There is no lack of new and instagrammable cafes in Seoul, and the proliferation of various social media platforms and messaging services have helped propel fame of some of these cafes.
You don’t get Harry Potter Cafes in many parts of the world, but you find it in Seoul.
Cat cafes are common, but how about Sheep (Thanks Nature), Dog (Bau House), raccoons (Blind Alley), meerkats (Meerkats Friends), rabbits (Bunny Cafe), and a reptile cafe (Koopet).
Cafes that are hidden behind vending machines, now refrigerator doors? They have it all. Here are 12 unique cafes that can found at Seoul:
South Korea, Seoul, Jongno-gu, Gyedong-gil 5 (Anguk Station, Exit 3)
서울특별시 종로구 계동길 5
Tel: +82 70-7543-2123
Opening Hours: 7am – 9pm (Mon – Fri), 9am – 9pm (Sat – Sun)
Google Maps – Onion Anguk
Hanok-Themed Cafe Near Gyeongbokgung Palace
The 3rd outlet of Cafe Onion is at Jongno-gu near Gyeongbokgung Place (main royal palace of the Joseon dynasty), for those of you who are unfamiliar with the area.
This totally departs from the industrial vibes in the previous Onion outlets, conceptualised with a different aesthetic spectrum from the rest.
This outlet is based and decorated like a Hanok, which is known as a traditional Korean house first designed and built in the 14th century during the Joseon Dynasty.
You can also spot the well-known Pandoro – the famed Italian-style bread covered in powdered sugar at this outlet as well. Café Onion Anguk (Jongno-gu, Seoul)
943 Kings Cross Harry Potter Café
서울특별시 마포구 서교동 417
417 Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul
Opening Hours: 11:30am – 9:30pm (Tues – Fri), 9:30am – 10pm (Sat-Sun), Closed Mon
Google Maps – 943 Kings Cross Harry Potter Cafe
Harry Potter Café In Hongdae Seoul
Potterheads may just want to apparate to the new 943 Kings Cross Harry Potter themed café, right smack in the heart of Hongdae – the popular hangout spot for Korean youths.
Your enchanted experience comes at a cost though, the staff will only allow people into the cafe batch by batch.
The atmosphere coupled with the down-to-dust detailed decorations doesn’t make this just a café, but an experience.
Every single corner was decorated carefully, and I was impressed by their impeccable detail. The chandeliers, the chess sets and even books related to Harry Potter.
However, let’s not kid anyone as we all know that people don’t come here for the coffee and food. 943 Kings Cross (Hongdae, Seoul)
223-14 카페, Yeonnam-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul (10 – 15 min from Hongik University Station Exit 3) 서울시 마포구 연남동 223-14
Tel: +82 10-7252-8633
Opening Hours: 11am – 9pm (Mon – Sun)
Korean Café Inspired By The Comic Fantasy World Of “W”
This is one café that would make you feel like you stepped into a comic book, and to be more precise – a webtoon.
Called “CAFE 연남동 223-14” or “CAFE Yeonnam-dong 223-14”, it is simply named after its address.
Note: This used to be called “CAFE 연남동 239-20” but has since moved to 223-14. Don’t get lost!
There are two sections of the café – the outside with garden-like, relaxing vibes; and the inside which is styled like a comic book (the design extends all the way till the washroom).
The menu is lean, with signature drinks such as the W Coffee (6,000 Won), W Salty Latte (6,000 Won), Vanilla Café Latte (5,000 Won), Choco Choco Latte (5,000 Won) and Green Tea Latte (5,000 Won). That is between SGD6.10 (USD4.50) and SGD7.35 (USD5.40).
Photos of its black and white interior have made their way across varied social media platforms such as Instagram, but it is hard to imagine that it is just a 20-seater, single-handledly managed by one person. CAFE 연남동 223-14 (Hongdae, Seoul)
Coffee Nap Roasters 망고플레이트
453-32 Yeonnam-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea (Hongik University Station)
서울특별시 마포구 연남동 연남로
Opening Hours: 9am – 10pm (Mon – Sun)
Google Maps – Coffee Nap Roasters
Cafe With A “Red Brick Hill” Within
Hidden in an alleyway away from the enclave of cafes in the ever so hip neighbourhood of Yeonnam-dong is the second branch of Coffee Nap Coffee Roasters 망고플레이트, the first being in Pyeongtaek.
