Seoul Itinerary: the Ultimate Guide!
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Seoul is one of the most fascinating cities in the world. From its 5 royal palaces and traditional villages to its incredible markets, amazing food and vibrant culture, Seoul has an amazing variety of sights. Having spent a month travelling through Seoul and Korea, we’ve put together our recommended Seoul itinerary. It’s our guide to Seoul and includes things to do, where to stay and what to see along the way. It’s the perfect guide for planning your Seoul itinerary and will help you make the most out of your time in the city. Enjoy!
We’ve shared eight awesome days in our Seoul itinerary. It is easy to add or remove days or switch the order to suit your own schedule. Our Seoul itinerary ideas are perfect for first-time visitors or for return visitors looking for some unique things to do in Seoul.
Getting around Seoul
We made our way around Seoul through a mix of the subway, walking and the occasional taxi.
Getting from Seoul Incheon: with a journey time of 43 minutes, the AREX train is the fastest way to get from Incheon Airport to Seoul Station. It’s also easy to grab a cab at the airport. A train ticket is less than US$10 compared to around US$70 for a taxi – check prices now!
Where to Stay in Seoul
To make the most of your time in Seoul we recommend staying as central as possible. Our favourite areas to use as a base are Namdaemun, Myeongdong and Insadong:
- Hotel28 Myeongdong: Located in the heart of Myeondong, Hotel 28 is a great budget choice and is perfectly located for exploring the city. The hotel is close to the subway and a short walk from many great restaurants and sights – check prices now!
- Courtyard by Marriott Seoul Namdaemun: the Marriott Seoul Namdaemun is located right beside the lively Namdaemun market and is a short walk to most of the city sights. Rooms are lovely and the breakfast buffet is incredible! – check prices now!
- Aloft Seoul Myeongdong: The Aloft Seoul is a great value, modern hotel with spacious rooms, a gym and 24-hour business centre. Plus the breakfast buffet is amazing with Western and Korean foods – check prices now!
- Orakai Insadong Suites: this is a great option in Insadong for anyone looking for an apartment style hotel. With on-site laundry, great breakfast buffet and fantastic location the Orakai Suites are a perfect base for exploring Seoul – check prices now!
We purchased a Sim card on Klook and it was super-useful during our time in Seoul. Having mobile data while exploring the city was invaluable for navigating and researching. We used the KT Olleh sim card and picked it up at the airport on arrival in Seoul. It’s cheaper if you order in advance with Klook – click here to order now!
If you have more than one device and don’t want to get separate sim cards you should consider renting a 4G Wifi portable hotspot. They’re great if you need to connect more than just your phone while on the go – click here to order now!
Daily Seoul Itinerary
Read on for our day by day Seoul itinerary recommendations!
Day 1: Hanboks, palaces and the Bukchon Hanbok Village
Day 1 is dedicated to palaces and tradition!
Start the day by renting a Hanbok, the colourful and traditional Korean dress. Many visitors to Seoul rent a Hanbok and it is common to see the 1,600-year-old dress on the streets of the city. It’s a fun way to explore the historic side of Seoul and makes for great memories and photos! We had so much fun and highly recommend dedicating a day to hanbok rental in Seoul!
Seoul itinerary tip: Entry to the five Grand Palaces is free when dressed in a Hanbok.
We used the Klook app to reserve our hanboks and saved almost 50% on the in-store price. There are lots of shops offering hanbok rental in Seoul but we highly recommend this Hanbok rental store located in Gyeongbokgung. The location is perfect as it’s close to the Bukchon Hanok Village and the Gyeongbokgung and Changdeokgung Palaces. The selection of clothes is extensive – we were able to find awesome hanboks for men, women and kids – check prices now!
After dressing up in the Hanbok, the first stop is Gyeongbokgung Palace, the largest of the Five Grand Palaces of Seoul. The palaces were built by the Joseon Dynasty and a visit to at least one is an essential part of any Seoul itinerary. The palace grounds are beautiful and twice daily, at 10am and 2pm, the Changing of the Guard ceremony takes place at the Gwanghwamun main gate.
Seoul itinerary tip: if your first day in Seoul falls on a Monday or Tuesday then switch this day to later in the trip. The Gyeongbokgung Palace is closed on Tuesdays while most of the other historical sites close on Monday.
From Gyeongbokgung, walk to the Bukchon Hanok Village, a traditional Korean village with Korean houses dating back to the Joseon Dynasty. Given the history and its picturesque streets, the Bukchon Hanok Village is one of the most popular areas to visit for those renting hanboks.
Before returning the Hanboks, make a stop at Changdeokgung Palace, another of the Grand Palaces and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The palace and the grounds are beautiful.
Changdeokgung Palace also has a beautiful Secret Garden with pavilions, pagodas and a lotus pond.
Seoul itinerary tip: entrance to the Secret Garden is not included in the Changdeokgung Palace entry. A separate timed ticket must be reserved.
