Introducing my favourite places to get a nature fix in Seoul. Like all Korean cities, Seoul is blessed (and cursed) with lots of mountains, so all the locations listed below are just a short train and bus ride away. From central Seoul, you should be able to reach most of them within an hour.
1) Bukhansan National Park
Bukhansan National Park is a sprawling reserve in northern Seoul, often seen in postcards behind the main palace of Gyeongbokgung. There are literally hundreds of trails bringing you around more than ten peaks. Ideal if you’d like to spend at least half a day, or better still a full day hiking. Bukhansan’s Insubong granite peak is also a hot destination for rock climbing. Read about one of my favourite Bukhansan trails here.
2) Namhan Sanseong (Southern Mountain Fortress)
The Namhan Sanseong is an ancient fortress complex in southwestern Seoul, overlooking the shopping belt of Gangnam. It’s kind of like a mini Great Wall of China. With gentler slopes and more flat ground, not to mention public buses that run into the centre of the fortress, Namhan Sanseong is a more forgiving hiking spot suitable for families or those who aren’t quite in shape. Get directions here.
The most well-known tourist spot in this list is Namsan, famous for the N Seoul Tower and its “love locks” left by romantic couples. Most tourists take a bus to Namsan, but did you know that you can also hike up – or hike around it? It is not difficult at all and should only take at most 20 minutes even if you are not very fit.
Gwanaksan is a rather difficult mountain that envelops the Seoul National University campus, and requires quite a bit of scrambling up rocks on many of its routes. But the view from Yeonjudae, a lookout point and Buddhist shrine, is really worth it. You can also hike down the other side of the mountain to Gwacheon area.
5) Seoul Dream Forest
The Dream Forest is Seoul’s newest and best park, and while there are many attractions within the park area, which you can read about here, you can also wander off into the forest around the park. There are quite a few hiking trails as well as a bridge that leads you to a nearby hill with a majestic view of the sunset over the Bukhansan National Park.
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