14 Things to Do in Itaewon — Seoul’s Global Culture Hub

14 Fun Things to Do in Itaewon for First-Timers

Visit Itaewon and experience the world!

Anyone who’s ever been to Seoul will surely be able to recount the city’s youthful ambience and rich culture. Needless to say, the vibrant capital city of South Korea offers plenty of experiences to avid travellers. In fact, some may argue that even an entire week is only just barely enough time to explore Seoul fully. 

One of the most popular destinations in Seoul that you simply have to visit is Itaewon. It’s the most culturally diverse area in Seoul and definitely deserves its own spot on any travel bucket list. During the day, Itaewon is a hub of culture with its plethora of museums and diverse eateries. At night, watch the whole district come alive as Seoul’s best nightlife hub. To start off your planning a good time on your next trip, here’s a list of 14 things to do in Itaewon! 

Also read: 20 Best Airbnbs in Seoul for Every Budget

Top things to do in Itaewon for first-timers

1. Hop between some of Seoul’s most important museums

things to do in itaewon

Image credit: Republic of Korea

Thanks to its image as a bustling nightlife hotspot, Itaewon doesn’t usually come to mind when we think of cultural heritage. However, two significant cultural sites that we highly recommend you visit in the area are The LEEUM (Samsung Museum of Art) and the War Memorial of Korea.

As the name suggests, The LEEUM is a private art museum owned by the Samsung Foundation of Culture. The main building and gallery showcase the finest pieces of traditional Korean art, including pottery, calligraphy, and even jewellery. Additionally, you can also admire some contemporary masterpieces by both Korean and international artists in an adjacent building. 

On the other hand, the War Memorial of Korea allows visitors to dive into the fascinating history of the Korean War which split the Korean Peninsula in two. The beautifully designed museum houses old weapons, stories, and even a memorial remembering those who gave their lives in the conflict. If you’re looking to develop a deeper understanding of the relationship between North and South Korea, this is the place to start. 

Also read: How to Spend 24 Hours in Itaewon — a Quick Travel Guide

2. Pay a visit to the Seoul Central Mosque

Image credit: Republic of Korea

By and large, Buddhism and Christianity are the two main religions in Seoul (and South Korea in general). However, in the little enclave of global culture that is Itaewon, there is a thriving community of Muslims. As such, Itaewon is also where you will find the Seoul Central Mosque, the largest mosque in the country! 

The mosque is open to the public but bear in mind that you will have to cover up before entering. Nearby, you’ll find plenty of halal-certified eateries and Middle Eastern grocery shops. You can also make a short detour and visit Chulsoo Pottery, where you can try your hand at the craft.  

3. Explore a world of halal food at Islam Street

Another major reason that Itaewon needs to be on your Seoul bucket list is the food! As you explore the lively neighbourhood, you’ll find your senses continuously being assailed by a plethora of appetising aromas. That, my friend, is the smell of Itaewon’s famous international food scene! 

Although the Muslim community is quite small in Seoul, finding halal food is pretty easy for Muslims travelling or residing in the city. Islam Street is home to a myriad of halal-certified eateries. Along the street, you can find a mix of both local and international cuisines. If you want to indulge in South Korean fare, Eid Korean Restaurant, Busan Jib Halal Food, and Yang Good BBQ are some of our favourite spots. 

On the other hand, if you want to try other cuisines, we recommend HojiBobo Restaurant (Uzbek cuisine), The Halal Guys (gyros, falafels, etc.), and King Kebab Itaewon (Turkish kebabs). 

4. Bless your palette with some scrumptious international cuisine

Besides Islam Street, there is another street that you have to explore as a foodie in Seoul. The World Food Culture Street is one of the most famous Itaewon attractions, and thanks to the district’s diverse culture, you’ll find all sorts of delectable delights here! You’ll find both Arabic and Indian restaurants, as well as Italian, French, and North American spots. 

We know you’ll definitely have a hard time choosing where to eat so we’ll give you our favourite eateries: Nekkid Wings (American-style restobar), Buddha’s Belly (authentic Thai meals), Casablanca Sandwicherie (Moroccan cuisine), and Manimal Smokehouse for the best brisket in town!  

