Off the Beaten Path: 5 Cool Things to do in Seoul

When researching destinations around Seoul, the top places that people recommend may not fit your definition of “fun”, especially if you’re looking to get a more local experience of what young people do with friends. So what are the cool things to do in Seoul?

While first-timers should definitely visit the most famous landmarks and attractions, here is a list of activities and places to check out if you’re looking to walk a bit on the wild (or local) side: 

1. Cool Hunting in Hongdae

Hongdae is an area that can keep you entertained at any time of the day. The area is typically packed with college students, as it surrounds three of some of the largest universities in Seoul—Hongik, Ewha, and Yonsei. During the day,  Hongdae is a great place to go vintage and thrift shopping, as well as buy affordable and unique Korean streetwear. Cafes are hopping and visiting the hottest restaurants is another must, as Hongdae features some of the best food spots in the city.

The vibe of the area will change drastically when it becomes nighttime,  with restaurants changing into bars and the streets filling up with party-seekers looking to hit the clubs. You’ll also see a lot of the street vendors pull their carts out with the best type of street food and young performers busking and dancing.

Shopping and Cafes:

Style Nanda (Pink Pool Cafe)

Style Nanda is a Korean clothing brand and cosmetic line, but its flagship store in Hongdae features a 6-story “hotel” with a cafe, shopping booths, and numerous photo spots. Style Nanda is most famous for its mini pink pool where people take aesthetic Instagram photos and lounge with friends. 

Seoul Vintage/Hongdae Vintage B1:

These are two of the largest, most popular vintage stores in the Hongdae area. If you’re looking to buy affordable Y2K pieces or a wide selection of vintage jeans and jackets, these stores won’t let you down. Both are located underground and are on the main street of Hongdae, so they’re hard to miss! This is definitely a super cool thing to do in Seoul.


A-Land is a large concept store featuring the hottest brands from mostly up-and-coming Korean designers. If you’re looking for unique streetwear clothing and accessories for both men and women, A-Land is the perfect shopping destination for you—you likely won’t find these brands anywhere else in the world!

Cafe Knotted

Knotted is a recently opened franchise brand that features some of the best donuts and pastries in Seoul. The Hongdae branch is one of the biggest, with photo booths and spacious indoor/outdoor seating areas for its customers. Make sure to grab one of their cream-filled donuts and croffles when you visit!


  • Noise Basement 2 (NB2): Popular club owned by YG Entertainment, one of the flashier and more crowded night clubs in the area.
  • Club Madholic: Located on Hongdae’s busiest street, this is a primarily hip-pop and RnB club frequented by famous Korean rappers and DJs.
  • MODECi: This club is located on a rooftop and captures beautiful, panoramic views of the city. MODECi is known to attract a diverse group of people and hosts world-famous DJs specializing in hip-pop and funk.

Su Noraebang

If you’re interested in creating a “club” of your own, Hongdae is also home to some of the largest karaoke rooms with amazing amenities. Walking through the main street, you’ll see a karaoke room (“noraebang”) called Su Noraebang, which is one of the oldest and most popular karaoke rooms in the entire city.

2. Seongsu is the Brooklyn of Seoul

Seongsu is home to some of the trendiest cafes and shops. Seongsu is an older area that has been transformed into a cool gathering place for people in their twenties. Seongsu features some of the largest, most uniquely designed cafes that you will find in Seoul, so if you’re looking to catch up with a friend or grab a coffee, this area will offer plenty of unforgettable options. 