Since its establishment in Seoul, it quickly became popular with not just with the natives, but also with foreign Instagrammers and café-hoppers.
The reason is obvious when you look at the café’s design alone.
Floor-to-ceiling glass windows line two sides of the café, as though to show off the centerpiece of the café’s interior design – the “hill” of 7000 red bricks.
Continuous with the flooring, it serves as a sitting area for patrons.
A few shoots of bamboo are also planted in the café to incorporate an element of nature. Coffee Nap Roasters (Mapo-gu, Seoul)
Stylenanda Pink Pool Cafe 핑크풀카페 – Hongdae
335-21, Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul
서울시 마포구 서교동 335-21
Opening Hours: 11am – 11pm (Mon – Sun)
Fabulously Pink Café, Dine By The Indoor Pool
Decorated in perfectly delicate pink shades, the Pink Pool Cafe is a slice of girly paradise. (While you are here, the other popular pink café is Zapangi 자판기, also known as the pink vending machine café.)
Situated in both Seoul’s hip Hongdae and Myeongdong district, the premises have a dual function – as a cafe selling picture perfect sweet treats, and as a makeup and fashion store.
Trendsetters and coffee lovers can enjoy a drink and a snack from the cafes extensive menu.
The Pink Pool Café serves up a pretty menu of drinks from Shakes, Tea, Ade, to “Diet” drinks of Real Tomato Juice, Lemon Detox Water, Coconut Juice and Burdock Tea (6500 Won – 7000 Won, SGD7.90 – 8.50) for the health-conscious, considered slightly above the usual café pricing. Stylenanda Pink Pool Café (Mapo-gu, Seoul)
400-2 Mangwon-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea
서울시 마포구 망원동 400-2
Tel: +82 2-325-8185
Opening Times: 10am – 11pm (Mon – Sun)
Google Maps – Zapangi
Pretty In Pink Café Hidden Behind A Vending Machine
Zapangi, with its neon pink vending machine entrance is one that has quickly captured the hearts of Seoulites and expats in the city, both of whom will line up patiently outside so as to capture the perfect shot.
The name “Zapangi 자판기” meaning “vending machine” in Korean, is situated in Seoul’s Mangwon-dong, a hip up-and-coming neighbourhood filled with artisan hangouts, microbreweries and independent boutiques.
The cafe’s tagline is “bottles and tins” and this is reflected in its simple presentation – cold beverages are served in milk style glass bottles, cakes are served in tins.
Its “tin cakes” are served in perfectly polished metal tins with cute printed stickers that point towards what is inside.
The adorable confectionaries sold are often incredibly intricate and visually appealing – for example, cupcakes designed to look like a mermaid is diving inside. Zapangi 자판기 (Mapo-gu, Seoul)
Fritz Coffee Company 프릳츠커피컴퍼니
68 Mapo-daero, Dohwa-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Tel: +82 2-3275-2047
Opening Hours: 8am – 11pm (Mon – Fri), 10am – 11pm (Sat – Sun)
Google Maps – Fritz coffee company
Creative & Retro Looking Cafe Converted From A Mansion
Coffee by a barista champion, freshly-baked pastries, a café inside a converted mansion with a courtyard garden.
Finding Fritz Coffee Company may be slightly tricky, but once you get through the wooden doors into the tile-roofed house, you would feel like you are transported to olden-days of Korea.
They have an extensive selection of single-origin pour-overs to choose from (5000 Won, 7000 Won), as well as Espresso, Americano, Cappuccino, Latte, Vanilla Latte and Caffe Mocha (4200 Won – 5000 Won).
Bread is another key feature of the café, baked in-house daily, filling the space with buttery fragrance. Fritz Coffee Company (Mapo-gu, Seoul)
Café Onion 카페 어니언
8 Achasan-ro 9-gil, Seongsu-dong 2ga, Seongdong-gu, Seoul (Seongsu Station Line 2, Exit 2)
서울 성동구 아차산로9길 8 (성수동2가)
Tel: +82 70 7816 2710
Opening Hours: 8:00am – 10:00pm (Mon – Fri), 10:00am – 10:00pm (Sat – Sun)
Google Maps – Café Onion
Spells “Industrial Chic” All Over
The Seongsu area around Seoul Forest has earned the reputation of being the “Brooklyn of Seoul”, with cafes such as Daelim Warehouse, Zagmachi, or.er, Café Cow&Dog being hangout places for the hip and young Koreans.
