Seoul is a cosmopolitan city that most associate with shopping, impressive sights and urban entertainment. There's much to do and see in Seoul that is green and active, however, and visitors who are not afraid to explore will find that rewards are not far away. With a population of over 10 million and a total area of 233.7 square miles, Seoul may not seem like an inviting outdoor space, until you realize that the city is located on the Han River and within easy access to eight different mountains.
The ridges of Inwangsan Mountain are bordered by the fortress wall of Seoul, an ancient construction that was once the major protection against foreign attacks on the city. The two major remaining gates (Heunginjimun and Sungnyemun) still attracts a large number of tourists, most of which stop by on their way to the mountains. The 262-meter Namsan (which translates to "South Mountain") is the most popular hiking destination for Seoul residents, as well as the best viewing point for the Seoul skyline. There's a cable car for those who prefer the easy way up the mountain or you can take one of the several hiking trails to the top, where the Seoul Tower is located. There are running and jogging trails, the Namsan Botanical Gardens, an aquarium and easy access to the adjacent Namsangol Traditional Folk Village.
011 (+82) 2-1330
Seoul has over 40 parks, most of which offer at least some green, a water space (usually a lake but sometimes fountains and streams) and some type of historical structural. Many of the parks are large enough to allow for a well-developed trail system. Even the smaller ones, though, offer recreational public spaces, pedestrian bridges, lakes or marshes and waterside lounges and snack bars. Tancheon (technically the name of the stream flowing through Seoul) is surrounded by a green area with numerous biking and hiking paths, as well as small bridges, built-in exercise equipment and benches and shaded areas for picnics. The Seoul Forest, a man-made forest that opened in 2005, is home to a number of species, including deer, mandarin ducks and elks, as well as to a Nature Experiencing Study Field, an observatory and a wetlands flower garden.
Seoul City Parks
Seongsu1-ga 1-dong 685
011 (+82) 2-1330
This man-made natural area opened in 2005 after much controversy. Cutting through downtown Seoul, it offers a respite of green and flowing water among some of the largest and most complex building structures in the city. Basically, Cheonggyecheon is a 5.8-km creek surrounded by trees and can be crossed through on a series of small pedestrian bridges or by jumping through strategically-placed stones. There are two pedestrian roads on the side of the stream and a series of sitting spaces to take a break or to simply stop to admire the flowing water. A walk up and down the canal is great exercise and offers nice views of Seoul's buildings or the night sky, depending on what time of the day you arrive here.