15 Places to Visit in Seoul For Free as a Budget Traveller

15 Places in Seoul That You Can Visit For Free

No need to spend a single won on these exciting attractions.

Seoul is arguably one of the most popular destinations to visit in the entirety of Asia. In a world that is experiencing a delightful renaissance of all things Korean, this is not a surprise. However, taking a trip there can be a little expensive. If you’re a budget traveller looking to explore this jewel of South Korea without spending a bomb, fret not. There are plenty of places to visit in Seoul for free — from gorgeous contemporary buildings to centuries-old cultural sites. 

Let’s take a look at those together, shall we?

Also read: How to Save Money in Seoul: 12 Ways to Travel in Seoul on a Tight Budget

Free places to visit in Seoul for those on a budget

1. National Museum of Korea

free museum in seoul

Image credit: Juliane Andujar via Canva Pro

This free museum in Seoul is home to more than 300,000 relics ranging from the Paleolithic era to the early 20th century. Most, if not all of Korea’s extensive history is masterfully catalogued within its walls. The National Museum of Korea is open daily, and there is no ticket or fee required to enter. 

However, there might be exceptions to this when it comes to special exhibits. But you can always skip those and admire what’s already there for free.

Also read: 12 Most Amazing Buildings in Seoul

2. Bukchon Hanok Village

places to visit in seoul for free

Image credit: Vincent_St_Thomas via Canva Pro

This idyllic village is home to 900 traditional houses called hanoks, dating back to the Joseon dynasty. In those days, they were homes to many members of the royal family, as well as aristocrats. Step into Bukchon Hanok Village today, and you’ll discover incredible opportunities to soak up traditional Korean culture. Most of the hanoks have been converted into guest houses, cultural centres, and tea houses.

More importantly, entry into the village itself is free, and so is the beauty that comes with it. As you walk through the winding, hilly streets, look around and take in a piece of Seoul that has been relatively unchanged for 600 years.

Also read: 20 Stunning Hanoks in South Korea You Can Book on Airbnb

3. Jeongdong Observatory

Deoksugung Palace from Jeongdong Observatory | Image credit: Mpling via Canva Pro

Located on the 13th floor of the Seoul City Hall Seosomun Building, Jeongdong Observatory is one of many places to visit in Seoul for free. It’s an often overlooked spot where you can hang out and take in the surrounding city. From here, enjoy a magnificent aerial view of Deoksugung Palace. There’s also a cafe in the observatory itself, if you feel like settling down and having something to eat.

Also read: 10 Must-Visit Royal Palaces and Fortresses in South Korea

4. Seoul Fortress Wall

free things to do in seoul

Image credit: Sanga Park via Canva Pro

Built in the year 1396, this ancient wall runs around the centre of Seoul. A majestic sight, sits high on the peaks of surrounding mountains and curves along the city’s lowest points too. Hiking the length of the Seoul Fortress Wall is another one of many free things to do in Seoul. However, the main attractions are the fortress gates.

There are eight gates in total: each one with its own unique name and style of construction. One of the more popular ones is Heunginjimun Gate, which translates to “Rising Benevolence Gate”. It is the East Main Gate, and is surrounded by a unique feature known as ongseong, which is an exterior wall. To stroll along the wall and explore each great gate is a journey in Seoul’s rich history, one that should not be missed.

5. Cheonggyecheon stream

Image credit: Leung Cho Pan via Canva Pro

This tranquil body of water runs through the heart of Seoul and is lined by a picturesque pathway for people to walk along. During the day, Cheonggyecheon is perfect for a leisurely stroll, and you can follow it from Gwanghamun all the way to Dongdaemun. When night falls, it’s a good time to be at the starting point of the stream: Cheonggyecheon Plaza.

Here, you can treat your eyes to a dazzling display of light and water. Be sure to check out Candle Fountain, which is a blend of magnificent lights that illuminate a grand, two-tier waterfall. On each side of the waterfall, you’ll find the Palseokdam Wishing Wells, which are made of stones from each one of South Korea’s eight provinces.

6. Ihwa Mural Village

free places to visit in seoul

Image credit (L-R): William Warby; 재민 심

Getting to Ihwa Mural Village requires a bit of a hike, but this is one of the free places to visit in Seoul that you won’t want to miss. The entire neighbourhood is decorated with murals of different sizes and colours. There are also a number of street art installations to check out. It’s a good place to take pictures for the ’Gram, but just remember to be respectful of the locals when you’re visiting. 

After all, Ihwa Village is technically a normal residential area. So, don’t go wandering into any of the houses or buildings without permission, no matter how awesome their murals may be.

Also read: 12 Hidden Gems in Seoul That Are Worth Discovering

7. Bukhansan National Park

Image credit: Atakorn Daengpanya via Canva Pro

Looking for more free activities in Seoul? Journey over to Bukhansan National Park, a large expanse of forest and gorges, crowned by Bukhan Mountain. This is a very popular hiking spot among Koreans, and there are trails of varying difficulty available. You don’t have to pay to enter the park, but if you’re planning to hike, make sure to dress appropriately and wear the correct footwear.

There are three peaks that you can reach: Bagundae, Insubong, and Mangnyeongdae. The park is also home to different historical relics and Buddhist temples, so be respectful of the surroundings, and leave nothing behind except footprints.