Day 2: DMZ (The Korean Demilitarized Zone)
A day trip to the DMZ from Seoul is a fascinating experience and one undertaken by many visitors to the city. The 4km wide area was founded in 1953, at the end of the Korean War, and runs along the border of North and South Korea. The DMZ is only accessible through a tour. It offers a glimpse into North Korea with stops at the infiltration tunnel, Freedom House (JSA/Panmunjom tour), the Dora Observatory and the Bridge of No Return.
- JSA Tour: the JSA, or the Joint Security Area, is known as Panmunjom includes Freedom House which acts as a meeting place between North and South Korea. The JSA is where North Korean and South Korean forces stand face to face and visitors can get the closest to North Korea – check JSA tour prices now!
- DMZ tour: the DMZ tour goes deep into the demilitarized zone. It does not include the Joint Security Area so visitors get within a few miles of the North Korean border- check DMZ tour prices now!
Seoul itinerary: if you are travelling with children under 11 then you will need to take the DMZ tour. The JSA is only accessible to children aged 11 or over due to the close proximity to the North Korean border.
Day 3: Myeongdong, Fried Chicken and N Seoul Tower
Start the day with a stroll along the arty walkway which runs alongside the Cheonggyecheon Stream. The stream runs for miles through North Seoul and the walkway passes under 22 bridges. Our favourite spot was the umbrella covered plaza close to City Hall and J loved watching the fish and ducks along the way! Spring Tower, the Candlelight Fountain and the stepping stone are also highlights of the walk.
Aim to exit the stream walk close to Seoul City Hall and make a quick visit to its vertical gardens before grabbing a quick pic at the I Seoul U sign in the adjoining Seoul Plaza.
Next is Myeongdong, a chaotic and fun neighbourhood filled with quirky shops and great food options. Our Myeongdong essentials are:
- Style Nanda: pink and quirky makeup and clothing store made up of 7 stores. The giant pink pillows and parasols on the rooftop make for great pics
- BHC fried chicken: Chimaek, or fried chicken and beer, is a Seoul speciality and BHC is an awesome spot in Myeongdong
- Cosmetic stores: Korea is famous for its skincare and make-up products and Myeongdong is home to many of the best brands
- Street Food: food carts line the streets of Myeongdong. Our favourite is the 2-foot ice cream!
- Nanta: Seoul’s longest-running theatre show is a unique mix of martial arts, music and acrobatics alongside some kitchen antics. It’s non-verbal so language is not an issue – check prices here!
After exploring Myeongdong, the next stop is Namdaemun Market. The market is the largest traditional market in Korea and the street stall are brimming with souvenirs, clothes, luggage, accessories, stationery and toys. Make sure to indulge in some of the Namdaemun street foods. The Hotteok Stall at Gate 2 is legendary – we stopped by at least 3 times during our time in Seoul!
It’s a short jaunt from Namdaemum to the iconic N Seoul Tower and just before sunset is the perfect time to arrive. The N Seoul Tower can be reached by walking, cable car or bus. We recommend walking through the beautiful Namsan Park if you have time.
The N Seoul Tower is one of the most recognisable sights in Seoul. The observatory has fantastic panoramic views of the city and it is one of the best photo locations in Seoul. There’s also a love locks tree and a Hello Kitty house to visit.
Seoul itinerary tip: If you plan to visit the N Seoul Tower itself, make sure to book you tickets in advance on Klook which has a decent discount on most entry tickets, including N Seoul Tower – check prices here!
Day 4: A Theme Park!
With two amazing theme parks, Everland and Lotte World, easily accessible from Seoul, a theme park day is a great addition to any Seoul itinerary!
Everland is the largest theme park in South Korea and is hugely popular. It has five sections offering attractions which include adrenaline-inducing rides and a Safari World. Everland is easily accessible via a shuttle bus from Seoul.
We opted for Lotte World which consists of Lotte World Adventure, the biggest indoor amusement park in the world, and the outdoor Magic Island which is located on a man-made lake. It’s thrilling and magical in equal measures. Lotte World is a great winter theme park given its indoor section. Lotte World is located within Seoul.
If you are travelling with kids, Seoul Land is also a good option to consider and can be a little less expensive. There family-friendly rides, a world plaza and Seoul Grand Park, Korea’s largest botanical garden and zoo.
Make sure to purchase Seoul theme park tickets in advance as Klook usually offer heavily discounted tickets to the three parks.
• Everland – check prices here!
• Lotte World – check prices here!
• Seoul Land – check prices here!
Day 5: Gangham, Lotte World and a Korean BBQ
Book fans should start the day with a trip to the Starfield Coex Mall. The mall is home to the Starfield Library with its towering shelves which hold over 50,000 books.
Outside the mall there is a tribute sculpture to PSY and his viral song, Gangnam Style. It’s difficult to resist reenacting some of the dance moves
The Bongeunsa Temple is located across the street from the mall and the Giant Buddha is a highlight.
If you are an Instagram fan, the nearby Common Ground is one of the most popular Instagram spots in Seoul. 200 shipping containers were hauled in to create a hip shopping and dining experience.
