If the weather is nice, the beautiful parks in Seoul will be busy. Families head to Yeouido Park on the Han River to play in the fountains and pools, or to listen to music and dance by the band shell. Tourists climb or take a cable car up to the top of Namsan. Beyond the gorgeous botanical gardens there, you can get in line for Seoul Tower’s Digital Observatory, the highest point in the city.
Whichever park you go to, you can almost always count on it being busy, as outdoor activities are very popular in Korean culture. You’ll see everyone wearing Korean outdoor brands, like K2 and NEPA, and the lawns will be covered in tents. Families, friends and couples set up shop, grill, nap, and entertain children in the tents all day. Restaurants deliver favorites like black noodles (jajangmyeon) and chicken to the park by bike, but you need a Korean speaker with you to order and give directions.
While this scene is always vibrant and a great way to experience Korean culture, sometimes you need a peaceful getaway. That is where Seonyudo Park comes in (not to be confused with Seonyudo Island in Gunsan).
A haven in Hapjeong, which borders the bustling Hongdae area, this islet in the Han River previously housed a filtration plant, and has only been a public park since 2009. After trying one of Hapjeong’s many great restaurant options for lunch, walk along the pedestrian path on the Hapjeong bridge until you find the entry to the park.
If you’re coming from the Yangwah district on the other side of the river, you’ll enter through the “footbridge of peace.”
Remnants of industrial buildings peek through wild, marshy landscaping for a uniquely sophisticated atmosphere. Paths are narrow and winding, and it is easy to find an empty bench or a private corner.
There are greenhouses, fountains, lawns, and an incredibly beautiful children’s park, each in its own separate nook.
Surrounded by the river, the park is a beautiful and quiet place to watch the sunset, especially near the Yangwah Bridge, which lights up after dark.
There is a beautiful brick building in the park called Design Seoul Gallery. The building is largely empty, and dotted with distinctive furniture, such as incredibly durable cardboard chairs.
Throughout the quiet place you’ll find minimalist installations such as projections of natural elements onto walls and floors. The energy in this building is in perfect symmetry with the park, even if its purpose is somewhat up for interpretation.
Once you’ve rested up, head back over the Hapjeong Bridge and visit Mecenatpolis, a maze of a semi-outdoor mall with clothing stores, restaurants, a movie theater, art installations, and unique experiences to be had throughout the center.
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Written by Evy Bround