Top 31 Things To Do In Seoul, South Korea On Your First Visit

Things To Do In Seoul
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There are almost as many things to do in Seoul, South Korea as there are people. This large, bustling city has a population of over 10,000,000. South Korea is the 20th most visited country in the world.

If this is your first visit, be prepared for a busy and fun adventure experiencing the mouth-watering food, fabulous shopping and unique attractions.

Food and Drink Highlights

1. Lotte Mart

Lotte Mart in Seoul
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Lotte Mart might be the first place you’ll want to hit to stock up on tasty snacks you can munch on throughout a busy day of touring without interruption of stopping.

It’s located in the Seoul Train Station, making it a convenient stop to provide some energizing and delicious treats to keep you going.

Some of the most popular edibles include Crown Butter Waffles, Lotte Biscuit Sticks and Honey Butter Chips. Binggrae Banana Flavored Milk is another big seller at the mart.

Directions (There’s a Lotte Mart in Seoul Station!): Within Seoul Station (Subway Line 1 and 4), take Exit 1.

2. Yummy Street Food

hotteok sweet pancakes
NavyBank / Shutterstock – Hotteok (sweet pancakes)

Of course, there are food carts galore all over the city. You will no doubt be tempted to try many of them throughout your visit.

One of the most popular street snacks in Seoul is the spicy, rice cake called Teokbokki. You can’t help but try these since they’re featured at just about every food cart in the city.

You might also try Hotteok, a popular dessert pancake, not a flat pancake like you might imagine, but a pocket of hot and chewy dough filled with cinnamon paste.

The savory version of this same snack might be filled with vegetables and noodles.

3. Fiery Noodle Challenge

Korean spicy instant noodle
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Found easily at convenience stores, if you’re a daredevil when it comes to setting your mouth aflame, bring a package of Hek Buldak Extra Spicy Roasted Chicken Ramen back to your room later and mix it up with some boiling water.

The water won’t be the only thing boiling when you taste the heat of these ever so spicy instant noodles.

4. Ginseng Chicken Soup (Tosokchon Samgyetang)

Tosokchon Samgyetang (Ginseng Chicken Soup)
Pongpun Jittham / Shutterstock

Ordering this famous soup, also called Samgyetang, at Tosokchon Samgyetang is one of the must do things in Seoul. It’s an authentic soup of the country.

If you can manage a visit to Tosokchon Samgyetang during off-hours, you won’t have to wait as long to be seated.

Otherwise, expect to wait in line for a half hour or more. If you do have to wait, the delicious dish will be worth it.

Address: 5 Jahamun-ro 5-gil, Chebu-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea

Directions: From Gyeongbokgung Station (Seoul Subway Line 3) take Exit 2, go straight about 186 yards and turn left onto Jahamun-ro 5-gil Road. The restaurant is located about 33 feet ahead on the left.

5. Garosu-gil’s Cafes

Garosu-gil Cafe Hopping
PangJee_S / Shutterstock – Line Cafe

The name, Garosu-gil, means tree-lined street. This area is where you will find numerous food cafes like Bad Farmers, serving up some of the best salads you’ve ever tasted.

If you’re a little homesick for traditional tastes you’re more used to, then a visit to El Plato Garosu-gil will satisfy your palate’s need for Mediterranean and other European dishes.

If you have a yen for pancakes, head over to The Original Pancake House, serving breakfast and brunch.

Try the dish called The Southerner at The Buttermilk Biscuit Company to take you right back to the southern US for a delicious dinner of buttery biscuits, fried chicken and gravy.

There are too many food cafes in the Garosu-gil area to name them all, but you can see that the cuisine you’ll find there is eclectic enough to completely satisfy any palate.

Directions: Alight at Sinsa Station (Subway Line 3) and take Exit 8 towards Garosu-gil. Walk straight until you reach a junction corner, and then turn left into the street where the area begins.

6. Experience Milkis

Milkis
Fadhli Adnan / Shutterstock

This delicious, carbonated milk and yogurt beverage comes in 11 different fruit flavors. It can be drunk straight from its container or served over ice, as some prefer it.

