what to do in Ikseondong

The 15 Best Things to Eat, See and Do in Ikseondong, Seoul | 2023 Edition

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Ikseondong is one of Seoul’s hottest destinations. Wandering down Ikseondong’s retro alleyways, you almost forget that you are in Seoul, one of the most bustling and hectic places in the world – and this is what attracts locals and visitors alike. Here are the 15 best things to eat, see and do in Ikseondong.

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Why all the hype about Ikseondong?

I first visited Ikseondong back in 2017 when I wrote an article about the up-and-coming neighborhood for Seoul Magazine. At the time, Ikseondong was at the brink of becoming an “it” neighborhood attracting young artists, fashion designers and those looking to turn their passion into a profession – and it has grown to be one of the most popular neighborhoods in Seoul today.

But Ikseondong wasn’t always like that. After the Korean War, the area was home to a lively community, but by the early 2000s, the area was more or less dead. However, the community stuck together when plans for demolishing the area were put forth by the city in 2004.

That’s when young creatives come to Ikseondong to open vintage shops, hip cafes and artist galleries to save this iconic area of Seoul – and we’re so happy they did!

How to get to Ikseondong

Getting to Ikseondong is super easy. The trendy neighborhood is located in Jongno-gu close to Insadong and Jongmyo Shrine. The best way to get to Ikseondong is by taking the subway to Jongno 3-ga station. From there, you take exit 6, turn 180 degrees and turn into the first side alley on the left. You will come across the more traditional restaurants first but the further you venture into the hanok cluster, you will soon spot “trendy” cafés and stores.

Ikseondong isn’t actually that big but the many small side alleys make it very confusing to navigate. I suggest finding your way around Ikseondong with the Naver Maps app.

Ikseondong Hanok Cluster

Where to Stay in Ikseondong

Because of its central location in Seoul, it’s very easy to find a good hotel near Ikseondong. Ikseondong is very close to other popular neighborhoods like Insadong and Myeondong, which are all great places to stay in Seoul. If you want to stay directly in Ikseondong, I highly recommend the following two hotel options.

Ibis Ambassador Insadong

This lovely 3-star hotel is located right at the entrance of Ikseondong and their beautiful rooftop on the 10th floor overlooks the hanok clusters beautifully.

The hotel has everything you need and the staff is English-speaking. The rooms aren’t too small either and are very comfortably furnished.

Moxy Seoul Insadong

Located on the southern end of Ikseondong, he brand-new Moxy Seoul Insadong is another great hotel in Ikseondong. The hotel is also located right next to Jongno 3-ga subway station’s exit 3. Moxy also has a gorgeous rooftop that even comes with a hip bar.

I previously stayed at the Moxy hotel in Osaka and fell in love with the trendy hotel brand.

What to do in Ikseondong

Because Ikseondong is such a trendy neighborhood, there are a lot of amazing things to see, do and especially eat there. It’s also one of those places that keep changing and new cafés, restaurants and shops are constantly popping up. This guide is regularly updated to give you the most up-to-date information about Ikseondong in Seoul.

Madang Flowers & Cafe

When looking for hot spots in Ikseondong, the first photos that usually pop up are of the beautiful colorful umbrella lined exterior of Madang Flowers & Cafe. While the outside is Instagrammable all in itself, don’t miss checking out the interior. Stepping into the flower cafe it feels like entering a spring picnic with extravagant flower decorations. You can also watch the florists creating stunning flower arrangements and even have a custom bouquet made for you or a special someone.

Madang Flowers & Cafe 마당플라워카페

> Address: 166-23, Ikseon-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, 서울특별시 종로구 수표로28길 33-12

> Phone: 02-743-0724

> Operating Hours: Mon~Sun 7:30 – 04:00

Ikseondong Madang Flower Cafe
Madang Flower Cafe in Ikseondong

Gyeongseong Flea Market

This cute clothing store sells vintage inspired clothing at affordable prices. I picked up a floral summer wrap dress for only 26,000 KRW. Cash gets you a better deal but you can also pay with card for an additional 10% surcharge. Even though the pieces on the racks seem to be “free size”, a lot of the pieces are made to truly fit most body shapes.

Gyeongseong Flea Market 경성상점

> Address: 33-5 Supyo-ro 28-gil, Ikseon-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul

Gyeongseong Flea Market Ikseondong

Ikseon Goro

You’ve probably seen posts of this bright purple soft serve cone all over Instagram. Indeed, Ikseon Goro started out with only one item on their menu – the signature blueberry soft serve (2,500 won).

Today, they also offer an additional variety in bright pink: raspberry soft serve.

Ikseon Goro 익선 고로

> Address: 166-34, Ikseon-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, 서울특별시 종로구 수표로28길 33-9


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Hotel Seine

If you are looking for a superb rooftop with view of Garosugil, Hotel Seine has got you covered! The café/bakery/rooftop lounge covers as many as six floors. The rooftop is my absolute favorite as it’s super chill and relaxing. As if that wasn’t enough, there’s also a boutique in the basement where you can do some shopping.

