South Korea’s capital is such an impressive metropolis, with plenty of things to do and see, especially when you plan on spending 7 days in Seoul.
My first visit to the city was short, but I was lucky to come back and live there for almost one year. Even with that amount of time, I still couldn’t really see it all, andall the great day trips outside of Seoul.
However, if you are planning for your first visit, I will do my best to provide all the information you need, for an unforgettable one week in Seoul. From valuable tips on where to stay, how to get around, what money to bring, what to see, where to go, and what to eat. You will find it all in this comprehensive guide, written itinerary-style so that you won’t have to worry about a thing.
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Table of Contents
- 7 days in Seoul – what to do in Seoul for a week
- Useful Travel Information for your Seoul vacation
- Where to stay in Seoul
- When is the best time to spend 7 days in Seoul?
- Understanding the city & how to get around Seoul
- Your 7 days in Seoul itinerary overview
- Day 1 of your one-week in Seoul itinerary – get used to the city
- Day 2 of your 7 days in Seoul itinerary – Insadong, Bukchon Hanok Village, Jogyesa Temple, Cheonggyecheon stream, Hongdae
- Day 3 of your 7 days in Seoul itinerary – Day trip to DMZ
- Day 3 alternative – DDP, Ihwa Mural Village, Ikseon-dong, Buam-dong
- Day 4 of your 7 days in Seoul itinerary – Palaces, hanbok, and shopping in Myeongdong
- Day 5 of your one week in Seoul – day trip to Garden of Morning Calm & Nami Island
- Day 5 alternative – relax at a jimjilbang and with a facial
- Day 6 of your 7 days in Seoul itinerary – explore the south of the river, Yeouido & Gangnam
- Day 7 of your one week in Seoul itinerary – Namdaemun Market, Namsan Tower & Itaewon
- Other things worth doing in Seoul
- How much money do you need per day in Seoul?
- Other useful things worth knowing when you visit Seoul
- What and where to eat in Seoul
- Other Seoul and South Korea itineraries
7 days in Seoul – what to do in Seoul for a week
Useful Travel Information for your Seoul vacation
Things might look a bit complicated and overwhelming for those traveling to South Korea for the first time. From getting around town to finding the right apps to use or even ordering at the restaurant.
We have seen so many questions asked on all of the above and more, that we decided to organize all the information so that you will find it easy to access and digest.
Here are a few articles you might want to check out first:
- South Korea General Travel Information – from visa requirements to internet and SIM cards, useful apps, dining, and more.
- How to get from Incheon to Seoul city center, Myeongdong, or Hongdae
- Getting around Seoul: by subway, bus, taxi, or bike
The articles are packed with useful information, but here are a few other points you might want to get clarification on.
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)
Wifi Egg or SIM Card?
This is one of the questions we see a lot coming from people that travel to South Korea for the first time.
While both options are great, you can choose your preferred one based on your needs, group size, and budget.
A SIM Card will offer you unlimited data for the period you have selected (3, 5, 10, 20, or 30 days), along with the possibility to make and receive local calls and send and receive text messages. However, this comes with 2 minor downsides: you will have a local phone number that will replace your own (you can also bring along another phone to use with this SIM), and the SIM can only be used by one person (of course, you can always use your phone as a personal hotspot with your friends or family).
You can book your SIM card online and pick it up from the airport in Seoul. I chose to do this on my first trip to Seoul and I found it easy and affordable.
A WIFI Egg will provide you with mobile data, on a pay-per-day basis. In most cases, the amount of data available with portable wifi is usually greater than the one offered by a SIM card, but not necessarily.
This option is great when you are traveling with your family or in a larger group because more people will be able to connect to the wifi.
However, the downside is that you won’t be able to make local calls, and the battery life of a WIFI Egg is anywhere between 6-8 hours – I would imagine your phone lasts longer.
How do you pay for things in South Korea? How much cash should you have?
