Cafe-hopping is one of the best things to do in Korea – and it’s a great way to engage with locals and the culture. Every day people head to cafes in order to work, study, and socialize. In many areas there are cafe streets, called garoso-gils. People will get a drink in one, stay for an hour or two, and then head to the next cafe to do the same.
Now, it’s your turn! In no particular order, here are the very best cafes in Korea!
No Words, Gyeongju
Gyeongju is my favorite place in Korea and it’s home to one of the best cafes in Korea. They focus primarily on drinks and only have small snacks to accompany. The vast majority of the options on the menu are coffee-related but they have a fantastic earl grey latte that’s my go-to.
Small, at the top of a fantastically steep set of stairs, it’s a good idea to squeeze yourself into one of the stools by the window as fast as possible. With varied “hipster” sounding music it’s a good place to study or write while people watching picnickers in the tomb park across the street.
Kakao Address: 744, Taejong-ro, Second Floor
Of course, the main reason I know there is a great cafe in Changwon is because I lived there. There would be no reason for you to come to Changwon otherwise – it’s pretty boring. But if you’re visiting a friend or moving here yourself, there’s a great cafe for you.
Mute has a great selection of drinks and creative savory and sweet food items. I came here religiously every week to the point that they knew my order: A London Fog Latte and a Croissant-Sandwich. It’s probably one of the best cafes in Korea (outside of Seoul) to get a good sandwich.
Kakao Address: 36, Dogye-ro 4beon-gil, Uichang-gu
Percent 14-3, Daegu
Daegu is a great place to visit and perfect for cafe-hoppers. And yet, among all the great cafes this is the one I keep returning to. The setting is lovely, with several Instagram-worthy seating areas that results in something of a shuffle whenever anyone leaves.
The drinks and deserts are also fabulous. I love their cheesecake and their creative drink options kept me trying new things on every visit.
Kakao Address: 92, Seoseong-ro 14-gil, Jung-gu
BiBiBiDang, Busan – Best Cafes in Korea
I’ll be honest, if I had to choose one cafe to go to for the rest of my life, it would probably have to be here. Finding a good source of native Korean tea is rare in a cafe and this one has all the best options. For those looking for traditional, look no further. Every tea is accompanied by a traditional sweet.
But you shouldn’t stop there, the pumpkin bingsu is to die for. If you’re not one for caffeine, my friends have tried the herbal mixes and said they are great!
Also, did I mention the setting? You can expect some of the best ocean views out of stunning picture windows. Traditional seating is available with beautifully muted decor. If you want the best seats you’ll have to get there early, though – I myself never managed to snag the seats in front of the windows!
Kakao Address: 239-16, Dalmaji-gil, Haeundae-gu
I won’t neglect Seoul even though I find the overwhelming amount of posts about the city somewhat annoying. I love Seoul. But there are dozens of other amazing cities/towns/places in Korea that you should visit too! Seoul is also somewhat hard to give recommendations for.
Things in the city change rapidly. In between when I studied abroad and returned to teach English (about four years) only one cafe I had previously visited was still there. Even in the span of several months things can change (and did).
Regardless, this cafe is awesome. Combining fantastic tea with a mini-afternoon style assortment of treats all within an atmospheric setting. It is more Japanese in style, so if you’re looking for “authentic” Korean you’re better off looking at BiBiBiDang in Busan or Gyodongdawon in Jeonju.
Runner up: 티노마드 is just down the street and has a similar theme but is more Japanese-y with cute seasonal dessert accompaniments and a beautiful atmosphere.
2d Runner up: 마라보쇼콜라 If you’re not in the mood for tea, how about great chocolate? This chocolate shop serves a lovely hot chocolate and has a great second floor area to drink in.
Address: 105-1, Poeun-ro, Mapo-gu, Seoul
Jeju i cafe, Jeju
This place is right next to one of the cutest souvenir shops on the Island that isn’t marked on a map. Fresh squeezed orange juice and yuzu options are mainstay of this fresh and light cafe. It perfectly embodies the beach vacation ideals. They’re recently started serving some pasta options as well if you’re looking for something that will stick.
Kakao Address: 8, Ilchul-ro 288beon-gil, Seongsan-eup, Seogwipo-si
This place is all about the tea – and only tea. They do infrequently serve small snacks but don’t bet on it. This is for becoming totally saturated with tea as they bring you an entire thermos of water that they offer to refill. That’s how strong these leaves are – and it’s good.
Based on the tea quality alone this is one of the best cafes in Korea for tea lovers. The setting may not be quite as stunning as BiBiBiBiDang but it is gorgeous. The hanok house has been beautifully complimented with live-edge wooden furniture and beautiful windows letting in the fresh air.
A runner up if you’re looking for something similar is 다화원 just down the street.
Kakao Address: 65-5, Eunhaeng-ro, Wansan-gu, Jeonju-si
Gwangju is not my favorite place in Korea but it is an important one to visit if you’re interested in modern Korean history. Much of what started Korea on the path it is today is thanks to the brave people who fought for independence and democracy, facing a massacre in the process.
To lighten the mood, there is a fantastic book cafe in Gwangju. With books for everybody (a huge selection of photography books will keep even English speakers entertained) and amazing drinks you can relax on a snowy day. This is more of a “peaceful” cafe with relaxing music – think of a library you can eat in. It’s great, you should go!
Kakao Address: 8, Jebong-ro 138beon-gil, Dong-gu
This is the cafe that made me regret not spending more time in Tongyeong. I only went twice! They import their chai mix from Australia and it’s fantastic.
You can choose from several different baked cookie options for a nice dessert to accompany whatever you choose as a drink. Their coffee and chai options are some of the best. The cafe is in a house and it has a cozy feel as a result. Large windows give you a view of the rock garden outside.
Kakao Address: 6-15, Bongsu 1-gil
풍뉴가, Daejeon – Best Cafes in Korea
If you don’t want to brave the crowds in Japan or go all the way to Damyang for bamboo forests, you can get a lovely taste right here in Daejeon. And get some fun herbal tea mixed drinks!
The combinations are weird and frequently based on traditional Korean herbal teas. They are beautiful and seriously Instagram-ready in their glass mugs with edible decorations. And they’re surprisingly delicious, especially when accompanied by one of the seasonal desserts they have on offer.
The setting is great, a beautiful bamboo forest with fun seating is just out back. If it’s too cold you can stay inside with nice views through the windows. If you like the area, be sure to check out the rest of the neighborhood as I mention in my Top Things To Do in Daejeon post!
Kakao Address: 31, Suhyang-gil, Dong-gu
Honorable Mention Best Cafes in Korea
I have now moved on from Korea to start the next chapter of my traveling adventures. But my amazing friend is still there and she is something of a cafe guru. She has approved my list above but she has some other recommendations that I was not able to try myself. Photos are courtesy of her.
A book cafe that’s in her all-time top favorites due to the adorable cat that calls it home!
A lovely hanok style cafe with private rooms and sand coffee.
She loves book cafes and this one is also on her list. It has tons of seating options and lovely rooftop views.