Seoul Itinerary 5 Days | Where To Go, Eat, Stay In Seoul
Seoul is a major busting city, a place which is unlike any other city in the world. It is the perfect city to explore delicious food, experience cultural activities in the historic center or go on a shopping spree for cosmetics, clothing and gadgets. Make sure to make the most of your trip by following this Seoul Itinerary 5 Days on this Seoul travel blog!
If you are staying 5 days in Seoul, it is recommended to spend at least 3 days in the city and 2 days on a day trip from Seoul. On your first day, discover the historic center. The next 4 days you can mix and match, depending on you personal taste. The itinerary is suitable for any season (winter, summer, spring and autumn) but has some different suggestions regarding the Seoul day trips in winter.
- Things To Know When Planning A Trip To Seoul, Korea
- Seoul Day 1: Historic Center Of Seoul
- Seoul Day 2: DMZ + JSA Tour
- Seoul Day 3: Explore The Hot Areas In Seoul
- Seoul Day 4: A One Day Trip From Seoul
- Seoul Day 5: Gangnam & Museums
- Frequently Asked Questions
Things To Know When Planning A Trip To Seoul, Korea
- What To Wear In Seoul – Seoul and the rest of South Korea has extreme seasons and temperatures. During the winter the air is dry and it can get -15°C in central Seoul and in summer the climate is crazy humid and temperatures running up to 40°C. Make sure to pack the right clothes when visiting Seoul. Check what to pack for Korea here.
- Seoul Travel Adapters – Seoul and the rest of South Korea uses the F type travel adapter, which is the same as in mainland Europe. When coming to Korea make sure to purchase the right adapter to charge all your electrical devices. Find out more about Seoul travel adapters here.
- Seoul City Tour Bus – The Seoul city runs a hop-on hop-off tour bus through the city connecting the major tourist attractions. There are three different courses to choose from. Check more info here.
- Seoul Day Pass – Purchase a Seoul 24/48/72 hours pass that gives you access to 35 different sites in Seoul. This pass can also be used as a T Money Card on the Seoul public transport system. Check more info here.
Seoul Day 1: Historic Center Of Seoul
The historic center of Seoul is where all the touristic hot spots are, including the palaces, Bukcheon Village, Samcheongdong, Insadong, Yogyesa Temple, Jogno and 2 major traditional markets. This can normally be done in one day, without too much hurrying.
This day one itinerary is a must do when in Seoul, even if you’re only staying one, two or three days. If you don’t know where to go in Seoul, then just follow the list below.
1. Visit One Of the Five Palaces In Seoul
Seoul has 5 major palaces dating back to the old Joseon Dynasty, visiting at least one of these is a must when in South Korea! Even though there are 5 different palaces, the two major ones are Gyeongbokgung and Changdeokgung Palace. These two are located 500 meters from each other so if you wish you can even visit both.
- ★ Gyeongbokgung Palace – This is Seoul’s first Palace which was build more than 700 years ago. Start off the day by walking across Gwanghwamun Square and pass the huge golden statue of King Sejeong (He was the most important King during the Joseon Dynasty as he invented the Korean alphabet) towards the main gate of the palace. Open daily 9 AM – 6 PM, except Tuesdays. Changing of the guard ceremony is at 11 AM and 1PM.
TIP! There are two museums on the Palace grounds, the National Palace Museum and the ★ National Folk Museum (free).
- ★ Changdeokgung Palace – This palace was used and built after Gyeongbokgung burned down. Since 1997 it has been recognized as World Cultural Heritabe by UNESCO. Changdeokgung Palace is generally less busy than Gyeongbokgung and it is worth visiting for its ‘Secret Garden’. There are only limited tickets every day to the Secret Garden and can only be accessed with a guide. Open daily 9 AM – 5 PM, except Mondays.
- Deoksugung Palace – This is a smaller palace across from Cheonggyecheon Stream, and is famous for its beautiful stone wall, especially stunning in autumn in Seoul. The palace has traditional Korean buildings like the other palaces and modern western buildings as the last King who used to live there was a fan of the west. Open daily 9 AM – 9 PM, except Mondays. Changing of the guard ceremony starts at 11 AM, 2 PM and 3:30 PM.
- Changgyeonggung Palace – This less popular palace was mainly used as residential quarters for the queens and concubines. During the Japanese colonial occupation is used to be a park with a zoo and botanical garden. Open daily 09 AM – 6PM, except Mondays.
