Planning a holiday for autumn in South Korea? From national parks like Seoraksan and Naejangsan to urban greenspaces such as Hwadamsup and Namsan, there are plenty of amazing places to visit in autumn in Korea.
South Korea has been one of my favourite countries to visit. There’s no better time to visit the country’s urban green spaces, national parks and largely unspoiled islands than autumn. Even some of South Korea’s most famous cities and historical landmarks are best visited when the summer gives way to the fall.
Autumn in South Korea sees the plants and trees of national parks like Seoraksan, Naejangsan and the Wondae-ri Birch Forest come to life with enchanting shades of red, purple and orange. Similarly, the fall brings mesmerising colours to the scenic surrounds of historic sites like Gyeongju and Changdeokgung.
Whether you want to stay in the vibrant capital of Seoul or head further afield to destinations like Nami Island and Jeju Island, a holiday in South Korea during autumn promises to be unforgettable. So, without further ado, let’s dive into 12 of the best places to visit in autumn in South Korea.
Where to spend autumn in South Korea
National parks, historical monuments and botanical gardens in urban centres all become sensory treats during the fall season in Korea.
1. Hike the Seoraksan National Park
If you want to make the most of South Korea’s splendid natural landscapes this autumn, I recommend hiking the numerous trails of the Seoraksan National Park. It’s a beautiful place year-round, but it’s especially stunning when the leaves of the park’s deciduous trees turn into hues of red, orange and yellow.
In addition to a wide array of colourful native flora, the Seoraksan National Park boasts snow-capped peaks that seemingly touch the sky, rugged cliff faces and cascading waterfalls. Head to the highest summit, Daecheongbong Peak, and you can take in views of the park in all its glory from an elevation of 1,708 metres.
In the park itself, there are various trails for beginners through to seasoned hikers. Still, even the most challenging sections of the most rewarding trails are made safer with the likes of steps and handrails.
Don’t forget to wear warm clothing and pack a backpack with snacks and water – it can get rather crisp atop the Daecheongbong Peak.
2. Soak up the falls of the Naejangsan National Park
Another national park in Korea that’s famous for its autumn foliage is the Naejangsan National Park, where crimson leaves backdropped by lush hills and jagged peaks make for a truly postcard-perfect sight.
It’s not just the fall colours that make the Naejangsan National Park popular with holidaymakers; this incredible gem of nature is home to some of Korea’s most awe-inspiring waterfalls, most notably the Dodeokpokpo Falls and Geumseonpokpo Falls. Dodeokpokpo is a sight to behold due to the sheer force of the cascade, while the calmer Geumseonpokpo meanders one of the park’s most scenic valleys.
While exploring the park, you might want to head over to the Baekyangsa Temple to soak up a bit of history and culture. This enchanting place of worship dates all the way back to 632 CE. And if its history doesn’t impress you enough, the view of it backdropped by mountains drenched in autumn colours likely will.
3. Discover the history of Gyeongju
Who says you need to wait until the summer to visit the coast? Autumn may not be the best time to hit the beach, but it might just be the perfect time to visit the coastal city of Gyeongju, best-known for its myriad of historic monuments and attractions.
The magic of Gyeongju’s ancient sites surrounded by beautiful foliage during the fall is hard to describe. The city’s natural colour palettes of reds and browns make it a popular tourist destination with the locals in autumn – join them this year, and you’ll understand why.
The five UNESCO-listed Gyeongju Historic Areas contain outstanding examples of Korean Buddhist art, mostly from the 7th to the 10th centuries CE. In the Mount Namsan Belt alone – just one of the five historic areas – there are ruins of over 122 ancient temples. Imagine seeing this jewel of the past surrounded by the natural colours of autumn…
4. Admire the fall leaves of Hwadamsup
Fancy escaping the hustle and bustle of Seoul this autumn? Just a 40-minute drive from the vibrant Korean capital is the Hwadamsup Botanic Garden, which is one of the best places to spend a day in autumn in South Korea without having to travel across the country.
You can follow serene paths through gardens that provide habitats to over 4,000 species of flowers and plants at Hwadamsup, most of which take on heart-warming shades of yellow, orange and red in Autumn.
While you’re here, you can get a bird’s-eye view of a few suburbs of Seoul by heading to the nearby Namhansanseong North Gate, a historical mountain fortress city that sits at an elevation of about 500 metres above sea level. It was Korea’s emergency capital city from 1392 until 1910!
5. Get your fill of K-Drama on Nami Island
Those of you who can’t get enough of Korea’s increasingly popular cultural exports such as K-pop and K-drama simply need to visit Nami Island, a popular filming location for some of the nation’s biggest TV shows. And if you want to see Nami Island at its prettiest, Autumn is the time to visit.
If you’re a fan of popular South Korean media culture, you might recognise Nami Island as the primary filming location for the show Winter Sonata.
Fan of Korean tele or not, you’ll almost certainly be taken aback by the beauty of charming country roads lined with maple and ginkgo trees, which are at their brightest and most beautiful during autumn in South Korea. Pack your camera – you’ll want to relish high-definition images of this place until your last breath.
6. Explore the natural splendour of Jeju Island
You just know that a place that’s affectionately nicknamed ‘the Hawaii of Korea’ is going to be worthy of a high position on your bucket list of places to visit in autumn in South Korea.
