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46 Best Things To Do In Seoul, South Korea

46 Best Things To Do In Seoul, South Korea

Seoul is the bustling capital city of South Korea filled with numerous attractions, delicious food and beautiful temples. But what are the best things to do in Seoul if you only have a few days?

In our detailed travel guide, we are going to show you the best of Seoul including popular attractions you should consider adding to your Seoul itinerary.

To help you plan an amazing trip to Seoul, we tell you:

  • The best way to get to Seoul from Incheon Airport
  • Money saving tips for Seoul
  • 46 Seoul spots you should not miss
  • An interactive map to show you where to go in Seoul

Now, let’s find the best sights in Seoul!

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Table of Contents show

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 Seoul

We spent two very intense weeks (14 days) exploring Seoul in March 2023 after the covid lockdowns. Our goal is to bring you the most up to date info on Seoul so you can perfectly plan your trip.

During these two weeks, we had a very jam packed itinerary and we couldn’t accomplish everything on this extensive Seoul bucket list.

We think the hardest part about visiting South Korea’s capital city is figuring out where to go because the best things in Seoul are not located near each other.

You will have to extensively travel if you want to visit all of Seoul’s popular attractions. So the best advice we can give you for visiting is to pick the best attractions in Seoul and then group activities by area.

This way you will be able to visit several attractions or activities in one day to make the most of your trip.

We are going to give you a lot of information in this Seoul guide and we recommend you read everything through once before purchasing attraction tickets or passes.

Click the heart on the bottom of this page or bookmark it so you can easily return as your plan your trip to Seoul.

Man purchasing a ticket for the Seoul express train
Mark purchasing our AREX Airport Express train

How To Get From Incheon Airport (ICN) To Seoul

There are a few ways you can get from Inceheon Airport to the heart of Seoul including:

  • Train
  • Bus
  • Taxi
  • Car

The easiest way to get from Incheon to Seoul is the AREX Airport Express train. It takes about 43 minutes because it goes nonstop between the airport and Seoul. This is what we used to get to Seoul.

You can book tickets for the train online or at the airport, but make sure you book the express train. There is another slow train that goes to Seoul and it will make many stops so it will take much longer.

>> 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 Seoul neighborhood of your choice.

Best Way To Save Money In Seoul

If you want to visit several attractions in Seoul, you should consider purchasing a pass to help you save money.

We always like to compare attraction passes to buying in bulk because the more attrations you visit, the more money you save.

There are two popular Seoul passes:

  • Klook Seoul Pass
  • Go City Seoul

Depending on what you plan to do in Seoul, one pass may work better for you so we will go over each pass in detail.

While not located directly in Seoul, Everland is South Korea’s largest theme park which easily makes for one of the best things to do in Seoul if you are visiting with children.

At Everland, visitors will experience 5 unique themed zones:

  • Global Fair
  • American Adventure
  • Magic Land
  • European Adventure
  • Zootopia

Another highlight of Everland is the T-Express famously known as Korea’s first wooden roller coaster.

This theme park is included on both popular Seoul pass options, but we have not included it on our Seoul guide because it’s more of a day trip option.

Klook Pass Seoul

The Kool Pass Seoul is a very popular option that can help you save 52% on attractions.

There are 10 attractions included on the Klook Seoul Pass:

  • 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 will then choose 2, 3 or 4 activities from this list for one amazing price.

We like this pass because it is 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 Seoul Pass because you can choose from 29 attractions with many of these Seoul activities featured in this guide.

Go City offers an attraction based all-inclusive pass or a day based explorer pass. Depending on how much you want to see in the Seoul, these passes can save you a good chunk of change.

Popular attractions on the Go City Seoul Pass 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

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 time in Seoul.

>> Buy a Go City Seoul pass here.

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

Royal Palace Pass

Another lesser known pass is the Royal Palace Pass. But it is not your traditional pass like the two options we mentioned above because it only works for the palaces in Seoul.

We used the Royal Palace Pass because we wanted to experience all of the beautiful palaces during our time in Seoul.

