Top Things to Do in Seoul for Tourists [2022 & 2023]

Seoul is centrally located in a strategic location on the Korean Peninsula and has a population of over 10 million people.

The kingdoms of Baekje, Goguryeo, Silla and Joseon all fought over the area which is now Seoul. As a result there are many palaces and other historical sights to see in Seoul, along with many more modern experiences.

Plan to stay for at least 4 days to make the most of your visit, and preferably longer if possible.

Seoul is easy to get around on the subway system and DIY, but in our experience you will get a lot more value out of taking a guided tour to learn more about each attraction that you visit. Therefore, as you go through our article below we have also recommended coach, small group and private tour options which will enable you to fully experience each attraction.

These tours can be easily booked through Viator, who is our recommended tour aggregator for South Korea. They have a good reputation and we have worked with them for many years now, so have high confidence that they will enable you to have a great experience!

Join the South Korea Travel Planning Facebook Group

You are also welcome to join our South Korea Travel Planning Facebook Group – it is a great resource to enable you to ask questions about your upcoming trip to South Korea!

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Disclaimer:  This article contains affiliate links.  If you book after clicking on one of these links then we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Purchase a Discover Seoul Pass

A great option to get easy entry to many attractions and also to get around Seoul is to purchase a Discover Seoul Pass. The Discover Seoul pass can be purchased as either a 24/48/72 hour pass and comes with a built-in T-money public transport card. The Discover Seoul Pass includes entry to major tourist attractions including the grand palaces and discounted entry to many additional attractions. An additional benefit of the Discover Seoul Pass is that it includes a one-way AREX Airport Express Train ticket from Incheon Airport to Seoul Station.

Its use as an admission ticket starts after you use it to visit one of the listed attractions or use it to travel on the AREX and goes for the length of time you have chosen. It can also be used indefinitely as a T-money card, note that you need to separately add credit to the card to be able to use it on the transport system. The process to add credit is very easy at the machines near the entrance to all train stations which have a large range of languages available.

Click here to book your Discover Seoul pass through Viator

Tourist Map of Seoul

To help you better understand where each tourist attraction is located in Seoul we have put together a detailed map below. You can zoom in and out, and click on each attraction to see more details without leaving this page.

Visit the Palaces of Seoul

The five grand palaces of the Joseon period are a must – if you have limited time plan to visit at least 1-2 of them. Allow around half a day to explore each larger palace complex.

Note that all of the Korean palaces originally date back to the 1300-1500s, however most of the buildings have been reconstructed. Most of the original palace buildings were destroyed by Japanese invasions in the 16th and 20th century, and also as a result of fires.

If you wear a traditional hanok you can enter for free! (and there are many hanok rental shops located close to the palaces).

Click here to book your Hanok Rental with Korean Hairstyling through Viator

Gyeongbokgung Palace

Gyeongbokgung Palace is the largest and most popular palace in Seoul. You can easily explore the grounds for hours.

Click here to check out and book Gyeongbokgung Palace Tours and Tickets through Viator

View of Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul, South Korea
View of Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul, South Korea
Inside Geunjeongjeon Throne Hall in Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul
Inside Geunjeongjeon Throne Hall in Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul

Make sure you plan your visit to see the Changing of the Guard Ceremony. It is usually on twice a day at 10am and 2pm.

Changing of the Guard Ceremony at Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul
Changing of the Guard Ceremony at Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul

Also on the palace grounds are the National Folk Museum and the National Palace Museum, which are also well worth visiting to learn more about Korea history, culture, and the history of the five palaces.

National Folk Museum in Seoul
National Folk Museum in Seoul
Farming Exhibit at the National Folk Museum in Seoul
Farming Exhibit at the National Folk Museum in Seoul

Changdeokgung Palace and Changgyeonggung Palace

Changdeokgung Palace and Changgyeonggung Palace are collectively known as the East Palace complex, as they are located side by side and to the east from Gyeongbokgung Palace.

