[Neighborhood Trails] Nature walk atop Namsan in heart of Seoul

By Yoon Min-sik
  • Published : Nov 23, 2017 - 17:55
  • Updated : Nov 23, 2017 - 17:55

Seoul is a city dotted with many mountains. Following is a series that explores some of the easy trails in Seoul’s neighborhood mountains. --Ed.

Standing just 265 meters above sea level, the petite mountain of Namsan in Seoul is hardly considered a hiking spot. But that is exactly why it is a perfect place for a light stroll.

Namsan Dulle-gil refers to the trail surrounding the mountain. Along with access to its noted features, it also offers great views of the city.

The two most-frequently used entrance points are near Dongguk University Station on Subway Line No. 3, and near Seoul Station on Subway Line No. 1 and No. 4.

If you are taking the latter route, take the No. 10 or No. 11 exit and walk toward Millennium Seoul Hilton. When you reach Do-dong three-way junction, walk left in the direction of Namsan No. 3 tunnel and you will soon reach the entrance to the northern route.

No bikes or cars are allowed on the northern route. 

People walk along Namsan Dule-gil in this November file photo. (Seoul Metropolitan Government)

This is the more scenic of the two main paths up Namsan, and is especially beautiful in spring when tender green leaves come out or in autumn when the falling leaves are scattered over the ground.

Urethane pavement makes it easier on the feet, and the gradual slope will hardly strain your muscles.

Some of the features include Mokmyeonsan-bang, a Korean restaurant lodged on Korean traditional building of hanok and Waryong-myo, a shrine to legendary Chinese politician Zhuge Liang who is popular in Korea. There is also a small waterfall not far from Mokmyeonsan-bang.

Seokhojeong Archery Range located near Jangchung-dong, allows visitors to experience Korean traditional archery.

Walk past the archery range toward the direction of N Seoul Tower, and you will enter the southern route. This path is both for cars and pedestrians, but it also has the benefit of having old Seoul City Walls.
People walk along Namsan Dule-gil in this November file photo. (Seoul Metropolitan Government)

Seoul has been Korea’s capital since the Joseon era (1392-1910), but the city -- called Hanyang then -- was much smaller and included only what is now central Seoul. Just years after Joseon’s foundation, King Taejo in 1395 built the walls on the mountains surrounding the city and stationed his soldiers there to defend against invasion.

The stone wall remains that extend over 10 kilometers are a reminder of the struggles Joseon went through during its turbulent history.

In the southern route, you can either walk or take a bus toward Namsan Library or N Seoul Tower, one of the most popular dating spots in Seoul. The glowing tower shines brightly at night, and its observatory offers one of the best views of Seoul.

Couples can also celebrate their love with the “Love Padlocks.”

If you don’t feel like walking down, you can opt for the cable car. It carries you near the foot of the mountain, where a band of tonkatsu -- schnitzel-like deep-fried pork cutlet -- restaurants await you. Nothing fancy or exotic, but a charming little dish to satiate your hunger after a long walk.

By Yoon Min-sik (