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Coolest Things To Do in Seoul

Turn up the volume on your favorite K-Pop tune, you will need a nice beat to keep up with us through the 16 experiences on this list of the coolest things to do in Seoul!

South Korea’s capital is sneaky! It will captivate you with small things, like the charming Hanok villages, the synchronized walk during the Gyeongbokgung Palace change of guards, the swirling traditional dresses, the addictive street food treats, and even the cutting-edge technology that might turn you into a shopaholic. There are so many reasons to visit Seoul that, as soon as you realize it, you will have not one, but several trips planned to this fantastic city. You will be hooked on Seoul!

Let us make your planning easier with this guide on the 16 coolest things to do in Seoul. From its ancient traditions to its modern marvels, travelers of all kinds are in for an array of captivating experiences. Call them cool, call them must-dos, call it whatever you wish, but make sure to tick all of these off your travel bucket list.

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Coolest Things To Do in Seoul

1. travel back in time in the five grand Palaces of Seoul

Let’s go back in time to the Joseon Dynasty, with a visit to the five grand palaces of Seoul: Gyeongbokgung, Changdeokgung, Deoksugung, Changgyeonggung, and Gyeonghuigung. Each with its own unique history, beauty, and name that rolls off the tongue😅.

Woman in must visit Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul

Gyeongbokgung Palace is the largest and most impressive of them all, so it is a great option if you only have time to visit one. Changdeokgung Palace is also charming, and has a beautiful Secret Garden, which you can only visit with a guide.

man walking must visit Gyeongbokgung Palace
Must visit in Seoul Gyeongbokgung Palace
changing of the royal guard at Gyeongbokgung Palace

Gyeongbokgung Palace closes every Tuesday. Except for that day, you can watch the Gyeongbokgung Palace change of guards ceremony daily at 10am and 2pm. Additionally, you have the option to join one of several free tours provided by the palace.

A fantastic experience to have while in Seoul is to rent a hanbok (traditional Korean clothing) and completely embrace the Korean culture. These beautiful and delicate pieces will make you look like you are out of a movie, and by wearing one, you can enjoy free admission at Gyeongbokgung Palace, as well as at other popular Seoul attractions. There are several hanbok rental shops near Gyeongbokgung Palace, but you can also easily rent it online.

traditional hanbok dresses free at Gyeongbokgung Palace

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2. Find the Best Cafe in Seoul

One of the coolest things to do in Seoul is to go cafe hunting. You don’t even need to like coffee for this one, but we promise you will want to allocate a specific amount of your travel budget for this category. Seoul is the OG of cafes! Specialty premium coffee, funky cakes, sweet treats and themes you couldn’t even imagine in your wildest dreams, they turn into reality. To find the best cafe in Seoul is an impossible task, as they are all so cool!

man eating at one the best cafes in Seoul

Just a small push into the rabbit hole that is hunting for the best cafes in Seoul: check out Cafe Onion to enjoy Korean culture at its finest in a traditional hanok, but with hipster sprinkles. Jean Frigo for the speakeasy fans (it is literally hidden behind a fridge). Or Nuldam Space, where you can enjoy a cup of tea while writing a letter to your future self, they will send it to you at the date of your choice. Adorable or what?

3. stroll along an hanok village

The perfect place to experience the rich cultural heritage of Seoul is one of the villages that comprise several beautiful centuries-old Korean houses – an Hanok Village. Its unique architectural aesthetic will make you fall in love with the charm of old Seoul.

woman walking at opening hour of bukchon hanok village

The most famous one is Bukchon Hanok Traditional Village, located in the heart of the city. Nevertheless, there are several spread around the country that are equally beautiful, but not as crowded. If a more private experience is what you are looking for, visit Ennpyeong Hanok Village, still in the city but not in many tourists' radar.

man in must visit bukchon hanok village in Seoul

A visit to Bukchon Hanok Village is one of the nicest free things to do in Seoul. The Bukchon Hanok Village entrance fee is: respect. As it is a residential area, the only thing requested is respect for the privacy of those who live there. For that reason, the area is only open to tourists from 10am to 5pm, Monday to Saturday (closes on Sundays and public holidays).