Truth be told, South Korea is one of the most cashless places I have ever been to. During our stay there, we’ve only used cash in the first week or so.
You can pay for anything by card, no matter the amount, and tipping is not custom (restaurants, or taxis). Moreover, there are stores that only accept payment by card.
However, there are only a few exceptions you will need cash for: buying your T-Money card and/or buying individual train or transportation tickets from vending machines. You will be requested to pay cash for the card itself, but you can top it up by using your card.
You will be happy to learn that there is a workaround for this as well: this option offers both a SIM card with unlimited 4G data and acts as a T-Money card. You can book it and pay for it online, and pick it up from the airport upon your arrival.
Another option would be to purchase the Discover Seoul Pass. That depends a lot on what you plan to do and see, and how many paid attractions you want to include on your list of things to do in Seoul. Usually, if you plan to see a few, the price of the City Pass will allow you to save significantly. Moreover, the card can have a T-money transportation card function.
If however, you would feel safer by having some local money, I wouldn’t have more than 50 USD, and I would either withdraw from an ATM or exchange it at one of the many exchange offices in Myeongdon.
- Book your AREX Airport Express Ticket,
- Take the Airport Limousine Bus,
- Book a private transfer,
- or read everything about getting from Incheon to Hongdae, Myeongdong, Bukchon Hanok Village, or Gangnam.
Communication and transportation
- Book your SIM Card & T-Money Card with airport pickup
- See if you would rather buy a SIM card or pocket wifi for your trip
- Or get an eSIM card directly in your email, and learn everything you must know about getting around Seoul
Getting around South Korea
- Rent a car in advance – choose an international website where you can use your credit card. Read everything about driving in South Korea
- Travel by fast train and book a multiple-day Korea Rail Pass
Other useful tips & links
- Luggage delivery service – have your luggage delivered from the airport to your hotel and take the all-stop train. It might be cheaper than taking a taxi.
- Luggage storage service
- Don’t travel without insurance – this is a World Wide Travel Health Insurance + Covid suitable for almost anyone, and easy to book. On top of that, they also provide luggage insurance in case your luggage gets lost or damaged. Get the best offer here!
- Accommodation guides: where to stay in Seoul, Busan, and everywhere in between
- Should you get the Discover Seoul Pass? See our analysis and alternatives for saving on your trip
Where to stay in Seoul
In a city as large as Seoul, choosing the right place to stay can prove to be challenging. Especially when there are so many things to do and see scattered all over the city.
Getting around by public transportation is easy and affordable, but you will still spend a lot of time commuting from one place to the other.
That’s why choosing the right area to stay in should be done depending on what you want to see and do in the city.
Most first-time travelers choose to stay in Myeongdong, but that might not be suitable for everyone since it is such a tourist area, always squirming with people. On the other hand, Insadong or anywhere in Jung-gu close to a subway station could be better for you. You will still be in the city center, close to the main attractions, but in a less “shopping intense” area.
If you are planning to go on many day trips outside of Seoul, I would also advise staying close to Seoul Station – you will also be close to many of the important tourist attractions.
Read also: The top 8 best areas to stay in Seoul on your first visit | Choose the best Hanok Stay in Seoul | The Best Guesthouses in Seoul
On our first visit to the city, we chose to stay at the Courtyard by Marriott Seoul Namdaemun. The hotel is relatively close to Seoul Station, and within walking distance of Myeongdong, Insadong, and the Palaces.
We had a room overlooking Namsan Tower and the Namdaemun Gate. The beds were extremely comfortable, and we were welcomed with some ginseng face masks and some local sweets. You might find breakfast a bit too local, but they do have a cafe on the ground floor and another one in the building in front.
Other great hotels recommended by tourists who chose to stay in Myeongdong or Insadong are the following:
Perfectly located steps away from the Museum Kimchikan or the Insadong Information center, this hotel also has big rooms and is near 2 subway stations (Anguk or Jonggak).
Tourists appreciated how helpful the staff was, but also the fact that the hotel offers luggage storage, has big rooms, and has a laundry (ideal when you are traveling for longer).
