We have finally bid farewell to winter, so it's time to start that spring exercise routine you've been planning. And by spring exercise, we mean climbing to the top of buildings to drink en plein air while gazing at the street below.
As Melbourne's weather is still unpredictable and nights can be chilly, you'll be glad to know that most of these have retractable rooves and heaters, so you can still enjoy gorgeous city views in inclement weather.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.