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35 Unique Things To Do In Seoul For First Time Visitors

35 Unique Things To Do In Seoul For First Time Visitors

Seoul has so many fun things to do for the whole family, including royal palaces, museums, hiking trails, parks and observation decks. The Seoul Sky Tower, Gyeongbokgung Palace, Namsan Peak and the War Memorial of Korea are some of the most popular attractions in the city.

In this guide, we’re going to show you the best things to do in Seoul, South Korea including hidden gems we think you shouldn’t miss.

Our Seoul Experience

Two tourists posing for a photo near a cherry blossom tree at a royal palace in Seoul
Mark and Kristen inside a royal palace in South Korea

We spent 14 memorable days exploring Seoul in March 2023. Our days were filled with museums, hikes, palaces and Korean BBQ. But even with two weeks, we still couldn’t accomplish everything on our Seoul bucket list because there’s just so much to do in this amazing city.

Our favorite Seoul attractions were the Lotte World Tower, touring the DMZ and Seodaemun Prison. But the popular sites are spread out throughout the entire city so we organized activities by specific area to see as much as possible. Read more about us.

This guide will show you popular attractions you should consider adding to your Seoul itinerary along with money saving tips. Click the heart on the bottom of this page so you can easily return as you plan your trip. But before we get into our list, there are a few important transportation options you need to consider.

How To Get From Incheon Airport (ICN) To Seoul

Man purchasing a ticket for the Seoul express train
Mark purchasing our AREX airport express train tickets

Most visitors will arrive into Seoul from Inceheon International Airport (ICN). But this airport is located about an hour from the city so you’ll need to take a train, bus, taxi or car to your hotel. We think the easiest way to get from Incheon to Seoul is the AREX Airport Express Train. This is what we used and it takes about 43 minutes traveling nonstop between the airport and the city.

You can book tickets for the train online or at the airport like we did, but make sure you book the express train. There is another All Stop Train that runs from Inceheon, but it makes 10 stops and takes 53 minutes so it will be slower than the express option. Tickets cost 9,500 KRW (US$ 7.11) for adults or 7,500 KRW (US$ 5.61) for children.

>> Book tickets for AREX Airport Express here

If you don’t feel comfortable with public transportation or you want a little luxury during your trip, you can also book a private transfer to the neighborhood of your choice.

Travel Tip: The ticket machines at the airport do not accept credit or debit cards so you’ll need cash in South Korean Won to purchase train tickets.

How To Get Around Seoul

Tourist waiting patiently to get on a Seoul subway
Kristen patiently waiting to get on the subway

The easiest way to get around Seoul is by subway because the city has an extensive system with over 20 lines. We like the subway because it’s environmentally friendly and extremely cost effective. You can use cash or a T-Money card to pay for your subway tickets.

The express train will arrive into the 2nd floor basement of Seoul Station and from here, you’ll need to make it your hotel. We used the subway because it’s cheap and we saw a decent amount of traffic so wanted to avoid sitting in a taxi after a long flight.

If you’re planning to use the subway for the majority of your trip, we recommend you purchase a T-Money card. You can set the amount of money on the card and it will be scanned every time you get on and off the subway. A single use ticket costs 1,500 KRW (US$ 1.12) for adults and 500 KRW (US$0.37) for children.

Visitors can purchase a T-Money card at select convenience stores or online prior to visiting. But if you’re just arriving into Seoul with your suitcase, you can pay with cash for your first trip on the subway then purchase your T-money card once you get acclimated. We’ve included the best subway stop and exit for all attractions listed in this guide.

Travel Tip: For those visitors planning to see more than just Seoul, you should look into the Korea Rail Pass because it will give you unlimited train rides on almost all trains operated by KORAIL.

Without further ado, here are the best places to visit in Seoul, South Korea:

1. Visit The Royal Palaces

Many tourists exploring the main hall at Gyeongbokgung, one of the most popular palaces in Seoul South Korea
Visitors exploring the throne room at Gyeongbokgung Palace

The 5 royal palaces in Seoul were built during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). They showcase beautiful architecture and centuries of important Korean history. The most popular palace is Gyeongbokgung followed by Changdeokgung, Changgyeonggung, Deoksugung and Gyeonghuigung respectively.

Most palaces offer free guided tours which we highly recommend if this is your first time in Seoul. We’ve personally visited each palace ourselves and wrote an extensive guide with pros and cons if you don’t have enough time to visit all of them. So start with our comparison of Seoul’s royal palaces to see which one you want to visit.

