39 of the best things to do in Seoul perfect for first timers - Wapiti Travel

What to do in Seoul? Seoul is a bustling city full of old palaces and modern skyscrapers. In Seoul, you wander seamlessly from charming old streets into wide boulevards with towering skyscrapers.  You can shop till you drop for the newest gadgets and dive into the nightlife in the trendy and cosmopolitan Itaewon district.

The view from the top of N Seoul Tower is breathtaking but we were completely blown away by the views on Seoul from Bukhansan National Park.  This park with its imposing mountains and historic temples borders the city in the North and is a great place to unwind.

Here we compiled 39 of our favorite things to do in Seoul. These include some of the best places to visit in Seoul, the most popular Seoul attractions and ideas for getting more off the beaten track. 

For information on how to fit these recommendations into your travel plan, check out our Seoul itinerary for 3 to 7 days. If you like to make Seoul your base to discover other highlights in South Korea, check out our Seoul day trips guide. 

You may also want to check out our article that covers a complete 7-day itinerary in Korea. A self-drive is an excellent way to discover Korea

There is a really good chance that 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

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Seoul essentials

The best time to visit Seoul is in the months of May, September, and October. 

 

Since foreign credit and debit cards don’t always work, we advise you to bring some extra cash.

 

Consider getting the discover Seoul pass which covers 35 of Seoul’s best tourist attractions. At the same time, it also functions as a T-money rechargeable card that can be used on public transport. 

 

The best place to stay in Seoul is Myeongdong or Insadong.

 

Myeongdong, in the middle of Seoul’s city center, is a great place to stay if you love shopping and want to be close to plenty of restaurants. 

Hotel iconThe Metro Hotel: The Metro Hotel is a great choice in Myeongdong. 

 

Insadong is another good place to stay. Here you are within walking distance of lots of Seoul’s best things to do such as Bukchon Hannok Village and the Jogyese Buddhist temple. 

Hotel iconThe Sunbee hotel: This is a good choice if you want to be near Bukchon Hanok Village and the subway.

A Hanok stay is a great experience.  You will stay right in the center of the Bukchon Hanok Village in a charming and traditional guesthouse.  The friendly hosts will see to it that you want for nothing.

Hotel icon

The Sky Guesthouse gets excellent reviews.  The rooms and public areas are very clean, very well maintained and beautifully decorated and the hosts are very accommodating.

 

If you don’t want to lose time upon arrival at the airport you can pre-pay your pocket wifi device so that it’s ready and waiting for you at the airport when you arrive. 

 

Visiting the DMZ is on the bucket list of many travelers. Check out the best DMZ tours here.

 

If you are short on time, you might prefer to gon on a city tour of Seoul instead of exploring the city on your own.

 

Take out travel insurance. If you don’t have travel insurance, have a look at World Nomads travel insurance. Here you can find more info about World Nomads Travel Insurance. 

 

What to do in Seoul

 

Gyeongbokgung palace Seoul, South Korea

Gyeongbokgung Palace

1. Wander around Gyeongbokgung Palace

Seoul is certainly rich in palaces.  The city boasts no less than 5 palaces that are currently open to the public.

Gyeongbokgung Palace is the largest and often considered as the most beautiful palace of the Joseon dynasty.

The palace site houses more than 300 buildings and together they account for almost 6,000 rooms.

The changing of the guard ceremony is free and definitely worth seeing. It occurs twice daily at 10 AM and 2 PM. This is one of the best things to do in Seoul.

Free entrance to the palace with the discover Seoul pass or if you wear a Hanbok. 

 

We have more details about the other palaces in our Seoul Itinerary

 

Bus icon

 Nearest subway station: Gyeongbokgung Station, Exit #5. 

 

2. Stroll around Bukchon Hanok Village

Bukchon Hanok Village is a lovely neighborhood full of traditional Hanok houses.

It’s absolutely one of the places you need to go when you are in Seoul.

There are about 900 traditional houses, all made of stone, wood, earth and rice paper.  Bukchon lies on a hill and if you walk all the way to the top you can see an abundance of sloping roofs. 

Some houses can be visited, in others, you can follow workshops. 

Take your time to wander around and to discover this lovely neighborhood. 

It’s also a great spot to take beautiful Instagram worthy pictures.

 

Bus icon

 Nearest subway station: Anguk Station, Exit #2

 

Seoul, Seoul Tower Love locks, South Korea

Seoul tower

3. Go up the Namsan Seoul Tower 

The 236-meter high N Seoul Tower is an iconic landmark in the city.  It’s one of the tallest observation towers in Asia. 

The observatory offers 360-degree panoramic views of Seoul.

You can buy skip the line tickets for the observatory here. 

The N-Seoul Tower is a romantic place of pilgrimage for couples who want to declare eternal love to each other. The fences are completely covered by padlocks in all colors and sizes that bear the names of couples in love. 

Once the sun sets the tower gets colorfully illuminated.

The tower stands on top of Mount Namsan.

There are 3 options to get to the tower. 

You can take a public bus or the cable car.  The third alternative is to hike to the top.  There is a pathway that leads from the bottom station of the cable car to the top.

