Seoul, the capital of South Korea is such a vibrant place, packed with tourist attractions, delicious food, and much more. If you only have 2 days in Seoul, you will have to plan your itinerary very well in order to make the best out of your time here.
After spending 3 days in Seoul in the cold winter, I came back for good some 2 years later. Now that I got my Korean ID and some experience in exploring the streets of Seoul, I know I can help you out with some great itinerary options.
Thus, without further ado, because I know you want to start planning that marvelous trip, here is my suggestion for an awesome Seoul itinerary.
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Table of Contents
- 2 Days in Seoul, South Korea: The Perfect 48-Hour Seoul Itinerary
- Day 1 in Seoul
- Day 2 in Seoul
- Things to know before you go
- Other things to do in Seoul and things worth knowing
2 Days in Seoul, South Korea: The Perfect 48-Hour Seoul Itinerary
Day 1 in Seoul
For your day 1 itinerary, I suggest you check out my one-day in Seoul itinerary options.
You can choose from seeing the most popular tourist attractions in town, a mix of palaces and urban areas, tasting delicious food, and much more. The itinerary comes with a map so you will find it easy to plan your trip.
Deoksugung – Gyeongbokgung Palace – Bukchon Hanok Village – Changdeokgung Palace and Huwon – Jogyesa temple – Myeong-dong
Deoksugung Palace, situated in the heart of Seoul, South Korea, stands as a captivating blend of traditional Korean architecture and modern urban surroundings.
Also known as “The Palace of Virtuous Longevity,” Deoksugung is unique among Seoul’s palaces for its harmonious integration of Western and Eastern design elements.
The palace’s history dates back to the Joseon Dynasty, but it underwent significant transformations during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, embracing a fusion of architectural styles.
Visitors to Deoksugung can explore its picturesque stone-wall road, beautiful gardens, and historical buildings, including Junghwajeon, the main hall, and Jeukjodang, the venue for important state affairs.
The juxtaposition of ancient structures against the backdrop of the modern Seoul skyline adds to the palace’s allure, making it a must-visit destination for those seeking a glimpse into Korea’s rich cultural heritage.
Address: 99 Sejong-daero, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Opening hours: 09:00 ~ 21:00, closed on Mondays
Gyeongbokgung Palace, a jewel of Joseon Dynasty architecture, graces the heart of Seoul with its grandeur and historical significance. Often referred to as the “Palace Greatly Blessed by Heaven,” Gyeongbokgung is the largest of the Five Grand Palaces built during the dynasty.
Constructed in 1395, the palace has witnessed centuries of Korea’s storied past. Majestic gates, intricate pavilions, and beautifully landscaped gardens showcase the artistry of traditional Korean palace design.
The main hall, Gyeongbokgung’s centerpiece, is Gyeongbokjeon, where royal ceremonies took place. The palace also houses the National Palace Museum of Korea, offering visitors a deep dive into the nation’s royal history.
Strolling through the vast palace grounds, one can feel the resonance of Korea’s cultural heritage while marveling at the stunning backdrop of the nearby Bukhansan Mountains.
Gyeongbokgung Palace stands as a timeless testament to Korea’s rich history and architectural prowess, inviting all to step back in time and embrace the grandeur of its regal past.
Address: 161 Sajik-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Bukchon Hanok Village
Nestled between the modern skyscrapers of Seoul, Bukchon Hanok Village stands as a living testament to Korea’s architectural heritage.
This historic neighborhood, dating back to the Joseon Dynasty, is a captivating blend of tradition and charm. Renowned for its well-preserved hanoks, traditional Korean houses with elegant tiled roofs and intricate wooden structures, Bukchon offers a captivating journey through time.
Wandering along its winding alleyways, visitors can immerse themselves in the beauty of these centuries-old residences, many of which are still inhabited.
The village offers panoramic views of the city, framed by the rustic charm of the hanoks. Additionally, the area hosts various cultural centers, tea houses, and artisan shops, providing a contemporary touch to the traditional ambiance.
Address: Gyedong-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Read also: What to see and do in Bukchon Hanok Village
Changdeokung Palace & Garden
Constructed during the Joseon Dynasty in 1405, it served as a secondary palace, renowned for its harmonious integration with the surrounding natural landscape.
