What to Do in Seoul
Collected by Lara Dalinsky , AFAR Local Expert
Seoul is a vast metropolis with an efficient public transportation system. In addition to major sites like temples, museums, and palaces, the city boasts unexpected gems including nature trails and mazes of alluring backstreets.
25 Olympic-ro, Jamsil 7(chil)-dong, Songpa-gu, Seoul, South Korea
A unique cultural event, Korean baseball games are fun even for the sports-averse. The Korea Baseball Organization consists of 10 teams that play from April through October, competing to win the Korean Series. Games go way beyond athletics, with...
240 Olympic-ro, Jamsil 3(sam)-dong, Songpa-gu, Seoul, South Korea
The world’s largest indoor amusement park, Lotte World gets more than 7 million visitors annually. Seasonal festivals like the Rio Samba Carnival and the Happy Christmas Party dictate the themes of the daily parades and performances, while...
South Korea, Seoul, Myeong-dong, 명동2가 명동길 26 중구 서울특별시 KR
Opened in 1997, Nanta is the longest-running show in Korean history. Similar to Stomp, it’s a nonverbal musical that people of all ages and nationalities can understand. The comedic story follows a frantic kitchen staff as they prepare for...
40-712 Hangangno 3(sam)-ga, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea
An integral part of Korean culture, jimjilbangs, or bathhouses, offer much more than just a trip to the spa. Most are open 24 hours, functioning as a place for people to unwind and socialize. Expect unisex areas equipped with pools, showers, and...
105 Namsangongwon-gil, Yongsan 2(i)ga-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Look to the top of Seoul’s 860-foot-tall Namsan Mountain and you’ll see the N Seoul Tower, which rises an additional 777 feet. This aerial perch is the highest point in the city and offers incredible views. Far below, Seoul sprawls out...
Cheonggyecheon-ro, Sinseol-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Located below street level, the public space Cheonggyecheon offers an easy escape from the hustle and bustle of downtown Seoul. The area is part of a massive urban renewal project in which an old elevated highway was cleared to reveal the stream...
54 Naksan-gil, Ihwa-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Constructed in 1396, Seoul’s great fortress walls snake around the 11.5-mile perimeter of the old city, straddling the ridges between Bugaksan, Naksan, Namsan, and Inwangsan mountains. Punctuated by ancient gates, the walls now function as...
273 Ttukseom-ro, Seongsu-dong 1(il)-ga, Seongdong-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Seoul Forest is the city’s equivalent of New York’s Central Park. Divided into five unique areas, it covers a massive 12.4 million square feet, making for an oasis in the middle of the city. There’s no shortage of activities for...
262 Bogukmun-ro, Jeongneung-dong, Seongbuk-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Few people associate a wired city like Seoul with nature. However, South Korea’s capital is nestled amid 37 mountains, putting the great outdoors just a bus or subway ride away. Thanks to its location within the city, Bukhansan holds the...
200 Achasan-ro, Jayang 4(sa)-dong, Gwangjin-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Seoul is a city built on innovation and commerce. Combine the two and you get Common Ground, the world’s largest container shopping mall. Developed by the design firm Urbantainer, the project was intended to revitalize unused land in...
21 Namdaemunsijang 4-gil, Hoehyeon-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Korea’s largest traditional market, Namdaemun sits next to the ancient south gate after which it’s named. This mostly wholesale marketplace, made up of several alleys filled with thousands of stalls, is always swarming with shoppers....
Insadong, Jongro-gu, 인사동 서울특별시 South Korea
When it’s time to escape Seoul’s bright lights and skyscrapers, head to Insadong, a quaint, historic neighborhood of winding alleyways begging to be explored. The area is also the best place to stock up on souvenirs, with dozens...
Chungmuro 2(i)-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Myeongdong is a dizzying shopping mecca where every major Korean cosmetic and fashion brand has a store—or several. The Korea Tourism Organization estimates that more than 1 million visitors pass through the area every day. Anchored by the...
16 Noksapyeong-daero 46-gil, Itaewon 1(il)-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Known as Seoul’s “Global Village,” Itaewon is where tourists and expats come to play. A diverse, English-friendly neighborhood, it evolved thanks to the nearby U.S. military base Yongsan Garrison. The area’s main road,...
South Korea, Seoul, Jongno-gu, Gahoe-dong, 계동길 37
To catch a glimpse of ancient Seoul, head to Bukchon Hanok Village. This historic, hilly neighborhood lies between the palace walls of Gyeongbokgung and Changdeokgung and consists of more than 800 hanoks, traditional one-story homes with...
281 Eulji-ro, Euljiro 7(chil)-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
This sleek, silver structure looks as if an alien spaceship had landed in the middle Seoul. It all makes sense, however, when you realize it’s the work of the late architect Zaha Hadid. Completed in 2014, the Dongdaemun Design Plaza (known...
Seoul, South Korea
When most people think of Korean cuisine, the first food that comes to mind is usually kimchi. In addition to being the country’s national dish, the spicy, fermented vegetable condiment has been shown to contain many health benefits. Learn...
60-16 Itaewon-ro 55-gil, Hannam-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Opened in 2004, the Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art seeks to bridge the past, present, and future of art. The sleek complex consists of two wings, one dedicated to traditional Korean works and the other to international contemporary art. The...
South Korea, Seoul, Myeong-dong, 명동8길 27 M-Plaza 5층 중구 서울특별시 KR
The Seoul Global Cultural Center presents programs that deepen tourists’ understanding of Korean culture. Conveniently located in Myeongdong, the venue offers free weekly classes on everything from Korean handicrafts and cooking to...
19-3 Wausan-ro 21-gil, Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Seoul’s main university district, Hongdae is one of the city’s most vibrant neighborhoods and is at its liveliest on Saturday afternoons from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. when the Free Market takes place in Children’s Park. Dancers,...
지하 200 Sinbanpo-ro, Banpo-dong, Seocho-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Not only is the Express Bus Terminal a major transportation hub, it’s also the site of Seoul’s largest underground shopping mall. Attached to the subway station, Goto Mall sprawls for a half-mile and houses more than 600 stores. When...
55 Ujeongguk-ro, Jongno 1(il).2(i).3(sam).4(sa), Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Constructed in 1910 as the head temple of Korean Buddhism, Jogyesa is a spiritual sanctuary that’s free to the public. Visitors can wander around two 500-year-old trees in the courtyard, then head to the main hall, known as Daeoongjeong, to...
161 Sajik-ro, Jongno 1(il).2(i).3(sam).4(sa), Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Originally built in 1395, Gyeongbokgung Palace is the largest and greatest of Seoul’s Five Grand Palaces. Burned down during the Japanese invasion of 1592, it was reconstructed in 1867. Today, the palace grounds, filled with lotus ponds,...
29 Itaewon-ro, Namyeong-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea
A free museum, the War Memorial of Korea explores the country’s ancient and modern military history. Outside the entrance lie sculptures dedicated to fallen Koreans and allies, as well as an extensive display of military vehicles you can...
99 Yulgok-ro, Jongno 1(il).2(i).3(sam).4(sa), Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Changdeokgung Palace is a prime example of pungsu, a style derived from the principles of Confucianism that harmoniously blends architecture with the surrounding landscape. Originally built in 1412 as a secondary...
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