If anything has the power to make one pause for a moment and consider that life didn’t turn out so bad, it’s a panoramic view accompanied by the carbonated nostril-tickle of a favorite beverage as it’s lifted above the horizon and drawn into the gullet.
For the best results, you need to select the best rooftop bars. We tracked down travel writers, bar/restaurant pundits and some good old-fashioned worldly drinkers and eaters to find the best rooftop bars and restaurants around the planet.
Combining fantastic views, great mixes, of the quaffable and auditory kind, and above all experiences you want to tell your friends about, we’ve come up with a pretty good list.
1. Coq D’Argent: London, England
Don’t mind rubbing shoulders with hordes of pinstripe-besuited bankers, and have the bank balance to match? Try Coq D’Argent.Next to the Bank of England, St Paul’s Cathedral and Mansion House, this rooftop garden in London comes with lawns and ornamental box hedges.
There’s a (very) pricey indoor restaurant, but a reasonably priced list of bar snacks. You can sit on the grass or gaze down on the suits hurrying along the streets far below.
2. Rooftop Bar, Hotel Raphael: Rome, Italy
In the heart of Rome, Italy, near the vibrant Piazza Nova, is the Hotel Raphael with its gorgeous roof terrace. It’s a great place for soaking up the atmosphere and enjoying panoramic views of the eternal city.
You can spy the Vatican from the terrace and the surrounding patchwork of colorful roofs provide a neat, photogenic backdrop to your coffee or cocktail. The food is also good.
3. Skyline, Hilton Molino Stucky: Venice, Italy
Perched atop a restored mill that is now home to the Hilton Molino Stucky Hotel in Venice, the Skyline Bar offers views over the Giudecca Canal as far as Piazza San Marco. It’s beautiful by day, but especially alluring at night when the bar acts as a magnet to wealthy Venetians, attracted by the bar’s romantic ambiance.
4. The Top Bar, Adriana Hotel: Hvar, Croatia
The Top Bar is the place to go if you want to meet Russian oligarchs and yachting types knocking back magnums of Champagne. The aptly named Top Bar offers wrap-around views of the ancient city, the yacht harbor and Paklinski Islands. It has sleek, low-slung sofas and areas to dance with Hvar’s jet set.
5. 360: Istanbul, Turkey
In a city replete with rooftop bars, 360 is still the most spectacular. A spacious multiple-award winning restaurant with floor-to-ceiling windows opens out onto a huge terrace where you can eat, drink or – later – throw some shapes on the dance floor when the bar turns into one of the city’s trendiest clubs.
6. Uptown Bar, Jumeirah Beach Hotel: Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Located on the 24th floor of the iconic wave-shaped Jumeirah Beach Hotel, this elevated cocktail bar has a spacious terrace with views of the Burj Al Arab and the striking skyline in Dubai.
Roads recede to a vanishing point, and the Burj Al Arab glows on the horizon. There’s an extensive drinks menu, but you’ll be too busy gawping at the view to pay attention to much else.
7. Kensington Roof Gardens: London, England
London’s oldest roof garden, Kensington Roof Gardens, is still known to many as “Derry and Tom’s Roof Garden,” in memory of the department store that commissioned the garden in the 1930s.
Covering around 6,000 square meters the garden is 30 meters above street level and includes a fish-filled stream, bridges, walks, trees, shrubs and sitting areas, and three resident flamingoes. There’s an English Woodland Garden with nearly 100 species of trees, a Spanish garden with fountains and a walled Tudor garden.
8. Tower Restaurant: Edinburgh, Scotland
Spectacular Edinburgh is known for its cold winds, but on a fine day there are few better places to catch some Scottish rays than eating a luxurious meal and sipping a cocktail at Tower Restaurant.
Attached to the city’s recently refurbished National Museum of Scotland, Tower Restaurant offers stunning views of Edinburgh Castle and the city’s famous Royal Mile. Even in winter, when the exterior of the restaurant might be too bracing, there are fabulous views from the glass windows. The service is also first class.