If you’re not sure which palace to see, check out each one individually:

Many visitors dress up in a hanbok to visit the royal palaces. A hanbok is the traditional clothing of Korea and it was used to signify an individual’s gender, class, marital status or age. Any visitor waring a hanbok will receive free entry into Seoul’s palaces. It’s very common for visitors to have their hair and make up done so they can take photos during their visit. You can rent a hanbok here.

2. Jongmyo Shrine

A woman walking up to the Jongmyo Shrine one of the best places to visit in Seoul
Kristen walking up to the Jongmyo Shrine

The Jongmyo Shrine contains the spirit tables of the deceased kings and queens from the Joseon Dynasty. Based on Confucian principles, these sacrificial rites symbolize the legitimacy of the royal family.

  • Address: 157 Jong-ro, Jongno-gu
  • Location: Google Maps
  • Subway stop: Jungno 3-ga Station (line 1, exit 11), (line 3, exit 8), (line 5, exit 8)

In 1995, Jongmyo was listed on UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity and this unique shrine is definitely a must do thing in Seoul. We couldn’t visit during the free guided tour, but we used the informational brochure to explore the stunning complex.

READ: How to visit the Jongmyo Shrine

3. Bukchon Hankok Village

Man walking through Bukchon Hankok Village with several other tourists
Mark posing for a photo at Bukchon Hankok Village

One of the must see things is Bukchon Hankok Village because this stunning town features 1,000 traditional homes that date back to the Joseon Dynasty. The beauty of the village makes it one of the most instagrammable places in Seoul and it can be very crowded.

  • Region: Gyedong-gil, Jongno-gu
  • Location: Google Maps
  • Subway stop: Anguk Station (Line 3, exit 2)

We included the main photo spot on our interactive Seoul map you’ll find later in this guide, but we recommend you wander around the village to enjoy the scenery and possibly find a quieter section in town. This experience by Klook is a great option for hanbok rentals if you want to take fun photos.

4. Namsan Seoul Tower

Perspective photo of a staircase and Namsan Seoul Tower one of the best things to see in Seoul
N Seoul Tower at Namsan Park

The Namsan Seoul Tower is one of the two observation decks that instantly grab your attention when looking at the city skyline. We think the N Seoul Tower is one of the fun things to do in Seoul because you can take a cable car up to Namsan Park, where you’ll find an entrance to the observation deck.

  • Address: 105 Namsangongwon-gil, Yongsan-gu
  • Location: Google Maps
  • Subway stop: Myeongdong Station (line 4, exit 3)

If you plan to visit, consider booking this combo ticket for the cable car and observation deck because Klook typically offers the best price. But make sure you give yourself enough time at Namsan Park as there’s so much to see in the area and the views are incredible.

READ: Tips for visiting Namsan Seoul Tower

5. Book A DMZ Tour

Tourist on a DMZ tour near Seoul, South Korea
Kristen posing with the DMZ sign during our tour

One of the top things to do in Seoul is visit the DMZ. While this tour is technically not in the city, most tours originate in Seoul so we’ve included it on our list. The DMZ is one of the most notorious and heavily fortified strips of land in the world running between North and South Korea with tensions still existing today.

From Seoul, most tours begin at Imjingak Park where visitors can explore the park on their own. However, Imjingak Park is the last point you can visit without a tour. You must have a tour guide to explore other locations along the DMZ such as the 3rd Infiltration Tunnel, the Dora Observatory and the Joint Security Area.

Tourists can visit both the DMZ and the JSA, but you must be part of a guided tour. Before booking, we recommend you read our DMZ Tour Review to see which tour would be best for you. But if you already know what you want to do, here are the most popular DMZ Tours:

READ: What to see at Imjingak Park

6. Jogyesa Temple

Three large golden statues in Jogyesa Temple
Three large statues inside Jogyesa Temple

Located near Insa-dong, Jogyesa Temple is one of the most important Buddhist temples in Korea. It’s one of the best places to go in Seoul because the temple symbolizes modern day Korean Buddhism. Constructed in 1395, Jogyesa Temple was originally built in a different location, but it was moved in 1938 and reconstructed in its current location.

  • Address: 55 Ujeongguk-ro, Jongno-gu
  • Location: Google Maps
  • Subway stop: Anguk Station (line 3, exit 6)

We like Daeungjeon Hall because it features three large golden statues of Amitabha Buddha, Shakyamuni Buddha and Bhaisaiya Buddha measuring 4.8m (16 ft) in height. When you visit the temple, you can also see Baeksong (a 500 year old lacebark pine tree), Brahma Bell Pavilion, Paradise Hall, the One Pillar Gate and a Chinese Scholar Tree.

7. Gwangjang Market

Women serving street food in a market one of the best things to do in Seoul
A food stall at Gwangjang Market

If you’re a foodie, the Gwangjang Market is a must do activity in Seoul. Not only can you try many unique foods, but it was Seoul’s first permanent market made popular by Running Man.

