15 Seoul Travel Ideas For First-Time Visitors

Make the most of your trip to Seoul when you join this food tour and cooking class!

Highlights

  • If it’s your first time in Seoul, then consider booking this mobile tourist card that will let you in more than 35 attractions in the capital.
  • Looking to join a fun tour of Seoul’s iconic palaces? Consider booking this activity.
  • One of the spots that you shouldn’t miss is the N Seoul Tower Observatory. Book your tickets at a discount here!
  • Before you fly into Korea, make sure to download WAUG! Discover more Seoul travel recommendations when you get the app here.

Explore more: This Restaurant in Seoul Makes Crazy Good Korean Street Food

Seoul Travel Ideas for Your Itinerary

I only had three things in mind when I was planning my first solo trip to Seoul: eat street food in Myeongdong, experience winter in Korea, and have so much fun to nurse a broken heart. My Seoul travel itinerary clearly wasn’t much. Except for Hangang Park, I didn’t really get the chance to visit a lot of attractions that are popular in the capital. On the one hand, I’d say this was fine. I was able achieve my own Seoul travel goals, get away, and actually cultivate my fondness for Korean culture. But towards the end of my trip, I kind of wished I had a more productive itinerary that included many of the top things do in Seoul. It was a good first visit, but it didn’t take long for me to realize that I had to return soon for more.

han-river
Han river.

So I did. On my second trip to Korea, I did come back for the megacity that I missed out on. But I wanted to cover as much real estate as possible during my 14-day trip, so I also went to Daejeon, Daegu, and Busan. This meant that I had to limit my Seoul travel itinerary (5 days only) and include only the most popular attractions in Korea’s capital. Here’s the list of things to do that I came up with:

1. Rent a hanbok and tour Gyeongbokgung

hanbok-rental

Gyeongbokgung is a top-notch attraction in Seoul that first-time visitors will enjoy. This iconic and expansive palace that’s built in the Joseon era showcases Korean royal culture, facilities, and ornaments that make it a very satisfying place to visit. The space is huge, and the backdrop of Seorak mountain wonderfully delights. Most visitors include Gyeongbok Palace into their Seoul travel itinerary to see the following unique and traditional performances that are held daily (except Tuesdays):

  • 9:30am and 1:3pm: Gatekeeper Military Training
  • 10am and 2pm: Changing of the Guards Ceremony (수문장)
  • 11am and 1pm: Gwanghwamun Gate Guard-on-Duty Performance

You can visit Gyeongbokgung for free by wearing a hanbok or a Korean traditional costume. Book your hanbok below to save money!

waug-blog-coupon

2. Explore Namsangol Hanok Village

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아주 동그랗고 샛노란 달이 떳다. 달은 어디에나 뜨고 어느누구나 볼수있지만 유별나게 달은 한옥과 가장 잘 어울린다고 생각이든다. 우리는 연암박지원을 찾아서라는 공연을 하며 공연에 나오는 다양한 인물들의 상황과 역활들에 나오는 현실의 이야기를 보며 스스로에 대한 모습들을 투영하고 잠깐이나마 나의 상황들을 생각할수있는 시간들을 가졌으리라 생각이 든다. 박지원을 찾는다는건 달리 이야기하자면 나를 찾아서라는 문장과 같은 의미일것이다. 다양한 국악의 소리와 연극을 통해 조금 더 그런시간들에 가깝게 다가갈수있게끔 도움이 되려고 하였다. 올해의 밤마실은 자연냄새와 더불어 배우 악사 관객 스텝이 하나의 모습으로 가을을 수 놓았다. 이런 밤마실의 마지막을 도와준 달님께 마지막 감사의 말씀을 드리며 내년 밤마실도 기대해주시길 바란다. – from.남산골 밤마실 지게꾼 . #안녕밤마실 #밤마실 #가을 #남산골한옥마을 #namsangolhanok #연암박지원 #namsan #남산골 #가을공연 #가을

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Namsangol Hanok Village is a traditional culture and arts village in Seoul. Here you’ll find furniture pieces, clothing, and household tools that date back to pre-modern Korea.

