Seoul Itinerary | 3 Days of Culture, Cafes and Kimchi

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Seoul Itinerary 3 days Header Image
Photo by Joel’s Travel Tips

Seoul is the biggest, busiest, craziest, city in Korea, but also packed full of peaceful places, calm temples, and so, so many good places to eat, see, and discover.

In this 3 day Seoul itinerary you’ll stroll through palaces dressed in traditional Korean hanbok, sample the most delicious street food Seoul has to offer, stand high up in the clouds, see plenty of modern Korean culture, and have the chance to hang out in Korea’s hottest neighborhoods.


Of course, this is just the start. I’ve lived in Korea for more than 4 years and I’m still finding new and exciting places to spend the weekends, and there’s always something new appearing each different season of the year. Be sure to keep your eyes open!


I’m sure this 3 day Seoul itinerary will give you an amazing experience, and I know you’re going to fall in love with Seoul and want to come back for more! Why not spend a whole week in Korea next time?

Korean Street snacks


Day 1

Straight into the heart of Seoul with a visit to the biggest of the royal palaces, followed up by a wander through the artsy area of Insadong, before checking out the markets of Myeongdong and the night views from N Seoul Tower. Cap off the evening with a pub crawl in Itaewon.

Day 2 

Start the day on a high as you make your way to the top of the world’s 6th largest building – the Lotte World Tower – and see for yourself just how huge this city is. Then it’s time for some Gangnam Style in the most decadent and luxurious district in Seoul, visiting lots of great attractions, especially for K-Pop lovers. Wine and dine in nearby Apgujeong and see how Seoul’s elites spend their days.

Day 3 

The final day on this 3 day Seoul itinerary takes you back to traditional Seoul with a breath-taking stroll through the best of the royal palaces, Changdeokgung, and the beautiful Secret Garden. After lunch it’s time to dress up in hanbok and see historic Bukchon Hanok Village, with lots of authentic tea rooms and traditional houses for you to explore. Head to Hongdae for a final dinner and some of the best shopping, nightlife, and entertainment Seoul has to offer.

Seoul Itinerary 3 days pin


Why Visit Seoul?

1 – Seoul is the heart of Korea and the best place to see how Koreans live their busy lives, find the best food Korea has to offer, and see so many diverse districts all in one city.

2 – The city is modernizing quickly, whilst also protecting its incredible history for everyone to see. Everything is squashed together and one minute you’re walking through a modern shopping mall, the next you’re stepping out into an old Buddhist temple.

3 – You can find so many unique cultural activities to take part in, such as dressing up in colorful Korean hanbok and parading around a royal palace like a king or queen.

4 – Fans of K-Pop and Korean modern culture have so much to check out and explore, including the chance to meet your favorite K-Pop stars down in Gangnam.

Seoul Temple Details

When Is The Best Time To Visit Seoul?

There’s always something going on in Seoul, so any time is a good time to visit. For the absolute best times, however, you really want to plan your 3 day Seoul itinerary for April-May or September-November.

April is the start of the cherry blossom season and Seoul turns pinky-white for 2 weeks. The weather is also very pleasant from here until the end of May, before summer starts getting hot.

September to November are cooler after the hot summer, and the awesome autumn leaves start to fall around the end of October – a sight that really shouldn’t be missed.

A green Korean Bus with eyes on the frontin Seoul South Korea

How To Get To Seoul

Seoul is close to one of the world’s best airports, Incheon Airport. From here, it’s just a short journey into the heart of Seoul by train, bus, or taxi.

The Airport Express train will take you to Seoul Station in around 45 minutes and is very reasonably priced at around $9.


How To Get Around Seoul

When you arrive at Incheon Airport, or in Seoul, be sure to pick up a T-Money transportation card. You can use this to pay for trains, buses, taxis, and even goods in some shops. You can top it up at stations throughout Seoul.

There’s plenty of English signs across the city, so you shouldn’t have much trouble getting around. Trains and subways have maps and announcements in English, but if you’re worried about getting stuck, be sure to download a map app to help you get around.

Taxis are reasonably priced, but make sure you always ask for the meter. Sometimes they’re the best option when the subway lines don’t get you to where you want to go conveniently.

Hongdae street, Seoul

Where To Stay In Seoul

For this itinerary, I’m going to assume that you’re staying in Myeongdong, but all the places can be visited easily enough from any of the locations mentioned.

Myeongdong is home to one of Korea’s busiest and best markets, where you can find bargain shopping, top cosmetics, and the best selection of Korean street food. It’s a busy, bustling place with a lot of charm and a lot of good places to stay for all budgets.

A good alternative location is Hongdae, the best place for youth culture, shopping, and nightlife. If you want somewhere a bit more upmarket or peaceful, with great shopping and plenty of top restaurants, check out Gangnam.

