50 Things to do in SEOUL, South Korea!

Today we’re sharing a list of fun things to do in Seoul because no trip to South Korea would be complete without a few days exploring the capital! This is a city of contrasts where you can wander through ancient palaces or zip up to the viewing deck of the tallest skyscraper in the country, quiet your mind during a temple stay or belt out tunes in a singing room, experience spicy street food in the local markets or treat your taste buds to sweet plum tea and rice cakes in a teahouse. Seoul has something to offer every visitor no matter your age or your travel style.  Now, because Seoul is a mega-city and it can be hard to know where to even begin, we’ve created this list with a mix of top attractions, food experiences, guided tours, nearby hikes, plus a few easy day trips. All you have to do is pick and choose to create your perfect Seoul travel itinerary. You can also check out our Seoul neighbourhood guide to get a better feel of what each neighbourhood is like and see what they each have to offer in terms of attractions. Now let’s start planning your trip to Seoul! 50 things to do in Seoul 1) Visit the Five Grand Palaces. Seoul is home to five palaces that date back to the Joseon period: Gyeongbokgung Palace, Changdeokgung Palace, Gyeonghuigung Palace, Deoksugung Palace, and Changgyeonggung Palace. Gyeongbokgung is the most famous of the five since this was the original palace and it is the largest of them all. It draws big crowds during the changing of the guard, but you can find some tranquil pockets the further in you go. 2) Tour the Secret Garden. Hidden behind Changdeokgung Palace, is a beautiful garden that was originally built for the pleasure of the royal family and the women of the palace complete with pavilions, a lotus pond, and trees that are over 300 years old. This garden can only be visited as part of a guided tour which can be arranged right at the palace.   3) Spend the night in a hanok. This is a type of traditional Korean accommodation with sliding doors, an inner courtyard, and heated floors where you sleep on a mat. If you’re travelling with a group of friends or family, you can rent an entire hanok, or if you’re going solo, you can rent a room and still get the experience.   4) Rent a hanbok. Hanbok is the traditional Korean dress which is typically worn for festivals, celebrations, and ceremonies. Wearing hanbok grants you free access to Seoul’s palaces, so that’s one of the reasons why it’s so popular. You’ll find hanbok shops across the city that rent the clothes by the day or by the hour to locals and visitors alike.  5) Take Seoul’s Hop-On-Hop-Off Bus. If you’re feeling a bit pressed for time and you want to take in the city highlights, one way to do so is on a double-decker sightseeing tour, where you can get off at any attractions that pique your interest. There are 3 different loops: the Downtown Palace Route, the Gangnam-Buk Route, and the Gangnam-Olympic Park Route. There are 1-day and 2-day passes, and it’s a great way to make the most of a short visit to Seoul.  6) Ride the cable car up Namsan. Namsan is the 262-metre mount in the centre of Seoul and it offers great views of the sprawling city. You could hike up, but it’s a steep climb, so I’d recommend taking the cable car up and then walking down.   7) Enjoy the views from N Seoul Tower. Also known as Namsan Tower and Seoul Tower, this observation tower is the second-highest point in the city. It stands 236 metres high atop Namsan and it’s one of the main attractions in Seoul. It’s especially nice at night when the tower lights up and you can see the city dazzling below. 8) Lock your love with that special someone. Another popular thing to do when you visit Namsan is to leave a ‘lock of love’. These love padlocks can be purchased from vending machines just outside the tower, or you can bring your own. Write a heartfelt message with your names on the padlock, and then lock it along the many fences available for this very purpose! 9) Cruise down the Han River. One way to see Seoul from a different vantage point is to take a river cruise. The Han River flows across Seoul and there are daytime and nighttime sightseeing cruises to choose from.  10) Walk down Insadong. This neighbourhood is known for the arts and it is lined with small art galleries, shops selling handcrafted souvenirs, and my favourite, secret tea houses! The best part is getting lost in the narrow side lanes. 11) Take a cooking class. If you enjoy Korean food, why not take some of the recipes back home with you? Meet up with a Korean chef, go shopping for ingredients in a local market, and then learn to cook some classics like bibimbap (mixed rice), pajeon (seafood pancake), and dakgalbi (stir-fried chicken). 12) Visit a tea house. One of the best things to do in Seoul is to experience a traditional Korean tea house. They are little pockets of tranquillity, the sweet plum tea is refreshing, and the rice cakes are delicious. One of my

50 Things to do in SEOUL, South Korea!

Today we’re sharing a list of fun things to do in Seoul because no trip to South Korea would be complete without a few days exploring the capital!