If you’re looking for an interactive way to learn about the country’s history and traditional way of living, this should definitely be in your Seoul travel itinerary.

Admission at Namsangol Hanok Village is free. If you visit on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, you may be able to catch a traditional performance. (We were able to watch a fun taekwondo show and exhibition in the afternoon!)

Oh, and if you’ll purchase a mobile Discover Seoul Pass, then you can get one free drink from Cafe Dalgang or 1890 Cafe & Shop inside the village!

3. Visit N Seoul Tower Observatory

If you’ll have N Seoul Tower in your list of things do in Seoul (well, you must!), we recommend for you to visit at 4pm so you can take photos of this attraction during the day and night. To see spectacular views of the capital, you can also book your N Seoul Tower Observatory tickets here for only ₩6,200 or $5.3!

4. Spend half a day at Lotte World

Lotte World is the world’s largest indoor theme park. Popular rides in this attraction include the viking and merry-go-round. If you’ll buy tickets to Lotte World, make sure to include their 8pm night parade to your Seoul travel itinerary; the indoor fireworks display is superb! (Oh, and if you’ll visit this theme park with your date, you might want to wear Korean-style school uniforms. I noticed that it’s a thing among couples who visit Lotte World!)

5. See more of Seoul’s skyline from Lotte World Tower

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⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 롯데월드타워가 555m, 123개층 약 4만 2천여장의 외벽 유리창 청소를 시작했습니다. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 외벽 유리창 청소는 지난달 26일부터 시작했는데요. 전문 작업자가 1분에 1장씩 청소할 경우 4만 2천여장을 모두 닦는 데 약 700시간이 소요될 정도로 큰 대규모 청소작업 입니다. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 앞으로도 10여명의 전문 작업자를 통해 기상이 악화되거나 초속 10m/s 이상의 강풍이 부는 날을 제외하고 외벽 유리창 청소 작업을 계속할 예정입니다. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ * 더 생생한 외벽 유리창 청소 모습은 다음주에 영상으로 만날 수 있습니다. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #롯타 #롯데월드타워 #롯데월드타워몰 #LOTTEWORLDTOWER #외벽청소 #롯데월드타워외벽청소 #유리창청소

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If you’re doing #4, then it’s best to check out the nearby Lotte World Tower as well. Visit this attraction to see Seoul in its full grandness and if you dare stand on the glass floor!

Pro-tip! You can present your Mobile Discover Seoul Pass get a 10% discount on Lotte World Tower Seoul Sky admission tickets!

6. See the exhibitions at Leeum Samsung Museum of Art

Why have the Leeum Samsung Museum of Art in your list of Seoul travel itinerary? Well, this attraction has extensive displays of both antique and contemporary pieces of Korean art. Here you’ll add to your learning of the country’s history and creativity. Furthermore, this attraction’s grounds (as photographed above) is a very Instagrammable one! Get free admission to this attraction with your mobile Discover Seoul Pass!

7. Have a buffet in Han River

han-river-restaurant

As the second most popular attraction in Korea, Hangang or Han River should be in any first-time traveler’s list of things to do in Seoul. Some of the things that I enjoyed here are riding this electric duck boat and having a delicious Korean buffet experience (though the spread is international!) with a view. If you want to experience these things as well, you can click here to rent a duck boat and click below to book your buffet pass:

8. Take snaps of Garosu-gil Road

Garosu-gil Road in Sinsadong is a vibrant street in Seoul that’s lined with slender Gingko trees. It’s an upscale neighborhood that has many boutique shops, cafes, and restaurants. During the fall season, the trees in Garosu-gil Road turn yellow, which makes the area a very Instagrammable place. You should definitely add this in your Seoul travel bucket list if you’ll be in town during this season! (Garosu-gil literally means “tree-lined streets”.)

If you’ll visit Garosu-gil Road, then you can drop by this nice cafe that serves bold Turkish-style coffee!

