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Best 30+ Things to do in Seoul

Vibrant streets of Seoul

If you're planning a trip to the South Korean capital city, you'll be spoilt for choice when it comes to things to see and do in Seoul. Discover the dynamic metropolis of Seoul, where ancient palaces and modern skyscrapers coexist in perfect harmony. Take a stroll through charming old streets and lose yourself in the bustling boulevards lined with towering skyscrapers.

Wander around Bukchon Hanok Village and take a glimpse of traditional Korean houses and culture. Take in the stunning views of the city from the Namsan Seoul Tower or hike in Namsan Mountain Park. For a taste of traditional Korean food, visit the Myeongdong night market or Gwangjang Market. Explore the trendy neighbourhoods of Ikseon-dong and Itaewon-dong and find the best souvenirs from Seoul. Admire the stunning views of the city from the top of Lotte World Tower, or escape to Nami Island, where you can take the loveliest pictures surrounded by stunning nature.

For a dose of history, visit the War Memorial and Museum of Korea or take a day trip to the DMZ. And for a unique experience, try a Korean cooking class, visit a themed café or go see a Nanta show.

This guide compiles 30+ of the most iconic and off-the-beaten-path experiences in Seoul, South Korea, from must-see attractions to unique cultural experiences. Whether you're a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveller, there are plenty of things to do in Seoul.

How many days in Seoul is enough ?

Five days in Seoul is the perfect time to spend as a first time visitors in order to see the main highlights, understand the history and culture, eat lots of local food and enjoy some shopping for souvenirs.

Is Seoul cheap for tourists?

Visiting Seoul can be done on a budget and generally, it is considered more affordable than Japan or Singapore.

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A few Seoul essentials before your trip

Visit the Gyeongbokgung Palace

Gyeongbokgung Palace, also known as the "Palace Greatly Blessed by Heaven," is a royal palace located in Seoul, South Korea. It was built in the 14th century during the Joseon Dynasty and served as the main palace of the Joseon kings. The palace is known for its beautiful architecture and traditional Korean design, as well as its historical significance.

One of the most popular attractions at Gyeongbokgung Palace is the changing of the guard ceremony, which takes place in front of the palace's main entrance, the Gwanghwamun Gate.

The palace is open to the public, and visitors can take guided tours in different languages. It is also a popular spot for traditional Korean cultural performances and events. Gyeongbokgung Palace is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and one of the Five Grand Palaces built by the Joseon dynasty.

Learn about Korean history and culture at the National Palace Museum of Korea and the National Folk Museum of Korea. Both museums are located within the grounds of Gyeongbokgung Palace.

Insider Tip: Book a Hanbok photoshoot experience and get free entry to the Gyeongbokgung Palace as well as stunning images of yourself dressed in traditional Korean dress. We did this, and it was the highlight of our Seoul trip.

Wander around Bukchon Hanok Village

Bukchon Hanok Village is a traditional Korean village known for its well-preserved hanok (traditional Korean houses) that date back to the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910).

Bukchon Hanok Village comprises roughly 900 traditional Korean houses, primarily privately owned and utilized as residences or guesthouses. Stroll through the village's winding streets and alleys to observe the traditional architecture and gain an understanding of traditional Korean lifestyle. Several hanok houses have been repurposed as cultural centres, museums, and art galleries, providing visitors with the opportunity to learn more about traditional Korean culture and crafts.

Bukchon Hanok Village is a popular tourist attraction and ideal for stunning pictures. It's definitely considered a very Instagrammable location, usually seen on many Seoul postcards as well.

Top tip: As this is a residential area, tourists are encouraged to keep quiet during their visit. You will find city staff who remind everyone to keep the voice down to not disturb residence.

Go up the Namsan Seoul Tower

The N Seoul Tower was built in 1969 and originally served as a television and radio broadcasting tower. Today, it is a major tourist attraction in Seoul, where you can take an elevator to the observation deck to enjoy the views, or take a hike up the mountain to the base of the tower.

The observation deck of the tower, at a height of 237m, offers a 360-degree view of the city and the surrounding mountains. My favourite thing about the Namsan Seoul tower is that it features a postbox at the top, so you can post yourself a nice postcard as a souvenir.

At the base of the tower, you'll find plenty of souvenir shops and restaurants. Don't miss attaching your own padlock on the love fence.

Insider Tip: Make sure to book your tickets to the N Seoul tower in advance. Just take the voucher and exchange it for a real ticket at the machines located at the base of the tower.

