What to do in Seoul for 4 days
Are you planning your first trip to South Korea? Yay, I’m excited to show you around my beloved home country.
For your first visit, I’d suggest you spending at least 4 days in Seoul, which would give you a proper introduction to Korea’s capital city.
This 4-Day Seoul Itinerary covers things to do in Seoul most efficiently, so you can explore the most popular Seoul attractions and neighborhoods during your precious vacation time. You can count on me!
Got 5 days in Seoul or more? Perfect! You will never run out of things to do in Seoul. Check out 20 unique things to do in Seoul for more ideas for your adventure.
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Seoul Itinerary Summary
Day 1: Gyeongbokgung Palace → National Palace Museum or National Folk Museum → Samcheongdong Cafe Street → Bukchon Hanok Village → Jogyesa Temple → Insadong
Day 2: Namdaemun Traditional Market → Myeongdong → (optional: Namsangol Hanok Village) → Nanta Performance → N Seoul Tower
Day 3: National Museum of Korea → (optional: Hangeul Museum, War Memorial of Korea) → Lunch: Noryangjin Fish Market → Itaewon or Hongdae
Day 4: Gangnam [Coex Mall → Bongeunsa Temple → Garosu-gil → Apgujeong Rodeo Street], or Jamsil [Lotte World] → Lotte World Tower
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How to Get to Seoul from Incheon Airport
Like other capital cities globally, Seoul has two main airports outside of the town: Incheon (ICN) and Gimpo (GMP) Airport.
If you are coming from overseas, you will most likely fly into Incheon Airport. Incheon Airport is the largest airport in Korea. Incheon Airport is the best international airport I have ever been to. And every time, I am amazed by how efficient the Korean system works in such a massive airport. No wonder why it has continuously been awarded the world’s best, cleanest, and busiest titles by various organizations!
While Incheon Airport is quite away from the city center, public transportation is easy to navigate for foreigners and the most efficient way to get into Seoul.
>> To use public transportation in Korea, I highly recommend purchasing a T-money Card and enjoy discounted hassle-free rides. It can be used for all transport, including AREX, subways, public buses, and taxis throughout the country. If you purchase the Seoul tourist card Discover Seoul Pass, you can top up to function as a Tmoney card as well.
The Airport Railroad Express (AREX) is the fastest way to get to Seoul’s central areas. AREX operates two trains: Express and All-Stop Trains. Express departs from Terminal 1 and 2 straight to Seoul Station, respectively taking 43 min. and 51 min. Whereas, the all-stop train stops in between Seoul Station (yet takes less than an hour), including Gimpo Airport and Hongik Univ. (Hongdae).
Seoul subway system is one of the best in the world. You can quickly jump into the subway system from Seoul Station, or other AREX stops to your final destination.
Hours: [Terminal 1] 5:23 am – 10:48 pm | [Terminal 2] 5:15 am – 10:40 pm
Fares: Adults ₩9,000 | Children ₩7,000
Hours: [Terminal 1] 5:24 am – 11:39 pm | [Terminal 2] 5:18 am – 11:32 pm
Fares: Adults ₩4,150 (from Terminal 1) or ₩4,750 (from Terminal 2)
>> Why dragging your luggage when you can have it delivered to your hotel? Luggage delivery service is super convenient and affordable in Korea. I use it all the time and love that I don’t have to carry heavy luggage. Enjoy same-day delivery, whether it is airport-to-hotel or hotel-to-hotel service.
While AREX is the fastest way to the city center, you might prefer to take an airport bus if you prefer not to transfer trains with luggage. But note that Seoul traffic is notorious during the rush hours.
Terminal 1: Go to the ticket booths at the Arrivals Hall (1F) near Gates 4 & 9 or outside by Gates 4, 6, 7, 8, 11, or 13.
Terminal 2: Go to the bus terminal at the Transportation Center (B1F).
For more information, visit the Incheon Airport transportation page.
Incheon Airport to Myeongdong
By Train: Take AREX (to Seoul Station direction) → Transfer to Subway Line 4 → Take off at Myeongdong Station.
By Bus: Take airport limousine #6015 (₩15,000 or Tmoney: ₩13,000)
Incheon Airport to Hongdae
By Train: Take AREX all-stop train (to Seoul Station direction) → Take off at Hongdae Station.