Set in Myeongdong, close to the KAL Limousine stop, but also to the Myeongdong subway station, choosing to stay at this hotel will place you in a very accessible location.
Moreover, one of the entrances is directly on the Myeongdong walking street.
Many tourists choose to stay at this hotel because it is close to the limousine bus stop, but also close to convenience stores, restaurants, and shops.
When is the best time to spend 7 days in Seoul?
While you could visit the city in all seasons and still love it, winter and summer have extreme temperatures which might make it difficult to visit.
Winter in Seoul is cold and humid, you really feel it in your bones. However, I did visit during December and I managed to see a lot of attractions.
Summer in Seoul brings high temperatures and humidity, with typhoons hitting the country every now and then.
For that reason, visiting Seoul during spring or autumn would be the best choice in our opinion. During spring you can admire the cherry blossom and the city coming to life, while fall comes with beautiful foliage and some of the most breathtaking landscapes.
Understanding the city & how to get around Seoul
An impressive metropolis, Seoul is split by the Han River into two parts. The north of the river is more traditional and has the most important historical sights and attractions. The south of the river holds its hip neighborhoods and modern hang-out spots.
On both sides, along the river, you will find parks and bike lanes offering some of the best city skylines.
Seoul is split into districts (gu) and neighborhoods (dong), with the river passing below Mapo-gu, Yongsan-gu, and Seongdong-gu.
Getting around Seoul is easy by public transportation. Even though South Korea’s capital is a huge metropolis, its public transportation system is top notch and there will be a bus or a subway line to take you almost anywhere.
You will need a T-Money card in order to pay for your ticket – validate it as you enter and leave the subway or bus.
For us, using the bus was easier and faster in most cases. Even though Seoul has heavy traffic, there are bus lines that have a designated lane, thus you won’t risk being stuck.
Taking a taxi in Seoul is not too expensive, and we would strongly encourage you to take advantage of this, especially for shorter distances. It is safe to simply hail a taxi off the street, but you can also download and install the Kakao Taxi app.
Your 7 days in Seoul itinerary overview
Day 1 – Land in Seoul, transfer to your hotel, go out and eat something, and arrange all your things (exchange money, get your T-Money card, activate your SIM, etc)
Day 2 – Insadong, Bukchon Hanok Village, Jogyesa Temple, Cheonggyecheon stream, Hongdae
Day 3 – Day trip to DMZ
Day 4 – Visiting the Palaces in Seoul, rent a hanbok & photoshoot, Myeongdong
Day 5 – Day trip to Nami Island, Garden of the Morning Calm
Day 6 – Yeouido, Gangnam, Lotte Tower
Day 7 – Namdaemun Market & NSeoul Tower & Itaewon
Day 1 of your one-week in Seoul itinerary – get used to the city
I suggest you keep this day relatively empty and use it to get used to the city and get all your things in order.
Depending on your flight schedule and time spent traveling here, you might need to adjust to the local time zone.
Don’t worry about traveling from the airport to your hotel, and book a private transfer ahead of time – the price is similar to the one you will pay for a taxi, but the driver speaks English and has your final destination details.
Before you leave the airport, get your SIM card or Wifi Egg.
If you need to exchange money, Myeongdong is the area you will head to – there are plenty of exchange shops. Additionally, you can eat here at one of the many restaurants.
If you arrive early enough and have the energy, in the evening, you could also take part in a Nanta cooking Show.
It takes place in Myeongdong and is one of the most popular attractions in the city, thus you will have to book ahead of time if you want to catch a spot.
If you try to book directly on their website, you might encounter issues – many local websites don’t accept payments by international cards. The workaround for that is to book on an international website such as Klook. They always have offers and special prices, and you won’t have any issues related to payments.
Today you will spend your time exploring the central & old part of the city.
Getting from one place to the other is easy, by walking or by public transportation. We will add for each step information on how to get from one place to the other, together with the time needed.
