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!

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).

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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.

A few cyclings refuel next to the Han river before they enter the heart of Seoul.
Cyclists refuel at a rest stop before entering the heart of Seoul.

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.

A biker rides the bike path onto Yeouido Island. The National assembly in Korea can be seen in the background.
As you cross onto Yeouido Island, the National Assembly‘s concrete dome greets you.

Yeouido Island

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.

Yeouido

Map — Page 14

Hipsters flock to Hongdae

Let’s cross over to the northern side of the Han River. With a quick subway hop or fifteen-minute bike ride north, we’ll find ourselves in Hongdae (홍대).

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.

A cyclist peddles beneath flowing bridges on the cycling path in Seoul.
The infrastructure that flows above the bicycle paths bring a sense of awe and beauty to your ride.

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.

The view of Seoul from the Jamsil Railway Bridge. Ttukseom Park and Dong Seoul Bus Terminal sit on the opposite side of the Han River.
The view of Seoul from the Jamsil Railway Bridge. Ttukseom Park and Dong Seoul Bus Terminal sit on the opposite side of the Han River.

Lotte World Tower

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.

Lotte World Tower dwarfs twenty story apartment buildings. The Seoul Sports Complex peaks from behind a concrete bridge support.
Lotte World Tower dwarfs twenty story apartment buildings. The Seoul Sports Complex peaks from behind a concrete bridge support.

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

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.

Gwangnaru Hangang Park

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.

Hanam

Hanam Union tower stands above the city of Hanam, Seoul's neighboring city.
Hanam Union Tower welcomes you to the city of Hanam and the rest of Korea.

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.

Round the horn in the Han River. Once you spot the Hanam Union Tower, you know you’ve made it. Head towards City Hall (하남시청). Here you’ll find lots of restaurants and motels to crash.

Rest up and prepare for Yeoju (여주).

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