Bus icon

 Nearest subway station: Myeongdong Station, Exit #3. When leaving the exit head South. 

4. Unwind in Namsan Park

Namsan Park is the largest Park in Seoul, it attracts more than 20,000 people daily.

An absolute highlight of the park is the Cherry Blossom path, the longest trail of cherry trees in Seoul.

The park is well known for its beautiful walking trails.  As it’s situated on a mountain many trails offer beautiful vistas on the skyline of Seoul. 

The Seoul Tower is located in the center of the park.

On Sundays, it can be very busy. 

 

Bus icon

 Nearest subway station: Myeongdong Station, Exit #3. When leaving the exit head South.

 

JSA Panmunjom, South_Korea, DMZ5. Visit the DMZ

Although the DMZ zone, one of the few active remnants of the cold war, lies 60 km from Seoul, it’s an absolute must-visit while you are in Seoul. 

By visiting the DMZ zone, you will learn more about Korean history and get a better understanding of the differences between North and South Korea. 

One of the most interesting sites you can visit is the Joint Security Area ( JSA ).  This is the border post with the blue barracks where the official meetings take place. 

It’s also the only place in the DMZ area where you will have the chance to enter North Korea. (at least without getting arrested or shot 🙃) 

How to visit the DMZ zone

The DMZ region can really only be visited with a guided tour. There is the option to travel to the region with the DMZ peace train but once at the station, you need to join a guided tour as well.  For this reason, our recommendation is to join a tour that leaves from Seoul.

The advantage of such a guided tour is that you can visit the JSA zone (the Joint Security Area) and you will get more background information about the things you visit. In addition, if you compare the price of a tour from Seoul with what you pay for the train + tour, the difference is negligible.

Since DMZ tours are very popular we advise you to book well in advance. 

 

More information and booking: DMZ Tours Or have a look at our comprehensive overview to decide on the best tour for you.  It’s a full guide about the DMZ that explains the differences between the tours and gives more detail about the different areas that you can visit.
Insadong shopping Seoul, South Korea

Insadong

6. Explore Insadong

Another thing you absolutely must do during your Seoul sightseeing tour is exploring Insadong.

Insadong is a colorful neighborhood full of shops, art galleries, and restaurants. Seoul’s main shopping street cuts the neighborhood in half.

It’s a great place to buy Korean souvenirs and feast on Korean street food and snacks. 

Insadong also houses some interesting museums such as the Kimchi Museum where you can learn everything about this quintessential Korean dish.

There’s also the entertaining Alive Museum, the largest 4D art museum in Korea. 

Bus iconNearest subway station: Anguk Station, Exit #6

 

Seoul, Jogyesa temple, South Korea

Jogyesa temple

7. Stop by the beautifully decorated Jogyesa Temple

The Jogyesa Temple dates from the Joseon era. 

It is a lovely serene hideaway in the middle of the busy Insadong shopping district in Seoul.

The main sights of the temple are the 3 gigantic buddha statues and the 10-story high stupa. 

The charming authentic temple contrasts sharply with the towering skyscrapers that surround it.  The temple is a nice place to drop by and relax a few minutes as you explore Insadong.

At night this temple is also beautifully lit.

 

Bus iconNearest subway station: Gwanghwamun Station, Exit #2

 

8. Shop till you drop at Myeongdong

If you love shopping and you wonder where to go in Seoul, we recommend Myeongdong.

Shops sell everything from skincare and other beauty products to bags, shoes, clothes, and accessories.

Most of the stores offer an immediate tax refunds service if you spend more than 30.000 Won. 

When the clock strikes 4 PM vendors start lining up street food carts.  You will be surprised by the wide variety of snacks that are sold.  

Be sure to bring cash if you want to taste some of the street food. Chances are credit cards won’t be accepted.

Bus iconNearest subway station: Myeongdong Station

 

9. Experience vibrant Hongdae

Hongdae’s location near Hongik University Street makes it a very vibrant neighborhood which is alive day and night.

The district has a definitive party vibe and karaoke places and gaming halls will make you feel young again. The district is also dotted with budget-friendly clothing and gadget shops.  This is a good place to look for unique souvenirs in Seoul.

If you’re looking for free entertainment you need to stop by Eoulmadag-ro street after dark.  There’re always many street performances ranging from K-pop dances to live singing.

Hongdae is also home to the Trick Eye Museum, a fun and interactive museum with lots of 3D optical illusions.

Download the trickeye app to take full advantage of the optical illusions.

 

Free admission to the Trickeye museum with the Discover Seoul Pass or you can buy discounted tickets on Klook.

Bus iconNearest subway station: Hongik University Station, Exit #9

 

Seoul, Gwangjang market, South Korea

Gwangjang market

10. Mingle with Koreans at the Gwangjang Market 

This street market is the perfect spot to mingle with Koreans and to try local street food while you are in Seoul. 

One of the strangest things you can have at the market is San-nakji, raw octopus that is cut in pieces and served while the tentacles are still writhing. Apparently, it’s a Korean delicacy. 