Changdeokgung Palace was the second palace built and was the principal residence for many kings. The palace grounds consist of a public palace area, a royal family residence and the rear secret Huwon garden which you can only visit on a tour. The Secret Garden is a wonderful natural environment with lovely pavilions, ponds and foliage.

Click here to check out and book Changdeokgung Palace Tours and Tickets through Viator

Entrance Gate to Changdeokgung Palace in Seoul
Entrance Gate to Changdeokgung Palace in Seoul
A Pavilion in the Secret Garden in Changdeokgung Palace in Seoul
A Pavilion in the Secret Garden in Changdeokgung Palace in Seoul

Changgyeonggung Palace is much smaller and mostly served as the residence for queens and concubines.

Inside Changgyeonggung Palace Grounds in Seoul
Inside Changgyeonggung Palace Grounds in Seoul

Deoksugung Palace

Deoksugung Palace is the smallest Josean Palace to explore – but was originally a much larger palace complex. It was originally the residence of a Grand Prince, but then became a residence for the royal family. Deoksugung Palace is located directly south from Gyeongbokgung Palace, and is right beside Seoul City Hall.

Click here to check out and book Deoksugung Palace Tours and Tickets through Viator

Deoksugung Palace in Seoul
Deoksugung Palace in Seoul

Gyeonghuigang Palace

Gyeonghuigang Palace was also originally a larger palace, known as the Western Palace as it is located south west from Gyeongbokgung Palace. It served as the residence for the king over various periods. Most buildings onsite were burned down in 1829, and after the Japanese occupation, the remaining buildings were torn down and the site was turned into a school. Currently several buildings have been restored including the Heunghwamun Gate, and the Seoul Museum of History is located on site.

Visit a Hanok Village

Visit a Hanok Village to see traditional hanok style houses and experience traditional culture. I definitely recommend that you plan to do a guided tour around a Hanok Village to enable you to learn more about Korean tradition and culture.

The most well known option is the Bukchon Hanok Village, which is situated in Jongno between Gyeongbokgung Palace and Changdeokgung Palace. Bukchon Hanok Village contains hundreds of traditional hanok houses, which are mostly people’s homes. Many of the hanoks operate as cultural centers, guesthouses, restaurants and tea houses.

Click here to check out and book Bukchon Hanok Village Tours through Viator

Street Views in Bukchon Hanok Village in Seoul
Street Views in Bukchon Hanok Village in Seoul

Alternatively, the Namsan Hanok Village is located near N Seoul Tower and is easily accessible from Myeongdong. This village has five restored hanok houses, a pavilion, traditional garden and performance art stage.

Click here to check out and book Namsangol Hanok Village Tours through Viator

Namsangol Hanok Village in Seoul
Namsangol Hanok Village in Seoul

There are also other smaller Hanok Villages within Seoul if you have time.

Visit Mount Namsan

Visit Mount Namsan and go to the top of N Seoul Tower to see 360 degree views over Seoul and get a real feel for the city layout and vibe. The views from Mount Namsan are amazing – however check the queue for N Seoul Tower – if it is too long we recommend to give it a miss, and instead take in the views from the free viewing platform at ground level.

Click here to check out and book N Seoul Tower Tours through Viator

Night Time View over Seoul from N Seoul Tower
Night Time View over Seoul from N Seoul Tower
N Seoul Tower in Autumn
N Seoul Tower in Autumn

You can get there by cable car, bus or by walking. I recommend that you either walk or catch the Namsam Cable Car as there are lovely views along the way. There are also good options to visit as part of a tour or using the Seoul Hop On Hop Off Bus.

Visit the Seoul City Wall

Visit part of the ancient Seoul City Wall (Hanyangdoseong) which encircles the city. The wall was constructed in 1396 and is 18.6km long.

