Usually when I think of observatories there’s two things that come to mind. Either a big fancy tower, usually looking like a radio tower with a semi-expensive fee with a nice but crowded observatory that you have to take a very fast elevator up to. Usually there’s someone there who wants to take your picture before you go on to look around, and there’s usually some gift shops with local souvenirs and maybe a cool spot to send a post card.
Or! It’s some tower in the middle of a park that you have to climb up and up and up and up to get a good view. There may be an elevator but not always and sometimes these are much cheaper if not free.
The Jeong-dong Observatory is a bit in the middle. I hadn’t heard about it until this year, usually the only observatory I think of when I think of Seoul is the N Seoul Tower. The N Seoul tower is a great place to get a great view of the whole city and buy souvenirs. It’s just a bit of a pain to get to and super crowded. It has that fancy vibe that a lot of city observatories have. Jeong-dong observatory is like a chiller version of N Seoul tower. It’s pretty easy to get to since it’s on the other side of Deoksugung palace inside Seoul City Hall Seosomun building. It’s located on the 13th floor and is much smaller than other observatories. It only has one view but on a clear day it’s absolutely stunning. You get a lovely view of Deoksugung palace from above. It also happens to be a cheap cafe, cafe Darak, with really nice bathrooms, a water fountain and an air purifier. There are also maps that tell you what you’re looking at and a little history about them.
It’s well worth a visit, especially in the morning or if you need a break from walking around the palaces.
The Jeong-dong observatory is open from 9am until 6pm daily and it’s free. You do not have to order a drink to enjoy it. The cafe is just an added bonus.