17 Oct 2020
Posted by Mikaela
Let’s have a look at the 11 best things to do in Jongno-gu when you visit Seoul, South Korea. Previously, we learned that Jongno is the heart of culture and tradition while being an important business center in Seoul.
With this, many travelers can expect a variety of activities to do here. Without further ado, here’s a list of must-tries that I recommend as a low-maintenance traveler.
Things To Do in Jongno-gu
There are plenty of things you can try in Jongno District that includes cultural and urban city experiences. I have grouped them into the following categories.
- Nature and outdoors
- Shopping and entertainment
- Arts and culture
- Food exploration
1. Have a ‘walking day’ to visit nearby attractions or attend free walking tours
If you love to walk (like me), take advantage of Seoul’s walkability! You can go to attractions like the Samcheongdong-gil road, Gyeongbokgung Palace, National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Gwanghwamun Plaza, and Tonging Market on foot. Keep in mind that this activity is ideal if you will visit attractions according to their proximity and when you have plenty of time. You can refer to my Jongno blog series as a guide (link below this post).
Joining free walking tours of iconic landmarks, such as the grand palaces, Cheonggyecheon Stream, and Insadong is another option.
2. Discover the Secret Garden (Huwon)
Changdeokgung Palace (UNESCO World Heritage Site) hides a gorgeous Korean traditional rear garden. You can attend the Secret Garden guided tour to witness hundreds of tree species (that are over 300 years old), including plants, lotus pond, and pavilions.
3. Museum hopping around Jongno District
There are several museums in this district about culture, history, and old Korean people’s way of life. In contrast, interactive (Alive Museum) and modern museums and galleries are also present to showcase their renowned artists and famous works.
READ MORE: 9 Must-visit Museums in Seoul for Art, History and Culture
4. Wear a hanbok
Korea’s traditional costume called hanbok captures the eyes of foreign visitors. While you’re at it, rent a hanbok and explore the traditional villages in Jongno-gu, such as the Bukchon Hanok and Ikseondong Hanok Village. Also, wearing a hanbok will give you free access to some cultural attractions.
5. Appreciate modern and traditional art in Insadong
We know Insadong as the art center of South Korea. Therefore, you shouldn’t miss admiring antique pieces, woodcraft, art galleries, and traditional masks in this neighborhood.
6. Watch the famous changing of guards ceremony in Gyeongbokgung Palace
This is a must-encounter performance in the Gyeongbokgung Palace. Watch the amazing changing of guards ceremony in front of the Gwanghwamun Gate.
7. Visit the statue of King Sejong at the Gwanghwamun Plaza
I included this for those who are around the Gyeongbokgung Palace and want to have a brief side trip. You can visit the grand statue of King Sejong and Admiral Yi in Gwanghwamun Plaza (near the grand palace). Here, you can learn about the Korean alphabet called Hangul.
8. Experience the fun of Korea Variety show
This is a unique activity in our list of things to do in Jongno-gu. Running man is a famous program in South Korea. You can head to their thematic experience center and unleash your energy with friends and family.
9. Interact with locals at traditional markets and discover Korea’s food culture
One of the best things to do in Jongno-gu is to connect with locals and ask for their food recommendations. Food is vital in experiencing the culture, and thus, will take you to another level of authentic travel experience. Here are some activities you can try.
- Eat local cuisines at the Gwangjang Market.
- Make your traditional lunchbox in Tongin Market
- Buy antique souvenirs in Insadong and Ssamzie-gil
- Eat at local restaurants and teahouses in Insadong
10. Night exploration
Include a night exploration in your itinerary when you visit Jongno-gu. This includes a walk along the Cheonggyecheon Stream or attending the Moonlight tours of the royal palaces. (Please visit their website for updates on the moonlight tours).
11. Spend a memorable night in the Avenue of Youth
Last but not the least, I recommend heading over to Jonggak Avenue of Youth to spend the rest of your night. Compared to other districts and neighborhoods, Jongno district sleeps through the night, but Jonggak remains a fun place for young people to let loose and have the time of their life.
