At Seoul, there is so much to do. You could stock up on high-tier Korean beauty products at a lower price, indulge yourself with Korean barbecues and street food, or go sightseeing around the city.
But no matter what you’re doing, you need to make time to check out Seoul’s cafe scene.
Nearly every cafe is impeccably designed, and the interiors are a visual treat, to be enjoyed as much as the food.
Coffee is taken seriously by the local purveyors and the cakes are often given a unique twist.
Check out our list and make sure to add them into your itinerary.
Clarte Coffee is a pretty two-floor cafe with plenty of natural light flowing in. The prices are relatively affordable, likely thanks to the student crowd from the nearby Hongik University.
In addition to the usual espresso-based coffees, you can get cold-brew coffees and sparkling drinks with fresh fruit in them.
There are various cakes too, but we recommend you try the highly popular strawberry tiramisu. It’s made of fluffy layers of cake that are heaped with vividly red strawberries and topped with sprigs of fresh herbs.
Address: 59, Yeonhui-ro 1-gil, Mapo-gu | 2nd, 3rd Floors, Seoul 03982
You’d probably think of Muji the moment you lay eyes on the interior of Avec El Cafe, and you’d be spot on, because this cafe initially started as a Muji-inspired lifestyle store.
Now it’s a cosy cafe tucked away in a residential neighbourhood, at the forefront of Namsan Mountain. We suggest coming here when you want to spend an afternoon to chill out or when you want a resting spot after your cable car trip up and down the Namsan mountain.
You could order cakes such as this cute is this cherry chiffon sand cake. This also comes in apricot, fig and strawberry flavours.
And maybe the house cappuccino to accompany it? We love that the foam is running over and is generously dusted with cocoa powder.
If that’s not your thing, another signature drink to try here is the fruit flavoured latte (the most popular flavour is an apple) which is capped with micro-foam and garnished with a thin slice of fruit.
Address: 1F, 41-1, Huam-dong, Yongsan-gu
Here’s a coffee house that has the essence of old Seoul. It’s located inside a traditional Korean mansion in the neighbourhood of Saechang.
The interior is reminiscent of old-world Korea, with quaint furniture, elegantly curved lamps and wooden panelled floors and ceilings.
It’s got a picturesque courtyard too. We think you’d love the atmosphere, and the coffee even more so. The beans are sourced from countries such as Costa Rica, El Salvador and Ethiopia, before being roasted on-site in Korea.
There is no cake here sadly, but there are a lot of bread and buns to choose from. Try a few slices of freshly baked sourdough bread or one of the flaky croissants.
Address: 17, Saechang-ro 2-gil, Mapo-gu, Seoul 04168,
At Identity Coffee Lab, the coffee comes with no frills. No fancy flavours or extravagant latte art. Just pure and simple coffee the way you like it (as a latte, cappuccino, pour-over etc.) so the subtle complexities of the beverage shine through.
The space is a cosy and minimalist one, with bursts of green plants in the nooks adding life to the place.
And true to the style, the cakes available are simple and rustic, like this carrot cake and sweet pumpkin pound cake.
Address: 41 Mangwon-ro 11-gil, Mangwon 2(i)-dong, Mapo-gu
This next cafe looks absolutely magical. It’s called Arriate and it’s located in the popular Hongdae district.
Technically, Arriate is a tea house, but we’re including it in this list since you can order coffee and cakes here too.
We say you need to come here if you’re looking for a magical place to chill or want to take some pictures for the ‘gram.
With the cafe being four floors high, and every single corner bursting with florals, from floor to ceiling, there’s plenty to explore and admire.
Address: 520 Nonhyeon-ro, Yeoksam-dong, Gangnam-gu
C.Through Cafe’s best feature is its innovative latte art, crafted by Korean barista Lee Kang Bin. These lattes have cream poured on top and are hand-painted with edible paints.
Lee Kang Bin does many different types of designs, from imitations of Van Gogh’s work, to his own original paintings of nature, or even mainstream art like Disney cartoons.
Pro-tip: Make sure you head there on the weekends when he’s on the shift. Also, take note that due to the huge demand, you won’t be able to request a new design, though you can choose from the designs on rotation that day.
If you’re not up for a painted latte, you could try a Scotchno instead, a coffee that’s infused with butterscotch, drizzled with cream, and topped with coffee and cocoa powder.
It is as delicious and indulgent as it looks. Tap right on the Insta post above to see how this decadent drink is made.
Address: 403-3, Itaewon-dong, Yongsan-gu
Anthracite Coffee Roasters is a home-grown Korean roastery and cafe chain with four outlets. We recommend visiting the outlet in Seogyo as it is a real hidden gem.
The Seogyo outlet was converted from a modern three-floor mansion that looks out into an idyllic garden. Though you’re smack in the middle of the city, you feel like you’re in a far-away resort.
The coffee is exceptional according to many reviews, and it is really the main focus here. If you want a bite, don’t expect fancy cakes, but baked goods such as madeleines, financiers and pound cakes.
Address: 11 World Cup-ro 12-gil, Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu
This is a sleek but obscure coffee place in Hongdae that boasts no advertising or signboards other than a small floor sign that indicates whether the showroom is open or not. Despite the obscurity, this is one of the more popular cafes in Seoul and it has stellar reviews, too.
Step inside this intimate coffee showroom and you’ll find a kitchen island, behind which all the coffee-making happens, and several bar stools on the opposite side so you can chat with your barista and watch as he or she prepares your coffee.
We also like that each coffee has its own card that details the specifics of the blend – where it is sourced from and what flavour profile to expect. Feel free to chat with the baristas about the coffee and learn more about the best coffees for you.
Address: 24-11, Dangin-dong, Mapo-gu