Seoul as seen from the Seoul N Tower

Hike in Namsan Mountain Park

A popular activity in Seoul is to hike in the gorgeous Namsan Mountain Park, which looks especially stunning in Spring and Autumn. The park is located in the centre of Seoul and offers scenic views of the city from the top of the mountain. I recommend spending an entire afternoon walking on the well-defined paths, just as the locals do. You'll get wonderful views of Seoul, and it's an easy way to get to the N Seoul Tower as well.

The Namsan Mountain is a 270-meter-high peak, so if you're into outdoors activities, this is the perfect place for you in Seoul. If you don't wish to hike all the way, there's a cable car available to take you to the peak.

Explore Ikseon-dong

One of the best things to do in Seoul is to learn about Korean history, and what better place for it than in a neighbourhood known for its traditional hanok and small alleyways. Ikseon-dong has a rich history as the neighbourhood is more than a century old. You're going to love exploring all the cafés and restaurants, as well as shops, located in well-preserved hanok houses.

The area feels really trendy and cool, with some of the best and most colourful cakes, coffees, and treats. It's the place to explore if you're after a more youthful side of Seoul. Besides, Ikseon-dong is fantastic for shopping and souvenirs.

Book a Seoul walking tour to show you the main highlights and hidden gems.

Eat street food at Myeongdong night market

Myeongdong night market is the place I recommend in Seoul for delicious street food and night shopping. The area is lively and colourful even late at night which makes it so special for tourists and locals.

Walk from food stall to stall and try a variety of local street foods. I especially recommend the seafood skewers and the cheesy lobster. If you love deep fried stuff, you've got to eat the mini crab snacks, the cheese balls and the local version of a corndog.

Myeong-dong is also home to many popular Korean beauty and skincare shops which are open until late at night. It's a great place for shopping and food enthusiasts.

Eat more food at the Gwangjang Market

Gwangjang Market is one of the oldest and largest traditional Korean markets in Seoul and I recommend it to every foodie traveller. You're going to want to come here for food and snacks because there is plenty of traditional Korean food to try. Here are some dishes I recommend:

  • Bindaeddeok - Mung bean pancakes made with flour, vegetable and sometimes meat. Really delicious!
  • Tteokbokki - These are spicy rice cakes in a spicy sauce. The sauce is fairly spicy so be careful if you are sensitive to hot food.
  • Eomukguk - This is a fish cake soup.
  • Gimbap - A popular Korean dish made from steamed white rice and various fillings, wrapped in dried seaweed.
  • Soondae - For the more advanced foodies out there this is a Korean blood sausage made from a mixture of pig's blood, noodles and other ingredients.

Once you have your belly full of delicious street foods, check out the rest of the stalls which sell traditional good such as silks, textiles, hanboks and even kitchenware.

Our recommendation: Book a combined DMZ and food tour in Seoul. You'll save with the combo and get to taste the best of local foods.

Korean street food - Deep fried cheese balls

Stroll around the Namsangol Hanok Village

Visit the beautiful Namsangol Hanok Village in the morning, and admire the well-preserved hanok and beautiful gardens. Entrance to the village is free.

Walk through the village and learn about the history and architecture of the hanok and see how Koreans used to live. Some of the houses have been converted into museums.

The village features a beautiful garden complete with a tranquil stream and a traditional pavilion, making it the perfect spot to soak in the serene atmosphere of the classical Joseon era.

Book a Seoul morning tour that takes you to Seoul Tower, Namsangol Hanok Village and The War Memorial of Korea.

Namsangol Hanok Village in Seoul

Explore Itaewon-dong

Located in the Yongsan-gu district, Itaewon-dong is perfect if you're after a more diverse and cosmopolitan mix of local and international shops, restaurants, and bars. It's a very popular district with international tourists and expats so expect to find a more international mix of cuisines here. It's ideal for when you fancy a different dish than traditional Korean, want to mingle with other tourists and fancy shopping from a variety of international brands.

For food, I especially recommend the Mexican restaurant Hacienda as their margaritas are excellent.

Our recommendation: Book a private and personalised tour with one of the Seoul locals. You will discover highlights and hidden gems as well as have the chance to learn more about local culture and history.

Itaewon-dong as seen from above in Seoul

Eat at the Namdaemun Market

Calling all foodies, here is another great market for you to explore in Seoul. I recommend getting a guide to take you around Namdaemun Market as it will be more fun to select all sort of foods.