By Bus: Take airport limousine #6002 (₩10,000)
Incheon Airport to Seoul Station
By Train: Take AREX to Seoul Station
By Bus: Take airport limousine #6002 (₩10,000)
Incheon Airport to Itaewon
By Train: Take AREX all-stop train (to Seoul Station direction) → Get off at Gongdeok Station → Transfer to Subway Line 6 → Take off at Itaewon Station.
By Bus: Take airport limousine #6030 (₩15,000 or Tmoney: ₩13,000)
Taking a taxi from Incheon Airport to Seoul can be expensive. You will pay the fare by the meter, plus the toll.
How to Get to Seoul from Gimpo Airport
Gimpo Airport is closer to Seoul and mostly serves domestic routes. But if you are flying from Asian countries, you may arrive at Gimpo Airport.
You can use either the Seoul subway system (Line 5) or a variety of limousine, city, and town buses. For bus routes and schedule, visit the Gimpo Airport Transportation page.
Free Travel Apps
Did you know Google Map doesn’t work the best in Korea? Instead, use Kakao Map (iOS, Google Play) for accurate location search and navigation. The app supports English. I also included the map link for the exact location in this itinerary.
4 Days in Seoul Itinerary: Day 1
Rent a hanbok
Hanbok is a traditional Korean outfit from the Joseon Dynasty. The costume is gorgeous and figure-forgiving (read = looks fabulous on everyone!). When you snap photos in hanbok with the ancient palace as your backdrop, you will get so many Instagram-worthy images. So why not going for this cultural experience while making a fashion statement? Plus, for anyone in hanbok, your admission to all Five Grand Palaces of Seoul is free.
I wore a kimono to Asakusa in Tokyo. I cherish the cultural experience and amazing photos to this day. But I remember being exhausted after walking around all day in a belly-tight kimono and uncomfortable zori. Do not worry. Hanbok is much loose-fitting and less restraining.
You will easily find hanbok rental shops near Gyeongbokgung Palace. I recommend researching and booking your spot to save time.
Once you are styled up in hanbok, head to Gyeongbokgung Palace. Gyeongbokgung Palace is the main royal palace of the Joseon Dynasty. And it is one of my favorite heritage places to visit in Seoul that I never get tired of. If it’s your first time, I highly recommend choosing Gyeongbokgung Palace over other palaces in Seoul.
In my opinion, the Gyeonghoeru Pavilion is the most beautiful architecture in the palace ground. Only a few visitors per day led by the palace guide are allowed to preserve the delicate ancient structure. You will need to book your spot in advance.
Be sure to read my detailed guide to Gyeongbokgung Palace, including Gyeonghoeru Pavilion tour. You will find essential information about the Changing of Guards ceremony, free guided tours in multiple languages and other small group tours, limited-time evening programs, and other special programs not to be missed.
Gyeongbokgung Palace has two museums on the palace ground: National Palace Museum and National Folk Museum. If you would like, you can make your way to one of the museums next.
Admission: ₩3,000 (included in Discover Seoul Pass) | Age 7-18: ₩1,500
Free Admission: Children under 6 or Seniors (Age 65+) | Free if worn hanbok | Everyone enters free on the last Wednesdays of the month.
Hours: Spring (March – May) & Autumn (Sept. – Oct.): 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. | Summer (June – Aug.): 9 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. | Winter (Nov. – Feb.): 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. (Closed on Tuesdays)
Location: 161, Sajik-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul [Open Kakao Map]
Nearest Subway Station: Line 3, Gyeongbokgung Station, Exit #5
Line 5, Gyeongbokgung Station, Exit #2
National Palace Museum of Korea
If you are intrigued by the history of the Joseon Dynasty, visit National Palace Museum. The National Palace Museum (국립고궁박물관) exhibits relics from the Joseon Dynasty to the Korean Empire (1392-1910). You can see royal court paintings and learn about royal court life and ceremonies.