  • Address: 88 Changgyeonggung-ro, Jongno-gu
  • Location: Google Maps
  • Subway stop: Jongno 5-ga Station (line 1, exit 7) or Euljiro 4-ga Station (line 2/5, exit 4)

The food is located on the first level of Gwangjang Market while the second floor showcases silk, satin or linen goods. Popular foods include:

  • Bindaetteok (mung bean pancakes)
  • Tteokbokki (spicy rice cakes)
  • Sannakji (live octopus)
  • Bibimbap (rice and meat)

If looking for these foods seems overwhelming, try this Gwangjang market food tour to help you find the best Korean street foods.

8. Dongdaemun Market

Tourist walking through a market in South Korea
Kristen shopping at Dongdaemun Market

Another popular Seoul activity is the Dongdaemun Market. This is Korea’s largest wholesale and retail shopping district with a whopping 26 malls and 30,000 speciality shops.

  • Address: 272 Jong-ro, Jongno-gu
  • Location: Google Maps
  • Subway stop: Dongdaemun Station (line 4, exit 8) or Dongdaemun History & Culture Park Station (line 4, exits 1/14)

You’ll find many types of products ranging from silks, fabrics, shoes, accessories, leather, electronics, office supplies and so much more. We had very limited space in our suitcases so we couldn’t buy anything, but it was fun to walk around the market.

9. Bukhansan National Park

View of the Seoul City Wall from a high vantage point in the city
Sprawling city view from a high vantage point

Those looking for adventurous things to do in Seoul should look no further than Bukhansan National Park. Designated as the 15th national park of Korea in 1983, Bukhansan offers visitors gorgeous stretches of mountain peaks and crystal clear streams stretching between Seoul and Gyeonggi-do.

The park is divided into two main sections with Bukhansan Mountain to the south and Dobongsan Mountain to the north with Uiryeong Pass in the middle. It’s an extremely popular park with over 20 million residents living within the vicinity.

We think the best part about Bukhansan is the accessibility from just about anywhere. If you want to hike, but would feel more comfortable with a guide, check out these popular tours on Viator.

10. Inwangsan Peak

Man climbing to the top of Inwangsan Peak one of the best hikes in Seoul
Mark climbing to the top of Inwangsan Peak

Another outdoorsy thing to do in Seoul is climb Inwangsan Peak. This is Seoul’s main hiking trail which follows the Seoul City Wall and passes through the summit at 338m. Built in 1396 to defend the capital during the Joseon Dynasty, the Hanyangdoseong or the Seoul City Wall is 18,600m long. This barrier passes through Inwangsan, Bugaksan, Naksan and Namsan peak.

There are numerous ways to access this trail and we highly recommend this hike if it’s your first visit to Seoul. Even with two weeks, we were limited with time and we didn’t want to lose an entire day hiking in Bukhansan National Park so we opted for Inwangsan Peak.

READ: Top rated hiking apps

11. Lotte World Amusement Park

Birds eye view of Lotte World Amusement Park from the top of Lotte World Tower
Aerial view of Lotte World Magic Island

Lotte World is an extremely popular entertainment complex located in the middle of the city. Here you’ll find an enormous indoor theme park, a luxury hotel, an observation tower and Magic Island, an outdoor amusement park.

  • Address: 240 Olympic-ro, Songpa-gu
  • Location: Google Maps
  • Subway stop: Jamsil Station (line 2/8, exit 4)

We think Lotte World is one of the best things to do in Seoul with kids, but there a few different tickets and pass options so make sure to purchase the correct one for your visit. Here are popular ticket options for Lotte World:

Travel Tip: Lotte World Amusement Park is included on the Klook Seoul Pass or you can visit the Busan Lotte World to compare parks.

12. Seoul Sky Observatory

Tourist standing on a large glass window at Seoul Sky one of the best things to do in Seoul
Kristen enjoying the view of Seoul Sky Observation Deck

The Seoul Sky Observatory is located in Lotte World Tower. This is the tallest building in South Korea and it’s one of the cool things to do in Seoul. Interestingly, the Lotte World Tower currently holds the record as the world’s 6th tallest building standing at 1,819 ft (554m) only just passing the One World Trade Center in NYC.

  • Address: 300 Olympic-ro, Songpa-gu
  • Location: Google Maps
  • Subway stop: Jamsil Station (line 2/8, exit 2/11)

If you’ve visited the Namsan Seoul Tower, we still recommend you climb this observatory because it’s very different. Klook offers a great deal on tickets here.