The Royal Palace Pass costs KRW 10,000 and it is valid for three months from the date of purchase. Here are current prices for the Royal Palace Pass:

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

If you visited all of the sites above individually, it would cost you KRW 14,000. So in a Royal Palace Pass would save you a KRW 4,000.

You can not purchase the Royal Palace Pass online and it can only be purchase on site when you visit your first Seoul palace.

However, if you want to visit more Seoul attractions, we recommend you use a Klook Pass Seoul or a Go City Seoul Pass.

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

How To Get Around Seoul

The easiest way to get around Seoul is by Subway because the city has an extensive subway system with over 20 lines! This is also the most environmentally friendly and cost effective way to travel.

You can use cash or a T-Money card in Seoul to pay for your subway tickets. We used a T-Money card because this is a preloaded card you can scan every time you get on and off the subway.

Visitors can purchase T-Money card at select convenience stores in Seoul or online prior to visiting. Here is a great article by Klook explaining the Seoul Subway system so you know exactly what to expect.

We have included subway information for many of the places to go in Seoul including the best subway stop and exit for each attraction listed.

46 Best Things To Do In Seoul, South Korea

Seoul is an incredible city filled with numerous activities for families, couples, friend groups and solo travelers. No matter your travel style, you will never be bored.

We love how Seoul offers both stunning palaces showcasing centuries of history directly along side modern day attractions unique to this thriving city.

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

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

1. Gyeongbokgung Palace

The Gyeongbokgung Palace is the one of the must see places in Seoul. Originally built in 1395, this was the principal royal palace established for the Joseon Dynasty (1932-1910).

This main palace became the center of dynasty politics and economics due to its centralized located between Baegaksan Mount in the north and present day Sejong-deoro to the south.

Free one hour guided tours are offered inside the palace in numerous languages throughout the entire day. You can also book longer walking tours if you want to learn more or need to stick to a time schedule.

Don’t miss changing of the guard at 11:00am and 1:00pm outside Gwanghwamun Gate or see the palace guard ceremony inside Gwanghwamun Gate at 10:00am and 2:00pm.

Here are popular Gyeongbokgung Palace tours:

Subway Stop: Gyeongbokgung Palace Station (line 3, exit 5) or Gwanghwamun Station (line 5, exit 2)

Interested in this palace? Don’t miss our popular guide on what to see in Gyeongbokgung Palace.

A pavilion and rice field in Huwon Secret Garden one of the best things to do in Seoul
A beautiful pavilion inside the Huwon Secret Garden at Changdeokgung Palace

2. Changdeokgung Palace

While Gyeongbokgung Palace is most famous palace in Seoul, the Changdeokgung Palace now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is often regarded as the most loved palace by the kings of the Joseon period.

Originally built in 1405 as a secondary palace to Gyeongbokgung, Changdeokgung Palace is unlike most other palaces in the city because it was created with pungsu principles to embrace nature.

Unfortunately this palace was destroyed by the Japanese invasion (1592-1598). But it was rebuilt in 1610. Changdeokgung Palace then served as the main palace for about 270 years.

The highlight of Changdeokgung Palace is the Huwon Secret Garden containing over 56,000 species of plants. However, this garden can only be visited as a guided tour which lasts for about 1 hour.

Here are secret garden tour times:

  • Korean – 10:00, 11:00, 12:00, 13:00, 14:00 15:00, 16:00 (Mar-Oct), 16:30 (Jun-Aug)
  • English – 10:30, 11:30, 14:30, 15:30 (Feb – Nov)
  • Chinese – 12:30
  • Japanese – 13:30

Here are popular Changdeokgung Palace Tours:

Subway Stop: Anguk Station (line 3, exit 3) or Jongno 3-ga Station (line 1/3/5, exit 6)

Planning to visit this palace? Use our first time visitor guide to Changdeokgung Palace.

The lush gardens in front of the Grand Greenhouse in Changgyeonggung Palace
The popular Grand Greenhouse inside Changgyeonggung Palace

3. Changgyeonggung Palace

Constructed in the mid 1400’s, the Changgyeonggung Palace was primarily built to serves as a residence for the royal family. It was the third palace built during the Joseon Dynasty.