What sets Changdeokgung apart is its remarkable Secret Garden, a serene retreat that unfolds in perfect harmony with the palace’s structures. This meticulously designed garden boasts a picturesque lotus pond, pavilions, and lush foliage, creating an oasis of tranquility in the midst of urban Seoul.
The palace itself showcases traditional Korean architecture with vibrant colors, intricate detailing, and stately gates.
Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site, Changdeokgung Palace offers visitors a glimpse into Korea’s regal past, inviting them to wander through time amidst the whispers of centuries-old palace walls and the beauty of its meticulously manicured gardens.
Address: South Korea, Seoul, Jongno-gu, 율곡로 99번지
As the chief temple of the Jogye Order, the largest Buddhist sect in Korea, Jogyesa holds great significance in the country’s religious landscape.
The temple, originally established in the late 14th century, underwent several relocations before settling into its current location in 1910. Not only is Jogyesa a place of worship, but it also serves as a vibrant center for Buddhist celebrations and events, particularly during the colorful lantern festivals that illuminate the temple grounds.
The architecture of Jogyesa reflects a harmonious blend of traditional Korean and more modern influences, creating a serene atmosphere that invites visitors to explore its halls, courtyards, and sacred spaces.
Address: 55 Ujeongguk-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Myeongdong, a bustling district in the heart of Seoul, is a vibrant and eclectic blend of commerce, culture, and urban energy.
Renowned as one of the city’s prime shopping destinations, Myeongdong attracts locals and tourists alike with its plethora of trendy boutiques, flagship stores, and international brands.
The streets come alive with the latest fashion trends, skincare boutiques, and an array of street food vendors offering delectable Korean treats.
Beyond its shopping allure, Myeongdong is home to a diverse range of entertainment options, from vibrant street performances to chic cafes and beauty salons.
As the sun sets, the district transforms into a neon-lit wonderland, creating an electric atmosphere for those seeking a taste of Seoul’s nightlife.
Read also: FUN things to do in Myeongdong
Also, another great option is to forget about organizing the itinerary and book directly your Seoul 1 day city highlights tour – hotel pick-up and drop-off included, and perfect sightseeing of the Korean capital. You will have it all organized for you and it will be easier to adjust to South Korea.
Finish off your day in style with a true Korean SPA experience. You simply cannot come to the capital of cosmetics without experiencing the best treatments.
Sulwhasoo Spa is one of the best and fanciest options. With their own cosmetics line sold worldwide, you can experience a full body massage or just an intensive ginseng and jade brightening treatment. See all their options here and book in advance to get the deal!
Whoo SPA Nonhyeon is another exceptional option. Their products come in luxurious packaging and boast some of the highest ginseng concentrations, well known for their anti-aging and anti-oxidant properties. A best-kept secret of Korean beauty for centuries. Choose between a facial treatment, a body massage, a VIP treatment, and much more. Check out the options here!
If you would rather not cross the river, check out The Belle Spa in Dongdaemun.
Day 2 in Seoul
For your second day, you can adapt the second option of my one-day itinerary, or go for this other option, when you are into the hidden gems and less explored places.
On this itinerary, I’ve added places that you won’t find on many guides, especially the ones targeting only 2 days in Seoul. These are for the people who like to explore and love nature, but also for Korean cosmetics lovers.
Seongsu-dong – Amore Seongsu – Seoul Forest Park – Coex Library – Bongeunsa Temple – Lotte World Tower
An area I knew nothing about before moving here and being introduced to it by a new friend. As I got off the subway I wasn’t expecting much from this area, because, at first sight, it looked a bit industrial.
There’s a good explanation for this since most of the shoe factories were located here, and even today you can find small leather shops where you can get shoes and other things custom-made for you.
However, nowadays gentrification has taken place, and most of the factory halls have been transformed into cool cafes, restaurants, or even beauty concept stores.
Walk around and discover some cool murals – even if you come several times to the area, chances are you won’t find the same mural again.
Where: Seongsu subway station on the green line
Amore Seongsu is much more than a cosmetics shop. It is a place where you come to explore, test, learn, and relax.
