Seoul has always been known for its thriving nightlife, and foreigners have also grown fond of its loud locals. Just pass by the lively streets of Hongdae or Sinchon, and you’ll find your head bobbing to the EDM music from their handful of hip clubs. Take the subway or a bus, and you’ll certainly encounter a cheerful ajumma chanting, “Aigoo!” or an ajeossi shouting into his mobile phone.
Of course, the famed love affair of the city with noise, despite being totally amusing, can sure be frustrating or exhausting at some point. However, one doesn’t need to go far for some true peace and quiet. Aside from the nice and warm public libraries everyone can visit, there are plenty of scenic spots around Seoul that give you refuge from the hustle and bustle of the city. Here are a few places you can retreat to—each one not requiring any admission fees:
1. Namsan Arboretum | Hannam-dong, Yongsan-gu
There are plenty of scenic walking trails leading up to the famous Mt. Namsan, such as the one you can easily access if you take Exit 1 of Hangangjin Station (Line 6).
The Namsan Arboretum features 13 themed botanical gardens (including royal azaleas, wildflowers, apricot trees, and various shrubs), zen picnic spots, and pet-friendly trails.
2. Seoul Forest | Ttukseom-ro, Seongdong-gu
They say it’s Seoul’s version of London’s Hyde Park or New York’s Central Park. The expanse of its lands can be easily explored on foot or by bike, and various points look like a page right out of a fairy tale, especially during the fall season.
Seoul Forest has five parks stretching across the island—the Cultural Art Park with its assortment of sculptures, the Ecological Forests where you can feed deer and find other wildlife, the Nature Experiencing Study Field with insect and flower gardens, the Wetlands Ecological Field with a bird observatory, and a Hangang River Waterside Park.
3. Hangang River | Songpa-gu Bike Route
In the city of Seoul, nothing can be more calming than the sight of the Han River. Though some parks and bicycle routes are busier than others, the benches and paths along the Songpa-gu area are wonderful for anyone looking for some peace and quiet.
Just take a leisurely stroll toward the marvelous Cheonho Bridge. You can even paddle your way as far as the Olympic Park on two wheels or even on skates if you want. You’ll never run out of spots where you can just take a breather.
4. Bukhansan National Park | Northern Part of Seoul
Bukhansan is one of the most accessible mountains in Seoul. A short bus ride from Anguk Station, for instance, will get you to one of its many access points.
Getting to the top of Bukhansan can be quite rough for inexperienced hikers, but there are plenty of rest stops along the way to the three peaks. In each of them, you won’t be able to help but sigh while relishing the beautiful natural sights. You can even have a simple picnic while taking in the views.
5. Samcheong Park | Samcheong-dong
The bright and busy street leading up to this park is filled with boutique stores, cafes, and restaurants. However, at the end of it is the peaceful Samcheong Park, where various points of interest are located.
You can just unwind with a book at the library near the entrance of the park. You can also stroll up and down the hiking trails throughout the park (the blooming trees are most splendid during springtime). Walk far enough, and you’ll find yourself in a rock observatory that overlooks the city. It’s the perfect spot to just chill and forget your worries for a while.