Namsan Tower, Lotte World, Han River and Gyeongbokgung, are all places that every visitor to Seoul hears about. You can’t look up attractions in Seoul without seeing these places mentioned everywhere.
But what if you are like me – what if you prefer exploring off of the beaten path? What if you want to know about Seoul’s secret highlights?
If this sounds like you, then you have come to the right place! In this post, I will go over not only some secret places but also some places that are often overlooked.
Seoul is massive and houses so many cool, unique, and interesting locations within. Most people never get a chance to experience many of these areas though, even the locals.
When you have such a large city it’s bound to happen. These places may not be secret, but they are places that are generally overlooked by many people – especially tourists. These are my favourites of Seoul’s secrets.
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1. Eungbongsan – The Best View in Seoul
The view from Eungbongsan is stunning!
If you have followed me for a long time, then you know that I love Eungbongsan. However, I’ve also found that almost no-one knows about this mountain in Seoul. Eungbongsan is a mountain located right next to Seoul Forest on the Han River.
The mountain itself is only a mountain by name, and the short walk is easily worth it for the breathtaking views you will find at the top. What makes Eungbongsan such a beautiful place to visit isn’t only stunning views, but also the diversity of them. The mountain has almost a 360-degree view around the city!
Many of the other views in Seoul are harder to reach, and that is one of the reasons Eungbongsan is so fantastic. It’s easy to reach and is close to public transport (Seoul has amazing public transport!). If you are looking for some accessible yet stunning (and rarer) views of Seoul, then this is the mountain to check out!
Considering that the walk is very easy, and the views amazing, I wonder why Eungbongsan is very rarely discussed. Especially considering it is one of the best of Seoul’s secrets!
I believe that the mountain is overlooked simply for the fact that there are a few other, more common, views in Seoul. Seoul is a city of amazing views. Namsan Tower, Lotte Tower, Inwangsan and Naksan all provide stunning views of the city and are considered as tourist attractions.
However, the views at Eungbongsan are truly unique compared to the aforementioned locations, and that is why it is a secret location you should visit!
2. Gwangjang Market – Seoul’s Secret Market
Gwangjang Market Food Street
Namdaemun and Dongdaemun are by far the most popular markets in Seoul. For good reason too. They are easy to access and have an incredibly large variety of goods.
However, if you are looking for a bit more of an adventure then Gwangjang is the place to be. The market has a more accessible front area (which is very popular and often visited), however, there is a lot more to the market. If you explore a bit around the area you will find hundreds of small, maze-like streets that house almost anything you can think of. I’ve never purchased anything here, but you don’t have to. It’s an amazing place just to explore.
The food street at Gwangjang Market is very well known and is often visited. It is the area behind the food street that is truly unique though!
Make sure you also get time to explore the back streets!
If you want to try some of Korea’s delicious food, the Gwangjang is the place to do it! However, don’t stop there. Make sure that you also plan some time to explore around the back-streets of the market – they are unlike anywhere else in Seoul.
While Namdaemun and Dongdaemun markets are very well adapted to the increasing amounts of foreign visitors, Gwangjang still feels more traditional and authentic. Setting foot in the streets of the market feels like stepping back in time.
If you plan on buying souvenirs or clothes then there are other, better, markets. However, Gwangjang is by far the best market in Korea to explore and photograph!
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3. Naksan – Hidden in Plain Sight
Naksan in spring.
Keeping with the mountain theme I wanted to quickly slip in one more! Naksan is a more well-known mountain than Eungbongsan, but it’s by no means popular with tourists.
Located right next to Dongdaemun and Hyewha, it’s almost weird how Naksan isn’t a popular tourist location. The mountain is also home to part of the Seoul wall, a wall which encompassed old Seoul. If you are interested in learning more there is a museum located near the bottom of the mountain.
Walking up the mountain will provide you with some stunning views and the walk isn’t too difficult. You can either choose to follow the road or to follow the wall. A bus even goes to the top of the mountain! Often there are performances at the summit and you can usually witness some cultural shows.
Due to the location of the mountain (near Dongdaemun), it is extremely easy to find. Further, getting to the top takes only 30 minutes or so! Due to this, it’s very easy to fit into almost any Seoul itinerary.
