Your Itinerary for a Historical Day Trip in the Heart of Seoul

Gyeongbokgung Palace
Seoul is one of the largest cities in the world and visiting for a short period may be overwhelming with picking which destinations you would like to see. We were lucky enough to have spent a year and some months and have had the opportunity to explore most of what this massive city has to offer. We have put together a great one-day itinerary highlighting the most iconic and one of our most favorite areas of Seoul. All of these spots are situated within a nice 4 km walking radius.

Check out our suggested route below. There are some alternatives if you have already seen some of these sites.

Check out the Best Places to Stay in Seoul to get the most out of your trip![/text_output]

Helpful Tip
There is a map provided at the bottom of this post with pins for all locations that you can use from your phone to help you navigate!

Stop 1
Gwanghwamun Square

Ghwanghwamun Square

Admiral Yi

Start at Seoul’s iconic Gwanghwamun Square. You may recognize this view as it’s one of the most photographed and recognizable areas in Seoul. Walk along the path leading to Gyeongbokgung Palace with views of Bukhansan Mountain in the backdrop. Along the way you will pass the King Sejong Statue (known for developing the modern Korean alphabet, Hangul) and Admiral Yi Sun-Shin Statue (famous naval war hero who used the Korean turtle ships to defeat the Japanese). On the weekends there are flea markets and musical shows filling the empty space between statues!

Ghwanghwamun Square

King Sejong

Want to see extra? Start your adventure at the Cheonggycheon Stream for a relaxing walk along the downtown stream. Take your shoes off, have a snack, and rest your feet in the water! If you are lucky it could be decorated with either lanterns or umbrellas for one of many festivals they celebrate here.

Umbrellas-at-Cheonggye-Stream

Have extra time? Check out the free museums below the King Sejong & Admiral Yi Sun-Shin Statue HERE.

Directions:

To Cheonggycheon Stream: Take subway to Gwanghwamun Station (line 5) exit 5

To Gwanghwamun Square: Take subway to Gwanghwamun Station (line 5) exit 2 or 3 and walk straight.

Stop 2
Gyeongbokgung Palace

Gyeongbokgung Palace

Gyeongbokgung Palace is a must see while visiting Seoul. It is the largest and main palace of all five palaces built by the Joseon Dynasty. If you are lucky you will get to see the changing of the guard at the front entrance! Give yourself at least an hour to wander the massive grounds with beautiful, colorful intricate painted buildings.

Gyeongbokgung Palace

Changing of the Guard

Grab some food to go and enjoy lunch on the lawn in front of some of the structures inside. There is even a museum free with admission inside.

Blue House

Just outside the back entrance

If you want to see the Presidential Blue House make sure you exit from the back gate.

See our experience visiting the Gyeongbokgung palace during a special exhibit at night HERE.

Admission: adults 3,000 KRW (~$3) and children 1,500 KRW (~$1.50)

Directions:

From Gwanghwamun Square walk straight to the palace!

By Subway: Gyeongbokgung Palace Station (Line 3), Exit 5

 Note: Gyeongbokgung Palace is closed on Tuesdays

Stop 3
Samcheong-dong

Samcheong

Crafts sold all long the streets

This delightful area is located directly right of Gyeongbokgung Palace. Samcheong-dong is famous for its traditional Korean hanok style buildings, tons of shops, cafes, restaurants, street vendors, and art galleries. This area is conveniently sandwiched between Gyeongbokgung and Bukchon Hanok Village which makes it a perfect stop to enjoy a cup of coffee and a snack.

This is one of our favorite places to spend an afternoon shopping and strolling through the streets. The area is very charming and you can’t help but love the small town atmosphere tucked in the big city.

Directions

From Gyeongbokgung exit the gate on the right side of the palace. OR walk around to the right side of Gyeongbokgung.

From the Subway: Anguk Station (line 3) exit 1 toward the Jeongdok Library

Stop 4
Bukchon Hanok Village

Bobo and Chichi

Walk through this historic village of Bukchon and enjoy the splendor of these traditional Korean homes called hanoks. There are around 900 hanok style buildings scattered through this small area nestled between the Gyeongbokgung and Changdeokgung palaces.

This village is actually home to residents of Seoul and home to a few small museums. Grab a coffee to go and meander through the alleyways of these historical, traditional homes and buildings.