You can get this online when you return home, and it’s fairly popular in Europe too, but you probably won’t find all the flavors available as you will in South Korea.

7. Korean-style Braised Chicken

Braised chicken Dakjjim
Noppuns / Shutterstock

The spicy version of this delectable chicken, vegetable and glass noodle dish is called Andong jjimdak.

It has a sweet and savory flavor. Dried chili peppers add a hot zing to the dish.

Not including tasting this entree as a part of things to do in Seoul is like not trying pasta in Italy.

Since it’s such a staple dish, Korean-style braised chicken is going to be great almost no matter where you get it in Seoul.

8. Twist Ice Cream

twist ice cream in Myeongdong
StreetVJ / Shutterstock

Although you’ve probably at one time or another experienced an ice cream cone with soft, spiraling, swirls of creamy heaven, you’ve most likely never had one that is 32 centimeters tall, equivalent to over a foot of what will seem to be never-ending ice cream.

If you don’t eat it quickly, it can turn into a melted mess so be ready or, better yet, share it with someone else. You can find one in Myeongdong from an ice cream stand.

9. Teahouses

Insadong teahouse
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Teahouses in Seoul provide a nice rest to tired tourists. Many of them are in hanoks, traditional Korean houses so they have a nice, homey and relaxing feel.

Many of the teas are energizing so they can give you the second wind you might need in the middle of a long day of touring and doing lots of walking.

Among the most popular teahouses (though there are far too many of even just the most popular to list) are Tteuran Teahouse, Dawon Traditional Tea Garden and Moonbird Teahouse.

Although located within the city, Tteuran Teahouse is a little off the beaten path and is a quiet get-a-way, making you feel as if you’re miles from the maddening crowds.

They serve their tea with a dessert known as yumilgwa, a sweet, fried mixture of grain, honey and sesame.

Directions: From Anguk Station, take Exit 4. Walk down Samil-daero. At the corner where there is a pharmacy, turn left into a small alley. Walk straight ahead for about 5 minutes.

Dawon is located in the Museum of Fine Art.

Their best-selling tea is Omija, meaning five flavor berries. It’s a very healthy tea, noted for reducing blood pressure and for detoxification.

Address: 11-4 Insa-Dong 10Gil, Jongro-Gu, Seoul, 110-300 Korea.

Moonbird Teahouse may be a little difficult to find since it is located in a back alley, but if you are lucky enough to find it, you’ll also get a strong taste of Korean history.

Everything about it is historical and traditional. Complimentary sweets come with every tea order.

Address: 60 Gwanhun-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, S. Korea.

Shopping Highlights

10. Underground Shopping

underground shopping centre
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There are several of these underground shopping paradises in Seoul, including the Express Bus Terminal Underground Centre and Gangnam Underground Shopping Centre.

When the rain is pouring down outside, there’s not a better place to be in Seoul, South Korea than in one of these underground shopping meccas.

The Express Bus Terminal Mall is the city’s largest. Boasting 600 different stores, you can find anything and everything from clothes and artwork to cosmetics and souvenirs.

The deals are somewhat less expensive here.

Gangnam has over 200 of the trendiest fashion stores in the area. Clothing, shoes, bags and make-up are in never-ending supply, some at discounted prices.

Address of Express Bus Terminal Mall: 194 Sinbanpo-ro, Seocho-gu, Seoul 06545, S. Korea.

11. Ewha Women’s University Shopping Street

Ewha Women's University Shopping Street
NavinTar / Shutterstock

This street is where you’ll find the deepest discounts in your shopping excursions.

As well as inexpensive clothing and accessories for women, there are popular Korean beauty products on sale, and several hair salons.

Indulging yourself on this street may make you never want to leave.

Directions: Take Subway Line 2 to Ewha Womans University Station and take Exit 2 or 3.