View of the walk along the Fortress Wall in Naksan Park, in Seoul, South Korea
View of the walk along the Fortress Wall in Naksan Park, in Seoul, South Korea

The 2.1km Naksan Mountain Trail is easily accessible from Dongdaemun with amazing views over the city from Naksan Park, which you can also combine with a visit to Ihwa Mural Village. If you like to hike then plan to walk the full loop! (which includes some very mountainous sections).

Views over Seoul from Naksan Park
Views over Seoul from Naksan Park
Having fun in Ihwa Mural Village in Seoul
Having fun in Ihwa Mural Village in Seoul

Visit a Museum in Seoul

Seoul has many museums which you can visit – with top options as follows:

Exhibit at the National Folk Museum in Seoul
Exhibit at the National Folk Museum in Seoul

Explore the Many Seoul Food Options

Seoul has so many different food options to explore, from Korean BBQ, Street Food, Korean fried chicken and many more. A great way to have an immersive foodie experience is to book to a guided tour, some popular options are shown below which can be booked through Viator.

Do a Food Tour in Seoul

Korean food is unique, and a great way to learn more about Korean food is to do a guided food tour in Seoul. We have put together a detailed article with our top 10 recommended food tours for Seoul at the below link.

Click here to check out our Top 10 Recommended Food Tours in Seoul

Food Tours in Seoul

Visit a Market in Seoul

Visiting the Seoul markets is a must do activity. There are many different ones to try, all with different offerings to check out.

Namdaemun Market in Seoul

Namdaemun Market is a great option for knick knacks and souvenirs.

Click here to check out and book Namdaemun Market Tours through Viator

Namdaemun Market in Seoul
Namdaemun Market in Seoul

Gwangjang Market in Seoul

Gwangjang Market is a great option for street food – it is very busy and you can easily choose which food to try.

Click here to check out and book Gwangjang Market Tours through Viator

Gwangjang Market in Seoul
Gwangjang Market in Seoul

Dongdaemun Market in Seoul

Dongdaemun Market is a great option for fashion – it is very extensive so you can spend many hours exploring the market laneways.

Click here to check out and book Dongdaemun Market Tours through Viator

Shopping in Dongdaemun Market in Seoul
Shopping in Dongdaemun Market in Seoul

Noryangjin Market in Seoul

Noryangjin Market is a great option to walk amongst the seafood vendors, and you can purchase fresh seafood and then get it cooked in a restaurant upstairs!

Tony getting up close and personal with a lobster at Noryangjin Fish Market in Seoul, South Korea
Tony getting up close and personal with a lobster at Noryangjin Fish Market in Seoul, South Korea

Visit a Theme Park in Seoul

Seoul has three theme parks which are a fun experience. They are uniquely Korean, and many of the rides are their local spin on major franchises.

Lotte World in Seoul

Lotte World is mostly indoors so a great easy to get to all year round option on the local subway trains, also great in winter when it is a lot colder. It is located in Songpa-gu beside Lotte World Tower, which is also a major shopping centre and observation deck. So a great option to make a day of it!

Click here to check out and book your Lotte World Packages through Viator

View over the mostly indoor Lotte World Theme Park in Seoul
View over the mostly indoor Lotte World Theme Park in Seoul
Lotte World Castle with their Halloween Theme
Lotte World Castle with their Halloween Theme

Everland Theme Park and Caribbean Bay Water Park

Everland is south of Seoul and takes about one hour by bus to get there, and is a great full day out. Booking a direct transfer bus is the best option to get there.

Click here to check out and book your Everland Theme Park Tickets and Tours through Viator

Main Square at Everland Theme Park near Seoul
Main Square at Everland Theme Park near Seoul
Wooden Rollercoaster at Everland Theme Park near Seoul
Wooden Rollercoaster at Everland Theme Park near Seoul

Seoul Land

Seoul Land is also a popular smaller theme park option which was the first theme park in South Korea. It is easy to access via a 30 minute subway ride from Myeongdong.