Bus iconNearest subway station: Anguk Station, Exit #6

 

Seoul Sign South Korea

Seoul sign, this picture was taken before the I and U were added

11. Pose in front of the “I-Seoul-U” sign

I Seoul U has been Seoul’s slogan since 2015.  Opinions differ on what it actually means. 

Koreans think it means “Yours and my Seoul” and not all are happy with the slogan which is, as they argue, not picked by someone who was fluent in English.

That aside, the I-Seoul-U sign, travels around Seoul and can always be found in a nice picture spot.  

At the time of writing it is on the river’s edge in Yeouido’s Hangang Park.

 

The park is a nice place to relax and the sign offers great opportunities for fun Instagram-worthy pictures.

Bus iconNearest subway station: Yeouinaru Station, Exit #2 or #3

 

12. Observe Seoul from the world’s highest glass-floored observation deck

Seoul Sky is the world’s highest glass-floored observation deck and the world’s third-highest observation deck overall.

It’s on the top floors of the Lotte World Tower, the tallest building in Korea and the 5th tallest building in the world. 

The observation platform has floor to ceiling windows all-around so you get a breathtaking 360-degree view of Seoul. 

The daring can also walk over the glass floor, 555 meters above the ground. 

This is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Seoul, sometimes the lines can be very long. We advise you to go early in the morning to avoid the queues or to make use of the fast-track tickets

More information and skip the line tickets: Lotte Tower fast-track tickets 

Bus iconJamsil (Green Line 2, Pink Line 8) Exit #1, #2, #10 or #11

South Korea - Seoul - Bukhansan National Park

Bukhansan National Park

13. Go hiking in Bukhansan National Park

Not many megapolises have such a beautiful national park in their front yard as Seoul. 

Bukhansan National Park borders Seoul in the North, it’s so close to the city center that it’s a breeze to get here by either bus or subway.

Nature lovers, like us, will love the park.  It’s the perfect spot to escape from the hustle and bustle of busy Seoul. 

Hikers can choose from a whole range of trails, you have them in different lengths and difficulty levels.

You can find more information on the National Park’s website. 

 

Bus iconNearest subway station: The Dobongson metro station (Line 1 or 7, exit #1). From the exit, it is about 10 minutes walking to the park’s entrance.

14. Admire the street art at Ihwa Mural Village in Ihwa-dong

This may well be Seoul’s most colorful neighborhood. 

The whole district is brightened up by numerous unique pieces of street art. If you are wondering what to see in Seoul and you love street art, you should definitely head to the Ihwa Mural Village in Ihwa-dong. 

This project was created in 2006 by more than 70 local artists in an attempt to revive the neighborhood that was scheduled to be demolished.

Then the district gained extra popularity when some music videos of popular K-pop bands were shot here.

The village has turned from what used to be almost a slum into a popular neighborhood for both locals and tourists.

So popular in fact that it’s residents have overpainted some of the art-pieces as a protest to the numerous tourists that flood their streets.  

Since then the city administration has intervened and has taken some measures to save the residents of hordes of tourists at their doorstep. 

It’s fun to wander around the Ihwa Mural Village in search of fun mural art.

Please respect the privacy of the residents when you go.

 

There are at least 60 murals in the village. To see them, just follow the signs. 

Ihwa Mural Village is also often referred to as “daldongnae” which means moon village.  This because it lies on a hillside and thus closer to the moon. Know that some streets can be very steep.

Bus iconNearest subway station: Hyehwa Station, Exit #2.

 

Lotte World, Magic Island, Seoul, South Korea

Magic Island in Lotte World

15. Visit Lotte World

Lotte World is located in the middle of Seoul.

It houses 3 theme parks: Lotte World Adventure, Lotte Magical Land and the Lotte World Aquarium. 

Lotte World Adventure, a Korean version of Disneyland,  is the world’s largest indoor amusement park and is perfect for kids.

Lotte Magical Land, the outdoor park, houses some amazing thrill rides. At the center of the park is a castle that looks very much like Disney’s castle.  It’s easy to see where they got their inspiration. 😉

The Lotte World Aquarium offers a large variety of sea creatures such as belugas, penguins, seals, octopus, etc.  In total there’re more than 55,000 marine animals of 650 different species.

The highlight of the Lotte World Aquarium is the giant water tank.

You can buy a combi-ticket to visit all three parks on the same day, but in Lotte World Adventure and Magic Island alone, you can already easily spend a day. Lotte World Adventure and the Aquarium are great destinations for rainy days. 

Bus iconJamsil (Green Line 2, Pink Line 8) Exit #4

 

DongDaemun Design Plaza Seoul South Korea16. Admire the Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP)

The Dongdaemun Design Plaza was designed by Zaha Hadid, also nicknamed the queen of curves. 

The building has a distinctively neo-futuristic design and the many curves clearly give away that it was Zaha Hadid’s design.

It’s a beautiful building featuring large global exhibition spaces, futuristic retail stores, restored parts of the Seoul fortress and a walkable park on the roof.

At night the building is beautifully illuminated. 

