Seoul is famous for it’s nightlife – endless streets filled with restaurants, cafés, cocktail bars, clubs, karaoke rooms, fancy rooftop lounges – everyone will find something for his or her taste.
If you have a fancy night out with the girls, planning a romantic cocktail evening for two, or just want to daydream alone at the rooftop – here are five beautiful and fancy bars worth visiting in Seoul. Some of them are ‘hidden gems’ discovered through my local friends.
COCKTAIL BAR ‘1AB’ IN HONGDAE
1AB (WANNABE) is a stylish cocktail bar in Hongdae near Sangsu station, which also has an outdoor terrace. Before hitting the club scene in the neighbourhood, me and my friend Ji-in decided to go to this fancy bar for a drink. The bar looks very colourful, filled with neon pink and blue lights. The letters on the wall say “I am here for you, you are here for me” ㅋㅋㅋ
1AB is popular for its cocktails, but also you can get beer, liquor and non-alcoholic drinks such as coffee, ade, juice, etc. We wanted to try some of the cocktails, and it was quite hard to choose, since there are more than 60!!! cocktails in the menu. The prices range from 5.000₩ to 12.000₩ per cocktail. You can choose between classics as cosmopolitan and gin & tonic, or go for something new as cocktail named “Oppa, I’m not going home”. So, we ordered our drinks – blue margarita for me (12.000₩) and long island iced tea for Ji-in (10.000₩). We also got complimentory pretzel-snacks.
The cocktails were great and we had a nice time at this place. By the way, you also can get food and more side dishes here. I can recommend 1AB as one of the best bars in Hongdae!
서울특별시 마포구 와우산로11길 9-4
Sangsu station – 상수역, line #6, exit #1
Open: Sun – Thu 12 pm to 12 am
Fri & Sat -12 pm to 2 am
HOOKAH BAR ‘HEUNEUJEOK HEUNEUJEOK’
Another great type of bar to visit in Hongdae is a hookah bar. This time me and Ji-in went to a hookah bar ‘Heunujeok Heuneujeok’/ ‘흐느적 흐느적’. The hookah in this bar is not traditional – it is an electric vape-type hookah. The bar consists of separate lounge zones with a small table in front of each. It is suitable only for 2-3 persons to sit in the lounge chair, so mind this if you have a bigger group. The place is quiet and intimate – it is perfect for a date. But don’t worry, there won’t be couples only – we saw few groups of girlfriends hanging out in this bar, just like us.
The unlimited refill e-hookah is 20.000₩, one cocktail is 7,900₩, but if you order hookah with 2 cocktails – it is 29,900₩ for the set, so not that expensive (15.000₩ per person). The cocktail selection is quite small, but it is understandable since most people come here primarily for hookah. You can also choose a flavour for your hookah: fruit or menthol. We ordered fruit flavoured hookah and two cocktails ‘sex on the beach’, which came with small complimentory fruit and snack bowls.
I liked this bar for the relaxed atmosphere in the middle of loud and crowded party-neighbourhood Hongdae. I recommend this bar especially if you don’t know where to go on a date. Of course, I do not encourage anybody to start or try smoking (e-hookah contains nicotine).
서울 마포구 양화로6길 103
Sangsu station/상수역, line #6, exit #1
Open: Mon – Sat 19.30 pm to 12.30 am, Sunday closed
ROOFTOP BAR & CAFÉ ‘SEOULISM’
Seoulism/서울리즘 is a popular rooftop café and bar in Songpa-gu district, near Jamsil. Until 18 pm it works as café and from 18 pm operates as a bar. No kids or pets are allowed there, as well as it is a non-smoking area. I went to Seoulism by myself during the afternoon just for coffee. When I arrived to the building, there was a receptionist on the first floor who put me on the waiting list and took my order. After waiting for a bit, I got my latte and went to the 6th floor.
Decorations on the first floor at the reception
If you want to eat and drink alcohol (cocktails, beer or wine) – you should order at the 6th floor. You can also have food or snacks during any time of the day (Western kitchen). The prices are quite high: for example, a glass of wine is 15.000₩ and latte is 7.500₩. Usually people come here ‘for the view’ and prices are understandable due to popularity of the place.
