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A 7-Day Seoul Itinerary for First Time Visitors
No doubt about it, Seoul is one of my favorite cities in the world. Delicious food, fantastic shopping, interesting culture, and amazing people, it’s a dream vacation! And I also love how family-friendly the city is. Most popular attractions have kids on their priority, with a curation of programs and activities designed for the young. Their subway system is so extensive and one of the best in the world, you can go from one place to another with no trouble at all. Taking the taxi is affordable too which makes traveling even more convenient and comfortable.
If you are in the planning stages of your trip to Seoul, you’ve come to the right place. Whether it’s your first, second or if you’ve visited several times in the past, you’ll never get bored while in the city. There are plenty of things to see and do within Seoul and its neighboring provinces. For first-time visitors, you need at least 4 full days to visit the city’s most popular landmarks and tourist attractions. But don’t worry, this 7-day itinerary can be easily customized to fit your interests and schedule. Depending on how much you want to see in a day, you can combine some activities into just one day but beware though, it will be very tiring so pack some extra energy! But I assure you, it’ll be loads of fun!
7-Days Itinerary for your First Visit in Seoul, South Korea
Start your day early with a visit to Gwanghwamun Square. See the golden statue of King Sejong in the middle of the plaza. Just across Gwanghwamun Square is the Gyeongbok Palace, also known as Gyeongbokgung. Watch the Gatekeeper Military Training at 9:30 AM and Changing of the Royal Guard Ceremony at 10:00 AM, both held at the main gate of Gyeongbokgung. After this, you can join a 1.5 hr free walking tour of the palace with an English-speaking guide. Japanese and Chinese-speaking guides are also available at a different schedule. The walking tour starts at 11:00 AM at the Gyeongbokgung Palace Information Center. If you do not want to join the tour, you can just watch the Gwanghwamun Gate Guard on Duty Ceremony at 11:00 AM (or come back for the 1:00 PM schedule) and explore the palace grounds on your own.
After lunch, head over to the National Folk Museum of Korea. Spend about an hour inside the museum learning about the Korean culture and way of life.
From the National Folk Museum of Korea, it’s time to see the traditional houses of Bukchon Hanok Village. You’ll pass by Samcheong-dong, a street of artisan shops, small boutiques, tea shops and cafes, etc. Spend an hour exploring Bukchon Hanok Village and make sure to stop by the 8 scenic spots of the village for your Instagram-worthy photos.
Your last stop for the day is Insadong, a popular neighborhood in Seoul because of the many cafes, restaurants and shops selling traditional Korean goods.
Today is theme park day! There are several theme parks in Seoul and two of the most visited parks (and popular with tourists) are Lotte World Theme Park, which is right in the city and the other is Everland located in Gyeonggi-do, about an hour away from Seoul. If it is your first time in Seoul, I highly recommend visiting Everland instead of Lotte World. Although it is outside of Seoul, you can easily reach Everland by booking a roundtrip shuttle service from Seoul’s main tourist districts (like Myeongdong). Trust me, it’s super convenient! Most people usually recommend Lotte World Theme Park if you are traveling with young children, but I honestly find Everland to be more enjoyable than Lotte World, even with a toddler!
You should never leave Seoul without visiting one (or two) of their outdoor markets. One of which is the Namdaemun Market. No need to have breakfast before you leave your hotel, eat street food or even better, at the infamous Kalguksu Alley. Order the Kalguksu and Boribap set meal, it’s really good! While in the area, don’t forget to stop by the Namdaemun or the Great South Gate.
Next stop is Seoul’s most iconic landmark, the N Seoul Tower. Ride the cable car up the Namsan Mountain and spend an hour enjoying the views of the city from the top. Hello Kitty fans will be delighted to see and visit the Hello Kitty Island inside the tower.
Instead of taking the cable car down back to the city, ride the bus to Myeongdong.
You’re just in time to enjoy some street food in Myeongdong. Food stalls line up the streets from afternoon until late at night. Shop ’til you drop for clothes, shoes, accessories and skin care products. You can also enjoy some delicious desserts and coffee at the many cafes in the area. Dinner options are endless. Popular choices are Korean-style Fried Chicken or AYCE BBQ.
Oh, and don’t forget to stop by the Myeongdong Cathedral.