12. Namdaemun Market

Namdaemun Market
Simon Poon / Shutterstock

This is the largest traditional market in the country, boasting over 10,000 vendors. At nearly any hour of the day or night, you can find places to go or shop here.

Get your walking shoes ready because the area covers 16 acres. If you can’t find whatever it is you’re looking for at Namdaemun Market, you won’t find it anywhere.

Address: 21 Namdaemunsijang 4-gil, Hoehyeon-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea

Directions: Take subway line 4 to Hoehyeon Station and take Exit 5.

Read More: Namdaemun Market In Seoul: Everything You Need To Know

13. Dongdaemun Market

Dongdaemun Night Shopping
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This area features 26 shopping malls, 30,000 speciality shops, and 50,000 manufacturers.

Dongdaemun Market sells everything under the sun and the moon as they’re open day and night, and this shopping area really comes alive in the night hours.

You can buy wholesale goods at retail prices here.

Address: 266, Jong-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea

Directions: Dongdaemun Station (Subway Line 1 and 4) / Dongdaemun Stadium Station (Subway Line 2).

Read More: Dongdaemun Market In Seoul: Everything You Need To Know

14. Myeongdong

Myeongdong
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Shopping in the Myeongdong area offers access to major department stores as well as small boutiques.

The hottest fashion trends and some of the newest and most innovative cosmetic products can be found with ease.

Many places offer free cosmetic samples. The smaller shops hidden away from the main thoroughfare are where you’ll find the best discounts.

Directions: Alight at Myeong-dong Station (Subway Line 4) and take Exit 5, 6, 7, or 8 / Alight at Euljiro Il-ga Station (Subway Line 2) and take Exit 5.

Read More: 8 Things To Do In Myeongdong (Seoul, South Korea)

15. Common Ground

Common Ground Seoul
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Often a hip hangout for students due to its proximity to Konkuk University, the charm of the Common Ground shopping area is its design of blue shipping containers housing the stores.

The cheapest shopping is not found here, but some of the trendiest is. There are lots of entertaining events, and doing a little photo-op here might be included on your fun- list.

Address: 200, Achasan-ro, Gwangjin-guSeoul 05071, South Korea

Directions: Alight at Konkuk University Station (Subway Line 2 and Line 7) and take Exit 6. It’s straight ahead.

16. Insadong

Insadong district
PixHound / Shutterstock

Most people want traditional remembrances of their trips, not something you can buy at home. Insadong is the place for that.

On the main road lined with restaurants and teahouses, there is a plethora of shops with traditional souvenirs and gifts you won’t want to leave out from your shopping experience in Seoul.

Directions: Alight at Anguk Station (Subway Line 3) and take Exit 6.

Read More: 21 Things To Do In Insadong

17. Garosu-gil’s Shopping

Garosu-gil Shopping
Dmitrii Sakharov / Shutterstock

Not only known for its exceptional eateries, the Garosu-gil area is a hot-spot for shopping and is very posh.

The prices are commensurate with the region’s fame for its upscale fashion. Esmod Seoul, a French fashion school, is also situated in the area.

Address: Shinsa-dong, Gangnam-guSeoul, South Korea

Directions: Alight at Sinsa Station (Subway Line 3) and take Exit 8 towards Garosu-gil. Walk straight until you reach a junction corner, and then turn left into the street where the area begins.

Amusements and Attractions

18. Bukchon Hanok Village

Bukchon Hanok Village in Seoul
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Bukchon Hanok Village is a traditional Korean village located on a hilltop where you’ll be amazed by the many tiny alleys that weave in and out throughout the village.

You’ll see architecture dating back to the Joseon Dynasty, 1392 to 1910.

The village is currently inhabited by modern day people whose culture will be interestingly evident throughout your tour.

Address: 37, Gyedong-gil, Jongno-guSeoul 03059, South Korea

Directions: Alight at Anguk Station (Subway Line 3) and take Exit 2.

19. Gyeongbokgung Palace

Gyeongbokgung Palace
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Gyeongbokgung Palace was built in 1395, and is the largest of Seoul’s Five Grand Palaces.

