Discover the best things to do in Seoul and fall in love with the stunning capital of South Korea.
Seoul is a beautiful city that combines ancient traditions with modern innovations. With its rich history, vibrant culture, and dynamic cityscape, Seoul offers various experiences for travelers. From exploring magnificent palaces and traditional neighborhoods to indulging in street food and immersing yourself in the K-pop phenomenon, Seoul has something for everyone.
Get ready to discover ancient temples, bustling markets, trendy shopping districts, and a thriving arts and entertainment scene. Let Seoul enchant you with its blend of tradition and modernity, ensuring an unforgettable adventure in the heart of South Korea.
Keep reading for the 15 best things to do in Seoul.
(Disclaimer: Some links in this post may be affiliate links, meaning if you click on the link and make a purchase, I receive a small commission. This is at no extra cost to you and you may even receive a small discount. See disclosure for more information.)
15 Best Things to Do in Seoul, South Korea
Explore Gyeongbokgung Palace
In the heart of Seoul, Gyeongbokgung Palace stands as a testament to the country’s rich history and cultural heritage. As the largest and most iconic palace in Korea, Gyeongbokgung offers visitors a glimpse into the elegance of the Joseon Dynasty. Stepping through the palace gates, you are instantly transported back in time making it one of the top things to do in Seoul.
The huge complex, with its perfectly restored buildings and beautifully landscaped gardens, has a feel of regality and serenity. The main highlight is the Geunjeongjeon Hall, the throne hall where the king conducted official ceremonies. Adorned with intricate details, vibrant colors, and ornate decorations, the hall leaves visitors in awe of its magnificence.
Wandering through the palace grounds, you’ll encounter a plethora of other fascinating structures. One of the most beautiful structures is the Gyeonghoeru Pavilion, a beautiful pavilion set upon an artificial island in a picturesque pond. Visiting this palace is not just a journey through Korea’s past; it’s a captivating experience that allows you to appreciate the country’s rich cultural legacy.
The blend of stunning architecture, beautiful gardens, and historical significance make this palace one of the top things to do in Seoul for travelers that want to connect with Korea’s heritage.
Wander through Bukchon Hanok Village
Bukchon Hanok Village is a gem that offers a nostalgic journey back in time. Here you will find various unique and well-preserved hanok houses, which are traditional Korean residences. It is a must-visit neighborhood and visiting is one of the best things to do in Seoul.
The village’s picturesque alleyways are lined with rows of hanok houses where each hanok is complete with curved tiled roofs, wooden lattice windows, and exquisite craftsmanship. Bukchon Hanok Village also has one of the best panoramic views of Seoul. After climbing the hills of the village you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views of the village and the modern Seoul skyline. This view perfectly combines the tradition and progress Seoul is known for.
Whether you’re an architecture enthusiast, a history lover, or simply seeking a serene escape, Bukchon Hanok Village is a must-visit destination in Seoul. It’s a place where tradition and modernity blend seamlessly, providing an enchanting experience that connects you to Korea’s cultural heritage and invites you to appreciate the beauty of its past.
Shop and Eat at Myeongdong
Myeongdong is a bustling district famous for its fantastic shopping and culinary experiences. As you step into the energetic atmosphere of Myeongdong, you’ll find yourself immersed in a world of fashion, beauty, and amazing street food. Heading here is one of the top things to do in Seoul for an abundance of things to do and see.
The district is a mecca for Korean beauty products, featuring countless cosmetic shops and skincare boutiques offering the latest trends and high-quality products. Aside from beauty, Myeongdong is also home to an array of fashion boutiques and flagship stores, where you can discover the latest trends in Korean fashion.
Myeongdong offers a plethora of culinary delights to satisfy your cravings. Food stalls and carts line the streets, offering a wide range of street food options. Indulge in popular favorites like tteokbokki (spicy rice cakes), hotteok (sweet pancakes), and mandu (dumplings). Feel free to also visit Myeongdong’s themed cafes, where you can sip coffee surrounded by adorable animals at the famous cat or dog cafes.
Roam Around Ikseondong Hanok Village
Ikseondong Hanok Village is a hidden-in-plain-sight neighborhood you do not want to miss. Here you will find well-preserved hanok houses, hip cafes, and unique boutiques all in one place. Its distinctive blend of old and new, traditional and modern, creates an unmatched atmosphere where you can feel like a local for a few hours. Visiting Ikseondong Hanok Village is one of the best things to do in Seoul which offers more than meets the eye.
While exploring Ikseondong Hanok Village, be sure to indulge in the vibrant food and café culture it offers. Here you can find traditional Korean delicacies, fusion cuisine, and artisanal coffee. There are countless cafes, bakeries, and restaurants at every turn in this village all offering some unique and innovative.