9. Sky Bar, Grand Hotel: Barcelona, Spain
Another bar combining drinks and an inviting pool, on the top of a stunning five-star hotel. The panoramic view of this Spanish city from the Sky Bar can’t be missed. A swim in the infinity pool is a must.
10. The Terrace, Bairro Alto Hotel: Lisbon, Portugal
The Terrace is on the top floor of the Bairro Alto Hotel, where you can see the terracotta-roofed sprawl of Lisbon and the meandering River Tagus. The hotel is in a restored 18th-century building and the rooftop bar could not be more relaxed.
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11. Las Animas Puerto: Valencia, Spain
Las Animas Puerto is considered one of the best terraces in Valencia. It’s situated at the entrance to the Americas Cup Port and is one of the coolest nightspots in town. There are views over to the beach and sea, if you can drag yourself away from the so-cheesy-they’re-good tunes from the 1970s and 1980s.
12. Hotel 3.14: Cannes, France
Hotel 3.14 is only a stone’s throw from La Croisette. Its rooftop pool terrace has a hamman, a Jacuzzi and offers massages alongside cocktails and organic lunches. By night, the leafy terrace transforms into a bar with panoramic views over the Mediterranean.
14. Park Hyatt Conservatory Lounge & Bar Terrace: Moscow, Russia
For some of the best views of Moscow, with the Kremlin and the Bolshoi close by, head to Park Hyatt Moscow.
To get a table at the rooftop terrace you’ll need to arrive early, but your efforts will be rewarded. If it’s too cold, or you’re too late, there’s an indoor space too, complete with a glass wall so you can still see the view.
15. Roku Nana: Roppongi, Tokyo, Japan
The designer bar Roku Nana (Six Seven in Japanese) does not exist. Well it does, but it’s a secret. It’s hard to find and the open-air setting is on-the-rocks cold in spring, which means it can be unusually peaceful.
With almost non-existent furniture (acrylic glass tables with chandeliers inside, acrylic glass chairs) and toned-down lighting, Tokyo’s skyline is the dominant visual feature. The effect is like being in a little space ship.
To find Roku Nana’s nondescript three-story white building, you have to call the bar and beg for directions.
16. The American Bar, Penz Hotel: Innsbruck, Austria
The American bar on the fifth floor of the glass cube in the Penz Hotel is good for an al fresco summertime drink or two, but better for one of the moreish cocktails the bartenders can whip up.
It’s like a gentleman’s club, with leather sofas and smooth jazz, but one with views of the snowcapped Alps. It has a retractable roof, but no heaters, so only the hardy – or foolhardy – venture onto the terrace after the autumn chill sets in.
17. Lounge 24, Radisson Bu Sky Hotel: Tallinn, Estonia
Two-score floors above the medieval old town of Tallinn, the views from Lounge 24 stretch to the Baltic Sea. You can step inside for a simple supper behind the floor-to-ceiling windows. The bar is part of the Radisson Blu Hotel, but non-residents are welcome.
18. Q Lounge, Grims Grenka Hotel: Oslo, Norway
In Norway’s new Grims Grenka hotel in the historic heart of Oslo, the Q Lounge rooftop bar is the hot destination for fashionable 30-somethings. The house mixologist can whisk up a designer cocktail while guests lay back and relax on the plump cushions and soak up views over Akershus Castle and the harbor.
19. Selma City Spa Bar, Clarion Sign Hotel: Stockholm, Sweden
Clarion Sign is the largest hotel in Stockholm – a stylish and minimalist granite and glass affair bursting with Scandinavian design classics.
The super-stylish Spa Bar is on the eighth floor and there’s a stunning rooftop pool offering views across this chic city’s skyline. A swim in the heated pool is the perfect juxtaposition to the cold Swedish air – and the roomy sauna and relaxation room round off the experience.
20. Plunge at Hotel Gansevoort: New York, United States
The views of midtown New York from Plunge are memorable, with the Empire State Building and the Hudson River included in the 360-degree vantage point. There’s also a heated pool, complete with underwater sound system. The Meatpacking District’s most fabulous mingle here, sipping stiff drinks and glancing over their shoulders at the celebrity scenery.