4. give into k-mania

K-Pop, K-Beauty, K-Drama…

Korea has stamped its K trademark across brands and household names worldwide. One of the coolest things to do in Seoul is to give in to this trend and explore the filming locations of the most famous K-Dramas, try to attend a K-Pop concert, discover the most amazing skincare or what colors suit your complexion.

must visit k-star road in Seoul with K-pop bear statues

There are plenty of places to visit in Seoul for K-pop fans, but a nice free treat is to stroll down K Star Road to see the 17 art toy statues that celebrate the Korean Wave by depicting popular K-pop groups.

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5. Explore the South Korean Gastronomy

The hype for Korean food is real! So real, that if we only had 1 day in Seoul, chances are we would eat for 24 hours straight. From street market stalls to Korean BBQ restaurants, the options are varied and rich, characterized by bold flavors and a sharing mentality.

woman sitting in front of must try Seoul gastronomy

If you are the adventurous type, roam around a night market, jumping from one vendor to another for an on-the-go dinner. If you would rather have some local company and a proper introduction to Korean gastronomy, keep in mind that some of the best tours in Seoul are food tours. For us this is a no-brainer when it comes to taking the first steps into a new cuisine.

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Either way, make sure to try some local delicacies such as kimchi, bibimbap, bulgogi, tteokbokki, and samgyeopsal. For a more familiar international taste, give korean fried chicken a try. Is delicious!

table with the best korean fried chicken and beer
must try korean dishes

6. embrace the gangnam style

Op…Op…Op…Oppa Gangnam style🎶

We are all familiar with the lyrics, but did you know that it is a satirical song about the materialistic lifestyle of the Gangnam district in Seoul?

must to in Seoul dance in front of Gangnam statue

Filled with trendy restaurants and bars, Gangnam is undoubtedly one of the hippest and best areas to stay in Seoul. However, this is not all it has to offer. You can enjoy a cup of coffee while reading a book at the beautiful COEX Starfield Library, be mesmerized by the statue collection of Bongeunsa Buddhist Temple, or showcase your dance moves in front of the PSY statue, which plays the Gangnam Style song 24/7.

must visit Starfield COEX Library
man in most beautiful Seoul library

7. Enjoy the Best Views of Seoul at Namsan Seoul Tower

One of the coolest things to do in Seoul is to enjoy the panoramic views from The Namsan Seoul Tower at sunset. You can get to this viewpoint by cable car or cross the lovely Namsan park on foot. Without a doubt, one of the absolute best free things to do in Seoul.

man looking at best Seoul Viewpoint Namsan Seoul Tower

From the base of the tower, you get some amazing views of Seoul, and you can even mark your visit with a love lock, side by side with hundreds of others. Nevertheless, if you are looking for a premium experience of the best views of Seoul at sunset, you can buy a ticket to go even higher, to the observatory of the tower.

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must see Seoul viewpoint

8. shop ‘til You Drop in Myeongdong

For many people, one of the main reasons to visit Seoul is to experience the craziest shopping spree ever known to mankind. Whether that is your case or not, Myeongdong is a must-visit shopping district, with everything from high-end designer brands to stalls selling hot dogs on a stick.

must do in Seoul to try street food

In our opinion, this is one of the best areas to stay in Seoul. The vibe of the main streets completely shifts in the evening, transforming from a simple shopping area full of all the brands you know and love to a street-food haven. Myeongdong hosts a daily night market that allows you to tick off something from your bucket list you didn’t know you needed: tasting amazing bite-sized food while enjoying a fantastic offer of 50 samples of a face cream with the purchase of a soap bar.

best south korean food
squid games traditional korean caramel sweet

9. Visit the Future at Dongdaemun Design Plaza

Dongdaemun Design Plaza is a work of art in its own right. Outside, its unique futuristic architecture makes concrete look fluid; inside, it hosts a variety of exhibitions, events and performances.

woman in must visit Dongdaemun Design Plaza

Whether you’re interested in art, fashion, or simply want to appreciate cutting-edge architecture, you should visit Dongdaemun Design Plaza. We were lucky enough to visit during an event dedicated to a massive celebrity. No, it was not Beyoncé or BTS, it was a huge pink teddy bear, known as Peek-a-Bellygom (clearly, we were the only people there who had no idea who this bear was, but we had a great time😂)!

man visiting must see Dongdaemun Design Plaza
must see attractions at Dongdaemun Design Plaza

