Seoul Cherry Blossoms: Secret Viewing Spots
The When, Where and Why of the Seoul Cherry Blossoms
Just like anywhere else the cherry blossom bloom cannot be predicted very far out. It usually occurs from the end of March to the middle of April but cannot be predicted with any real accuracy until less than a month out. The bloom occurs earlier in the South and works its way North so you can adjust your trip accordingly. Seoul, being very far north, will see the bloom very late into the season.
Now most blogs will tell you the same list of places to see the blossoms which means that you will be seeing the flowers with thousands of your closest friends. There are several secret little spots I found while living in Seoul where you can actually see the flowers without having to push your way through a crowd. Another great plan is to go very early in the morning, especially if you want to take photos, the crowds will be much thinner.
My Top 3 Picks:
The Typical Viewing Areas for the Seoul Cherry Blossoms
Yeouido Spring Flower Festival
This is by far the most popular cherry blossom festival in Seoul. Located on the island of Yeouido right on the Han River in the heart of the city it is PACKED. The general sentiment is that it is too busy to even be fun. The blossoms are only on one side of the street so you will not get the iconic flower arch photos. In true Korean fashion there are tons of people pulling the flowers down in order to get the best selfie and it is just all around chaos. This just isn’t my scene so I avoided this location like the plague during the bloom.
Yeouido Station Exit 3 walk 5 mins towards National Assembly Building
The palaces are stunning on their own, add the cherry blossom in and you are in for a major treat. I will not lie and tell you that the palaces will be calm during this time because they will be packed. It still might be worth it to go check out just so you can see the cherry blossoms with the traditional Korean architecture and bright paint colors in the background. I mean doesn’t that sound amazing? I prefer the Gyeongbok Palace gardens but Changdeok Palace with a secret garden tour would also be an excellent choice. Check out my Palaces of Seoul for more info on which palace to choose.
Namsan park is the open area that surrounds Seoul Tower. A lot of locals hike up to Seoul Tower regularly for exercise so it is a popular spot year round. The park is huge but I would recommend just doing the actual walk up to Seoul Tower. You will be walking along a paved street and the cherry blossoms will be high above you from both sides of the walkway. You will also be able to catch glimpses of Seoul Tower through the flowers as you work your way up. This is actually my all time favorite spot to see the flowers.
You will enter the walking path right near Namsan Library, you can either walk/hike to the library or take a taxi. Once at the top you can take a free neon green Namsan Tower bus back down to the city or just hike back the way you came.
Interested in learning more about South Korea? Check out my other South Korea Travel Tips & Tricks
The Way Better Secret Spots To View The Seoul Cherry Blossoms
Yongsan Family Park
This is the location where most expats and military families will go see the blooms. This is right near the military base and a much loved park for all those nearby. The family park is connected to the National Museum of Korea Gardens which are also stunning. The family park has its own tiny parking lot (which will likely be full unless you go in the early morning) or you can park in the National Museum garage ($2-$3 for 1 hour) and walk. The best blooms are right near the small parking lot described above.
There is a pathway lined with trees on both sides which creates a stunning backdrop for photos. Many people will set up blankets or tents and just hang out under the flowers all day.
Ichon Station Exit 2, straight for 10mins
On the south side of the Han River is Seoul Forest. This park is very large and will take some exploring to find the best trees. One of the paths near the entrance does have cherry blossom trees along the sidewalks and then go just over the hill to your right to find more in an open area. Pack a picnic and enjoy your afternoon under the blooms! If you walk far enough away from the parking areas you can also see and feed a population of wild deer that live within the forest. For the kids, this park also has an awesome playground.
Seoul Forest Station Exit 3, 5min walk
Seoul National Cemetery
One of the most under appreciated viewing spots. This location features weeping cherry blossom trees making it incredibly unique. The grounds of the cemetery are immaculate and since it is a cemetery it is much quieter and less busy than all of the other locations. Just be sure to remember where you are and remain respectful.
Dongjak Station Exit 2 or 4
Jeongdok Public Library
Located in the heart of the Bukchon Hanok Village this is a popular spot for younger generations. There will be cars backed up all around the block trying to get into the parking area which is where the blooms are best. The cherry blossoms trees here are very old and much larger than those you will see elsewhere. This is a great choice if you don’t have a ton of time to see the blooms and just want to incorporate them into your other activities.
Anguk Station Exit 1, walk 10mins towards Deokseong Girl’s High School
Outside Of Seoul
Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival
The most popular festival outside of Seoul by far. Jinhae is popular for photographers who wish to get a photo of a subway running through an archway of cherry blossoms. The trees are prolific here so if cherry blossoms are what you crave this might be the place to go.
Jeju Cherry Blossom Festival
Jeju has it’s own blossom festival in Seogwipo so if you are in that part of the country you are still in luck. I have never attended the festival here but the landscape on its own is epic so I can imagine that the combination of the two would be pretty epic.