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  • Ngooi Joelle

Cafes you should add to your itinerary for South Korea!

Updated: Apr 3, 2023

Any plans for a trip to Korea soon? South Korea is undeniably a paradise for cafe-goers because it is filled with cute and unique cafes. Honestly, you can stop by any cafe on the streets of Korea and still be pleasantly surprised by its dining experience, ambiance, and food.


I will be sharing with you, in no particular order, 6 cafes in Seoul and Busan that I have compiled based on my research from Lemon8, TikTok and review articles for my upcoming Korea trip that I feel are a must-go!


Seoul

1. Cafe Layered

Calling all dessert lovers, you are in for a treat! Layered is a dessert cafe with an extensive selection of scones and cakes and is recommended by everyone on the Internet! There are 13 different types of English scones (KRW 4,500–5,000), which come in an assortment of savoury and sweet flavours, as well as a dozen rustic English cakes (KRW 7,500–8,000) on display.


Its signature dishes are the Basil Scone (KRW 5,300), Garlic Cream Scone (KRW 5,500), and Strawberry Scone (KRW 5,200). I included this cafe in my list because I was drawn to its vintage cottage-core aesthetics and nostalgic ambiance.

Sharice on Lemon8: Earl grey and butter (for the scone). The scone is baked well as it is crunchy on the outside and moist on the inside. The earl grey glaze was flavourful & the butter complemented the flavour of the scone. If you’re looking for a refreshing drink, get the green grape ade. Most of the green grape ade I’ve had in Korea doesn’t come with fresh green grapes but this drink did. Mint leaves are also added which provided a fresh aftertaste.
DanielFoodDiary: I picked the Earl Grey Scone (KRW 4,500, SGD5.20) which was baked till golden brown and puffed with layered texture. The base was dense and crusty, but slightly dry to my liking. My attention was drawn to the signature Basil Pesto Scone (KRW 4,500, SGD5.20) which came with fresh-earthy notes from the basil pesto spread on same scone base. While this is their signature item, I reckoned not every customer would be a basil and pesto fan.

Cafe Layered has 3 branches in Yeonnam-dong, Bukchon, and The Hyundai. If you’re taking a visit to the popular Bukchon Hanok Village and Gyeongbokgung Palace, the cafe is nearby for you to try out their delicious desserts! There are also other famous cafes at Jongno-gu nearby the Bukchon branch, such as Nakwon Station and Cheongsudang. If you happen to be at the Yeonnam-dong branch, you can hop to multiple cafes while you’re there, such as Cafe Teteum, Lof Cafe and Rough Glass, because Yeonnam-dong is a cafe street.


The Hyundai, which was recently opened in 2021, is one of the most aesthetic malls in South Korea and famous for its beautiful interior design and extensive selection of options to shop for (especially if you want to shop for pieces that you can only get in Korea because there are many Korean brands!). It is highly recommended because you can find Cafe Layered while visiting this shopping heaven! The Hyundai is also near Hangang Park so you head over there after shopping to have an evening picnic (multiple vendors renting picnic mats out for KRW 2,000 at the park) with ramen as you watch the beautiful sunset.


Cafe Layered

Yeonnam-dong (nearest subway Hongik University station)

Address: 223-20 Yeonnam-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul 서울특별시 종로구 재동 북촌로2길 2-3

Opening hours: 11am-11pm, Daily


Bukchon

Address: 2-3 Bukchon-ro 2-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul (near Anguk station)

Opening hours: Mon-Fri 8am-10pm, Sat-Sun 10am-10pm


The Hyundai Seoul (Yeouinaru Station, Exit 1, 5 minutes by foot)

Address: Yeoui-daero, Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul (B1)

Opening hours: Mon-Thurs 10.30am-8pm, Fri-Sun 10.30am-8.30pm


2. Gwehdo Coffee Roasters

Gwehdo Coffee Roasters is a cafe in Yeonhui-dong, a neighbourhood right beside Yeonnam-dong (where Cafe Layered is located at!) and Hongdae. Like a sushi restaurant, Gwehdo has a cool concept of conveyer belt for coffee and beverages, along with a selection of deserts such as Honey Cake (KRW 7,000). Its signature dish is Injeolmi Einspanner — The Injeolmi Einspanner comes with a skewer of rice cakes that sits atop a layer of roasted soybean cream.


Orders can be placed at the counter, where you will be given a number to identify the food when they are on the conveyor belt. The food placed behind the number are yours, and you will have to take them off the conveyor belt yourself.

MiddleClass: While the coffee such as their Americano and Latte were well executed, we really enjoyed the Injeolmi Einspanner (KRW 6,000), which we would probably include in our top 3 Einspanners list (should we have one).
Tharine on Lemon8: The menu that we ordered at first thought it was mochi. But it’s lemon ice cream. Fresh and sour. The snacks are priced at KRW 7,000 but the Hot Chocolate drink is KRW 6,500. Really, it’s very impressive. We went on a weekday so there weren’t many people. Sit and chill, chill and work. Good atmosphere, delicious drinks.

