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Seoul is the bustling capital of South Korea. It’s an incredible mix of traditional and modern. Ancient history is well preserved among modern skyscrapers and days can be spent exploring its vibrant city streets. Seoul is an Instagram dream and there’s an abundance of Instaworthy shots to be captured in the city. There are traditional villages, palaces, quirky cafes, and great shopping. Chances are you won’t have time to visit them all so I’ve put together a list of my favorite Instagrammable places in Seoul.
Most Instagrammable Places in Seoul:
1. Bukchon Hanok Village
A visit to Bukchon Hanok Village is like taking a step back in time. The 600-year-old village is made up of traditional Korean houses, or hanoks. The village is located on a hillside between Gyeongbok Palace, Changdeok Palace, and Jongmyo Royal Shrine. It contains about 900 beautifully restored hanok. Some of the homes have been converted into tea houses, museums, or guest houses.
Walking tours of the village are available; however, it’s fun to explore on your own and wander aimlessly through its winding alleyways. Make your way to the top of the hill for beautiful views and that instaworthy shot. Please keep in mind that people do live here. Be respectful when visiting and stay away from the doorways. To reach Bukchon Hanok Village, take the subway to Anguk Station.
2. Starfield Library
Starfield Library is one of Seoul’s top Instagram spots. It’s located in the Gangnam area within the COEX Mall. The mall, which houses a convention center, exhibition halls, and an underground shopping center, regained its popularity with the addition of the library in 2017. The large, public space contains roughly 50,000 titles and over 600 local and foreign magazines. The books and magazines are from a variety of genres. Most are Korean but there are some foreign titles and even an English-language section. The library offers free WiFi and has iPads available for those who like to do their reading electronically.
Even though it boasts an extensive book collection, the library’s design is what makes it one of Seoul’s most instagrammable places. You have likely seen its famous escalators in your social feed. Starfield Library’s brightly lit and modern two-story design is what has made it so popular. The books are beautifully displayed on ceiling-high shelves and comfortable seating can be found throughout the space. The easiest way to get to Starfield Library is by taking the subway to the Samseong Station.
3. Flower Cafes
Seoul has a lot of fun and unique cafes but stopping for an espresso at one of the city’s flower cafes is a must for your Instagram. A flower cafe is exactly what it sounds like- a cafe decorated with a flower theme. I visited Flower Yard Cafe, located in the Ikseon-dong area of Seoul. Ikseon-dong is a trendy neighborhood with plenty of cute shops and places to eat.
The decor at Flower Yard Cafe is lovely and they have a small but delicious breakfast menu. I recommend the waffles. It opens about an hour earlier than the city’s other flower cafes and is a great option if you want an early bite before hitting the tourist sights. Some other flower cafes in Seoul that you may want to visit are Lovin’ Her Flower Cafe and Blute.
4. Namsan Cable Car & Tower
The Namsan cable car is the first commercial cable car service for passengers in Korea. The tramway was built in 1962 and takes passengers on a three-minute ride up a 605 m (1,985 ft) cable. Passengers board the car at the base of Namsan Mountain and arrive at the top near N Seoul Tower.
N Seoul Tower was originally a broadcast tower, built on top of the mountain in 1969. Today, it marks the second-highest point in Korea at 236 m (775 ft). I recommend visiting during the late afternoon. Give yourself enough daylight to enjoy the incredible views and then watch the sunset from the top. It’s open until 11 pm and is a fun place to spend the evening.
Seoul Tower Plaza is full of eateries and has a large observation deck. There are also LED light displays scattered around the grounds that make great photo ops for your Instagram. An adult ticket with a return is 9,500 KRW. There is also the option of purchasing a one-way ticket for 7,000 KRW and then walking down the mountain.
5. Style Nanda Pink Hotel
Style Nanda is a Korean-based fashion and makeup brand. It was founded in 2004 and has since expanded to multiple locations in a handful of countries. The flagship store is located in Seoul’s Myeongdong area. In addition to its stylish clothes, Style Nanda is made for Instagram.
The store is set up as a faux hotel and has six pink-themed floors including a rooftop. Each floor has plenty of Instaworthy shots. Head to the Style Nanda Cafe for the store’s famous cotton candy or take a shopping break on the rooftop’s comfortable lounge pillows.
6. Insadong Shopping Street
Insa-dong is a neighborhood in central Seoul that is popular with both locals and foreigners. It has a great shopping street that is easy to walk and is closed to traffic on the weekends. At one time, the area was the largest market for antiques and art in Korea. Today, you’ll find a variety of things ranging from traditional crafts to souvenirs.
Expect to find shops full of clothing, ceramics, and hanji (traditional stationery). Vendors line the road offering delicious bites of street food and tea houses can be found hidden among the alleyways. Make sure to explore the adjacent streets as well.
7. Gyeongbokgung Palace
Gyeongbokgung Palace is located in the Jongno district of northern Seoul. It is the largest of Seoul’s Five Grand Palaces and was the heart of the city at the time of its construction in 1395. It was later destroyed during the Japanese invasion in the late 1500s. After much of it burnt down, it was abandoned for 300 years before being reconstructed in 1867.
The palace’s name, “Gyeongbokgung,” means “Greatly Blessed by Heaven.” The grounds are expansive and beautiful. There are many stunning gates and halls to photograph and you will even find cherry blossoms in the spring. Make sure to stop by the Gyeonghoeru Pavilion, which was once used to entertain foreign guests. It sits over a pond and casts a lovely reflection on the water.
To make your shot even more Instagrammable, dress up in a hanbok. A hanbok is a 1,600-year-old traditional Korean dress. It’s a great way to embrace Korean culture. They are readily available to rent throughout the city. Entry to the palace costs 3,000 KRW.
Tips for Taking Photos in Seoul
- Start early and photograph outdoor locations first. Many of the most popular sights are the least busy upon opening and the soft morning light makes for gorgeous pictures.
- Bring a tripod. Seoul is busy so you won’t always be able to set up a tripod but I did find it helpful in certain places, especially around the palace.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for assistance. When a tripod isn’t an option, find a nearby friendly face and ask if they could do you the favor of taking your photo. I usually like to show an example of how I would like the shot set up.
- Join a walking tour that offers to take photos for you. Many of them visit instagrammable places in Seoul. There are a few out there but this one offers all of the traditional locations in Seoul.
Where to Stay in Seoul
Bonum 1957 Hanok and Boutique
Bonum 1957 Hanok and Boutique is a great hotel option in Seoul. The beautiful hotel is built in a style similar to the traditional hanok. The hotel is located in a quiet area, making it the perfect place to relax after a busy day in the city. It’s conveniently located near the Anguk Station and is just a few blocks from Bukchon Hanok Village and Gyeongbokgung Palace.
Makers Hotel is a modern, mid-range hotel with all the essentials. It’s centrally located in Insadong and is within walking distance of the shopping street, restaurants, and cafes. The common areas are uniquely decorated with a vintage vibe and rooms have private bathrooms, AC, and free wifi.
L7 Hongdae by LOTTE
Hotel L7 by Lotte is located in the fun and vibrant neighborhood of Hongdae. Hongdae has an artistic vibe and has lots of fun, bars, and cafes. Most of the major sights are easily accessible and the property has a pool, restaurant, and fitness center on-site.
Have you been to Seoul? What are some of your favorite Instagrammable places in Seoul? If you’ve enjoyed this post, please leave a comment or share using the social media buttons below. Want to see more of beautiful east Asia? Continue to my post, “Top 10 Things to Do in Tokyo”, and discover the best things to do in Tokyo.