A concept store owned by the largest cosmetics brand in South Korea, Amore Pacific, the shop in Seongsu is a place I could have spent even one entire day exploring.
You can pretty much test hundreds of products from tens of lines they own. And it’s not only about skincare, but it’s also about body care and make-up! Every now and then they hold skincare and makeup classes, but also flower design workshops.
At the end of the tour, you get 5 free samples you can take home and experience on your skin.
Also on location, you can find a tea shop and a rooftop terrace.
Read also: Where to buy skincare in Seoul!
Seoul Forest Park
Ok, this is not really a forest, but it is a lovely park to walk around toward one of the many great coffee shops in the area.
You can see and feed deer (an activity particularly appreciated by kids), take pictures in the Ginko Biloba forest, and during spring admire the beautiful cherry trees in bloom.
Once done with the walk in the park, stop for a good coffee at Greytcoffee.
Where: Seoul Forest subway station on the yellow line
Cross the river and head to one of the most instagrammable places in Seoul – the library in Coex Mall.
You don’t have much to do here but snap a few pictures and do a bit of shopping inside the mall, because the library doesn’t sell books, but it has been created as a place that would attract people.
Where: Bongeunsa subway station on line 9
This temple is so special because it is one of the only Buddhist Temples in Seoul. Most of the temples in Korea are in the mountains, thus finding one with a great garden in Gangnam is something special.
Come here during Buddha’s Day and you will get to see all the colorful decorations, apart from the temple’s unique architecture.
They do organize temple stays where you can get an introduction to Buddhism, and they also have a small quiet tea place in one of the houses on site.
Where: Bongeunsa subway station on line 9
Lotte World Tower
The tallest building in Seoul and in South Korea, is impressive from both the outside and the inside.
Book your ticket for the observation deck and climb to level 123 from where you can take in the view of Seoul from above.
Come for sunset and admire the sky painted in the most unique colors possible, and don’t leave without seeing the exhibitions and shows held in the waiting area.
You can also extend your visit with a ticket to the impressive Lotte Aquarium.
Things to know before you go
But before we dig into the attractions and things to do in 48 hours in Seoul, there are a few things you might want to know.
How to get from the airport
Traveling from the airport to your hotel shouldn’t be very hard when you choose the right places to stay in Seoul. However, no matter where you stay, transportation in Seoul is one of the best I’ve ever seen and you have plenty of options to get around.
Depending on your budget, you can choose one of the following options to get from the airport:
- By taxi – one of the most expensive ways, but also the least troublesome. You can find taxi desks once you pick up your luggage and exit the arrival gates. That’s what we did both times we arrived. At the desk, you are told the price of the ride, which depends on the destination, and you can pay by card or cash. Getting to the city center cost us around 70 USD (80.000 won). If you are 4 people, that’s not bad for a taxi ride.
Another thing worth knowing is that the ride takes around 1 hour and it depends a lot on the traffic, which can be a nightmare sometimes.
- By train – part of the subway and very conveniently linked, it is so easy to take the train directly from Seoul Station to the airport. Or the other way around.
There are 2 options available: the normal train – the dark blue line that stops at every station including Gimpo Airport, which takes longer, and it’s the more affordable option and you can pay with your T-Money card; and the express train – a non-stop line that will get you to the airport or to town in less than 30 minutes. You will need to buy the express line ticket ahead of time (AREX Incheon Airport Express Train One Way Ticket in Seoul) and show the ticket when checked.
- Transfer – book a private transfer and forget about everything. You will get picked up from the airport and taken directly to your accommodation. See a great option here!
- Public bus (KAL) – the cheapest option for getting from Incheon Airport to the city center, with a few options taking you almost anywhere in the city. Read the complete guide here!
How to get around Seoul
As Seoul is a big city with plenty to do and see, no matter where you choose to stay, you will have to make use of public transportation.
You will need a T-Money card – this is basically a rechargeable card you will be able to use on all public transportation means (subway, buses), but also at different convenience stores. You can buy the card from any subway station or convenience store such as 7Eleven, GS25, EMart24, CU.
The cost of the card itself is 4000 KRW (3.6 USD) and you can top up at any of the above-mentioned stores – just know that you will be able to pay by card for the card itself, but you will need cash to top up. If you choose to order it online beforehand, you could save some money.