If you are a fan of the conveyor belt concept, you can also check out Nakwon Station located at Ikseon-dong, which also has deserts placed on a conveyor belt! Nakwon Station is also designed to look like a retro train station and it is really beautiful (i’m definitely going to check this one out!)


Gwehdo Coffee Roasters

Address: 2F, 18 Yeonhui-ro 8-gil, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul

Nearest Subway: Hongik University (Line 2), Exit 3

Opening hours: Mon-Fri 12pm-9pm, Sat-Sun 12pm-10pm


3. Cafe Teteum

Are you a fan of cute things? Cafe Teteum is a super cute cafe and store located in Yeonnam-dong (same as Cafe Layered!). The first floor sells a wide range of cute merchandises such as phone cases, stickers, laptop sleeves and many more (~KRW 12,000 for pop socket, KRW 46,000 for the largest laptop sleeve, ~KRW 2,000-4,000 for stickers, postcards and keychains)(source), whilst the second floor is a seating area for the cafe. Owning more cute things isn’t a bad thing!

Sonia on Lemon8: Despite the gimmicky look to the food, the taste is still surprisingly good! The pancake is fluffy and comes with an ample amount of fruits. There are many photo spots in the cafe itself and you are able to take more photos at the photo booth with their exclusive photo strip designs as well! Would totally recommend to come for the cute aesthetics!

The food and interior design all have Teteum’s face so the whole aesthetic is really cute.


Cafe Teteum

Address: 15 Donggyo-ro 36-gil, Mapo-gu, Seoul (near Hongdae exit 8)

Opening hours: Tue-Sun, 12-8pm (closed on Mondays)


4. Tertre Cafe

Calling all scenery lovers! Tertre Cafe is well-known for being a place to watch the sun set because its windows provide a clear view of Seoul.


Tertre Cafe is situated in Changsin-dong, a neighbourhood next to Dongdaemun subway station. You must hike through numerous difficult roads and steep slopes to reach the cafe at the top of Changsin-dong. You can exit via Dongdaemun/Changsin subway station and input "테르트르” in the Naver map app for directions, or transfer to the “Jongno 03 (종로 03)” bus after alighting from Changsin subway station and get off at the “Naksan Samgeori (낙산삼거리)” stop (source).


1F: Place your orders and watch the baristas prepare your food against the cinematic backdrop of the city


2F: Neatly arranged stools facing the window panels so that customers can enjoy their coffee amidst the scenery


3F: Gallery-like open space for groups to chill and take photos together


There is a rooftop where you can enjoy the gentle breeze and have a bird’s eye view of Seoul while enjoying your food. Definitely a perfect photo spot for your new Instagram update!


One of Tertre’s signature drinks is the Pink Ade (KRW 8,500), which is a lemonade that turns pink once you pour the lemon base into the flower petal tea. They also have desserts like Lotus Ang Butter (KRW 6,000) and Brownie Pot (KRW 8,000).


You can arrive an hour or so before sunset and see the night view, which is whole different vibe.

Megan on Lemon8: The ambience was a solid 10/10. We ordered two cups of regular latter, a malcha vienna and a cube croissant. The malcha vienna was actually so uniquely yummy! It was a latte topped with cream foam and a thin layer of matcha powder. Surprisingly, all the flavours meshed perfectly well with each other and it was so interesting to try. The food and drinks are on the pricier side but I would highly recommend coming at least once if you’re looking for a view to admire while sipping on some coffee. I think it is super worth it as the view was immaculate!

Image source: https://pin.it/7anc4YM (americano & croissant)


Although getting to the cafe can require a little more effort, its slightly remote location is a big bonus point because you can fully unwind and immerse yourself in the cityscape because the space doesn’t get crowded.


Tertre Cafe

Address: 46 Naksan 5-gil, Changsin-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul

Nearest Subway: Dongdaemun Station (Line 1), Exit 1 or Changsin Station (Line 6), Exit 1

Opening hours: Mon-Sun, 11.30am-10.30pm


5. Nudake Haus Dosan

I included Nudake Haus Dosan because it is housed in eyewear brand Gentle Monster’s 5 storey flagship store in Apgujeong. After visiting the cafe at the basement, you can head over to the 2 storey Gentle Monster store (Jennie from Blackpink is one of the ambassadors of Gentle Monster) and its cosmetics label Tamburins (sells nice perfumes, you can see reviews here!). Diners will be in for a visual treat at Nudake Haus Dosan, where their desserts combine fashion, art, and sweet dreams (source).


What caught my eye for Nudake was the intriguing and creative pastries they have, such as this Microissants (KRW 2,500) – French pastries in the size of a fingernail, and the Cauli (KRW 36,000 for small) – a carrot cake immaculately shaped like a cauliflower. All of their pastries share the peculiar feature of using black, white, and occasionally green colours that are all made in incredibly distinctive forms and sizes. The desserts look like a work of art and many would describe Nudake as a walk into a modern art museum.


Their signature dishes are The Peak (croissant and inside there is green tea cream filling) and Nu Truffle drink (which is coffee with cream on top).


