Seoul is the lively capital of South Korea, which never sleeps. During a trip to Seoul, there are numerous sights as well as gorgeous photo spots to capture your travel moments. In this post, I’ll tell you the best things to do in Seoul and marked them on a map so you can easily find them during your trip.
When is the best time to travel to Seoul?
You will have the most beautiful travel experience in spring and autumn. In spring the trees are in bloom and in autumn the foliage shines in the most beautiful colors. Moreover, the climate of both seasons is pleasantly mild and ideal for your tour to the best things to do in Seoul. We ourselves were there in midsummer – the weather was of course very hot and humid at that time, which made us sweat quite a bit. In winter, on the other hand, it gets surprisingly cold – up to double-digit minus degrees!
How many days are ideal for Seoul?
Seoul has so much to discover due to its size that you could probably spend months here without seeing everything. For the highlights of Seoul, however, I would plan 5-6 days – including a day trip to the border of North Korea.
Payment in Seoul
The official currency in Seoul is the South Korean won. One Euro is equivalent to about 1400 Won (as of 2023). International credit cards are accepted almost everywhere and payment by card always went smoothly. But for smaller food stalls we exchanged some cash into Won. For this purpose, the exchange offices in the city are suitable, which, compared to those at the airport, charge significantly lower fees.
P.S. By the way, it is unusual in Korea to give any tip!
These are the best photo spots & best things to do in Seoul, Korea
1 – The Gyeongbokgung Palace
There are a total of five royal palaces left in Seoul, which are still preserved (or rebuilt) today. The largest and oldest among them is the Gyeongbokgung Palace. Thus, the palace is one of the best things to do in Seoul – and for good reason. It was originally built in 1395, but was unfortunately partially demolished during the Japanese occupation of Korea. It wasn’t until the 1990s that it was reconstructed to its original form, which makes you feel like you’ve stepped back in time when you visit. We met many visitors who rented and wore a traditional Korean Hanbok costume. Especially the dresses for women are a dream and look great in photos. There are many stores that offer this service. (e.g. Hanboknan, directly in the palace).
By the way, a visit to the palace with its park is especially beautiful in autumn, when the many trees carry colorful foliage and are thus a great photo backdrop.
Cost: 3000 Won (2€) per adult – or free when wearing a traditional Hanbok costume
Free guided tours in English take place 11 am, 1:30 pm & 3:30 pm
Book the best tours in Seoul here:
2- The Bukchon Hanok Village
Only about 15 minutes away from Gyeongbokgung Palace is the picturesque Bukchon Hanok Village – probably the most beautiful photo spot in Seoul. It is a small neighborhood with well-preserved Korean houses, some of which are 600 years old. Because the neighborhood is so hilly, there is an elevated road that leads down relatively steeply, revealing a great view of the skyline of modern Seoul. If you want to take photos here undisturbed and peacefully, I would recommend you to be there especially early. We visited Bukchon Hanok Village twice: In the afternoon to have a look and walk around, and at sunrise to take photos.
Cost: free of charge
Bukchon Hanok Village is a neighborhood where locals live and go about their normal daily lives, so when visiting you should be especially respectful, make no noise and leave no trash behind. Even though this should be the case with all sights, here especially much emphasis is put on it.
3 – Namsan Mountain with the N Seoul Tower- the most famous sight in Seoul.
Visiting the N Seoul Tower is not one of the best things to do in Seoul but also the landmark of the city with the best view over the area.
First, you take a (free) elevator from the street up to the cable car station. This takes visitors up to the top of Namsan Mountain – the highest mountain in Seoul. It can also be walked, the ascent takes about an hour and is said to be a very beautiful walk.
Cost of the cable car: 14,000 Won (10€) per adult.
Already on the mountain you have a wonderful panoramic view over Seoul – the city seems to go on into the endless. Did you know that 51.6 million people live in South Korea and about 25 million in Seoul and the outskirts alone? The city is incredibly huge. On the mountain you can also have a drink and a meal – there are numerous small stores and restaurants. Often there is even a small market set up where locals sell souvenirs and little things of various kinds.
From here, an elevator leads another 138 meters up to the viewing platform of the famous TV tower – the N Seoul Tower. The view can be enjoyed in any direction.
Cost: 21,000 Won (15€) per adult
4 – The Starfield Library – the most famous library in Korea
This library is surely on everyone’s To Do list – the Starfield Library with the famous gigantic book wall, along which an escalator leads. And here you can find this famous photo spot in Seoul: The library is located in the middle of the COEX shopping mall and you can’t miss it there. Although the books are all in Korean, the library is still a nice place to relax (& take photos). There’s even a café as well as a Starbucks inside the Starfield Library – so it’s perfect for an afternoon break.
