You guide to cycling through Seoul. Let’s saddle up and explore Korea’s mother city.
All cycling paths in Korea lead here. The big city. There are too many things to do, places to see, and paths to explore. We’ll just stick to the bike path, with a few detours.
Let’s cycle Seoul!
- Start/End – Seoul (서울), Hanam (하남)
- Length – 53.6 km (51m peak)
- Est. Time – 2 hrs 47 min
- Certification Booths – (3) Yeouido, Tteukseom Observatory, Gwangnaru Bicycle Park
- Subway Stops – Seoul Metro
- Intercity Bus Terminals – Dong Seoul, Seoul Express, Seoul Nambu, Hanamcycli
- Difficulty – 🚲
As we leave Incheon, we’ll run into our first park. Gangseo Marsh Ecological Park. This flat stretch drips green in the spring and summer. Off to the left, we can see the burnt orange trusses of the Banghwa Bridge (방화대교).
Biking in Seoul
Every type of biker rides in Seoul. Sunday riders, commuters, spandex-clad war boys who’ll give a strong shout if you veer too close.
When in heavy traffic, treat the bike path as a road. Stay in the right lane and be aware of your surroundings. Wear a helmet and pass only when safe.
North or South?
The bike paths border both sides of the Han River (한강). They present a sweet dilemma, showing different contours in Seoul’s face.
Let’s sail along the south for now.
Bridges swirl above as you pass through the innards of Seoul’s infrastructure. We spill into a stretch of parkway with wide express bike lanes and flowing footpaths. An arching bridge leads walkers onto Seonyudo Island (선유도).
Look across the river! An old navy ship bobs in the northern banks, next to Mangwon Riverside Terrace.
The National Assembly‘s concrete dome greets you as you invade Yeouido Island (여의도). Yeouido Hangang Park swells with festivals and picnickers year-round. Plopped on the edge of a concrete plaza, the I•Seoul•U sign overlooks the northern skyline. Stop for a selfie at this king of all Seoul photo-zones.
The bike path splits and encircles the island. You can follow Hangang Park and weave through the crowd. Or, slip through the quiet trees of the interior path.
Hipsters flock to Hongdae
This is the young heart of Seoul. Hongik University street teems with counterculture hangouts. Find the best lunch spots in Seoul here.
Let’s continue on the northern side of the Han. On our right, eastbound traffic speeds along the Gangbyeon Expressway (강변북로). Floating over the water, it accompanies use for a few kilometers.
We’ll wind around the river’s horn until Namsan Seoul Tower (남산서울타워) peaks above the cityscape on Namsan Mountain (남산). Itaewon (호선이태원) buzzes below, with its steaming kebabs and cultural gumbo. This is the heart of Seoul.
Aliens in Ttukseom Park
As we pass a swan boats paddling along the calm Han, we’ll spot Korea’s answer to Area 51: the Ttukseon Cultural Complex, a snaking art space hanging over summer picnickers.
This is Ttukseom Han River Park (뚝섬한강공원). Inside, you’ll find gardens, an over-sized water park, and a over faux-18th-century sailboat moored to the river banks. Inside, you can find an pricey chicken, steak, and wine restaurant.
If we continue up the north path for a while, we’ll pass a few bridges and creep up a challenging hill. Let’s detour up the off-ramp of the second bridge.
If we look left, we’ll see the Dong Seoul Bus Terminal (동서울종합터미널). If we look right, we’ll see the tallest building on the peninsula.
Cross over to the south side of the Han river. Like a parent overwhelmed by squabbling children, Lotte World Tower stands high above the skyline.
This is the 107-story crown of the Lotte Corporation. Lotte is a chaebol (재벌), a family owned conglomerate that passes leadership from generation to generation. Samsung, Hyundai, and LG are the largest. In Korea, Lotte comes in at sixth in terms of revenue.
Below the mega-tower, Lotte’s offshoots claim a few city blocks: Lotte World amusement park, Lotte Department store, and Lotte Mart. Don’t forget to buy Lotte chocolate, eat at Lotteria, or see a movie at a Lotte cinema.
Let’s get away from all that consumerism. Just a short hop down the road, a stream winds inland. Here you’ll find a park like no other.
Olympic Park (올림픽공원) once held the games of the 1988 Seoul Olympics. Now, you’ll find pedestrians out for a Sunday stroll. On beautiful Summer nights, you can also check out a concert.
If you backtrack east 4 kilometers along the Han River, you can spot the Seoul Sports Complex. Those famous Olympic rings top the immense Jamsil Sports Complex.
Pressing on westward, you’ll run into the Gwangnaru Hangang Park (광나루한강공원). Here find an ecological park, foreigner-only casino, and, most importantly, the last stamp in Seoul.
After you clear the blackjack table, continue along the Han. A fifty-meter hill serves as an appetizer of some of the larger hills/mountains to come.
Flowing down the other side of the hill, we enter a canopy of trees. A sign welcomes you to Hanam (하남시) and bids your farewell to Seoul.
Welcome to the beginning of the rest of Korea.
The bike path splits in two. The westward path sticks close to the banks of the river. The eastward sits a little up the hill.
Be careful. There’s not enough room to pass on this one-way stretch. But, that doesn’t stop enthusiastic bikers from trying.
Rest up and prepare for Yeoju (여주).