READ: How to visit the Seoul Sky Observatory

13. Nanta Show

A unique thing to do in Seoul is attend the Nanta Show. This is currently the longest running show in Korean history and features four hilarious chefs as they cook under pressure. Sadly, we didn’t have enough time for a show when we visited, but it’s on our bucket list for next time.

Shows last about 90 minutes and Nanta combines Korean folk songs with modern day music. It’s a nonverbal performance so there is no language barrier and anyone can enjoy the performance. Here are tickets for the popular Nanta Show:

Compare prices before booking your Nanta Show to secure the best price.

Travel Tip: There is a NANTA Theater in Myeongdong and Hongdae so make sure you chose the correct theater when booking tickets.

14. Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP)

Large grey and unique buildings of the DDP complex in Seoul
The stunning architecture of Dongdaemun Design Plaza

Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) stands for Dream, Design, and Play. This stunning complex holds various exhibitions, fashion shows, conferences, forums and international events. Designed by Zaha Hadid, the stunning curves and bold shapes of the DDP complex attract photographers and influencers alike so you can expect it to by busy.

  • Address: 281 Eulji-ro, Jung-gu
  • Location: Google Maps
  • Subway stop: Dongdaemun History and Culture Park Station (line 2/4/5, exit 1) or Dongdaemun Station (line 1/4, exit 7)

Travel Tip: We loved the Magis Spun Chairs in the Designers Lounge so see if you can find them!

15. Cheonggyecheon Stream

View of the popular Cheonggyecheon Stream walkway
The beautiful walkways of the Cheonggyecheon Stream

As part of an urban renewal project, the Cheonggyecheon Stream runs straight through downtown Seoul. It mimics a stream that was present during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). You’ll find numerous informational plaques which tell some very interesting tales along the route.

  • Region: Jongno-gu
  • Location: Google Maps
  • Subway stop: City Hall Station (line 1, exits 4/5), Euljiro 1-ga Station (line 2, exits 2/3) or Dongdaemun Station (line 4, exits 6/8)

The Cheonggyecheon Stream begins in the Cheonggye Plaza and passes under 22 bridges before eventually flowing into the Hangang River. You can also visit the Cheonggyecheon Museum for a non-touristy thing to do in Seoul if you want to know more about the project and this area.

16. SeMA

Tourist walking into SeMA, a popular art museum in Seoul
Mark walking into SeMA

The Seoul Museum of Art (SeMA) is a modern art museum featuring 6 exhibition halls, a lecture hall, a library and visual reference materials.

  • Address: 61 Deoksugung-gil, Jung-gu
  • Location: Google Maps
  • Subway stop: City Hall Station (line 1/2, exit 10) or Seodaemun Station (line 5, exit 6)

Opened in 1988, this three story building holds internationally renowned exhibitions twice a year. We like SeMA because the permanent exhibitions are free to visit, but you’ll have to pay for special exhibits.

17. War Memorial Of Korea

Tourist standing in front of the War Memorial of Korea in Seoul
Kristen in front of the War Memorial of Korea

One of the top things to do in Seoul is visit the War Memorial of Korea. Not only is the War Memorial a free activity, but it’s one of the best memorials we have ever seen. The main hall pays tribute to both Korean and international allies showcasing the names of soldiers who gave their life to protect Korea.

  • Address: 29 Itaewon-ro, Yongsan-gu
  • Location: Google Maps
  • Subway stop: Samgakji Station (line 4, exit 1), (line 6, exit 12) or Namyeong Station (line 1, exit 1)

In addition to the memorial, you can visit the War History Room, Korean War Room, an open air exhibition area and a children’s museum. We knew this would be a large complex so we gave ourselves almost an entire day to visit the memorial and we still couldn’t see everything. So if you’re interested in Korean history, you should plan to spend several hours if not a whole day here.

Travel Tip: We found a cheap and cheerful restaurant near the memorial called Hangang Burger, if you need a quick bite.

18. Starfield COEX Mall

Visitors taking photos and exploring the Starfield Library
Visitors taking photos inside the Starfield Library

One of the best things to do in Seoul for young adults is visit the Starfield COEX Mall because it’s the largest underground mall in Asia with hundreds of stores. Here you’ll find both domestic and international brands, numerous dining options, the Kimchi Museum, the COEX Aquarium, and a Megabox Cineplex with 17 screens.

  • Address: 513 Yeongdong-daero, Gangnam-gu
  • Location: Google Maps
  • Subway stop: Samseong Station (Subway Line 2, exit 5/6) or Bongeunsa Station (line 9, exit 7)

A popular place to visit for tourists is the Starfield Library with two stories of floor to ceiling bookshelves. We also loved the running track spanning throughout the bottom of the mall.