9. Experience the jjimjilbang culture at SeaLaLa

Hit the Korean baths and tubs for some relaxing time! To try this popular local recreational activity, I went to SeaLaLa Water Park, which has a nice jjimjilbang facility. Since I purchased a Discover Seoul Pass, I got automatic (free) admission to this clean and modern Korean spa.

If you’re looking to have massage, you may also want to consider visiting this healing spa in Myeongdong!

Also read: How Not to Be Awkward Inside a Jjimjilbang or Korean Spa

10. Catch a street performance or two at Hongdae

hongdae-busking

If you want to visit a youthful spot to make your Seoul travel itinerary exciting, Hongdae is definitely the place. At Hongdae, we were able to catch various indie song and dance performances from buskers that are really impressive. (Watching Hongdae street performances is free, but you’re welcome to give the artists a “tip”!)

To make your visit worthwhile, try these restaurants in Hongdae or the popular Harry Potter cafe in the area! Find more information below:

11. Night cap at Gyeongui Line Forest Park or Yeontral Park

After doing #11 in our Seoul travel itinerary, we headed straight to the nearby Gyeongui Line Forest Park. Here we saw locals (families, friends, coworkers, and lovers!) having a picnic, getting some drinks in nearby pubs, and strolling in the park looking like Korean drama leads. My friends were thankful that this was on our Seoul travel itinerary. Maybe you’d feel the same way too.

12. Head back to Myeongdong for some buys and bites

My friends and I visited Myeongdong Food Market and devoured the huge potato snack called the Tornado Potato. Other street food that we tried in the area are odaeng or Korean fish cakes, cheese hotdog (basically like corn dog), and tteokbokki!

If you’re looking for bags, clothes, and cosmetics, Myeongdong should definitely be in your Seoul travel itinerary!

Oh, and in case you’d like to visit a bar in this area, check out this place that offers a nice view of N Seoul Tower!

13. Have juk or Korean porridge

How many Korean dramas have you watched that show the characters eating abalone porridge? I have a few in mind, so I made sure to try out this dish as part of my Seoul travel itinerary. (Boy, it’s so good.) The Abalone porridge may be a bit pricey (around ₱940 or $18), but it’s definitely a must-try food in Korea!

14. Feast on chimaek or Korean chicken and beer

Yes, eating Korean fried chicken is a must when you visit Seoul! There’s a lot of mom-and-pop stores that make them, but I’d recommend visiting Chicken Revolution for their signature Butter Ttaengcho Chicken!

15. Buy Souvenirs and Clothes at Ehwa Womans University Shopping Streets

Yep, it’s spelled WOMANS.

The shops and restaurants near Ehwa Womans University are heaven to those looking to buy trendy clothes, shoes, bags, accessories, and beauty products in Korea. Here you can find stores that sell super awesome clothes for just ₩12,000 or around $10.6!

Aside from being one of the best places to shop, you can add visting Ehwa Womans University into your Seoul travel itinerary for their nice and budget-friendly restaurants!

Book Your Seoul Travel Itinerary on WAUG

If you’re unfamiliar with using WAUG, you can follow these steps to book any of the activities listed in this blog post!

  1. Log in or sign up for an account here. (New users get a discount coupon!)
  2. Proceed to the booking page of your preferred activity in Seoul.
  3. Choose the date of your visit and provide the other information.
  4. Check out using your Visa, Mastercard, or AMEX.**
  5. Wait for your voucher/s that we’ll send through the WAUG app, which you can download here.

Is your method-of-payment issued in South Korea? You can switch the page’s currency to KRW so you can see the other local payment options, like phone payment.

Sample Seoul Travel Itinerary

Whether you’re putting together a Seoul itinerary for 5 days, 7 days, or even 2 weeks, you can check out these recommendations from the Korea Tourism Organization (I added relevant links so you can get more ideas about the place):

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

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Kevin

Kevin

안녕하세요. 글로벌 콘텐츠 마케터 Kevin입니다. Hey, I'm Kevin from the Marketing Team. If you have any questions about WAUG or this blog post, feel free to send me an email!

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