But off all the palaces in Seoul, Changgyeonggung Palace has one of the most colorful histories. It was destroyed in many times by the Japanese, but it has also been home to a zoo and botanical garden.

We like this palace because most tours are offered at night. Not only will you be able to see the palace lit up beautifully with lanterns, but you will hear interesting stories about what took place here.

Here are popular Changgyeonggung Palace tours:

Subway Stop: Anguk Station (line 3, exit 3) or Hyehwa Station (line 4, exit 3/4)

Want to see these beautiful grounds? Don’t miss our guide on how to see the best of Changgyeonggung Palace.

Man posing for a photo at Deoksugung Palace in Seoul
Mark reading a pamphlet inside Deoksugung Palace

4. Deoksugung Palace

Across the street from Seoul City Hall, you will find the smallest palace in Seoul, the Deoksugung Palace. Throughout the years, this palace was home to many descendants of the royal family.

But despite it’s small size, this palace was home to King Gojong during his later years until his forced abdication in 1907. King Gojong was the last King of the Joseon Dynasty and first Emperor of Korea.

Here are popular Deoksugung Palace tours:

Subway Stop: City Hall Station (line 1/2, exits 1/2/12)

Want to experience this palace? Use our first time visitor guide featuring what to see inside Deoksugung Palace before you visit.

Grand entrance to the Gyeonghuigung Palace, one of the lesser visited palaces in Seoul
The beautiful entrance to Gyeonghuigung Palace

5.  Gyeonghuigung Palace

Last but not least, Gyeonghuigung Palace is the least visited palace in Seoul. It was originally know as the western palace due to it’s western location in the city.

Over the years, this palace was used as a royal residence for the king and it experienced multiple names changes. Unfortunately, many of the halls burned down in a fire from 1829 or were destroyed during Japanese occupation.

However, many excavations have been done on the site and three of its main building have been fully restored.

It’s certainly worth a visit because Gyeonghuigung Palace is a very cool thing to do in Seoul. You will also find the Seoul Museum of History nearby as well as numerous walking paths.

When we visited Gyeonghuigung Palace, there were no guided tours available. If you are interested in taking a tour of this palace complex, this Evening Ghost Walk is very popular.

Subway Stop: Seodaemun Station (exit 4, line 5) or Gwanghwamun Station (exit 7, line 5)

Want to experience this palace? Check out this detailed guide featuring cool things to see at Gyeonghuigung Palace.

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

6. Jongmyo Shrine

The Jongmyo Shrine contains the spirit tables of the deceased kings and queens of the Joseon Dynasty. These sacrificial rites symbolize the legitimacy of the royal family and they are based on Confucian principles.

In 1995, Jongmyo Shrine was listed on UNESCO’s list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity and this gorgeous area is definitely a must do thing in Seoul.

Originally, the shrine only contained one hall, but today you will find another hall known as Yeongnyeongjeon. All of the facilities in this complex are lavishly adorned so we recommend you visit.

Subway Stop: Jungno 3-ga Station (line 1, exit 11), (line 3, exit 8), (line 5, exit 8)

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

7. Bukchon Hankok Village

One of the must see things in Seoul is Bukchon Hankok Village because this beautiful town features 1,000 traditional homes that date back to the Joseon dynasty.

The beauty of Bukchon Hankok Village makes it one of the most instagrammable places in Seoul so it can become very crowded.

There is one main photo spot we included in our interactive Seoul map, but we recommend you wander around the village to enjoy the stunning scenery and possibly find a quieter section in the village.

A very popular tradition is to dress in a hanbok (or Korean clothing) and walk around the village. This experience by Klook is a great option if you want to take some fun photos to remember.

Subway Stop: Anguk Station (Line 3, exit 2)

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

8. Namsan Seoul Tower

The Namsan Seoul Tower is one of the two observation decks in Seoul that instantly grab your attention when looking at the city skyline.

