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A kinetic city entrenched deep in its traditional roots and culture, yet manifesting an explosive growth in fashion and technology. Seoul has become one of the leading destinations among tourists. With cutting-edge technology exhibited in its modern architecture blending intricately well with the heritage sites and monuments, Seoul magnetizes visitors with its urbanity and refinement and its K-pop culture. It is a city dotted with palaces and temples, plazas, and landscaped parks and landmarks that rivet the attention and hypnotize the soul.
If you want to discover the Korea-ness of this evolving city and reconvene with nature, its food markets, grand architectural monuments, historical and natural landmarks will all collaborate to help you indulge in the true essence of Seoul.
10 things to do in Seoul
Although Seoul is steeped with innumerable attractions, these are ranked among the best 10 things you can do in Seoul.
Head over to Namsan Park and see the N Seoul Tower
Housing five warning beacons and a defensive city wall, Mount Namsan is now home to a park and other tourism sites like an aquarium, library, and a horde of stunning walking trails. But the real showstopper of Namsan Park is the N Seoul Tower which is a communications and observations tower that soars almost 500 meters above Seoul. Get up the tower to enjoy the bird's eye view of the incredible vistas speckling the city. You can choose to dine from amongst the five different dining places located inside the tower.
Sightsee the Bukcheon Hanok Traditional Village
Narrow streets featuring Hanok or ancient houses, museums and cultural centers exhibiting the traditional culture and art of Korea is what characterizes this ancient village of Seoul. Sightseeing this village will plunge you back through a trip into the ancient ages. Although it looks like time has been frozen in the village, it still is a residential place so heed the signposts and wear sturdy shoes to walk well and comfortably.
Trek around the Bukhansan National Park
If you want to escape the buzzing metropolis and taste the allure of the natural arena where mountains, flora, and fauna continue to cast an enchanting spell, visiting the Bukhansan National Park is a must. This mountainous oasis is home to looming granite peaks, miles of walking trails snaking through verdant forest laden valleys, and dotted with more than 100 Buddhist temples and monk cells amongst which the Jingwasa temple is one of the four iconic temples of Seoul. Ensure to sightsee the signature icon in the park- Bukhansanseong Fortress and the 5-mile mountain wall.
Sightsee at the Changdeokgung Palace
This majestic palace is one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites and amongst the five preserved Joseon residences, it was the chief royal residence that was occupied for 200 years. The palace grounds feature a garden encompassing a lotus pool, fountains, and pavilions shrouded with greenery. But the hallmark feature of the palace is the 300-year-old single tree still rooted to its spot.
Stopover at Gyeongbokgung Palace
Steeped in the gory history of its downfall and demolition by the Japanese, this twice-destroyed palace is a testimony to the fall and rise of South Korea. Explore the expansive grounds and the spell-binding architecture and learn about its historical significance.
Plan a shopping trip to Dongdaemun Market
If you want to witness an epic shopping mecca and go on a shopping spree that is unlike anything you have ever experienced, this is just the place you ought to visit. The silver orb-like building of Dongdaemun Market embraces 10 city blocks, which consists of 26 malls embodying scores of specialty and wholesale shops. The colossal fashion hub provides you not only with an overwhelming shopping experience but also allows you to relish the Korean cuisine and delectable flavors. You can select from the smorgasbord of eateries lining the Mukja Golmok to pacify your hunger and savor the exotic Korean cuisine.
Step into the Lotte World Tower
Lotte World Tower skyscraper designed in a vase-like shape is the fifth largest skyscraper in the world and is home to the largest indoor theme park in the world. Besides the theme park, it also houses offices, opulent residences, Lotte World Aquarium, the Lotte Museum of Art, a gigantic shopping plaza, Lotte Concert Hall, and the state-of-the-art Lotte Cinema. This is one of the most outstanding and unrivaled landmarks in Seoul that will throw you in raptures.
Visit the Gwangjang Market
Visit one of the oldest and traditional Seoul markets which are acclaimed for its bevy of food stalls that are stacked with a huge diversity of Korean food. Visitors can sit on the chairs stacked in front of the stalls and sample the delicacies and flavors from different vendors.
Saunter through the Insadong market
The Insadong neighborhood situated in the district of Jongno-gu is of the best places to take a break and collect Korean souvenirs for your loved ones back at home. Sightsee the plethora of galleries and cafés lining the neighborhood and soak up the buzzing tempo of the shopping place.
