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Best Seoul Itinerary 5 Days For First Time Visitors

Putting together a Seoul Itinerary 5 Days? If you are planning a trip to discover South Korea, you most likely have Seoul on your desired destination list – it is an important stop on any Korea itinerary.

As the country’s capital, Seoul is the main point of entry into South Korea and boasts a wide variety of fun, interesting and tasty experiences to try.

The following Seoul travel blog consists of my top suggestions for a Seoul 5 day itinerary. However, depending on how many days in Seoul you wish to stay, you can also adapt the bucket list for 3 days in Seoul.

Things to Book Before You Leave Home
Few things are more frustrating on vacation than missing out on that amazing hotel or tour because it is sold out. Here are our top things to book before your vacation.

🏯 Book these popular Seoul Tours before you leave home to avoid disappointment. 
1. Half Day Guided DMZ tour from Seoul
2. Introduction to Seoul Tour
3. Korean Cooking Class

🛏️Where to Stay in Seoul:
1. JW Marriott – my personal favourite – great location and great bar
2. Hotel28 Myeongdong – great location and value, first Korean member of Small Luxury Hotels

Seoul Itinerary 5 Days: How to get there and how to get around

Seoul is the capital of Korea and Incheon International Airport has many options for international flights both in and out of the country. Seoul also has a second international airport Gimpo which is smaller than Incheon Airport Korea and mostly offers flights to and from japan, China and Taiwan as well as domestic flights.

Flights to Seoul

Incheon Airport is 49km from Seoul. Traffic in Seoul can be bad so depending on the time of day a taxi can be an expensive lengthy journey (expect it to take at least one hour).

temple roof in korea
The gorgeous detail at one of the many places of interest in Korea Seoul

The other options for getting from the airport to Seoul are the Limousine City Bus which takes 70 minutes or the Express Train (45 mins) or All Stop Train (60 mins). Personally I took the Express train from Incheon Airport to Seoul and this was an excellent option.

Gimpo Airport is only 16kms from Seoul and a taxi will generally take about 25 minutes. The All Stop Train also goes to Gimpo Airport from Seoul Station and only takes 22 minutes. The final option is to take a bus to Gimpo Airport Seoul which takes about 45 minutes.

Knowing even a small amount of the local language can add a whole new level of enjoyment to any trip. Why not learn some basic Korean before you leave home?

back streets of seoul korea

Do you need a Visa for your Korea Trip?

It can be a real pain trying to figure out if you need a visa for a country and then all the hassle of figuring out how to apply, how long you can go without your passport, when the embassy is open etc.

iVisa has completely revolutionised this process and put it all online and make it super simple and paper and hassle-free! Using iVisa is one of my top travel tips!

NB: Citizens of the United States, Great Britain, Australia and Canada do not need a Visa for Korea if they are staying less than 90 days. Do double check that this still holds when you book your airfares.

Check if you need a Visa for Korea

Colourful stairs in Ilhwa Mural Village, one of the cool places to visit in Seoul

Getting around Seoul

 Seoul is one of the biggest cities in the world and can be quite intimidating.  The Seoul subway station system is great but it is not the easiest to understand as I have never seen so many stops on an underground! And the Seoul subway stations are huge!

It is critical to check which is the best station exit for you to use for where you are going or you could get very confused. And very sore feet! But the subway is one of the best ways to discover Seoul.

Korea itinerary
Some friendly Street Art in Seoul

There are 2 excellent options for tourists wishing to get around Seoul via subway. The first is to purchase an MPass card. This card is exclusively for tourists and offers 20 rides a day for whichever pass duration you choose (passes cover 1, 2, 3, 5 or 7 days).

The second option is the Discover Seoul Pass. This card offers transport coverage for 24, 48 or 72 hours. It also includes free admission to many major tourist sites as well as discounts.

Both of these Seoul transport cards can be purchased at subway stations or convenience stores.

Of course, it is possible to take taxis around Seoul. However, if you are planning to do this do make sure you have the name of your destination in Korean and/or an image if possible.

Or even better have your hotel or a Korean person who speaks English let your driver know where you would like to go.

Do note some taxi drivers in Korea don’t read the Korean language and this can make communication in taxis very tricky.


5 Day Itinerary Seoul Korea: Day 1:

It is easy to be overwhelmed when you first arrive in Seoul – even for seasoned travellers.  The cosmopolitan city is ultra-modern and home to 25 million citizens – more than half of Korea’s population.