Also read: 10 Chicken & Beer Places for Your Night Out in Seoul

5. Go cafe-hopping at Itaewon’s best cafes

Besides trying out restaurants, one of the top things to do in Itaewon is to go cafe-hopping. The district is home to numerous cafes that are great to chill in. Plus, they’re aesthetically pleasing! If you’ve been keeping up with your favourite K-pop biases, then you’d recognise Passion5 Cafe & Bakery. This bougie cafe is known for its fancy pastries, delicate cakes, and a wide array of different kinds of bread. 

Likewise, a great place to indulge in the best soft-serve ice cream in Seoul is Softree Ice Cream. However, if you’re vegan, we definitely recommend Plant Cafe for dairy-free coffee and gluten-free treats!

Also read: 15 Unique Cafes in Seoul for Coffee, Brunch, & More!

6. Shop ‘til you drop at Itaewon Antique Street

Image credit: Darren Yeoh

As you’d expect from a cultural melting pot, Itaewon is also a shopping paradise. No, I don’t mean massive malls and department stores like in Myeongdong! In Itaewon, the best retail therapy can be found in flea markets, underground shopping complexes, and hole-in-the-wall boutiques.

If you’re really on the hunt for a good bargain, hit up the famous Itaewon Antique Street! It’s one of the best places to go in Itaewon for all kinds of souvenirs, including quirky t-shirts, customisable handbags, and even branded fashion accessories. The best part? Everything is affordably priced! Happy shopping!

7. Take a trip to the iconic N Seoul Tower on Namsan

things to do in itaewon

Image credit: Aleksandar Pasaric

The iconic N Seoul Tower needs no elaborate introduction. After all, it’s appeared in so many K-dramas and Korean variety shows. As one of the most recognisable landmarks of the Seoul skyline, there’s so much to see. From its famous love locks to its beautiful botanical garden, N Seoul Tower is the definition of the perfect mini-excursion. 

There are two ways to reach the tower which is seated at the peak of Namsan mountain. You can either hop aboard a cable car or hike your way up there. We recommend the latter. It’s only a 250-metre (roughly) climb so it shouldn’t take very long. Along the way, you’ll also be able to admire the scenic beauty of the area. Plus, it’s free! 

8. Fall in love with the Seoul skyline from an observatory deck

things to do in itaewon

Image credit: Republic of Korea

When you’re looking for the best city views from the top, simply head up to N Seoul Tower’s observation deck. It’s located on the fourth floor of the tower, and with floor-to-ceiling windows, you’re granted 360° views of the metropolitan below. Nothing beats feeling like you’re on top of the world here, and you can totally take advantage of the comfy chairs scattered around the deck. 

TripZilla Tip: Visit the deck at sunset for unforgettable views of Seoul as the skies change colour!

9. Immortalise your love at Namsan’s Locks of Love

After falling in love with the Seoul skyline, head back down to enjoy the Locks of Love. Whether you know the infinite padlocks from your favourite K-dramas or from the third To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before film, it’s honestly one of the best Itaewon attractions. Many couples from all over the world love coming here to “lock their love” by writing their initials on a padlock before attaching it to the fence and throwing away the key. So if you’re planning to commemorate your relationship, now’s the chance!

TripZilla Tip: Even though there are locks being sold at N Seoul Tower, they tend to sell them a little higher than average shops. Definitely buy a lock from any store beforehand!

Also read: 15 Sweet Korean Terms of Endearment That K-Dramas Taught Us

10. Stroll through the beautiful Namsan Botanical Garden

After falling in love with the views of the Seoul skyline at N Seoul Tower, head back down for the Namsan Botanical Garden. It’s one of the most famous Itaewon attractions for flora and fauna, and in the spring, you can attend the annual Cherry Blossom Festival here. Other than that, the botanical garden is famous for its vibrant hiking trails, namely the Cherry Blossom Path which is the longest trail in the garden and a popular cherry blossom viewing spot in the country. 

