What to Do in Seoul in 3 Days – A Detailed Itinerary with Google Maps
Three days in Seoul is a solid timeframe to see and experience the best that Seoul has to offer. Here, we created a detailed itinerary on what to do in Seoul in three days.
1st Day in Seoul: Arrival, Exploring Neighborhood, Palaces, Insadong and Top Restaurants in Jongno-gu
7:15am. Arrival at Incheon International Airport.
Most international flights are to and from Incheon Airport that is just outside Seoul. Always try to get a morning flight as it will give you more time to explore the city. Incheon Airport is quite big so you can be easily distracted by various duty-free and souvenir shops, and live performances. Despite being big, it has two terminals and is very well marked and you can easily find tourists information center.
7:30 am. Immigration and Luggage.
Take a shuttle subway to arrive at Passport Control zone. You will be placed in a line with other foreigners. Airport volunteers will help you with your documents and will answer any questions you will have.
At the desk of Passport Control you will have to present your ID and flight card, then you will be asked to look at the camera and place your fingers on the scanner. After that, you can head to get your luggage. Make sure to write down a number of your luggage gates. If you know the number, you will get your luggage quicker.
7:45 am. Use our provided map of Incheon Airport transport and get a standard taxi to your guesthouse. You can use a standard international taxi or just standard taxi.
Your guesthouse is Bukchonmaru at Bukchon Hanok Village. Your double room with shared bathroom costs $90 per night. To get to the guesthouse from Incheon Airport will take around 40 minutes.
Bukchon Hanok Village is a wealthy neighborhood located between two palaces and famous streets like Insadong and Samcheongdong. Bukchon means ‘northern village’ that was a home of aristocrats, officials, and scholars during Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). There are more than hundreds of hanoks (traditional Korean houses) in the village. Most of them are now galleries, tea rooms, guesthouses, and restaurants. However, there are quite a lot of people who still live in hanoks in the village.
8:25 am. Check in your guesthouse.
Change your clothes and head to the kitchen to get some breakfast. Bukchonmaru hosts will provide you a traditional Korean breakfast that is very filling and serve you an energy for at least half a day.
8:50 am. After breakfast get out of the guesthouse. Don’t rush yourself. Get your map and head towards Gyeongbokgung Palace direction.
The neighborhood of Bukchon Hanok village
On your way will find an area called Samcheongdong. Spend some time looking around and taking some photos.
Samcheongdong is a very luxurious area between Gyeongbokgung Palace and Bukchon Hanok Village. Samcheongdong is filled with luxurious hanok restaurants, coffee shops, tea houses, boutiques, shops and art galleries. Most of the Samcheongdong buildings are hanoks and modern buildings that create a balance between traditionalism and modernism.
9.45am. Arrive at Gyeongbokgung Palace. Palace opens at 9 am, so you will be one of the first visitors. Purchase a ticket to enter Gyeongbokgung Palace. You can get a ticket for $3 that includes only Gyeongbokgung Palace or you can get a $10 ticket that includes an entrance to all 5 palaces and Jongmyo Shrine.
Note! This itinerary only includes one another palace, however, if you spend less time in the palaces, you will be able to visit other palaces too.
Gyeongbokgung Palace is the main and the largest palace of Seoul that was originally built in 1395. Gyeongbokgung means ‘palace greatly blessed by Heaven’ and is surrounded by four inner Seoul mountains: Inwangsan, Bugaksan, Naksan, and Namsan. Palace was once completely destroyed in the late 16th century but was rebuilt in the 19th century. However, during Japanese rule, most parts of Gyeongbokgung were destroyed/and Japanese built a huge government building in front of the main palace gates. Other Gyeongbokgung buildings were destroyed by Korean War. As of 2018, about half of the original buildings have been restored. Seoul Government is still working on restoration, so most likely that some of the parts will be closed during your visit.
Hyangwonjeong Pavilion in the courtyard of Gyeongbokgung
There are two museums in the palace: National Palace Museum and National Folk Museum of Korea. They are both free of charge.
11.40am. Head to Gwanghwamun Square located in front of the palace.
Gwangwamun Square was opened in 2009 and is considered as the main center of Seoul. Square is in the middle of the busy road and has two famous statues of King Sejong and Admiral Yi Sun Shin.
