Shanghai’s most Instagrammable cafés

Forget the Starbucks Reserve Roastery. These local cafés are guaranteed to have the likes rolling in

Photograph: Yang Xiaozhe 
Shanghai is overflowing with café choices and great coffee – we've seen themed cafés and uncovered hidden-away cafés. There's speciality coffee but also great cheap convenience store options if you're penny-poor and just need to be caffeinated. But looking for 'content'? Here are the most Instagrammable and Moments-friendly cafés in the city, all primed and ready for your feed.

Coffee shops not your vibe? Take a look at Shanghai's most Instagram- and Moments-friendly spots for all feeds.

Share your best shots with us on Instagram with the hashtag #TimeOutShanghai for a chance to be featured on @TimeOutShanghai.

The Press by Inno Coffee

Step inside the former home of China’s longest-running newspaper, Shen Bao, to find yourself within the reimagined space of a contemporary coffeehouse. Taking elements from the Shun Pao building’s history that dates back to 1872, the interior merges together European Neoclassicism with modern Shanghai.

On the ground floor, there's a high ceiling with decorative fresco art, framed black and white photographs and brass toned bars with floating shelves of potted plants that lead up the staircase to the second floor. Walk upstairs into the open courtyard and the first thing you’ll want to snap a picture of is the wall of cherry blossoms that extend up along the overhang. Sit amongst various pastel coloured sofas and don’t forget to take a photo against the classic Shun Pao sign on the wall.

Photograph: @hegerligin (Instagram)

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309 Hankou Lu

Seesaw Coffee

Don’t let the whimsical-sounding name fool you, Seesaw Coffee is anything but child’s play; with numerous branches across Shanghai, the most well-known being its Yuyuan Lu branch. The minimalist interior elevates the café atmosphere and on a clear day, the natural sunlight that shines through the glass-paned ceiling reflects off the white walls brightening up the entire space. Strategically placed potted plants gives the otherwise bare interior a touch of life and provides more photo ops.

Take a photo on the ground floor from eye-level or climb up to the top of the curved staircase to get a bird’s eye view of the café in all of its monochromatic glory. Possibly Shanghai's most Instagrammed café.

Photograph: @stephsugiarto (Instagram)

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433 Yuyuan Lu

R.G.F Cafe

This lifestyle concept store has all the makings of an ideal photoshoot location. The shoot begins at the entrance of the store where you can take a photo sitting on the chairs placed in front of the Art Deco-style logo on the plant covered wall. Also a furniture and homeware shop, this café is a hidden gem, tucked away in the back of the building. 

Through warmer months snag a seat outside in the courtyard – or the glasshouse where you feel like you’re in an indoor botanical garden. Being surrounded by greenery also offers a momentary escape from the hustle and bustle of Shanghai.

Photograph: @annieelin (Instagram)

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405 Julu Lu

FUMI Coffee

A café that doesn't have a bad angle, photographs of FUMI Coffee look like they're straight out of a design magazine. Rarely is a café’s exterior equally intriguing as its interior but FUMI Coffee's is. The store’s awning geometrically resembles black piano keys of irregular lengths. Inside, the design extends indoors as waves on the ceiling leading up to the counter.

The rest of the café’s small interior is monochromatically matched with silver metallic tables, stools and bar top. Perhaps the most eye-catching element is the wall art installation comprised of hanging moka pots in a range of sizes, each positioned at different angles and individually illuminated by LED light bulbs. The Instagram potential is endless.

Photograph: Yang Xiaozhe 

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215 Fumin Lu

Love Concept Cafe

You wouldn’t expect this cute café to be tucked away in an alleyway but walk in and you’ll find the narrow doorway opens up to a quaint courtyard filled with fresh flowers and then into the café's dreamy pink interior. Snap a photo sitting in the white lounge chair, with a tropical flamingo painting on the wall as your backdrop.

The Love Concept is pet-friendly, with the owner's poodle Pao Pao making regular appearances. Another popular choice for photos is in front of the neon 'coffee or tea' sign. Get a cup with the signature '爱' (ai) logo for even more Insta-love.

