109 Best Sights in Seoul, South Korea

Cheonggyecheon Stream

Jongno-gu

Running east–west through the city, this path-lined stream is one of the best places in Seoul to go for a stroll, especially in summer when it's a cool respite from the heat. Simple scenes of folks taking a break from Seoul's hectic pace play out daily: couples walk hand in hand; students gather; and businesspeople relax on the steps during their lunch break. A good place to start exploring is Cheonggye Plaza at the west end of the stream with its striking Claes Oldenburg pop-art sculpture, Spring. Every November, the Seoul Lantern Festival is hosted here, during which hundreds of delicate lanterns light up the waters.

Cheongun Literature Library

Jongno-gu

Although the Starfield Library in Gangnam’s COEX Mall is likely Seoul’s most famous, the Cheongun Literature Library a short bus ride away from Gyeongbokgung Station is hands down its most beautiful. The library is spread over two levels: the lower level houses approximately 20,000 books in a conventional library setting, and the ground floor consists of two units of a hanok. The hanok’s bonchae (main building) has several rooms with Korean floor-style seating for those looking to read or study in private and a one-room nujeong (annex) open to the public. While visitors cannot check out books, the library’s unique design and nearby Cheongun Park make the trip worthwhile.

Jahamun-ro 36-gil, Seoul, South Korea
070-4680–4032
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Rate Includes: Free, Closed Mon.

Culture Station Seoul 284

Jung-gu

Housed in the previous train station, Culture Station Seoul 284 is an arts complex that often hosts performances, exhibitions, and events. The building, originally Gyeongseong Station in 1925, was renovated several times before opening in its current iteration in 2011, but many of the rooms have the look and feel of early modern Korea. The station’s Central Hall has a striking glass ceiling worth admiring, and the former barbershop has been converted to a small exhibition center showcasing the building’s restoration.

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Daelim Museum

Jongno-gu

Contemporary art, and especially photography, is the focus of this small but special museum near Gyeongbukgung Palace. Its colorful galleries are the reason you come, but be sure to admire the exterior, a modernist cube comprised of stained glass panels. From the balcony, you can spot Inwansan and Bukhansan mountains in the distance.

Dongdaemun History & Culture Park

Dongdaemun

It seems anachronistic that the Dongdaemun History & Culture Park is directly adjacent to the ultra-modern Dongdaemun Design Plaza, but there it is: the new juxtaposed with the old. They were both constructed at the same time as part of one massive project, and it was all of the ancient relics unearthed that led to the establishment of the park as a historical destination. The park houses remnants of Hanyangdoseong (Seoul City Wall) and the Yigansumun Water Gate, as well as the Dongdaemun History Museum.

281 Eulji-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
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Rate Includes: Free

Dongdaemun History Museum

Dongdaemun

Part of the Dongdaemun History & Culture Park, this museum displays pottery, porcelain, and other relics excavated during the park's construction; they date from the 14th century to the Japanese occupation of Korea in the 20th century.

Dongdaemun Market

Jongno-gu

Seoul's largest market can be overwhelming for the first time visitor. Consisting of over 20 shopping malls and 30,000 shops, it is a sprawling indoor and outdoor area spread over multiple blocks. Different sections of Dongdaemun cater to different clienteles. Gwangjang Market offers an assortment of street food, while the north-south axis of the market, Hegunginmunno Street, houses clothing and accessory shops for Seoul's teens and 20-somethings. The new Dongdaemun Design Plaza at the west end of the market houses galleries and a small museum. While not as easy to navigate as the Namdemun Market, for those with more time in Seoul, Dongdaemun makes for a lively afternoon.

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Donggwanwangmyo (Dongmyo) Shrine

Dongdaemun

Just outside Dongmyo subway station (exit three), there’s a whole city block that feels as though it’s emerged from another era. This veritable time warp contains various examples of Chinese art and architecture including wood statues, stone calligraphy tablets, and an ornate, colorful shrine dedicated to the third-century general Guan Yu of the ancient Chinese state Shu Han. The general’s spirit was said to have led a Korean army to victory over a Japanese invasion in 1592, and the complex was erected in 1599 in his honor.