It is situated on over 100 acres of peaceful landscape with a background of the Amisan Mountains in the distance.

The Changing of the Guard is a popular attraction with hourly viewings, except on Tuesdays when the palace is closed to visitors.

This palace is located in the north end of the city, and was the main royal palace of the Joseon dynasty.

Address: 161 Sajik-ro, Sejongno, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea

Directions: Alight at Gyeongbokgung Palace Station (Subway Line 3) and take Exit 5 / Alight at Gwanghwamun Station (Subway Line 5)and take Exit 2.

20. Dressing Up At Gyeongbokgung Palace

Gyeongbokgung Palace gatekeeper costume
2p2play / Shutterstock

Another one of the things to do in Seoul while you’re visiting the Gyeongbokgung Palace is to dress up in a gatekeeper’s costume.

What fun! There is no extra charge for this imaginative and enchanting experience.

21. A Ride for the Adventuresome at Everland

Everland
Everland / Facebook

The wooden roller coaster at Everland is not for the faint of heart. Everland’s theme park boasts the steepest wooden roller coaster in the world.

Everland is South Korea’s largest theme park. Just like Disneyland, there are amazing shows and exhibits.

Even though you may include a trip to Everland on your first visit to Seoul, you can’t possibly do everything there is to do at Everland in just one visit.

Address: 199, Everland-ro, Pogok-eup, Cheoin-guYongin, Gyeonggi-do 17023, South Korea

Directions: From Gangnam Station take Bus No.5002 into the park / From Jamsil Station take Bus No. 5700 into the park. The bus journey is about 1 hour and the bus fee costs KRW2,500.

22. Cable Car Ride At Mount Namsan

Mount Namsan
Noomna nakhonphanom / Shutterstock

The cable car at Mount Namsan is a tramway that runs from the base of the mountain to the Tower.

It’s a pleasant 3-minute ride with stunning views, especially during the sunset hours.

Walking down from the top with a picnic lunch in tow can be a relaxing and fun way to spend one of your days is Seoul.

Address: 100-177 Hoehyeon-dong 1-ga, Jung-gu | Yongsan-dong, Yongsan-guSeoul, South Korea

Directions: From Myeong-dong Station (Subway Line 4). It’s a 15 minute walk towards the Pacific Hotel. From there you will see the boarding point for the cable car.

23. NANTA Theater Show

NANTA Theater Show
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The NANTA Theater Show is the longest running show in Korean history. The non-verbal comedy includes acrobatics, magic, pantomime and audience participation.

Members of the audience are sometimes selected to actually go on stage with the performers, making it even more fun.

Address: 26, Myeongdong-gil, Jung-gu | UNESCO Hall 3FSeoul 04536, South Korea

Directions: Take Subway Line 2 Go to Euljiro 1-ga Station. Take Exit 6. It’s located in the UNESCO building ahead.

24. Cat Cafes

cat cafe
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For all you feline fanatics, Cat Cafes are something you probably won’t want to miss putting on your list of things to do in Seoul.

While you’re shopping at Myeong-dong, you can take a break and have some refreshments while petting cats and observing them in this clean and comfortable environment.

There are four other cat cafes in Seoul if visiting this one alone isn’t enough for you.

Address for Cat Playground: 37-14 Myeongdong 8-gil, Chungmuro 2(i)-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea

25. Seoul Alive Illusion Museum

Seoul Alive Museum
Korea Tourism Organization

The Seoul Alive Illusion Museum is located in the Insadong neighborhood of Seoul.

Here you can create your own personalized art, superimposing yourself, facial expressions and body into existing artwork.

With the help of digital technology, this trick art form becomes part of a lasting memory of your visit to Seoul, and the creative fun creating it is something you’ll always remember.

Address: 12 Insadong-gil, Insa-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea

Directions: Take a subway to Anguk station, Line 3 and get off Exit 6. It’s straight ahead.

