Rooftop bars are captivating. Indeed, why would you drink at any old bar, when you could sip in style at a watering hole with a view? The appeal of a rooftop bar and the panoramas it offers are hard to beat. From an observatory in the Maldives to a romantic view in Florence, the best rooftop bars and their killer views are definitely worth a trip across the globe. Whether it is sophisticated dining, cocktails at sunset, or epic views you are looking for, this list of my favorite rooftop bars covers Europe, Asia, Africa, and beyond. So, are you ready to go high up? Let’s go!
There are rooftop bars, and then there’s SKY at Anantara Kihavah Villas in the Maldives. Granted, it may only be two stories high, which is pretty much as high as it gets in the Maldives, but that’s all you need when your main activity is stargazing.
Anantara Kihavah is home to the Maldives’ first and only overwater observatory, which houses the most powerful telescope in the region, while also serving as a luxury cocktail bar. There’s no better place on earth to sip champagne, lie back on oversized daybeds, and take in the night skies above — while resident astronomer, Shameem, points out the rings of Saturn, the belts of Jupiter, and the Milky Way’s shining Omega Centauri or Messier 13 cluster. Minimal light pollution and the Maldives’ location just above the equator means the stars of both hemispheres are visible here.
The lounge area at SKY, perched over the lagoon, maximizes ocean views from every vantage point and is the perfect place to take in Indian Ocean sunsets while you sip on a signature cocktail like Kihavah Island tea, made with Indian Ocean white rum, arak, lychee, peach, lemon and a dash of Earl Grey tea.
2. The Silo Rooftop
Cape Town, South Africa
Perched on top of The Silo Hotel, located at the Waterfront in Cape Town, the Silo Rooftop offers amazing views over the city, harbor, ocean, and mountains.
Equipped with a seriously cool infinity pool (only accessible to hotel guests), this rooftop bar is the perfect spot for a sunset cocktail and some luxurious lounging high above the city. It’s also a great spot for a casual lunch — think oysters or perhaps tempura, served with classic cocktails, a glass of bubbly, or some South African wine. If the weather is chilly, or you don’t manage to get a table at the rooftop bar, The Silo has a second bar, The Willaston, located on the sixth floor.
Pro Tip: I’d highly recommend The Silo Hotel’s signature cocktail, The Rose Ginvino, made from Musgrave pink gin, chenin blanc, lime, grapefruit, rose syrup, and egg white It’s delicious. With a garnish of rose petals, it is a drink to remember.
Located on Rahba Kedima Spice Square, Nomad is a chic yet unpretentious rooftop bar and restaurant in the heart of Medina. Set over four floors in an old carpet store, the restaurant and bar mix contemporary design with Moroccan influences. The highlight is the two rooftop terraces. They offer fantastic views over the Medina rooftops and the Atlas Mountains.
A vibrant and lively venue, Nomad offers traditional local cuisine and international dishes with a Moroccan twist and a strong emphasis on fresh local produce and ample variety for vegetarians, pescatarians, and carnivores alike.
Open for lunch, dinner, or a fresh cocktail in between, this is the perfect spot for those looking to immerse themselves in the city. With comfortable furnishings, indoor and outdoor seating, and great music, Nomad is a must-visit for those looking for a modern, yet still undeniably local venue.
Choose from such menu delights as braised lamb shank, roast chermoula, harissa cauliflower, or perhaps calamari from Agadir. To finish, why not try the flourless cardamom ginger orange cake?
Pro Tip: Reservations are recommended, and when making one, don’t forget to ask for a spot on the top terrace, where you can get the best views of the Atlas Mountains (when visible between November and May).
4. 360 Istanbul
True to its name, 360 Istanbul offers spectacular 360-degree views stretching out over Istanbul and the Bosphorus Strait. The unassuming entrance in the historic Misir Apartment building is easily missed, but don’t let that deter you. Once you’ve entered the lobby, take the elevator directly to the eighth floor and follow the candle-lit stairs to the top-floor bar.
360 Istanbul serves lunch and dinner accompanied by breathtaking views of Istanbul. There’s a creative menu of dishes and drinks made of fresh and quality ingredients. Food ranges from hot and cold mezze platters to share, before moving on to main courses. These include slow-roasted cherry duck, beef filet shish kebab, or miso glazed salmon, followed by warm pistachio baklava served with pistachio ice cream; all accompanied by an extensive wine list and varied selection of cocktails.
Pro Tip: The prices here can take your breath away almost as quickly as the views, so if budget is foremost in your mind, forgo dining in, instead come early, grab a coveted window seat, and nurse your drink while snacking on stuffed olives and watching the view. Grab some street food nearby afterward.