Map Of Locations Covered In This 3 Day Seoul Itinerary

Gyeongbokgung Palace
Photo by Joel’s Travel Tips



Breakfast | Gimbap And Go!

It’s time to get up and go early, as this is going to be a full day of Korean culture, sights, markets, and incredible views. Grab an early breakfast from your hotel, or a gimbap (Korean sushi roll) from a convenience store. Gimbap are a great food to eat any time of day. They are cheap, fill you up, and you can grab one from almost anywhere. You can get all sorts of fillings, such as spicy pork, tuna and mayo, pork cutlet, and even spam.

Guard outside Gyeongbokgung Palace
Photo by Joel’s Travel Tips

Morning At The Royal Palaces

Once you’ve had your fill, head on out to Gyeongbokgung Palace for the first stop on your 3 day Seoul itinerary. Gyeongbokgung Palace is the biggest and most impressive of the 4 royal palaces in Seoul and definitely can’t be missed. The Palace opens at 9:00* and it’s best to get there early to avoid the queues. If you want a real Korean experience, head to one of the hanbok rental shops nearby and rent one for the day. You’ll really feel like a Korean king or queen in one and they make for some awesome pictures.

*Please note, the palace is closed on Mondays.

Ssamziegil in Insadong, Seoul South Korea
Photo by Joel’s Travel Tips

Lunch In Artsy Insadong

You’re going to be hungry after a few hours walking around the gigantic Gyeongbokgung Palace, so head down to Insadong and grab some traditional Korean food to pick you up. Insadong Art Street is lined with small side-streets hiding beautiful traditional Korean restaurants – the kind where you have a huge selection of side dishes and food to share. Try out the Insadong Geujip restaurant for that real Korean experience. A great vegan alternative would be Osegye Hyang.

Need a bit more coffee to keep you going? Walk to the Ddong (Poop) Café in Ssamziegil Art Market (3rd floor) and get a latte served in a toilet-shaped mug. Add a ddong-bbang (poop bread) to go with it. Filled with gooey chocolate sauce. Yummy.

Cheonggyecheon Stream

Afternoon Along The Cheonggyecheon Stream

Keep walking down through Insadong Art Street and you’ll soon hit the peaceful oasis that is Cheonggyecheon Stream. This tranquil stream runs for 12km through the city, but you’re going to head towards the start point – Cheonggye Plaza – only a little way away. There are often lantern festivals and light shows along the stream and you’ll find lots of Seoulites chilling along the banks to escape the concrete jungle.

The sights get more obscure as you walk westwards along the stream and arrive at the Cheonggye Plaza, where you’ll be greeted by a giant, multi-coloured shell spiralling up into the sky. It’s massive, you can’t miss it! Grab a quick pic with it, then keep on walking and you’ll find a wide open street that holds various cultural events, markets, and parades throughout the year. Take some time to look around and you’ll notice that you’ve come full circle back to Gyeongbokgung Palace, your first stop of the day.

Street Food in Myeongdong
Photo by Joel’s Travel Tips

Dinner In Myeongdong

As evening approaches, it’s time to move on towards Myeongdong Market for some modern Korean culture – shopping and street food! Myeongdong is famous for its markets and streets lined with little stalls wheeled out faithfully every afternoon, offering up sweet treats, unique street food, and lots of souvenirs and clothes. This is where tourists flock to for their cheap fakes, authentic food, and to be part of the hustle and bustle.

Sample some of the street food along the way, I’d recommend the tteokbokki (spicy stir fried rice cake), hotteok (sweet fried pancake), and anything on a skewer. It’s all good and freshly cooked that day. If you want a full meal here, then try out some healthy samgyetang (chicken soup) at Gobong Samgyetang or seafood from Jogabi Seafood Bar & Restaurant.

Too early for food? Then carry on to the next stop on the first of this 3 day Seoul itinerary.

Love Locks at N Seoul tower
Photo by Joel’s Travel Tips

Night Views At N Seoul Tower

From Myeongdong Station you should be able to see the imposing N Seoul Tower on the top of Namsan Mountain (it’s hard to miss it). This tower has great views all over central Seoul and is best just before the sun goes down or when it gets dark. Walk up the hill from Myeongdong Station (not all the way, no worries) and you’ll reach Namsan Cable Car which will whisky you up the mountain, all the way to the tower.

Head inside for spectacular 360 degree views of Seoul and spend some time walking around slowly, seeing the city lights in front and the mountains all around. See if you can spot the fortress walls, too. In case you didn’t eat, there’s a few good restaurants around the tower, including the Hancook Korean Restaurant. Romantic couples can purchase a love lock to leave at the tower as a memory of their time together in Seoul.

