I am a sucker for a great view and make it my mission to seek out rooftop restaurants and bars with the best views pretty much wherever I go. There is something about seeing a new city from above that I really love and if I can combine it with great food and wine, it makes for a perfect day. Istanbul was no different and our two day itinerary in the city featured lots of rooftop bars and restaurants known for their fantastic views (and one surprise one!).
We visited over a weekend in early November and it was still reasonably busy. I would recommend that for dinner especially, make a reservation. This is even more important if you want to secure a table with the best views of Istanbul. If you haven’t managed to, don’t worry, turn up for when their dinner service begins and you may get lucky.
Rooftop Restaurant: Sur Balık Cihangir
We didn’t intend on visiting this restaurant, but courtesy of a later than planned arrival into Istanbul and a recommendation from our hotel concierge, we couldn’t have been happier about ending up here.
Located in the Cihangir district of Beyoğlu, the neighbourhood has quite a buzzy feel with lots of street side bars, cafés and restaurants on our approach to the restaurant. It was pretty easy to find with a big sign outside; walk into the lobby and then take the elevator up as indicated.
Spread across two floors (one smoking and one non), this rooftop restaurant has floor to ceiling sliding glass doors that open up to make you feel as though you are eating outside. The views are indeed excellent, try and get a table on the side overlooking the Bosphorus and the Sultanahmet district sparkling away in the distance.
Sur Balık Cihangir is a Turkish restaurant specialising in seafood, which you will not struggle for choice on, the menu is huge. We skipped to the “build you own” menu for our main; you select your fish from the extensive list and then choose how you would like it cooked. There were no less than nine different cooking method options!
Honestly, we couldn’t choose, so we left our starter choices in the hands of our very helpful waiter who brought us a selection of delicious Turkish dishes. When it came to our mains, he said it would be easier to show us and led us downstairs to a large fish counter. Here we got to pick our fish, all freshly caught that day, it was weighed to calculate the price and then we went with the chef’s recommendation on how best to cook it. Honestly, it had been a long day and we weren’t being the swiftest at making decisions!
The fish was brought to us back at our table, beautifully cooked and served with a simple side salad. The quality was excellent and both dishes were utterly delicious, there is something about fresh seafood that always makes me immediately feel like I am on holiday!
We finished our meal with a second glass of wine and some baklava. I find baklava to be very sweet, but they serve it in appropriately small quantities so it doesn’t get to be too much.
The atmosphere is distinctly informal and has a busy feel, but the service was always extremely attentive and friendly. A meal for two with wine cost around £80.
Sur Balık Cihangir
Kılıçali Paşa Mh. Akarsu
Yokuşu Cad. No: 36 – 36A Kat: 7
Phone: +90 212 245 10 87
Opening Hours: Everyday from 12:00pm to 01:30am
Rooftop Bar & Restaurant: Vogue Restaurant
I went to Istanbul and found my heaven, wine, rooftop and sushi equals total bliss! This was the rooftop restaurant I was most looking forward to during my trip to Istanbul and it did not disappoint. While I love trying the local food when I travel and always do so, I am a die hard sushi fan and will always seek out the best sushi in the city to try.
Word of warning, we found it hard to find! Bizarrely, Google Maps seems to think that there is another Vogue Restaurant 200 yards away (which we couldn’t find either) which confused us heavily! When we did finally locate it, we were a tad dubious, as it appeared to be an office block. Hmmm, not the night I was expecting. A small sign assured us, however, that we were in the right place and security directed us to an elevator to one side.
Well, when those elevator doors opened, we weren’t in an office block anymore! Vogue is just beautiful and I don’t think the photos on their website even begin to do the views justice. The interior is refined, minimalist and with lots of light wood giving it a very glamourous and romantic feel.
Food & Drink
We were ready for a long leisurely evening, so watched the sunset while drinking rosé in the rooftop bar area before switching to our table on the outside terrace.
The service was excellent here, although we did confuse them by asking for two plates of sushi at a time, which we repeated for a further three rounds! I like to extend my meal out and am never sure when I am going to get full, so I love ordering like this (not sure the chef did..). For the non sushi fans out there, never fear, there is an extensive international menu to choose from as well.
The food was excellent, the wine a treat and service a winner, I couldn’t have asked for a better night and it was the perfect way to end our time in Istanbul.
Eight sushi plates, one dessert, a bottle of wine and a couple of beers came to around £90.
Vogue Restaurant Istanbul
Süleyman Seba Caddesi,
No:92 BJK Plaza, A Blok Kat:13,
Phone: (0212) 227 44 04
Opening Hours: Everyday 12:00pm until 01:00am
Rooftop Bar & Restaurant: 360 Istanbul
It’s not hard to work out how 360 Istanbul got its name, with a large wraparound terrace high in the sky, you can literally walk 360 degrees around the building. This is one of Istanbul’s most well known rooftop restaurant and bars, transforming into a club in the later hours.