5. SE•STO On Arno
Looking for a venue overlooking the city in the heart of Florence? Located on the banks of river Arno, on top of the luxury hotel, The Westin Excelsior, SE·STO on Arno is both a cozy rooftop bar and an excellent rooftop restaurant.
There are few cities more beautiful than Florence. From SE•STO on the Arno rooftop, you’ll get a fantastic view over the city, Arno River, surrounding landscape, and sunset. With famous monuments like the Duomo and churches to spot, you can sit here for hours just looking out at the amazing view.
The atmosphere and decor at SE•STO on Arno are sophisticated and classic, with a luxurious touch yet still with a homey feel. This is not the place for a party, it’s the perfect spot to visit if you are looking for some calm. The focus here is more on good wine and “bubbles.” The wine list is extensive and superb, though there are of course several great options for those who’d prefer a cocktail. Along with the views, food is the flagship of this rooftop bar, with options ranging from well-made pasta to meat and fish dishes and delicious desserts.
Pro Tip: This is the perfect place for a romantic dinner. If you want to impress your significant other, book a table during sunset hours. The sun sets over the Arno River, with the beautiful landscape of Tuscany making a lovely backdrop.
6. High Note SkyBar
High Note SkyBar is on the rooftop of the fantastic, music-inspired, Aria Hotel in Budapest, right next to the majestic St. Stephen’s Basilica — so close you could almost reach out and touch it! Open daily from lunch to midnight, this is a fantastic destination in summer, but also offers cozy winter vibes. Spacious and set over several levels, High Note offers panoramic views over the Budapest skyline and the surrounding hills, as well as down inside the hotel to the courtyard and glass-roofed music garden.
High Note SkyBar takes its drinks, especially its cocktails, very seriously, and its menu changes seasonally. Apart from the cocktails, there’s a fine selection of wines, “bubbles,” and spirits. During winter, glass walls enclose the bar lounge, and the terrace is set up with cozy lighting decorations, heated rooms, and wonderful city panoramas while sipping on signature hot winter cocktails.
At night the food menu consists of bar bites and desserts, perfect to share as an evening nibble, but not enough for a full meal. More substantial dishes are served from 12-3 p.m. when High Note is a great spot for a long, relaxing, rooftop lunch. Daytime visits are relaxed and you shouldn’t have a problem finding a lounge spot to enjoy some drinks and food (hopefully in the sun). Towards sunset and at night, the terrace is more crowded, and reservations are recommended.
Pro Tip: Apart from the main terrace, there are also two panorama towers. Situated a level above the rest of the terrace, these come with even better views, and are perfect to reserve for a larger group.
7. Vertigo And Moon Bar
Bangkok is home to some of the world’s best sky bars, but none carry the wow factor quite like this one, which sits on the 61st floor of the Banyan Tree Hotel Bangkok. Vertigo offers an alfresco dining experience on a roof terrace that overlooks the glittering cityscape of Bangkok. A few steps away is the Moon Bar with a great cocktail and wine menu as well as a small seating area. With 360-degree views, having a drink here means hovering over Bangkok’s dazzling cityscape; made all the more dizzying if you order a dragon ball or two. A dragon ball is a potent mix of cinnamon Chalong Bay (a national sugar cane and cinnamon-based rum), whiskey, passion fruit wine, passion fruit soda, and a drop of bitters. You could also try a vertigo sunset made from malibu, pineapple juice, cranberry juice, and lime juice.
8. Social Club Saigon
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Social Club Saigon is found on top of the luxurious Hotel Des Arts Saigon Mgallery Collection Hotel. 24 floors above street level and open in pretty much all directions, The Social Club Rooftop Bar offers panoramic and breathtaking views of the Saigon skyline. Saigon, now known as Ho Chi Minh City, is the largest city in Vietnam. With a population of around 9 million, it has one of the most exceptional city skylines in all of Asia. With such a bustling city, one of the best ways to experience it is from above.
The Social Club Restaurant has an impressive drinks menu, an extensive wine list, and delicious cocktails to sip all while admiring the world far below. For bar bites, try the mini black Angus burger or premium cold cuts & cheese. However, for a full dinner, you’ll need to head one floor down, to the upscale Social Club Restaurant (make sure to request a window seat to enjoy the food with views). Sunday brunch is another popular option at this must-visit destination in the heart of Saigon.
Pro Tip: Drinks are a bit on the pricey side, so try to visit during the daily happy hour (3-7 p.m.), when the two-for-one prices will keep your wallet a little happier.
I hope I’ve given you some inspiration for “elevating” your brunch, lunch, sundowners, or supper, for your next travels.