84 Nangye-ro 27-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
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Rate Includes: Free

Dosan Park

Established in 1973, this cool little park is dedicated to the memory of Ahn Chang-ho (pen name "Dosan"), a key figure in Korea's independence movement against the Japanese occupation. The park contains his statue, as well as the Dosan Ahn Chang-ho Memorial Hall, a kind of mini-museum dedicated to the life and times of this man dear to the hearts of so many Koreans. The park is a perfect place to take a break from the bustle of the city while also reflecting on figures like Dosan who sacrificed it all to help pave the way for a prosperous and free Korea.

10-6 Dosan-daero 49-gil, Seoul, 06021, South Korea
02-514–5060

Gaeppul Museum & Cafe

Jongno-gu

At this cafe and museum in the Ihwa Mural Village, the price of admission includes a drink and access to its Lock, Pottery, and Kitchen mini-museums. (The Lock Museum is particularly famous). The owner spent decades collecting these Korean artifacts to showcase in his own space. Although explanatory text is limited, the staff are more than happy to offer insights as you sip your drink from room to room. There are also outdoor seats on the observation decks with breathtaking views of Seoul’s skyline. This is also a great place for a bathroom break (with paid admission) as the public ones in the village are often closed.

Gallery Hyundai

Jongno-gu

This lovely contemporary art gallery is worth a stop if you're in Insa-dong and in the mood for perusing quirky, thought-provoking pieces from local and international artists. The space itself is bright and easy to navigate.

Gangnam Meat Alley

Seocho-gu

Sitting just two blocks behind Gangnam Station's Exit 10, this narrow concourse is home to scores of barbecue restaurants as well as pocha, the Korean drinking-establishments serving up side dishes known as anju. In the warmer months the outdoor patios are packed with a young crowd eating and drinking and living it up. The atmosphere is lively and infectious, and while you may have to wait for a table on the weekends, the opportunity to sit outside, nibble on grilled meat, and wash it all down with a bottle or two of soju should not be missed.

Gangnam Dae-ro, 64 gil, Seoul, 06614, South Korea

Garosu-gil

Gangnam-gu

While the neighborhoods north of the Han River are home to most of the tourist sights in Seoul, the much newer areas to the south offer a glimpse of Seoul's trendier side. Easily the best place to see this would be Garosu-gil, Seoul's aptly named "Street of Trees." The number of trees lining this shady 700 meter-long (2,297 feet) street is challenged only by the number of its boutiques, cafes, and restaurants. While other neighborhoods in Gangnam are packed with international brands, Garosu-gil is still dominated by locally produced goods and cafes. While not necessarily the place for traditional souvenirs, Garosu-gil is a good stop for some relaxing boutique shopping and watching the world go by from one of its many cool cafés.

Sinsa-dong, Seoul, 06036, South Korea

Gwanghwamun Square

Jongno-gu

The large public square facing Gyeongbokgung Palace has long been a historical center of Seoul. After a renovation, the square doubled in size in 2022. Leafy trees, water fountains, and more pedestrian walkways now line the plaza, making this a sensible starting point for (or respite during) your adventures of the neighborhood. While here, admire its recently restored platform, once a stand for kings to communicate with the people that was later destroyed during Japanese occupation, plus two iconic statues, one of King Sejong and another of Admiral Yi Sunshin. The U.S. Embassy is across from the square.

Gyeonghuigung Palace

Jongno-gu

Gyeonghuigung, the Palace of Light and Joy, is by far the least grand of Seoul's palaces, but also the least visited. Built in 1617, it is also the most recent of Seoul's palaces, but like the others Gyeonghuigung suffered a similar cycle of destruction during Japanese occupation and restoration. The palace is often used as a set in Korean films and dramas, so lucky visitors may even happen upon a movie shoot. Next door is the Seoul Museum of History.