This is a city of contrasts where you can wander through ancient palaces or zip up to the viewing deck of the tallest skyscraper in the country, quiet your mind during a temple stay or belt out tunes in a singing room, experience spicy street food in the local markets or treat your taste buds to sweet plum tea and rice cakes in a teahouse. Seoul has something to offer every visitor no matter your age or your travel style. 

Now, because Seoul is a mega-city and it can be hard to know where to even begin, we’ve created this list with a mix of top attractions, food experiences, guided tours, nearby hikes, plus a few easy day trips. All you have to do is pick and choose to create your perfect Seoul travel itinerary.

You can also check out our Seoul neighbourhood guide to get a better feel of what each neighbourhood is like and see what they each have to offer in terms of attractions. Now let’s start planning your trip to Seoul!

Things to do in Seoul - Sam and Audrey wearing hanbok to visit Seoul's palaces.

50 things to do in Seoul

1) Visit the Five Grand Palaces. Seoul is home to five palaces that date back to the Joseon period: Gyeongbokgung Palace, Changdeokgung Palace, Gyeonghuigung Palace, Deoksugung Palace, and Changgyeonggung Palace. Gyeongbokgung is the most famous of the five since this was the original palace and it is the largest of them all. It draws big crowds during the changing of the guard, but you can find some tranquil pockets the further in you go.

2) Tour the Secret Garden. Hidden behind Changdeokgung Palace, is a beautiful garden that was originally built for the pleasure of the royal family and the women of the palace complete with pavilions, a lotus pond, and trees that are over 300 years old. This garden can only be visited as part of a guided tour which can be arranged right at the palace.  

3) Spend the night in a hanok. This is a type of traditional Korean accommodation with sliding doors, an inner courtyard, and heated floors where you sleep on a mat. If you’re travelling with a group of friends or family, you can rent an entire hanok, or if you’re going solo, you can rent a room and still get the experience.  

Views of Gyeongbokgung, one of the Five Grand Palaces in Seoul, South Korea.

4) Rent a hanbok. Hanbok is the traditional Korean dress which is typically worn for festivals, celebrations, and ceremonies. Wearing hanbok grants you free access to Seoul’s palaces, so that’s one of the reasons why it’s so popular. You’ll find hanbok shops across the city that rent the clothes by the day or by the hour to locals and visitors alike. 

5) Take Seoul’s Hop-On-Hop-Off Bus. If you’re feeling a bit pressed for time and you want to take in the city highlights, one way to do so is on a double-decker sightseeing tour, where you can get off at any attractions that pique your interest. There are 3 different loops: the Downtown Palace Route, the Gangnam-Buk Route, and the Gangnam-Olympic Park Route. There are 1-day and 2-day passes, and it’s a great way to make the most of a short visit to Seoul. 

6) Ride the cable car up Namsan. Namsan is the 262-metre mount in the centre of Seoul and it offers great views of the sprawling city. You could hike up, but it’s a steep climb, so I’d recommend taking the cable car up and then walking down.

Views of Seoul from N Seoul Tower, one of the top attractions in Seoul. 

7) Enjoy the views from N Seoul Tower. Also known as Namsan Tower and Seoul Tower, this observation tower is the second-highest point in the city. It stands 236 metres high atop Namsan and it’s one of the main attractions in Seoul. It’s especially nice at night when the tower lights up and you can see the city dazzling below.

8) Lock your love with that special someone. Another popular thing to do when you visit Namsan is to leave a ‘lock of love’. These love padlocks can be purchased from vending machines just outside the tower, or you can bring your own. Write a heartfelt message with your names on the padlock, and then lock it along the many fences available for this very purpose!

9) Cruise down the Han River. One way to see Seoul from a different vantage point is to take a river cruise. The Han River flows across Seoul and there are daytime and nighttime sightseeing cruises to choose from. 