Ikseondong Hanok Village is also home to various boutiques with jewelry, art, and accessories. It is the perfect place to go shopping for unique travel souvenirs to bring home after your visit.
Have a Nightout in Hongdae
When the sun sets in Seoul the district of Hongdae comes alive, offering a vibrant nightlife experience that attracts locals and visitors alike. With its buzzing atmosphere, lively streets, and wide array of entertainment options, Hongdae is the perfect place to have an unforgettable night out in Seoul.
This neighborhood is renowned for its thriving indie music scene, where catching a live performance by talented local bands or singers is easy. Whether you prefer rock, jazz, hip-hop, or electronic music, you’ll find a venue that caters to your taste.
Food lovers will also find plenty of options to satisfy their cravings in Hongdae. The district is known for its wide range of dining choices, from traditional Korean barbecue and street food stalls to international cuisine and fusion restaurants. Take a break from the excitement of the night and indulge in delicious dishes that will tantalize your taste buds. Spending an evening in Hongdae is one of the best things to do in Seoul to experience the best night out experience in the city.
Indulge in Seoul’s Coffee & Pastry Culture
Seoul has a thriving coffee and pastry culture – one of the BEST I’ve ever experienced. From charming cafes to fresh bakeries, Seoul offers an experience that combines freshly brewed coffee and tea with the perfect pairing of pastries and desserts.
Start your journey through Seoul’s coffee and pastry culture by exploring the trendy neighborhoods of Nagwon-dong, Itaewon, and Gahoe-dong. These areas are dotted with stylish cafes that not only serve exceptional coffee but unique treats and beautiful environments. Beyond the flavors, Seoul’s coffee and pastry culture is also known for its visually stunning presentation. Many cafes pride themselves on creating Instagram-worthy moments with their beautifully crafted latte art, elegant cakes, and stylish interior designs.
Some of the best cafes in Seoul are:
The coffee culture is not just about the food and drinks; it’s an experience that combines food, drink, and ambiance – and experiencing it yourself is one of the top things to do in Seoul.
Try All The Unique Foods
Regarding unique food experiences, Seoul offers a wide array of extraordinary dishes. Among these culinary delights are the ice cream marshmallow, souffle pancakes, rose ice cream, and dog cupcakes. There are only a few special treats that will tantalize your taste buds and leave you craving for more.
To experience these unique culinary creations, you can visit specialized cafes and dessert shops in Seoul that are dedicated to crafting these delightful treats. These establishments often take pride in their attention to detail, ensuring that each bite is an experience. Trying all the treats you can handle is one of the top things to do in Seoul for foodies.
Visit Starfield COEX Library
Visiting Starfield COEX Library is one of the top things to do in Seoul for book lovers and architecture enthusiasts alike. Located within the bustling COEX Mall, this iconic library is beautifully designed and expertly combines modernity and elegance. As you step into the library, you’ll be greeted by towering bookshelves that stretch up to the ceiling full of books of all kinds.
The library is home to a massive collection of books, magazines, and others for you to explore. It’s the perfect place to relax and read, with comfy seating and cozy nooks where you can just get lost in a good book. However, this is quite an Instagram-famous place these days, and you will find most people riding up and down the elevator trying to get the perfect photo.
Gangnam is an upscale district in Seoul renowned for its trendy atmosphere, shopping, and entertainment scene. With its iconic status and bustling streets, exploring Gangnam is one of the top things to do in Seoul that showcases the modern and stylish side of the city.
One of the main attractions in Gangnam is the famous Gangnam Street, also known as Garosugil. This tree-lined avenue offers a wide range of boutique shops, designer stores, and concept stores. However, for a more luxurious shopping experience, Apgujeong Rodeo Street is the place to be. This upscale district is home to high-end designer boutiques, luxury brand flagship stores, and glamorous department stores.
Gangnam is not just about shopping; it also offers a vibrant nightlife scene. Explore the famous clubs, bars, and lounges known for their stylish venues, live music performances, and trendy crowd.
Delve into K-Beauty
K-Beauty, short for Korean Beauty, has taken the world by storm with its excellent products, unique skincare routines, and emphasis on achieving healthy and radiant skin. Delving into the world of K-Beauty is an exciting journey that allows you to explore a multitude of the world’s “best” skincare and beauty products.
One of the key aspects of K-Beauty is its emphasis on skincare. Korean skincare routines often involve multiple steps, focusing on thorough cleansing, hydration, and protection. Explore the wide range of cleansers, toners, essences, serums, moisturizers, and masks each designed to address specific skincare concerns and promote a healthy complexion.
Sheet masks are an iconic element of K-Beauty that shouldn’t be missed. These single-use masks are saturated with potent serums and essences, delivering an intense burst of hydration and nutrients to the skin. With a variety of sheet masks available, ranging from brightening and moisturizing to soothing and firming, you can tailor your masking experience to meet your specific skincare needs.
