There's something about drinking on a rooftop that is at least 20 per cent more fun than drinking at street level. So jump on those stairs, hit that lift button and check out these high-and-mighty gems. Some of these are in the city, and some in the surrounding suburbs are perfect for city views.
Best rooftop bars in Melbourne
Brought to you by the folks behind Fancy Hank's, Good Heavens serves Australian wines, craft beers, cocktails and casual bar food: think cheeseburgers, spicy Southern fried chicken, and chilli nachos with brisket mole from Fancy Hanks’ giant smoker downstairs. There are plenty of heaters to keep you toasty if there's a nip in the air, so no worries on that score. You can also while away many hours playing board games or card games here, no matter the weather.
Undeniably the most exciting part of the QT Melbourne development has to be the huge indoor-outdoor split rooftop bar, appropriately named 'The Rooftop'. It’s a sleek, elegant new addition to Melbourne’s bar scene that has a reputation for milk crates and astro-turf. You’ll want to knock back some serious sunset cocktails in some vintage threads to match the understated mid-century vibes of the deck.
This kitsch, cutesy rooftop promises a raucous garden party in the heart of the city. This sky-high hub has long been a favourite for drinking sessions that kick off in the afternoon and end after midnight. The tongue-in-cheek drinks list doesn't skimp on the double entendre, with plenty of mention of jugs, balls and oral pleasure. Yep. The Madame seems intent on making you blush, but chances are that rosy glow will be thanks to the sunshine and booze-sloshed cocktails.
Once you ascend the seemingly endless flight of stairs to the Rooftop Bar (passing Cookie and the Toff in Town along the way), catch your breath and quench your thirst while taking in the heart and soul of Melbourne from above. Kick back on the fake grass, or huddle under the heating on colder nights and lose yourself in the spectacular view.
This rooftop incarnation sits two floors above King & Godfree, Carlton’s best known Italian-style grocer (it's been around since 1884). Up this high, Johnny’s gets unparalleled views over Melbourne; you can spy CBD high-rises, Melbourne Museum’s roof blades, Collingwood church spires and over in the distance, a parabola-like outline of the Dandenong Ranges. There is a nice collection of classic cocktails, local and imported beer and wines, but Johnny’s own cocktails are worth a shot.
The renovated Corner Hotel rooftop serves up share dishes, pub classics, and a late-night bar food menu, if you don’t feel like a kebab for your post-gig bite. There are plenty of covered areas and heaters to keep inclement weather at bay. Big props to Therefore Studio for making the rooftop wheelchair accessible and for adding more seating areas en plein air.
Tucked just off the unlikely corner of Carlisle and Balaclava, the Taphouse greets you with the comforting smell of heritage wood paneling. Warmly lit by tiny lamps ensconced in the walls, it feels like an old-fashioned gentlemen's club that just happens to have one of the best craft beer lists in the city. The rooftop here is packed even during cold weather – and it goes bananas in spring and summer. It's one of the easiest pubs to find something you want to drink, the offering always carefully balanced and covering the whole gamut of styles.
Don't hold us to it, but we think beers are better when consumed in a Hitachi train plonked on top of a Collingwood office block. Easey's is best known for insane burgers and fried snacks that'll make your arteries threaten to give way, but there's a decent craft brew line-up on tap and the sweeping views of Collingwood isn't so bad either. Just come early to score a seat on the trains.
Up on the rooftop, rainbow plastic furniture and coloured fluoro tubes reflecting off high white walls give the space the air of an adult crèche. This three-level bar from the clever clogs behind Fancy Hank's and Good Heavens is smack-dab in the middle of the city, so it's a primo spot for people watching. And if you get tired of the views, head downstairs for Asian-inspired snacks and karaoke.
On a rooftop in the Melbourne CBD, you don’t have to do things this well. It’s nice to see the Union crew sticking to their guns and doing something above and beyond the expected. Grab a beer while they make your cocktail and cut these guys some slack if it takes a sec to get to you. Like this bar, it’s worth the wait.
Say “rooftop bar” these days, and folks will start throwing money at you before you can show them the stairs. The rooftop here on the corner of Brunswick and Johnston streets has managed to stay classy without being aloof, providing a lovely spot to soak up the inner-north from on high. Up here, the surrounding redbrick buildings block the view of the city skyline, but they create an old Melbourne industrial feel that’s just as nice.
The eight beers taps here have a local, independent bent, as will the wines. And as for snacks, the famous Catalonian toasted sandwich, the Bikini, will be in pride of place on the menu, packed with Jamón Ibérico with truffle or smoked ham hock with mahón and mozzarella. And in a touch of New York whimsy, the bar projects 1970s black and white films onto the wall of the opposite building.
From the multitasking marvel of Curtin House to the trippy wonderland that is the Carlton Club, Melburnians love their multi-level drinking dens. At 127 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, with Ichi Ni Nana on street level, Village People Hawker Hall in the middle, and Japanese-inspired Upside Rooftop Bar acting as the boozy icing on the cake. Order Village People Thai-style street food from below and lord over Fitzroy, cocktail in hand.
There's a reason the queues snake down Meyer Place for Loop Roof. The breezy terrace above Loop Project Space & Bar promises sparkling city vistas, primary-bright lawn furniture, AstroTurf and lush garden beds. Calling it a city oasis isn't selling it too strongly. If knockoff drinks all-too-easily edge towards midnight, fortify yourself with inventive share plates and bar snacks.
The Rivoli is paying homage to cinema's golden age with Nineteenforty, a rooftop bar set on top of the heritage-listed Art Deco cinema. The rooftop bar has a garden fit-out, offering a panoramic view of Camberwell and Hawthorn, which means you don't have to be seeing a movie to visit the Rivoli – though the old-world cocktail menu is dotted by classics that will make for a delicious pre- or post-film beverage. There's also a bar snacks menu for a rooftop snack. There are heaters and umbrellas to keep you comfy on cooler nights.
Naked in the Sky is the restaurant and rooftop bar crowning Naked for Satan – Fitzroy’s bright and brassy house of flavoured vodkas and Spanish snacks. You can also get some cheese boards to share, and that might be the best accompaniment of all for the views.
Imperial Hotel happens to be the third oldest pub in Melbourne, so you'll be enjoying the rooftop beer garden on a piece of Melbourne history. Your pint at the top of Bourke Street will come with 360-degree views of the Melbourne skyline and Parliament House. This is a sports-mad venue, which stays open late for all the matches and keeps it classy, clean and comfortable with a traditional English pub vibe, so wear your colours if you want to.
South Yarra’s got a multi-level fun emporium in this joint. The lower decks are all about live entertainment and DJs, but we’ve got our eyes set on sunset cocktails on the roof. It’s replete with cushion-lined deck and daybeds, the beats are chilled and the eats are snacks or a la carte.
Access this Astroturfed terrace from a stairwell in the alley behind Section 8. The perches line the perimeter so you feel like you’re drinking in an infinity pool – think warm, tropical thoughts. Drinks-wise, you can expect craft beer, pre-mixed cocktails for dispensing from siphons, and Rositas on tap. Hungry? Go for tender strips of herby fried chicken.
Decadence was clearly a watchword for whoever designed the fit-out of the Carlton Club, with taxidermied exotic animals and velvet trim running rampant. Head up a floor to Palmz Rootop Bar for a taste of the tropics – not least from the cocktail jugs. When it's chilly, heaters will keep you warm and toasty, just like you're really on a tropical holiday.