Seoul, the capital city of South Korea is quite a place to visit. Over the last few decades, Seoul has seen a lot of positive development that has turned into one of the coolest cities on the planet, in my opinion.
It is the hub of youth culture in South Korea and a place where you can experience most of what South Korea has to offer, from South Korean history to fashion, technology, cuisine, and more.
Join me as I run through why Seoul is such an awesome place to visit and create a one-day in Seoul itinerary for you so you can see the best of what this city has to offer!
Why should you spend time in Seoul? The question should really be why shouldn’t you spend time in Seoul, it really is that great a destination.
Seoul is home to everything you could ever ask for from a city and it is very unique at the same time. Firstly, you couldn’t find a city with more welcoming locals than Seoul, everyone loves that you have visited and they want you to love their city as much as they do.
Once you’re on the ground, there is so much to see and explore. The cuisine is off the charts, everything from street food to traditional restaurants serves amazingly good food.
The ancient culture and history are dotted all around the city, while also being immersed in modern technology, fashion, art, and more. It truly is a unique and amazing place to visit, plus it is very affordable too!
When you are spending just one day in Seoul the last thing you need is to waste time getting from one place to the next. Luckily Seoul has an excellent subway system which makes hopping around the city very easy and efficient.
The first thing to do is to download the Seoul Subway App as this will make navigating the subway system very easy. You should also buy a T-Money Card, despite only being there for one day, as the T-Money card makes traveling around a lot easier since you don’t have to buy tickets, you just top up the card.
Once you arrive at your subway station, do not use Google Maps when on foot as it only does public transport. To find all the wonderful things you want to see during your one day in Seoul on foot, download Naver Maps or Kakao Maps.
The best time to be in Seoul is generally considered to be the shoulder seasons of April to June and September to October.
By traveling in these months you miss the bitter cold of a South Korean winter and avoid the very hot and busy streets of Seoul in summer, during July and August.
If you want to see the best of Seoul then time your visit with the cherry blossoms which come out in early to mid-April. The city’s parks will be covered in pink blossoms and it is quite a sight to experience.
To catch the leaves changing color, which is another magical experience, head to Seoul in mid-October. All the leaves will be hues of red, orange, and brown in the city and the surrounding countryside.
If you are looking to experience Seoul in some warmer weather, June and September are the best months to visit. It won’t be cold or too hot, plus the city will be quieter during those months too.
Now that we know when to spend your one day in Seoul and how to get around, let’s take a look at the places you should visit on your one day in Seoul.
The first stop that is an absolute must-see during your one day in Seoul is visiting the Gyeongbokgung Palace.
You will find the Gyeongbokgung Palace on Gwanghwamun Square and it is very easy to reach by subway. Simply hop on Line 3 to Gwanghwamun Station and leave the subway station from Exit 2.
The first thing you will see is the rather magnificent Gwanghwamun Square which is home to many statues of South Korea’s historical figures such as Sejong the Great and Admiral Yi Sun-Shin.
At the end of the large square sits the incredible Gyeongbokgung Palace. The Gyeongbokgung Palace was built way back in 1395 but was destroyed by the Japanese when they invaded during the 1500s.
Since then, Gyeongbokgung Palace has been meticulously restored to its former glory and is considered a symbol of the country’s and city’s resolution.
When you gaze upon the Gyeongbokgung Palace, be sure to take in the amazing traditional Korean architecture, and don’t miss out on the traditional clothes being worn about the palace either.
You can spend hours walking around the amazing pavilions, halls, and palace grounds admiring everything from the landscaping to the bridges and gates.
You will also find the National Palace Museum of Korea and the National Folk Museum of Korea inside the place which is worth spending some time in.
The palace is open from 9:00 am – 6:00 pm every day but it is closed on Tuesdays.
The next spot to head to on your one day in Seoul is Bukchon Hanok Village which is a short stroll away from the palace.
You will notice that Seoul is mostly full of new-age skyscrapers and standard apartment blocks but Bukchon Hanok Village is very different as it is very traditional.
Bukchon Hanok Village dates back to the 1500s and is made up of Hanoks (old traditional Korean houses), and it is quite a magical place to see. It really does transport you back in time and gives you a deep sense of Korea’s history.
Filled with narrow streets and great architecture, the Bukchon Hanok Village is not a heritage site designed for tourism, it is a functioning neighborhood with local Seoul residents. You can visit restaurants, cafes, shops, and more while you are at Bukchon Hanok Village and really immerse yourself in the culture.