If you love exploring on your own, make sure to try the Pajeon which are scallion pancakes and the Bindaeddeok which are mung bean pancakes. There are my favourites. To order, just take a seat anywhere near the counter at the stalls and point at the food you want to try. Don't miss the hotteok which are sweet filled pancakes as dessert.

Book your 3 hour Namdaemun Market street food tour and discover 4 different types of yummy food.

Namdaemun market in Seoul

Dress up in a Hanbok

One of the best things to do in Seoul is to rent a hanbok and do a photoshoot. This was one of the most memorable experiences in Seoul for me and my husband, and I just can't recommend this activity enough. We even wrote a whole Hanbok rental guide about it.

We booked a hanbok with photoshoot at the Gyeongbokgung Palace grounds, which was an exceptional experience. We got to walk around dressed up in traditional Korean dress and got a variety of fantastic memories along the way. After the photoshoot, you can continue exploring the palace grounds on your own. Don't be surprised if other people come to take cute pictures with you.

Book your Hanbok experience in advance.

Visit Dongdaemun

Head to Dongdaemun for shopping and entertainment, as well as night markets for when you fancy delicious Korean food. One of the most popular Seoul attractions is the Design Plaza (DDP) which is a multi-purpose cultural space designed by Zaha Hadid. The DDP features a variety of exhibition spaces, events, and performances, as well as art and design shops, cafes, and restaurants.

The most famous shopping centre in Dongdaemun is the Doota mall, which is the largest wholesale and retail shopping centre in Asia.

Dongdaemun building in Seoul

Take a stroll along the Han River

One of the most popular activities in Seoul is to take a river cruise on the Han river. There's nothing better than seeing Seoul from a different perspective. The Han River is approximately 480 kilometres long and is considered an important part of Seoul's culture and history. In the summer, it's the perfect place for water sports too. Rent a jet ski, water ski or try wakeboarding.

For a romantic evening, just walk along the river and don't miss the Banpo Bridge (Rainbow Bridge) which features colourful fountains at night.

Han River in Seoul, South Korea

Take a day trip to the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone)

The Demilitarized Zone, or DMZ, is a strip of land that separates North and South Korea. It is a highly guarded and militarized area that serves as a reminder of the division between the two countries and the ongoing tensions between them. Visiting the DMZ can offer a more profound understanding of the history of the Korean War and the current political situation.

It's essential to note that visiting the DMZ can be a sensitive topic and requires following strict security protocols and regulations. Only guided tours are allowed and visitors are required to follow strict security protocols. It is a unique opportunity to learn about the past and the current situation of the Korean peninsula. It is possible to see parts of North Korea from the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).

Our recommendation: Book a combined DMZ and food tour in Seoul. You'll save with the combo and get to taste the best of local foods.

Take a cooking class

Love Korean food? Then learn how to cook it from a local. Take a cooking class and impress your family and friends with new skills. Locals will be able to provide you with valuable insights and tips on how to prepare traditional Korean dishes. Besides, cooking class in Seoul are such a great way to learn a new skill and about the history of local ingredients.

At the end of the experience, you will also get a fantastic recipe which you can use over and over again. Most cooking classes start with a walk around the local markets to understand more about ingredients. During a cooking class, you'll also make a lot of new international friends which share the same interests.

Book our recommended Seoul cooking class with a full-course meal and a local market in Seoul.

Korean BBQ in the process of being cooked

Explore the Gangnam neighbourhood and visit COEX Mall

Gangnam is a trendy and affluent neighbourhood in Seoul and if you love high end shops, restaurants and nightlife, then this is the place for you. You'll explore luxury boutiques and designer shops as well as fancy cafes.

Don't miss dancing on Gangnam style and taking a photo with Psy's hands on Gangnam style street.

Visit the COEX mall which is an extensive underground mall with over 500 stores. One of the main attractions of COEX Mall is the COEX Aquarium, one of the largest aquariums in Asia. It's also home to the COEX Cineplex, a large cinema where visitors can catch the latest movies.

If you prefer a private experience, book a private tour to discover the Korean Wave in Gangnam.

Gangnam street with Psy hands

Visit the Lotte World theme park

I highly recommend visiting Lotte World theme park in Seoul. This indoor and outdoor park offers a perfect blend of excitement and entertainment for all ages. The indoor Adventure section features a plethora of thrilling rides and attractions, while the outdoor Magic Island area boasts a beautiful lake and a variety of outdoor activities. The park also includes a shopping mall, restaurants, and a variety of entertainment options such as parades, acrobatic shows and a nightly magical parade. Not to mention, it's open all year round, making it a great option for any weather.