Traditional Korean tea house in the neighbourhood of Insadong, Seoul.

10) Walk down Insadong. This neighbourhood is known for the arts and it is lined with small art galleries, shops selling handcrafted souvenirs, and my favourite, secret tea houses! The best part is getting lost in the narrow side lanes.

11) Take a cooking class. If you enjoy Korean food, why not take some of the recipes back home with you? Meet up with a Korean chef, go shopping for ingredients in a local market, and then learn to cook some classics like bibimbap (mixed rice), pajeon (seafood pancake), and dakgalbi (stir-fried chicken).

12) Visit a tea house. One of the best things to do in Seoul is to experience a traditional Korean tea house. They are little pockets of tranquillity, the sweet plum tea is refreshing, and the rice cakes are delicious. One of my favourites is the Shin Old Tea House.

Visiting a Korean tea house for plum tea and rice cakes - a must-do in Seoul!

13) Go shopping in Myeongdong. This is one of the main commercial areas in Seoul where you can find mid-to-high priced retail stores as well as international brands. Street food vendors also set up shop starting in the late afternoon, so it’s a good place to grab a snack. 

14) Enjoy a stroll along the Cheonggyecheon. Once considered a bit of an eyesore, this former elevated highway has been restored to the stream it once was, and it’s a beautiful place for an evening stroll. There are colourful lanterns, stepping stones to cross from side to side, and tiered steps where you can sit down along the water’s edge. 

15) Try Korean beauty products. It’s no secret that Korea is known for its beauty and skincare products. If you’re in the market for this, keep an eye out for popular brands like Etude House, Innisfree, Olive Young, Moonshot, Style Nanda and Aritaum.

King Sejong in Gwanghwamun Plaza, Seoul.

16) Visit King Sejong in Gwanghwamun Plaza. King Sejong was the fourth king of the Joseon dynasty and he is responsible for creating the Korean alphabet, known as hangul. There is a statue of him seated on his throne right across from the entrance to Gyeongbokgung.

17) Take a day trip to the DMZ. The Demilitarized Zone, also known as the DMZ, is a buffer zone between North Korea and South Korea about 250 kilometres long and 4 kilometres wide. This is an easy day trip from Seoul and there are a variety of half-day and full-day tours where you can learn more about the Korean War and visit the meeting point between the two countries.

18) Go to a jjimjilbang. This is a Korean public bathhouse filled with showers, hot tubs, and saunas, but it is much more than that. It is also a communal space where you can watch Korean dramas on TV, cool down in the ice rooms, sweat it out in the kiln saunas, play computer games, catch up on sleep in one of the napping caves, and so much more.

Visiting a jjimjilbang, or Korean public bath house.

19) Experience the nightlife in Hongdae. This is where Seoul’s youth hang out and it’s a neighbourhood where you can find lots of bars, late-night eateries, singing rooms, and impromptu K-POP dance-offs taking place right on the street.

20) Meet new people on a pub crawl. If you want to experience Seoul’s legendary nightlife and meet some fellow travellers along the way, you can always join a pub crawl. You’ll hit up a mix of pubs and clubs in either Hongdae or Itaewon, plus there will be free shots along the way.

21) Sing your heart out at a noraebang. Noraebang is the Korean version of karaoke and it is a big deal! If you’re in a nightlife and entertainment district like Hongdae, you can find multi-story buildings filled with singing rooms, some of them stocked with tambourines, maracas and other fun instruments. This is a really fun activity to enjoy with a group of friends at the end of the night. You can rent a singing room by the half-hour or the hour, and they typically also have their own bar to keep the party going.

Looking for things to do in Seoul at night? You can't miss noraebang, the Korean version of karaoke.

22) Explore Bukchon Hanok Village. Bukchon is a Seoul neighbourhood best known for its beautifully preserved homes dating back to the Joseon period. It is set atop a hill overlooking Gyeongbokgung Palace, and you can also get some nice views of the city and its modern skyscrapers below. This is a great place to visit for a taste of old Seoul. Just keep in mind that it’s a residential neighbourhood, so there are signs reminding visitors to limit their noise and be respectful when taking pictures. 