10. Feel the Hongdae Vibe

Visiting Hongdae is one of the coolest things to do in Seoul. This university neighborhood has an energy that is hard to match, with its youthful vibes and creative atmosphere. You can find colorful street art, large containers housing funky retail stores, shops where you can take photos with a variety of props, fortune tellers (in both human and vending machine format), and a plethora of nice restaurants and bars. Whether you visit during the day or night, you are in for a good time.

woman in must see colourful Hongdae street
fortune teller machine in Hongdae street Seoul

11. have some fun at lotte world

Looking for great indoor things to do in Seoul? Or perhaps you googled “Disneyland South Korea”, expecting some theme park excitement and magic on your Seoul trip. Lotte World is the answer to your prayers. It is the largest indoor theme park in the world, perfect for a visit, rain or shine. With over 40 rides, expect a fun time, whether you are a roller coaster fan, you are looking for some quality family time, or wanting to feel 10 years old again while letting your imagination run loose in this fantasy world.

12. get artsy in insadong-gil

Feeling artsy? Head to Insadong-gil, home to numerous art galleries, studios, and art shops where you can buy the biggest calligraphy brushes to ever grace the earth. You can also take a peak at numerous antique shops filled with traditional Korean crafts.

woman in must see insadong-gil area

The area still boasts many traditional Korean buildings and historical tea houses that have preserved the local tea culture. Before leaving, get yourself some souvenirs, it is the perfect place for it.

man in front of traditional hanok house in Seoul

13. tour around gwangjang market

Delicious Korean food sizzling, boiling and frying will surround you in this iconic market. Visiting Gwangjang Market is one of the coolest things to do in Seoul, as it allows you to get in close contact with locals who pack their all-time favorite stalls, where they have been enjoying the same dishes for years.

Must visit Gwangjang Market
korean woman selling food at Gwangjang Market

A curious tourist can be spotted here and there, having a pajeon for the first time (trying to understand the concept of an onion pancake), or summoning the courage to take the first bite of san-nakji (moving octopus tentacles).

famous netflix South Korean chef cooking at Gwangjang Market

Gwangjang Market dates back to the early 1900s and offers a glimpse into the local way of life, while allowing you to try delicious delicacies and test your bargain skills in the purchase of some souvenirs.

Make sure to visit the gohyang kalguksu (knife-cut noodles) stall, a local favorite for over 50 years. The owner, Cho Yoosun, now 70 years old, has dedicated her life to the craft and gained international fame after being featured on Netflix’s Street Food Seoul episode. The noodles are absolutely delicious!

14. Step Into Local History in Dae-o Bookstore

The blue facade and stacks of books unmistakably signify your arrival at Dae-o bookstore, the oldest bookstore in Seoul. Visiting it is one of the most unique things to do in Seoul, as it feels personal, as you delve into the stories of the family that has owned it for over 70 years. It feels as though you are peeking into their memories, hearing their shared laughter.

facade of must visit Dae-o Bookstore the oldest bookstore in Seoul

Dae-o Bookstore has been featured in several K-Dramas and movies. Nowadays, it operates  less as a traditional bookstore, and more as a museum and event venue. It remains open thanks to contributions, in the form of a souvenir or a refreshing drink.

man with old camara in Dae-o Bookstore
korean books in must visit bookstore in Seoul Dae-o

15. Sing the Night Away

Warm up those vocal cords and do some stretching for a full performance because we are on our way to do one of the coolest things in Seoul: sing in a Noraebang. This is the name given to the karaoke bars in Korea, which are not the classic lounges with a stage where you sing in front of strangers, but instead rooms where you gather with your closest friends and test their love by making them endure to your highest pitch.

You can choose from Noraebangs with traditional rooms or the coin version, in which two people can barely fit, and you pay per song. Oh, but you better know your lyrics by heart because they will show up in Korean on screen.

16. Go on a Bukhansan National Park Hike

Need a break from the big city hustle and bustle? Put on some comfy boots and explore one of the best parks in Seoul with a Bukhansan National Park hike. This park offers hiking trails or several difficulty levels, and the reward you get from this beautiful escape is to enjoy some beautiful views of Seoul from the top.

