Seoul is a huge city with many things to do. It’s certainly an impressive city, with towering skyscrapers, modern architecture and lots of shopping possibilities. In this guide, we’re going to share with you tips to exploring Seoul, the best specific areas, activities you can do, and hopefully, it can help you to plan your daily itinerary in Seoul.
Last year on the second week of November 2016, we had an awesome #FoodInLoveKOREA autumn holiday. In 9 days, we explored many destinations in Seoul and also Nami Island. And now, we’re going to share with you the best destinations that you must visit in Seoul. Make sure you read this post until the finish and don’t miss out!
For complete guide and list of 30 things to eat in Seoul, please read [KOREA] FOOD GUIDE – What to Eat in Seoul
Guide to the best destinations to enjoy Autumn in Seoul, please read [KOREA] AUTUMN IN SEOUL – Fall Foliage Destinations and Places to Visit
As one of the biggest shopping districts and most tourist-filled neighborhoods in all of Seoul, Myeongdong is always packed tourist from all over the world. It’s home to lots of restaurants, street food, hotels, beauty stores, trendy fashion, and nightlife. It’s not difficult to get lost in the maze that it is and even more difficult to find something that feels uniquely Korean here after all, and it’s what you came here for! Stay in Myeongdong to be surrounded by shopping and to be satisfied with a lot of delicious foods.
Subway: Myeongdong Station (Line 4) and Euljiro-1-ga Station (Line 2)
What to do: Shopping in a lot of branded fashion and cosmetic stores, eat street food, watch Nanta Show.
Places to visit: Myeondong street market.
Recommended Food / Restaurant: LINE Friends Store & Cafe, Myeongdong Kyoja, Gogung, Gimgane, Yoogane, O’sulloc Tea House, BHC Chicken, Two Two Chicken, Sulbing, Street Foods (Odeng, Steak, Cabbage Omelette, Tteobokki, Gimbap, Grilled Cheese Lobster, 32cm Ice Cream, etc.).
2. N SEOUL TOWER
N Seoul Tower is the most iconic landmark of Seoul. The top of the tower is at almost 480m above sea level so it’s a great place to enjoy the entire city of Seoul. To reach the tower, you need to ride the Namsan cable car up the Mt. Namsan, or alternatively, walk to the tower through Namsan Park. Besides the observatory, you shouldn’t miss “Locks of Love” that located at roof terrace, a spacious wooden viewing deck whose exotic atmosphere makes it very popular with lovers. There are thousands of padlocks attached to the fence by romantic couples symbolizing their eternal love.
Subway: Myeongdong Station (Line 4), Exit 3
What to do: Sightseeing
Places to visit: Namsan Park, Roof Terrace / Locks of Love, N Plaza, Observation Deck
Insadong is one part of Seoul where you can find tourists from all over the world of all ages. Stretching just over 700 meters, the small street lines up a repeating mix of tea café, art gallery, crafts store, and souvenir shop. You’ll get a good sense of how much Korean traditions influence contemporary culture here.
Subway: Anguk Station (Line 3) and Jonggak Station (Line 2)
What to do: Shopping and dining
Recommended Food / Restaurant: Korean Tea and Coffee
This is one of our favorite areas in Seoul with its quaint and peaceful atmosphere. Also called ‘Gallery Road’ and this hilly neighborhood is characterized by numerous hipster cafes, restaurants, museum, antique shops, and art galleries, walking around this area is a pleasant experience. You can also find several unique Korean Tea House or Cafe in traditional Korean house.
Subway: Anguk Station (Line 3), Exit 1
What to do: Shopping and dining
Places to visit: Samcheongdong street, Bukchon Hanok Village.
Recommended Food / Restaurant: Korean Tea and Coffee, Samgyetang, O’sulloc Tea House
5. BUKCHON HANOK VILLAGE
Besides food and shopping scene, local culture is also an interesting attraction in Seoul. Bukchon Hanok Village (북촌한옥마을) is home to hundreds of Hanok or Korean traditional houses, that date back to the Joseon Dynasty. There was a whole neighborhood of hanok houses and up to this date, the houses here are privately owned and most of it are residential houses. It’s a great place to take the photo. Just take a stroll through the traditional hanok and there are many good photo spot here. With hundreds of traditional houses and picturesque alleys, it will give you an opportunity to experience, learn, and immerse yourself in traditional Korean culture.