We think the Namsan 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 will find the entrance to the observation deck.

If you plan to visit this area in Seoul, consider booking a combo ticket with Klook because it is often the cheapest price.

Make sure you give yourself enough time at Namsan Park surrounding the Namsan Seoul Tower because there is a lot to do and the views are incredible.

Subway Stop: Myeongdong Station (line 4, exit 3)

Interested in the the observation deck? Read our popular guide on how to visit N Seoul Tower next.

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

9. Book A DMZ Tour

One of the top things to do in Seoul is book a DMZ tour. While this tour is technically not in Seoul, most tours originate in Seoul so we have included on this list.

Without giving to much away, the DMZ is one of the most notorious and heavily fortified strips of land in the world running between North and South Korea.

From Seoul, most tours will continue to Imjingak Park where visitors will have the chance to explore the park on their own. But Imjingak Park is the last point you can visit without a tour.

After Imjingak Park, 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.

Personally, we believe no visit to Seoul is complete with understanding the important history between North and South Korea because these tensions still exist today.

Tourists can visit both the DMZ and the JSA, but you must be part of a guided tour. Before booking a tour, 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:

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

10. Jogyesa Temple

Located near Insa-dong, Jogyesa Temple is one of the most important Buddhist temples in Korea. It is 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 the current location we see today.

Don’t miss the Daeungjeon, the main Dharma Hall, because it is home to three very large golden statues of Amitabha Buddha, Shakyamuni Buddha, and Bhaisaiya Buddha measuring 4.8m (16 ft) in height.

When you visit the Jogyesa Temple, you will also find Baeksong (a 500 year old Lacebark pine tree), Brahma Bell Pavilion, Paradise Hall, the One Pillar Gate and a Chinese Scholar Tree.

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

11. Gwangjang Market

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

The food is located on the first level or ground floor of Gwangjang Market and the second floor showcases silk, satin or linen goods.

Popular foods in Gwangjang market include:

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

If finding these foods seem a little bit overwhelming, try this new Gwangjang market food tour to help you find the best Korean street foods.

Subway Stop: Jongno 5-ga Station (line 1, exit 7) or Euljiro 4-ga Station (line 2/5, exit 4)

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

12. Dongdaemun Market

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

You can find many types of products in Dongdaemun Market ranging from silks, fabrics, shoes, accessories, leather, electronics, office supplies and so much more.

Subway Stop: Dongdaemun Station (line 4, exit 8) or Dongdaemun History & Culture Park Station (line 4, exits 1/14)

A woman standing along the Han River in Seoul
Kristen attempting to find the I-Seoul-U sign

13. Take A Photo With The New Seoul Slogan

The next Seoul activity on our list has a funny story because we made a long trip to take a photo of the I-Seoul-U sign along the river front, but discovered it was not there.

Created in 2015, I-Seoul-U was the old city slogan meant to unify Seoul, but as of early 2023, the slogan has been discounted and removed from several locations around the city.

According to the Korean Herald, a new slogan will eventually replace this old I-Seoul-U slogan. We challenge you to find the new slogan and snap a picture!

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

14. Bukhansan National Park

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.

This is an extremely popular national park with over 20 million residents living within the vicinity. We think the best part about Bukhansan is the accessibility from just about anywhere in Seoul.

If you are looking to hike in Bukhansan National Park, but would feel more comfortable with a guide, check out these popular tours on Viator.

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

15. Inwangsan Peak

Another outdoorsy thing to do in Seoul is climb Inwangsan Peak. This is Seoul’s main hiking trail following 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 is your first visit to Seoul.

Even with two weeks in Seoul, 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.

Need a hiking app? Check out the top rated hiking apps on the market today.

Birds eye view of Lotte World Amusement Park from the top of Lotte World Tower
Lotte World Amusement Park view from the top of Seoul Sky

16. Lotte World Amusement Park

Lotte World is an extremely popular entertainment complex smack dab in the middle of Seoul, South Korea.

Here you will find an enormous indoor theme park, a luxury hotel, an observation tower and Magic Island, an outdoor amusement park.