Today you will visit Insadong, Bukchon Hanok Village, Jogyesa Temple, Cheonggyecheon stream, and Hongdae.
A mix of old and new, Insadong concentrates the most art and antique shops in Seoul.
Stop to buy some valuable souvenirs, grab a bite at one of the traditional restaurants hidden on the narrow streets (we particularly loved Sacheonjib in the area where we went back a few times – even though it is in a tourist area, the food is really good and authentic), or grab a cup of tea at Osulloc Tea House.
From here, make your way north towards Bukchon Hanok Village. You can walk there and won’t have to take any bus or means of public transportation.
Head toward Anguk Station and you won’t miss the hanok houses.
Bukchon Hanok Village
If you’d like to see what a 600 years-old traditional village would look like in the middle of a high-tech, global metropolis, you must visit Bukchon Hanok.
Bukchon, literally the North Village, was the residential area of the nobility and high-ranking government officials during the Joseon period; it was the Beverly Hills of its day, the playground of the rich and famous. As its name suggests, it consists of numerous hanoks, traditional Korean houses.
According to polls, it is one of the favorite areas of foreign tourists. However, it became wildly popular with the locals after it was featured in the South Korean reality show ‘1 Night 2 Days’ and the TV series ‘Personal Taste.’
You can also enjoy a Makgeolli Spa & Jjimjilbang experience at Rakkojae Hanok Hotel in Bukchon Hanok Village!
The area hosts several museums, coffee shops, and restaurants. And it is also a good place to rent a hanbok from. So you can start the day with a coffee in Bukchon Hanok Village, then dress up and walk its history-filled streets under the admiring gaze of the passerby.
Address: Jongno-gu, 계동길 37
Cafes to try in Bukchon Hanok
- Blue Bottle Cafe – get a nice view over the hanok village along with a delicious coffee
- Greenmile Coffee Bukchon 그린마일커피 북촌점 – a small cafe with a stunning rooftop, and good specialty coffee.
- Osulloc Tea House Bukchon 오설록 티하우스 북촌점 – ok, it is not a cafe, but a tea house. It is however a stunning place you should not miss.
- Cafe Onion Anguk – Ingrid’s all-time favorite cafe. Be ready to take off your shoes if you want to stay inside.
Head back to Jogyesa Temple – within walking distance from Bukchon Hanok Village.
Jogyesa is the chief temple of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism.
The Jogye Order is the representative order of traditional Korean Seon Buddhism. Its roots are over 1200 years old when the Latter Silla Master Doui brought Seon from China (‘Seon’ is what we call ‘Zen’ in the West).
The Buddhist Orders were persecuted during the Joseon period. Instead, the new rulers favored Neo-Confucianism as the basis of their society; its strong influences still permeate modern Korean culture, although most religious South Koreans are Christians. According to government statistics from 2015, almost half of the population is irreligious, nearly 30% are Christian, 22% are Buddhists, and less than 1% are Confucianists. You’ll surely notice the numerous churches once you arrive in Seoul.
Guided tours in English, are held daily except Saturdays from 10 AM, 12 AM, 14 PM, and 16 PM. The only day when you can see the temple whenever you want, without a guided tour, is Saturday.
Admission Fee: Adults 1000 won; Children: 500 won
Address: 55, Ujeongguk-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Extra: If you would like to learn more and live the authentic experience at the temple, try the Jogyesa Templestay.
A river in the heart of the city, where even though you will be in between skyscrapers and concrete, you will have the chance to reconnect to nature.
Walk along the stream and admire the beautiful displays available for different occasions throughout the year.
From here, you can walk to Euljiro 4(sa)-ga subway station and take line number 2 (green line) to Hongik University station. The whole trip will be around 30 minutes.
Hongdae is one of the most vibrant and exciting neighborhoods in Seoul. Located in the Mapo-gu district, it’s a bustling area filled with unique shops, restaurants, bars, clubs, and street performers.
