A Complete Guide To The Most Underrated Park In Seoul
Living so close to the World Cup Parks means that I’ve been able to go there and have a good look around on multiple occasions. Last year, when the little one was just learning to walk, we must have headed there at least once a week to climb, dig, walk, run, fall, pick flowers and do all kinds of other things. From flowering cherry blossom trees in the spring to tulips, cosmos in the autumn and more in the way of natural beauty, there’s something to see almost year round in the parks. There is also a substantial pond with a boardwalk not to mention the Han River to picnic on and children’s playgrounds as well. There are camping zones on the Han Riverside as well as on a hill overlooking the city. There’s a super cheap riverside infinity pool to soak in in the summer and an ecological park area to get lost in.
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You could spend countless weekends in the parks and continue to see different views and partake in different activities.
World Cup Park was opened in 2002 to commemorate the 17th FIFA World Cup. The site of a 15 year old landfill was converted over a period of seven years into the beautiful scenery there today. The larger park is made up of five parks including: the Sky Park (Haneul Park or 하늘공원), Sunset Park (Noeul Park or 노을공원), Nanji Stream Park (Nanjicheon Park or 난지천공원), Nanji Han River Park (Nanji Hangang Park or 난지한강공원) and Peace Park (Pyeonghwa Park or 평화의공원). The World Cup Park is one of those parks that doesn’t seem to get hyped up as much as it should in my opinion. Most people head to the Yeouido Han Riverside, Seoul Forest, or Children’s Grand Park, which are awesome for sure, but World Cup Park really has it all in one area. If you want to take a good walk or hike up a small mountain, you can. If you want to swim or dip your toes in a stream, you can. If you want to rent bikes and ride on paths or ride in a bike park, you can. There are places to camp, picnic, jog and more.
Check out this complete guide to the parks including what you can see, when you can see it and more and because I know the most important part in a substantial park like this is where, there’s a very detailed map at the end. Let’s dive in!
To quickly skip to a specific park within the World Cup Parks system, click below:
Sky Park OR Haneul Park (하늘공원)
Sky Park park is by far the most popular of the parks in this parks system. Yet, I personally don’t find it super appealing until the end of the summer and into the autumn. While it does offer fabulous views of the city out over the Han River year round, the fields are stark and bare for much of the spring and into the summer before the tall Eulalia grasses have really filled in. If you’re headed to the area in the spring, there are just better places to go in my opinion. Into August, the tall grasses are green, the trails leading in, out and around make you feel as if you’re the only one there and there is even a substantial sunflower field. Then into the autumn, the grasses start to brown and wave in the autumn winds, the sunflowers are removed and cosmos bloom. There is a festival celebrating the grasses for a couple weeks at the beginning of October each year and during this time it is absolutely packed.
The site of this park was used as a landfill from 1978 until 1993. Plants and animals returned to the once desolate area and now it’s absolutely lush and beautiful. You’d never know you’re standing atop a bunch of decaying trash except for the intermittent pipes that release gases from beneath the ground. Don’t worry though, nothing is hazardous. This mound had hit capacity with over 92 million tons of garbage. Dirt was piled on top and the vents and tubes scattered on the mountain maintain safety and recycle the methane gas produced from the mountain into fuel for World Cup Stadium and the nearby neighborhoods. The area has been completely transformed through the Landfill Recovery Project started in 1996 with the grasses that have been planted and the release of 30 thousand butterflies to establish a natural ecosystem once again. From this park views of the city, Mt. Namsan, Mt. Bukhansan and Mt. Gwanaksan.
To access this park, visitors can opt to climb the 291 step staircase that weaves this way and that or they can take an electric car for a small fee from the parking lot. It’s not too high and families with children are often seen walking up the hillside to see what they can see from the most iconic park in the system. Birdhouses are here and there and flower plots too. There are areas to take off your shoes and walk through pebbles to massage the feet and relax the body and a few lookout points to view the city.
Amenities: Disabled parking and accessible restrooms, wheelchair accessible ticket and information booths and ramps, convenience store/cafe
Nanji Stream Park OR Nanjicheon Park (난지천공원)
Probably the MOST overlooked park of the five that make up the World Cup Parks, this is our absolute favorite for so many reasons. This park is where most of the locals with children and families hoping to play sports head. There are two large playgrounds for children, one with a soft green ground covering and one with sand, as well as basketball courts open to anyone and soccer fields available upon reservation. This park is also flanked by parking lots so most visitors will park here in order to catch the electric car up to Sky Park efficiently bypassing the beauty of Nanji Stream Park.
