Asia,  South Korea

Perfect Itinerary for One Week in Seoul

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After one week following this itinerary in Seoul, South Korea, I had eaten ox tongue, stood on both sides of one of the most complicated country borders in the world, and sipped imaginary tea with a non-imaginary giant frog. If you want to experience food, history, and culture unlike anywhere else in the world, Seoul has it. And I’m not the only one who thinks so. Everyone I’ve spoken to who has traveled to Seoul has great things to say. Yet, it’s relatively less-touristed than other heavy-hitting Asia destinations like Japan or Hong Kong. If you have chosen Seoul for your travels you’ve already made one good choice. Keep reading my super-detailed, do-it-all itinerary for one week in Seoul, and you’ll be one more good decision closer to an epic trip.

Here’s what you’ll find in my comprehensive one week itinerary in Seoul.

How to Get to Seoul

Most likely you will be arriving to South Korea by air and flying into the Incheon International Airport. This is a major international airport with direct flights from all over the world, and most global airlines can get you here.

The airport itself is about an hour from Seoul, so once you land, clear immigration (don’t forget to check visa requirements for citizens from your country!), and collect your luggage, your next step is to take transportation to Seoul.

You have a few options for getting to Seoul from the airport:

  • Taxi – this will be the most expensive option, and depending on traffic could take longer than other options. If you decide to take a taxi opt for an official airport taxi company. They should have a booth in the arrivals hall.
  • AREX Airport Express Train – this is an affordable option at about $5 USD one way and takes 43 minutes from the Incheon International Airport to downtown Seoul. There are no stops along the way.
  • AREX All Stop Train – this is a good option if you don’t mind your trip taking a little longer due to the many stops, and you want to connect to other metro lines to bring you closer to your accommodation in Seoul.
  • Airport bus – this option may be best depending on where you are staying Seoul, as there may be a bus stop near your accommodation.

Where to Stay in Seoul

Insadong

This area is conveniently located near most of the major tourist attractions in Seoul, making a good place to stay for your first visit to the city.

Hotel options

Myeongdong

This is the busiest part of Seoul, full of shopping and bustle. This is a great option of you want to be immersed in the action of the city.

Hotel options

Itaewon

This area is full of bars and restaurants, as well as some good shopping. If you want easy access to night life, this is a great place to stay.

Hotel options

Gangnam

Yes, this is the Gangnam the world has come to know thanks to Psy’s “Gangnam Style” hit song. If you like KPOP and nightclubs, this is a good option for you.

Hotel options

Day-by-day One Week Seoul Itinerary

Day 1 in Seoul – Arrival

Fly to Seoul, South Korea.

Depending on what time you arrive and how much day you have left, you could use this first day to get an orientation of the city.

Day 2 in Seoul – Itaewon

Explore the Itaewon area. This is a great area to just walk around and get a feel for contemporary Korean culture. There are a ton of shops, bars and restaurants.

If you want to visit a store that is quintessential contemporary Korea culture, I recommend visiting the Line Friends store. These adorable cartoon characters are on metro cards, clothing, office supplies, and more. People love them, and there’s no better way to acquaint yourself with this unique and fun aspect of Seoul than by visiting the source. Plus, it’s a cute place for selfies!

Drinking tea with a frog at the Line Friends store
Drinking tea with a frog at the Line Friends store!

If you’re there on a weekend night, definitely consider bar hopping around this neighborhood. Depending on the night of the week, you could also sign up for a pub crawl. These types of activities are great for meeting other travelers. We saw a lot of signs for Seoul Gone Wild but weren’t in town on the nights they offer; otherwise we would have signed up.

Itaewon is also a great place to try traditional Korean BBQ. A night of Korean BBQ entails lots of meat, eaten in lettuce wraps with toppings such as garlic, onions and sauces. There are a ton of places with varying levels of service and cost. Cheaper places will put the raw meat and toppings on your table, and you’ll cook and cut the meat yourself on your table. Nicer places will cook for you at your table.

If you’re feeling thirsty, soju is a Koran rice liquor that accompanies festive BBQ nights! Don’t underestimate it though – this stuff is STRONG.

A table of meat and an open grill for a traditional Korean bbq in Seoul
Traditional Korean bbq feast!

Day 3 in Seoul – War Memorial of Korea

Visit the War Memorial of Korea. This moving museum tells the history of not only the Korean War of the 1950s, but the history of war on that peninsula from prehistoric times to today. The multimedia exhibits and free volunteer guides ensure you’ll learn a lot on your visit.

War Memorial of Korea
War Memorial of Korea

Day 4 in Seoul – DMZ/JSA

Now that you have learned all about the Korean War, take a day trip outside of Seoul to visit the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) and Joint Security Area (JSA), where the North and South meet to discuss matters (including peace talks). This area is heavily guarded by military from both North and South Korea.

For more information and to help you determine if this tour is right for you, check out my detailed guide on how to visit the JSA and DMZ.

An American soldier at the Joint Security Area JSA in Korea
An American soldier at the Joint Security Area

Day 5 in Seoul – Gyeongbokgung Palace and Bukchon Hanok

Soak up some of Seoul’s older history by visiting one of the many palaces in the city. I recommend Gyeongbokgung Palace, especially if you can visit at 10 am or 2 pm when they do a reenactment of the elaborate and beautiful changing of the guards. The best part is that watching this spectacle is free for all! It was a highlight of our visit. Entrance to the palace costs 3000 won (less than $3 USD).

Preparing for changing of the guards at Gyeongbokgung Palace
Preparing for changing of the guards at Gyeongbokgung Palace

From this palace, you may also consider visiting Bukchon Hanok village, a short walk away. This area is known for homes in a traditional architectural style. You’ll see many locals dressing up in traditional clothing, called a hanbok, (which you can rent for about $10 USD from one of the many nearby shops!) to take photos in this area.

Local girls in traditional hanboks at the Gyeongbokgung Palace
Local girls in traditional hanboks at the Gyeongbokgung Palace
Bukchon Hanok village
Bukchon Hanok village

Changdeokgung Palace is also a great place to visit for its stunning gardens, especially if you’re in Seoul during the spring or summer.

Day 6 in Seoul – Nami Island

In good weather, Namiseom Island, or Nami Island for short, is a highly-recommended day trip from Seoul. It’s easily accessible by metro from the city. Since we visited in winter, we didn’t go, but on our next trip we definitely will!

They have gardens to explore, a miniature faux-French village, a sculpture park and more!

Day 7 in Seoul – Departure

Fly out of Seoul for your next destination.

Additional Tips for Seoul

I´d love to hear what you think of this one week itinerary for Seoul. Drop me a comment below or feel free to contact me!

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Hey, I'm Sarah! I'm a Virginia-born girl living in Wisconsin. I'm obsessed with organization, planning, and adventurous travel. I am a cat-person with a love for all dogs, and I can never decide whether I want a sweet or a savory meal for brunch. Most of my travels (and my brunches) are with my best friend/soul mate/husband, Tim.

4 Comments

  • sara

    Wow, you were really able to see a lot of Seoul in a week. I like that you included various options for high/mid/budget travelers. I would definitely want to visit the palaces and probably stop at the war museum if I visited. Great itinerary!

  • Adela

    Thanks for sharing your Seoul guide with us. It’s very comprehensive and I like how you divided it by neighborhood (because it’s the first thing I look at when booking a place) and by days. The food seems so yummy and the frog restaurant so cute!

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