Found in the heart of Seoul, lies the vibrant neighbourhood of Hongdae. Known for its youthful and creative energy, it’s a hub for students, musicians, artists, and young people. It’s no surprise that this youthful district is home to a range of trendy and aesthetic cafes in Seoul.
Whether you’re looking for a unique experience, are an art enthusiast, or a coffee lover, Hongdae offers a range of cafes offering a mixture of cultural experiences, aesthetics and delectable flavours. Dive into this article which takes you through the best cafes in Hongdae you can’t miss.
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Tips for Visiting Cafes in Seoul
For certain cafes and restaurants that are trendy, you’ll likely need to have a local Korean phone number to be put on the waiting list for entering the eatery. With this in mind, I recommend ordering a SIM card in advance before you arrive in South Korea. Having a SIM card will not only provide you a local Korean phone number but also provide data connectivity which can be helpful for navigation around Korea and making reservations for hair and skin appointments.
Traveling to Korea for the first time? Read up on these 10 must-know things before you travel to South Korea.
South Korea does not have a tipping culture, and it can even be confusing for staff to receive a tip since they are not used to receiving tips. Some staff might feel quite uncomfortable when they receive a tip because they are already being paid a salary, and getting a tip can feel like making money “on the side.” Note however that some Western-style bars have tip jars and a few upscale Western restaurants expect tips. Generally, however, these places are few and far between.
Note that most independently owned cafes or coffee shops tend to open quite late around 11:00 to 12:00 pm. If you’re planning on grabbing some breakfast or brunch at a cafe always check the opening times of the specific cafe using Naver Map or Kakao Maps. Most chain bakeries such as Paris Baguette and Tours Les Jours and convenience stores (GS25, 7-Eleven, etc) however will have early opening hours so you can grab a bite to eat or a beverage. Don’t forget to read up on these must-have apps for travelling in South Korea.
Overview of Best Cafes in Hongdae
There is no shortage of cafes in Hongdae to visit. From themed cafes to Instagrammable cafes, you’ll be treated to delicious treats and aesthetic interiors to add to your cafe-hopping experience in Seoul. Short on time? Here’s an overview of the best cafes in Hongdae according to four themes.
📌 Best Cafes in Hongdae, Seoul
|Types of Cafes
|Themed Cafes in Hongdae 🎡
|943 King' Cross
|Instagrammable Cafes in Hongdae 📷
|Stylenanda Pink Pool Cafe
|Animal Cafes in Hongdae 🐈
|Thanks Nature Cafe
|Day of Butler
|Best Study Cafes in Hongdae 📖
|Best Brunch Cafes in Hongdae 🍴
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- Must know things for your trip to Korea (Things no one tells you about Korea – scams, language barrier, travel etiquette, etc.)
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- Where to stay in South Korea? (“Where are the best areas and places to stay in Korea?”)
- Where can I find the best places to eat in Korea (Recommendations for restaurants & cafes)
- Where should I travel in South Korea? (Recommendations for Seoul & Beyond ~ Discover hidden gems).
- …. and much more!
Best Themed Cafes in Hongdae
If you find yourself in the bustling city of Seoul, it wouldn’t be a trip without visiting at least one themed cafe. Here are some of the most unique and adorable themed cafes that you need to add to your Seoul travel itinerary that is worth your time. Boasting immersive experiences combined with delectable treats you won’t regret visiting these cafes in Hongdae.
Banul Story (바늘이야기)
Address: 15 Yeonhui-ro 11ga-gil, Yeonhui-dong, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul (서울 서대문구 연희로11가길 15)
Looking for a unique themed cafe in Hongdae? Head over to Banul Story which is the place perfect for craft lovers looking to get started on knitting their masterpiece. Not only does this cafe sell sewing, crochet and knitting products it also offers a cafe, workshops, and a studio to enjoy.
From the moment you enter, you’ll be enchanted by the vibrant collection of yarn in different colours and decorations based on the time of the year. On the second floor, you’ll find the cafe which boasts a variety of desserts and beverages. You’ll often find people knitting in the cafe so you won’t be alone knitting away.
943 King’s Cross (943 킹스크로스CAFE)
Address: 4 Yanghwa-ro 16-gil, 서교동 Mapo-gu, Seoul (서울 마포구 양화로16길 24 1층~4층)
If you’re a a fan of Harry Potter you’ll want to head to 943 Kings Cross which is a Harry Potter-themed cafe found in the heart of Hongdae – a popular hangout spot for Korean youths. The cafe boasts a magical atmosphere that is coupled with detailed themed decorations that make it more than a cafe but an experience. In each corner, you’ll find decorations with intricate details that pay tribute to the franchise including the chandeliers, the food and drinks and more.