Check this Lotte World Package Deal to save you on tickets.

Lotte World theme park

Go up the Lotte World Tower

Lotte World Tower is a skyscraper and one of the most popular tourist attractions in Seoul. Since it's the fifth-tallest building in the world, it comes with stunning views of Seoul. Make your way to the observation deck at the 117th floor and photograph the city from the highest point in Seoul.

Don't miss the Skywalk which is the highest glass-bottom observation deck in the world, the Sky Walk, visitors can have a unique experience of walking on the glass floor and see the city from a different perspective.

Book your tickets well in advance to save time on the day.

Views from Lotte World Tower

Do a Korean jjimjilbang

When in Seoul you have got to try the unique experience of visiting a traditional Korean jjimjilbang. These are 24-hour public bathhouses with public baths and sauna. The jjimjilbang has changing rooms, shower areas, sauna areas, and a relaxation area. And to my surprise, there is even a sleeping area!

To really immerse yourself in the experience, make sure to book a traditional treatment and a relaxing massage. Prices are very decent, especially when compares to some western countries.

Just keep in mind that nudity, much like onsen in Japan, is required, and it's important to follow the rules and etiquette while in the jjimjilbang. It's definitely an experience you don't want to miss during your trip to South Korea.

Have a peaceful walk along the Cheonggyecheon Stream

Go on a relaxing walk along the Cheonggyecheon Stream, one of the most peaceful areas in the central Seoul. Cheonggyecheon Stream was once covered over with concrete during the 1950s and 1960s to make way for roads and buildings. In 2003, the city government began an ambitious project to restore the stream to its natural state and create a public park and recreation area.

You will now enjoy a clean and clear Cheonggyecheon Stream with lovely walking paths, and sculptures, as well as a range of cultural and historical information about the area.

Cheonggyecheon stream in the centre of Seoul

Visit the Heunginjimun Gate

Heunginjimun Gate, also known as Dongdaemun Gate, is a historical landmark in Seoul and the largest of the four remaining gates and is designated as National Treasure No. 1. It is one of the original eight gates that surrounded the city during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910).

What's great is that you can climb to the top of the gate for a panoramic view of the city.

Take a day trip to Nami Island

Nami Island is a great place to escape the hustle and bustle of city life and enjoy some fresh air and beautiful scenery. Rent a bike or take a leisurely stroll along the island's paths. The island also offers plenty of activities, such as zip-lining, kayaking, and horseback riding.

The island is well-known for being a filming location for the popular South Korean drama "Winter Sonata" which made it a must-see for K-drama fans.

One of the main attraction in Nami Island is the Metasequoia lane. The lane is surrounded by Metasequoia trees, also known as "Dawn Redwood", which turn to a beautiful golden colour in autumn. It's a perfect spot for photoshoot and enjoying the autumn foliage.

Book your tour in advance to enjoy a day trip to Nami Island with Rail bike and The Garden of Morning Calm.

Nami island day trip from Seoul

Ride a bike along the Gangchon Rail Bike

The Gangchon Rail Bike ride takes you on an 8.6 km track through the stunning countryside of Gapyeong, following the Bukhan River. You'll pass by rice paddies, vegetable farms, and beautiful mountains, making for a great opportunity to take some picturesque photos.

It's easy to make your own way here from Seoul, or, alternatively, you can do it as part of a tour to save time. On location, you can rent a 2 or 4 seater bike, depending on the size of your party. This unique attraction is perfect if you're looking for a fun and unique way to experience the beautiful countryside.

Book your tour in advance to enjoy a day trip to Nami Island with Rail bike and The Garden of Morning Calm.

Gangchon Rail Bike

Visit the Changgyeonggung Palace

Visit the Changgyeonggung​ Palace in Seoul, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the "Five Grand Palaces" built by the kings of the Joseon Dynasty. The palace offers a glimpse into the life of the Joseon royalty, with intricate details and design of the buildings, beautiful gardens and a secret garden that is a must-see.

You'll also be able to experience traditional Korean culture and arts by watching the Changing of the Guard ceremony and traditional performances.

Changgyeonggung palace in Seoul

See the Jongmyo Shrine

Jongmyo Shrine is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the oldest Confucian shrine in the world. The shrine is dedicated to the memory of the kings and queens of the Joseon Dynasty.