Hotel Seine Cafe 호텔 세느장

> Address: 28-5 Donhwamun-ro 11-gil, Nakwon-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul  서울 종로구 돈화문로11길 28-5

> Phone: 02-745-4664

> Operating Hours: Mon~Sun 12.00~10.00 PM

Hotel Seine in Ikseondong
Hotel Seine in Ikseondong
Hotel Seine in Ikseondong

Cafe Highwaist

Cafe Highwaist is an extremely popular bakery/café in Ikseondong. It’s pretty much always full of people no matter when you go. Their most famous dessert is a dog-shaped cookie in chocolate flavor but I absolutely fell in love with their raspberry & vanilla filled donuts and early grey pound cake. The glass roof gives the café a lot of bright, natural light that adds to the cozy interior design. Definitely a must when in Ikseondong!

Cafe Highwaist 하이웨스트

> Address: 223-80 Yeonnam-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul

> Operating Hours: Mon~Sat 11:30 AM – 9 PM, Closed on Sunday

Cafe Highwaist in Ikseondong
Cafe Highwaist in Ikseondong
Cafe Highwaist in Ikseondong

Mil Toast Ikseondong

Mil toast house is a relatively new cafe in Ikseondong but it’s already extremely popular. Their specialty is delicious steamed bread (KRW 13,000) served in a bamboo dim sum steamer basket. You can choose between four yummy flavors: available in plain, red bean, or chestnut and corn fillings. 

Mil Toast 밀 토스트

> Address: 21-3, Donui-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, 서울특별시 종로구 수표로28길 30-3

> Phone: 02-766-0627

> Operating Hours: Mon – Sun 10:00 AM – 11:00 PM

Mil Toast in Ikseondong
Mil Toast in Ikseondong

Ruska Cafe

Ruska Cafe is located in a beautiful wooden hanok house and offers seating inside and in their courtyard. Besides a great selection of coffee and other beverages, Ruska also sells handmade table ware with different traditional Korean and modern designs.

Their tea menu is also very impressive with options like Korean Sejak Green Tea, which is one of the most popular green teas in Korea made from the young green tea leaf of Jiri Mountain.

Ruska Cafe 루스카

> Address: 166-28, Ikseon-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, 서울특별시 종로구 수표로28길 35

> Phone: 02-742-4121

> Operating Hours: ?

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Cafe Ruska in Ikseondong

Cafe Tteuran

This teahouse is one of the oldest establishments in Ikseondong as it opened back in 2009 when the area was re-developed. The café is especially popular among Japanese tourists due to its appearance in the Korean-Japanese movie “Café Seoul.” Named after the lovely “inner garden” inside the 80-year old hanok structure, Tteuran still remains one of the most beautiful locations in Ikseon-dong. Be sure to try its homemade omija tea or one of its handmade medicinal teas, along with traditional rice cakes of all kind.

Cafe Tteuran 뜰안

> Address: 166-76, Ikseon-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, 서울특별시 종로구 수표로28길 17-35

> Phone: 02-745-7420

> Operating Hours: Tue – Sun 11:00 AM – 10:00 PM, closed on Monday

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This extremely Instagrammable café specializes in super light and fluffy bread. The name meal° comes from a word play from the Korean 밀도, which means density and 밀, which also translates to “wheat”. Besides different kinds of bread, they also make some pretty good scones in different flavors. You can check out their entire menu here.

Meal° 밀도

> Address: 82-7, Nagwon-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul 서울특별시 종로구 삼일대로28길 22

> Phone: 02-3675-5050

> Operating Hours: Mon – Sun 12: 00 ~ 22: 00 (open year-round)

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Cheongsudang & Oncheonjib

These two places are located right across from each other and they seem to belong to the same owner. The Japanese spa-inspired interior design makes Cheongsudang and Oncheonjib the two most Instagrammable places in Ikseondong.

Oncheonjib (which literally translates to Onsen House – from the Japanese sauna), serves delicious and authentic Japanese bento-style dishes. After the meal, head over to Cheongsudang for some sweet desserts and delicious coffee.

Cheongsudang 청수당 & Oncheonjib 온천집

> Address: 서울 종로구 돈화문로11나길 31-8

> Phone: 02-741-8215

> Operating Hours: 11:30-21:30, Break time on weekdays 15:00-17:00

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Cheongsudang in Ikseondong

Saladaeng Bangkok

Saladaeng Bangkok is a really trendy but quite expensive Thai restaurant. However, the food is definitely worth the price. I highly recommend making reservations before you head here because it’s always pretty packed and a long line forms out front during peak hours.

They have a three-tiered tray of dim sum tower that is very popular but my absolute favorite is the Pad Thai. The restaurant does not only serve extremely delicious Thai food but the interior design is also extremely Instagrammable.