Address: 18 Wausan-ro 19-gil, Mapo-gu, Seoul (서울 마포구 와우산로19길 18 산리오 러버스 클럽)
If you’re a fan of beloved Sanrio characters, such as My Melody, Hello Kitty, Pompompurin, and more, head over to the Sanrio Cafe in Hongdae. Found in the vibrant district of Hongdae, this cafe transports you into the charming and whimsical world of Sanrio. Upon entry, you’ll be greeted with a colourful atmosphere, adorned with cute Sanrio-themed decorations. From the character-inspired furnishing, wall-to-wall murals, and vibrant displays showcasing Sanrio merchandise.
The menu at the cafe also offers a variety of themed beverages and food. From Pompompurin-inspired pancakes, and Hello Kitty-shaped pastries to My Melody-themed lattes you’ll get to indulge in a variety of treats. You can also grab some cute Sanrio products at this cafe.
Address: 45-6 Yeonhui-ro 1-gil, Mapo-gu, Seoul (서울 마포구 연희로1길 45-6)
If you’re looking for a unique instagrammable cafe look no further than However Cafe. At this colourful cafe, castella and Samhwa paints go hand in hand with this vibrant dining experience. You’ll receive a cup of edible “paint” that you get to pour over your selected flavoured castella cake and then get to indulge in the treat. The cafe is multi-story adorned with vibrant colours and fun photo opportunity spaces making a perfect background for those insta-worthy photos.
Best Instagrammable Cafes in Hongdae
The streets of Hongdae are lined with numerous cafes, each with its own story and charm. The cafes embrace the ‘cafe culture’ of Seoul by providing a unique atmosphere, menu and community that welcomes visitors to indulge in. In particular, the aesthetics of the cafes in Hongdae is well-known and you’ll be treated to numerous ‘Instagrammable’ cafes in Hongdae that make a perfect backdrop for your photos whilst also allowing you to indulge in some delicious treats or beverages.
Address: 20-12 Jandari-ro, Mapo-gu, Seoul (서울 마포구 잔다리로 20-12)
Tucked away from the busy streets of Hongdae, lies a traditional Korean hanok cafe – Shinidoga. This cafe features a simple and modernistic interior balanced with a gorgeous historical exterior. I recommend visiting this cafe on a sunny day to sit outside to enjoy the garden amidst the bustling city of Seoul.
Similar to the cafe’s architecture, the menu boasts a blend of modern and traditional flavours. Shindoga mixes traditional Korean flavours including black sesame with popular trends including coffee and espresso.
Cafe Tora-b (카페 토라비)
Address: 24 Wausan-ro 29-gil, Mapo-gu, Seou (서울 마포구 와우산로 29길 24)
If you’re looking for a cozy cafe in Hongdae look no further than Cafe Tora-b. Known for its delectable desserts and cozy warm interior it’s a perfect spot to escape from the bustling city of Seoul. If you have a sweet tooth you’ll want to try their most iconic dessert – a Pavlova, which originally originates from Australia. This dessert is traditionally served with fruit and the cafe offers pavlova with traditional fruit toppings with a Korean twist – a rice-cake injeolmi-flavoured pavlova.
Stylenanda Pink Pool Cafe (스타일난다 핑크풀카페)
Address: 23 Wausan-ro 29da-gil, Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul (서울 마포구 와우산로29다길 23)
Stylenanda is a popular fashion brand that has opened up a pink restaurant/pool-themed cafe in Hongdae. Just a 5-minute walk from Hongik University Station, the building is made up of four floors which comprise fashion and makeup shops and a cafe.
What’s unique about the building is that with each floor there is a unique style and concept which makes it fun to explore. On the fourth floor, you’ll find the coffee shop which has a pool concept and a perfect background for your photos. In addition to boasting an instagrammable interior, they also serve delectable desserts and beverages. If you have a sweet tooth you’ll want to try their cakes.
Note that this cafe is popular amongst the locals and it can get busy and crowded. The best time to visit the Pink Pool cafe is at opening time at 11:00 am on weekdays. During the weekend it gets quite crowded and if you want to take photos.
Geurim Cafe (그림카페)
Address: 161-10 Seongmisan-ro, Mapo-gu, Seoul (서울 마포구 성미산로 161-10 그림카페)
Geurim is a unique cafe that offers a 2D (two-dimensional) experience where everything from the food, beverages and interior decor is designed to resemble a hand-drawn, cartoon-like world. Immediately upon entry, you’ll feel as if you’ve been transported into an animated universe. The furniture, walls and even the plates and cups are adorned with white and black drawings, which add to the whimsical and immersive atmosphere.
The cafe is well-known for its Instagrammable settings, with lots of visitors grabbing a few snaps against the 2D backdrop. In addition to the unique decor the cafe also offers delectable beverages and food, including teas, coffees, desserts, and light snacks. Each of the items has been crafted to match the animated aesthetic.