Check out our other post on Bukchon Hanok Village HERE

Directions

From Samcheong-dong: Walk balk towards the palace and make a left on Bukchon Ro 5 Gil. Then make a left on Bukchon Ro (the third street.)

By Subway: Anguk Station (line 3) exit 2[/text_output]

Stop 5
Insadong

 

Insadong is a great stop in the afternoon. Wander through the main street and alleyways for tons of traditional shops, tea houses, restaurants, street vendors, art galleries, and street performers. This is the place to shop for souvenirs! Even if you are not fond of shopping, you should still walk through Insadong to try some of the traditional candy or sweet treats this area has to offer.

Ssamziegil-3rd-floor-different-view-2

Check out Ssamziegil shopping center located in the heart of Insadong. This shopping plaza is home to local artisan boutiques and delicious snacks. Check out the trick art museum in the basement and the rooftop coffee shop.

If you are hungry then we recommend one of our favorite places to eat in Korea! Bukchon Mandu for the best mandu you’ve ever tried.

Check out our experience at the Alive Museum Here.

Note: Make sure you plan a visit to Insadong in the afternoon or early evening as most places close by 8 pm.

Directions

From Subway: Anguk Station (line 3) exit 6 walk 100 meters then turn left.

Stop 6
Jogyesa Temple

Jogyesa Temple

Jogyesa Temple during Buddha’s Birthday

Jogyesa is one of Seoul’s most popular Buddhist temples due to its convenient location in the heart of the city. Check out the temple anytime of the day as it is always open to the public.

Take off your shoes and enter Daeungjeon, the main Dharma Hall, and silently admire the golden Buddha and witness how the Korean Buddhist’s worship.

During different times of the year the temple will be covered with paper lanterns or other decorations. We were lucky enough to visit in May during Buddha’s Birthday where the temple is decorated in hundreds of colorful lanterns.

See what it’s like to visit Jogyesa during Buddha’s Birthday here.

Directions:

From Subway: Anguk Station (Line 3), Exit 6.
Walk 50m straight then cross the street in front of Dongduk Gallery.
Walk another 50m to arrive at a path to Jogyesa Temple.

BONUS!

Already been to Gwanghwamun Square? Than start in Buamdong and walk your way down to the Presidential Blue House. Enter Gyeongbokgung from the back entrance.

Sanmotoonge Cafe in Buamdong

View from famous movie filming location – Sanmotoonge Cafe in Buam-Dong

 

Never heard of Buamdong? Than you need to go. Check out what all there is to do in Buamdong.

Love the Palaces? Check out Changdeokgung Palace near Bukchon Hanok Village! Note: Changdeokgung Palace is closed on Mondays

Changdeokgung Palace

Directions:

By Subway: Anguk Station (line 3) exit 3: walk straight for 5 minutes

We hope that this guide is helpful. This is one of our favorite ways to spend a free day in Seoul.

If you liked this post and want to see more like it, consider liking our page on facebook, following us on twitter, or seeing our latest photos on instagram.

*Please remember all photos on this website are copyrighted and property of Bobo&ChiChi. Please do not use them without our permission. If you want to use one of them please contact us to ask first because we’d be absolutely flattered and would love to share. Thanks!

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About the Author

Megan Indoe

I am a traveling crazy cat lady who takes every opportunity to pet the random cats I find across the world on our adventures. I quit my job to follow our dreams of traveling the world and making our own rules along the way.

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  • This is AMAZINGLY helpful. I’m headed up to Seoul soon for only one day (and evening, but I’ll be in Itaewon) and this provided me with exactly what I wanted… an itinerary. Seoul is so big and I had no idea where to start when it comes to sight seeing. Thanks!

    • Glad its helpful. Itaewon is definitely it’s own monster to tackle. Probably need a food guide for that place. This is probably more for history lovers and whatnot. Enjoy Itaewon,

  • Taylor

    You definitely hit all the great spots, and kept it mostly walkable too! There is certainly way more to see in Seoul but for one afternoon I think you did a damn fine job!

    • Thanks Taylor, the angle here was definitely more of a historical and walkable place for a day/afternoon. There’s definitely wayyyy to much in Seoul to cram it all in one post but we thought this was good for people who may want to see the palace, but don’t know what else is nearby. Thanks for the comment,

  • Great post! I’m not going to lie, I didn’t even know about some of these places–Buamdong in particular.

    I really like that picture of the Cheonggycheon Stream with all of the umbrellas. Looks like a nice place to walk!