The rooftop terrace is nicely decorated and the view is amazing. You can take the stairs to the actual roof of the building, where you can find the <SEOUL> letters and take a picture in front of Lotte World Tower. I had a wonderful coffee break at Seoulism, and want to come back here with my friends for cocktails and night time views.
서울특별시 송파구 백제고분로 435
Songpanaru Station/송파나루역, line #9, exit #1
Open Sun – Thu 11 am to 11 pm
Fri & Sat 11 am to 12 am
ROMANTIC WINE BAR IN KONDAE
I came to the wine bar Jeok-woo/적우 with my friends Yura and Jihee. All of us were students at Konkuk University, and we met after classes for dinner and drinks. The bar is situated near Konkuk University subway station, on one of the popular ‘Kondae party streets’. The streets near subway exit 2 are filled with bars, restaurants and cafés, where thousands of students hang out. Jihee recommended this place, since she already have been here before and really liked it.
Wine bar has oriental theme – you sit on soft cushions around the small table. There are also curtains if you want privacy. The lights are deamed and there are a lot of candles and roses around. In the centre of the room, there is an interesting installation. The place looks very romantic, and it is one of the best bars for a date in Kondae.
Meeting cat Shia-Shia
Moreover, a cute white cat Shia-Shia lives in the bar! The cat is walking around and coming to play with visitors. Shia-Shia came to our table and decided to sleep near us, while other visitors were trying to call her to their booth ㅋㅋㅋ We covered her with a blanket (it was December and the weather was freezing!) while she was sleeping, so cute!
Jeok-woo is a wine bar, but also serves food and other kinds of drinks like beer, cocktails, non-alcoholic drinks, etc. We ordered 3 cocktails, which came with complimentary cookies. All cocktails are 8.000₩. The wine list is big and quite pricey, but sometimes they have events with discounts (starting with 30.000₩ per bottle).
Overall, my experience in this bar was great. I was impressed with interior details, and, of course, was happy to pet a cat 🙂
서울 광진구 동일로24길 101
Konkuk University station/건대입구역
line #2 or line #7, exit #2
Open daily 7 pm to 4 am
ONE OF THE BEST BARS TO WATCH SUNSET IN ITAEWON
OKTOP/옥탑 is a great rooftop bar/lounge in Itaewon to have dinner, drinks and watch sunset. I was out with my friends Jihee, Yura and Changhyun in Itaewon on Saturday night, and we wanted to chill at the rooftop lounge with a pretty view of Seoul and Namsan tower. Honestly, it was very hard to find a table for four on Saturday evening.
We were lucky to get a table in Oktop, which is situated on 5th floor and has rooftop terrace. We were seated on the 5th floor, so we didn’t get the best seats with the Namsan tower view. But still it was very nice. If you want a table on the rooftop during summer weekends, I recommend to book it in advance.
We ordered beer (Stella Artoua – 9.000₩ per 0,33 l) except Yura ordered mocktail. The air was fresh on a summer evening and the we spent some nice time chatting at this bar. You can also have food here (Western kitchen). Moreover, dogs are welcome to Oktop (I saw staff’s dog inside the bar).
서울특별시 용산구 녹사평대로40길 31
Neoksapyeong Station/녹사평역, line #6, exit #3
Open: Sun – Thu 2 pm to 12 am
Fri & Sat 2 pm to 1 am
There are hundreds of pretty cocktail and rooftop bars in Seoul, and sometimes it is hard to choose where to go, or find out which prices are there and what rules apply.
I totally recommend visiting some of these five best bars while in Seoul! They are situated in different parts of the city and have their own theme, and all of them are great for taking many beautiful pictures. Also, each bar has a selection of non-alcoholic beverages as coffee & tea, mocktails and lemonades – I do not encourage anyone to drink or start drinking alcohol 😉 Enjoy your time in Seoul^^