Hours: 10 am – 6 pm (Wed. & Sat. Open until 9 pm) | Closed on New Year’s Day, Lunar New Year’s Day & Chuseok holidays
Location: 12, Hyoja-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul [open Kakao map]
National Folk Museum of Korea
The National Folk Museum (국립민속박물관) displays the culture and folk history of people in the Korean peninsula from prehistoric times. This is where you can peek at traditional Korean culture, food, and everyday life. A Walk Down Memory Lane recreates the streets of the 70s-80s in Korea.
Hours: March – May, Sept.-Oct.: 9am – 6pm | June-Aug.: 9am – 6:30p | Nov. – Feb.: 9am – 5pm (Last Wed./Fri. & Sat. Open until 9pm) | Closed on New Year’s Day, Lunar New Year’s Day & Chuseok holidays
Location:37, Samcheong-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul [open Kakao map]
>> Visit Gyeongbokgung Palace and the National Palace Museum to learn about the history of the Joseon Dynasty. Take this history walk tour with a guide (includes admission).
>> Watch the changing of guards and tour Gyeongbokgung Palace with a professional guide. This half-day tour also takes you to the National Folk Museum and Jogyesa Buddhist Temple.
Lunch: Samcheongdong Cafe Street
The northeast of the Gyeongbokgung Palace is Samcheongdong. Samcheongdong cafe street is alleyways with cute hanok cafes, art galleries, and independent shops.
You can explore Samcheongdong to eat lunch, enjoy coffee/tea and desserts, and shop while making your way to Bukchon Hanok Village.
I love a warmly-served sujebi in hangari (Hand-pulled noodle soup in a traditional clay pot), paired with kimchi. If you’d like, you can also try mung bean pancake and dongdongju (traditional liquor similar to makgeolli).
You will need to line up at this famous joint during the lunch hour. There are two similar shops right next to each other. Although both are good, check before lining up if you want to make sure to eat at the original restaurant.
Location: 101-1, Samcheong-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul [open Kakao map]
You may want to grab coffee or tea after lunch. Samcheongdong has many unique hanok cafes of different styles from traditional to modern zen to art galleries.
I am a big fan of einspänner (Viennese Coffee), a cup of espresso topped with a cloud of cream. It is basically for people like me who enjoy a much sweeter version of espresso. If you are with me, you will appreciate einspänner at a cozy hanok cafe called Coffee Mill. The owner barista also draws a caricature for guests when he has downtime.
Location: 8-11, Bukchon-ro 5 ga-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul [open Kakao map]
Bukchon Hanok Village
I suggest you visiting Gyeongbokgung Palace and Bukchon Hanok Village on the same day while you are wearing hanbok for the memorable experience and photo opportunity.
Bukchon Hanok Village is the most well-known and popular hanok village in Seoul. As it is sandwiched between Gyeongbokgung and Changdeokgung Palaces, many government officials and noble families of the Joseon Dynasty used to live in the area. The hanok houses in this part of town have been modernly renovated. Some of them are luxury houses with a well-manicured garden inhabited by wealthy families.
Bukchon is a bit hilly. There are a few vista points, which are marked with signs and easy to locate.
If you care for a bird-eye view of a hanok village, visit Bukchon Observatory. Do not expect a typical high-rise observatory, though. It is a small private home, where you can see ㅁ shaped hanok layouts, traditional roofs, and Gyeongbokgung palace from afar. You pay a small fee to enter and receive a mini cup of refreshment.
For first-time visitors, Bukchon is an excellent choice. You can see the past and present of inhabited hanok houses, which is more meaningful than a folk village, in my opinion. On the downside, you may not enter private homes to see the interior.
Please keep quiet out of respect for residents. No one would enjoy brawling tourists peeping in their private lives and making noise all day.
Hope you took enough photos by now. Let’s return your hanbok before heading to the next stop.
Location: 49, Bukchon-ro 11-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul [Open Kakao Map]
Nearest Subway Station: Line 3, Anguk Station, Exit 1 or 2
Jogyesa Temple is the head temple of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism, which was established during the Joseon Dynasty.
Contrary to the majority of Korean Buddhist temples located remotely, Jogyesa is accessible in the city center. While I cannot say it represents Korean Buddhist temples, you can swing by to enjoy the peaceful moments. Colorful lanterns and old trees on the temple ground also makes it a great place to take photos.