19. Bongeunsa Temple

Woman posing for a photo under a colorful exhibit at Bongeunsa Temple
Kristen exploring Bongeunsa Temple

Located very close to Starfield COEX Mall, Bongeunsa is a Buddhist temple with a long history dating back more than 1,200 years ago. It’s well known for Templestays which helps to spread the culture worldwide.

  • Address: 531 Bongeunsa-ro, Gangnam-gu
  • Location: Google Maps
  • Subway stop: Samsung (line 2, exit 6), Chungdam (line 7, exit 2) or Bongeunsa (Line 9, exit 1)

A highlight of Bongeunsa is the 28m (91 ft) stone statue of Maitreya known as the Future Buddha. This is one of the tallest stone statues in Korea so it’s certainly worth a visit. You’ll find the statue towards the back of the temple complex.

20. Seoul Olympic Park

Woman posing for a photo with the 1988 Olympic Park Sign a must do in Seoul
Kristen at the 1988 Olympic Park sign

Built for the 1988 games, the Olympic Park is a must do in Seoul because it’s now divided into several fun zones. Locals and tourists alike can visit the beautiful green space filled with sculptures and sports venues.

  • Address: 424 Olympic-ro, Songpa-gu
  • Location: Google Maps
  • SubwaysStop: Olympic Park Station (line 5, exit 3) or Mongchontoseong Station (line 8, exit 1)

This space also houses Korea’s largest sports arena and beautiful flowers bloom throughout the entire park depending on the time of year. Additional highlights include the Mongchon Fortress walking paths, the World Peace Gate, numerous dialogue sculptures, 88 Lake and an ice skating rink in winter. Popular places in Olympic Park for photos include:

  • Wild flower garden
  • Rose plaza
  • Gourd tunnel
  • Pink muhly Ggrass
  • Golden ginkgo tree road

Travel Tip: If you don’t want to walk around the entire park, you can rent a two wheeled or four-wheeled bicycle near the SK Olympic Handball Gymnasium.

21. Visit A Themed Cafe

Woman peeking into the window of a meerkat cafe in Seoul, South Korea
Kristen peering inside a Meerkat Cafe in Hongdae

Themed cafes are one of the unique things to do in Seoul because you can find a cafe for just about anything. Below are some of the most popular themed cafes:

Before visiting any type of animal cafe, we highly recommend you do a little research to ensure you are supporting a cafe with ethical business practices. This is our responsibility as travelers.

Here are important things to consider before visiting an animal cafe:

  • Reviews – Always read reviews and if you see animal neglect, it’s important to leave a negative review to warn others
  • Type of pet – Wild or undomesticated pets should not be in a cafe
  • Understand where the animals came from – For example, rescued strays loving their new life in a cafe is okay
  • The cafe doesn’t limit people – This could induce stress on animals
  • Animals don’t have a private space – Even animals need a break now and then

That being said, we have visited amazing animal cafes around the world run by incredible people who are making a huge difference. Just please do your homework prior to visiting!

22. National Folk Museum Of Korea

Beautiful entrance to the National Folk Museum in Seoul
Stunning entrance to the National Folk Museum of Korea

Located near Gyeongbokgung Palace, the National Folk Museum of Korea features over 4,000 artifacts showcasing lifestyles, traditions and history of Korean culture. The entire complex includes three permanent exhibits along with two special exhibits, an open air space and a children’s museum.

  • Address: 37 Samcheong-ro, Jongno-gu
  • Location: Google Maps
  • Subway stop: Auguk Station (line 3, exit 1), Gyeongbokgung (line 3, exit 5) or Gwanghwamun Station (line 5, exit 2)

Admission to the National Folk Museum is free with a Gyeongbokgung Palace ticket. You can also join a free guided tour at 10:30 and 14:30 in front of Exhibition Hall 1.

23. Noryangjin Fisheries Wholesale Market

Exterior view of the very popular Noryangjin Fisheries Wholesale Market
Exterior view of the Noryangjin Fish Market

The Noryangjin Fish Market is the largest and oldest seafood market in Korea with a massive floor space and 700 vendors. It’s open 24 hours a day, but if you want to see the bustling market in full glory, come in the morning during the auction or during the day before the stalls close.

  • Address: 674 Nodeul-ro, Dongjak-gu
  • Location: Google Maps
  • Subway Stop: Noryangjin Station (line 1, exit 1)

For one of the freshest meals of your life, you can purchase live seafood at numerous stalls and then have it prepared at a restaurant right upstairs. Or you can try this Noryangjin Fish Market Guided Tour to learn about the local food culture and try fresh seafood.

Travel Tip: If you want to get a good deal here, you’ll have to bargain. Make sure you also check the cooking charges before ordering because visitors often complain about being overcharged.

