Editor's Pick: Suggested Seoul Itinerary

Have guests coming for only three days in Seoul? Here's what to do
By Hahna Yoon |
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June is the time for visitors and playing host, but where do you take your friends and family in order to give them the most accurate picture of what Seoul is? It's a fun task, but a daunting one as well. 

As Time Out editor, not only is it my job to recommend things to do, I genuinely like it and discovered my like for it back in 2010. I had a few days off from work and randomly showing around three Swedish boys (now good friends) around Seoul. Their only request was that I didn't take them anywhere touristy and those were some of the most fun times I ever had in Seoul myself. In truth, I think a good insight into the city does include some of the main tourist destinations as well as a taste of how locals enjoy the city. 

These kinds of lists can never be perfect as every well thought-out itinerary should be considerate and catering to individual preferences, but here are my favorite places that I take my favorite people. Thanks Oskar and Johan (and Magnus, not in picture)! 

Day 1: History & Hongdae

Gyeongbokgung
Photographer: Rha Minkyu
Attractions

Start with a little history

icon-location-pin Jongno-gu

Gyeongbokgung is not my favorite palace and I'm far from championing touristy travels. However, I do believe that one should touch off with a little bit of history and it's definitely worth it to stroll around for an hour or so, especially if the weather is good!

Attractions

See something small and quaint

icon-location-pin Jung-gu

Deoksugung on the other hand is rather pretty and quaint. A Changing of the Royal Guards ceremony happens here if you trouble yourself to look up a schedule in advance. 

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Take sticker pictures

At this point, I'd head over to the Hongdae neighborhood. Usually, in student neighborhoods, it's not difficult to find a sticker picture store and trust us, they're more fun than selfie sticks and selfies. 

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Restaurants

Have a great Korean meal

icon-location-pin Mapo-gu

Sometimes it's hard to know where to take your friends, especially if they've never been exposed to Korean food. Come to Chawongga and order a little bit of everything, mix and match to see what your friends like. 

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Bars

Check out an artsy Korean bar

icon-location-pin Mapo-gu

Sure your friends want to see Seoul and have Korean food, but sometimes, all they want to do is sit down and have a drink with you at a cool bar. For that, Sangsu-ri hits the spot. 

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Bars

Impress friends with a good cocktail

icon-location-pin Mapo-gu

And since you can't end it at just one drink, try another. Robin's Square is my personal favorite and they make drinks to impress any world traveller, I promise. 

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Day 2: Art & night views

Museums, Art and design

MMCA and a stroll around the neighborhood

icon-location-pin Jongno-gu

If I had to pick one museum to take my visiting friends, it would be the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art. The museum is a great introduction to what's happening now in the Korean art scene and the surrounding neighborhood is beautiful.

Shopping, Markets and fairs

Street food and snacks at Gwangjang Market

icon-location-pin Jung-gu

Whenever I come here, I always make sure to send photos to my dear friend in New York who loves Korean street food. I wish I could send her the smells too, to fully allure her into coming for a visit. Popularized nowadays because of Anthony Bourdain, you need to try the binddatteok and maekgeolli.

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Things to do

My favorite night view

icon-location-pin Jongno-gu

Every time I climb up Naksan Park and around Seoul Fortress with my friends, I guarantee them that the walk is worth it. (And it is!) Before the security guards came, it was nice to sit up on the fortress and watch the sunset but now sitting on the wall is prohibited.

PS. This is also my favorite date place.

Art, Public art

Murals to see in the dark

icon-location-pin Hyehwa-dong

While these Ihwa Village murals are fun to see during the day, it's somehow more exciting to find them in the shadows of the night. This village feels like film noir in the flesh. (Fans of Wong Kar Wai fans must try.)

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Bars

Beer and a Jazz Story

icon-location-pin Hyehwa-dong

I believe in ending every night with at least one drink, especially if you're on vacation. And Jazz Story, while they don't have the best drinks per se, has the best ambiance to follow up to the little walking adventure you've had. 

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Day 3: Shopping & baseball

Restaurants

Western brunch

icon-location-pin Yongsan-gu

No one loves the spicy, full flavors of Korean food more than I. But for me, three full days of it can literally be a little hard to swallow. At this point, I like to take a break at the Baker's Table and have some Westernized brunch food at one of my favorite bakeries and bread stores. Breakfast portions are huge and great for sharing.

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Restaurants, Cafés

Artsy, fartsy cafe-ing

icon-location-pin Itaewon

Right across the street from the Baker's Table is also one of my favorite artsy cafes - Take Out Drawing. Doubling as a residency, they have great coffee and interesting art works on the walls.

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Shopping

Shopping in Sinsa and Apgujeong

When I think of shopping in this neighborhood, I always think of my sophisticated Swedish friend, Sofia and her ability pick out the cutest outfit. She called Garosu-gil one of her favorite places in all of Asia to shop and last time, she was in Seoul, we spent a whole day here. I've taken to bringing other friends and doing the same. 

Restaurants, Korean barbecue

Korean BBQ

icon-location-pin Songpa-gu

Ah, it's a full sensory experience that combines cooking into the picture. Bring your friends, teach them how to cut the meat and cook it (so you don't have to do it). Serve them soju too if you dare. 

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Baseball game

Although baseball is an American game, it's so much more fun to watch it in Korea. I didn't believe it myself until I went for the first time. I think it has something to do with the fact you can bring alcohol and buy it there for cheap. Fried chicken as well as other snacks are here too. 

AND even if you don't like cheap beer and fried food, it is really interesting to see how the people know the synchronized dances and everything! 

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