Top 10 Things to Do in Seoul, South Korea
Seoul has a rich history and culture, with many historic landmarks and traditional neighborhoods to explore. Additionally, the city is known for its vibrant food scene, with a diverse range of Korean cuisine to try. Seoul is also a modern and cosmopolitan city, with endless things to do, including thriving nightlife and many shopping and entertainment options. Finally, the friendly and welcoming locals make Seoul a great destination for travelers looking to experience Korean hospitality.
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Where to stay in Seoul, South Korea
RYSE, Autograph Collection
A welcoming homebase in vibrant Hongdae, with a soaring and colorful lobby and stylish rooms, all overlooking the Seoul skyline.
Four Seasons Hotel Seoul
Luxury high-rise hotel with bright, stylish rooms in Seoul's Gwanghwamun district.
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Grand Hyatt Seoul
Sleek hotel with chic rooms and suites in the heart of Seoul.
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Things to do in Seoul, South Korea
Visit Gyeongbokgung Palace: This magnificent palace is one of the most iconic and popular tourist attractions in Seoul. It was built in 1395 and was the main royal palace of the Joseon dynasty. It is a great way to immerse yourself in the history of the Korean people.
Explore Insadong: This historic neighborhood is known for its traditional Korean crafts and souvenirs. It's also home to many art galleries, teahouses and restaurants.
Shop at Myeong-dong: This bustling shopping district is known for its trendy fashion, cosmetics and accessories. It's a great place to pick up souvenirs and gifts.
Take a stroll along the Han River: The Han River is a beautiful spot to enjoy a peaceful walk, bike ride or picnic. You can also rent a kayak or paddleboat and explore the river when the weather is optimal.
Visit Namsan Tower: Also known as Seoul Tower, this iconic landmark offers breathtaking views of the vast city from its observation deck. You can also enjoy a romantic dinner at the tower's revolving restaurant or add a lover's lock to the surrounding fences at the sight.
Experience Korean cuisine: Seoul is a food lover's paradise, with a diverse range of restaurants and street food stalls. Don't miss out on trying traditional Korean dishes like kimchi, bibimbap and bulgogi. And don’t miss out on the traditional food markets like Gwangjang.
Visit the famous Starfield Library. The Starfield Library in Seoul is a unique and stunning public library located in the COEX Mall. It features a vast collection of books and magazines, with shelves that rise up to 13 meters high and a design that creates a beautiful and immersive space for reading and learning.
Visit the DMZ: The Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) is a must-see for history buffs. It's the border between North and South Korea, and you can take a tour to learn about the history and tensions between the two countries.
Relax at a traditional Korean spa: Seoul is home to many traditional Korean spas, known as jjimjilbang. These spas offer a variety of treatments and facilities, including hot tubs, saunas and massage rooms. You can’t go wrong with a traditional body scrub.
Enjoy the nightlife: Seoul is known for its vibrant nightlife, with many bars, clubs and karaoke rooms. Popular areas for nightlife include Gangnam, Itaewon, Myeongdong and Hongdae.
Day Trips from Seoul
Nami Island: Located about an hour and a half from Seoul, Nami Island is a picturesque island that's popular for its beautiful scenery and outdoor activities. You can rent bicycles, go on a zip line ride, or simply relax and enjoy the natural surroundings.
DMZ (Demilitarized Zone): The DMZ is a heavily guarded border between North and South Korea, located about an hour north of Seoul. A guided tour is recommended to learn about the history and politics of the area.
Suwon Fortress: Suwon is a historic city located about an hour south of Seoul, and its fortress is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visitors can walk along the fortress walls, explore the traditional markets and neighborhoods and visit the Hwaseong Fortress Museum to learn more about the history of the area.
Places to eat & drink in Seoul, South Korea
Jungsik: This upscale restaurant is known for its modern take on Korean cuisine and has been awarded two Michelin stars. The tasting menu includes innovative dishes like caviar and kimchi risotto and Korean beef with truffle.
Mingles: Another Michelin-starred restaurant, Mingles offers a fusion of Korean and European flavors. The tasting menu changes regularly and features dishes like grilled octopus with black garlic and soy sauce.
Gwangjang Market: This bustling traditional market is known for its street food stalls, including the famous "bindaetteok" (mung bean pancake) and "mayak gimbap" (addictive seaweed rice rolls). It's a great place to experience authentic Korean flavors and atmosphere. I wouldn't miss out on the fresh seafood and rice cakes here as well!
The Korean cafe culture is a vibrant and popular part of daily life in Seoul. Cafes offer a cozy and relaxing atmosphere, with many serving unique drinks and desserts. A couple of the most famous ones are Cafe Onion and Cheongsudang Cafe.
Charles H. Bar: Located in the Four Seasons Hotel, this elegant bar offers a refined atmosphere and a selection of classic cocktails and fine wines.
Monkey Shoulder Whiskey Lounge: This trendy bar in Gangnam is known for its impressive selection of whiskey and creative whiskey-based cocktails.
Rooftop bars: Seoul has many rooftop bars that offer stunning views of the city skyline. Some popular options include Seoulism in Myeong-dong, Cielo 47 in Itaewon, and Griffin Bar in Gangnam.
Jin Ok Hwa Original Chicken Restaurant is a famous chicken soup restaurant in Seoul that has been in business for many years. The restaurant is known for its juicy chicken cooked at the table, which is served with a variety of dishes and vegetables, in a cozy and casual atmosphere. Locals flock to this place every evening, so expect a wait time!
Need to Know
Looking for more travel tips? Uncover New York City's gems with The Must-See's of NYC: Where to Eat, Stay & Explore.
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This guide is part of our ongoing series on arts & culture travel, and our series on city travel.