US Homes Banner

Seoul has, in the past half century, developed from a war-torn city to a bustling spot of technological advancement, economic miracle, and high-tech everything.

But, despite its growth and development, Seoul is hardly a city that forgets its past and traditions. In the hub of the Korean peninsula, surrounded by skyscrapers, thousands of coffee shops, and perhaps a billion chicken delivery places, still exist four palaces that have been around as early as 1395 AD.

Some have been destroyed and rebuilt, others have been occupied and then won back, but the one thing that ties all of them together is that they all exist today.

Here’s a list of the palaces that still exist in Seoul – plus a list of the foods to eat, things to drink, and music to listen to near these historical sights.  

Palace 1: Gyeongbokgung Palace / 경북궁

the best palaces to see in seoul gyeongbokgung palace

(source)

A Brief History 

Gyeongbokgung Palace was built over 600 years ago, in 1395, as a residential palace and was the first palace of the Joseon Dynasty. The palace is surrounded on all sides by walls 2,404m in length and is located in the heart of Seoul.

Fun Fact

Inside the grounds, you can see tourists dressed in traditional hanboks, which you can rent on site for your visit!

Planning to Visit?

  • Address: 161, Sajik-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul, Korea (closest subway station: Gyeongbokgung [line 3])
  • Hours of Operation:  09:00 – 17:00
  • Closed: Tuesdays
  • Telephone: 02-3700-3900

What You Should Eat Nearby

고기의 잔치  / Gogi Party

Near the palace grounds is a Korean barbeque place named Gogi Party – perhaps appropriate considering this spot’s stuff is ridiculously good.

고기의 잔치  / Gogi Party

  • Address: Seoul Teugbyeolsi Jongro-gu Jihamoon-ro 1-gil 49 (서울특별시 종로구 자하문로1길 49)
  • Hours of Operation: 11:30-2:00
  • Telephone: 02-730-7826

Palace 2: Changdeokgung Palace / 창덕궁

the best palaces to see in seoul changdeokgung palace

(source)

A Brief History

Built in 1405, destroyed during the Japanese invasions of 1592-1598, and then reconstructed in 1610, the Changdeokgung Palace has an atypical beauty about it that designated it as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. The palace includes the living quarters of the king and queen and the Huwon Secret Garden.

Fun Fact

Changdeokgung Palace was built as a second royal villa for the current King at the time.

Planning to Visit?

  • Address: 99, Yulgok-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul, Korea (closest subway station: [line 3])
  • Hours of Operation: 09:00 – 18:00
  • Closed: Monday
  • Telephone: 02-3668-2300

What You Should Drink Nearby

달새는 달만 생각한다 / The Moon-bird Only Thinks of the Moon

This place is a traditional Korean tea shop in the heart of Insa-dong, the area in Seoul known for traditional culture and crafts. They serve traditional Korean tea and snacks, while you can enjoy at your leisure.

달새는 달만 생각한다 / The Moon-bird Only Thinks of the Moon

  • Address: 종로구 관훈동 60 번지
  • Hours of Operation: 10:00-23:00
  • Telephone: 02-720-6229

Palace 3: Changgyeonggung Palace / 창경궁

the best palaces to see in seoul changgyeonggung palace

(source)

A Brief History

Built in 1483 by King Sejong in order to house wives of the preceding kings, Changgyeonggung Palace is the epitome of the seventeenth century Joseon architectural style. The size of the palace is quaint (compared to the other palace grounds), but beautiful nonetheless.

Fun Fact

King Sejong, who built the palace, is the figure you see on the 10,000 won bill.

Planning to Visit?

  • Address: 185, Changgyeonggung-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul, Korea (closest subway station: Anguk [line 3])
  • Hours of Operation: 09:00 – 18:30
  • Closed: Monday
  • Telephone: 02-762-4868

What You Should Listen to Nearby

La Clé / 라끌레 

La Clé is a cozy jazz bar that has live jazz music every night. Having been around for 20+ years, the quaint spot has all the essentials you need to chill out to some smooth music any night of the week.

La Clé / 라끌레 

  • Address: 서울시 종로구 삼청동 95-2
  • Hours of Operation: 18:00-24:00
  • Telephone: 02-734-7752

Palace 4: Deoksugung Palace / 덕수궁 

 

the best palaces to see in seoul deoksugung palace(source)

A Brief History

Deoksugung Palace is the most peculiar out of Seoul’s palaces. Combining both traditional Korean and modern Western architecture, this palace is perhaps the emblem of the strange juxtaposition of the incredibly modern yet incredibly traditional aspects of South Korea today.

Fun Fact

Originally, Deoksugung Palace was not a palace. When the fourteenth king of the Joseon Dynasty returned to Seoul after the Japanese invasions of 1592, the main palaces were either destroyed or damaged. Deoksugung was chosen as a temporary housing location for the king and then formally recognized as a royal palace by the fifteenth king of the Joseon Dynasty.

Planning to Visit?

  • Address: 99, Sejong-daero, Jung-gu, Seoul, Korea (closest subway station: City Hall [line 1 and 2])
  • Hours of Operation: 09:00 – 21:00
  • Closed: Monday
  • Telephone: 02-751-0734

What You Should Eat Nearby

처가집 / The In-Law’s House

South Korea is known for it’s banchan (aka side dishes). Well, if you’re a lover of plenty of diverse home-made banchan, this place has got you covered.

처가집 / The In-Law’s House

  • Address: 서울특별시 중구 세종대로14길 6-16
  • Hours of Operation: 11:30-21:00
  • Telephone: 02-778-5925

Bonus: Jongmyo (Royal Shrine)

the best palaces to see in seoul jongmyo royal shrine(source)

A Brief History

Though not a palace, Jongmyo is a royal shrine in which the spirit tablets of deceased kings and queens were enshrined and ancestral rites were held. Eerily beautiful, the architecture of the place is solemn and architecturally beautiful.

Fun Fact

Right after a king was inaugurated, his first duty was to visit Jongmyo Shrine to bow in front of the spirits and gods.

Planning to Visit?

  • Address: 157, Jong-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul, Korea (closest subway station: Anguk [line 3])
  • Hours of Operation: 09:00 – 18:00
  • Closed: Tuesdays
  • Telephone: 02-765-0195

What You Should Eat Nearby

정 / Man-Jung

If Bulgogi is your thing, then look no further – this place will have you coming back again and again.

만정 / Man-Jung

  • Address: 서울 종로구 삼청로 124-2 RH 타운 
  • Hours of Operation:
  • Telephone: 02-733-1392

You can visit all these palaces with The Discover Seoul Pass if you plan on hitting them all up in a short period of time. Because all of these locations are close to each other, the pass might be a convenient way to cut the lines and get where you need at your own pace!  

Discover Seoul Pass

Want to find a new place to eat? A service in English that's been too hard to find? Check out the 10 Directory and come find what you're looking for!