Saladaeng Bangkok 살라댕 방콕

> Address: 166-16, Ikseon-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, 서울특별시 종로구 돈화문로11다길 40

> Phone: 02-764-8215

> Operating Hours: Mon – Sun 11:30 AM to 9:30 PM, break time from 3 PM to 5 PM

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Among trendy cafés and restaurants, you should definitely drop by Assibangagan. This store is popular for its home-made aroma diffusers, candles, and other scent related items. You can even make your own personal fragrance diffusers based on your own preferences.

The interior of the shop is also incredibly beautiful blending the boudoir of a victorian queen with Korean hanok design. If you are looking for a unique gift idea or something fun to treat yourself to, I highly recommend this place.

Assibangagan 아씨방앗간

> Address: 47, Donhwamun-ro 11da-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul

> Phone: 02-766-1359

> Operating Hours: Tue – Sun 11:00 AM – 10:00 PM, closed on Monday


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Assibabgagan in Ikseondong

Ikseon Comics

Comic book lovers are really going to get a kick out of this place. Even thought a comic book cafe isn’t exactly rare in South Korea (there really are A TON of these), this particular location is certainly something else. The retro vibe is so inviting that you just want to sit down and devour a good book here.

The comic book store is also decorated with a Simpsons theme – making it even more fun to check out!


Ikseon Comics 만홧가게

> Address: 33-7 Supyo-ro 28-gil, Ikseon-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul

> Phone: 02-741-1339

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Renting vintage clothes

While you can rent traditional Korean hanbok dress in places like Bukchon and Insadong, Ikseondong’s retro vibe has brought about a different kind of dress-up style. Here, you can rent vintage clothing from the early 1900s, just like in the drama Mr. Sunshine.

Book your vintage clothing experience directly on Klook to reserve a time slot. You can take photos with your friends or other half in their studio and outdoors around the Ikseondong hanok cluster.

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Kkilook House

This lovely bakery is another one of my favorite places in Ikseondong. While it seems like a rather small and unimpressive café at first, you will be completely blown away by the stunning second floor and rooftop with hanok views. On top of that, their jam/spread sampler is divine – you get to sample five of their homemade jams/spreads with flavors like mugwort, coconut, raspberry/yogurt, blueberry and milk.

I loved the atmosphere here, especially when you can snatch a traditional Korean floor seat next to the ceiling window overlooking the hanok roofs.

Kkilook House 끼룩하우스 

> Address: 26-4 Donhwamun-ro 11na-gil, Ikseon-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul

> Phone: 02-747-2626

> Operating Hours: Mon-Fri: 08:00 – 20:00, Sat-Sun: 09:00 – 19:00

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Kkilook in Ikseondong

Ikseon-dong Ssal Sanghoe

If you’re feeling hungry at the end of your Ikseondong adventure (I highly doubt it), these delicious rice cakes might just do the trick! This little stand opens around 2 pm and offers a variety of long, filled rice cakes with various sweet and savory options.

Ikseondong Ssal Sanghoe 익선동쌀상회

> Address: 30, Donui-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, 서울특별시 종로구 수표로28길 28

> Phone: 010-9959-4434

> Operating Hours: Mon – Sun 12:00 – 8:00 PM

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Come and visit Ikseondong!

As you can see, there’s a lot to see, eat and do in Ikseondong and you shouldn’t miss out. Ikseondong is the perfect place to enjoy a sunny afternoon but there are so many things to do there that you can even spend a whole day in Ikseondong. It’s also a good idea to go back every once in a while and explore what’s new.

Recommended Travel Guides for Korea

If you want to learn more about South Korea and have a handy travel guide in your pocket, check out these three options below:

DK Eyewitness Top 10 Seoul

This Top 10 Seoul guide is a great pocket guide that breaks down the best of Seoul into helpful lists of ten – from selected highlights to the best museums and galleries, and the most authentic restaurants, tearooms, bars, shops, and markets. I personally helped update the most recent version of this guide. Buy this book.

Lonely Planet Korea

You really can’t go wrong with a lonely planet guide in your hand luggage! I’m a huge fan of Lonely Planet and own this guide myself. What I love is the brand-new pull-out, passport-size ‘Just Landed’ card with wi-fi, ATM and transport info – all you need for a smooth journey from airport to hotel! Buy this book.

South Korea: The Solo Girl’s Travel Guide

Calling all my solo female travel ladies out there – this guide is amazing! Part of the #1 Travel Guidebook Series for Women (and couples), this take on South Korea will help you avoid the scams, creeps, and tourist traps and skip ahead to the cities and adventures that are worth your time (and money)! Buy this book.

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Linda has been living in Asia since 2012 and loves sharing her travel and life experiences on her website. She currently works remotely in Online Marketing and also teaches various English classes in South Korea.

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