Seoul seamlessly integrates ancient traditions with modernity and advanced technology. Consequently, there are almost limitless opportunities for any kind of person looking for things to see and do in Seoul.
Recommended attractions in Seoul
Fortress Wall of Seoul
Expats looking to explore Seoul's history should consider a hike along the old city wall. The wall, which was built in 1396, snakes along the mountains around Seoul and impresses expats with how strategic and well-defended the city was in ancient times.
The four main city gates of Seoul (Heunginjimun, Donuimun, Sugyojongmun and Gwanghwamun) have all been lovingly preserved. Originally, Seoul was a completely closed-off city and could only be entered or exited either through one of these four main gates or through four of the smaller gates. This walk offers unparalleled views of the city.
The Great Palaces of Seoul
Korean palaces contain some of the world's most extraordinary architecture. Ancient Korean design ensured that palaces complemented the surrounding nature. Due to Korea being controlled by both China and Japan at different times, the marriage of Chinese, Japanese and Korean palace styles has created something wholly unique.
There are five different palaces (Gyeongbokgung, Changgyeonggung, Changdeokgung, Deoksugung and Gyeonghuigung) in Seoul. Each of them was constructed during different eras in Korean history, with each exhibiting varied styles of Korean architecture.
Namsangol and Bukchon Hanok villages
The two largest Hanok villages are Bukchon and Namsangol. They are traditionally styled residential areas, that have been either constructed or preserved to give both Koreans and visitors a sense of what life was like in old Seoul. Bukchon gives a feel of the ancient city with winding streets, small businesses and some homes that are still functional. Namsangol is more of a museum to showcase the rural aspects of Korean life and is surrounded by a serene park.
There's no better place to people-watch than in Seoul’s parks. The largest, Hangang Park, runs the entire length of the Han River on both sides. Though sorely in need of more trees, it's excellent for a picnic, a game of Frisbee or just relaxing and watching people walk by.
National Museum of Korea
The National Museum of Korea is the largest museum in Seoul. It houses a combination of traditional art and history, and regularly hosts international exhibits. Traditional Korean art is distinctive to the peninsula, and the museum is curated to provide an art history lesson for knowledge seeking expats.
Leeum Art Museum
The Leeum Art Museum is the most architecturally striking museum in Seoul. It boasts a diverse collection of ancient Korean pottery as well as modern installations and sculptures.
The largest concentration of galleries in Seoul can be found in Samcheong-dong. The modern galleries of this area provide a wonderful overview of modern Korean art. Expats could easily spend an entire day walking through this neighbourhood, popping in and out of galleries and cafés.