The permanent LED rose exhibition is also a favorite gathering place of Seoulites for romantic evenings.  The roses automatically light up as soon as the sun sets.

Bus iconNearest subway station: Dongdaemun Station Exit 8 or Dongdaemun History & Culture Park Station Exit #1 or #14.

 

17. Stroll around the Cheonggyecheon Stream

The stream used to be a pitful part of the city until a large renewal project upgraded it along with the adjacent streets. 

The whole stretch of the stream, which starts at the Cheongye Plaza and eventually flows into the Hangang River, received a boardwalk and is now a popular hangout.

The boardwalk is almost 11 km long and attracts many residents who come here to chill and relax after a busy day.

You can dip your feet in the water and there’re frequent street performances along the river banks and at Cheongye Plaza.

There’s a weekend market along the river banks just off Gwangtongyo Bridge. 

Every Saturday Starting at 5 PM food trucks will try to seduce you with their tasty snacks. (on Sunday the markets open at 4 PM) 

There are also cultural performances and some local handicrafts on sale.

This is definitely one of Seoul’s point of interest.

Bus iconNearest subway station: Gwanghwamun Station Exit #5.

Changdeokgung Palace Secret Garden Seoul South Korea18. Visit the secret garden (Huwon)

Palaces have always had some kind of mysterious and at the same time romantic spirit. 

The secret garden at Changdeokgung palace is a lovely example.  Up till today, it keeps its mysterious flair as there are only a limited number of people admitted.

The secret garden is a UNESCO heritage site and together with Changdeokung palace, it is a nice place to unwind. The garden has many trees, ponds, pavilions, and buildings. 

The secret garden can only be visited with a guided tour.

Entrance is included with the four palaces ticket but you need to reserve your tour well upfront if you want to visit this mysterious site.

If you love gardens, the secret garden is one of the best things to see in Seoul.

Since visits to the secret garden book up really fast, we advise you to reserve your spot early. 

Bus iconNearest subway station: Anguk Station Exit #3.

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Seoul, Bukchon Hanok Village, South Korea

Bukchon Hanok Village

 

19. View a Nanta show 

A Nanta show guarantees a fun night out.  The show is a classic in Korea, the first-ever performance of this musical-like show was in 1997.

The performance is nonverbal, it includes drama, comedy, magic and also some acrobatics. The story is set in a kitchen.  Three cooks are rushing to finish a wedding banquet in time.  In an attempt to help, the manager installs his nephew, but he turns out to be rather incompetent.

This is a fun night out for young and old.

Since it’s Korea’s most popular performance, tickets tend to sell out quickly, so purchase your tickets well in advance. 

Check reviews and book: Nanta Show Tickets 

20. Visit the War Memorial and Museum

This is a very well kept and maintained museum that has a great collection of inside and outside exhibits related to the Korean War. 

Outside you will find a number of memorial statues and a large assortment of aircrafts, rockets, and tanks.  Inside there’re 6 halls, each one dedicated to another aspect of the war.

The museum covers the ‘Korea War’ topic very broadly, it has exhibits that date back to the prehistoric era and not only shows elements of the Korean army but also those of friendly forces.

Free English speaking tour at 10 AM and 1 PM

 

Entrance: Free
Hours: 9 AM – 6 PM / closed on Monday

Bus icon Nearest subway station: Samgakji Station Exit #12

Bongeunsa temple Seoul21. Stroll along the streets of Gangnam

The Gangnam district is also called the Beverly Hills of Korea. It’s the district where many wealthy South Koreans live. In Gangnam, you will be able to mingle with the rich and famous.

If you still have some time left and you wonder what to do in Seoul the Gangnam district is worth a visit.

The district became a hit worldwide thanks to PSY’s song ‘Gangnam Style’. Those who want to dance at the popular tunes right in the middle of the district that the song is about can do so on the Gangnam Style stage at exit 11 of Gangnam station. 

Believe it or not, despite that the song was a parody about the neighborhood it still got a stage as a tribute because it became so popular.  The song used to play on loop 24/7 at first but I’m not sure if that’s still the case.  If not you will have to dance to an imaginary beat…

There’re many famous clubs spread across the district but you can also burn a hole in your wallet in the many designer stores. At Chenongdam Fashion Street you will find lots of designer shops such as Louis Vuitton, Prada, and Gucci. Besides upscale brands, you will also find more affordable clothing in the large underground shopping center at Gangnam station.

The COEX Mall is also located in Gangnam. It’s another huge underground shopping center and besides shops, it contains a movie theater, a concert hall and an aquarium.

Technology fans need to stop by Samsung D’light.  This exhibition center showcases the latest technological innovations by this Korean Chaebol.  There’s a floor about the current technological capabilities and one that shows Samsung’s vision for the future.  The basement houses Samsung’s flagship store.

You should also visit the Bongeunsa Buddhist temple.  It is right in the middle of this metropolitan district and the contrast with its surroundings couldn’t be starker.

The moment you set foot in the temple you will experience the serenity of this place.  These temple grounds feel much more secluded than those of Jogyesa we wrote about above.

