The mountains that surround Seoul, enveloping the city like a folding screen, create scenery that is rarely seen in other cities around the world. While taking a walk along the mountain trails around Seoul, you will find traditional Buddhist temples and historical sites that are surrounded by the beauty of nature. So take a nice stroll and experience and enjoy Seoul’s historical and cultural heritage sites.
Seoul City Wall, built over 600 years ago, stands tall around the city, making Seoul one of the few metropolises in the world with such an ancient wall still intact. A symbol of authority that was built along the ridges of the four mountains of Seoul, Seoul City Wall marked the boundaries of the city and protected it from invasion.
Seoul City Wall was first constructed by King Taejo in 1396 and repaired during the reigns of King Sejong and Sukjong. However, during the Japanese colonial period and the Korean War, large sections of the wall were destroyed. Thanks to the government’s consistent restoration and preservation efforts since 1974, approximately 13.4 kilometers of Seoul City Wall has been restored and preserved so far. Moreover, an application to have Seoul City Wall registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site was submitted in January 2016, and is currently being reviewed. It is widely expected that Seoul City Wall will be designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2017. With this effort, Seoul City Wall has gained greater recognition and popularity, and continues to take visitors back in time by allowing them to see and experience historic and heritage sites in Seoul.
|Sungnyemun Gate – Gwanghuimun Gate 〈Namsan Mountain Trail〉
: 4.6 km (approx. 2 hours)
|Gwanghuimun Gate – Hyehwamun Gate 〈Naksan Mountain Trail〉
: 4 km (approx. 2 hours)
The Seoul City Wall Trails are divided into four sections: Baegak, Naksan, Namsan, and Inwang. The time it takes to walk each of the four sections is as follows:
From Sungnyemun Gate to Gwanghuimun Gate (Namsan Mountain Trail): 4.6 km (approx. 2 hours)
From Gwanghuimun Gate to Hyehwamun Gate (Naksan Mountain Trail): 4 km (approx. 2 hours)
From Hyehwamun Gate to Changuimun Gate (Baegak Trail): 4.7 km (approx. 2 hours and 25 minutes)
From Changuimun Gate to Sungnyemun Gate (Inwang Trail): 5.3 km (approx. 3 hours and 15 minutes)
Among these trails, the most popular is Naksan Trail, which features relatively even terrain and starts at Hyehwamun Gate, goes across the top of Naksan Mountain, passes by Ihwa Village and Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP), and comes to an end at Gwanghuimun Gate. This section is unique, in that is somehow makes hikers feel as if they have just stepped out of their apartments for a stroll.
Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG) has created a number of programs designed to encourage people to take walks along the Seoul City Wall Trails, the two most popular of which are the “Seoul City Wall Stamp Tour” and “Seoul City Wall Guided Tour” programs.
On the Stamp Tour, hikers follow a Seoul City Wall Stamp Map on their journey along the trails running alongside the wall. Upon completing all four sections, hikers receive a badge to commemorate their accomplishment. On the Guided Tour, hikers are accompanied by tour guides who tell them stories about Seoul’s living history. Guided Tours are offered for three of the four sections—Namsan Mountain Trail, Naksan Mountain Trail, and Baegak Trail—in English, Chinese, and Japanese.
Nearly 120,000 people from all across the country worked on the project to transport the stones and build Seoul City Wall, and the stones of the wall are inscribed with the names of the places where the workers were from. As you listen to the history of Seoul City Wall, as explained by the tour guide, it will feel as if you have traveled 600 years back in time.
|Seoul City Wall||Seoul City Wall Stamp Tour|
Among all the cities of the world, Seoul is unique, in that it is surrounded by a wall that is hundreds of years old.
With expectations running high that Seoul City Wall will be registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2017, the wall is becoming increasingly popular among foreign tourists looking for the best place to take a short hike during their time in Seoul.
Accordingly, SMG has been making numerous improvements to the trails along the wall, such as reorganizing signs and operating information centers located along the trails so as to enable foreign tourists to go on a hike without a guide.