Seoul Art Installation

Late Night Fun In Itaewon

End your evening checking out the foreigner district, Itaewon. There’s not just foreigners here, though, this is a popular place for Koreans who want to sample some of the best international food and drinks on offer in Seoul. There are a lot of good bars, restaurants, and clubs where you can dance the night away or put your feet up and relax after a busy first day of your 3 day Seoul itinerary. Head to Prost for a wide selection of European beers.

Alternatively, take the cable car back down to Myeongdong and see more of the night market or pop into one of the many late night cafes in the area before heading back to your hotel for the night.

Seoul Sky
Photo by Joel’s Travel Tips


East Meets West For Breakfast

Surprisingly, one of the most popular breakfast snacks for Seoulites on the go has become the humble toasted sandwich. Head to Isaac Toast in Myeongdong to sample Korea’s take on this simple snack, filled with bacon, cheese, hash browns, egg, and even cabbage. Isaac Toast is also extremely popular with tourists from across Asia, who form long lines to grab a sandwich and take in the Eastern / Western fusion breakfast. Take it away and head to the subway because you’re heading across town to Jamsil.

Seoul 3D wall art COEX

Morning In The Sky

In Jamsil, you’ll find the tallest place in Korea, and the 6th tallest building in the world – the Lotte World Tower. Standing tall at 555m, this iconic skyscraper is surrounded by many other attractions, including the Lotte World Adventure theme park, the gorgeous Seokchon Lake, and dozens of great shops, restaurants, and other attractions.

Head inside and take the elevator up to the 117th floor for the Seoul Sky Observatory, where you can find stunning views in all directions. If you’re feeling brave enough, look down through the glass floor that hangs out over the edge, giving a vertigo-inducing view hundreds of feet down to the streets below!

Those travelling through Korea in early April will find some of the best views of Korea’s incredible cherry blossoms around the lake at the base of the tower. The Seokchon Lake Cherry Blossom Festival offers fantastic views, street food trucks, cultural events, and the chance to take some amazing pictures with beautiful blossoms.

Lunch In The Clouds

There are plenty of good restaurants in the Lotte World Tower area, including the Sky 31 restaurant on the 31st floor. In case you didn’t want to go to the Seoul Sky Observatory, you can head here and still get great views of the surrounding city. Alternatively, head to the food court in the basement of Lotte World Tower for a whole range of great food from around the world.

Coex Aquarium Jellyfish

An Afternoon Of Gangnam Style

Introducing the world to K-Pop and this wealthy area of Seoul, PSY put Gangnam on the map with the first true mega-hit on YouTube, Gangnam Style. See what the fuss is all about for yourself with an afternoon in this decadent, exciting neighbourhood just a few stops from the Lotte World Tower.

Get out at Samseong Station and you’ll be greeted by a statue of PSY’s unique Gangnam Style dancing. Snap a pic and then head into the COEX Mall. You can find a world of shopping, dining, and entertainment inside, including the COEX Aquarium and the captivating Starfield Library, which has more than 50,000 books spread over curved bookcases several meters high.

Fans of K-Pop should head to SM Town, where they can find out all about some of the biggest stars, watch concerts, and, of course, buy those unique souvenirs you can only get in the home of Korea’s modern pop culture.

If you’re not a fan of malls or K-pop, then head out north of the mall to one of Seoul’s finest Buddhist temples – Bongeunsa. This compact temple offers a peaceful haven in the heart of Seoul’s most decadent district, and gives you a reminder that there’s more to life than money.

Seoul Palace

Dinner In Seoul’s Trendiest Neighbourhood

A short taxi ride will drop you in one of Seoul’s trendiest neighbourhood – Apgujeong – with more K-pop culture and fantastic food. K-Pop fans can get their fix by checking out the K Star Road, which starts from Apgujeong Rodeo Station and goes along the main road. You can’t miss it – just look for the life-sized teddy bears decorated with cool costumes and zany colours. These represent some of the most popular K-pop stars in Korea.

You’ll also find exquisite restaurants in this area, talk a walk around the side streets and see what you can find, or head to Jungsik Seoul, Kwun Sook So, or Mingles for great modern Korean food. You’ll find them in the side streets around Exit 4 of Apgujeong Rodeo Street Station.

Kimchi and Mandu


A Healthy Korean Breakfast

After a decadent day out in Gangnam yesterday, start the day with a traditional Korean meal – juk (rice porridge). Check out Migabon Restaurant in Myeongdong for an early morning treat. Unlike Western porridge, this is made with rice and comes with a range of heart-warming and healthy ingredients, including chicken, shrimp, mushrooms, red bean, abalone, or lots more. If you’ve got a sore head after the previous night, I’d recommend the chicken porridge to help you recover your strength.