One last tip: Don’t limit your visit to this district to the daytime hours. Gangnam definitely comes alive at night when the huge billboards are lightened up.

Here is more info about the Gangnam district

 

Bus icon Nearest subway station: Gangnam (Green line 2)

 

22. Take great pictures at Common Ground

Common Ground is a very trendy shopping mall near Konkuk University.  What makes it so special is that it is made from containers. 

The mall houses about 200 stores, many of them from young designer brands, and several restaurants.  Most of the restaurants are located on the rooftop terrace, a terrace that turns magical after dark when it is atmospherically lit.

If you don’t find anything to your taste at the restaurants you can try one of the food trucks that are stationed outside.

Sometimes you may also run into exhibitions, events or random performances held in the mall’s square. 

This mall is popular with Instagrammers. 

It used to be a very “hipster” place and it spread quickly on Instagram. 

Since then the place has gone somewhat more mainstream.

Bus iconNearest subway station: Konkuk University Station Exit #6.

 

23. Make a cruise on the Han river

The Han river traverses Seoul from East to West.  

Cruising the Han river is a great way to discover Seoul in a comfortable way.

You can sit back and relax while cruising the river from Yanghwa Bridge in the west to Banpo Bridge in the east. 

As the city floats by you will see popular sights such as N Seoul Tower, Jamsil Olympic Stadium, Hanwha 63 City building, the LG Twin Towers and more.

There are several different cruises to choose from. Some go during the day and others at night.   

The night cruises tend to be the most popular because of the onboard entertainment program and the city’s illuminated skyline. 

One of the highlights of the evening cruises is also the rainbow fountain of the Banpo bridge. 

On Saturdays, there’re additional cruises with live music and fireworks. 

More information and tickets: Han River Cruise Tickets 

 

24. Stroll around the largest underground mall in Asia

The Coex Shopping Mall is the largest underground mall in Asia.

It might seem a bit odd to call a shopping mall a highlight, but COEX deserves its place in this list.

Not only because it’s the largest mall in Asia, but also because it’s more than just a simple mall. 

The mall counts about 250 stores and 800 restaurants.  There are 2 large food courts. 

One noteworthy store is SMTown.  This is a shop ran by SM Entertainment, a large local record label that represents many K-pop artists. 

The huge 6-floor complex in the Coex mall boasts a museum, a café, and a theatre. 

This place is heaven for K-pop fans and those who have never heard of this music, like us, can get an idea of what the hype is all about.  In the theatre on the 5th floor, you can even attend hologram concerts.

COEX is the abbreviation of Convention and Exhibition center so those are present on-site as well.

Besides all this, there’s also a movie theater, a huge public library, a casino, and an aquarium. 

The latter is not as big as the Lotte World Aquarium but it still has over 40,000 animals including the largest number of shark species in Korea. 

A highlight of a visit to the aquarium is the shark tunnel which leads through the Shark basin, one of 90 different exhibition tanks. 

Bus iconNearest subway station: Samseong Station Exit #6

 

Korean street food25. Try the delicious Korean street food

While you are in Seoul you definitely must try some of the delicious street food the capital has to offer. 

As you discover the city you will get plenty of opportunities for tasting some local sweet or spicy delicacies. 

Gwangjang Market, Myeongdong and the evening market at Cheonggyecheon Stream are just a few of many places that are popular with locals.

Here are some things you can try: Kimbap or Gimbap (Korean sushi), Hweori Gamja (Tornado Potato), Yangnyeom Tongdak (Fried Chicken), Eomuk (fishcakes), and Hotteok (sweet Korean pancake)  

26. Rent a Hanbok

A Hanbok is a traditional Korean dress used during traditional events such as festivals and ceremonies.

While you are in Seoul you will see lots of locals and tourists wearing one. 

Besides that wearing a Hanbok is a lot of fun and offers amazing picture opportunities, it also gives you free entrance to the palaces. 

You will see many shops where you can rent a Hanbok and you can also rent one online.  So what are you waiting for? 

Rent a Hanbok online: Hanbok Rental 

 

Jongmyo shrine Seoul South Korea27. Take a spiritual tour inside the Jongmyo shrine

The Jongmyo Shrine is a good example of a Confucian shrine. It is the oldest and most authentic of the royal shrines to have been preserved. 

It is dedicated to the deceased kings and queens of the Joseon Dynasty.

Inside the shrine are 25 sinjus, one for each deceased king of the dynasty. 

A sinju is a small wooden tablet with the name of a deceased person written on it.  It was believed that the spirits of the deceased would find rest in the tablets.

The Jongmyo Shrine measures 109 meters in length, it is said to be the world’s longest single wooden structure.

Thanks to how good the shrine has been preserved over the years and its significance in Korea’s cultural history the shrine has also been recognized as UNESCO world heritage.

You can only visit the shrine as part of a tour.  Exceptions are Saturdays and the last Wednesday of every month which is designated as ‘Culture day‘ in Korea since 2014.  On Culture day many museums, galleries, as well as other cultural sites can be visited for free.