You will need to download an app called “Subway” (here for Android and here for Apple). It helped me a lot to get around and understand where to change and what line to take. Additionally, it provides an updated timeline so you can make the best out of your time.
Whenever you enter and exit the bus or subway you will need to validate your card so the system will know your start point and endpoint and how much to charge you.
Since you only spend 2 days in Seoul, you can take advantage of the Discover Seoul Pass. The city pass offers discounts to the most important tourist attractions and activities in town. Read my complete explanation together with an itinerary that will help you save the most here.
Also, when you want to just walk from one place to the other, it is worth knowing that Google maps won’t help you while in South Korea. Just download Naver Maps (here for Apple, and here for Android) and start searching.
It is worth knowing that not always it will be easy to find addresses unless you write them in Korean. Use Google Translate and copy the translation into Naver maps, this way it should always work.
VISA & K-ETA
Depending on where you are traveling from, you will or won’t need a visa. Check your Visa requirements here!
Currently, South Korea has in place a visa-free online application process for certain eligible countries (you can check the list here) that you must obtain before your trip.
K-ETA or the Korean Electronic Travel Authorization must be obtained before boarding a flight or ship. Here is some useful information regarding the K-ETA visa:
- The approval process takes more than 72 hours, thus it is useful to apply in advance;
- You will need to have accommodation booked before applying for the K-ETA, the address is one of the required information.
- The validity of the K-ETA visa is of 2 years from the date of approval;
- With the K-ETA you can stay in South Korea for 30 to 90 days;
- However, if you are visiting for travel purposes, and plan to return after your first visit, you will have to come back and update your visa with the new hotel address;
- One person can apply for up to 30 persons and can pay for all at once;
- K-ETA price: 10.000 won (around 9-10 USD)
Other useful tips & links
Where to stay in Seoul
If you’re only spending 2 days in Seoul and have only one night here, I would encourage you to choose the best location to stay in.
This way, you won’t waste time on the commute and will be able to make the most out of your hours here.
Choose to stay in one of the below areas, with a few great hotel options:
- Namdaemunno – the area we chose to stay in during our first trip to Seoul, at Courtyard by Marriott Seoul Namdaemun. It was a nice hotel, with a view of the NSeoul tower and the Sungnyemun Gate, from where I could easily walk to many of the main attractions in town. Check it out here!
- Insadong – maybe the most tourist area in town, mainly because it is so close to most of the popular spots. ibis Ambassador Insadong offers Seoul Tower views and a beautiful rooftop terrace, and it is located close to Insadong’s Main Street, which has most of its outlets open all night. Check it out here!
- Myeongdong – Nine Tree Hotel Myeongdong – I must admit this was our first choice when it came to hotels in Seoul, but somehow we ended up with the Courtyard one (and I don’t regret it a bit). This one is perfectly located and offers a great quality vs price ratio. Check it out here!
- Hongdae – most people look into either staying in Myeongdong or Hongdae when visiting for the first time. Each has its advantages and disadvantages, but if you want to stay in a dynamic and bustling area, Hongdae is the place for you. See where to stay in Hongdae!
Other things to do in Seoul and things worth knowing
Of course, there is so much you can fit into 2 days in Seoul, however here are a few other activities you might want to consider for your trip:
- On your visit to the palaces, rent a traditional hanbok and book a professional photographer to help you take some amazing pictures. It will only take 1-2 hours, but you will have a memory that will last a lifetime.
- Go on a day trip to DMZ – get to see the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea, a once-in-a-lifetime experience for anyone. See more about the tour here!
- Explore Hongdae and its many coffee places
- Climb the Seoul Tower and visit some of the most popular K-drama filming locations
If there’s one thing we learned in recent times, is that we don’t want to make travel plans without insurance. My go-to travel insurance is Aardy.com – by using them, you will get the best possible prices on travel insurance because they compare prices from over 30 providers, and give you the best.
When is the best time to travel to Seoul, South Korea?
My suggestion is to always plan your trip for the shoulder season: spring has its charming blooms and pretty weather, while fall comes with some extremely romantic colors.
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