This park, however, not only offers recreational fun for children and adults, but it also has some beautifully curated plots of land with flowers for stunning photo-ops.
From buckwheat to sunflowers to cosmos, tulips and more, there are two substantial plots that are changed almost monthly from May until October.
The large plots are a huge draw for us, but more than that there are also flowering cherry blossom trees that few stop to enjoy, Japanese Dogwood trees and Cornelia flowering trees as well. There’s a forested path that backs up to the road so there’s a bit of separation between the park and the traffic. There’s also a stream, hence the name, that runs through this park and wooden boardwalks to walk along to listen to the frogs croaking and look for the fish swimming.
A substantial field in the center of this park is where people can be found flying kites in the summer, holding group events and tossing a frisbee. Easy to locate restrooms in a few different places in this park and two convenience stores as well make this an amazing park that people should stop overlooking. This is the perfect place to have a picnic, get some gorgeous photos, partake in some physical activity and enjoy the day. Did I mention there are bunnies that hop to and fro as well and you can feed them from your hand?
Amenities: accessible restrooms, convenience stores, basketball courts, soccer field, 2 children’s playgrounds with mat ground cover & sand ground cover, walking/jogging path, bike path, picnic tables
Pyeonghwa Park OR Peace Park (평화의공원)
This park is connected to World Cup Stadium/Homeplus via a bridge and is centered around a large pond. The side nearest the stadium is a cement and wooden boardwalk with trees and numerous benches for lounging and relaxing. In the summer, people flock to this SUBSTANTIAL park to picnic it up and set up tents. While there are quite a lot of families and couples that head here, this is always plenty of room to spread out and enjoy the area. With the Mapo Agricultural and Fishery Market just next door to purchase a great sashimi picnic or some fruit and veggies, this is the place to squat all day. This park is also closest to the largest parking lot in the area, which is probably also why it gets the most people on weekends. Walking around the pond, the cement boardwalk changes into brick paths that lead into a more forested area. There is also a children’s playground and numerous areas of cultivated land.
This was the location of the gardening expo last year and though it was already quite artistic, it is now even more so. There are so many cool photo-ops here what with the interesting artistic installations and natural eco-system. The areas nearest the pond and the playground are the most frequented, but this park also extends quite a bit back and offers loads of land to squat on and enjoy the day. If you head here, take a good walk around to really see the place. There is a stream that flows through here and brick bridges that cross over it. There are tall grassy areas and plenty of trees to provide shade.
There are two convenience stores and three restrooms in this park as well as a path that denotes a walking lane as well as a bike lane to keep people moving and grooving happily if they wish to do so. There are also bunnies that hop to and fro in this park (when there aren’t a TON of people in the area) and you can feed them little clovers when they’re out in the evenings if you can spot them.
This park is also connected via bridges to Nanji Stream Park, Sky Park and the Nanji Hangang Park so if you’re taking a REALLY good walk around, you should be able to at least visit a couple in the same day. This park is host to quite a few different events throughout the year like the expo last year and the Shrimp Festival too. You never know what you’ll find here.
Amenities: accessible restrooms, two convenience stores, bike path, walk/jogging path, picnic tables, tennis courts, picturesque scenes for photography
Nanji Hangang Park OR Nanji Han River Park (난지한강공원)
Nanji Hangang Park stretches for some distance between Seongsan Bridge on the eastern end and Gayang Bridge on the western end. Because it’s much easier to get to the portion near Seongsan Bridge via public transport, you will find more people on the eastern end of the park. There is also a public swimming pool just west of Seongsan Bridge that is rather popular during the hot and humid summer months. While this one is easier to access and thus more popular, there is actually an infinity pool that is also in the area and is perfect for families with children or couples hoping to get some infinity pool shots. Though it’s not really a romantic spot what with all of the kids in all honesty.
Due to the Hangang Renaissance Project, this area has seen a dramatic renewal in the past five years or so. Paths that were once litter strewn and desolate have been repaired and cleaned up and activity spaces added. From a bike park with dirt ramps and more for the biking enthusiast to baseball fields and a large area used for concerts that overlooks the river, there is a lot to see here. This park also features the Nanji Ecological Park that has a wooden boardwalk that leads out over a swampy area. A camp ground where the tents and all of the amenities are already there for rent invites locals to the area each spring and into the autumn. For the nature lovers there are willow trees, two fields of cosmos that bloom each autumn. Much of the other space in the area is either used for specific activities, bike rental and racing or are open fields for anyone to enjoy. If you’re looking for more open space and less people keep heading west and if you want to be near more convenience stores and people, stay east.