There is no secret that Lotte World is one of the best things to do in Seoul with kids, but there a few different tickets and pass option so make sure to purchase the correct one for your visit.

Here are popular ticket options for Lotte World:

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

Subway Stop: Jamsil Station (line 2/8, exit 4)

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

17. Seoul Sky Observatory (Lotte World Tower)

The Seoul Sky Observatory is located in Lotte World Tower. This is the tallest building in South Korea so it’s definitely one of the cool things to do in Seoul.

Interestingly, the Lotte World tower also currently holds the record as the world’s fifth tallest building standing at 1,821ft (555m) only just passing the One World Trade Center in NYC.

If you have visited the Namsan Seoul Tower, we still recommend you climb the Seoul Sky Observatory because it is very different. Klook offers the best deal on tickets here.

Subway Stop: Jamsil Station (line 2/8, exit 2/11)

Want to know more about this observation deck? Don’t miss our popular guide on how to visit the Seoul Sky Observatory.

18. Nanta Show

A unique thing to do in Seoul is attend the Nanta Show. This is currently the longest running show in Korean history which showcases four hilarious chefs as they cook under pressure.

Shows last about 90 minutes and Nanta combines Korean fold songs with modern day music. It is a nonverbal performance so there is no language barrier and anyone can enjoy the performance.

Here are tickets for the popular Nanta Show:

Make sure you compare prices before booking your Nanta Show in Seoul!

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

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

19. Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP)

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.

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

Subway Stop: Dongdaemun History and Culture Park Station (line 2/4/5, exit 1) or Dongdaemun Station (line 1/4, exit 7)

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

20. 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).

As you walk along the Cheonggyecheon Stream, you will find numerous information plaques which tell some very interesting tales.

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 of Seoul.

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)

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

21. 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.

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 will have to pay for special exhibits.

Subway Stop: City Hall Station (line 1/2, exit 10) or Seodaemun Station (line 5, exit 6)

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

22. The War Memorial Of Korea

One of the top things to do in Seoul is to visit the War Memorial of Korea. Not only is the War Memorial a free Seoul Activity, but it is one of the best memorials we have ever seen.

The main Memorial Hall pays tribute to both Korean and international allies showcasing the names of the soldiers who gave their life to protect Korea.

In addition to the memorial, you can visit the War History Room, the Korean War Room, an open air exhibition area, a children’s museum and so much more.

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 our best advice if you are interested in Korean history is to make sure you give yourself enough time to visit the War Memorial of Korea.

Subway Stop: Samgakji Station (line 4, exit 1), (line 6, exit 12) or Namyeong Station (line 1, exit 1)

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

23. Starfield COEX Mall

One of the best things to do in Seoul for young adults is visit the Starfield COEX Mall because it is the largest underground mall in Asia measuring a whopping 85,000 square meters or 914,000 square feet.

Here you will find both domestic and international brands, numerous dining options, the Kimchi Museum, the COEX Aquarium, and a Megabox Cineplex with 17 screens.

A popular place to visit in the mall 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!

Subway Stop: Samseong Station (Subway Line 2, exit 5/6) or Bongeunsa Station (line 9, exit 7)

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

24. 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.

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 the Korea so it’s certainly worth a visit.

Bongeunsa is not only important for modern day Korean Buddhism, but it is home to Templestays which help to spread the culture worldwide.

Subway Stop: Samsung (line 2, exit 6), Chungdam (line 7, exit 2) or Bongeunsa (Line 9, exit 1)

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

25. Seoul Olympic Park

Built for the 1988 games, the Olympic Park is a must do in Seoul because it now divided into several fun zones including a leisure sports park, environmental eco-park cultural art park and history experience park.

This Olympic Park houses Korea’s largest sports arena. It has since become a place where anyone can come to relax and enjoy the serenity of the large peaceful space.

Depending on the time of year, you may be lucky enough to experience wonderful blooms in the various gardens throughout the park.