This is the original Café Onion, which has become a popular landmark of the area. It is converted from a metal factory, previously a supermarket and restaurant built in the 1970s.
Food wise, Cafe Onion serves up bread from the famed Bread 05 Bakery, with over 20 varieties to choose from all freshly baked in-house.
The most popular choice would be the Pandoro (5,000 Won), an Italian-style bread covered in powdered sugar. Café Onion (Seongsu-dong, Seoul)
Jean Frigo 장프리고
Toegye-ro 62-gil, Gwanghuidong 2(i)-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
서울특별시 중구 광희동2가 퇴계로62길
Tel: +82 02 2275 1933
Opening Hours: 12:00pm – 2:00am (Mon – Thurs), 12:00pm – 3:00am (Fri – Sat), Closed Sun
Google Maps – Jean Frigo 장프리고
Hidden Café Behind Refrigerator Doors
Unknown to most people (tourists at least), Jean Frigo 장프리고 which lies amongst a row of shops in Dongdaemun, looks like an unassuming fruit stall from the outside.
But beyond those metallic doors, are not your cold-storage food and kimchi, but an entrance that leads to a café-pub.
When you open the doors, you feel as though you found an entirely different world. The kind of the feeling if you get to open Narnia’s wardrobe.
While Seoul has no lack of instagrammable cafes, the idea of a hidden ‘world’ behind a fridge door would attract a number of instagrammers down.
Even if you are not into fruit juices, I would recommend you coming here for their cocktails as well. Jean Frigo 장프리고 (Jung-gu, Seoul)
429 Gangnam-daero, Seocho-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Tel: +82 2 6494 1100
Opening Hours: 10:30am – 10:00pm
For fans of Kakao Friends
For those who are unaware, Kakao has become Korea’s number 1 mobile messenger operator, and this outlet located in the heart of Gangnam is the flagship store.
There are 3 stories which feature the popular characters of Ryan, Muzi, Apeach in various toys, clothes and accessories.
Many are also there for the Ryan Cafe, serving up desserts such as Strawberry Cake (3,500 Won), Cupcake (6,500 Won), Strawberry Ice Cream (3,500 Won) to drinks of Green tea Latte (4,500 Won) and Citrus Grapefruit Ade (5,000 Won).
Thanks Nature Cafe
486 Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea (Hongik University Subway Station)
마포구 서교동 486 서교푸르지오상가 B121, Seoul, South Korea 121-842
Tel: +82 2 335 7470
Opening Hours: 11:00am – 10:00pm (Mon – Sun)
Google Maps – Thanks Nature Cafe
Sheep Cafe at Hongdae Seoul, For A Baa-Baa-ry Good Time
Located close to the Hongik University’s campus in the trendy neighborhood of Hongdae, Thanks Nature Café 땡스 네이쳐 카페 or also known as the Sheep Café is the only place in Seoul where you can eat banana-strawberry waffles in the company of two fluffy sheep.
They were kept in a sheep pen that is separated from the Thanks Nature Café, so you do not have to worry about sharing your fruit soda with them.
However, there was the ‘smell of nature’ which I did not quite mind. Thanks Nature Café (Hong Dae, Seoul)
2F, C, Annex, SB Tower, 318, Dosan-daero, Gangnam-gu, Seoul
92 번지 SB 타워 별관 C-2 층 우나스
Tel: +82 2-3445-0387
Opening Hours: 12pm – 8:30pm (Tues – Fri), 12pm – 9:30pm (Sat – Sun), Closed Mon
Gorgeous Cake Café Known For Avocado Cake
With a concept of “Creative Dessert Box”, this is a dessert café and baking studio co-owned by Patissier Eun Ah Lee, who graduated from Le Cordon Bleu London and previously worked at Hyatt Regency and Maman Gateaux.
Cakes are freshly baked and prepared, and available in limited quantities. Therefore, the popular ones run out fast, and you might want to arrive earlier in the day.
I was really there for the UNAS Avocado (9,000 Won), and did not take long to zoom in straight.
The dessert arrived simply, looking just like an avocado on a while plate. Ah, the shells are made of real avocados. But it is what goes on inside that got me curious.
As I dug in with the spoon, you would feel the smoothness of the avocado mousse; beneath it was lemon baked cheesecake, and mango & yuzu jelly. UNAS 우나스 (Gangnam, Seoul)