You can refer to the following things to do in Jongno-gu as alternative activities.
- Visit the Jongmyo Shrine (UNESCO World Heritage Site)
- Experience Jimjilbang (sauna)
- Follow the path of Seoul Fortress
- Learn about the Jogye order and its influence on Korean Buddhism
- Temple stay in Jogyesa Temple
- Stay in a hanok guesthouse
- Hike the Inwangsan Mountain
- Check out some local arts in Ihwa Mural Village
That’s it for our Jongno District blog series! We will proceed with a new district for the next post. Subscribe to my newsletter for updates, travel contents, and digital materials (travel guides, sample itineraries, and more) regarding South Korea.
Read the entire blog series about the Jongno District:
Districts of Seoul: Jongno-gu as the Heart of Seoul
Iconic Landmarks and Must-visit Cultural Sites in Jongno-gu (Part two)
Must-visit Sites and Points of Interest in Jongno-gu (Part three)
Up next on our blog series:
- Districts of Seoul: Jung-gu, Seodaemun-gu, Mapo-gu, and more!
More about Seoul, South Korea:
Where to Stay in Seoul? Complete Guide for First-Time Visitors
5 Days in Korea: Complete Travel Guide and Seoul Itinerary
22 Free Things To Do in Seoul
Nami Island: Travel Guide for a Quick Daytrip from Seoul
I’ve never been to South Korea but have always wanted to! This post has made me add a few more things I’d love to do on my list for there!
Thank you for dropping by. I hope you get to visit Seoul soon! 🙂
Thank you for all the tips for this neighborhood! I haven’t visited Seoul yet so I am sure your recos will be super useful the day I can finally go there! I would love to wear the traditional outfit!
Thank you, Ophelie! Wearing hanbok is a win-win. You get to experience it and visit lots of cultural attractions for free 🙂
This has been such a fun series to read through with such great tips/guidance! I would never have thought to get a hanbok, but it sounds like a great way to get into the culture!
Thank you, Megan! 🙂
What a beautiful and fun place to visit! I haven’t been to Seoul but I definitely want to!
Jongno-gu looks like a wonderful place to visit with a spectrum of things to do. I’d love wearing the traditional dress and walking through the village! I’d also enjoy trying many types of foods in the markets as it all looks so good!
Thanks for the tips for visiting this neighbourhood in Seoul. Haven’t been to South Korea, but it’s on my bucket list.
Always glad to help! I hope you get to visit South Korea soon 🙂
Great guide. This makes me miss living in Korea. Thanks so much and saving this for future reference.
I’ ve never heard of this area before! But it looks like there are a lot of fun and unique things to do here to keep you busy and entertained for sure.
Love this list! I would definitely want to spend a day experiencing the city through sights and smells and tastes and then explore the culture and food through street markets and museums!
I’ve always wanted to go to Korea for the longest time but been so tentative – is it difficult to get around on your own if you don’t speak/read the language?
Hi, Shafinah! Based from my experience, it’s very easy to get around in Korea! They have reliable transportation system and locals are very helpful and accommodating. Most signs are written in both English and Hangul to lessen your worries. I didn’t find it difficult to communicate either given that I don’t speak the language (I also use body language, pointing and writing). Of course, as a traveler, we have to appreciate their culture. With this, basic greetings and such will come a long way 🙂 I hope I answered your question!
Ooh, Seoul looks so nice! I was supposed to travel there years ago with my dance group, but we ended up canceling the trip. Ahh, I really wanna visit it! Have to travel there on my own!
Great list of ideas! Wish I had this for my previous trip to Seoul but I’ll be sure to use it for my (hopefully) next one.
Love this list of things to do! I haven’t been here yet but I’ll keep your list in mind for when I’m planning my trip.
Stumbled across some of the cool alleys of Jongno just walking around…definitely a place to revisit