This is a list, in no particular order, of attractions I have loved visiting while living in Seoul. A few of them are out of town, but are manageable as a day trip.
National Museum of Contemporary Korean History: This is an interesting museum in its own right (and it’s free!), but it also has a rooftop terrace on the 8th floor that provides a spectacular panoramic view of Gyeongbokgung Palace.
Boseong Green Tea Fields: This is a long day trip, but it can be done from Seoul. We went with an organized tour in the spring, and it was absolutely lovely.
Dreamy Camera Cafe: Don’t go for the all the cameras and camera gear collected in this cafe, as cool as all that is. Go and really throw yourself into the spirit of the cafe, creating a bucket list and spending some quality time thinking of your life dreams. Not easy to get to, but worth making your way to.
Secret Garden at Changdeokgung Palace: Do yourself a favor and visit in the late fall to catch the foliage. One of the most gorgeous places I’ve ever seen. We were there in early November.
Seoul National Cemetery: The cemetery is a beautiful, peaceful location, and it’s at its best in the spring when the weeping cherry blossoms there are in full bloom. We caught them at the end of their prime, and I’m so glad I got to see them. Much less crowded than Yeouido.
Best Cherry Blossom Trees in Spring: This one is just for those with access to Yongsan Garrison. Check out the area back behind the DHL near Garrison HQ, where there is a pedestrian bridge connecting South Post to Main Post. You’ll be able to walk up to the bridge and take great photos right in the midst of the cherry blossoms.
Nakwon Music Arcade: A must-visit for any musician in Seoul. Shop after shop after shop of instruments and supplies.
Seoul Arts Center: Worth a visit whether for a concert, an opera, the calligraphy museum, or a visiting exhibit in one of several galleries. In the summer, there’s a lovely fountain and music show outside in the plaza. The photo was taken in the lobby of the opera house. I feel so honored to have performed in the music hall last December.
Rail Bike: There are multiple rail bikes that are an hour or two away from Seoul. We’ve done two of them, and both were a lot of fun. I would recommend the Gangchon Railpark, not too far from Nami Island. I imagine it would be best in spring or fall; we were there at the end of winter.
Garden of Morning Calm: Visit in the evening during winter for the fantastical light displays. They’re usually up from early December to late March.
Deoksugung Palace: This is my favorite of the palaces; don’t skip it just because you’ve been to Gyeongbokgung and Changdeokgung Palaces. It has a much smaller footprint than the other palaces, and a mixture of architectural styles including a Western-style building housing an art museum. The grounds are lovely to walk around.
Inwangsan Mountain: This is a nice hike that is easy to get to and not too difficult. Much of it follows the Seoul Fortress Wall, and there’s a lovely rock formation, Seonbawi Rock, along the way. The map below shows the location of the mountain; entrance to the hiking trail is not far from Dongnimmun Station.
Baseball Game: You’ll see this on a lot of lists, and there’s a reason why – games here are very different than in the U.S., and they are a lot of fun even if you aren’t that interested in sports. The fans have songs for every player, there are cheerleaders, there is a huge amount and variety of inexpensive food and drink to partake of, and the crowd is as much fun to watch as the game. The map below is of Jamsil Stadium, home of both the Doosan Bears and LG Twins.
Baegundae Peak at Bukhansan National Park: A much longer and harder hike than Inwangsan, but well worth doing! Don’t be intimidated by its popularity – we went on a beautiful Sunday in September, and yes there were a lot of people on the trail, but it was never unbearable and the views at the top were completely worth it. If you’re able to go on a weekday, that would be best. Take food and don’t plan anything else that day!
Seoul International Fireworks Festival: Even if you don’t think you’re into fireworks (I thought that), this festival is something else! It takes place in early October and consists of one extravagant fireworks display after another. I can’t give advice about the best place to watch it from; we were lucky enough to score invites to a private viewing party hosted by the Hanwha Group, the event sponsors. The map shows the 63 Building, which has a front-and-center view of the fireworks.
Olympic Park: This was one of my favorite parks in Seoul. Visit in the spring or fall and plan to spend the entire day exploring and hanging out.
Winter Snow Day: Despite the freezing cold winters, there is not a lot of snow accumulation in Seoul. If you wake up one day and there’s a good snowfall happening, cancel your plans, bundle up, and visit either Gyeongbokgung or Changdeokgung Palace for some fabulous photos.
Yongma Land: This abandoned amusement park is a great place to wander around taking slightly creepy photos of all the rides in various states of disrepair.
Arario in Space: This small contemporary art museum might have been my favorite museum in Seoul. The space is truly unique.
Cerapia Ceramics Center: Fabulous, fabulous museum and grounds in the Icheon pottery area.
Starfield Library and Coex Mall: The new library space at Coex is worth a visit alone, but the mall is quite entertaining as well.
Cafe Sanmotoonge: This cafe in Buam-dong has gorgeous views and very eclectic, quirky decor. The whole neighborhood is lovely to walk through, with stunning views all over the place.