Today we go on a little day trip outside the city. One of the most popular day trips from Seoul is to Nami Island and Petite France. The most convenient way to visit these two tourist spots is to book a tour package that would include the roundtrip shuttle service, entry tickets and a tour guide. I highly suggest that you book the tour instead of DIYing this part of the itinerary, it’s worth paying extra for the convenience.
Once your back in the city, you can go back to Myeongdong for even more street food! Or do some night shopping at Dongdaemun.
First stop of the day is the Naksan Park and the Seoul Fortress Wall. Enjoy a leisurely stroll in the park and take a picture of the stunning views of the city. Walk along the Seoul Fortress Wall until you reach Ihwa Mural Village, popular for its street art and wall murals, and also a prominent backdrop on several K-dramas.
If you haven’t been to Dongdaemun yet, now is the perfect time to explore the area at a more leisurely pace. Bargain-hunters will love Dongdaemun Traditional Market. A lot of the shops and malls here are open until the wee hours of the morning, that’s why it’s also perfect for some nocturnal shopping! Be sure to visit the Heunginjimun or Dongdaemun Gate. And just a few steps away, you’ll find yourself in Dongdaemun Seonggwak Park. Enjoy spectacular city views from the top of the park (especially at night). And anyone traveling with kids should stop by the Dongdaemun Toy Street to pick up a few pieces for your little ones.
Eat at one of the food stalls in Gwangjang Market. Make sure to try the Mung bean pancake (Bindaetteok), Blood sausage (Soondae) and Drug Rice Rolls (Mayak Gimbap). Don’t worry about the last one, it doesn’t actually contain any narcotics, but instead earned its name because it is highly addicting to eat!
Also in the area is the Dongdaemun Design Plaza or the DDP. Designed by the infamous, Zaha Hadid, the DDP is a modern architectural landmark on the heart of Seoul.
End the evening with a stroll along Cheonggyecheon Stream before heading back to your hotel.
If you have an extra day to spare, might as well visit the Lotte World Theme Park since it’s right in the city. It’s not big compared to Everland, but what’s great about it is that it has both an indoor and outdoor park. Plus it’s directly connected to a mall! Lotte World Theme Park is most suitable for families traveling with young children. You’ll be spending at least 5 to 6 hours inside the theme park so if you want to make the most of your time, try to visit as soon as they open so it won’t be as crowded and you’ll have more time to enjoy the rides. Also in the area is the COEX Aquarium.
Next stop is the Gangnam Area, one of the popular districts in Seoul. This district is well-known for shopping. Aside from the high-end luxury brands, there’s also an underground shopping complex in Gangnam Station for those on a budget.
For the young travelers, tonight is the night to put your dancing shoes on and enjoy the nightlife in Gangnam, as it has some of the best clubs in Seoul. But if you’re anything like me, head over to Seoul Station and shop for souvenirs, Korean snacks and products at Lotte Outlets. Stock up on your favorite cup noodles, face masks and fill your honey butter obsessions from this supermarket. It’s open until midnight so it’s perfect for some last-minute shopping.
Start the day by visiting Changdeokgung (Changdeok Palace). This palace is less busy than the neighboring Gyeongbokgung, but it is actually worth visiting. Inside the palace grounds is the Secret Garden, which you can only enter with a guide. Don’t miss this!
Next is Yeouido Hangang Park. Enjoy a mini picnic by ordering chicken and beer (leaflets are being handed out all over), and have it delivered to you at the park. If you prefer a quick bite, buy some instant ramen noodles at one of the nearby convenience stores. These convenience stores have a designated area for cooking noodles. After lunch and a little bit of sightseeing, take a cruise on the Hangang River.
After the cruise, head to Hongdae for some dinner and coffee. Hongdae is a hip and cool neighborhood, mostly because of its close proximity to Hongik University. Shopping tends to be slightly cheaper here since it mainly caters to the student population. At night, you can experience the hustle and bustle of street artists and impromptu performers.
Still need ideas for things to do in Seoul? Check out my 30+ Top Things to Do in Seoul South Korea!
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Lastly, to help you plan your trip to Seoul, I have listed here some Seoul Travel Essentials that you can book in advance for a better travel experience.
4G Wifi Rental (Airport Pick up)
Seoul Hop-On Hop-Off City Sightseeing Bus Tour
AREX Incheon Airport Express Train to Seoul Station (One Way)
Discover Seoul Pass
T-Money Card (Pre-loaded with KRW5,000)
Korean Rail Pass