Every fall, sightseers flock to Korea's beautiful rural destinations to enjoy the fiery colors of autumn. For some Seoul residents, however, traveling to other regions in the autumn season is out of reach. The following sites are known as the best places to see rich fall foliage in the city. They offer peaceful walks among colorful leaves that are also located near popular tourist sites.
Also known as ‘Jeongdong-gil road,’ Deoksugung Doldam-gil (Deoksugung Stone Wall Road) is the road along Deoksugung Palace’s stone wall and is a popular place for romantic strolls. In the fall, yellow ginkgo leaves add to the romantic ambience. This elegant road is about 900 meters long and stretches from Deoksugung Palace by Seoul City Hall to Jeongdong Theater. There are numerous cultural sites as well as traditional and modern structures along the way that make the trip all the more worthwhile.
The first place to visit is Seoul Museum of Art. The leaves of a 500-year-old maple tree in the garden are rich in color. Sit down in the quiet, cozy garden and enjoy the sunlight, or visit one of the exhibitions in the gallery. After resting, move on to Jeongdong Theater (venue for traditional Korean stage performances) and Kyunghyang Art Hill (venue for contemporary performances such as Fanta-Stick and KIM JIN KYU Original Drawing Show). You can select a performance to suit the autumn mood.
Other famous tourist attractions nearby include the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Deoksugung [MMCA Deoksugung] and the royal palaces including Deoksugung Palace and Gyeonghuigung Palace. The location is also popular for its proximity to Myeong-dong’s famous shopping area and Namdaemun Traditional Market.
The unique stone wall road that runs beside the historic Gyeongbokgung Palace is called Samcheongdong-gil Road. The site is highly recommended in the fall, as many enjoy passing through the gates of the palace, visiting the National Folk Museum of Korea, and going for a scenic walk along the road. The ginkgo trees paint the area with striking yellow hues, and sightseers can travel down the path through the autumn atmosphere. Also called ‘Gallery Road’, this street is dotted with small galleries, restaurants and shops selling paintings and accessories. Visitors can stop in during their leisurely walk on the way to their final destination of Samcheong Park.
This park was a filming location for My Lovely Sam-soon (2005) and Dr. Kkang (2006) and is also ideal for leisurely walks. It is believed that if you go there with a special someone, you are sure to one day get married. Take a stroll through Samcheong Park, and consider making it the site of a romantic marriage proposal.
The routes that stretch from Namdaemun Market to Namsan Library and the path from Namsan Library down to Grand Hyatt Seoul offer a landscape rich in autumn colors, notably lined with dense forest areas on each side. As you walk along the road, you can look down at the houses sitting on the hill below and see Seoul from another perspective.
As you walk up from Namdaemun Market to Namsan Mountain, you will also find a number of notable sites such as the Goethe-Institut Korea, Namsan Library, and Namsan Botanical Garden. Take the walking path from Namsan Library to the mountain for about 10 minutes, and you will arrive at the popular N Seoul Tower. The N Seoul Tower observatory is a must-visit attraction for a unique view of fall foliage in Seoul. The observatory has a glass façade and offers a panoramic view of the city. As the sun sets, sit at the café with a cup of tea or coffee and enjoy the dramatic cityscape from the tower.
World Cup Park is made up of five parks: Haneul Park, Pyeonghwa (Peace) Park, Noeul (Sunset) Park, Nanjicheon Park, and Nanji Hangang Park. Haneul Park derives its name, which means ‘sky’ in Korean, from its status as the park with the highest elevation in the area. To get to the top you must first climb a staircase of 290 steps or take the winding hiking trail. The top of the park offers impressive views of the city.
The redwood tree path at Haneul Park is about 900 meters long. This popular path is lined with tall redwood trees in harmony with the thick groves of trees in the park. To reach the path, take the road to the left at the base of the stairway that leads to the park. Go straight and follow the road when it turns to the right to arrive at the unpaved, redwood-lined path. In autumn every year, the Seoul Eulalia Festival is held at the top of the park to highlight the magnificent field of reeds. Walk among the reeds that move with the wind like silver waves to feel autumn at its fullest.
The Fortress Wall of Bugaksan Mountain is a popular tourist destination in Seoul and offers one of the best trails in the city. The road is surrounded by a scenic natural landscape and is visited by people of every age and gender. The hiking trail was closed to the public in 1968, and was finally reopened in 2006. Since then, it has become a major tourist site with more than 200,000 visitors each year.
It is a popular trail course in every season because of the old fortress road and the view of Seoul over the fortress. Sightseers can enjoy a view of Seoul and autumn foliage on both sides of the trail. When visiting the fortress wall, make sure to bring proper identification (resident registration card, Korean driver's license, or passport) as this area is under military control. Note that photos can only be taken where officially permitted.
Cloud Bridge in Seoul Forest, which boasts beautiful autumn scenery, takes you to the Hangang riverside area. Walk along the road on the upper side of the river, and you will reach Ttukseom Hangang Park under Cheongdamdaegyo Bridge. Ttukseom Hangang Park is a large riverside park spanning 11.5 kilometers in length. The park features various facilities including a music fountain and swimming pools. The music fountain behind the park plaza spouts jets of water 15 meters high, and the water dances along with the music.
When you reach Gwangjingyo Bridge, make sure to go up the bridge. Along both sides of the street you will find wide sidewalks. Midway on the bridge, there are observatories and gardens where you can rest while taking in the view of the Hangang River. Located under the bridge is a café called Riverview 8th Avenue.
The name derives from the fact that the café is located on the eighth pillar of the bridge. The cafe is also popular among fans of Korean dramas as it is one of the filming locations of Iris (2009).
Just outside of Nakseongdae Station (Seoul Subway Line 2) is a one-kilometer-long road to Nakseongdae (Shrine of Goryeo General Kang Kam-chan). Named Garosu-gil, the road is covered with yellow ginkgo and crimson maple leaves in the fall. Nakseongdae Park in Gwanaksan Mountain is large, but relatively unknown, making it a great spot for a stroll outdoors. Inside the park grounds is a shrine called Anguksa with small flowering trees around the cozy and quaint crossroad.
The road to the left of Seoul Science Park nearby leads to top-tier Seoul National University. Nestled in Gwanaksan Mountain, Seoul National University is renowned for its beautiful campus. The road between the dormitory and the art museum is notably lined with a wide variety of trees and flowers. Museum of Art, Seoul National University, which was designed by world-renowned Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, is also a must-visit site. The road from the main gate of Seoul National University to the Seoul National University subway station also offers scenic views of Gwanaksan Mountain.
Photo courtesy of Seoul Grand Park Seoul Grand Park Forest Park is a narrow path that takes visitors up and down the park’s trails. “Forest bathing” is the act of taking a leisurely walk in the woods while breathing in the aromatic scent of trees and nature. The trail’s entrance points are found in two areas: one behind the Forest Exhibition Center (to the right side of the main entrance of the Seoul Zoo in Seoul Grand Park), and the other behind the Australian Pavilion.
For both starting points, the trail goes back to the main entrance of the Seoul Zoo in Seoul Grand Park. Within the zoo, the path is divided into five sections by type of tree, which includes groves of acacia, chestnut, and pine trees. Visitors will enjoy 11 different themes such as ‘forest with nature,’ ‘forest for meditation,’ and ‘forest for rest.’ Walking through the forest bathing area takes as little as 50 minutes or as long as 2.5 hours.
* This column was last updated in August 2015, and therefore information may differ from what is presented here. We advise you to check details from the official websites before visiting.
<Last updated on August 18, 2015>