Nestled on the Han River, Seoul is the capital and the largest metropolis of South Korea. It is also the economic, political, and cultural center of the Republic of Korea, with a history that dates back over 2,000 years when it was founded in 18 B.C. It grew out of the ashes of war and quickly advanced to become a global megalopolis in only half a century.
Today, Seoul, South Korea, is a modern city, attracting millions of visitors from across the globe. Its popular districts, like Itaewon, Hongdae, and Gangnam, continue to entice locals and tourists with endless entertainment, dining, and shopping opportunities. It’s also a captivating blend of modern and ancient, filled with well-preserved historical sites, traditional wooden houses, and museums mixed with world-class architectural buildings.
It can be tempting to spend on tickets to visit famous observation decks or party all night to experience the city’s vibrant nightlife. But if you steer clear of the usual costly spots, you’ll discover endless free things to do in Seoul. Fill your days with visits to free museums, scenic walks, and cultural adventures, and you’ll soon realize that the most memorable experiences don’t cost a dime. Stow your bags in budget-friendly luggage storage in Seoul and make the most of your trip!
Explore the Gyeongbokgung Palace
Take a journey back during the Joseon Period as you enter the Gyeongbokgung Palace. Constructed in 1395, the Gyeongbokgung Palace is the largest of the five palaces and arguably the most beautiful among them. It is also referred to as the Northern Palace due to its furthest north location.
The fire during Imjin War destroyed the premises, but the palace buildings were later restored under Heungseondaewongun’s leadership during King Gojong’s reign. As you visit the Palace, you can also head to the National Folk Museum of Korea and the National Palace Museum of Korea, located on the Palace grounds.
You would be required to pay a minimal fee to enter the Palace. But if you want to enjoy free admission, come wearing a hanbok or visit during Culture Day, which is the last Wednesday of every month.
Location: 161, Sajik-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Hang out by the Han River
Han River is one of those places in Seoul that you can’t miss out on if you want a complete city experience. Han, or Hangang River as it’s otherwise called, runs along the center of Seoul, lined with numerous parks you can visit. It’s one of the most renowned tourist spots in the area, and it’s rightfully so because of its view and the number of activities you can experience there.
Other free activities in Han River include walking, jogging, biking, or driving across the iconic bridges. You can also have a relaxing picnic or a date along the River. Don’t worry if you forgot to bring a snack, as you can order online to be delivered where you are by the River or buy from the nearest convenience store. This makes the area a great hanging out spot for groups and couples.
Location: 257, Gangbyeonbuk-ro, Seongdong-gu, Seoul
Hike to the Namsan Seoul Tower
When talking about the most famous landmarks in Seoul, the N Seoul Tower in Namsan has to be on the list. It’s the best place to go if you want a bird’s-eye view of the entire city, as it’s established at the highest point among other buildings. The structure became available for public use in 1980 and has served as the symbol of Seoul for years.
You have several options to get to the Namsan Tower, including a free shuttle bus that will drop you off in front of the Tower Plaza and a cable car with a fee. But if you want to do a bit of exercise, get there on foot by hiking to the top via one of the different trails. It can take about 30 to 40 minutes to reach the Tower, depending on your speed and stops.
Going to the observatory requires a fee, but there’s an observation deck where you can enter without an admission ticket. It features many great photo-op spots you can visit. You can also view the surrounding areas for free, including the Namsan Park, Waryongmyo Shrine, Namsangol Hanok Village, and Namsan Public Library, among many others.
Location: 105 Namsangongwon-gil, Yongsan-gu, Seoul
Visit the National Museum of Korea
Learning history is part of the experience when going to a city. For Seoul, one of the free museums you can visit that houses the country’s past, present, and future is the National Museum of Korea. It features six galleries, advanced IT technology for kids’ educational programs, natural scenic views, and an adjacent garden.
The National Museum of Korea is a must-visit place for history lovers, art enthusiasts, and anyone who wants to experience Korean culture from its roots. You can learn about their prehistory, ancient, medieval, and early modern history. You can also view exclusive calligraphy and paintings, donated works, sculptures, and more works of art.
Location: 137 Seobinggo-ro Yongsan-gu, Seoul
See the Jogyesa Temple
Are you looking for a calm and serene atmosphere you’ll find in most Buddhist temples set high in the mountains to meditate? In that case, Jogyesa Temple may not be for you. The temple is nestled in the heart of the city, near Seoul’s hustle and bustle. But its busy environment is what makes this temple a charming destination for temple-goers.
The Jogyesa Temple is the center and a symbol of Korean Buddhism. It is one of the country’s most important Buddhist temples, constructed in the late 14th century during the Goryeo Dynasty. It was utterly destroyed in a fire but was rebuilt in 1910. It was under different names until traditional Buddhism was revived, establishing the present-day Jogyesa Temple.
It’s a small temple, but a beautiful place worth visiting with gorgeous sculptures and a lovely environment. Besides the vibrant temple building, its stunning displays in the garden offer delightful sightseeing opportunities.
Location: 55, Ujeongguk-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Discover Korea’s War History at the War Memorial of Korea
Established on June 10th, 1994, the War Memorial of Korea is a local museum in Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea. It was founded to preserve and showcase materials related to the Korean War, serve as an educational venue, and remember the noble sacrifice of those who died during the war.