    • Buam-Dong is definitely a fun place to explore I recommend heading to the area. Especially if you stop for some fried chicken on the way.

      The stream with the umbrellas is pretty cool. A lot of times they have free food samples there as well.

  • Going to second Nathan here and say that I didn’t know Buam Dong. That umbrella shot is awesome. Would love to know how you pulled that one off or if it was super easy. Gwanghwamun is an easy place to get lost in for a long time. Was great to walk around in the center of Korea for a bit, through your great post!

    • Apparently they put the umbrellas there annually and I was there at the right time and place scouting for a video I was working on and there they were. I had a 10-24 lens so it exaggerated the angle and the sky. Thanks for your kind comment.

      • You made that angle look really cool. We stuck to shots in front of and under them. Thanks for the detail on your lens though. Might bug you about that when it comes time to upgrade.

        • Thanks Duke, feel free to message me when the time comes.

  • I really like this post! Its so useful and can definitely see myself referring back to it in the future! I don’t travel to Seoul often so I’m totally clueless when I go.

    • Thanks for the comment Rafiqua hope it helps you have a fun time. There are definitely other places to go to but this is great especially if you take family or friends for a short time on a quick stop of some of the more historical and iconic places!

  • What a thorough list! I’ve been to many of the places you mentioned but not all. I’ll be back here on my next trip to Seoul.

    Thanks for sharing!

  • This is AWESOME! I’m dying to go to Seoul, and honestly it’s hard to pick what to do since it’s so packed full of possibilities. The map at the end is a great idea and extremely helpful, too. Thanks for this post, Scott! I know I’ll use it.

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  • You have mentioned that if we want to see the Presidential Blue House make sure to exit from the back gate of Gyeongbok-gung… so Blue House is just behind Gyeongbok-gung?

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  • Live Learn Venture

    Ahhh I’m living well outside of Seoul — so I LOVE spending weekends here 🙂 Great post! I personally really enjoy Insadong myself. Thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks! Where are you living in Korea? We really love this entire area and it’s so easy to do all on foot! We actually visited all of these places yesterday afternoon plus some! Insadong has some great stuff! It’s also a favorite of ours 😉

  • Just pinned your post, because it’s a lot of beautiful photos! I would like to visit this place in the future! It must be a great experience! 😉

    • Thanks for the love! Seoul is a fantastic city to explore! If you ever do make it feel free to contact us for any personal recommendations!

  • This is a very good guide. Easy to read and helpful if I’m ever there. I’d like to see more micro guides like this rather than full-blown ones where you wonder where everything is. Thanks for including a map, it really helps gauge where things are.

    • Thanks and glad you found it to be a helpful guide! We will make sure we continue adding maps 😉

  • I so want to go to Seoul it looks amazing. The temples are just wow amazing. The DMZ would be an experience to see. Its on our list for next year.

    • Seoul is a pretty fantastic city to explore! If you need any help picking out some things you may like to do let us know! We haven’t done the DMZ tour yet- but we have visited the DMZ through one of it’s observatories. I highly recommend you going to one of those as well (in addition or instead of the DMZ train tour). The one we went to is northwest of Seoul, it’s only $3 to get in and you are right on the border. You can look through binoculars to a propaganda village- which was fascinating! There’s also alot to do around this area, and there are multiple observatories. Many people are unaware they exist and pay for the expensive DMZ tour instead.

  • Even though I am not religious I think the joghesa temple would be a great experience and I always love learning about a country or states cultural norms.

    • We are not religious either, but we do love visiting temples, churches, and cathedrals wherever we travel! They always end up being some of the most ornate and beautiful architecture!

  • So many stunning pictures! Really nice to be able to explore through your camera this part of the world that I’ve never been to 🙂

  • Oh my gosh, there is so much I’d want to see. I’d for sure have to check out some of the shops in Insadong.

    • Insadong has some great boutiques and shops! There are other great shopping spots too! If you make it to Seoul and want to learn more about the different shopping we have a guide to Seoul’s best shopping spots 😉

  • Emma

    GWANGHWAMUN SQUARE!! I have always wanted to visit there!! Great post 🙂

    • Thanks Emma! That is definitely the heart of Seoul with lots of historical landmarks nearby! If you only make it to Seoul even on a layover for a day, we recommend this itinerary!