It’s known for its creative energy and youthful vibe that draws locals and visitors alike to explore the area. Hongdae also offers an array of cultural activities such as art galleries, music venues and theaters which provide insight into Korean culture.
Because no trip to South Korea’s capital would be complete without a stroll in this area, I have put together the top things to do in Hongdae.
Hongdae is one of Seoul’s most vibrant and exciting areas, known for its universities, convenient airport connections, and fun attractions. It is a great destination for those looking for an eclectic mix of culture and entertainment.
Because we lived close, I loved going out and simply strolling around this area. There is something for everyone, and you could not get bored in Hongdae!
Come here in the evening for delicious meals and nights filled with fun!
Read also: Where to buy skincare in Seoul
Day 3 of your 7 days in Seoul itinerary – Day trip to DMZ
Today you will go on a day trip to DMZ – the Demilitarized Zone, at the border with North Korea.
Unsurprisingly the area dubbed as ‘the world’s most dangerous border’ is also the number 1 tourist attraction in South Korea; over 1.2 million visitors flock every year to the infamous Korean Demilitarized Zone or DMZ. If you too are looking for the best day trip to DMZ from Seoul, this guide will help you make the right choice!
The Joint Security Area (JSA), located in the heavily guarded Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea, is a unique location that provides an opportunity for meaningful dialogue and negotiation between two countries with a long history of conflict. It is the only place in the entire world where active military personnel from both sides regularly meet, even if just to exchange pleasantries.
The JSA is a place where high-ranking officials from both sides can meet in person and discuss sensitive topics of interest or importance to their respective nations. In 2018, for example, President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met here.
Given the sensitive nature of the JSA, there are strict security rules for visiting.
Day 3 alternative – DDP, Ihwa Mural Village, Ikseon-dong, Buam-dong
If you don’t want to visit DMZ or you want to stick only to Seoul, here is an alternative itinerary for this day.
You can start your day at the Dongdaemun Design Plaza (동대문디자인플라자 (DDP)). Apart from its impressive architectural design, the place hosts various events and exhibitions and you should check its website ahead of time.
Ihwa Mural Village
From Dongdaemun walk for 25 minutes up the hill to Ihwa Mural Village. This is a residential area, thus please be respectful and don’t make too much noise.
Take countless pictures of the colorful streets, stop by one of the many cafes, and admire the city from above.
Walk back to Ikseon-dong, another cool area packed with hanok houses. These hanks host many restaurants and cafes, thus you can have one of your meals of the day here.
Another thing you can do around Ikseon-dong is rent Korean retro clothes and plan for a photoshoot.
End the day with a dinner in Buam-dong at one of the many famous restaurants. Head over to Jaha Sonmandoo for some Michelin-star Korean dumplings, stop at Gyeyeolsa for some Korean fried chicken, or book a table at Sosohan Poonggyeong for some authentic contemporary Korean dishes.
Day 4 of your 7 days in Seoul itinerary – Palaces, hanbok, and shopping in Myeongdong
Today you will have the chance to feel like a Korean prince or princess, because you will not only get to visit the Palaces in Seoul, but you will also dress up (if you would like that, of course).
While you might not have the time to see all 5 palaces in one day and also rent a hanbok, you must choose a few of your favorite ones to see.
Getting from one palace to the other is easy on foot, thus you won’t have to worry about public transportation.
Each palace has an admissions fee, but if you come wearing a hanbok the entrance is free.
Here is a map of the location of each palace in Seoul:
If I were you, I would at least try to visit 2 or 3 palaces, with Gyeongbokgung Palace as the main attraction.
Gyeongbokgung Palace (경복궁)
Gyeongbokgung Palace is an incredible piece of Korean history, built in 1395. Located in the northern part of the capital city, Seoul, it stands as the largest and most spectacular of the five royal palaces. Its impressive beauty has made it a popular tourist destination for many years.