There is a very modern underground museum about those two famous figures. Gwanghwamun is like an underground town as many buildings are connected through the underground, so if you aren’t interested in museums, wander around famous buildings through underground passages.
Gwanghwamun Square: Back of Admiral Yi Sun Shin statue
12:20pm. Leave Gwanghwamun Square and head towards Insadong. Get your map read as it’s tricky. Make sure you see a Gwanghwamun Station Exit 2 in the direction you are going.
12:35 pm. Arrival to Insadong.
Insadong is a neighborhood where you can find everything related to Korean culture. You can purchase hanbok (traditional clothes), hanji (traditional paper), traditional teas, pottery and other crafts.
12:50pm. Insadong is the perfect place to eat. We recommend getting your first lunch in Seoul here. Restaurant Sanchon (http://bit.ly/2wSbEGT) is the most famous for its traditional Korean temple cuisine. The restaurant is set as a temple and serve only vegetarian food. The usual price for the course is around $45. It’s pricey but you get a great atmosphere.
13:40pm. Relax with a tea at Shin Old Tea House.
Teahouse is in the alley and very well marked so it will be very easy to find. It is a traditional tea house and you will have to sit on a floor. We highly recommend ordering a plum tea as it goes really well with rice cakes.
14:15pm. Start leaving Insadong and head towards Changdeokgung. If you have decided to leave earlier, on your way to Changdeokgung you can visit Unhyeongung (Royal Residence). It’s a free admission and very small.
14:45pm. Entrance to Changdeokgung Palace and Huwon (Secret Garden). Entrance fee is 3000 won ($3) for the palace and 8000 won ($8) for a guided tour to Secret Garden. You can use your combined palaces ticket and separately buy Secret Garden ticket.
15:00pm. Guided tour to Secret Garden (Huwon)
Secret Garden is a rear garden of the palace that was only accessible for a royal family. It takes about 60% of the palace. Secret Garden was built by King Taejong (1400-1418) and was used by his family for resting, writing and reading.
Secret Garden is barely touched by a human as it’s believed that it was supposed to be an area where the nature rules. Also, most of the trees are more than 300 years old.
Huwon tours happen very frequently: every hour or every half an hour. Guides are available in several languages without an extra charge. You will be automatically placed in English guided tour if you don’t mention another language.
One of the rest areas with a pond in Huwon (Secret Garden), Changdeokgung Palace
16:30 pm. Explore Changdeokgung Palace.
Changdeokgung Palace is a second largest palace in Seoul and is included in UNESCO World Heritage List. The palace was built during King Taejong (1400-1418) reign and after Gyeongbokgung destruction served as the main palace till the 19th century. Changdeokgung Palace is more delicate and represents woman as it is said that King Taejong built this palace for his queen. There numerous little gates, chambers and little gardens around the palace.
Opening times for Changdeokgung:
Feb-May; Sept-Oct: 9:00-18:00
Last admission is one hour before closing time. If you are visiting during National Holiday, entrance to the palace is free. Also, during summer and early autumn, Changdeokgung is open for a night tour, just ask at the ticket booth.
Chinese Juniper at Changdeokgung is more than 750 years old
18:25pm. Subway to Tosokchon restaurant.
Take a subway from Anguk station to Gyeongbokgung station. Traveling time: 7 minutes + 5 minutes walking to the restaurant. Subway fare: 1250 won ($1.25).
18:45pm. Dinner at Tosokchon restaurant.
This restaurant is famous for its steamed chicken ginger soup called Samgyetang. Be prepared to wait in a queue as Tosokchon is very popular between locals and foreigners. Also, it’s a hanok style restaurant, so prepare to sit on a floor.
20:45pm. Wander around Seochon.
Seochon means ‘west village’ as it is located west of Gyeongbokgung and is the oldest Jongno neighborhood. There are numerous alleys filled with hanok style shops and restaurants standing next to stylish modern buildings. Seochon alleys resemble cozy maze as modern spaces are well balanced with Korea’s tradition.
Alley in Seochon
21:55pm. Subway to the guesthouse.
Gyeongbokgung station line 3 to Anguk station line 3. Travel time: 7 minutes + 15 minutes walking to Bukchonmaru guesthouse. Fare: 1250 won ($1.25). While walking back to guesthouse use Naver maps or follow signs of Bukchon Hanok Village/Junang Middle School/Gahoe-dong.
22:20pm. Arrive at Bukchonmaru guesthouse.
