Thinking about spending 7 days in Seoul, South Korea? With its antiquated city walls framing the vibrant city within, following a 1 week Seoul itinerary will be the perfect introduction to this fascinating destination. 

Having family that served in the Royal Australian Navy during the Korean War (1950 – 1953), Seoul has a special meaning for me, sitting at the top of my bucket list for a number of years. And during my week in Seoul, the different facets of the city became even more meaningful – and I hope the same for you!

While today it may be internationally famous for K-Pop, K-Beauty, K-Dramas and kimchi, did you know there is a lesser-known side to Seoul that allows you to uncover over 500 years of Joseon Dynasty history too?

7 Days in Seoul Itinerary: Complete Guide for First Timers | The Invisible Tourist

Despite being invaded by Japan twice throughout the centuries and much of the city being destroyed during the Korean War, on the surface you wouldn’t think it was the same city. Today Seoul is a symbol of resilience, embracing its rich cultural heritage whilst embodying the modern.

If you’re looking to explore the historical and cultural sides of Seoul in a week as well as some significant neighbouring areas as day trips in my tried-and-tested itinerary, read on for more!

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7 Days in Seoul Itinerary Overview

7 Days in Seoul Itinerary: Complete Guide for First Timers | The Invisible Tourist
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TIP: Are you also combining your South Korea trip with Japan? My extensive Japan travel blog shares itineraries just like this for popular and lesser-known spots, including where to stay in Tokyo, cultural etiquette and more. Check it out for more inspiration!

How to get to Seoul from the airports

The AREX Airport Express is the easiest and cheapest public transport. Serving both Incheon and Gimpo International Airports, it runs from to and from select subway stations in central Seoul.

At Incheon International Airport, the AREX ticket machines are manned by English-speaking staff. As I approached the machine, the staff kindly punched in all the details, I tapped my credit card and a ticket for the next train was in my hand in about 15 seconds!

Central Seoul from Incheon Airport

Getting there: AREX train, approx 1 hour to Seoul Station.
Cost: 11,000₩ each one way

TIP: Seating is allocated on your ticket. Make sure to check which car (carriage) your seat is in and arrive at least 3 mins before departure. Scan the QR code of your ticket to pass through the station gates.

Central Seoul from Gimpo Airport

While Incheon is Seoul’s main international airport, domestic and some flights from nearby countries such as Japan, Taiwan and China arrive at Gimpo. 

Getting there: AREX train, approx 30 mins to Seoul Station.
Cost: 1600₩ each one way

TIP: On the AREX train, check in the seat back pocket for a card in English on how to leave the AREX section of the station to transfer to the subway lines. 

AREX Airport Express Train, Seoul South Korea

Jogyesa Temple at Night in Insadong, Seoul

Things to do in Seoul in one week: Itinerary for first time visitors

Welcome to Seoul! Below is my tried-and-tested one week in Seoul itinerary to give you an idea of the types of things you can fit into each day. 

DAY 0: Arrival

Unless your flight arrives quite early, take this as an easy day to settle into the Korean time zone. Tomorrow we begin!

TIP: My flight landed at 22:00, so I thought why brave the one hour journey into central Seoul after a 10 hour flight? I chose to stay in the airport hotel mentioned earlier to start fresh the following morning, and recommend the same for you if in a similar situation.

DAY 1: Northern Seoul & Sunset Views 

As the centre of the city for over 600 years, the Jongno District is home to some of the top Seoul tourist attractions. 

We’ll spend most of today exploring the beautiful Bukchon Hanok Village, and venture to the Namsan area to witness the sun descend over the city from N Seoul Tower.

Bukchon Hanok Village

Situated in a prized elevated location favoured by nobility during the Joseon Dynasty (1392 – 1897), the winding streets of Bukchon Hanok Village 북촌한옥마을 are a must for every Seoul itinerary.

Decorated with geometric patterns in their brickwork and topped with curved black roof tiles, the restored traditional Korean houses named hanok 한옥 in this residential area gives us a taste of life back in the 15th century. 