- Gyeonghuigung Palace – Gyeonghuigung is located behind Deoksu Palace and used to be the secondary palace for the King. This was mainly used in times of emergencies. If you are looking for a relaxing and calm palace to visit, then this is the place to be. Open daily 9 AM – 6 PM, except Mondays.
TIP! Entering the any of the palaces is free when wearing a traditional Korean robe or hanbok. Check where to rent a hanbok here.
2. Bukchon Hanok Village And Samcheongdong
Between Gyeongbokgung and Changdeokgung Palace lies Bukchon Hanok Village and the Samcheong-dong area. This is home to over hundreds traditional Korean houses or hanok which are dating back to the Joseon Dynasty. These places are great if you are looking to take some great pictures.
- ★ Bukcheon Village – This is a residential area in Seoul which belonged to the nobles working for the royal court back in the Joseon Dynasty. Bukcheon lies on a hill, so there will be some uphill climbing involved.
Check more info here.
- National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art – The Modern Art Museum is located across from the National Folk Museum and has temporary exhibitions in the spacious exhibition halls.
- Samcheong-dong – This area just besides Gyeongbokgung Palace is a very unique place in Seoul. This is the perfect area if you are looking for cute coffee shops, boutiques, food stalls and art galleries. Especially in autumn the main street is filled with beautiful golden leave trees.
- Unhyeong Palace – The palace is located right next to Anguk palace and was more of a residential palace back in the days. It’s free to enter and the palace is worth visiting as the decoration of the buildings are completely different than the other 5 big palaces.
3. Traditional Korean Lunch
There’s an abundance of options for having lunch in the historic center of Seoul. From quick kimbab or bibimbap to elaborate traditional dining.
- ★ Tosokchon Samgyetang – The best Samgyetang (ginseng chicken soup) place is located just next to Gyeongbokgung Palace and is the perfect place to visit for lunch or dinner.
- Tongin Market Lunch Box – Going to Tonging Market is an experience you must have. At the traditional market visitors can exchange money for a lunch box and coins, with those coins you can then buy certain dishes from vendors all around the market. 5000 krw should be enough for a small lunch.
- Insadong Restaurants – The Insadong area is filled with restaurants serving all kinds of traditional Korean food. Try walking around the smaller side streets, that’s where you’ll find the best restaurants.
4. Jogyesa Buddhist Temple
Jogyesa Temple is the leading temple of the Jogye order in Seoul. It was built in the 14th century during the Goryeo period. The temple itself is rather small but is stunning, especially the main prayer hall. Across the street of the temple is the Temple Information Center which offers free Buddhist craft experiences for anyone who wants to join.
The temple also offers a temple stay program which is the perfect way to truly experience Buddhism in South Korea. During the program you’ll have a traditional Buddhist dinner, have a craft making experience, do chanting and meditation, 108 bows and have tea time with a monk. Check more info here.
5. Souvenir Shopping In Insadong
The Insa-dong area is filled with souvenir shops, coffee shops, art galleries and restaurants. There are over 100 galleries in the area, displaying all kinds of traditional Korean fine art. The most famous galleries are Hakgojae Gallery and Gana Art Gallery.
The stores in Insa-dong focus on selling traditional Korean goods like hanboks, Korean traditional tea, hangji (Korean traditional paper), pottery, are supplies and other crafts.
- Ssamzigil – This 4 floor building on the main street of Insadong is filled with over 70 small peculiar shops, selling anything from clothes to hand-crafted soaps, porcelain, traditional crafts and snacks. On the top floor of the building you can find the Poop Café, which is getting increasingly more popular among Koreans and tourists.
- Tteuran Teahouse – Insadong is the place to be if you’re looking to have a traditional Korean tea in a hanok house. Tteuran Teahouse featured in the Korean-Japanese film ‘Coffé Seoul’.
TIP! The Alive Museum, The Kimchi Museum, and the Beautiful Tea Museum are three smaller museums located in Insadong.
6. Jongno Main Street
From Insadong start walking towards Gwangjang Market, Seoul’s oldest covered market. On you way you’ll pass by the up-and-coming area Ikseondong and the Jongmyo Shrine.
- Ikseon-dong – Even though Ikseon-dong is one of the oldest areas in Seoul, it recently started to be popular among the younger generation. In the area, lots of unique cafes, restaurants, boutiques and craft shops have opened in the the last year.
