Seoul, the capital city of South Korea, is one of Asia’s coolest cities to explore. It’s got a proper amazing mix of old and new that amazing to see. Oh, and that’s without even remembering the delicious South Korean food and the best things to do in Seoul that are dotted all across the city.
Before visiting Seoul, I (like a lot of travellers out there) had this pre-conceived notion of Seoul being this shiny and glossy city, almost clinical, if you will. And, whilst that is true in some parts, Seoul is so much more than that!
Seoul has a huge amount of history, temples and sites that you can’t miss.
This is the reason why I wanted to share some of the best things to do in Seoul on your next trip. It doesn’t matter if it’s a short hop, a long weekend or a few weeks, hopefully, I can share some of the best things to do in Seoul.
Take a look, below, at the best things to do in Seoul. 🇰🇷
1.) Explore the Korea Furniture Museum
So, not the first thing you think of when you think Seoul attractions, but the Korea Furniture Museum is more interesting than you’d expect (so give it a chance). It’s one of the best things to do in Seoul if you’re interested in the culture and heritage of South Korea.
Filled with over 2,000 pieces of traditional furniture, the museum also boasts 10 traditional Korean houses for you to get a real insight into South Korean lifestyles and culture. Just remember, that this part is accessible by reservation only so get your tickets in advance of visiting.
That being said, if you’re not into this type of history, you might wanna give it a miss!
2.) Wander through Insadong
Visiting Insadong is also another great way to get an insight into South Korean culture and explore one of the neighbourhoods of Seoul. Now, Insadong itself is home to shed loads of shops, pretty little teahouses and market stalls selling everything you could imagine.
Also, with over 100 art galleries, you are bound to find a unique souvenir or two to take back home with you. Whilst here, make sure to check out the traditional clothing, papers (its a thing here), and pottery for sale in the area.
For a great place to stay, check into The Shilla Seoul – the rooms are so sumptuous.
3.) Experience Bongeunsa
The Temple of Bongeunsa is a surprisingly tranquil place smack in the middle of Seoul. It’s the kinda place that you wouldn’t even think could be so quiet in the bustling heart of Seoul.
Once you’re here, you’ll be able to wander around the 1,400-year-old buildings that were commissioned by Yeon-hoe (the most important monk in the region).
Located in the Gangnam district, pretty close to the CoEx it’s a pretty impressive place to see the contrasting views of Seoul’s old and new districts.
Oh, and don’t forget to see the huge stone monument that is considered to be the biggest Maitreya in all of South Korea.
4.) Visit Gyeongbokgung Palace
Gyeongbukgung Palace is the largest of the grand palaces and one of the best things to do in Seoul.
The Palace spans quite a considerable amount of space and so it’s worth leaving a few hours to explore properly, especially if you love the history of Seoul.
The intricate design and picturesque gardens will leave you pretty impressed, I’m sure. Oh, and if you want free entry into the palace, you should arrive in traditional Korean dress codes.
For another great hotel in Seoul, make sure to check into the Lotte Hotel that’s pretty close to Seoul City Hall.
5.) Gorge in Seoul
Hands down, Korean food is delicious!
Korean food has a reputation around the globe and is easily up there as one of the best things to do in Seoul.
For some yummy restaurants, head over to Jihwaja (for their classic Korean dishes), 853 (for a Korean BBQ) and Kyochon Chicken Dongdaemun 1 (for fried chicken). Trust me when I say, Koreans take their fried chicken really seriously and this is an epic spot. It’s nothing fancy at all, but the chicken is delicious.
It’s time to gorge!
6.) Visit the Jogyesa Temple
Nestled among the skyscrapers is the beautiful little Buddhist gem of the Jogyesa Temple. It’s easily up there as one of the best things to do in Seoul if you want to explore the city’s history.
Often thought of as one of the pillars of Korean Buddhism, it’s an easy spot to find if you’re in downtown Seoul. The temple itself hosts loads of different festivals, with the Lantern festival being a firm favourite you should see.