8. Oil Tank Culture Park

This urban cultural complex should definitely be on your list of places to visit in Seoul for free. It used to be an oil depot, but was transformed into a public space to raise awareness on sustainability and urban regeneration. 

Today, each one of the six oil reservoir tanks has been converted into performance venues, exhibition halls, and learning spaces. It’s also a beautiful place to walk around at night, as all the structures are painted in coloured lights.

9. Jogyesa Temple

places to visit in seoul for free

Image credit: Fhriestley Penaflor via Canva Pro

Admire the beauty of Jogyesa Temple, the centre of Korean Buddhism. Built in the 14th century, it is the head temple of the Jogye order and is used to host important events year-round. Jogyesa Temple is also a popular spot to visit due to its external decorations and installations, which change depending on the time of year. 

These can range from colourful lanterns to lotus plants and flowers. Admission to the temple is free, but there’s a fee for the parking spaces on temple grounds, so it’s better to use public transportation to reach it.

10. National Folk Museum of Korea

free museum in seoul

Image credit: efired via Canva Pro

Another free museum in Seoul, the National Folk Museum of Korea sits on the grounds of the popular Gyeongbokgung Palace. You don’t need to pay to enter the folk museum, but just keep in mind that if you’re actually entering Gyeongbokgung Palace, which has an entrance fee. 

This museum is dedicated to showcasing the artefacts used in the daily life of Korean people in the olden days. It’s a great place to learn about the lifestyles of Korean people, as well as their cultural beliefs. 

11. Gyeongui Line Forest Park 

Image credit: Julien Viry via Canva Pro

Gyeongui Line Forest Park is an oasis of calm amidst the bustling city that surrounds it. Built on the site of the former Gyeongui railway line, this park is one of the more relaxing places to visit in Seoul for free. It’s a popular green space for locals and is made even prettier by the presence of reflecting pools, art installations, small canals, and miniature gardens.

Be sure to visit the Yeonnam-dong section of the park too, as it’s filled with beautiful grassy fields where you can sit down and relax. There are also ponds and little streams along the way that add to the atmosphere. Gyeongui Line Forest Park perfectly strikes the balance between urban culture and the beauty of nature.

Also read: The Best Nature Parks in South Korea That You Have to Explore

12. Dongdaemun Design Plaza

Image credit: Vincent_St_Thomas via Canva Pro

Dongdaemun Design Plaza, known to locals as simply DDP, is one of Seoul’s architectural gems. A vision of prominent architect Zaha Hadid, this futuristic-looking building features 40,000 aluminium panels that make up its exterior. DDP is home to art galleries, event spaces, cafes, restaurants, and more. Thanks to the unique, atypical design, you’ll have plenty of chances to take cool pictures.

Many different art exhibits and eco exhibits tend to pop up at DDP, and you can always check the website before going to see if there’s anything interesting happening. However, the plaza alone is worth your time, and visiting Dongdaemun Design Plaza is one of the best free things to do in Seoul.

13. Banpo Bridge Rainbow Fountain

Image credit: Wirestock via Canva Pro

Visit Seoul’s Banpo Bridge (or Banpodaegyo) to see 380 nozzles spraying water from the river below to create a mesmerising show. During the day, the Rainbow Fountain sprays a configuration of water jets that are meant to invoke the shape of waving willow branches and willow leaves.

However, this attraction only truly lives up to its name at night. Be ready to marvel at an unforgettable show of lights, water, and music that make Banpo Bridge look like it’s bordered by a rainbow. The fountain operates every day from April to October, and springs to life about four to six times a day. 

14. Culture Station Seoul 284

Formerly the old Seoul Station, this building has been converted into a delightful arts and culture space. There are plenty of free exhibitions held at Culture Station Seoul 284 throughout the year. On top of that, the ornate architecture of the building, wide windows that let in plenty of sunshine, and multi-coloured central skylight make almost every part of this place perfect for taking aesthetic pictures! 

This culture station sits right outside the newer Seoul Station, so if you’re arriving in the city by rail, make sure to stop by for some free things to do in Seoul.

15. Gwangjang Market

places to visit in seoul for free

Image credit: B Lucava

Welcome to Gwangjang Market: the first permanent market in Korea. This large compound is filled with vendors selling everything from imported goods to dried fish. The name Gwangjang actually means “to gather from afar and keep together.” This is yet another one of many places in Seoul to visit for free, and you definitely should.

Image credit: VittoriaChe via Canva Pro

The most popular section of Gwangjang Market is the food street. So, while entering the market won’t cost you anything, you might wind up dropping some won while checking out the delicious eats. Don’t fret, however, because the food at Gwangjang Market is pretty reasonably priced. And even on a budget trip, snacking is a must!

Also read: My 10-Day Seoul Itinerary: What to See, Eat, and Do!

When it comes to travelling, where there’s a will, there’s a way. All it takes is the right amount of planning and a little know-how, and you’ll be able to enjoy the pleasures of these free things to do in Seoul. But for now, you can just use this article as a cheat sheet. Safe travels!

About Author

Jeremiah Patrick
Jeremiah Patrick

A journeyman wordsmith wandering the creative lexicon, looking to craft a masterpiece. The only thing on par with Jerry’s love for a good story is the time he spends playing dauntingly difficult video games, reading works of fiction, and listening to horror podcasts. His mood shifts between dark brooding and cheery quips, depending on how much caffeine swirls in his system.