The Imjin War (1592-1598) inflicted extensive damage to the palace grounds, leaving them in ruins. However, under the direction of Heungseondaewongun during King Gojong’s rule (1852-1919), the premises were meticulously reconstructed to their former glory.
The palace’s name is made out of two words in Korean and means Brilliance and Fortune. So by naming it Gyeongbok, the government expressed its desire for a bright future.
Maybe our favorite place to see at the palace was its Secret Garden. Go there on a sunny spring or fall day and sit by the pond, you will be transported to a world without worries. Bukhansan mountain in the background adds to the tranquil setting. Furthermore, if you are lucky to visit during the cherry blossom season, you will have the chance of taking great Instagramable pictures.
Is it free to enter Gyeongbokgung Palace?
No, it is not. However, you can enter for free when wearing a hanbok, or on the last Wednesday of every month.
Adults (ages 19-64): 3,000 won / Groups (10 people or more): 2,400 won
Children (ages 7-18): 1,500 won / Groups (10 people or more): 1,200 won
Free on the last Wednesday of the month and while wearing a hanbok.
How long should I spend at Gyeongbokgung Palace?
It can take anywhere from 1.5 to 2.5 hours to explore Gyeongbokgung Palace, depending on your interests. The palace complex covers an enormous area and contains numerous pavilions, gates, gardens, and other structures. Moreover, if you are coming dressed in hanbok
Address: 161, Sajik-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Gyeongbokgung Station (Seoul Subway Line 3) and Exit 5.
Anguk Station (Seoul Subway Line 3) and Exit 1.
Extra TIP: If you plan on renting a hanbok, book a professional photo session as well. This was one of our favorite things to do and we will forever have those beautiful pictures to remind us of the time we spent in Seoul.
The Palace of Prospering Virtue, also known as Changdeokgung in Korean, is a great testament to Joseon Dynasty’s rich history and culture. Built during the reign of King Taejong, the palace was the favored place of many kings and rulers, serving as the royal court for two centuries between Gyeongbukgung’s first destruction and its reconstruction in 1868.
Changdeok Palace stands in stark contrast to Gyeongbukgung Palace, due to its architecture that gracefully integrates the beauty of nature into the structure rather than overpowering it. Building techniques used in its construction contain elements from ancient Korean history, specifically from the Three Kingdoms period. It was created specifically as an alternative to Gyeongbukgung Palace.
The Gemuwon, or Forbidden Garden, was destined for the exclusive use of the king. Today, many Koreans call it Biwon, or Secret Garden.
One popular historical K-drama, ‘The Jewel in the Palace,’ was mostly filmed at Changdeokgung.
Adults (ages 25-64): 3,000 won / Group (over 10 people): 2,400 won / Youth ( ages 7-18): 1500 won
Students (ages 24 and under): Free (* Except for foreign visitors)
On the last Wednesday of the month, and when wearing a hanbok dress, the entrance is free.
Address: 99, Yulgok-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Subway: Anguk Station (Seoul Subway Line 3), Exit 3.
Tip: If you would instead go with a guide and learn everything you can about the history of these 2 palaces, but also experience other popular attractions in the area, book a full day Royal Palace guided tour!
End your day in Myeongdong
Set in Seoul’s very heart, there’s no wonder this area attracts mainly tourists. Packed with cool cafes and shops, Myeongdong lights up as night falls and becomes one of the most vibrant areas in town and one of the best places to visit in Seoul at night.
Even though I visited Seoul with a friend during a cold winter (before actually living there), no matter how cold the weather was, we couldn’t help but go back to explore more of this area.
Here are the top things to do in Myeongdong!
Day 5 of your one week in Seoul – day trip to Garden of Morning Calm & Nami Island
Today you will go to one of our favorite destinations outside of Seoul. These places will be particularly charming when you are visiting during spring or fall.
Nami Island and the Garden of the Morning Calm are two of the main attractions and things to see outside of Seoul.
