Many people think that Seoul is just all about shopping, but we beg to differ, so we’ve come up with an itinerary for 6 days in Seoul and included (what we hope is) a good mix of both shopping and sightseeing! Of course, you can definitely add to the list if you’re spending a longer time there. Check out what you need to know before visiting seoul!
DAY 1: DEOKSUGUNG PALACE, BUKCHON HANOK VILLAGE, INSA-DONG
Start your day with a visit to the Deoksugung Palace. Located in the City Hall area, it’s easy to see after taking a photo of the I.SEOUL.U sign. Admission is 1,000 KRW per person to enter. The palace is beautiful with the Western style architecture and garden. We saw a few visitors take photos of the white columns of the palace. The back has the National Museum of Modern Art.
One of the main highlights was seeing the changing of the royal guards ceremony in front of the palace. Visitors can take photos with the guards when the ceremony concludes. The ceremony occurs at 11:00am, 2:00pm, 3:30pm from Tuesdays to Sundays.
Address: 99 Sejong-daero, Jeong-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
City Hall Station (Subway Line 1) and Exit 2, or Subway Line 2 and Exit 12.
Afterwards, join a Pedicab Tour from Artee Riders Club. Artee Riders Club offers 1 and 2-hour tours by pedicab around the historic neighborhoods of Bukchon and Seochon.
Depending on what tour you choose, you could visit Gyeongbokgung and/or Changdeokgung Palace and the Blue House (presidential residence). Sit back and relax as you ride through the alleyways and traditional hanok houses of Bukchon Village or the artist’s village of Seochon.
The ‘drivers’ double as tour guides and photographer extraordinaires. They’ll teach you about the city’s rich culture and history, show you hidden laneways, and take you to the best photo spots away from the crowds. You can book online in advance or flag down a driver on the street.
How to get there: The Bukchon tours start at Anguk Station (Subway Line 3) and Exit 1. The Seochon tour starts at Gyeongbokgung Station (Subway Line 3) and Exit 4.
The Bukchon tours start at Anguk Station (Subway Line 3) and Exit 1.
The Seochon tour starts at Gyeongbokgung Station (Subway Line 3) and Exit 4.
Next visit the Bukchon Hanok Village, which has been around since the late 14th century. Spend an hour or two wandering around the hilly alleys, often made of cobblestones, and admire some of the 900 hanoks, or traditional houses, made of natural materials like wood or stone.
Address: South Korea, Seoul, Jongno-gu, Gahoe-dong, 계동길 37
Anguk Station (Subway Line 3) and Exit 2. Walk for 10 to 15 minutes.
Then visit the Insa-dong. What this area is best known for is Insadong-gil, a long street with dozens of smaller streets and alleys connecting to it. A large section of the main street is closed to cars making it an enjoyable place for pedestrians to meander. Along the way are hundreds of small shops selling traditional craft items, clothing, makeup, and souvenirs.
There you can stop by the Jogyesa Temple. t’s a stunning Korean Buddhist temple that welcomes everyone. One of the iconic views of the temples is the colorful streamers and lanterns that covers the area.
Anguk Station (Subway Line 3) and Exit 6. Go straight until you reach the intersection, turn left at the Ujeongguk-ro Street, and continue until you see the temple. Or take Jonggak Station (Subway Line 1) and Exit 2. Go straight for a few blocks.
If you’re hungry, head to Gwangjang Market in the evening. This must-see night market is overwhelming and chaotic with street food stalls everywhere.
Address: 88 Changgyeonggung-ro, Jongno 4(sa)-ga, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Jongno 5(o)-ga Station (Subway Line 1) and Exit 7 or 8. Walk for five minutes to the market.
DAY 2: N SEOUL TOWER, SEODAEMUN, IHWA MURAL VILLAGE, DONGDAEMUN
Start your day with a visit to N Seoul Tower (also known as Namsan Tower). At 236 meters (774 feet) high, the tower is the second-highest point in Seoul so a great place to get stunning views of the city.
The Tower is a wonderful place to check out since there is a lot more going on than just heading up for views. Split up into three main sections, The Lobby, The Plaza and The Tower, visitors get the chance to check out the locks of love, a photo studio, the Alive Museum, a rooftop bar, the wishing pond, a light garden, plus much more.
