Shanghai's best al fresco cafés

Chill at the city's top cafes with beautiful outdoor seating

We pick out some of the best cafes with outdoor seating around Shanghai. From shaded lane house spots, to large open terraces they are the perfect places to sit in the sun with a coffee and watch the city go by.

Lavazza Cafe and Bar

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Lujiazui’s riverside walkway may be the preserve of overpriced chains (Starbucks, Haagen Dazs et al), but it’s still a glorious spot on a sunny day. The best option for an al fresco coffee is Lavazza Cafe and Bar, with 32 tables right next to the Huangpu looking across to The Bund and 32 more tables separated from the river by a strip of grass. The coffee is pricey (40RMB for an Americano, 45RMB for iced coffee) but strong and smooth. At lunchtime on Mondays to Fridays you can get their bacon pizza at 58RMB.


Lavazza Cafe and Bar Fucheng Lu, near Lujiazui Lu See full address details


Red Beacon Cafe

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Set in Jingan Sculpture Park, the hip monochrome Red Beacon Cafe has a stone patio outside with ample seating (they’ll bring tables out on request), unadulterated sunshine and striking views of artist Arne Quinze’s recently-installed red wooden abstract pagoda sculpture as well as the open green space below. The cafe, operated by the owner of Thai Gallery, offers a drinks menu with more than 55 options, from brewed coffee (20RMB) to five beers (from 25RMB Tsingtaos), milkshakes (from 28RMB) and Thai iced tea (18RMB).


Red Beacon Cafe
500 Beijing Xi Lu, near Shimen Er Lu. See full address details


Voce Cafe

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This airy little cafe by the entrance of Surpass Court has a wood-decked patio area out the back with five wooden tables. With buildings all around, it only gets the full sun around midday, and it’s often busy, though you can also sit in the greenhouse-like space upstairs. The coffee’s good, with foamy cappuccinos (28RMB) and iced coffee (32RMB), and so is the food – there are decent weekend brunch sets (58-68RMB) and two-course weekday lunch deals (plus 10RMB for coffee), as well as staples like great cakes (including a brilliant, very sweet 35RMB carrot cake), a filling ‘hangover panini’ (45RMB) and creamy spaghetti carbonara (52RMB).


Voce Cafe 570 Yongjia Lu, near Yueyang Lu See full address details

Warehouse Cafe

The seven tables outside the Warehouse Cafe, next to the hip design warehouse Anken Green by Suzhou Creek, are shaded by bamboo trees, awnings and a rosemary bush, making for a secluded retreat with an eco vibe. Even better, coffee is cheap (from 18RMB for an Americano) and the food’s good value – specials such as the blue cheese salad (35RMB) and a healthy breakfast with granola (20RMB).


Warehouse Cafe 668 Huaian Lu, near Suzhou Xi Lu See full address details

Wooden Box

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Bordering a small park next door to the SMG TV Tower, Wooden Box is a welcome escape between the mobbed sidewalks of Nanjing Xi Lu and the construction dust of Weihai Lu. Five small tables are dotted around beneath the trees outside the treehouse-like cafe’s entrance, while the larger roof terrace gets more sun.


The food is standard Chinese and Western cafe fare, with a roast duck and grilled pork stir fry (40RMB) a highlight, while coffees go from regular at 32RMB to Irish at 55RMB. There’s also a decent range of beers, with Strongbow (45RMB), Erdinger black (50RMB) and Budvar (55RMB) on tap and Corona (35RMB), Sam Adams (35RMB), Xinjiang black and Hoegaarden (both 40RMB) by the bottle.


Wooden Box 9 Qinghai Lu, near Nanjing Xi Lu See full address details


10 Corso Como Café Patisserie

Tucked behind the 10 Corso Como luxury store, is the brand’s Café Patisserie. With glass wall slats and an overhead roof, this terrace is a little less al fresco than some of the others on this list, but it’s perfect for days when you want to be a little more protected from the elements. The menu is pretty simple, with fresh juices (from 48RMB for orange, to 58RMB for mix fruit and veg), teas (48RMB for Dilmah) and coffees (from 30RMB for an espresso). We recommend the caffe con panna (48RMB), a luxurious swirl of fresh cream atop a shot of espresso.


10 Corso Como Cafe Patisserie 1717 Nanjing Xi Lu, near Huashan Lu See full address details


Cafe Ming Qian

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Located above Husk on Fengxian Lu, the terrace at Cafe Ming Qian is a hidden gem in Jingan. The relaxed atmosphere, potted plants and long dining tables all add to its allure, which is backed up by quality food and drinks. Try the Dutch coffee (35RMB), which arrives deconstructed on a wooden tray, with a pot of brewed coffee and two wee jugs filled with milk and water. The honey camembert panini (69RMB) is indulgent and gooey, with dried cranberries and almond slivers adding texture and depth. Well worth a visit.


Cafe Ming Qian Second Floor, 218 Fengxian Lu, near Nanhui Lu See full address details


Cafelito

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With friendly service, a relaxed atmosphere and quality food, Cafelito has outdoor seating above street level that are busy around lunch time, but if you can nab one, it’s a pleasant spot. Sip on a reasonably priced latte (22RMB) or an iced cappuccino (22RMB) and enjoy a 'super BLT' (35RMB).


Cafelito 406 Jianguo Lu, near Yueyang Lu See full address details


Pain Chaud

Pain Chaud is a fantastic pick on the now peaceful Yongkang Lu. Head here in the morning or early afternoon, pull up a chair at one of their terrace seats and sip on coffee and munch on the spinach quiche as you watch the world go by before the drinking hordes descend.


Pain Chaud 34 Yongkang Lu, near Jiashan Lu See full address details


La Parisienne

Representing on this list from Pudong is one of our favourite bakery cafes and delis, La Parisienne. With a large terrace that picks up some sunlight come lunchtime, it’s proving to be a popular spot on warmer days. Offering a range of pastries, sandwiches and other snacks, as well as coffees, they’ve got all your breakfast, lunch or in-between eating and drinking covered. You can grab breakfast here, with sets starting from 30RMB for a coffee and croissant, all the way up to 99RMB for a full set including toast, cottage cheese, fruit and fruit juice.


La Parisienne 88 Zhangyang Lu, near Puming Lu See full address details


Rose Garden

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Hidden behind a painfully hip furniture store on Julu Lu is the Rose Garden cafe, and while it hasn’t been open long, it’s a haven for those who enjoy al fresco coffee and cake. The outdoor tables here are the draw, however equally attractive on a cooler day (or if the weather changes suddenly) are the seats inside the heated glasshouses. Try the light and creamy mocha (45RMB) which for an additional 8RMB comes served with a swirl of unsweetened whipped cream. From the cake menu, which includes whimsical and artful illustrations, you can choose sweet treats ranging from a Napoleon to an ice-cream cake (42RMB). And while it’s still early days for Rose Garden, the unique design, dainty menu and relaxed vibe make it a hidden urban treasure.


Rose Garden 405 Julu Lu, near Shaanxi Nan Lu See full address details


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