How to Spend 1 Day in Seoul
Rich in tradition, yet forward-looking and dynamic, Seoul is a buzzing city of street markets, palaces, skyscrapers, and temples—all set to a K-pop soundtrack. The Korean capital has plenty to fill a week of time, but if you only have a day, you can still catch the highlights. Here’s how to make the most of your limited time in Seoul.
Morning: City Sightseeing
Start your morning at Namsan Tower (N Seoul Tower) to take in the panoramic views over the South Korean capital from the highest point in downtown. After an hour here, explore Seoul’s most notable landmarks on a guided city tour. Admire the architecture of Jogyesa Temple (the main Zen Buddhist temple in the country), watch the Changing of the Guard ceremony at the Presidential Blue House, and learn about the Joseon Dynasty while touring the expansive Gyeongbokgung Palace. If you’d rather see the sights at your own pace, opt for a hop-on hop-off bus tour instead.
Afternoon: Palaces and Markets
After lunch, spend some time touring one of Seoul’s Five Grand Palaces. The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Changdeokgung Palace is the best preserved of Seoul’s royal Joseon palaces, and it served as the seat of kings for 270 years. Changgyeonggung Palace, situated in the heart of Seoul, was the residential quarters for many Joseon queens and concubines. After your palace tour, head to the neighborhood of Insadong, known for its traditional teahouses and antiques shops, or Namdaemun, Korea’s largest traditional market and an excellent place to pick up gifts and souvenirs.
Night: Dinner Cruises & Street Stalls
Seoul truly comes alive at night, and you have several options for spending your evening. Board a cruise for a float along the Han River for nighttime views of Seoul’s illuminated bridges and skyscrapers—including Namsan Tower—with narration to point out what you’re seeing. Foodies won’t want to miss a guided night food tour through the streets of Seoul. Sample Korean barbecue, savory seafood pancakes, kimchi, Korean rice wine, and soju from a variety of street stalls and night markets.