Take either the bus, cable car, Seoul City Tour bus, or car. You can also walk to the summit from the Myeongdong Station (Subway Line 1) and Exit 2, 3, and 4 and walk straight up along the walking path. You’ll pass the cable car station.
Afterwards, visit the Seodaemun Prison Hall which is located outside the historic city center and was built at the start of the Japanese occupation in 1910. It was used by the Japanese to lock up, torture, and execute Korean freedom fighters. Now the prison is turned into a museum to remember the death of the independence fighters. The grounds itself are quite big for being located in the city and contain the main men’s prison with 3 different cell rows, a tiny women’s prison, the execution chamber, a factory, a prison for the sick, the kitchens, sports facilities, and an exhibition hall. The exhibition halls cover everything from the history of the prison, torture equipment to a room dedicated to all the historic figures that died in this prison-like Yu Gwan-Sun.
The prison is open Tuesday to Sunday from 9:30 to 18:00. The entrance fee is 3000 KRW for adults. If you would like to take a free docent tour in English, please contact the museum one week in advance.
Dongnimmun Station (Subway Line 3) and Exit 5
Then visit Ihwa Mural Village in the Ihwa-dong area. This former slum residential area is now a must-see destination for colorful murals and staircases, street art, and sculptures.
While you’re in the village area, walk through the Naksan Park to see a portion of the Seoul City Wall. The city wall is impressive as it’s made out of stone. You’ll see panoramic views of the city when you’re walking along the wall. For the active visitors, consider walking along the trail from Dongdaemun to Naksan Park (or vice versa).
Hyehwa Station (Subway Line 4) and Exit 2. Follow the signs and walk for 10 to 15 minutes. (To get a head start of the street art, notice the colorful poop sculptures as you exit the subway.)
Next visit the Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP). The architecture looks like a giant spaceship with thousands of aluminum panels. The area has museums, shopping, and a park. You’ll also see pianos in the area that welcomes everyone to showcase their musical talents.
After the DDP, head across the street to the various shopping malls (ie: Hyundai City Outlets and Doota) for fashion and accessories. Some of the shopping malls are open late (ie: past midnight).
Another unique experience is shopping at the wholesale markets (ie: Pyeonghwa). The wholesale markets are interesting as each vendor specializes in one clothing item or accessories, such as hats, socks, pajamas, and more.
Dongdaemun History & Cultural Park Station (Subway Line 2, 4, or 5), or Dongdaemun (Subway Line 1) and Exit 6. Walk for a few blocks towards the DDP.
Afterwards, for some good shopping and dining visit the Namdaemun Market. It’s one of the largest outdoor markets and has a more “local household” type shopping vibe. However, you can find clothes priced at 3000 KRW (all the ladies went crazy for this sale), sunglasses, and more.
Hoehyeon Station (Subway Line 4) and Exit 5. You’ll walk a few minutes to reach the market.
DAY 3: DMZ
Korea has a rich history and you can’t leave the country without going to the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone). There are two ways to visit the DMZ from Seoul – 1) DMZ train ride, or 2) taking a DMZ day tour. The rest of the afternoon can be spent resting.
1. Take the DMZ Train Ride
Taking the DMZ train to the North Korea border is one of the most interesting activities to do. While many visitors opt for one of the bus tours to the notorious border between Koreas, it’s also possible to take a train there.
The special DMZ train departs from Seoul for an hour and a half ride to the North, which culminates in entering the Demilitarized Zone. The final stop is Dorasan Station, built as an immigration point to connect the two Koreas. Currently, the daily DMZ train is the only train that stops here. Yet the station appears ready to board passengers on the next train to Pyongyang.
At Dorasan Station, DMZ train passengers can further explore the DMZ by busing around to famed sights like the Third Tunnel of Aggression, the Dorasan Peace Park, and even a viewpoint to peer into North Korea. It all makes for a most intriguing day of exploration from Seoul.
The DMZ train departs promptly from Seoul Station from Wednesday-Sunday at 10:08 am and costs 17,800 KRW round trip.
