For a city overtaken with gothic medieval architecture and lacking in any form of high-rise buildings, you wouldn’t expect Edinburgh to have many – if any –rooftop bars. Nonetheless, if you look hard enough, tucked away behind hills, above hotels and in department stores, you’ll find your fair share of rooftop bars to enjoy a cocktail or two on, regardless of the weather. We’ve done the hard bit and located all the gems for you to explore next time you are in the city, so scroll down for our list of the best rooftop bars in Edinburgh.
Why: With views of Edinburgh Castle and beyond, pop up to the fifth floor of the DoubleTree by Hilton to enjoy a drink with a side of vistas. You’ll need to plan ahead for this bar, though, as it’s only open to the public on the first Thursday of every month, so grab a group of friends and head on up for some cocktails and a barbeque in the summer. Alternatively, you can book it out as an events space all year round, or visit for its afternoon tea and silent disco nights.
Where: 34 Bread Street, EH3 9AF
Cold Town House
Why: If you want the spirit of après ski without the freezing temperatures and actual skiing, visit the Cold Town House rooftop bar. With gondola-themed seats, furry blankets and views across the city, you can enjoy pizza and booze surrounded by fairy lights and crisp Edinburgh air without having to break a sweat to get there. The bar opens at 2pm, but if you feel like starting on the booze a little earlier, you can bring up a drink from one of the other floors. Try Cold Town House originals such as the Blueberry Bad Boy, Naked Castle Stormer and Some Dumb Plum. The rooftop is open weather permitting; just don’t forget your coat in the winter.
Where: 4 Grassmarket, EH1 2JU
Why: Located in a refurbished church that is now the Glasshouse Hotel, this contemporary roof garden offer views of Calton Hill, and forms the perfect spot to spend the evening enjoying a cocktail or two created by the hotel's expert mixologists. Elegant statues and quirky seating dotted all around the paved garden make it a great place for big groups to chill together. During the Fringe Festival, you can retreat up to the garden to get away from the madness and enjoy bespoke picnics and a pop-up whisky bar. Whisky cocktails are its speciality but if that’s not your thing, there are lots of other cocktails to choose from too. If you get a little too cold, retreat to The Snug downstairs to continue your evening. It is also available for wedding receptions.
Where: 2 Greenside Place, EH1 3AA
Why: Sitting on top of the National Museum of Scotland, you can look out over Old Town Edinburgh and the Royal Mile while sipping on Islay Mojitos, Rosy Lee Martinis and G and Teas cocktails on its wrap-around terrace located on the fifth floor. After starting the evening outside, why not move indoors to enjoy some seafood or game in the restaurant. Known as a celebrity hot-spot in the city, who knows who you’ll bump into when you visit.
Where: Chambers Street, EH1 1JF
The Forth Floor Brasserie and Bar in Harvey Nichols
Why: If you happen to be browsing the legendry department store Harvey Nichols when you're in town, why not pay the Forth Floor a visit and enjoy views all across the city. If it happens to be hot and sunny on you visit, you can enjoy afternoon tea out on the terrace too. Best to make the most of the few hot days a year Edinburgh is very rarely blessed with! After a few glasses of bubbly, you can pop back down to the shop and make some bad decisions!
Where: 30-34 St Andrew Square, EH2 2AD
Why: Encased in a glass cube overlooking Edinburgh, this is the place to go for a traditional Thai meal and some cocktails. The windows and glass ceiling are great for views stretching past the city and the Thai food selection is sure to keep you full all night. On the menu you’ll find red curries and weeping tiger sirloin steak. It even offers cocktail classes so you can make your own before going outside to the terrace for panoramic views. Book well in advance though as it’s super popular amongst the Edinburgh crowd.
Where: 33 Castle Street, EH2 3DN
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Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about rooftops in Edinburgh
Not familiar with rooftops? Below, we've answered some questions about visiting rooftops in Edinburgh, as there are a few things that might be on your mind.
What to wear to a rooftop? Edinburgh tends to get pretty cold – regardless of what time of year it is – so we recommend that in the winter, more is definitely more when it comes to layers. In the summer, you should be able to get away with a light jacket or sweater, although if you’re planning on staying late into the evening, maybe opt for both just to be on the safe side. Luckily, many of the bars offer up cosy blankets or outdoor heaters, but better safe than freezing cold right?
When are rooftops open? Opening times depend on the rooftop bars you visit. Although most tend to be closed when it’s super windy or raining a lot, many tend to be open all year round. For the ones that are open rain or shine and for every season, we suggest you bring an umbrella and a raincoat.
How long can you stay on a rooftop? Because of licensing, many outdoor rooftop bars are only open until around 10-11pm. However if you aren’t quite done with your night, you can usually retreat to lower levels and indoor spaces to carry on drinking cocktails and socialising until the official closing times, which are usually a lot later.