  • Jessica

    I was in Seoul for two weeks last April. It was actually a birthday treat for myself and dream came true to finally see Seoul. I do love every corner of the city as it blends the modern and the traditional structures plus the various opportunities in terms of hiking. I should agree that Cheonggycheon Stream is a good way to see the historical sides of Seoul as it allows you stop by to top and interesting spots from the past. 🙂

    • That’s a great birthday treat to yourself! There is so much hiking here it’s unreal. Even in Seoul! If you venture outside of Seoul there’s even more! Great for hiking lovers! Glad you agree with the places we chose in the heart of Seoul! It’s great for people who are limited on time here, if you have more time to explore there’s so much more to see!

  • I have never considered Korea to be on my bucket list but after seeing these photos I may have to reconsider. It looks like a beautiful destination with lots to do in Seoul.

    • There are TONS of things to do in Seoul that aren’t even mentioned in this list. This is just a one day itinerary. It’s definitely a city worth visiting!

  • If I were to travel to Korea, I will make sure not to miss all their beautiful palaces! Everything is well preserved and breathtaking. I also plan to indulge on their awesome food!

    • The food and palaces are great! What’s crazy is this is just one tiny area of Seoul! There’s so much to explore and enjoy while you’re here!

  • Svetoslav Dimitrov

    This post comes just on time as I am planning to visit Korea very soon. And what a charm this city has. I have watched tons of series and movies, and have read a lot about it. I love your photo of Samcheong-Dong. It captures the spirit of the small streets so well.

    Pinned and shared. I will bookmark to use in the future. Also, I subscribed and I will read the 27 tips you offer for doing in South Korea 🙂 Thanks for the amazing post!

    • I am so happy to hear this will help your upcoming trip! Thanks for your kind words and sharing! If you have any questions or want any personal suggestions feel free to ask us! We would love to help you out on your upcoming trip! Seoul is fantastic, you’ll have a great time!

      • Svetoslav Dimitrov

        You are welcome, and I am so happy I read it. I will just have to save some money and look for a date 🙂 I will definitely contact you again!

        Have a great day!

  • Maria Louisa Mae P. Mercado

    Korea is a very popular place to visit in my country because of their KPop music and soap operas. This is a very detailed list and helpful to boot!

    • Oh wow, where are you from? We are realizing that Kpop and Kdramas are very popular worldwide! We would have never known until we moved to Korea! Glad you found this post helpful!

  • Janella Panchamsingh

    Korea has alot of beautiful places you can appreciate. I would love to someday travel there.

    • I would have never guessed Korea had so much to offer until we moved here! It really does have tons of beautiful places to see. I hope you get to travel here someday too!

  • Cătălina-Iuliana Nini

    I already bookmarked to use it in the future. Thanks for sharing such a detailed post ! 🙂

    • Glad you found it useful! I hope your future trip to Seoul is fantastic! We love it!

  • I`ve always been exposed to Korean culture because of Korean dramas and Korean pop. South Korea is one of the top countries I hope to travel someday. I would keep in mind the tips you gave. Thank you for sharing.

    • Wow, we had never really heard about them before we got here. It’s amazing how global kpop and kdramas have become. Hope you get to make it to Korea to see some of that first hand and of course some of the most delicious food!

  • bc21578

    I love how yous shot the pic of GWANGHWAMUN SQUARE from the back.

    • Thanks! Yea, I guess when you see Gwanghwamun it’s always the other way!

  • Subhadrika Sen

    I had no idea theres a changing of the guard ceremony here as well. i knew the London one only. Its nice to know. the places are beautiful and my fav photo is the one where there are lots of umbrellas.

    • Yes! It happens every hour so it’s easy to plan and see! And thanks, the umbrellas are only on display for a short period in the spring time!

  • Laura

    Oh wow what a fabulous insight into Korea. I have never been to that part of the world before but I’d love to xxx

    • Seoul is a great city to visit! I really hope you get to go one day!

  • Karla Pitzen

    Such an interesting trip. Very informative post. Many beautiful shots – the one of the umbrellas is my favorite.

    • Thanks! Sadly, the umbrellas are only up a certain time of the year. We just happened to be lucky when we went that day! I believe it’s in the spring time if you want to catch that display!

  • Imogen Clegg

    Wow, Korea looks stunning. I have never been but I really want to now! Thanks for sharing!

    • It’s a pretty awesome place, hope this post helps you on our trip one day!