2. Spend a Half Day on the DMZ Tour
You can take a DMZ Half Day Tour.
The day tour is worth the time to learn about the political history of North and South Korea. With over 30 people on the bus and an enthusiastic tour guide, the tour consists of the following locations:
- Imjingak Theme Park – It’s a quick stop to see the Bridge of Freedom and the destroyed train during the war from the Gyeongui Train Line.
- Third Tunnels – Grab a hard hat and walk down the tunnel that the North Koreans soldiers dug to infiltrate South Korea. If you’re claustrophobic, it’s best to skip this attraction due to the low ceiling. The route is steep coming back up to the entrance so take your time with walking. Bags and cell phones must be placed in the lockers prior to walking.
- Dora Observatory Deck – On a good day, see a panoramic view of North Korea. The theater has a short video on specific North and South Korea landmarks from the Observatory Deck.
- Norasan Station – In addition to what was stated above, you can buy a special Norasan Station ticket as a souvenir. If you like to send postcards, there is a Norasan Station rubber stamp in the same area where you can purchase the souvenir ticket. A sign on the counter says that you cannot stamp the passport.
- Ginseng and amethyst jewelry store – It’s the obligatory souvenir shops that you have to stop by during a tour. Supposedly the South Korean ginseng is better than the other Asian countries.
Depending on your tour operator, there will be different meeting points. Check with your tour operator for further instructions.
DAY 4: EVERLAND, LOTTEWORLD
With two amazing theme parks, Everland and Lotte World, easily accessible from Seoul, a theme park day is a great addition to any Seoul itinerary!
Everland is the largest theme park in South Korea and is hugely popular. It has five sections offering attractions which include adrenaline-inducing rides and a Safari World. Everland is easily accessible via a shuttle bus from Seoul.
Lotte World consists of Lotte World Adventure, the biggest indoor amusement park in the world, and the outdoor Magic Island which is located on a man-made lake. It’s thrilling and magical in equal measures. Lotte World is a great winter theme park given its indoor section. Lotte World is located within Seoul.
If you are travelling with kids, Seoul Land is also a good option to consider and can be a little less expensive. There family-friendly rides, a world plaza and Seoul Grand Park, Korea’s largest botanical garden and zoo.
DAY 5: NAMI ISLAND
Visit the Nami Island. Located about 90 minutes from Seoul, the picturesque Nami Island is famous for its tree-lined avenues and riverside walks. It’s also the filming location of countless Korean dramas. If you visit during April, the cherry blossoms typically come into bloom at the beginning of the month. This is the most popular time to visit Nami Island but it is beautiful in all seasons.
Nami Island is accessible by public transport (Gyeongchun Line subway or ITX-Cheongchun and get off at Gapyeong Station and walk/taxi to Nami Island) a shuttle bus from Seoul – check shuttle bus prices here!
If you’re feeling adventurous, instead of taking the ferry over to Nami Island, zip line over! There’s a family-friendly version provided kids meet the minimum height and weight restrictions – check prices here!
DAY 6: GANGNAM, HOME
Time to go home!
If you have time, visit the district of Gangnam, as it’s one of the best areas in Seoul.
Gangnam is a visit-worthy location. The first place to go is Sinsa Boulevard, where you can find a wide variety of unique street-style shops, fancy boutiques, and even cosmetic shops (although if you’re looking to buy cosmetics only, it’s better to head to Myeongdong). There are also interesting places such as The Alley, a tea shop serving brown sugar tea with tapioca, similar to the bubble tea, but a bit more special.
Sinsa Station (Subway Line 3). Walk for about 3-4 minutes.
You can also visit the Mullae Art Village, It’s a combination of hipster cafes, restaurants, boutiques, and metal factories. This village was also one of the film sets of the movie Avengers 2, which really helped boost tourism!
The best restaurant to eat at is Yankees Burgers in Mullae. The best burger on the short menu is the Mullae Burger 2, for a reasonable price of 7 dollars. Other dishes on the menu are pizzas, pasta, and wings. The interior has a very industrial feel to it as every wall is covered with graffiti and old posters.
Mullae Station (Subway Line 2), and Exit 1 or 7. Walk for five minutes.