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21. Sky Bar: Bangkok, Thailand
For some travelers, no night out in Bangkok is complete without a couple of cocktails at the Sky Bar in Sirocco restaurant. Perched on top of Lebua State Tower, 63 floors above the city streets, this rooftop bar is the world’s highest al fresco restaurant, with 360-degree views of the city and the Chao Phraya.
22. Two Rooms: Tokyo, Japan
The terrace at Two Rooms: Tokyo serves some of the best Sunday brunches in Tokyo, and great cocktails.
The Bloody Mary is fiery and full of flavor – the secret is in the sauce. Two Rooms is proud of its in-house mix, which can also be sampled with vodka as an oyster shot. Brunch is also a cocktail-cornucopia, should you want it. Two Rooms runs late – offering classy nighttime views.
23. Condesa DF Rooftop Bar: Mexico City, Mexico
Condesa DF is a chic 40-bedroom hotel boasts a rooftop bar offering more cocktails than most drinkers know exist, and a great place to watch the city’s spectacular sunsets. It also has some very comfy couches.
24. Sushisamba: London, England
Located on the 38th and 39th floor of London landmark 110 Bishopsgate, a highlight of Sushisamba is the highest outdoor dining terraces in Europe. All this teamed with Brazilian-Peruvian-Japanese sushi. There is also a fabulous interior bar with views of the City of London stretching out beneath.
25. Madame Brussels: Melbourne, Australia
Three stories above Melbourne’s busy streets, Madame Brussels has a terrace where you can soak up the sun on one of the loungers or cuddle up in a blanket if it turns chilly. Drinks specialties include rose, punch and Pimm’s, and cupcakes and finger sandwiches also feature.
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26. Skye Bar & Restaurant: Sao Paulo, Brazil
Fashioned like an enormous boat, the Unique Hotel is just one example of Brazil’s adventurous architecture.
On the eighth floor is the rooftop Sky lounge, with many places to admire the Sao Paulo skyline and a pool to cool off in. It’s also a perfect spot to indulge in Brazil’s most famous cocktail, the caipirinha. Come night, DJs entertain an international crowd.
27. C View, MileNorth, A Chicago Hotel: Chicago, United States
Chicago’s skyline doesn’t come more accessible than at C-View, an outdoor rooftop terrace and indoor lounge on MileNorth, A Chicago Hotel. Glass panels give views onto the urban jungle below and communal tables encourage mingling. If you like beer you’re in for a treat as C-View offers a vast selection of local, domestic and imported brews.
28. Panorama Terrace, Park Inn: Berlin, Germany
In Berlin the best place to watch the sun set is at Panorama Terrace at Park Inn. It’s as popular with locals as with tourists, who want to enjoy an alternative vantage point of their home city. Situated on the 39th floor of the Park Inn Hotel, it’s Berlin’s highest open-air lounge, with a 360-degree view.
29. The Galaxy Bar, Hilton Hotel: Athens, Greece
East meets West at the Galaxy bar at Hilton Hotel Athens, where you can chow down on dim sum while gazing at the ancient Parthenon and Acropolis. The open-air terrace, which on a clear day takes in panoramic views of the sea and the island of Aegina, offers an Eastern rather than a Greek snacking menu.
30. The Joule: Dallas, Texas, United States
It might seem like a good idea in the blazing Texan sun to take a dip in The Joule’s rooftop infinity swimming pool, but you’ll probably need a stiff drink afterwards – it juts out 2.5-meters beyond the building, giving the illusion that you’re about to swim over the edge.
Luckily the attentive bartenders are on hand to serve up any number of creative cocktails to calm your nerves.
31. Vue Bar, Hyatt on the Bund: Shanghai, China
Leo DiCaprio wannabes, now’s your chance.
Vue grants a near-aerial view over one of the world’s most famous skyscraper zones and is one of the few places you can see the land carve of Lujiazui, the protruding tip of Pudong. It’s also the best place to stage the “I’m-the-king-of-the-world” scene in Shanghai.
After a few glasses of wine by the floor-to-ceiling windows, guests can head up to the outdoor hot tub and relax under the stars. Tip for ladies: bikinis are for sale under the name of “Vue Jacuzzi Wear” on the drink menu.