Click here to check out and book your Seoul Land Admission Tickets through Viator

Go Shopping in Seoul

There are many shopping options in Seoul – ranging from the markets as mentioned above, through to many shopping malls and distinctive shopping areas. This article has a great overview of where to visit for shopping experiences in Seoul.

Click here to check out and book your Seoul Shopping Tour through Viator

Shopping in the Dongdaemun Shopping Malls
Shopping in the Dongdaemun Shopping Malls

Seoul Nightlife

There are a plethora of nightlife options to explore in Seoul – ranging from night clubbing, teahouses and cafes, bars and more! Click here to learn more about the night life options in Seoul.

Visit a Temple in Seoul

Jogyesa Temple in Insadong is the centre of Korean Buddhism, and is a great option to visit which is easily accessible by tourists. They also offer a temple stay program, or alternatively you can book in to do a three hour temple tour.

There are many other temple options to visit in Seoul, this article has a very detailed overview of each Seoul temple option.

Click here to check out and book your Seoul Temple Tour through Viator

Jogyesa Temple in Seoul
The Giant Buddhas at Jogyesa Temple in Seoul
Festive Decorations at Jogyesa Temple in Seoul
Festive Decorations at Jogyesa Temple in Seoul

See a Non-Verbal Live Show

Seoul is well known for having many live comedic shows which are non-verbal, making them accessible for everyone, regardless of which language people speak.

While COVID19 has affected which shows are on, we expect that once leisure travel resumes that the Seoul shows should return.

Cookin' Nanta Live Show
Cookin’ Nanta Live Show

Walk the Seoullo 7017

The Seoullo 7017 is a former highway overpass which has been turned into a park. You can take a relaxed walk on the Seoullo 7017 to take in the views over Seoul. It is about 1km long and cuts across Seoul Station, with several entry and exit options along its route from Malli-dong to Hoehyeon Station.

The Seoullo 7017 Elevated Garden in Seoul
The Seoullo 7017 Elevated Garden in Seoul

Walk the Cheonggyecheon Stream

The Cheonggyecheon Stream runs through downtown Seoul and is an 11km enjoyable garden path to explore and get around town through peaceful surroundings.

Click here to check out and book your Cheonggyecheon Stream tour through Viator

Walking along Cheonggyecheon Stream in Seoul
Walking along Cheonggyecheon Stream in Seoul
Waterfall on Cheonggyecheon Stream Walk in Seoul
Waterfall on Cheonggyecheon Stream Walk in Seoul

Go to a Festival

Across each year there are many festivals and events held in Seoul.

Click here to check out our detailed article on festival and events in South Korea

The Seoul Lantern Festival
The Seoul Lantern Festival

Visit the DMZ

One of the most popular tourist experiences is to visit the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), the border between North and South Korea. The easiest way to visit is to book a half or full day tour. There are a range of places to visit depending on which tour you choose.

Click here to check out the DMZ tour options through Viator

Korean DMZ
Korean DMZ

Visit Nami Island

Nami Island sits in the middle of the Han River and was formed when the Cheongpyeong Dam was built in 1944.  Nami Island is a large island which is covered with beautiful chestnut and poplar trees and has many art and recreation activities.  There are also many famous K-drama TV shows which have been filmed on the island. 

Nami Island is located a short distance east from Seoul, and is a great day trip option. Also in close proximity to Nami Island is The Garden of Morning Calm, the Gapyeong Rail Bikes and Petite France. Nami Island also has a great thrilling zipline option to cross the river to the island!

Click here to check out our detailed articles on how to visit Nami Island

More having fun on the Gapyeong Rail Cars!
More having fun on the Gapyeong Rail Cars!
Top Things to do in Seoul

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Join the South Korea Travel Planning Facebook Group

You are also welcome to join our South Korea Travel Planning Facebook Group – it is a great resource to enable you to ask questions about your upcoming trip to South Korea!

South Korea Travel Planning

Disclaimer:  This article contains affiliate links.  If you book after clicking on one of these links then we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.