Add Seoullo 7017 to your itinerary
Seoul has designed this multi-purpose pedestrian walkway which is also known as Sky Park over a former highway pass. This walkway houses a sky garden, cafes, a small pool, kids' trampolines, and Seoullo Gallery which embraces modern art relics. It is one of the best spots to rest, eat and play and most of the fun things for children are completely free.
8 best day trips to take in Seoul
The intriguing sites in Seoul are definitely worth the visit. However, you need to plan your itinerary so that it is compatible with your budget and time and allows you to explore the best destinations within a limited time frame. Here are 8 day trips that you can book to get the best out of your trip in Seoul.
Day trip to Nami Island with Garden of Morning Calm and Petite France
Nami Island and Garden of Morning Calm are some of the significant markers of Korea that can be easily integrated in a single-day trip.
The Garden of Morning Calm is a colossal and picturesque botanical garden encompassing 20 themed sections. Make your trip more memorable by preparing a picnic basket to enjoy under the trees in the gardens and taking a trip to nearby Petite France.
Nami Island is just a short drive away from the Garden of Morning Calm and is considered to be one of the most prominent landmarks of Korea often selected to film famous K-dramas. The half-moon-shaped island is dotted with pine trees. You can rent a bike and pedal around to explore the island and imbue your soul with its beauty and allure.
Full-Day Korean DMZ Tour including the War Memorial of Korea and Dora Observatory
This full-day tour is planned to take you to the monumental DMZ-Korean Demilitarized Zone in the morning which is a border zone disconnecting South Korea from North Korea. DMZ unravels the history of conflict, illustrates the details of the Korean War between the two rivals. The day trips include entrance into one of the infiltration tunnels and visiting the Dora Observatory where you can catch a glimpse of North Korea through one of the telescopes, visit the DMZ Exhibition Hall, Dorasan Station, and Unification Hall. In the afternoon War Memorial of Korea is included in the itinerary.
If you want to visit all the medieval grand palaces in one day, then this tour is perfect for you. The hop-on and hop-off bus tickets allow you to explore each of the magnificent palaces - Changdeokgung, Deoksugung, and Gwanghwamun at your own leisure while saving your time and energy.
If you want to span the most distinguished destinations within a limited time slot, then this day trip will hit the chords perfectly. The trip is designed to help you discover the best of Seoul through the guidance of a local host who is available to meet up at your personalized time. You can customize your itinerary according to your preferences and choose to visit outstanding highlights like the N-Seoul Tower and the Gyeongbokgung Palace. Or you can strategize your itinerary to unearth the hidden gems of the city in the city.
If you want to savor a romantic cruise in Seoul, then a private yacht cruise on the Han River at sunset or sunrise is the answer to your prayers. Flee the crowds and bask in the thrill of cruising adventure while admiring the landmarks from a novel vantage point. The private tour allows you to enjoy having the vessel alone with your special one and relishing the happy moments together.
Korean Cooking Class with Full-Course Meal & Local Market Tour in Seoul
Book this unique day trip to get intrigued with the Korean culture and enjoy a home-cooking experience with a Korean chef at her own home. The trip will take you on a guided tour through the market where you will be able to purchase ingredients, sample food snacks, and get acquainted with herbs and spices used in the Korean recipes. You will be guided to test your culinary skills and prepare Korean dishes which will conclude with the dinner including the dishes you prepared along with other dishes and desserts.
Suwon Hwaseong Fortress and Korean Folk Village Day Tour from Seoul
If you are a history snob and want to delve deeper into the culture and history of Seoul, then this 8-hour tour will take you walking down the history lane. The trip commences with journeying towards the historical town of Suwon in Gyeonggi-do province. You will be able to witness the turbulent historical event coming to life as you visit the UNESCO World Heritage– Hwaseong Fortress. Take a tour around the Hwaseong Haenggung Palace, Changdeokgung Palace Complex and Jongmyo Shrine and sightsee the famous Bukcheon Hanok Village.
Seoul restaurants have garnered immense fame and recognition from tourists and locals alike for crafting culinary delights that boast of granting genuine Korean flavor and are concocted using special spices and herbs. An extensive range of cuisine is available in Seoul restaurants ranging from eastern, Korean, and European. Check out these 10 recommended restaurants that promise a hunger-appeasing feast that will charm the food connoisseur in you.
La Yeon is famous for serving conventional Korean delicacies offering a resplendent dining ambiance. The restaurant is prominent for the top-end and premium quality ingredients employed by its award-winning chef. The restaurant is located on the 23rd floor of The Shilla Seoul and has the bustling metropolis of downtown Seoul as its backdrop. The menu designed by the restaurant is modified according to the seasonal spices and ingredients.