Subway: Anguk Station (Line 3), Exit 1 or 2
What to do: Sightseeing
Recommended Food / Restaurant: Bon Juk (Korean Porridge), Bukchon son Mandu.
6. GYEONGBOKGUNG / GWANGHWAMUN
With Korea’s top attractions located in this area, you could expect the Gwanghwamun Square and Gyeongbokgung Palace to be crowded with tourists every day. This area is popular and meaningful for locals as well. Gwanghwamun itself is the main and largest gate of Gyeongbokgung Palace, in Jongno-gu, Seoul, as a landmark and symbol of Seoul’s long history as the capital city during the Joseon Dynasty.
Subway: Gyeongbokgung Station (Line 3), Exit 5 & Gwanghwamun Station (Line 5), Exit 9
What to do: Sightseeing, photo stop at Gyeongbokgung Palace, King Sejong, and General Yi Soon-shin statue, watching Royal Guard changing at Gyeongbokgung Palace.
Places to visit: Gyeongbokgung Palace, Gwanghwamun Square, National Palace Museum of Korea, National Folk Museum of Korea.
Recommended Food / Restaurant: Tosokchon Samgyetang, Mirak Chicken.
7. SEOUL CITY HALL
In front of the Seoul City Hall is a large oval-shaped lawn called Seoul Plaza. Before it was turned to the current plaza, it was a historic site where the Independence Movement and the pro-democracy movement were held. More recently, the plaza has served as the venue for many events like the “Hi! Seoul Festival,” and various concerts. Not far from Seoul City Hall, there is Deoksugung Palace with beautiful natural landscape and Jeongdong Observatory, the place that you can enjoy a drink while gazing at the magnificent view of Deoksugung Palace.
Subway: City Hall Station (Seoul Subway Line 1, 2)
What to do: Sightseeing, walk on Jeongdong-gil road (Deoksugung Stone Wall Road)
Places to visit: Seoul Plaza, Jeongdong Observatory, Deoksugung Palace.
Dongdaemun is a shopping district filled with many high-rise shopping malls, and some are actually wholesale malls. There are Dongdaemun Market, a traditional market in as a center of the textile industry (both wholesale and retail), and Dongdaemun Shopping Complex, one of Korea’s most well-known markets for clothes, home interior, and marriage supplies. There is also Dongdaemun Design Plaza with a great architecture design that holds various exhibitions, fashion shows, forums, conferences, and other domestic and international events. Alongside the street in Dongdaemun area, there are many street food stalls that offer Korean street food like odeng, tteobokki, croquette, skewers, etc.
Subway: Dongdaemun History & Culture Park Station (Seoul Subway Line 2, 4, 5), Exit 1
What to do: Shopping, photo stop and visit the exhibition at Dongdaemun Design Plaza.
Places to visit: Dongdaemun Market, Dongdaemun Shopping Complex, Dongdaemun Design Plaza, Gwangjang Market, Pyoung Hwa Clothing Market.
Recommended Food / Restaurant: Jinokhwa Halmae Wonjo Dakhanmari (whole chicken restaurant), Dongdaemun Grilled Fish Street, Korean street food (odeng, tteobokki, croquette, skewers, etc.)
Namdaemun is famous for Namdaemun Market, one of the oldest continually running markets in South Korea, and one of the largest retail markets in Seoul. You can find anything such as clothes, souvenirs, snacks, electronics, camera, some wonderful food alleys within the market, and also some great street food.
Subway: Hoehyeon Station (Seoul Subway Line 4), Exit 5.
What to do: Shopping and dining
Places to visit: Namdaemun Market
Recommended Food / Restaurant: Gaehwa (Jjangmyeon & Mandu), Street food (Gimbap, Odeng, Mandu, Wang Mandu, etc.), Dragon’s beard candy.
Itaewon is a unique place in Seoul where one can meet people of diverse nationalities and cultures, the most international neighborhood in Korea. Seoul even designated Itaewon as its first ‘Special Tourism District,’ to highlight it as a destination for internationals to enjoy a diversity of culture, shopping, and entertainment experiences. Itaewon typically refers to the street full of stores, restaurants, fashion shops specialize in various imported clothes, leather goods, fur goods, handbags, shoes, and antique furniture.