My suggestion for your first day in Seoul is to experience one memorable activity to settle in, rather than moving between many.

A visit to the DMZ – one of the best day trips from Seoul

Visit the DMZ

The DMZ, also known by its full name ‘The Demilitarized Zone’, is the area that lies on the border between North and South Korea. A trip to the DMZ is the most popular of the Seoul day trips options.

A tour of the DMZ shares interesting insights into the history of the Korean War. Included in these points of interest are the 3rd Tunnel and the Dora Observatory where travellers can view North Korea through a telescope.

Do make sure you book the DMZ Tour ahead – this Korea tour sells out fast. A bus will take you towards the border. There are then several stops on the way to the DMZ. The train station that never happened. The Bridge to Nowhere.

korea trip itinerary
An officer on the border at the DMZ, one of the best places to visit in Korea Seoul

To be able to experience this unique part of Seoul, you have to be a part of a guided tour. These DMZ tours can either be a half day or a full day in duration, depending on how much time (and energy) you have to complete the experience.

➡️ Book Your DMZ Tour Before You Leave Home

5 Day Seoul Itinerary – Day 2:

Now that you are a little bit more rested and settled in, you should be ready to escalate your South Korea itinerary. Day two has a few gems that are must-go in Seoul for any visitor.

Visit Seoul’s Two Palaces: Gyeongbokgung and Changgyeonggung

Opened in 1395, Gyeongbokgung Palace is an integral part of Seoul’s history. As the main royal palace of the Joseon dynasty, Gyeongbokgung Palace is commonly referred to as the Northern Palace due to its location in the north of Seoul.

You might enjoy reading some of my other articles on Seoul:
Seoul Itinerary 5 Days
Seoul Day Trips
Things to do in Myeongdong
Things to do in Incheon
Best Seoul Boutique Hotels

Changgyeonggung palace seoul korea
Changgyeonggung Palace Seoul Korea

Today, this Seoul palace is restored and available for visitors to explore the rich history and beautiful grounds.

Changgyeonggung Palace is located in the heart of Seoul and originally served as the residential quarters for queens and concubines during the 15th century.

During the Japanese colonial rule of Korea, it temporarily became an amusement park comprising of a botanical garden and a zoo before being restored to the palace that it is today. Be advised that this Korean palace is closed to visitors on Mondays.

Gyeongbokgung Palace, one of the Seoul best places to visit

To help you decide where to go, you can visit these palaces, and more, on a cultural guided day tour of Seoul.

➡️ Book your Seoul Palace tickets

Visit Insa-dong

Insa-dong is one of the more vibrant, livelier areas within Seoul, well known for the vast array of shops and restaurants that line the streets.

While there is plenty to do and see in Insa-dong, I definitely suggest that you take the time to visit Shin Old Tea House, one of the best cafés in Seoul. The cosy haven offers a peaceful escape from the heat (and bustle) of the city.

insa-dong seoul street with souvenirs

The area of Insa-dong is also home to several captivating museums such as Kyung-in Museum of Fine Art, the Beautiful Tea Museum and the quirky Alive Museum

Take a Small Group Food Tour

Chances are that you’ve probably heard of kimchi, a traditional Korean side dish of salted and fermented vegetables. However, Korean cuisine expands a lot further than kimchi, with many other dishes that are as unique and tasty.

Spicy seafood in Seoul

The best way to experience these flavours is to book a small group for a food tour with a local guide to assist you in both tasting the local food and drink as well as teaching you about the history of the food. Food tours are also a great way to make new friends.

➡️ Book Your Seoul Food Tour

Seoul 5 Day Itinerary Day 3:

The long list of must-do activities in Seoul continues with a focus on the weird and wonderful hotspots of the great Asian city.

Dongdaemun Design Plaza

Also called the DDP, Dongdaemun Design Plaza is a major urban development. The design of the development is described as neo-futuristic and is characterized by boldly curved formations. Admired as South Korea’s fashion hub, the DDP Seoul also boasts several ecological features such as solar panel and a recycling water system.

south korea itinerary 14 days
Dongdaemun Design Plaza Seoul Korea

A visit to the cutting edge landmark is not only inspiring and beautiful but visitors can also marvel at the many public features including shopping, cafes, exhibition halls and a design museum.

