The best attractions in Seoul draw millions of inquisitive travellers from all over the world and it’s no surprise that the capital of South Korea is now one of the hottest tourist destinations. A vibrant city with sleek skyscrapers, shopping malls, and colourful theme parks, well-preserved royal palaces, Buddhist temples, and historical landmarks, Seoul is also incredibly convenient thanks to its extensive subway system, as well as efficient bus and taxi services.
Seoul is also home to the world’s largest indoor theme park and bustling shopping districts with over 50, 000 brands, promising a wealth of dining, shopping, and nightlife opportunities for visitors of all ages. Exploring this massive city can be understandably daunting, especially for a first-time visitor, so we’ve compiled a rundown of Seoul’s most popular attractions to fit into your travel itinerary.
Hailed as Seoul’s most popular attraction, Gyeongbokgung Palace was built in 1395 by King Taejo. It is the largest and most striking of the Five Grand Palaces built by the Joseon dynasty, housing more than 300 buildings, The National Folk Museum, and The National Palace Museum. A must see for all history buffs, remnants of the Joseon Dynasty such as the Gyeonghoe-ru Pavilion, Hyangwonjeong Pond, and sculptures of Geunjeongjeon (The Royal Audience Chamber) remain relatively intact within the palace grounds. Gyeongbokgung Palace is open from 09:00 till 23:00 and visitors can enjoy free guided tours in English, Japanese and Chinese between 10:00 and 15:30. Read More...
- Opening Hours: Wednesday – Monday 09:00 – 18:30
- Address: 161, Sajik-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul
- Tel: +822 3700 3900
Enjoy panoramic views of Seoul and beyond at N Seoul Tower, a modern structure that stands at 237 metres tall atop the Namsan Mountain in central Seoul. Open daily from 10:00 until 24:00, it hosts various performances and exhibitions, as well as a roof terrace, souvenir shops, a digital observatory, fine-dining restaurants, food courts, and cafes. Similar to Paris’ Pont des Arts Bridge, the roof terrace at N Seoul Tower is a popular spot for couples for attaching padlocks and love notes to the fence as a symbol of love. Entrance fees are priced at 9,000 won for adults and 7, 000 won for children and senior citizens. Read More...
- Opening Hours: Monday – Thursday 10:00 – 23:00, Friday & Saturday 10:00 – 00:00, Sunday 10:00 – 23:00
- Address: 105, Namsangongwon-gil, Yongsan-gu, Seoul
- Tel: +822 3455 9277
Lotte World is the world’s largest indoor theme park, where visitors of all ages can enjoy thrilling rides, films, an ice-skating rink, lively parades, and laser shows. Great for culture vultures, a folk museum with miniature villages and artefacts that are more than 5,000 years old is set within the park. Open daily from 09:00 until 22:00, admission fees for Lotte World vary according to time of entry - we highly recommend the Daily Passport Ticket (adults 48,000 won, youths 42,000 won, children 38,000 won and infants 12,000 won) to enjoy free access to Lotte World’s folk museum, Adventure and Magic Island. Read More...
- Opening Hours: Daily 09:30 - 22:00
- Address: 240 Olympic-ro, Songpa-gu, Seoul
- Tel: +822 1661 2000
Myeongdong Market is the place to go if you’re planning to hit the shops while in Seoul. One of South Korea’s prime shopping districts, it is home to numerous department stores, shopping malls, street side shops as well as restaurants, cafes, and hawker stalls. Popular items include inexpensive clothes, shoes, accessories, jewellery, and handbags from local and international brands as well as over 1000 Korean cosmetic and skincare brands. Unlike other shopping districts In Seoul (such as Dongdaemun), Myeongdong Market also offers plenty of sightseeing opportunities as it houses some of Seoul’s iconic landmarks, including the Myeongdong Catholic Cathedral and the gothic-style Myeongdong Theatre.