It is always nice to discover places on your own but with a guided tour you will learn more about how Koreans cope with their ancestors and death. I recommend planning your visit according to your preferences. 

English tours are available at 10 AM, 12 PM, 2 PM, 4 PM

 

The entrance is included in the Discover Seoul Pass.

 

Opening hours: 

February-May and September-October: 9 AM – 6 PM

June-August: 9 AM – 6:30 PM

November-January: 9 AM – 5:30 PM

Bus iconNearest subway station: Jongno 3-ga Station Exit #8-11

28. Explore Olympic Park

Olympic Park is a huge park that was built for the 1998 Seoul Summer Olympic Games. 

It contains the Olympic stadiums and various museums, of which some are related to the Olympics, but most importantly it’s a vast stretched-out park that covers 1,4 square kilometers.

It’s a popular hangout for Seoulites in the weekend who take their friends or family for a picnic.  The landscaping is beautiful and you can rent bikes, skates or use any of the other sports facilities.

The park is divided into different zones.  Besides the impressive leisure facilities in the sports zone, there’s also a culture and art zone, and a history zone. 

A highlight of a visit to the park is the sculpture park next to the SOMA Museum of art.  It has over 200 sculptures in the open air.

If you want to visit the park but don’t like to walk or bike, you can also buy a ticket to ride the Hodori Train that goes through the park.

Bus iconNearest subway station: Olympic Park Station Exit #3 or Mongchontoseong Station Exit #1.

29. Visit a themed café

Themed cafés have long been a popular thing in Japan. 

This country wasn’t the one to invent the cat café but it was the first country where the concept made headlines. 

Since then cat cafés have mushroomed in its capital Tokyo

Now we have good news for those who want to experience such a café but don’t have plans to go to Japan.  The hype has crossed the border and in Seoul, you can find several themed cafés that are just as amazing as their Japanese counterparts.

Animal lovers will find lots of places to have a drink while in the meantime petting their favorite animals. There are the usual cat and dogs cafés but also more exotic sheep, meerkats, raccoons, and reptile cafés. 

Hello Kitty is a big thing in Asia so a Hello Kitty themed café couldn’t be missing on the list. 

Fans of this cartoon character must definitely visit the Hello Kitty café in Hongdae. 

Harry Potter fans can indulge themselves in the immense King’s cross Harry Potter café

This café has 4 floors and inside there’s a replica of the Hogwarts steam train. 

Make sure to explore all floors as you will stumble across great surprises everywhere.

One of the most unusual themed cafés you can visit is the Poop café in Insadong. 

Food is shaped like poop and your favorite espresso will be served in a toilet bowl.

South Korea Folk Village30. Stroll around the Korean Folk Village

The Korean Folk Village is a replica of a traditional Korean Hanok Village dating from the Joseon dynasty.

The village contains many traditional houses and visitors can see a working traditional crafts workshop.

Every day there are also several shows. 

There’s a tightrope walking show, a music, and dance performance but especially the horseback martial arts show gets high grades.

It is the perfect place to learn more about ancient Korean culture. 

 

How to get there:

There are several ways to get to the Korean Folk Village

By subway and bus:

Bus iconTake the Seoul S-subway Line 2 to Gangnam Station. Take exit 10 and take bus 5001-1 or 1560 to the Korean Folk Village.

Bus icon

Take Seoul Subway Line 1 to Jonggak Station. Take exit 3-1. and take bus 5500-1 to the Korean Folk Village.

Bus icon

Take the DX Subway Line to Sinnonhyeon Station. Take exit 6. and take bus 5001-1 or 1560 to the Korean Folk Village. 

Bus icon

Take the Bundang Subway Line to Sanggal Station. Take exit 3 and take bus 37, 10-5 or 5001-1 to Korean Folk Village or Nagok Village. 

Bus iconTake the Seoul Subway Line 1 to Suwon Station. Take exit 5 and take bus 10-5 or 37 to the Korean Folk Village.

By subway and free shuttle bus:

This is probably the easiest option.  Take the Seoul Subway Line 1 to Suwin station. Take exit 4 and take the free shuttle bus.

Suwon Station → Korean Folk Village: 10:30, 12:30, 14:30
Korean Folk Village → Suwon Station: 14:00, 15:30, 16:30

You can find more information about the different possibilities to go to the Korean Folk Village here.

31. Ride a roller coaster at Everland

Everland which is located 1 h from Seoul is South Korea’s largest theme park. 

The park is huge, it has 5 different theme zones and attractions for the whole family. If you are into thrill rides, you should definitely ride the T-Express, South Korea’s first wooden roller coaster.

Magic land also contains many attractions for the little ones and there is of course much more to experience such as water rides, a 4D movie theater, and even a zoo.  

The future of theme park attractions is probably VR and in Everland you already find 2 VR attractions today.  One is called Robot VR, the other Gyro VR.  Both require a supplement.