If you are interested in Korean temple food, temple stays, or Buddhism in general, the surrounding area of Jogyesa is an excellent place to explore.
Admission: Free (donations appreciated.)
Location: 55, Ujeongguk-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul [Open Kakao Map]
Nearest Subway Station: Line 3, Anguk Station, Exit 6 | Line 1, Jonggak Station, Exit 2
Insadong Traditional Street
Across the street from the Jogyesa Temple lies the Insadong Traditional Street. For cultural travelers fascinated by the traditions of Korea, Insadong is one of the unmissable Seoul neighborhoods.
Exploring the quaint little alleyways of Insadong, you will see many micro galleries, artists’ workshops, handicrafts, and antique shops. You may appreciate arts and culture, and shop traditional souvenirs to bring back home with memories. For more hands-on experiences, you might want to join various classes to make from kimchi to traditional handicrafts.
For tea lovers like me, Insadong is an excellent area to try a variety of Korean teas. There are many traditional and modern tea houses to choose from.
Before returning to the hotel, have dinner in Insadong. The area has so many notable restaurants from hand-pulled noodles to Korean barbecue to hanjeongsik (Korean table d’hôte).
For more details about my recommendations, check out 15 Things to Do in Insadong.
>> If you want to explore more traditional Korea on your first day, this history full-day tour to visit Gyeongbokgung Palace, Insadong, N Seoul Tower, and Namsan Hanok Village. The tour also offers an option to venture out to the Korean Folk Village in the outskirt of Seoul.
4 Days in Seoul Itinerary: Day 2
Namdaemun Traditional Market
Let’s start your day 2 at Namdaemun. Namdaemun Traditional Market first opened in 1414 during the Joseon Dynasty as a government-chartered market. Ever since, it remains the oldest and largest traditional market in Korea.
Koreans say Namdaemun got everything except what it doesn’t. The range of things you can find here is incredible! You can find anything from clothing, accessories, bedding, kitchenware, eyewear, camera and electronics, stationery, souvenirs, military equipment to grocery (produce, meat, fish, etc.).
Namdaemun is both a wholesale and retail market. Most of the traditional markets in the country will be purchasing their goods at Namdaemun wholesale. For example, Namdaemun accounts for 90% of the children’s fashion sold in the markets. This means that you will most likely get the best price for the same item at Namdaemun. And that’s why I highly recommend shopping for all your Korean souvenirs right here.
- Once you get there, pick up a map at the information center. Namdaemun is giant organized chaos. Their product categories are generally clustered. But the only way to see this is by looking at the map.
- Namdaemun Traditional Market is HUGE and crowded! If you are traveling with children, make sure to keep your eyes on them ALL THE TIME.
- Cash is king! You can try to haggle. But the only way to succeed is by buying multiple items at one store, paying with cash, and having a big smile!
Hours: Varies by the shop. Many retail shops open early in the morning until early evening.
Location: 21, Namdaemunsijang 4-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul [open Kakao map]
Nearest Subway Station: Line 4, Hoehyeon Station, Exit 5
Lunch: Namdaemun Food Alley
Once shopping is done, let’s fill up your stomach. Food is an integral part of experiencing the traditional market and Korean culture. Each conventional market in Korea has specialty food you must try. At Namdaemun, I recommend trying Galchi Jorim (spicy braised cutlassfish) or Kalguksu (knife-cut noodles).
Galchi Jorim (갈치조림) is a cutlassfish (also called belt fish or hairtail fish) braised in a spicy sauce with radish. If you can handle spicy food and fish, this is Namdaemun’s specialty food to try. The restaurants along the Cutlassfish Alley usually give you a complimentary Gyeran-jjim (계란찜), steamed egg custard in hot pot, to neutralize spiciness.
Kalguksu (칼국수) is another (vegetarian) option. At Namdaemun’s famous Kalguksu Alley, a row of food stalls serve a unique combo meal at the affordable price you will rarely find in Seoul. While you can choose to eat Kalguksu noodle by itself, try the combo with barley bibimbap (보리비빔밥) and cold noodles (냉면). If you don’t eat eggs, make sure to ask for no egg: “Gyeran ppaego juseyo (계란 빼고 주세요).”