Some fun things to do in Bukchon Hanok village are:

  • Receive your fortune from a vending machine
  • Learn about traditional Korean knotting techniques at Dong Lin Knot Museum
  • Have tea at the Bukchon Cultural Art Museum with panoramic views over Seoul
  • Take a cooking class at Kimchi Academy
  • Learn about ancient Korean life and culture through art at the Gahoe Museum
  • Enjoy awesome baked goods from popular Onion bakery near Anguk Station
  • See the real-life cafe featured in the hit K-Drama, “See You in My 19th Life” called The Hanok.

NOTE: By 9am in the depths of winter, the area began to see more visitors. I’d imagine it’s much earlier in the longer daylight hours of warmer months, so keep that in mind if you prefer to avoid crowds.

7 Days in Seoul Itinerary: Bukchon Hanok Village, South Korea

Green tea at Bukchon Asian Cultural Art Museum, Seoul
I randomly opened to a page in an art museum book and unknowingly, it turned out to be one of the most significant artworks in Korea. More details in my Instagram post.

Sunset from Namsan Park & N Seoul Tower

Getting there: From Bukchon Hanok Village, walk to Anguk Station Line 3 and take the orange line to Namsan Cable Car, approx 20 mins. This may involve switching at Chungmuro Station, check Naver Map for details.

Nothing helps to get your bearings in a new city better than seeing it from above! N Seoul Tower in Namsan Park is one such place in the city centre, its designated fences brimming with colourful love locks. It’s obviously a romantic spot for couples, but still enjoyable by yourself!

TIP: I spent 3 hours here enjoying all the sights, and it’s similar to the Diamond Tower in Busan. It can get quite cold and windy outdoors (-12°C during my winter visit) as it’s 243 metres above sea level, so please dress accordingly.

From street level, take the free funicular up to the Namsan Cable Car entrance, then enjoy views from the cable car itself over the city before coming to Namsan’s peak.

TIP: Buy your Namsan Cable Car tickets in advance here and N Seoul Tower Observation Deck tickets here.

Namsan Cable Car

Spanning across 7 floors, some great things to do at N Seoul Tower (short for Namsan Seoul Tower) are:

  • Head up to the Observation Deck for incredible views over Seoul
  • Enjoy the Inside Seoul light projections room
  • Experience fine dining at one of the tower’s restaurants
  • Grab a snack at the Western and Korean style eateries
  • Pick up some sweets and gifts
  • Admire all the love padlocks around the Roof Terrace
  • Find the character stairs featuring Larva Town
  • Walk through the Tunnel of Love
  • See if anyone is getting engaged on the Proposal Staircase or Bridge of Love
  • More info about shops, eateries and the famed Namsan Seven Views locations here. 

TIP: N Seoul Tower is illuminated in a different colour each night to alert the public to the level of air quality: Blue for good, green for fair, orange for bad and red for poor. 

Sunset from N Seoul Tower

Gallery of Things to Do at N Seoul Tower at Sunset

Gallery of Things to Do at N Seoul Tower at Night
Things to do at N Seoul Tower: 1) See the Love Locks ~ 2) Namsan Octagonal Pavilion ~ 3) Lotte Tower & Seoul bridges over the Han River ~ 4) Sunset from N Seoul Tower ~ 5) Love Locks against the night sky ~ 6) Wavy LCD screen ceiling ~ 7) Larva Character Staircase ~ 8) Tunnel of Love ~ 9) N Seoul Tower complex

DAY 2: Central Seoul & Night Food Tour

For day two of this one week Seoul itinerary, we’re going to visit my personal favourite areas: Insadong and its surrounds before visiting Seoul’s main royal palace. In the evening, we’ll dive into Korean barbeque culture on a fun walking tour around the old city walls with incredible views.

Insadong & Ikseongdong

First up is my favourite neighbourhood in Seoul, Insadong. Located south of Bukchon Hanok Village, this area is known for its countless little art galleries, antique shops, tea houses and old calligraphy stores. I highly recommend staying here if these things interest you too.

After Japan annexed Korea in 1910, nobility and high-ranking officials residing in nearby Bukchon Hanok Village had to sell their belongings to make a living. This is why you’ll see dozens of stores selling all kinds of Korean antiques here today. You never know what you’ll find!

Ikseongdong Hanok Village (not to be confused with Bukchon) here is popular with young adult locals and crammed with Western-style cafes, shops and eateries in converted old homes. It’s a very charming area and a joy to discover the little hidden spots.