You can also visit a few cultural sites in Bukchon Hanok Village too including Bukchon Traditional Crafts Center where you can try your hand at making traditional Korean crafts.
Next up on your one-day in Seoul itinerary is the incredible Changdeokgung Palace which is only a walk away from Bukchon Hanok Village.
Changdeokgung Palace is a Joseon palace and it is hailed as the most beautiful of all of the palaces in Seoul, so it is certainly worth visiting after Bukchon Hanok Village.
The main feature of the palace is actually its garden. Known as the Huwon Secret Garden, it spans a huge 80 acres of land and is incredibly well landscaped. There are lots to explore in the secret garden from stunning pavilions to different landscapes.
If you manage to time your visit with the cherry blossoms or the leaves changing, you will see this amazing garden at its best.
The place itself is also quite spectacular and the architecture is to die for. It even served as the royal residence for over 250 years despite being built as a backup option for Gyeongbokgung, the royals loved it that much!
Once you have enjoyed Changdeokgung Palace you will probably be quite hungry and the next stop on your one-day in Seoul itinerary is the bustling neighborhood of Myeong-dong. You can either walk there from the place or hop on the 162 bus for 15 minutes.
Myeong-dong is very much alive in today’s Korean culture. The small alleyways and side streets weave their way past boutiques, cafes, and markets.
You can stop off at Myeongdong Cathedral for a quick visit as you explore the neighborhood and then gaze upon all the amazing things for sale at the street markets. You can buy almost anything in Myeong-dong from Korean clothing brands to handmade paper and even old pottery too.
Myeong-dong is also known for having some of the best street food in Seoul and it is the perfect place to stop for lunch. Everything is delicious in these markets so don’t be afraid to branch out and try lots of things.
If you are stuck for choice, why not have some tteokbokki (spicy rice cakes), hotteok (stuffed pancake), and odeng (Korean fish cakes). They are all filling, affordable, and super yummy.
After enjoying your time at Myeong-dong it is time to take a short walk to one of the most iconic markets in Seoul as the next stop in your one-day in Seoul itinerary.
Namdaemun Ginseng Market is a 24-hour street market that is full of life at pretty much every time of the day. The market is packed full of street stalls that sell pretty much everything you might want to buy while you are in Korea.
Known as Korea’s representative traditional market, Namdaemun Ginseng Market is one of the most popular attractions in the city so it will be very busy, but it simply can’t be missed.
As you may have guessed from the name, it is the best place in Seoul to buy ginseng in all its forms. You can find ginseng tea, ginseng powder, red ginseng, fresh ginseng, and lots more traditional health foods too.
There are lots of street stalls selling things like yeongji mushrooms, local honey, adlay, traditional teas, and brown rice too.
Everything at the market, especially ginseng, is discounted by up to 30%, and be sure to negotiate on pricing a little bit to get the best deal.
Shopping isn’t the only thing you can do at Namdaemun Ginseng Market as it is packed full of fun experiences like performing on stage with holographic K-pop stars – only in Seoul!
After you have enjoyed the market, take a short walk to the area of Insadong. It is not far away and is a great antidote to the madness of the market.
Insadong is the main cultural neighborhood of Seoul and it is packed full of lots of modern things to explore. You will find a plethora of art galleries to spend time in, bookstores, craft shops, teahouses, and more.
There is no shortage of street food in Insadong either so definitely sample any small bites that are on offer. Taste as much as you can, as you don’t know when you will be back in South Korea, but always leave room for some more at the next stop.
Chances are you will need an afternoon dose of caffeine at this point, so be sure to stop at a teahouse or cafe to get your fix and watch the world of Insadong go by.
As you wander around, you’ll see street performers and if you want to buy some souvenirs from South Korea, this is the place to do it!
Having soaked up the chaos and culture of some of the best markets in the city, your one-day Seoul itinerary is probably in need of some peace in nature, which is why the next stop is Namsan Park.
Hop on the number 1 bus on the yellow line for 20 minutes and you will find yourself immersed in nature.
Namsan Park is the biggest park in Seoul and one of the most beautiful in South Korea. You will have loads of hiking trails to choose from that let you explore the park at your own pace and you will find a diverse array of plants, animals, and trees as you wander down the paths.