If none of these call your name, check out many food stalls in the market. They sell delicious hotteok, tteokbokki, kimbap, corn dog, etc.
Myeongdong Shopping Street
Myeongdong is one of the most vibrant shopping districts in Seoul. So it is only natural we continue shopping here. However, I promise you it won’t be redundant.
What you should buy in Namdaemun and in Myeongdong are entirely different. Namdaemun shopping focuses on souvenirs and household/lifestyle items. In contrast, I recommend paying attention to Korean skincare and cosmetics in Myeongdong.
For any K-beauty fans, Myeongdong would be the heaven. This shopping district has all the K-beauty brands you know and didn’t know. You might also be thrilled to visit notable flagship stores, such as Stylenanda Pink Hotel (3CE), AHC Future Salon, Innisfree Green Cafe, and many more.
If you also get a Korean-style makeover, you can try the trendiest hairstyle, get your nails and facial done, and buy street fashion – all in Myeongdong.
Oh, before leaving Myeongdong shopping district, have dinner. From street food to a sit-down restaurant, Myeongdong has so many places where you can eat delicious Korean meals.
I wrote all the details, including shopping tips and Myeongdong food. It will help you plan what to do in Myeongdong, so make sure you read it!
Location: Myeongdong 2-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul [open Kakao map]
Nearest Subway Station: Line 4, Myeongdong Station, Exit 5-10
Nanta is the longest-running show in Korea. It is a non-verbal percussion performance that evolves around drama in the restaurant kitchen.
I know you will be dead tired from walking and shopping all day. And you might think you may not fully enjoy a theatrical show. But I promise you this show is so exciting and entertaining that you will feel more rejuvenated.
The performers use everything in the kitchen as an instrument. With bare minimum words, the story is easy to follow and quite comical. The upbeat rhythm from Korean folk music, samulnori, will make you want to get up and bust a move. Don’t miss the show. I highly recommend it!
Hours: 5pm, 8pm | Fri. & Sun.: 2pm, 5pm, 8pm | Sat.: 11am, 2pm, 5pm, 8pm
Location: Myeongdong Nanta Theatre, 26, Myeongdong-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul [open Kakao map]
Nearest Subway Station: Line 4, Myeongdong Station, Exit 6
Optional: Namsangol Hanok Village
As you visited Bukchon Hanok Village on Day 1, I’ll leave it up to you whether you want to check out Namsangol Hanok Village. If you have to choose between Nanta and Namsangol, go for Nanta.
Namsangol Hanok Village is a group of five notable hanok houses previously owned and lived by high-ranking government officials of the Joseon Dynasty.
Unlike Bukchon, Namsangol is more like a folk village. No one lives in the well-preserved ancient houses so you can check out the interiors and take a glance at traditional Korean lifestyles.
Also, Namsangol Hanok Village is much more than just hanok houses. Located on the northern foot of Namsan, it feels more like a park. You can walk around the traditional garden with pond, check out Seoul Namsan Gukakdang (traditional music theater), sip a coffee at a hanok cafe, etc.
Hours: April – Oct.: 9am – 9pm | Nov. – March: 9am – 8pm | Closed on Mondays.
Location: 28, Toegye-ro 34-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul [Open Kakao Map]
Nearest Subway Station: Line 3 & 4, Chungmuro Station, Exit 4
N Seoul Tower
When the dusk sets in Seoul, take the Namsan Cable Car up to N Seoul Tower. Enjoy a panoramic view of the beautifully lit city from the top of Namsan.
N Seoul Tower is an iconic landmark where you can view the Seoul skyline. From a long time ago, it has been a popular dating spot; couples hang love locks promising eternal love.
If you missed a dinner in Myeongdong, you could try a sky lounge restaurant. The classic French restaurant revolves 360-degree presenting romantic views of Seoul through the large glass windows.
Observatory Admission: ₩10,000 [Purchase discount ticket here]
Location: [Open Kakao Map]
Trip to Busan?
If you have more than a couple of days in Korea, you might want to explore beyond Seoul. Busan is the largest port city in the southeastern part of the Korean peninsula. The marine city is a popular vacation destination for its stunning beach, coastal landscape, and fresh seafood.
