109 Best Sights in Seoul, South Korea

Seoul City Hall

Jung-gu

The ultimate combination of old and new, Seoul City Hall is made up of two buildings: the original City Hall built in 1926 and the annex added in 2012. The original City Hall building is now used as a library and is officially referred to as the Seoul Metropolitan Library while most administrative duties are conducted in the stunning annex. Not your average city hall, the eco-friendly annex has wavelike architecture and one of the tallest vertical gardens in the world, the Green Wall, that make it well worth a visit. The plaza outside City Hall often holds events and free performances. On the lower floor is Citizens Hall, a community gathering place with art exhibitions.

Seoul City Wall Museum

Dongdaemun

Set in Dongdaemun City Wall Park (also known as Heunginjimun Park), this compact yet worthwhile museum is dedicated to the 18.63 km-long (11.58 mile-long) wall that has surrounded Seoul for more than 600 years. The museum is divided into three permanent exhibition halls featuring the history of the wall, the construction and management of the wall, and the damage and reconstruction of the wall. If you’re planning on walking the Seoul City Wall Trail consider popping into the museum first to enhance your experience.

Seoul City Wall Trail

Dongdaemun

Constructed in 1396 to protect the capital from invasion, Hanyangdoseong is an 18.63 km-long (11.58 mile-long) fortress wall punctuated with eight gates that took 197,400 people 98 days to complete. Although many sections of the colossal wall have been lost to time, about 70 percent of the wall and six of the gates remain intact today. The wall was built in harmony with the city’s natural topography by lining the ridges of Seoul’s four main mountains, making the trails following the wall today a great way to explore Seoul from the ground up. Two sections of the wall lie in the Dongdaemun area and extend north and south from Heunginjimun Gate. 

The northern Naksan Mountain Trail follows the remnants of the wall for 2.1 km (1.3 miles) over Naksan Mountain to Hyehwamun Gate, and the southern Heunginjimun Gate Trail extends 1.8 km (1.1 miles) past Dongdaemun History & Culture Park and Dongdaemun Design Plaza to Gwanghuimun Gate. Whichever trail you take, a good place to start is with a visit to the Seoul City Wall Museum set in Dongdaemun City Wall Park.

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Seoul Metropolitan Library

Jung-gu

Housed in Seoul's former city hall, this bookworm's paradise is worth a look for the historic architecture alone, but it also has 5-meter (16-foot) tall book shelves and more than 510,000 books. Open to everyone, it's a good place to stop for a quiet moment of refuge during city exploration.

Seoul Museum of Art

Jung-gu

One of the city's main art museums, the Seoul Museum of Art's collection is a balanced mix of Korean and foreign as well as classic and modern art. In addition to its permanent collection, the museum often holds special exhibitions ranging from classic foreign masters to new Korean talent. This is a good stop to see what is happening in the Korean art world. The building itself is a grand colonial-era structure that, though it began life as a gallery, later housed the Korean Supreme Court.

61 Deoksugung-gil,, Seoul, South Korea
02-2124–8800
Sights Details
Rate Includes: Free except for special exhibitions, Closed Mon.

Seoul Museum of Craft Art

Jongno-gu

The first public museum in the country to specialize in craft arts, SeMoCA opened in 2021 on the site of the former Pungmoon Girls High School. The museum showcases more than 23,000 pieces across four exhibition buildings and includes samples of embroidered fabrics, furniture, and traditional games dating back hundreds of years. While the topic of craft art may not appeal to everyone, the curation here is exceptionally well-done with many detailed explanations and interactive elements. Parents are particularly fond of the museum’s Craft Village, which has kid-friendly studios dedicated to metalwork, ceramics, and wood crafts. Classes for children are also available through the museum's reservation system.

Seoul Museum of History

Jongno-gu

The Seoul Museum of History traces the growth of the nation from the stone-age to modern times. The main museum is divided into four areas—the Joseon Capital, the lifestyle, culture, and the development of Seoul. For children there are numerous interactive exhibits such as the floor-map of Seoul, Touch Hall, and the Education Hall. Also, the museum frequently hosts concerts, movies, and other events. While the museum is free, special exhibitions have a separate admission fee.

Seoul Plaza

Jung-gu

The green space outside Seoul's city hall frequently holds events such as the Seoul Kimchi Festival, Seoul Queer Culture Festival, and the Hi Seoul Festival (dedicated to street arts). Don't leave without snapping a photo next to the popular I SEOUL U sign on the edge of the plaza.

Seoul Seokchong-dong Ancient Tombs

Jamsil

While the Jamsil neighborhood is known for ultra-modern high rises and shopping malls, you don't have to look too far (like anywhere in Korea) to stumble over some serious history. The Seokchong-dong Ancient Tombs park is home to burial mounds of leaders from from the Baekje dynasty (18 BCE–AD 660). There were thought to be more than 300 such tombs in the area, but most were destroyed during development in the 1970s. The remaining tombs are estimated to date back to the mid-3rd to late-4th centuries, and were discovered along with thousands artifacts such as pottery, roof tiles, beads, and gold.  

Seoullo 7017

Jung-gu

Modeled after New York’s High Line, Seoullo 7017 is a park constructed from an overpass. Built in 1970, the overpass was shut down after being deemed unsafe for cars and after some renovation, opened to the public as a green space in 2017. A little over half a mile, the park is the perfect place for visitors to stroll, taking in panoramic views overlooking Seoul Station and admiring the 20,000 plants that grow here. In the summer, there are a range of events and a dozen public pianos stationed along the way.

432 Cheongpa-ro, Seoul, South Korea
02-313–7017

Sewoon Plaza

Jongno-gu

This historical, multipurpose building made its international debut as the filming site of the 2021 Korean TV drama Vincenzo. First built in 1968, it was the city’s first high-rise building for residential and commercial purposes and later housed tech- and digital-marketplaces. Despite talks of demolishing the centrally located structure, in 2017, the space was opened up to millennial entrepreneurs who’ve since opened cafes and boutiques alongside a few surviving mom and pop electronic goods shops. Don’t miss a small museum devoted to the space’s history on the third floor, have a coffee at Horangi Coffee, and check out the view of Jongmyo Shrine from the Plaza’s rooftop.

Songridan-gil

Jamsil

This once mainly residential area behind Seokchon East Lake has been transformed into a neighborhood of cool restaurants and funky cafes, drawing young people from across the city to delve into its photo-worthy deliciousness. While the main strip offers the most choices, make sure to wander into some of the quieter side alleys, where you just may stumble upon some hidden gems. Be prepared to wait for a table at the more popular places on the weekends, as the Songridan-gil can attract crowds. 

Sungynemun Gate

Jung-gu

One of the four main gates that made up the Fortress Wall of Seoul, Sungyemun Gate (also called Namdaemun Gate) is a designated Korean treasure. It was originally built in 1396 and renovated several times, boasting the title of "the oldest wooden structure in Seoul" for decades. However, a civilian lit it on fire in 2008, and much of it was closed to the public until 2013. It's a great place to stop by in all its reconstructed splendor, and the extra security detail makes your visit feel safe.

40 Sejong-daero, Seoul, South Korea
042-481–4650
Sights Details
Rate Includes: Closed Mon.

The War Memorial of Korea

Yongsan-gu

More than any other event, the Korean War has defined the country's recent history. The War Memorial of Korea focuses on exploring and depicting this war, as well as the others in Korea's history. Outdoors, there are fighter jets and artillery alongside sculptures expressing the hope of reunification and peace. Inside, the museum's exhibitions span the history of warfare in Korea, with an obvious focus on the (technically ongoing) Korean War. The historical exhibition halls are an interesting view into ancient and medieval warfare, while the more modern ones give a sense of Korea's difficult 20th century history. As is often the case with war museums, this one is sobering but the message presented is that of hope for a peaceful future.

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War and Women's Human Rights Museum

Hongdae

Founded in 2012, this small museum on the residential end of the Hongdae neighborhood highlights the lives of comfort women—women forced into sexual slavery during World War II, mostly at the hands of Japanese Imperialist soldiers. Upon arrival, visitors are given audio guides (available in English, Korean, and Japanese) that walk them through the various exhibitions of the three-story space in sequential order. While filled with thought-provoking photographs, contemporary artworks, and historical documents that shed light on the atrocities, it’s hearing the testimonies of the halmonis (surviving women, referred to as grandmothers) that truly makes an impression. The even-handed curation also raises awareness of Vietnamese women abused by Korean soldiers and the work that halmonis have done to aid sexual assault victims worldwide. It is a heavy experience, but one that focuses on learning from the women rather than dwelling on the past.

World Cup Park

Hongdae

Located in Sangam-dong, World Cup Park is a large green space divided into five different parks. Of these, Noeul Park and Haneul Park are considered two of the most picturesque in the city. Both parks are accessible via a climb of nearly 300 steps or a winding, uphill trail but those looking for a less strenuous path can opt for the electric shuttle bus. The maeng-kkongi bus, named after a regional digging frog, departs from the entrance every thirty minutes and is a convenient alternative for those with small children. While the ride is only ten minutes long, it’s a mesmerizing way to take in all the sights at once. Noeul (meaning sunset) Park offers stunning views of the Han River to its West while Haneul (meaning sky) Park is best known as the site of the Seoul Silver Grass Festival every autumn.

Yeouido Full Gospel Church

Yeouido

In addition to the government buildings and glitzy high-rises, Yeouido is home to South Korea’s largest megachurch, with over half a million members. Yeouido Full Gospel Church welcomes the faithful and the curious alike to visit, with smiling white-clad ushers directing traffic into the cavernous 12,000-seat sanctuary. While the congregation is mostly Korean, special sections are reserved for foreigners with headsets translating the sermon into English, Spanish, Indonesian, Mongolian, Chinese, and Japanese.

15 Gukhoe-daero 76-gil, Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul, South Korea
02-6181–9191
Sights Details
Rate Includes: Free

Yeouido Park

Yeouido

Yeouido Park bisects the island straight down the middle, creating a welcome pocket of tranquility amid the surrounding high-rises. All backdropped by the Yeouido skyline are walking trails, graceful pagodas, ponds, and cherry trees, as well as more unique features such as a rock acupressure trail, a bronze statue of the 15th-century King Sejong, and a display C-47 plane nodding back to Yeouido’s days as an airfield.

Yeouido Saetgang Ecological Park

Yeouido

Running along the diminutive Saet River on the opposite side of the island from the larger Han River, this park is much less crowded than others on Yeouido and is an ideal spot for a peaceful jog or bike ride. The park also serves as a nature reserve for the area’s native wetland plants and offers year-round ecology programs. A popular walking route is across the futuristic Yeouido Saetgang Pedestrian Bridge, which spans the park and a major highway before depositing pedestrians in the Singil neighborhood across the Saet River.