Jeju Island never fails to impress, regardless of the season, but the autumn colours really make it a sight that’s quite literally out of this world (figuratively).
Some of Jeju Island’s mystical highlights include a plethora of semi-spooky caves, one of the best being the Manjanggul Lave Tube. If you’re more interested in enjoying the tranquillity of the outdoors surrounded by the colours of fall in South Korea, I suggest following the Saryeoni Forest Path to see beautiful birch, Japanese oak, snowbell and – most notably – cedar trees.
There are so many fun things to do on Jeju Island it’s definitely worth a few days of your trip. You can find all the best places to stay on Jeju Island here, and some tips for driving around Jeju here.
I travelled Jeju Island solo and had a great experience!
7. Admire the seasonal plumage of the Seoul Olympic Park
Since having served its purpose as a venue for the 1998 Summer Olympics in South Korea, the Seoul Olympic Park has been one of the most popular autumn outdoor attractions in the capital with both locals and visitors alike.
While there’s lots to see and do at the Seoul Olympic Park, only during autumn in Korea can you see the park’s stunning pink and purple muhly grass, which creates a picturesque landscape.
Besides admiring the pink and purple plumes, popular activities at this park include cycling, walking, boating on the lake and wildlife watching. When you need a rest and recharge, you’ll find plenty of cafés and eateries. If the weather is on your side, you might enjoy a picnic in one of the park’s open green spaces.
8. Discover the secret garden at Changdeokgung Palace
I know that Gyeongbokgung Palace is the most popular palace to visit in Korea, but the fact that Changdeokgung Palace tends to be less crowded is just one reason why I prefer it. They’re both relics from the Joseon dynasty, making them highly appealing to history buffs, but Changdeokgung’s secret gardens make it an unbeatable Seoul attraction for me when it’s autumn in South Korea.
The sprawling Secret Garden at Changdeokgung is a true treat for the eyes when the autumn foliage is in bloom. The natural hues of red, purple and orange only add to the amazing atmosphere of the place, which is brilliant to visit any time of year thanks to sights like lush trees, ponds and scenic pavilions.
9. Visit the N Seoul Tower in Namsan
Located at the top of the 270-metre-tall peak of Namsan Mountain, the N Seoul Tower (also known as the Namsan Tower) has loomed over South Korea’s capital since 1971. Ever since, it’s been one of the best vantage points in the city.
Better still, in autumn, the park in which it resides and the plants that cover the mountain on which it sits transform into beautiful fall colours. It’s a truly magical place to visit if you’re staying in Seoul in autumn.
If you don’t fancy hiking to the peak of Namsan, you can always ride the Namsan Cable Car. After all, it’s the views that make this place so stunning in autumn.
10. Walk through the Wondae-ri Birch Forest
The Wondae-ri Birch Forest is another one of those places that looks just fabulous no matter the season. Spring sees beautiful blooms and summer brings lots of wonderful colour to the area. Even winter is a popular time to visit the Wondae-ri Birch Forest, when the tree canopies and branches are covered in snow.
But, as you might be able to guess, my favourite time to visit the Wondae-ri Birch Forest is autumn. The forest may well be beautiful all the time, but in my opinion, the colours of autumn in South Korea are the prettiest.
READ MORE: The Best Day Trips from Seoul
11. Enjoy a day out in Chuncheon
If you want a retreat from the metropolis of Seoul but still fancy a bit of a city vibe, you should head over to the lakeside city of Chuncheon, which is about an hour’s drive from the Korean capital.
Chuncheon is such a gorgeous place to explore when autumn arrives in Korea, and my favourite attraction is the Garden of Morning Calm. It looks spectacular when the fall decorates the leaves with hues of reds and oranges.
While you’re in the area, you might want to visit Petite France, which is – as you might be able to infer – a French-style village. You can also visit popular places like the Gangchon Rail Park and Nami Island.
12. Take a spooky trip to Everland
Last but not least on my list of best things to do in autumn in South Korea is pay a visit with the kids to the Everland theme park, which is one of the biggest, best and most popular theme parks near Seoul.
During October, Everland offers the whole family a variety of horror-themed attractions to make the most of the Halloween festivities. After all, autumn brings much more than just beauty into our lives! It’s also the season of scares! Keep your eyes peeled on the Everland website for the latest updates on this year’s Halloween festivities.
Where do you like to visit in autumn in South Korea?
Above, I’ve shared just a few of my favourite things to do in autumn in South Korea, but there are – of course – many more exciting things to do in this dynamic nation when the summer gives way to the fall. Some of my favourite places to visit in autumn in Korea include Lotte World, the DMZ, Sokcho and the Korean Folk Village, but there are many more attractions that are more than worthy of a mention.
Where are your favourite places to visit during autumn in Korea? Have I missed any hidden gems that my readers and I should know about? Let us know by leaving a comment below.
Quick list of best places to visit in autumn in South Korea
- Hike the Seoraksan National Park
- Soak up the falls of the Naejangsan National Park
- Discover the history of Gyeongju
- Admire the fall leaves of Hwadamsup
- Get your fill of K-Drama on Nami Island
- Explore the natural splendour of Jeju Island
- Admire the seasonal plumage of the Seoul Olympic Park
- Discover the secret garden at Changdeokgung Palace
- Visit the N Seoul Tower in Namsan
- Walk through the Wondae-ri Birch Forest
- Enjoy a day out in Chuncheon
- Take a spooky trip to Everland