If there’s one thing I really like about Korea, it’s their cafe culture. Themed cafes in Seoul are wildly popular, and it seems that the wackier the idea, the bigger the clientele! What is one to do with so many choices? Why visit them all, of course! On our last trip to Korea, Sam and I set out to explore as many unique themed cafes as possible ranging from cat cafes and dog cafes to secret garden cafes and traditional tea houses. This is a selection of some of the places we visited:
Unique themed cafes in Seoul:
The cafe is divided into 2 sections: one area for the smaller dogs where you can find a Whippet, a Corgi, a Pomeranian, a King Charles Cavalier, and lots of Chihuahuas; and another area for the larger dogs, where you’ll find a Golden Retriever, an Irish Setter, a Siberian Husky, a Groenendael, a Labrador and more.
Dog owners can also bring their dogs to play, so you might find other breeds. It’s always funny when you think you’re playing with one of the local dogs from Bauhaus, and then you realize the owner is waiting for their dog to hop off your lap so they can take them home.
Address: 64 Yanghwa-ro, Mapo-gu, Seoul
When it comes to themed cafes in Seoul, cat cafes are what started it all, and while they may not be considered that unusual around these parts, they are still quite the novelty for visitors.
Sam and I went to 고양이 카페 (Cat Cafe) located in Hongdae, which is our go-to cafe whenever we’re in Seoul. The staff are really friendly here and the cafe has a very relaxed feel.
Once you’re inside, each person has to order a drink and that acts as your admission ticket.
Most cat cafes have a mix of breeds like Siamese, Persian, American Shorthair, Abyssinian, and well, more breeds than I could recognize, to be honest! You can buy cat treats to try and lure the cats your way.
Address: 162-14 Hongik-ro 6-gil, Donggyo-dong, Mapo-gu
Poo normally isn’t an acceptable conversation topic at the table, but Seoul seems to think otherwise.
One of the most unusual cafes we visited was the Poop Cafe, or Ddong Cafe, located inside the Ssamziegil Cultural Complex. The theme was apparent from the minute we walked through the doors, with giant swirls of poo gracing each table.
We ordered a latte, a mango lassi, and most importantly, a poo-shaped waffle with lots of Nutella smeared on top. You get the visual?
Our waffle was served on a plate that was meant to resemble a squat toilet, and if you come closer to lunchtime and order pasta, this is served in a miniature toilet bowl.
After finishing our drinks, we went outside where they have a little stand that sells poo-shaped pancakes. Again, these have that distinct swirl shape and they were filled with chocolate sauce. Each pancake was 1,000 won and they were surprisingly delicious.
Address: 4th-floor Ssamziegil Building, 38 Gwanhun-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul
For something straight out of a fairytale, you can visit Poete. This cafe was formerly known as Blüte and it’s located in a quiet side street in Hongdae.
As you take the steps up to the premise, it almost feels like you’re walking into a scene from Hansel and Gretel.
The cafe is surrounded by a thick garden filled with colourful flowers and in the back, there’s a little cottage that looks like something out of Spreewald.
Food and drinks in this cafe are a bit pricey with most teas running you 9,000 won, but the calm country-like setting makes it a really nice spot for a date.
We ordered some ice tea, a lemon tart, and beer when we visited and everything was presented beautifully; our tray came with flowers in tiny glass vases and the attention to detail was apparent.
They also have an outdoor terrace with stringed lights, which I’m sure is very pretty if you come in the early evening.
Address: 31-8 Hannam-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul
Also known as Thanks Nature Cafe, the sheep cafe is located in Hongdae at basement level with an outdoor terrace. Two sheep, Lulu and Lola, call the cafe home, and just like Mary sang, their ‘fleece is white as snow’.
Once you’re in the cafe, each person is expected to order a drink or a snack and then you are free to visit the sheep in their outdoor pen.
You can also try feeding them hay if you arrive right around feeding time.
One thing to bear in mind is that the sheep are not at the cafe year-round. Summers in Seoul are unbearably hot, so the sheep get to escape the city and have a bit of a holiday in the countryside.
Address: 486 Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul
Blind Alley is Seoul’s first raccoon cafe and when it comes to themed cafes, it’s one of the most unusual ones I have ever visited.
This cafe is divided into two areas and the idea is that first, you order a drink or a dessert, and then you go to the next room where you get to observe the raccoons – no petting allowed.
We went there on a hot summer afternoon and ordered the Raccoon Patbingsu, which is a shaved ice dessert with red bean paste, ice cream, cereal, whipped cream, and oreo cookies. It was the perfect size to share between two people, and it was oh-so-refreshing!
After finishing our dessert, we went to the adjacent room where the raccoons have a fun crawl space with ramps, boxes, ropes and poles – it’s basically their own jungle gym. They also have chairs and couches where you can sit and watch the raccoons at play.
Address: 76 Cheongpa-ro 47-gil, Yongsan-gu
Traditional Tea House
This one is not quite a themed cafe, but it’s still a very cool experience so I thought I’d include it here. There are no cute animals involved, but having tea in a traditional Korean tea house is a must-do when in Seoul.
These tea houses are sprinkled across the city, but the best place to find a good selection is by wandering the back lanes of Insadong. One of our favourites is the Shin Old Tea House.
I really enjoy the traditional tea houses because they are usually in quiet back alleys so it’s very serene plus they also tend to play soft music.
Once you’re inside, you can grab a mat and take a seat at one of the tables. Then you’ll have a selection of teas to choose from, either hot or iced. I’d recommend the plum tea for something sweet and fruity. You’ll also get a plate of rice cakes and persimmon jellies to enjoy with your tea.
Address: 47-8 Insadong-gil, Gwanhun-dong, Jongno-gu
Of course, there are plenty of other themed cafes in Seoul – these are just the ones I’ve managed to visit so far.
You can also find dress up cafes, parrot cafes, study cafes, board game cafes, Charlie Brown cafes, creepy doll cafes, and hanbok cafes scattered across various Seoul neighbourhoods.
One thing to keep in mind is that some of these cafes are fads while others do stand the test of time. I’ve arrived at more than one cafe to discover that it’s already gone, so before you visit, do a quick search to see if these are still open.
For more ideas of things to do in the city, check out our 50 things to do in Seoul travel guide!
Have you been to any themed cafes in Seoul or elsewhere?
What’s the most unusual cafe you’ve ever visited?
This blog post is part of the #SeeKoreaNext campaign to promote South Korea as a tourism destination. When the time to travel is right, Korea will be welcoming visitors with open arms.