Climbing the mountains that surround Seoul will provide you with some stunning views. If you're as lazy as me, you do not want to hike for hours and hours to hopefully get a glimpse of the beauty that is Seoul (if the city isn't covered in smog that is). So where to go then? Go to these places:
1. For the really lazy: 63 Building
The 63 Building is that shining golden skyscraper you see sticking out in the Yeouido area. On the 60th floor there is an observatory/art gallery called SkyArt, which, in addition to quirky art, has amazing views of the city in general, and the Han river in particular. There's an admission fee though: 12,000 won for Adults (19+) and 11,000 won for children/students (4 – 18).
How to get there:
Unfortunately, 63 Building is not located close to any subway station, so you will need to take the free shuttle bus, taxi, or walk. Take subway line 1 to Daebang station and get out at exit 6, subway line 5 or 9 to Yeoido station and get out at exit 5, Saetgang station on line 9, exit 1, or take line 5 to Yeouinaru station and get out at exit 4. At all stations you can take the free 63 Building Shuttle bus. Click here to see a video that shows you how to get to 63 Building.
2. 63 building is nice, but I'm broke: Jeong-dong Observatory
Jeong-dong observatory is closer to a subway station than 63 Building. Also, the elevator will take you up quicker because it's located on the 13th floor. That's still high enough to give you a nice view. It's also cheaper than 63 Building because visiting is free (unless you decide to splurge on drinks and snacks that the cafe is selling). The observatory has a great view over the neighboring Deoksugung Palace and City Hall.
How to get there:
Go to City Hall station (시청역) on line 1 , get out of exit 1, or on line 2 get out of exit 11 or 12. The Seoul Metropolitan Government’s Seosomun Building is a bit tricky to find, but it's located on the picturesque tree-lined Doldamgil (돌담길), which runs alongside the palace wall. Please beware that the observatory is only open on weekends and public holidays from 9 AM to 6 PM. Click here to see a video of how to get to Jeong-dong Observatory.
3. I'm lazy, but I can still walk a bit: Nodeul Station Hill
There used to be a small park on a hill near Nodeul Station (노들역), but being located on a prime real estate location, I should have known better to expect that it would still be there. It's a construction site now, with fences blocking the way to where the park used to be. You can still take a picture (like the one above) next to the fence of the construction site. I don't know how long that will last though. There's another park slightly lower on the hill where you can chill and take in the view, so it's not a total loss (yet).
How to get there:
Go to Nodeul Station (노들역) on line 9 and get out of exit 3. Go straight until you are walking up some sort of ramp. Go over the ramp and take the last street on your right before you end up at the main road again. Follow that street up the hill and keep going up. You'll go past a mural with flowers on your left and a school with a playground on your right. When you see a small grey container with red letters on it, you know you are almost there. The road will snake to the left and you'll see a small park with benches. Keep going up and you'll see a grey fence where the construction site starts. Click here to see a video of how to get to Nodeul Station Hill.
4. Ok I'll walk uphill for a while, but there'd better be coffee: Naksan Park & Cafe Travel
This location requires some walking uphill and taking some stairs, but it's well worth it. The views are quite different from the locations described above, because you will be overlooking some ungentrified parts of town. Cafe Travel has a terrace on its roof where you can enjoy your coffee while taking in the stunning view. The cafe is just past the entrance to Naksan Park, which has also very nice views. The park is situated on a 100m high "mountain" with a fortress wall running along the edge of it. You will have to take a few flights of stairs to get there, but the views are well worth it.
How to get there:
Take subway line 4 to Hyehwa station (혜화역) and get out at exit 2. Go straight until you see a park on your left (you'll see a sculpture with an ellipse between three pillars). Go through the park, and go right while still in the park (past the maquette of the area). Go left around the corner of the red brick wall building. Exit the park, take a right turn and walk towards the end of that street. Go left and walk straight until you see a mural of a yellow cat. Go left just before the mural. Walk straight and take the first street on your right. keep walking up until you walk straight up to the entrance of Naksan park. If you go right just before the entrance, you can find Cafe Travel. It's the first cafe on your right. Click here to see a video that shows you how to get to Naksan Park & Cafe Travel.
5. I'm willing to hike a few meters: Eungbongsan (응봉산)
Technically Eungbongsan is called a mountain, but with an elevation of just 95.4 meters I would've called it Eungbonghill. The city has built a nice wooden platform (with complimentary exercising equipment and elderly people using it) on it for you to enjoy the scenery comfortably. The hike up doesn't take longer than 30 minutes, and that is when you are really out of shape. So bring some beers, pick up some chicken on the way, and enjoy this view while you enjoy your 치맥.
How to get there.
There are two ways to get up Eungbongsan really; from Oksu station (옥수역) on line 3, and from Eungbong station (응봉역) on the Gyeongchun line (경촌선). Since the Gyeongchun line doesn't go as frequent as line 3, I would recommend just to get out at Oksu. By the time the train arrives on the Gyeongchun line you have already walked the distance from Oksu to Eungbonsan. Just get out at exit 2 at Oksu, turn around, and go left at the first corner. Walk straight for a long time until you reach an intersection. Cross the road and then cross it again on your right. Walk a bit further until you come across some stairs that lead to Eungbongsan. Click here to see a video that will show you how to get to Eungbongsan.