DanielFoodDiary: The Peak (KRW 23,000, SGD25.90) stood out among all, a black layered croissant tart crust, with generous amount of striking green due to the matcha milk spread, in contrast to the black charcoal tart. The charcoal layered croissant crust was light and flaky, not as buttery as I had imagined, which complements the stronger flavoured matcha milk, mixed with fresh cream and butter in it. Slice the tart open to release an avalanche of matcha milk cream, slightly sweet and milky, perfect for dipping the croissant.
Thokohmakan: While pretty in presentation, we found the dessert to be underwhelming. The pastry was dry and lacked buttery fragrance.


DanielFoodDiary: The Oik (KRW 12,000, SGD13.50), a mousse cake made from apple mint and dill mousse with layers of cucumber jelly and tomato jam within. This is actually my favourite, light and refreshing with a good balance of sweetness from the tomato jam, earthy flavours of cucumber and refreshing hints of apple mint.
Thokohmakan: The OIK looks pretty but it was a bit too out there for us. The cold dessert has a sweet minty base, with a hit of tomato and cucumber flavours in between. Ming found the dessert a bit too weird, but Max was able to accept this interesting flavour profile. But it was not wild enough to blow our minds.


Nudake can be a little overpriced but it is still worth going there for the experience due to the creative expression, “weird” pastries and shopping at Gentle Monster’s flagship store! Gentle Monster’s flagship store is located in the heart of Apgujeong, Gangnam – one of the most popular neighbourhoods for fashion and cafes. Apgujeong is walkable to Sinsa-dong, which is another popular shopping district you may want to visit because it that has many hip shops, cafes and boutiques!


There is another Nudake outlet at Seongsu-dong, but this is only the dessert cafe concept. Seongsu-dong is another cafe street you can explore (cafes such as Cafe Dior, Camel Cafe and Tounge Planet), has a few K-pop entertainment companies around the district (SM entertainment headquarters!), and Seoul Forest! There is also an Amore Pacific flagship store that houses over 27 Korean beauty brands, such as Innisfree, Etude House and Laniege, at Seongsu-dong.


Nudake Haus Dosan

Address: 50 Apgujeong-ro 46-gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul

Opening Hours: Mon-Sun, 11am-9pm


Seongsu

Address: 26 Seongsuiro 7(chil)-gil, Seongdong-gu, Seoul

Opening Hours: Mon-Sun, 11am-10pm


Busan

6. Waveon Coffee

South Korea's second largest city, Busan, stretches along the country's eastern coast line. The port city has a very different landscape from Seoul's metropolitan lights, with rolling hills, breathtaking seaside views, and delicious seafood. The cafe scene is thriving in Seoul, and Busan is no exception.


Waveon Coffee is undeniably one of the most beautiful cafes in Busan, located along Busan’s Imland Beach. The stunning design of Waveon, which has won the Korean Architecture Awards, and the laid-back atmosphere where you can sit on bean bags while having a panoramic view of the Gijang’s seashore over coffee immediately caught my attention when I first came across the cafe online. Enjoy their specialty coffee and the variety of French desserts.


The interior of the 4-storey building is really amazing.

Sonia on Lemon8: Menu wise, they have the usual coffee and cakes, but have some seasonal special sometimes during the different fruit harvesting seasons! I went when they were having grapes and so we ordered Green Grape Ade which was very refreshing! The swissroll was also amazing with light cream and sweet but not heavy goguma (sweet potatoes). It is also an amazing place to take pictures and chillax with your friends!! Price: ~KRW 7,000 for drinks, ~KRW 8,000 for swissroll. Wait time ~30 mins


Going to the cafe at night is really vibes too, enjoy the night breeze!


Waveon Coffee is not easily accessible via public transit so taking a taxi is advised from Ilgwang station (~KRW 8-9,000). Most Korean tourists leave the station in a taxi as well!


Gijang is one of the best spots in Busan to locate your favourite cafe among the various neighborhoods, with multiple cafes you can hop over to. Aside from Waveon Coffee, I am also visiting Rendeja-Vous Haeundae found in Haeundae-gu, Busan (which has a breathtaking view of the famous Haeundae Beach!). I discovered another cafe in Busan that gave really similar vibes to Waveon, which is Cafe Coralani (beach views again!).


Waveon Cafe

Address: 286 Haemaji-ro, Gijang-gun, Busan

Bus No. 37 or 180, Get off at Gijang Munhwa Yejeol Hakgyo (기장 문화예절학교) bus stop

Opening hours: Mon-Sun, 10am-12am


You might have heard of these popular cafes before… in your next South Korea trip you can try entering any cafe and they could end up a hidden gem! The cafes on this list are just a few of the cafes that I’ve heard many positive reviews about and would like to visit personally when I travel to Korea. I am seriously stoked by the selection of cafes in South Korea, there is really an endless list of cafes to visit! As mentioned in this article, you can visit cafe streets such as Ikseon-dong, Yeonnam-dong, Seongsu-dong, Apgujeong, if you wish to cafe-hop!


* Content in this article is gathered from online sources, not my personal reviews (sadly, I have yet to visit South Korea, but I will do so in the very near future!)


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