On one of my trips to Seoul, Hallie asked me if I wanted to check out the Bugak Skyway. Usually when Hallie suggest doing something fun in Seoul, I say yes even if I haven’t heard of the place before, and I’ve never been disappointed! Our little trip out to this beautiful observatory was no exception.
I was actually a hot mess when we went, but I only had 2 days left in Korea, and I didn’t want to miss out on the mini adventure. I remember sitting in her car with a face mask on because I was sick and the cold air hurt to breathe. On top of that, my jeans were feeling extra snug, so I had on a sweatshirt to hide the fact that I unbuttoned the top to let my stomach breathe. On my A game lol.
It was 100% worth it though! As Hallie drove along the Bugak Skyway, it felt like we were leaving Seoul for the Korean countryside! Instead we were in the heart of the city, driving through roads lined with mid-April forsythia as the skyscrapers and bustle faded behind us.
The Bugak Skyway
The skyway itself sits along the northeast ridge of Bugaksan (hence the name). I think technically the skyway itself is a 19 km long road. Because it’s on the northern side of Bugaksan, you can also see some of the higher peaks of Bukhansan, namely Bibong and Munsubong.
It’s actually been around since 1968, though the recent renovations all happened around 2010.
Bugak Palgakjong Pavilion (북악팔각정)
The real main feature of the Bugak skyway is the Palgakjong Pavilion. It’s honestly what I thought the Skyway was until I started to write this article and realized the it was just one part!
It’s an octagonal pavilion (hence the name; “pal” means 8 in Korean), and sits 342m high towards the top of the skyway. There’s plenty of underground parking here, and when we went mid-morning during the week, it was practically deserted.
Around the pavilion, there’s a plaza, a wildflower garden, and different trails. On the basement level, there’s the Skyway Cafe, which has dessert and coffe. Hae Oreum, with Korean street food, and Cafe House, with takeout coffee, are on the 1st floor, and Haneul Restaurant is on the 2nd floor with pizza and pasta options.
The second level is where you can really get the panoramic views of Seoul and Bukhansan. There are even viewfinders around so you can get a “closer” view.
While the city views were okay for us (you can see Namsan Tower in the distance, they’re marred by a bunch of electrical wire right in the middle of the scene. You can’t get a better view if you go down a level either as the trees obscure the actual city scape.
The best view is instead turning to see the city with Bukhansan in the background. Truly one of my favorite views in Seoul now!
What Else to Do Nearby
There’s not a ton to do around Bugak Skyway Pavilion unless you want to start hiking. See above the fact that it was cold, and I was sick for why that wasn’t happening lol.
Boulanger Maison Bugak (블랑졔메종북악)
Since the pavilion restaurant was closed, Hallie and I instead drove to this super charming cafe, Boulanger Maison Bugak. There’s a “French,” rustic theme to the cafe with bread decor all over.
Since it’s foreign food and a little more remote, it’s obviously not cheap, but it was delicious! If you’ve been living in Korea, you might like the clam chowder bread bowl!
There are other restaurants right around Boulanger if you want something different. Biyangdo has sashimi, Gugkhwa Jeongwon has gejang dishes, and Attiolle has pizza. Seongbuk Seolleongtang has, of course, seolleongtang as well as other stews.
Insadong & the Palaces
You could really just start your morning driving along the skyway, getting in lunch in the area I mentioned above, and then spending the afternoon at one of the palaces and souvenir shopping along Insadong’s main street!
Okay, so I’m cheating a little. This is about 10 km away, so it’s really not that close to the Bugak Skyway. However, Hallie did take me here after our trip out, and it’s such a pretty temple, I had to add it in!
Did you know Seoul had a secret golden temple?! It’s called Suguksa and while it’s fairly small, it practically glitters in the sun! Apparently it was used to help royals dealing with anxiety and to help their mental health. It was built back in 1459 and is gold because the chief monk requested it after successfully healing a king’s son.
Quick Info for Bugak Skyway
- Korean Name: 북악 스카이
- Address: 종로구 북악산로 267
- English Address: Jongrogu, Bugaksanro, 267
How to Get There
If you want to do a few different things around Seoul in a tour, the Bugak Skyway is included in this day tour, which is BTS-themed. It lasts all day and goes through other fun places, like Seoul Forest Park, Iryeong Station, and more. Check here for more details
Driving the Skyway
The best way to see the Bugak Skyway and the pavilion is, of course, to drive it. If you look on KakaoMap, it’ll highlight the way in pink. You’ll basically want to start at Hanseong University Station and then sort of loop around.
You could also see if a taxi will take you all the way to the pavilion and use Kakaotaxi to find one to pick you back up. It’s about 20min from Gyeognbokgung Station.
If you want to use the buses, it gets a bit tricky. No matter how you look at it, you’ll wind up walking at least 20 or more minutes to reach the pavilion. Here are two routes I found:
From Gyeongbokgung Station
If you go through exit 3 and walk straight, you’ll come Gyeongbokgung Station Bus Stop (경복궁약 정류장). Take Bus 1711 for about 17 minutes to Byeoksan Plain Hills Apartment Bus Stop (벽산평창힐스아파트 정류장). From there, you’ll want to follow KakaoMap to hike up the 1.4 km trail to the pavilion.
From Hanseong University Station
If you’re coming from the other side of Seoul, start at Hanseong University Station, Exit 3. Walk to Gileum Station Bus Stop (길음역 정류장) and take Bus 7211 for about 17 minutes to Ilseong Apartments Bus Stop (일성아파트 정류장). Then follow KakaoMap for the 1.5 km up to the pavilion.
general seoul tips
If you’re still planning your overall trip to Korea, start with my huge travel tips post as well as my trip planner guide. Don’t forget to download these apps to make travel through the country easier, and if you’re using a tourist SIM card, book ahead as it’s cheaper.
As for the city, I have quite a few guides! You’ll want to start with my Seoul travel guide which will give you all the basic tips. Then take a look at my tips for where to stay in Seoul to see which neighborhoods work best for you. I also have hotel tips for the most popular areas, including Hongdae, Insadong, Myeongdong, and Gangnam.
Plus, don’t miss my favorite trendy cafes in Seoul to see some super fun places. As for sightseeing and things to do, you’ll also want to see my guide to the palaces in Seoul as well as my tips for free things to do and fun day tours.
And there you have it. All my tips for visiting Bugak Skyway in Seoul! Have you been?