Morning In The Secret Garden Of A Royal Palace

My favourite of the 4 royal palaces is next on this final day of your 3 Day Seoul itinerary – Changdeokgung Palace. There are options for dressing up in Korean hanbok at the nearby Anguk Station, I’d highly recommend it. Book your tickets at the main gate, and be sure to request a ticket for the Secret Garden.

This special area within the palace (covering nearly 60% of the whole palace) was a reserved area only for royalty to get away from the stresses of palace life. It’s beautifully laid out, with pavilions, peaceful ponds, and abundant nature. Access is restricted, so get there early to guarantee entrance.

Spend the morning taking in the history, culture, and beauty of this palace, and also check out the connecting Changgyeonggung Palace and nearby Jongmyo Shrine. Walk back around towards Anguk Station to for a spot of lunch.

Traditional Korean Shoes

A Traditional Korean Lunch

There are so many great traditional Korean dishes that I wouldn’t want to recommend only one above the others. You’ll find plenty of choices for authentic Korean dishes in this area that are cheap and really delicious. Try Jeonda for pajeon (Korean pancakes), Bukchondodam for bossam (grilled pork belly wraps), or Biwon for kalguksu (hand-cut noodle soup).

Adam in traditional Korean dress

The Historic Streets Of Bukchon Hanok Village

Another of my favourite sights in Seoul, one I highly recommend everyone should include on their 3 day Seoul itinerary, is the Buckhon Hanok Village. This special area between the royal palaces has been preserved to protect the traditional Korean hanok buildings there. Walk through these streets and see how the Korean nobles lived. You can enter some of the houses, which are open to the public as art galleries, cosy cafes or tea rooms, and even as guest houses that you can stay in overnight.

You can rent hanbok in this area and it’s a really great place to get photos. You’ll also find dozens of little art shops, galleries, museums, cafes, and restaurants here. Take your time to walk through the various streets, which are well signposted so you can find all the main attractions.

Put your feet up for a bit and try some of Korea’s cleansing green tea or other brews in the wooden tea rooms. Take your shoes off, escape the city, and find a moment of calm and composure at the bottom of a bowl of tea. I’d recommend Cha-Teul for the setting and Tea Therapy for true tea-lovers who want to sample high quality tea.

Korean BBQ in Seoul

Dinner In Happening Hongdae

Now it’s time to hit up one of Seoul’s coolest neighbourhoods, home to Korea’s best art university and the centre of youth culture in Seoul – Hongdae. You can’t leave Korea without trying some of the most delicious, mouth-watering, stomach-expanding food there is – Korean BBQ.

There are plenty of Korean BBQ restaurants in this area. If you want the full experience and great service, check out Choigozip Hongdae near Exit 1 of Hongik Uni Station. My personal recommendation is Loco Quan 401 Korean BBQ Restaurant, run by a famous Korean entertainer. It’s a bit further away, but the meat is juicy, the side dishes delicious, and the atmosphere is a bit more fun with good music played throughout the night.

Hongdae Street BBQ in Seoul

Exploring More Of Hongdae’s Night Life

If you can still walk after a big meal like Korean BBQ, then Hongdae has so much to offer you. Personally, I like to wander the streets to see what is around, but if you’re limited on time, stick to the main Hongdae Shopping Street for all the best entertainment spots.

You can do a lot of shopping in Hongdae in the night markets, go singing in the noraebang singing rooms, prove your skills in the escape rooms, arcades, & VR rooms, or grab some beers or cocktails in the many bars and clubs.

Before you leave, stock up on Korean snacks from the many snack shops in Hongdae. Share them with friends back home as the perfect unique souvenir that can really be appreciated. They’re unlikely to have tried a lot of the weird and wonderful flavors on offer in Korea and you might encourage them to plan their own 3 day Seoul adventure.



This is just a small part of what Seoul has to offer and I really encourage you to stay for longer and travel to other parts of the wonderful country that is South Korea.

Be sure to try as many new and interesting foods as you can, even if it looks a bit weird to you. You might discover some amazing tastes that you’ve never experienced before and find out why foodies love Seoul so much.

Seoul 3 day pinterest pin
Seoul Itinerary South Korea PIN

This is just a small part of what Seoul has to offer and I really encourage you to stay for longer and travel to other parts of the wonderful country that is South Korea.

Be sure to try as many new and interesting foods as you can, even if it looks a bit weird to you. You might discover some amazing tastes that you’ve never experienced before and find out why foodies love Seoul so much.

About The Author

Joel’s Travel Tips is a travel blog focusing on life, culture, and travel within South Korea, Asia, and beyond. Joel has travelled extensively since he was 18 when he first grabbed a backpack and headed off to Thailand and beyond. He now lives in South Korea and has been living and travelling in Asia since 2011. You can follow him on Facebook and Instagram.

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