23) Have some fun at the Trick Eye Museum. This is a place where optical illusions come to life and it makes for a fun rainy day activity in Seoul. The 3D illusions are constantly being updated and you’ll leave with some memorable pictures. 

24) Jump in a photo sticker booth. A fun way to immortalize your trip to Seoul is by snapping some photos in a sticker booth. You can then decorate your pictures using the touch screen. There are different layouts to choose from and you can add text, hearts, sparkles and all sorts of decorations. 

Taking pictures at a Korean sticker photo booth.

25) Visit Jogyesa Temple. This temple is located in downtown Seoul, right between Gyeongbokgung Palace and Changdeokgung Palace. The temple was first established in 1395 at the start of the Joseon dynasty, and today it’s the chief temple of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism. It’s an especially nice place to visit during Buddha’s Birthday when the temple grounds are covered in thousands of colourful paper lanterns. Admission is free. 

26) Do a temple stay. This is part of a cultural program where you can experience the life of a Buddhist practitioner. There are seven temples to choose from in Seoul alone. You can find more information to make a booking on the Templestay website. 

27) Go on a morning bike ride. Not something you’d want to do during rush hour in this city, but there’s a morning e-bike tour complete with stops at the Blue House, Tongin Market, and a cafe. An option for anyone looking for an active tour in Seoul. 

Architectural details while visiting Seoul, South Korea.

28) Have a picnic along the Han River. This is a really nice spot for a leisurely day out in Seoul. You’ll find people biking, rollerblading, jogging, flying kites, and taking out the swan paddle boats. There are lots of vending machines and street food vendors along the riverfront, so you can always buy your picnic when you get there. 

29) Have lunch at the Noryanjin Fish Market. This is a live wholesale and seafood market, and it’s split up into two sections: fish vendors and restaurants. If you plan to walk through the wet market, it’s a good idea to wear closed shoes as there are always bucketfuls of water being splashed around. Otherwise, head upstairs to the restaurant section where you can enjoy a multi-course meal featuring sliced raw fish, seafood stew and grilled fish. 

30) Go hiking in Bukhansan National Park. If you’re looking for outdoorsy things to do in Seoul, a hike through Bukhansan National Park is a good option. The park’s name translates to ‘mountains north of the Han River’ and there are multiple trails to choose from that take you through forested areas up to granite peaks. 

This is Bukhansan National Park, for anyone looking for outdoorsy things to do in Seoul, Korea.

31) Spend the day in Everland. This is South Korea’s largest theme park, and it’s technically a day trip from Seoul, but it’s super easy to get there. To make the most of your day, you can book a fast-entry e-ticket that will give you access to the park’s five zones: Global Fair, Zoo-Topia, European Adventure, Magic Land and American Adventure.

32) Watch a Nanta Show. Nanta is South Korea’s longest-running theatrical performance combining comedy and drama, and it’s a great show for visitors because it’s a non-verbal performance, meaning there is no language barrier! The show centres around 3 young chefs trying to prepare an elaborate menu under their boss’ tight deadline, and things erupt into a frenzy of veggie-chopping with food flying all over the place. 

33) Get a taste of the future at Dongdaemun Design Plaza. This futuristic structure looks like a giant spaceship that landed in the middle of the city. It hosts fashion shows, design exhibitions, and art events, but it’s even worth going just to walk around, admire the architecture and take pictures.  

Tray with Korean food featuring mixed rice and tofu stew with side dishes.

34) Go on a guided food tour. If this is your first time to Korea and you’re not quite sure where to start, a guided food tour can be a fun way to familiarize yourself with the local cuisine. There are all sorts of options ranging from tours focusing on street food to food and wine pairings with a local brewmaster.

35) Get lost in Namdaemun Market. This is the oldest and largest market in all of Korea dating back to 1414! This is a place where you can buy absolutely anything and everything – t-shirts, handbags, makeup, video games, stationery, slippers, jewellery, hair accessories, and more, not to mention all the delicious street food should you start feeling peckish. 

36) Visit a themed cafe. There are so many unusual and unique cafes in Seoul! Whether you want to experience a cat cafe or a dog cafe, a garden cafe or a poo cafe, there’s bound to be something for you. 

Visiting the poo cafe - one of the many themed cafes in Seoul.