We tried to visit Nami Island on a Saturday during the fall, but it was impossible to find a parking space anywhere in the city around the island. On top of that, we waited for one hour in line before we could actually see the parking lot.
Needless to say, we would strongly suggest you choose to go during the week and choose a tour so you won’t have to worry about parking spaces or the bus schedule.
The Garden of Morning Calm is a vast arboretum that lies to the east of Seoul, nestled between several mountain peaks.
It houses over 5000 plant species, some of them rare or endangered.
The garden is divided into twenty sections, each a micro-ecosystem of its own. For example, one section is dedicated to a thousand flower species from all over Korea. Another one represents a Japanese garden. There is even a part evoking the gardens of Victorian England, with a nice cottage included. Moreover, visitors can admire tropical plants in a dedicated greenhouse section.
The 2 attractions are usually visited together, and we suggest you book a private day tour ahead of time.
Day 5 alternative – relax at a jimjilbang and with a facial
Once again, if you don’t feel like taking a day trip outside of Seoul, you can always find countless activities to enjoy inside the city.
After 4 days of intense walking and exploration, you can use day 5 (or at least a part of it) of your stay in Seoul for relaxation.
No trip to South Korea or Seoul should be complete without a few hours at a Korean SPA (Jimjilbang). We have covered our experience in detail and have included everything you should know about a day at the Jimjilbang here. Of course, we always encourage people to try going to the less tourist SPAs, but there are plenty of options close to the city center as well.
If you don’t want to allocate so much time to relax, you should at least try a luxury facial at one of the famous SPAs in town. Here are some of the best options you can book with a discount:
No matter what you choose to do, you can end a day of pampering with a sunset cruise on the Han River.
Day 6 of your 7 days in Seoul itinerary – explore the south of the river, Yeouido & Gangnam
Today you will cross the river and head to the southern part of the city.
Home to the Yeouido Cherry Blossoms Festival, this area has some of the fanciest hotels.
The financial area of Seoul will also place you close to the Han River and its beautiful park, but also right next to the most popular department store packed with shops and restaurants.
Come here for the park, grab a coffee from one of my favorite coffee places in Seoul, do some (window) shopping, and head over to Gangnam.
How to get to Yeouido: take line 5 (purple line) to Yeouido or Yeouinaru Station.
How to get to Gangnam Station: walk to Yeouido Station and take Line 9 to Gangnam Station
Gangnam-gu (district) became famous thanks to PSY, the Korean artist that broke Youtube with his video back in 2012.
With so many things to do in Gangnam, you might need a bit more than a few hours to spend here. I have compiled a comprehensive list of all the cool things to do in Gangnam and you should read it first.
Visit COEX Mall and its famous Library and Aquarium, don’t skip Bongeunsa Temple, luxury SPA treatments, cool cafes, famous restaurants, Olimpic Park, Lotte World, Lotte Sky Tower & Aquarium, and much more.
Extra TIP: If you are planning to see at least 2 of these attractions in Gangnam, it might be worth it to buy the Klook Pass Seoul. You choose and purchase your ideal pass and save on some of the best attractions in town. See more here!
Day 7 of your one week in Seoul itinerary – Namdaemun Market, Namsan Tower & Itaewon
This itinerary was one of my favorites during my stay in Seoul. You get mild exercise, get to see the city from above, visit some of the most popular attractions in town, and get to taste some delicious local food.
If you choose to stay at the hotel we stayed at during our first visit to Seoul, you will only have to cross the street and you will reach the Namdaemun Market – your first attraction of the day.
Shop for souvenirs, buy some affordable Korean cosmetics, eat some street food, or simply look around – allow yourself to get emerged into this authentic place.
On the other side of the market, start your climb towards Namsan Park and Namsan Tower.
I strongly suggest you climb to the top on foot, you will be surprised by plenty of stunning views. However, if you would rather take the bus or cable car, here is a complete guide for getting to Namsan Tower.
The tower is 236.7m high and sits on top of the highest mountain you can find in the center of the city, at 243m above sea level.
