If you’re joining our South Korea cycling holiday riding from Seoul to Busan, we highly recommend tagging on an extra day or two to explore the vibrant capital of Korea, Seoul.
Here are our top tips for getting the most out of a short stay in the city:
Explore neighbourhoods on foot
Take a walk around the ancient village Bukchon Hanok with streets and streets of restored wooden homes called hanoks that are more than 600 years old! You’ll find many tea houses, guest houses, museums and restaurants in this area allowing you to experience traditional Korean culture. Visitors are also reminded to be respectful that the area is home to many residents too.
Gyeongbokgung Palace and modern art
The royal Gyeongbokgung Palace was built in 1395. It is situated in the north of the city, against a beautiful backdrop of mountains. Give yourself a few hours to explore the Palace, gardens and grounds, which are also home to the National Museum of Korea and the National Folk Museum.
Whilst you’re visiting this neighbourhood, it’s well worth spending some extra time exploring the streets adjacent to the Palace grounds, where you’ll find countless small museums and modern art galleries. The juxtaposition of traditional and modern Korean art in this whole district is a great way to immerse yourself in this culture of contrasts.
Skedaddle Co-Founder, Andrew Straw (Straws to anyone who’s cycled with him) says “My favourite little museum is Arario Museum and the coffee place inside the grounds, Fritz Coffee, is an oasis of calm away from the hustle and bustle of Seoul, offering the best coffee and cakes around”
“The National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art is on a much bigger scale but always with something to make you smile, ponder-on and be amazed by.”
Shopping, food and drink
Insadong is a neighbourhood packed with restaurants, tea houses and shops where you can pick up traditional hand-crafted goods and souvenirs. Make sure you check out the smaller alleys as well as the main shopping street here, as there’s so many great places to discover!
Straws recommends that you “check out Ssamzigil for quirky presents and great jewellery. Then grab yourself an uber cool t-shirt that you’ll not find in your local TK Maxx from Timidtales and take a coffee on the rooftop!”
Myeongdong is another popular area for food and shopping. You’ll find countless interesting shops, bustling markets and lots of delicious street food to try.
The Dongdaemun Design Plaza is an architecturally impressive building with futuristic curves. It’s a cultural centre hosting events, exhibitions and 24-hour shops and cafes.
Remember to take your passport for tax free shopping!
More local cultural experiences
Itaewon is a vibrant neighbourhood that draws in hundreds of young Koreans and wandering around the packed neon-lit streets you’ll see street performers, musicians, emerging K-pop bands, and their fans. There are plenty of bars and restaurants to choose from, making Itaewon a great place to spend an evening.
Brace yourself for an action-packed night out! Drinking is a big part of socialising for South Koreans and a typical night out may involve three or four rounds in various bars and restaurants, followed by a South Korean favourite, noraebang (karaoke).
Seoul’s public transport is extensive, with more than 20 subway lines and hundreds of bus routes. It’s affordable too but remember you will need cash for the metro or buy a T-Money pre-paid transit card at any 7-Eleven or CU convenience store.