With its rich historical heritage coupled with modern trails and walkways, Seoul attracts a huge number of tourists effortlessly. It has a variety of sights and sounds, and there's something special for everyone here. If you are interested in sightseeing, Seoul has loads to offer. For those interested in action and adventure, there are many activities to get your adrenaline pumping. Besides this, there is plenty of shopping, a rocking night life and great food to feast on.
Seoul is not all high rise and mortar. There are plenty of green parks, gardens and palaces to stroll around in. Not only tourists but locals too get a good change from their busy city lives visiting these places over weekends.
Seoul is a bustling city full of things to see and do. Our Seoul Desination Guide below tells you all the major highlights of this wonderful city, which are perfect for exploring on one of our Seoul tours . You can also find some more general travel information that might be useful for your Seoul holiday in our South Korea Country Guide.
Follow the links to the right or scroll further down the page for details on some of the many interesting tourist attractions in Seoul:
Seoul is known for its numerous amusement parks, each with its very own unique theme. Lotte World, Everland and Seoul Land are some of the prominent ones. All these parks provide fun-filled experiences and rides for tourists of all ages and from all parts of the world. You’ll find new age amusement and thrilling rides alongside well-laid out gardens and zoos, all carefully woven around a specific theme.
Koreans enjoy archery, and Seoul offers both the western style and the traditional Korean style. Typically, the archery ranges are located on the outskirts of the city.
A cultural tour of Seoul would leave you mesmerised given its rich history. Some of the must-see places are Yejiwon, Korea House and Samcheonggak. These are cultural hotspots here and will give you a great idea of how Korea was under different regimes.
At a pleasant 30-minute drive away from Seoul lies the Folk Village. Here you can feast your eyes on elaborate traditional dresses, folklore, Korean traditions and architecture.
Seoul also has a vast array of war memorials and museums for embroidery, art and culture, transport, folk art, fashion trends and even food. Just to get an idea of the scale of artefacts on display, the National Museum housed within the Kyongbokkung Palace contains more than 1,000,000 pieces which tell the story of the era gone by – the wars, victories, traditions and spiritual journey of Korea.
Those interested in Buddhism must visit the Moga Buddhist Museum which portrays the Buddhist influence in Korea over the years. You will find artefacts etched in woodwork, fine calligraphy and paintings. In fact the National Museum of Contemporary Art has a splendid outdoor garden with exotic sculptures apart from nine large exhibition halls indoors. The unique outdoor structure is a pot pourri of both Korean and international pieces representing various genres of contemporary art. This is connected to the indoor galleries via a spiralling walkway.
Night life in Seoul is a vital part of social life. Locals party until the wee hours of the morning and it is common for restaurants to remain open until late. Besides regular bars, you will find snazzy night clubs, some of which are underground. Another highlight of night life here is the midnight shopping available at Namdaemun and Dongdaemun Markets.
Casinos are not free for all in Seoul. In fact, Walker Hill Casino is the only place where foreigners and non resident Koreans are allowed. If you like jazz, head for the Live Jazz club. Late night theatre is available at the Chongdong Theatre on the parallel street. Though most shows may be in Korean, even traditional musicals and dramas come with English subtitles so that all tourists can enjoy the performances as much as the Koreans.
Seoul is famous for its grand palaces. Once you visit the Changdeokgung Palace and Gardens, you’ll realise why. The architecture here is based on the Confucian principles of natural beauty, simplicity and harmony. This palace was constructed in the early 15th century and has been the seat of power for nearly three centuries between 1618 and 1896. The secret garden has delicate lily ponds, lush greenery, secret hideouts and a pleasantly calm and serene atmosphere.
Another noteworthy palace is the Gyeongbok Palace. Built by Lee Sung-gye, the founder of the Joseon dynasty in the late 14th century, this is regarded as the city’s most magnificent palace. Unfortunately, it was burnt by Japanese invaders in 1592. In 1865, major refurbishment of the ruins began, and today it stands tall as a beautiful heritage building.
As a symbol of friendship between Korea and France, Paris Park was built in Seoul in 1987. It is located within the Mokdong Apartment housing area. The park has several sections, like the Paris Plaza, Seoul Plaza, pond, outdoor exhibition and a multi-purpose square.
Another outstanding park in the city is Samneung Park. It has several mounds which are tombs of the royal dynasty. Seongjong was the ninth king of the Joseon Dynasty and he is buried along with his wife in separate mounds at Seolleung.
South Hill or Namsan Park once marked the southern boundary of Seoul. Today it is quite the centre of the city and has grown by leaps and bounds. It has many shopping areas flanking it. You can enjoy a walk down one of the many hiking trails in here.
Horse racing takes place at the Seoul Racetrack located in Kwach’on. You can bet on horses here. Races are normally held on the weekends.
Malls in Seoul are simply superb and are packed with a great selection of goods. Apart from shopping, you can stop by at some classic restaurants and bars in these malls. Seoul also offers many lively markets full of good bargains. For a truly Asian shopping experience, you must visit Dongdaemun Market or Namdaemun Market. Dondaemun Market and Apkujung also have contemporary and modern wares. For antiques, you may want to visit Itaewon or Insadong where most Western tourists go shopping.
Football, baseball and basketball are widely played in Seoul. Golf is also a popular pastime here. Besides these, Ssirum (wrestling) and Taekwondo are age-old traditional sports best enjoyed at the Changchung Stadium.
The searing heat of Seoul can get somewhat oppressive. If you want to take a dip in the sea, the best places are the pristine islands off Incheon in the West Sea. Parks along Hangang open their swimming pools to the public during the summer months of July and August. Large Olympic-sized indoor pools are located at Lotte World and the Olympic Park, and open their doors in the afternoon. Most hotels in Seoul have their very own 25 m (82 ft) indoor pools and some are open to non-guests too.
If you are an avid theatre goer, you would enjoy the theatre experience and art centres in Seoul. Some names to look out for are the Chongdog Theatre, National Theatre and Traditional Performing Arts Centre. Lively music and performances regale a huge audience every night at this venue.
Some great outdoor performances can be enjoyed at Seoul Nari-Madang and Korea House. Seoul Art Centre and LG Arts Centre are the two largest venues in town. Classical concerts, music performances and plays will enthral you here.
The best way to explore Seoul is on foot. You will quite enjoy walking around town to get a good feel of the city. Many tourists prefer to cycle where they can combine workout with exercise.
The Han River hosts many water sports events during the summer months – windsurfing, jet-skiing, water-skiing, paddle boating and swimming.