The museum features about 33,000 artifacts, around 10,000 of which are displayed at outdoor and indoor exhibitions. Visitors can explore six rooms, including a Patriotic Memorial Room, a Large Machinery Room, Expeditionary Forces Room, Korean War Room, War History Room, and Development Hall. Outside, you’ll find large-sized weapons.
The museum is ideal for visitors of all ages. You can participate in various educational programs and cultural events, like military music and honor guard events, and drawing contests. Admission to the exhibition halls is free, and it can be visited from 9:30 AM to 6 PM on Mondays and holidays.
Location: 29, Itaewon-ro, Yongsan-gu, Seoul
View exhibits in the Seoul Museum of Craft Art
Another free museum experience you can enjoy in the city is offered by the Seoul Museum of Craft Art. It’s best known for showcasing traditional Korean crafts and embroidery you can’t see anywhere else.
Some of the exhibitions featured in this museum are “Artisans – Making the Better World” and “Craft, Moving Beyond Time and Boundaries” in the first building. The second building has the “Heritage of Seoul’s Traditional Crafts” and “From Nature to Crafts Artisans – Creators of Craft Heritage.” Finally, most of the permanent exhibitions are in the third building.
If you come with children, the Museum of Craft Art’s Education building is perfect for them. Here they can learn more about crafting in the Ceramic, Woodcraft, and Metalcraft studios, making the museum suitable for all visitors interested in arts and crafts, regardless of age.
Location: 4 Yulgok-ro 3-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Admire Panoramic Views at Jeongdong Observatory
One of the best free things to do in Seoul many tourists aren’t aware of is enjoying breathtaking views at Jeongdong Observatory. Perched on the 13th level of the Seoul City Hall, Jeongdong Observatory is a free observatory where you can get the best views of Deoksusung Palace and other notable attractions around the area.
If the free entrance fee doesn’t convince you to stop by the observatory, you’ll love to chill at the café inside. This way, you can enjoy a refreshing drink while appreciating the sweeping city views. Pay attention to the café walls decorated with photos of Jeongdong’s historical past.
Location: 15, Deoksugung-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul
Take a walk around the Ihwa Mural Village
Located in what once was a neighborhood set for destruction, but now one of the most visited spots in Seoul is the Ihwa Mural Village. In 2006, The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism painted varying sizes of murals under the “Art in City Project” to revitalize the area. It wasn’t until 2016 that the number of visitors to the village increased, and it was recognized as one of the city’s tourist spots.
While you can just stroll around the village and take pictures, there are other activities you can do to improve your experience. For instance, you can rent old-school Korean school uniforms during your walks or visit local cafes, restaurants, galleries, and markets.
Location: 49 Naksan 4-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Tour the Bukchon Hanok Village
There’s no better way to experience the traditional culture of Seoul than to walk around Bukchon Hanok Village, a preserved Korean neighborhood. All that while wearing a Hanbok, the country’s traditional clothing. If you have your own Hanbok, you can have a free experience. Otherwise, you can rent or buy one from the nearby shops.
In the Bukchon Hanok Village, you can take a walk, go sightseeing, and take pictures. You can also check out the arts and crafts museum, drink in one of the teahouses, and eat traditional Korean food. It is best for visitors who don’t only want to visit Seoul but also want to have an in-depth experience of the country’s culture.
Location: 37 Gyedong-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Walk along Cheonggyecheon Stream
Embrace nature and enjoy a relaxing walk along Cheonggyecheon Stream, an eleven-kilometer stream running through downtown Seoul. It was created as part of the city’s urban renewal project, restoring the stream that once existed in the area during the Joseon period.
The promenade is open daily for 24 hours, offering a scenic path where you can chill, have a leisurely walk, and get lost in nature in the city center. It is also where the popular Seoul Lantern Festival is held, an exciting annual event worth participating in before the year ends.
Location: 1 Cheonggyecheon-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Join a Free Walking Tour
There’s probably no better way to discover the true soul of a city than walking. So when visiting Seoul, South Korea, don’t forget to add a free walking tour to your itinerary. Fortunately, the tourism offices regularly organize tours that will take you to tourist sites in downtown Seoul, introducing traditional Korean houses, palaces, and ancient structures. Exciting tours will also allow you to walk through some off-the-beaten paths and unique street food markets and locate hidden gems waiting to be found.
During your tour, you will meet volunteer guides who are knowledgeable experts in Seoul’s culture and history. They are friendly and willing to answer your questions to help you understand the city on a deeper level.
Pick your favorite tour, which is typically categorized under eight themes, including Palace, Seoul City Wall Dulle-Gil, Architecture & Arts, Hanok & Village, and more. The free walking tours are available in different languages, such as English, Chinese, Korean, and Japanese. They can accommodate up to twenty participants.
Location: 6F, 85, Cheonggyecheon-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Seoul for Free
Visiting Seoul will prove to you that the best things in life are, indeed, free! You don’t have to worry about dull moments in the city, even if you’re trying to save money on travel. From exploring the palaces and museums to tackling the famous trails and walking along the stream, there are plenty of free things to do in Seoul that will keep you busy throughout your trip.