One of the amazing things you can do in Seoul is hiking. Not only can you enjoy beautiful nature and tall mountains directly in or on the outskirts of the city, but you also get to see the vast city of Seoul from incredible heights.
Even if you’re not experienced, I recommend going hiking in Seoul, as it’s an experience you’ll remember. There are both easier hikes that most people can do and longer and more tough ones that require more stamina and being in better shape.
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The best mountain to hike in Seoul for beginners is Inwangsan Mountain (인왕산), as it not only is a beautiful path but is also a shorter hike with less difficult terrain and lower altitude. For those looking for a medium-difficulty hike, I recommend going to Achasan Mountain (아차산), Gwanaksan Mountain (관악산), or Suraksan Mountain (수락산). If you want the toughest and longest hike in Seoul, you should go to Bukhansan Mountain (북한산).
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What are the best mountains to hike in Seoul?
Hiking is an amazing way to experience the unique nature and mountains of South Korea. Seoul has many fantastic mountains to hike, and from all of them, you can see Seoul in all its glory from great heights.
No matter if you’ve hiked before or not, I recommend you try hiking in Seoul, as it’s a great activity to do with friends, and it’s sure to be an unforgettable experience. In case you are not used to physical activity, there are hikes that are easier than others, but all of them do require a bit of stamina. Just be sure to stay safe, and in the worst case, you can turn back if you think it’s too tough for you to continue.
Here is a quick overview of the hikes that I recommend in this guide:
- Bukhansan Mountain (북한산)
- Inwangsan Mountain (인왕산)
- Achasan Mountain (아차산)
- Gwanaksan Mountain (관악산)
- Suraksan Mountain (수락산)
You can find more details on each of these hikes below.
Some things I recommend anyone to bring when going hiking in South Korea are at least two bottles of water, some food, like Gimbap, some fruit, snacks, or a sandwich, boots that aren’t too loose on your feet, like sports shoes or running shoes you can tie, and a hoodie or something to warm, depending on the time of year, as it can be quite cold at the top of mountains. In the summer months, it can be very hot and humid, so plan accordingly.
When you go hiking, you’ll see tons of Korean people with all the hiking gear you could imagine, which can be a help, but they are not required to hike. I’ve done more than 7 hikes in South Korea, including the toughest ones, all just with clothes I would go running in, water, and food.
Bringing boiling water and ramen to eat at the top of mountains is also a tradition among many Koreans. Some even drink alcohol on their break at the top.
Hiking in South Korea is free, so you do not need to purchase any tickets or pay any entrance fees to hike. Some mountains do, however, have opening times or require you to descend before a specific time to make sure you are down the mountain before it gets dark.
Here are some of the best mountains to hike in Seoul, South Korea:
Bukhansan Mountain (북한산)
If you’re into hiking, Bukhansan is a must-visit mountain in Seoul.
Bukhansan Mountain is one of the highest-altitude hikes you can do in the whole of South Korea and is the longest and highest-altitude hike in Seoul.
As Bukhansan is the highest-altitude hike you can do in Seoul, it’s also one of the longest. You will see some of the most incredible nature and breathtaking views on this mountain.
When I went to Bukhansan, we took one of the longest routes to the top. We had a total of 3 hours and 47 minutes of active movement time, including ascend and descend, with a total duration for the entire hike of 7 hours and 3 minutes. We took several breaks, both going up and down, and a longer break at the top, where we ate lunch.
There are several routes you can take to the top of Bukhansan with varying lengths and difficulties. There are even routes that go to other peaks than the main peak, Baegundae Peak. I do recommend you go to Baegundae Peak, though, if it’s your first time at Bukhansan. It is the largest of the peaks in Bukhansan, with an altitude of 836.5 meters.
We started at the trail, 북한산성 계곡길 입구 (266-30 Jingwan-dong Eunpyeong-gu, Seoul), which is located on the left side of the mountain when you look at the map. That was a great and mixed route with both easy and some more difficult terrain. We then went down the opposite side of the mountain, which was steeper and had a lot of the same terrain.
Because Bukhansan is such a large mountain, the trail we started split into several different trails during the route, so we just went with random ones that had signs to the Baegundae Peak and avoided the ones that said extreme terrain or something similar.