Map of all locations from the 1st day
Get the full map here: http://bit.ly/2KzHFp2
2nd Day in Seoul: Seoul Fortress Wall – Inwangsan, Bugaksan, Naksan Including Hyehwa-dong, Ihwa Mural Village and Shopping at Dongdaemun
7:00 am. Wake up and get ready for breakfast. Today is going to be a hard and long full of excitement day.
7:30 am. Eat breakfast at your guesthouse and prepare to set off. Wear comfortable shoes and clothes in order to be able to do some hiking. You can pack a spare set of clothes for the evening. Don’t forget a water bottle.
7:50 am. Arrive at Anguk Station and take the subway to Dongnimmun Station line 3. Journey time: 9 minutes. Fare: 1250 won ($1.25).
8:00 am. Find the nearest convenience store like 7eleven (7/11) or GS25, and buy some snack to last for several hours while hiking.
Start following signs of Seoul Fortress Wall and Hyundai Apartments, from apartments take a straight road up till you see a red and green colored gate. Note! Look at the map if you can’t see any signage or ask people from a convenience store.
8:20 am. Arrive at Guksadang.
Guksadang is a shamanist shrine that is said to be the most important shrine for rituals performed by shamans. It is believed that Guksadang shrine was first established in 1395. Look around the shrine and continue hiking.
8:40 am. Seonbawi Rock.
Steep stairs will lead you to Seonbawi (Zen/Mediation) rock. It’s a very popular spot for praying, so be quiet and respectful.
8:50 am. Follow Seoul Fortress Wall. Behind the rock, you will see a Seoul Fortress Wall, keep following it. Little by little you will start going up through the rocks. Even though it’s easy to hike, be careful as rocks are quite slippery.
View from Inwangsan
Keep following the signs of Changuimun in order to finish the first trail of Seoul Fortress Wall path. Take into mind that you will see an army lookout towers and soldiers. Also, you won’t be able to take photos in the certain spots for the security reasons.
10:05 am. Arrive at Changuimun and take a break. Don’t worry if you are a little bit early or late. Go to the Bugaksan office and get a registration form. Fill all your passport details and where you are staying.
Bukchonmaru address: 152 Changdeokgung-gil (2-164 Gye-dong), Seoul, SO, South Korea
Bukchonmaru phone number: 01032538751
Hand in your application and you will be given a number. You have to return visitor card and be off the mountain around 3 pm. Take in mind that Bugaksan is higher and more difficult to hike as there are numerous steps.
Changuimun Gates – one of fortress mini gates that is still standing up to these days
10:15 am. Start hiking. Just simply follow signs for Seoul Fortress Wall and hike along fortress wall for the whole time.
The Bugaksan front looks down to Blue House (Korea’s Presidential House) and downtown Seoul, and it offers a great view of majestic Seoul. There is a famous 121 bullet tree that is related to 1968 North Korean invasion to the Blue House as the tree took the bullets during the conflict. Unfortunately, you aren’t permitted to take any photos of downtown Seoul for security reasons so you won’t be able to capture a perfect view of the Blue House and palaces beneath the mountain. Also, Bugaksan is a highly militarized area, so you will be watched all the time.
12:30 pm. Arrive at Waryong Park.
Waryong Park is located on the roof of Bugaksan, near Samcheong Park. Head straight through the park towards Ammun (Secret Path)/ Seoul Science High School. Follow the Seoul Fortress Wall/Ammun/Seoul Science High School or Hyehwamun signs. You will see beautiful blossoming flowers, grand trees and lots of people enjoying outdoor sports.
13:10pm. Hyehwamun Gate and Hyehwa-dong.
Hyehwamun, also known as Honghwamun, was originally built in 1396 and served as one of eight city wall gates leading to northern Seoul.
During Japanese occupation period in 1928 Hyehwamun was destroyed in order to make space for a streetcar line. The gate was rebuilt in 1992 and became a popular spot for students.
Now Hyehwamun is located in a popular area called Hyehwadong with lots of nice coffee shops, restaurants, shops, and murals. Gate’s steps are open from 9:00 to 18:00.
View of Hyehwamun from the steps.
13:50pm. Lunch at Masizzim.
The restaurant is located near Hyehwa station that is about 3-5 minutes walk from Hyehwamun.