Insadong and Ikseongdong Hanok Village, Seoul

Jogyesa Temple

Getting there: From Insadong Culture Street, 5 mins walk east.

The sparkling jewel in Insadong’s crown is Jogyesa Temple 조계사 (also spelt Chogyesa Temple). Dating back to the 14th century, the temple played a prominent role in the advancement of Buddhism throughout Korea at the start of the Joseon Dynasty.

With colourful strands of lanterns woven throughout its jagged branches, the Chinese Scholar tree beside the temple’s main Dharma Hall is considered a national Natural Monument. It’s believed to be 500 years old.

TIP: At 6pm one night, I was treated to the temple bell being rung and monks beating the temple drums. So special to witness!

TIP: Interested in participating in a temple stay? Participate in Buddhist practices, enjoy a temple meal, traditional tea ceremony, learn meditation and more. All the details here

Jogyesa Temple during the day and night, Seoul

Gyeongbokgung Palace

Getting there: From Jogyesa Temple, 15 mins walk via the Jogno-gu Junghak-dong 92 road towards the Gwanghwamun Gate 광화문.

One of the top attractions in Seoul, Gyeongbokgung Palace 경복궁 meaning “Palace Blessed by Heaven” was the principal palace for royalty during the Joseon Dynasty.

Originally built in 1395 against a mountainous backdrop, sadly the palace was destroyed during the Japanese invasion (Imjin War) of 1592 and again during their occupation in 1910.

The artwork on today’s restored buildings is absolutely captivating. If you only have time to visit one of the five royal palaces in Seoul, I’d say let it be this. Of the three I visited, Gyeongbokgung is the largest and was my favourite.

Changing of the Guard at Gyeongbokgung Palace, Seoul

Make sure to visit Gyeonbokgung Palace during your one week in Seoul
Gyeonbokgung Palace is a must for every Seoul itinerary

Tips for visiting Gyeongbokgung Palace

  • Plan your day in advance in order not to miss a guided tour of the palace and the colourful changing of the guard ceremonies (more below).
  • Allow about 2-3 hours to fully explore the palace grounds.
  • The palace is closed on Tuesdays, so switch this day with Changdeokgung Palace if need be.
  • I highly recommend taking an English-speaking tour through the palace. I learnt so much from my guide about the symbolism behind the architecture, colours, symbols and paintings. It was a wonderful insight into ancient Korean culture. You can time your visit with one of the palace’s free public guided walking tours, or buy tickets in advance for a private tour here.
  • In order to promote Korean cultural heritage, entry to Gyeongbokgung Palace is free for all visitors wearing hanbok 한복 (traditional Korean dress). Dress up as a scholar, king, queen or in traditional style by booking a hanbok in advance near Gyeonbukgong Palace here.
  • Photoshoots are a popular activity here and a great souvenir from your trip! Book your photoshoot in advance here.
  • Gyeongbokgung Palace is a popular spot during cherry blossom season.

Gwanghwamun Gate of Gyeongbokgung Palace, Seoul

Seoul’s Fortress City Walls & Food Tour

After Gyeongbokgung Palace, why not kick off the night by enjoying some lesser-known spots along Seoul’s old fortress walls? I opted to take a local tour to see the old walls by night and enjoy a Korean BBQ dinner with a small group (solo dining in Seoul isn’t always possible).

During my 3 hour tour, our guide Jin made the evening so fun and relaxed! He grew up in Seoul, sharing his favourite local spots with us and insights into Korean culture along the way. It was just like having a friend show us around the lesser-known spots.

As well as a filling Korean BBQ dinner, I thoroughly enjoyed the hillside bar overlooking the city with an ojima tea 오미자 I hadn’t tried before. This unique “five flavour” berry tea tasted sweet, salty, sour and more all at once. Refreshing and delicious! Craft beer and soju 소주 (Korean rice alcohol) were also available.

It was so lovely to see Seoul illuminated at night, with Jin pointing out many Seoul attractions.

An old city walls tour is one of the mist fun things to do in Seoul at night

Korean BBQ dinner on a Seoul City Walls Night Tour

DAY 3: DMZ Day Trip

Now you’ve settled into navigating around Seoul, day 3 of this Seoul itinerary is a good chance to take a day trip to one of the most significant areas that reshaped Korean history forever – the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).