Though I strongly recommend you hike Bukhansan if you like hiking, I do recommend that you do not start with this mountain, especially if you are not used to hiking. We did not start with Bukhansan either.
Inwangsan Mountain (인왕산)
Inwangsan Mountain is an amazing starter mountain to hike in Seoul.
Not only is it closer to the center of Seoul, which makes the views there incredible, as you can see a lot of the city, but it is also a shorter mountain with easier terrain.
There is a small part of the mountain where you have to maneuver on rocky terrain, but if you take it slow, you’ll be fine.
I definitely recommend going to Inwangsan Mountain as your first hike in Seoul to get a taste of it. Even if you’ve been hiking before in Seoul, Inwangsan is still worth a visit.
Our total hiking time for Inwangsan was just about 3 hours, including breaks during hiking and a longer break at the top, making this a perfect mountain if you want to do a smaller hike.
The mountain is open for hiking the whole day all week except for Mondays. In case there is a public holiday on a Monday, the mountain is open for hiking and will be closed the next day, Tuesday instead, for that week.
We took the trail that starts at 산2-1 Muak-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul (서울특별시 종로구 무악동 산2-1).
Achasan Mountain (아차산)
Achasan Mountain is another great hike near the center of Seoul, which means you get great views of the city from the top.
This hike is a step up from Inwangsan, but it is still a lot easier than Bukhansan, both in difficulty and length.
Our total hiking time for this mountain was around 3 hours and 30 minutes, including breaks during hiking and a longer lunch break at the top of the mountain.
This is another hike that I strongly recommend, as it features a variety of terrain and amazing views.
We took the subway to Junggok station and walked towards the mountain from there.
There are two main trails you can take. We started at the trail that starts at the Buddhist temple at 41-8 Yeonghwasa-ro 11-gil Gwangjin-gu, Seoul (서울특별시 광진구 중곡동 영화사로11길 41-8).
We then went the other way down after reaching the top. But you could also do the hike in the opposite direction.
Gwanaksan Mountain (관악산)
One of the things that I remember from hiking Gwanaksan Mountain was the beautiful autumn nature full of deep leaves.
We went here right at the end of October, and it was perfect to see the trees with red leaves and the ground full of fallen brown leaves.
Difficulty-wise, this mountain was a step up from Achasan, and there were areas where you had to crowd down to avoid slipping. While the terrain was a bit tougher in general, the fallen leaves on the ground also had a lot to do with it being a bit rougher.
I highly recommend going here in the autumn season if you’re around for it.
We started at the trail at 65 Namhyeon-dong, Gwanak-gu, Seoul (서울특별시 관악구 남현동 65) and took the opposite way down. I think this worked out well, as the most beautiful nature was on the side we went down, and that’s where we were able to relax and enjoy the views the most.
Close to the top of the route we took, you can take a slight detour where you walk on the side of a cliff wall by holding onto a rope, which was fun for me. However, if you are not athletic and used to similar climbing things, I don’t recommend doing it, as it could be dangerous. Most people from our group just took the regular route.
The total hiking time for us for this mountain was 5 hours and 25 minutes, including breaks during hiking and a longer lunch break at the top.
Suraksan Mountain (수락산)
Suraksan is another large mountain located up to the right of Bukhansan. It has both amazing views and unique terrain.
There is even a part of the mountain where you have to go up a clear rocky path by holding onto a rope.
I did not personally get the opportunity to go to this mountain, but I was recommended by several people to hike it.
Difficulty-wise, Suraksan is similar to Gwanaksan, so not a beginner mountain, but also not as difficult as Bukhansan.
You can expect the hike at Suraksan to be approximately as long as Gwanaksan, which is about 5 and a half hours, including breaks during hiking and a longer lunch break at the top.
The easiest way to get to these different mountains is to take public transportation to subway stations near the trails you wish to take. In some cases, it can be convenient to take a bus closer to the trail entrance.
There are several other hikes you can do in Seoul or near Seoul. These are just the ones I recommend, as I’ve personally hiked them and/or have been greatly recommended to by others.
If you’re up for more hiking, you should check out our guide on things to do in Jeju, as I talk about Hallasan Mountain, one of the longest hikes you can do in South Korea.
Those are the best mountains to hike in Seoul!
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