C. Through Cafe (씨스루)
Address: 266-6 Donggyo-ro, Mapo-gu, Seoul (서울 마포구 동교로 266-6 1층)
If you’re looking for a snap-worthy cafe look no further than C.Through for their delicious pastries and Instagram-worthy drinks. This aesthetic cafe offers both non-coffee and coffee beverages and adorable pastries that shouldn’t be missed. The cafe also has baristas that craft drinks that look like pieces of artwork that beg for a photo. From Van Gogh’s Starry Night latte to adorable Faces latte that is too cute to drink.
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Address: Mapo-gu Hapjeong-dong 355-2 (마포구 합정동 355-2)
Perception offers a calm and spacious atmosphere that begs for relaxation and creative thinking. What makes this cafe unique is its award-winning cafe design with its undulating wooden ceiling that begs for a photo.
In addition to its gorgeous interior, it also boasts amazing coffee that shouldn’t be missed if you need a coffee fix. With over 15 coffee options all brewed in-house you won’t be disappointed with your coffee choice. The most popular beverages at this cafe include the cafe’s signature espresso blends which feature unique names such as ‘Memory of the Moment’ and ‘Atmosphere in the Day.’
Best Animal Cafes in Hongdae
Part of Korea’s unique cafe culture includes its fun animal cafes which blend delectable desserts and cute animals to interact with. Originally these cafes started with dog or cat themes but have since evolved to include animals such as sheep and meerkats. The popularity of these animal cafes can be attributed to the relatively lax animal welfare laws in many Asian countries. With this in mind, it’s important to know the harsh reality that some of these establishments have been reported for animal abuse.
This article, therefore only recommends animal cafes that provide a safe environment for the animals and ensure anyone visiting these cafes is supporting businesses that look after the animals. Let’s dive into the top animal cafes in Hongdae to add to your Seoul travel itinerary.
Thanks Nature Cafe (땡스네이쳐 카페)
Address: B121 Seogyo Prugio Shopping Mall, 10 Hongik-ro, Mapo-gu, Seoul (서울 마포구 홍익로 10 서교푸르지오상가 지하121호)
This cafe offers delectable desserts and the unique experience of spending time with cute lambs. Each year, the cafe owner selects two lambs from the Daegwallyyeong Sheep farm from the herd to be raised as the stars of the cafe. With attentive care, the selected lambs are grown until they are mature until they are returned later to Daegwallyyeong, and new baby lambs take their place as new stars at the cafe.
At Thanks Nature Cafe there are separate spaces to interact with the lambs and a separate space to enjoy your drinks and/or desserts. Whilst most animal cafes tend to focus on the interaction with the animals, this cafe boasts delicious desserts including Korean shaved ice and waffles. Thanks Nature Cafe also does not charge separate admission, unlike other popular animal cafes.
Day of Butler
Address: 2F Taekyung Building, 19-8 Wausan-ro 21-gil, Mapo-gu, Seoul
If you’re interested in hanging out with some adorable cats, Day of Butler is perfect for you! This cafe was born from the owner’s desire to care for abandoned cats on the street and has since established several branches across Seoul.
Each cat receives training and attentive care, and visitors can expect to have plenty of opportunities to play and be surrounded by the furry animals. The cafe also boasts a spacious and clean environment, making it a great spot to enjoy a refreshing beverage. If you’re interested, the cafe also offers cat food for ￦3,000 to get more friendly with the cats. Note that this cafe also charges ￦10,000 for admission and drinks are additional costs.
Winters Village (겨울머무는집)
Address: 19-5 Wausan-ro 17-gil, Mapo-gu, Seoul (서울 마포구 와우산로17길 19-5)
Winter’s Village is one of the most popular animal cafes in Hongdae and boasts 12 adorable Samoyeds, a Pomeranian and a Malamute. Since this animal cafe is popular you can expect long waiting lines, including up to a 30-minute wait line if you’re visiting on the weekends.
If you’re looking for an animal cafe where you get to relax with spacious seating and fancy desserts and beverages, Winter’s Village might not be the best option for you. However, if you’re someone that is looking to hang out and feed the adorable Samoyeds then this is the perfect place for you.
Important tips for visiting are that the Samoyeds shed a lot, and those with allergies should be cautious if they plan on visiting this animal cafe. There is also an admission fee of ￦12,000 to enter this animal cafe.
Best Study Cafes in Hongdae
If you’re looking to get some work or studying done, Hongdae also offers great study cafes. Popular amongst students here are some of the best study cafes in Hongdae for a productive session and a treat.
Address: 서울 중구 서애로 6-1 인산빌딩 3층
Nolsoop is a book cafe located near Hongik University popular amongst the locals as a study spot. Boasting spacious interiors, ample power sockets, and free WiFi, it’s the perfect spot for long study or work sessions. Upon arrival, you’ll exchange your shoes for slippers and leave your shoes in a locker. There’s a fee per person which depends on the amount of time you intend to stay and they also offer a variety of beverages to try.