4 Days in Seoul Itinerary: Day 3
National Museum of Korea
The National Museum of Korea is one of the most notable museums in Korea. It is one of the most visited museums in the world and Asia with more than 3 million annual visitors. If you have to choose one gallery in Korea, make it this one, as is the representative museum of Korean history and culture.
The museum sits in a large park with modern architecture, surrounded by a Korean garden and pond. Its extensive exhibition covers Korean history and arts from the prehistoric era. Many of the authentic National Treasures are also in the display as a permanent collection.
Have you been to Gyeongju? The authentic relics of the ancient capital are here, not in Gyeongju Museum (replica).
By the way, if you get hungry before reaching Noryangjin for lunch, the National Museum of Korea has a decent food court and cafe.
Insider’s Tip: Hangeul Museum is right next to the National Museum of Korea. If you are interested in learning more about how Korean letters were created, you can swing by. It is an excellent kids-friendly museum.
Admission: Free, separate charge for special exhibits
Hours: 9:30 am – 6 pm (Closed on Mondays)
Location: 137, Seobinggo-ro, Yongsan-gu, Seoul [open Kakao map]
Nearest Subway Station: Line 4, Ichon Station, Exit 2
War Memorial of Korea
Are you interested in war history? Considering Korea is the only divided country in the world since the fall of the Berlin Wall, visiting the War Memorial of Korea is meaningful.
The War Memorial of Korea displays historical artifacts related to the Korean War (1950-1953). It also serves as a memorial hall for the notable sacrifice by the Korean and international heroes. Besides the exhibit, the museum welcomes visitors of all ages to participate in various educational programs. The outdoor area exhibits weapons used in the Korean War and the collection of armaments.
Hours: 9:30 am – 6 pm (Closed on Mondays)
Location: 29, Itaewon-ro, Yongsan-gu, Seoul [open Kakao map]
Nearest Subway Station: Line 4 or 6, Samgakji Station, Exit 12
Lunch: Noryangjin Fish Market
Noryangjin Fish Market is a unique experience, whether you love seafood or not. Unlike the most fish markets of the world that opens only at dawn, Noryangjin is a 24-hour fish market. (You don’t have to get up super early in the morning!) And it is the largest wholesale and retail seafood market in Seoul.
First, I suggest exploring the fish market. You might find amusing seafood you have never seen or eaten in your country – such as octopus, squid, spoon worm (also called penis fish), sea cucumber, etc. While at it, you can even scout which vendor you’d like to buy your lunch from. The market also offers more familiar fish like tuna and mackerel, as well as crabs and shellfish.
At Noryangjin, you buy fresh, live seafood from a vendor. Tell them you want to eat there. Then, an usher will come and escort you to the upstairs restaurant. You let them know how you like it to be cooked.
Disclaimer: I have never tried to eat at Noryangjin Fish Market. Whenever I travel to Korea, I always go to my hometown Jeju. Because I can easily access fresh seafood there (but not necessarily cheaper), I never needed to go to Noryangjin in Seoul. If your itinerary does not include Jeju or Busan (READ>> What to Eat in Busan), I’d recommend you having the Noryangjin experience in Seoul. Don’t you agree it’s a pretty awesome experience?
Location: 674, Nodeul-ro, Dongjak-gu, Seoul [open Kakao map]
Nearest Subway Station: Line 1 or Line 9, Noryangjin Station, Exit 7
There are a few neighborhoods of Seoul best enjoyed in the evening. Itaewon and Hongdae are good examples. If you visit there before the early afternoon, you will less likely see their true color. For this itinerary, I recommend selecting Itaewon or Hongdae to spend the late afternoon to evening on Day 3.
Option 1: Itaewon
The U.S. Army base used to be in Yongsan until they relocated only a few years ago; ever since, the Itaewon community caters to expats in Seoul. Once you get there, you will notice a change of scene. From foreign-language conversations to eateries catering to international flavors, many foreign nationals feel at home in Itaewon.
Itaewon is truly diverse in many ways. It is the LGBT central of Korea. (In Korean culture, not many people feel comfortable to come out of the closet elsewhere.) Also, Muslims gather here around the only mosque in Seoul and enjoy various Halal food options here.