Popular places in Olympic Park for photos include:

  • Wild Flower Garden
  • Rose Plaza
  • Gourd Tunnel
  • Pink Muhly Grass
  • Golden Ginkgo Tree Road

Additional highlights include the Mongchon Fortress walking paths, the World Peace Gate, numerous dialogue sculptures, 88 Lake and an ice skating rink in winter.

Subway Stop: Olympic Park Station (line 5, exit 3) or Mongchontoseong Station (line 8, exit 1)

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.

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

26. Visit A Themed Cafe

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

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 – Bad reviews often mean signs of animal neglect (if you see this, it is also important to leave a negative review to warn others)
  • Exotic animals – Wild undomesticated animals 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 will further induce stress on animals
  • Animals don’t have a private space – Even animals needs a break now and then

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

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

27. National Folk Museum Of Korea

Located on the grounds of 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 exhibition as well as a children’s museum.

Admission to the National Folk Museum of Korea 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.

Subway Stop: Auguk Station (line 3, exit 1), Gyeongbokgung (line 3, exit 5) or Gwanghwamun Station (line 5, exit 2)

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

28. Noryangjin Fisheries Wholesale Market

The Noryangjin Fish Market is the largest and oldest seafood market in Korea with a floor space of about 6,000 square meters and 700 vendors.

This market is open 24 hours a day, but if you want to see this vibrant market in it’s full glory, come in the morning during the auction.

For foodies, you can purchase live seafood at numerous stalls and then have it prepared at one of the restaurants right upstairs for one of the freshest meals of your life.

Or you can also try this Noryangjin Fish Market Guided Tour to learn about the local food culture and taste fresh seafood.

29. Soak At A Jjimjilbang

Travelers looking for some R&R should look no further than a Jjimjilbang, or a traditional Korean bathhouse. Similar to onsens in Japan, this is where the locals come for a quick soak.

Many bathhouses in Korean contain two main areas:

  • The baths (same gender only)
  • The sauna areas (often a communal space)

Jimjilbangs in Seoul usually cost from KRW 8,000 to 15,000 depending on the neighborhood and if you plan to stay the night.

This is a great article by Klook with all the information you need to visit a Korean bathhouse including great recommendations.

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

30. 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 one of the top attractions in Seoul, it is definitely worth visiting because it commemorates the ideals of peace and freedom in Korea.

Visitors will walk through numerous exhibition halls, prison buildings, labor buildings and many other sites used during these hard times.

Subway Stop: Dongnimmum Station (line 3, exit 5)

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

31. National Museum of Korea

Established in 1945, the National Museum of Korea should be at the top of your Seoul bucket list because it is the most extensive museum in Republic of Korea.

This large museum has 6 galleries showcasing:

  • Prehistoric and ancient history
  • Medieval and early modern history
  • Donated works
  • Calligraphy and painting
  • Asian art
  • Sculpture and crafts

The National Museum of Korea is free to visit. We highly recommend you give yourself several hours to explore this very well done museum.

Subway Stop: Ichon Station (line 4, exit 2)

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 also available on Saturdays.

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

32. Explore The Fun Streets Of Hongdae

Hongdae is located near Hongik University which is very well known for its fine arts program. So it should come as no surprise that the neighborhood of has an extremely creative vibe.

Hongdae is an a lively area with street performers and its intricate alleys are filled with restaurants, shops, clubs and pubs. You can also find amazing street food options in numerous places throughout Hongdae.

If you are visiting Seoul for the first time, check out the Kakao Friends Hongdae flagship store or take a walk down Hongdae Mural Street.

Looking for a hotel in Hongdae? Search for the best hotels in Hongdae on our sister site.

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

33. Stroll Through Myeongdong’s Walking Street

Another great thing to do in Seoul is experience 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 intricate alleyways. Visitors will find everything from high end boutiques to international brands.

We love this famous shopping and fashion district because many sections are pedestrian friendly. This means you won’t have to contend with cars and you can explore with a bit more freedom.

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

Looking for a hotel in Myeongdong? Read about the best hotels in Myeongdong on our sister site.