Also read: Seoul Cherry Blossom Season Guide: Everything You Need to Know for Your Trip

11. Chill by the famous outdoor pool of the Hamilton Hotel

Despite not being a historical or cultural site, the Hamilton Hotel is an Itaewon landmark in its own right. Established in the early 70s, the Hamilton Hotel is most famous for its outdoor pool on the 5th floor. During the summer, it is often the site where some of the most exciting pool parties are held! 

You don’t even have to be a guest of the hotel to attend! All you need to do is pay the entrance fee and you’re set! If you’re not into wild pool parties, you can also come here for a relaxing swim. Thanks to its rooftop location, you can also enjoy a view of the bustling streets of Itaewon as you kick back and relax by the pool. 

12. Enjoy the exciting nightlife of Itaewon with a bar or two

Of course, no visit to Itaewon is complete without experiencing its vibrant nightlife. Like Lan Kwai Fong in Hong Kong, Itaewon is the party centre of Seoul. There are so many bars, pubs, and clubs here that you could spend hours just deciding on which one to visit first! A bar/pub crawl is mandatory and if you’re looking for a fun night out with friends, Soap Seoul is one of the locals’ favourites. 

As for me, I’m more of a “beer-at-the-pub” kind of guy, so I recommend a visit to All That Jazz. Founded in 1976, All That Jazz is South Korea’s oldest Jazz bar and still one of the most famous hotspots in Itaewon. If you’re lucky, you might even be able to enjoy a live performance by local Korean Jazz artists!  

Also read: 12 Most Popular Bars & Clubs in Seoul to Dance the Night Away!

13. Make your custom scent or try some pottery

In addition to the top things to do in Itaewon, there are also perfume-making workshops. At G.N. Perfume Studio, you can make your own custom scent by choosing from over 150 bases and 20 varieties of scents. In fact, you even get to choose the bottle your perfume will be stored in and personalise your labels. 

During the class, you’ll be taught perfume making with a multilingual instructor, which makes it an overall very immersive experience. After your session, you can buy two more bottles of perfume as souvenirs. 

Alternatively, if you’d still like to partake in more creative activities on your trip, Chulsoo’s Pottery Workshop conducts Korean pottery workshops to try! It’s one of the top things to do in Itaewon, especially for first-timers in Seoul. Not only will you get to make a traditional Korean fireplace-shaped aroma candle pot, but you’ll also get to interact with other tourists from around the world.

14. Immerse yourself in culture at the annual Itaewon Global Village Festival

Image credit: Morning Calm

True to its moniker as Seoul’s global city, Itaewon plays host to an annual global cultural festival which takes place every October. Since the Itaewon Global Village Festival first began in 2002, Itaewon has seen the scale of the celebrations grow as more and more participants from across the world converge at the festival to celebrate diversity. 

Throughout the festival, visitors will be able to enjoy various food exhibitions, take part in cultural activities, admire street performances and learn about various cultures around the world! In recent years, the festival has also seen popular K-pop artists dropping by for surprise performances! 

More than just a clubbing district

And there you have it — 14 diverse activities to enjoy in Seoul’s most diverse district! Were you surprised to learn that, beyond the nightlife scene, there are actually plenty of cultural activities to experience in Itaewon? So, the next time you’re in South Korea, make sure to check out Seoul’s eccentric “global city!”

Featured image credit: Bundo Kim | Unsplash

About Authors

Darren Yeoh
Darren Yeoh

Darren enjoys the finer things in life and loves exploring unfamiliar places on foot, guided with nothing but instinct and a good-old fashioned map. He enjoys cultural experiences and exciting adventures and is not a stranger to travelling alone. When he's not putting his travel experiences into words, he's probably sitting behind his laptop, planning his upcoming adventure.


Natasha Effendy
Natasha Effendy

Natasha is a wordsmith and digital content creator who's been trying to write her way into the adventure of a lifetime. If she's not writing, you'd definitely catch her nursing her addiction to romance and fantasy novels with a cup of tea.