Whether you’re into centuries of history, stunning urban centers, beautiful parks, or unforgettable food, Seoul is your city. Get to know Korea’s capital city and plan your trip to Seoul.

Your Seoul Itinerary

From early morning to late night, Seoul beckons with jaw-dropping sights, amazing food, and a buzzy vibe. Here’s how to have the best day ever in Seoul.

Early Morning: Start With a Classic Korean Breakfast

If you’re an eggs and bacon or avocado toast fan, you might be disappointed to learn that Seoul has a totally different concept of breakfast. But you’ll quickly develop a taste for some of Seoul’s classic breakfast dishes, which are comfort food at its best.

Head over to Mugyodong Bugeokukjib right when the café opens at 7 a.m. and get a bowl of the only thing on the menu. This spot does homemade fish soup with tofu, veggies, and rice, and it’s so warm and comforting you’ll probably want to start every day with a piping hot bowl.

Migabon is another popular spot for breakfast, and even though you can pick from a few menu items, there’s really only one thing that die-hard Migabon fans order. Get the chicken ginseng porridge for a hot, nourishing start to your day.

Can’t start your day without an egg or two? Experience Seoul’s answer to typical Western breakfasts at Isaac Toast. This popular spot makes breakfast sandwiches with egg, bacon, ham, or bulgogi and serves them hot and fast on white bread.

Bukchon hanok village
Bukchon Hanok Village.

Morning: Discover’s Seoul’s Historical Side

Seoul isn’t exactly a new city. Settlements in the area date back to 4,000 B.C., and the city’s precursor was founded in 18 B.C. The city you know today has changed a little from back then, but it’s still home to some incredible historical monuments and buildings. Touring a few is a great way to get a feel for Seoul.

You won’t have time to see everything in one day, so you’ll have to prioritize. Gyeongbokgung Palace is a must, as it will totally blow you away. This palace dates back to 1395, but it’s been rebuilt more than once since then. A masterpiece of the Joseon Dynasty, the this palace is the perfect place to experience Korean architecture, stroll through some pavilions, and walk the walled city.

If you have time for a second palace, make it Changdeokgung. This one also dates back to the Joseon Dynasty, and it was a royal residence for almost 300 years. Although it’s been razed and rebuilt, this is an intact palace in Seoul. It’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site with an amazing secret garden.

Don’t forget to check out the scenic neighborhood that connects the two palaces. Known as Bukchon Hanok Village, it’s packed with traditional homes, some of which date back to the 14th century. Spin by the Bukchon Traditional Culture Center to learn more.

Noon: See Seoul’s Contemporary Side

Seoul is home to some awe-inspiring history, but it’s also a high-tech city with plenty of futuristic appeal. Head over to N Seoul Tower to marvel at the multimedia shows and soak up awesome views of Seoul’s skyline.

If you’re in the mood for some retail therapy, make your way to Dongdaemun market, which is basically the biggest market you’ve ever visited. It spans more than 10 city blocks with more than two dozen individual malls, 30,000 stores, and everything you’ve ever wanted to buy. For a midday bite to eat, be sure to stop by Mukja Golmok, which is a sort of lunchtime alley.

The Bukhansan National Park.

Afternoon: Explore the Great Outdoors

Some of the best parts of Seoul are right out your front door, so take some time to get out and explore. Locals and visitors love the Cheonggyecheon Stream, which runs through the heart of the city adding some much-needed green space in such an urban spot.

Seoul Forest is another top spot to stretch your legs, and it’s easily accessible from the metro. You’ll find tons of walking and biking paths, along with an ecological park and beautiful flowers.

If you have a couple of hours to spare, you’ll also want to fit in a visit to Bukhansan National Park. It’s just north of the city, but it’s metro-accessible and super easy to get to. This amazing place is in the middle of a major urban area, yet it has more than 1,300 species of animals and plants, a mountain, gorges and peaks, waterfalls and streams, and more than 100 Buddhist temples. This is a Seoul landmark that you won’t want to miss.

Evening: Sit Down to a Memorable Meal

With such great cuisine everywhere you turn, you really can’t go wrong with a meal in Seoul. If you’re looking for the best of the best, though, book a table at La Yeon, an inventive spot with three Michelin stars. Order the charcoal-grilled eel and take in the mesmerizing city views. If you can’t get in, try Michelin-starred Soigné, which debuts a new concept every three months. If you want to see an award-winning chef take seasonality to new heights, try the eight-course tasting menu at Toc Toc.

Late Night: Stay Out All Night

The night never ends in Seoul, so if you’re a night owl, you’re in for a real treat. Pick a neighborhood and do some bar-hopping or plan to taxi around and see what tickles your fancy. If you’re looking for a university atmosphere, head over to Hongdae. For an international expat vibe, head to Itaewon. If you’re looking for great jazz music, make it Gangnam.

If you aren’t into clubbing, rest assured there are other all-night pursuits for you. Save your Dongdaemun trip for late at night and enjoy one of Seoul’s best night market atmospheres. Most stores in the market close between 5 and 7 a.m., so you’ll have plenty of time to see everything.

War memorial korea
The War Memorial of Korea in Seoul.