Another one of Itaewon’s many draws is its diverse food culture, which features cuisine from around world. It’s likely an exhibition hall for international foods from Korea, New York, London, India, Thailand, China, Greece, Pakistan, Italy, France, Mexico, Australia, and more. Unique flavors, exotic interiors, and diverse nationalities help to make Itaewon befittingly ‘the global village in Seoul.’
Hongdae is one of the most popular neighborhoods in Korea, probably because it has such a unique feel to it compared to the rest of Seoul. Hongdae is located in Western Seoul and it’s known especially for being a university town and known for its youthful and romantic ambiance, underground culture, and freedom of self-expression. There are also a plenty of shopping, restaurants, and street food. Unique cafes, cozy galleries, accessory stores, fashion shops, live cafés and clubs, art markets, and gourmet eateries make this a popular hangout for local youth and a fascinating place to walk around and explore. There are lots of guest houses in this area, so it’s a good place to looks for budget to mid-range accommodation.
Subway: Hongik University Station (Seoul Subway Line 2, Gyeongui-Jungang, AREX), Exit 8 or 9.
What to do: Shopping, dining, nightlife, cultural events, street performance, festival, Indie band performance (seasonal).
Recommended Food / Restaurant: Saemul Sikdang (New Village Korean BBQ), Chicken and Curry Goon, Me? Steak! (Steak & Beer in a Cup).
12. SINSA / GAROSUGIL
Located between Sinsa-dong and Apgujeong, Garosu-gil – which means “tree-lined street” in Korean – is fast becoming the hippest area in Seoul. In Sinsa-dong’s Garosu-gil area, even regular pedestrians look like chic, fashion gurus. Garosu-gil is known as one of Korea’s best shopping locations and it lives up to that reputation. The array of open studios, ateliers, cafés, restaurants, bars, fashion shops, and prop shops blend together for a chic cityscape. Garosu-gil will captivate you if you like to walk, have a cup of tea, take pictures, or just simply look around.
Stay a whole day in Gangnam and you can see the transformation of the average Korean employee–putting on a smile for the company lunch and then loosing his tie for a drink at night. Gangnam is an important business district with an upmarket shopping area, with stores of global and local luxury brands, and upscale restaurants that serve Korean cuisine with a modern twist.
Subway: Gangnam Station (Seoul Subway Line 2), Exit 10 or 11.
What to do: Shopping, walking along Apgujeong Rodeo Street.
Places to visit: COEX Mall, COEX Aquarium, COEX Convention & Exhibition Center-Korean World Trade Center, Apgujeong Rodeo Street.
14. GWANGJANG MARKET
If you love Korean food, you don’t want to miss eating your way through Gwangjang Market, one of the oldest traditional markets in Seoul. It’s one of the ultimate places to experience traditional Korean street food and culture all under one delicious roof. This is a place in Seoul where you’ll find both tourists and Koreans, all enjoying the same delicious food such as Bibimbap, Gimbap, Ttteobokki, Odeng, Pajeon, etc. There are a couple sections of the market, and when you’re walking around you’ll come across stalls selling clothes, fresh vegetables, snacks, souvenirs, and some random other market goods.
Subway: Jongno 5-ga Station (Seoul Subway Line 1), Exit 8 & Euljiro 4-ga Station (Seoul Subway Line 2 & 5), Exit 4.
What to do: Shopping and dining
Recommended Food / Restaurant: Korean authentic street food (Bibimbap, Gimbap, Ttteobokki, Odeng, Pajeon, Soondae)
15. CHEONGGYECHEON STREAM
Cheonggyecheon Stream is a 10.9-kilometre-long, modern public recreation space in downtown Seoul. Cheonggyecheon Stream passes close to Deoksugung Palace, Seoul Plaza, the Sejong Center, Insa-dong Street, Changdeokgung Palace, and Changgyeonggung Palace, allowing visitors to easily visit major tourist sites after a leisure stroll along the stream.