Whether you need a place to hang out on rainy days or have some work to do in Korea, this book cafe is the perfect spot to get some work done.
Address: 서울 마포구 연희로1길 21
Found near Hongdae Station, Nakrangpara Cafe offers the perfect spot for a study or work session. This cozy cafe stands out with its delicious pastries, compared to the traditional offerings found at Paris Baguette. With a beverage, reliable WiFi, and an atmosphere conducive to focused work, Nakrangpara provides the perfect setting for a productive session.
Best Brunch Cafes in Hongdae
As you explore Hongdae, you’ll start to pick up that the cafes aren’t just for the aesthetics but the food is also exceptional. At Hongdae, you’ll be treated to a diverse menu, ranging from international fusion dishes to traditional Korean cuisine. Expect to see colourful, artfully decorated dishes with microgreens, edible flowers, and other decorative elements that make your dining experience in Hongdae memorable and Instagram-worthy. Read on to find the best brunch cafes in Seoul to fill up your stomachs!
Triple Bagel (트리플 베이글)
Address: 서울 마포구 잔다리로 42 트리플 베이글
As suggested by the name, Triple Bagel offers a wide selection of delectable bagels to try in addition to its inviting and warm ambience. With a wide selection of bagel flavours catering for both sweet and savoury taste palettes, you won’t be disappointed with a visit to this cafe. I recommend visiting on a sunny day as this cafe boasts a range of seating options including the rooftop, garden and indoors.
Address: 서울 마포구 와우산로 130
Buttermilk is a local favourite brunch spot in Hongdae for its delicious and traditional-style pancakes. Immediately upon entry to Buttermilk, you’ll be treated to the sweet aroma of pancakes and a cozy atmosphere.
Located on the same road as Hongik University, you can expect long lines awaiting entry, particularly around lunch hours. If you’re planning to visit this delicious pancake spot you’ll want to head over early. If you do manage to get stuck in line, there are waiting stools outside the cafe for you to use, and they also provide blankets to keep warm during the winter. The cafe also kindly provides a menu in both Korean and English while you’re waiting in line.
Moment Coffee (모멘트커피)
Address: 서울 마포구 어울마당로1길 16 1층
Amidst the bustling district of Hongdae lies the cozy and stylish cafe of Moment Coffee. Popular amongst locals and tourists alike this cafe is a popular spot for its delicious treats and beverages including various types of high-quality coffee made from freshly roasted beans. The cafe also offers a variety of teas, hot chocolates, and other specialty drinks to cater for different taste palettes. Depending on what season you visit they also feature innovative and seasonal flavours and creations that shouldn’t be missed.
Urban Plant (어반플랜트)
Address: 서울 마포구 독막로4길 3
Urban Plant is a cafe that you should visit on an empty stomach. Boasting delicious and large brunch meals, you’ll also be treated to gorgeous nature decor that will make you feel as if you’ve been transported into a jungle. Conveniently located between Sangsu and Hapjeong Station it’s easily accessible from Hongdae. In addition to serving delectable lunches, Urban Plant is a great spot for Insta-worthy photos with a range of wooden furniture and green plants.
Thanks, Oat (땡스오트)
Address: 서울 마포구 성미산로23길 68
Thanks, Oat serves up healthy yogurt granola bowls and bagel sandwiches that not only delight the taste buds but also your visual senses. In addition to the delectable dishes served, Thanks Oat is Greek-inspired in its interior and terrace which make it an inviting and warm place to enjoy brunch in the bustling city of Seoul.
In Hongdae, the cafe culture reflects the district’s vibrant and lively spirit that can’t be missed on a trip to Seoul. Whether you’re in the mood to indulge in a flavourful dish, or simply just want to try out the ‘cafe culture’ in Korea, Hongdae offers a cafe for everyone to visit.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why are cafes so popular in South Korea?
South Korea has become synonymous with a popular cafe culture due to cafes offering a great ambience and a place for friends and/or families to come together and catch up over a beverage or treats.
Generally, most older and traditional eateries will not have an English menu available if it is not found in a tourist area. However, you can expect newer cafes and restaurants or those found in trendy areas to have menus with English translations below the Korean on the menu. As a general rule, in tourist areas, you can find most restaurants and cafes either having a separate English menu or having English and Korean on a single menu. Don’t miss out on reading up on these must-know Korean phrases and vocabulary for eating out in South Korea in this travel guide.
What are the best areas for cafe hopping in Seoul?
Seoul is no stranger to having some of the best aesthetic and unique cafes around the country. The most trendy areas for cafe hopping in Seoul include Ikseondong, Hongdae and Gangnam. If you want the full neighbourhood guide for the cafe hopping in Seoul read my local guide to cafes.
Travel Planning Resources ✈️
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