Cost: free of charge
Extra tip: Right outside the doors of COEX Mall is the golden Gangnam statue. The Gangnam district became famous worldwide through the viral song “Gangnam Style”.
5 – The Deoksugung Palace
Another green oasis is the Deoksugung Park & Palace. The special thing about this park is that it is located right in the center at the busiest intersection in Seoul – which you almost forget when you enter. It is very quiet, making it a relaxing retreat on a hot day and during a city tour.
Cost: 1000 Won (0,70€) per adult
6 – The Lotte World Tower
Another highlight in Seoul with a stunning view is the Lotte World Tower. With its 555 meters height it is not only the highest building in Seoul but also the fifth highest building in the world.
The view at sunset is especially fantastic. The whole city and the Han River will be bathed in an orange-golden light. Most visitors take photos at this time in front of the glass facade, which looks directly at the sunset. A little further on, however, is an outdoor terrace with an equally spectacular view, which is also suitable for photos.
Cost: 44,000 Won (30€) for two adults
Extra tip: Right next to the giant skyscraper is the theme park “Lotte World”, which is comparable to Disneyland. So if you are traveling as a family or love rides and theme parks, this is the place for you. A large part of the park is indoors, so it’s worth visiting during rainy weather as well.
Cost: 59,000 Won (€41) per adult (47,000 Won (€32) after 4 pm)
7 – Evening stroll through Myeong-dong.
Our hotel was located in the lively neighborhood of Myeong-dong, which really comes to life after sunset. Numerous neon signs, souvenir shops, second hand boutiques, DIY stores, bars, food stalls, … Whether it’s for shopping, eating or marveling, an evening stroll through the neighborhood is well worth it!
It has a very central location – perfect to start your sightseeing tour – and is affordable as well.
By the way, some of the best classic bars are located here, serving Korean Fried Chicken and beer. You sit in front of the bars on plastic chairs in a crowd of happy people and the atmosphere is very cheerful! Even though fried chicken is not one of my favorite foods, you have to try it here at least once – just because of the atmosphere. (P.S. For vegetarians there are of course also meat-free dishes like cheese balls).
Another dish you should try here is Dakgalbi. It is stir-fried chicken with vegetables and rice dumplings (similar to gnocchi), which is prepared directly on a fireplace at the table. The whole thing is then topped with plenty of cheese and eaten right out of the pan – simply delicious! (We were in the restaurant Yoogane)
8 – Han River Cruise by Night
In the evening we took a river cruise on the Han River and watched Seoul at night from the water. The departure is at Yeouida Island – a large island in the Han River with the Han River Park right on the water. It is a popular meeting place for young people and couples to picnic or drink beer. In the evening there is always something going on here.
9 – Extra tip for your visit to Seoul: A trip to the North Korean border
For me, it was a moving experience that I will never forget: a trip from Seoul to the North Korean border. Although Korea, before Japan’s occupation in the early 1900s, was one country, it is hard to imagine today. After the end of World War II and the capitulation of Japan, Korea has been divided into South and North Korea. And both countries could not be more different today: South Korea as a free country with a liberal democracy in which cosmopolitanism and freedom are written in capital letters and North Korea as an authoritarian dictatorship, which suppresses its people and keeps itself hidden from the world.
It’s not possible visit the border of North Korea “just like that” and on your own, but you have to book a tour, because every visitor is registered and has a certain time window. We booked our tour → here and were completely satisfied. The tour starts early in the morning and stops at various points before heading to the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone), which is two kilometers from the border. During the tour you learn a lot about the history, which extends to the present and explains the relationship between two rivals who were once brothers. An absolute recommendation from my side!
A suspension bridge at a battle field of the Korean War
a view from the border to North Korea
Book your tour in Seoul here:
More photo spots & things to do in Seoul
…which we unfortunately didn’t manage to do ourselves due to lack of time:
– 10 – Shopping in Hongdae district – here you will find numerous colorful boutique stores, second hand shops, cute restaurants and bars. Ideal for strolling and exploring.
– 11 – Gwangjang Market – the most famous street food market in Seoul. Some dishes are only suitable for those with a stable stomach who like to experiment, but there are also delicious options which are more suitable for our western appetite.
– 12 – The Ihwa Mural Village – an artsy neighborhood with colorful murals and small stores and bars. Very Instagrammable and thus a popular photo spot in Seoul.
Seoul is a city you simply can’t miss on your next trip to Asia! Be sure to put it on your bucket list and plan enough time to explore all the best things to do in Seoul – you’re guaranteed to have an unforgettable time!
I’ve marked all the places I’ve mentioned on the map below – you can open them in Google Maps with one click!