Located in Jongno-gu in the north of Seoul is the Naksan Mountain Trail which is a city wall walk that takes you down towards Dongdaemun. I just happend to be in the area whilst going to an event and thought that I would spend the afternoon walking this mountain trail as it was on my list of places to visit in Seoul.
The northern part of Seoul is my favourite as you can see and are surrounded by mountains. I started off at Hansung University station and walked to where the wall started only a block or 2 away. The walk is easy and can be done in normal comfortable shoes. There is abit of an incline but it isn’t for very long and walking along the path makes it easy.
Going from Hansung University station rather than Dongdaemun station means that you will be walking uphill less and also means no stairs (if you start at Hyehwa station, you will need to go up many flights of stairs).
One of the nice parts of this route is that it will take you through the Ihwa Mural Village. It’s a small village with eclectic murals and some art installations. Similar to Busan Gamcheon Village, artists were brought in to revitalise the area and draw tourists there.
There is a popular cafe at the top called Cafe Gaeppul which has an entry fee of 7,000 won but you can exchange your ticket for drinks/cake and also get to sit in a cafe with a great view of Seoul. Downstairs, there is a lock museum and upstairs contains feature walls of teapots and moon jars. There is plenty of room in these areas as well as other nooks and an adjacent building with indoor and outdoor seating.
Walking around the village, it is clear that there are not as many murals/art installations as there once were. Whilst researching, I found that drawing tourists in meant that the locals who lived there had to contend with more noise and litter. Over time, there have been some murals which have been painted over.
There is not really a map of where to find the murals either, you will just need to wonder around a little. I was here on a Saturday afternoon and it was quite quiet. There are only a handful of cafes around and maybe 2 or 3 restaurants. All the shops selling knick knacks were all closed.
If you’re in the area, I would recommend doing this walk and going through the Ihwa Village. It is a unique area of Seoul albeit small. You could make a longer day of it and visit the Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) which houses a great museum shop, Gwangjang Market for food or go to the Dongmyo Flea Market which are all nearby.
How to get there: If you want to avoid walking up stairs or uphill, you can catch the metro to Hansung University and start from there and walk down to Dongdaemun Station.