Best Time to Visit Seoul

Seoul experiences four different seasons, each with its own charm and cultural events taking place. With that being said, to guarantee you make the most out of your trip, the overall best time to visit Seoul is during Spring or Autumn. Summer is hot and humid and is known for the monsoon rains, while Winter often has temperatures dropping below zero, but the streets are beautifully decorated for the holidays, such as Lunar New Year (Seollal) and Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving).

spring - march to june

The best time to visit Seoul if you are dreaming about cherry blossoms in full bloom, which typically grace the parks in early April. This is a popular time to visit also due to the mild temperatures.

bonus: The Seoul Lantern Festival is usually held in May.

woman walking in a Seoul street

autumn - september to november

The weather is cooler and more comfortable than summer, with vibrant autumn colors embellishing parks and mountains especially in October.

bonus: The Seoul International Fireworks Festival is usually held in October.

If you are wondering when to visit Seoul on a budget, that would be November to February. The cold weather keeps most tourism away, so accommodation and flights tend to be cheaper.

Seoul Public Transportation

Seoul’s main airport is Incheon International, located approximately 48 kilometers from Seoul. It is easily accessible by car, bus, train or taxi. The best choice for Incheon airport transportation to Seoul is the AREX train system, which offers two classes of service available from the airport:

All Stop Train - Departs every 5 to 10 minutes, stops at every station, and the journey takes just under 60 minutes. This is the most affordable option.

 

Express Train - Departs every 20 to 40 minutes, makes no stops from Incheon airport to Seoul Station, and the journey is approximately 40 minutes.

fun shop decoration in Seoul that looks like a cartoon bus station

Before leaving the airport, we recommend you purchase a T-money or Cash Bee at a convenience store. These rechargeable transportation cards are used on public transportation and can make your travel more convenient. The fares are usually cheaper for its cardholders, and its credit can be used to pay in many convenience stores.

The subway is by far the easiest and most convenient way to move around Seoul, with 22 lines and 302 subway stations covering most major tourist attractions. Additionally, it is relatively affordable! For the areas not accessible by subway, you can rely on the bus network.

phone with must use transportation apps in Seoul South Korea
mobile phone illustration

Google Maps is pretty much useless in Seoul, so make sure to download either Naver Map or KakaoMap apps, to navigate the city at ease. Both are available in English and provide real-time traffic information, public transportation schedules, and walking directions. Note that many locations and attractions need to be written in Korean or no results will show up, so have a translator at hand. These apps require an internet connection.

Seoul is not a city where we would personally recommend driving a rental car due to traffic and limited parking, but for an emergency you can use a taxi, which prices are generally aligned with Western countries, but their base fare is around $4.

Best Areas To Stay In Seoul

The best places to stay in Seoul will vary depending on your budget and what you are looking for during your visit to the city. For your convenience, we have put together several accommodation suggestions for each budget type in the four neighborhoods that we believe are the best areas to stay in Seoul:

Myeongdong

Centrally located and well connected, perfect for a first visit, with plenty of shops and street markets.

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gangnam

Modern and upscale atmosphere, with fantastic dining, shopping and nightlife options.

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Hongdae

Vibrant neighborhood, with an indie and artsy vibe to it. Good budget options in hostels with shared rooms or toilets.

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Insadong

Charming traditional Korean area, with plenty of art galleries, tea houses and antique shops.

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Have you ever wondered what it would be to live like a Buddhist monk? In Seoul you can find out with a Temple Stay. These have usually tight programs, so it is to be enjoyed as an experience in itself, not so much as a place where to stay while exploring the city.

Day Tours From Seoul

Day Tours From Seoul for the history fans

DMZ

The Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ)* is a strip of land running across the Korean Peninsula that works as a buffer zone between North and South Korea. It is a living museum of the Korean War. Although it may not be our kind of tour, it is the most famous and is considered by many as one of the best tours in Seoul.

Day Tours From Seoul for the adrenaline and entertainment fans

Amusement Parks

One of the most fun things to do outside of Seoul on a day trip is to visit an amusement park. You can choose between Legoland Korea* and Everland*  (South Korea’s largest theme park) to enjoy a fantastic day out.

Day Tours From Seoul for the nature fans

Nami Island & Seoraksan National Park

Visit on a day trip the breathtaking natural wonders of Gapyeong*, such as Nami Island, famous for its picturesque landscapes, pine tree lined paths and romantic ambiance. Explore the Garden of Morning Calm, and even hike the beautiful mountain range of Seoraksan. There is also a place called Little France nearby, in case you miss some European vibes.

Planning Time

If you are ready to start planning your next trip, here you have all the usefull links you need to make it happen! By using them you are supporting our work as we might get a small fee from it. But hey! You pay the same (or might even get a discount), so is a win-win situation!

This applies to all the links in this website marked with a *

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