In addition to the Seoul City Wall Trail, a historical and cultural trail around Seoul, Seoul Dulle-gil is another trail popular among Seoul citizens. Seoul Dulle-gil is organized into several different trails that encircle the city of Seoul.
Seoul Dulle-gil comprises a total of eight trails, stretching a total of 157 kilometers. If you walked for about eight hours each day, it would be possible to complete all of the eight trails in about 10 days. The creation of Seoul Dulle-gil began in 2011 with the construction of three trails—Forest Trail (85 kilometers), Stream Trail (40 kilometers), and Village Trail (32 kilometers)—and opened four years later, on November 15, 2014.
|Trails of Seoul Dulle-gil||Two people on a hike|
One advantage of Seoul Dulle-gil is that the starting and ending points of each trail are connected to subway stations. Even the middle sections of the trails are accessible by subway, allowing anyone to make a quick stop and check them out. The Dulle-gil trails pass by a total of 23 subway stations.
The charm of the Seoul Dulle-gil trails is that they provide opportunities for people to discover Seoul’s beautiful landscape and historical and cultural heritage. While walking through the forests and along the streams of Seoul, you will have the chance to enjoy nature and visit 35 historical and cultural heritage sites, including Buddhist temples.
The eight trails of Seoul Dulle-gil are: ① Suraksan and Buramsan Mountain (18.6 km, 8 hours 40 minutes), ② Yongmasan Mountain (12.6 km, 5 hours 10 minutes), ③ Godeoksan and Iljasan Mountain (26.1 km, 9 hours), ④ Daemosan and Umyeonsan Mountain (17.9 km, 8 hours), ⑤ Gwanaksan Mountain (12.7 km, 5 hours 50 minutes), ⑥ Anyangcheon Stream (18 km, 4 hours 30 minutes), ⑦ Bongsan and Aengbongsan Mountain (16.6 km, 6 hours 10 minutes), and ⑧ Bukhansan Mountain (34.5 km, 17 hours).
If you want a view of the entire city of Seoul, we recommend the Yongmasan and Achasan Mountain Trail, and if you would like to take a therapeutic stroll through the heart of the city, try the Gwanaksan Mountain Trail or Daemosan and Umyeonsan Mountain Trail.
For those who want to enjoy some time in a lush forest amid beautiful scenery, we suggest taking a walk along the Suraksan and Buramsan Mountain Trail, and for a relaxing hike, try the Godeoksan and Iljasan Mountain Trail. If you find streams appealing, the Anyangcheon Stream Trail might be best. Last but not least, we recommend the Bukhansan Mountain Trail and Bongsan and Aengbongsan Mountain Trail for their exceptionally diverse scenery.
|Seoul from the Achasan Mountain Ridge||Daemosan Mountain Forest Trail|
|Hoapsa Temple||World Cup Park (World Cup Stadium)|
Currently, Seoul Dulle-gil offers a stamp tour program to encourage hikers to walk the entire length of its trails. Hikers who collect stamps at each of the 28 stamping stations located along the trails will receive special certificates of completion.
Within the first year and four months of the trails’ opening, over 8,500 people received these certificates, and the actual number of people who have completed all eight of the trails is assumed to be even higher.
|Seoul Dulle-gil stamping station||A hiker getting a stamp in his Dulle-gil Stamp Map||Photo of a hiker with his certificate of completion|
SMG hosts a number of programs and events along Seoul Dulle-gil as well. These include the “Seoul Dulle-gil Walking Festival” (May and October), a major festival held on the trails; “Doran Doran Walk Along Seoul Dulle-gil” (March, April, and September); “Seoul Dulle-gil Completion Expedition” (once each in the first and second half of the year), in which participants walk the entire 157 kilometers of the trails; and “Seoul Dulle-gil Walking Buddy” (every Wednesday). So please choose a program to participate in and have some fun walking along Seoul Dulle-gil!