- Jongmyo Shrine – This shrine dating back to the Joseon Dynasty used to be a place to worship for kings and members of the royal family. It is known as being the oldest ceremony carried out in the world. The shrine can only be visited with a guide, which is available once an hour.
- ★ Gwangjang Market – The oldest covered market in Seoul is the place to be to try some yummy Korean snacks and street food. Things the market is famous for is live octopus, mung bean pancake, Korean blood sausage and noodles. TIP! Visit the market with on a food tour, as you’ll be able to try lots of different local dishes and get background information on the dishes and the vendors.
7. Optional: Medical Tourism
South Korea is known to have a fantastic medical infrastructure! In Seoul, you’ll find a wide range clinics offering many different affordable skincare treatments, such as dark circle treatment and acne scar treatment. You can also find Korean medical health checkups and more invasive procedures, including plastic surgery like hair transplants, liposuction, rhinoplasty, and LASIK eye correction.
One of the benefits of having any skincare or medical procedure in South Korea is combining visiting the city. Most treatments requiring minimal recovery time, and often take only an hour or two. Making it super easy to combine you healthcare journey with lot of other tourist experiences in Seoul.
Seoul Day 2: DMZ + JSA Tour
If you have 5 days in Seoul then going to the DMZ is a must! The DMZ area is located around 60 kilometers up north of Seoul and can only be accessed by booking a guided bus tour. No two tours are the same, so choose the tour based on you budget, sights included and reviews. Below is a list of the most important sights.
- ★ Joint Security Area – The JSA is the closest point you can get to North Korea. At the JSA you’ll have a chance to set foot in North Korea and take pictures of the North Korean soldiers guarding the border. The area can only be accessed accompanied by the American Army. This can only be visited on the full day DMZ tour, which is a must take tour!
- ★ Dora Observatory – At the observatory you can look into North Korea. On the observation deck are Binaculars (free) which can be used to see the villages and if you’re lucky, some people walking around.
- Other sights which might be included in your tour (depends on the company): Dorasan Station, the Unification Village, Infiltration Tunnels and the Unification Bridge.
During a tour at the DMZ, you’ll have the opportunity to buy some original North Korean goods at some of the gift shops, like stamps, money, chocolate and alcohol.
Seoul Day 3: Explore The Hot Areas In Seoul
Enjoy the modern and bustling side of Seoul by visiting the DDP, Myeongdong, Hongdae and Itaewon.
1. DDP: The Dongdaemun Design Plaza
The DDP is a stunning piece of architecture, designed by the oh-so famous architect Zaha Hadid. It is an iconic building in the shopping district of Seoul and probably one of the most instagrammable places of the capital.
- ★ DDP Building – The building is as beautiful from the outside as from the inside and is used for hosting temporary exhibitions and events. Check the program here to know which events are on.
- ★ Dongdaemun Traditional Market – Originally the Dongdaemun area was a traditional textile market, which is still present today. The covered market houses over 30 000 different vendors all selling their own specific product. The market opens really early in the morning and stays open till late. This is the perfect thing to do at night in Seoul.
- Shopping Malls – Apart from the traditional clothes market, you’ll find many giant department stores around the design plaza including Doota, Migliore, Hello APM and many more.
- Dongmyo Flee Market – In the Dongmyo area you’ll find a huge daily flee market selling all kinds of second hand and outlet clothes for a crazy low price.
- Ihwa Mural Village – The Ihwa Mural Village was created by the government when revitalizing one of the oldest and poorest areas in Seoul. The area was covered with mural art by around 70 different artists.
2. Myeongdong Area
The Myeongdong area is another popular area in Seoul, especially when it comes to shopping and street food. In the area are some of the major department stores and chains, including Lotte, Shinsegae and many more things to do in Myeongdong.
- ★ Myeongdong Shopping Street – In the Myeongdong main area you’ll find many make up stores, handing out all sorts of samples, big clothing brands like Zara, H&M, Uniqlo and an abundance of street food. The street food is not as good as in other areas like Namdaemun or Gwangjang market and it is a bit overpriced, but the Myeongdong street food night market is a good experience to have.
- Grevin Wax Museum – The wax museum in Myeongdong is a must go, especially for K-Pop lovers as many Korean stars are displayed in the museum, waiting to have a selfie taken with you.
Check prices here.
- ★ Namdaemun Market – This traditional market is one of the major wholesale markets in Seoul, selling all sorts of goods, from food to clothes, suit cases, accessories and toys. Each alley in the market sells a different kind of product.
