Good drinks, great vibes and epic views: our list of the world’s best rooftop bars covers Europe, Asia, the USA and beyond.
The only thing better than sipping a cocktail in the sun is sipping a cocktail in the sun high above the city streets. The best rooftop bars in the world specialize in jaw-dropping vistas, great drinks and undeniably chill vibes. They’re the kind of places that double as undercover attractions because they offer a bird’s-eye view of notable architecture, must-see landmarks and everyday city life.
Some of the bars you’ll find below are undeniably swanky, but others are surprisingly down-to-earth (despite being a long way from the ground). You’ll find these awesome rooftop bars on top of car parks, hotels, factories, arts centres and shopping malls. Ready to get high? Going up!
The view A 360-degree panorama of the dreamy Parisian skyline: roofs, chimneys and the distant peak of Montmartre, topped by the Sacré-Cœur Church.
The vibe Le Perchoir is a victim of its own success: you won’t escape a small wait before the lift in the inner courtyard takes you up to seventh heaven. But once you’re there, it’s pleasantly unpretentious: cosy benches, mismatched cushions, raw wood tables, aromatic herbs and a trendy but never overdressed crowd.
The drinks The simple but well-made cocktails use homemade juices and high-quality booze. Try the acidulous Dark & Stormy, mixing orange-infused rum with ginger beer, lime and DeGroff’s bitters.
Don’t miss A selfie at sunset with Montmartre and the Sacré-Coeur in the background.
The view The best of both worlds: the city of Lisbon on the left, with its coloured rooftops and the Castelo de São Jorge, and the River Tagus on the right. The sweet spot is at the top of the stairs on the ninth floor before you descend to the terrace.
The vibe Less touristy than many of Lisbon’s rooftop bars, with sofas to relax on and a dancefloor in the central bar. The rotating lineup of guest DJs means the rhythm is constantly changing.
The drinks There are all the classics, but it’s worth looking at bartender Lucas Jacques’s signature cocktails – like Red Line (cherry liqueur, lime juice, mint tea and egg white) or Make a Wish (rum, white port, lemon juice and egg white).
Don’t miss The Seen tacos with king crab from Seen’s excellent restaurant. The bar snacks are great too.
The view Perched in a prime position overlooking Souk Madinat Jumeirah, folly has a picture-perfect vista of the sparkling Madinat waterways below and the Arabian Gulf beyond – not forgetting a glimpse of the iconic Burj Al Arab.
The vibe With a chic yet casual atmosphere, there’s always a friendly buzz at folly, especially come sunset, as the bar’s one of the best spots for sundowners in town. It’s unpretentious and friendly and attracts everyone from residents seeking a happy hour with a view to tourists looking for that perfect snap for the ’gram.
The drinks An extensive cocktail menu shows off the flair that folly is known for, but don’t miss the famous folly pops – an ice lolly-cocktail mashup that comes in raspberry, black currant and blood orange and is the perfect cooling treat to accompany a balmy sunset. There’s also an excellent wine list.
Don’t miss Dinner at the renowned folly by Nick & Scott on the floor below – it’s a city favourite thanks to its innovative British dishes and top-notch cooking.
The view A breathtaking sweep of central London from the south, with landmarks poking out all over the shop. It’s hard to find a better spot for ogling one of the world’s most famous skylines.
The vibe Perched atop a repurposed multi-storey car park, Frank’s is a rough-and-ready wood-and-canvas structure that’s only open in summer. When the sun’s out, the roof is dotted with young, hip Londoners. But the space is so huge that there’s always room to spread out and admire the large-scale sculptures that pop up every year courtesy of Bold Tendencies, the art nonprofit that runs the place.
The drinks Stay true to Frank Boxer’s original ‘Campari Bar’ brief and order a classic Negroni. Otherwise, there’s a solid selection of classy summer tipples including white port and tonic or Pimm’s, plus the inevitable Aperol Spritz.
Don’t miss The immersively lurid, Instagram-famous pink staircase that ushers you up from street level.
The view Sandwiched between Table Mountain National Park and the Atlantic Ocean, Chinchilla overlooks Camps Bay Beach, a gorgeous stretch of white sand that’s lined with palm trees. Though this rooftop is only two stories up, the views rival some of the tallest skyscrapers in the world.
The vibe Laid-back and loungey, Chinchilla sports a resort-chic vibe that’ll make you want to while away an afternoon. (How could you ever get sick of that view?) A rotating cast of live DJs keeps things lively.
The drinks After spending the day on the beach, nothing sounds more appetizing than a Watermelon Mint G&T or a carafe of Peach Rosé Sangria. A bottle of crisp chenin blanc or lush chardonnay would do the trick, too.