55 Saemunan-ro, Seoul, South Korea
02-724–0274
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Rate Includes: Free, Closed Mon.

Heunginjimun Gate

Dongdaemun

Also known as Dongdaemun Gate (Great Eastern Gate), this massive, elaborate structure is one of the eight gates that protected the outer wall of Seoul Fortress during the Joseon Dynasty. Originally built in 1396, the towering two-story hipped roof features the distinctive curved edges of East Asian architecture. The gate fell into disrepair and was rebuilt in 1869, and in 1963 was designated a National Treasure by the Korean government.

288 Jong-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
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Rate Includes: Free

Hongik Children’s Park

Hongdae

More commonly referred to as the Hongdae Playground, this seemingly ordinary park wears many different hats. Its prime location facing the entrance of Hongik University has made it an outdoor performance space, a silent disco stage, a BYOB watering hole, and a marketplace for reasonably priced local art. For this reason, it’s a place that symbolizes youth and individuality for many Seoulites. To catch an event or interesting happening here, try visiting the park on a Friday or Saturday night when crowds of college students are out on the town. Korean drama fanatics may recognize it from popular shows such as Coffee Prince, Bel Ami, and My Golden Life, among others.

Ikseon-dong Hanok Village

Jongno-gu

Within this maze of hanoks (traditional Korean houses) you'll find a host of trendy bars, cafes, shopping, and hip restaurants. The quaint alleyways are a great place to stroll among the area's history as it mixes with contemporary Korean culture.

Insa-dong

Jongno-gu

Full of restaurants and street vendors, modern art galleries and traditional crafts, this neighborhood is buzzing with energy year round. An interesting blend of the old and new, it connects the historic neighborhoods and palaces of northern Seoul to the fast-paced modern downtown. While there are any number of interesting shops, teahouses, and restaurants, the modern Ssamzie-gil complex is worth a special stop. The four-story building is home to more than 70 shops and restaurants, from inexpensive crafts to works by world-famous designers. Insa-dong is one of the best places in the city to shop for souvenirs or antiques. A number of shops sell generic "made in China" ceramics and goods though, so be sure what you are getting is the real thing. Although it has become more tourist-centered in the past few years, Insa-dong remains one of Seoul's best areas to spend the day.

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Inwangsan Mountain

Jongno-gu

Just northwest of downtown Seoul, Inwangsan mountain rises just 338 meters (1,109 feet) making it an easy place to hike if you want stellar views of Seoul and its ancient fortress wall. A moderate 1.1-mile out-and-back trail takes you along city wall, past rock formations, and to views of the city. It takes about 45 minutes to complete, but note there are some challenging sections.

29 Inwangsan-ro 1-gil, Seoul, South Korea

Iumpium Sewing History Museum

Dongdaemun

This unique little museum lies on a residential street north of the hectic thoroughfares around Dongdaemun Square. Permanent and special exhibitions explore the history of the sewing industry in Korea, and there are hands-on experiences such as making brooches or keychains. Tours in English are offered for one to 20 people and must be reserved at least one day in advance.

Jamsil Hangang Park

Jamsil

This pleasant riverside park is a great place to unwind in the midst of Seoul's hustle and bustle. It's home to a swimming pool, inline skating rink, soccer field, ice rink, volleyball courts, bicycle paths, and more. In the warmer months it's an ideal spot to sit down for a picnic, a favorite pastime of Seoulites. 

Jamsil Sports Complex

Jamsil

Built for the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, this sports complex was the location of the opening and closing ceremonies. It houses the Jamsil Baseball Stadium, where you can catch a KBO game, plus football stadiums, golf courses, a hockey rink, Olympic swimming pool, and gyms that can be booked for use. It also hosts concerts from time to time, including past performances from big name acts such as BTS and Paul McCartney. The Olympic Pavilion exhibit displays uniforms, mascots, and souvenirs from the games and has free admission. Take a tour and learn all about that Olympics, including how the Olympic Stadium here is where American sprinter Griffith Joyner won three gold medals, and Carl Lewis won gold in the 100 meter. Check out Hodori Plaza, where a cartoon tiger called Hodol welcomes you and where the Olympic flame was ignited.