32. Sugar, East Hotel: Hong Kong
It’s rare to find a high-octane cocktail joint with a killer view in the lesser-known parts of Hong Kong Island, and Sugar’s view contains fewer garish fluorescent billboards than you might think.
The scene is made up of ocean-going vessels floating in the harbor with a backdrop of the old airport, Kai Tak.
It’s best to visit the loungy outdoor deck before sunset to enjoy the coastline by the soft light of dusk. This way you can also avoid Sugar’s garish pink and purple lighting that becomes apparent once it’s dark.
33. Ozone Bar: Hong Kong
Ozone Bar is kryptonite to vertigo sufferers. On the top floor of the world’s highest hotel, this super-stylish bar gives the feeling of being on a plane, with a bird’s-eye view of Hong Kong harbor and the streets far below. Colored lights illuminate the stylish interior, while pretty young things flit like butterflies.
34. Fasano: Rio de Janiero, Brazil
The hip Fasano Hotel Rio de Janeiro is leader of the pack in a city blessed with fine hotels. While guests’ palates are attended to by tasty sundowners, their gazes can waft from beautiful people by the pool, to the sea and sky as sunset colors melt into view under the gaze of Christ the Redeemer.
The bar Londra downstairs also stages an ultra cool “pocket show” from DJs and musicians.
35. Vista Bar, One&Only Resort: Cape Town, South Africa
The Vista Bar in Cape Town’s One&Only Resort gives panoramic views over Table Mountain through its floor to ceiling windows. Here you can sip a cocktail inspired by the spice route of the Cape of Good Hope, while DJs educate your ears.
36. Aer, Four Seasons Hotel: Mumbai, India
There can be few better places to enjoy not being in the middle of Mumbai’s urban sprawl than from Aer, the city’s highest rooftop bar. Safely away from the traffic, the noise and the seething mass of humanity at street level, Aer bar is on the top floor of the city’s Four Seasons hotel.
37. The Literary Terrace, Grand Hotel Timeo: Sicily, Italy
The romantic side to staring out into the distance. It’s not difficult to see why authors including DH Lawrence sought inspiration on the Literary Terrace of the glamorous Grand Hotel in Sicily.
The views over to Mount Etna and Taormina should cure the most stubborn case of writers’ block. And Lawrence was clearly in good company, as the terrace was also reportedly a meeting place for screen sirens Audrey Hepburn and Sofia Loren.
38. Sevva: Hong Kong
Sevva is the banker and corporate lawyer’s hangout of choice. Someone’s closed a deal – they’ll head to Sevva to toast associates facing the champion view. Someone’s lost a court case – they’ll head to Sevva and sink low in the outdoor couches, get drunk and angry on old Bordeaux then rant at the HSBC building close by.
Watch out for disappointing food at Sevva’s restaurant and avoid the below par service on busy weekends.
39. Top Mountain Star: Wurmkogel, Austria
While not strictly a rooftop bar, Top Mountain Star is a bizarre construction, vaguely resembling an air traffic control tower, and is situated high in the Austrian Alps and provides a setting for weary skiers to stop off for a cup of hot chocolate or some glühwein.
The futuristic restaurant and bar, with 360-degree glass walls, offers views of the slopes of Obergurgl with 23 Alpine peaks stretching out over the Oztal Alps and the Dolomites.
40. Rock Bar, Ayana Resort & Spa: Bali, Indonesia
The Rock Bar is one of Bali’s most glamorous sunset and after-dark destinations.
Precariously perched 14 meters above the crashing Indian Ocean at the base of Ayana Hotel, the open-top bar sits right on the spot-lit water’s edge and at high tide the waves crash just a few feet from guests’ feet. A DJ booth is carved into the cliff face.
41. Penthouse Terrace, ME Madrid: Madrid, Spain
The Penthouse bar on the rooftop of the ME Hotel in Madrid is owned by supermodel Cindy Crawford’s husband, Rande Gerber, and the place acts as a magnet for celebrities in town.
