Autumn in Korea Guides + Tips

Seoul’s Jewel: Jeongdong Observatory and Cafe Darak Uncovered

Jeongdong Observatory had been a long-anticipated destination for me ever since I first heard about Jeongdong-gil‘s renowned autumn foliage views. This year, I’m stoked to say I finally got to cross it off my “must-visit” list! In this post, I’ll share my recent trip to this spot and, as usual, dish out some helpful tips and insights to make your visit to the Jeongdong Observatory even more awesome. So, let’s dive right in!

Jump To:

    Jeongdong Observatory:

    Perched on the 13th floor of the Seoul City Hall Seosomun Building in Jung-gu, the Jeongdong Observatory used to be a storage room before its transformation and opening to the public in 2013. It occupies the side of the building that faces the renowned Deoksugung Palace, offering visitors a breathtaking vantage point to soak in panoramic views of the palace and its enchanting surroundings. These vistas encompass iconic spots like Seoul Plaza in front of the City Hall, the Seoul Episcopal Cathedral of the Anglican Church of Korea, Jeongdong Jeil Church, Cheonggye Plaza and more.

    A Photo Zone at Jeongdong Observatory

    What’s even more delightful is that within the observatory space, you’ll find Cafe Darak (카페다락), which eagerly awaits observatory visitors with a selection of refreshing beverages and treats, adding an extra layer of enjoyment to the view. To further enrich your experience, the cafe also features historical photos of Jeong-dong, allowing you to take a nostalgic journey back in time to see what the area looked like in days gone by.

    Café Darak

    Getting to Seoul City Hall Seosomun Building:

    Seoul City Hall Seosomun Building is conveniently situated just a stone’s throw away from Exit 1 and 12 of Seoul Subway City Hall Station (시청역). All you need to do is hop on either Line 1 (the blue line) or Line 2 (the green line), and alight at this station. Once you’ve exited the designated exits, make your way to the narrow alley located between Exit 1 and 12. The building is prominently positioned at the three-way intersection at the far end of this cozy alleyway! To access the building, make use of the west gate entrance.

    Planning a Visit to Jeongdong Observatory & Cafe Darak:

    Before finalizing your visit to Jeongdong Observatory & Cafe Darak, here are a few key details to keep in mind:

    • Weekend Excursion: Both the observatory and cafe are open exclusively only on Saturdays and Sundays. Additionally, please note that they remain closed during national holidays such as New Year’s Break, Lunar New Year’s Holiday, and Chuseok (Korea’s Thanksgiving).
    • Operating Hours: Cafe Darak welcomes guests from 09:00 to 17:00, while Jeongdong Observatory stays open until 18:00 (17:00 last entrance). Please note that there is a temporary closure from 12:00 to 13:00 for a lunch break.
    • Admission Fee: The good news is that there is no admission fee – it’s a free experience!

    Ideal Times to Visit Jeongdong Observatory & Cafe Darak:

    For the most breathtaking experiences at Jeongdong Observatory and Cafe Darak, timing is key:

    Autumn Delight: Given its proximity to the captivating Deoksu Palace, the fall season is an absolute must for witnessing the most enchanting displays from the observatory. During my visit on October 28, hints of vibrant foliage could already be spotted around the palace. However, many of the deciduous trees within the palace walls had yet to reach their peak. To catch the full splendor of autumn, I recommend aiming for the first week of November.

    Winter Wonderland: Another highly recommended time to visit is during the winter months when Seoul receives a generous dusting of snow. The sight of the neighborhood adorned in pristine white is truly a sight to behold. For the best chance to experience this winter wonderland, mark your calendar for January.

    Additional Pointers:

    🍵 While admission to the observatory is free, I highly recommend enhancing your experience with a delightful beverage from Cafe Darak. They also offer tempting sweet treats for those craving more than just a view.

    🪟 To secure the prime window seats, consider arriving early in the morning or at least 30 minutes before the cafe’s closing time.

    🍂 During the fall season, keep in mind that the cafe can get quite crowded, and there might be a lengthy queue starting from the elevator on the first floor. It’s a smart move to plan an early visit during these popular months (October to November).

    There you have it! With all the insights I’ve shared about Jeongdong Observatory and Cafe Darak, I’m confident that you’ll be well-prepared for your trip. Have a fantastic time exploring the city and safe travels!

    Access Map:

    Gallery: More Autumn Pics from Jeongdong Observatory

    Quick Info about Jeongdong Observatory:

    Address: 서울 중구 덕수궁길 15
    Naver Map: Link
    Nearest Station: City Hall Station (Line 1&2) Exit 12 or 1

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