Covering 50 countries, Europe is home to historic architecture, decadent food, a dramatic countryside, and bustling cities. There is so much to do and see it can be hard to narrow down specific areas to focus on during your trip. One of the best ways, however, to get a broad overview of a city is to see it from above.
Here’s a list of the best cities in Europe for rooftop bars and restaurants.
It’s not summer in London until Frank’s Café is open. An unassuming bar on the top of the parking garage — yes, you read that correctly — Frank’s consistently ranks at the top for most popular rooftops in Europe. You’ll know you’re there when you find the pink steps. Walk up them for unparalleled views of the capital city.
Pick your own garnish at the Culpepper Pub in East London. The four-story building is home to a pub, restaurant, bedrooms, and a rooftop garden where the owners grow vegetables, herbs, salad leaves, and beans. The rooftop not only supplies city views but also sustains the kitchen below. Occasionally, the pub hosts events on various urban garden-related topics, like how to harvest herbs to create botanical cocktails.
Istanbul technically sits in both Europe and Asia, so it still deserves to be recognized as one of the prettiest cities for rooftop bars in Europe. One of the best, the Bank Roof Bar, sits overlooking the Bosphorus Strait (the body of water separating the city between Europe and Asia) in Istanbul’s hip and trendy Karakoy neighborhood. The upscale bar sits on top of an old bank building turned modern hotel and features its own signature drinks, as well as an extensive wine list and whiskey. It’s the place to go to see dynamic views of the water, Old City, and the Blue Mosque in a comfortable atmosphere.
For someplace a little more upbeat, head to 16 Roof on top of Swissôtel The Bosphorus Istanbul, where a DJ spices up the atmosphere nightly. 16 Roof has unique cocktails and fine food created by its Turkish-born chef. The bar prides itself on offering traditional Turkish food with European influences. The corn soup, scallops, and the handmade pastas are solid bets while enjoying the city skyline. 16 Roof is only open seasonally, so plan your trip there accordingly.
Known for its connection between the Sacred and the Eternal city, the Spanish Steps in Rome are the widest and longest steps in Europe. At the top sits Hotel Hassler, the only hotel at the top of the Spanish Steps. It’s worthy of the climb itself, but head up the elevator to the 7th Floor Terrace for incredible aerial views not only of the steps you just walked, but practically the entire city. The 7th Floor Terrace is known for its light bites, extensive drink list, and impeccable service — which is why it has enticed celebrities like Audrey Hepburn, Princess Diana, and members of the Kennedy family.
If you are looking for a break from Italian food, wander over to Hey Guey where the décor and food embrace casual Mexican vibes. The stylish bar sits on top of the Chapter Roma hotel in the city center, making it the perfect spot to watch the sunset or see ancient rooftops. Serving signature tacos, empanadas, and quesadillas, this rooftop has a whimsical tropical vibe in the middle of Italy!
On the far western side of Europe sits Portugal’s capital city of Lisbon. Known for its colorful neighborhoods, some of the best views of the city are from above. A trendy option is the Sky Bar by SEEN at Tivoli Avenida Liberdade, next to St. George’s Castle. Capture city and mountain views from the 9th-floor bar while sipping on signature cocktails — including one laden with gold flakes — and noshing on fine food from its neighbor Restaurant SEEN Lisboa. Not in the mood for spirits? Try out the decadent hot chocolate menu. The multi-story outdoor bar is open year round and often has live music or a DJ.
The hard-to-find Topo Martin Moniz may be the most elusive rooftop in Lisbon. Perched on top of the Martin Moniz shopping mall, many may walk right by this spot making it even more exclusive. There are no signs leading up to the 6th-floor bar, but keep climbing and you’ll be rewarded with sweeping views of the Sao Jorge Castle and its surrounding neighborhoods. There is a long drink list and the espresso martini is a local’s favorite.
There are many ways to experience European cities: walking the streets, entering museums, and admiring monuments. For your next European trip, consider heading up to see the city from a different vantage point. From stunning skylines to the vast countryside, seeing the city from above offers a unique perspective on the history and beauty that each has to offer.