At 4 kilometres wide and spanning 250 kilometres across the Korean peninsula splitting it in two, the DMZ is a tightly-guarded and permanent reminder of the Korean War.

This humbling day trip from Seoul is one of the most important to understand the formation of North and South Korea, and as a symbol of hope for reunification in the future.

 
My tour guide Kim was incredibly articulate, fun and knowledgeable about the history of the two Koreas. Plus she seized an opportunity to ensure our bus entered the DMZ despite a pending snow closure – no other tour buses were permitted after us, so I was incredibly grateful for her!

TIP: Ensure you are at the meeting point by the requested time as the tour bus is on a very tight schedule and does not wait.

Things to do at the DMZ

While also including time for lunch at the DMZ, my tour was a great balance between the guided segments and free time to explore each at leisure. The numbers corespond to each image down the page:

  • 2) Korean War Bunkers: Step inside and see their viewpoints in Seolmari Valley
  • 5) Gamaksan Suspension Bridge: Cross the longest suspension bridge in the country, spanning 150 metres leading to Ungyepokpo Falls
  • 3) Dora Observatory: Use a telescope to peer over the border into North Korea (it was a white-out for me unfortunately!). 4) The centre shares details of how the uninhabited zone is now a wildlife sanctuary and has models of the entire DMZ area
  • 1) Third Infiltration Tunnel: Walk through this tunnel discovered in 1974 and dug by North Korean soldiers to attack Seoul (TIP: I was actually not going to do this because the tunnel is 1.6 kms and 70 metres deep. However it wasn’t so bad as I’m 5’2″, but if you’re 6′ or taller you may need to bend your head for the final stretch! Yellow hardhats are supplied)
  • Unification Bridge: Also known as the Bridge of No Return, this was once used for prisoner exchanges between the two Koreas
  • 6) Bridge of Freedom: In 1953, over 12,000 South Korean troops crossed this bridge to return home 
  • 7) Mangbaedan: See the memorial dedicated to families torn apart and permanently separated by the border. A designated UNESCO Memory of the World
  • 10) Imjingak Peace Park: Expansive outdoor area with sculptures and installations with a peace and reunification theme
  • 8) Steam Locomotive: The last train to enter the South, its tracks once leading into North Korea
  • 9) Souvenirs: Pick up some North Korean money, locally-made food items at Paju Jangdan Bean Village, and other memorabilia to support local communities along the border. 

NOTE: The Joint Security Area (JSA) has been closed to visitors since July 2023 due to a US soldier defecting to the North. Even without this section, as you can see there is still plenty to take in at the DMZ.

DMZ Day Trip from Seoul, South Korea

Myeongdong Night Market

As the tour bus usually arrives back by 18:00 in Myeongdong, it’s the perfect opportunity to sample Korean street foods around here for dinner. Eat your way along Myeongdong’s pocha 포차 (street stalls) selling small portions of all kinds of local cuisine!

Myeongdong night market

DAY 4: Western Seoul & Retro Night Food Tour

Day 4 of this Seoul 7 day itinerary will see us exploring a secret garden once reserved for royalty, enjoy a popular riverside walk before finishing the night meandering through retro alleyways illuminated by neon billboards on a food tour.

Changdeokgung Palace

Getting there: Nearest Station is Anguk Station Line 3, Exit 3.

Built in 1405 as a secondary palace for rulers during the Joseon Dynasty, Changdeokgung Palace is a beautifully restored UNESCO World Heritage site. Destroyed during the Imjin War, after being rebuilt in 1610 it served as the main palace in Seoul for 270 years.

Take a peek into the elaborate rooms that once hosted formal events with foreign dignitaries and coronation ceremonies, as well as peer into residences of the ruling king and queen from the time.

TIP: Similarly to Gyeongbokgung Palace, entry is free to visitors wearing hanbok. Book your hanbok near Changdeokgung Palace in advance here.

Changdeokgung Palace, Seoul

Changdeokgung’s Secret Garden

A drawcard to this palace is its stunning landscaped Secret Garden, once reserved for the Joseon Dynasty’s royal families to leisurely stroll and relax.

Taking up about 60% of the palace grounds, it is distinctly beautiful in every season and definitely worth visiting! Changdeokgung Palace is another popular spot during cherry blossom season.