Visit a Cat Café

Cat cafés are the perfect way for a cat-lover to unwind, decompress and catch their breath in-between visiting tourist attractions in Seoul. There are several excellent cat cafés in Seoul where patrons can enjoy sipping on freshly-brewed coffee while petting silky felines.

Hmm are they ordering or does she have treats?

While there are several great cat cafés in Seoul to choose from, I would recommend Lily Cat Café and Cat Attic, both of which have a cosy atmosphere and super friendly cats. 

Shop ‘till You Drop In Myeongdong Shopping Street

The Myeongdong shopping district is loved as a shopper’s paradise for locals and international travellers alike. A lot of people flock to the Myeongdong to buy famous Korean skincare and cosmetic products, as well as branded fashion and accessories

Myeongdong Shopping Street seoul korea
Myeongdong Shopping Street Seoul Korea

As evening approaches, vendors push their food carts to the streets and the smell of delicious Korean snacks fill the air, giving you the much-needed energy to continue exploring the stores.

Seoul Tower

Also known as Namsan Seoul Tower, or just ‘N Tower’, Seoul Tower was the first tower-styled tourism attraction in Seoul. The tower’s height of 236.7 metres makes it one of the tallest towers in the Orient, and definitely worth a visit.

seoul itineraries
Seoul Tower Korea

You might enjoy reading some of my other articles on Korea:
Korea Itinerary
Jeju Island Itinerary
Busan Itinerary
Things to do in Daegu
Things to do on Jeju Island
Beautiful Places in South Korea
Where to stay in Busan
Cherry Blossoms in Korea

The communication and observation tower can be found on Namsan Moutain in the centre of Seoul. Many visitors use the Namsan cable car to the mountain and then walk to the tower.

Be sure to stick around and catch the nighttime view of Seoul Tower which is truly something special as the entire structure gets brightly lit up in LED lights.

➡️ Book your Skip the Line tickets for Seoul Tower

5 Days Seoul Itinerary Day 4:

The following activities are particularly special for those with a love of architecture, culture and history. The excitement continues with your Seoul itinerary four days in.

Seoul Wall

The Fortress Wall of Seoul, locally known as Hanyangdoseong, is a wall made up of various materials with the historical aim of protecting the city from invaders. First built in 1396, Seoul wall stretches along a length of 18.6 kilometres. Today, there is a 12-kilometre section that is preserved as a historical site. 

2 weeks in south korea
Walking the Walls over Seoul Korea

A popular way for travelers to enjoy the beauty and history of the Seoul walls is to hike alongside it. There are various Seoul Wall hiking trails to choose from, each with its offering of beauty and discovery. One of the more popular routes ends at Naksan Park which has stunning panoramic views of the city.

Ihwa Mural Village

Also near Naksan Park is the Ihwa Mural Village which consists of the paintings and installation art of over 70 artists. The area was previously considered a bit of a slum until the ‘Art in the City Project’ in 2006 which injected vibrant life back into this area of Seoul.

Artowrk in Ihwa Mural Village Seoul Korea

The lively hub is an artistic tourism landmark and one of Seoul’s hidden treasures. If you make your way up to Ihwa Mural Village, be sure to appreciate the beautiful art, but also be respectful that it is, in fact, a residential area.

Korean War Memorial

Previously the site of the army headquarters, the Korean War Memorial documents the military history of Korea. The intention of its existence is to educate people about the Korean War and in turn, prevent a future war with the same devastating effects but rather highlight the desire for the peaceful reunification of the country.

The Korean War Memorial Seoul is open from 09:30 am to 06:00 pm every day, except for Mondays, for visitors to explore the various exhibition halls and learn about the rich military history. There is also an expansive outdoor section of the memorial where visitors can picnic and enjoy the scenery.

Day 5 in Seoul:

Continuing to make the most of your time in Seoul, the Korea travel guide for day five is just as enriching as the first four days. 

Bukchon Hanok Village

Bukchon Hanok Village is a traditional Korean village located near other iconic attractions such as Gyeongbokgung Palace, Changdeokgung Palace and Jongmyo Shrine. The village is full of traditional Korean houses called ‘hanoks’. Today, many of these ‘hanoks’ operate as cultural centres, restaurants and tea houses.

bukchon hanok village

A visit to Bukchon Hanok Village Seoul offers guests an authentic cultural experience that cannot be compared to anything else. There is no admission fee to visit the village, which makes a visit to Buckchon incredibly special and free.