There is Cheonggye Plaza, an area of 2,500 square meters, located at the starting point of Cheonggyecheon Stream. The plaza also includes a model of Cheonggyecheon that provides visitors with a bird’s-eye view of the formerly restored Cheonggyecheon Stream. At the plaza, there are plaques that provide detailed commentaries on the 22 bridges that span the stream, as well as a number of graceful fountains that add to the ambiance of the area. Cheonggye Plaza never goes to sleep so visitors can enjoy the fantastic display of light and water even at night, and this is also the place where annual Seoul Lantern Festival is held.
- City Hall, Jonggak, Jongno 3(sam)-ga, Jongno 5(o)-ga, Dongdaemun, Sinseol-dong
- Stations (Seoul Subway Line 1)
- City Hall, Euljiro 1(il)-ga, Euljiro 3(sam)-ga, Euljiro 4(sa)-ga, Sindang,
- Sangwangsimni Stations (Seoul Subway Line 2)
- Jongno 3(sam)-ga Station (Seoul Subway Line 1, 3 and 5)
- Dongdaemun History & Culture Park Station (Seoul Subway Line 4)
- Gwanghwamun Station (Seoul Subway Line 5)
- Gwanghwamun Station (Seoul Subway Line 5), Exit 5
- City Hall Station (Seoul Subway Line 1, 2), Exit 4
What to do: Sightseeing, walking along Cheonggyecheon Stream, visiting Seoul Lantern Festival.
Places to visit: Cheonggye Plaza
16. NAMSANGOL HANOK VILLAGE
Namsangol Hanok Village located on the north side of Namsan Mountain in the center of the capital. This village has five restored traditional Korean houses, a pavilion, traditional garden, performance art stage, making it a perfect spot for both locals and tourists to take a leisure walk. The good news is, you don’t need a ticket and there’s no admission fee so you can visit Namsangol Hanok Village for free!
Subway: Chungmuro Station (Seoul Subway Line 3 & 4), Exit 3 or 4
What to do: Sightseeing
17. EWHA WOMANS UNIVERSITY
Ewha Womans University is a prestigious university for female students. The area around the university is full of budget-friendly street food, cafes, restaurants, shops, and stores with beautiful trees lined on the street. Designed with large green space, the campus is surrounded by the pretty natural landscape and this place is just too awesome to pass up. So many tourists visit this place to snap some photos and enjoy the scenery.
Subway: Ewha Womans University Station (Seoul Subway Line 2), Exit 2 or 3
What to do: Sightseeing
18. HANEUL PARK / SEOUL WORLD CUP STADIUM
Around the world cup stadium, there are beautiful surroundings like the plaza, park, and pedestrian with lovely foliage. It’s really good to enjoy the autumn vibes and take a lot of pictures. Haneul Park is situated at World Cup Park’s highest point where visitors can enjoy fantastic views of Seoul and Han river. Haneul Park has 22 lookout points offering breathtaking views of Seoul’s main landmark, including the N Seoul Tower, Bukhansan Mountain, and Hangang River. The best thing to do is explore the park and strolling around to enjoy the silver grass field since it’s very beautiful and dramatic. You’ll feel like drowning in a dreamy land which covered with eulalias and wild flowers in their most natural state.
Subway: World Cup Stadium Station (Seoul Subway Line 6), Exit 1
What to do: Sightseeing, Strolling around to enjoy the silver grass field
Places to visit: Seoul World Cup Stadium, Haneul Park
19. NAMI ISLAND
Even though it’s located at Gapyeong (outside of Seoul), Nami Island is the mandatory places to visit in Autumn! Located around 90 minutes from Seoul, it is no longer a secret that the famous tourist destination Nami Island is one of the best spots in Korea to enjoy the beautiful nature in every season. Nami Island is one of the famous destinations in South Korea both for local and international tourists. Especially for K-drama lovers, most of you must be familiar with this island since it was being used for the famous television drama series, Winter Sonata.
How to getting here: [KOREA] NAMI ISLAND (NAMISEOM 남이섬 종합휴양지) – Travel Guide.
What to do: Sightseeing, photo stop, dining, ride a bicycle.
Recommended Food / Restaurant: Seomhyanggi (Korean BBQ), Capsule Ice Cream, Coffee, Grilled Sausages.