26. Exhibitions and Shows at Dongdaemun Design Plaza

Dongdaemun Design Plaza
Ng KW / Shutterstock

The amazing, atypical, modern architecture of The Dongdaemun Design Plaza alone is something to view. It is Seoul’s newest attraction.

There is a roof park for strolls, and the plaza contains 3 underground levels as well as 4 above-ground levels.

There are various trade shows, exhibitions, fashion shows, concerts and performances to view there.

They change regularly so you might want to check to see what is scheduled coinciding with your stay in the city. It’s open day and night.

Address: 281, Eulji-ro, Jung-guSeoul 04566, South Korea

Directions: Alight at Dongdaemun History & Culture Park Station (Subway Line 2, 4 and 5) and take Exit 1. It is connected to the complex.

27. [email protected]

SMTOWN Coex Artium
Nghia Khanh / Shutterstock

[email protected] is home to the K-Pop music genre having its origins in South Korea.

The modern form of K-Pop has come to include other styles and genres from other parts of the world as well.

Their studio within the complex offers vocal lessons and video-making sessions where you can be a K-Pop performer yourself for a day.

Address: 513, Yeongdong-daero, Gangnam-guSeoul 06164, South Korea

Directions: Alight at Samseong Station (Subway Line 2) and take Exit 6.

28. Cheonggyecheon Stream

Cheonggyecheon Stream In Seoul
wittaya photo / Shutterstock

This lovely river extends for a little more than half a mile beneath Seoul’s city streets.

The pedestrian walkways both alongside the river and across it allow for leisurely walks away from the bustling city crowds.

The soft, colorful lights at night can be a nice, romantic setting for an evening picnic or romantic interlude.

Address: 37 Mugyo-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul 03187, South Korea

29. The National Museum Of Korea

National Museum of Korea
Alexander A.Trofimov / Shutterstock

The National Museum of Korea is the 6th largest museum in the world, and the largest in Korea. It has three floors with nearly a quarter million objects in its collection.

The first floor is laden with natural resources, including, but not limited to gardens and waterfalls. It also contains the history galleries.

The second floor contains galleries of artwork. The third floor contains sculpture and crafts. It’s a great place for souvenir shopping, too.

Address: 137 Seobinggo-ro, Seobinggo-dong, Yongsan-gu, South Korea

30. Changdeokgung Palace

Changdeokgung palace
Teerachat paibung / Shutterstock

Changdeokgung Palace is Seoul’s second largest of its Five Grand Palaces. The area is especially lovely in the spring when cherry blossom trees are lush with blooms.

The rear garden which has always been preserved as naturally as possible and contains a huge, 300-year-old tree.

In December of 1977, UNESCO’s World Cultural Heritage Committee made it a World Cultural Heritage site.

Address: 99 Yulgok-ro, Waryong-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea

Directions: Alight at Anguk Station (Subway Line 3) and take Exit 3. Straight 5 minute walk to entrance.

31. Lotte World

Lotte World amusement park
Guitar photographer / Shutterstock

Lotte World boasts to have the largest indoor theme park in the world.

The cultural items on display in their Folk Museum exhibit some dating back 5000 years ago in the Korean history.

Tiny villages, children’s playground, ice-skating rink, shops, restaurants and Lotte World Garden Stage presenting musicals make it a venue for the whole family to completely enjoy.

Their outdoor amusement park is called Magic Island, as it is surrounded by water amidst a labyrinth of shopping malls, luxury hotel facilities and movie theaters, linked by a monorail for an effortless tour throughout the park.

Address: 240 Olympic-ro, Jamsil-dong, Songpa-gu, Seoul, South Korea

Directions: Alight at Jamsil Station (Subway Line 2 and 8) and take Exit 4

Start Planning Your Trip To Seoul

If you’re planning a trip to Seoul for the first time, the number of fun things you can do can be overwhelming since you might not be able to decide which ones you’ll have to forego until your next visit.

Hopefully, you’ll be there long enough to be able to try several of these fun ideas.

This guide should help you to plan an itinerary that will fit the needs of all in your party.