Seoul is a city of contrasts. Founded 2000 years ago, it is full of temples and palaces, heritage of the royal dynasties that ruled the country and of a complex history. But the South Korean capital is also an ultra-modern and dynamic megalopolis, with huge shopping malls and forests of skyscrapers. From the sublime Changdeokgung Palace to the N Seoul Tower to the Hanok Village of Bukchon, JOOKS takes you on a journey of discovery through the heart of the city. Put on your sneakers and follow the guide!
With a population of nearly 11 million, Seoul has experienced rapid development in the 20th century, thanks to rapid industrialization and modernization. After decades of conflicts and invasions, the country opened up to the world, breaking with a long tradition of isolation.
If Tokyo, and Japan in general, are more often the target of Western tourists, the South Korean capital has nothing to envy to its Japanese neighbor. With three UNESCO World Heritage sites, its trendy neighborhoods and its dynamic pop music scene, Seoul has become the cultural heart of the country and attracts more and more visitors year after year.
City of history and traditions
Marked by a history made of successive occupations and wars, Seoul nevertheless keeps a very rich heritage. A large part of this heritage dates back to the Joseon dynasty, the golden age of Korea, which saw the construction of numerous palaces, temples and other sanctuaries. Although it would take months to explore all these treasures, our Seoul in History tour will take you to discover its emblematic buildings and historical places. In particular, you will come across the Gyeongbokgung Palace, the main one of the five royal palaces in the city. Almost completely destroyed during the Japanese occupation, the palace is gradually being restored to its original form and is well worth a visit.
Your run will also take you to the Hanok village of Bukchon, a traditional Korean village dating back to the 14th century. Located in the center of Seoul, it is composed of a multitude of alleys lined with traditional houses, called Hanok, some of which have now been transformed into restaurants and tea shops. The preservation of this place used as a cultural center, allows the visitor to relive the atmosphere that reigned over the city at the time of the Joseon dynasty.
A visit to Seoul would not be complete without a small detour to a museum. The city has nearly a hundred of them, including four national ones. If the National Museum of Korea is the most representative of them, you will find on your way the unavoidable National Folk Museum, within the walls of the historic Gyeongbok Palace. It allows you to better understand Korean culture and traditions, especially through objects of daily life and life-size reconstructions.
Beyond its rich heritage and history, the South Korean capital is also a modern city, at the cutting edge of technology and in constant change. Many new districts have been created in the last few decades, notably the Gangnam district, made famous by Psy's song, which concentrates a large number of buildings with futuristic architecture, dedicated to new technologies.
The N Seoul Tower is one of the symbols of this modernity and the technological advance of the country. This telecommunication and observation tower is over 200 meters high and serves as a landmark as well as an emblem. In addition, the view of Seoul from its top is breathtaking. Not to be missed!
Another major symbol of the urban development of the South Korean capital, the Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) is a vast cultural complex, hosting exhibitions, conferences but also concerts and festivals. A major cultural hub but also a masterpiece of architecture, the DDP has allowed Seoul to become the World Design Capital in 2010.
In the top 10 of the world's tallest skyscrapers, the Lotte World Tower dominates the city with its 555 meters height. The tallest building in South Korea, the tower houses commercial spaces, offices, a hotel but also an observatory with a glass floor on the 118th floor, offering a 360° view on the capital.
But Seoul's modernity is not limited to high-tech buildings with futuristic design. The Hongdae district, for example, will immerse you in the urban culture of the capital, with its theme cafes, clubs and noraebang (karaoke). A student district par excellence, it also gathers flea markets, street art and street performances. The ideal place to immerse yourself in the effervescence of Seoul's youth.
If you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the capital, don't panic, Seoul has it all too. The city is full of green spaces and places to relax, starting with the Han River, which has no less than a dozen parks along its banks. Left or right bank, on foot or by bike, the Han River parks are the ideal solution for a breath of fresh air in the heart of the capital.
Our three routes will also take you along the Cheonggyecheon River, a waterway that is almost 6 kilometers long, with trees, plantations, waterfalls, stone and wooden bridges and water games. A very popular place for locals and tourists, it also hosts many events throughout the year, such as the Lantern Festival.
And if you still can't find what you're looking for, several national parks are only a few kilometers from downtown and can be reached by subway.
Run, walk or cycle with JOOKS from Sungnyemun Gate to Jongmyo Shrine!
Find all the routes in the city of Seoul on the JOOKS application.