TIP: The Secret Garden is only accessible on timed guided tours with palace staff and incurs a separate admission fee to the main grounds. The tour duration is 70 – 90 mins and is worthwhile to learn the meanings behind the beautiful scenery.

NOTE: It takes around 15 mins walk from Changdeokgung’s entrance to the meeting place for Secret Garden tours. Latecomers are not accepted. You can also peer into the neighbouring Jongmyo Shrine from inside this area.

Changdeokgung Palace Secret Garden in winter, Seoul

Deoksugung Palace

Getting there: From Changdeokgung, 15 mins walk to Jongno 3(sam)-ga Station on subway Line 1 and ride 2 stops to City Hall Station, Exit 2.

Deoksugung Palace 덕수궁 meaning “Palace of Longevity” was the residence of a Joseon King’s brother in the 15th century, and is now only one-third of the size it once was.

What makes it interesting? The palace today is made up of several buildings and gardens in different architectural styles, a mixture of 15th century Korean and Western influence from the early 20th century.

During the Imjin War, Seoul’s other two main palaces were so badly damaged that Deoksugung became the temporary residence of the royal family.

Things to see at Deoksugung Palace

While the Changing of the Guard ceremony is a drawcard to Deoksugung, you can find more info about each of the structures below here:

  • Junghwajeon, Hamnyeongjeon, Seokjojeon, Jungmyeongjeon, and Dondeokjeon Halls
  • Gojonguili Walled Pathway (a Korean myth states that couples walking here are destined to break up!)
  • And just opposite, if time permits you can visit the National Museum of Contemporary Art.

TIP: You can take a private guided tour of the palace which also includes admission, book in advance here.

Deoksugung Palace Changing of the Guard Ceremony

Euljiro Night Tour

While most foreign visitors spend their nights hanging out in Myeongdong, as an invisible tourist I wanted to also experience a lesser-known retro area to avoid crowds. The Euljiro neighbourhood is one such place!

My tour guide Joy made the evening very enjoyable, weaving us through the narrow alleyways to a Korean BBQ restaurant, then a beverage stop before heading to a hyper-local casual dining experience with plenty of sights in the neon-lit streets along the way.

Did you know visitors to Korea rave about their banana milk? I concur, and especially loved the Korean banana coffee Joy showed us – the flavour is amazing so you have to try it! It was also great to try some makgeolli 막걸리, a sweet, milky rice wine which I also liked.

NOTE: There are three separate Euljiro subway stations (Euljiro 1(il)-ga, Euljiro 3(sam)-ga and Euljiro 4(sa)-ga). When getting to your meeting place, make sure to not confuse them (I learnt that the hard way!)

The tour also took through some indoor night markets, and along a lively section of Cheonggyecheon Stream. You can also find a section of the Berlin Wall gifted from Germany further along here!

Make sure to see the retro neon signs of Euljiro during your 7 days in Seoul

DAY 5: Suwon Day Trip 

On day 5 of this Seoul itinerary, we’ll explore what life and culture was like centuries ago in Suwon. Located around an hour south of Seoul by bus or train, Suwon is the fascinating capital that never was. 

Established with a vision of relocating Korea’s capital from Seoul during the late Joseon Dynasty, Suwon is today known for its old fortress and as the headquarters of ultra-modern tech company Samsung. The city fell to the North Korean army in 1950, and changed hands four times during the war’s duration.

Hwaseong Fortress, Suwon

Korean Folk Village

Similar to Hida no Sato in Japan, Korean Folk Village is an open-air museum showcasing everyday life from centuries ago. 270 real homes throughout each province in Korea were relocated here and restored back to their Joseon Dynasty glory.

From farming (including real animals), religion, law and order, varying architectural styles from their time to workshops, exhibitions, live performances, and seasonal festivals, I thoroughly enjoyed learning more about Korean history here. The old-world scenery is so stunning, I highly recommend it!

TIP: I loved learning about the underground floor heating they used centuries ago. A very clever idea for the cold months!

Korean Folk Village Day Trip from Seoul

Hwaseong Fortress

With today’s city gradually sprawling outside of its centuries’ old walls, famed Hwaseong Fortress is a UNESCO World Heritage site with a dual purpose.

Firstly, it was built in 1794 by King Jeongjo to honour the tomb of his late father (despite the atrocities he committed against his family and court officials, I’ll let you read up on that). Secondly, to help locals have a place to evacuate to during the Imjin War. 

