Hiking in Seoul is an excellent way to exercise and be one with nature. With an abundance of mountains and breathtaking views, you have a solid reason to start rambling.
I have ten of the finest hikes here, but I‘m confident there’s many more to conquer. If you want to surmount these Korean Mountains the local way, clad yourself out with the finest North Face attire and begin your ascent. Oh and don’t forget to bring a durable backpack for your rolls of Kimbap and ten bottles of Makgeolli.
Wherever you are in the capital, you are within touching distance from the dense wilderness.
Are you safe?
Well, 100 years you wouldn’t have been.
Enormous tigers roamed the Korean peninsular. The unfortunate residents who wanted to bask at the top of, say, Gwangaksan, might have ended up in the jaws of a terrifying beast. Fortunately, today you’ll be alright. Just stick to the path.
*There’s not been any sightings of Tigers in the wild since the Japanese hunted the last one in 1922- depending on who you ask.
If you love folklore or want to explore more about Korean culture, then have a look at Dangun, Korea’s foundation myth. The tiger is central to the story and shows you a lot about how part of Korea’s cultural identity was shaped around the Siberian Tiger.
Okay, enough of Tigers. You came here to read about the Mountains and all that marvelous stuff like trails, views, and Makgeolli. Let’s begin with the most popular.
Hiking in Seoul: Mountains:
Namsan Mountain:40 min hike.
Elevation: 262 m.
Mt. Namsan is possibly the most popular hike in Seoul. This revered mountain is famous because of the 122m iconic tower that stands aloft at the top.
Namsam is a romantic wonderland. Try taking your date to impress the socks off them. Little signposts will lead you to the trail and paved paths will direct you to the top. It’s still not a walk in the park though, especially in the hotter months. If you want to beat the heat, you can always hop onto one of the little air-conditioned buses to reach the peak.
Through the day, the tower stands over Seoul like an enormous giant guarding the Korean peninsular. It’s a wonderful image to capture with your camera. Head over to Myeongdong to capture a great shot. Its nighttime when this mountain truly comes alive. The towers colourful LED lights up the capital for all to see and shimmer off into the night sky.
Namsam is great. It’s a genuine treat when you get to the top and explore the tower. Factor in the paranoic views and you have one of the best days out Seoul.
After you’ve surmounted Namsam, strap on your hiking boots-you will need them- and get ready to ascend Bukhansan. This is a demanding hike. Don’t be fooled by its popularity. You need a decent level of fitness and a good amount of time.
Bukansan is like the backdrop neatly drawn into a naturalist painting. It’s an impressive peak. I love the way this mountain makes me feel. I conjure up images of Siberian tigers prowling along the ridges, stalking their next prey. I feel like I’ve gone back a couple of hundred years. Especially when you find the little temple nestled within.
Enough of my imagination, let’s look at the juicy details.
It has various park entrances, which are all free. Be aware though, night hiking is strictly off-limits.
The mountain has 16 fresh trails for you to conquer. If you’re a true adventurer, you could give all 16 of them a go. But most of us don’t have that amount of time or level of fitness. Here are a few of the most popular routes for you to take.
Beagundae: 3-4 hour hike.
Elevation: 836.5 m.
The most accessible peak and the one I think you should pursue is Baegundae. This is a beautiful trail with an abundance of nature to see. This is a popular hiking spot in Seoul and for excellent reason. The views are amazing.
Dobongsan: 4-5 hour hike.
Elevation: 740 m
Dobongsan is also very accessible because of its proximity to Dobongsan station. Take the metro line one all the way to the station and follow the keen walkers and signposts to the mountain paths.
The trail starts off fairly easy, but then you might be rambling over rocks as the difficulty of the path increases tenfold. Prepare water, snacks, and suitable clothes for this hike.
Suraksan- 2-3 hour hike.
Elevation: 638 m.
Suraksan is a gorgeous hike. With scenic paths and breathtaking views of Seoul and its surrounding mountains, you’ll have a magnificent time with your camera. Be prepared to break a sweat and encounter some leg burn as you summit the peak. There’s a fair bit of loose sediment, so be careful. A hiking pole, and a sturdy pair of boots wouldn’t go a miss.
Gwangaksan: 3-4 hour hike.
Elevation 632 m.
Near Seoul National University and Seoul’s grand park is a fantastic hike.
Mount Gwangaksan is one of the easiest-by Korean standards- hikes on the list. Surrounded by beautiful views, this hiking trail is accessible all year round. Follow the relatively smooth trail leading all the way to the top. Here you will find an unspoiled temple that sits neatly on the cliff edge.
Cheonggyesan: 2 hour hike.
Elevation- 620 m.
Close to Gangnam- a famous district in Seoul that resonates with glam and style- sits a hidden mountain unbeknownst to most tourists. With many trails to follow, you can choose your difficulty.
The easiest trail is perfect for the entire family. It can get crowded on the weekends- like most things in Seoul- so bear that in mind. Close to the subway station and a superb way to see a birds-eye view of Seoul. Cheeonggyesan is a splendid mountain to hike.
Buramsan: 2-3 hour hike.
Elevation- 570 m.
Hiking in Seoul can be a brilliant way to exercise and escape the hustle and bustle of the overcrowded city.
Buramsan is challenging, so bring your boots. The Hike starts off easy and then the trail notches itself up to absolute savagery for the unfit. Be prepared for lactate acid to accumulate in your legs. The challenge aside, the views at the top are great like most mountains in Korea. Just make sure you go on a sunny day when the pollution is low.
Bukaksan: 2 hour hike.
Elevation- 342 m.
Standing at 342 meters is the lofty mountain that is perched next to the presidential residence. For over 35 years the mountain was off-limits because of the security concern it posed. Mount Bukaksan is still tightly controlled and therefore you will need to present your identification and complete a short form for security reasons.
Hiking in Seoul is fun, and this mountain is great due to the intact city walls which span over 2.2 km. You can walk along and take int the marvelous design and view it offers.
Achasan: 2 hour hike.
Elevation- 287 m.
Located 30 minutes from Achasan station, you will find this charming mountain. Achasan has numerous trails to choose from ranging from easy to difficult. Many choose the easiest, which leads you to the peak that has some incredible views of Seoul. The weekends will be busy, so if you choose this granite of rock to hike, be sure to conquer it in the week.
These are my picks for the best hiking trails around Seoul. If you have tried any or think I should add more to the list, send me an email and I Can add the photos and information to the article.
Stay safe and enjoy Korea’s mountains.