When the summer heat gets too much, it’s natural to long for a vacation by the sea, or perhaps next to a cool stream in a shaded valley. However, if you just can’t make it work in your schedule, you can still enjoy a refreshing summer retreat in the city! At these four unique culture complexes, you can enjoy stimulating culture and arts, delicious dining, and fun shopping.
Piknic is hidden at the base of Namsan Tower in the bustling Myeong-dong district. The entrance is located along an alley leading out of the commercial district. The greenery of the surrounding area will make it feel like you are leaving the city entirely behind to enter the suburbs. The bright foliage of the many trees stand in beautiful contrast to the orange brick exterior.
The first floor features Kafe Picnic and Bar Piknic, offering a wide range of food and beverage options, which you can enjoy with the soothing sounds of classical music playing throughout. During the day, the space serves as a café, but at dinnertime, it transforms into a bar with a menu of over 60 types of wine.
Head to the basement floor to browse the items at Shop Piknic. The products available are connected with the current exhibition held at Piknic, as well as designer-made items. Due to the unique nature of the items, you’re sure to find truly one-of-a-kind souvenirs here! The shop also has retro items such as cassette tapes and old cameras.
Piknic also has an exhibition space for planned exhibitions. In order to provide the best environment for the exhibitions, photography of any kind, including smart phones, is prohibited. While you might feel a bit sad you can’t share the moment with your followers on social media, Piknic still offers plenty of attractive photo spots outside of the exhibition space.
Sounds Hannam is an indoor culture complex located in an upscale housing area of Hannam-dong, Seoul. Being surrounded by houses, foreign embassies, and office buildings, this complex is popular among both Koreans and foreigners.
Before exploring Sounds Hannam, consider filling up on good food. Ilhochic, a Korean restaurant, is located within the building and offers seriously good dining at an affordable price. The menu changes with the seasons, although they do have their regular items, like thick grilled rib patty with lettuce wraps, salmon and seasonal vegetables over rice, or the low-sodium omelet roll with pollack roe. Included on the Michelin Guide Seoul 2021, Ilhochic also offers a full table set for single diners, making it a great choice if you’re traveling alone but still want to try everything.
After your meal, leisurely explore the complex. If you’ve still got room in your stomach, stop by the café & bakery Quartet! The menu includes both coffee and milk tea items, as well as cute pastries and baked goods. We recommend grabbing a seat on the outdoor terrace if you’re planning on resting for a while.
If you’re interested in cosmetics, stroll around Aesop, where you can sample and purchase a range of products from skin and body care to hair care and even perfume. The shop features an interior design resembling a traditional kiln site. The shop also offers the Aesop Facial Appointment program, using Aesop body care products. Be sure to stop by Brunia Flower before leaving! You can simply enjoy the beauty of this flower shop or purchase a small bouquet to keep the pampering going!
While Sounds Hannam gives off an upscale urban vibe, Seongsu Yeonbang in Seongsu-dong is full-on hip! Popular among Millennials and Gen. Z, Seongsu Yeonbang is a mix of all things trendy. The complex is comprised of buildings large and small connected around a central plaza. The most popular shops include Thingool Store, Index Caramel, Cheonsang Gaok, and Nujeahmik.
Thingool Store is a lifestyle boutique selling all you could possibly need for a happy home, from soaps and diffusers to frying pans, tables, and even clothing. The items available here are known for being both functional and pretty!
For a unique dessert, head to Index Caramel. As the name suggests, this shop sells fresh caramel, packaged in colorful boxes!
If you’re tired of walking around, head to the third floor to visit Cheonsang Gaok, a rooftop café. The café interior features floor-to-ceiling windows and a glass roof shaded by white awnings. You can also grab a seat on the outdoor terrace to look out over the plaza as you relax with a cooling drink and baked goods.
If your travel plans include Busan, consider adding in F1963 into your itinerary. While Haeundae Beach and Gwangalli Beach are great summer attractions, nothing is better at beating the heat than an air-conditioned building! F1963 is located in the quiet area of an apartment complex in Suyeong-gu.
The building was originally a wire factory before being converted into the current culture complex. The name is short for Factory 1963, with 1963 being the year the factory was opened. The complex is comprised of an exhibition hall which hosts many different planned exhibitions, the largest used bookstore in the nation, concept cafés, Hyundai Motorstudio’s design experience space, and a walking path through a bamboo forest and garden.
The entrance of F1963 opens to Sukcheon Hall, a free exhibition space operated and managed by the Busan Culture Foundation. The hall was designed in a straight line to facilitate both immersion and flow. The openness and width make the space appear much larger than you might expect.
If you are a coffee lover, then you are in luck! Terarosa, a famous Korean coffee franchise, has their Suyeoung branch at F1963. The café interior showcases the inner workings of the old wire factory, creating a vintage ambiance.
In addition to the indoor attractions, F1963 also offers outdoor attractions such as the Bamboo Sori Trail through a forest of real bamboo trees, and Moonlight Garden.
* This column was last updated in July 2021, and therefore information may differ from what is presented here. We advise you to check details before visiting.