You can also catch a ride on a yacht from here, rent some of those duck paddle boats and partake in more watersports in the area too. This park really stretches for some distance and is NOT easily seen on foot. I would highly recommend renting bikes if you don’t have some to see the entirety of the park and find the most suitable spot for you. There is so much space here, but again, most people hang out near the swimming pool on the eastern end and don’t move from that. There is a large water fountain area that spouts water for 15 minutes each hour for a number of hours on hot summer days and is another great spot to check out.
The campgrounds here are all inclusive providing the tents, the grills and everything else you’d need to have an amazing experience camping out on the Han. Bring your own food, but enjoy a fun time with your friends in an array of tents that are offered from the small to the large for couples to groups.
Amenities: convenience stores, accessible restrooms, parking, bike rental, 2 swimming pools, baseball fields, ecological park, bike paths, dirt soccer fields, campgrounds
Sunset Park or Noeul Park (노을공원)
While similar in rise to the Sky Park and maybe considered to be the little brother of Sky Park, this park is actually nothing like the more visited Sky Park. While this one takes a little more work to get to, it offers a vastly different experience once atop. This park is most famous for the huge campgrounds set on the hill. People don’t often visit just to meander this hillside but rather to stay for the night. While you don’t have to stay for the night, there are lots of activities for the people looking to spend the weekend here. A park golf course, sculptures and views of the city provide the most fun here. While we haven’t camped out up there yet, the campers sure looked like they were enjoying the space and I hope to get us up there this summer.
Amenities: park golf course, restrooms, cafe, convenience store, dirt walking paths, scenic views of the city, electric car transportation to the top, campgrounds
Meta-Sequoia Trail & Flower Alley
It’s a bit difficult to say which park this lane is attributed to. Connected to Nanji Stream Park via a road, which is how we get to it, it’s on the backside (southern side) of Sky and Sunset Parks abutting the highway. It’s probably the most difficult spot to get to or find if you don’t know it’s there and that’s one big reason I LOVE it. There are rarely people here and yet the beauty is immense. The trail on the southern side of Sky Park is lined with tall meta-sequoia trees that are beautiful throughout the year. As you can see, taking family pics in this picturesque area is one of our favorite things to do!
The section of the path that is on the southern side of Sunset park is lined with Japanese dogwood bushes that burst into yellow blooms in the spring and cherry blossom trees too. It’s one of THE MOST picturesque spots I’ve found in Seoul and yet, I’ve been there numerous times and only seen a handful of people enjoying the colors at any one time.
There is one lone accessible restroom in the middle and a few sporadically placed picnic tables, but other than that, this area has largely been left alone. Though, someone is clearly caring for the path and keeping it swept of debris. For spring flowers, this is where we’ll be heading once again.
Amenities: accessible restrooms, picnic tables
The Oil Tank Culture Park
While this park may not technically be a part of the World Cup Parks system, it is right across the street and is the newest addition to the area. The ecologically friendly design that reused 6 oil tanks is a cultural and artistic area that has events continuously and is definitely a spot to check out for anyone into urban exploration.
World Cup Parks
서울 마포구 성산동 487-359
487-359 Seongsan-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul, Korea
Subway: Worldcup Station, exit 1. Walk straight to the main street and turn right. Walk straight along the large road and Sky Park will come up first across the street. If you want to go to Nanji Stream Park, hop onto the Mapo local bus 08 at the bus stop under the bridge just outside of the stadium and get off a few stops down the road.
Bus: 7011, 7016, 470, 670, Mapo local bus 08
1. Noeul, Sunset, Park
2. Haneul, Sky, Park
3. Nanjicheon, Nanji Stream, Park
4. Nanji Hangang, Nanji Han River, Park
5. Pyeonghwa, Peace, Park
Haneul Park & Noeul Park
Jan: 9:00am – 7:00pm
Feb, Oct: 9:00am – 7:30pm
Mar, Sep: 9:00am – 8:00pm
Apr, May: 9:00am – 8:30pm
Jun, Jul, Aug: 9:00am – 9:00pm
Nov, Dec: 9:00am – 6:30am
Pyeonghwa Park & Nanjicheon Park
Open 24 hrs. a day, year-round
Amenities: Parking, wheelchair rental, restrooms, sports facilities, jogging/biking paths