Spanning 5.7kms and dotted with preserved watch towers, command posts, guard pavilions and a secret entrance, the high stone walls winding over the area’s topography are very picturesque.

Hwaseong Fortress, Suwon Day Trip from Seoul

Suwon Nannum Market

The final stop for the day trip to Suwon is Nannum Market. This undercover shopping arcade is lined with vendors selling all kinds of local produce, snacks, seafood and more.

I tried a freshly-baked rice cracker stick and sweet twisted doughnut, they were both very delicious and also popular with locals. It’s a great place to pick up any kind of local snack you can think of!

DAY 6: Eastern Seoul

On day 6 of this 7 day itinerary for Seoul, we’ll blend the old with new in the city’s eastern suburbs. Heading off the beaten path to start with a colourful mural village, we’ll then explore a glitzy neighbourhood whose name you’re sure to recognise – Gangnam.

Ihwa Mural Village

Getting there: Nearest stations are Hyewa Station, 15 mins walk or Dongdaemun Station, 20 mins walk. I took the walk from Dongdaemun because it is quite picturesque along Seoul’s old city walls.

With artistic murals to be found at every street corner, lengthy staircases and cute cafe culture, I couldn’t help but feel this hilly residential area was Seoul’s equivalent of Paris’ Montmartre neighbourhood. See how many of the 32 murals you can find!

TIP: Please remember to “be invisible” in the Iwha Village 이화 벽화마을 area so as to not disturb the locals.

NOTE: To my dismay, from locals I learnt the iconic blue staircase with koi fish the area was once known for has been removed. Any pictures of the staircase online aren’t recent.

Paintings in Iwha Mural Village, Seoul

Bongeunsa Temple

Getting there: Due to the nature of the subway line layout, getting to Bongeunsa Temple in Gangnam takes around 45 mins + 15 mins walk from Ihwa Mural Village. Nearest station to the temple is Bonguesa, Exit 1.

Housing national treasures and some of the most incredible paintings I’ve ever witnessed on temple structures, Bongeunsa Temple 은사 is located directly opposite the popular COEX Mall (more down the page).

Guarded by Four Heavenly King statues at its main gate, Bonguesa Temple was founded in 794 AD during the Silla Dynasty. It collectively enshrines thousands of Bodhisattva throughout its 18 buildings and grounds, which creates a tranquil and spiritual aura.

TIP: It’s possible to enjoy an overnight temple stay here on the first Saturday of every month. See the Bongeunsa Temple website for details. 

Bongeunsa Temple, Seoul

Gangnam Style Statue

Skyrocketing through the record charts and into international fame in 2012, the hit “Gangnam Style” by Psy is all about this area of Seoul!

Directly opposite the East Gate entry into Starfield COEX Mall is the enormous Gangnam Style Statue 강남상, two golden hands folded over in Psy’s signature style. There is even a little TV next to the giant hands playing the hit tune on repeat, haha.

Gangnam Style Statue, Seoul

Starfield Library at COEX Mall

A convention centre meets shopping paradise, Starfield COEX Mall 스타필드 코엑스몰 is popular for visitors to Seoul due to the country’s largest library being housed within it.

You could spend hours in Starfield Library itself browsing books, or head further afield to do a spot of shopping at the international brands located within the mall.

TIP: It will be almost time for dinner at this hour, why not grab something to eat at one of the restaurants here before heading back to your hotel? I highly recommend the Indian cuisine at Agra!

TIP: The popular Lotte World Tower is another 15 mins from here.

DAY 7: War Memorial of Korea

Getting there: Nearest station Samgaki Station Line 6, Exit 12. Note my phone GPS went haywire here, so head left around the corner and walk about 5 mins until you see the memorial entrance.

If your home country was one of the 22 that was involved in the Korean War, you cannot afford to miss the War Memorial of Korea. It’s incredibly well done and free to enter. 

Not only does it have a substantial amount of information on the Korean War (1950 – 1953), it covers war history from:

  • The ancient Goguryeo Kingdom (37 BC – 688 AD)
  • Silla Dynasty (57 BC – 935 AD)
  • Joseon Dynasty (1392 – 1897)
  • The Korean Empire (1897 – 1910)
  • Japanese Occupation Period (1910 – 1945)
  • Outdoors there are also memorial statues, monuments to the UN forces and an exhibition area of aircraft, tanks and missiles used during the Korean War.