- Opening Hours: Daily 10:00 – 22:30
- Location: Myeongdong Station
- Tel: +822 774 3238
Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997, Changdeokgung Palace is the most well-preserved of the five remaining royal palaces in South Korea. It is set at the foot of Ungbong Peak of Mount Baegaksan in northern Seoul and features a public palace area, paved courtyard, open corridors, the royal family residence and Huwon, a rear garden that’s filled with colourful flowers, intricate stone carvings, a lily pond, a massive tree that is over 300 years old, and elegant-looking pavilions. Guided tours are available in English, Chinese and Japanese with admission fees priced at 8,000 won for adults, senior citizens for 5,000won, and 4,000 won for youths.
- Opening Hours: Daily 09:00 - 18:30
- Address: 99, Yulgok-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul
- Tel: +822 1661 2000
Bongeunsa Temple is a 1,200 year-old Buddhist temple that offers a myriad of activities for those looking to learn about traditional Korean Buddhist practices. Surrounded by lush greenery and artefacts such as woodblock carvings of Buddhist sutras and Korea’s tallest statue of Maitreya Buddha, the atmosphere here is very quiet and tranquil. At Bongeunsa Temple, visitors are also given the opportunity to experience the life of a Buddhist monk as well as activities such as temple tours conducted in English, Japanese and Chinese, daily dawn services, lotus lantern making, tea drinking ceremony, and meditation.
- Opening Hours: Daily 03:00 - 22:00
- Address: 531, Bongeunsa-ro, Gangnam-gu, Seoul
- Tel: +822 3218 4895
Another popular attraction for history buffs, The War Memorial of Korea was built to commemorate the Korean War (1950 - 1953) and offers an extensive display of various historical relics and battle records. Located in Itaewon, there are six indoor exhibition halls within the building, as well as a virtual combat experience room, and an outdoor exhibition centre with 13,000 war memorabilia and military equipment as well as memorial statues. Entrance to The War Memorial of Korea is free of charge and it is open every day except Mondays from 9:00 till 18:00.
- Opening Hours: Tuesday - Sunday 09:00 - 18:00
- Address: 29, Itaewon-ro, Yongsan-gu, Seoul
- Tel: +822 709 3139
Jongmyo Shrine is a Confucian royal shrine in Seoul that’s dedicated to the performance of memorial services during the Joseon Dynasty. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this royal shrine houses the spirit tablets of the former kings and queens of the Joseon Dynasty. Cultural heritage festivals such as the Korean Royal Palace Culture Festival are also held in Jongmyo Shrine every year. Set within a five-minute walk from Jongno-sam-ga subway station, visitors are only allowed to enter the Jongmyo Shrine’s heritage area on guided tours (entrance fees are priced between 400 and 1, 000 won) while access to the interior of the buildings is strictly prohibited. Read More...
- Opening Hours: Wednesday - Monday 09:00 - 18:30
- Address: 157 Jong-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul
- Tel: +822 765 0195
Dongdaemun Market is well-regarded as South Korea’s largest wholesale and retail shopping district, housing 26 shopping malls, 30,000 speciality shops, and 50,000 manufacturer selling silks and fabric, clothes, shoes, jewellery, accessories, leather goods, sports equipment, as well as toys, electronics, and office supplies. Prominent shopping centres in this district include Migliore, Designer’s Club, and Doosan Tower while the Mukja Golmok food alley is a popular area for shoppers to enjoy various Korean street foods and snacks. Dongdaemun Market also transforms into a lively nightlife spot where various festivities, music and dance performances, fashion shows take place after the sun sets in Seoul. Read More...
- Opening Hours: Daily 10:00 – 00:00
- MRT: Dongdaemun Station
- Tel: +822 2236 9135
Perfect for visitors looking to immerse themselves in traditional Korean culture, Bukchon Hanok Village houses hundreds of hanok (traditional Korean homes) that have stood the test of time since the Joseon dynasty. It is known as Seoul’s most beautiful historical district, where many of these inhabited hanoks operate as cultural centres, guesthouses, restaurants, and teahouses. While entry to Bukchon Hanok Village is free of charge, you can purchase the ‘Bukchon Museum Freedom Pass’ for 10, 000 won if you’re looking to visit the Gahoe Museum, Han Sangsu Embroidery Museum, and the Museum of Korean Art. Read More...
- Opening Hours: Monday – Saturday 09:30 - 21:30
- Address: 37, Gyedong-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul
- Tel: +822 2148 4160