Inside the tower, you’ll find restaurants, cafes, photo spots, observation decks, and much more. Come here on a clear day and you can get an unobstructed 360-degree view of the city.
End the day in Itaewon – the expat-friendly neighborhood
Easily reached from Namsan Tower, Itaewon is a colorful and vibrant area, packed with murals, trendy cafes, stunning views, and a Culture Trace Journey where you can learn about Seoul and this part of town.
Visit The Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art; explore the Itaewon Mosque, shop on the antique street, or simply taste some international oriental cuisine.
End your day with a traditional dinner at the Korea House restaurant. The setting is impressive, the food is delicious, and they often have shows or wedding ceremonies you can admire.
Other things worth doing in Seoul
If you would like to replace some of the activities on this list or add some more, here are a few other popular Seoul attractions to choose from:
Take a full-day small group private tour of the city and learn about its history from a local guide.
Don’t skip taking a Korean Cooking Class with Full-Course Meal & Local Market Tour in Seoul – you will learn to cook some of the most popular local dishes and also get to taste a 10-course dinner at a local’s home.
Visit the Blue House in Seoul – or Cheongwadae (청와대) in Korean, this used to be the president’s home until recent years, when the current president decided not to live there anymore.
As a tourist, you can visit the Blue House on a tour, but you cannot book it online – the only option is to show up for one of the 2 available slots (at 9 AM and 1:30 PM).
How much money do you need per day in Seoul?
From our personal experience, you can expect to spend anywhere between 50.000 won (when you choose to eat local food) to 100.000 won (if you are a Korean bbq fan). Without taking into account any tourist attractions.
As with anything, the budget for one day in Seoul depends a lot on many things. Where you choose to eat, how many times you choose to take the taxi, and how far and how long you travel by public transportation, are only of the few things that can impact your daily budget in Seoul.
Of course, there are ways in which you can save money (getting the Go City Seoul Pass for example), but you can also spend much more when you choose high-end restaurants or enjoy shopping.
Other useful things worth knowing when you visit Seoul
There are many things you get used to after a while, but some might not be as straightforward from the beginning.
Here are only a few things to have in mind:
- certain restaurants and cafes will ask you to take off your shoes, and you might even have to sit on the floor
- Google maps don’t work properly, thus you will need local apps such as Kakao Maps or Naver. We have always used Naver because we found it more user-friendly. If you step outside of the tourist area, it helps to search for addresses and places in Korean, otherwise, you might not find them.
- when taking the subway, always stay on the right side of the escalator.
- during summer or the hot season, Korean women never wore clothes too revealing with the upper part of the body (no cleavage). That doesn’t mean you should do the same, just be mindful of this when packing for South Korea.
- most restaurants won’t provide forks, and you will be expected to eat with Korean chopsticks.
- at a barbeque, Koreans cut meat with scissors, not a knife.
- download and use Papago for translating everything around you. It works perfectly with pictures, even though sometimes it could show you strange things (like the time we thought we had dog soup, when in fact it was ox cartilage).
What and where to eat in Seoul
Dining in South Korea can be intimidating, especially if you are traveling here for the first time. However, we have a post covering all the do’s and don’t’s to help you understand what to expect.
When it comes to food in South Korea, the first time we visited I thought they only have spicy things. After living there for almost one year, I had the chance to try so many dishes, and love almost all of them.
What are a few food dishes you should not skip on your vacation?
Korean BBQ – comes with all kinds of side dishes and starters. You are expected to order at least 2 portions of meat and only pay for that.
Korean dumplings – served in a delicious soup base, the restaurant in Buam-dong (suggested above) is one of the best to serve this dish.
Gimbap – the Korean sushi
Bibimbap – a mix of cooked rice with vegetables, kimchi, soy sauce, fried egg, and more.
Korean fried chicken
Other Seoul and South Korea itineraries
Check out these ready-made Seoul itineraries:
Or if you have more time, here are some South Korea itineraries: