Seoul Itinerary: How to spend 4 amazing days in Seoul
Are you visiting Seoul soon? This Seoul itinerary includes the perfect mix of activities and sets out everything you need to know to fully enjoy 4 days in Seoul.
Seoul packs a bunch of exciting activities for all types of travelers – from bustling markets and high-end shopping to ancient palaces and jaw-dropping scenery. With so much to do and see, Seoul is one city you don’t want to miss.
With 4 days in Seoul, you’ll have more than enough time to explore the top tourist spots and get a taste of what this vibrant city has on offer. Find out what to do in Seoul, where to stay, how to get around and get all our top tips to help you plan the perfect first-time visit here!
Before visiting Seoul, it’s essential to have a few basics in place. Here are our top pre-travel planning tips to help you thoroughly enjoy 4 days in Seoul:
- Search the best hotel rates in Seoul. Although there is no shortage of excellent accommodation options, it’s best to book accommodation well in advance. Hotels fill up quickly during peak season and on weekends. Also, expect higher prices during peak seasons.
- Since there is so much to do in Seoul, it’s best to plan out your itinerary before arrival. You’ll find tons on inspiration in this Seoul itinerary, but investing in a good guide book, such as this Seoul Lonely Planet, is also highly recommended.
- Order a 4G SIM card or 4G Wifi for pickup at the airport. You’ll need this to access transport schedules, maps, and more.
- Get a discounted AREX Pass to get from the airport to the city center within 30 minutes. From here, you can access the subway. Alternatively, you could also take an airport limousine bus. The journey takes about 1 hour, but you won’t need to change transport modes. If you are traveling with lots of luggage, it’s best to book a shared transfer for a stress-free trip.
- If you plan on visiting many tourist attractions in Seoul, consider buying a Seoul Pass. The pass gives you discounted or free entrance to many of the main tourist spots.
- Order a T money card for pick up at the airport. The T mobile card is a (refundable) top-up transport card that enables you to tap and go on public transport. It will save you the hassle of bothering with small change, and you can also use it at convenience stores.
- For a truly authentic Korean experience, you might also want to rent a hanbok – traditional Korean clothing. Dressing up is in one of these cute dresses is so much fun, and you’ll also have the chance to take totally insta-worthy photos.
- Seoul is extremely safe to visit with little to no crime. However, you never know what can happen on a trip, and it’s always best to be overprepared for unforeseen circumstances. Therefore, make sure that you and your belongings are covered when visiting Seoul. World Nomads has a bunch of excellent options, no matter your budget or traveling style.
- To get a closer look at Seoul’s unique history, you may want to consider joining this excellent tour.
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How to spend 4 amazing days in Seoul
This 4-day Seoul itinerary is jam-packed with unique things to do in Seoul. However, if you prefer traveling at a slower pace, feel free to adjust this itinerary to suit your own needs and traveling style. Also, if it’s your first visit to Seoul, these travel tips for South Korea will come in handy.
Day 1 of 4 Days in Seoul Itinerary
Start your Seoul itinerary by exploring one of the city’s most popular tourist hubs – Insa-dong. This vibrant neighborhood has a huge pedestrian walkway and plenty of nooks and crannies to explore. The best part about visiting here, however, is getting lost in the maze of secret alleys winding off from the main walkway. Along the way, you’ll find tons of quirky shops selling traditional Korean goods, galleries, hipster cafes, teahouses, and plenty of photo opportunities.
Bukchon Hanok Village
A short stroll away from the Insa-dong’s mazed alleys, you’ll find one of Korea’s most revered traditional villages – Bukchon Hanok Village. This 600-year old village dates back to the Joseon Dynasty and lies on top of a hill between three of the city’s most important landmarks – Gyeongbok Palace, Changdeok Palace, and Jongmyo Royal Shrine. Besides the excellent views, you can enjoy over the city, Bukchon is also the perfect place for a relaxing walkabout and, more importantly, a great way to get a closer look at traditional Korean houses, called hanok.
Although most of these hanoks are privately owned today, many of them also serve as cultural hubs, guesthouses, eateries, and teahouses. When visiting here, though, please remember to be respectful at all times.
Culture seekers, history buffs, and avid photographers could easily work on spending at least 3-4 hours here as there is plenty to keep you busy.
Day 2 of 4 Days in Seoul Itinerary
Seoul has no shortage of activities to keep culture seekers and history buffs enthralled. The city is home to five magnificent palaces, all equally worthy of your time. However, with only 4 days in Seoul, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll get to see all of them.
If you really only have one day to explore the palaces, be sure not to miss Gyeongbokgung and Changgyeonggung – two of the most important palaces in the city. Here you’ll have a chance to duck into age-old halls, admire unique architecture, dive into the rich history and stroll around sublime gardens.
Gyeongbokgung Palace is not only the largest but also the grandest of Seoul’s five palaces. It was built during the Joseon Dynasty in 1395 and is the most well-preserved palace in Seoul.
Besides the jaw-dropping architecture, it’s home to sprawling grounds with unique sculptures dotted along the way. The grounds also house several museums where you can get a closer glimpse into Korea’s unique history.
Time permitting, dropping by the National Palace Museum of Korea and the National Folk Museum are also highly encouraged. Another fun activity not to miss while visiting here is the changing of the guards. You can witness this age-old tradition in front of the main gate, twice a day at 10 am and 2 pm.
Top Tips: Gyeongbokgung is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Seoul, so expect tons of tourists no matter which time of day you visit. Luckily the grounds are enormous, so the crowds do disperse rather quickly past the main entrance.
Changdeokgung Palace is yet another palace worthy of adding to your Seoul itinerary. Built in 1405, Changdeokgung mainly served as the second royal villa where many kings lived during the Joseon Dynasty.
Similarly to Gyeongbokgung, Changdeokgung offers visitors a closer look at ancient architecture and Korea’s rich history. Although the palace was destroyed during the Japanese invasion, it was reconstructed in 1610 and then served as the main palace for over 270 years. There are several halls on the grounds, but what really sets Changdeokgung apart from the other ‘Five Grand Palaces in Seoul” is its immaculate gardens.
Changdeokgung is a great place to enjoy gentle strolls through the spacious and beautiful gardens. Along the way, you’ll be rewarded with magnificent views of the cityscape, cute pavilions, and lotus ponds. A visit to the Secret Garden (additional charge), which runs through the valley, is yet another must while here.
Day 3 of 4 Days in Seoul Itinerary
Spend day 3 of your Seoul itinerary exploring a slice of nature within the city, hunting for street art and practicing your haggling skills at the largest traditional market in the city.
Namsan Park and Namsan Seoul Tower
Start your day with a visit to Mt. Namsan – Seoul’s most iconic backdrop and a popular spot for hikers and tourists alike. At 262 meters high, this mountain peak is undoubtedly one of the best places to get a bird’ s-eye view of the cityscape. The park covers an extensive area and is home to many attractions such as Baekbeom Square, the Namsan Cable Car, and Namsan Seoul Tower, to name just a few.
If you arent keen on hiking up the mountain, there’s a fun cable car ride that offers terrific views downtown Seoul. For those looking to get an even better look at the city, don’t miss visiting the Seoul N Tower observation deck – one of the tallest towers in Asia.
Top Tips: Namsan Park is one of the most popular tourist spots in Seoul and draws thousands of visitors a day. Therefore, it’s best to time your visit here. Come in the early morning before the crowds set in or at sunset.
Dotted with colorful street art, hipster cafes, and quirky boutiques, Itaewon is one of the most lively and photogenic neighborhoods in Seoul. During the day, Itaewon is a great place to stroll around, shop, and eat. Besides the many Korean eateries, Itaewon is also revered for its wide selection of international cuisine and a popular hangout with foreigners.
History buffs may also want to check out the War Memorial Museum nearby, which displays war remnants, while Antique Street offers a chance to shop for quirky homeware.
When the sun sets, Itaewon turns into a lively nightlife area. The streets are jam-packed with many trendy bars and several nightclubs where you’re guaranteed to have a good time.
Namdaemun is the largest traditional market in Seoul and the perfect place practice your haggling skills. The market houses nearly 10,000 stalls, selling everything from the latest k-pop memorabilia and souvenirs, to knock-off brand goods and delicious local snacks. There’s also a sprawling food market where you can try some of the terrific street food on offer.
If you want to be right in the heart of Seoul’s best shopping district, Myeong-dong should be high on your 4 days in Seoul itinerary. This lively shopper’s paradise is home to everything from high-end outlets, top international brand stores, hipster boutiques, homegrown cosmetic stores, eateries, street food vendors, and souvenir shops.
Myeong-dong is the perfect place to do some shopping, grab a bite, or simply enjoy a walkabout. During the day there’s not much going on here, but when the sun sets, Myeong-dong is teeming with shoppers looking for bargains and crowds strolling along the many winding streets and alleyways.
Top Tips: To really experience Myeong-dong‘s energy and vibe, I highly recommend visiting at night. It does, however, get very crowded (especially on weekends) and the eateries fill up quite quickly. Therefore, try visiting well after rush hour.
Day 4 of 4 Days in Seoul Itinerary
On your last full day in Seoul don’t miss getting close to nature, visiting a few more insta-worthy spots and exploring the bustling streets of Gangnam.
Seokchon Lake is a beautiful lake surrounded by lush natural beauty year-round. The lake comprises of two parts, namely East Lake and West Lake. On the western side, you’ll find an artificial island that houses Lotte Adventure – one of Seoul’s most popular amusement parks. Another popular feature here is Seoul Norimadang, where you can often see traditional Korean performances. East Lake is famous among exercise fanatics, and it’s not uncommon to see people jogging or gently strolling along the many circuits or footpaths.
Once you’ve enjoyed a slice of nature, head to the tallest building in South Korea and the sixth tallest building in the world- Lotte World Tower. This 555m-high skyscraper houses a massive mall, an art gallery, a high-end hotel, and the world’s most elevated observation deck with a glass-floored skywalk – Sky Deck.
Gangnam is an upscale neighborhood in Seoul, along the banks of the Han river. Here you’ll find flashy skyscrapers, designer boutiques, high-end restaurants, and stylish nightclubs where you can party the night away.
Near Gangnam stations, you can try out your dancing skills at the Gangnam Style Horse Dance Stage before setting off on a shopping spree. Further afield, you’ll find many great restaurants, bakeries and hipster hangouts where you can sit back and enjoy some of the excellent food on offer here.
Visiting the Gangnam Seoul Arts Center, Starfield COEX Mall (the most significant underground mall in South Korea and home to the Starfield Library), Olympic Park, and Bongeunsa (an 8th-century Buddhist temple) are other attractions worthy of your time while here.
When to visit Seoul
Seoul is a great city to visit year-round. In the springtime, the city turns blush pink with blooming cherry blossoms. The city starts to heat up and buzzes with tourists. It is still quite cold, so remember to pack plenty of layers and a warm jacket. Rain is also not uncommon during spring. For more tips on visiting here during spring, check out my guide on the best places to see cherry blossoms in Seoul.
During summer, the city buzzes with tourists enjoying the summer vibes, but expect scorching and humid temperatures. Remember to pack light, breathable clothing for more comfort.
In the fall, the leaves turn golden, and the city enjoys pleasant temperatures. It’s best to pack for moderate temperatures and remember to bring a wind-resistant coat along. Also, expect higher accommodation prices as the city makes room for fall foliage seekers.
While in winter, Seoul turns into a winter wonderland covered in snow. Since temperatures drop well below zero, you should pack plenty of warm clothes, proper footwear, and a warm coat. You’ll see fewer tourists during winter in the city, so expect lower accommodation prices.
Where to stay in Seoul
Seoul is a sprawling city with plenty of excellent affordable accommodation options. Choosing the right area to stay can be a bit tricky, so if you wish to see as much of Seoul as possible, you might want to consider staying in two different locations. Although this might sound like a bit of a mission, it will give you a chance to experience so much more of the city.
The best areas to stay in Seoul are Insa-dong and Myeong-dong. From here, you can access most of the tourist spots quickly, and both neighborhoods offer a great vibe with plenty of shops and restaurants nearby. Here are my top picks.
Where to Stay in Insa-dong:
Mid-range: Mini Hotel Insa
Treat yourself: Nine Tree Premier Hotel Insadong
Where to Stay in Myeong-dong:
Budget: Ehwa In Myeongdong
Mid-range: Ibis Ambassador Seoul Myeongdong
Treat yourself: The Shilla Seoul
How to get around Seoul
Seoul has an excellent transportation network, so you’ll have no trouble getting around the city.
If you are not comfortable accessing the city on your own, consider booking a private charter for your visit. Another great hassle-free way to get around the city is with the Seoul City Sightseeing Bus, which allows you to hop off at the most popular tourist spots in the city.
More independent travelers can get around the city quickly by either subway or bus. To save time and the hassle of looking for small change, I highly recommend grabbing a T money card. This way, you can tap and go on public transport. You can top up the card at any of the top-up machines in metro stations, or any convenience store. Also, don’t forget to get your refund and cash out your balance before you head back home. You can do so at any of the machines in the metro stations.
Just a note: Google Maps does not work 100% accurately in Seoul. Therefore, it’s best to have a backup map app already downloaded on your mobile. Naver Maps and Kakao Maps are two of the more popular options to access maps and schedules on the go.
What to eat and drink in Seoul
Seoul is a mecca for food enthusiasts and there is no shortage of excellent food choices. Whatever you do, don’t leave Seoul without trying kimchi, bulgogi, bibimbap, Korean barbecue, gamja-tang, soju, and makgeolli. Foodies might also want to consider these great food experiences to take your trip up a notch:
Plan a Day Trip
Seoul is the perfect base to explore a bit more of South Korea. If you’re looking to get away from the bustling streets, consider adding one of these fun day trips to your Seoul itinerary:Incheon Day Trip from Seoul by Wondertrip Nami Island and Petite France Tour Vivaldi Park Ski World Day Trip from Seoul Minsok Korean Folk Village Nami Island Day Trip and Gapyeong Ziplining Wonju Suspension Bridge Full Day Tour
4 days in Seoul is just the right amount of time to explore this magnetic city. What’s your favorite activity in Seoul? And, what tips do you have for fellow travelers planning a Seoul itinerary? Drop your comments below.
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