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

34. Visit Gangnam

Made popular by the song Gangnam Style in 2012, this is the hip and trendy neighborhood in Seoul. It is well-known for it’s 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.

Looking for a hotel in Gangnam? Check out the best hotels in Gangnam on our sister site.

35. Ihwa Mural Village

In 2006, the Naksan Cultural Project helped to rehabilitate a poor neighborhood that was set for demolition by creating the Ihwa Mural Village with local artists.

The result was almost instantaneous as artists transformed the village with sculptures, colorful mural paintings and mosaics on walls as well as staircases to make it a wonderful place to visit in Seoul.

But this painted village did come with a bit of controversy. Due to the increase in foot traffic and noise volume, the local residents often found themselves dealing with inconsiderate tourists.

In 2016, two of the popular murals, the flowers mosaic and the koi fish staircase were painted over by local residents in protest for visitors littering and being rude in the village.

Travel Tip: Please remember to be respectful and keep noise levels down when visiting Ihwa Mural Village as many people live in the surrounding area.

Subway Stop: Hyehwa Station (line 4, exit 2)

A beautiful tomb from the Joseon Dynasty created with the principles of pungsu
An example of a royal tomb in Seoul which is a must see

36. Royal Tombs Of The Joseon Dynasty

Now part of a UNESCO World heritage Site, the Royal Tombs of the Joseon Dynasty are a must visit when in Seoul because they contain the kings and queens in areas of outstanding natural beauty.

These royal tombs include a collection of 40 tombs scattered over 18 locations, but you won’t need to visit all of these places. The Seolleung and Jeongneung Royal Tombs can be found right in Seoul.

The Seolleung Royal Tomb belongs to King Seongjong, the 9th ruler of Joseon and his third consort, Queen Jeonghyeon. While the Jeongneung Roy Tomb belongs to King Jungjong, the 11th ruler of Joseon.

Subway Stop: Seolleung Station (line 2, exit 10) or Seonjeongneung Station (line 9, exit 3)

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

37. Seoul Museum Of History

Another museum to add to your list of things to do in Seoul 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.

The Seoul Museum of History is located right next to Gyeonghuigung Palace so it can be easily visited in tandem with the famous royal palace.

In this museum, visitors will experience 600 years of Seoul in the permanent exhibition hall and these are divided into 5 main zones:

  • Establishments of the Joseon Capital
  • Taking Traditions Forward with Aspirations for an Imperial Capital
  • Shades of Modern Urbanization
  • Rising from the Ashes to become a Metropolis
  • Seoul Today and Tomorrow

Travel Tip: The Seoul Museum of History is free to visit.

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

38. Bank of Korea Money Museum

The Bank of Korea Money Museum is one of the cool things to do in Seoul because this free museum showcases interesting displays about currency through the years.

With three floors to visit, there is no shortage of things to see in the Bank of Korea Money Museum. Audio guides are also available in Korean, English, Japanese and Chinese.

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?!

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

39. Sip On A Drink In A Fancy Cocktail Bar

Seoul’s nightlife is one of the best in Asia and it’s easy to see why. There are numerous clubs, bars and cocktail bars in every neighborhood just waiting for you to enjoy.

Personally, we think visiting the cities 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 of Seoul’s most popular cocktail bars:

You don’t have to travel far to find a cocktail bar so if you won’t be traveling to any of these locations, ask the locals or check out this popular Seoul Pub Crawl.

A street in Itaewon Seoul with no visitors or tourists
A very empty street in Itaewon

40. Itaewon

Designated in 1997, Itawan was the first official tourist zone in Seoul. This was meant to be a multicultural place where expats and foreigners lived.

Itaewon has since become a popular travel destination for both shopping and activities. The streets are crowded with shops, restaurants, hotels and entertainment facilities.

However, a deadly crowd crush occurred in Itaewon during October 2022 killing more than 150 people. This area has now gone very quiet.

Itaewon is in mourning and when we visited Itaewon in March 2023, there was barely anyone in the streets. A temporary memorial has been set up in front of Seoul City Hall in honor of the victims.

