Five days in Seoul is a great amount. If you are at all able, I would suggest making your stay 5 days. We had 6 days and were very happy we got to explore more of this interesting bustling city.
Day 5 highlights: Seouillo walkway, Namdaemun market, Itaewon, National Museum, Banpo hangang park, Gangnam
This is a suggested itinerary for the 5th day in Seoul. However, if you wish, you can instead decide to get out of the city and visit one of the nearby locations, such as Hwaseong Fortress or DMZ.
If you follow this itinerary, and don’t mind walking a lot, you can walk and only take transport to Seouillo walkway in the morning and from Gangnam in the evening. However, this may be very tiring especially after a busy itinerary previous days, so you can hop on the bus or metro between suggested locations (use Naver maps for directions).
Seouillo Walkway 7017
If you have arrived from the airport via the Seoul train station or already travelled to other cities, you have probably already seen the interesting Seoul station building. Now you can have a look at the station and the Seoul busy streets from the walkway constructed in 1970 and reconstructed in 2017 (hence, the name 7017).
The walkway is decorated with various plants and is a lovely space to walk and observe the busy roads below. It is also lit during the night and you can come back sometime if you wish to check it out in the evening.
Seouillo 7017 stretches from Malli-dong across the train station and goes along Toegye-ro. You can start by exploring Malli-dong area near the station, which has interesting installations and some hilly walks. From here you can follow the walkway towards Seoul station and then head to Sungnyemun.
Near the train station is Sungnyemun gate (often unofficially called Namdaemun gate) for instance – this is the largest gate along the old city wall. The gate is Korean treasure #1 (there is a huge list and the fact that this is #1 says something). This 14th century gate’s wooden pagoda was the oldest remaining wooden building in Seoul and stood through many destructive periods, however, in 2008 an arsonist destroyed it. It was then reconstructed by 2013.
This is one of the, if not the most, known traditional markets in Seoul. There has been a market here since the 15th century. You will find all sorts of things here, new or used. You will find clothes, home appliances, cameras and what not. Apparently, if you are looking to buy a hanbok, you will find the cheapest ones here.
If you like markets, you can simply get lost here and enjoy shopping.
Although it would be a nice walk to Itaewon area from Namdaemun, it would be far easier to hop on one of the buses going here (for example, 402 or 405 – consult Naver for more accurate information).
Walk around the hilly area of Itaewon and enjoy the views over the city. You will find a number of embassies here. You can pop into one of the cafes (see the list of cafes in the area in my post here). Then walk downhill towards Itaewon street. If you are interested in modern art, on your way you can visit the Leeum Museum of Art (free). Further, near Hangangjin metro station is the performing arts theatre building – Blue square, where various performances take place, including at the time of writing (June, 2023), Chicago musical. On the 2nd and 3rd floors of the building is the Book Park, a bookstore space worth visiting, if it’s open at the time you visit (I heard it is temporarily closed, we couldn’t visit it).
After this, walk on Itaewon street and feel the more European part of Seoul. This has been a place, where European immigrants lived for a long time, therefore, the place doesn’t feel, like other areas of Seoul. There are a number of embassies up and down this road. You can pop into different streets and alleys and enjoy the views.
After exploring Itaewon, if you are interested in the military history of Korea, visit War Memorial Museum (free, closed on Monday). It is located at the former army headquarters and promotes peace by informing people about the devastation of the Korean War.
National Museum of Korea
Free of charge
Like all other national museums, this museum is free to visit. It also doesn’t close any of the days of the week, so you can choose any day to visit, especially if other museums and palaces are closed. It’s also an excellent rainy day activity in Seoul.
The museum was first established in 1909, as the Imperial Household Museum. It was relocated several times around Seoul and Busan, until permanently moving to the new building in 2005. The museum depicts various periods of Korean history from Paleolithic to Joseon times. It also showcases Korean arts, crafts, Calligraphy and sculpture.
Banpo Hangang Park and Rainbow Fountain Show
From the National Museum, catch a bus to Banpo Hangang park. Actually, at the time we visited, there was a reconstruction going on and although the bus stop was not too far from the bridge, we had to find a crossing to the other side of the road to get to the park. If when you visit the reconstruction is not over, follow the arrows, which will direct you to this route (unfortunately there is no shorter way).
Banpo bridge is a double decker bridge in the middle of the city.
Here you will find 570 meter long fountain with 200 LED lights. The fountain is in the Guinness Book as the longest fountain bridge in the world. It’s best viewed from the south side, where the park is located and where evenings are very busy.
The area is lovely with green spaces and very popular for the locals to meet in the evening. You can walk around here, pop into one of the cafes (around here they have lovely views), like Starbuck floating cafe or just relax on the green before the fountain show begins.
You can experience the Banpo Bridge Rainbow Fountain every day from April 1 to 30 October at noon and evening times. Here is the full schedule. The show lasts for 20 minutes.
We came for the 19.30 show. The area was very crowded before the showtime. Btw, I expected it to be on both sides, as I read before, however, on the day we visited that wasn’t the case. It happened on the right-hand side of Hangang park. Anyways, you can have a look at which side people gather and follow their lead. But if you are on the wrong side, you can switch the side in a couple of minutes, so it’s no big deal.
I enjoyed the show. You will be listening to several Korean songs – it was mainly K-pop, while watching the dancing lights on the water. It was a lot of fun.
After watching the fountain show, if you still have energy left, you can walk to the Gangnam area to explore it in the evening hours. Or, if you are already tired, just head to the metro station on line 9 – Express bus terminal (it’s about 15 mins walk from the Hangang Park) – and head to your hotel area.
If you are following this itinerary, you have already been to the Starfield library and Bongeunsa temple the previous day. On this day, you can explore other parts of Gangnam in the evening hours.
Gangnam is famous for shopping, cafes and restaurants, music scene and, not the least, nightlife. You will find a number of bars and clubs here and from what I hear, they are more foreigner-friendly than some of the other areas of the city. I don’t go clubbing while travelling, as I usually get up early to explore instead. So I don’t have any suggestions on which clubs to visit, but I am sure you will come across a lot of them and choose which one you prefer.
If that’s not for you either, you can pop into the various shops, including the cute Kakao friend store, find a lovely café (See the list of some of the lovely cafes in my post dedicated to Seoul cafes) or a restaurant or just explore the riverside.
This completes the 5-day itinerary of Seoul. If you have additional days, consider going out of the city to either visit Suwon, Nami Island and Garden of Morning Park or DMZ. Any of these would require most part of the day, so if you want to do these on a 5-day itinerary, then you will have to skip one of the days of my suggested itinerary (I suggest to skip the day part of the 5th day in that case and finish your day after the trip out of the city with Banpo Rainbow Fountain and Gangnam area).