Jeoldusan Martyrs' Shrine

Hongdae

With a name that literally means “beheading hill,” this shrine pays tribute to the approximately 8,000 Catholics that were executed for their faith here in 1866. Overlooking the Han River to the West, the shrine’s outdoor space and exhibitions are open to the public. There is an altar for lighting votive candles and a few dozen statues of well-known Catholics like Mother Teresa and Andrew Kim Taegon, the first Korean Catholic priest. There are two exhibit spaces, a museum on the history of the space in the main building, and a nook that showcases the vehicles used to torture Catholics. Religious or otherwise, the space is a sight to behold for its significance in Korean history and sunset views over the Han.

Jongmyo Shrine

Jongno-gu

Another of Seoul's UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Sites, Jongmyo is the royal shrine of the Joseon kings and queens. Completed in 1395, the shrine houses stone tablets said to contain the spirits of these long deceased rulers. Like the palaces of Seoul, Jongmyo was destroyed in 1592, but rebuilt and expanded soon after. The forested grounds make for a peaceful setting, but the highlight here is the shrine itself, credited as the longest wooden structure in the world. Fronted by an expansive, 150-meter-long (492-foot) raised stone yard, it is an impressive sight. More than any other destination in Seoul, Jongmyo makes one feel very, very small—possibly the intended effect in the face of ancient royal spirits. The first Sunday in May Jongmyo hosts the jerye, a slow but colorful Confucian ceremony honoring the old royalty.

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157 Jong-ro, Seoul, South Korea
02-755–0195
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Rate Includes: ₩1,000, Closed Tues.

JYP Entertainment

Jamsil

Recently relocated from its former site in Gangnam, JYP Entertainment now calls Jamsil home. This renowned company hosts a roster of artists including TWICE, ITZY, Stray Kids, and 2PM, making it a mandatory stop on the itinerary of any K-pop fan hoping to catch a glimpse of their favorite idol, or for those who may just be curious about the phenomenon.

K Museum of Contemporary Art

Featuring paintings, sculptures, installations, performances, and video projects by artists from both Korea and abroad, the museum emphasizes interaction between the audience and the artist, and the curators aren't afraid to put forth challenging and experimental work. Gangnam has grown into one of the country's creative hubs, and the K Museum of Contemporary Art is a great place to visit if you want to put your finger on the pulse of the currents informing and inspiring the modern Korean arts scene.

807, Seolleung-ro, Seoul, 061019, South Korea
02-2138–0952
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Rate Includes: ₩13,000, Closed Mon.

K-Star ROAD

Located along the strip of high-end designer shops near Apgujeong Rodeo Station, this attraction features a series of cute bear statues inspired by K-pop acts such as BTS, Psy, Blackpink, and more. While not necessarily a mind-blowing experience, the photo ops are a must for any hardcore K-pop aficionado. 

407, Apgujeong-ro, Seoul, 06027, South Korea

KT&G Sangsang Madang

Hongdae

This seven-story multicultural complex houses several galleries, a concert hall, a movie theater, and a stationery and design store. The building, which stands prominently at the end of Picasso Street, is easily recognizable for its unique, irregular flower-pattern design. Two highlights of the space include the movie theater, which often has art films with subtitles, and the stationery store. The latter is a great place to pick up souvenirs for friends back home.

Kukje Gallery

Jongno-gu

Nothing screams "modern art gallery" quite like the cube architecture of Kukje, which aims to share the work of contemporary Korean artists like Kwon Young-Woo and Ha Chong-Hyun with the world. The gallery regularly participates in Art Basel and other globally acclaimed art festivals. International artists such as Damien Hirst, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Anish Kapoor are also represented.