Masizzim serves traditional Korean stews. You can select pork or beef ribs and they come together with lots of vegetables, nice thick broth and boiling hot accompanied with numerous plates of side dishes. Perfect lunch after all day hike.
15:25pm. Refreshing drink at Hakrim Dabang.
Opened in 1956 and is the oldest traditional coffee house in Seoul. Back the day it was a popular spot for students to meet and discuss protests for their rights. Nowadays, it’s a quiet spot for relaxing with vintage books, vinyl records, and black and white photographs.
You can get a nice house blended coffee, various teas, and homemade lemonade. Also, definitely try the famous cream cheesecake.
16:35 pm. Ihwa Mural Village.
Ihwa Mural Village is close to Naksan park, so you have to follow directions of the park. Ihwa-dong back in 1965-1987 was a popular area for teenagers’ gatherings after school. Today, Ihwa neighborhood is filled with colorful murals that make a perfect spot for photos. Wander around the alleys and explore this beautiful mural village. Be ready to hike as alleys are quite steep. Note! Don’t forget to be respectful of residence and only come through the gates and doors if there is a sign ‘enter/come in’.
18:45pm. Sunset at Naksan Park.
While exploring Ihwa Mural Village, you will find signs for Naksan Park. Keep following them and you will enter Naksan Park and will see a Seoul Fortress Wall again. Naksan Park is well-known for its night view of Seoul. As you walk across the park, you can enjoy spectacular views.
Night view of Seoul from Naksan Park
19:20pm. Dongdaemun Gate and Gwangjang Market.
Dongdaemun is located just across Naksan Park and is connected via Dongdaemun Fortress Park. Dongdaemun is named after Dongdaemun (Heunginjimun) Gate meaning ‘big east gate’. Also, the most fascinating thing about Dongdaemun is that it is standing in the middle of busy roads and has a small wall at the back of gate that reflects late Joseon Dynasty architecture. Perfect spot for a night photography.
If you fancy a late snack, head to Gwangjang Market. It’s a popular place for Korean street and is the oldest market in all South Korea. You must try a plate of sundae (blood sausage with mung bean noodles) served with some steamed lung, perilla leaf, and chili salt. Another must-try food is bindaeddeok (mung bean pancake) served with soy sauce and pickled onions. Prices vary from 3000 won ($3) to 10 000 won ($10).
21:00pm. Shopping at Dongdaemun.
Dongdaemun area is famous for shopping as there are many department stores, clothing market, wholesaler stores and high-end designer stores. After your tiring day head to Migliore Department Store known for fashionable Korean clothes. You can’t try any clothes and most of the vendors don’t accept returns, so be thoughtful before you buy. Also, cash is the best as you will be able to get a discount. If you can’t find anything you like, try Dongdaemun Night Market that is just next to Migliore. You can’t try clothes, use cash to get a discount and if you buy something in bulk, you will get freebies.
22:15pm. Cheonggyecheon walk.
Cheonggyecheon path leading to downtown of Seoul from Dongdaemun
Cheonggyecheon is the stream that goes across downtown Seoul. Before 2005 Cheonggyecheon was neglected and hidden by an overpass, and now it is a most popular location to relax in the middle of Seoul. Cheonggyecheon is crowded during daytime and nighttime equally. As you walk along the stream, you will notice beautiful bridges and popular tourists destinations such as Insadong, palaces and Cheonggye Plaza. Relax your mind and enjoy the beauty of night Seoul.
Note! Seoul is extremely safe city and Cheonggyecheon path is well lighted with policemen walking along the stream. If you visiting during winter, it’s not recommended to take this long walk.
Finish your walk at Cheonggye Plaza near City Hall.
23:20pm. Cheonggye Plaza.
Cheonggye Plaza is a starting point of Cheonggyecheon. There are artificial falls, light installments, and art around the plaza. Also, sometimes festivals like lantern festival or arts festival happening there.
00:00am. Return to guesthouse and rest.
It was the hard and long day, and you’ve done well keeping with this guide.
Map of 2nd-day locations
Get the full Google map here: http://bit.ly/2IQLvNB
3rd Day in Seoul: Yeouido Park, Han River Cruise, Banpo Han River Park, Bongeunsa Temple and Departure
8:00 am. Breakfast at the guesthouse.
8:40 am. Check out from the guesthouse. Ask for guesthouse owners to arrange you a luggage drop off at Incheon Airport at the time of your flight.
