Seoul may be the go-to city for holidaymakers in South Korea, but an increasing amount of travellers are venturing to Busan, the country’s second-largest city down south.
The port city is home to rolling hills, stunning seaside views and amazing seafood, a vastly different landscape from the urban lights from Seoul. South Korea’s cafe culture is well and alive, and Busan is no exception. Glistening beaches, soft sea breeze and unique architectural designs set the scene for your cups of joe, so make sure to whip out your cameras while you’re at it.
No one cafe is the same as the other, and we put together a compressed guide to the best cafes to visit on your next trip to Busan.
Waveon Coffee is Busan’s most beautiful cafe, and it will take a whole of lot convincing to prove that it isn’t. The multi-storeyed standalone cafe is located in an architecturally stunning building in Gijang-gun, designed by the famed architect Heesoo Kwak. The jaw-dropping structure was thoughtfully created to embrace the expansive views of the East sea at almost every angle. Here, sit indoors for a quiet cuppa or two, or outdoors for remarkable views unlike any other. The cafe has lovingly prepared mattresses and blankets on the tiered ground level, which allows guests to lay down in comfort. The best time to visit would be in the evening, just in time to watch the sun set slowly in the distance. Getting here will take time, but trust us when we say it’s worth it.
Gamcheon Culture Village is one of the places to visit when in Busan, but not many know of the secret little cafe there with stellar views of the area. Cafe Avant Garde is a simply designed space that centres its visuals around the views that surround it — the heavily colourful art and designs of Gamcheon Culture Village. The cafe is host to a wide terraced area on its right, with unobstructed views of the whole village. In the summer, a cool glass of grapefruit soda makes for a perfect respite from the heat.
Another tricky cafe location with fantastic views is Port1902, tucked away at the end of Songjeong Beach. It was purposefully designed to be a middle ground between a cafe and a private club, complete with delightful cups of joe, sea views and a bakery. The top floor is perfect for guests who visit during the warmer months, fitted with a swimming pool and synthetic grass floors to complete the relaxed atmosphere.
Doco – City Farm House Cafe, more fondly known as Doco, is a charming option on this list. It is situated at the heart of Busan, Seomyeon, making it an accessible location for anyone visiting the city. The cafe is home is a wide variety of vegan and non-vegan choices, with corwd favourites like the tiramisu and the soy cream bun The space was designed to make guests feel as though they are visiting a friend’s home — upon walking in, you will be greeted with a spacious stone-tiled garden area and plenty of foliage. On the other side of the garden, find four wooden ‘tents’ for guests to dine in, complete with romantic sheer white curtains. Those looking for a bit more comfort can find themselves in the cafe’s indoor dining as well.
Chances are, you will be visiting Haeundae Beach when you’re in Busan. If you’re looking for a place to have a cuppa with an amazing view, make your way to the Haeundae Market Board and board Bus 2 to the fishing port of Cheongsapo. There, you will find Cafe Rooftop, one of Busan’s most famous cafes around. The cafe features a little indoor terrace decorated with curtains swaying in the balmy breeze, but most come here to sit at the outdoor rooftop. The rooftop seating options range from beanbags to benches, and a cosy sofa area that makes for the perfect Instagram picture.
You’ve never been to a cafe like Gemstone. There, we’ve said it. Gemstone may not be home to jaw-dropping sea-side views, but it brings the ‘water’ to you instead. The cafe was designed by renovating an old swimming complex, complete with a large indoor space and high ceilings. Many of the elements of the building remain, including the original swimming pool area. The pool itself is now home to chairs and tables instead of water and swimmers, which make the dining experience a really unique one. Never leave without a taste of their injeolmi bread and the squid ink butter bread, two crowd favourites that keep regulars coming back. Apart from the pool area, diners here can choose to sit at the old locker rooms or the regular seats elsewhere.