Seoul offers a unique blend of traditional and modern experiences that cater to all age groups. Whether you are a tech enthusiast, a nature lover, a food connoisseur or want to immerse yourself in a completely new pursuit, Seoul has something for you. What I love most about Seoul is that it is very child-friendly. Nursing rooms are easy to find in most major department stores; kid cafes throughout the city give the little ones a nice play area to enjoy while you take a quick break; and restaurants are eager to find suitable seating arrangements for you and your family.
In building an itinerary for South Korea, Seoul is the most obvious starting point for an adventure. Three action-packed days will provide a delightful introduction to the city, especially if you have little ones to keep engaged. However, spending an additional day or two will allow you to cover more ground and experience what this dynamic capital offers. Here are the top things to do in Seoul with kids during a 72-hour stay.
Rise early and head over to Gyeongbokgung Palace in central Seoul. This Joseon-era royal palace is a wonderful introduction to Korean history and allows children the open space to explore freely. The changing of the royal guard ceremony occurs at the main entrance (Gwanghwamun Gate) in the morning and early afternoon. Although it is a quick 20-minute performance, it can get busy during high tourist season. If you would rather get a taste of traditional dress elsewhere, several shops will allow you and your family to dress up in hanbok (traditional Korean clothing) for a few hours while you visit. This activity is fun for tourists and locals alike and can make for beautiful memories as you dive into the castle’s rich history.
TIP: You may also want to visit the National Folk Museum of Korea near the east entrance. South Korea does a wonderful job of making history extra-fun, and its engaging, life-size simulations of the country’s folkways are a fun way to introduce children to a bit of culture.
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Take a quick subway ride (or a 15-minute walk) to the Insadong district to sample traditional snacks, do a little souvenir shopping and look at the area’s abundant art. Stop by the Ssamziegil shopping mall, a square-shaped outdoor mall and cultural complex with an exciting array of boutique shops, workshops, souvenirs and stationery stores.
Insadong is a great place to stop for lunch. Whether at a family-friendly restaurant or a food stall, there is something to suit almost everyone’s tastes. Even my picky eaters found happiness in a bowl of hot or cold noodles. If you are a tea lover, stop by the O’Sulloc Tea House before leaving Insadong, which boasts some of the best green tea in Korea. The many tea options also make for excellent souvenirs for family back home.
After lunch, head to the Seoul Animation Center, a cultural complex with a library, movie theater and exhibition hall with fun children’s activities. It’s divided into two main zones; you can spend time in the Comics Cafe on the first floor reading up on your favorite series, or in the Ani Picnic on the second floor, meeting characters from some of the most popular comic series in Korea. A few minutes away lies Namdaemun Market, one of Seoul’s oldest and largest traditional markets.
End the day at Namsan, where you can stroll around the well-appointed park after dinner before heading up to Namsan Tower for spectacular night views of Seoul. Bring walking shoes, as it is quite a trek uphill but worth it. Alternatively, you can go up N Seoul Tower (Namsan Tower) via cable car.
Begin day two at COEX Mall, one of Asia’s largest underground shopping malls. It’s an excellent spot for brunch, filled with delicious bakeries and breakfast spots. Make sure to stop by the Starfield Library to be wowed by the number of books and magazines displayed for visitors. It also has one of the most famous photo ops in the mall, a light-filled glass-walled atrium, which is an excellent spot for a family photo. The Starfield Library is also an event space and hosts occasional children’s events. While at COEX, make sure to venture into the COEX Aquarium. With interactive zones for hands-on experiences, an underwater tunnel that provides a 180-degree view of marine life and other fun exhibits, this aquarium was a hit with my young kids.
Next, head over to Bongeunsa Temple, a short walk from COEX. This Buddhist temple is located in the middle of the city, but it provides a nice, short escape from the hustle and bustle as you take a leisurely walk around the grounds. Take a short subway ride (or walk) to Gangnam-daero, among Seoul’s most popular shopping and dining areas. This main road is filled with great shopping areas and several side streets with secret food gems. You can find anything from skincare to food and snacks to underground shopping centers.
After lunch, spend the afternoon in Children’s Grand Park. One of my favorite kid-friendly spots in Seoul, this park is home to a small zoo, a botanical garden, a mini amusement park and several playgrounds and performance halls. If the weather is not cooperating, head to Lotte World Adventure, an indoor amusement park often likened to a Korean version of Disneyworld. Afterward, walk over to Lotte World Mall for great dinner choices, and end the day at Seoul Sky in the 123-story Lotte World Tower for panoramic views of the city.
Start your day with breakfast and a tour around Itaewon. A former military base area, Itaewon is popular with young crowds at night but is also a kid-friendly multicultural hub during the day. Bakeries, international cuisine and cafe streets lined with coffee shops are standouts here. The streets of Itaewon are also known for their colorful murals and one-of-a-kind boutiques.
After breakfast, proceed to the War Memorial Museum in Yongsan. This museum provides good insight into Korea’s wartime history and has interesting military equipment and vehicle displays. Like most museums in Korea, it is interactive and allows kids to participate in the action through hands-on experiences. You can grab lunch nearby or go to I’Park Mall, a large shopping complex with family-friendly options. If you want something more luxurious, head over to the upscale Hannam-dong neighborhood.
After lunch, spend the afternoon in Seoul Grand Park, located just south of Seoul and accessible via subway, taxi or bus. A great choice here is the Gwacheon National Science Museum, which has an interactive science and technology exhibition and a great display of dinosaur bones. You may also opt to visit the Seoul Zoo, but it is quite a walk, so take your time and stop at the many playgrounds and exhibits in the area for a quick break.
As you return to central Seoul, spend your last night taking in the tranquil views of the Han River at Banpo Hangang River Park. Although there are a few good dinner venues along the water, you will also find that many families get snacks from a local convenience store, sit by the bank and enjoy time with friends and family.
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