9:30 am. Arrive at Gwanghwamun station line 5. You have to take this line to go to Yeouinaru station which is located on the other side of the river. You are heading to Yeouinaru to take a Han River cruise. Journey time on the subway: 14 minutes. Fare: 1250 won ($1.25).
9:55 am. Arrive at E-Land Han River Cruise port. The Han River cruise ticket booths start operating from 10 am so you will have several minutes to get some snacks from a convenience store and take a look at the morning river.
One of Han River parks
10:05 am. E-Land Han River Cruise Tickets.
E-Land Han River Cruise started operating in 1986 in order to showcase the natural beauty of Seoul. Also, it aims to promote Han River as a tourists’ attraction for foreign visitors. E-Land currently has two terminals and 7 docks: Yeouido, Jamsil, Ttukseom, Jamdubong, Seonyudo, Seoul Forest, Gimpo, and Incheon.
More information about cruise types and prices here: http://bit.ly/2KI5taC
We recommend taking a Daytime River Cruise that starts at 11:30.
10:15 am. Yeouido Han River Park
Yeouido Han River Park is one of the most famous parks along the river. You can enjoy great views of north Seoul, see some sculptures and famous 63 Building that was Korea’s first tallest building. Perfect place to spend your time while waiting for your cruise.
Yeouido Han River Park
11:30 am. Han River Cruise.
Take a Han River Cruise. The route of the cruise is Yeouido – Seogangdaegyo – Yeouido and it takes around 40 minutes. There is a seagull feeding add-on option, so you will be able to enjoy the company of seagulls. Also, a professional guide is going to tell you all about Han River: its story and importance to Korean people.
12:15pm. Take a subway from Yeouinaru station line 5 to Express Bus Terminal Station line 9. You will need to transfer at Yeouido station line 5 to line 9. Journey time will be around 31 minutes. Fare: 1250 won ($1.25).
12:46 pm. Express Bus Terminal. Get out of the station and head towards Banpo Bridge. It’s a short and well-marked walk.
13:05. Banpo Bridge and Han River Park.
Banpo Han River Park and Banpo Bridge is located between Hannam and Dongjak Bridge and is the most famous bridge in Seoul. It connects southern Seoul (Gangnam) and northern Seoul (Yongsan). Banpo Bridge has inbuilt rainbow fountains on both sides that operate during late spring to early fall evening time.
Banpo Han River Park is popular for various entertainment facilities, beautiful landscape and artificial floating islands that provides various leisure facilities for locals such as restaurants, water bike rides and etc.
Floating Island at night and Banpo Bridge in the background
13:25pm. Chimaek picnic.
Chimaek is chicken + beer combination that is usually delivered by various fried chicken restaurants. You can get fried chicken and beer from vendors in Banpo Han River Park. However, we strongly recommend you to ‘catch’ a delivery guy (they usually delivering orders around the park) and order straight from him as ordering by phone would be more complicated. Delivery guys usually speak English, so you won’t get too much problem. The fried chicken is from various Korean fast food restaurants, so don’t expect to get KFC.
Prices vary but you should be ready to pay around 10 000 to 15 000 won ($10-$15) for chicken pieces with beer. If you don’t drink beer, get a soft drink.
13:50pm. Take a subway from Express Bus Terminal Station to Cheongdam Station line 9. Fare: 1250 won ($1.25)
14:10pm. Arrive at Bongeunsa Temple near COEX
Bongeunsa temple is located in the busiest part of the Gangnam district, north of enormous shopping and leisure center COEX. The temple was built in 794 and it got refurbished in 1498.
It’s the biggest temple that can be found in Seoul. Bongeunsa has 3479 Buddhist scriptures and giant stone Buddha that perfectly fits within Gangnam tall buildings.
Temple is free to enter and is open all the time.
Bongeunsa Temple buildings and Gangnam skyscrapers in the background
15:20pm. Take a taxi to Incheon International Airport. Journey time: around 51 minutes. Length of journey: 68.45 km.
From Bongeunsa station line 9 take the subway to Gimpo Airport line 9 (1 hr 3 minutes) and transfer at Gimpo Airport to AREX line going towards Incheon Airport (40 minutes). Fare: 4250 won ($4.25).
Map of 3rd Day Locations
Full map online: http://bit.ly/2wYQWoR