Naksan is also one of the best places in Seoul to see the cherry blossoms! If you happen to visit in the spring months, I highly recommend walking to the top just to see the flowers as they come into blossom.
4. Hyehwa – Hongdae Without Crowds!
The Seoul wall follows Naksan and is a short walk from Hyehwa.
Hyehwa is known by just about everyone who lives in Seoul, but somehow it often escapes the gaze of tourists. Maybe because it just isn’t as big as the other popular areas such as Myeongdong, Hongdae and Gangnam, or maybe just because it’s a little harder to reach.
Hyehwa is similar to Hongdae in many ways, but it is also smaller, less crowded, and possibly more trendy. It’s super close to Dongdaemun and that means it is also easy to visit on the same day!
If you are looking for a trendy place to shop, entertainment galore, or a place to eat fantastic food, the Hyehwa has you covered. There are so many different things to do – and without the crowds that Hongdae has.
Many weekly and monthly markets also take place in the plaza new Hyehwa station. You can often find food markets, farmers markets, and even craft markets happening a short walk from the station.
From Hyehwa, you can also very easily reach Naksan (the mountain I mentioned above). From Hyehwa station, Naksan is only a 15-20 minute walk.
One of my favourite places to visit in Hyehwa is Jeffrey Flower Cafe. The cafe is an absolutely beautiful place to enjoy some coffee (or your choice of beverage!). On top of that, it’s a fantastic date location!
For more details about Hyehwa I recommend checking out this complete guide to Hyehwa.
5. World Cup Stadium – Seoul’s Best Park
World Cup Stadium leaves in fall!
Haneul Park is a very famous park in Seoul. In fact, it’s probably the most well-known park in the city.
What most people don’t know, however, is that Haneul Park is part of a much bigger park. That park is World Cup Stadium Park.
World Cup Stadium is a big stadium located on the west side of Seoul. It is a mere few stops from Hongdae and is not only a very beautiful park, but also a very big one.
The park is divided into a few smaller parks, each with their own theme. Haneul Park is the sky park and is known as such because it is a beautiful garden located on top of a hill. Nanji Hangang Park is a large park located on the side of the Han River that makes for a fantastic picnic location. Learn more about the parks at World Cup Stadium.
World Cup Stadium is a fantastic place to visit in any season. However, I would recommend Fall as the best time to visit.
If you are looking to get outside for a while make sure to check at World Cup Stadium – one of Seoul’s secret parks.
6. Sungshin Women’s University Rodeo – Activities Galore!
Sungshin is a fantastic place for nightlife!
Sungshin Women’s University area is gradually becoming more popular, and while not quite a Hongdae or even a Hyehwa, it still has a lot to offer.
The area has a CGV (cinema), VR cafes, animal cafes, bowling, and so many more activities. The best part? It’s all compact. The Rodeo street isn’t very long and it means that all of the activities, shops, and the food is closely packed together.
It is especially great if you are shopping for women’s clothes. Since it is right next to a women’s university nearly all of the clothing stores are women’s also.
Sungshin area also has some great nightlife. If you want clubs then you can’t beat Hongdae and Itaewon, however, for bars and other activities Sungshin is fantastic. You will find a wide variety of different bars that provide all kinds of atmospheres. From calm wine bars to loud and active student bars, there is a lot of nightlife in Sungshin.
The area is also well known for its cafes. If you are a coffee lover (or bubble tea!) then Sungshin has a LOT to offer. You could go to a different cafe every day for months and still have more to visit.
Seoul Secret Highlights FAQ
What Are Some Overlooked Highlights in Seoul?
There are a TON of overlooked activities in Seoul. Hiring a bike and exploring the Han River, watching the sunset from the bridges on the river, and visiting a flower cafe are a few that I can think of off the top of my head.
What Are Seoul’s Best Hidden Highlights?
Of course, this varies from person to person. However, I believe that two of the best (often overlooked) highlights in Seoul are the areas around Hyehwa and the Sungshin Women’s University. The lesser-known mountains such as Inwangsan and Achasan also offer stunning views and are relatively unknown!
How Can I Find Overlooked Activities?
My advice for anyone looking for new activities in Seoul is to simply explore. Take a train to a random stop and get off. You are bound to find something new!