Although not terribly elevated, Namsan (South Mountain) is home to the N Seoul Tower, where you can get great views of the city (at least on days when there's no smog or yellow dust from China). I suggest coming at night, when the lights are twinkling below. The best view is from the rotating restaurant on the top floor, N'Grill, but you'll have to pay a premium price for dinners there. Slightly less expensive, but still offering a view is the Hancook restaurant, which has set menus (lunch is W22,000/$24/£12; dinner is W32,000/$34/£17) and a buffet bar. Those on a budget can opt for the bakery, café, or food court on the lower floors. If you're not up for a meal, you can just go to the tower's observation floor and take in the view. You'll even get a peep at the panorama from the "sky" restrooms with their floor-to-ceiling windows.
Historically, the site was a used as a prime post for defending Seoul. You'll find the Bonghwadae (beacon mound) where five beacons, which are no longer in operation, were installed to transmit signals from the outskirts of the city to the government in downtown Seoul. And you'll also find the remnants of a massive fortress wall, which once connected the ridges of Namsan, Naksan, Bugaksan, and Inwangsan, the four major mountains surrounding the city. The wall was built in 1396, during the reign of King Taejo, but parts of it were torn down as the city grew. More sections of the wall were destroyed during the Japanese occupation and the Korean War. Happily, restoration work was started in 1975 and today you can see parts of the wall as you make you way up Namsan.
The park also includes Palgakjeong (an octagonal pavilion from which you can also get a good view of the city), Maritime Aquarium (an underground aquarium worth a visit, especially if you have kids), a large fountain, and Namsan Library. You can either take the long stairway up Namsan (at least a 30-minute hike) or opt for a cable car ride.
- © Frommer's 2013
- Highly Recommended 2010