24. Seodaemun Prison

Exterior building view from inside Seodaemun Prison
Two large brick buildings inside Seodaemun Prison

Opened in 1908 as Gyeongseong Prison, the Seodaemun Prison was used to imprison independence activists during the Japanese occupation until the liberation of Korea in 1945. While the Seodaemun Prison is not often one of the top attractions in Seoul, it’s definitely worth visiting because it commemorates the ideals of peace and freedom in Korea.

  • Address: 251 Tongil-ro, Seodaemun-gu
  • Location: Google Maps
  • Subway stop: Dongnimmum Station (line 3, exit 5)

Visitors can walk through numerous exhibition halls, prison buildings, labor buildings and many other sites used during these hard times. We almost didn’t visit this museum because it’s not often included on rounds ups, but we were happy we did because we learned so much about Korea.

READ: What to see inside Seodaemun Prison

25. National Museum of Korea

Woman sitting on a bench admiring an exhibit at the National Museum of Korea
Kristen enjoying an exhibit inside the National Museum of Korea

Established in 1945, the National Museum of Korea should be at the top of your bucket list for Seoul because it’s the most extensive museum in the Republic of Korea. The museum has 6 large galleries showcasing prehistoric history, medieval works, calligraphy, painting, Asian art, sculpture and crafts.

  • Address: 137 Seobinggo-ro, Yongsan-gu
  • Location: Google Maps
  • Subway stop: Ichon Station (line 4, exit 2)

Not only do we like this museum because there’s so much to see, but it’s also free to visit. We highly recommend you give yourself several hours to explore this incredible museum.

Travel Tip: Guided tours are available almost every day in Korean, English, Chinese, and Japanese beginning on the first floor near the Korean Empire Gallery. French is available on Saturdays.

26. Hongdae

Visitors and tourists walking through a busy street in Hongdae
Shoppers exploring the busy streets of Hongdae

Hongdae is a popular neighborhood located near Hongik University which is very well known for its fine arts program. So it should come as no surprise that Hongdae has an extremely creative vibe. The intricate alleys are also filled with restaurants, shops, clubs or pubs and sometimes you can see various street performers.

We like Hongdae because there are amazing street food options everywhere. If you’re visiting Seoul for the first time, be sure to check out the Kakao Friends Hongdae flagship store or take a walk down Hongdae Mural Street.

READ: Best hotels in Hongdae

27. Myeongdong’s Walking Street

A narrow street in Myeongdong with colorful signs and large crowds
The intricate narrow alleyways of Myeongdong

Another great thing to do in Seoul is take a stroll through the epicenter of the fashion world along Myeongdong’s walking street. It can be compared to Orchard Road in Singapore or Bukit Bintang in Kuala Lumpur. There are hundreds of shops, bars and restaurants hidden within the labyrinthine alleyways.

Visitors can shop for everything from high end boutiques to international brands. We love this famous shopping district because many streets are pedestrian friendly and you won’t have to contend with cars so you can shop without a worry.

Every night, the Myeongdong Night Market begins around 3pm and lasts until 11pm. But we recommend you arrive on an empty stomach to make the most of your visit!

READ: Best hotels in Myeongdong

28. Visit Gangnam

Woman posing for a photo with the famous golden hands of Gangnam
Kristen about show her skills Gangnam style

Made popular by the song Gangnam Style in 2012, this is the hip and trendy neighborhood in Seoul. It’s well-known for luxury department stores featuring Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Dior and Gucci. But there are more things to do in Gangnam than just shopping. Visitors can stroll down K-Pop Avenue to see the colorful teddy bears or stop by the Bongeunsa Temple. Gangnam has something for everyone.

READ: Best hotels in Gangnam

29. Seolleung and Jeongneung

A beautiful tomb from the Joseon Dynasty created with the principles of pungsu
An example of a royal tomb in South Korea

Now part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the royal tombs are a must visit when in Seoul because the complex is a resting place for the rulers of the Joseon Dynasty. These royal tombs include a collection of 40 tombs scattered over 18 locations, but you won’t need to visit all of them because the Seolleung and Jeongneung Royal Tombs can be found right in the city.

  • Address: 1 Seolleung-ro 100-gil, Gangnam-gu
  • Location: Google Maps
  • Subway stop: Seolleung Station (line 2, exit 10) or Seonjeongneung Station (line 9, exit 3)

The Seolleung Royal Tomb belongs to King Seongjong, the 9th ruler of Joseon and his third consort, Queen Jeonghyeon. Here you can also visit the Jeongneung Royal Tomb which belongs to King Jungjong, the 11th ruler of Joseon. These were one of the most interesting things we visited in Seoul during our trip.