Okay, that’s the best areas, places, and attractions in Seoul. And now we’ll help you to plan your daily itinerary. Seoul is a massive city with much to see as we mentioned above, and if you don’t like to rush so we suggest you stay 7 nights to afford a nice and leisurely pace (we stayed 8 nights). You also had to set aside an entire day for Nami Island trip as well. But if you do not have a lot of time to stay for 7 nights, actually 4-5 nights will be enough. That should give you enough time to visit all the major sights without having to rush too much. Here it is our recommendation and itinerary example grouped from the most prioritized destination/attraction and the distance between locations that are close together.
B. City Hall -> Hongdae -> Namdaemun
C. Dongdaemun -> Gwangjang Market -> Itaewon
D. Nami Island -> Myeongdong (Shopping) – We suggest you visit Nami Island on weekdays, to avoid the crowd from a lot of tourist on weekend)
E. Myeongdong (N-Seoul Tower / Nanta Show) + Sinsa/Garosugil -> Gangnam
G. Namsangol Hanok Village -> Cheonggyecheon Stream
We divided all destinations into 7 groups (A-G) and the first 5 (A-E) is the prioritized itinerary if you only have 5 days in Seoul. In case you have spare more 2 or 3 days, you can visit more places or revisit some destinations. For example, tourists usually visiting Myeongdong (or any markets) more than once, either for shopping or dining. Surely you can change the order of each daily plan, depends on what day and what time you arriving/leaving Seoul.
For more details attraction and activities to do, please refer to the details above in each area or the separate blog post of the attraction, and for your guidance for what to eat at each location, please refer to [KOREA] FOOD GUIDE – What to Eat in Seoul
Well, that’s our sharing about destinations in Seoul and how we plan our daily itinerary. Hopefully, it can help you to prepare and plan your trip to Seoul. If you have any questions, feel free to leave any comments below.. Let’s Travel!
KOREA ULTIMATE TRAVEL GUIDE:
- [KOREA] FOOD GUIDE – What to Eat in Seoul
- [KOREA] AUTUMN IN SEOUL – Fall Foliage Destinations and Places to Visit
- [KOREA] ITINERARY TRAVEL GUIDE – Top Places to Visit in Seoul
Korea Travel Series:
- [KOREA] NAMI ISLAND (NAMISEOM 남이섬 종합휴양지) – Travel Guide
- [KOREA] SEOMHYANGGI (섬향기) – Korean BBQ in Nami Island
- [KOREA] HANEUL PARK (SEOUL WORLD CUP PARK) – Travel Guide
- [KOREA] N SEOUL TOWER / NAMSAN TOWER (남산서울타워) – Travel Diary
- [KOREA] EWHA WOMANS UNIVERSITY – Travel Diary
- [KOREA] BUKCHON HANOK VILLAGE (북촌한옥마을) – Travel Diary
- [KOREA] NAMSANGOL HANOK VILLAGE (남산골한옥마을) – Travel Diary
- [KOREA] SEOUL LANTERN FESTIVAL 2016
- [KOREA] SULBING (설빙) KOREAN DESSERT CAFE – Seoul
- [KOREA] SOFTREE ICE CREAM – Itaewon, Seoul
- [KOREA] LINE FRIENDS STORE & CAFE – Seoul
- [KOREA] OSULLOC TEA HOUSE 오설록 티하우스
- [KOREA] HANCHU (한추) – Gangnam, Seoul
- [KOREA] BHC CHICKEN – Seoul
- [KOREA] CHICKEN & CURRY GOON (치킨앤 카레군) – Hongdae, Seoul
- [KOREA] TOSOKCHON SAMGYETANG – Seoul
- [KOREA] MYEONGDONG KYOJA (명동교자) – Myeongdong, Seoul
- [KOREA] GOGUNG (고궁) – Myeongdong, Seoul
- [KOREA] JAEDONG SUNDUBU (재동순두부) – Seoul
- [KOREA] SAEMUL SIKDANG / NEW VILLAGE KOREAN BBQ RESTAURANT (새마을식당) – Hongdae, Seoul
- [KOREA] GIMGANE – Myeongdong, Seoul
- [KOREA] BUKCHON SON MANDU 북촌손만두 – Seoul
- [KOREA] ME? STEAK! Steak & Beer in a Cup – Hongdae, Seoul
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