Things to do in Itaewon
- Enjoy unique cafes and dessert shops
- Explore themed streets such as Gyeongridan-gil and Woosadan-gil
- Gobble up authentic multicultural food, as well as gourmet Korean cuisine
- Shop big and tall
- Appreciate arts and culture at Leeum Samsung Museum of Art or Hyundai Card Music Library
- Enjoy the lively bar and club scene in the evening
Insider’s Tip: Be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes to explore hilly Itaewon.
Option 2: Hongdae
Hongdae is the hot place where the young and the hip hang out. It is also the playground for indie musicians and artists, so you can expect to see performances and arts on the street. The lively streets are lined with one-of-a-kind shops, cute cafes, cheap eateries and gourmet restaurants, hip bars, and clubs.
This hip neighborhood used to be my neck of the woods. Check out my recommendations for what to do, see, eat, drink, and shop in Hongdae. I included all my favorite cafes, shops, and bars in this detailed guide to Hongdae.
By the way, if you are looking for hotels in Seoul, both Itaewon and Hongdae is an excellent area to stay.
4 Days in Seoul Itinerary: Day 4
Let’s enjoy your last day in Seoul in Gangnam Style! Gangnam has gained worldwide fame since Psy’s mega-hit <Gangnam Style> swept the world in 2012.
Gangnam refers to the general area in the South of (Han) River. While it is often compared to Beverly Hills, Gangnam is much larger and denser.
The district is a glitzy rich town with upscale high-rise apartments, best public schools, dense commercial skyscrapers, and glamorous shopping complexes. When you visit Gangnam today, you wouldn’t believe that the area used to be mainly agricultural fields until the government’s Seoul expansion plan in the 1970s.
As there are so many exciting things to do, see, and eat in Gangnam, you can probably spend more than a day exploring this glamorous district. I recommend picking 2-3 activities for your Day 4 itinerary from below.
Starfield Coex Mall
Coex Mall is annexed to a Coex convention center in Gangnam. Asia’s largest underground shopping mall houses a movie theater, aquarium, library, bookstore, international and local brand shops, 100+ cafes and restaurants, etc. You can spend an entire day and not get bored.
If you are curious about the Gangnam Style bronze statue to take a quick snap, it is located in front of Coex Mall East Gate.
Location: 513, Yeongdong-daero, Gangnam-gu, Seoul [open Kakao map]
Nearest Subway Station: Line 9, Bongeunsa Temple Station, Exit 7
Starfield Library is a FREE cultural space where everyone is welcome to read its vast collection of books and rest. It is perhaps one of the most photographed libraries in the world with vertically displayed books on the 13-meter-high bookshelves. The library often hosts a writer’s talkshow, poetry reading event, book concert with music, and other cultural events.
Hours: 10:30 am – 10 pm
Coex Aquarium is the largest aquarium in Seoul, with 40,000 sea creatures. It showcases the most diverse and extensive sharks in Korea, from the Caribbean, Pacific, and Indian Oceans. You can walk the undersea tunnel exhibit to see various sea creatures swim by. You might be delighted to see fish in a traditional hanok house, or a vending machine turned into a fish tank. Its mermaid performance and penguin feeding are popular among children.
Admission: ₩28,000 [Purchase skip-the-line ticket here] | Children: ₩24,000 | Children under 36 mo.: Free
Hours: 10 am – 9 pm
Bongeunsa Temple is a Buddhist temple of a thousand-year tradition. It was the largest Buddhist temple in Hanyang during the Joseon Dynasty, and still is in today’s Gangnam.
Only across the street from Coex Mall, it is an excellent place to experience tranquility in the urban jungle like Gangnam. If you would like to extend your stay, Bongeunsa is one of the Korean Buddhist temples to offer a temple stay program in English.
Location: 531, Bongeunsa-ro, Gangnam-gu, Seoul [open Kakao map]
Nearest Subway Station: Line 9, Bongeunsa Temple Station, Exit 1
Garosu-gil is a famous shopping street with hip cafes, restaurants, and high-end multi-brand fashion stores. It is one of my favorite corners in Gangnam.
Like Myeongdong, Garosugil is an excellent place for shopping. But it is much less crowded and has the Gangnam vibes. Fashion and household items here also reflect the Gangnam Style.
