This very large, green park with wilderness areas, lakes and other interesting features is best visited by bicycle, though bicycles are not available for hire in the park itself. Otherwise make use of the car-tram if it’s running.
A massive 2.7km Baekje-dynasty earth fortification, Mongchontoseong, built in the 3rd century AD, runs through the park. The Mongchon Museum has some precious golden relics of the Baekje kings, a seven-pronged sword and the usual dull pots. The history of human settlement here goes way back.
Attractions built for the 1988 Seoul Olympics include the indoor swimming pool (sometimes open to the public), tennis courts, three gymnasiums (gymnasium 1 hosts major concerts) and the velodrome. The latter is now used by punters who gamble on bicycle and even motor boat races. On Wednesdays and Thursdays between March and December, motor boats race three times round a 600m course at Misari (20km east of Seoul) while gamblers watch the races on screens.
Scattered like buckshot around the park are over 200 sculptures, some larger than a house. Designed and made by sculptors from around the world, most of the artwork is puzzling even after reading the artists’ descriptions of their work. Groups picnic among the art and the trees.
The bunkerlike Soma Museum of Art has a tempting café and shop, a permanent display of Olympics-themed video art by Nam June Paik and five galleries for special exhibitions.
The Olympic Museum has screens showing the exciting highlights of the 1988 Seoul Olympics, together with a brief history of the Olympics.
Fast food, a convenience store and the excellent Fresh House are at the World Peace Gate near the main entrance, where rollerbladers glide along on warm evenings and weekends.
Cycling around the extensive Olympic Park is the best way to visit. Take subway line 2 to Sincheon, leave by Exit 7 and walk straight for 10 minutes. Cross over the road and walk up and then down the steps under the Olympic Expressway. Walk to the river and then left to the boat pier and the bicycle hire stall. ID deposit is required. Bring your own padlock if you have one.
Cycle north along the Han River for 15 minutes. Just after the second bridge turn right and go under the two bridges and along a stream. Carry on along the left bank for 10 minutes before crossing over the stream and then turning left into Olympic Park. It’s a cycleway all the way.