The queues to get in are testament to its popularity, so it’s best to get here early, order your drinks and bag a seat for a spot of star spotting – of both the celestial and Hollywood kind.
42. KU DÉ TA, Marina Bay Sands: Singapore
One of Singapore’s youngest architectural icons, Marina Bay Sands, is the only structure standing 200 meters high in its immediate vicinity. This means KU DÉ TA, its party bar, has spectacular views into the city and over the waters and of Marina Bay Sands’ infamous infinity pool.
Arrive at sunset to reap the full experience. If you’re unable to tear yourself away from the fancy night lights, stave off hunger with the platter of five Wagyu mini burgers and the chopped tuna tartar and flatbread while enjoying the nightly laser show.
43. Char, Hotel Indigo: Shanghai, China
Occupying the top three floors of the 31-story Hotel Indigo Shanghai, Char provides a 270-degree outlook sweeping across downtown.
To your left are the pointy roofs and narrow streets of the Shanghai Old Town; your front the unbeatable colonial architectural strip on the Bund; and on your right stands the breathtaking Lujiazui skyscraper spectacle.
The visual extravaganza of Char is complete with cargo and neon sign-bearing cruise ships drifting down Huangpu. Inside, the 100-seat grill and bar serves Blackmore’s Wagyu beef and seafood from Australia.
44. Capital M: Beijing, China
Housed in a historic building on the centuries-old Qianmen Dajie, Capital M is somber on the outside but inviting inside.
The atmosphere is cashed-up bohemian – inside are a Van Gogh-esque mural, fresh flowers and views of Qianmen, the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square. The menu is inspired by local produce, but contains elements from Europe and North Africa. Wines are taken seriously at Capital M. Their own label has been supplied by the same South Australian vineyard for 20 years.
45. Vertigo & Moon Bar, Banyan Tree: Bangkok, Thailand
On the roof of Bangkok’s Banyan Tree Hotel is Vertigo, specializing in barbecued seafood, though it also grills a mean steak and has a good vegetarian menu.
Walk a few steps and you’re at Moon Bar, which has a solid cocktail and wine menu and a small seating area. The stomach-churning views at this 61st floor venue are rivaled only by those at Sirocco (also on this list), which has sparked many a fiery debate between die-hard fans of the two hotels over the years.
46. Le Grill, Hotel de Paris: Monaco
Situated on the eighth floor of the Hotel de Paris, the Michelin-starred Le Grill is an elegant rooftop eatery offering views over the French Riviera.
On a clear day you can see all the way to Corsica, while the rest of the time it provides dizzying views over Monaco’s glittering harbor dotted with sailing boats and gin palaces. In the summer, the roof is opened at the flick of a switch and at the merest hint of inclement weather can be closed again.
47. Rufxxx: Seoul, Korea
Rufxxx, tucked away in a nondescript alleyway, was originally a studio for photographer and director Kim Hyoung Nam. It’s now a convivial wellspring for photography, film, music, dance and fashion.
It’s split into three floors: a lounge floor for food and drink, a small performance area upstairs, and the rooftop with the best view in Seoul of N Seoul Tower and Namsan. If you didn’t think a rooftop bar could be down-to-earth, Rufxxx makes you think again.
48. Hotel Duquesa de Cardona: Barcelona, Spain
The rooftop Brisa del Mar space of Hotel Duquesa de Cardona is divided into two areas by scented lavender bushes. One part is reserved for dining and drinking, the other is for sunbathing and swimming.
Try the house special, the Cardona, a blow-your-head-off cocktail of rum, pineapple juice, grenadine and Malibu, while trying to focus on the views to the church of La Merce to the rear and the Port Vell marina at the front.
49. The Laison Capitol Hill, an Affinia Hotel: Washington D.C., US
Laison Capitol Hill is Capitol Hill’s only open-air, rooftop pool and bar, and it lays on great breakfasts, yoga classes right next to the pool and heroic cocktails. Guests not lodging in the hotel, which went through a three-month renovation, can enter free of charge after 5 p.m.
Editor’s note: This article was previously published in 2012. It was updated, reformatted and republished in 2017.