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Spectacular Seoul: A vibrant metropolis with notable history, culture and cuisine awaits

Discover the best things to do in the South Korean capital, a thriving city with plenty to explore and adore. | By Paul Oswell | August 3, 2023

With Korean culture enjoying an unprecedented surge in popularity, it’s hard to imagine a more thrilling time to visit Seoul. The South Korean capital’s top attractions include centuries-old castles and temples, trendy fashion districts and one of the world’s most innovative culinary scenes. Here are some of our suggestions for a memorable trip to Seoul:

  • Top-class cuisine: Enjoy Korean classics like rice bowls or fried chicken, as well as unforgettable Michelin-starred menus

  • Hypnotic history: A capital for over 600 years, Seoul has a wealth of centuries-old buildings that help tell its story

  • Chic shopping and culture: Discover Gangnam, one of Seoul’s most affluent neighborhoods

Experience refined dining at Conrad Seoul’s rooftop bar and restaurant, VVertigo.


Korean culinary delicacies are well worth seeking out, and Seoul’s restaurants are the perfect gastronomic playground. Already popular around the globe, kimchi and bibimbap (rice dish) are staples, while lesser-known dishes such as jjajangmyeon and samgyeopsal (grilled pork belly) are rightfully garnering acclaim.

Michelin-starred Myomi boasts views of the Changdeokgung Palace complex and has an equally regal menu. Chef Kim Jeong-muk teases out the nuances of typically Korean ingredients, impeccably presented. Since moving from San Francisco to Seoul, three Michelin-starred Mosu has continued to garner acclaim and its chef-founder Sung Anh highly values refinement. Case in point, the delicacy of Anh’s signature burdock bark. At two-Michelin-starred Jungsik, chef Yim Jungsik is widely credited with elevating Korean food to the world stage. Expect familiar dishes such as gimbap (a seaweed rice roll) and bibimbap, made with precision and passion.

Fine dining basks in Italian influences at Atrio, the flagship restaurant at Conrad Seoul. Expect home-style cooking and the ambiance of a trattoria. Atrio is just one of the eight exciting dining outlets at the hotel, which include 37 Grill and Bar and the rooftop romance of VVertigo.

Woman in traditional Korean dress stands under cherry blossom in front of Changdeokgung Palace
Explore captivating cultural landmarks like Changdeokgung Palace in Seoul.


Seoul is riding a mass culture wave as K-pop music and the Korean film industry go from strength to strength. Its centuries-old position as the national capital, though, means there’s still a wealth of historical sites to explore.

Traditional, low-rise, wooden homes surround Changdeokgung Palace, which was built in 1405 and is one of the most important regal complexes preserved from Korea’s Joseon dynasty. See the palace guards dressed in crimson and jade, before exploring the tranquil gardens, ponds and residential villas.

A short walk away is Gyeongbokgung Palace, which dates back to 1395 and is wonderfully preserved, with striking temples, pavilions and elaborately decorated royal chambers. Another must-see temple is in the Insadong district. The Jogeysa Buddhist temple is over 600 years old, and its famous green and pink shutters have been beautifully carved to resemble native trees.

One of the city’s most spectacular cultural traditions is the annual Seoul International Fireworks Festival, held in the Yeouido business district every October. Conrad Seoul is only a 5-minute walk from Yeouido Hangang Park, and hotel guests can enjoy a front-row seat to the festivities.

After a day of sightseeing, revive aching muscles at the award-winning Conrad Spa. Consider the Conrad Signature Journey treatment, which uses hydrotherapy to combat toxins and improve blood circulation, followed by Conrad’s signature body massage and an oxygenating facial. You’ll feel completely rejuvenated and ready for another day of urban exploration.

Young woman looks at coat in store window while shopping
Lose yourself in Seoul’s many chic shopping districts.

Culture and shopping

Known as South Korea’s Beverly Hills, the Gangnam District is worth investigating. Amid the modern skyscrapers, you’ll find some of the city’s best high-end shopping, upscale dining and art galleries, with homegrown fashion houses and designer collections such as Kimmy J, Rare Market and Around the Corner. Head to JAJU shopping center for an irresistible collection of artisanal, handmade houseware and home decor.

Hannam is another go-to neighborhood, with its maze-like alleyways, lined with independent stores and boutiques. Hip locals head to BEAKER, a concept store selling brands from global style hot spots. MO Jain Song is a lifestyle store with an urban-meets-rural aesthetic and a focus on detailed tailoring. Millimeter Milligram showcases contemporary Korean style, selling stationery and lifestyle goods with clean, minimal looks that are subtly cute and quirky. For a taste of local artistry, visit Hannam’s innovative and colorful Leeum Samsung Museum of Art to browse exceptional Korean and contemporary artwork.

For more ultra-luxe and international designer names, head to Cheongdam-dong, a renowned ward of the Gangnam District just across the Han River. The city’s most desirable art galleries are found here, as are flagship stores for Prada, Gucci, Ferragamo and more.

All these shopping districts are just a short ride from Conrad Seoul, which is primely situated on the banks of the Han River and connected to the IFC Mall. Your concierge can help organize any shopping excursions with personal recommendations, so that you can make the most of your time in the city.

Now is the ideal time to visit Korea and explore a city that can lay claim to being among the trendiest places in the world: Seoul. What you’ll find is delectable food, centuries-old history and a culture that is riding as high as it ever has.

Paul Oswell is a British award-winning journalist and published travel author based in New Orleans, Louisiana in the United States. His books include Bucket List North America and The Great American Road Trip, as well as New Orleans' Historic Hotels. He has also been an editor of and contributor to several guide books/editions published by Dorling Kindersley (owned by Penguin), including New Orleans, Florida, Orlando, Los Angeles, California and The United States. His work has appeared in Conde Nast Traveler, Travel & Leisure (both of which he has written multiple online travel guides for) and The Guardian, as well as dozens of international newspaper and magazine titles, and inflight magazines for major airlines.

Conrad Seoul

Our hotel is at the heart of Yeouido Business District, three blocks from Yeouido Hangang Park on the banks of Han River. We're connected to IFC Mall and within four blocks of Yeouido subway station, linking to central Seoul. Perks include turndown service, a 24-hour fitness center, an indoor pool, and spa services. Our concierge can offer local tips.