Visit Jongmyo Shrine to experience traditional Korean rituals and ceremonies. You can witness the Jongmyo Jerye, a Confucian ritual that has been performed for centuries, and learn about the history and culture of the Joseon Dynasty.

The Jongmyo Shrine is home to a collection of ancient ancestral tablets and wooden memorial tablets, which are considered National Treasures of South Korea.

See the Naksan Park at night

Naksan Park sits on a hilltop and offers a panoramic view of the city's skyline, including the iconic Namsan Tower. Visit Naksan Park at night and experience the magic of the city's night view.

Naksan Park is a must-see destination for those interested in street art, with a collection of vibrant murals and local artist's street art, lit up at night.

Naksan Park is also home to the Seoul city wall that was built during the Joseon Dynasty. Take the City wall trail in the evening for some of the most epic views of Seoul.

For a more insightful experience, book a tour guide with a local to take you to Naksan Park in the evening.

Close to Naksan park at night

Visit the War Memorial and Museum of Korea

History buffs will want to come and visit the War Memorial and Museum of Korea, which offers a comprehensive look at the history and events of the Korean War, as well as the history of the Korean Armed Forces.

The War Memorial and Museum of Korea features a wide range of exhibits and displays, including weapons, vehicles, and equipment used during the Korean War. There are also interactive exhibits and dioramas that provide a more immersive experience.

Book a Seoul morning tour that takes you to Seoul Tower, Namsangol Hanok Village and The War Memorial of Korea.

Explore Insadong

Insadong is a lively neighbourhood in Seoul where you can find a variety of traditional Korean shops, teahouses, and restaurants. The main street is pedestrianized, and it's the perfect place to shop for traditional Korean goods like pottery, tea, and handmade hanji paper.

Make sure to check all the art galleries, antique shops, and traditional tea houses. Insadong is a great place to try traditional food, such as Korean pancakes and Korean porridge. I recommend coming here to see traditional Korean performances, such as Namsadang, a traditional Korean performance art, and traditional Korean music and dance performances.

Street vendors in Insadong

Visit a themed café

Themed cafés are a unique way to experience the young and vibrant Seoul, and perfect for snapping Insta worthy pictures. There are many themed cafés in the city and here are some of the most popular ones:

  • Thanks Nature Cafe | Hongdae - A cafe with actual real sheep in it.
  • Ho Ho Myoll | Hongdae - A cute vintage type of cafe with an old Volkswagen. Feels like a cute hippie place.
  • Line Friends Cafe & Store | Itaewon - If you are a LINE fan, this is the place for you.
  • Ddo-Ong Cafe | Insadong - The strangest themed cafe yet, as this is a toilet inspired café that is an ode to everything poop.
  • Greem Cafe | Mapo-Gu - A super cool 2D cafe in Seoul that is seriously perfect for Insta pictures.

2D themed cafe in Seoul

Go see a Nanta show

Experience the unique and entertaining Nanta show in Seoul, a non-verbal performance combining traditional Korean drumming with a modern, comedic storyline. This popular show has been running for over 20 years and offers a great way to experience traditional Korean culture in a modern and entertaining way.

The Nanta show is held at the Nanta Theater in Myeong-dong. Make sure to book your tickets for the show well in advance, as this is a very popular show that can easily sell out during peak tourist season.

Visit the Seoul Forest

Escape the bustling city and head to the Seoul Forest, a large and beautiful park in Seoul. For active travellers, this is the perfect place as you'll enjoy the nature around you while hiking, biking or walking.

Explore the park's nature trails and discover diverse plant and animal life, and enjoy water activities like kayaking and fishing at the Ttukseom Han River Park. Experience culture and education at the Seoul Forest Eco Learning Center and the Seoul Forest Art Center.

Visiting Seoul Forest with locals

Take pictures in a Korean photo booth

For the perfect souvenir from Seoul, you will want to head to one of the many Korean photo booths to take lots of fun selfies. These photo booths are designed with various themes, such as traditional Korean culture, popular K-pop idols, or cartoon characters.

What's even better is that these booths come with props and costumes you can freely use for your photos. You'll spot them in every tourist area around Seoul and you'll notice that there's almost always young people in there having fun, taking many cute pictures together. You can pay by cash or card and can select how many photos you want printed. The quality of the photos is impeccable.

As you can see, there are so many fun and exciting things to do in Seoul, South Korea. You're going to have an exciting time visiting Seoul and discovering this vibrant and rich city with all its history and culture.

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