Again, if you have timed your visit with the leaves changing or the cherry blossoms, just how beautiful the park is will blow your mind.
There are lots of other things to see and do in Namsan Park too. You can ride on the Namsan Cable Car, climb up to the N Seoul Tower, enjoy Baekbeom Square, visit the Namsan Park Southern Observatory, and lots more.
I would highly recommend going to N Seoul Tower and paying the entrance fee to go to the top of the N Seoul Tower. The views from N Seoul Tower offer something no other view of Seoul can as you look over the entire city from the top.
Standing at the top of N Seoul Tower gives you an insight into just how big Seoul is and how it has expanded over the years. I would call it just a must-see for your Seoul Itinerary. You will need at least an hour to explore the park properly.
Just outside the outskirts of the park is the happening neighborhood of Itaewon. Now that you have enjoyed some peace and quiet in nature, it is time to have a drink in the most happening neighborhood in Seoul.
Itaewon is renowned for its nightlife and it is the place to be if you are looking to do some partying in South Korea. This part of town is packed full of bars, nightclubs, late-night restaurants, and lots more.
This is a part of Seoul where you are likely to run into a lot of ex-pats and tourists alike. It is a great place to have a beer, take a load off, and eat some great food too!
You will find local as well as international cuisine in Itaewon so if you have been craving a pizza or Mexican, this is the place to do it.
There are lots of different bars serving up great drinks and each bar has its own vibe, and you can even have a pint of beer in a British pub too if you like.
For anyone who wants to party until dawn with the locals, Itaewon is the place to do it. You will find cozy bars and jazz clubs, and you should check out some of the awesome nightclubs in the area such as Soap Seoul and Venue.
If spending all night in Itaewon isn’t quite up your street, or you’re not ready yet and want to explore more, head to Hongdae. Take Line 6 on the subway from Itaewon subway station to Sangsu station and then it is just a 5-minute walk away.
Hongdae is famous for being the coolest or trendiest part of the city and it is where the cooler than cool residents tend to spend their time. The area is known as the hub of South Korean music and fashion.
As you walk around the streets you will see dance performers, singers, and more. The area truly is alive and being there is all about taking it in! There are street markets, great street food, interesting restaurants, and weird and wacky cafes too.
The Thanks Nature Sheep Café is a place you should grab a coffee at as you get to pet sheep while having your coffee, hence the name.
If you are lucky enough that your one day in Seoul happens to be on a Saturday between March and November, a walk through Hongdae Free Market is a must. It is packed full of fashionable items at affordable prices!
Your final stop on your one-day in Seoul itinerary is Gangnam, where you find out what true Gangnam style really is. It is best to hop into a taxi from Hongdae as they are much faster and very affordable, and the subway route involves quite a lot of stops.
Gangnam is the place to party in Seoul, alongside Itaewon. It is in the more upscale part of the city, surrounded by designer stores and posh skyscrapers, but it is also home to some of the best clubs in Asia.
For the best party experience, head to a nightclub called Octagon. This club has eight different floors, each with its own theme. You will find pumping dance floors, cocktail bars, beer bars, and lots more. The music goes on until 7 am, so you can see the dawn and then hop into a taxi back to your hotel.
While exploring Seoul, it makes sense to have a good base to explore from that isn’t out of town but in one of the areas in your one-day in Seoul itinerary. Luckily great value and excellent accommodations are available everywhere you might want it to be.
The best parts of Seoul to stay in are Myeong-dong, Hongdae, and Gangnam. These are all centrally located making it easy to get around the city and you can get to the Incheon airport with ease too.
Myeong-dong is close to all the main attractions in Seoul and is a lively, friendly neighborhood with some lovely hotels. You will also have access to some of the best Korean dumplings and other street food on your doorstep.
Hongdae, as I already mentioned, is the most happening part of the city, and staying here will have you immersed in Central Seoul culture to the max, something that is quite an experience for a day.
For some more classy accommodation, look at staying in Gangnam. You will have the Seoul skyline out your window, malls, skyscrapers, and designer stores too.
As you can see, Seoul and South Korea are packed full of incredible things to do and if you follow the itinerary laid out above, you will have the best time in Seoul and want to spend more than one day there.
Roger is a little obsessed with travel. He has been to over 40 countries, broken 3 suitcases and owned over 10 backpacks in 12 months. What he doesn't know about travel, ain't worth knowing!