Don’t miss Staring at the ocean for too long can make you hungry (or so we hear). Luckily, the seafood-centric menu at Chinchilla is rife with prawns, mussels, oysters and crayfish. Might as well toss in an order of fries while you’re at it.
The view Wooloomooloo is known for serving quality steaks, but the real winner here is its spacious open-air rooftop terrace that showcases jaw-dropping views of Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour, Happy Valley and the Wan Chai neighbourhood.
The vibe The rooftop terrace offers an easy-going yet lively atmosphere – perfect for grabbing a tipple or two during breezy afternoons or after-work drinks in the evening when you can enjoy the dazzling Hong Kong skyline.
The drinks Enjoy sippers from their classic or signature cocktail menu or peruse the wine list for something big and red to go with your filet mignon.
Don’t miss A reservation is essential if you want one of the best seats in the house, but you can drop in earlier in the afternoon for worthwhile happy hour deals and a seat on the terrace.
The view Getting a front-row seat at this picturesque rooftop bar is like an Olympic sport, but those who succeed are treated to breathtaking views of iconic city architecture including the Princess Theatre, Parliament and St Patrick’s Cathedral. It’s like a tour bus, but with booze.
The vibe Don’t be fooled by the white table cloths and secret-garden environs – Siglo is as welcoming as your best friend’s backyard. Come for an afternoon Aperol Spritz in the sun or a flashy celebration with caviar, cigars and champagne – either way, you’re well looked after here.
The drinks Sharing a cellar with Melbourne Supper Club has its benefits, namely a curt but excellent list of reds and whites. But there’s no better way to kick off your rooftop romp than with flutes of champagne for the table. After midnight, switch to sipping cognac or barrel-aged rum.
Don’t miss If the smell of cigar smoke irks you, you’ll want to skip the trip. Siglo is understandably proud of its humidor and its impressive selection of Havanas, which are puffed all night long.
The view Towering high above nearby rooftop bars, Westlight offers unbelievable views of Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan from a wraparound terrace that’s dotted with canary-yellow viewfinders that allow guests to get an even better look at the great expanse ahead and below.
The vibe When the elevator doors open, it’s hard to keep your jaw from hitting the floor. Play it cool, collect yourself and settle into the warm, industrial space. It’s impossible not to feel special while you’re here – and the energy of the crowd only amplifies the positive vibes.
The drinks The classic G&T gets a jolt of energy from stinging nettle and hopped grapefruit bitters, while The Meadow blends tequila, Aperol, pineapple and lemon with a kick of chipotle to finish.
Don’t miss You’re here for the drinks and the views, sure, but don’t neglect the food, which somehow captures exactly what we want to stuff our faces with when we’re tipsy: spicy chicken empanadas, shrimp dumplings and duck carnitas tacos. We’ll take one of each!
The view This urban garden on the seventh floor of the Hotel Pulitzer might not offer the most dizzying views of the city, but few are as strategically placed as this. You get an aerial view from the nerve centre of Barcelona, a visual hinge between the mad meandering of La Rambla and the reasonable logic of the Eixample.
The vibe A pioneer in the craze of opening hotel rooftop terraces to the public, the Pulitzer Terrace is a classic of cool. Catch some of the best DJs in Barcelona spinning electronic music throughout the summer as part of the venue’s #BuenasTardesPulitzer sessions.
The drinks You can’t escape the Aperol Spritz: in fact, this terrace was one of the first to serve it in Barcelona. But you could also delve into the bar’s splendid selection of wines by the glass.
Don’t miss The cuisine by chef Olly Melhuish, from street food to barbecue, which deserves more than one visit.
The view At what is currently Bangkok’s highest bar, you get a bird’s-eye view of everything great about the city in one glance: the lit-up streets of Silom, the gleaming skyscrapers of Sukhumvit, the majestic Chao Phraya River and the deep green jungle of Bang Krachao.
The vibe French designer Tristan Auer has interpreted ‘Thainess’ in the form of carved wooden chairs, supple leather couches and soft lighting, coupled with the luxurious aesthetics of the Orient Express. Outdoor seats are best reserved on a clear and breezy day.
The drinks A lineup of classic cocktails finds balance in some delicious mocktails. Reach for the St. Tropez (watermelon, passion fruit and vanilla) by day and the Rooibos Sour (bourbon-vanilla tea, lemon, honey and bitters) in the evening.
Don’t miss The trip up a few more floors to the building’s observation deck, currently Thailand’s highest.
Adapted from an article by Morgan Olsen, James Manning and Time Out editors.
First published: Thursday, April 22 2021