If you travel often, you have the opportunity to experience new and exciting things in a new and foreign place. You don’t go on trips to eat at the same chain restaurants you have back home or to splurge on basic cocktails at mediocre bars. Naturally, you want adventure and crave that new, unique something, but it can be a struggle when you arrive in a new place and know nothing about it.
You’re not sure where to stay, where to eat or where you should go for a good drink — let alone where to find the secret hidden gems only the locals know about. You probably depend solely on Yelp and other similar sites to guide you during your stay, eagerly searching for those with four or five stars, in hopes that word of mouth points you in the right direction. It’s possible to get all three in one — great accommodations, food and drink. You’ll just need to do your research ahead of time.
Whether you’re planning a vacation or have a quick stop in one of these popular destinations, read on for a list of 15 breathtaking outdoor bars around the world worth experiencing.
1. Catch Beach Club — Phuket, Thailand
This stylish beach bar gets busiest on Friday nights, when the culinary staff spit-roast tuna, oysters and assorted seafood for guests to enjoy. Enjoy signature cocktails like the Sly Thai, My Thai and more. You can’t beat this beachfront ambiance with their live music, cuisine and fantastic drinks.
2. The Rock Bar, Ayana Resort — Bali, Indonesia
CNN Travel named this the world’s best hotel bar for a reason: This southern cove offers a popular al fresco dining scene where seafood lovers can enjoy a feast 15 meters above the rocks overlooking the ocean. From Thursday to Sunday, guests can experience live music, martinis and tapas. The Rock Bar tapas menu is perfect to accompany a cocktail. Opt for healthier choices, like their California maki, baked chicken wings or summer rolls.
3. Wreck Bar — Cayman Kai, Grand Cayman
Take a break from the tourist strip, and venture to this local hangout about an hour away. Regulars arrive by private boat or car for frozen mudslides, the national drink of the Cayman Islands. The delicious combo of Bailey’s, vodka, Kahlua and ice makes for a refreshing treat on the higher end of the cocktail spectrum.
4. Tanjong Beach Club — Singapore
Check out this serene beach hideout, right on the borders of the city. Enjoy pricey tropical cocktails, seafood platters and beach volleyball, if you’re up to it. Make reservations to ensure space in a private daybed or for dinner on the beach.
5. AER — Mumbai, India
The AER is the lounge at the top of the Four Seasons hotel and open year-round, even in monsoon season, when they add a canopy and windscreen for protection. At 34 stories high, it’s one of the highest spots in all of India, and one of the fanciest rooftop bars in Mumbai, so book in advance if possible. Sip on perfectly crafted cocktails while taking in the spectacular views or listening to their resident DJ.
6. Moomba Beach Bar — Aruba
Not only is this venue a bar, but it’s also a big open-air restaurant that features $25 all-you-can-eat barbecue on Sundays and other unique dishes like Tuscan chicken paté paired with cranberry sauce. And, since there’s never a bad seat in the house, you can take in the views of Palm Beach while you sip on your favorite beverage.
7. The Culpeper — London, England
This pub, restaurant, hotel and rooftop garden and bar crafts unique botanical cocktails from its very own greenhouse. Try a Lemon Thyme Ambrosia, with brandy, prosecco and calvados. You can also experience astronomy lessons on the rooftop or a cocktail-making workshop.
8. Tortilla Flats — Dominical, Costa Rica
Visit this longstanding two-story hotel, seaside restaurant and popular nightspot all in one. Tortilla Flats is in the laid-back town of Dominical and offers delightful food and drinks from a well-stocked bar. Watch the waves roll in during sunset at this affordable icon.
9. Lagoon — Bora Bora, French Polynesia
This bar is the perfect spot for guests and non-guests of the St. Regis Hotel. Travel via golf cart to the over-water bar that sits high on stilts, with a killer view of the ocean. Try out popular seafood dishes with a European flair, and experience more than 90 wines from their extensive collection.
10. Ushuaia Beach Hotel — Ibiza, Spain
This adults-only venue is a combination of beach club, dance venue and stylish hotel. It hosts some of the best, most exclusive parties on the island, with nightclubs on both the beach and around the pool. Take advantage of luxurious VIP services 24 hours a day.
11. Sunset Beach Bar — St. Maartin, Dutch West Indies
Located right at the end of the St. Martin’s Juliana International Airport runway, sit with a beer in hand as you watch pilots take on one of the world’s most challenging landings. While you’re there, enjoy top-notch food and live music, all for a reasonable price. This bar is an entertaining way to kill some time before a flight.
12. Sky Bar — Bangkok, Thailand
Located on the 63rd floor of the Lebua at State Tower Hotel, Sky Bar is one of the world’s highest open-air bars. Complete with a neon LED-lit bar that changes colors every 90 seconds and serves a signature cocktail called a Hangovertini, you won’t find anything else like it.
If this bar looks familiar, it’s because you saw it in the movie The Hangover Part II — hence the name of their most popular drink. On a warm night, you can try an ice poptail, which is a popsicle with tequila and midori. Drinks are expensive, but worth it for the view. It’s best to reserve a table on their website beforehand, if you can.
13. CU-BA — Dubai, United Arab Emirates
This little slice of Havana overlooks Dubai Creek and offers panoramic views of Dubai. You’ll have to take a glass elevator to the top of the Jumeirah Creekside Hotel, where you can lounge on plush couches in private cabanas. You can even take a dip in their 82-foot-long swimming pool, while you enjoy top-quality rum or cigars and soak in a true Latin American vibe in the middle of the desert.
14. Radio — Madrid, Spain
At the very top of the ME Madrid Hotel sits this revamped exclusive lounge. It’s one of the city’s nighttime hotspots, so expect a line to get in. Divided into eight different sections, Radio can fit any mood and offers food, cocktails, live music and even a VIP bar. Here, you can relax underneath the stars after dinner on the terrace.
15. Floor 17 — Amsterdam, Netherlands
The Ramada Apollo Amsterdam hotel is home to the city’s tallest bar. Experience their signature drink, the Floor17 cocktail, along with other spirits. The bar is also a people-watching hotspot and hosts regular events like movie screenings. When cold weather arrives, Floor 17 becomes one of the world’s only rooftop ice skating rinks. While rather pricey, the panoramas alone make it well worth it.
16. Sevva — Hong Kong
Nestled among Hong Kong’s famously glittering skyline is Sevva, pronounced “savor,” a rooftop terrace with stunning 360-degree views of the city. Order a drink, then take in the nightly Symphony of Lights, which the Guinness World Book of Records has judged to be the biggest light and sound display in the world.
There are so many incredible outdoor bars waiting for you all around the globe, so keep this list handy for the next time you get the travel itch or just in case you end up in Bangkok for a couple of days. Not only will you experience extraordinary views of cityscape and miles of ocean, but you can treat yourself to some of the world’s best cocktails and cuisine, all while you take in the local culture and new surroundings.
Kayla Matthews is a wanderlusting blogger and senior writer at MakeUseOf. Her work has appeared in Afar Magazine, The Next Web, Houzz and Inman. Read her About.Me page here.