TIP: It’s ideal to visit on your final day as you can spend as little or as long as you wish before heading back to the airport for your flight home.

War Memorial of Korea, Seoul

Australian friends, did you know we were the third nation after the United States to send military support to South Korea after the North invaded? Even to this day, locals are still very grateful to our veterans for their prompt support and sacrifices at the time.

I spent 5 hours here and it still wasn’t enough! Spread over three floors, be immersed in exhibitions about different operations during the Korean War and even see donated artefacts from veterans’ families from all over the world.

TIP: If you had loved ones serve in the Korean War, the front desk has an archive of which rooms you can find out more information on their specific missions. I was blown away by the helpfulness of the staff here. When asking about my family’s mission, an English-speaking staff member provided me with a personalised one-on-one tour of relevant displays and explained each of them to me in detail. I was quite emotional about it and so grateful for the experience.

At the Korean War Archive Centre, you’ll find a substantial section in English filled with books and records of everything to do with the Korean War too. I found books with more info related to the missions my family were involved in, which was very fascinating and meaningful to me.

More options for things to do & day trips from Seoul

In Seoul City

  • Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP)
  • Fresh local markets: Gwangjang Market, Namdaemun Market, Sindangdong Tteokbokki Town, Bamdokkaebi Night Market
  • Itaewon Market Shopping Street
  • National Museum of Korea
  • National Hangeul Museum
  • Nightly water fountain show at Banpo Hangang Park

Other day trips from Seoul

Crucial tips for visiting Seoul

  • Getting around: Google Maps doesn’t work in South Korea, so you’ll need to download either Kakao Map or Naver Map when using public transport. I personally preferred the latter and used it to get everywhere during my time in South Korea.
  • Transportation: Use a rechargeable card on subways, buses, to purchase snacks in convenience stores (similar to a Suica card in Japan). Reserve your T Money Card in advance here. If you’re planning on visiting other areas of South Korea, the KTX Korea Rail Pass may suit you.
  • Staying connected: I used this pocket wifi that I reserved in advance to pick up from Incheon Airport, or use this unlimited data SIM card.
  • Discover Seoul Pass: A transport card that also allows free admission to select attractions over a few days. Find out if it’s for you here.
  • English communication: There is more English in South Korea than Japan. I was quite surprised at how many people started speaking to me in English, which was about 80-90% of people I encountered. Useful Korean phrases still help!
  • Apps to download: The Papago app is more accurate than Google Translate for Korean. Locals use it freely as it’s handy for both parties if any conversations involve a more detailed response.
  • Check before flushing: Remember some toilets require used paper to be placed in a rubbish bin beside the toilet, not flushed.
  • Embrace the culture: Generally, the culture when queuing in South Korea can be a little pushy. While that may seem rude in other cultures, it is a way of life here so don’t take it personally. These do’s and don’ts in South Korea for more cultural etiquette will also help.
  • If you dislike spicy food for breakfast: The chain Paris Baguette was my saviour! Offers European-style breads, pastries, sandwiches and sweets. Korean convenience stores (7-Eleven, GS25, Nice 2CU) had limited Western-style breakfast options. Use Naver Map to locate them.
  • Beware of Shincheonji: Over-friendly young locals may try to get your details to “meet up” somewhere in an effort to recruit members to a religious cult. This happened to me two or three times at major attractions such as N Seoul Tower and Changdeokgung Palace. Never say you are travelling solo, even if you are. Learn ways to avoid them here.

Concluding this 7 day Seoul itinerary 

So now you know how many days in Seoul you should consider and what to do in Seoul for a week! As you can see, every Korea itinerary needs to include a visit to its intriguing capital as well as some significant day trips.

Become immersed in natural scenery, discover the beauty of Korean traditional architecture, enjoy many panoramic viewpoints, learn about ancient to modern history and much more. I hope my South Korea travel guide has given you plenty of ideas to craft your own itinerary for Seoul!

Bookmark my South Korea travel blog and check back for more inspiration soon.

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Until next time,

The Invisible Tourist


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Unforgettable Things to Do in Seoul: One Week Itinerary | The Invisible Tourist

 

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