The best things to do in Seoul draw inquisitive travellers from all over the world. It’s no surprise that the capital of South Korea is one of the hottest tourist destinations - sleek skyscrapers and shopping malls coexist with well-preserved royal palaces and Buddhist temples.
Seoul has an extensive subway system, where notable landmarks are just minutes away from the city’s many train stops. There are also many bustling shopping districts with dining, shopping, and nightlife opportunities for visitors of all ages. Exploring this massive city can be understandably daunting, so we’ve compiled a rundown of Seoul’s most popular attractions to fit into your travel itinerary.
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. You can explore 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 offers free guided tours in English, Japanese and Chinese between 10am and 3.30pm. Read More...
- Opening Hours: March–May and September–October: from 9am to 6pm. June–August: from 9am to 6.30 pm. November–February: from 9am to 5pm (closed on Tuesdays)
- Address: 161, Sajik-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
- Tel: +82-2-3700-3900
N Seoul Tower is a modern structure atop Namsan Mountain in central Seoul. Spanning 237 metres tall, you get to enjoy panoramic views of Seoul from its observatory. It hosts traditional performances and exhibitions year-round. Inside, you’ll find a digital observatory as well as plenty of souvenir shops, restaurants, and cafes.
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 cost around 9,000 won for adults and 7,000 won for children and senior citizens. Read More...
- Opening Hours: Monday–Friday and Sunday from 10am to 11pm, Saturday from 10am to midnight
- Address: 105 Namsangongwon-gil, Yongsan 2(i)ga-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea
- Tel: +82-2-3455-9277
Lotte World, located in central Seoul, is one of the world’s largest indoor theme parks. It has plenty of thrilling rides, films, an ice-skating rink, lively parades, and laser shows for visitors of all ages. You can also visit an onsite folk museum, which displays miniature villages and artefacts that are more than 5,000 years old.
Admission fees for Lotte World vary according to time of entry – the Daily Passport Ticket gives you free access to Lotte World’s folk museum, Adventure and Magic Island. Read More...
- Opening Hours: Daily from 9.30am to 10pm
- Address: 240 Olympic-ro, Songpa-gu, Seoul, South Korea
- Tel: +82-2-1661-2000
Myeongdong Market is the place to go if you’re planning to hit the shops during your stay in the capital. One of South Korea’s prime shopping districts, it has dozens of department stores, shopping malls, and street side shops. Popular items include inexpensive clothes, shoes, accessories, jewellery, and handbags from local and international brands. There are over 1,000 outlets selling Korean cosmetic and skincare.
Unlike other shopping districts In Seoul, Myeongdong Market also has sightseeing spots - iconic landmarks include the Myeongdong Catholic Cathedral and the gothic-style Myeongdong Theatre.
- Opening Hours: Daily from 10am to 10.30pm (hours vary by store)
- Address: 83-9 Myeong-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Changdeokgung Palace is the most well-preserved of the 5 remaining royal palaces in South Korea. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997, it’s located at the foot of Mount Baegaksan’s Ungbong Peak.
The area consists of a public palace area, a paved courtyard, open corridors, and the royal family’s residence.
One of the most photographed spots at Changdeokgung Palace is the Huwon garden. Enjoy views of a lily pond and elegant pavilions surrounded by colourful flowers. Entrance to the palace costs around 8,000 won for adults, senior citizens for 5,000 won, and 4,000 won for youths. Guided tours are available in English, Chinese, and Japanese.
- Opening Hours: Daily from 9am to 6.30pm
- Address: 99, Yulgok-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
- Tel: +82-2-1661-2000
Bongeunsa Temple offers cultural events for those looking to learn about traditional Korean Buddhist practices. Surrounded by lush greenery, the atmosphere here is very quiet and tranquil. Artefacts such as woodblock carvings of Buddhist sutras and Korea’s tallest statue of Maitreya Buddha dot the temple grounds.
Bongeunsa Temple hosts temple stay programs where you can experience the life of a Buddhist monk. Guided tours (in English, Japanese and Chinese), dawn services, lotus lantern making, and tea ceremonies are among the many activities you can enjoy during your visit.
- Opening Hours: Daily from 3am to 10pm
- Address: 531, Bongeunsa-ro, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea
- Tel: +82-2-3218-4895
The War Memorial of Korea
The War Memorial of Korea was built to commemorate the Korean War (1950 - 1953). Located in Itaewon, the museum has a virtual combat experience room and 6 indoor exhibition halls displaying historical relics and battle records.
An outdoor exhibition centre showcases 13,000 war memorabilia, military equipment, and memorial statues. Entrance to The War Memorial of Korea is free of charge.
- Opening Hours: Tuesday–Sunday from 9.30am to 6pm (closed on Mondays)
- Address: 29, Itaewon-ro, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea
- Tel: +82-2-709-3139
Jongmyo Shrine is a Confucian royal shrine for memorial services during the Joseon Dynasty. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it 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.
You’re only allowed to enter the Jongmyo Shrine’s heritage area via guided tours (entrance fees are priced between 400 and 1, 000 won), while access to the shrine itself is strictly prohibited. Jongmyo Shrine is a 5-minute walk of Jongno-sam-ga subway station. Read More...
- Opening Hours: Wednesday–Monday from 9am to 6.30pm (closed on Tuesdays)
- Address: 157 Jong-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
- Tel: +82-2-765-0195
Dongdaemun Market is one of South Korea’s largest wholesale and retail shopping districts. It has around 26 shopping malls, 30,000 speciality shops, and 50,000 manufacturers. Items range from textiles, clothes, shoes, and jewellery, to leather goods, toys, electronics, and office supplies.
Dongdaemun Market attracts foodies with Mukja Golmok, an alley dedicated to Korean street food and snacks. The shopping district stays busy well into the night, with festivities, fashion shows, music and dance performances taking place after the sun sets in Seoul. Read More...
- Address: Euljiro 6(yuk)-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Bukchon Hanok Village houses hundreds of hanok (traditional Korean homes) that have stood the test of time since the Joseon dynasty. It’s known as Seoul’s most beautiful historical district, where many of these buildings 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 to visit museum within the village – Gahoe Museum, Han Sangsu Embroidery Museum, and the Museum of Korean Art are popular among curious visitors. Read More...
- Address: 37, Gyedong-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
- Tel: +82-2-2148-4160