To fully immerse yourself in the world of K-Beauty, visit the beauty stores and concept shops in Myeongdong or Garosugil, where you can browse an extensive range of K-Beauty products and seek expert advice from beauty consultants.
Hike up to N Seoul Tower
Hike (or take a cable car) up Namsan Mountain to reach N Seoul Tower, where you can enjoy panoramic views of Seoul and even leave a love lock on the fence. Hiking up to N Seoul Tower not only rewards you with stunning views but also allows you to immerse yourself in the natural surroundings of Namsan Park. It’s a beautiful hike that combines exercise, nature, and the chance to appreciate the city’s skyline. Venture up to N Seoul Tower to experience one of the top things to do in Seoul.
Enjoy street food at Gwangjang Market
Gwangjang Market is one of the oldest and largest traditional markets in Seoul that offers a wide array of street food stalls serving the best Korean dishes. Indulging in the street food scene at Gwangjang Market is one of the top things to do in Seoul for foodies.
As you walk through the market, you’ll be captivated by the aroma of local delicacies and the lively atmosphere that surrounds you. Gwangjang Market is renowned for its wide array of street food stalls offering a plethora of delectable treats to satisfy every craving.
Some of the top foods to try are:
- bindaetteok (mung bean pancakes)
- savory tteokbokki (spicy rice cakes)
- bibimbap (mixed rice with vegetables and meat)
- Korean-style noodles, such as kalguksu or jjolmyeon
- mayak gimbap (addictive mini rice rolls)
- gyeran-ppang (egg bread)
Discover Hidden Gems
Roaming around Seoul is an adventure that will lead you to discover countless cute streets and hidden gems. As you explore the city, you’ll stumble upon hidden alleys with quaint cafes and their own unique charm. Simply wandering around is one of the best things to do in Seoul to see and discover as much of the city as possible – sometimes the best things are not the easiest to find.
From the trendy neighborhood of Garosu-gil to the quaint neighborhood of Samcheong-dong, to the bustling streets of Myeongdong, to the artistic neighborhood of Ikseon-dong. Seoul has something to discover that is best found by exploring. Everywhere you turn in Seoul, there’s a cute and photogenic street waiting to be discovered, promising surprises and unforgettable memories.
Admire Jonggak Avenue of Youth
Jonggak Avenue of Youth is a vibrant area known for its display of bright lights that illuminate the streets of Seoul. Located in the Jongno district, this lively street is a popular gathering spot for young locals and visitors alike, offering a captivating blend of entertainment, shopping, and nightlife.
Jonggak Avenue of Youth is mesmerizing with its vibrant neon lights that adorn the facades of shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues. The streets come alive as night falls, creating a lively and energetic ambiance that is truly captivating. The combination of colors, signs, and billboards creates a feast for the eyes, turning the avenue into something out of this world.
Enjoy a Han River cruise
Embarking on a Han River cruise in Seoul is a great way to soak in the city’s beauty while enjoying a relaxing and scenic experience. The Han River, which flows through the heart of Seoul, offers breathtaking views of the city’s iconic landmarks, stunning bridges, and picturesque landscapes.
Whether you choose a daytime cruise to appreciate the city’s skyline under the bright sunlight or opt for a romantic evening cruise as the city lights twinkle, a Han River cruise is an enchanting experience that allows you to relax, unwind, and appreciate the beauty of Seoul from a different perspective. So, sit back, enjoy the gentle breeze, and let the Han River cruise transport you on a memorable journey through the city’s heart.
Where to Stay in Seoul
The best place to stay in Seoul depends on your preferences.
- Jongno-gu: For a blend of modernity and tradition, offering easy access to iconic landmarks like Gyeongbokgung Palace and Insadong’s cultural treasures.
- Hongdae: If you’re seeking a lively atmosphere and trendy vibes, with its youthful energy, vibrant street art, and bustling nightlife.
- Myeongdong: For shopping enthusiasts, featuring a plethora of shops, street food stalls, and entertainment options.
- Gangnam: for its upscale shopping districts, high-end hotels, and stylish restaurants.
- Itaewon: with its diverse range of cuisines, lively bars, and unique boutiques.
Best Time to Visit Seoul
The best time to visit Seoul largely depends on your personal preferences and the type of experience you’re seeking. However, generally, the ideal times to visit Seoul are during the spring (April to June) and autumn (September to November) seasons.
Getting travel insurance before you travel is a MUST. It’s the number one thing you should always pack before travelling that can save you a lot of money, time, and stress. With how crazy travel has gotten recently you need that peace of mind that no matter what happens there is something protecting you from losing out. I always travel with travel insurance and think everyone should.
I always travel with travel insurance and think everyone should. Below is my favorite travel insurer Safety Wings, enter your details to get a free quote!
Like this post? Pin “15 Best Things to Do in Seoul” for later!