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

41. Try Korean BBQ

One of the best things to do in Seoul, South Korea is experience a Korean BBQ. This involves marinated meat cooked over a hot bbq which is often placed in the middle of a table.

Typical meat cuts in a Korean BBQ include very tender pork or beef belly, brisket, prime rib and short ribs. These cuts are then marinated in soy sauce, toasted sesame oil or gochujang prior to grilling.

Cooking the meat right at the table is part of the entire experience and it is often enjoyed with many people. So grab your friends, travel partners or family and sit down for a Korean BBQ in Seoul.

Viator offers tours featuring Korean BBQ in Hongdae or a Secret Pub Experience with BBQ if you don’t want to do all the planning yourself.

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

42. Take A Seoul Food Tour Or Cooking Class

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?

Great question because this was something we struggled with during our time in Seoul. There is so much to eat and drink in this amazing city, it’s difficult to give you just one answer.

Booking a food tour or taking a cooking class is one of the best ways to learn about Seoul culinary traditions from locals. Here are some of Seoul’s popular food experiences:

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

43. Cruise The Han River

A cruise along the Han River (also referred to as Hangang) is one of the best activities in Seoul, especially for first time visitors.

Cruises have been operated E-Land Cruise since 1986. Visitors can choose between a moonlight cruise, starlight cruise, sunset cruise, or the main Han River cruise package.

A night cruise along the Han River is certainly one of the most romantic things you can do in Seoul so surprise your loved one during their trip.

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

44. Alive Museum

Located in Insadong, the Alive Museum is popular for it’s fun optical illusions which make for unique social media posts.

With over 100 exhibits, you can explore interactive artwork including puzzles, challenges, trick art and the popular Dynamic Maze.

Klook offers the best price for Alive Museum admission with both museum and Dynamic maze admission options.

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

45. Seoullo 7017

Opened to the public in May 1027, 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 of Seoul.

Seoullo 7017 can be compared to the High Line in New York City, offering a walking path for both tourists and locals to visit attractions in the area.

We like visiting Seoullo 7017 after the sun sets because the sky garden is illuminated with blue lights.

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

46. Book A Seoul Tour

At the beginning of this Seoul travel guide, we mentioned the importance of grouping the must do Seoul attractions in the same area.

We have now listed 45 Seoul activities that are certainly worth your time when visiting the city. Many of these popular activities are included in day tours which can help you efficiently plan your Seoul itinerary.

Click on the links below to compare prices and explore popular tours in Seoul with our favorite companies:

Travel Tip: We found Klook typically offers the best prices for Seoul tours, but Get Your Guide and Viator sometimes offer unique tours you may not find on Klook.

Seoul Interactive Map

Here is our interactive map featuring all of the best things to do in Seoul we mentioned in this detailed travel guide. You can also access our interactive map for Seoul via this link here.

However, Google maps can be unreliable in this country because Google does not have access to geographical data in Korea. 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 Seoul map to figure out where you need to go then use the KakaoMap to navigate.

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

Things To Do In Seoul, South Korea FAQ’s

Let’s take a look at some of the most frequently asked questions about the best things to do in Seoul, South Korea.

What are the best things to do in Seoul on a first time visit?

First time visitors in Seoul should experience the War Memorial of Korea, the royal palaces of Seoul, tour the DMZ Zone, Lotte World Amusement Park, the Olympic Park, the Royal Tombs and one of the popular observations decks. Visitors should also stroll through Hongdae, Myeongdong, and Gangnam.

How many days do you need to visit Seoul?

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 which means attractions are not close together. Personally, we recommend anywhere from 6-8 days in Seoul to see the best of the city.

What is the best month to visit Seoul?

You can visit South Korea anytime of the year, but mid-March to April is extremely popular for cherry blossom season and the month of October is popular for peak fall foliage. Spring (March to May) and fall (September to November) are sunny seasons with comfortable temperatures making these the best months to travel through South Korea.

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 Seoul tourist attractions or visiting Seoul below in the comments below.

Happy Travels,

Mark and Kristen

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