- Themed Coffee Shops – The area is famous for its themed coffee shops which are very typical in South Korea and the rest of Asia. Try out one of the following O’sulloc Tea House, Cat Cafe and Stylenanda.
- Cooking Nanta Show – One of the most famous shows in South Korea! This unique performance is about 4 chefs that have to prepare food for a wedding reception.
Check prices and info here.
3. Hongdae Area
Hongdae is the student area of Seoul. It is a bustling area filled with restaurants, coffee shops, boutiques, museums and street performers.
- ★ The Trick Eye Museum – The Trick Eye museum in Hongdae is the perfect thing to do if you’re looking to take some awesome pictures, especially on a rainy day. Each hall in the museum has a different theme and has lots of photo opportunities.
Check more info here.
- Hongdae Playground – The playground used to be a children’s park for the neighbourhood but is now used as a space for flee markets, performances and all sorts of events happening throughout the year.
Check the program here.
- Luxury Su Karaoke – The luxury karaoke is a unique experience to have in Hongdae. The doll house style building has huge glass walls which look straight into the karaoke rooms.
Check more info here.
- ★ Crafting Workshop – In Hongdae, you’ll find many craft workshops where you can create your own products, like leather goods, rings, ceramic figures, neon lights, pottery or Korean cooking.
- Escape Room – Doing an escape room is the perfect bonding activity for a group of friends or a family. There are a couple of escape rooms around Seoul, but the one in Hongdae is quite big and famous.
Check more info here.
4. Itaewon Area
Seoul Day 4: A One Day Trip From Seoul
Depending on the season there are some easy and cool day trips you can go on leaving from Seoul.
1. Seoul Itinerary 5 Days Winter Day Trips
Winter is a great time to visit South Korea as the country has lots of winter activities going on.
- ★ Go Skiing – Skiing is the best winter activity you can do in Korea. The country has over 20 ski resorts and a couple are located withing one hour of Seoul, like Vivaldi Park.
- Ice festivals – A couple of ice festivals are happening all over the country, but the best one is definitely the Hwacheon Ice Fishing Festival, where people from all over the country gather to fish trout on a frozen river.
2. Other Seasons Day Trips
- ★ Nami Island – Nami Island is probably the most popular day trip available from Seoul. Many Nami Island shuttle buses run daily between the capital and Gapjeong.
Check more info here.
- Everland Theme Park – If you’re looking to enjoy a theme park, then Everland is the place to go! This is the biggest theme park in South Korea with all sorts of attractions and even animals.
Check more info here.
Seoul Day 5: Gangnam & Museums
On your last day in Seoul, visit one of the main museums in Seoul and in the afternoon head towards Gangnam.
1. Visit One Of The Many Museums In Seoul
There are two main museums that are a must visit when in Korea, both are free to enter and have free guided tours available in English.
- ★ National Museum Of Korea – The national museum is probably the most beautiful and impressive museum to visit in Seoul. The magnificent building houses all sorts of Korean and Asian art.
- ★ War Memorial Museum – The huge war memorial museum exhibits all kinds of props related to the Korean war between the current South and North Korea.
2. The Gangnam Area
After visiting one of the museums head over to the Gangnam area. It is a industry district filled with shopping and entertainment facilities.
- Go Shopping – The Gangnam area is one of the most popular districts to go shopping, with many department stores located all around the area. The main areas are Apgujeong, Garosugil, COEX and Gangnam Station.
- ★ Bongeunsa Temple – Bongeunsa temple is a rather small temple complex located just next to COEX. What makes the temple special is the giant stone standing Buddha statue on the temple grounds.
- ★ COEX Shopping & Aquarium – COEX houses a huge shopping center, food court, a cinema, event halls, the Starfield library and an aquarium. You can quite easily spend a whole day in here.
- Go Clubbing – Gangnam has some of the biggest clubs of Seoul, with Octagon being the main one. Octagon is the 5th biggest night club in the world!
Check more info here.
Frequently Asked Questions
There are many amazing sights to see in Seoul. Some of the top attractions include Gyeongbokgung Palace, Namsan Tower, Bukchon Hanok Village, and Myeong-dong shopping district.
The most convenient way to travel around Seoul is by using the metro system. It’s clean, fast, and efficient. Taxis are also widely available, but can be more expensive. Walking is a great way to explore the city too, especially in areas like Insadong and Hongdae.