Incheon International Airport Guide

For most visitors to Seoul, Incheon International Airport (IIA) will be your gateway to the city. Even if you aren’t an airport fan, chances are that you’ll like this one. It’s won a ton of awards for its great design and service, and it’s practically a destination in itself. This airport has a spa, a golf course, a casino, and green space, along with plenty of planes to take you exactly where you want to go.

IIA is a hub for a long list of airlines, including Asiana Airlines, Korean Air, Jeju Air, and Air Seoul. Popular destinations from IIA include Hong Kong, Tokyo, Taipei, Shanghai, Bangkok, New York, Chicago, and more. This airport, which is just over 15 years old yet still looks shiny and new, serves about 60 million passengers a year.

How to Get to and From Incheon International Airport

Whether you love the efficiency of public transit or you’d prefer to book your own ride, you’ll find it easy to get to and from IIA. Feel like braving the bus? You can catch buses to nearby destinations and downtown Seoul from the ground transit area outside Terminal 1. You can even buy or charge up your public transit card from inside the terminal, so you’re ready to roll once you head out to catch the bus.

If you’d rather hop in a car, you’ll find that taxis and ride-hailing services like Uber make it easy to get around. Of course, you can rent and drop off your own car at IIA, too, if you want your very own set of wheels.

What to Do at Incheon International Airport

What can’t you do at IIA? Learn about local culture at the Traditional Korean Culture Experience Center, take a traditional craft class, or listen to some musical performances. Let the kids blow off some steam at the playground or shop till you drop in the duty free shopping area.

Want to grab a bite to eat before your flight? Dig into some taco supremes at Taco Bell, nurse a bowl of ramen at K-Street Food, enjoy some super efficient eats at Robot Gimbap, or stock up on jerky at Bee Cheng Hiang. You can also grab some Korean comfort food at Bon Juk, some bibimbap at Bibigo, or some noodles and a beer at the Nature Is Delicious— your pick.

Alternatives to Incheon International Airport

So Incheon is pretty awesome, but it isn’t the only airport in town. Depending on your destination, you might access Seoul via Gimpo International Airport (GMP), which used to be the city’s main airport. GMP is easy to get to and from, thanks to a bunch of local bus connections and a handy taxi pickup area. If you need to get between GMP and IIA, you’ll even find shuttle buses for seamless connections.

Although GMP is officially an international airport, most of its destinations aren’t too far from Seoul. GMP will get you to domestic cities like Busan and Jeju as well as international cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Taipei, and Osaka. Airlines like Eastar Jet, China Eastern Airlines, and Korean Air all operate out of GMP.

Changdeokung Palace in Seoul.

Where to Stay in Seoul

Seoul can be a little pricey, but you don’t have to spend all your hard-earned vacation money to stay in this amazing metropolis. Take your pick from the classiest boutique hotels in Seoul, the most budget-friendly hostels, and the coolest private rentals.

Top Hotels in Seoul

Splash out with a stay at the Plaza, a luxury spot that’s packed with alluring gold accents and local touches like Korean artwork and restaurant with a traditional menu. This gem is located in the center of Seoul, with easy access to the whole city.

In artsy Hongdae, the Win Art House mixes contemporary design with a super relaxing aesthetic, so basically everything you want in a hotel. This spot boasts an awesome rooftop garden and an international restaurant, too.

If you’re looking for a spot that you truly won’t find anywhere else, try the Bongeunsa Temple, which is tucked away in a temple that’s more than a millennium old. The rooms may be dorm-style, but with meditation, rituals, and tea ceremonies all around you, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to an alternate dimension in busy Seoul.

Best Hostels in Seoul

Looking for something a little easier on the wallet and more social? Seoul has tons of hostels and guesthouses, where you’ll find cozy rooms, personalized service, and opportunities to dive into Korean culture.

Check out the highly rated Bounce Guesthouse in lively Hongdae. This guesthouse is operated by a team of former flight attendants who know their city well and love helping visitors get to know Seoul. Make sure to ask about the game nights, city tours, and complimentary breakfast.

Nearby, the Hongdae Pencil Guesthouse & Hostel has comfy beds, free breakfast, Wi-Fi, and a fun social atmosphere. Rent one of the hostel’s bikes and get around Seoul on two wheels or book one of the trekking tours and get out of town for a day or two.

Over in upscale Gangnam, the Kimchee Gangnam Guesthouse has comfy bunk beds, a common area where you can hang out with fellow guests, and a café with coffee and snacks. As one of the largest guesthouses in the area, this is also one of the most social places to stay.

Coolest Private Rentals in Seoul

When it comes to private rentals, it’s all about finding a great apartment with convenient transit access and an awesome neighborhood. After all, private rentals are the perfect way to settle in and feel like you live in Seoul.

Try looking for a flat in Hongdae, a stylish neighborhood known for its all-night parties and art markets. Itaewon used to be seedy, but today, it’s a hotspot for funky restaurants, cool markets, and international culture. Just like the legendary Psy song would have you believe, Gangnam is packed with fancy shopping, a sea of skyscrapers, and parties that never end. Insa-dong leans traditional, which means it’s an awesome place to stay for Korean food, tea, arts and crafts, and tourist attractions.

No matter where you stay, you’ll easily fall head over heels for Seoul. From hotels to tours and everything in between, plan your whole getaway on GoDoTrip and access every detail in one convenient spot.