The best themed cafés in Shanghai

From a dog lover's paradise to Milky Way-themed cakes to a full-on teddy bear picnic, these are Shanghai's best themed coffeeshops

Photograph: Sophia Huang
Shanghai certainly isn't a city short on cafés. We've got some cute hidden away gems, coffeehouses that are perfectly primed for Instagram and Moments pictures and spots that are great for the whole family. But what about when you're tired of the same old vibe? Do you need something a bit extra? Here are some of Shanghai's top quirky themed cafés to spice up your caffeine experience.

Central Perk

Grab your five closest buddies and spend a day in the life of the Friends characters at this themed coffeehouse. While it's not an exact replica of the sitcom's fabled café Central Perk, it's got the vibe right with the tatty-looking orange sofa as the space's centrepiece, the large service sign in the background, and a bit of everything from the series – like Joey’s Hugsy Penguin and Phoebe's guitar.

You won't find Rachel waiting tables here, but that means you'll actually get a decent cup of coffee and service. The menu also sticks solidly to Friends theme with the likes of a Joey’s Special, two pizzas, and Rachel’s Trifle, half an English trifle and half a shepherd's pie. 

Read more
160 Harbin Lu

Line Friends Cafe and Store

Moon, Brown the bear, Cony the rabbit and Sally the chick – the cutesy stickers from Japanese messaging app Line have arguably become more famous than the actual app itself. The Line Friends Café houses everything related to the characters, from life-sized toys, to elaborate wall designs and themed food and drink. The store is also the place to get kitted out with everything Line Friends-themed, from pillboxes to plush toys, bags, headbands, accessories and t-shirts – basically anything and everything you’d need to channel your kawaii-chic.

Read more
388 Madang Lu

Chinchilla Café

Looking like something straight out of Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli's 1988 animation My Neighbor Totoro, this café sucks you right into the Totoro universe. It's all wooden furnishings, fake trees and Totoro wall paintings, topped off with lots of plushies. Order the Chinchilla macarons (16RMB) or a cup of Chinchilla Coffee (an arty latte; 30RMB). On the practical side of the things, the café has plenty of plug sockets, making it a nice spot to bring your laptop.

Read more
581 Shilong Lu

Au Relia Coffee

Galaxy print may be out of fashion, but outer space-themed café Au Relia is still rocking the look with a purple-pink, star-studded ceiling and a menu of handcrafted galaxy cakes and zany looking drinks. For an out-of-this-world experience try the Au Relia Coffee (30RMB), an Insta-worthy four-layered concoction with blueberry sauce, milk and coffee, topped with whipped cream.

Read more
1958 Zhongshan Bei Lu

Mothy Garden

A cross between a nice pet shop and a café, this little spot is full of life. Owned by an animal lover who opened it up to be a space for people to get acquainted with animals before deciding if they'd like to get one at home. There are all sorts of little critters, including chinchillas, ferrets and more.

Read more
809 Jinqiu Lu

Teddy Bear Family

Have yourself a little teddy bear picnic at this modest café situated right below a teddy bear making workshop in Tianzifang. The entire space is packed with all kinds of teddies, from classic bears made in the workshop to celeb teds like Paddington. Plushies aside, the café serves coffee with bear faces in the milk foam (38RMB), cakes with paw prints (38RMB) and iced drinks served in gummy bear-shaped glasses. The place also doubles up as a Thai restaurant (yep).

Read more
248 Taikang Lu

Meow Don't Care

Buried in the alleys of Xinle Lu, Meow is a cat café/teahouse that eight kittys call home. It's a nice spot for a laid-back afternoon with a cuppa, some feline-themed sweet treats and a warm furball cuddled up on your lap. When the sun is shining, take your tea al fresco on the totally pink deck. A quick warning: this place is a bit pricey, and non-Chinese speakers should know that the menu is in Chinese only, but surely common love for tea and cats can overcome all hurdles. 

Read more
100 Xinle Lu

More cafés