We've all got a type. Some like it in the mountains, some, down by the river. And in Seoul, with all its picnicking options, you’re never too far away from your perfect place for an outdoor feast.
Up a mountain
This mountaintop escape from the crowds and concrete is just a bus ride away. The bus will wind up the Namsan Beltway before stopping in front of the Hyatt and from there, several quaint picnic spots are hidden in the green. While you could simply sit at a bench by the entrance, a little trek up the mountain promises seclusion and solace. When you hit the north ring road, where the tour buses are, climb a bit further until you see the sign for the Namsan pine tree forest trail and take the path to your left. Settle in a spot as far away from the tourists as possible before you digging into your picnic delicacies. You can walk off those extra calories on a stroll around the vehicle-free and pedestrian-friendly Namsan trail. Tip: If you make a reservation on the Seoul city parks website for the “Play in Namsan” program, you’ll be able to venture deeper into the pine tree forest.
At 94m above sea level, Eungbong Mountain s actually more of a hill, great for brisk walks. Near the Han River, the hill sits conveniently right between Yongbi Bridge and Dongho Bridge.
By the river
The Han River, which stretches across 494km, borders 12 parks in Seoul. Our favorite spot is somewhere between Banpo Bridge and the Jamwon River terrace. From here, you get breathtaking views of the Floating Islands, the Rainbow Bridge and Namsan Tower. The bridge looks best on summer nights, especially when chicken and beer’s thrown into the mix. If you’re ordering delivery, opt for nearby, local fried chicken eateries rather than the popular franchise brands. The franchises will most likely have orders backed up busy weekend nights, while the local hole-in- the walls will guarantee a faster arrival for your fried poultry fix.
For Seoulites and tourists who need a space to breathe after hustling in the concrete city, Nanji Hangang Park offers all the necessities of wildlife without having to go too far. Conveniently located right next to the Han River, the park is a place for the athletically minded. The amenities include fully equipped camping grounds, a music fountain, a baseball field, a swimming pool and designated space for extreme sports. It's a good medium for those looking for a challenge without wanting a hassle. Oh, and there's no shame if you want to go and just enjoy a barbecue behind a sunset.
Trees and greenery
On the roof
The rooftop garden at the Seoul Library (previously City Hall) has a great view for urban picnicking. Perched atop a 5-storey building, the rooftop is divided into two by a glass-walled cafe, which makes for two different rooftop views. On one side is the lush greenery of the square, Gwanghwamunro, and, in the distance, the Blue House and Bukhansan. The other side of the garden gives you views of Sungnyemun and Namsan Tower. Frankly, this rooftop garden isn’t exactly the kind of place to throw down a blanket and crack open a beer, but the tidy set up of benches and the well-maintained garden attracts visitors looking for a quick breath of fresh air. This is a go-to spot for office workers on their lunch breaks. On weekends, families come by for the extensive collection at the library. If you need a break between lunch or happen to be shopping in the area, keep this rooftop garden oasis in mind. 31, Taepyeong-ro, Jung-gu. Tue–Fri 9am–9pm; Weekends 9am–6pm; closed Mondays and public holidays.