There’s so much to do in Seoul, enough to spend weeks in the city alone. However, what about if you are only in Seoul for a day? What are the top ‘must do’ things in Seoul? These are the places to visit and things to do in Seoul that shouldn’t be missed! This is my list of 5 things everyone should do in Seoul!
Table of Contents
View the City From a Stunning Vista
City skylines. Many people love them, and many people hate them. But one thing is for sure, if you visit South Korea, you should add one of the many vista locations in the city to your bucket list.
There are many options you have to see a beautiful city view. For the more standard view, Namsan Tower is fantastic. Standing on Namsan (Nam Mountain), the tower provides truly breathtaking views of the city from a central location north of the river. Every direction has a different view, and each is as stunning as the last.
The view from Namsan Tower!
Other, less common views are also located all around the city, however. Eungbongsan has long been one of my favourite views and is by far one of my favourite places to visit in Seoul. The mountain stands next to the Han River and has one of the most unique city views in the world. The mountain is only a mountain by name, however, and takes only 15-20 minutes to summit.
A lot of people make a point of visiting the Namsan Tower or Lotte Tower when they visit Seoul. But the city has many more beautiful views to offer. If you visit Seoul, I think that this is one of the most unique, yet often overlooked things to do. No skyline is the same, and with Seoul being as big as it is, it is a stunning view that has to be seen to be believed.
Have a Cultural Experience
Korea has a vast and rich history. There is so much that has gone into forming the Korean culture and making it what it is today. If you come to Korea, or Seoul, make sure that you experience some of the culture and history. Not only because it is something that is unique to Korea, but also because if you visit, it’s important to learn something about the local culture.
Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul
Korea has many different options for historical and cultural experiences. From the palaces such as Gyeongbokgung and Changdoekgung to the traditional villages such as Bukcheon Hanok village. There are so many options, and I truly believe that even the most opposed person to history can find something to appreciate in Korea. If you are interested in a deeper experience, why not try a temple stay, or go to a tea ceremony? There are so many options!
These are by no means the only options for cultural experiences in Seoul. With such an old city, there are nearly limitless opportunities to experience the culture and history of this wonderful country. If you haven’t already planned some cultural activities on your trip, do so right now! Make sure that you leave Korea after having learned something about the country and its culture.
Visit a Market
I added this to the list for a variety of reasons. Firstly, because they are some of the best places to shop in Seoul. Not only for souvenirs and gifts, but even for things such as clothes, cameras, electronics, and more! On top of that, they are also some of the best places in the city to experience authentic Korean cuisine. While eating in markets isn’t for everyone – they can be rather busy and aren’t the cleanest, it is one of the best ways to try traditional Korean dishes. On top of that, they also offer great shopping, and this is a big reason that many people visit them. If you want nearly anything in Seoul, markets are the places to shop.
The backstreets of Kwangjang market.
But which market should you visit? Really, it’s up to you. Kwangjang is my personal favourite, and it is particularly famous for its food. Namdaemun is another very popular market, and it is fantastic for both shopping and food. It is most famous for its camera market though (and this is why I usually visit!). Dongdaemun is the most famous market in Seoul and sells everything from textiles to clothes (which it is most famous for). Yongsan Electronics Market, on the other hand, is famous for… Well, you guessed it. Electronics. For everything from cameras to PC components to LEDs, Yongsan has everything you can imagine.
Which market you visit is really up to you. There are many more that I didn’t even mention above – Noryangjin Fish Market, Majang Meat Market, and more! Whichever market piques your interest, make sure that you visit at least one. Or two. Or three even! While your there, make sure to experience some of the food on offer!
Eat Korean Fried Chicken on The Han River
The Han River has many different flavours, and this is exactly what makes it one of the best things to do in Seoul. On top of being accessible by everyone, centrally located, and free, it is also one of the most beautiful parts of the city.
The river itself snakes through the centre of the city and is located close to many popular areas (Hongdae, Jamsil, and Gangnam to name a few). It’s one of the most popular outdoor locations in the city, but due to its sheer size, it is rarely overly crowded.
The view at Ttukseom at sunset.
One of the most popular river activities is ordering Korean fried chicken and watching the sunset while drinking beer. If this doesn’t sound like you, never fear. Bikes can be hired and even walking along the river is very enjoyable. Not only this, but there are often events and activities going on, especially in the summer. If you visit South Korea, I would suggest the Han River as one place you cannot miss.
If you visit Seoul, make sure that the Han River is on your bucket list. Not only will it be one of the most beautiful places that you visit, but it’s a place that shows many of Seoul’s best aspects. It is for this reason that the Han River is one of the 5 things everyone should do in Seoul.
Experience the Cafe Culture
I’ve mentioned this a few times in articles, and I still stand by it today. Seoul has one of the most interesting and thriving cafe and coffee cultures that I have ever had the pleasure of witnessing. The cafes in the city can range greatly (to the point where some aren’t even really cafes!) And you can find anything from raccoon cafes to book cafes.
Not only this, but I’ve come across some of the coolest drinks at cafes in Korea – drinks that I could barely imagine, and have never seen before. Whatever the cause of the growing cafe trend in Korea, the outcomes are that there are so many cool places to visit and explore.
First image: Cafe Seoulism. Second image: Jeffrey Flower Cafe.
If you are looking for some recommendations then I have many! Recently I visited Cafe Seoulism, a cafe famous for the views of Seoul that it offers. It was a great experience and somewhere that I can highly recommend (although it is a bit pricey and the drinks are mediocre – the experience is what you pay for). If you love animals, then consider checking out this post for some of the best animal cafes in the city.
Finally, if you prefer pretty cafes, Seoul also has you covered. There are many flower cafes, but the one that I prefer is Jeffrey Flower Cafe in Hyehwa. The drinks were delicious(ly photogenic) and the atmosphere was calming and lovely. Especially in summer!
Other things that you should do!
This list was quite hard to make. Not because I couldn’t think of five things, but rather because I had trouble picking the five most important things that everyone should do in Seoul. I truly think that everyone should experience the culture in Korea as much as possible, and you can see that reflected in this list.
Otherwise, I tried to include things that you might not find on other lists. These things (such as viewing the cityscape at night) are things that are very unique to Seoul, but you might not consider otherwise. The city is one of the most beautiful in the world (I’m sure it can’t only be my opinion?) and I hope that everybody can experience the beauty that it has to offer.
If you are looking for more things to do in Seoul (that are no less important than those on the list above) you could also consider checking out some of the amazing green-spaces in the city. There are so many to choose from, and each is unique in its own way. Alternatively, why not watch the sunsets from the most stunning viewing points in the city? There are really so many things to see and do.
What is something that you think everyone who visits Seoul should do?