Even if you don’t intend to buy anything, walk the Garosugil Street to feel the vibes. You can visit cafes and restaurants to re-energize.
Special note to K-beautyholics: Besides the beauty drug stores like Olive Young and LOHB’s, Garosugil is home to many flagships (e.g., 3CE Cinema) and one-of-a-kind shops. Jeong Saem Mood Plops is a modern art gallery and cosmetic store by Korea’s famous makeup artist. Be sure to check out isoi flagship shop, which is my favorite organic K-beauty brand!
Location: 120, Apgujeong-ro, Gangnam-gu, Seoul [Open Kakao Map]
Nearest Subway Station: Line 3, Sinsa Station, Exit 8
Apgujeong Rodeo Street
Before Garosugil and Hongdae, Apgujeong Rodeo Street was the IT place for the young and the rich in the 1990s. That crowd was called “the Orange people,” which is the Korean equivalent of trust fund kids in a derogative term. Back then, many Korean celebrities were picked up by the agents on this street.
While Apgujeong is not as hot as before, the district still attracts the young and hip. Rodeo Street is lined with high-end fashion stores, flagship stores, and popular restaurants and cafes. One of which is Mumin Cafe.
For the K-pop fans, Apgujeong is a must-visit spot as they make a pilgrimage to K-Star Road with 18 large Gangnamdol (Gangnam Idol) statues. This part of the town is also notable as the home to leading entertainment agencies such as SM and JYP Entertainment.
Location: 668033, Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul [open Kakao map]
Nearest Subway Station: Bundang Line, Apgujeong Rodeo Station, Exit 5 or 6
Optional: Lotte World
If you like an amusement park, you cannot miss Lotte World. I recommend spending a full day at Lotte World or at least a half-day. So if not for a full day, you could split your day between Gangnam and Lotte World. After 4 pm, you can also get a discounted admission. (However, buy the all-day pass from the link below because it is way cheaper.)
As Korea doesn’t have Disney, Lotte World is the next best alternative for die-hard theme park fans. If Disney has Mickey & Mini, Lotte World has Lotty & Lorry. And it also got Magic Castle!
Although I am a chicken when it comes to rides, I have been to Lotte World quite a few times. In fact, I rode its famous Gyrodrop, Viking, roller coaster, and many other hair-raising rides (peer pressure!!!).
I probably would not voluntarily go back and hop on these rides again. But I recommend Lotte World for those who love thrills, family travelers with children, and the love birds.
Admission: ₩56,000 | Age 13-18:₩50,000 | Age 3-12: ₩46,000
Magic Pass Premium (skip the line): ₩47,000 for 5 rides, ₩85,000 for 10 rides
Hours: Mon.-Thurs. 9:30 am – 10 pm | Fri.-Sun. 9:30 am – 11 pm
Location: 240, Olympic-ro, Songpa-gu, Seoul [open Kakao map]
Nearest Subway Station: Line 2, Jamsil Station, Exit 4
Lotte World Tower
How about enjoying your last evening with the view of Seoul from the tallest building in Korea? Let’s head over to Lotte World Tower in Jamsil.
Lotte World Tower is a 123-story skyscraper (556 m=1,824 ft.) built in 2017. While it is the latest addition to the Seoul sky, it quickly has become a significant landmark of the city. The slender cone-shaped glass architecture with curved sides was inspired by Korean ceramics.
The multi-purpose tower houses offices, residence, as well as SEOUL SKY observation deck on the 117th-123rd floor. You can overlook a gorgeous Seokchon Lake surrounded with cherry blossoms or colorful autumn foliage depending on the season.
Also, SIGNIEL SEOUL (Check rates here) in this tower is Seoul’s only 6-star luxury hotel. Guest rooms spread from the 76th to 101st floors with the unobstructed view of Seoul. The Evian Spa and SIGNIEL Bar 81 are other luxury amenities worth your visit.
Hours: Sun.-Thurs. 11 am – 10 pm | Fri./Sat./Holiday Eve: 11 am – 11 pm
Location: 300, Olympic-ro, Songpa-gu, Seoul [open Kakao map]
Nearest Subway Station: Line 2 or 8, Jamsil Station