Now I have not been to club in years and did not intend to start now, so we got there for a nice and early 5pm!
The entrance is subtle and you enter into a rather grand hallway with a stunner of a chandelier, a lift and not much else. You are deposited into the circular shaped restaurant with a (thankfully) unoccupied DJ booth to one side and floor to ceiling windows separating the indoor restaurant from the outdoor terrace.
We were early enough for more of a lounge vibe; it wasn’t too busy and we settled down outside to enjoy the view over the Bosphorus. The setting and music are distinctly trendy (probably a bit too much for me personally), but our waiter is lovely and recommends some cocktails for us, which we take.
Food & Cocktails
Unfortunately, we both took a sip of our respective drinks when they arrived and looked at each other almost instantly….they tasted like juice. Very nice juice mind you, but say what you will, I wanted a proper cocktail!
We did not eat here but I had a flick through the menu which appeared to be a sophisticated selection of Turkish mezze dishes with an international twist.
While the views were beautiful, the setting and cocktails weren’t quite to our taste, so we moved on fairly fast. However, if, unlike me, you like staying up past 10:00pm and have an inner party animal, I think you would love it, they have a line up of DJs and live acts to keep you entertained after dinner and the party goes on well into the early hours.
The view and the vibe come at a price, two watery cocktails cost £20.
Tomtom, İstiklal Cd. No:163 K: 8, İstiklal Cd.,
34433 Beyoğlu, İstanbul, Turkey
Phone: +90 212 251 10 43
Opening Hours: Sunday to Thursday 12:00pm to 02:00am, Friday and Saturday 12:00pm to 04:00am
Rooftop Restaurant: Hamdi
We got several recommendations for Hamdi, a very popular traditional Turkish restaurant that has been around for decades. There are two other branches in addition to this one, both of which are attached to Radisson hotels in the city.
This location in Eminonu is the original and has been expanded over the years to cover multiple floors of the building it is located in. As rooftop obsessives, we went straight to the top floor, helpfully guided by the very lovely attendant on the ground floor upon entering.
The space upstairs, while covered, was very light and airy with high glass ceilings and a small terrace with a retractable roof and windows. Lots of greenery hung from the ceilings and clung to wall giving it a bit of an indoor garden feel. We came at lunch time, so had no problem getting a table on the terrace, but they are very limited and I suspect would be difficult to obtain during dinner service if you hadn’t made a reservation.
The restaurant has an excellent position right next to the Galata Bridge in the Old City, overlooking the Golden Horn, Bosphorus River and New Mosque.
The food is traditional Turkish and excellent. They are very generous with the side dishes that come with your main as well, its a good job we stuck to one course for lunch! The service is nothing short of rapid, I think we were maybe in there for forty five minutes in total. It was fairly busy for a Sunday lunchtime, with a mixture of locals and visitors to the city.
The vibe was quite casual, although I have a feeling it smartens up a bit for dinner. The cost of our lunch was around £25 for two main meals, a wine for me and a beer for Danny.
Tahmis Caddesi Kalçın Sokak No: 17 Eminönü,
Phone: +90 533 658 80 11, +90 555 992 38 78 or +90 212 528 03 90
Opening Hours: Everyday 12:00pm -11:00pm
Secret Rooftop Bar: Witt Istanbul Suites
This one took me by surprise! We only found it as it was in the beautiful boutique hotel we stayed at in Beyoğlu, Witt Istanbul Suites. It also appears not many other people know about it as we went up there several times during our stay and only bumped into one other couple once!
Technically this is a rooftop garden rather than a rooftop bar; order your drinks at the bar downstairs and they will bring them to you on the roof. Side note, there is glass panel in the side of the elevator with some amusing images painted on the walls of the elevator shaft! I loved this place, there is so much greenery on the patio and even a little herb garden. The garden in covered on one side and has several seats for you to move into your optimum viewing location.
Now, the view. Except for maybe Vogue Restaurant & Bar, this was my favourite one. With superb vistas across the city on three sides, you can see across the Bosphorus to the Asian side of Istanbul, see Galata Tower and even the Old City of Sultanahmet stretching into the distance. It is a killer place to curl up with a blanket and watch the sun set with a glass of wine, in part due to the total serenity, you’re likely to have this rooftop all to yourself.
You can read my full review on this fabulous hotel here.
The cost for a glass of wine and an imported beer is around £10.
Witt Istanbul Suites
Defterdar Yokusu No. 26,
34433 Cihangir, Istanbul
Phone: +90 212 293 15 00
Opening Hours: The rooftop garden is open everyday from 08:00am to 11:00pm
Final Thoughts: Rooftop Bars & Restaurants with the Best Views of Istanbul
I think there is something very romantic and magical about seeing a city from the sky. It is one of my favourite ways to see a new city and it is no coincidence that some of my favourite memories have occurred on rooftops around the world. I hope you get to try at least one of these rooftop bars or rooftop restaurants for the best views of Istanbul, there is one for everyone!