Ader Error

The flagship Ader Error store in Seongsu is more than just a clothing store. It’s an exhibition of its own, featuring a futuristic space theme throughout the entire building. As one of Korea’s most successful domestic brands, Ader Error has put itself on the global fashion scene through collaborations with brands like Zara, Maison Kitsune, Birkenstock, Converse, Puma, and more. Even if you’re not looking to buy anything, walking around the curated store can be an itinerary of its own and should be high on any list of cool things to do in Seoul.

cool things to do in seoul
Check out this Facebook post to catch a glimpse of the interior exhibition around the store:

Grandpa’s Factory:

As both a cafe and a restaurant, Grandpa’s Factory is a popular brunch spot to visit on a sunny day. Incorporating a large outdoor space with an industrial interior, the cafe is 3-stories tall. You might also recognize the cafe from K-dramas or reality TV shows, as it has become a famous filming spot. 

Song Joong Ki at Grandpa Factory, “Vincenzo”
cool things to do in seoul
Treehouse in the courtyard of Grandpa Factory

There are plenty of cafe options in Seongsu, each with a unique interior design and selection of coffee and drinks. Scroll through this gallery to see if any of them catch your eye: 

  • D Flat (Instagram @dflat_cafe)
  • Line and Round (Instagram @lineandround_bar)
  • Oude (Instagram @oude_seoul)
  • Relation Coffee (Instagram @relation__coffee)
  • Wynyard (Instagram @wynyardco)

3. Apgujeong Rodeo

Apgujeong Rodeo is another cool thing to do in Seoul with great food options and lounges that turn into clubs at night. The area is known to be one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in Seoul and the street is located right off of Cheongdam Luxury Fashion Street and Galleria Department Store, a prime destination if you’re looking to do some luxury brand shopping. You’ll likely spot supercars and fashion models, but Apgujeong Rodeo is also just a great place to have fun with friends. 

Here are three great options for places to go out with friends and grab drinks: 
  • Times
    • While this is a relatively new lounge/club, Times has quickly become one of the busiest spots in the neighborhood for its great selection of music and good vibes. Times features unique cocktails and a wide range of liquor if you’re looking to grab drinks and dance the night away!
  • C.O.C.
    • C.O.C. is located underground and is acclaimed as a great hip-pop club. While it is on the smaller side and tends to get crowded quickly, it’s sleek interior and convenient location makes it a great choice for those looking to go out in the area. 
  • NoFlex
    • NoFlex, previously known as Jay & Jason, has two locations in the area, both large and modern spaces with a great selection of drinks and music. One of their distinguishing features is that guests can queue their choice of music for the DJ and a large LED screen that wraps around the entire interior space will play music videos all night. 
NoFlex Seoul

4. Garosugil (Sinsadong)

Garosugil has long been one of the best shopping streets in Seoul. While many shops and restaurants closed down during the Covid pandemic, Garosugil has been re-opening most of its stores and regaining its popularity. Most notably, Garosugil is home to many of the flagship stores of famous Korean brands, such as Gentle Monster, Tamburins, and 3CE. You’ll also find global brands such as Zara, H&M, and Mango. 

5. Picnic at Hangang (Han River) 

No list of cool things to do in Seoul is complete without mentioning a picnic at the famous Han River. If you’re tired of shopping or going out, head to the Han for a laid back and relaxing time by the water. You may have seen scenes in K-Dramas where couples go to the Han River to eat the famous “Hangang Ramen” or order delivery chicken. All along the Han River are convenience stores where you can buy your favorite snacks and rent/buy picnic blankets or tables.

Convenience stores also have machines for preparing your instant ramen in a bowl, and many Koreans often say that ramen made by these machines tastes exceptionally better than when made at home. The Han River is a great place to snack and drink a beer with friends while enjoying beautiful views of the city, both during the day and at night. Depending on where you are, here is a list of the best parks along the Han River to chill at: 

  1. 뚝섬 (Ttukseom Park)
  2. Banpo Hangang Park
  3. Yeoido Hangang Park
  4. Jamsil Hangang Park

Michelle Lee is a recent UC Berkeley graduate with a BA in Political Science and Economics. She lives in the US but frequently travels to Korea to visit family. She is currently working as a paralegal at a law firm in LA and enjoys staying on top of Korean dramas and movies.

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