Congdu restaurants serve Korean cuisine cooked in conventional style but comply with a modern palate. The restaurant is situated within the Seoul History Museum which is just behind the Deoksugung Palace but ensure that you have booked your reservation beforehand.
The over-the-par presentation and subtle flavors of the dish make this a favorite spot amongst the tourists. The tofu cuisine including the tofu steak and tofu tiramisu is a must-try for food addicts. The peaceful and cozy ambiance, the palatable cuisines, and the impeccable service are sure worth the visit.
You cannot miss a meal in Mingles when you are visiting Seoul in Korea. It has the honor of being amongst the 50 best restaurants of the world and has achieved 2 MICHELIN Stars due to its fine dining and superb quality. The delectable dishes appease your tastebuds yet create a craving for more, while the exclusive ambiance, the opulent and resplendent locale, and the professional service make this restaurant a prime place to eat out.
If you want a rewarding connoisseur Korean experience, then head to Jungsik restaurant in Seoul which is renowned for executing a blend of Korean and Western culinary methods to deliver an avant-garde arrangement of dishes. The elegant interior and a chic atmosphere coupled with its unobtrusive setting makes its one of the most popular romantic dining options. The high-end restaurant's tasting menu has a price tag of 150,000 won. You can relish the full course lunches and dinners and take back fine dining memories back from Seoul.
If you want to sample cuisine that is satiating and delectable and gives you a taste of South African, then the Braai Republic should be your pit stop for refueling your body. The restaurant serves traditional South African cuisine amongst which their lamb chops, their scrumptious range of sausages, and freshly baked meat pies are the signature classics coveted amongst the South African nationals and other foreigners alike. You will love the warm hospitality, friendly employees, and a welcoming ambiance that puts you at ease and grants you a culinary experience that is bound to be embedded in your minds for a lifetime.
If you want to experience a refined dining encounter in Seoul, then a visit to Gaon is a must. This 3 storied restaurant is fashioned impeccably and with a unique flair such that each floor showcases a different motif design and layout which looks appealing and artistic.
The menu is composed of classic recipes from Korean cuisine. The signature dishes of Gaon include the radish kimchi filled with oysters, pancakes brimming with scallops, squids, and octopus. Their huge collection of wine and Korean drinks is to be applauded too.
N Grill at N Seoul Tower
If you are a planning a romantic date with your better half while in Seoul, the rotating restaurant within the magnificent N Seoul Tower is the ultimate dream location to celebrate your happiness and unconditional love. Relish a full course dinner while marveling at the spectacular bird's eye's view of Seoul. It is situated inside the highest level of the tower, so the quality and tone of the environment is intimate, cozy, and highly exclusive. The restaurant specializes in French dishes and has a grand collection of wine stocked up. Although it is one of the high-end restaurants, the food and the ambiance are definitely worth your money.
If you are in the mood to soak up some Italian flavors, then Brera is the most famous Italian restaurant in Seoul. The succulent dishes, the aromatic spices, the lingering taste, and the exotic presentation make it one of the most crowded places in Seoul.
The great food, the modernistic interior in red, and the warm and welcoming personality of the owner make this place popular eating out choice both among the locals and foreigners. Moreover, the food is very well-priced so you can visit it more than once.
Saunter to Gusto Taco if you want to experience a genuine Mexican taste in Seoul. This family-friendly restaurant is one of the sought-after eateries in Seoul which serves meats, a myriad assortment of tacos and burritos, and great vegan options. The tacos created from homemade corn tortillas and other tacos are well acknowledged by tourists and locals alike. The fresh food is scrumptious, the ambiance is pleasant and gracious and the prices are great considering the portion sizes. You will seriously yearn and crave the flavor of the tacos for the rest of your lives once you sample their flavor.
Want to grab a bite while taking a rest from your Myeongdong shopping spree? Then order a bowl of kalgusku which is a savory concoction including wheat flour noodles served in piping hot broth. The Kalguksu and dumplings have been coveted by the tourists and locals for more than half a century now and are a classic Korean dish.
Seoul has emerged as one of the top destinations in South Korea because of the cultural gems which dot the city and blend with the innovative hi-tech architecture and colossal skyscrapers. It's a city speckled with UNESCO heritage sites that honor its past and welcome new trends from style to cuisine to art and architecture. It's a place that is flocked with visitors annually due to its dynamic and vibrant society and diversity of adventures that it has to offer to those who share the penchant to imbue their soul with the color of Seoul.