We would recommend visiting Everland on a weekday since the park is sometimes super crowded during the weekends and on public holidays in South Korea

Download the Everland app which shows the queuing time at each attraction and the day program for shows and parades

Info icon
Address:
Everland
199 Everland-ro, Pogog-eup, Cheoin-gu, Yongin-si, Gyeonggi-do, 
Korea
Event icon
Opening hours:
The opening hours vary depending on the season but the park is mostly open from 10 am-10pm. 
For the exact opening hours, click here.
Tickets
We would recommend you to avoid buying tickets at the door since they are more expensive. 
Everland Seoul, South Korea
More information and tickets: Everland Ticket + Shuttle

Everland 1 Day Ticket 

How to get there

The park is located 46 kilometers from Seoul.  There are different ways to go there.

If you want to reach Everland on your own there are 2 options.

The first option is to take a combination of subway and bus, this will take about 1 hour and 45 minutes:

Bus icon

By subway from Myeongdong, Dongdaemun, and Hongdae. Take the subway to Gangnam station on line 2 (Green). Continue on bus 5002 for 9 stops where the bus will stop at a bus terminal. At this bus terminal, you can change buses for the Free Everland Shuttle Bus.

Alternatively, you can also take a combination of several subway lines so you don’t have to take the bus. This alternative is slightly longer and will take around 2 hours.

Bus icon

Make your way to Wangsimni station. Take the Bundang Line to Giheung station.  Switch to the Yongin Everline to Jeondae Everland Station and take Exit 3.  Here you can take the Free Everland Shuttle Bus which will take you to the park.

A more hassle-free, quicker and comfortable way to get to Everland is with the park’s shuttle bus service. The shuttle bus has several pick-up locations in Seoul and then heads directly to the park entrance.  Depending on where you board the bus the journey takes between 40 and 70 minutes.

More information and tickets:
Everland Ticket + Shuttle
Everland 1 Day Ticket 

Nami Island South Korea32. Visit Nami Island

Nami Island is located 63kms away from Seoul.

Getting there takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes. 

The island is a green oasis in the middle of the Han river. The government even decided to lay all wires underground to keep this valuable unspoiled landscape as it is.

You may spot some animals such as wild bunnies or ostriches.  

The island is a pilgrimage site for fans of the popular Korean drama series “Winter Sonata”.  Many scenes of this TV series were shot here and all over the island are statues and other tributes to the program.

The only way to get to the island is on a ferry.  As Nami Island is a micronation, in 2006 the island inhabitants self-declared their independence and founded the Naminara republic, you need a “visa” to enter the island. Don’t worry about this, the Visa is issued together with the ferry tickets.  The visa is a fun souvenir of your visit.

The Naminara republic has its own flag and passports but also their own stamps.  If you want to surprise your family at home you can send a postcard from the Naminara Republic, bet they have never heard of it.

How to get there: 

The most popular way to get to Nami Island is by joining an organized day tour. It is the quickest way to visit Nami Island, Petite France, and the Garden of Morning Calm as you can skip the queues for buying ferry and entrance tickets. 

More information and tickets: Nami Island Day Tour Tickets 

If you want to go independent: Here you can find more info about the different ways to get there.

33. Stay overnight at a Korean Buddhist temple

The majority of Korean temples are located in the mountains and are surrounded by dramatic landscapes. 

A temple stay is mostly popular to escape the rush of the cities daily life and find inner peace in nature.

But a temple stay is not just about that.  It’s also about introducing you to the daily routines of temple life.  There are various programs ranging from deep spiritual multi-day stays to vegetarian cooking classes or meditation sessions.

Typical programs include one overnight stay, a delicious vegetarian dinner, and participation to the morning prayers.

We would prefer a temple stay in a green environment but if that doesn’t fit your schedule you can book one in the Jogyesa temple in Seoul or the Myogaksa temple in Seoul.

Yongma Land Seoul South Korea34. Explore Yongma Land Abandoned Theme Park

Urban explorers will absolutely love this abandoned theme park. 

The park opened in the ’80s but failed to adapt to people’s appetite for newer and faster attractions.  As a result, it closed down in 2011. 

A visit to the park today feels like a flashback to the eighties.

The park is technically open again today. 

None of the attractions are open though, all the attractions still look as deserted as they were left in 2011. 

What has changed is that somebody is now taking care of the site, making sure that it can be visited safely. 

He has reopened the site as an attraction for urban explorers. There’s no need to jump across fences to visit this place, in return for an entrance fee of 10,000 Won (about $8) you can safely take as many pictures as you want.

It may not be the same charm you experience when you roam around a site that you have all to yourself but the pictures you can take here are truly amazing.

The site becomes even more ghostly once the sun sets.  After dark, the owner will lit the lights around the merry-go-round for some extra special pictures. 

You will easily spend 3 to 4 hours taking the funniest and spookiest pictures.  If you plan your visit in the late afternoon you can stay till dark to see the illuminated merry-go-round.

Bus iconNearest subway station:  Mangu Station Exit #1. From here it’s a 10-15 minutes walk.

Noryangjin Fish Market Seoul South Korea35. Savor a local food scene in Noryangjin Fish Market

Noryangjin Fish Market extends over 2 buildings and is located right next to Noryangjin Subway Station. 

The vendors are gradually moving from the old to the new building but up till today some stalls in the old building are still open.