Jogyesa Temple

The Jogyesa Temple is the center of Korean Buddhism and is the main venue for several faith-related happenings such as holding rituals and ceremonies. The temple is located in Insa-dong and is open all year-round for visitors to experience the calm environment and incredible building.


Be sure to visit Daeungjeon Hall where the famous statue of the seated Buddha is enshrined. Jogyesa Temple’s tranquil setting is largely made up of the surrounding nature. There is even a rare 500-year-old Baeksong lacebark tree to marvel at!

Korean Food Tour with BBQ Lunch

The Korean BBQ is an important part of Korea’s culinary scene and travellers cannot leave the city without experiencing a taste. The best way to experience the BBQ lunch (and the snacks that typically precede it) is to book a walking food tour.

namdaemun-market seoul korea
Market Food ready to go in Seoul!

In this way, you can taste the goods from several different vendors while learning about the interesting food history and culture of Korea. With a cooking demonstration included – you may even be able to go home and show off the flavours to your friends and family.

➡️ Book Your Seoul Food Tour

Gwangjang Market

If you still have space after the food tour, then a stop at Gwangjang Market is a must! As one of Korea’s largest traditional markets, Gwangjang Market Seoul is a great way to discover the street food of Korea further.

Gwangjang Market seoul korea
Gwangjang Market Seoul

In addition to the tasty morsels, the market is also full of stalls selling quality silk products, linen, hand-made products and even a vintage clothing arcade. The market is particularly popular among young people but has something special for everyone.

Due to its popularity, Gwangjang market can get very crowded and I would definitely suggest that you shop around a bit before committing to a purchase.

Where to Stay in Seoul

Metro Hotel

Well located in Jung-Gu, this modern hotel offers all the comforts you want during your travels. The rooms at the Metro Hotel are clean, the wifi is strong, and the breakfast is great. 

metro hotel seoul

The location is really handy for getting around the city, and there are lots of great amenities at the Metro Hotel Seoul.

➡️ Check Prices and Availability for Metro Hotel

JW Marriot Dongdaemun Square

This has got to be the finest luxury boutique hotel in Seoul. The JW Marriott Dongdaemun Square is located in a popular shopping destination and is the perfect base for an opulent stay in Seoul. 

jw marriott seoul

Enjoy the spa, the pool, fitness, private verandahs, and incredible restaurant. The JW Marriott Dongdaemun Square Seoul is a truly special place to stay.

➡️ Check Prices and Availability for JW Marriot Dongdaemun Square

The Plaza

Enjoy a luxurious stay at The Plaza for the ultimate Seoul experience. This Autograph Collection hotel is newly renovated and offers guests an unforgettable experience. 

the plaza seoul

Centrally located to many major attractions, this hotel is the perfect home base while in Seoul. Clean, comfortable, and serviced by really helpful staff, The Plaza Seoul is a smart choice.

➡️ Check Prices and Availability for The Plaza

Floral Hotel Shin Shin

This fun hotel focuses on modern contemporary design and amazing hospitality. You will have a really great time at the well decorated and comfortable Floral Hotel


This place offers good value for money, especially considering how well maintained it is. The Jung-Gu Flora Hotel Shin Shin Seoul location is also very convenient.

➡️ Check Prices and Availability for Floral Hotel Shin Shin

Sheraton Seoul Palace Gangnam Hotel

You can expect world-class service and style at this modern hotel. The Sheraton Seoul Palace Gangnam Hotel is centrally located near the convention centres, Seoul Arts Center, Central City, and other attractions.

sheraton seoul palace

 The accommodation at the Sheraton Seoul Palace Gangnam hotel is luxurious, clean, and well equipped with all your hotel needs.

➡️ Check Prices for the Sheraton Seoul Palace Gangnam Hotel

The most economic way to travel South Korea by train is the Korea Rail Pass. This pass is only available to foreign travellers. The KR pass covers 600 stations and 80 different high speed routes with unlimited rides. It is available in 3 or 5 consecutive days or flexible 2 and 4 days.

korea cherry blossoms

⇒ Beautiful Japan is one of my favorite countries to visit. Check out my posts on One Day in Tokyo, 2 Day Itinerary Kyoto, 10 Day Japan Itinerary, What is Japan Famous For? 31 Japanese Claims to Fame, 9 Beautiful Japan Famous Landmarks, the best things to do in Kanazawa and what to expect on the Nakasendo Trail.

