Seoul, the capital of South Korea is such a vibrant place, packed with tourist attractions, delicious food, and much more. If you only have 2 days in Seoul, you will have to plan your itinerary very well in order to make the best out of your time here.
After spending 3 days in Seoul on a cold winter, I came back for good some 2 years later. Now that I got my Korean ID and some experience in exploring the streets of Seoul, I know I can help you out with some great itinerary options.
Thus, without further ado, because I know you want to start planning that marvelous trip, here is my suggestion for an awesome Seoul itinerary.
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Things to know before we start
But before we dig into the attractions and things to do in 48-hours in Seoul, there are a few things you might want to know.
How to get from the airport
Traveling from the airport to your hotel shouldn’t be very hard when you choose the right places to stay in Seoul. However, no matter where you stay, transportation in Seoul is one of the best I’ve ever seen and you have plenty of options to get around.
Depending on your budget, you can choose one of the following options to get from the airport:
- By taxi – one of the most expensive ways, but also the least troublesome. You can find taxi desks once you pick up your luggage and exit the arrival gates. That’s what we did both times we arrived. At the desk, you are told the price of the ride, which depends on the destination, and you can pay by card or cash. Getting to the city center cost us around 70 USD (80.000 won). If you are 4 people, that’s not bad for a taxi ride.
Another thing worth knowing is that the ride takes around 1 hour and it depends a lot on the traffic, which can be a nightmare sometimes.
- By train – part of the subway and very conveniently linked, it is so easy to take the train directly from Seoul Station to the airport. Or the other way around.
There are 2 options available: the normal train – the dark blue line that stops in every station including Gimpo Airport, takes longer, and it’s the more affordable option and you can pay with your T-Money card; and the express train – a non-stop line that will get you to the airport or to town in less than 30 minutes. You will need to buy the express line ticket ahead of time (AREX Incheon Airport Express Train One Way Ticket in Seoul) and show the ticket when checked.
- Transfer – book a private transfer and forget about everything. You will get picked up from the airport and taken directly to your accommodation. See a great option here!
How to get around Seoul
As Seoul is a big city with plenty to do and see, no matter where you choose to stay, you will have to make use of public transportation.
You will need a T-Money card – this is basically a rechargeable card you will be able to use on all public transportation means (subway, buses), but also at different convenience stores. You can buy the card from any subway station or convenience store such as 7Eleven, GS25, EMart24, CU.
The cost of the card itself is 4000 KRW (3.6 USD) and you can top up at any of the above-mentioned stores – just know that you will be able to pay by card for the card itself, but you will need cash to top-up. If you choose to order it online beforehand, you could save some money.
You will need to download an app called “Subway” (here for Android and here for Apple). It really helped me a lot to get around and understand where to change and what line to take. Additionally, it provides an updated timeline so you can make the best out of your time.
Whenever you enter and exit the bus or subway you will need to validate your card so the system will know your start point and endpoint and how much to charge you.
Also, when you want to just walk from one place to the other, it is worth knowing that Google maps won’t help you while in South Korea. Just download Naver Maps (here for Apple, and here for Android) and start searching.
It is worth knowing that not always it will be easy to find addresses unless you write them in Korean. Use Google translate and copy the translation into Naver maps, this way it should always work.
Where to stay in Seoul
If you’re only spending 2 days in Seoul and have only one night here, I would encourage you to choose the best location to stay in.
This way, you won’t waste time on the commute and will be able to make the most out of your hours here.
Choose to stay in one of the below areas, with a few great hotel options:
- Namdaemunno – the area we chose to stay in during our first trip to Seoul, at Courtyard by Marriott Seoul Namdaemun. It was a nice hotel, with a view to the NSeoul tower and to the Sungnyemun Gate, from where I could easily walk to many of the main attractions in town. Check it out here!
- Insadong – maybe the most touristic area in town, mainly because it is so close to most of the popular spots. ibis Ambassador Insadong offers Seoul Tower views, a beautiful rooftop terrace, and it is located close to Insadong’s Main Street, which has most of its outlets open all night. Check it out here!
- Myeongdong – Nine Tree Hotel Myeongdong – I must admit this was our first choice when it came to hotels in Seoul, but somehow we ended up with the Courtyard one (and I don’t regret it a bit). This one is perfectly located and offers a great quality vs price ratio. Check it out here!
2 Days in Seoul, South Korea: The Perfect 48-Hour Seoul Itinerary
For your day 1 itinerary, I suggest you check out my one-day in Seoul itinerary options.
You can choose from seeing the most popular tourist attractions in town, a mix of palaces and urban areas, tasting delicious food, and much more. The itinerary comes with a map so you will find it easy to plan your trip.
