Covering over 600 square kilometres and home to nearly 10 million people, Seoul is one of the world’s largest metropolises. In a city so big and rich in history, culture and activities, it can be hard to know where to even begin…but we’ve got you covered!

Here are the top seven places in Seoul you have to visit while studying abroad in South Korea.

Lotte World

Lotte World hosts the largest indoor theme park as well as an outside theme park, malls and more. This is a really cool park that has thrilling rides along with plenty of  food and shops. Lotte World also has a mall (Lotte World Tower), which is the tallest building in the OECD and fifth largest in the world. These two places are a lot of fun and no matter your age there’s something to do. Like a small indoor Disney World, Lotte World is definitely worth the 35-minute subway ride from Anam Station.

“Getting the chance to go to the top of the brand-new Lotte Tower in Seoul was definitely one of the highlights of my stay in the city. Lotte Tower opened in April of 2017 and is the tallest tower in South Korea as well as the 5th tallest building in the world.” Mitch Brown, University of Hartford

War Memorial of Korea

This is a unique and educational way to learn about the Korean War, as well as other wars, from a South Korean perspective. In the center of the outside plaza, the Statue of Brothers stands tall, symbolizing the division of the Koreas by the elder South Korean soldier hugging the younger North Korean soldier. There are also tons of military equipment such as tanks, boats and planes on display. Inside the memorial you’ll find even more memorabilia, including paintings, sculptures and weapons.

Explore study abroad programs in Seoul, South Korea


Demilitarized Zone

Beautiful and eerie, this is an educational place to visit if you want to hear about the history of North and South Korea. The DMZ has acted as a buffer zone between the two countries since 1953 and military activity is forbidden for two kilometres on either side of the truce line. The Demilitarized Zone shows the wounds and scars of the Korean War as well as the wishes and hopes for the future. Touring the DMZ, you can also go into several of the underground tunnels North Korea built to send soldiers to the South.

DMZ tour South Korea
DMZ tour | Photo by Hannah DeMilta, TEAN staff

King Sejong’s Statue

The statue of King Sejong is very close to Gyeongbokgung Palace, the Cheonggye Stream and the statue of Admiral Yi Sun-sin. It was unveiled in 2009 on Hangul Day to celebrate the 563rd anniversary of the invention of the Korean alphabet. The statue has a small museum under it to learn about King Sejong and Admiral Yi Sun-sin.

Gyeongbokgung Palace

The main royal palace of the Joseon Dynasty is a popular spot to visit in Seoul. This is a really cool place to get a guided tour (in English!), as well as dress up in traditional hanbok. You could spend hours looking at the amazing architecture. The National Folk Museum and the National Palace Museum of Korea are also on the palace premises. These show early Korean buildings and what a traditional town might have looked like as well as what would have been in these towns (art, clothing, records, music, education, etc.).

Gyeongbokgung Palace in traditional hanbok
At Gyeongbokgung Palace in traditional hanbok | Photo by Marina Urquhart, Hampshire College

Gangnam Entertainment Buildings

If you’re into K-Pop (Korean pop music), Gangnam may be at the top of your list of places to visit. Along with being the birthplace of Psy, singer of “Gangnam Style”, it is home to many entertainment companies. The wealthy city is beautiful and filled with places for photo ops as well as chances to see K-Pop idols. Many famous Korean people walk the streets of Gangnam and you will likely see a K-Pop star. There are many high-end clubs as well as shops to explore while in Gangnam..

Itaewon or Hongdae

If you’re all about the nightlife, then you’ll want to head to Itaewon or Hongdae. And if you aren’t into nightlife, you should still visit these happening neighborhoods. Hongdae is where many of the locals go to club, whereas Itaewon tends to host tourists and foreigners. Both these places have incredible restaurants as well as fun places to shop. The nightlife in Seoul is interesting and completely different from what you see at home… I definitely recommend people watching in these areas!

Itaewon nightlife in Seoul
Head to Itaewon to explore Seoul’s nightlife | Photo by Hannah DeMilta, TEAN staff

Myongdong or Insadong

These are two of the major shopping districts in Seoul. They are fairly cheap if you’re looking to shop and are simply fun to look around in. There are stores with K-Pop merch, makeup stores, beauty stores, sock stores, phone case stores, shoe stores, toy stores, art, books, tea… You name it, you can probably find it at one of these two locations. It’s also fun seeing the street vendors selling clothes and food.

Brianne Messer is a TEAN alum from Drake University who studied abroad with TEAN in South Korea.