7.) Stroll through Myeongdong
Known as one of the best shopping streets in Seoul, Myeongdong is one of the best things to do in Seoul if you want an evening of shopping, bars and food.
Half the fun of visiting markets like this is not knowing what you’ll find here so arrive with an open mind, an open wallet (obviously) and a penchant for a fantastic bargain. We had the best time strolling around before dinner and ended up with all manner of purchases.
8.) See the views from N Seoul Tower
An aerial view of Seoul is almost always an easy ‘Yes’, especially when it comes to the N Seoul Tower.
Watching the city transform from day to night is always an amazing perspective, especially over glittering cities like Seoul.
For me, I’d always recommend visiting before sunset, though, it can get busy then. Just one thing to remember, if you do arrive at the tower by cable car, remember that the fee doesn’t include entry to the tower itself and that will need to be paid for separately.
Oh, and obviously, if the skies are gloomy or foggy, give this one a miss.
9.) Wander Bukchon Hanok Village
Bukchon Hanok Village is a traditional Korean village and a great way to take a step back into time and see what South Korea would have been like centuries ago. It’s easily one of the best things to do in Seoul and an area I loved.
Also, you can pop into some of the houses here to see them a lot closer up (and for free too). Best yet, you can even pop into one of the local tea houses for a spot of rice tea that’s made in the traditional way. Honestly, the tea houses are beautiful experiences to have here.
If tea isn’t your thing, this area is also home to quite loads of quirky shops and stalls that are all through the alleys and streets.
Location-wise, this is in between Gyeongbukgung Palace and the UNESCO World Heritage Changdeokgung Palace so a trip here is an easy addition to your day trip to these.
10.) Find Changdeokgung Palace
Speaking of Changdeokgung Palace, this is another of the best things to do in Seoul, so much so that it’s been declared a UNESCO World Heritage.
Changdeokgung Palace still has elements from the Three Kingdoms of Korea and was the favourite of Korean princes that is so interesting to see. Don’t forget to watch out for the changing of the guards, too.
When you arrive here, be sure to check out Huwon (the Secret Garden), which is totally idyllic. Also, it’s worth remembering, you have to book a tour to visit Huwon and can only visit with the tour so be sure to factor that in during your trip.
Also, entry during certain public holidays is totally free. Yippee!
11.) Chill at Hangang Park
Located along the banks of Hangang River (hence its name), Hangang park is another slightly different part of the city to explore.
The park has an open pathway for visitors to head out biking or just go for a stroll in the park. A visit to the park makes for a change of pace from being in the busy city and is a great spot to chill and perhaps even indulge in a spot of people watching.
This is a great place to chill out after a day exploring Seoul.
12.) Discover Deoksugung Palace
Deoksugung Palace is another one of the five grand palaces and was home to the Korean royal family until the colonisation of Korea by Japan all those years ago.
Now, this is one of the smaller palaces to visit in Seoul, but don’t let that put you off – it’s gorgeous to see. Open until till much later than the other palaces, it’s worth visiting in the evening when most of the other sights have closed.
Also, the changing of the guards happens here around 11 am and is well worth seeing if you’re in the area. It lasts around fifteen minutes and is so nice to see the traditional dress, too.
13.) Take a boat on the Hangang River
The Hangang river is lovely from its banks, but if you’ve got some weary feet (after a day of exploring), hop on board one of the cruise boats that’ll whisk you down the river itself.
If you find yourself with some free time in the city, hop aboard a boat here and see the city from a totally different perspective. That being said, it’s a much slower pace of exploring a city (if you’re short on time).
For another great hotel in Seoul, check into the five-star, Signiel that’s based near the Lotte World Tower.
14.) Scream at Everland
Okay, so theme parks are a big deal in South Korea and Everland is one of the most popular in all of Asia.
It’s easily one of the best things to do in Seoul if you’re something of a thrill-seeker. Now, to get here, it’ll take you about 30-minutes by train or 45-minutes by bus) and is easily reached from downtown Seoul.
Now, the rides are pretty intense, especially with the wooden roller-coaster, so consider that before your visit. If you don’t like rides, you’ll likely hate this place.