Considered merely a transit city, Johannesburg has been busy grafting to become one of South Africa’s premium tourist spots. And it succeeded. Now a capital of cool with a plethora of trendy hotels, artsy galleries and haute restaurants to boot, it comes as no surprise that it’s also amassed its fair share of rooftop bars offering fantastic views across the City of Gold. Our list has the skinny on the ones that set the highest bar: providing top-level service, premium beverages and the essential Instagram-perfect panoramas. So, read on for the best rooftops bars in Johannesburg to have on your radar when you want to take to higher ground.
- Katy's Palace
- The Living Room
- The Radisson RED Rosebank Hotel
- Skyline Gardens
- Four Seasons Westcliff
- Copper Bar
- Elevate at The Reef Hotel
- San Deck
- The Roof Fourways
Th best for getting really high
The Leonardo Hotel in Sandton needs no introduction. Already known as the tallest building in Africa, it recently raised the stakes with a bright shiny new bar right on its top floor. Open-air Alto234 sits at a dizzying 768 feet, or 234 metres (hence the name), above ground; meaning you won’t be able to get a drink any anywhere else on the continent. This exclusive spot also offers unparalleled 360-degree views of the entire city. Booking ahead is essential and a R300 entrance fee applies, which includes a complimentary glass of Champagne.
Best down to earth high-rise bar
Fast becoming a Johannesburg institution, Katy’s Palace is one of our favourite venues in the city. Huge and open planned, it is the loft space of dreams with a minimalist glass-and-metal design. Food comes in a serve yourself buffet style, but washed down with your favourite cocktail concoction, it’s the perfect place to spend an evening.
Best for trendsetters
The Living Room is a trendy and friendly bar in the Maboneng Precinct. Ideal if you want to enjoy the sunset and hipster buzz with a cocktail in hand, the venue comes with an explosion of jungle-like plants and greenery. And, fair warning, its interior isn’t the only thing that’ll surprise you. It’s signature cocktails are renowned for their bold flavours, as is its menu of wraps, burgers and small plates.
Best for poolside cool
The Radisson RED brand is famous for two things: its cool and creative aesthetic and signature rooftop bars. And fair play to its Rosebank Hotel because it has created a one of a kind spot that’s hard to leave. Saturday afternoons are all about good tunes and cocktails, while evenings are for settling into slouchy poolside seating and watching the sun sink over the suburbs.
Best for chic tapas
It’s hard to say what’s the greatest asset of Skyline Gardens. The food? Tapas can be pretty hard to beat. The drinks? Again, they’re excellent, as is the stylish interior. However, for many people, the view of Jo'burg’s legendary landmark, the Nelson Mandela Bridge, really makes this the place to see and be seen.
Best for grand vistas
Strictly speaking, the Four Seasons Westcliff is more of a terrace than a rooftop bar. But what it lacks in height it certainly makes up for in luxury. Nestled on a hillside close to Johannesburg Zoo, this city slick hotel is a popular stomping ground for travellers as well as locals celebrating a special occasion. If you’re in town, it would be rude not to indulge in its fine cocktails and grilled regional favourites.
Best for mountain views
This hip rooftop bar nestled in Bryanston has a garden-like setup. The stylish surroundings come with fabulous panoramic views of the majestic Magaliesberg mountain range. The rooftop is only open to the public on Thursdays and Sundays, when you can enjoy premium drinks and fine bites in a fun and vibrant atmosphere, usually with live DJs providing the soundtrack.
Best for 360-degree views
Take a trip down to Marshalltown for a night at The Reef Hotel and its rooftop bar, Elevate. Easily one the best rooftop bars in Johannesburg, you can take in its 360-degree views of the city and get the 411 on its jumble of historic skyscrapers. Know the Art Deco masterpiece Anstey's from the city’s most recent monolith, the 50 storey Carlton Centre. To the south you can see all the way out to the FNB Stadium. Grab your camera and head there in time for sundowners to see the glass skyscrapers set ablaze as the sun slowly dips below the horizon.
Best for regional food and drink
San Deck is an all-day dining and drinking terrace on the sixth floor of the fabulous Sandton Sun Hotel. This spacious venue north of the city centre majors on sophisticated vibes, with live DJs at the weekend and amazing views over Johannesburg’s skyline on the daily. If you’re feeling peckish, you can enjoy its fresh take on South African flavours along with a locally inspired drinks menu featuring wines and signature SAN cocktails.
Best for brunch and lunch
The Roof Fourways is a daytime drinking gem. It’s a stylish, contemporary and exclusive Johannesburg rooftop, situated on the second floor of the Infinity Serviced Office Park in Fourways. The terrace offers up 180-degree views of Fourways, along with magical sunsets over Broadacres. First and foremost an event venue, The Roof is also open to the public for breakfast and lunch Monday to Friday from 8am to 4pm. Perfect for a bottomless brunch with friends.
Header image by Olivier Romano