The observation deck at the Lotte World Tower is next on the agenda. It’s the 5th tallest building in the world and the observation deck has 360-degree views of Seoul. The double-decker elevator and the glass-bottomed observation deck are sure to be a hit with kids– check prices here!
After sightseeing, we suggest wrapping up the day with some Korean BBQ. Mapo Sutbul Galbi and Seocho Myeonok are great options which are easily accessible by subway from Lotte World. There’s plenty of Korean BBQ joins across Seoul so it should be easy to find one in your neighbourhood if you prefer to eat closer to home!
If you want to indulge in street food and a bbq then consider joining one of the guided tours to ensure you hit the best spots – check prices here!
Day 6: Dongdaemun, Iwha Mural Village and the War Memorial and Museum
To understand more about the history of Korea, start the day with a visit to the War Memorial of Korea. Its details the timeline of wars in Korea and its exhibition halls, sculptures and military vehicles are fascinating.
Make your way to nearby Dongdaemun for the Dongdaemun Market, the DDP Design Plaza and Dongdaemun Gate.
The Dongdaemun Design Plaza, known as the DDP, is one of the most iconic buildings in Seoul. It hosts creative exhibitions, conventions and concerts. The unique flowing design of the building and its minimalist architecture is amazing. The incredible floating stairway in the museum building and the LED rose garden which lights up as the sun sets are worth a visit.
Dongdaemun Market is Seoul’s fashion market and refers to the area in Dongdaemun which is comprised of shopping malls, niche shops and traditional markets. There is a night market and a food alley and it’s possible to find almost anything you can think of!
Make sure to stop by Dongdaemun Gate, the oldest of Seoul’s eight main gates which stood along the city walls of Seoul. Officially known as the Heunginjimun Gate, it dates back to the end of the 14th Century and the beginning of the Joseon Dynasty.
Finish the day’s sightseeing with a visit to the Iwha Mural Village on Mount Naksan. The streets of the village are filled with quirky boutiques and adorned with street art and it’s a colourful and fun place to visit. The ‘I love Seoul’ sign is perfect for a family pic and the angel wings are always popular!
Day 7: Nami Island
Located about 90 minutes from Seoul, the picturesque Nami Island is famous for its tree-lined avenues and riverside walks. It’s also the filming location of countless Korean dramas including Winter Sonata. If you visit during April, the cherry blossoms typically come into bloom at the beginning of the month. This is the most popular time to visit Nami Island but it is beautiful in all seasons.
Nami Island is accessible by public transport (Gyeongchun Line subway or ITX-Cheongchun and get off at Gapyeong Station and walk/taxi to Nami Island) a shuttle bus from Seoul – check shuttle bus prices here!
If you’re feeling adventurous, instead of taking the ferry over to Nami Island, zip line over! There’s a family-friendly version provided kids meet the minimum height and weight restrictions – check prices here!
Korea with kids itinerary tip: many visitors to Nami island also stop by Peite France, a lovely quaint little village dotted with colourful buildings, and the beautiful gardens at the Garden of Morning Calm. Pedalling along the old tracks using the Gangchon Rail Bikes is another popular addition to the day – check prices here!
Day 8: Jogyesa Temple, Jongmyo Shrine and Insadong
Start the day with a visit to the Jongmyo Shrine, a Confucian shrine in memory of the kings and queens of the Korean Joseon Dynasty. The shrine is one of South Korea’s 13 UNESCO World Heritage sites.
We recommend visiting on a guided tour day as the tour gives a great explanation of the history and significance of the site. The most impressive of the buildings is the long Ancestral Hall which is the last stop on the tour.
Seoul itinerary tip: Visits to the Jongmyo Shrine are by guided tour only except for Saturdays when visitors can explore themselves. We had to wait a little while to join an English speaking tour as they start every two hours. Japanese and Korean tours are scheduled more frquently. The Jongmyo Shrine is closed on Tuesdays.
Spend the afternoon in the ever popular Insadong neigbourhood. It’s famous for offering a glimpse into the traditional culture of Korea and the streets are lined with souvenir shops, food stalls and wooden tea houses. The nearby Ikseondong, one of the oldest neigbourhoods in Seoul, is another must visit filled with quirky shops and hip eateries.
The Alive Museum is a fun stop n Insadong. It is a 4D museum full of optical illusions and peculiar art with a fun Dynamic Maze challenge – check prices here!
Finish up the day with a visit to the Jogyesa Temple which is the centre of Korean Buddhism. The temple is colourful and beautiful and the grounds contains ancient trees which are 500 years old as well as fun statutes which won’t fail to bring a smile to your face.
Seoul itinerary tip: we visited during the annual flower festival in October and the grounds were incredible. There were hedges sculpted into Buddha’s, elepahants and dragons. If you visit during the Buddha’s birthday or the Lotus Lantern Festival the temple courtyard is decorated with paper lanterns making for a spectacular scene.
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