30. Seoul Museum Of History

Large staircase entrance to the Seoul Museum of History
Large entrance to the Museum of History

Another museum to add to your list is the Seoul Museum of History. Opened in 1985, this museum showcases the history and culture of Seoul from the Joseon Dynasty to present day. It’s located right next to Gyeonghuigung Palace so it can be easily visited in tandem with the royal palace.

  • Address: 55 Saemunan-ro, Jongno-gu
  • Location: Google Maps
  • Subway stop: Gwanghwamun Station (line 5, exit 7)

We think this museum is a hidden gem because it’s free to visit and filled with incredible information spanning 600 years of history. During our visit, it was not busy so it was very peaceful.

31. Bank Of Korea Money Museum

Lighted exhibits inside the Bank of Korea Money Museum
Exhibits inside the Korea Money Museum

The Bank of Korea Money Museum is one of the cool things to do in Seoul because this free museum demonstrates the history of currency throughout the years. Guided tours are free, but must be booked. Audio guides are also available in Korean, English, Japanese and Chinese.

  • Address: 39 Namdaemun-ro, Jung-gu
  • Location: Google Maps
  • Subway stop: City Hall Station (line 1/2, exit 7), Euljiro1-ga (line 2, exit 7) or Hoehyeon Station (line 4, exit 7)

We love how this museum not only focused on Korean currency, but on how money has changed over time. As travel bloggers, we thought the currency from around the world exhibit was a must see!

Travel Tip: Find the replica vault and play with the interactive exhibits to experience how heavy money can be. Think you could carry a lot of money out of the vault?!

32. Find A Cocktail Bar

A pair of Amaretto sours on a table
Our delicious Amaretto Sour cocktails

Seoul’s nightlife is known for being one of the best in Asia. You’ll find numerous clubs, bars and cocktail bars in every neighborhood. We think visiting the numerous cocktail bars is one of the fun things you can do in Seoul with friends and we couldn’t help slipping into a few ourselves in between sightseeing.

Here are some popular cocktail bars:

You won’t have to travel far to find a cocktail bar so just ask the locals or check out this popular pub crawl.

33. Try Korean BBQ

Meat cooking on top of a grill during a Korean BBQ
A delicious Korean BBQ over a charcoal grill

One of the best things to do in Seoul is experience a Korean BBQ. The meal involves marinated meat cooked over a hot bbq in the middle of a table. Typical meat cuts include very tender pork or beef belly, brisket, prime rib and short ribs. These cuts are then marinated in soy sauce and toasted in sesame oil or gochujang prior to grilling.

Cooking the meat right at the table is part of the entire experience and it’s meant to be enjoyed with many people. So grab your friends, travel partners or family and sit down for a Korean BBQ. Check out this Korean BBQ in Hongdae or a Secret Pub Experience if you don’t want to do all the planning yourself.

34. Cruise The Han River

The calm Han River at sunrise
A very calm Han River at sunrise

A cruise along the Han River is one of the best activities in Seoul, especially for first time visitors. E-Land Cruises have been operating since 1986. Visitors can choose between a moonlight, starlight, sunset or a Han River cruise package. If you’re looking for a romantic thing to do with your partner, surprise them with a cruise.

>> Book a Han River experience: Get Your Guide | Klook | Viator

35. Seoullo 7017

Woman posing for a photo on Seoullo 7017 in Seoul
Kristen posing for a photo at Seoullo 7017

Opened to the public in May 2017, the Seoullo 7017 was once an overpass for cars. But now it has been transformed in a gorgeous sky garden elevated high above the busy streets. The green space can be compared to the High Line in NYC, offering a walking path for both tourists and locals to visit attractions in the area.

  • Address: 432 Cheongpa-ro, Jung-gu
  • Location: Google Maps

We like visiting Seoullo 7017 after the sun sets because the sky garden is illuminated with blue lights. But it’s not the best area around the train station so be aware of your surroundings if you plan to visit at night.

Best Seoul Tours

The guard ceremony at the royal palace is a must see in Seoul
Changing of the guard at a royal palace

At the beginning of this guide, we mentioned the importance of grouping the must do Seoul attractions in the same area. So now that you know the popular activities, do you know which ones you want to visit? Here are some highly rated tour options that include various highlights:

Food Tours And Cooking Classes

Vendors setting up food stalls in Seoul, South Korea
Vendors getting ready to set up their food stalls for the day

Seoul is a foodies paradise between mouth watering street food, Korean BBQ, the Noryangjin fish market, hidden speakeasies and bustling markets. So where do you start?

This was something we struggled with too. There is so much to eat and drink in this amazing city, it can be very overwhelming. Booking a food tour or taking a cooking class is one of the best ways to learn about culinary traditions from locals. Here are popular food experiences:

Seoul Interactive Map

Above you’ll find our interactive map featuring all of the best things to do in Seoul we mentioned in this guide. You can also access our interactive map via this link here.