37) Take a K-POP dance class. For all the K-POP lovers out there, one of the many things you can do in Seoul is take a dance class. You’ll learn step-by-step beginner level K-pop dance moves and then star in your own music video.

38) Eat Korean BBQ. This is a really fun experience and definitely something I’d recommend doing in Seoul if you’re a foodie. Half the fun of going to a Korean barbecue restaurant is that you get to cook your own meal at the table, be it pork, beef or chicken.

39) Visit Ewha Womans University. Yes, that’s how it’s spelled. This is a private women’s university in Seoul and it has a super modern complex where glass buildings cut across a small valley forming a futuristic tunnel. You have to see it for yourself!

Ewha Womans University in Seoul, Korea.

40) Spend the day at the Korean Folk Village. This is another fun day trip from Seoul. The Korean Folk Village is an outdoor museum complete with performers, where you can learn what daily life was like in Korea during the Joseon dynasty which lasted from 1392–1897. Within the village, you can visit farms, workshops, a Confucian academy, a nobleman’s home, and also attend performances which range from martial arts on horseback to a traditional wedding ceremony. 

41) Go to a Korean baseball game. Baseball in Korea is a completely different experience from what you’d find in North America. Fans have unique chants for each player, there’s a lot of synchronized dancing, and it’s overall a very happy and lively environment. It’s worth experiencing at least once on your visit to Korea, even if you’re not a huge sports fan.

42) Learn about the Korean alphabet at the National Hangeul Museum. Hangul is the Korean alphabet and it was invented by King Sejong the Great in 1443. There is an entire museum dedicated to the creation of the alphabet, what was used before, and how the shape of each consonant mimics the shape of the vocal organs when pronouncing that letter. It’s a really interesting museum if you have any interest in learning to read Korean.

National Hangeul Museum in Seoul.

43) Have fun at Lotte World. This is the largest indoor theme park in the world, complete with amusement rides, a movie theatre, a sports complex, a monorail, a luxury hotel, and more. The outdoors section of the park is called Magic Island and the indoor section is called Adventure. Foreigners can buy a 1-day discounted park pass here.

44) See the city from Lotte World Tower. When it first opened to the public in 2017, this became the tallest building in South Korea. This skyscraper stands 123-stories and 556-metres high. For views of Seoul you won’t soon forget, you can go up to the Sky Observatory.

45) Visit the National Museum of Korea. This museum is all about Korean art and history. The first floor focuses on Prehistory through to Early Modern History, the second floor showcases the Calligraphy and Painting Gallery, and the third floor is home to the Sculpture and Crafts Gallery.

If you're looking for things to do in Seoul on a rainy day, consider the National Hangeul Museum.

46) See where Gangnam Style started. Op, op, op, op Oppa Gangnam Style! Visit this Seoul neighbourhood to see what PSY was singing about. Gangnam is considered to be the most affluent neighbourhood in the whole city, and that means high-end shopping, fine dining, and luxurious clubs.

47) Visit the Kimchi Field Museum. This museum is dedicated to spicy fermented cabbage, a food that makes an appearance in almost every Korean dish! Here you can learn about different types of kimchi and even take part in a kimchi-making class. 

48) Cool down with a bowl of patbingsu. This is an especially good idea if you happen to be visiting Seoul in the summertime. Patbingsu (팥빙수) is a shaved ice dessert that can be served with condensed milk, red beans, chopped fruit, cookies and brownies. If you want to experiment with flavours, the chain Sulbing is a good option. 

A bowl of patbingus, a shaved ice dessert that's very popular during summer in Seoul.

49) Enjoy the street art at Ihwa Mural Village. Colourful murals, mosaic staircases and painted alleyways bring some creativity into this neighbourhood. It’s a good place to get lost with a camera in hand, stopping at coffee shops and dessert houses along the way. 

50) End the night with KFC and beer. In Korea, KFC stands for Korean Fried Chicken, and nothing goes better with that than a pint of cold beer! This combination is known as chimaek combining the words chicken and maekju (beer). This is a popular way to start a night out in Seoul. 

Views of Seoul, South Korea.

Have you visited South Korea?
What are some of your favourite things to do in Seoul?

 

TETON Sports Explorer Internal Frame Backpack; High-Performance Backpack for Backpacking