South Korea is well-known for being a country with strong cafe culture. You can literally find at least one cafe on almost every street. Thus, the competition for cafe customers is intense. To be able to stand out from the crowd, some unique cafes in Korea have pretty special features that some may find worthwhile to pay a visit to. Here is a list of 6 unique cafes that you MUST visit when in Korea.

1) A Floating Cafe on Han River ⎸ Starbucks Seoul Wave Art Center 스타벅스 서울웨이브아트센터점

Starbucks Seoul Wave Art Center Building
The Seoul Wave Art Center Building (or should I say floating dock…?)

SEOUL – Our first unique cafe on this list is this Starbucks is located inside Seoul Wave Art Center, a place for art displays and exhibitions. If you look carefully, you will realise that the whole 3 storey building is actually floating in the middle of the Han River. The cafe is located on the west side of the building, taking up Levels 1 and 2, so you will feel very close to the river while you are sipping away on your coffee.


View from inside Starbucks Seoul Wave Art Center
Enjoying coffee ON the Han River
View of Banpo Bridge from Starbucks Seoul Wave Art Center
West side view from inside the Starbucks

2) Starbucks Stuck in Time ⎸ Starbucks Gyeongju Daerungwon Branch 스타벅스 경주대릉원점

Hanok-style exterior of Starbucks Gyeongju Daerungwon Branch
The Hanok-style architectures give this Starbucks a traditional look (Photo by Christophe95 under CC BY-SA)

The city of GYEONGJU is also known as a “museum without walls” because of the large number of historical artefacts and archaeological sites in the city. In order for this Starbucks to blend in with the historical landscape of the city, this unique cafe decided to go for a hanok-style (한옥: traditional Korean house) exterior, something you don’t see in other branches within Korea. You can even find traditional seating in the cafe where you have to remove your shoes and sit down on the floor to drink your cuppa!


Floor seating area in Starbucks Gyeongju Daerungwon Branch
You can choose to sit on the floor in this traditional-looking Starbucks (Photo by 트립비토즈 under CC BY-SA)

3) Ocean View Cinema Cafe ⎸ Greetvi Ulsan 그릿비 서생점

Ocean view cafe in Ulsan (Greetvi Ulsan)
The floor-to-ceiling windows and ocean view will take your breath away

ULSAN – Fancy a cafe with a spectacular sea view? This newly opened cafe is located right by the ocean! It has a movie theatre-like seating area and floor-to-ceiling windows to allow cafe goers to have an unobstructed view of the ocean. It literally feels like you are watching a movie that never-ends!


Pastry and cakes from Greetvi Ulsan
We don’t eat popcorn in this “movie theatre”.

4) The BIGGEST Cafe in South Korea ⎸ P.ARK Cafe and Bakery 피아크 카페&베이커리

Biggest cafe building in Korea, Busan (P.ARK)
This building is SO huge, it’s difficult to miss. (Photo by 부산걷기왕ㅁ컴쌤 under CC BY-SA)

BUSAN – This is the biggest cafe that I have ever been to in South Korea. This 6-storey cafe is so spacious that the whole building feels like a shopping mall instead (expect to see some elevators and escalators too)! It has its own bakery housed within so you can expect a wide selection of pastry and bread to choose from. It is located near the sea as well so you get to enjoy a beautiful ocean view. Despite its size, the cafe doesn’t try to place too many tables inside, which means no stress from feeling too claustrophobic.


Open area in P.ARK Cafe Busan
They even have an open space which feels as big as a soccer field! (Photo by 트로피 숲 under CC BY-SA)
Night View from the top of P.ARK Busan
Photo taken from Level 6 of the cafe

5) Pick Your Own Mandarin Oranges ⎸ Cafe The Container 카페 더 콘테나

Mandarin Orange container exterior of Cafe The Container, Jeju
Another hard-to-miss cafe when the exterior is a mandarin orange basket

JEJU – You don’t come here for the coffee, you come here for the experience. This cute-looking cafe lets you pick your own mandarin oranges from their own grove for a fee. They will give you a bag which you can fill with the mandarin oranges that you will have picked. You can even eat the mandarin oranges as you pick without limit! After picking your oranges, head back to the cafe and enjoy a cup of mandarin-flavoured coffee and desserts.


The vast orange grove in Cafe The Container, Jeju
Their mandarin orange grove is quite vast too
A bag full of picked mandarin oranges from the grove
This whole bag lasted me for a whole week

6) Toy Trains Serve You Coffee | On The Rail 온더레일

Toy trains found in On The Rail Cafe, Daegu
Toy trains all ready to serve us our drinks

DAEGU – You would have heard your parents telling you not to play with your food, but it seems like the boss of this cafe is bent on doing the opposite. This cafe chose toy trains as its theme but for a very good reason; to use these trains to serve drinks to customers. The centerpiece of the cafe is a complex network of tracks that branch into each table.

On The Rail Cafe Daegu train tracks and table layout
Only the tables in the middle get served by the trains.

You order your drinks at the counter, go back to your seat and wait. Once your drinks are ready, the barista will place your drinks on the train’s flatcar, press a few buttons on their end, and the train will automatically find its way to your table!

A train with some coffee in tow!

If the place gets crowded and the center tables are occupied, you can get a waiting number so you can get your chance to experience being served by trains.

The whole cafe is spacious and has a surprisingly nice view of the surrounding mountains. The trains play sound effects so it makes the whole experience quite immersive. It’s also pretty fun just sitting there watching the trains serve other customers too.


Exterior of On The Rail Cafe

Click here to read about another unique cafe that is located IN a swimming pool!

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