Deoksugung – Gyeongbokgung Palace – Bukchon Hanok Village – Changdeokgung Palace and Huwon – Jogyesa temple – Myeong-dong
Also, another great option is to forget about organizing the itinerary, and book directly your Seoul 1 day city highlights tour – hotel pick-up and drop-off included, and perfect sightseeing of the Korean capital. You will have it all organized for you and it will be easier to adjust to South Korea.
Finish off your day in style with a true Korean SPA experience. You simply cannot come to the capital of cosmetics without experiencing the best treatments.
Sulwhasoo Spa is one of the best and fanciest options. With their own cosmetics line sold worldwide, you can experience a full body massage or just an intensive ginseng and jade brightening treatment. See all their options here and book in advance to get the deal!
Whoo SPA Nonhyeon is another exceptional option. Their products come in luxurious packaging and boast some of the highest ginseng concentration, well known for their anti-aging and anti-oxidant properties. A best-kept secret of Korean beauty for centuries. Choose between a facial treatment, a body massage, a VIP treatment, and much more. Check out the options here!
If you would rather not cross the river, check out The Belle Spa in Dongdaemun.
Day 2 in Seoul
For your second day, you can adapt the second option of my one-day itinerary, or go for this other option, when you are into the hidden gems and less explored places.
On this itinerary, I’ve added places that you won’t find on many guides, especially the ones targeting only 2 days in Seoul. These are for the people who like to explore and love nature, but also for Korean cosmetics lovers.
Seongsu-dong – Amore Seongsu – Seoul Forest Park – Coex Library – Bongeunsa Temple – Lotte World Tower
An area I knew nothing about before moving here and being introduced to it by a new friend. As I got off the subway I wasn’t expecting much from this area, because at first sight, it looks a bit industrial.
There’s a good explanation for this since most of the shoe factories resided here, and even today you can find small leather shops where you can get shoes and other things custom-made for you.
However, nowadays gentrification took place, and most of the factory halls have been transformed into cool cafes, restaurants, or even beauty concept stores.
Walk around and discover some cool murals – even if you come several times in the area, chances are you won’t find the same mural again.
Where: Seongsu subway station on the green line
Amore Seongsu is much more than a cosmetics shop. It is a place where you come to explore, test, learn, and relax.
A concept store owned by the largest cosmetics brand in South Korea, Amore Pacific, the shop in Seongsu is a place I could have spent even one entire day exploring.
You can pretty much test hundreds of products from tens of lines they own. And it’s not only about skincare, but it’s also about body care and make-up! Every now and then they hold skincare and makeup classes, but also flower design workshops.
At the end of the tour, you get 5 free samples you can take home and experience on your skin.
Also on location, you can find a tea shop and a rooftop terrace.
Seoul Forest Park
Ok, this is not really a forest, but it is a lovely park to walk around towards one of the many great coffee shops in the area.
You can see and feed deers (an activity particularly appreciated by kids), take pictures in the Ginko Biloba forest, and during spring admire the beautiful cherry trees in bloom.
Once done with the walk in the park, stop for a good coffee at Greytcoffee.
Where: Seoul Forest subway station on the yellow line
Cross the river and head to one of the most instagrammable places in Seoul – the library in Coex Mall.
You don’t have much to do here but snap a few pictures and do a bit of shopping inside the mall, because the library doesn’t sell books, but it has been created as a place that would attract people.
Where: Bongeunsa subway station on line 9
This temple is so special because it is one of the only Buddhist Temples in Seoul. Most of the temples in Korea are in the mountains, thus finding one with a great garden in Gangnam is something special.
Come here during Buddha’s Day and you will get to see all the colorful decorations, apart from the temple’s unique architecture.
They do organize temple stays where you can get an introduction to Buddhism, and they also have a small quiet tea place in one of the houses on site.
Where: Bongeunsa subway station on line 9
Lotte World Tower
The tallest building in Seoul and in South Korea, impressive from both the outside and the inside.
Book your ticket for the observation deck and climb to level 123 from where you can take in the view of Seoul from above.
Come for sunset and admire the sky painted in the most unique colors possible, and don’t leave without seeing the exhibitions and shows held in the waiting area.
You can also extend your visit with a ticket to the impressive Lotte Aquarium.
Other activities and things worth knowing
Of course, there is so much you can fit into 2 days in Seoul, however here are a few other activities you might want to consider for your trip:
- On your visit to the palaces, rent a traditional hanbok and book a professional photographer to help you take some amazing pictures. It will only take 1-2 hours, but you will have a memory that will last a lifetime.
- Go on a day trip to DMZ – get to see the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea, a once-in-a-lifetime experience for anyone. See more about the tour here!
- Explore Hongdae and its many coffee places
- Climb the Seoul Tower and visit some of the most popular K-drama filming locations
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When is the best time to travel to Seoul, South Korea?
My suggestion is to always plan your trip for the shoulder season: spring has its charming blooms and pretty weather, while fall comes with some extremely romantic colors.
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