Photograph: @annieelin (Instagram)

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68-1 Xiangyang Bei Lu

Le Petit Jardin

Not to be confused with Petit Jardin, the Cantonese restaurant by Jade Garden, this cosy café is the epitome of vintage, emanating a mixture of charm and quirkiness. The interior is adorned with vintage knick-knacks, books, flowers, framed prints and fairy lights emitting a soft glow, all giving the café a more intimate vibe. 

You’ll feel like you’ve been temporarily transported through time, entering a secret hideout which you definitely won’t be keeping to yourself for long. Every corner of this cafe is Instagrammable, from the 19th-century-inspired indoor dining room to the outdoor terrace where sunlight permeates through the roof on a clear day. There isn’t a signature photo spot – capture the character of this vintage haven from whatever perspective you want and it'll look great. 

Photograph: @seohyejeongshanghai (Instagram)

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220 Kangping Lu

S.Engine Coffee (Maoming Bei Lu)

The S.Engine brand has three coffeeshops under its belt but the most Instagrammable one is perhaps the Maoming Bei Lu branch – futuristic and fantastic.  

The spiral staircase leads upstairs to a space with pod-like enclosures where you can sit on teardrop-shaped chairs looking down onto the ground floor, where the baristas brew freshly ground coffee and customers swiftly come and go. With a café this photogenic, it’d be hard to get a bad photo. 

Photograph: @bigwen0707 (Instagram)

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259 Maoming Bei Lu

DNA Cafe (Fengyang Lu)

With five branches in Shanghai, our favourite has to be the Nanjing Xi Lu location. The cafés trendy interior features an amalgamation of natural influences, industrial elements and artistic inspirations. The neon blue staircase-like art installation surrounded by a multitude of plants and flowers grabs your attention immediately, with a sharp contrast between the harsh LED lights and the greenery. 

Another Insta-perfect spot is by the Electra bike parked in the corner, enveloped by flower bouquets and dried flowers hanging from the ceiling. If you're just there for a drink, you can also opt to sit at one of the cushions on the illuminated ascending steps resembling a makeshift cinema. The spacious interior has plenty of seats making it a perfect place to work or study. 

Photograph: @joanyoung55 (Instagram)

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659 Fengyang Lu

1267 Kaffee

The simple elegance of this café’s refined interior will immediately make you feel at peace. The subtle grey walls against the minimal gold decor and display of traditional Chinese porcelain tea cups fuses together modern and classic design aesthetics. The signature photo spot is on the bench beneath a spotlight and draping fairy lights overhead as if you're the spectator of a mystical meteor shower from the sky. 

The café comprises of two floors and walking on the illuminated stairway leading upstairs will make you want to stop and take a photo. The upstairs is very much identical in colour, but more sunlight is let through the panelled windows, providing the natural lighting for your photo. 

Photograph: @lilyveta (Instagram)

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468 Jianguo Xi Lu

Paras Coffee (Shanxi Nan Lu)

Giving off some serious industrial warehouse vibes, the spacious interior upstairs at Paras is airy and luminous from the reflective mirrors and glass windows. It’s the ideal background to complement you or your coffee as the center of attention. The staircase, as always, creates a captivating composition with neon green graffiti spray painted along its entirety. 

The downstairs doesn’t have seating, rather it’s for coffees to-go. Paras has a second pop-up coffee bar just five minutes away on the corner of Xinle Lu and Xiangyang Lu serving up equally good coffee if you’re in search of a quick caffeine fix. 

Photograph: @annieelin (Instagram)

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55 Shanxi Nan Lu

1984 Bookstore

A book lover’s secret escape, the bookstore is highly Instagrammable in itself but it’s the courtyard café that's caught our attention. Sit under one of the garden umbrellas or bask in the sunlight with an iced coffee and a good book. Don’t miss the iconic 1984 sign – on the back wall when you walk into the courtyard. 

On a rainy day, snuggle up indoors with your favourite book, and if you’re lucky enough the café’s resident cat might snuggle up beside you. It’s about time we took our eyes off our phones and devices to dive into a book – that is for a few chapters until you make that next Instagram post.

Photograph: @eileenyzy (Instagram)

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11 Hunan Lu