Where to Eat in Seoul

When visiting Korea, eating amazing food is always a highlight! Here are some of my favourite places to eat in this city.

Tosokchon Samgyetang

Located near Gyeongbokgung Palace, this gem of a restaurants serves up top-notch local food. The soups at Tosokchon Samgyetang are amazing, as is the ginseng chicken stuffed with rice. You can expect hearty, traditional fare at Tosokchon Samgyetang Seoul in a relaxed and friendly environment.


This casual spot is absolutely perfect for winding down after a busy day with a cold beer and some Korean fried chicken – a must eat when in Seoul.

The food at Hanchu is simple and delicious, while the restaurant is always busy. The soju, stuffed fried peppers, and spicy soondubu are all major highlights at Hanchu Seoul.

seoul korea street at night
Seoul by night

Omiga Sinsa

This hidden gem located in Gangnam-Gu has so much to offer. The interesting menu at Omiga Sinsa is well varied, with meals for all kinds of palates. The food is made with love by the friendly, warm staff.

The restaurant is modern, comfortable and homely. You will love every bite at Omiga Sinsa Seoul and will definitely want to return.


If you are looking for some of the best, authentic Koren food in Seoul, then Gaehwaok is the place to go! This restaurant also serves amazing bibimbap and Korean BBQ, with some delicious kimchi on offer. Located on Sinsa-Dong, Gaehwaok Seoul is the perfect place to end your busy day in the city.

Little Taiwan

Located in Yeonnam-dong, Little Taiwan is an absolute favourite. This restaurant serves up some stellar Taiwanese fried chicken, soups, and noodle dishes. The bubble tea is great too! Little Taiwan is a fun and trendy spot for the great taste of Seoul.

When to Visit Seoul

Seoul summers are long, hot and muggy and Seoul in winter is dry and freezing. Annoyingly summers tend to be cloudy and winters clear so it can be frustrating for photographers!

south korea 2 week itinerary
Check out all the cats you might meet at the Cat Cafe in Seoul

The ideal times to visit Seoul for comfortable weather are late May to early July and from late August to early October.

Final Thoughts on a Seoul Itinerary 5 Days Long

I hope that this Seoul blog helps to guide you in the right direction of where to start when visiting the incredible city. There are so many things to do in Korea, and a visit to Seoul will definitely give you a good taste for what is to come.

seoul tower through trees with red leaves
Seoul Tower

Seoul is such a magical place to visit, with so much history, culture and good food. Whether you are travelling as a solo traveller, or with your friends or family – the city promises special memories to cherish forever.

I covered all of the costs associated with producing this Seoul itinerary 5 days post. However, this post does contain affiliate links. This means if you click through on some of the links and end up making a purchase I may well receive a small commission. I wanted to make sure that you were aware of this.

If you like this Seoul Itinerary 5 Days post why not Pin it?

images from Seoul South Korea
mural of bunny people in pastel colours from seoul korea
colourful badges on a wall in seoul
pink flowers on a roof in seoul
woman at a market and image of items for sale at Insadong

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Friday 16th of October 2020

I had plan for visiting Seoul, but the pandemic stood in the way. I've never been there. I really envy you after this. LOL. I'll bookmark this and visit these places once I'm there :D


Sunday 14th of June 2020

I have never considered visiting South Korea, but your blog has inspired me to visit it in the future. I didn't know there were so many great things to do. I especially want to visit the Jogyesa Temple :)


Saturday 13th of June 2020

Great itinerary! I haven’t been to Seoul, but now I feel like I know the city a little. The hanok village reminds me of hutong villages in Beijing. When I lived there hutongs were all there was, but now only a few are left, preserved as cultural monuments.


Saturday 13th of June 2020

Seoul looks amazing and I would love to visit South Korea one day. Thank you for sharing! I will definitely save this post!


Saturday 13th of June 2020

Seoul has been on my wishlist for soooo long! After finally visiting Japan a few years back, Korea is number 1 on my list at the moment. Hopefully I can save up enough money to go and I'll definitely have to save this post for then - so much great info :) Thanks for sharing!

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