However, Google maps can be unreliable in South Korea because Google does not have access to geographical data in the country. This is due to conflicts between the Korean government and security concerns.

We recommend you download KakaoMap (apple and android) so you can navigate your way through Seoul. During our visit, we could load our Google Map, but it would never show us our exact location. Use our interactive map to figure out where you need to go then use the KakaoMap to navigate.

The Morgan Conclusion

If this is your first time in the city, here are our top ten things to do in Seoul:

  • War Memorial of Korea
  • Visit at least one of the royal palaces
  • Go on a tour the DMZ
  • Climb one of the observation decks
  • Have a Korean BBQ
  • Stroll through the Olympic Park
  • Check out the Royal Tombs
  • Explore the Seodaemun Prison
  • Go shopping in Gangnam
  • Hike to Inwangsan Peak

These are activities we always recommend to friends or family and you can’t go wrong with anything listed above. We think 3-5 days in Seoul is enough time to see the major highlights of South Korea’s capital city. But this is a very large sprawling city and 6-8 days would be better so you can slow down.

You can visit South Korea anytime of the year, but spring from mid-March to early April is extremely popular for cherry blossom season. Another popular time is late September to early October for the peak fall foliage. Spring and fall are sunny seasons with comfortable temperatures making these the best months to travel through South Korea.

How To Save Money

An exhibit of a Korean flag
The Korean flag shown in a beautiful exhibit of photographs

If you want to visit several attractions in Seoul, you should consider purchasing a pass to help you save money. We like to compare attraction passes to buying in bulk because the more attractions you visit, the more money you’ll save.

There are two popular passes including the Klook Seoul Pass or the Go City Seoul Pass. Depending on what you plan to see, one pass may work better for you so we’ll briefly touch on each one.

Klook Pass Seoul

The Klook Pass Seoul is a very popular option that can help you save 52% on attractions and there are 10 attractions included:

  • Lotte World
  • N Seoul tower
  • Everland
  • Nami Island + Petite France tour
  • Hanbok experience with Korean hairstyling
  • Coex Aquarium
  • Alive Museum + Dynamic Maze
  • Ehwa Korean school uniform rental
  • Lotte World Aquarium 
  • 63 Building Observatory + Aqua Planet 63

You can choose 2-4 activities from this list for one amazing price. We like this pass because it’s valid for 30 days. This means you don’t have to rush around visiting attractions by a certain time period and you can take your time.

>> Buy the Klook Seoul pass here

Go City Seoul Pass

The Go City Seoul Pass is different compared to the Klook Pass because you can choose from 29 attractions with many of these activities featured in this guide. Go City offers an attraction based all-inclusive pass or a day based explorer pass. Popular attractions include:

  • Everland
  • Lotte World
  • N Seoul Tower
  • Nanta Cooking Show
  • Han River Cruise
  • 14-day Korean Sim
  • Incheon Airport express train
  • Dark Side of Seoul Ghost Tour

>> Buy a Go City Seoul pass here

Having used these passes ourselves in London, Paris and Rome, we can tell you from experience they will save you money, especially if you plan to see many things during your trip.

READ: An honest review for the Go City Rome Pass

Royal Palace Pass

Two royal palace passes at Gyeongbokgung Palace
Our two royal palace passes

The last option is a Royal Palace Pass. But it’s not a traditional pass like the two options we mentioned above because it only works for the palaces in Seoul. We used this pass in the city and thought it was worth it.

The pass costs 10,000 KRW (US $7.53) and it’s valid for three months from the date of purchase. Here are current prices for the palaces:

  • Gyeongbokgung (3,000 KRW)
  • Changdeokgung (3,000 KRW) with Huwon Secret Garden (5,000 KRW)
  • Changgyeonggung (1,000 KRW)
  • Deoksugung (1,000 KRW)
  • Jongmyo Shrine (1,000 KRW)

If you visited all of the sites above individually, it would cost you 14,000 KRW. This pass would save you a 4,000 KRW. You can’t purchase the royal palace pass online and it can only be purchased on site when you visit your first Seoul palace. However, if you want to visit more attractions than just the palaces, you should buy a Klook Pass Seoul or a Go City Seoul Pass.

Our Seoul Guides

Want more Seoul content? Head over to our South Korea Travel Guides to explore the very best of Seoul and beyond.


We hope this guide listing the must do things in Seoul helps with planning your visit to South Korea’s capital city!

Please let us know if you have any questions about these attractions or visiting the city in the comments below.

Happy Travels,

Mark and Kristen

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