As Seoul’s already congested areas become ever more populated, space is running out for things like gardens, restaurants, and other facilities. Fortunately, someone was smart enough to think, “Hey, why don’t we start building these on rooftops?” Sometimes, it’s nice to get away from it all and there are times when the mix of local bars, pubs, and lounges just don’t quite cut it. Rather than spending your hard earned dough on a flight out, check out one of these beautiful locations that are just a skip and a hop away. Well, for the most part at least.
1. Garden 5
This ginormous mall also houses an amazing rooftop garden called the Four Seasons Park which is formed by the intersection of three different buildings. The garden consists of four different concepts: Eco, Well-being, Cinema, and Festival. Not impressed? This massive ecological wonder exceeds the size of three soccer fields combined and also includes a theatre with a 300 person capacity. After taking pictures and running through fields of rapeseed flowers like a little kid, relax in the accommodating luxurious sauna that provides a spectacular view as well. So, what are you waiting for? Head over to Jangji Station (Line 8) and get your relaxation on.
Closest subway station: Munjeong Station (Line 8)
2. Nashville Sports Pub and Restaurant
For a more casual yet still very pleasant experience, check out Nashville Sports Pub and Restaurant’s rooftop beer garden in Seoul for some delicious BBQ and a solid choice of beers and wines to wash it down. The bar provides a great view of Seoul while the lower floor houses a sports pub with several activities to unwind with. There’s nothing like chowing down on some pork chops and bbq burgers on the rooftop while checking out the beautiful view.
Closest subway station: Itaewon Station (Line 6)
3. Trinity Garden
Perched atop Shinsegae’s flagship department store in Myeongdong, Trinity Garden was one of the first to lead this new trend of rooftop gardens and contains a natural water meadow to boot. An all-encompassing and popular spot, it provides good food as well as a variety of shopping options and also doubles up as a spot for some r&r equipped with a great view of the Namsan tower and surrounding vicinities as well. The garden became popular due to its serene yet also highly artistic and rather luxurious environment for families and individuals alike in search of a place to unwind.
Closest subway station: Myeongdong Station or Hoehyeon Station (Line 4)
Yet another garden located atop a Shinsegae store, except much further out in Uijeongbu. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the area, it’s roughly a 40 minute subway ride north from Seoul so it’s still doable. Bring the whole family for a day of hiking through their scenic trails, and the kids are definitely going to dig the Elephant Fountain. The S-Garden also houses the really cool Archaeological Dig where visitors can actually dig for fossils. What is this, Jurassic Park?
Closest subway station: Uijeongbu Station (Line 1)
5. Science and Culture Center Rooftop Garden at Dongguk University
I suppose it would make sense that some of the top gardens in Korea would be located at universities due to their solid locations and views from up top. The various cafes provide great views of the majestic Namsan Tower as well as the beautiful Cheonggyecheon and are typically surrounded by a diversity of shrubs and aesthetic foliage. This particular garden was the recipient of the World Best Roof Garden Award at the 2010 World Green Roof Conference, so with that kind of recognition this location definitely deserves at least one look.
Closest subway station: Dongguk University Station (Line 3)
6. D-Cube City
This popular garden spans nearly an entire block, so there is ample space to be enjoyed by all. Similar to the Dongguk University gardens, D-Cube City has many classy cafes which make it a popular location for many. One of the premier shopping megamalls in Korea, the D-Cube City also includes a stellar Sheraton hotel to stay at after exploring the massive grounds. The complex also includes cascading waterfalls and a river enclosed in glass meandering throughout the grounds. It’s like taking a stroll through nature with the comforts of the city completely intact.
Closest subway station: Sindorim Station (Line 1, 2)
7. Express Bus Terminal Building 10th Floor
This may sound like a strange location, but if you head to the 10th floor there are two Korean BBQ restaurants located on the top of the building with several picnic type tables and chairs laid out. Let’s face it; having a BBQ isn’t quite as simple in Korea as most people don’t have rooftops or a proper grill. Not to mention that it is impossible to find lime out here to enjoy a Corona with. The restaurants serve pretty good strips of typical Korean beef cuts like samgyupsal and galbi, but what sets it apart is the view of Seoul that is provides. The location makes it an ideal escape from the summer heat and humidity as well as a good old fashioned beef gorging session.
Closest subway station: Express Bus Terminal Station (Lines 3, 7, 9)
8. Stefano’s Kitchen
This particular restaurant in Hongdae looks rather unassuming from the street view, but the food certainly is worth the visit. Serving up their featured pizza and pasta in two different flavors, dishes are accompanied by breadsticks as well. Grab a glass of wine alongside some carbonara pasta with the cool breeze at your side.
Closest subway station: Hapjeong Station (Line 2) or Sansu Station (Line 6)
Daniel Kang is a Korean-American from Los Angeles, California and currently enjoys living in Seoul. He is a diehard Laker fan and loves playing basketball, poker, and hanging out at the beach. Daniel is a passionate writer and has compiled pieces for Groove Korea and 10 Magazine. Check out his Lakers blog at lakerlinanalysis