun? The beating heart of Seoul’s no-holds-barred shopping culture. It’s got a 24-hour shopping complex, wholesale outlets, an underground shopping center, and a bulbous, space-age silver cultural hub designed by world-famous architect Zaha Hadid.
The ten blocks at Dongdaemun Market with 26 malls, 30,000 specialty shops, and 50,000 manufacturers
Why visit Dongdaemun? Many boutiques in Seoul and even neighboring countries source their stock from Dongdaemun, making it a goldmine for thrifty, fashion-conscious shoppers. Everything you want can be found off the main shopping road, Eulji-ro – including pojangmacha (street stalls) serving snacks and soju.
9. Korea Furniture Museum
Situated on a picturesque hillside in the historic Seongbuk-dong district, this sprawling complex is brimming with historical relics from the Joseon dynasty (1392-1897). It’s essential to pre-book your tour, as walk-ins are not allowed.
Korean furniture museum
The grounds and architecture alone warrant a visit, but the main attraction is the museum’s 500-piece display of Joseon furniture, exhibited in careful reconstructions of historic Korean homes. Visitors often call it this museum the best-kept secret in Seoul due to its unique insight into Korean history
10. N Seoul Tower
Central Seoul revolves around the N Seoul Tower that sits at the top of the Namsan mountain. It is a communications tower that is open as an observation and entertainment tower as well. Going to the top offers the opportunity to get one of the best overall views of the city of Seoul, somewhat like the Menara KL Tower.
The tallest tower in Seoul South Korea, a beautiful view of the city.
Many people who go to the N Seoul Tower take a cable car up to the peak of the mountain and pay to go up to the top of the tower. It has also become famous to go to the tower and lock a padlock from the fence as a symbol of love – one of the most romantic things to do in Seoul!
11. War Memorial and Museum
I wasn’t actually even planning to visit, but the War Memorial and Museum turned out to be one of the pretty cool things to do in Seoul. At the entrance, there’s a number of statues and memorials in remembrance of South Korea’s biggest wars. Inside the building are exhibits of tactics and weapon displays.
Statue of Brothers, War Memorial and Museum
What I enjoyed most was the outdoor section that showcases a bunch of tanks, planes, helicopters, and giant missiles. You can even climb in and check out a number of vehicles.
12. Bongeunsa Temple
This thriving complex offers a Temple Stay Program which allows tourists to understand Buddhist customs, participate in intellectual discussions with the monks, and enjoy a tea ceremony held every afternoon. The temple is famous for holding the Jeongdaebulsa every September where the monks recite the Beopseongge from heavily inscribed scriptures
Bongeunsa temple of the downtown skyline in Seoul city South Korea
13. Hike Bukhansan mountain
If hiking is on your list then this is a must-do.
The hike itself offers great views and you don't necessarily have to go all the way up to the top to enjoy the beautiful views.
Depending on where you start you can do the hike in about 2 hours one way.
We recommend the Bukhansanseong Trail. Grab yourself a map at the visitors center at the bottom and follow the signs that say Baegundae as that is the name of the peak.
Aerial view of Bukhansan mountain
This is a popular hike so you will definitely encounter other hikers. You can take the same trail back or if you want another view you can cross the park and walk along the fortress wall.
If you want to take it a bit slower and make it an all-day thing you can book a guided tour that spends a half-day on the mountain and finishes with a Korean Style Spa.
14. Korean BBQ
No trip to Korea is complete without devouring your weight in Korean BBQ.
Many specialize in a specific type and cut of meat and are recognizable by the individual extractor fans hanging over each table.
Make sure to try roasting some garlic and kimchi on the grill for a true Korean BBQ experience.
15. Fish Market
The Noryangjin Fish Wholesale Market is where you can savor seaside delicacies sold on hundreds of stalls here. This is Seoul’s oldest and biggest indoor fish market, with more than 700 vendors each selling the catch of the day.
Noryangjin Fish market
Get here early to enjoy the excitement of this bustling warehouse and you can participate in the seafood auction that takes place as the sun rises.
16. International Itaewon
One of the international melting pots of Seoul is Itaewon, some areas even look like Cairo. There are lots of international restaurants, stores, bars, and clubs. If you’re in the mood for delicious shawarma, head on over to Itaewon where you’ll have a nice selection.
Night scenery of Haebangchon, Itaewon, Seoul
Itaewon is also home to more Seoul street shopping that often includes fake designer goods. You can also shop at the main stores that offer more authentic products.
How to get to Itaewon?: Take the subway to Itaewon Station
17. Seoullo 7017
Seoul’s answer to New York’s High Line. This eco-friendly, multi-purpose pedestrian walkway built on a former highway above Seoul Station is home to a sky garden, cafés, and even a little pool for you to dip your toes in.
Seoullo 7017 Sky Walk, Seoul, Korea
Seoullo 7017 has a lot to offer, from ‘peeping pots’ that play sounds and videos of Seoul, to the kids’ trampolines, modern art at Seoullo Gallery, and Yunseul – a trippy, immersive public art project
18. Ihwa Mural village
In 2006, the Ministry for Culture, Sports, and Tourism brought artists into an impoverished area of Naksan Hill to breathe new life into the streets with art.
Today, you can wander the neighborhood in search of your favorite mural and enjoy the local cafes and restaurants.
Be aware that this is a residential area, so respect people’s privacy.
19. Shopping at Myeong-dong
Myeong-dong is the go-to area for shopping and also one of the most popular shopping hubs in Seoul!
Myeong-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
You will find a diversity of retail stores, family restaurants with Korean, Western, and Japanese dining options, and you can even stumble across hair salons and banks there.
By the way, if you are interested in going for some Korean cosmetics, my brand suggestions are Missha, Tony Moly, Nature Republic, and Skinfood.
If shopping is not exactly your thing, I still recommend visiting this street. First of all, for people watching – because it is such a big part of Korean life, there is no better place to see the local culture in action! I think it was only more interesting to people-watch in Harajuku in Tokyo! And secondly, it is worth visiting because of the many restaurants and food stalls where you can find some great local dishes!
20. Hongdae nightlife
When the sun goes down, there is one place you’ll want to be to experience Korean nightlife: Hongdae.
With Hongik University nearby, this area has a ‘college town’ feel with lively restaurants and bars around every corner.
It is also great for cafe-hopping and shopping during the day.
For kids who love K-Pop why not treat them to a K-Pop Star Song Customized Recording Experience. They can record their own single and film their own music video, guided by professionals who work with their favorite K-Pop stars.
For the adults, if you want to skip the lines at a bunch of the bars the check out this Skip the Line Pub Crawl! It takes place every Saturday!
That’s all I have on my list but hey, you shouldn’t limit yourself to my recommendations. Try anything and everything! Neither should you limit yourself to Lotte Mart – there’s also E-Mart, Homeplus, and Costco. If you know some other Korean snacks that deserve a mention, let me know in the comment box below!