The market is a wholesale market and those that suffer insomnia or are willing to get up early enough can attend the lively wholesale auctions at 3 AM.  If that’s too early for you, you don’t need to worry.

The market is open 24/7 and you can just as well drop by for lunch or dinner or come visit the place at any other time of the day.

Do not wear any fancy shoes.  Both buildings are very clean but the constant cleaning means that the floor is always wet.

The market is an inexpensive place to eat. 

As you wander through the corridors you will see all kinds of fish, octopus, and shellfishes.   

Most of them are alive and in aquariums.

Vendors are usually more than happy to explain what they have to offer.  If you want to buy something they will weigh it and quote you a price.  Negotiating is quite common in the market so you can try to get the price down a little before you bite.

All vendors are associated with restaurants and they will escort you to their associated restaurant.  The restaurant will charge a small service fee but everything summed up your meal will cost less than what you would pay in a regular restaurant.

The restaurants in the new building are located on the first floor and are remarkably cleaner than those in the old building

This market is an excellent place to taste San-nakji, a specialty that is sometimes seen as the national dish of Korea. 

San-nakji is live octopus, the tentacles are cut from a live octopus and they will still be squirming on your plate when it is served to you.

The taste is supposedly mild and it is usually served with some chili dipping sauce.  I must admit that I didn’t try it…

Bus iconNearest subway station:  Noryangjin Station Exit #1. Walk around100 meters over the train tracks via the footbridge, following the English signage.

36. Sweat it out at a Korean sauna, Jjimjilbang

Just like the Japanese, the Koreans love to take good care of their body and soul.

To do so they spend much time relaxing and unwinding in Jjimjilbangs.  Jjimjilbangs are a combination of hot pools of various degrees, similar to Onsen in Japan, and saunas,  stone or clay kilns with temperatures usually ranging in between 50 and 90 degrees celsius. 

You may also find indoor and/or outdoor pools.

Bigger establishments are usually open 24/7 and have sleeping rooms or capsule-like hotels.  If you arrive after the night rate kicks in and you can stay overnight for less than 16,000 won (about $13).

Want to add an original overnight stay to your vacation?  Why not stay in a Jjimjilbang for one night?

A visit to a Jjimjilbang will introduce you to the Korean art of de-stressing.

The baths and hot tubs are to be enjoyed naked.  Don’t be afraid, this is very normal for Koreans so you can just blend in with the locals.  All Jjimjilbangs are also gender-segregated so you don’t risk running into somebody from the other gender.

Do you still feel uncomfortable by the idea that you will stand out among the Koreans? Dragon Hill Spa in Seoul was already featured in the New York Times and on CNN and is a tourist-friendly place.

Seodaemun prison Seoul South Korea37. Visit Seodaemun Prison

This prison is a remnant from the dark period of the Japanese war.  It was constructed by the Japanese rulers during their occupation from 1908 to 1945. Afterward, it has been turned into a museum.

The woman’s wing has been well preserved and in it you can see the various cells and torture chambers that the Japanese used to suppress the Koreans.  Dolls have been used to show the horrors the prisoners had to undergo.

Nearest subway station: Dongnimmun Station Exit # 5.

38. Take the Wine Train

This train is excellent for those who enjoy a glass of wine every once in a while.  The train runs every day from Tuesday to Saturday and departs on the third floor of Seoul station.  

After leaving the station you get the chance to taste several different wines along with some cheese and fruit until the train pulls into Yeongdong station.  Here you will visit Korea’s only winery.

You have plenty of time for a delicious lunch, more wine tasting, a visit to the vineyard, a visit to the caves and a relaxing wine foot bath.

Those who wish can also attend a drumming class and hike up to the nearby Okgye Falls.

Next, you board the train back to Seoul where you can enjoy more wine while you watch a movie in the cinema car.

Sweet tooths will probably love the Korean red wines which tend to be a lot sweeter than traditional red wines.

39. Make a Seoul ghost walking Tour

Once you have experienced the normal side of Seoul it’s time to discover the dark side.  Just like any other town Seoul has got its series of scandals, violent rapes, and bloody murders.

This tour leads you along weird and surprising landmarks and foul-mouthed tour guides will tell you the cruel history of the places that you may already have visited before.

The weekend tour is different from the week tour, both last about 1,5 hours. 

Ghost enthusiasts may consider joining the extended tour which combines both and lasts 2,5 to 3 hours.

Conclusion

When we arrived in Seoul it was love at first sight. The combination of the historic palaces with the modern skyscrapers gives the city a unique appearance.  We looked in awe at the modern shiny office buildings and it felt like we were flashed back in time as we crossed the thresholds of the magnificent palaces.

The city is vast and counts almost 10 million inhabitants but it never felt too crowded and the various parks, palaces, and temples serve as zen hideouts if you want to escape the bustle of the metropolis.

As we traversed the city it felt like there was no end to the picturesque spots we passed.   I took loads of pictures.  Our short visit gave us enough time to see many of the highlights but there remains so much to be explored. 

Seoul, we will be back!

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Categories: South Korea

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